Journal

2017-monthly-planning-calendar free downloadable

The 2017 Monthly Planning Calendar is here!

Download it via the form below!

This humble tool is one of the most powerful tools I use in my business, and that I use with clients. Because unless you can see your time laid out in front of you, you can’t make realistic plans, set achievable goals or get everyone aligned about what needs to be done, and by when.

I use this tool with my executive coaching clients to help them plan out and ideal week, and understand what’s achievable with their time. I use it with my content marketing clients to map out content plans, deadlines and publishing dates. I use it with my business clients to help them and their team see what needs to be done, and when by so they all get on the same page, literally. Read more…

Hadassah Jordan The Leap Stories

What about when you want to take a leap within the realm of what you do now, but stretch yourself further? To take what you already know, and apply it in a new way? To push into another industry, category or region?

With a long family lineage in clothing manufacturing and retailing, Hadassah Jordan hit forty and wanted to create a retail experience that felt like she felt on the inside. As a single mother, she wanted to support makers of kids clothing that were ethically produced, minimally branded and weren’t laden with gendered messages. That lead her to collaborate with international brands and open Frankie’s Story, her second store at South Melbourne Market. With a markedly higher price point than her family’s original store and a brave, bold aesthetic for under 10’s, it was a gamble in a notoriously fickle retail category.

And it worked.

Hadassah is an example of what happens when you back yourself with what you believe and go for it. As a strong, independent business woman with an eye for seeing a different way of how kids can be in the world, her vision isn’t for everyone – it’s for people who believe what she believes. Hadassah hasn’t played to the masses but rather carved out her own unique pocket in an otherwise commoditised and fast-fashion scene. She also happens to rock a full head of grey hair like a total boss. #respect

Can you see how something in your industry could be done in a new way? How could you take your existing wisdom and create something truly reflective of your unique world view? What’s something that you wish existed in your industry? What would you need to bring it to life? What do you feel genuinely enthusiastic and curious about?

What would be one small step you could take this week to investigate it a little further?

///

Hadassah Jordan founded Frankie’s Story, fashion for children to express themselves.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

When I was younger, I always had a natural conversation with clothing. I had a knowingness that this area of life was where I felt the most happy. I was born into a family who both manufactured and retailed clothing, I was born into the trade. My mentors have been both people in the industry and the industry itself as our inspiration.

What did/do you study?

I studied administration and business management, but it was clear that this was not the avenue for me to pursue. I have used the skills learnt and implemented them into my business.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

I suppose, at the time, I didn’t realise the leap was scary or courageous. But I had a desire to communicate what I was feeling and a need to create the space to do this in. I needed to express my inner world, so I opened a children’s clothing stall called Frankie’s Story at the South Melbourne market. This is my mission and message:

  1. Allow children to be themselves. I felt there was one form of clothing communication for children: pink for girls and blue for boys, and that needed to change.
  2. Gender neutrality in colour and style.
  3. Environmentally and ethically produced clothing.

Motherhood was a leap with a knowingness. At the time I was unaware of a desire to be a parent. I have embraced the role with both conviction and an open heart. And in the process, I discovered that I believe that all children deserve to express themselves fully and fashion is one of these elements.

What were you doing before you made your leap?

I was in retail, having inherited my family’s business and slowly evolving it into the message I wanted to express. That of a basic revolution.

  1. Four colours.
  2. The building blocks of your wardrobe.
  3. No labels or branding on clothing.
  4. Simplicity.

So leaping was slightly easier in that I knew retail, I was aware that what I wanted to create had never been done before. I would have to communicate my message, connect to my customers and slowly introduce my concept, educating people on my vision for ethically and eco-manufactured clothing. I wanted to be inclusive, not exclusive, with my vision.

Frankie's Story online shop

The online store for Frankie’s Story.

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

My mother, who had raised us solo for the vast majority of our childhood and ran the family business, whilst caring for her incapacitated mother and ailing father.

Women in my life, from those who are close to me and those I meet only for a moment. I am inspired by their strengths and weaknesses.

My daughter – I love the way that she embraces life and her general attitude to her world.

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

Not a thing. No funds. A simple conversation with a friend about Pinterest, where I started unknowingly creating my feel, deciding what I liked and did not like, and formulating the interior for the shop. It all just flowed from there. My other business funded the way for Frankie’s Story, little by little I progressed.

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that led you to the leap?

Turning 40 made me want my outer world to reflect my inner world. It was not so much an ‘I can’t do this anymore moment’ but rather, ‘why not?’.

 

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

Failing was not reason enough to not leap. I would never know if I didn’t create Frankie’s Story. My mother has continually raised the bar, from social worker to retailer and now, photographer. I had to raise the bar so that my daughter could cruise through and raise her own bar.

Courage is maintaining your pace when things don’t seem like they’re moving forward at the pace you’d like. I find at these times, it is paramount to have wonderful friends and a support system that boosts you. Retail is filled with ebb and flow, one must master the highs and the lows. Be open to learning and embrace your mistakes to learn new ways of being and doing.

How did you fund your leap?

From my other business, A Story By Another Name. 

What other leaps have you made in the past?

Travelling overseas on my own. Motherhood on my own.

What leaps haven’t work out? What did you do about it?

None of my leaps haven’t worked out, they have led me to great opportunities. Doors closing open exciting new opportunities up ahead.

 

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

People not understanding my message. So I keep showing up in my business. Retail is all about connection and conversations, and I talk to everyone who comes into the store. One by one I nurture my customers, and that’s how I keep going.

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

10.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

Self-expression. To be who I am on the inside on the outside.

 

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

Doing it on my own. The loneliness of not being able to share the good times and the bad times.

What might be your next leap?

I’d love to collaborate with other retailers and create a space where we could share a common area and I’d love to collaborate with some of my suppliers.

What are your favourite words to live by?

It’s nice to be nice. Consume less, love more. Keep it simple.

Who do you admire who also made the leap?

My mother, leaping from social worker to retailer to photographer.

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Follow your itch. If the motivation to leap is to express yourself and your beliefs, there will be a way. My passion has been my fuel and my light when obstacles felt overwhelming. I had a desire to express myself and to be me. There was a genuine childlike enthusiasm and that gave me a clear indicator to leap.

Right now I’m:

Hearing: John Coltrane, Radio National ABC
Eating: Anything that makes me happy
Drinking: Magic
Reading: The Of Kin Blog and The Age
Loving: My child and the human spirit

///

There’s quite possibly a voice from your inner child that has a message about leaping for you.  It might be worth a listen this week.

Lovingly,

Kylie x


The Leap Stories is coming to Adelaide, April 10!

All tickets include a signed copy of the book and supper – because courage is hungry.

Book your tickets here!

The Leap Stories Adelaide

Love After Love Poem by Derek Walcott

Today I had a smart, capable, big-hearted client who said to me ‘I have grief about how long I did the thing that wasn’t right for me.’ It’s crushed her and she’s now picking herself up and forging a new path with bravery, self-compassion and curiosity… inspite of still feeling fearful and uncertain. She is choosing courage. This poem to me is the essence of taking a leap. This is for her.

Love after Love


BY DEREK WALCOTT

The time will come
when, with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror,
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

The Leap Stories - Madeleine Dore

I remember feeling confused the first time I read artist and designer James Victore’s words ‘freedom is something you take‘. I thought I am privileged to live in a first world democracy, of course, I’m free. My freedom was given to me at birth. I didn’t need to ‘take it’.  And yet in many ways, as a grown woman I didn’t feel free. I felt trapped by expectation, obligation, comparison, norms, shoulds and fear.

It took me a while to realise that indeed, my freedom is highly personal, and a result of my mindset, worldview and choices. Even when our basic human rights are met, we are not free if we don’t see ourselves as such. Permission to change, try and grow is something we grant ourselves.

In a parallel universe, you’ll read that this week’s leap taker Madeleine Dore was having a similar epiphany inspired by filmmaker and writer Miranda July. While Madeleine was working in her dream job, the side gig she had started was beckoning her to go deeper. So she claimed her freedom to explore it full-time. Not only did her Extraordinary Routines blog blossom, as did her corporate freelance writing. So much so, that she had to remind herself again that she could to claim her freedom to say no, in order to continue to exploring own creative work.

Staying woke to our freedom to choose matters. Because seemingly not making a choice is one. We owe it to each other to keep reminding each other of our freedoms and our choices because courage is contagious. And we could all do with a good dose of that every now and again.

///

The gorgeous Madeleine Dore, founder of Extraordinary Routines. Photo by Prue Aja Photography.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

When asked this question as a kid I would reply with ‘everything.’ I remember thinking I was so clever because I had somehow cheated the system and thought of an alternative all the adults with their singular job titles had somehow overlooked.

The feeling of wanting to do everything has never quite escaped me and when asked this question today I’m still not sure – ‘I don’t know, a bit of everything?’ At times the question can have me stumbling over my words, worried that ‘everything’ ultimately translates into nothing – or perhaps there’s a divide between the things I currently do and the myriad of things I want to be doing. But I think by definition creatives have permission to try it all, and it’s okay if that process is non-linear.

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

What did/do you study?

After high school, I went straight into a Bachelor of Professional Communication at RMIT before switching to study entrepreneurship at Swinburne. The degree took me abroad to Copenhagen where I completed my studies and dabbled in arts management. While I was studying overseas I took up some internships that brought me back to writing. For a while I would berate myself for this – I felt like my education was full of gaps from changing back and forth, but when I took up a role interviewing creative entrepreneurs it all feel into place. Nothing is ever wasted, it seems!

I’ve dipped my toes in a Masters of Creative Writing, Editing and Publishing, but gaining full-time employment as the Deputy Editor at ArtsHub in 2014 took over.

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

Quitting my ‘dream job’ at ArtsHub in June last year was certainly a scary one – especially because it was on somewhat of a whim. I saw Miranda July speak when she was in Melbourne and her words stuck in my mind: she explained how she continues to forget and remember, forget and remember, forget and remember that she is free.

There were things I wanted to try in terms of freelance writing, projects and Extraordinary Routines that I felt as if I couldn’t because I was trapped in a dream job. It sounds odd, but when things are going well, it feels completely against the grain to change them. We can get stuck in the rules we create for ourselves, or the made up version of our lives we think we should be living.

But the decision was made and I went about putting in safety nets – I had money saved for travel that I decided to allocate as a backup fund for the transition from full-time work to freelance. I was in a very privileged position in that sense – freelance writing can be precarious, but I had some room to experiment and ease into it.

The first day of my new freelance career I wrote a manifesto for quitting your day job which including some guidance including the wise words of Maya Mendoza: ‘No amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.’

Five months in and I had to stop myself in my tracks – I’d done just that, settled for security. I’d taken on some well paying corporate work so that I didn’t have to see my savings diminish. In the meantime, I hadn’t set about expanding Extraordinary Routines or my own creative projects. And so it begins again – a new plan has been set for 2017 that includes a full three months of only working on the interview project and seeing where it takes me.

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

What were you doing before you made your leap?

I was working full-time as the Deputy Editor at ArtsHub, but I could also trace back my leap to when I started Extraordinary Routines in 2014.

I was unemployed, suffering from a case of reverse culture-shock and house-sitting for a family friend. I felt pretty dismal having just come back from an exciting year abroad in Denmark, unable to find work while friends around me were making leaps and bounds in their newly formed careers. When I was overseas I was working for a local English newspaper and small art magazine – I missed interviewing and meeting interesting creatives and needed to find a way to bring that experience into my current life. Despite feeling low, I chipped away at launching Extraordinary Routines, which if we come full circle, helped me land the job at ArtsHub! I think once you find the momentum and confidence, you’re more aware and open to opportunities.

Madeleine Dore, founder of the inspiring and creative interview series, Extraordinary Routines. Photo by Prue Aja Photography.

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

1. I have a strong curiosity about people – how they deal with each day, the highs and the lows, and what it really takes for them to produce something extraordinary. Often we see the end product or picture-perfect Instagram account, book launch, or gallery opening, but there is often doubt, fear, mistakes, failure and a real, often flawed human behind what is portrayed. I used to suffer from comparing myself incessantly, but since discovering other people have their vulnerabilities too, I’m less tough on myself.

2. I really enjoy hearing about side projects and seeing a friend or stranger build an idea from nothing to something. Whether it’s a painting, a funny series of images, or a publication, the process is fascinating.

3. Annie Dillard’s words, ‘How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,’ are a constant reminder that our life doesn’t begin when we find a new job or partner, or in five, ten, or fifteen years – it’s happening now and our days ultimately shape our lives. There needn’t be pressure to do everything right now, but it’s important to pay closer attention to your choices.

4. This may sound a little morbid, but a current influence on my own daily work is thinking about mortality. I believe reminding ourselves of our own death can serve as a motivator and help us prioritise what we do each day – nothing kicks you out of a bout of procrastination like reminding yourself of your own death! I started an Instagram account @moralitymusings to collect famous quotes and thoughts on the subject.

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

When creating Extraordinary Routines, it was a friend’s gentle push that helped with my leap. I think it helps to have some objectivity in these types of situations – someone who is not experiencing the fear to offer a bird’s eye view and let you know it’s not as difficult as your making it out to be. I highly recommend finding an accountability buddy for this very reason!

What motivates me to keep leaping – public speaking, dabbling in events, testing out new blog formats, conducting life experiments – is a fondness for bravery and doing something new, even just for the story! I’ve learned to stop worrying about what other people think and simply try new things in order to make life more interesting.

And again, remembering I’m going to die! I can’t help but think of poet Mary Oliver: ‘Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?’

If the privilege of leaping is available to you – even if you don’t quite have the bravery yet – leap!

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

How did you fund your leap?

Starting Extraordinary Routines involved getting a Squarespace website and buying coffee for the first interviewee. Today I fund the project and photography through my freelance work.

I had the backup fund for when I quit ArtsHub – and I used that to calculate a ‘burn rate.’ I put together all my expenses, then modestly estimated what I thought I could earn each month so I was able to see how long I could survive. I’ve been lucky that I haven’t dipped into my savings since freelancing – but again, that’s perhaps a sign I’ve been playing it a little safe with taking on corporate work!

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

You’ll meet new people and create opportunities you would never have imagined. I was out to dinner recently and realised the majority of the people around the table were people I had met through Extraordinary Routines.

I’ve taken part in writers’ festivals and given a talk at one of my favourite events Creative Mornings as well as had new writing opportunities open up just through putting the project out there.

Even little leaps in your day to day life can change how you view your world. There is so much we do each day that we are unaware of – in fact, by the time we reach the age of 35, eighty-five percent of our behaviours are unconscious, making our personality almost set in stone. So when we do something just a little out of the ordinary like take a different route to work, we are jolted out of ourselves.

In a way, we can constantly take leaps just in our minds by changing our thoughts, moods, and attitudes. This has been a big lesson for me, and Epictetus said it best: “Do not seek to have events happen as you want them to, but instead want them to happen as they do happen, and your life will go well.”

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

The ever-present feeling that it’s not quite what it could be. It’s easy for the mind to fall into a cycle that tells you you’re not living up to your own expectations. I try to keep that in check, and instead of focusing on what I’m not doing, appreciate what I have accomplished.

What might be your next leap?

I want to keep experimenting with new formats, whether that be a podcast or book! I also have a few ideas for a new interview series and exhibition, so tinkering away with that.

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

What are your favourite words to live by?

I keep a spreadsheet filled with my favourite quotes by authors and inspirational tidbits I find.

Here are a few:

“Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music – the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.” – Henry Miller

“All I ever really want to know is how other people are making it through life. Where do they put their body, hour by hour, and how do they cope inside of it.” – Miranda July

“The more you know what you really want and where you are really going, the more what everybody else is doing starts to diminish.” – Alain de Botton

“There isn’t time – so brief is life – for bickerings, apologies, heartburnings, callings to account. There is only time for loving – & but an instant, so to speak, for that.’ – Mark Twain

And finally, the ultimate leaping mantra:

“Never work for other people…always, always remember that the reason that you initially started working was that there was something inside yourself that you felt, that if you could manifest it in some way, you would understand more about yourself and how you co-exist with the rest of society… And the other thing I would say is that if you feel safe in the area that you’re working in, you’re not working in the right area. Always go a little further into the water than you feel you’re capable of being in. Go a little bit out of your depth and when you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” – David Bowie

Madeleine Dore Extraordinary Routines

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Start small and don’t let imperfection, comparison or expectations get in the way. Remember it’s your project, your leap, your life and your rules. Allow yourself to be pleasantly surprised by even the tiniest of steps.

Right now I’m:

Hearing: Lianne La Havas – saw her perform recently in Melbourne and she’s been on repeat ever since
Eating: Boiled eggs with butter (I’m on a bit of a butter craze since trying Bulletproof Coffee! – a mix of filter coffee, grass fed butter, and coconut oil!)
Drinking: Prosecco, always
Reading: Yassmin’s Story by Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Loving: Themed dinner parties

///

Dear friends, what freedoms might you take this week?

Lovingly,

Kylie x

p.s. Purchase your copy of The Leap Stories book to access exclusive content only available in print, including a provocation for your own leap. Buy Now.

When I first meet New Zealand born and raised Anna Ross, founder of cosmetic and skincare brand Kester Black, I was convinced that she would one day take over the world. That was in 2014 when she was still working her administrative assistant job and Kester Black was still a side gig.

But from her tiny home studio tucked in the back of a sharehouse, her drive to play bigger was evident. Anna had studied design, relocated to Australia, worked in various fashion houses, paradoxically found herself in an administrative role and started a side jewellery and nail polish business. In the process of experimenting with her product range, she soon realised that nail polish was the more lucrative choice, and she focussed her attention to building that business.

All the while, Anna stayed curious, asked questions and sought the counsel of people who could help her. When she took on her first commercial lease, she couldn’t afford it on her own and took on tenants to help take the leap. She strengthened her personal beliefs and keep them at the heart of building her business, and surrounded herself with people who cared about the same things she did.

Anna’s design training keeps empathy and inclusion at the forefront of her product innovations and employee conditions. Tapping into an ethical purchasing gap in the cosmetics market, Anna developed one of the first high quality, vegan, cruelty-free nail polishes on the Australian market. She’s since developed a breathable nail polish allowing Muslim women to also wear it. Her staff benefit from above award wages, flexible hours, paternity leave, training funds and birthday leave. Her company donates profits to several social enterprises, and she continues to seek out collaborations. She’s evidence that design thinking works.

Anna now works full time in her B-Corp certified business, and credits daily yoga, meditation and gratitude practices as the levers that allow her to thrive in growing Kester Black into a globally stocked brand (she even earned herself a yoga teaching qualification!).

Since we spoke to Anna for this interview, she has gone on to win the national Telstra 2016 Young Business Woman of the Year. A natural step for someone on their way to world domination. After all, the future is female.

The-Future-Is-Female-Nail-Polish- Kester- Black

Kester Black’s The Future Is Female, cruelty-free, vegan nail polish, made in Australia. Photography by Martina Gemmola. Styling by Anna Ross and Annette Wagner.

///

Gorgeous Anna Ross, founder of Kester Black.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

I was lucky, from the age of about 12 I knew I wanted to be a designer. Back then I wanted to be a fashion designer and that decision has really formed my entire career.

What did/do you study?

At high school, I dropped English and Maths as soon as possible and only studied art subjects. Art, printmaking, design, photography etc. I also studied a Certificate in Jewellery Manufacturing as an elective while I was still in high school. Once I finished that, I studied a Bachelor of Design, majoring in Fashion. I’m planning on doing my MBA in the next few years too.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

Two things! The first one would have been deciding to quit my part-time job as an admin assistant to work on Kester Black full-time. That was a very stressful decision – what if we don’t make enough money, what if I can’t pay my rent, what if the business fails? etc.

The second biggest leap I had to take was signing a commercial lease! I’d never rented commercial property before, and the financial risk was the biggest I had ever had to consider. Although I agonised over that decision for weeks, it all worked out better for me in the end. Because I took so long to decide, the landlord dropped the rent and offered us three months free rent which saved us a lot of cash.

What were you doing before you made your leap?

I was working as an Administration Assistant for the Australasian College of Behavioral Optometrists! I loved the job and learnt a lot from my amazing boss there. I was sad to say goodbye to that position.

Who have been the biggest 3 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

1. My wonderful boss from my last job, Veronica. She taught me about accounting, put me in touch with my book­keeper (who has ended up training me to do my own books) and is always available to run an idea past or to ask a question. She has been a major support to me and has always been encouraging towards my business.

2. My mum. She has always believed that I could achieve anything. With her unconditional love and support I have been able to take risks and learn and grow from the mistakes I make.

3. All of my other female powerhouse friends. They might not think they are powerhouses but they are in their own rights. Often we can’t see our own best selves but it is easy to spot strengths in the others around us. Many of my friends wouldn’t know how impressed with them I am, but when I’m feeling lost, I draw on the energy from the people I surround myself with. Every single one of them has picked me up when I have fallen down and probably never even realised it.

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

I had a pretty solid business built up before I took the leap from it being a hobby to a full-time career. I had essentially worked two jobs for a number of years and the brand seemed much bigger than it actually was. As for a steady income, I certainly didn’t have that. It was scary but it all worked out for the best.

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that led you to the leap?

It wasn’t so much a defining moment, rather a number of years working for other people who were inflexible and unwilling to listen to anyone else.

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

I constantly surround myself with people that have my best interests at heart. When I was making any of my leaps, I would ask my friends and family for their advice. I don’t always take advice given to me but it certainly opens my mind up to other perspectives. Sometimes I even ignore advice, then go straight back to the same person to ask them to help me. I am not afraid to ask for help, especially when I make mistakes. In recent years I have learnt to meditate and being able to quiet my mind has allowed me to listen to my heart. This would have certainly helped me in making my leap and I wish I had implemented this wonderful daily practice many years earlier.

I also don’t really believe in failure. If you have a goal, and you don’t quite achieve it, then I like to rearrange the goal posts. If every time we didn’t reach our goals we called it a failure then I don’t think anyone would take risks. Goals should never be set in stone and I see people making this mistake all the time. Plans change and being adaptable is the biggest tool you have, so learn to use it.

How did you fund your leap?

I started with $50 from a paycheck from my retail job and made my first jewellery collection with it. I just kept nurturing that money and very slowly it grew. Looking back on it now I am so awestruck with how far I have come. We haven’t had any outside investment or loans of any sort to date.

What other leaps have you made in the past?

I moved to Australia on my own not knowing anyone here. I was coming with a friend but she changed her mind and pulled out at the last minute. It was reasonably risky (I only had $1000 saved which wasn’t enough) and it took two years to really settle in, however it was a time in my life when I experienced so much learning and growing, I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?

I can’t think of an example of when I took a leap and it didn’t work out, only because I can have a very forceful energy. I can think of a few examples of investments within my company where I invested money into projects (like the nail art book) that may have been better spent elsewhere. The projects still worked, we broke even and even made a reasonable profit but had I invested that cash into other parts of my business I would possibly be better off. I think through the process of taking leaps, I have learnt that sometimes I should let things fall through rather than use all of my energy to push them over the line.

I have now gained more of a ‘spiritual intelligence’, or an ability to trust my intuition, and when I have to push hard to make things happen, I take it as a sign that maybe they aren’t the best thing for me to be investing my energy into at that time.

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

I used to be terrified of everything! But now nothing much phases me. Sometimes I think about if I lost everything I had, would it be the end of the world? Probably not. I have had some big challenges at Kester Black and after much reflecting, I decided they didn’t actually deserve as much time as I spent worrying about them. Sometimes I do have terrible dreams that my cat dies. That is pretty much what’s at the top of my worry pile. All this change and reflection only came about when I started a daily meditation and gratitude practice. I meditate for 20 minutes, twice a day, and I even made it a company policy. Also the more I practise gratitude, the more I think about the wonderful things I do have and stop worrying about the things that may never happen.

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap? 1 being sad, 10 being rad.

10! I love it. I love what I do, I love the office space I created and I love the people I get to work with most of all.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

I am my own boss. I have made it my priority to create an amazing work/life balance. I work hard but that doesn’t mean I do it sitting at my desk until 8pm at nights when I have a lot to do. I make sure I go to yoga, meditate and travel, all things that I probably wouldn’t be able to get away with if I worked for someone else. I can leave work if I am stressed and come back to the job at a later time once I have a clear head again.

Check out this delicious and politically on-point ‘Impeachment’ Kester Black nail polish. Cruelty-free and made in Australia.

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

At first, it was the fear of not having a stable income. It’s always risky going out on your own but once you take the leap then you have to tread hard to keep your head above water. I just made sure I worked hard before and after I took the leap to ensure a steady income. Now I pay myself a set wage every week and I haven’t had any trouble in keeping that or any of the other staff wages steadily flowing.

What might be your next leap?

I think the next leap might be to bring on an external investor. It’s something I have been putting off for a while because I wanted to make sure that my company had a really steady foundation and I was 100% sure about the success it would have if I did take on investment. I also want to make sure I find someone who is totally in line with my vision as I have heard many disaster stories about founders leaving companies that get pushed in different directions once there is more than one player involved.

What are your favourite words to live by?

It’s better to live your own destiny imperfectly than to live an imitation of somebody else’s life with perfection. ­ The Bhagavad Gita. Can you tell that I just became a yoga teacher?!

Who do you admire who also made the leap?

Honestly, I’m really inspired by all the little guys. Maybe they aren’t so little anymore. Jess Lillico, Chelsea Bagan, Nat Turnbull, Kylie Weir, Georgia Perry, Sean Fennessy. Just all the other amazing creatives I get to work alongside every day. When businesses are smaller, you get to build a personal relationship with the creative behind it as well as share ideas collectively.

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Get going straight away. Ask your friends and family to help you. You would be amazed at how much time and effort people are willing to offer you just because you have passion.

Right now I’m:

Sitting at my desk at work, it’s a beautiful day and I have some exciting projects happening.
Hearing: Innerbloom by Rufus.
Eating: Mung bean sprouts, mmmmm.
Drinking: Green tea.
Reading: Good To Great by Jim Collins.
Loving: The beautiful weather and walking to and from work!

///

Who might you ask for help this week? Who could help you take the next step towards your leap? Take Anna’s advice, and don’t be afraid to ask.

Lovingly,

Kylie x

p.s. You can watch Anna accepting her Telstra Business Women’s Award here, and hear her talk about the importance of aligning her personal values with her business purpose.

p.p.s. Purchase your copy of The Leap Stories book to access exclusive content only available in print. Buy Now.

This week’s leap taker is creative maker, Ellie Beck, perhaps better known by her business name, Petalplum. Six years ago Ellie and her partner Sam took the leap to make a tree change from Brisbane to the hinterlands of Byron Bay. They sold their house, left their jobs and today are both running creative businesses, hand-building their house and raising three children.

Ellie now runs textile workshops for makers, has an online course called The Creative Year, is an Instagram influencer, and blogs regularly on slow living. Sam has his own creative business, making accessories from upcycled skateboard decks. Ellie leads from the heart in everything she does, reminding us to pause, slow down, reflect and notice everyday ordinary joys. But she is not shy of having conversations about the challenges of pursuing a creative life, and her Instagram posts give an honest insight into choosing a life of freedom over financial stability. These are often her most popular posts.

In our interview, Ellie mentioned that ‘acknowledging my fears helps me sit with them.’ It’s true that recognising and labelling our fears helps move beyond them. Neurobiologist Dr Dan Siegel has shown that naming our emotions can diffuse their charge and lessen the burden they create. His practice coined the phrase ‘name it to tame it’, whereby naming the emotions we’re experiencing gets us off autopilot of habitual responses which can lead us to becoming overwhelmed by our emotions, to accepting them, letting them go and transforming them. As he points out, there’s a significant difference between saying ‘I am afraid’ and ‘I feel afraid’ – the first statement is a kind of limited self-definition, the second suggests the ability to recognise and acknowledge a feeling without being consumed, defined or limited by it.

‘Naming it to tame it’ is a tool I use in my consulting practice. It’s helpful in exploring assumptions, fact-checking reality, getting unstuck and staying self-aware. Because it’s only when we can acknowledge the inner working of our own mind can we be empowered to make change.

///

Gorgeous Ellie Beck, creative, maker and founder of Petalplum.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

An actor, a teacher, a shopkeeper. We used to play schools and shops when we were kids! If I look sideways at my current ‘job descriptions’ then I’m pretty sure I almost fit into those categories. I have an online shop (and market stalls occasionally), I teach workshops, and I present events and have my Petalplum persona.

I’m not sure I ever wanted to be an artist, I grew up in a very creative artistic family. I didn’t see ‘artist’ as a role I would become, perhaps because it was so innate in my lifestyle, I didn’t separate it, it just was what we were or perhaps because there never seemed to be a lot of money in it, I wasn’t sure it was a ‘real’ job. I’m not sure.

What did/do you study?

After school, I studied a graphic design course, but it was so long ago that it was old school style. Mostly, since then it’s been a whole lot of self-training (with some online courses, often in small business and such). But, you know, there’s that school of life sort of thing.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

I didn’t actually ever think much about how I leap, until someone mentioned to me once that I make big decisions, and take big leaps. And then I started thinking about the leaps I’ve jumped feet first into throughout my life. It must just be me. When I met my now husband, I was barely 20. I quit college and followed him halfway up the countryside (from Brisbane to Cairns) away from my family and any friends. I barely knew him at all. 18 years later we’re still together.

Almost six years ago we made the massive decision, in a very light and ‘let’s just do it’ manner, to leave the city (Brisbane) and move back to the countryside. We now live on my family land, slightly inland from Byron Bay. We’re still building our own home and our business.

Leaving the city meant leaving Sam’s full-time job. It meant moving down to no ‘set’ jobs and having to make our business work (and rely on our savings to get us through). Perhaps we should have planned it a bit better, but then we probably wouldn’t have done it. I feel like I’m always leaping from idea to idea, business to business, moment to moment. Sometimes that’s good – sometimes I need my husband to reign me in!

What were you doing before you made your leap?

Living in the city working on making projects and businesses happen, and mothering full-time. I was trying to open a creative workshop space, which fell through and I was teaching workshops out of a little studio space.

I was heavily involved in the local Brisbane crafting scene, a part of markets and events and things. I miss a lot of that now, but I have a new community down in this creative region I live in. Murwillumbah (northern NSW) is one of the most creatively diverse regions in the whole of Australia.

 

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

My mother, Michele – she taught me that I really can do anything, be anything, that I want to. Her own sense of self (my perception of it) has allowed me to move through a lot of self-doubts and realise that someone else’s version of success or happiness doesn’t matter, that it’s just what I want/need that matters. In terms of creativity – a lot of who I am came from her, and her working hard in her life for us to live a full creative upbringing.

My dad, Eric – in a totally different way to my mum, my dad continues to make me see how just being who I am is the best way. How to slow and breathe, how to go about life in a quiet humble way. I know that I’m always trying to impress him and make him proud of me, and while he doesn’t outwardly declare it from the hilltops, I’m pretty sure he’s proud of me.

Sam, my husband – I’ve known Sam since I was young (just barely 20), so we’ve creatively grown together over the years and shared our ideals and wishes, as well as our artistic frustrations. He pushes and guides me, offering insights and assistance. His own work and dedication constantly inspires.

 

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

Before we moved away from the city to live our ‘slow simple living’ we barely had anything in place. We moved to a leaky shack, with no electricity or proper internet. To make our artistic businesses worked required a lot of resistance, physical hard work and dedication, as well as sheer willpower to keep on going! I’m pretty sure if we’d thought about leaving a regular full-time job and income to be full-time self-employed creatives, we may not have made the leap. But then we’d still be living in a rental house in Brisbane.

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that led you to the leap?

We really wanted our kids – at that stage, Ari was 6, Mishi 3 – to grow up in the forest/country the way we both had. That was more important to us than a job or a house or anything else. We were living in a horrible rental place (after having sold our house and waiting to buy something new). Sam was working in a job he loved, but it meant he wasn’t doing the creative making that he also loved. We knew in order to make the change and become full-time artists, Sam needed to give up his full-time job to truly invest himself into his making practice.

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

Oh – perhaps one way of overcoming the fear is not overthinking it. I’m pretty good at seeing the things I want and just jumping for them. Once I’ve jumped, that’s when I learn to fly and sometimes I have to make my own wings on the way down before we crash. It’s all a learning curve really and I’m eager for the adventure. I always think, what’s the worst that could happen? Generally, the worst is we have no money. We’re pretty good at living frugally and we know that our family will always help us out if it gets to a really dire situation financially. So, with that in mind, we just leap. Well, often I leap (throwing myself in the new project/idea/wish) and Sam has to come along with me.

The other possible fear is the fear of failure. I’ve been through this and spent anxious moments not wanting to fail. But I talk myself around to the reality that failure is just another lesson. If one project doesn’t work, then I have to decide if I really really want to keep going, if I love it that much, or if I’m happy to let it go and realise that some leaps crash land. And a crash landing isn’t necessarily a bad thing – you just have to get up and keep trying new things.

How do I choose courage? Hmm – I’m so curious about the journey, the process, the doing rather than the outcome needing to be the final destination. If I listen to myself, my own heart helps me be courageous. I think it’s when we stop listening to our soul and heart that we get too swayed by external forces and that’s when the fear seeps in. In those times I step back from it all, settle into my mind, busy my hands with my making, get down and play deeply with my children, go for walks/meanders/foraging journeys into the forest – ignore the taunts and the calls and the perceived perfectionism of the outside world – I’m never going to be that, why do I keep trying to please other people?!

Acknowledging my fears helps me sit with them,  quiets them in my brain. I don’t let them overtake me. Talking to myself rationally about any fear does really work. Writing it down, putting it out there in the world – sometimes when I talk about certain fears (particularly on my Instagram account) I get such wonderful feedback and conversations, and I’m reminded that we all have the same fears, and also that we’re all in this together – that I have people cheering me on, and not laughing at me if I fall flat on my face.

How did you fund your leap?

Mostly by being very frugal with our spending, and also from the sale of our house in Brisbane seven years ago. Everything we earn goes back into a new venture.

What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?

Hmmm… I can’t remember. I think if leaps don’t work out then I reassess it – why didn’t it work? Was it me, did I not try hard enough/want it enough/put enough work in, or was it the wrong leap? Some leaps are the wrong leaps. That’s ok too – those are lesson leaps. As I get older, I’m better at learning what those leaps have to teach me; about myself, my audience/community/customers, society, how I fit into it or not.

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

I’m most fearful of not reaching my own potential, not having the time/space/finances/motivation to be what is my whole full self. I’m not yet sure how I deal with it, keep writing lists and dreaming, keep working slowly in becoming the real whole me – listening to my own heartbeat and not the thrum and thud of society. Also realising that things happen in their own time, pushing something isn’t always the right thing. Flowing and allowing brings me further away from fear and closer to truth.

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

A bit fat 10! I am so content and simply happy living the life we live. Sure there’s a lot of hardness and big work to do, but I couldn’t be on this journey (and I’m pretty sure Sam couldn’t either) without us having left the city and jumped feet first into hand-building our house. We’ve built it from digging the holes in the ground up. It’s taught us persistence, respect and a lot more – and also reminds me good things do come, but you have to wait for them, slowly, slowly.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

Living the life that is truly me. Knowing that now each day is a journey towards being the creative artist, the quiet achiever, the mother, the person who I’m meant to be. It’s brought me back to so much of what I was. Realising that we don’t need much to be happy and content, that simple living is the truth we need.

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

Probably finances – not having a ‘proper full-time job’ can be hard. Occasionally I ponder if I should go and find work, but the truth is I know we don’t need to. What do we do? We tighten our purse strings a little more, we get back to our making and creating, we keep on going and doing what we love, and hoping people will keep on loving what we do.

Having both of us self-employed and also hand building our home has been long slow work. It’s been hard – it’s taken way longer than we thought it would. We get through it by being grateful for what we do have, while dreaming of the next phase, and mixing dreams with reality to live our days.

What might be your next leap?

I’m dreaming of creative retreats on our land. This means we’ll need to find some funds to help build a studio space. But I know it’ll happen and soon we’ll be sharing our piece of magical forest with other creatives.

What are your favourite words to live by?

I seek contentment in the daily mundane moments. I don’t have particular words I live by, more a feeling, to be grateful, to seek/see/notice or create beauty in little everyday moments.

I also tell my kids regularly that life isn’t fair – that we’re not entitled to everything just because we want it, or think we deserve it. Sometimes we don’t get what we might deserve. It reminds me to be grateful, to just be happy with what we do get.

Who do you admire who also made the leap?

I admire my friends Jo and Andy Olive, from Olive and the Volcano Letterpress. They live in our town (on the other side of the dormant volcano mountain) and have a beautiful at-home creative studio.

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

What’s the worst that could happen if you make the leap? What’s the worst if you don’t? If your heart tells you that it’s right, then go for it – and be prepared for a beautiful journey along the way.

Right now I’m:

Hearing: The birds calling in our forest home.
Eating: Leftover cake from birthday gatherings (both my sons share the same birthday, 10 years apart. So there’s always lots of cake!)
Drinking: Coffee, green tea, beautiful fresh rain water.
Reading: Old crafting books, my kids’ homework… Listening to talking books on BorrowBow – loving The Infinite Air by Fiona Kidman about NZ aviator Jean Batten – wondering if she’s a long-lost relative and being crazily inspired by the leaps she made in her life. She was a woman who went after what she wanted – breaking flying records and paving the way for women in the world.
Loving: Spending time with my basket weaving, the new courtyard we’re slowly bringing to life, the amazingly beautiful bracelets Sam has been making in his studio, the potential of all the things in my life at the moment.

///

A question to ponder this week: Where in your life might you have a self-limited definition of who you are, because a negative emotion came to town and set up camp in your front yard? Might it be time for an eviction?

Lovingly,

Kylie x

P.S. Grab your copy of The Leap Stories book here, and tap into exclusive leaping content only available in print.

Crafting a career is a creative act. It might involve moving cities, trialling a range of gigs, applying your skills in unforeseen ways, partnering with other pros to start new things, and working both freelance and employment to find a mix just right for you. And this week’s leap taker Lani Pauli has taken her love of communication and community building and explored all those avenues. From working in traditional PR agency land in a new city to local community building for US startup app, to then leaping into her own business with allied professionals, Lani has joined the dots between ideas and opportunities.

You’ll read in her story, that one of her favourite insights is to ‘Keep your eyes on your own yoga mat.’ Even if you don’t do yoga, you’ll want to take heed of her advice when pondering a leap. Because getting caught up in comparison, not-enoughness, what others might think and over investing in trying to please everyone, all lead to leaping paralysis that holds us back from exploring our own unique potential.

Today Lani combines her own freelancing work, with values-aligned agency Deane & Co to service a range PR clients. She’s crafted a working life that also allows her to take care of her health and plunder possibility. But she readily admits that self-employment isn’t for everyone, and I totally agree. But we also agree that taking a leap, even a tiny one that feels a little bit scary, counts.

Creativity is “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns or relationships, to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods or interpretations.” We were all born creative. When we were young we all took risks in the face of uncertainty, dared to try new things and got back up when we fell over. These were the essentials to expanding our life when we were kids, and they’re same for us as adults. The smallest of leaps is a creative act that expands what you see for yourself in your life, no matter what season you find yourself in. Because the truth is, we never really stop growing up.

///

clairedeanemarketing_6feb2016_bysavannahvanderniet-23

Gorgeous Lani Pauli, onsite with Deane & Co.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

The earliest thing I can remember wanting to be when I grew up was a forensic scientist. Looking back, that young, I definitely didn’t know what it was. I always want to know the ‘why’ behind everything – why someone does something, why things are the way they are – you get the picture!

As I went through high school this transitioned into wanting to be a journalist. If I could tell myself then what I know about myself now, I’d remind the past me that she doesn’t really have the constitution to be a journalist and she’ll find that out in an interview for a cadetship with a major metropolitan newspaper when they ask if you would be comfortable doing a death knock (essentially advising a family member their loved one, for example, has died and proceeding to ask questions for a story).

What did/do you study?

I studied journalism and public relations.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

Although my barely 21 year old self didn’t think it at the time, moving out of home for the first time, not just to a share house in the next suburb, but from my hometown (about 90 mins from Brisbane) to Sydney was one of the biggest leaps I took. More recently it was jumping into a job with an international app that on paper seemed too good to be true. It was four of the best years of my career and I’m glad I took the leap from the comfort of an office job with an ad agency to see what it would become. It absolutely has led me to where I am today.

lani-pauli-quote-1

What were you doing before you made your leap?

I was the community manager for an app that helps people find the best places to eat, drink and shop. I got to spend my days working with some awesome small businesses and it was their stories that I loved most I think. It was four years where I pushed myself, met amazing people, and learnt a great deal. It was something that took this natural introvert into some pretty extroverted situations!

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

Good question! I would say working in larger agencies in Sydney (and later in Brisbane) helped influence what I do and don’t want in a career and workspace. I’m thankful for people like the person who hired me for my role at Yelp who opened the door to showing me that, for want of a better phrase, you can have your cake and eat it too. And as naff as this may sound podcasts like On Being and a few others that give me food for thought on topics largely unrelated to work that end up influencing your view of the world and as a result how you work.

lani-pauli-quote-2

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

I would have preferred to have a lot more in place before I made the leap financially speaking. You know they always say that you should have at least 6-12 months of a salary saved. I didn’t. I did have two clients in place that I knew could be the foundation of my finances after I jumped.

Honestly, it was one of the least planned things I have done in my life. I generally plan and overthink things to the enth degree. And although ‘the leap’ had been playing on my mind for a while, the moment that led to it wasn’t planned. Mind you, I went back to the safety of a contract role in between because I thought it was ‘the right thing to do’ before I committed to where I am now. I don’t regret it for a second and along the way I’ve learnt that you need to trust the net will be there to catch you. That isn’t to say it will be easy. It won’t. But it will be satisfying (for the most part), the (right) people will be willing to help you, and the worst case scenario (going back to full-time work in an office) still isn’t my worst case scenario.

lani-pauli-quote-3

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that led you to the leap?

It was during a quarterly conversation with my then manager. Looking back now I’d been trying to keep plugging away for months. I liken it to trying to keep a relationship going when you just know deep down your heart isn’t in it and each person has naturally grown apart. It eats away at you and the more you put the smile on and pretend it’s okay, the less it is so. Lucky for me, my manager at the time was also a friend, so I suspect she knew where my head was at. It was during this call that she tactfully suggested that perhaps I would be happier doing something else. In that moment it was like I gave myself permission to believe the ‘gut feelings’ I’d been pushing away were actually trying to tell me (probably screaming at this point) something. My manager saying those words opened the gates and gave me the strength to say, ‘Actually, yeah, I think I would be.’

That moment led to leaving a role I’d adored for four years but knew wasn’t right for me anymore. I’d done all I could and it was time to finish that chapter. I believe that leaving when I did, I still learnt from the experience and didn’t overstay to a point that I felt bitter about it all. That said, it took time to come to peace with it all, like any good relationship ‘break up’, but it had to be.

lani-pauli-quote-4

 

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

I’m still learning how to harness the fear and choose to, in Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, have an old fashion chit chat with it. In a good week all the routine things like making sure I’m eating well, getting adequate sleep and moving, mean the fear that comes with leaping is kept at bay. Self-care gets a good whip as the buzzword of the moment but it is the act of maintaining a routine, that helps me perform at my best. And I don’t always get it right! Yin Yoga has been the biggest thing to help me continue to overcome those racing and nagging thoughts we all have. I started Yin thinking it would improve my flexibility (and it has) but more than that it gives me space to defrag everything (like you used to do on an old school PC!) and have more clarity when I’m not on the mat.

A support network – it would only be in the past 18 months that I have found a small but mighty group of women who have become good friends and are often going through similar things. Having a safe space to vent, sound an idea out or say what’s causing you the most anxiety (however silly it might seem in your head) has been a wonderful gift.

Redefining my definition of success – the past 12 months have thrown me challenges, good and bad, that have forced me to look inwards and spend time working out what is important to me. The closer I hold my definition of success to my chest the easier it becomes to let go of some of the fear-driven decisions and actions we make. Success doesn’t have to be buckets of cash, fancy cars and a jet-about lifestyle!

lani-pauli-quote-5

How did you fund your leap?

Having two clients already on board made the financial stress of my leap a fraction less. I certainly didn’t have the ‘war chest’ I would have liked to when I took my leap. If this process has taught me anything it’s that even the best plans go astray. I often think that had my hand not been forced, to a degree, I would never had made the jump in the first place. The lack of funding, so to speak, made me work a little harder because I knew I didn’t have the biggest cushion to fall back on.

What other leaps have you made?

Saying yes to partner with two colleagues to work on an education platform for small business owners in Brisbane. We also wanted to create a series of non-networking events where everyone could forge genuine connections through conversation without it being about, ‘How many business cards did you hand out?’, as many networking events we were going to had become and there was a lot of pink washing. Claire and I are both introverts so a small supper club to gather with women from all different stages in business was a natural way for us to operate. The response has been wonderful and I’ve been lucky to meet people like Rachel Service (aka The Happiness Concierge) along the way who teaches me so much each time we catch up!

lani-pauli-quote-6

What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?

I would say the leap to Sydney. It wasn’t the city for me (although I enjoy visiting it now) to live in and I was too stubborn (and young!) to see that admitting it wasn’t right was a sign of strength not failure. I didn’t have the support, community or sense of self to thrive there and it wasn’t until I moved back to Brisbane in 2008 that I started to find that. That said, I wouldn’t take it back. The lessons I learnt during that time stay with me to this day!

lani-pauli-quote-7

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

Other than clowns? On a daily basis I fear losing my ability to think critically about a problem or a way to strategically approach work. I’ve started working on, as I say, slowing down to do more. This frantic pace we’re all working at, responsive to pings and alerts, emails with perceived urgency – it creates an environment to rush everything and often not think something through as well as it should be. I try, for example, not to answer emails from my phone to ensure I’m really thinking about the response; work on one thing at a time and not be afraid of saying to a client that something isn’t quite right yet and it will be to them in a few hours. Making sure I’m setting boundaries in the way I work help ensures I’m in the best headspace possible to work diligently and effectively for my clients.

In the bigger picture, like most, my personal perception of failure is the fear that hangs heavy over you. It’s crazy that we do it to ourselves and as much as I like to think it keeps me hungry I also try and work on challenging it. If failure means I end up working in a stationery store or a bookshop while I figure out my next step, then it could be worse! I used to see the catastrophic and fishbowl effect of such small situations when I worked in PR agencies and it is a good reminder to always look at the bigger picture.

lani-pauli-quote-8

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

It’s always rad. Some days are always better than others but I’ll always come back to being thankful for the opportunities I have right now.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

Having time to work in a way that I am most effective and being able to look after myself more diligently. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in early 2015 and being able to work in a way that feels in alignment with what I need, take due care of myself (mind you even now I still forget to sometimes and feel the consequences as a result) and be mindful, I think, allows me to give more to clients. Similarly, the biggest upside is being able to work with clients in a way where I am truly an extension of their organisation. I’m really proud of some of the goals I’m kicking with clients at the moment.

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

The isolation and the ‘Am I doing enough? Am I good enough?’ imposter syndrome. Working in a co-working space twice a week helps with the isolation and also gives space for collaboration and some good-old fashioned brainstorming. I also find practising Yin yoga helps calm my mind and the overwhelm. When I’m in a good rhythm practising one or two times a week I feel far more centred, together and in control. And no surprise – more productive!

lani-pauli-quote-9

What might be your next leap?

I keep coming back to the idea of studying my Graduate Diploma in Psychology. So maybe that when I summon the courage to take the leap!

What are your favourite words to live by?

In the last six months it has become, ‘Keep your eyes on your own yoga mat.’ I’m not sure where I heard it but I’m thankful I did. For many years I realised I was holding myself back by focusing on what everyone else was doing and comparing my actions to that. It’s a devil’s game. So, keeping my eyes on my own yoga mat means I keep my eye on what I’m doing. Of course you still look externally at times for inspiration and such but I try to do it from a better place rather than from a place of thinking whatever they’re doing is better or more valuable than my actions.

lani-pauli-quote-10

Who do you admire who also made the leap?

This will sound naff as it is on the Of Kin blog but, Kylie Lewis. I remember talking with Kylie in one of my previous jobs while she was at kikki.K and being in admiration of what she was doing then. When you took your leap into Of Kin and consulting, the admiration continued and you showed there was a way to create your own path, be true to your beliefs and values and ‘be successful’. I also admire people like the manager who hired me for Yelp, Laura Nestler for always being ready to take a leap. She is strong, supportive and someone I definitely look up to. She’s also a great reminder that the leaps you take don’t have to be ones into running your own business.

lani-pauli-quote-11

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Take it. Leaps don’t have to be grand gestures. The smallest leap may have the biggest effect. Take one small leap every day or once a week. It will all add up.

Don’t feel you’re ‘less than’ if you don’t or you choose to do it to your own time. I think there’s a huge fetishism of the freelance/location independent/entrepreneur life right now. It can be easy to feel like if you’re not doing it right, or not leaping at all, or you’re not working poolside from your Balinese retreat, that you’re not achieving goals.

While it has definite perks, a leap into working for yourself isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. I remember reading an article about intrapreneurship and resonating with some of the traits. It is okay if you’re not an entrepreneur. I’d love to see that getting as much spotlight as those who choose to step out and work for themselves. Sometimes a leap isn’t to work for yourself but perhaps finding a company more aligned to your personal values and beliefs. I feel like I’ve been lucky to find a good balance of both working with a handful of my own clients and working with a small group of entrepreneurs and small businesses with Deane & Co that align with my values and beliefs.

Right now I’m:

Hearing: My podcast binge is never ending. I’m that person that starts a sentence with, ‘I was listening to a podcast the other day and…’
Eating: Naked Byron Bay dips. Especially the turmeric and ginger one! They go with everything.
Drinking: New Farm Confectionary Dark Hot Chocolates with almond milk.
Reading: Helen Garner Everywhere I Look and Carolyn Tate’s Conscious Marketing
Loving: Always my dog! A 40-minute walk with him is the ultimate meditation.

///

Keep your eyes on your yoga mat this week, and keep growing up. You are a work in progress, always.

Lovingly,

Kylie x

P.S. Grab your copy of  The Leap Stories book here, and tap into exclusive leaping content only available in print.

Welcome to our first leap story for 2017! After a summer hiatus, we’re back to embrace all that this new year has to offer. And this year is perhaps especially inviting. According to numerology, 2017 is a ‘1’ year (2+0+1+7=10, 1+0=1), which means it’s a year of new beginnings and a great time to consider taking a leap!

But what exactly defines a leap? Ever since I started this series I’ve wanted to showcase all types of career leaps, not just those into self-employment. Because I believe a leap is fundamentally anything that gets your adrenalin going, feels a little uncomfortable, that feels more authentically you and pushes you to see yourself in a new way. It involves a healthy dose of vulnerability, accepting imperfection, the fear of rejection or failure, and feeling scared and exhilarated at the same time. It moves you closer to who you are, and feels expansive and empowering, rather than sad, weakened, tense, tightened and lost from yourself.

Leap takers recognise they have a choice in how their life plays out. They stay open to possibilities and consciously craft a life on their own terms. They’re aware when things need to change, and that what worked then, doesn’t work now. They embrace that change is the only constant.

Leaping isn’t always a jump out into the wilderness of your own gig full time. Leaping is anything that pushes you live bigger, within your own values. And values change over time.

And that’s why I love this week’s story. Last year Emma Clarke Gratton leapt out of Gratton Design, the furniture design business she and her husband built, into a part-time job as a writer for ArtsHub. While dual self-employment worked for the couple for a while, add two young kids, bigger projects and more staff into the mix and life and partnership becomes complex, both at work and at home. So Emma decided to redesign her life and build a new path forward by reigniting a past love.

///

emma-and-family-gratton-design-furniture

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

I always wanted to be a writer. But I didn’t know what that really meant, just that I wanted to be famous for writing books. I was a huge book nerd (my best friend and I have known each other since we were four and she still teases me about inviting her over for play dates and then spending the whole time reading) and still am a book nerd, and was always much better at English than I was at maths. I still can’t add up or do anything remotely mathematical. Thank god for the calculator app!

What did/do you study?

Straight out of high school, I studied a Bachelor of Communications at Monash and majored in journalism and international relations. I also did a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. I worked night shift as a media monitor throughout uni, so was basically nocturnal for a few years.

When I was about 25, I had a quarter-life crisis and decided to study interior design, something I had always wanted to do. I graduated when my first son was about six months old, and then joined my husband’s furniture design business.

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

I’ve made several leaps. The first was from writing to interior design, and putting all my eggs in one basket by running a business with my husband. And now the most recent leap was the opposite to what most people dream of doing: moving from self-employment back to a ‘day job’ working three days a week at ArtsHub.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-1

What were you doing before you made your leap?

My husband and I were running GRATTON, a furniture and high-end joinery studio in Melbourne. We had worked together for about four years: him doing the building and running the workshop, and me doing the client work, the marketing and the business side of things. We had expanded from him working solo to a much bigger business with a team of staff, a waiting list and new product ranges.

We are both very different personalities, and while that works really well in our relationship, it made for a very challenging workplace! We have renovated four houses together, had two kids and were very involved in each other’s lives, so we imagined that running a business together would be easy-peasy.

Good lord, were we wrong.

Basically, it came to a point where we were becoming more like colleagues than spouses, and we knew that to keep working together would be to sacrifice our relationship. So I got a job! It is honestly one of the best things I could have done, both for our relationship and for my own identity.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-2

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

My dad – he has been described as a hurricane, a steamroller and the Big Kahuna. He taught me how to juggle multiple projects: he currently runs a thriving construction company, a property development business, and one of Australia’s most successful sheep genetic breeding facilities. He is super-involved in all of his projects (he has produced films, built apps and was president of the local football club for years) and still manages to leave presents in our letterbox for his grandkids.

My husband, Lee – he is like a soothing balm, the yin to my yang. I have workaholic tendencies (inherited, see above) and struggle to relax, but Lee has taught me the value of chilling the eff out. He sometimes puts me on the ‘Couch of Silence’ where I have to sit on the couch and not think or speak until I am sufficiently calm.

My girl squad – I am surrounded by excellent, feminist, go-getting, creative women who I am so lucky to call friends: artist Sam George, florist Marnie Cunningham, jeweller Liz Ickiewicz, and the indomitable Tess McCabe, plus a whole posse more.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-3

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

In many ways my leap was a backwards jump compared to most people, going from self-employment where I had no sick leave or entitlements, no boss, no regular work hours and no regular pay, to a way-less-scary leap of a regular paycheck, set hours and no more hustling to find work.

Most people seek self-employment to find freedom and be their own boss, but I was sick of being my own boss! There is something really freeing about being told what to do every day (creativity thrives with limitations!) and having the safety net of superannuation, sick leave and all that, especially with two young kids.

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?

Lee and I had a huge argument about work and money and the business and we had the epiphany that this wasn’t sustainable, for us or for the business. At first we thought that I could try and get more freelance writing work, but frankly I was a bit burnt out with self-employment and at least one of us needed to have a regular income. I was stoked to go back to ‘proper’ work – it meant getting a large chunk of my life back.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-4

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

In the circles I move in there are lots of entrepreneurial, self-employed ladies and men. I totally applaud that and am entrepreneurial by nature, but I think this can make people feel like a failure if they get a ‘proper job’. I never really felt like that, as I have been self-employed and it was bloody hard work!

Working for someone else (in the right job!) can be very liberating, as you don’t have to think about where your next dollar is coming from, and there can be a distance between you and your work that can be quite emotionally freeing.

I also think that the reality of running a small business is incredibly difficult: lots of nights spent on the couch on the laptop, working weekends, losing money, hiring staff and doing everything yourself. It can be a huge emotional rollercoaster, especially doing creative work like we were. Lee was regularly working 14 hour days and was so exhausted the rest of the time.

Now, he has more stability as I am bringing in a separate income, and has taken on more responsibility with the kids. By leaving that behind, I have found a lot of space to do the things that I really love. So I am writing a novel, am really getting into my garden and am spending more time with my gorgeous boys.

And I love my job at ArtsHub. I have a lot of freedom and a very understanding boss who is sympathetic to the unique challenges of working mothers.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-5

How did you fund your leap?

Ha, the leap funded ME! It wasn’t really a matter of needing cash to make the leap, but rather that I was leaping into a big pile of cash in the form of a regular salary and all the other benefits that come from working for The Man.

What other leaps have you made?

I think I’m more of a planned and careful leap-taker, so they haven’t felt like big scary jumps, but more like a series of decisions. I tend to go by instinct a lot and trust that things will just work out, so things that might seem risky to other people seem fine to me!

Renovating houses has been a series of leaps. I met Lee when I was 20 and then six months later went backpacking through Africa, Eastern Europe and India. When we came home, we bought a house in Northcote (I was 23) and renovated it, then bought another one in Coburg and had our first son there when I was 25.

We purchased a house in Brunswick about 10 minutes after inspecting it and lived with my parents for a year while we renovated that, then finally purchased our dream house in Warrandyte, a 1960s Robin Boyd home on a bend of the Yarra River. The house purchases all seemed like big scary decisions at the time, but in hindsight, they made financial sense.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-6

What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?

At a risk of sounding like a massive wanker, I think everything has worked out perfectly. Lee’s business is still thriving, we have two beautiful boys and we are healthy and happy and safe.

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

Bugs. I think it stems from having terrible eyesight and thinking every speck of fluff was a spider ready to kill me.

Also, dying with unfulfilled dreams. That’s why I am finally tackling my novel. I tend to be quite pragmatic about my fears and emotional issues (my husband would say that I am ‘the bloke’ in our relationship: I have to work hard to listen and be empathetic instead of trying to fix everything immediately) so I like to investigate my fears and try to tackle them.

I have seen a therapist on and off since I was 16 and have been on anti-depressants for over twelve years and will probably be on them forever, so am firmly in the ‘GET HELP!’ camp of self-care.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-7

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap? 1 being sad, 10 being rad.

Maybe a 9/10? Some days it’s a ten, other days trying to get my kids and myself out of the door at 7.30am is bloody hard work. But it’s only three days a week. I have a long commute (which I LOVE) so the mornings can be a bit hectic. But then I get on the bus, get out my crochet, pop on a podcast and exhale.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

Having my own life, separate to my husband. When you work, play, sleep and parent together, it can be smothering and claustrophobic. Now we have new things to talk about, I have colleagues who aren’t all tradies, and I can exercise my brain a bit more, doing the thing I love.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-9

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

I don’t think there is a downside! My husband probably finds it a bit harder that I’m not in the business, and I see my kids a bit less, but it has been a life-changer for all of us.

What might be your next leap?

God, who knows? I have been permanently clucky since I was about 15 so maybe another baby. But Lee is not 100% on board so I’m slowly convincing him that we need a house full of loud and cheeky kids.

What are your favourite words to live by?

‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ – Maya Angelou

Who do you admire who also made the leap?

I don’t actually know many people who have made the leap I did – most people are trying to do the opposite! The people I admire tend to be trailblazers, people who are tough in the face of adversity. People who are open and honest about the difficulties they have faced and overcome.

emma-clark-gratton-quote-8

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Just bloody do it. You might fail, but it’ll be a good story for the grandkids. Life is for doing, not thinking about doing.

Right now I’m:

Hearing: The koalas mating in the big eucalypt outside my bedroom. Not a pretty sound.
Eating: A mandarin.
Drinking: Copious amounts of my favourite tea: Dilmah’s Green Tea with Moroccan Mint.
Reading: So many things! The gut-wrenching poetry of Warsan Shire, Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things and books on writing by Stephen King, Catherine Deveny and Anne Lamott.
Loving: The change in seasons!

///

Life is for doing! Here’s to doing yours this year and beyond.

Lovingly,

Kylie x

P.S. Pick up your copy of The Leap Stories book here, and tap into exclusive leaping content only available in print.

P.P.S Emma is also half of the parenting podcast ” target=”_blank”>The New Normal which is worth checking out if you’re a newbie parent or a seasoned pro. x

Can you imagine the person you might be this time next year? Of what you will have learned, experienced and survived after another 365 days of being you? Because it’s not a matter of if  you’ll change, but rather, how. Change is not optional.

When Elizabeth Donaldson was a DFAT advisor living in Japan, I doubt she ever imagined herself becoming a champion of independent design, retail shop owner and co-working enabler in Adelaide. But after turning forty and waking up to the realisation that the career that looked good on paper was not longer holding her attention, it was time to follow hunches about her next career iteration and a take a leap.

Today Elizabeth is the owner of Brick+Mortar, a retail space for independent local designers, artists and makers, and a co-working space for creative entrepreneurs co-located in a design-oriented environment with a café, workshop/event/exhibition space, and free wifi.  The focus is on creating a destination for local creatives to connect with the community and other businesses in the creative industries.

Despite the notions of not being ‘qualified’ to make the transition, and of being fearful of what people might think if she failed, Elizabeth focussed on how she would feel if she never gave this idea a red hot go. The idea of living with regret, far outweighed the fear of failure. And so she changed her course, changed her idea of what her life could be, changed her relationship with fear and started living her leap.

///

dscf1292-2

Lovely Elizabeth, founder of Brick+Mortar Creative, a creative retail hub in South Australia.

What did you want to be when you grew up and why?

I never had a really strong sense of ‘what I wanted to be when I grew up’ in terms of a particular job description, although the ideas that resonated most strongly were always something to do with travel and a fascination with other countries, people and languages.

My great love as a child was reading so being an author or (due to a lurking suspicion I wouldn’t be a good enough storyteller) then an editor was an idea that persisted. When I was in primary school I wanted to be an airline hostess (but back then they had height restrictions and it looked like I’d be too tall!), then when I was a bit older, a diplomat – not that I had much idea of what was actually involved beyond travel, but that was the allure.

In high school I remember doing work experience with the ABC for journalism and also with a natural health practitioner, so I guess it was always pretty wide open as to what I wanted to be ‘when I grew up’.

In the end, chance intervened and at the end of university a friend suggested I sit the public service exam, and from there I entered the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) as a graduate.

What did/do you study?

I went straight from school to university, with a three month American Field Scholarship to France in between. I actually loved school and was lucky to have gone to an academically focused but sort of bohemian Quaker school in Hobart and remember with great fondness some truly inspirational teachers.

At university (University of Tasmania) I studied Arts/Law (French, European Literature and Philosophy as the arts component). I studied the arts subjects out of interest, and the law subjects out of a sense of obligation to have a ‘serious/proper’ degree. In retrospect although I didn’t enjoy law and am glad my career trajectory veered away from legal practice, it was a useful discipline to study as far as developing clarity of thought and a sense of how the world works.

As part of my time with DFAT and in preparation for my posting to Tokyo I went on to do a thesis based Masters in Arts (Foreign Affairs) at Monash University around Japanese reform prospects under the new and charismatic Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi.

I think if I’d studied what I actually enjoyed at university rather than what I felt I should study, I would have followed a different path, possibly into literature and publishing. Back then, however, there was the expectation that if you got good marks at school you should aim for a career where good marks were a prerequisite. In hindsight that logic is totally flawed but the framework of the job market was completely different than it is today. I remember A-Z lists of jobs you had to choose from as a guide to choosing tertiary subjects – and there certainly wasn’t an ‘e for entrepreneur’!

I don’t feel I have the time or inclination to study in the traditional sense any more, but as my business unfolds I am constantly absorbing information, mainly online – on lean startups, management style, marketing and communication, design and manufacturing, hospitality and retail, coworking, small business models etc – completely new skill sets that I would have found tedious beyond belief before my leap, but now find infinitely fascinating (except for the really dull bits like bookkeeping etc which still require a fair bit of teeth gritting to get through).

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-1

 

What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?

Definitely the one I’m in the middle of now. I guess I’d made incremental ‘bunny hops’ before, but they felt like they were all part of a path I was already on – leaving my home town of Hobart to head to Canberra for my first ‘real’ job, then moving to Tokyo for four years, leaving DFAT and moving to Adelaide to be with my step-son. In career terms they were sidesteps, compared to what I’m doing now which feels more like leaping off the cliff of fiscal certainty into a whole new world.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-2

What were you doing before you made your leap?

Working as a senior adviser in government (to the Deputy Chief Executive of Premier and Cabinet in South Australia), mainly on international and strategic policy plus a good measure of whatever was on the agenda for the day. I had a brilliant female boss who was an amazing role model, a super smart team who I loved working with and was constantly inspired by, job security in an industry where that was becoming more scarce, and huge variety in terms of work coming across my desk. So strangely all the things that should have made me ‘not leap’.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-3

Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?

The biggest influence is my husband Joe. He understands me to my core, (better than I do sometimes – I’m not much driven to introspection) and has relentlessly encouraged me over the 17 years we’ve been together to shrug off the ‘I should be’ internal pragmatist in favour of following my instinct and taking a risk. He’s taken a million leaps in his existence, often spurred by generosity to support others – like leaving great career opportunities to follow me to Tokyo, and is motivated by bold ideas and helping people and bringing the two together. He’s also worked hard to pull off things people assumed were pipe dreams and done them regardless relying only on his own resources, so is a veteran at understanding the physical and emotional demands of being self-employed. Joe’s the one who gave me the confidence to leap, and while it’s financially scary both being self employed, it’s also a wonderful opportunity that allows freedom.

I’ve also been lucky enough to work for a number of extraordinary bosses. You learn a lot by watching people who inspire you and I learnt about the importance of emotional intelligence in building teams, of networks in developing strategy and decision making, and leading by example. Of course the converse is also true and there are a couple of bosses that displayed the opposite traits and while it was traumatic at the time, it intensified that message (and probably my resilience!).

My mother. When I look at my mother’s generation and the number of smart and creative women whose career prospects, or even opportunity for professional fulfillment and financial independence was stymied by social infrastructure, it makes me so aware of how different things would have been had I been born a generation earlier. When I look at things I take for granted now that weren’t the case back then (like being able to get a bank loan without a male guarantor, having the same educational opportunities as my brother, not having to quit the public service when I married) I’m grateful for gains towards equality made within a generation and hope my daughters will inherit a future that closes the opportunity gap between men and women.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-4

 

What did you have in place before you made the leap?

Most importantly, in a practical sense, I had personal savings to buffer a 12 month period of no income and investing in setting up a new business. In terms of what I needed to know in setting up a small business, I now realise I didn’t have nearly enough in place (it’s always a question of the things you don’t even know you don’t know)! I was moving from having worked in policy development and project management in a team environment to a solo enterprise running a store, a café, a coworking space, events, workshops and exhibitions, doing the marketing, social media, community building, fitout, and all the small business admin that comes with it.

But maybe that’s not a bad thing, sometimes it’s better to start something big with only part of the picture. It’s like having children, if anyone told you how little sleep you’d get and the heartache and worry all parents go through you’d probably never do it, but once you have made that ‘leap’ into parenthood you’d never look back, and any hardship becomes insignificant in the grand and wonderful scheme of pouring your soul into something you love.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-5

What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that lead you to the leap?

I was losing the ability to focus properly on my work, almost like my brain was involuntarily disengaging from what I was doing. It was an odd feeling, as on paper I had the perfect job with the perfect colleagues. But for some reason I felt my mind was pulling me elsewhere and I wasn’t giving 110% to my current job – and the last thing I wanted to do was let anyone down.

And the more I thought about it the more I realised that I’d never felt like a perfect fit in my job, and I’d thought that was normal. But working with people who loved what they were doing and were passionate enough that work was integrated with the non-work part of their lives it dawned on me that maybe I should listen to the other part of me that got excited about design and creativity and all the things I wasn’t ‘qualified’ to do but had always been drawn to. And then I turned forty and knew I wasn’t engaged enough to aspire to promotion but equally didn’t want to just tread water for the next however many years. I thought if I don’t do it now, maybe I’ll lose my courage and miss my chance. So it was almost the external factor of a fairly arbitrary milestone that pushed me to jump.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-6

 

How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?

The fear was all in the lead up to starting. Once you press ‘go’ and are past the point of no return it’s just a mixture of adrenalin, momentum and sheer determination to do everything you can to make it work, there’s no time to be scared.

The fear I felt before leaping was the fear of failure. Not in the sense of manifesting the project, as despite being inexperienced in most of the aspects of the project I was about to embark on, that didn’t induce fear. My time working for DFAT had consolidated an attitude to work versus fear that if there was something that needed to be delivered (even if you felt totally out of your depth and terrified) then you just got on and found a way. ‘Impossible’ just wasn’t in the vocabulary, and I believe rightly so. Ninety-nine percent of the time there is a way to do something, it’s just a matter of persevering until you find it.elizabeth-donaldson-quote-7

 

When I really break it down, my fear was that, if the business didn’t work out, other people would think I’d failed. For the first time I was putting myself out there to deliver my own vision and I would be personally judged (as opposed for delivering a project for an organisation which holds ownership). And when you analyse that, it’s probably the most ridiculous reason for not doing something. But it’s also a powerful one and shedding the tendency to care what people think has been a liberating by-product of this venture.

As for ‘choosing courage’ it was weighing up what would happen if I didn’t do it. Really what’s the worst that can happen – you lose your savings, a couple of years of your life, and possibly your dignity? It sounds flippant but it’s actually true – it’s a small consequence in the scheme of things, and insignificant in terms of the ‘what could go wrong’ on projects I’d worked on before.

But the longer I’m in this the more comfortable I am with the concept of ‘failure’ and why it’s not actually important. I’d take putting my all into something I really want to pursue, that really stretches and inspires me, and see it fail spectacularly, over settling for feeling disjointed from your true self for the (not insubstantial) portion of life that you spend working. I think fundamentally I would regret always wondering ‘what if’, and in the end I’m so lucky that enough factors in life coincided to allow me to try this out.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-8

What leaps didn’t work out? What did you do about it?

I don’t really have an answer to this one, not having really ‘leapt’ before!

What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?

Losing precious time with my children while they’re young. It’s so important to be present in parenting and just the sheer hours involved in the startup phase of this business mean I spend less time with them than I want to. They’re five and eight years old so we talk things through and they understand that there’s time I need to work and they let me know when things are out of balance. I also see them learning lots by being around talented creative people and hope that as they grow older their comprehension of what ‘work’ is when you’re doing what you love and playing to your strengths will be broader than mine was.

How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.

10. On any given day it’s a 10 coloured by frustration, stress, exhaustion, excitement, hilarity and satisfaction – the whole spectrum of emotions, but yes, 10.

What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?

I feel fully engaged every day in what I’m doing. I’ve never actually felt like that before and had always had a very clear distinction between work versus life. Work was challenging and interesting and I tried hard, but time outside work was where I experienced ‘flow’ in the sense of being able to be effortlessly absorbed in learning new things, be recharged by friendship, travel etc.

I love the diversity and daily challenges of running a multifaceted business, the satisfaction from small wins and nutting something out, learning new things every single day, and the autonomy of having control over the direction you choose to take things, being able to make decisions quickly.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-9

What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?

The toll it takes on your social life – finding the time to catch up with friends, trying to switch off, looking after yourself, all the things that recharge you and help you be creative and productive. Too often the important loses out to the urgent (like managing admin, worrying about financials etc).

What might be your next leap?

Maybe a sideways one. I love connecting people and I’m really intrigued by so many aspects of design I’d like to develop these elements. That or win the lottery and live by the coast in Croatia!

But for now I feel I’m at capacity with Brick+Mortar and the prospect of another leap seems too much to think about, unless of course I’m pushed through external circumstances and it’s an involuntary leap, in which case I’ll feel like I have more resilience and skills to start again than I had just over a year ago when I started this.

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-10

What are your favourite words to live by?

Oh so many great words and phrases to choose from, but what first comes to mind is my daughter’s kindergarten motto: ‘Be Kind, Be Friendly and Do Your Best’. That pretty well nails it, but I’d also add ‘be grateful’, there are a lot of people in the world in very hard times and it’s important to remember that and act accordingly.

Who do you admire who also made the leap?

There are so many people who leap every single day, often just to make ends meet or overcome adversity, it’s those people I admire the most. In the context of making a career leap to follow your heart though, interestingly I’ve worked most of my life alongside incredibly smart and talented people who absolutely love every part of what they do and are in it for the long haul. So within my personal experience it’s almost a case of admiring people who’ve already found their passion and are pursuing it wholeheartedly (and by default realising that if you don’t feel like that then maybe you need to leap).

elizabeth-donaldson-quote-11

A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?

Just do it. There will never be a perfect time or perfect circumstances and once you’re on your entrepreneurial journey it’s a mad ride, so just give it your all and be prepared to work hard, be humble, be open to opportunity and don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re doing the very best with all you have.

I remember a piece of advice from a serial entrepreneur that it’s best to try your second best business idea first so you make your mistakes and experience your biggest learning curve before you embark on your ‘first best’ business idea. While that’s good in theory, a) you may never get another chance and b) the whole process is a learning curve, about your business and yourself so you’ll come out ahead either way.

What was unexpected that translated from your leap?

All the fear and caution that had prevented me from leaping for so long just dissolved. I’m now taking much bigger risks than I anticipated I would and feel like I’m starting to find my feet and able to trust my instincts more readily.

Right now I’m:

Hearing: The Avalanches ‘Wildflower’
Eating: All the fresh seasonal foods that come with spring, emerging from all the lovely comfort foods of winter.
Drinking: Waiting for the hot weather of summer to drink soda, umeboshi (pickled plum) and cucumber (with a dash of vodka/gin as required).
Reading: Not enough, I love reading but haven’t seemed to find the time lately. But two books I have next to my bed to re-read at some point are Hannah Kent’s ‘Burial Rites’, a book of beautiful prose by a South Australian author, and Thor Heyerdal’s ‘Kontiki Expedition‘, a small volume written in 1948 but an enduring favourite for its sheer adventurous spirit.
Loving: My beautiful family: the incredible and enduring support of my partner Joe and my awesome kids who are hands down the most spectacular human beings I know. Also the privilege to be pursuing my dream, I’m so grateful to have this chance.

///

Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said ‘Nothing endures but change.’ As this year draws to an end, ask yourself ‘What changed this year?’ and recognise all the myriad of ways we, and the people, circumstances and ideas around us evolved this year. And then follow up with ‘What would I have liked to have consciously, deliberately changed in my life by this time next year?’ Perhaps the draft of your own leap story lies in your answer.

Lovingly,

Kylie x

Earlier this year I was lamenting with my husband that there needed to be an app to help Instagrammers plan out their visual feed ahead of time – where we could see all our potential posting images, and layout them out in order to design a great looking feed, and have a bank of images to call on.

Read more…

the-leap-stories -pony up cat harding mardi brown

What happens when two mid career marketers ‘unpack their confidence and self-belief from the suitcase of doom’, and ask themselves ‘what will I regret having not done when I’m on my deathbed?’ What happens when they join forces to do work that matters, that leverages their skills and contacts? What happens when they connect the dots to solve multiple problems in a global network? A beautiful leap is made, that’s what! Read more…