Dream Workspace with WeWork New York

WeWork Dream Space  Rolltop Desk

As part of the WeWork “Show Us Your Dream Space” campaign, I was asked to share a picture of my current workspace. Here in South Africa, we have sun practically all year round. This helps create that warm mood I love about mine!

WeWork builds communities that empower small businesses and entrepreneurs to do what they love. They’re all about building innovative and creative workspaces around the US. Check out their presence in New York. Have a look at their other locations around the US here.

As you can see, I love rich wood and fresh air. I’m very neat and organised. I work on my laptop. My cellphone and black leather notebook are always near. My crayons are there as a splash of colour for my creative branstorming sessions.

Apart from the sunshine, I love my bonsai tree. These exquisite miniature trees are from the Japanese culture. The purposes of bonsai are to encourage thoughtful contemplation. Sometimes when the day gets too hectic in front of my screen, I look up. I’m reminded to take it easy and tap into my inner “zen”!

I’m also inspired by my collection of books. These are books I’m currently reading. Among them are “Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage” by Richard Stengel. Living in the heart of Mandela’s homeland, this was top of my list this month.

I can also recommend “The Power of Intention” by Wayne Dyer and “Switch on Your Brain” by Dr Caroline Leaf who is a Cognitive Neuroscientist with a show on TBN (and guess what, she’s from South Africa!)

If I could add anything to my space, it would probably be a small side table to the right of my rolltop desk. I would put a Nespresso machine on it, for sure!

WeWork Dream Space Rolltop Desk

We like to think of ourselves as a company that promotes co-working through shared office space. As a company, WeWork buys out office spaces and transforms buildings into beautiful, collaborative workspaces. We provide infrastructure, services, events and technology so that entrepreneurs and small start-ups can focus on doing what they love. We have locations in several different cities and are always looking to expand!

- Sarah Allen, WeWork

WeWork Dream Space  Rolltop Desk

Domestic Violence in South Africa

Domestic Violence in South Africa

With the recent Oscar Pistorius case, my attention was drawn to Domestic Violence in South Africa. Living in the country where it’s all taking place, I watched a lot of interviews online and on news channels about this issue as they covered the case for a worldwide audience. While it was understood this is a real problem in the country, I didn’t hear any actual facts or figures. As a result, I’ve done some extensive research into this topic and can give you some statistics about what kind of problem we are looking at here.

South Africa has one of the highest incidences of domestic violence in the world. Organisations estimate that one out of every six woman is regularly assaulted by her partner. In at least 46% of cases, the men involved also abuse the children living with the woman. Reeva Steenkamp was statistically just one of three women killed on Valentine’s Day by an intimate partner.

Domestic violence can take a variety of forms and generally includes the following acts:

Physical abuse

Any act or threat of physical violence intended to cause physical pain, injury, suffering or bodily harm. Physical abuse can include hitting, slapping, punching, choking, pushing and any other type of contact that results in physical injury to the victim.

Sexual abuse

Any conduct that abuses, humiliates, degrades or otherwise violates the sexual integrity of the victim. Sexual abuse is any situation in which force or threat is used to obtain participation in unwanted sexual activity.

Emotional, verbal and psychological abuse

Usually a pattern of degrading or humiliating conduct towards the victim privately or publicly, including repeated insults, ridicule, name calling and/or repeated threats to cause emotional pain; or the repeated exhibition of obsessive possessiveness or jealousy, which is such as to constitute a serious invasion of the victim’s privacy, liberty, integrity and/or security.

Economic abuse

Includes the unreasonable deprivation of economic or financial resources to which the victim is entitled under law or requires out of necessity, including household necessities, mortgage bond repayments, rent money in the case of a shared residence, and/or the unreasonable disposal of household effects or other property in which the victim has an interest.

Intimidation

Uttering or conveying a threat, or causing a victim to receive a threat, which induces fear. The abuser may use a variety of intimidation tactics designed to scare the victim into submission. Such tactics may include smashing things in front of the victim, destroying property, hurting the victim’s pets or showing off a weapon. The clear message is that if the victim doesn’t obey, there might be violent consequences.

Harassment

Engaging in a pattern of conduct that induces a fear of harm in the victim, including repeatedly watching the victim; loitering outside of or near the building/place where the victim resides, works, carries out business, studies or happens to be; repeatedly making telephone calls or inducing another person to make telephone calls to the victim, whether or not conversation ensues; repeatedly sending, delivering or causing the delivery of letters, emails, texts, packages or other objects to the victim.

Stalking

The term is used to define a particular kind of harassment. Generally, it refers to a long-term pattern of persistent and repetitive contact with, or attempts to contact, a particular victim. Examples of the types of conduct often associated with stalking include: direct communication; physical following; indirect contact through friends, work colleagues, family or technology (email or SMS); and other intrusions into the victim’s privacy. The abuse may also take place on social networks like Facebook, on-line forums, Twitter, instant messaging, SMS, BBM or via chat software. The stalker may use websites to post offensive material, create fake profiles or even make a dedicated website about the victim.

Damage to property
  • Wilful damaging or destruction of property belonging to the victim or in which the victim has a vested interest.
  • Entry into property
  • Entry into the victim’s residence without consent, where the parties do not share the same residence.
  • Any other controlling or abusive behaviour
Any conduct that harms, or may cause imminent harm to, the safety, health or well being of the victim. ‘Imminent harm’ includes situations where:
  • the perpetrator is in the possession of a firearm and has threatened to use the firearm against the victim, or her dependants or other family members;
  • the perpetrator has used a weapon against the victim in previous incidences of domestic violence (not restricted to dangerous weapons, such as firearms or knives);
  • the victim was critically injured by the perpetrator on a previous occasion, or on the occasion in question;
  • the victim and her children have been ‘kicked out’ of the shared residence by the perpetrator or anyone affiliated with him;
  • the victim has sufficient evidence (i.e. witness statements) that the perpetrator has threatened to harm her; and
  • the victim fears for the safety of her children.

A “protection order”, also called a “restraining order” or “domestic violence interdict”, is a court order that tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing the abuser from harassing or abusing the victim again. It may also help ensure that the abuser continues to pay rent or a bond or interim maintenance. The protection order may also prevent the abuser from getting help from any other person to commit abusive acts.

Helpful Organisations:

Yokhuselo Haven is a safe house offering counselling and accommodation for abuse victims. They offer this for free, 24 hours a day. http://www.yokhuselohaven.co.za/ 041-5814310. They are based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

FAMSA has offices nationwide and gives counselling to the abused and their families. To find your nearest FAMSA branch, call 011 975 7101, email national@famsa.org.za or visit their website http://www.famsa.org.za.

Lifeline provides 24-hour counselling services. Call the SA National Counselling Line on 0861 322 322.

People Opposing Women Abuse or POWA provides telephonic, counselling and legal support to women experiencing abuse. POWA also accompanies women to court and assists them in filling out documents. Call the POWA helpline on 083 765 1235 or visit http://www.powa.co.za.

Legal Aid South Africa offers legal assistance. To locate your nearest Justice Centre, call 0861 053 425 or visit http://www.legal-aid.co.za.

Rape Crisis offers free confidential counselling to people who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Call 011 642 4345.

SAPS 10111

University campus law clinics also offer legal assistance.

Steps to obtain a protection order:

Apply for a protection order at a Magistrates Court nearest to where you live and work, at any time, during and outside court hours as well as on public holidays or weekends.

First, apply for the Interim Protection Order by completing Form 6 below.

Once you have applied for the Interim Protection Order, complete Form 2 below.

The application must be made by way of an affidavit which states the:

  • facts on which the application is based
  • nature of the order
  • name of the police station where the complainant is likely to report any breach of the protection order.

Where the application is brought on behalf of a complainant by another person, the affidavit must state the:

  • grounds on which the other person has a material interest in the well-being of the complainant
  • occupation of the other person and capacity in which such a person brings the application
  • written consent of the complainant, except in cases where the complainant is: a minor, mentally retarded, unconscious or a person whom the court is satisfied that he or she is unable to provide the required consent.

On receipt of the form, the clerk will send your application to the magistrate who will then set a date for you to return to court, so that your application can be considered.

The magistrate will also prepare a notice to inform the abuser about the protection order and when he or she should come to court.

After the court appearance, the magistrate may grant the protection order.

Forms:

  • Form 1: Notice to complainant in a case of domestic violence [J471]
  • Form 2: Application for Protection Order [J480]
  • Form 3: Information notice to complainant [J506]
  • Form 4: Interim Protection Order [J507]
  • Form 5: Notice to Respondent to show cause (submit response) why a protection order should not be issued [523]
  • Form 6: Protection Order [J551]
  • Form 7: Protection Order (no interim protection order issued) [J566]
  • Form 8: Warrant of Arrest [J590]
  • Form 9: Affidavit for purposes of further warrant of arrest [J591]
  • Form 10: Affidavit regarding contravention of protection order [J608]
  • Form 11: Notice to appear before court [J645]
  • Form 12: Application for variation or setting aside of protection order [J649]
  • Form 13: Notice of variation or setting aside of protection order [J653]

Photo: Death To The Stock Photo

Pairing Eye-Shadows Like A Pro

Pairing Eye Shadows Like a Pro

I’ve never been a makeup expert. This changed a little when I got into the film industry 3 years ago. In such a space, us ladies always want to look our best!  I’ve needed to learn some basics. Here are a few tips I can pass on to you. One thing I find amazing is the difference a bit of eye shadow can make. It’s crazy how you can make your eyes pop with a colour. These guidelines are great for when in the professional arena or for when you dress up to go out on the town.

Brown eyes

- Teals

- Purples

- Browns

- Yellows

Any shade actually works with brown. Lucky you!

brown-eyes-blue-makeup2 brown-eyes-brown-makeup1 brown-eyes-green-makeup-022 brown-eyes-orange-makeup brown-eyes-purple-makeup-02 brown-eyes-silver-makeup1

Blue eyes

- Blues

- Silvers

- Dark Greys / Ash (Smokey Eyes)

Eye Make Up For Blue Eyes Eye Make Up For Blue Eyes Eye Make Up For Blue Eyes

Green eyes

- Purples

- Golds

- Browns

- Dark Greens

Eye Make Up For Green Eyes Eye Make Up For Green EyesEye Make Up For Green Eyes

Local make-up artists  for your next special event
Local make-up schools and training institutes

Here’s me trying something a little different during a shoot with Seagram Pearce in Cape Town!

Smokey Glitter Eye MakeupBlack Lace

Cover Photo: Death To The Stock Photo

South Africa Stunned After Oscar Verdict is Given

Franschhoek South Africa

Here’s me in the Franschhoek winelands just outside Cape Town in South Africa. Its so beautiful. Seems unbelievable Reeva will never enjoy this place again, in a city she loved so much. After quite an emotional week for the country, with the Oscar Pistorius verdict, I’m hoping to simply wind down this weekend. I still don’t know what to believe. A lot of my friends overseas aren’t convinced he’s telling the truth. The papers here were critical of him being cleared. Reeva was in the industry I’m in, not to mention she was from my home town! It’s my aunt in the courtroom sitting next to her mother. What do you think of the verdict? I would love to hear from you. Here are some interesting links for you:

Domestic Violence in South Africa

Oscar Pistorious Verdict Recap

Oscar Guilty of Manslaughter 

20 Ways To Get Serious About Blogging

20 Ways To Get Serious About Blogging

The astonishing growth of all things digital continues to gather pace around the world, as We Are Social’s new Social, Digital & Mobile Worldwide report on the key social, digital and mobile stats from around the world demonstrates.

It should come as little surprise that much of this growth is being fuelled by connected mobile devices, but this year’s data do reveal some interesting trends and anomalies, especially in relation to Japan and Korea.

- Simon Kemp of We Are Social

1. Think long & hard about your blog categories.

Your categories are the main sections or “magazine columns” that you feature on your blog. Your categories can be a drop down menu on your sidebar. They should be simple and logical. Use hierarchies to organise your ideas better. Try think of a catchy angle for them so you peak your viewer’s interest and stand out from the rest.

2. Design your site as simple as possible.

Keep your design simple and appealing. Make it intuitive and well-structured. People should intuitively know how to navigate your space. Make pages along the top for sections you want to highlight. Use a category drop down menu and a follow widget wouldn’t hurt. If there are other platforms you want your viewers to know about, include those widgets also. A direct link to Twitter, Facebook or Instagram invites viewers to connect with you.

3. Operate it like a real magazine.

Decide on your target audience just like Cosmo or House and Garden does. This means deciding:

- Who you want to appeal to (age group, gender, interests)

- What your content will be (which topics you choose)

- How involved you’ll get in your articles (short, long, lots of resources)

Plan out each piece well. It’s always a good idea to think about a catchy title and invest time into each piece. Edit and format your posts and add great designs to them. Write in a natural tone and keep it simple. Decide on your intentions with each post. Publish often (weekly is great). If your favourite magazine missed a few issues, you’d eventually find a replacement.

4. Share each post into infinity.

You write and publish something once, but who’s to say you can’t share that post once per month on Twitter, a couple times a year on Facebook or every other month on Google+? Pinterest is a lovely fresh platform with a constant stream of ideas. It’s a great way to advertise your blog. Make a board dedicated to your blog and pin your stuff to it! It will make it easier for people to find you and re-pin your stuff. Due to the “timeline” nature of most social media platforms, if you only share something once, it will only be seen by a small percent of your followers. It’s also a good idea to make an advert with your heading and URL on for sharing purposes.

5. Make sure you know what  your audience wants and needs.

Your readers/clients have specific questions, desires and needs. You can start to figure out these needs by putting yourself in their shoes. What would you want to read about if you were them, visiting your blog? What tools can make things simpler for your viewers? Why do they come to your blog? Read more about figuring this out here.

6. Post frequently + consistently, with quality as your best friend.

Remember to keep your material current and up-to-date. Try cater for a blog audience while maintaining your brand goals and sanity. This is, of course, if you are operating your blog like a business.

7. Invest in your blog.

The things you spend money on are the things you want to get value out of. The things you spend money on are the important things that you care about. The best things in life are free, but some of the things that help you create your best life cost money. Invest in marketing your blog online or elsewhere if you want the traffic that will get you money in the long run.

8. Format your posts to be read by busy, lazy humans.

This means short titles, bullet points and headings. Also, it means blog posts which aren’t too long.

9. Create a content calendar.

….One that includes suggested post dates and categories. Editorial Calendar WordPress plugin is great because I like a visual representation of when I should post. Without a calendar and some type of plan, you’ll get around to that one post about that one thing on the 10th of NeverEver.

10. Add in promotion & maintenance tasks.

Sponsored blogging (getting paid to publish promotional stuff) must be scheduled into your usual blogging routine. A lot of the time, clients/sponsors need a date for publishing. It’s good to plan ahead so you can give them an exact date.

11. Establish a writing routine that gives you time to think.

Creative people are always thinking. Sometimes I have great ideas that pop into my head which I jot down. When I get around to writing a post, I’m always excited to publish it straight away. But I’ve learnt that it’s better to save the draft and give it an ‘incubation’ period in your head. Trust me, you’ll think of different things to add over a period of just 24 hours which will add value to your post.

12. Be you. We won’t like you if you’re being someone else.

Enjoy your own space online. Add photos of your life. Write the way you would speak in real life. See how you do this in my post Find Your Voice Online.

 13. Get high quality photos of yourself.

It’s a good idea to have quality photos of yourself. These will come in handy for your “about” page, as well as any articles you write where you have personal experience. Allow your readers to connect with you! Keep a professional flavour by getting nice photos taken. It’s good for you and will be a plus for the photographer. There’s power in collaboration!

14. Audit your blog regularly.

That post you wrote three months ago? It totally needs a link to the post you published earlier this week because they’re heavily related and your readers will be happy to have guided/quick access to both. Always keep in mind that no matter what order you write things in, any post or page on your website has the potential to be the first post a visitor sees. P.S. Blog audits are also a great way to make sure you’ve included your affiliate links and product/service links in all the organic ways possible.

15. Check your grammar.

Make sure to double-check your articles.

16. Be available + interactive.

No one likes a person who never responds to anything. Granted, you may be so “big time” that you can’t get to every blog comment or tweet, but none of them? I’ll accept that when you become the President of the United States. Even then, you can hire some people to help you out!

17. Pay attention to the questions your readers ask.

There may be a new blog post you’ve written, a new eBook you can sell, a problem you can fix or a service you can offer that is lingering in questions from readers. Cultivate community around your blog so people feel they are in a safe space where they are supported and encouraged. Grow a family around your blog. You do this by being attentive to your readers.

18. Guest post like a champ.

Once you have a healthy collection of quality content to lead people back to, pitch to some sites that fit your brand (or that are frequented by your ideal readers) to do a guest post. Think about larger online magazines and websites as well. These guest posting opportunities will help you build relationships and will lead new readers back to your site.

19. Accept guest posts like a champ.

If someone else is willing to say some valuable and entertaining stuff on your blog, let them. Make sure each post fits your blog, fits your readers, and is the type of quality content you want your blog to be known for. Make sure to promote your guest authors and show them love. They will likely spread the word of their guest post, which can potentially give you lots of new readers.

20. Stay focused.

We creatives like shiny new projects and get distracted easily. When you have lots of ideas racing through your head, stop and focus your energy on one thing at a time. Make a list. Lists are great.

Photo: Death To The Stock Photo

Meetings: How To Schedule & Prepare

Meetings: How To Schedule & Prepare
Tamika Doubell

Last month was one of refining processes, contracts and efficiency. I have many projects happening simultaneously. One thing I’ve started to see is that I’m constantly in meetings. Here’s some things to keep in mind about meetings:

Carve out certain days of the week to meet.

Be intentional about what days are good for you to meet people. Make committments and stick to them. I always think it’s a good idea to schedule meetings a week or two in advance so you don’t do things last minute. That way you can be prepared. If you work for yourself, planning the use of your time wisely can be tricky. Make sure to pen in appointments and keep your diary close at all times!

Set an agenda/itinerary. 

Ideally, you want to stick to an agenda which you set. Get through the business first, then you can move onto the fun stuff if you still have time.

Let people know how long you can meet. 

Time is precious. If you have lots to get through, make sure you structure your days well and stick to your goals. It’s always a good idea to set out the time you have available when organising meetings. Literally say to yourself (and your client) how long you have for the meeting. 1 hour? 2 hours? Put a lid on how much time you can spend working on something with someone. If you don’t do this, you may just run over time and disappoint yourself when you can’t achieve your other goals for the day.

Keep the location in mind and be intentional about it. 

Where inspires you? Where is there free wifi? Do you need a plug point for your laptop? Do your research when you schedule a meeting with someone. If it’s not in an office, ensure you’re somewhere that has the resources you need and also makes you feel good (and has good coffee!)

Rotary Club of Algoa Bay Social Media PR & Marketing

Rotary Blogger South Africa

I enjoyed creating this fresh new blog for The Rotary Club of Algoa Bay. Good causes always need good websites. Join them on Facebook here. We’re already in prep for next year’s Rotary Family Health Days. We checked out some sites here in Nelson Mandela Bay. It’s always a huge event so we need a big venue. We found one in the heart of Zwide Township. It was incredible to hear Bill Clinton travelled there last year. It’s the home of the Ubuntu Education Fund. I loved it – especially the little poppets that greeted me when we arrived :) Hopefully Rotary can use this venue as a site for the Health Days. It’s 3 days of free health care for the community. Skybok shot and produced the Algoa Bay Rotary Club’s video profile recently, as well as their soup kitchen for Madiba Day at Provincial Hospital.

Rotary at Ubuntu Education Centre South Africa

 

Mixing & Matching Fonts for Design

Mixing & Matching Fonts For Design

Here are some great font pairing ideas for your next project. These are nice ideas for anything needing some sassy fonts which work well together for creative stuff like party invites, posters and blog or website design. It’s nice to have ideas for how to pair fonts from the design experts. Sometimes we don’t know what looks nice together. Just Google the font you like and download it from a site like dafont.com. I sourced these combos from Pinterest. I never thought I’d be interested in Graphic Design, but as I blogger I’ve had to be! I’m not too hectic, but I do love some inspiration for my simple projects. Follow my Graphic Design board here.

Fonts Design Blogs

font pairing

font pairing

Cover Photo: Death To The Stock Photo

What is Your Truth? (Part One)

Firstly, here's what it's not

In my acting classes at the New York Film Academy, we were often taught about embracing our inner truth. I never understood the concept. I originally thought it was just an acting thing :P My teacher was strong, loud and confident. She was sure of herself and what she liked and didn’t like. She had so many stories about her days in acting class with Bradley Cooper! She was in touch with an incredible inner “knowing” of who she was. It was a core strength of utter authenticity. Over and above her clothing, there was an X-factor. It transcended a 1 dimensional existence. It was mesmerising! It was attractive! I wanted it! As the months rolled on, I threw myself into her teachings and soon came to a total understanding of the word “truth”. It wasn’t just an acting thing, it was a human thing. I ‘got’ that if we could learn to be free in our own unique footprints, we’d be so much more victorious in every day life.

So what is “Truth”?

IT’S NOT A BRAND

If you’re going to try and contain your inner workings, human psyche and organically fluctuating creative spirit (also known as being a human being) in a box labelled “brand”, you’ll drive yourself crazy.

When it comes to business, there are things to a brand which must be in place. They are super relevant and should be well-planned. But publisits globally have now started a trend toward extending that concept to the personal human being. To be honest, I did enjoy reading the Personal Branding for Dummies article on developing your private brand!

Personal branding has become a huge money-making realm. Coaches in it teach us to:

- calculate every part of ourselves precisely.

- manipulate ourselves to portray a desired “angle” to the public at all times.

To me, that’s not branding. That’s a forced existence. It also opens up the can of worms of living for others. Can we be free in our own thoughts, feelings and emotions if we are living for others? All the great minds of the world tell us the exact opposite. They say to live for no one but ourselves. The commercial seed of crafting an image to suit a brand in order to succeed may be a seedling in a garden of snakes in your head where you feel you can’t be yourself. Those snakes lead to things like depression.

IT’S NOT BOXING YOURSELF IN

Why do we have to harness the expansiveness of the human spirit to limit it to a specific way of being?

- a logo

- a colour scheme

- a fashion style

- a haircut

- an attitude

- a music taste

- a behaviour

- a profile on a social platform

I believe in giving people the freedom to come and go as they want. I believe it’s everyone’s right to decide how they want to do stuff. I personally like innovating constantly. I believe its a good way to be effective. When we box ourselves in to do certain things, we shadow the multi-faceted prism of human nature. We run the risk of putting a blanket over our natural “glow” which changes all the time. As individuals, we aren’t a business. We have an ebb and flow of likes and dislikes. We like to change. So I see a difficulty in needing to box ourselves in, the way businesses have to.

A Brand is the “design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product distinct from those of other sellers.”

– Wikipedia

IT’S NATURAL DISTINCTION

We all like distinction. But we must remember that we don’t need to do any work in trying to be distinct. As humans from totally different backgrounds, countries, personal histories, families, religions and cultures, we already are distinct. We can simply stand in that. We don’t need to try harder to stand out more. We are already individual just by being here. No one else has our story.

I wouldn’t be looking at this topic if it hadn’t come up as a theme in my own life. Many people ask me about how I crafted my “brand” and I have no idea what they mean. I’ve always gone with the flow of my spirit and what it likes, when it likes it.

The whole idea of personal branding highlights the importance to me to draw the distinction between being human and being a brand. It’s my belief we should do away with the pressure of “branding” ourselves if we’re ever to live naturally and freely in the world.

We want to live naturally so we can be empowered in ourselves; so we can be happy. I think we confuse ourselves by trying to assign adjectives and labels to our being. I believe we confuse ourselves when we copy what other people are doing. Some spend hours crafting their behaviour and appearance across all their portals because they think they should. It stops being healthy when it comprimises your sanity.

IT’S YOUR OWN STYLE

I have friends who are actors, writers, designers, musicians, bloggers, models. They’re people with good talents first and foremost. They’ve started:

- dressing in a certain way to be “appealing”

- posting updates on Facebook about topics they’re not really into

- instagramming certain things

- speaking in a certain way

- tailoring their Facebook pages to be a certain “look”

There’s a part of them that feels they have to. But it sounds like a lot of effort to stage themselves for the world. Rather cultivate your own style of talking online; post about what you really like. I value the power of branding and marketing/PR strategy in the workplace. But when living as a personal entity, I see more power in authenticity. We can have many tastes and celebrate our varied preferences on a daily basis. There’s no need to label any of it, or change it to suit the world. It’s our individuality that makes us special.

At castings, I see people come in having changed their hairstyle or “look” because their agent said they must be a different “brand”. They change themselves. They try to be someone they authentically aren’t. It’s a disservice to their natural strengths, which no one else has. People can make the mistake of thinking fashion defines them. It doesn’t. You can choose to be classic and simple this week, and next week wear a scruffy sundress with messy hair. One of the constraints personal branding puts on people is to stick to a certain fashion. Fashion can hide who we really are. A lot of time can be saved when we realise we don’t need to focus too much on the tactics of branding as the world knows it in our personal capacity. Simply have a core principle – you and your tastes – and the rest is fat on the bone.

IT’S YOUR X-FACTOR

If I think about it, let’s look at it practically. My husband one day won’t fit in to any “brand”. All I know is that the essence of his spirit will transcend what he’s wearing, what he’s driving, what music he’s listening to, how he acts, what his website looks like, what his instagram looks like, what he tweets or how popular he is on Facebook. My impression of him will be superior to all that. His business is one thing, his human-ness and personality is another. That’s his X-factor. His business needs a brand, he doesn’t. I know he will change every day. His tastes will evolve according to his truth, his fashion sense will transform over time, his values will change, his passions will vary. His simple, elegant “way of being” will fly in the face of any personal brand he meticulously crafted once. He won’t overthink his existence. And I won’t be able to put my finger on why I like him.

IT’S YOUR COMMON SENSE

Some things to me are common sense, not brand buzzwords. Things like:

- Be authentic

- Treat others with respect

- Stand out in your own way

I also believe we all know these things on a instinctive level. There’s a deep X-factor which is all of you that you cannot force or change. You can try to dress it up or manipulate it to stick to an “angle”, but that wouldn’t be truth. That wouldn’t be your common sense.

IT’S CHANGING EVERY DAY

When you put labels on yourself, you create a need to be loyal to “consistency” which brand building entails. This is pressure. As human beings, we are naturally inconsistent. Things are happening to us every day which shape how we think and how we do things. What I feel today will be different to what I feel tomorrow. To force yourself to be the same all the time could be suffocating. To force others to be the same is also suffocating. That’s a huge disservice to the mind. We should all give ourselves equal permission to flourish.

When you agree to trust and surrender to who you really are on a daily basis, you’ll have a deep contentment. You’ll stop needing to control yourself or others. Business is the only thing that needs a “spin” on it.

Truth begins with knowing who you are this morning and that you will grow and adapt by sunset. It’s enjoying your personal way of being and of doing. It’s not trying to understand it, it’s going with the flow of it. It’s being proud of it. My teacher knew that.

- It’s Not a Brand

- It’s Not Boxing Yourself In

- It’s Natural Distinction

- It’s Your Own Style

- It’s Your X-Factor

- It’s Your Common Sense

- It’s Changing Every Day

My teacher embraced these things. As a result, she was whole. It made her energy irresistable.

Sell your cleverness and purchase bewilderment.

- Rumi

Photo: Death to the Stock

Finding Your Voice Online

Finding Your Voice Online - Embrace you! Find out how to Communicate that Truthfully that Online

Imagine you were an astronaut catapulted into space on a rocket (bear with me). You were told you were chosen for an extra-special mission and would only return to earth in 3 lifetimes – over a century. Now the time has come for you to arrive back on your home planet. You land once again on earth. You are set free and told to integrate back into society. You visit your old house – now changed and inhabited by a completely new family. You visit the house of every person you ever cared about. Not too surprisingly, you learn they’re all dead. Everyone you once knew and loved is gone. You remain. What’s left?

Their digital footprints.

I’m no computer whiz but I’m sure the Internet will still be around in over 100 years and perhaps more advanced, who knows. The point is, their digital footprints will still be online and accessible. 

Unlike our space story, though, you won’t be here in over 100 years. But your virtual footprint will be. A cyber record of your existence will be archived somewhere. So wouldn’t you agree it’s pretty important that it’s a real and accurate reflection of who you really are? 

When you launch your online platforms, know that your presence on here is eternal (until further notice, anyway). The way you carve out who you are online is a big responsibility and not to be taken too lightly. It has rammifications if used recklessly and has the “forever” label on it. You want to make sure that it’s not only accurate but as true a portrait of you as possible. That way, you can really stand by everything you’ve ever posted or said. And, if something happened to you, you could die knowing that it was your total truth, through and through. 

Speak like you do in real life, online.

Communicate to your virtual audience in the same way as you would talk to the one person in the world who you feel most comfortable with. Why? Because that’s who you really are. That’s the way you talk, those are the things you say. So just type in the same way you would talk to this person in real life and that is your “voice” online.

Find a comfortable way of writing to communicate your thoughts online.

What things interest you? What things make you smile? What do you really think/value/believe in/feel? What do you find amusing or not so amusing? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and the countless other realms are only conduits for you to reflect your inner spirit in a cyber realm. There’s no one else like you! Embrace that. You surely want the expression of you across all your platforms to be accurate, don’t you? That way there’s no mixed signals with the people you care about. On top of writing about your interests, you need to write so people won’t get bored.

How to write with ease and make your posts effective:

  1. Use simple language 
  2. Use short sentences 
  3. Use bullet points
  4. Use metaphors 
  5. Write many drafts of your article/status updates/posts before publishing them
  6. Use photos
  7. Practice using your “voice” in everyday stuff. Really look at how you write text messages, respond to comments on public platforms and in e-mails. Get to know how you express yourself and keep it congruent with your online platforms
  8. Respond kindly to all comments/e-mails/tweets and virtual interactions
  9. Do regular audits of your old blog posts, status updates and posts. 
  10. Encourage your audience to approach you! 
Constantly look for inspiration.

I love Pinterest, music, other blogs and everyday things that are happening to me! I use these as catalysts for articles and updates/posts because they mean something to me and chances are they will be relevant to my audience, too. 

Keep up to date with your goals.

This involves “thinking on purpose sessions” as Joyce Meyer instructs. And wine. These are fun brainstorming sessions I would suggest having with yourself at least once a week to brainstorm new topics/angles for what your audience would like to read. 

Get up-to-speed with your field of ‘expertise’.

If your blog is topical (deals with a specific field), get up to speed on current happenings and events so you can offer something valuable and relevant to your desired audience.

Be Passionate about what you are writing about.

Because it all begins there.

Hone your intention.

Is it to help, enlighten, entertain, inform, discuss?

When using your voice online, run the “Digital Presence” Four-Way Test 

(my personal adaptation of the Rotary Four-Way Test)

1. Is it the Truth? Do you believe in what you are saying… really? Are you saying it with comfort and ease; expressing your honest personal and creative views?

2. Is it Fair to all concerned? Think about whether your audience will feel repelled or energized. Think what makes you feel repelled from other people when they post stuff. Then don’t post that kind of stuff. The aim is always to make sure your audience feels better after having read your stuff than they did before they read it (life lesson in general)

3. Will it build Goodwill & Better Friendships? Will people reading your material feel like they can comment and interact with you? Would they want to have a coffee with you in real life? 

4. Will it be Beneficial to all Concerned? Is what you are saying helpful to your audience?

Things you want to aim for with your blogging/social presence in general:

Credibility 

Your readers respect that you have a fair share of experience in life/your field and can truly give them good insight and guidance to help them.This is especially true if you’re running your blog as a business (for profit)

Authenticity 

Your readers feel you are being transparent and open with them. You are being the ‘you’ who you are in real life 

Mutual Respect 

Your readers will honour you if you honour them. They will interact with you if you take the time to respond to them and visit their portals. 

Visual Appeal 

Your readers are human beings and need to feel visually engaged in what you are writing about. Make sure to include photos and infograms (don’t know what an infogram is? I didn’t either. But now I love them. I have a collection of them on Pinterest here.) Include a couple personal pictures also so your readers feel connected with you. Keep it exciting!

Sustainability 

Don’t start something you can’t finish. Keep the creative energy flowing. Keep the content high quality and truly ‘you’. Continue sharing and embracing the beauty of others who you have learnt from. Link back!!

Humility 

Don’t post stuff to show off. Or prove to us how ‘happy’ you are. Please, spare us.

I would love to hear from you. Do you have a blog? Do you have social media platforms? Do you know who you are online? Here are my platforms, let’s connect.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/TamikaDoubell

Instagram – @misstamikajade  http://instagram.com/misstamikajade

Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TamikaDoubellLiving

Linkedin – http://www.linkedin.com/pub/tamika-doubell/3b/63a/16

Photo: Death to the Stock Photo