A String of False Starts

Friday, January 30, 2015

I’ve busy been writing content, taking photos and putting together posts that I have been aching to write (I shared this post two weeks ago on how I write). This morning I sat down with the intention of getting a post on the blog straight away. I was looking through an old photo on Instagram and the discussion about what my readers were doing for their blogs that morning. I felt like I was in a good place. I've been inspired and motivated but I’m not sure what happened this morning. Sitting down to write, I wrote, deleted, wrote, deleted and then just laughed at myself.

Instead of deleting everything, or filing it away, I wanted to share my string of false starts. The bold text was going to be the title of the post, and the text in italics are my comments on what I'd written.

Sometimes The Cup Is Just Empty (I only got as far as a title for this ‘post’)

Finding Inspiration in Nothingness

It’s easy to find inspiration when you’re surrounded by new exciting things. A new experience, a new purchase or a new phase in your life. But sometimes even with so much happening it can be a little difficult to find the inspiration to write or blog. I don’t often lack the inspiration, I just lean towards not having the desire to write or blog at that particular point in time. I often feel overwhelmed by the stimulus around me, the wonderful blogs, advertising, media events and I panic. I retreat into myself, sometimes for a day or a few hours….

(Not sure where I was going with this)

I Miss You

One of the most interesting aspects of blogging is reading other blogs, especially the blogs of people I now consider friends. I know a few of my dearest blog friends are struggling with finding the motivation to write, and I simply wanted to let them know that I miss them...

(I've had many blog friends writing about wanting to stop blogging because they no longer feel motivated or inspired to do so)

In the end I decided none of these deserved your time. Sometimes I’ll write a post and decide that it doesn’t fit the philosophy of my blog. I don’t beat myself up, I enjoy writing so I simply file it away. It’s not often that I have as many false starts as this but I’ll take it as a lesson. A lesson to remain true to what this blog is about, what I like blogging about and only writing and blogging when I’m absolutely bursting with something to say - When I believe there is a story to be told. Today, this post is about exposing myself, and saying, yes, sometimes my process looks like this – and I’m okay with that. 

Have you shared any of your own blogging mishaps? 

Let's Talk About Mentoring

Thursday, January 29, 2015

I've been offering mentoring services for over a year now and I've been doing it rather quietly. I think I've mentioned it on the blog once and a few more times on Instagram. One of the best things about blogging is that you get an amazing insight into the lives of others and this sustains and feeds our sense of curiosity. And what a curious bunch we are! Your support and curiosity into my work is humbling, that's why in addition to answering all your questions I decided to talk about my mentoring program. 

The quote above I feel gives you a snapshot of what mentoring is about. Through mentoring I've been able to help individuals strength their careers, establish and maintain routines and goals, develop productive lifestyles and grow their blogs and social media. Ultimately through mentoring I've been able to help individuals gain the confidence and skills to pursue and accomplish their dreams.  While many people are interested in the idea of mentoring the cost of mentoring and often the difficulty in finding upfront information on how much mentring costs acts as a hindrance to accessing the service. 

Can you afford mentoring?
My chargers are set and simple. You pay for the sessions you need, when you need them. The first session is $75 for one hour. All the sessions thereafter are $50 for 45 minutes to an hour. I accept payment via Paypal and it is expected that the session is paid for beforehand. Current market rates for mentoring and coaching are roughly $180-$200 per session and there is an expectation to commit to a number of sessions upfront. I do not charge as much not because I don’t think I’m as qualified or skilled as other coaches and mentors but because I think the process of mentoring needs to become more accessible. My commitment to offering mentoring is driven by a passion and knowledge that mentoring can be an empowering, successful and rewarding process. Why shouldn’t more people have greater access to it? 

In addition to how much mentoring costs, it's important to consider if you can afford mentoring in terms of time. At this point in your life can you make the time for mentoring? Are you able to invest your time, space and resources into this process, and essentially into yourself and your development? Really think about if this is right for you at this point. 

I'm excited to be sharing this with you, if you're still curious or have questions about my pricing or if you need something catered specifically for you please feel free to get in touch! You can email me at vanishasblog at gmail dot com. I look forward to hearing from you and exploring the possibility of helping you along your journey x

* I'm offering the first three people who sign-up a 50% discount on the initial session as a way to thank you for your support! 

Just Getting Out Of The House!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Life pre-Miss 10 allowed for a lot of spur of the moment moments. One of the biggest changes I felt quite strongly was our inability just to get up and do things that weren't planned. What you don't really know about Miss 10 is that she is painstakingly slow. Bless her soul. There is no rushing this kid without drama. Lately instead of giving her a lot of time to prepare (which doesn't work for the whole spur of the moment thing anyway) I give her a set number of minutes. 10 minutes to get your shoes on and out of the door or you're not going, or the like. It's working, slowly... Days when I can get everyone out of the house with no minimal tears (hers and/or mine) are a real triumph. 

I normally don't do much with my family in the mornings, but mornings when I have to I keep everything simple. Well-fitted pants (7 For All Mankind make great ones), a stripe top (stripes always add a touch of sophistication, I favour the popbasic le bretons), a pair of heels (wish list item right here!), a fresh face and un-done hair (because I'm not going to wake up early and put on make-up, or do my hair!)

What's your go-to, no-fuss outfit? 
I'm thinking I'd like to try a new element to mine, but I'm not sure what it should be. 

Branding Your Blog

Monday, January 26, 2015

Graphic design makes a lot of people think of just the print related side, only that isn't the case; online design does tend to really get neglected, so my job here today is to help remind you why blogs should be engaging and reflective of your business and how all this can help build traffic.
For every business there is a form of identity; and each business takes its own path in delivering its message. Businesses may coexist in the same industry, however each business should have an individual approach. Here’s something to think about, a business is a business, but a brand and branding is not the same. You may or may not have approached this subject previously. If you have, then maybe it's still good to have a read and get a breath of fresh air on this subject area. 

Branding is more or less a visual identity, it's compiled of what your products and services are - mentally and physically speaking- or, a cycle of life of what your customers see.
Below I have the top 3 tips on how you can successfully build your branding.

1. Stand back and observe
While you might find yourself getting excited and wanting to jump straight into branding your business/blog, take a step back and remember that it's not as simple as it seems. Think of an ocean, far and deep. Your goal: to swim to further than the rest, but the obstacles are like waves and the rest of the people swimming might permit you from reaching your goal. These are your competitors, the ocean is your world and your life jacket is your branding. Focus on taking a breather, have a look and observe other bloggers to get a firm idea of what it is your out to achieve. Take an objective, look at your brand and set yourself goal. Take the time and be patient about understanding your own business first before explaining it to everyone else. Remember, your life jacket is your branding.

2. Consistency
Consistency builds a strong identity and explores the idea that 'everyone is singing from the same song sheet'. This will give a better understanding of the focus of your business. Considering specific colour palettes and certain graphic styles that project the style and feel of your business will help you out immensely. This will help your consumers to understand the message you want to deliver in respects to your company's services. Here are some blog examples that have used design consistency.
Xia Xue - Consistency | The Beauty Department - Unique | The PVDH Journal - Graphics |
Kelli Murray - Head and Navigation Focus | The Design Files - Overall Layout

3. Be great, stand out.
Remember that great design cuts through to your audience. Have you taken the initiative to have a logo designed? If so, is it unique and recognisable? Be unique and creative about what you want done. While simplicity may seem the way to go, think carefully about whether or not your business can handle the competitor and consumer conflict.

Logos are usually the first approach to branding your business, but it's good to keep in mind other collateral you may want designed. This can include business cards (even if your presence is solely online) and a great engaging blog or website design. Remember to keep colours and other elements specific to the feel and look of your business and make sure you have a strong idea of what you want your designs to express before getting the help from a designer. While designers can do most of the work for you, it's good to give them a lead to go on to make sure your both on the same track. This can save time and potentially reduce your budget.

Well that's a wrap for branding your brand, I hope you've learnt a little about how and why branding is so important for a business and more importantly that consistency is key above all; being patient and working hard to make sure your branding looks fabulous, will definitely go a mile!

Have you ever thought about branding your blog? 
Or, how do you currently go about branding your blog? 

This post was written for A Life Un-Styled by Ban, a graphic designer from the Central Coast, Australia. See previous posts on this topic here.

Ask Me Anything: Career/Work Edition

Friday, January 23, 2015

I was really surprised that many friends and readers of a life un-styled had questions about my career and the work that I do. I received so many questions on this topic that I figured I'd pop them into a specific Ask Me Anything post. 

anonymous asked Do you work? like really work? 
I definitely do work, but I can see why you would ask this. I can work from almost anywhere, which often makes it look like I'm always on holiday. I end up travelling a fair bit for work too. But I do work, like really work. 

An older but related question
mysterieux_x asked What did you major in and what is your profession? 

I majored in Psychology and Industrial Relations (which really was Human Resources at the time). But honestly I studied everything, including Biology, a lot of Sociology and Literature. My PhD was on education (children's experiences in and out of school in Fiji). My profession - I'm a research consultant and director at Making Connections (Fiji) a consultancy firm that I set up with my husband, there's more information on our work website.

RR asked Is your achievement the result of you merely tapping your latent potential or is it good competition that stimulated you to be so successful? What stimulates your drive for success? I really need to know. 

I've always been very competitive (with myself). I have my own standards and measurements of success, which are very different to other people, especially other people my age. I'm more concerned with improving my standards of work and behaviour. I think it would be easier for me to compete with others, but I'd rather compete with myself. After I graduated with the three gold medals, I didn't think I'd be able to top that, then I got a scholarship to do my PhD at the age of 22, I didn't think I'd top that, then I finished my PhD becoming one of the youngest PhD recipients in Fiji, I don't think I can top that - but history has taught me that I can and I will. To do it I just need to look at where I am, what I have, what needs to be improved on and work until I top that last thing that I didn't think I'd be able to beat!

beachsidemama asked What work do you do day to day? 

This depends on the project I'm currently working on. A research consultancy would mean I'll be designing a research, its methodology, doing fieldwork (collecting the required information), meetings with orgainsations, writing up the report, reading. A training consultancy might mean that I'll be developing powerpoints and tools to deliver a particular training program. If I'm not working on a project then I'd be writing my own papers, working on our joint mentoring program and my own. Talking to my mentoring clients, writing and keeping notes. Managing our business website, blog and social media presence. Things change quite constantly depending on what we take up. I think my a day in the life posts give a little more insight into what my days are like.

beachsidemama asked What made you choose that path? Are you happy doing it? 

There were a few considerations. One, was of course ability, I'm doing work that I feel qualified, experienced and able to do. Two, I did a PhD because I loved what it involved - reading, writing, thinking, researching. I couldn't think of another path where I would get paid to do exactly that. Three, lifestyle. The lifestyle I wanted for myself and my family was also a deciding factor. After I finished my PhD I wanted to a lifestyle that would allow me to be a mum and have a family (until I found out about my infertility). I liked the flexibility of work and life as a consultant. So even minus children, I liked the lifestyle consultancy work afforded my husband and I. I can travel with him (or alone, or with friends) at the drop of a hat, I can manage our philanthropy initiatives and develop our business organically. I also love working with children, young people and communities. I've been passionate about the social issues I currently work in and around since I was about 10 years old. It's a sustained passion and love. 

Am I happy doing it? Absolutely! Every single day. I might not be working on a project every day but I am working towards building our brand everyday. Either through social media, talks, papers, community initiatives. I know I speak for both Patrick and I when I say our work lives and personal lives blend seamlessly without one overpowering the other. It's a perfect balance without any concerted attempt to achieve balance. This is how I know that I am most definitely doing what I ought to be doing. 

Kristian asked What projects are you working on now?

I'm currently working on writing projects. A case study of a medical service provider in Fiji. I'm developing an e-mentoring handbook for a high school we work with. And given that it's the start of the year I'm working on our tools for the breakfast and coffee style meetings we hold with our existing and potential clients. This week I'm also busy proposal writing for projects later in the year.

Kristian asked What has been your biggest challenge(s) and how did you manage it/them?

My biggest challenge is working in a space and context where everyone knows each other and often it becomes about 'who you know'. This isn't too bad but it's when the distinction between personal and professional lives become blurred. I like getting to know the people we work with but balancing that and making sure that even in a culture that's quite communal I maintain some distance. The way I've managed this is by 'socialising' with our existing and potential clients through our breakfast and coffee style meetings. It's out of a formal space, allows for some personal conversation but is quite restrictive in just how much we can slip into too social and too comfortable. For me meeting with clients this way has allowed me to demonstrate my professional self but also allow my personal and social self to emerge appropriately. It's also something that we've developed for our business and is quite unique to the way we work. 

Is there anything you want to know?
Have you done a similar post? Please leave me a link if you have.

Summer Wardrobe Essentials & Wishlist

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

As soon as the sun comes out, so do the legs. Mine especially. There's nothing I love more than shorts, or skirts on a hot sunny day. But this summer I've noticed a few gaps in my wardrobe. I haven't jumped on them as an excuse to go shopping though. I'm making an effort to use what I have (which is going to be a recurring philosophy this year).

My current summer essentials look a little like this
sunnies | I have three on rotation, by Ray Ban, Fossil and French Connection UK 
espadrilles | because I'm not a huge fan of flip flops 
structured shorts in black | because summer still means work and meetings 
printed shorts | for a little fun and colour 
racer back tops | because they bring out my shoulders

details: sunnies Ray Ban | chambray shirt Levis similar here & summer alternative | skirt Isabel Marant Etoile | straw bag Espirit similar here | heels Forever New similar here on sale for $18!

On the summer wishlist 
structured denim shorts | those ones are perfect and with a little work they could be appropriate for meetings
frayed denim shorts | these seem to be all the rage now and by the looks of things it's going to take me forever to find  a pair that's right for me 
t-shirts | this seems obvious, no? But I actually don't own many t-shirts and I desperately one this one in black and white! 
white tops | but with a twist like this one and this one I'm probably going to get these made for me with natural/organic fabric 

There are quite a few things on my wishlist but I'm working through them intentionally. The way I'm making the decision is to think about what's really missing and what would be the most practical. An easy one would be the denim shorts. I don't own denim shorts, but I do own structured shorts, so perhaps the gap in my wardrobe as the frayed ones for the summer. 

What have you got on your wishlist this season?
How do you work your way through it? 

Designing a Logo: Designer's Perspective

Monday, January 19, 2015

Written by Shannon Cant 

Have you seen Vanisha’s new logo? I had the pleasure of designing that for her. Since Vanisha often writes about how she grows and enhances her blog, I thought it would be nice to detail the logo design process and give some general tips on blog rebranding. When Vanisha approached me to design the logo for her blog, I was thrilled! Not only did I have the chance to work on a project that I was truly interested in, but I would also have the opportunity to learn more from Vanisha’s wealth of online/blogging knowledge. 

As I had originally guessed, working with Vanisha was a breeze. She conducts herself with the utmost level of professionalism when it comes to blogging, and as the client in the client/designer relationship she was no different. When designing a logo for a client, it is really important that there is a clear line of communication. It’s my job to get inside the clients head, and bring that idea to paper adding a little of my own spice of course. So really understanding the client and their expected outcome is essential. Having Vanisha’s blog available as a resource was invaluable. If I ever felt like I was taking a creative steer that was slightly off course, all I had to do was pour over her huge back catalogue of posts. Vanisha and I spent a lot of time emailing back and forth and even talking over the phone in the final stages, which really helped to achieve a result we both loved.

The inspiration behind the logo: When Vanisha approached me to do the design, she asked for a logo that could transcend her current ‘life in Australia’ focus. Since Vanisha is Fiji born and both her and her husband Patrick travel quite a lot, she noted that perhaps in the future, Vanisha’s life may not actually be in Australia. To overcome this issue, we decided that she needed a brand to encompass whatever direction her blog may take in the future. Vanisha's blog headers could change to whatever she fancied at the time, but the branding would always remain as a consistent anchor. The tagline ‘inspire, connect, interact’ reflects the strong community that surrounds Vanisha’s online presence. Her aim is to inspire and be inspired while connecting and interacting with her community.

The logo design is Vanisha’s very own passport stamp. The stamp shape shape alludes to the fact that Vanisha has travelled a great deal over the years and has lived a full, unique life. The idea was to broaden the concept behind her brand so as Vanisha herself is the key focus, rather than the location she currently resides in. The use of the flowing script was chosen specifically to reflect Vanisha’s femininity and style, complementing the shapes of the letters in her name. Perhaps the logo could also be seen from a readers perspective? Once you visit Vanisha’s blog, you receive her personalised stamp on your web browsers history. And what a delightful place visit during your internet wanderings!

In my next post, I will be talking you through the design process. This might be particularly useful if you're curious about the logo design process, or general design processes. Tune in next week for the second part of this post!

If you have any questions leave a comment and both Vanisha and I will be happy to get back to you! 

This post was written for A Life Un-Styled by Shannon Cant.

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