Why a Spin Free Personal Brand is the Real Answer

There has been a lot of talk about personal branding. We live in a digital age, yes. We leave behind a digital footprint, yep. We need to take control of our online presence to stand out and excel in our careers, sure. What a lot of people are not talking about however is the fact a personal brand is not about spin or in other words pretending to be something you are not.

Seems a strange statement coming from a former celebrity publicist and someone who built her career representing one of the world’s leading supermodels, but it is the truth and I have never believed in spin.

The worst thing you can do is ‘think’ about what your personal brand ‘should’ be in order to stand out. You will only ever stand out when you are entirely true to yourself. To think through the process is to undoubtedly try to imitate others or even worse, hide behind corporate jargon because you think it makes you sound more intelligent. We are all human and it is that human ‘being-ness’ that connects us. Feeling your way through the process may prove to be more helpful.

Last year I consulted with a woman who is a heavyweight in the HR industry. She was taking a sabbatical out of sheer exhaustion after working on an international multi-billion dollar merger. The timeout allowed her to focus on creative projects that had been simmering away in the back of her consciousness. Of all things, she was writing a children’s book and came to me with the question of how to manage her personal brand going forward.

Up until the point of our meeting, she was quite content with keeping the two worlds separate. In one world she was a serious corporate woman to be taken seriously. In the other, she was a children’s author writing about star chasing and intergalactic adventures (it is an amazing book by the way!). Surely the two world’s could not coexist? Wrong.

Her question to me was – “What if I go back into the corporate world?”

My response- “Would you want to work for a company that didn’t embrace all of you?”

Eventually, we found the magic spot. That special place where all the things she loved, the things she was good at, her previous experience and the vision she had for the future, came together in spectacular fashion. It was not about turning her back on her corporate career or putting a spin on her profile, it was about finding a genuine place where all her worlds co-existed. Through purposeful reflection and inner questioning, she found her personal brand. It felt right.

I can hear you questioning my understanding of company social media policy and professional boundaries. Common sense must prevail and sure there needs to be a strategy in place. There has to be a balance, If your personal brand is too far removed from who you genuinely are as a person, are you in the right place, to begin with?

There is a certain magical quality to people who are unashamedly them self. Those who genuinely lead their lives with their heart and trust their intuition are in the best position to find their purpose. To live out the full expression of who you want to be is to give yourself the freedom to discover your real potential.

When it comes to building a personal brand, there are no rules. In fact, it is when you follow the rules, you are more than likely heading in the wrong direction.

There are plenty of smart and savvy ways to promote your brand once you have established it, but no one can tell you what your personal brand is. You have to find that yourself and in doing so create a world where you get to enjoy all aspects of yourself simultaneously. You get to be the real you. I see the greatest role I play with my clients, to ask questions and inspire them to find clarity from a deep place within. It is about seeking the truth rather than simply putting a spin on your online profile. Take the time to find your personal brand and create a life, not just a living.

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Why I think about my funeral every day

 

I can picture my funeral clearly, I see the faces of all the people I love and I have even selected the music. My husband hates talking about it, but he knows exactly what I want. Considering I am a healthy 36-year-old woman, I would not blame you for thinking I am little crazy. The truth is, thinking about the end, helps me cherish the good times, get through the hard times and make clearer decisions in life.

 

Only just the other day, I bumped into a long lost friend. We both happened to be on the sideline of our children’s Saturday soccer game. After a quick catch up on all things to do with family, career, and life in general; with tears in her eyes, she spoke about a mutual friend we shared as teenagers. She was dying of cancer. I had heard she was ill but I assumed, given she was young that there might be a chance she would get better. Apparently, there was very little hope left and she was now playing the waiting game. We talked about the fact she never had the chance to have children; and in a flash, the early muddy Saturday morning start, and hoards of screaming children that surrounded us seemed like a dream come true.

 

Through the pain of it all, my friend reflected upon how watching one of her best friends slowly fade away, had changed her life. Everything was thrown into perspective and she was forced to think about her own mortality. The trivial problems that she faced, no longer mattered, and she was so grateful for all that she had.

 

I walked away pondering what we had discussed and felt a heavy heart for my friend who was clearly hurting. I then began to think about the fact we are all playing the waiting game. Problem is we have no idea when our time will come. We can hope and pray we enjoy all the life our body has to offer until old age, but that is never guaranteed.

 

One of the best books I have ever read is ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’ by Bronnie Ware. Bronnie, a palliative care nurse, recognised the wisdom her patients were sharing in their last days and decided to share it with the world.

 

Here are the top five regrets in her words-

 

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier

 

Each and every regret struck to my core and it was impossible for me to finish reading the book as the same woman I was when I opened it. That is when I decided to think of my funeral on a consistent basis. Not because it is a gloomy thing to do, but because it reminds me I am alive and healthy now. Every time I think of the end, I feel a greater sense of urgency. I no longer want to waste time doing things that don’t enrich my life and the world I live in. I no longer want to be surrounded by people who exhaust me as opposed to inspire me. I make a point of always saying ‘I love you’ to the people I care about, and I never leave the house without hugging and kissing my babies (including my big one).

 

Not so long ago an image went viral online, it was of an ambulance officer in Australia who granted the dying wish of his passenger. An elderly woman who wanted to see the ocean one last time before she went to the hospital to die. He did not hesitate and someone was able to capture the moment from a respectful distance behind them. You did not need a close up to sense the love and power of that moment. It was breathtaking. It was human.

 

Death is as much a part of our life as our birth. There is nothing wrong with thinking about it well before it happens. I recommend you do think about it. As Socrates said ‘Death may be the greatest of all human blessings’. Do not fear the end, fear not living your life to the fullest. My music choices for my funeral may change, and new faces may appear in my vision, but I know for sure the day will come. I pray by then I am able to pass on surrounded by love and with no regrets at all. I hope the same applies to you. 

 

Love and magic

Carlii xxx

 

 

Why you should stop trying to belong and simply be who you are

Remember the popular group at school? 

There are only two possible memories you can have, you were either in the group or not. I was to some extent in the ‘in’ crowd, however, I never really felt I was where I belonged. I went on to leave school early and for much of my adult life, the same dynamic would play out time and time again.

Even throughout my career as an international celebrity publicist, part of the job was to be in the ‘in’ crowd, connect with the trendsetters and literally make the news. I was invited to parties, runway shows, and concerts. I traveled all over the world and had the opportunity to meet so many incredible individuals. I loved every moment of my role, however, I have to be honest and say once again, much of the time I questioned if I belonged.

Was there something wrong with me or was I trying to fit into the wrong place? I now realise that rather than trying to belong, the key is to become clear about what belongs in your life, to begin with.

This whole idea of belonging came up for me only the other day after I spent a precious hour of my life mindlessly scrolling through my Instagram feed. As I sat there unashamedly peering into the lives of friends, colleagues and complete strangers, I discovered a wonderful change that had taken place within me. It revealed itself after I saw a picture of a friend out at a bar with a group of girlfriends.

Let me put it into context, I don’t drink alcohol (yes not at all), so the idea of going to a bar is extremely unappealing to me. I am also quite introverted so I generally choose a one on one interaction over a group setting any day of the week and twice on Sunday. In my 20’s I would have questioned myself and made myself feel bad about the fact I was ‘different’; that I was ‘anti-social’ or ‘old before my time’. In my 30’s I celebrate who I am and relish in the one on one time I have with my nearest and dearest friends. Yes I want to spend most of my time barefoot in nature and no there is nothing wrong with going to bed at 9.30pm.

In her book ‘Daring Greatly’, Brene Brown puts it like this “true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance”.

The truth is, there is no such thing as the ‘in’ crowd, furthermore, anyone who believes they are in the ‘in’ crowd is actually in a prison of their own making. For in order to be part of a ‘group’ you generally have to think the same, do the same and even look the same. It is why I have always tried my best not to wear what is ‘on trend’ or partake in needing to ‘be seen’ in all the right places. There is no point trying to belong somewhere if you need to be someone else in order to fit in. There is true freedom and lightness when rather than seeking to belong, you actively choose what belongs in your life. In the wise words of George Harrison, ‘My life belongs to me, my love belongs to those who can see it’.

I now realise that when I am true to myself, I attract the people and opportunities that are right for me. I no longer feel the need to belong anywhere or to anyone because I belong to myself. The people in my life love me just the way I am, just as I love them the way they are. There is someone and something for everyone in this world, there is no need to pretend to be anything other than your self.

So I say don’t try to belong, just be and where you find yourself there you are.

Love and magic

Carlii xxx

Lesson’s Learnt from a Fearless Unicorn

 

I have a very dear friend who I believe is a Unicorn in disguise.  To me, a unicorn is a rare, mythical, magical and extremely colourful creature that brings joy, happiness and love to all who are near it. My friend Gary is precisely that. Gary, 36, was recently diagnosed with having Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and despite treatment, cancer has spread. Through his greatest battle, Gary has unknowingly given all those who love him the greatest gift of all; a poignant reminder of how fragile life really is and how important it is the make the most of every moment.

 

I first met Gary almost 20 years ago, he was an aspiring Fashion Designer at one of Sydney’s most prominent design schools and I was still deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up. Gary never had it easy and was raised by his single Mother who had more expenses than money but did the best she could with what she had. As an eccentric gay European young man living in the Western Suburbs of Sydney, Gary never felt as though he fit in. I remember him telling me once that when he was little most of the boys were playing with trucks and guns, while he was dressing Barbie. Proof right there and then he was a unicorn in the making.  On the other hand, I grew up in Sydney’s North Shore, was offered a private school education (didn’t really make the most of it) and was given everything I wanted.

 

As the years went by and I finally did grow up, we always stayed in touch. It never ceased to amaze me how hard Gary worked and how determined he was to build his own brand. His work became quickly recognised and he was often featured in the press as ‘a designer to watch’. While everything looked great from the outside, not many people realise how hard Gary worked to keep it all going. With no outside investment, Gary often had to work two jobs and put everything he earned into keeping his dream alive. Not to mention the fact he would often live and work in the same space, tirelessly creating and never giving up on the dream he had fostered since the days of dressing Barbie. Meanwhile, I was living in a luxurious city apartment with the help of my parents and quite frankly enjoying a very cushy existence.

 

Every time we caught up, Gary would be sporting a new hair colour and a fabulous new pair of kaleidoscopic glasses. His outfit never matched theoretically but it always worked on him. Just being in his company made you want to go out and buy a new wardrobe filled with crazy colours and perhaps even a touch of glitter. Gary had, and still has, his own personal style and has never been afraid to flaunt it. How wonderfully vibrant, rich and colourful the world would be if we all had the courage to dress precisely how we felt at any given moment.

 

It reminds me of a night out I shared with Gary only months before he was diagnosed. On this particular night, he would teach me a lesson I will never forget. We were at a dinner party in the city and he agreed to walk with me to my car to top up the meter (oh how I love Sydney parking). On the way back Gary needed to use an ATM and the only one available was in a pretty rough looking pub. This time I think I was the one protecting him. As we walked in, I was shocked at the looks we were receiving. Gary’s purple and green hair and unconventional outfit seemed to rub several people the wrong way. As we walked out I even heard a few derogatory remarks shouted out above the dingy room.

 

I was so bothered by the encounter and started telling Gary how upset it made me. To which he replied “Don’t you remember what you once told me. Remember you said it doesn’t matter what people say or think about you. They will only think about you for a minute and then forget. Remember, only you are the one who thinks about you all day every day”.

 

I was gob-smacked, first of all, because he had remembered a conversation that had taken place years and years ago. Secondly, here he was, a living example of that very lesson. I was good enough to say it but not brave enough to live it. Even though my own life journey in comparison to Gary’s was a walk in the park, here I was the one held captive by limiting beliefs and an overwhelming fear of other people’s opinions.  His magical unicorn powers once again shone through and illuminated my world.

 

If there is anyone who can pull through the challenges Gary faces today it is Gary himself.  His spirit has proven time and time again to be stronger than anything life can throw at him. In the meantime let us not waste the invaluable lesson that is on offer. That being, no matter who you are, what you have been through and where you are now, you are unique, you are valuable and your life is special. Make the most of every day and never stop believing in your ability to make your dreams come true.

 

Dearest Gary,

 

As much as I did say that people would only remember you for a minute and then go on thinking about themselves; that only really applies to those who don’t know you. To all those who know and love you, however, you are unforgettable and we are all praying for your full recovery. Thank you for being a colourful guiding light and without even knowing it, inspiring us all to really stop, reassess and be grateful for our life and especially for the fact you are in it.

 

 

Love and magic

 

Carlii xx

My new thoughts on feelings and why you are what you commit to…

Up until now, I have always trusted my emotions were there to help me navigate my way through life. I have ‘felt’ my way through situations, relationships and opportunities. If something made me feel happy, I would do more of it; If something made me feel sad or angry, I would avoid it like the plague and or question my decisions. Seems reasonable at first glance, however, what if my relentless pursuit of pleasure and happiness has actually caused me more pain in the long-term?

 

This is precisely the question I started asking myself a month or so ago and as they say, when the student is ready the teacher will appear.

 

It all started on New Year’s Day. I have always believed the way you start the year sets the tone for the 364 days to follow. Attending a yoga workshop, therefore, seemed like a wonderful idea. Despite being slightly sleep deprived of the night before, there I sat in the studio awaiting enlightened instruction from our handsome Brazilian teacher, Julio. Speaking in an accent only handsome Brazilian men seem to speak, Julio posed a question to the class “is there a difference between feelings and intuition?”

 

After we all sat in silence and contemplated what seemed like an extremely profound question to be asking first thing in the morning, several students gently called out their thoughts. Julio nodded and proposed “feelings come from the level of the mind, while intuition is from the level of the soul” he went on to say “we must follow our intuitive commitments rather than our feelings”.

 

I cannot speak for the rest of the class but for me it was a light bulb moment, it made so much sense.

 

Julio went on to give the example of practicing yoga. He explained there would be days we wouldn’t ‘feel’ like practicing, however, if we made a commitment, we should aim to honour this regardless of how we felt. I could immediately see how this was a valuable lesson for all areas of my life and I made a promise right there and then, to honour my new commitment to remain committed to my commitments.

 

As I walked out the studio and into the summer heat, I began to question where in my life I let my feelings override my commitments. I looked back on the career opportunities I did not pursue out of fear and the new skills I gave up on too early out of frustration and embarrassment. Had I not listened to my negative feelings by now I would be a harpist, fluent in Spanish who could dance the tango, have a black belt in Wing chun and have written more than one book!

 

Do our commitments change as we change? Absolutely. I am in no way suggesting we should keep doing something that is constantly making us miserable. I am however suggesting that questioning the feelings as they come up, may allow us to get to the heart of why we are feeling the way we are in the first place. Then we would be in a better position to make the distinction between fleeting negative emotions versus an actual pain coming from a deeper more intuitive level.

 

 

Fast-forward a few weeks and there I was lying in a beachside cabana listening to the sound of the ocean and taking in the turquoise paradise that surrounded me. I was in Fiji for our family holiday and had snuck away from the kids to enjoy a quiet hour of reading. My brother had given me his copy of ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’ by Mark Manson and my immediate thought was what better place to read it. We were on a tropical island with our only worry being to achieve maximum relaxation status. It was an oasis specifically designed for us not to give a f*ck about a thing!

 

I was hooked as soon as I started reading and I found every page to be filled with practical wisdom and funny relatable anecdotes. As I turned to page 34 one paragraph, in particular, seemed to jump off the page and dive right into my open mind-

 

“Just because something feels good doesn’t mean it is good. Just because something feels bad it doesn’t mean it is bad. Emotions are merely signposts, suggestions that our neurobiology gives us, not commandments. Therefore we shouldn’t always trust our own emotions. In fact, I believe we should make a habit of questioning them.”

 

I felt as if it was the same message packaged differently with no handsome Brazilian to deliver it this time around. I knew I was ready to explore this newfound wisdom.  Rather than allowing my emotions to guide me, I decided it might serve me to observe, experience and question my emotions. To delve deeper into the thoughts that were stirring up the emotions and ultimately use my emotions to discover more about myself rather than allowing my emotions to use me.

 

The underlying premise of Mark Manson’s book is that there is no such thing as a life lived without pain, struggle and challenges. That no matter what path we choose, we will encounter some sort of problems. His suggestion- to choose a path that we enjoy solving the problems that will inevitably arise.

 

I felt the message was as refreshing as the crystal clear waters of Fiji and I knew there was no coincidence that I was reading it right there and then. There is no such thing as a coincidence.

 

Will I ever stop seeking pleasure and happiness? No way. Do I now understand that sometimes it is essential to trade in short-term pleasure for long-term fulfilment? Loud and clear.  Most importantly my relationship to my emotions has begun to shift. I respect my emotions however I now understand they do not have the answers. The answers we seek are to be found on a much deeper level. A place within us illuminated by love and life that remains forever constant and unchanged by the passage of time. How do we access it? Go within and ask for yourself.

 

Love and magic

 

Carlii xxx

 

How Fainting on the Yoga Mat changed my Life

Firstly I have to admit the heading of this article is a little misleading. I personally never fainted on my yoga mat, someone else did, but the part about it changing my life is absolutely true. Here is how it happened.

 

I love yoga and have had an on and off again relationship with it for almost 15 years. Recently it has been entirely on and I try to get to class at least five times a week. For me the opportunity to ‘exercise’ my mind, body and soul simultaneously is too good to be true, it is multitasking at its best.

 

I have also recently spent time studying the history of Yoga and the philosophy of the practice. It really is a way of life as opposed to a series of difficult, in fact sometimes impossible, poses on a mat.

 

In all the classes I have attended the one thing I hear the teacher say is ‘this is not a competition’ and ‘do not focus on what others are doing around you, yoga is a personal journey’. I get it but have to admit I find myself comparing my abilities with those around me. I feel pride when I can stretch that little bit more than my neighbour, and shame when I struggle to even contemplate doing a handstand, while the woman beside me looks like she could read a book upside down. I don’t mean to be competitive but too often my competitive alter ego takes over.  

 

This week, however, things may have changed for good.

 

Yesterday I entered the class like any other day, rolled out my mat and took my place in the front row. Soon after, a tall, stunning blonde woman walked in and set up proverbial camp behind me. I took in her perfect composure, designer attire, meticulously manicured nails and flawless everything (including the huge diamond on her left hand). She looked like she belonged on the pages of VOGUE. My competitive alter ego started to raise its little head.

 

The class started and as we went front child’s pose to downward facing dog to warrior 1, 2, 3 and every other warrior in between, I would every so often catch a glimpse of my competitor, though she had no idea she was participating in a competition.

 

My head started to swell as we moved into the more difficult poses and I realised I was ‘winning’. I smiled to myself and as we all took a big forward bend, I pushed myself as hard as I could, willing my head to touch the floor between my open legs and hoping she would see how much better I was. That was of course until there was a large thump on the ground and we all quickly stood up to see what had happened. At first, I assumed someone took the forward bend too far and literally fell forward. I was horrified to see my competitor was down, out, cold on her mat. She had fainted from the heat.

 

In that moment I was shaken out of my stupidity and into the reality of caring about this fellow human who was suddenly so vulnerable. We all kicked into action, had her positioned on her side, called the ambulance and cleared the studio while a few of the women did all they could to bring her back to consciousness. Our greatest fear was that she had fallen on her neck and done irreversible damage. She came in and out of awareness and would cry out in fear each time. She may not have been aware of it but she was surrounded by so much care and love.

 

When the ambulance officers arrived, we quickly found out she was pregnant and in the heat, it had become too much. She did fall on her neck but thankfully she had movement in her arms and legs. We were all so genuinely worried and relieved when we were assured she would be fine. The ambulance took her for observation and we were all left with the experience.

 

I personally learnt a lesson that I will never forget. May sound dramatic but sometimes, big lessons come in small packages. What stood out in my mind is how dramatically my perceptions changed of this woman as she went from ‘competitor’ to ‘comrade’. Nothing on the outside changed, it was all in my head.

As a ‘competitor’ I scrutinised every little thing about her, as a ‘comrade’ I celebrated and supported who she was.  As a ‘competitor’ I made myself feel as though I was less and she was more, as a ‘comrade’ we were equal. Had she not of fainted, I would have undoubtedly continued to play silly games in my mind. I would have wasted my time and not to mention the opportunity to relax, reflect and reward my body with yoga. In the beginning of the class I convinced myself that the only way to win was to compete, but by competing I was losing in every way.   

 

I found a little quote on Instagram that sums this sentiment up perfectly ‘You’re not in competition with anyone but yourself. Outdo your past, not other people.’

 

As you peel away the layers of our outward appearances, take away the clothes, the material objects we define ourselves by, and go beneath our skin to the core of the living cells that make up our body, there is a light, it is the energy we call life. It is the same energy that every living being shares. It is our greatest gift and without it we have nothing. Everything else is insignificant in comparison and certainly not worth competing for.

 

 

This Christmas focus on that light in yourself and others, celebrate the power of life and don’t waste time focusing on the things that really don’t matter. At the end of your life, when that little light is about to go out, you will have no choice but to recognise the magic and beauty you always had within you.  

 

Love and Magic

 

Carlii xx

HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD ONE CONVERSATION AT A TIME

I have never been one for small talk. I just don’t understand the point of it. When I meet a new person I want to delve into who they are and the life journey they have experienced to date. Even my close friends will tell you, I would choose a deep and meaningful conversation over a light-hearted chat any day. As you can imagine I am not the best company at parties!

 

I find the workings of the human spirit fascinating. Every opportunity I have to speak to a person is an opportunity to explore the topic first hand. Hearing others personal perspective and intimate experience of life, opens our mind and allows us to see the world from a different standpoint. Sharing our own honest personal perspective and intimate experience can also be a gift to others.

 

The word of the moment is ‘influencer’ and in my opinion, you don’t need thousands of followers on social media to be one. If you are able to support just one person by giving of yourself, you have changed and had an influence on the world. This is a gift that should not be taken lightly and at all times used mindfully. Everything you say from the heart will be received by the heart of another person, it is a power for good we all have the ability to use. The only catch is that it requires you to go deep, be vulnerable and share of yourself honestly.

 

What does that mean?

 

Small talk is not deep, it requires no level of vulnerability and you are sharing basically nothing real about yourself. To admit your fears, to open up and share your insecurities, to be brave enough to speak your truth and be willing to give love, even if it is unrequited, is the result of going deep, being vulnerable and sharing yourself honestly.

 

I had an experience not long ago that really reinforced this truth. I was at a women’s breakfast launch event and happened to be sitting at a table with an eclectic mix of fashion designers, socialites, businesswomen, and media personalities. Seated across from me was a woman who I have always been slightly intimidated by. She is successful, powerful and has always come across extremely strong.

 

On this occasion, she opened her heart and shared honestly the challenge of having her second child while trying to keep up appearances and an international business. Her honesty touched my heart and reminded me we all have our moments, irrespective of the public persona we often successfully maintain. As she opened her heart, all the other women around the table chimed in with their own stories of trying to juggle business success and a fulfilling family life. She used her power for good in that moment by simply being brave enough to go deep and give of herself.

 

If you are under any illusion that being honest and at times vulnerable, is equivalent to being weak, it is time to wake up and stop pretending. You are human and what makes you so special is the ability to experience the full spectrum of emotions. Imagine what the world would be like if we only participated in honest and open communication as opposed to being guarded and somewhat edited. Yes, you might call me naive or a daydreamer, but aren’t we here to create the world as we dream it to be.

 

Some might say they only open up to people they know and trust. My response to that is how many wonderful new relationships are you closed off to as a result of that attitude. My husband tends to think I have the opposite problem. I open up to most people and give freely of my inner thoughts. I have nothing to hide and yes strategically it may not always work to my advantage but as they say, the truth will always set you free. Furthermore, it is the truth and only the truth that will set others free.

 

Live your truth, speak your truth and at all times know you are worthwhile and you do have an influence on the world. You are too big to talk small.

 

Love and Magic

 

Carlii xx