Author Archives: Sharon

How to write a book – A Play

I’m listening to an interview of author Janice Day who wrote about her breast cancer experience. I like her style and her struggle to find a story format to suit her story.  You can listen to the podcast at  Creative Breakthrough Podcast 1 with Jurgen Wolff.

Janice talks about studying screen writing and being interested in Aristotle’s analysis of the three act play into pity, fear and catharsis.

It’s is a great description of this year’s book writing course and explains my different bouts of writer’s block.

How to Write a Book – A Play
Act I: Pity.
Scene: A desk, a computer, an empty chair.
A woman walks into the room, looks at the computer and wails “oh woe is me, I can’t write a book. I’m doomed.”
Act II: Fear.
Scene: The woman sits on the chair and starts typing, then stops and screeches “oh no, I can write a book… oooh, but it won’t be good enough and people will snigger behind my back. I’m doomed if I do and doomed if I dont.”
Act III: Catharsis.
Scene: The woman sits in the chair, typing on the keyboard. The screen comes into focus and we see the words  “the end”. She leans back takes a deep breath, exhales audibly, smiles and says: “wow, so that’s how you write a book.  I’ll be damned.”

 

Why we must celebrate the small wins

A great way to start the week listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast with Chase Jarvis.

I especially love his comments about the really important reason for celebrating the small wins.

As Tim explains it: we want to be creative because we want to do great work and we want to do great work to feel good about ourselves and if we give ourselves small doses of feeling successful throughout the creative process, rather than just at the end, we get better at celebrating the big wins too.

So true.

Sending good intentions to the universe doesn’t give us what we want… we achieve what we wish at a speed determined by our cultural beliefs and by the strength of the actions we take that confirm our intrinsic worth.
The MindBody Code, Dr Mario Martinez

Connecting Scanners and Makers

I love Barbara Sher’s Scanner* network and the “Look what I’ve made” group. I also love her idea for a “Scanners, Steal my Idea” group, but I wonder…

[Here’s my main idea which I would love someone to steal]

For a while have been thinking that if  the Scanner community could get connected with communities of makers that would be even better than asking Scanners to steal our ideas. Makers – be they craftspeople, tradespeople, software or business developers – might be interested to steal and produce some of our ideas.

I am one of those Scanners who gets my joy from imagining fantastical new things. I have much less interest in building and creating (perhaps because it takes soooooo long). I would love to partner with makers who do love the work of making things.

* For those less familiar with Barbara’s work, Scanners are people with multiple interests and talents.  Also called multipotentialites by Emilie Wapnick in her TED talk

Dont fight the status quo – make it obsolete

Confronting corporations and their lack of sustainable practices will only get us so far. As Buckminster Fuller, the designer and systems theorist, said: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

In the transition to a renewable energy, steady-state economy, entrepreneurs can follow Fuller’s advice by nurturing business models that create shared value, applying alternative business structures, and tracking social and environmental performance. We can start to re-use the most plentiful resource on earth – people power – instead of the current focus on automation technology using scarce resources.

We, the public, can also agitate for legislation to “internalise” social costs such as pollution and health risks, instead of the current externalising which pushes the profits to our corporations and the remeditation costs to us the public.

 

Five Questions to help Get Unstuck

I’m participating in an online course with lots of assignments and some of our group have gotten behind and are feeling stuck. It seems overwhelming if not impossible to catch up on the outstanding work and get back on track. So what to do?

I was was feeling like this recently and found that asking the question “what should I to do first?” seemed logical but it was the wrong question.  I couldn’t make a decision because I had no way to decide what were the necessary assignments and what I could skip.

Luckily, one of my colleagues reminded me “you know why you are you doing this – let that  be your decider”, which alerted me to the fact that I had not revisited my “why” in a while.  So here are the five questions that helped me get unstuck and moving again.

1. Why am I doing this? 

I revisited my “why”.  I wanted to do this course because I am keen to learn how to run online communities and to connect with people who work in social & environmental justice. That hasn’t changed but I have lots of choices about what sort of community and I sometimes get lost in the options, so I need a way to remind myself of what I want.  I like the idea of the minimum viable product that I can build – something that will produce value for my community members come launch day on Septemer 10th.

Lesson: We need to make our “Why” memorable, so we can think about it on a daily basis.
Suggestions include: Make a poster to look at, a story to tell, or a dance move to reflect your “why”.  A rough prototype of the website is relevant for my particular project.

2. Who am I doing this for and 3. What is their problem?

In the early days of hte program we spent time talking about and describing our audience, what they say their problems are. I think I need to keep them in mind daily.

Lesson: How can we find someone who represents our potential audience / clients and has the typica problems they have, then make them memorable via a screenshot or image, or a typical phrase for their problem, or a pose that they get into when they’re down.  Google images are great – for serious and cartoon images.

4. How can I help them?

I keep imagining my audience / clients with their problem and then imagine giving them a meaningful message and imagine how I will connect with them.  Is it a product or a service, in my case will it be synchronous or asynchronous contact or a bit of both?  What is the minimum I can create to start to get my message out there and draw potential network members to me?  The answers to these questions helped point me in the direction of where to start. Blogs are easy.  For others, a tangible example of your message / solution might look like a mock up of a workshop marketing page, or a book book cover and outline, or typical answers to frequently asked questions in a podcast, or  a short video demonstrating what we can do.

5. What will my impact be?

Finally, what impact do I intend to have? When I imagine my audience / network with their problem and then they join my community – I create a ‘before and after’ comparison, or a mini movie in my head.  What will they and their life be like after they have joined this community?  I’m still working on this one – trying to create a satisfied network member image, a mock testimonial, or a ‘happy power pose” (see Amy Cuddy for more on powerful poses).

If you haven’t worked out your “Why”, or if you are still stuck after asking these questions, send me an email to sharon (at) apassion.com.au and you can join our “proto” community. My motto is a riff on Barbara Sher’s “isolation is the dream killer” … “Connection is the Dream Fulfiller”.

The “cost” of joining the proto community is that you give me full and frank feedback on what does and doesn’t appeal.

Voicing our Values

Thanks to ever-growing social networks, research shows the average person has the ability to influence 8,000 people or more (our friends, our friends’ friends, and even our friends’ friends’ friends). From the book Connected by Christakis & Fowler … How your Friends Friends Friends Affect Everything You Feel Think or Do, 2009.

So my questions to myself and all my Australian friends are:
“Who does our Budget serve?”
“Is it contributing to an Australian society that is thriving, fair and just?”
“If not, what are we prepared to do about that?”

I for one will be doing what I can to influence people I know to vote for a budget, a government and policies that create a fair society, because we all use society’s infrastructure so it’s only fair that we should all contribute to its development and maintenance.

I’m excited to be volunteering with GetUp to contact GetUp members in marginal seats held by the Coalition hard right.  A small number of people currently have an inordinate influence on Coalition policy and they seem to be out of step with the majority of Australians, including many of their voters.

What about you?  What are you energised to do?

Girls: Put your Hand up and Get on a Panel

When I joined the Royal Australian Air Force, women couldn’t be pilots, so I got into logistics. One of the female engineers won the right to fly just after I graduated, by taking the Air Force to the Discrimination courts.  But she could only fly the transport aircraft.  It’s taken nearly three more decades to earn the right for Australian women to support our country (if they wish) by flying fighter jets.

While this is an extreme example, I’m regularly disappointed when I see conference panels with no female face. A recent Talented Women blog by colleague Kiri Stejko reinforces that we want to cheer our female peers when they do something ‘unusual’ like fly a plane, but it would be so much better to consider it normal, not unusual.

I think Sheryl Sandberg has it right. It is our collective responsibility to put our hands up and encourage our female peers to ‘go public’.  We need more women to sit at the table, get on the panel, give a talk, write a book. Show other women it is possible and allow us to hear the views of ‘the other half’ of the working population.

Make sure you attend an International Women’s Day event this March 8th and then challenge yourself to ‘put up your hand’ and make sure your voice is heard or read, sometime during the intervening 364 days of ‘normal’ events.