ALL THE BLOGS

Writing

The power of leveraging your strengths

How do you learn and work and produce best? I’ve been thinking about the power of leveraging your strengths. Of what you can achieve when you know your best ways of working. Because me, I’m a binge creator. I’m a binge worker. I’m a terrible employee because if you...

Confidence in writing

Confidence. Whether you’re aware or not, confidence or lack of it plays a significant role in your writing at work. From my experience, this is true across all demographics, and I don’t care how educated you are, what gender or socio-economic background you come from,...

How to advocate for yourself by email

I won a huge battle last year for my daughter. HUGE. Like, $300k+ PER YEAR kind of huge. Almost entirely by email. So here's my advice for how to advocate for yourself (and whānau, friends, employees, all the good humans who need your support) by email. Before you...

Writing for outcomes – Part 3

How to strip back your business writing OK, so you’ve taken care of your up-front framing, and you’ve started to drill down to the clarity you need to write an amazing, fit-for-purpose document that’s gonna help you take over the universe. Now...

Access For All: Plain Language is a Civil Right

An unmissable global virtual conference If you, like me, believe plain language and accessible information is a civil right, and you have the internet, then this virtual event is for you no matter where you are on the globe. This is the first time...

Writing for outcomes – part 2

Fit-for-purpose document structure achieves results In my trainings, document structure is one of the most common things participants say they want help with.  Fit-for-purpose document structure achieves results! They hope I'm going to give them a standard report...

Writing for outcomes – part 1

Document structure and reader behaviour What does understanding reader behaviour have to do with fit-for-purpose document structure? Let me explain. Template torture People are always asking me for templates. Have you got a report template, Shelly? A business case...

Emails: How to deliver hard messages

People ask me a lot about how to deliver hard messages by email. My answer?  Keep it short, keep it simple, and above all, be MATTER-OF-FACT. The art of being matter-of-fact - (avoid the dramas, people!) What do I mean, hard messages?  I mean the emails you don't want...

All things change

So when did jeans become appropriate business wear? I was training at Air New Zealand a few years ago and I walked down a corridor behind two senior pilots. They were wearing dress shoes, business shirts, and jeans. And it dawned on me, all things change. At some...

Email or phone?

The very practical part of me is cringing as I write this. Do we really need to have a discussion about whether it's better to email or phone? Is this really a question we need to ask? IT JUST SEEMS SO FREAKING OBVIOUS! But. It is a question I get asked often in...

Emails – The Conversation Follow Up

I think most of us are smart people. We know that lots of things are best done in person or over the phone rather than through an email conversation. Things like getting something sorted when there’s confusion or tension or differing opinions or an issue to resolve,...

What do business readers want?

OK, so you’re not a mind-reader. But to write well in a business context, you do have to have some insight into what your readers want. Here's the good news The good news is, you DO have a very good general idea of what business readers want, so that’s a strong...

Emails: Saying sorry

Let me start by saying, either you have strong feelings about this, or you don’t. Between my face-to-face trainings and my online courses, I teach thousands of people each year to write better, more effective emails. And the discussions around apologies and saying...

Writing saves lives

And that’s not clickbait. Writing saves lives. Actual lives. So when accountants bring me in and call my work a soft skill, that fucks me off. But anyway… that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about my growing list of names of people whose lives my...

Assertive business emails

How to be assertive without being blunt (AKA how not to sound like a bitch in an email) Can I tell you how long I angsted over whether to write bitch or dick in that subtitle? One's offensive to women, the other to men. So then I considered fuckwit...(please laugh)....

How to sound professional and human in your business writing

I’m a firm believer that people don’t need to know the technicalities of grammar to be good at writing.  If you can talk, you can write. But. If we want to sound both professional and human in our business communications, then one of the things I think we...

How to make a living as a writer

Think bigger You use words. You use words to evoke emotion, tell stories, record concepts, sell ideas or services or products, engage a following. Whichever of those you do, think bigger. People are always asking me if I specialise in a particular type of writing....

How to get better at writing

Practice. The end. OK fine, I’ll say more. But that is one of the biggest things if you want to improve your writing. It’s a muscle that needs to be strengthened. You get better at it the more you do. I didn't know it, but I was...

How to write an essay

Seriously? Do you really want to know that? Or do you really mean How to make writing an essay EASY?  Or make it happen by MAGIC? Cos I’m not your Fairy God Mother. If you found this blog post by googling How to write an essay,  I feel...

How to write an executive summary

For the love of all that is right and good, PLEASE DO NOT WRITE YOUR EXECUTIVE SUMMARY FIRST! Here’s why. The executive summary is the only part of a report you can guarantee will get read. So it needs to be the most powerful and well-written part. The end.The...

Joy

The gift of telling people how you’re feeling

You know what pisses me off? The idea that feelings can be wrong. That emotions are inherently good or bad. I SO disagree with this. Every emotion is valid. Every emotion has a purpose. The challenge is for us to –  Recognise the emotionFigure out what it’s...

I hung out washing today…

I know, most of you are going, Aaaaand…? And I don’t usually. I hardly ever have. Like, ever. You see, as a full-time working single mum for years and years, my goal was to simplify and streamline every aspect of my life. Reduce stress, reduce workload, make things...

Just a little reframe

Hey lovelies I’m working super hard on emotional regulation at the moment (aka holding my shit together in healthy ways - more about that in my upcoming tour). And so I wanted to share with you just a little reframe that’s helping me right now: I get to or I have to?...

Whose problem is that?

Spoiler alert – not mine. Because, whose problem is that? Beeaaatch - that sounds like a you problem and not a me problem. First of all, credit where it’s due – my friend Tracy Hemingway said these words to me in conversation recently, and I just stole them. If you...

Advice to my children

On New Year’s Day 2017, I wrote advice to my children. Four years later I decided to sit down and do it again – a bit of an experiment to see how my advice had changed over 4 years. As it turns out? A lot. The advice I gave them in 2017 remained true but it was...

Surviving or thriving?

What are your best indicators of wellness? I've realised that one of my best indicators of well-being is the condition of my plants. After decades of motherhood, almost all of them while grieving, depressed, in a bad marriage or just plain lonely, I probably attempted...

The work-life balance bullshit

So I've been running my business for almost a decade. It's been a riiiiiiiiiide, let me tell you! It's been a ride I've adored, and so I've heard myself say, many times, that I don't buy into that work-life balance bullshit. Why? Because if you LOVE what you do, it...

How’s your timing?

Oh heeeey you! I've actually had a couple of people checking on me to see if I'm ok because I went off-grid and then it seems like I just never came back. Ooops. My bad. But also, my good. Cos I'm great. I'm astoundingly wonderful. Even though 2021 seems to be...

Tribe vibes

The gift of giving yourself a tribe My friend Cheryl Stephens tagged me in this image recently.  Me and my ninja (Mandy Smiler) nearly die­­d laughing, because #truth 🤷🏼‍♀️ Cheryl is part of our tribe. Cheryl knows me well. And you know how many times Cheryl and...

Two car seats on my back seat

There are two car seats on my back seat. My youngest child is 16 now, and here I find myself with 2 toddler car seats on the backseat of my car. My beautiful, late model Mazda CX-5 that I bought for myself BRAND NEW because I could. And because I deserved it. My...

Evidence that I’m a good parent

Don't let the evidence you're a good parent, slip past unnoticed. My children know that if I could go back I would not have chosen to be a parent. This is not the same thing as saying I don’t want them. They are (especially currently – keep reading) an absolute joy,...

Aaaaaand next!

"Must get caught up...must get caught up!" I've just had 3 days of filming, and that’s something I’ve never experienced before. I adored it. It was intense. I feel shattered and exhilarated. And as the camera crew drove away, my brain said, Aaaaaand next! It started...

What are you doing for fun?

Finding fun There’s this thing I like to do when I’m at home on Aotea (Great Barrier Island). My house is right by a waterhole, and I like to spend time there doing what I call “landscaping.”  You know how kids like to build damns and make sandcastles and dig...

The keynote you’ll never forget

I've always had this thing against putting "keynote" or "speaker" on your LinkedIn headline.  I mean, anyone can say that right? And everyone does. (OK, eventually I caved and put it there anyway, cos #expertadvice.) But what differentiates the amazing speakers from...

Planning my son’s funeral

Trigger: this post talks about suicide First of all, please know my son is most definitely alive as I write this. Second, please know I’m really scared to write it. I’m really scared that people will be offended, or disagree, or tell me that I’m wrong. A bad mother,...

Connection is the panacea

I’m sitting in a wharenui as I write this. Kawa Marae, Aotea - Great Barrier Island I’ve just been privileged to hear the whakapapa (genealogy) of my Carver Boy’s people. I’ve been thinking about identity. About knowing who you are. About the strength of that. About...

I’m good at…

How to claim your superpowers We are SO BAD at claiming our strengths and talents. In Aotearoa New Zealand we have this on a range of levels: Tall poppy syndrome (pull down who's reaching higher than the restKaua te kūmara e kōrero ki tana reka (the kumera doesn't...

A crisis of confidence

It might be a crisis of confidence. It might be imposter syndrome. Either way, it can fuck right off. Living with depression I had a period of depression last year that wasn't like my normal depression. It tasted different.   This one had the distinct...

Are you a rock pool?

2020 is the year of the rock pool One summer I was walking around some rocks on Aotea Great Barrier Island, and I thought about rock pools. Today feels like a pretty appropriate time to share that story.Because I stopped at every single one, inspecting, looking to see...

Are you prepared?

I’ve had the privilege in the last 12 months of watching my 2 youngest daughters very rapidly transition into high-functioning, self-sufficient young adults. It happened so fast. I didn’t realise it was coming like that.One minute I had a 15- and 16-year-old at high...

Badassery

How do you know when to act?

There’s this moment at dawn in summer when, instantaneously, the kihikihi (cicadas) start to sing. All of them. In unison. Like someone flicked a switch. They somehow know when to act. It’s not a swell, like one or two start and the rest follow, it’s just instant. I’m...

Managing expectations

"But they won't let me write like that" Ok, amazing humans who write shit at work: I have advice. Because one of the things I hear in my trainings, from people who are 100% on board with what I’m teaching them about good clear writing, is this: They’re worried that...

Whose problem is that?

Spoiler alert – not mine. Because, whose problem is that? Beeaaatch - that sounds like a you problem and not a me problem. First of all, credit where it’s due – my friend Tracy Hemingway said these words to me in conversation recently, and I just stole them. If you...

Evidence that I’m a good parent

Don't let the evidence you're a good parent, slip past unnoticed. My children know that if I could go back I would not have chosen to be a parent. This is not the same thing as saying I don’t want them. They are (especially currently – keep reading) an absolute joy,...

Trusting your gut

Instinct check: Is it your gut you're listening to, or fear and anxiety? One of the foundations of my last 8 years in life and business has been trusting my gut. My intuition. My instincts. Having faith that if it feels right, it’s at least worth testing to find out....

The keynote you’ll never forget

I've always had this thing against putting "keynote" or "speaker" on your LinkedIn headline.  I mean, anyone can say that right? And everyone does. (OK, eventually I caved and put it there anyway, cos #expertadvice.) But what differentiates the amazing speakers from...

The power of baby steps

Baby steps to an unknown destination This is a story about the freaking incredible things we can accomplish with baby steps. With just doing one thing and then wondering what the next thing is that we could do. No great plans, no Big Hairy Audacious Goals, just do one...

I’m good at…

How to claim your superpowers We are SO BAD at claiming our strengths and talents. In Aotearoa New Zealand we have this on a range of levels: Tall poppy syndrome (pull down who's reaching higher than the restKaua te kūmara e kōrero ki tana reka (the kumera doesn't...

A crisis of confidence

It might be a crisis of confidence. It might be imposter syndrome. Either way, it can fuck right off. Living with depression I had a period of depression last year that wasn't like my normal depression. It tasted different.   This one had the distinct...

Are you a rock pool?

2020 is the year of the rock pool One summer I was walking around some rocks on Aotea Great Barrier Island, and I thought about rock pools. Today feels like a pretty appropriate time to share that story.Because I stopped at every single one, inspecting, looking to see...

Are you prepared?

I’ve had the privilege in the last 12 months of watching my 2 youngest daughters very rapidly transition into high-functioning, self-sufficient young adults. It happened so fast. I didn’t realise it was coming like that.One minute I had a 15- and 16-year-old at high...

Writing saves lives

And that’s not clickbait. Writing saves lives. Actual lives. So when accountants bring me in and call my work a soft skill, that fucks me off. But anyway… that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about my growing list of names of people whose lives my...

In terms of mastering your mind

I’m all about how our thoughts are the only thing we can control in life. We have the ability to decide what meaning we’ll attribute to any given thing, which then dictates its impact on us – how we feel about and respond to it. For example As I write this I’m facing...

Stop shoulding on yourself

The whole day lay ahead of me. I’d had an early meeting planned that fell through. So instead, I mowed lawns for over an hour until I had blisters on my fingers that were threatening to pop. Shelly mowing the lawns on Great Barrier Island I sat down on the couch for a...

How to power

A while ago I was at a client's premises and found myself locked in. I’d finished my training a little later than their usual work day’s end, and then took my time packing up my things.  By the time I went to leave, the building was deserted. I had a visitor’s...

A rant about spam

I’m really intrigued by spam. It’s a spectrum of boredom to intrigue to eye-rolling to sheer offense, wanting to track people down and do… I dunno. Something. Today I got a spam email offering me funeral insurance PLUS A BONUS GIFT. A bonus gift? To go with my...

Heeey superwoman! How’s your cape?

I did the best I could. I tried my hardest. I couldn’t have done more. I used to feel guilty every time I thought or said any one of those statements. I thought they were lies. The superwoman days You see, I have these days every now and then that I call my superwoman...

What can you accomplish today?

Living with depression I’ve lived with depression officially for 15 years but in truth probably closer to 20. I’m all good with that. It’s part of me. We manage. I know how it works and what to watch for and what to do about it. And when I’m having a low...

Do you need help?

My true home is on Great Barrier Island, where my ancestors lived. I only get there a few times a year, and when I do, nature has done its best to take over. Elephant grass up to our waists. Manuka seedlings, thistles, and rushes have their roots deep into the clay....

Things I have tried and failed

I consider myself to be successful. We all have different definitions of success. Defining success Mine is that I live a self-determined life for me and my family.  I earn enough money for us to live a comfortable life and have great experiences. I have complete...