Thursday, 28 March 2013

And Relaxxxxxxx - Thoughts On Downtime

With the long Easter weekend almost upon us, I'm sure there are plenty of wedding professionals out there experiencing that state of perpetual confusion experienced by many of us - whether to work or to take some time out.

When you run your own business, there's no 'home time', there's no-one from HR e-mailing you with your annual leave entitlement form and, quite crucially, there's no-one from Finance merrily paying money into your bank account every month.

It's all you. You are responsible for everything.

And 'everything' takes a lot of time. It takes a huge amount of time and then of course, there are the weddings themselves. Long, busy, hard days that are absolutely full of joy but, because we tend to love our clients and want to give them the best, they require total concentration and commitment and that's tiring

Then, when you're back from the wedding, the usual schedule of work at HQ tends to continue straight away. Downtime is rare. There's also the pressing need to 'get yourself out there' - to blog, to tweet, to Instagram, to Pin, to promote, to plan, to network and to build a personality and a brand. It can feel like a merry-go-round that spins a little too quickly and never stops.

But, there's plenty of research that says this continual need to be in the thick of it is totally counter-productive. That we should be contactable but not permanently available, that we should keep stuff back and not share everything, that we should actually do less if we want to do better. Being addicted to work and always being on call might be more socially acceptable than necking a bottle of vodka every day but it can still be incredibly damaging.

As a wise-man once wrote - "You'll never ever get everything done so stop worrying about it." And he's right. We are the ones that make everything on our schedule seem so gut-bustingly important. Perhaps we like to play the in-demand, always busy, bordering-on-being-an-inhumanly-amazing person. But really, didn't most of us get into working for ourselves so we didn't have to be a slave to anyone, let alone to ourselves?

And the thing is, when we whip ourselves into the fakey frenzy of imagined emergencies, we quite often do silly things - whether it's making a crazy decision or snapping at someone who didn't deserve it. Slowing down makes everything better and when you're in a better state, you do better work, you are a more attractive person to be around, you're rested, positive and less resentful of everything and everyone that's taking up your time. Which they're not, by the way. You're allowing them to take your time and your energy.

So, this weekend, give any of the following a try...
  1. Have a little think back on the year so far. As my wise man said "reflection is one of the most underused yet most powerful tool for success." What's worked? What's gone well? What can you make better? 
  2. Practice stepping away from your phone/laptop/iPad for a little while. Give your time to your family and friends, the people who are there with you. Share real things with them. In researching this piece, I read an article where the author called our love of social media "the e-leash" which is pretty accurate.
  3.  Jump around a bit. Oh yes, this one works wonderfully. When you're getting sucked into something, make a conscious decision to jump around. On the spot, up and down for a minute or so. This has lots of benefits - it 'breaks' our state, it will usually make you smile and that little break is often enough to give you time to work out if you really need to go back to doing what you were doing.
  4. Write down who you are without mentioning anything about your work. It's great to love what you do but you're more than that right? Just remind yourself about the rest of you.
  5. Make a memory. Do something this weekend that you'll remember for a long time and even better, share it with someone else. 
So, even though it feels like you might not have time to relax, I bet you can find find some time this weekend to do just that. You just have to prioritise and surely, when you're the one that everything rests on, you're the one that needs to be in good shape so taking some time out is pretty damn important really. 

Have a great Easter weekend, eat chocolate, do things to make yourself happy, take a break and we'll see you on the flip-side...

If, in best BBC voiceover styleee, you've been affected by any of the issues in today's piece, you might like to take a look at the following links - Are You A Workaholic?, Workaholic, Understanding The Dynamics of Workaholism. Or, shut your laptop off and go and talk to someone.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Wedding Professional's Business Conference

Wedding Conference Co Logo

So, I'm writing this post with, amazingly, the sun streaming in through the window. This is making me very happy and smiley so it seems like the perfect  time to share some news.

This November sees the first UK Wedding Professional's Conference and I'm really pleased to be able to say that I'm speaking alongside some truly fabulous people including the gorgeous Julia from Brides Up North, the very talented Tina Reading from Ultimate Wedding Magazine and many more (you can check out the list here)

In my sessions, I'm going to be talking about making today's bride want you and knowing your powers to sell you strengths - both sessions are going to be really interesting, full of tips and ideas and also, I hope, a bit of humour!

I'm really proud to be speaking at the Conference - the wedding industry in the UK is full of vibrant, creative and dynamic individuals. And I'm hoping to see lots of them (and yes, that means you!) in November.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

24th March - The Week That Was

Firstly, I hope you're all warm and snug on this bitingly bitter Sunday. As we skid sideways towards Easter, it's almost impossible to think that next weekend we change the clocks and welcome in 'British Summer Time'. Never before have my thermals been worn quite so regularly! Thank heavens for warm drinks, good food and a roaring log fire every evening otherwise I would be a Tamryn shaped icicle. Anyway, whilst I type one handed (other hand wrapped around a mug of tea), here's the week that was...

  • Seeing some hard work pay off in the form of beautiful new brochure proofs for a lovely client.
  • Watching son run his annual school cross country race and being blown away by his sense of fair play and friendship.
  • Arranging to meet the gorgeous Tiffany Grant-Riley next week (whooop whooop!)
  • Booking onto my first Clandestine Cake Club meeting. Can't wait to get baking for that.
  • Getting inspired by my step-daughter's school reading project and having a great 'favourite book' debate by the fire.
  • Falling more in love with my gorgeous dog and signing up to learn more with Pets in Practise.
  • Joining up with a group of incredibly wonderful women to work on a very special new project.
  • Having a great telephone coaching conversation with a client in Wales.
  • Receiving some really fabulous feedback about our 'Finding Your Voice' series.
  • Being interviewed for and accepting the post of Poppy Appeal co-ordinator for my area. Very proud.
  • Writing my little piece for the Dambusters 70th Anniversary memorial.
  • Having a day at the Waitrose Cookery School with the lovely Adriana Rabinovich teaching us all about gluten-free breads and pastry. I met lots of great people and loved every minute of it.
  • Reading the beautiful 'I Capture The Castle' by Dodie Smith and loving my new literary heroine, Cassandra Mortmain.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Excuse Me, Who Are You? - Thoughts On Cliques

via Pinterest
Ok, so this post isn't exactly part of the Finding Your Voice series but it fits quite nicely with all the things we're talking about at the moment. And that, in case you're joining us a little late, is being who you are - an authentic, consistent, true version of yourself.

This post has been inspired by my eleven year old step-son because it's all about knowing who you are and being that person with your head held high.

There are groups, cliques, circles, clubs, clans or whatever you chose to call them in life. It's part of the way humans bond with like-minded people. We can't fit into them all, no matter how much we try. Is that fair? Actually, fair doesn't come into it because it is what it is - getting bent out of shape because of your perceptions is crazy and, if you're happy as you, happy with your place in life, why should you care?

Now, I'm not advocating stamping all over people, being rude, being downright mean and excusing yourself with a "well, I'm just being me" comment. But my point is - if you know who you are, the place you're in is the best place for you.

My step-son doesn't know who he is. He wants to hang with the sporty kids but he's a bit too small and not quite competitive enough for them. He wants to hang with the quieter kids who stay out of trouble but he's too boisterous for them. He wants to try gymnastics because the boy in the class who can bend himself into a ball is the centre of attention but my step-son hates the discipline of classes. He doesn't want to be told what to do but without someone giving him structure, he's at a complete loss. He just doesn't know who he is or where his place is and that makes me sad.

And I see some of the same thing in the wedding industry too. There are people, good people, who want to hang with the 'cool kids' but, for lots of reasons don't and that's somehow then portrayed as being the problem of the group in question. That's not the case at all - the question should be why is being part of that group so important? What do you get by being in that circle? And why can't you get it without that approval?

Knowing yourself, being yourself and finding your own way is so important. It's how we attract like-minded clients, build relationships with other professionals that are supportive and mutually beneficial and, most importantly, enjoy what we do. Trying to wedge yourself into a group you perceive as being 'important' is never going to work on so many levels. It's a waste of your energy and it can become so destructive - it's a fixation that obscures the beauty of who you really are from everyone.

As my step-son is finding out, it's not existence of these groups that's the problem. The problem is not knowing where you really belong because without that knowledge, you can never find the place that suits you.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Finding Your Voice - Part 2

via Pinterest
So my lovely people, how did you get on with last week's worksheet? Got your list of words? No? Well, I'm really sorry but you can't keep reading this until you've got them so if you've not done your homework, stay behind please and get on with it now...

Right, now we've all caught up, we can get on with today's little installment. So, with your list of words by your side, let's get on with reviewing your current 'voice'.

Firstly, make a list of every way that you communicate with potential clients and industry colleagues. Whether it's your blog, your Twitter and Facebook feeds, your static web pages, your press releases, your standard letters and e-mails - everything that gets your message out there.

Now, I'm sure you know what's coming next. Yes, that's right - you need to review everything. Re-read everything being uber-critical - does absolutely every phrase and paragraph reflect the words that you have selected from our earlier exercise? You don't have much time to get your message across, especially to new contacts so highlight any sentence that doesn't work (we'll be coming back to those pesky little words in our next installment)

If you're finding it tough to be impartial, print out your communications and get someone else to read them and ask them what words sum up those paragraphs. Ask a friend or an industry colleague for their opinions too. Or ask me to have a look, I'm happy to give you some freebie feedback.

I know reviewing all of this might seem like an onerous task but I think you might be pleasantly surprised - it's very likely that there'll be bursts of 'your' voice in your writing already - underline these, see what works for you and be proud of yourself. You've got a really good basis to work from and you know now what you want to change. Perfect.

In our next installment, we'll look at how to keep your voice consistent and how to make it the 'best' you that we can. You're voice is going to be singing like a superstar rather than mumbling by the time we've finished!

17th March 2013 - The Week That Was

And with the blink of an eye, another week has gone. The eye joke there is slightly relevant as I've spent most of the week squinting mistily at the world through my swollen shut eye (yukky eye infection - boo and hiss). However, despite the fact I look like a rather pathetic boxer, it's still been a flipping good week...

  • A trip to London for the Man Ray exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery and walking around London in the cold sunshine.
  • Going for a gorgeous Thai lunch and being told by the waitress that she's never seen a woman eat as much!
  • A record breaking day on the blog for the first part of the 'Finding Your Voice' series (part two on Monday 18th March!)
  • A visit to a really beautiful venue in Hampshire and a very interesting conversation with the owners.
  • Arranging to meet more wonderful industry types over the coming weeks.
  • An invitation to the Love Scarlett party. Outfit selection has already started!
  • Baking lots - with my son for his school Red Nose Day bake-sale and for me, just for fun.
  • Walking with my beautiful dog in the pouring rain, laughing at her leaping in huge puddles and both of us getting very muddy.
  • Being told by several people I really respect that they like my writing.
  • Having two features commissioned by national magazines - wooo-hooo!
  • A rainy Saturday afternoon in front of the fire with a cup of tea and one of my all-time favourite books.
  • Son being so inspired about photography and saying "Mummy, can we set up a shoot after dinner?".
  • A beautiful anniversary card from Mr Apple - because every month is worth celebrating.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Finding Your Voice - Part 1

One of the things that's absolutely key to success in the wedding industry (and beyond!) is to have a really authentic 'voice'. With weddings particularly there are so many companies who offer essentially the same service as you that personality really comes into play when clients are making decisions about who to book.

To attract like-minded clients, it's so important that everything you put out there totally reflects who you are and what you stand for. When we look around the industry, some of the people we admire the most are those who are themselves and aren't afraid to be that person come-what-may.

But, that's all very well to say and sometimes much harder to do. It's easy to see what others are doing and be influenced by them and their approach, you might have an idea about what you think people want to see and try to give them that rather than giving them you or you might try a bit of everything and end up confusing your audience with a muddled and mixed message.

So, over the next month, we're going to be posting a step-by-step guide to finding your voice. There'll be tips, hints and maybe the odd worksheet to get you going. Today's little sheet is a good starting point and we hope you find it an interesting, illuminating and other things starting with 'i'...

You can download the Step 1 worksheet here. or e-mail and we'll send one straight over.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

10th March 2013 - The Week That Was

How can it possibly be time for another 'The Week That Was'? The last  few days have just flown by in a haze of writing and working, baking and being with some fabulous people. So, whilst I'm typing this and shaking my head in disbelief that it can be Sunday morning again, here's the last week..

  • Walking the new dog off the lead for the first time (yes, she came back!).
  • Watching son's school inter-house rugby in the sunshine.
  • My first piece going live on Love Scarlett and having some lovely chats with Penny of Tigerlily Weddings.
  • Meeting a client and actually being able to sit outside and have coffee in the sun.
  • Working in my garden for the first time this year with my beautiful dog at my feet.
  • Picking up the phone and being greeted with the words "We were wondering if you could just write..."  (answer - yes of course!)
  • Arranging to meet up with some fabulous people at some gorgeous venues over the coming weeks.
  • Being so proud of son's glowing report at parent's evening and finding out I went to school with son's music teacher/choir master.
  • Blogging about ambition and being complimented on my writing by the journalist who inspired my piece initially.
  • Having some balance in my life and therefore having the time to do some baking in the week (my ultimate soul-soothing activity).
  • Some lovely walks with the dog - come rain or shine.
  • Mother's Day - with flowers, breakfast in bed, gifts and smiling people around me.

Happy Mother's Day xx

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Something For The Weekend - Good Thoughts

This is just a little something for Saturday and these wise words are from one of my favourite authors, Roald Dahl...

Roald is a genius, responsible for one of the books that would always make it to my Top Five (Danny Champion of the World - I just love it). But Roald is also a real observer of people and he's absolutely spot on with the quote above.

So wedding people, if you're at wedding fairs, weddings  or meetings this weekend, think good thoughts and let those sunbeams shine. In fact, let's all just have good thoughts and put the positivity out there. 

And let's face it, we all love the warmth of a radiator.

Image via Pinterest

Friday, 8 March 2013

Real Wedding on Love Scarlett - In Praise of Love Stories

Just a very quick update to say that my 'real wedding' feature that inspired my earlier post on opportunity is now waiting for readers (yes, that means you!) on the glam new Love Scarlett site.

Do take a look and let me know what you think!

I've made a conscious decision to write more than some blogs do for their real weddings because as inspiring as the images can be, there is so much more meaning to them when you know the story behind the choices that the bride and groom have made. In my opinion, that in itself is so inspiring for other brides-to-be. It gives  them the confidence to take their own passions and hobbies and weave them into their weddings.

Weddings are about the couple, about their loves and likes and the very best weddings bounce these ideas back at guests like a magnifying mirror. Details become unforgettable when they're forever linked to the couple in question and that's why telling the back story behind the wedding is so important. The wedding day itself is a page in a book, it's not a standalone piece of work. Like a great book builds plot and characters, a wedding always has had chapters that have come before and, rather than just dipping in to the day itself, a longer report gives us a little precis of what's happened before so we can really appreciate the page we're reading. The writing around the images is the wedding equivalent of York Notes and without it, we'll never understand the intricacies of the detail. With it, we fall in love story we're seeing.

There'll be another real wedding coming soon and having already seen the images for that one, it's going to be gorgeously beautiful.

Happy reading and here's to love stories.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

A Dirty Word? - Thoughts On Ambition

Earlier this week, I read a piece in the i newspaper that absolutely struck a cord with me. Rebecca Armstrong's excellent feature sung the praises of being amibitious, of wanting more and more importantly, believing that we're all worth more than settling simply for what we have. If you've not read 'Ambition is something we should all be proud of', then take a few minutes out of your day now and give your reading muscles a little exercise.

What I loved the most was Rebecca's rejection of the really rather idiotic idea that it's somehow unseemly to be ambitious or that we shouldn't want better either for ourselves and those we care about.

I'm ambitious. I like to achieve, I like to get things done, I like to improve things and I can't bear standing still. I want better for myself. And I want better for a lot of fabulous people I'm lucky enough to know.

What I don't like however is achieving at the expense of all else. You can still be polite, friendly, funny and human whilst being ambitious. Knowing what you want and what you're going for is so important but you don't need to knock others down and climb over them on the way. What's the point of getting to where you want to go but not having anyone to share it with you when you get there?

Another lesson in ambition this week came from my son's school choir. His choir are very good indeed, they enter competitions, they often do well but, most importantly, the boys enjoy their singing and they all want to do well - for themselves and for each other. They didn't win the latest festival they entered but when the results were announced, they turned around and applauded the winners. No-one told them to. They just did it and they're eleven-year old boys. That's pretty good in my book.

They didn't win but they weren't beaten either. Their ambition didn't stop them appreciating what others had achieved.

So, thoughts on ambition - for goodness sake, be ambitious. Keep striving and believe you're worth everything you dream of and more. Try hard, work hard, don't set limits and don't let anyone scoff at your ambitions. But don't stop being a person - help others achieve their dreams and you'll be surprised who reaches out to you to support you on the way to yours.

Thanks so much for your words Rebecca - I'll definitely be joining you in wearing the 'I AM VERY AMBITIOUS' t-shirt and buying them for my son, step-daughter, family, friends and colleagues too. I want us all to be the best we can be.

Ambition isn't a dirty word. Although if you only care about your own, it can be a very lonely one.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

3rd March - The Week That Was

Well, it's been a busy busy week here - one of those weeks that was so full of good things, it flew by in the blink of an eye so here's a little round up of what Candid Apple have been up to this week and, in true work/life balance way, not all of it is 'industry' related...

  • Son back to school after half term and in 'summer uniform of shorts - this makes me look forward to longer, warmer days.
  • Mornings and evenings being noticeably lighter this week.
  • Lovely shopping trip with my Mum and the purchase of a new baking book.
  • Writing lots and lots of features and blogs for various weddingy people and loving it.
  • The amazing and inspiring Ellie Simmonds opening the swimming pool at son's school and son being chosen to ask her a question.
  • Collecting our gorgeous, beautiful and really rather wonderful new dog and bringing her home.
  • Being contacted by a real hidden gem of a venue and arranging to meet them.
  • Son's school choir taking part in a choral day and watching their performance in the stunning chapel at Wellington College.
  • Being sent some truly gorgeous wedding photos to use for features.
  • Son's birthday - complete with party tea, fancy cake, balloons and lots of gifts.
  • Playing the garden with the dog.
  • Meeting up with Julie Tooby for a good industry chat and laughing a lot.
  • Enjoying a last minute request for some copy - all written, all on time and all on word-count!
  • Son's choir competing in a festival, doing incredibly well and being so impressed with the teaching staff's dedication.
  • Booking myself onto Emily Quinton's September photography workshop.
  • Deciding which endurance walking challenge I'll be doing this year!
  • Turning the page in my diary and seeing that I've got a great week coming next week.