I have been in a fortunate position to have been able to resign from my job and go and travel. Look, it isn’t the easiest thing to do, as it takes months and even years to plan. But it is something that I would highly recommend everyone does. Take the plunge and forget about having to sit in the traffic to get to a desk you will sit behind for 8 hours, only to get back in your car to sit in some more traffic.
Why take a sabbatical?
Why would anyone want to leave their stable job with regular income? Everyone asks, “Aren’t you scared to leave your stable job?”. Yes, it is scary to think of, but you will not have any regrets. So many people are planning and saving for their retirement, wanting to go travel only then. But realistically, would you be physically fit to do a 21km roundtrip hike to see the infamous Trolltunga in Norway, or volunteer to help build a new cattery in Sweden, at the age of 65?
A misconception for quitting your job to go travelling is that it’s expensive. It can work out cheaper than your normal day to day life with an office job. You don’t have any rent to pay or other major bills to pay. If you are smart, you can find places where you can volunteer and in return, you get accommodation and food during your stay. Volunteering can be very rewarding, and one can learn so many new skills as part of the experience.
Planning for a once in a lifetime experience
Taking time off to go and travel for a few months is not something you can just plan for a month in advance. It takes months or even years of working extra hard to earn money to save. One must cut all costs to save every penny. It’s even saying no to Friday night drinks with your friends because you need to save. Every penny counts, and it is worth it when you finally get on that plane for the adventure of a lifetime.
You don’t have to plan every single move; you can just go with the flow. Depending on your passport, you may have limited time in the country. You can have a rough idea of your trip, but it does have to be cast in stone. You may find that you love the south of France and want to stay an extra few weeks.
Nothing ‘adventured’; nothing gained
Experiencing a new culture or ticking off the hot air balloon ride that was on your bucket list can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have, and you will carry that experience with you for life. You learn new things every day, things that you will never be able to learn by sitting at your desk doing your 8 – 5 office job. Like stumbling across a Spanish fiesta in a small coastal town and being the only English-speaking person in the crowd, but you will have one of the best nights of your life. You will also meet some really interesting people and make lifelong friends.
Be adventurous! And take the plunge – you will not regret it.
It’s no secret that 2020 has been a year of craziness to the max and I am sure we are all looking forward to seeing the back of it as we whizz through the last few months of this year. In saying that, you may be looking at ways to bring your business to the next level in 2021 (or maybe you are still ready to go ahead with your goals and see them through to the end of this year). Whatever you are deciding, are you ready to think out of the box?
I am referring to Vision Boards.
Have you heard of them? Do you have one? Have you ever used one or at least entertained the thought of using one? You may be wondering, “How can a vision board help me grow my business?” – keep on reading and I will tell you.
What are vision boards?
As always I would like to break down what a vision board actually is before we look at why you should have one and how it will assist you in your business.
Vision boards have come a far way. They were used in ancient times to almost “predict” the future of young royals and to create a pathway to greatness. Now you may not a royal destined for the throne, but you are a person destined for greatness. You are a person destined to have success in life, especially if you own a business.
Vision boards are there to make your goal more visible. To give yourself more clarity on what it is you wish to achieve. Your goal and your vision may change as your circumstances change, and that is fine, you can change your vision board as you see fit.
So in short, a vision board is a collection of images and phrases which are relevant to your business or personal goals. It helps you to stay accountable and to stay on track in order to bring your vision to life.
Factors to creating a great vision board
When you start creating a vision board there are a few things you should take into consideration so that you make sure you have a board that truly reflects you and your business goals. Here are some of them below:
- Clarity – You need a clear vision of what you want to achieve.
- Get out of your comfort zone – Do not give yourself goals you know are easily attainable. You need to reach higher, go further and challenge yourself in order to be successful – so make goals that will require a little more effort to achieve.
- Be committed – Make sure that you are ready to put in the work to reach your goals and to make your vision come to life.
- Be reasonable – Yes, you need to challenge yourself and your goals should not be easy-peasy to reach, but you also need to make sure you give yourself enough time and have the resources at hand to reach these challenging goals.
Once you have all of these things in place you can get started with actually creating your board.
Creating your vision board
If you are not too sure where to start, Pinterest has millions of ideas and you will be spoilt for choice. Here are some of the things you may want to have at hand before you start your vision board project:
- Card paper, pin board, white board
- A collection of magazines (make sure they are ones which are likely to have images that are relevant to your goals)
- Embellishments if you are the creative or blingy type
- You can also have personal photos if they are relevant to your end goal
You will want to clear your head, be in a quiet space and be intentional when choosing the items which will go onto your vision board. DO NOT just go with the images that are pretty or look nice.
Stick them on your board with intention, even use affirmations or mantras while adding them to your board. Make it more real for yourself. Feel like you are achieving the goals one by one as you stick each image or phrase on your board.
The last step – place your vision board in a place where you will see it often through the day. The best would be to see it first thing in the morning and last thing at night – maybe make two, keep one in the office and one at home.
The more you see it the more accountable you will be to MAKE IT HAPPEN. Visual goal setting is highly effective. We are visual beings after all.
Something that is also important to know is that when you create a vision board, do not create a glorified check-list, rather use the time to become aware of where you are now, where you want to go and what you will need to get yourself there. From there you will be able to create a visual masterpiece to keep your mind in the right place and your energy flowing on the right vibration.
To summarize – vision boards are not a new age trend. In fact, many people are adopting the practice of creating a visual goal set if you will. And it is not only for personal use, you can use it to create your business success. Points to remember:
- Stay focused when creating, have relevant goals but also make them challenging. Make yourself step out of your comfort zone – that is when you will truly feel a sense of achievement.
- Choose images that are projections of where you see your business in the future as well as what will help get you there.
- Lastly, make sure you see it every day, even a few times a day, look at it, feel it, believe it. Make it yours!
Are you ready to leave this year behind you and look toward the future with your vision board?
Excellent! See you on the other side.
Me, Myself & Marketing
A few years ago, I would have never thought that I would be a Marketing Assistant. I have always had an interest in marketing, and I have done a few courses related to it, but I never thought that what was my interest, would become my main field of work. I love marketing and to constantly learn something new about it, is what I strive for.
Let’s look at the definition of MARKETING:
Marketing as defined by the American Marketing Association: “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. The term was developed from the original meaning which referred to going to market with goods for sale.
In 2017 The New York Times described it as “the art of telling stories so enthralling that people lose track of their wallets.”
There are so many platforms that can be used to help you with Marketing. I think the task is a lot easier today than it was thirty years ago. We have Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn to name just a few. And if you do a little bit of research and a course or two, you will be able to gain the skills to effectively use them in your marketing strategy.
Tools, tools & more tools
You will definitely need a trusted friend to make life easier for you… a friend like Asana or any app that will help you to keep your marketing strategy organized. Believe me, this will help you A LOT! There are so many useful tools out there to choose from. When you have a moment to spare, have a coffee date with Mr. Google and you will be amazed to find out what is available out there to use.
Marketing and Branding, isn’t it the same thing?
What is branding and what is marketing? Isn’t it the same thing?
According to Wikipedia, “Branding is endowing products and services with the power of a brand” (Kotler & Keller, 2015).
According to (Hislop, 2001), Branding is the process of creating a relationship or a connection between a company’s product and emotional perception of the customer for the purpose of generating segregation among competition and building loyalty among customers.”
So, in a nutshell, branding is what you need to give your company/product/service a ‘face’, marketing is what you need to make this ‘face’ known and how you will use this ‘face’ to get sales. You will need a strategy for both of them.
You will work on your branding until you have completed it, but you will constantly work on your marketing.
A few Marketing secrets to keep in mind
- You need to know who you will be targeting: who will be your customers?
- You need to have your branding set up first
- Work with a plan, do not just do something because you read it someone and now decide to try it out. Plan what you want to do.
- Keep in mind how many people there are out there. Your target market does not have to include all of them. Keep your target market specific to the product/service you have to offer.
- There are certain ‘strong words’ that you can use in your marketing that will catch your customer’s attention. Words like “Free, How To, Secret, Limited offer, Don’t miss”. Words like these will create curiosity with a potential customer.
Types of Marketing Strategies
- Content Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click
- Search Engine Optimization
- Viral Marketing
- Influence Marketing
- Mobile Marketing
- Electronic Billboards
- Affiliate Marketing
What I would recommend, is once you have decided on your niche/product/service, take the time to develop your branding first and then take the time to work on an effective marketing strategy. Do research on marketing to become familiar with the possibilities that are available to use. Do research on your competitors and what they are using for marketing, this might just benefit you more than you think.
Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels
Graphic design is much more than taking a picture and adding text to it. It’s the art of communicating visually, visual problem solving.
So why is it so important? Well, imagine walking in a shopping centre and every shop has their name above their door in the same font, no colour, no style, no shape… Or what about magazines? If you page through a magazine and you just see one big block of words without any style, colour, images or different layouts. Would it keep you interested to read through the magazine?
This is where graphic design comes in – the visual message that a brand, magazine, billboard or poster sends needs to keep the reader’s attention to get your message out to them.
Graphic design has been with us since as long ago as 15 000 BC. Yes, it started in the age of the cavemen, who made symbols and pictographs on cave walls. It was used by monks in the Dark Ages. Even the Egyptians used it when creating papyrus.
Interesting elements in graphic design
When designing, you work with different elements to compliment your design, such as texture, line, shape, space.
What about typography?
Typography forms an important part of the graphic design process. Your choice of typography can set the mood and emotion in your design. There are different type styles, such as friendly, aggressive, calm, successful. By using the exact same words but in a different font, you can convey two different messages.
In this image I have used exactly the same words, “You are the one I want…” Can you see the difference in the message given by the words, when you make use of different fonts?
Shapes and patterns
When adding a shape to a design, you need to think about the message that you want your brand to convey. Is your brand strong, successful, feminine, trendy, do you want to show stability? If you decide to use a circle in your logo, this could suggest any of the following, safety, protection, free movement, completeness, unity, femininity and many more. It is really important to think about the meaning of the shape before using a triangle, square, geometric form etc. in your design. It is the same when using patterns; patterns can convey a feeling of stability, order or even motion.
Just like type fonts, colour also plays a big role in sending out the correct message when designing something. Look at the difference in the mood between the white text on the red background and the red text on the black background. Romantic vs Scary – while using the same words.
Every colour you use can have a different meaning, but the lack of colour could have a meaning as well. Purple can give a meaning of rich or royal, where blue can portray reliability or calmness. Red has a lot of meanings – love, danger, passion, violence or even adventure. Instead of just adding a few colours together you can look deeper into the meaning of each color. Do not use too many colours. Most well-known brands only use two colours in their logo. So how do you choose which colours to use together? Here you can think about complimentary, contrasting, reflective and analogous colours.
Lines can suggest different meanings. A thin line can suggest frailty and easy to break, where a thick line can suggest strength and difficulty to break. A vertical line can suggest dignity, upwards growth, lack of movement. Where a horizontal line can suggest security and stability. You can also choose between lines such as diagonal, curved, zigzag, dashed, artificial and natural.
I constantly find myself when standing in a shop or even when I am watching television, not looking at what the name is on a logo or advertisement, but actually looking at the shapes, colours, lines, fonts and white space used by the designer. To me, graphic design is a really interesting field to explore. Even after I finished my degree, I constantly find myself doing research, tutorials and watching “How To” videos. This is an industry that is constantly evolving, and it is best to upskill, especially with the constant updates to the tools used.
Hiring a full-time graphic designer for your company?
Why not hire a virtual assistant to take care of the graphic design tasks you must get done in your company? Your virtual assistant can take tasks such as the following off your plate:
- company branding
- website designer
- social media designer
- eBook designs
- even image editing
Why not give it a try? Our world is changing and as we go into the future, virtual work will become the “go-to” option. We can already see this happening. To find more information about virtual assistants, take a look at VA Connect.
Photo by Anthony Shkraba from Pexels
Event Management was always something I thought would be an interesting career, so I studied Tourism Management with Event Management as a subject. Only when I moved to Johannesburg and started a job as an events co-ordinator did I realise how much I would love it. The satisfaction of a successful event was addictive and pleasing the clients was the goal. I enjoyed getting to know people from all walks of life.
Fast forward a few years and my first role as a virtual assistant assisting my client with events. It was meant to be!
Events can be stressful. There is no doubt about it. The fear is real – no one wants to be responsible for ruining a brides wedding day or a company’s product launch.
Here are a few tips to help you plan and execute a successful event without loosing your hair or sleep.
1. Never say never
Never say it won’t happen. If it can happen, then it will. Murphy’s Law is widely practiced in the events world. There is a great unspoken respect for this. Always plan for the worst. If it doesn’t happen, then at least you were prepared for that possibility.
2. Attention to detail
This is a given. The best way to not miss a thing in planning for the event is to write EVERYTHING down, put it in writing and email it to your client so that they know you have remembered their requests. In some occasions, this can also cover your back, if anything goes wrong and you can’t prove you’re innocent, it could end up as a “he said she said” scenario and this is not where you want to be. Always have a notebook and pen handy no matter where you are, don’t always rely on your memory.
3. Talk, talk and talk some more
I cannot stress how important communication is. Never underestimate the role communication plays. As an event manager, you have a few role players involved in an event. The client, the caterers, the venue staff, the technical team, perhaps a florist, a DJ and a décor team. Keep everyone on the same page, and never make assumptions – hold weekly or even daily meetings with those involved. Create a shared document so that any updates can be seen at all times, leaving less room for error.
4. Have Fun
This may apply to many industries, depending on your definition of fun, but events take the cake. Event management is fun! If you have planned meticulously and feel confident in your work, the best you can do is have fun and enjoy what you have helped create. The smile of joy and success on a client’s face is priceless.
Despite Covid, the events world is very much alive and well. It hasn’t missed a beat and has almost immediately got back on its feet and channelled itself into a technical space. Some say virtual events are here to stay post Covid. It is easy to see why as there are a number of advantages:
- Huge budget cuts – no flights, accommodation, venue hire or catering costs to name a few
- Wider audience reach – attendees from all over the world are now able to log in online
- Economical for attendees – attendees can now include those not able to afford the costs of travelling
- Positive environmental impact– less people travelling means less carbon footprint
As with live events, there are always going to be challenges.
No matter how well prepared you and your technical team are, there are sometimes gremlins that could completely ruin an online event. Do your homework finding a reputable, experienced technical company. Arrange a dry run prior to the event so that any issues that may arise can be eliminated.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
It is also essential to ensure that the facilitator, all speakers, organizers and attendees are on the same page. Use an easy to use booking system such as Eventbrite. Attendees are able to register on this platform and will automatically receive reminders and log in details on the day of the event. If there are any queries these can be resolved prior to the event.
People enjoy networking and mingling at live events. The buzz at an event can be electric and give the audience a sense of excitement. This also provides an energy for speakers to feed off. It’s a huge challenge for the event facilitator as well as the speakers to create this kind of energy from the solitude of their home with very little interaction from the audience. Make sure you have an experienced facilitator who has enough energy and confidence to fill a virtual room.
There have been some very embarrassing videos of Zoom meetings doing the rounds on social media. To avoid this, Zoom has published their very own meeting etiquette guidelines. Have a look at the link below for some very useful tips. These should be shared with all attendees prior to the event.
The future of events
I personally feel that smaller, less social events can benefit by going and staying virtual, but there is no replacement for a live sporting event, a festival, a music concert, or a wedding where friends and family reunite from all over the world. If the coronavirus is here to stay, a few years down the line it will be common practice to hand sanitize and take precautionary measures and the event organisers will add coronavirus protection to the health and safety checklist.
But the show must and will go on!
Photo: Courtesy of Event Farm