Being a multipotentialite: Believing it’s OK to follow multiple passions

Heading over to the Gold Coast this month for the Problogger conference gave me the usual massive dose of new knowledge and vital inspiration. I’ve got more to talk about it in future posts but the single most important part was the keynote address from Emilie Wapnick of Puttylike. She pioneered the term multipotentialite and basically I love her for it!

What is a multipotentialite, I hear you ask?

The best introduction to Emilie’s theories is this TED talk – do spend a very useful 12 minutes watching it, because I’m fairly certain you won’t be disappointed.

Basically, a multipotentialite is a person following more than one different interest or passion. For many years I felt (as this was the advice given all over the place) that I needed to really pick a specific niche to work in, rather than being a blogger, freelance writer, social media trainer, blogging consultant, speaker, podcaster and … yep, all those different things.

In fact, my problems started way before that: back at school I loved both English and maths; my teachers all pushed me towards engineering or medicine and I was trying to fight back with my creative side and I ended up doing a very muddled Science degree with three minors (mathematics, social ecology and marketing).

 Emilie Wapnick - definition of multipotentialite

Emilie Wapnick at Problogger speaking about being a multipotentialite

I’ve followed Emilie’s work for a while, but it wasn’t until having her there right in front of me that I finally listened to what she had to say. It is actually OK for me to continue following multiple interests – maybe it’s even better than OK, it’s actually very beneficial both for me and my clients/readers/listeners.

What it means to be a multipotentialite

I particularly loved this interview with Emilie on Jeff Goins’ podcast. On here she said something particularly wise:

Multipotentialites don’t usually quit when things get hard, they quit when things get too easy.

This sums me up completely, in a way that makes so much sense, but I’d never understood it properly before. It explained why until recently, the job I stayed in the longest was my part-time student job at KFC, and that my career path from then until I moved home from abroad, I needed to change jobs regularly to keep interested. I’d get a great new job, it’d be fascinating for a while, then I would have learnt most of what was interesting and new, and I’d be bored.

That’s why the work I do now is perfect for me. Working in blogging and social media means that the knowledge required to do my job is constantly changing. There are new platforms, new ways to use old platforms, all kinds of changing things which keeps me feeling like there is so much more to learn, a state I love to be in.

It also means I can combine both my travel blog with my social media and blogging work and combine all of that into speaking I do, and all of that cross-fertilisation is actually great! It’s not watering each of these things down – it’s making all of them better.

What does this mean for you?

I think a lot of my clients will identify with this whole multipotentialite thing. Many of you are working in creative industries, or doing creative work (writing, art, etc) on the side of other kinds of work, and enjoying all of it.

What Emilie’s keynote at Problogger reminded me of is that it’s important to embrace all sides of you and work with them – and this is extremely true in the social media area. If you’re running a Facebook business page, for example, then your followers will love you even more if they learn about you as a whole person, so you should feel free to expose them to all of these varied interests you have.

On being a multipotentialite

Are you a multipotentialite?

Does this ring any bells with you? Or are you someone with a very deep passion for one thing (something I’ve often wished for, to be honest, as I feel like it would make life easier)? Let me know in the comments.

 

Join me for a Walking Mastermind in Perth

(Looking for current walks to book? Head to the Walking Masterminds page.)

Working for yourself has lots of positive sides, and my friend Aggie Lim and I have long joked about our “beach office”. I got to thinking about this – the benefits of being able to be outside for part of our day, not chained to our desk, experiencing the inspiration of nature, and having the freedom to decide how to set up our working day – along with the wonderful benefits of spending time with like-minded people – and decided that setting up some Walking Mastermind walks might just be something that could work out.

Walking Masterminds with Amanda Kendle - for blog post

What happens on a Walking Mastermind with Amanda?

We will meet at the specified time and place (which will vary) and split into groups of around three or four people (although we’ll all walk together, so this can be a bit fluid, as well!).

At each walk I’ll supply a small card with three questions on. After you’ve got to know your fellow walkers, the idea is you can discuss the three questions together, to hopefully learn some new ideas and share some of your own successes, too.

After the walk, I’ll email everyone who attended with some of the best ideas we heard, plus some resources and links to help you out.

The questions will be related to:

  • productivity – working for yourself, motivation, systems, organising and planning
  • blogging – how, why, what about, how to get readers, and more
  • social media – various platforms, tips and tricks, making time, getting motivated
  • small business/self-promotion – new ideas, networking, strategy
  • and other topics that arise within the groups that seem relevant!

Who are these Walking Mastermind walks suitable for?

A lot of the participants will be people who’ve met me through workshops and consulting sessions in the past, but we welcome anyone, especially:

  • Bloggers or anyone who uses a blog as part of their website
  • Small business owners who have some kind of online presence
  • Anyone using social media to promote their work
  • Writers/artists/creatives who need to promote their work online
  • And anyone else who wants to chat more about blogging, social media, business and more

(You can always email me if you want to check with me first.)

How can I join a Walking Mastermind?

Each walk has a fee of $10. This covers my time for organising and following-up, but also has the purpose of helping you commit to be there – it’s all too easy to let other tasks get in the way.

The currently available locations and times will always be published on the Walking Masterminds page, with links for booking via Eventbrite.

At the moment, nearly all locations will be north of the river but this might change in the future.

How masterminds and mentors made my 2014 WAY better (and why you should gather people around you, too)

For a couple of years now I’ve been listening to some of my favourite podcasters talk about the value of masterminds (Pat Flynn, Amy Porterfield and Natalie Sisson spring immediately to mind.). In fact pretty much everyone in the social media, solo-preneur or small business space goes on about how mastermind groups or accountability partners or mentors can make ALL the difference. I’m probably a bit slow but finally in 2014 I caught up with this idea and, not at all to my surprise, found it worked out SO well!

Setting up your own mastermind group

Of course, if you sit around waiting to be asked to be part of a mastermind group, you might be waiting a long time. (Or not. But if you haven’t been asked, do what I did.) I thought about a few people I knew who had a similar philosophy to me about running their solo business, and who I also knew had lots of motivation, great ideas of their own that would help me too, and were, of course, nice people who I would love to see more of. And then, with a bit of nervousness, I emailed them with the idea of forming a mastermind group.

Guess what? They said yes! So, since the beginning of 2014, I have had wonderfully inspiring monthly meetings with Natasha Lester and Anita Fredericks. We have a loose format to our meetings, which involves each of us reporting on what’s been going well for us during the past month, and what our goals are for the next month, and asking for help and advice.

I’m sure Natasha and Anita would agree that our little group has been super-helpful this year. I love that we are all in different areas – Natasha is a novelist and teaches writing, Anita is in health and wellness and makes a ripper chocolate (healthy-style – perfect!), and I oscillate between being a travel blogger and a social media and blogging trainer. I think it helps that we’re each interested in what the others do – I’m not sure I’d work well with a mastermind partner who sold machinery parts or something, for example! – but that we’re different enough to be able to offer alternative ideas and approaches.

Just having that “pressure” (in a good way) of our monthly meeting, knowing that I’ll be reporting back on what I have or haven’t done, is a great motivator in itself. Being able to get advice and opinions that I value – especially in the new online world, since many people I talk to barely know what I do! – is fabulous. And Anita’s chocolates are good too 🙂

How do you set up your own mastermind? It’s really as easy as asking. Obviously if you don’t yet know the kind of people who you would like to mastermind with (I was lucky – Natasha and Anita were both former clients who I’d followed long enough to realise they would be a perfect fit) then you need to get involved with some networking groups, either in person or on Facebook, and find some people who might be “your” people. It might not work out the first time (I was lucky), but keep trying and it will. There is now lots of information online about mastermind groups – last year I remember sharing this piece from Chris Ducker which helped us decide how to run ours. I’m lucky (I think) in that we can hold our mastermind face-to-face – I think it works better – but I know other people who do them online using Google Hangouts and they love that too.

Chatting with a mentor or accountability partner

The other great thing I started doing this year (which was not my clever idea but I’m so glad it happened) was to set up fortnightly chats with a fellow blogger with similar goals to me who also knew where I was coming from. I met Dannielle Cresp (of Style for a Happy Home) online first – I’m pretty sure it was on Twitter (am I right, Dannielle?) and then we met in person at the first Problogger I went to in 2013. Dannielle suggested we keep in touch with some Skype chats (she lives in Victoria) and that has turned into regular fortnightly catch ups. (And a face-to-face catch up on the Gold Coast at the 2014 Problogger, which was brilliant!)

Dannielle and I don’t have a specific format but we do talk a lot about our blogs and our work and try to set some accountability goals, stuff we’ll have achieved before the next time we talk. I usually speak to Dannielle on a day when I don’t generally book clients or workshops in so she’s my only human contact that working day, and that makes her very important! Additionally I think of her as something of a mentor because she knows lots of stuff I don’t – her technical skills with stuff like WordPress are way ahead of me, she has design skills, and of course she’s my Pinterest guru (her Practical Pinning course dramatically changed the readership of my blog this year!). She also loves strawberry milkshakes, just like me. Perfect or what?

Why you should gather fellow online-type people around you, too

Whatever brings you to read my blog, you are probably involved with something – be it blogging or social media or online business – that not many people know about. Most people in my “real world” every day life don’t have much of a handle on what I do … “you’re that web design person, aren’t you?” (totally no skill there, I’m afraid) or “you do something with websites and training, right?” It helps enormously to regularly meet up with people who DO get what you do. When an online-type friend says to me, “You won’t believe who just retweeted my blog post!” then I totally get it and celebrate with them.

On top of that, having to talk out loud, to people who understand, about your goals and dreams and hopes for your online work, well, this makes all the difference to how much you achieve. Writing down these plans is effective, but telling someone, and knowing you’ll see them in another month and want to tell them you actually did it, well that makes it WAY more effective.

If I could suggest one thing you could do to improve your online work, it would not be to post more blog posts, or to use Pinterest properly (although both of these would be good too!) – it would be to get some people together and see them regularly. Whether you find a mastermind group, a mentor, an accountability partner, or even just a fellow blogger to catch up with in person for a coffee so that you know someone who understands the basics of what you love doing, I say: DO IT!

Alfalfa sprouts and my entrepreneurial journey into social media and blogging

I’ve been thinking about this post for ages. I even got my Mum to look back over old pictures in case we had one of me with alfalfa sprouts (don’t worry, it’ll all make sense soon) but alas, back in the olden days we didn’t take photos of every single second of daily life, did we! Then my friend Jo wrote about her journey to having her own business and I found it so interesting that she, too, had really been headed in this direction since she was a kid, too – and finally today I have got around to writing this post!

Are entrepreneurs born that way?

I didn’t actually intend to start this business; I didn’t intend to start an income-generating travel blog. Both things happened by accident, or so I thought – or have I been headed in this direction all my life?

It has taken me almost forty years to realise this but it shouldn’t be too surprising that I’m now running my own business and can’t really imagine ever working for someone else again. As a child, my mother ran her own small real estate company. In fact, she was one of the first women in Western Australia to have her own real estate licence (this is back in the era when, because she got married, she had to leave her job at the bank – not because she had kids – we came later – just because she got married! It seems preposterous to us now). I spent quite a lot of time as a child seeing the inside of other people’s houses (I loved it!) and watching my mum do business. There were no mobile phones either so we had to answer the phone especially nicely in our house, because it was often a business call. So, there we are – my mother the role model!

Alfalfa sprouts: back in the days before blogging and social media were invented (image Frédérique Voisin-Demery)

My mother also helped my sister and I start our own small business when we were aged about 10 and 12. I’m not sure how it all began but we started growing alfalfa sprouts (and got more exotic later) and selling them to the local greengrocer. We had to set up the punnets, water them, package them, and my mother would help us deliver them on the way to school a couple of times a week.

Next stop for me was tutoring. A little-known fact is that I studied mathematics at university. This made me an ideal candidate for tutoring primary and high school kids in maths and during my university years I’d built up a huge number of students – I still have some of the paperwork today, as I carefully kept records of the payments and the topics covered. I made about four times as much per hour doing that as I did working at the local KFC so I quit there to do even more tutoring.

Working for a boss

Despite this record, it never occurred to me until very recently that perhaps starting a business might be something that suited me. Instead, my CV lists bunch of jobs working for others which, most of the time, I enjoyed – I worked as a research assistant in mathematics education, then as an instructional designer for distance education units at the same university, and later as an academic helping medical and dentistry lecturers to teach and assess in more effective ways. All of these jobs were really interesting and I got to meet some really amazing people, but they weren’t enough, somehow – which led me down the path of going overseas and teaching ESL.

Teaching ESL to kids and adults; but photos with the kids are cuter! This is Momoko, in Osaka.

During all these years, though, I’d been plugging away at something that I’d always really loved: writing. Even before I moved abroad I had found some websites that would pay me to write – not very much, but enough to encourage me to keep at it. When I was travelling so much while living abroad, I got into writing for travel magazines, and eventually from that into writing for big travel blogs and websites. And when I came back to Perth, I was determined to keep generating an income online, because we wanted to started a family and I wanted to be at home when my kids got home from school each day, just like my mother was (unless we were whisked off straight from school to take someone through a house!).

The aha moment: working for myself in social media and blogging

I would like to say that I then cleverly and carefully sat down and created a business plan and started up this business. However, the truth is nothing like that at all. I pitched a course on blogging to UWA Extension, because I really loved teaching adults and I could think of nothing better than combining that with my other passion. Using my own experience on social media – developed through the writing I did and the various travel sites I worked for – I filled that first blogging class very quickly and the delightful Bill at UWA Extension had the bright idea of hiring me to do the same for all their courses. He even sent me my first client, suggesting I might be able to help her out with some social media strategy too, all while my son was still a tiny baby and I was up all night to him, but those midnight hours actually got me ready for that first client meeting. (So yes, Bill, thank you SO much for everything!)

The aha moment didn’t really happen – I just suddenly found that I had a business and it keeps getting bigger. Over the last couple of years I have learnt to get more strategic about it although that’s still a work in progress, especially while my time is limited to my son’s kindergarten hours plus some evenings and weekend work. So however it really happened, I’m grateful, and I love it, and have met so many fantastic people through it, which is the biggest bonus of all. You know, sometimes I look at interaction on my business Facebook page and think, “Oh, but it’s just all my friends who are liking and commenting, not proper clients,” but then I take a second look and realise that most of them are former students and clients and “real” business connections, it’s just that they’ve come to feel like friends. What better clients could I ask for?

Which brings me, finally, to the YOU part of this post. Lots of my clients run their own businesses: what made you do that? Tell me your story!