Monday, November 17, 2014

What I have learned about Self-Publishing... at Synergy Interactive

Below you will find links to a five part blog that I wrote for Synergy Interactive on what I have learned about the self-publishing industry.  If you're considering your publishing options, you may like to seriously consider self-publishing as a viable way to make a living as an author in the 21st Century.

Part 1 - Self publishing is a GLOBAL market, so don’t just think local when it comes to getting your book out there - and also, never forget that you’re swimming with the big boys now.

Part 2 - Self-publishing is now accessible to people who have a story to tell or a message to shout to the world.  Literally ANYONE can publish if they have access to the internet… BUT… is what you publish worth reading?

Part 3 - Self-publishing cuts out the middle man, but there’s a lot of competition for readers’ attention online… so how do you stick out like an anemone to catch your readership prey?

Part 4 - Who are some of the online book sellers of choice?

Part 5 - Making money from selling books is a SLOW BURN strategy and using the compound effect can work wonders for your bottom line.

You can find out more at Synergy Interactive where three Aussies are working to create a creative hub for authors and other creative people around the world. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

About Selina

Selina Shapland

Consultant •Ÿ Artist Ÿ• Expert Author •Ÿ Entrepreneur
Selina Shapland specialises in building positive relationships and encouraging you to live your dreams in life and career.  She is the founder of Manage Your Boss, a Small Business Reviewer, Podcast Interviewer, Co-author of Dave - The Bird Dude and an Australian Artist at Shapland Art.

Her articles have been featured on and and she is quickly earning an Expert Author Reputation.

Selina Shapland has worked in various administrative positions for over 20 years and has played a pivotal role in numerous organisations as they have through supporting strategic planning, leadership development and events management.

Her 20 year Career as a Professional Administrator, she has worked in Private Enterprise, Government Departments, Universities and for specialist Industry Companies.

Her roles have included Office Coordinator, Administrator, Personal Assistant, Executive Assistant, Project Officer, Administration Assistant, Client Services Officer, Receptionist and more.

Visit Selina Shapland's other online websites or connect with her via Linked InTwitterFacebook or Pinterest.

Author Links

My 5 top tips for taking meeting minutes

Here are my top tips for taking minutes at work meetings.

I am sure that if you actively apply these tips to your minute taking, you will fast become indispensable to your team!

Tip 1:
Before you go to the meeting, look at the agenda and actions from the previous meeting so you know what will be discussed, even if you do not understand the content. This is so important as you will feel more prepared and confident in your minute taking abilities.  If you know why the items are on the agenda (which the Chair should be able to tell you), then you will know what important points to capture and in the process you’ll look amazingly professional too;

Tip 2:
Meet with the Chair of the meeting before you attend the meeting.
The Chair is usually the person who will provide you with the main agenda items to go on the agenda and explain what they mean so that you have your ‘head around’ the topics in advance.
At your pre-meeting catch up with the Chair discuss the following:
▪   How does the Chair like to run the meeting?
Is it formal, informal or somewhere in between? What does a well run meeting look like to them?  Do not be afraid to ask them to give you an example of how they see a successful meeting run.  This will elevate your role in their mind and help you to develop a positive, respectful working rapport with them at the same time!

▪   What are their expectations of the ’Minute Secretary’?

▪   How will you know if a point is important to be minuted? Does the Chair paraphrase and summaries the discussion, the outcomes, the actions etc at the end of the agenda item discussion?
If not, ask them to do this so that you can be sure that you have captured the right content.
If you have a great Chairperson, they will automatically do this as part of their role in the meeting.  However, it is always good to establish your expectations of them in the meeting too!

▪   Ask the Chair if, at anytime something does not make sense, can you politely interrupt the meeting and ask for clarification?
Many Chairs would prefer that you do this but it is always best to confirm this with them in advance so that they are not surprised in the meeting if you do have to clarify an important point;

Tip 3:
Go into the meeting knowing that the Chair and the Minute Secretary area a TEAM; both roles are important to the meeting working effectively.
  I like to think of the Chair as the Captain of our ’ship’ and I am their Number One Officer.  I see us working together to steer the meeting to outcomes, actions and agreements that are valuable and in alignment with the organisation’s strategic direction;

Tip 4:
At the meeting, please, do not write down everything that people are saying!
It is so tempting to do this especially when you first start to take minutes or are unfamiliar with the people in the room and the content of the meeting.  Trust in yourself to pick out the important points and jot them down, but make sure they are clear enough that you will know what they mean after the meeting is over because you will need to construct a picture of what happened that will make sense to those who attended and more importantly, those who may not have attended but need to know what happened;

Tip 5:
After the meeting, take your notes and use the agenda template to create the minutes, actions and outcomes document.  Type up a rough draft of the information you captured and give this to the Chair to correct, add to or change.  It is their job to make sure the minutes are an accurate reflection of what happened before you send them out to the attendees to take action on before the next meeting swings around again.

Please feel free to comment on my top tips and let me know if you have a specific topic that I can write a blog on.
Happy Minute Taking!

Do you feel overwhelmed by your workload?

Do you feel overwhelmed by your workload?

As Featured On EzineArticles

Overwhelm is a warning sign that you must take notice of, for your own health and wellbeing.  No job, in my mind, is worth your mental and emotional health and wellbeing.  However, I think that overwhelm is something that each one of us will face and move through during our work lives.

Overwhelm and dealing with it early on is an opportunity for you to strengthen your boundary skills, communicate effectively with your Boss and other colleagues and set appropriate priorities.

What causes you to feel overwhelmed by your workload?

In my experience, overwhelm is triggered by many and various things, including but not limited to:
- Volume of work;
- Tight deadlines;
- Interruptions,
- Un-cooperative, undermining colleagues;
- Managers and Bosses who choose not to listen when you ask for help;
- A work culture that punishes you for making mistakes or saying 'no';
- Difficulties at home;
- Loss of a loved one;
- Domestic Violence;
- A rocky relationship;
- General anxiety;
- plus many more causes.
It can be tough to face the fact that you're not able to deal with everything in front of you and it can erode your self-confidence.  This can lead to depression, further anxiety and sometimes it can result in total burnout.

What is Burnout?

Burnout happens when you mentally and emotionally can no longer take on another thing and your 'bucket' is full.  These are the times when fatigue shows up, depression, tears fall before you know what is happening, you lack motivation, you get sick for no reason, you find yourself sitting there looking at all that you have to do and being unable to make a start on even the simplest tasks plus other signs such as feeling deep resentment and anger towards anyone who asks you to take on even the smallest task.

Beware - if you do not heed the warning signs of burn out, you risk paying a heavy price.

Burnout is a very serious health and safety risk!

Do not take these signs lightly.

Let me tell you what happened to me...

A number of years ago, I was working in a role that had an extremely heavy workload and even though I went to my Supervisor repeatedly to advise that there was just too much for me to get done in a day, I was met with a response that more or less told me to "stop being silly, you can handle it. What are you talking about?"  I felt lost for support and it was a situation that went from bad to worse despite my repeated attempts to ask for more support and help with managing the workload.

In an effort to get more done by the deadlines, I started coming in early, leaving late and working through my lunchtimes - I rarely allowed myself to have the luxury of lunch.  I worked my butt off for that role.

After some time and a few difficult situations with other people, I began to fatigue.  My body, my brain, everything decided to check out on me.

I remember one day I was asked for some statistics about something that would have been easily recalled for anyone who was fresh, however, I had a total blank.  I couldn't think, it was like my brain said, "it's too much.  Sorry, we're closed now."

I floundered in the meeting and thankfully someone else was able to answer for me.  I was mortified at the time.
During the months that I had been telling people that the workload was overwhelming, I began to write down and track exactly the work I was doing by the hour.   I was so glad I had done that, because when the day came and my brain froze and I could no longer recall two minutes previous, this tracking became vital to substantiating the stress I was under on a daily basis.  I ended up at the Doctor and I was a mess.  I do remember taking some kind of questionnaire but I cannot tell you want it was as it is still vague in my mind.

My Doctor put me on immediate stress-leave which resulted in a Work-Cover claim as I was clearly unable to function.  In fact, I ended up in counselling and was unable to clear the fog in my mind for over a week after that event.

This lead to a formal investigation of the role and it was decided that it was too dangerous for me to return to that role.  This is a very serious Health and Safety issue and should not be taken lightly.

I eventually returned to the office environment in a new role, however, the fall out was that I had to deal with the perceptions of people and feeling a sense of failing in my own professionalism.

What this situation taught me...

I learned how important it is to listen to the warning signs that you are experiencing overwhelm in your role.  I also learned that placing effective boundaries in the workplace is vital for your mental and emotional health and that your Supervisor has a duty of care to listen to what you are saying and assist you to manage the workload appropriately.

If you are experiencing overwhelm in your role, I encourage you to discuss the matter with your Supervisor/Manager as soon as possible and work towards a positive solutions together.

Once management are aware of the excessive workload they are in a better position to address the situation by considering employing more staff.

Stay safe in the workplace!

11 Minutes to Harnessing Your Attention - Guest Blog by Berni Cooper

Guest blogger, Berni Cooper shares a little secret she picked up that may prove to turn your habits into a foundation for great personal and professional success.
Berni writes...

There's so much information demanding my attention constantly, that my brain feels quite overwhelmed: Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Yammer, listservs, interest groups, holiday deals, frequent flyer deals, groupon deals, entertainment deals, online courses that looked interesting, work, study, family, friends, hobbies and the constant lure of Candy Crush!

And I really am interested in the interest groups I've joined on LinkedIn.  I want to read all the posts and discussions, and I want to contribute.  I want to tweet more, and follow links and pictures and read the associated articles.  I want to progress my career with an online brand.  I think about this all so much that it merely adds to the constant thoughts jamming each other in my head like an old fashioned bumper car rink where the cars are on steroids and there's too many of them.

Cue: the 11 minute habit.
The lovely Michelle McQuaid gave us this gem at a positive psychology conference recently.  The thing about habits is that you just do them whether or not you feel like it (brushing your teeth, feeding the cat, checking Facebook before you're out of bed).  So pick a task (like responding to personal emails or contributing to one group discussion day, or reading those career articles or writing a blog) and make it a habit.

Why 11 minutes?
Well, I think this is the magic part:  the first 30 seconds are for setting up (activating the task), the next 10 minutes are for working on the task, the last 30 seconds are for rewarding yourself so that you're likely to repeat the behaviour (not with chocolate  - cross that one off your list!) tweet about your reading, post your blog, etc.   The beauty of ten minutes is that when you feel your attention slipping away, you just have to remind yourself that you only need to concentrate for ten minutes.  It's not really very long, and even my slippery brain manages to do it with only one or two reminders and gentle re-focusing of attention.

Even better is if you exercise one of your character strengths in these 11 minutes, for example, one of my top three character strengths is a love of learning.  So, by using my 11 minutes in the morning to read current discussions in my LinkedIn groups and participate in one of the discussions, I start the day having ticked something off that used one of my strengths, and I learned something new!

Adopting this one habit could equip you with more information and confidence to manage yourself, your career AND your Boss!

If you would like to read more about habit transformation, I highly recommend this Forbes Woman article, entitled The Surprising Activity That Helps You Reach Your Goals

About Berni
Berni has struggled to harness her slippery mind for many years as she's bounced around the world (literally around the world) learning and making friends and exploring new experiences.  She is working on forging a career in the relatively new field of Positive Psychology and it is proving to be a personal growth experience as she's discovering tools and strategies to focus attention and live a flourishing life, based on scientific evidence.
Berni holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Honours) in Psychology, a Certificate in Tertiary Teaching and is currently completing a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology.

If you would like to hear more from Berni about her Positive Psychology experiences - let us know.  Comment, share, reblog or write us an email.  We would love to hear from you.

Get Organised, Forward Plan and create an Excellent Reputation

Here are my top 3 tips to get organised, forward plan and create an excellent reputation for your professional success:
Kiki K stock gorgeous spiral bound note books - here's an example
Kiki K stock gorgeous spiral bound note books - here's an example

Tip 1

Get one Spiral Bound Notebook - date every new page each workday and write everything down as you go through your day!I used to have notes on bits of paper and on backs of envelopes all over the place, until I decided to begin developing a new organisation habit.  I have one spiral bound lined notebook that I use for the whole year at work.  I write everything down in this book.  I put notes from telephone calls, phone numbers, things to do, things that have been done, reminders, follow ups and I take hand written notes/minutes in this book too.  This is my go-to bible and it has been a saving grace for me many times over.  People will often come up to me six months or years down the track and ask me for a contact phone number for someone they vaguely remember called last year etc and because I date every page and write everything down (in my own short-hand way that works for me), I can give them the details within minutes.
Typo also offer great value, funky spiral bound notebooks
Typo also offer great value, funky spiral bound notebooks

Tip 2

Forward plan as much as possible for Excellent Results
If you don't have a calendar, either digital or paper, then you need to get one - pronto.
Note down all upcoming meetings and events that you know you will need to be prepared for.  This will have you looking like a Star in the eyes of your Boss and you will feel great about yourself too.There is nothing worse than showing up to a meeting or an event knowing that you haven't prepared effectively in advance.  So make sure that the dates are in the calendar with a reminder in to get paperwork and important information collated and ready to go.

Tip 3

Create a Run Sheet outlining what you need to do when and who can help you.This is a great way to organise your thoughts and tasks, especially when you have an event to prepare for.  I like to look at the how big my events are and then plot out in advance, sometimes months, sometimes weeks prior, the exact tasks that need to happen and who I need to be in contact with to make sure that everything gets done and on time.  This document is a great way to mini-project manage your events.  You can also print it out and put it up on the wall in front of you so that you can see it on a daily basis and tick items off as they are complete.  It is such a stress reduction to have this document working with and for you when preparing for an event!

Click on this link to download my Mini_Project_Management_Template_Manage_Your_Boss_2014 to help you organise your events and upcoming items.

Preparing is KEY to building an excellent reputation and increasing your success in your career.
Please comment and share this post.  Make it useful for yourself so that you can shine - you deserve to shine!

The importance of being your real self and special lessons hidden in failure

Why is it important to be your real self at work and what special lessons you could you possibly learn from failure?

Surely, I am mad for suggesting that there is something positive in failure.  Yet, over the years, I have learned through trial and error that there is, indeed, a great deal that we can each learn from facing our fears of failure and failing forward to become the best people possible.

What I have learned is that there is no failure, not really.  The only failure in life is making a choice not to act in your own best interest for you own highest good as a person.  I am sure that you have dreams that you want to fulfil and there will be times when you will need to fail in order to learn and build your personal skills, your ability to communicate effectively and to take what went wrong and turn it around to a personal victory.

Actually, I have discovered that this fear is more about a fear of humiliation and not living up to some imagined yard-stick in life.  That's a harsh place to be living inside your own mind.

It can be tough learning to deal with failing and how to pick yourself up off the floor to keep taking steps to realising your personal and professional dreams.  But failing, or rather, building up your internal muscles against road-blocks is vital for your professional and your personal development in life.

If you do not flex your inner strength muscles, they will atrophy and you will be left like a bit of jello on the ground quivering and at the mercy of whatever life throws at you.  I challenge you not to be that person.  Don't be a victim and allow yourself to lose your personal empowerment.  I am not saying that you need to be adversarial toward other people, however, I am saying that when you are not your real self, 100% you, then you are cheating people and yourself of the value you offer the world and your organisation.

To me, your self-esteem and self-worth IS your greatest personal asset.  Not only will it help you to manage your boss, but more importantly, it is the foundation of managing your own life and getting wherever it is that you really want to go!

I know that feeling listless, afraid or like a failure is, quite frankly, a horrible spot to find yourself in.  I have been there myself.  I can understand feeling trapped in a role you do not want to be in or yearning to be or do something else in life.  And, I personally, encourage you to seek out your dreams and pursue them with all that you have got, because that is precisely the moment that the world will see the very best You!

I am reminded of a beautiful quote that I heard over the weekend, while attending the International Women's Day event.  Let me share the poignant parts that resonated for me and maybe for you.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.  We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be?... Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine... we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
- Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"
You are important.  The daily tasks that you carry out as you earn your living are important and you are pivotal.  Never forget that you add value to the world through your thoughts, your actions and your personal choices.  You are powerful, own it!

I will leave you with this speech presented by J.K. Rowling to Harvard on the benefits of failure and failing forward.  I hope you will be inspired to let humiliation and fear of not achieving your goals in life behind and start to really live your best life yet!
J.K. Rowling