Quotes That Resonated in 2020

It’s been a wild year, enough said. Throughout lockdown 1 & 2 here in Melbourne, I put time into absorbing articles, quotes, stories, videos, and ideas. More than I really had during my entire lifetime. Here’s a breakdown of my top 10 quotes that resonated with me from this time:

“If this isn’t nice then I don’t know what is”

It’s easy to focus on the world falling down continually, in those quiet moment where everything is right – remember those, appreciate the good times as much as you stress over the bad.

Focus on the road – not the wall

Can’t remember exactly where I heard this, doing research later on apparently this is what race car drivers are taught – makes a ton of sense. Focusing on the wall ahead, the danger, the risk, means you’ll focus on those and lose sight of the overall vision. I coined my own version of this say when I get into conversations with big decisions or stressful thoughts “Put it out into the universe and see what happens”. Keeping your eye on the final goal can cut away the doubts and mental blocks from getting the job done, an risky output is better than crashing into a wall.

“Forever reading, never to be read.”

This was a more recent quote I came across from Alexander Pope,  actually links to an essay by Schopenhauer ‘On Thinking for Oneself’. Majority of our time is spent interpreting inputs, simulation, media, that it can rob the mind of the being about to form thoughts of our own. It’s critical to spend time thinking, developing those inputs into ideas of your own instead of being influenced by others. All great thinkers spend as much time thinking as reading.

“The Man in the Arena”

I remember this one from smashing through motivational and mindset articles earlier in the year then coming across it again in “Daring Greatly” (great recommendation from my friend Emma). This was on the first page and immediate I was like “damn, she knows what’s up”, admittedly I’m not that far into the book, see above quote ^.

The man in the arena conjures up this image of the gladiator, basking in the roars crowd battling through bloodthristy foes. Look not saying my life is anything like that – it’s about being vulnerable, there’s massive strength in vulnerability.

It’s that success seen from overcoming danger, a risk, things could have gone really bad if a few moments panned out differently.

The challenges in life test your own mental boundaries, and after working with a lot of people, progressing in their careers, people may like stability and a cruisy time –  at a point they’ll hit that wall (by taking their eye off the road) and they may not want a test consciously, subconsciously they need a new thing to sink their teeth into.

How do I know that’ll happen? I’ve been through it, I’m currently going through it as I write this.

With work I’m trying more than ever to put my best idea forward first – the best of what I have to offer and know what works. After using my best, there’s nowhere to go forcing to find different perspective or innovate on ideas.

“As the army gets bigger it gets harder to turn”

Our company scaled from 4 in early 2018, to now over 30 in 2020. Each hire creates a new touchpoint, a new personality, a new person to grow and teach. It’s incredible – seeing everyone scale up their abilities, making their own relationships with each other, the strides people have taken so rapidly is inspiring.

With that comes a price to pay to, losing the ability to be agile – every decision made impacts a lot more people. We have to be very considered in approach with these decisions for the best outcome for all.

“We suffer more in our imagination than in reality”

“Think deeply before you complain”

This is a double combo of statements, I’ll admit I think, I waste a ridiculous doing so. Maybe 20% of the time I spend thinking about conversations I’ll have in the future that consequently help prepare, but most of the time it’s energy spent on the small stuff. Compounding on that is over venting about situations out of your control. People are going to act on whatever values are important to them – some are unholily unchangeable, understand it and let go. The hardest part is letting go.

Sometimes, you have to roll a hard six.

It’s worth making a call than none at all or stewing on the particular. Not being reckless in decisions but taking what you need and rolling with whatever comes. I recall watching this video on airplane crashes with an actual pilot giving commentary. He said “You have to keep fighting, even if you’re doing the wrong thing, keep fighting as hard as you can when lives are at stake”. Most sit on the bench with decision making, those that make calls and take those risks get places, that’s undeniable.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Actually while writing this I learnt this is a mis quoted statement: “According to Quote Investigator, this is probably a canard. Maya Angelou was linked with the saying in 2003, but the site found a version in a 1971 volume called “Richard Evans’ Quote Book”, ascribed to one Carl W. Buehner, a high-level official in the Mormon church.”

Regardless after meeting and growing alongside a ton of amazing people, it’s fruitless caring so much around the actions you take and what people should feel about them, be impressed, be intimidated. It’s all about perception, there’s always a layer deeper of understanding how people think and react to certain actions. Be true to yourself and treat people the way you want to be treated – good things will come.

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”

Instead of feeling the need to be good at everything in life, focus on a few, maybe even one key areas to improve on, next year for me it’s around the body, mind, and new experiences.

and now a story…my favorite from the year:

“A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”

”A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”

”A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral!”

“Three men, three different attitudes, all doing the same job.”

Team Leadership Strategies

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Nearly half of employees report quitting a job because of poor leadership and team management—56% believe managers are promoted prematurely, while 60% think managers need more training.

Have you ever considered you might be killing your team’s motivation without even realising it? Or, perhaps your employees are working in a toxic environment, and you’re totally unaware.

A team that is able to work well together—on and off the playing field—is one that achieves results.

So, are you holding meeting after meeting, encouraging cooperation and teamwork, and you’re still not getting the results you want?

Great leaders are great decision-makers. They encourage employee development, free-thinking, and have respect for their employees.

If you’re looking to upgrade your team leadership skills, keep reading for some expert leadership and team management strategies.

Diversify Your Team

Different points of view can never be a bad thing.

When hiring, you may think that finding people who think and act just like you do is best for your business. However, this isn’t only hard to find, but it doesn’t profit your business.

When you build a diverse team, including members from different backgrounds, experiences, and cultures, you can create an environment that will benefit from several different points of view.

Encourage Balance

There will always be work. There will always be tasks to check off of a list, more meetings to call, more people to follow-up with. But employee burnout is real, and not allowing them time to recharge their batteries is counterproductive. Plus, overworking your employees creates an environment of resentment.

You never want your employees to feel inadequate. Once they start to hear complaints from their loved ones about working too much and similar complaints at work about missed deadlines, they will become negative. This negativity will affect your employees’ focus, and they’ll start to feel like they’re failing at work and at home.

Ensure that your policies are fair. You should encourage loyalty and reward your employees for their hard work whenever possible. When you can, give your employees ample time to be with their loved ones. You can even consider assigning mandatory “self-care time” or strive to give a few extra days off after the completion of challenging projects.

By ensuring balance, you’re letting your employees know that you care about them as humans, not just employees.

Similarly, you should give your employees time to get to know each other on a personal basis. We’re more inclined to support each other when we know each other on a deeper level. We’ll go the extra mile when we’re a part of a team.

To foster employee engagement, schedule team-building exercises, and encourage after-hours get-together. Take time to ask questions about your employees’ personal life—this will help build trust and loyalty.  

Always refrain from passing judgments. Your business environment should be one where encouragement and positivism thrive. Take the time to consider that each of your employees has a family, problems, and a set of limitations.

Narrow Your Focus

Think you don’t have enough time to think strategically? Often, managers will complain about being too busy. This stems from poor decision making—being reactive instead of proactive.

If you can relate, you might be taking on too much. You should narrow your focus on where you make the most impact at work. And then inspire your team to do the same by making clear decisions and acting on them.

The top 27 CEOs, interviewed by Harvard Business Review, admitted that the more time they spent planning their days, the more comfortable they felt managing their time.

Lead Yourself Before Others

You can’t be an effective leader without analysing your own actions before those of others. You must lead yourself before thinking about leading anyone else.

So, to hone your leadership skills, ask yourself: What do you value? What are your goals? Can you identify your strengths and weaknesses?

Having the ability to name your shortcomings can ultimately help your team. This is because by knowing where you need to improve, you can develop a plan to fill the gap in your capabilities. Perhaps it’s something you can do yourself, but you may also be able to hire someone to complement your skills.

Question Everything

Knowing your weaknesses goes right along with understanding that you’re not the one with all of the answers. Great leaders know they should have more questions than answers.

Any employee can be told what to do, but the best employees can look at a problem strategically and develop their own solutions—that’s exactly what you should strive to teach them.

When approaching a problem with different parts of our brain, we become more emotionally attached to it. This connection makes us more likely to remember the solution and apply it again in the future. Questioning people rather than asking leads to greater accountability and enthusiasm.

Your questioning should also extend to expectations and issues surrounding team performance. When devising your leadership strategy, don’t shy away from conflict. Difficult conversations take courage, but they can lead to better pathways forward.

Show Appreciation

Employees will likely work harder when their hard work is recognised by their supervisor. All work without recognition can lead people to become uninspired and unengaged.

Recognition doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair—a simple “thank you” and a performance-related bonus certainly helps. Most people want to know when they’re doing a good job and are appreciated by their employer on a consistent basis.

Rethink Company Meetings

Too many meetings can be draining for employees, which wastes company time. Consider cancelling meetings scheduled for the sake of having meetings. You may have put regular meetings in place to encourage consistent work, but you could be creating the opposite.

Learn how to recognise an unproductive meeting so you can show your employees that you respect their time. First, you should always start meetings on time. Many leaders waste 5-10 minutes of each meeting waiting for people to show up and catching up those who are late. If you start meetings on time and don’t stop to catch people up, they’ll learn to arrive on time.

Meeting objectives should always be clear—make sure everyone present knows what decisions they’ll be making during the meeting. They should be able to come prepared to discuss ideas or ask questions.

Finally, don’t discuss items that are on track. Instead, discuss items that need to be corrected. This method will eliminate discussion that doesn’t add value to the meeting.

Encourage Continued Education

As a leader, your employees should see you as a role model. They will expect to learn from you through shared insights, knowledge, and expertise. If you don’t take the time to transfer knowledge and support your employees’ learning journey, they won’t feel like they’re worth the attention.

By encouraging and supporting employee self-development and acknowledging their effort to grow, you can rest assured that you’re providing them with a solid support system. Don’t be too proud to acknowledge that you don’t know everything—encourage employees to cross-train among all departments.

It’s important to realise that everyone has something to contribute and should be open to learning from each other. Ask employees to collaborate, take classes, develop additional skills, and then bring what they learn back to the business.

Above all, make sure to remind your team that their development is an essential piece of the business’s overall success. As a leader, they should know that you’re there to support them. They will sense in your daily interactions if you are committed to their growth and development as much as your own.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun

All of this sound really serious—and it is—but don’t forget to have fun with your employees. Don’t fake genuine experiences with your team. Rather, strive to provide an environment where people feel comfortable being themselves and having fun.

If your team feels good about being at work, they’ll work harder for you. Plus, they’re more likely to stick around for the long haul.

Try These Expert Team Leadership Strategies

Bad leaders are toxic to an entire organisation. Even the best employees need guidance from good leaders.

If you only gain one thing from this post, it should be this: No one is perfect. Try your best, appreciate your employees, and remember you can’t know everything, and you’re on your way to mastering how to lead a team.Are you looking to improve your leadership skills? Continue to follow my blog to guide your mindset, and contact me if you have questions.

How to Be More Confident

Confidence is a difficult emotion to evoke and control, some days you’re on fire and things flow so easily. Other days, you’re stomach is a mess, you feel your heart sink at the thought of a high pressure situation, and you start questioning your decisions and things you say.

To say you’ll be able to be completely confident for the rest of your life in any situation, well, that is practically being superhuman.

We have to be afraid or nervous, or else how else are we suppose to understand what’s a challenge and what is not

When I started working in marketing it was a direct switch from being completely solo, not ever having to communicate with others to jumping on calls pratically everyday.

As an adolescent I winced when the phone rang, as I thought it would always mean impending doom, these days it isn’t even a through that enters my mind to answer.

Stop Worrying So Much

One of the main thoughts I need to tell myself as my confidence is in question is “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Putting everything into perspective minimizes the overwhelming feeling that reduces your ability to be confident.

What concerns people the most is looking like a fool. I’ve learned very quickly that people who act a fool can end up doing incredible things in their life. Richard Branson says “If You Have To Make A Fool Of Yourself, Do It” the more you put yourself out there the more amazing things can and will happen.

As soon as you stop caring so much, you loosen up and attract more good feelings.

It may seem like a trusim, for myself I’m continually reminding myself don’t sweat it, recently in the Last Dance, Michael Jordan was described as always being in the moment and not thinking about “Why would I think about missing a shot I haven’t taken yet”.

Confidence is Muscle

Repetition was key, and the confidence to be able to handle what ever came my way.

If you’re crap at something, do more of it, not confident in public speaking, do more speaking.

Over time it’s an inevitability of learning from what works and what doesn’t. You’ll find the shortcuts, you’ll get feedback from others, and eventually stop worrying about the anticipation of doing the “nerve wrecking” act.

I have to do at least 60 seconds of raw pitching in front of a group of about 20 people each week, and look sometimes I’m not the coolest in the room with it, I stumble my words or it doesn’t flow as naturally as it could. And most of the time it’s because I haven’t prepped what I wanted to say.

I’ve always wanted to be an extremely good improviser when it comes to being on-stage, however for my confidence to be at it’s peak, a little preparation is required. That’s fine, don’t hold yourself to this insurmountable standard you have to be the best at something.

Impostor Syndrome

You’re out of your depth and will be exposed for being a fraud, or not being worthy of being in the room.

I’ve told this to many friends before around dating. My mindset before going on a first date with a girl is, if I try to hard to be confident, I’ll look weird, stop caring about how well it’s going to go and be in the moment, speak from the heart.

To be confident make it personal, draw from your experiences more than anything. Once something is person and has had an impact on your emotionally, it’s much easier to talk about with more gravitas.

Be Your Own Superhero & Smile

The Superhero Stance | En Camino

The most well–known and versatile high power pose is nicknamed Superhero Pose. I went to a few talks by Justin Dry from Vinomofo, if you’ve hear his story about failing numerous times to get his grandisoe ideas into a fully fledged powerhouse business.

He mentioned using this technique in hard times, looking at himself in the mirror, hands on the hips, and imagining a red cape flowing behind him.

If you’re feeling unnerved before your next presentation, sales pitch, client call, date, wedding — pause for a minute and get into this stance.

For an extra boost, smile, get those good feelings going! This will diminish your cortisol and improving your capacity to deal with pressure.

Science behind the “power pose”

Watch this video for more insights on the benefits of the power pose by Amy Cuddy, a Harvard researcher.

How to Maximize Your Use of SEMrush: Tools, Tips, Training, and More

How to Maximize Your Use of SEMrush: Tools, Tips, Training, and More

When it comes to SEO tools, SEMrush is the pack leader, the absolute grand daddy of SEO tools. With powerful features, and insights, SEMrush can run the whole garment of a website, look deeper into your competitors, identify your top organic keywords, allow you to do in-depth backlink analysis, and more. I started using SEMRush a long time ago as a newbie SEO specialist, and really only kept to the tools that I understood, SEO Audit, Domain Overview, Position Tracking, and was very meekly moving along the suite. It can be overwhelming, you constantly think “Wow if only I knew how to use all these tools!!”

So now I’ve broken down all the tools and tricks I wish I knew about before starting to use SEMRush.

Keyword Magic Tool

If your business is in an industry with some beefy competition, it will be difficult for you to dominate search results if your content strategy is aiming too high, to begin with. We’d sure love to rank for those big evergreen topics right away but websites with higher domain ranking authority will always outperform new kids on the block in search rankings.

Let’s say you had your heart set on going after popular keywords, and find out what is sitting at the top are those big websites that have dominated for years. Don’t be discouraged, just revise your strategy!

Find sneaky long-tail keywords with high traffic potential to focus on instead.

With SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, you can generate a bunch of long-tail keywords for your seed keywords. Try it yourself by logging into your SEMrush dashboard and clicking on Keyword Analytics, then Keyword Magic Tool.

From there, enter your seed words and click Search. SEMrush will then generate a list of related keywords, then show you the key metrics related to them, such as keyword difficulty (KD), volume, CPC, and competition.

To find long-tail keywords, narrow the large list of keywords down to a select few, then find long-tail combinations keywords people use. These keywords will have a lower search volume, but far less competition—which means you can begin to outrank your competitors.

My super top tip is to hit the questions tab for any keyword that will spring up all the question based keywords. Boom, you’ve just got your first run of blog topics to begin with!

Find Out Who Dominates The SERPs

Every marketing campaign should contain an element of competitor analysis. You can’t outrank your competition in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) unless you know who you’re competing against.

SEMrush helps you effortlessly identify your competitors by navigating to their Domain Analytics feature and then clicking Organic Research. Here, you’ll enter your domain URL.

To view your competitors, click on the Competitors tab. You’ll see a list of all domains your website is competing against in the top search results.

I find this visual layout is super useful for showing potential or just on-boarded clients to get them to understand what their up against:

SEMrush ranks domains by competition level—this is based on the analysis of the number of keywords two websites share in common. If interested, you can export the list of competitors by clicking on the Export button at the top right of the list.

May Update:

SEMrush have now in their Domain Overview tab a quick view which shows all the metrics we know and love, and the keyword overlap in between.

Spy on Your Competitors’ Top Performing Pages

With more competitor insights, you can fine-tune your marketing strategy. Now that you know who your competitors are, find out how they’re performing so well. SEMrush also let’s identify your main competitor’s top-performing pages (those that generate the highest search traffic). To do this, select Domain Overview within the drop-down menu and enter the domain you’d like to track. Once you ave the results, click Organic Research and then Pages. Here you’ll see a list of the company’s top-performing pages and how much organic traffic each page generates.

If there is a page you’d like to target, click on the keyword number to show the total number of keywords that page ranks for—only those within the top 100 Google results will show.

For the longest time I wished to be able to get that sneaky visibility into competitors, finding this really opened up perspective on:

  • Blog articles that were performing well
  • How their subfolders and overall information architecture was set out for mapping out site structure
  • Useful to redirection campaigns in understand what pages are organically a priority.

This way, you’ll also gain backlinks that may have gone to your competitor, which will also help your search engine ranking.

Find Your Backlinks and Reclaim Them

Obtaining backlinks is hard work. You have to create compelling content, share it with industry influencers, and hope they find it valuable enough to link to it through their website. With SEMRush, you don’t have to live in fear of losing your backlinks. You can reclaim them by going to Domain Analytics, then clicking on Backlinks and entering your name.

Once you get to the results page, click on the Backlinks tab to get a broader view of your link profile. Then, select Lost backlinks within your profile and filter them by Follow. Sort the links by Trust Score in descending order. Doing this ensures you’re tracking down lost backlinks that came from high-quality domains.

From here, you have to reach out to the owners of each domain and ask them to put up your content again or present them with new content to add value to their website.

Site Audit Fixes and Progression

Critical SEO errors can seriously affect your website’s search engine rankings.

With SEMrush, the primary tool that gets a lot of action is called Site Audit that will identify technical SEO issues and highlight the steps to take to fix the errors quickly. To perform a site audit, navigate to Projects from your SEMrush dashboard. Then click Add New Project and enter your domain.

Site Audit will then “crawl” your website and generate a report on all the errors you need to fix to achieve a higher health score

Running a site audit every week to fix any issues as they occur and strive to maintain a health score of 85% and above.

As part of is it the compare crawls section that will give you the fixes and issues compared across crawls done at different times:

As really great way to visually lay out for clients how they’ve performed through fixing these issues and some may not understand what the full scope of how bad their website might be running:

Snippet from an actual SEO Report for one of our enterprise clients!

Managing to clear off over 280,000 issues flagged was a huge achievement on a 10,000+ page website, best to let it not go unnoticed.

Bulk Backlink Analysis

A fantastic way to quickly batch out analysis of domains and even URLs of the same website. Underneath Gap Analysis you’ll see the Bulk Analysis tool:

I often use this to vet out websites that I’ve been told are super strong DA or assess the weight of what a competitor is bringing to the table.

Brand Monitoring

Clients are often asking, how can I gain more backlinks on website Brand Monitoring will track any mention of a name, brand, keyword or phase you want to get visiblity on.

Business are always keeping on top of their press, positive or negative, this a great way to see who’s talking about you, who’s linking to you, and keeping a tabs on your online reputation.

You’ll receive weekly notifications on new mentions online to keep your finger on the pulse.

Content Analyzer

Without a doubt my favourite tool using SEMRush right now, discovering and understanding how to use this this really opening up what I could do as part of the SEO strategy. A website will often have already a massive blog section that’s been pumping out content to now end, and perhaps with no SEO backing behind the topics they’ve written about.

I’ve started off with website with already over 1000+ blogs to filter through. Making it quite difficult and laborious to recommend content they’ve already covered off 2-3 years ago.

The Content Analyzer can tell you how your content is performing organically by measuring it against social shares, backlinks, keyword rankings. Critically when setting it up it will hook into Google Analytics and Google Search Console to feed back page sessions and bounce rates.

Once you set up your project inside, you’ll be fed out a 4 sets of data to look at, content to rewrite or remove, needing updating, quickly review, and poor content. These are all based on filters such as the content being older than 2 years and not having more than 15 pages views in that time.

You can customise this all to what you want to see as most important, also depending on how many on average page views you get you’ll want to set this up logically to feed you the right information.

With this in your arsenal you can prime up your content strategy to first assess what you already have to deal with, to optimise, instead of adding more content and more pages.

Keeping the crawl budget consolidated toward the top performing content that produces results.

Re-Structure Your Content

SEO isn’t always about starting from scratch. It’s vital to optimise your existing content to keep your entire site SEO-friendly.

One less-popular, but highly helpful tool within SEMrush is the Content Template. By providing a template of recommendations based on your seed keywords, this tool helps you craft content that is SEO-friendly. These insights come from Google’s top-ranking pages for your target keywords.

Take Google’s suggestions to heart and structure your content; however, you need to outrank your rivals in Google SERPs. You will perform better in SERPs if you use semantically related keywords to add more context to your topic.

You’ll also receive a suggested list of backlink targets, your readability score, and suggested text-length for your content.

Don’t ignore the opportunities in optimising what’s there to put your energy into creating content that’s not ranking yet.

More tools to come!

SEMRush are continually releasing new added tools, such as last week the new Audience Research tool:

We’re Here to Help You Drive Organic Growth

Now that you know the ins and outs, and some of the lesser-known features, of your SEMrush subscription, it’s time to start optimising your website.

If you get stuck, we’re here to help. We specialise in all things SEO, including keyword research, website auditing, content suggestions, and more. Contact me via email or fill out the contact form at StudioHawk, get in touch for an SEO audit of your website.

5 Before 5 (Client & Sales Strategy)

It’s simple, pick 5 people part of your network, sales prospects, clients, referral partners, etc to call before 5pm

The trick is also giving yourself a good gap, perhaps a two hour chunk of the day so when people miss your calls they can reach back without any lag about it.

When leaving a voicemail I’ll say “nothing urgent, just checking into how you’re doing saw your traffic is going well”

At the end of the day from the first time I tested this out, one client was keen to increase their campaign retainer, another had a referral to introduce me to, a sales prospect pointed me in another direction for someone better to talk to.

One client also expressed how happy they were working with one of my team mates who really took control over that campaign.

By the end of the day, the confidence boost and energy built off that really pushed me into the next day.

Now this isn’t purely for the ego boost, being proactive with clients that may be in a hard spot, dropped clients that things ended poorly will be part of your 5 before 5!

It’s all about the discipline to set yourself the challenge of getting on the horn and not letting up until you’ve chatted to 5 people 🙂