Mastership- Lauren Hill

“I cant create and not live, I cant be in this bubble of creativity, creativity, creativity without life.

…..Life is peaks and valleys, some people explain it as good times bad times. But i think its learning, mastership, learning, mastership….

…. I went from the top of one mountain, I’d mastered something and people appreciated it. And once you reach that level you have to go this way. But in hip hop everyones like “I’m not moving… I’m dope.” That’s when you get stuck on one hill, when Gods intention is that we study and master a bunch of different things.

…. I’m at the foot of another hill. This hill is different you have to navigate it differently. But I get to learn and once you learn and go through that you’re on the top of another hill.

I just encourage everybody, never be afraid of not knowing. Find out. That’s how you get to mastership

…..Let’s not be mediocre in our greatness”

True words from Lauren Hill.


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The 11 O’Clock Rule

The 11 O’Clock Rule

This is Millican’s Law. If you have a hard gig, quiet, a death, a struggle, whatever, you can only be mad and frustrated and gutted until 11am the next day. Then you must draw a line under it and forget about it. As going into the next gig thinking you are shit will mean you will die.
Equally, if you nail it, slam it, destroy it, whatever, you can only be smug about it until 11am the next day (in the past, I have set an alarm so I could get up and gloat for an extra half hour) as if you go into the next gig thinking you are God’s gift to comedy, you will die. That is Millican’s Law and it totally works. It means you move on quickly. 

Hope it helps. It’s certainly stood me in good stead.

from Sarah Millican, British Comedians blog 

Tip for asking questions in a lecture

Tip for asking questions in a lecture

A friend gave me this tip. At the end of a talk, lecture or speech when the dreaded does anyone have any questions. I sometimes have one.

I don’t know if you hate asking questions after talks, lectures, seminars? I do. 

My heart starts beating, blood rushing to my ears. I run over and over in my head what I’m going to say. Then when it’s finally my turn to speak….I half-ask the question. Forgetting important bits. And then because my heart is pounding so much and I’m mentally kicking myself because I didn’t ask it the way I wanted to I barely listen to the answer!

She told me this used to happen to her. It all changed when she decided to focus on just listening. Listening to see if someone would ask the same question anyway or if the answer would come up in the discussion. Then if at the end it still hadn’t come up, she would just feel her hand go up and ask. She wouldn’t have had the chance to build the panick. 

I tried this recently and it definitely helped. I felt so much calmer, I’d listened the answer hadn’t come up and I just felt my hand go up. The panick started but I had much less time to think about it up it and focused instead on listening to other people speak. 

Give it a try & let me know if it works for you too 😊


Breaking the Charisma Myth

Insights into Charisma by Olivia Fox Cabane at Stanford University.

A brilliant talk that changed my perception of Charisma as something some people have naturally to something that can be learned and built upon.

Her techniques such as focusing

  • Presence
    • The core of charisma
    • Charismatic people give you the feeling they are completely there with you in the moment
    • Techniques, focus on the sensation on your toes then at the person, focus on the colours in the persons eye
    • Charisma is not just how you make people feel about you but also about themselves
  • Power
    • Our perception of your ability to influence the world around you
    • Mostly look at peoples body language
    • Technique, standing with confidence to get the cycle going
  • Warmth
    • How much someone gives us the impression that they like us
    • We perceive warmth almost entirely by body language and behaviour
    • You cannot fake it
    • Technique, pick three things about the person that you can approve of
    • Technique, think about their past
    • Technique, imagine their present, what happened to them today

For more check out:

Videos on Olivia’s blog 

The cult of productivity

The cult of productivity

This brilliant article by Steven Poole on the Cult of Productivity really hit the nail on the head for me.

I’ve reached my productivity theory tipping point. I stumbled upon another productivity-esque blog and a wave of dread went over me. Not another thing to add to my ever growing list of “productive habits!”

Not another thing that’s recommended! Not another thing I’ll feel guilty about not doing!


As Steven says it’s everywhere. Everyones talking about it, governments, businesses, adults, kids….

“People boast of being busy and exhausted and eagerly consume advice from the business-entertainment complex on how to “de-fry your burnt brain,” or engineer a more productive day by assenting to the horror of breakfast meetings.”

Think of all the 10 effective strategies for (insert productivity here) that are out there.

Productivity ++++

We are constantly working, preparing to get work done, having productive down time or reading about how to be more productive.

Work hard now so you can relax when you retire.

“Exercise,” advises one business magazine feature. “It makes you more productive.” In a perfect world, you would be getting exercise while you work—standing desks and even treadmill desks are sold as magical productivity enhancers.”

My friend had some great advice. She said we need to realise that there are no absolutes, just other peoples projections.

Finding and sensing what works for you is key. We’re all different, all have different lives. Some days you just feel like doing nothing. And that’s alright!

I love all these productivity things, find them quite interesting. But if I did them all I would have no time. As Steven writes-

“All that time saved by knowing the exact location of the baseball cap you want to wear will surely add up, earning you hours more freedom to hunt and hoard ever more productivity tips, until you are a purely theoretical master at doing nothing of value in the most efficient way imaginable.”

It’s time we rethink this cult of productivity and start taking proper time to ourselves…. and not for the sake of being more productive (check out my post on making time).

I’ve cracked it! How to form habits

I’ve cracked it! How to form habits

I have now been doing weekday morning yoga and journalling for a month. Success!
After months of failed productivity challenge attempts (see productivity challenge blog posts) I’ve cracked it! So what did I do differently?

Well I started doing what the research says do. Don’t rely on willpower! (I know people who can and I’m not one of them) and use the keys, cue, routine, reward and accountability.

alt= habit- loop

I had so many habits and behavioural changes I wanted to make this year. Get up early, write more, read more, one blog post day, exercise….  too many.
I just didn’t do any of them. I couldn’t even remember which habit I was trying to build up and I definitely didn’t have the willpower to follow through on my goals.

“ A goal orientated approach would be I want to loose 10 pounds with my willpower….I’m gonna push those cookies away from my mouth… it just doesn’t work in the long run, you need a system… Here’s a system I’ve been using that has me in the best shape of my life at 58 and using no willpower at all. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want. My system is education. I go out of my way if I see an article that says eat more protein, I say okay how deep does this knowledge go and what difference does it make?… I’ve learned that sometimes sleep pretends to be the same feeling as hunger…”

This super easy and small change means that he is able to make educated choices about what he would be good to eat.
So I started to make the habits small. Then even smaller. I went from aiming to read everyday to aiming to read a chapter a week and now to reading 3 pages a day. I can squeeze that in! And if I read more I feel like great.

Take a look at Tim Ferriss morning journal it’s rough and it’s achievable.

The trick is to make it as easy and painless as possible for yourself. The minute it becomes too difficult the harder it will be to follow through.

That’s where the cue’s come in. 
As BJ Fogg explains link it to something you already do regularly. If you want to exercise more, do 1 push up after immediately after you use the toilet. Make it small, and something you can do in almost no time. He says 30 seconds but I haven’t got that small yet. eg. after I get out of bed, I will _______

Another trick is to set an alarm.

This takes some experimentation. I wanted to start exercising more, so I chose yoga. I tried to go to classes but after a couple of weeks of finding one excuse after another I decided to try youtube videos from home. There are thousands online!
I thought I could do it in the evening. The only problem was I have literally zero motivation when I get home.

Another Tim Ferriss podcast with Robert Rodriguez inspired me to try mornings. Robert Rodriguez (who is fast becoming a hero of mine) he said that writing is the hardest thing he does, so he writes first thing in the morning. As soon a he gets up no matter what time it is and writes. It means all the tasks of the day don’t get in the way.

So I tried that with yoga. Every weekday I get out of bed and do yoga. That simple.
I started with 10 mins a day, discovered that I wasn’t getting up early enough, so I’m down to 5 minutes a day give or take.  I use Tara Stiles videos, she has hundreds with different lengths, and for different things and moods, even morning bed yoga! So no matter how I feel when I get up I can find a routine.
Mornings are a great time for a habit. 
Doing the most difficult thing at the start of the day, like Whitney Cummings who drinks her healthy drinks first thing. Then it’s out of the way and you don’t have to worry about it or like me forget. If nothing else it gives you a sense of accomplishment to start your day with.

Experiment to find the best time.The great thing about slotting habits into your routine is that it makes you understand yourself more. What times you are the most productive, when you have the most quiet time (Robert Rodriguez writes his journal at night), when you are the most motivated.
I’m working on writing 10 ideas a day inspired by James Altucher. My mornings are busy with journalling, yoga and breakfast. So I’m now trying deciding the “10 ideas to…” in the morning and keeping notes through out the day (on everything, post its, my phone). I’ve not managed 10 ideas every single day however I have started noting all my ideas. Creating a spark file which I’m looking forward to reading in a few months.

The example is always given of if you want to excercise more, reward yourself with a piece of chocolate after you go for a run.
I can’t reward myself with a chocolate bar everytime I write a journal entry. I’m instead moving from Evernote, where I have so many notes, to Day One. Keeping all my journal entries in one place. Simple, uncluttered and easier to write. And I have to say it feels great.

Accountability is the other side of the reward coin. Not one I’ve practised much yet. It could be asking a friend to report to, asking the blogosphere as Seth Godin’s writing challenge did, or as simple as having a wall calendar which you cross out the days.
Like me you probably want to build that habit because it will make your life better in some way, healthier, more productive e.t.c. Overtime these small changes have an impact on you. I’ve noticed I’m more focused since starting yoga. The sense of accomplishment I get from doing these things is great. My morning habits help my day get off to a good start.

And yes habit building does become addictive!
8 things I learned from Architecture School

8 things I learned from Architecture School

Architecture school is definitely an experience like no other. I ended up going to 3 schools, in London, Glasgow and Vienna. A mix of traditional universities and arts schools, each with it’s own approach. Architecture students were the same everywhere working all day and sometimes night, the studio’s buzzing with chat and creativity. I ended up making some life long friends and learning a lot not only about design but about an approach to life. Here are some great things I learned from architecture school.


1. Presentation is important

Not only how you talk about your work but also how you visually depict it. We live in a highly visual age and if you can explain your idea visually it makes a huge impact. I also found that how you talk about your work makes a difference to how it’s perceived. It’s about having confidence in your ideas and work.

2. There is no correct answer

There are of course some things that you see that make no sense but good design is highly subjective, it takes for every to realise this but with creative courses like architecture there is no right answer. We all bring our own perspective that is formed by our experiences. This can be hard to see sometimes because each school has their own way of thinking about design, be it contextual, theoretical, narrative based or technical.

3. Choose your heroes carefully

every school has the people or offices they reference constantly and you absorb them by osmosis. The internet also make it easy to spend time swiping through beautiful photographs of buildings but a photograph cannot tell you as much as actually visiting the building can do.

4. Failure is part of learning

I failed second year and at the time it felt like the worst thing, however it ended up being a fantastic opportunity to take time away from intense study, explore what I wanted to do and even earn some money. I ended up learning so much in that time.

5. Fear is stifling

Some architecture schools seem to think they need to put the fear of God in students. Separate the wheat from the chaff, e.t.c e.tc, but I truly believe that fear is the biggest killer of creativity. It causes people to play it safe it afraid to take risks in case they “fail.” But failing is a step to succeeding.

6. How to do late nights

This is definitely one of the first things you learn at architecture, how to stay up all working all night. Especially around final deadlines and reviews. You end up sleeping in the studio and drinking a lot of energy drinks. It’s almost a badge of honour for architecture students and even working architects.

7. To have a life outside of the studio

I found that doing things outside of the studio gave me so much balance and perspective. I took salsa classes, joined the fashion society and took classes in other departments when I could. It was a tough one because architecture students like medical students often stick with people from their course and the intense hours make it almost impossible to do anything outside the course.

8. Don’t wait for permission

It took me till my final year, when I decided to do my final project on a slum in Lagos, Nigeria. I was on exchange in Vienna and the thesis tutor asked us to say the first project that came to our head when we thought about what we wanted to do. It was so refreshing to learn to just go for it, trust my instincts and not worry about how it’d end up. It was amazing.

Here’s a great post on Archi-ninja of the 10 things they don’t teach you in architecture school.

Image via realstarchitectssleeparound.tumblr.com/

Productivity Challenge Update/ April Productivity Challenge

Productivity Challenge Update/ April Productivity Challenge

My March Productivity Challenge has been a failure. I was going to write an excuse, that it’s been a hectic month, I started a new freelance job, left my service job, finished my community arts course… But in all honesty, I just didn’t push myself enough to achieve my productivity goals for March

But its not all bad. I did start using some tools to help me be realistic with how I spend my time. I got a diary like Conni explains in her blog Freelance Muscle and and I note down how I spend my work day from when I get up to when I go to bed. I set aside time on monday to plan my week and saturday to reflect on it. Rescue Time has also been a great tool. It’s a program that tracks how you use your time on your computer and categories it into groups like Learning and Entertainment and gives you a daily productivity pulse. Some of mine have been high, 80%+ some shockingly low, 34%. It’s been a great wake up call and has made me start evaluating just how much I get distracted when I work online.

Secondly I realised that I was trying to tackle too many challenges at once. Sleep earlier, 90 minute focus routines, better email routines…. So I was relying on willpower and remembering what my challenge actually was. Which didn’t work. Everything else seemed to be more important. So I’m going to focus on building one new habit at a time as Scott H. Young advises.

Productivity Challenge April

So this April I am going to combine my Making Challenge and my Productivity Challenge.

Making challenge- I will write 500 words a day on a topic have some knowledge about. Inspired by James Greigs How to write every day for a 30 days. I will write a blog post every day for the 30 days of April. I chose 500 words, because its an achievable amount of words to write daily

Productivity challenge- I will do a 60 minute focus block everyday writing my 500 words. My aim is to do it in the morning, with the internet switched of and full screen to take away any distractions. It means I will have to prepare before hand, so no surfing the internet to read articles.

I’ve set up my word count spreadsheet using James Greig’s template, so you can keep up with my progress, which will help hold me accountable. 

March making challenge – alternative futures

March making challenge – alternative futures

My goal for this year is to do one, fun/ side/ passion/ personal project per month. The only rules are that it has to be creative, experimental and most of all be FUN!
March- inspired by the project Hypothetical Developments my fun/ side project for March is to make hypothetical developments of empty or under used spaces I see around Glasgow. I’m gonna aim higher this month and aim for 10. I want to explore how spaces can be used to engage with people and alternative community use.
Here’s to a productive March :)!
Images via…mobcornon1mobcornon2
5 things I wish someone had told me before I graduated

5 things I wish someone had told me before I graduated

Inspired by Stephanie Rice’s Medium post 10 things I wish someone had told me about freelancing. I’m writing the 5 things I wish someone had told me before I graduated last year (you actually graduate in Architecture 3 times in Britain and this was my second and was scary).

alt= board game
1. Don’t panic- you don’t need the best grades or the best portfolio to get the job/ career you want. This feels incredibly important but if you can realise it, then it takes a whole load of pressure off final year. Having now been on the other side, going through volunteer applications, I’m realising the two important things are passion and personality. Then portfolio.

2. You don’t have to know what you want to do with the rest of your life (and it doesn’t have to be just one thing). I remember feeling that I was making a massive life decision when I was deciding what to do after graduation. It’s great if you know what you want to do but be flexible and open, you might end up doing something you would never imagined.

3. Getting a job isn’t the only option. I remember everyone asking so what are you going to do next? It’s a horrible question you feel like you need to know exactly how things will pan out, but it’s alright to say I don’t know. There’s working in an office/ studio, freelancing, setting up your own business. I’ve ended up doing all three which is tough but fun. Also take the summer off, if you can. Properly off, not even job hunting, I wish I’d done that now.

4. It’s alright to say no to a job. This can seem crazy when you can see your bank balance is nearing zero to say no to any type of offer but sometimes it’s definitely worth waiting.

5. Life is not a straight line,
it’s a series of choices. I’m only slowly starting to realise this. It’s so much about what you do, when you do it and as what you don’t do. So decide carefully but don’t wait too long.

Image via…