Book writing coach

All Posts by Dale Darley

Follow your arrow

Last week I ran a writers retreat and what a joy the attendees were. One evening we shared our YouTube favourites whilst supping a few wines. It was one of those indescribable evenings that got sillier and sillier. Then the fabulous Jane Hafren the Walk of Life coach shared this song, to which I am now addicted. She had us all singing along and it has become our motivational writing song.

Writing a book will change your life and it is important that you choose a book that resonates with your soul. Your book is about you and your inspirational message.

As Kasey says ‘Follow your arrow, wherever it points’

Find what you love and write about it. Simple.

Where does your arrow point?

Finding the heart of your brand

At the centre of your brand is you and your heart. If your heart is not in what you are doing or things don’t seem to be flowing then clearly something is not quite right.

The not quite right bit is that YOU are not connected at a heart and soul level to your brand. Your brand is after all, your authentic, really, bloody brilliant self. It is still that small child that went out to play without boundaries, who explored and ate worms – or is that just me?

Worms aside, getting to the heart of your brand can be tough. Some of the best ways that I know are to use visualization and creativity techniques. These will work depending on the kind of person you are and how open you are to trying new ways to explore you. So remember to adapt anything to suit you and have some fun.


Have a pen and paper ready to write down what you ‘see’. Clearly read this through a few times to understand what to do – or record it so that you can guide yourself through the steps.

  • Get into a comfortable place
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths
  • Imagine a large heart in the sky
  • Colour or decorate it in anyway you fancy
  • Imagine coming from the heart centre are words that describe you
  • As they emerge from the centre they will want to either fly off of wrap themselves around your heart, let what ever needs to happen, be
  • When you feel that you are ready to stop, check in with your physical heart by placing a hand on it
  • Breathe in your brilliance and connect your heart to your visualized heart and your brilliant words
  • Draw your heart into you to and say thank you
  • Sit quietly and process, when you are ready write down what comes up for you
  • Only you will know how this exercise resonates with you and the meaning of the experience. It is important that you do not judge, merely accept and then leave and reflect. Once you have reflected do the following:-
  • Draw a heart at the centre of a page and write about you and your brand in anyway that feels right.
  • Reflect and ask what next?

If you would like to share, you know where to find me.

Forget blogging, think strategic brand management tool

Blogging for building brands and sharing knowledge

What’s in a word? What does blogging conjure up for you? I am constantly surprised at what others, no matter what size of business think this is.

  • Doesn’t it take time to blog (whatever that is)?
  • I have nothing to say?
  • Why would anyone read it?
  • What is a blog?

Ok I am being a bit facetious, but this word blogging does seem to create quite a negative image in many people’s minds.

In my opinion a brands reputation depends quite a lot on it’s online social activity. We live in an Internet based world. No matter what business you are in, people generally look to the web to find out about you first. Or if you have been recommended, to do follow up research. When they can see that you have a community and are having quality conversations, it creates another level of social proof around your brand.

Maybe it’s the word blog that puts you off, to my mind it is simply another powerful news channel, a way to show your personality, build your reputation and credibility. A blog is new PR and as such is a brand and a knowledge asset.

Whilst I am not a SEO expert, I do have an understanding of it, which why I am pleased that the companies like Google are changing the emphasis and how they rank content. New advanced algorithms can now determine a number of metrics including (I read) the quality of your content. Yes we truly are in a world of artificial intelligence.

What better way to add regular, relevant content to your website than to utilise a blogging tool? And if you don’t like the name blog come up with a fancy name for your new on-line magazine.

What would you call yours?

Have you defined your leadership brand?

Have you defined your leadership brand?

When you think leader what comes into your mind? Why that person? What do they do or say that inspires you? Is it something more intangible, something deep in your gut that tells you this person has a set of values that you really connect to? What is it?

I don’t know about you but I thrive in an environment with people I respect because they inspire me by leading by example, are caring (yes really), sharing, communicate, make a difference, empower me to make a difference and encourage me to be the best me that I can. They make decisions, which I may not agree with but they do them from a place of authenticity and integrity.

What about the leaders that you wouldn’t follow? Why not? What do they do that turns you off?

For me it comes back to respect again and when I see others using their power to manipulate and bully others it is a total turn off.

Now consider your brand, the organisations overall brand and brand strategy, that surely includes your people, and everyone up and down the ladder. At the top of that is how you as an employer want to be perceived in your efforts to be an employer of choice, where you can attract and retain the best talent, followed by your leadership brand, where the people at executive level are your role models, who inspire others to follow and connect to the organisations brand.

The question is where and how do you start to create this leadership brand?

Organisational values

Unless these are clearly defined and communicated you cannot hope to gain buy in from your people, who may or may not share your values, depending on how they perceive them and subsequently see how you act on them.

Vision and critical success factors

What is your vision? How have you communicated it? What are the critical success factors that demonstrate (and measure) that your vision (and mission) is on track for success?

All we can be environment

In creating an environment where everyone can be ‘all that they can be’ will encourage others to want to be a part of the journey and to follow those that enable and allow possibilities to flow.

Defining what it means to be a leader

By being clear about what it means to lead around here and living by example you send out a clear message about the leadership brand. Things like passion, continuous learning, listening, setting achievable goals, collaboration, ability to build meaningful relationships, can take critical feedback, sharing knowledge, wisdom and insights, celebrating success, deconstructing perceived failure and seeking answers not blame. The list could be endless, however, it will be your list that you value and appreciate relevant to your organisation and leadership brand.

Personal brand

Providing means for your people to connect to who they are on the inside, to allow them to fully understand who they are in the world. When they connect to their values, passion, vision and purpose they will know if they are in the right place and will know how they can add value. With this knowing comes the ability to engage with others clearly, with integrity and with a sense of purpose.

Connecting personal, leadership and employer brands

When you know where these three things intersect and how they impact each other is when you have something magical. Now your mission is, how do you create an environment where everyone and everything thrives? People are your biggest asset is an old mantra, but none the less very true, in helping each of them understand their personal brand (who they are), allows them to see if they are in the right place. You will lose some people on the way who may suddenly realise that that their soul purpose is not with you, but conversely you will be left with a strong core who are passionate about your organisation and will want to follow or be your leaders inspiring others – to be the best that they can be.

Close the gaps

If you assess your brand strengths and gaps you can work with a cross functional team to maximise the strengths and close the gaps. Building brand equity is not just the domain of marketing, it belongs in HR and in the executive team, across all disciplines.

Back to my original question – Where and how do you start to create this leadership brand?

Step 1 – clearly define and communicate the values, vision, passion and purpose of the organisation – what makes this a great place to work and who do we want working with us?

Step 2 – define what is means to be a leader, craft and communicate the leadership brand values – who do we want to lead our organisation?

Step 3 – empower everyone to fully understand what their personal brand is and consider if their values match the leadership and employer brand – who is part of our success?

Step 4 – look out across your supply chain and consider the brand values of everyone you interact with – who would you like to really collaborate with?

Step 5 – live, breathe and celebrate brand values up and down your supply chain – who is part of your global tribe?

When you know this, your leaders role is to rock this out, so that you can attract investors, high value customers and the best talent. When you have a strong leadership brand it will increase the value of the organisation and how it is perceived in the market place. When your leaders are seen as the thought leaders for your industry it will explode the reputation and credibility of them and your organisation.

You may not be the best brown fizzy drink in the world, but in your market place, how you communicate your brand values (organisational, leadership and personal) speaks volumes about what you and your people stand for.

Success depends on authenticity, integrity and communication. Working out your leadership brand as soon as possible is critical, as it underpins everything you do to build your reputation, credibility and trust.

Social Media experts share their personal branding secrets

What do you do before you blog? Shoot from the hip or work from your blogging strategy? There are several points in this Forbes article that really resonate with me.

Values and filters – Jenni Hogan says that she uses three filters – impact, inspire and inform. I love this and I am adding these to my blogging planner.

Porter Gale talks about your passion and to be mindful of how you can reflect that in what you post. And repurposing – always consider how you can re-use your content – write once, use many times.

Research your competition says Sean Gardiner. I think being well read and researched is key for any writer. I love to read other peoples ideas and twists on a subject and to consider the comments that come back from their followers – very enlightening.

So before you complete your next blog – think impact, inspire and inform, repurpose and competitors.

9 Ways to invigorate your learning & knowledge management

9 Ways to invigorate your learning & knowledge management

Technology and IT systems make it easy to get information flowing, often getting us to a point where we are so swamped by information and finding the time to share knowledge effectively is overlooked.  Knowledge management in organisations  is usually implemented and managed by IT or project management or business services, when it should really be a collaboration of  HR and IT and other relevant stakeholders.  If part of HR’s role to change the culture, then they need to find people who are willing to share knowledge and who are keen to create engaging knowledge.

Here’s just a few ideas you can implement to invigorate the learning and knowledge sharing.

  1. Using your internal forum or blog, pick a video from YouTube, TED or an interesting site and send out an invitation to your teams to watch and then discuss. Remembering to add some stimulating and thought provoking questions.
  2. Create Pecha Kucha events, where people are invited to prepare and deliver short presentations of 20 slides, with only 20 seconds per slide (that’s 6 minutes per speaker).  Have a theme with prizes.  Video the events.  Blog about them later.
  3. Use storytelling circles to develop the stories about what you do around here.  What is the most effective way to record these stories – case studies, blogs, books, videos?
  4. Start a book club and encourage teams to collaborate on developing business books which demonstrate your expertise.  Build your own business library.
  5. Video interviews and training sessions, turn them into blogs and relate the information back to key business activities. Build a video library.
  6. Encourage journalling so that people can record and reflect on their working life.  Encourage them to post blogs about findings and encourage discussions.
  7. Have a corporate internal blog for management communications and ask for feedback.
  8. Implement social networking tools such as Wiki’s (e.g, Yammer ( (Twitter for corporates)
  9. Write a book. Gather together at least 9 of your team and write a brand busting thought leadership book.

When people feel connected to the company, knowledge and sharing will flow.

I am sure you can think of more than 8 great ways to engage your teams.

Creating personal brand experiences

Creating personal brand experiences

How you think you are ‘delivering’ your personal brand is one thing and how your customers experience it is quite another.

We know that in the world of marketing, service, delivery and quality need to be of the highest standard, and that these factors should be a ‘given’. In fact, most providers of a service will (over) remind us that they do this consistently and it is what sets them apart from the competition.

However, we also hear sayings like ‘under promise and over deliver’ – perhaps what we should really be saying is ‘deliver on your promises as a minimum!’ Surely this is a much more positive statement and doesn’t imply that we need to spend a lot of time managing expectations, in case we are not particularly good at what we do?

What about the customer is king. Can you remember those posters with a lion on? Are customers always right? What if they are costing you money and are not a good fit with your personal brand? Then surely this is a potentially flawed relationship, which will do more harm than good.

When we set out to deliver a product or service to a customer, what do we monitor? Do we think about the end to end interaction that a customer or potential customer will have with us or our organisation? Or do we only think about one aspect?

Do we consider the whole experience and what it might be like to be the recipient of said experience? Do we step into another’s shoes and ask “what would I like the experience to be, if I were to work with this person?”

Imagine that for a moment, you wanted to improve your personal effectiveness. You’ve done an analysis and can see that there are some gaps in your personal development plan. What might you consider as the best way to close the gap and gain a valuable experience that would make you more effective?

For me I like interactivity and trying things out . So I might look for a fun and creative workshop. I am also rather addicted to the digital world, where I can tune in for a Google Hangout or an interactive webinar and try out ideas through an online portal. But nothing comes close to talking through my issues or ideas with a fellow human and that works for me – either face to face or online.

What might spoil my experience is if my internet went down, if I wasn’t listened to, given clear instructions, a phone call or email to make sure everything was ok and some kind of follow up. There are other things that might frustrate me, which wouldn’t annoy you and vice versa.

Am I unusual? Not particularly. The point I am making is that unless I ask and think hard about what would give me a good experience, it is difficult to design such an experience for others – one that is equally enjoyable and memorable.

Experiences are not rational, they are subjective, they are about emotions and feelings and they vary from person to person based on their personal map of the world. Like it or not, you and me….we… are emotional beings, and at our core ‘how’ we feel is paramount to us having a great experience.

The question to ask then is how can we factor this into how others experience us and our personal brand? What emotions might add the most value? What emotions should we focus on? Here are some of the things that we have been floating through my mind…..

Consider what kind of emotional ‘being’ we are

By this I mean, there will be something about the way that we are as a personal brand,  the way others feel about us, the way that we do business and the way that we are perceived. When I look around, I see happy people with high integrity and a deep respect for others.

Forget ‘just process’

Imagine if you deliver workshops or coaching. Generally workshop or coaching design looks at the running order, which models to use and techniques to introduce, which makes sense, because without a plan how can we know where workshop is going or what the outcomes will be?

We now need to overlay the process map with an emotional map. Just the meeting and greeting of a an attendee can set the experience for the day. How you address them, how you interact with them, how you respond to them and build synergy. This can’t be faked – you need congruence between the inner and outer self

Do something unexpected AND PLEASANT

I don’t mean that you turn up to a coaching session dressed in your Santa outfit, I mean those little touches like ‘let me get you a coffee’ and asking ‘what else do you need?’

Put yourself in another’s shoes

Instead of following protocol, I try to imagine or feel what the other person is experiencing and work out how I can make life easier for them, or taking the time to talk over lunch or after a session, if it is a workshop. The key thing is, that it needs to be ‘valued’ by the other person – this also implies that we need to get to know them, so that we can identify ‘value’ from their perspective. When someone is writing a book with me, I understand that it may bring up all kinds of emotional issues, I have walked that mile and I still do. My role then is, how to support the emotional stuff and how to ‘do’ practical things so that outcomes are met. I believe in rolling up my sleeves and getting in there to help, if needs be.

Empower action

This is about allowing whatever needs to be done in that moment, be done. I love this fantastic story that demonstrates this.

Read all about tiger bread being renamed to giraffe bread after three year old Lily wrote to ask Sainsbury’s about it.

Don’t pass the buck

There is nothing in my job description that says “this is what I do and that’s all”. If one of my customers or friends needs some help, it’s all about pulling together and making sure the job gets done. Equally it’s not about being the donkey who does all of the work, remember to set boundaries, people will respect that as well.

Do what you love

I constantly ask myself what I love to deliver, what I am passionate about and how anything that I do could be improved. By doing this I get to work with some great people who really want to inspire their customers. What do you love to do?

Be adventurous

Life and business is a journey and an adventure. I see myself as tour guide with a difference. I will challenge you, encourage you to try things and reward your efforts and the energy you put in. I will give you space to be you. What kind of adventure would you like to take that will make a difference to your personal brand?

The bottom line is that the perfect experience will differ from person to person and your role is to ensure that you are emotionally intelligent and intuitively connected to your customers needs. The keys are to accept that each person is unique, that everyone’s map of the world is different, to consider how you would like to be treated,  and to then go one step beyond and make it an emotionally fulfilling experience.

What ingredients go into your perfect ‘working with another’ experience?

If your personal brand were Marmite

If your personal brand were Marmite

Have you seen the Marmite ads about end Marmite neglect? There’s loads over on YouTube, here’s a recent one.

Personal brands are like Marmite, people either love you or ‘hate’ you. The most important thing is that regardless of what others think, you manage your personal brand and don’t neglect it.

Over to you

How many ways have you neglected your personal brand over the last 3-6 months?

If your personal brand were Marmite, who would love you, who would hate you and why?

What actions are you going to take to make sure you open your Marmite jar more often?

Connecting personal brand to organisational brand

Connecting personal brand to organisational brand

Most people are content with the notion of organisational branding, they may even be aware of product branding and maybe personal branding.
Personal branding is often seen as a buzz word and dismissed as something fancy, not to be considered and nothing could be further from the truth.
Personal branding is the same philosophy as organisational branding, except you are managing your reputation and trying to find some way to demonstrate your competitive advantage and your value add. Everyone it seems wants to be remembered for something.

For me it would make sense if we were the ones in control of how we were perceived and to be very clear about what that means to us, why we would want a brand, how we can use it profitably (whatever profit means to you) and how the benefits translate not only for us personally, our organisations and across the whole supply chain.

Before I even knew of the term personal branding, I was acutely aware that as a lone female in a male dominated industry that I needed some way to stand out and someway to demonstrate my capability. Of course that could have just been the competitor in me. Regardless it was important to me to be recognised for the value I bought the team and the organisation regardless of my sex.
I can remember the MD of an organisation that I was selling a very expensive ERP package to. I had spent a long time understanding his business and how we could make his more effective, efficient and profitable. To clinch the deal I took in my sales director. After the customer signed on the dotted line he commented to my boss ‘your secretary has looked after me very well’. I was half amused, half wanting to knock his block off, instead I smiled sweetly thought of my commission and how I could ensure that this never happened again.
For me it was simple, back in the early 90’s when people weren’t blogging or writing books, qualifications were king, so I did an MBA, despite opposition from pretty much everyone. My reputation and brand was important and I was prepared to give up three years of my life for it.
Brand is everywhere and at its core are values, passion, vision, purpose and your message, everyone involved with you, with you sitting at the heart of it.

How do you connect your brand to your corporate brand?

  1. Understand your personal brand and you will understand the direction of your career (business and life) and you will be able to create a unique position for you within your organisation.  It will help you to focus on how you create value for your network. Your network being everyone that you surround yourself with, from colleagues to customers and suppliers to shareholders.
  2. Understand your organisations brand. What are it’s key values, vision, purpose for being, what are its core messages, how does its deliver value and create experiences for its stakeholders? To what extent are you aligned with that?
  3. Read the business plan, discuss it, really try to understand what it means and how what you do fits with it.
  4. Depending upon where you are in an organisation, there will be other brands, for example the leadership brand, which will have a set of attributes. How aligned are you to these?
  5. Next decide if you are in the right place? Yes great, if not, ask do you want to be here or not? If not where or doing what? There may be things that at organisational level you are working on which will mean that you will feel aligned. Dig deep, because if you are not motivated to serve, neither you or your organisation benefits.
Personal branding is creating something special you believe in (you) and are passionate about. It separates and differentiates you from your peers, colleagues and competitors. As leader (whatever that means to you) it also demonstrates a commitment to your organisational brand.
The bottom line is businesses are in the business of making money and increasing shareholder value, for one moment consider how you, the asset works to enable that to happen. It’s a two way street and whilst you may think it’s rather ruthless of me to suggest that you are a thing and not a valuable human, it sometimes helps to take us and our feelings out of the equation and treat ourselves like a business and you are in the business of leadership. Does that make sense?
The key to your success is to find your passion, purpose and key message, share that and get compensated for it. The key to your success inside of your organisation is to be passionate about it’s code of practice, values, and brand and work to add value to it.
If after reading this, you decide that your personal brand, is not aligned with the organisational brand, I would like to suggest that you find a place to work where you can be your authentic self. For now let’s assume that you are in the right place.
The right place means that you are prepared to commit to aligning your personal values, brand and vision with that of the organisation and its leadership model. In doing so, you will become a role model and have a responsibility for communicating this.

Who do you think I am?

Who do you think I am?

  “Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken”. – Oscar Wilde, Author and Playwright

Being yourself and not really caring what others think, is not something many would do. It seems that we are like actors on a stage and often performer how we think we should, following our scripts or do what is expected of us. This is quite normal. However there comes a time in everyones life when it ‘feels’ right to step into their own light and shine. That could be today.

Today I invite you to find anyone in your organisation or social circle that you don’t know very well or haven’t spoken to in a while and ask ‘who do you think I am?’. This is probably a big ask and chances are you won’t do it… But what if you did? What do you think that they might say?

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon

It really is true, not many people will hold you accountable and tell you what they or others really think and are saying. Of course you may not have given them permission to tell you when you mess up, weren’t sticking to your values or doing exceptionally well.

Here’s the plan:-

Pick five people. Ask them if they will help you with a personal branding project. Tell them they have ten minutes to write out the answer to these questions:-

  1. Who do you think I am?
  2. How old am I?
  3. What did I study at university?
  4. Where is my favourite place / type of holiday?
  5. What newspaper do I read?
  6. What do I do for this organisation / for a living?
  7. What would be my dream role / job?
  8. Do I have any pets or children?
  9. What is my favourite genre of books?

Change the questions, make them your own, add in a few of your own, up to a maximum of 10. Before you send them off, answer them yourself, as if you were looking at you for the first time. Look in the mirror if it helps.

When you get your answers reflect on what comes back. What did you learn?

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernhard Shaw, Author

George has a point, however, I believe that first you have to get to know you and reflecting back on stuff will leave some clues, in the clues you will find you, thus far. All of your life you have been creating who you are – yes even the weird stuff. Perhaps you haven’t felt in control of that journey, and you may not be fully in control, however focusing on creation is very powerful.

Now ask yourself:-

  • What am I known for today?
  • What do I want to be known for in 1-2 years?
  • How will I get there?
  • What if, I wasn’t in control of my personal brand? What if I was?

Create a visual image of what that ‘future’ you looks like, you can do that by writing about your perfect day in the future, but writing is as if it were that day (as if) or you can create a visual using pictures, paint and your own creativity.

Every day do something towards helping you to create your personal brand as you want it, not as others want it to be.

“If I lost control of the business I’d lose myself–or at least the ability to be myself. Owning myself is a way to be myself.” – Oprah Winfrey, Television mogul

Personal branding coaching, will help you to discover the inner you, what it is that you really want and then guide you through a plan which will help you to strategically position yourself.