Friday, December 1st, 2017

From Chained to the Office, to Freedom in the Country—How to Manifest Your Dream Career or Business


“What counts for me, in business and in life, is making a difference. That and having fun. Okay, it’s not always fun. Sometimes it’s b***** stressful,” says Laurie Wills, a mortgage expert with a passion for butterflies.

“But work feels less like a slog when I get to help awesome people make their dreams come true. I’m lucky to have clients I’m proud to call friends. Of course, the odd bottle of champers I’m sometimes sent goes down a treat too.”

But Laurie yearned to be free from the confines of an office. He wondered if he needed a break from the industry. But then after analyzing what he really needed to be happier at work it came down to two central themes. More freedom and control.

He sold his shares in his first mortgage business and after a short break started a new business, Awesome Mortgages. With a vision for the future and a blueprint about how he wanted to operate, he re-engineered his processes. An early adopter of new technology, at the time of writing, he remains one of very few, if any, mortgage advisers working remotely.

“It was exciting to see some of my clients make a move to a warmer climate, and I thought, ‘that’s what I want to do too.”

It was an audacious move that definitely paid off. Together with his partner, they left Wellington and moved onto their own lifestyle block, overlooking the magical Bay of Islands in New Zealand.

It was a dream that wouldn’t have come true had he not spent time early on in his career planning, getting clarity about how he wanted to live and work in the future. But the move wasn’t without some apprehension.

“How will people feel if we’re based in the Winterless North,” I wondered. “Will they balk and walk if they can’t do business over a caffeine shot? What about the tie, the dark suit, the polished shoes? Will a T-shirt and shorts send the wrong message?

“I thought it could, but my partner, said, ‘Trust me. It’s what you do, the results you get, and the integrity you do it with, that attracts people to you, and keeps them coming back. That, and all those razor-sharp deals.’

“We kept our dreams alive by creating a manifestation board on the fridge. One of the captions we pasted was, ‘Thriving Up North.’ And that vision has come true. The financial years since making the move have been the biggest, most financially successful in my career as a mortgage expert.”

In the first year alone after swapping his pinstriped suit for shorts, Laurie helped his clients purchase in excess of $65 million dollars worth of property. In the following two years, all records have been broken.

There is a myth that people’s highest income earning years are over after fifty, but as Laurie’s experience shows changing it up can pay big dividends.

“Best of all we’re both happier as a couple,” he says. “Plus, I’ve still been able to pursue my passions.”

Laurie’s passion is researching exotic butterflies. He is renown by many as the Indiana Jones of the butterfly world, due to his exploits and intrepid exploring in jungles, inaccessible mountains, and dangerous landscapes. He’s discovered many species new to science and co-authored several important scientific articles.

His passion sustains him, but he accepts it’s not something he can do to make the kind of living he aspires too. While he’s also passionate about negotiating the best outcomes for his home-buying clients, his day-job funds his lifestyle and passion. And now that he’s taken control back and re-engineered where, when and how he does his work he has better balance.

“Some of the negotiations I’ve concluded while up a tree, butterfly net in one hand, iPhone in the other, while in Papua New Guinea. I’ve also helped people buy homes while I’ve been high in the mountains of war-torn Bougainville.

“Then there were the mortgage negotiations made all the sweeter while I was swinging in a hammock in Fiji. But most of my help has been given while enjoying my own slice of paradise back home. I really do think the warmer climate has given me superpowers when it comes to getting the best outcomes for my clients.”

Yip, there’s a myth in the mortgage industry which Laurie has happily proved wrong, that you have to don a tie, work relentless nights and weekends, and invade peoples’ privacy by going to their homes.

By making positive changes in his life that better reflect how he wants to live and work he’s proved recent research conducted by the University of Cologne right—happier people earn more money and that makes life even sweeter.

In the next chapter, we’ll summarize the key themes and help you find your sweet spot.

This is an edited extract from The Passion-Driven Business Planning Journal: The Effortless Path to Manifesting Your Business and Career Goals by Cassandra Gaisford. To purchase your copy and learn how to stress less and love life more, click here—

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Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Everyday


Thanks To Muri Groff for sharing this summary with me from Michael Gelb’s book – I’m going to go and buy this and also start drawing again:)

“It was with the idea of finding the principles underlying Leonardo’s limitless creativity that I began my work on the book you are now holding in your hands. The seven principles I eventually identified were simply my attempt to write the how-to guide that Leonardo never put down on paper, to codify the principles implicit in Leonardo’s work so that they can be used by others. I feel very strongly that the genius of Leonardo resides not just in what he created by in what he can inspire us to create. Beyond all his stellar achievements, Leonardo da Vinci serves as a global archetype of human potential, giving us intimations of what we ourselves may be capable of doing.”

~ Michael Gelb from How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci

The Seven Principals:

1. Curiosità — An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.

2. Dimonstratzione — A commitment to test knowledge through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.

3. Sensazione — The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to clarify experience.

4. Sfumato (literally ‘Going up in Smoke’)—A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.

5. Arte/Scienza — The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. ‘Whole-brain thinking.’

6. Corporalita—The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.

7. Connessione — A recognition and appreciation for the connectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

“For Leonardo, drawing was much more than illustration; it was the key to understanding creation. So for aspiring Da Vincians, learning to draw is the best way to begin to learn to see and create.”

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Monday, February 25th, 2013

Employ yourself


“If you take on your self-doubt and your laziness you will find the door to your freedom.” ~ Robert Kiyosaki, Millionaire.

In these days of limited job security and continual restructuring, increasing numbers of people are considering starting their own business. Others yearn to do something more creative with their lives and follow their true path with heart. If the job you want doesn’t exist or you’re looking for more freedom and autonomy starting your own business could be just the tonic you need.

Some people are afraid of taking the first step toward self-employment. Others know in their heart it’s what they really want but procrastinate when it comes to making a move.  But it’s amazing how the Universe turns to support you when you take action.

Only a fortnight ago a woman contacted me saying she needed someone to help kick-start her dreams of starting her own business as a career coach and HR consultant. Two coaching sessions later here is what she wrote:

Tomorrow night I start work with my first career coaching client!!!
I’m developing some ideas about my business card and got a really positive response from Yoobee (formerly NatColl) about getting a designer from there. Haven’t met with a designer yet but as a result of the conversation with the lady there (a tutor or maybe HOD I suspect), I have an appointment with her to talk about my career coaching services. Very exciting. I also have the name of somebody who is just starting her own Web Design company, have had a really enthusiastic response from people in my target market who say things like “I know heaps of people who …..”. And, I’ve had some encouraging conversations with people about ways we can work together, etc where there will be mutual benefit. I’ve talked to an accountant and got myself sorted from that aspect too.
And the sun keeps shining which is fantastic!
See you next week. I doubt I’ll have my business card done by then but I’m sure it’ll be closer than it is now and I will have worked through the business plan template.”

Now that’s one lady who’s happy at work. Soon she’ll be able to shed her old job and be happier still!

Where’s a good place to start?

First Things First! Start from the Heart

To succeed in life you have to be passionate about what you do. As multi-millionaire businesswoman Anita Roddick once said, “We communicate with passion and passion sells.

Pursuing your passion is profitable on many levels. Firstly, when you do what you love, this is most likely where your true talent lies, so you’ll stand out in your field.

Secondly, you’ll be more enthusiastic about your pursuits; you’ll have more energy and tenacity to overcome obstacles, and more drive and determination to make things happen. When you do what you care most about and believe in with passion, your work will be not something that you endure but something that you enjoy. More importantly, work will become a vehicle for self-expression.

Thirdly, passion sells. People like to do business with people who are passionate about their products and services. You’ll also come across more genuinely to people – passion can’t be faked. When global financial services company KPMG re-branded with passion as a core theme, profitability soared.


“When it becomes clear that no one else shares your level of passion, you are where you belong.” ~ Placido Domingo, Opera Singer

Look for examples of passionate companies and people making a living from things they care deeply about. Here are a few Kiwi examples to get you started:

• Brian Clifford is passionate about helping people, and bugs. He has combined his passion into a successful business as a pest controller. “All the rats, all the maggots, all the cockroaches all over the place. These are the things I love doing,” he says. His business motto is “If it bugs you, I’ll kill it!

• John Holley has turned his passion for bones into a business, Skulls Down Under, selling skeletons to museums all over the world.

• Charles Royal’s passion for finding a way to incorporate traditional Ma¯ori foods into modern dishes led him to start his own business – Kinaki Wild Herbs. Air New Zealand now serves pikopiko and horopito in its first and business classes.

How could you turn your passion into a self-employment opportunity?


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Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

It pays to be creative – how passion benefits us all

Passionate people are like vitamins for our souls. People who do what they love with all their heart radiate an invisible ray of energy that touches all those who stand in its path. Passionate people make what they do seem so easy. Yet it takes great courage, hard work and often sacrifice to pursue ones true calling.  Often these passionate people are the artisans and creative creatures who live amongst us. Sometimes they are the ones who pursue the less traditional career paths that so few have the courage to tackle.

Yet turning your back on traditional careers and office based jobs can be profitable on many levels as European musician Virgil Iuriciuc and his band of musicians has found. Since the age of 6 years he has been perfecting his passion for playing the violin. His talent for playing the violin, hard work, and heart based playing has enabled him to travel and work all around the world to the delight of those that flock to hear him play.

For 10 years he has played in Venice at the most famous café in the world. His heart wrenching music moves people to tears and inspires people to fall in love all over again. He has met famous people and been winded and dined by princes and princesses. Playing the violin has also been fabulous for this love life.

Now he lives and works in Japan – doubling his salary twice over. It may sound like a glamorous existence but it still requires a great sacrifice. He cannot afford to live and work in his own country and sends all the money he earns to his family in Romania, but he is doing what he loves and what he believes he was born to do. People show their appreciation in tears of happiness and great rounds of applause and he feels the sort of fulfillment that comes from being true to himself.

How do people successfully manage creative careers? Here are 5 simple strategies:

1.Up skill in the areas of business and marketing. As successful author Robert Kyoskai says, “Everything in life is about marketing.” The more you know the more you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the crowd.

2.Do a career combo – sometimes having many strings to your bow is the best way to manage unpredictable or unsustainable cash flow. DJ lemon is passionate about reggae music but combines his love with working as a barber. Shelly is training to be a movie maker but knows she can always fall back on her nursing skills when work is thin.

3.Be passionate – Passion is a source of huge energy from the soul that enables a person to produce extraordinary results. Extraordinary people get noticed! As Anita Roddick says, ’ We communicate with passion and passion sells.”

4.Finance your passion – discard unneeded material trappings and trim expenses

5.Persevere – maintain the faith. As Winston Churchill said, “Never, never, never, give up.”

To deny passion and your creative calling is to deny Who You Are and Who you Truly Want To Be.  As Pablo Picasso famously said:” “My mother said to me, “If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.” Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.”

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