your voice, your story

- 210218

2020 was full of new experiences for me, outside the main one of you know, a global pandemic and the continuous joy and fun it has entailed.Yes, last year, I became an author, a publisher and truly found my voice. Maybe not in the sense that you may understand it, I’m not Caitlin Moran (a writer I adore ) and I haven’t built a new HarperCollins — although this could be the future of Out of the Clouds; I am leaving that door open.

I became a publisher when I established and launched my website, and created this newsletter, and of course when I launched a podcast. Let it be said that none of this was easy. Pressing send on a weekly basis for this email is not either; because I care, of course, and also because with English as a second language, I get quite self conscious about grammar and stuff.

Like a lot of us, I tend to recoil when the work revolves around me. As I heard jokingly expressed recently by a fellow communications executive, PR people work in the background. I got used to that and quite naturally I shy away from the limelight. My own vision, my own voice, existed in certain rooms but it was rarely at the forefront. Over time I did get opportunities and some license to use my own good judgement, my own creativity in business to put exciting projects together, some of which were great successes, others not so much.

So last year, after a few years of consulting, I decided that I’d worked with a sufficient number of clients, I’d done enough work to warrant putting my views out there, for people to discover, explore or inform themselves. And of course, it would become a vehicle to express my own values, my purpose and also my questions — because I don’t know everything and I seek interaction.

As an enthusiastic introvert, I live between the two Myers Briggs Persona Types : the INFP (the Mediator) and the ENFP (the Champion). I really value both working on my own, with deep thought and reflection, as well as seeking collaboration and contribution from multiple sources. So it was really important to me when considering the development of this consultancy, which type of freelancers or other consultants I would bring to the table to service my clients. Similarly which kind of guest I would invite on my podcast.

As you may have read, quite clearly within the lines of this newsletter, I enjoy leading clients through ‘values’ workshops and helping them express this across different touch points. I think the first reason why this felt important is that if we don’t know what we’re about, why would people give us the time of day, right? If you don’t understand what I do or how I do it, why contact me, engage with me, or even hire me?

A few years back, when I was still living in Paris, I figured out what my personal values were, prompted by an audio book of Deepak Chopra (I’m not sure which one, I’ll need to look this up). It turns out, my values were really easy to pinpoint, and I had proof points from so many previous life choices that concretely affirmed them as true.

Personal and professional values are not necessarily the same and it was good to start with what was closest to me, as they indeed impact all of my life.

Sure, there are plenty of other attributes, like kindness, which I value very highly, however it doesn’t underpin my life experience to the degree of the other three.

So how did I find my voice, my purpose? It’s a bit like creating your own mission statement and for me it happened over time.

When I worked for Louboutin, I was known as ‘Anne of London’, a nickname coined by the team in our Italian factory. I then got named ‘The fixer’ by another colleague, because I’m good at making things happen, especially when it’s not clear how it will all come together.

Later on, when writing my bio for a project, a friend helped me come up with something that felt like a sufficiently decent description. It’s only after using it for a year or so that it came down to its simplest form: I like to make magic happen. That’s a bit more fun than being a fixer and I am terrible with a glue gun so the magician image fits me much better.

As it stands, one of the reasons behind leaving the company and setting up on my own is that there was an inner tension building up: the emergence of the voice I think, the burgeoning sense that there was something more meaningful for me to do, a way to contribute to a larger group. I wasn’t listening to podcasts, I had no idea I’d ever write a newsletter, publish on Medium, etc. Yet I recognise now the seed was there, taking root already back then.

So to round up this reflection, what I want to share with you is this:

One final thought: we refine our voice when we use it. It takes practice. It’s also true about tone, whether you want to take the analogy into the musical voice or your content marketing. I can attest to that, says the girl who does daily vocal exercises (literally). Just keep singing.

And for those of you out there who are already doing that beautifully, thank you! Know that you have been a tremendous inspiration to me.