Looking to find a little more joy during lockdown? Here are five stories to inspire you

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While restrictions surrounding this pandemic have taken away many of our freedoms and pleasures, there are those individuals who have managed to relish their time in lockdown, and not just because of the extra hours to breathe or take stock either. Some have found themselves busier than ever, uncovering a brand-new passion or indulging in an existing one.

Here are five ideas from individuals whose stories will hopefully inspire you to discover a little more joy of your own during the remaining lockdown.

Get YouTubing, like Hulya.

Chef Hulya Erdal has used lockdown as an opportunity to experiment with filming YouTube videos around her take on life, food and living.

“Lockdown has given me the opportunity to push my business forward by giving me some time I would never have had, and I’ve used it wisely. I’ve completed a rebrand and update to my website. I’ve also been able to develop my YouTube channel and shoot regular videos as part of my business brand.

Getting out there on video has been scary but worth it. I wanted to create a presence online and make known what area I was in now. To be able to put out my message to the world. Plus, it was a way for me to push myself out of my comfort zone. Face my fears. It was a way to speak my truth and build confidence in myself too.

It’s certainly made a difference in terms of exposure – a real kick-start, and it’s been fun.”

You can find Hulya’s YouTube videos here.


Bang out that book, like Paula.

Paula Gardner has spent much of her time in lockdown writing a career book, The Career Pause and Pivot.

“I was speaking to so many people about how this crisis has changed the way they look at their current career path. There are some who don’t even have a career path at the moment, such as those in the travel industry. I wanted to do something to help them make sense of this, and what comes next and so poured all my careers psychology know-how into a book that addresses just that.

I’ve got a lot out of writing it myself as it has kept me to a routine of writing in the mornings, much of which I’ve been doing out in the garden. Having this uninterrupted time has allowed me the space to really think about what I want to include and the opportunity to put it together. As well as lockdown itself, I’ve been going through a bereavement, and the pure act of writing has a lot of comfort in itself.”

The Career Pause and Pivot is available on Amazon.

Get down and dirty, like Pete.

Pete Maclaine is a news and portrait photographer but during this lockdown, Pete has been doing something he never thought he would: getting his hands dirty, growing vegetables.

“The idea came to me during the food shortages at the beginning of lockdown, it seemed so passive to sit there and rely on other people when we had all this space in the garden. I’d worked in a florist in the past, tending people’s balcony gardens, but nothing on this scale.” Pete has planted potatoes, cauliflowers, leeks, tomatoes, beetroot and carrots amongst others.

It’s brought out a whole new side of my personality. I am now very slug alert, and have a potting shed! I’ve also toned up and lost some weight with all the physical exercise, and I’ve enjoyed asking my Mum who is a keen gardener for her advice. The garden has become a big focus for me, I’ve bought myself an Infrared camera, and we can now see what the foxes get up to in the garden when we are asleep which has been huge fun.”

Sketch away the day, like Sophie.

Sophie Dique is a 17-year-old who has had her A levels cancelled on her. She’s spent her lockdown indulging her passion of art, painting her bedroom, drawing at the living room table and allowing herself to spend slow, lazy days just creating whatever she wants.

Her recent project has been to fill a notebook of artistic creations. Once finished, she has been uploading these onto a newly created Instagram account which you can find at @artbysophied.

This is the time Sophie would have spent studying for exams, stressed and anxious and instead, with an unconditional offer under her belt, she has been able to pour herself into creative work. She has experimented with new styles and materials including Gouache paint, and is quite happy to say that lockdown has been one of the best times of her life so far!

Get your business online, like Rachel.

Rachel McGuinness is a wellbeing consultant who has seen her business explode during this crisis.

Since it all began, I have launched an online wellbeing hub – workplace wellbeing for small to medium sized businesses. It was already planned to launch on 1 April and it did, however this crisis means that businesses are really realising that they need to look after the mental and physical wellbeing of their staff.

I’ve really enjoyed thinking on my feet, pivoting the business, looking at different opportunities and actioning ideas. Prospects and clients are very amenable at the moment because they want to do the right thing and look after their employees.

I’ve loved being in ‘flow state’ and being really proactive during this time.

It’s also changed the way I work. Whatever the new normal looks, I will certainly be doing fewer face to face meetings in London in the future as I’ve saved so much money and time during lockdown!”

Rachel’s business can be found here


We hope you found inspiration in the stories  shared by our fab five above. If you’d like to share your own story about a joy discovered during lockdown, please feel free to share it with us in the comments below!


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The “Inspiration of the Month” goes to…

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In lieu of my regular “Brand of the Month”, I’ve decided to feature inspirational individuals during these unprecedented times. This “Inspiration of the Month” goes to

Alessandro Michele

Photo: Shutterstock

Here’s why…

The Coronavirus has shaken a lot of industries, but Alessandro Michele, creative director of fashion powerhouse Gucci, is doing the shaking from the inside.

The pandemic has brought the non-stop carousel of the fashion world to a screeching halt. While the industry waits to resume its seamless rotation of spring/summer, autumn/winter, cruise and pre-fall shows, Michele has other plans for Gucci. In a recent virtual press conference, he announced that he will be limiting the number of fashion shows going forward, from five to two per year. Gucci will be stepping off of the carousel.

What I find interesting (and inspirational) here is the power of pause during the pandemic and its influence in this. In our Survive to Thrive Toolkit, Part II, we recently explored ways in which the pandemic offers us an opportunity to pause and examine our experience, to see what we can learn from these extraordinary times. What comes to the surface might just have the potential to bring about significant change.

We see exactly this in Michele’s “Notes from the Silence” entry, posted on Instagram on 29th March. In the post, he reveals doing a fair amount of reflecting during the lockdown, and this is starting to translate into radical action. Michele has come out in support of moving towards a leaner, more sustainable fashion culture, and his passion and purpose shine through in this post (and I personally love that Michele’s proclivity to flowery maximalism extends beyond his bold creations, what consistent branding!):


Michele has declared the fashion week calendar and labels like “Spring/summer” obsolete, stating “I think these are stale and underfed words … clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them.” Instead, Gucci will have “seasonless” collections twice a year.

The label will therefore be glaringly absent from the September catwalk, where it would have been a crown jewel of fashion week. Similarly, Saint Laurent, also owned by the Kering parent company, recently announced it would sit out Paris fashion week this September, as they are “conscious of the current circumstances and its waves of radical change”. Dries Van Noten has also led a number of independent designers in calling for an “overhaul of the industry”, with less shows and product.

While talk of drastic changes to the fashion industry have been going on for the past month, mega-labels have remained mostly silent…until now. As Gucci is the mightiest brand to come to the table, Michele’s announcement packs quite a punch, with real potential to create a sea change within the industry.

Michele has created a strong name for himself in the fashion world by bringing edgy culture into fashion and embracing gender fluidity (think the Harry Styles in pearl earrings and ruffles and the actor Jared Leto in a floor-length evening gown at the Met Gala). However, influencing sustainable development in the fashion world may just be his greatest contribution yet.


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From Survive to Thrive: A Toolkit for Getting Through Covid-19, Part II

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Dear Reader,

Welcome back to our toolkit, where we offer insights, questions and coping strategies to help us better survive and ultimately thrive during these challenging times.

In Part I (available here), we looked at very real issues that came with the pandemic: Coronavirus anxiety, dealing with change, isolation and other practical problems, and offered personality-specific guidance and coping strategies. A lot of this centred around the survival side of things; how to deal with this abrupt change and this new way of living and working.

In Part II, we are going to try to make sense of what we have all been going through, and see what we can learn about ourselves from these extraordinary times.  By examining our experience, we might discover another way of coping, one that allows us to move our focus past current fears and challenges to our personal growth.

In other words, we can move from survive to thrive.


Download the toolkit for free here:




Be safe out there everyone!



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My “Inspirational Story of the Month” goes to…

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In lieu of my regular “Brand of the Month”, I’ve decided to feature inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during these unprecedented times.
This “Inspiration of the Month” goes to

Captain Tom Moore

Here’s why…
This World War II veteran, promoted to Honorary Colonel by the Queen to mark his 100th birthday today, has captivated the nation after raising more than £30m for the NHS by completing 100 laps of his garden. He smashed his initial modest £1,000 target in just 24 hours.

But it’s more than that. Moore has become something of a national hero here in the UK. You may wonder, how could something so mundane like walking laps around the garden be considered heroic?

He’s symbolic

Archetypes, which are often used in branding, are “universal symbols” that may be a character, a theme, or even a setting. The Hero archetype represents the act of overcoming obstacles to achieve specific goals. In mythology, the hero’s objective is often to find a treasure or defeat a villain.

The villain today may be invisible, but a uniformed veteran with three medals on his chest serves as a strong visual cue we can attach to: the good guy taking action. Given our nation’s reverence for both the second world war and the NHS, Moore is indeed well co-branded.

A different kind of hero

In times of crises, we search out heroes. But not all heroes wear capes, as they say. Heroes act courageously, and the meaning of that courageous act is often defined by the spirit of the times. In Moore’s walking, we find an action that would ordinarily be considered mundane reflecting our current limitations. The battleground of the hero has changed.

Given the polarity within politics and the potential for reputational damage over social media, politicians unfortunately don’t make great hero material these days. Moore, however, keeps his politics to himself and doesn’t have a social media history.  Moreover, as the elderly are the most common victims of this invisible villain, it’s fitting that a 100-year-old has become the defiant, heroic face of the pandemic.

Passing the torch

Britain is a country in need of inspiration at the moment, and that’s what Moore has provided. His appeal spans generations, and he’s managed to inspire a following more commonly associated with Instagram influencers. He has inspired artistic tributes, from children sending homemade birthday cards to his local post office to street artists creating large scale murals and artists auctioning his portrait for charity.

Moore has inspired others to take the fundraising torch and courageously move past their limitations. Here are just a few remarkable individuals that Moore has personally inspired:

Moore’s birthday today has been marked by a flypast of a Spitfire and Hurricane from the RAF. The Royal Mail are also stamping all letters with a special message: “Happy 100th Birthday Captain Thomas Moore NHS fundraising hero 30th April 2020.” Downing Street has also suggested it will recognise his “heroic efforts” with an honour.

It certainly sounds like our Colonel Tom is well on his way to becoming a National Treasure.


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Why we need writing, now more than ever.

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I started writing this post “BC” (Before Coronavirus), with the intent of exploring how writing can influence our personal brands. It has since taken on a different shape and significance.

I’ve found journaling to be an invaluable tool during these exceptional times, particularly in processing the changes that are rapidly unfolding around us, and reflecting on my own learnings from these challenges. In addition to specifically exploring writing as a tool during this unique chapter in our lives, I’ve added an additional exercise at the end: the “Isolation Journal”.  If ever there was a time to chronicle our daily experiences, it’s surely now.


Journaling is a vastly under-rated practice. Absolutely free, it can be done almost anywhere. It’s been one of my top tools as a psychologist and personal brand consultant over the years.  I started doing my own morning journaling after it was assigned as a task during a writing course. It is a practice that was made popular after Julia Cameron included it in her book The Artist’s Way, where she called it the Morning Pages. According to Cameron, it is an activity that can help with artist’s or writer’s block, but journaling has also been prescribed by therapists and coaches for many years.

Benefits of journaling …why we need it now.

It’s cathartic
Of course, this is the main way writing serves as a therapeutic tool. Sometimes people aren’t around to help us talk through an issue, and sometimes we face problems we don’t even like to admit to people. Writing gives us the ability to create a private space for these thoughts, and having the space to write about them and perhaps analyse them from a different angle can give us some clarity. Frustrations related to working at home, worry about vulnerable friends or family still going to the shops, or even concern regarding the larger situation may be things you wish to keep private, but they are still there all the same. Think of writing as venting or even “sweating out” your worries or concerns. By getting them on paper, it can help us process these thoughts or feelings and “stare them down”. In this way, these issues are less likely to manifest as obstacles down the line.

It helps problem-solve
Building on the above, sometimes the very act of writing something down can help us see a way through. Some find it helpful to write the pros and cons of a situation, or list out potential solutions to navigating an obstacle or difficult situation. It can also helpful  to “map out” what personal attributes you’d like to exude in the face of the problem. Who would you like to be in this situation that is true to your authentic personal brand?  What values can serve as a compass in the situation, and what strengths can you draw from?

It’s grounding
The ritual of writing can be very grounding, relaxing and comforting, particularly during times of uncertainty. It can also become a habit that is incorporated into a routine or even help to bookend your schedule. Make it into a ritual that you really love – perhaps journal with your favourite mug and a really good coffee, or buy yourself some beautiful notebooks. You could do it in bed in the morning, luxuriating a little longer before hitting the day, or unwinding before you go to sleep. It really is an activity that you can tailor to suit you, and one that can stay with you throughout your life, perhaps helping you chart how your own personal brand changes with your age and experiences.

It’s revealing
It takes a little time, but as you write daily you may notice themes, patterns, habits, and values emerging in your writing. It could be that your thoughts continuously turn to a certain situation or person, or that you notice that you are harbouring resentments but never able to say them out loud. This type of noticing also gives us insight into our own habits and patterns, for example if we are drinking more than we’d like or spending too much time on social media. Certain values might also emerge; the things are important to us – like fairness or creativity – might be important sides to our personal brand. Even if you don’t go back and read your journal you can often pick these themes up by noticing “oh I’m writing about that again.”

“Morning pages map our own interior.
Without them our creative dreams may remain terra incognita.”

Julia Cameron

It fosters creativity
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron cites many stories of people who have changed their lives by writing the Morning Pages, such as a man who took up the guitar after years of not playing.

Even if you’ve never thought of yourself as creative, you may notice that a little creativity starts trickling in. You might start off by writing about mundane things like downloading all the bits and pieces you are going to do that week, but end up writing a little narrative, or a silly poem about the bloke you fancy. Just roll with it and have some fun.

Of course, if you are being deliberately creative, like writing a book, journaling activities like the Morning Pages can be a great way to “warm up” your creative muscle, and even create content without even trying.  As I prefer to write in Word, I sometimes cut and paste anything I think has merit and relevance into my book document. And presto, I may have written another couple of hundred words I could use in my manuscript before the day has really begun (this is more of a by-product than an intention!).

Journaling How To’s:

Next, let’s take a look at how to start journaling. There are no hard and fast rules, apart from following what feels right for you.

As mentioned, I personally prefer journaling in a Word document, however others prefer a notebook or plain paper, with pens, pencils, fell pens, etc. Julia Cameron’s suggestion is that the Morning Pages be written by hand as she believes the very physical act of the hand on the page helps unleash creativity. Others might prefer using journaling Apps, of which there are a number:  Momento, Daylio, Grid Diary, Moodnotes, Penzu and Five Minute Journal, and even one called Morning Pages!

You can save it (and read at a later date if you desire), or you can just do it and chuck it away.

You can journal in the morning, like me, which gives you space to contemplate the day, process events the day before, or even process dreams. I find it helpful to avoid news, email or social media before writing. I write off the top of my head, downloading any brain chatter in more of a “stream of consciousness” approach.

You can just as easily journal in the evening, as a reflection on your day, or midday when you have some fee time during  your lunch break.

Some like to start writing for a set amount of time, words, or pages, and don’t stop until they reach their goal.  This is a helpful guideline, but not a hard and fast rule.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter if you write utter garbage, as this is meant for your eyes only — and it’s the process that’s valuable, not necessarily the output. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes, formatting or grammar if you don’t want to. You can do what you like, perhaps even doodling in your notebook, adding illustrations or a mind-map if you like.

Writing Exercises

Exercise 1: Trying on the Morning Pages

Write as close to waking up as you can manage, preferably before you engage with the outside world through news, emails, or social media. Decide beforehand how and where you are going to do your writing and what your measure or target is going to be, if you have one. Scribble down (or type out) whatever comes to your mind, even if you think it’s just dribble. Do not go back and re-read or edit your work.

If needed, some writing prompts might include:

  • What can you observe around you in the present moment?
  • What are you feeling and/or thinking?
  • What are you worried about?
  • What did you dream last night?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What did you do yesterday?
  • What are you planning to do today?
  • What are you looking forward to?

Commit to doing it for at least a week. You may be surprised by the results!

Again, this is just for you.

Exercise 2: Keep an “Isolation Journal”

The aim of this diary is to chronicle your unique experience during a very unique time in our lives.

You may wish to write about the challenges each day brings, the rules or parameters by which you now must live, or perhaps your feelings about the wider situation. You may find yourself choosing not to focus on the wider pandemic and instead gravitating towards a more intimate account,  just chronicling how Covid-19 is specifically affecting your life and those around you.

Resist a rigid structure or rules for writing. Allow yourself to experiment and be playful with your writing.

Some writing prompts if needed:

  • What’s happening to you?
  • How are you feeling in this moment?
  • What has been taken away?
  • What has been gained or discovered?
  • What are you grateful for? *
  • What are your larger fears
  • What are your daily worries?
  • What are your hopes for the future?
  • What do you miss about life “BC” (Before Coronavirus)?
  • What are you discovering about yourself?
  • Who would you like to be coming out of this?

*Another tool to consider is a gratitude list. Each day, list out all the things you are grateful for.

There’s no pressure to keep up this diary, the aim is to try to keep at it while isolating. If it carries on, great.

Whatever shape your writing takes at the moment, you might find that it not only becomes a great coping tool, for the present, but also a real gift to yourself for the future.

So keep calm and write on everyone!


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The “Inspiration of the Month” goes to…

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In lieu of my regular “Brand of the Month”, I’ve decided to feature inspirational individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during these unprecedented times.
My first “Inspiration of the Month” goes to

Joe Wicks 

Here’s why…
By now, you’ve probably heard about Wicks, also known as The Body Coach,  and his online fitness sessions. To help kids stay active during the UK lockdown, Wicks is currently hosting live fitness classes for children on his YouTube channel. In the first two days of offering his programme, Wicks’ YouTube channel, The Body Coach TV, had more than five million viewers.


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Words can’t express how happy and proud I have felt every day this week as the nations P.E. teacher. I’ve been overwhelmed with the response and the support it’s had from everyone. ❤️ As a result of so many people viewing the #PEWithJoe workouts on YouTube the advertising revenue generated has been unlike anything I’ve seen or experienced on my channel before. So I’ve decided that as long as I’m the nations P.E. teacher, every single penny of the money generated on these videos is going to the place where we need it the most right now. All of it is going straight to the NHS, to support the real heroes right now. Thank you for watching, joining in and sharing… I’m loving being your P.E. Teacher and now you can watch again, knowing you’re not only staying fit, you’re also helping raise money for the NHS. See you Monday at 9am 😃

A post shared by Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach) on


“It’s about giving people that 30 minutes in the morning to get up off the sofa, move your body and get your heart pumping.” He went on to say that “this isn’t about getting people lean, it’s about saying, ‘Do this today to feel good’. Then, when your kids sit down to do some academic work, they’re energised and mentally prepared for a lesson at home.”

Wicks shared that his channel had seen advertising revenue “unlike anything I’ve seen or experienced on my channel before”. He is therefore donating “every single penny” of money made by his online sessions during the coronavirus pandemic to the NHS:

“So I’ve decided that as long as I’m the nations P.E. teacher, every single penny of the money generated on these videos is going to the place where we need it the most right now. All of it is going straight to the NHS, to support the real heroes right now.”

Before finding fame on YouTube, Wicks originally trained to be a PE teacher at St Mary’s University. He has now become the (virtual) PE teacher for the entire UK during a time when staying activity and healthy couldn’t be more important.

We at Golden Notebook salute you, Joe.  THANK YOU!


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From Survive to Thrive: A Toolkit for Getting Through Covid-19 , Part I

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Dear Reader,

We at Golden Notebook have decided to do what we can, and have created a quick and dirty toolkit to help us deal with the changes that are occurring almost hourly. This part of the toolkit will look at the very real issues that are affecting us right now: Coronavirus anxiety, dealing with change, isolation, and other practical problems. In addition to general tools to manage these challenges, we also offer insights and tools specific to your personality type. 

We hope this toolkit will not only help you as an individual, but also allow you to better understand why and how others might be coping around you, and provide some insight into how we can help each other.


Download the toolkit for free here:



Be safe out there everyone!


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One man’s journey to discovering his authentic personal brand

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This month’s guest post is a story of inspiration. It’s a story that encourages us to step back and look at where our compass is truly pointed. Following it takes courage, but you may just find this journey realigns your brand, providing it with direction, purpose, passion, vision, and values direction.

Our guest blogger, David Harden, started travelling aged sixteen when he hitch-hiked to Greece from London during a school summer holiday. After leaving school he set out from the UK to travel overland to Australia, but only made it as far as Afghanistan.

Returning home he went studied Management and Engineering before carving out a career in the car industry.

(But) After spending fifteen years in the corporate world he returned to what drives him forward, namely taking photographs and recording ambient sounds, interviews and narratives which he publishes on his personal blog – Travelwornsatchel.com.

Here’s his inspirational story.

It was not a straightforward journey nor a particularly quick one. However, after about a year I can say I got there.

But let’s start at the beginning. The very beginning. I’ve always thought I had a creative streak in me. As a young boy you are not aware nor inhibited by the labels adults like to define you and each other by. To me, being creative was just ‘doing stuff’.

I got my first reel-to-reel tape recorder when I was seven-years-old and an old box brownie camera the following Christmas. My earlier years consisted of many happy hours with my mates recording dramas that we devised which, on reflection, seem to be solely about battling the forces of evil in one guise or another.

Around the same age I spent hours in the local library fuelling my curiosity for far flung countries and cultures. And from that early age I decided that I was going to travel the world recording people and taking pictures. But then life got in the way. Or to be more precise, the education system got in the way, which in my day, restrained creativity to an hour’s art class a week.

Don’t get me wrong, school was good. I enjoyed learning, so much so that I did not notice how less often I was ‘doing stuff’. Later, I was like most other students at university, intent on maximising social enjoyment whilst minimising academic effort. And before I knew it I had gestated into a corporate worker bee.

Soon enough I met a wonderful women and together we had a couple of children. At the same time my career steadily progressed. I worked as an engineering and commercial development manager for a well-known car brand. I do remember once being told by a boss that I had a ‘creative’ approach to my work. It wasn’t meant as a complement. In the car industry the ‘old ways’ were the only ways.

When the children were growing up we encouraged them to be both creative and expressive. And through that wonderful period in a child’s life when experimenting is all, it slowly dawned on me that I was vicariously being creative through our children.

So I bought a camera, started taking photos and began looking at the world in that slightly different way I had so long before. Still, it began to niggle that the photos I took just languished unseen on SD cards. It felt like I hadn’t quite closed the circle.

The vibrant Kalasha community in Pakistan. Photo by David Harden

In parallel with the children getting older and more independent, my small area of expertise took off and with it my reputation and status within the industry. So I set out on my own as a consultant, quickly becoming very busy as I became known as a ‘creative’ problem solver. I was working full-time, often travelling and generally enjoying the sense of freedom working for yourself gives. But, to me at least, that sense of freedom was illusory inasmuch as I was working just as hard as I had when employed full-time.

Then over a few months the stars began to align. The children had all but left home; the mortgage was paid off and I was just finishing a tough assignment working on a project for a Chinese company. On my last flight back to the UK from China I decided it was time to step back. I would work on fewer, shorter and smaller projects so that I could use the time in between to get back to ‘doing stuff’.

I didn’t know it at the time but that became the first stage in weening myself off work entirely.  Between projects I managed to travel for extended periods through those countries I had read about so long before. I spent weeks making my way across Uzbekistan on one trip. Travelling through Iran on another and further afield to South East Asia on yet another. All the time writing notes, taking pictures and recording sounds.

Eventually, I stopped accepting any projects in order to dedicate my time to work on project ‘doing stuff’.

Kalasha woman in Pakistan. Photo by David Harden

But stepping back was not as easy as I may have made it sound. For me stepping back was not so much about risk (loss of income) but more overcoming conditioning. I don’t know if it’s a ‘man-thing’ but during your working life it is easy to be defined by your job. To give an example. Often when meeting someone new you are asked what do you do for a living. Up until a few months ago, I would always tell people what I used to do rather than what I am actually doing. Which for the past year or so has been travelling (Pakistan, overland through Bulgaria and Turkey), taking pictures, recording sounds, producing podcasts and creating my own personal blog.

But now I’m here. I now allow my mind to wander. I daydream. I stare out of the window and revel in the joy of watching trees swaying gently in the wind and autumn leaves dancing on a cold breeze instead of wishing I was somewhere else.

As I’ve already said, it was not a straightforward journey nor a particularly quick one. At times it felt like I took two steps forward and one back, but to my mind that was still going in the right direction.

Knowing what I know now, would I have done anything different when I was younger? Well, of course, 20:20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. But, to be honest I’m too busy ‘doing stuff’ to worry about it.



To learn more about David Harden, his inspirational work, vibrant photos and to discover his ambient sounds, visit Travelwornsatchel.com.




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The “Brand of the Month” goes to…

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Each month I give my verdict on who has shown the world an interesting and distinctive brand. My latest Personal Brand of the Month goes to

Billie Eilish

After picking up five Grammys, landing the coveted James Bond theme (the youngest singer to get the gig) and sending it straight to #1 in the charts, Billie Eilish is having a moment.

Her hauntingly beautiful voice, unique personal style and refreshing authenticity certainly make her brand a distinct and memorable one.

But what caught my attention this month was a recent interview with Louise Minchin on BBC Breakfast.

No Time to Die can be purchased here: https://amzn.to/2VeNcKp.

In the interview, Eilish spoke out about the impact of social media on her well-being, particularly the negative comments on Instagram, where she has around 55 million followers. She shared that she made the decision to no longer look at her followers’ comments. “I stopped reading comments fully because it was ruining my life,” she said. “Once again.”

She continued, “It’s weird, the cooler things you get to do are, the most people hate you. It’s crazy.”

Eilish was being interviewed alongside her brother Finneas O’Connell, who co-wrote No Time To Die, the new Bond track.

Billie Eilish The Ultimate Fan Book can be purchased here: https://amzn.to/2SRDbBn

“The internet is a bunch of trolls. A problem is that a lot of it is really funny. I think that’s the issue, I think that’s why nobody really stops.”

Eilish highlights a growing concern. We’ve recently seen how the toxic side of media has impacted Meghan and Harry, and more tragically, Caroline Flack. While the media’s invasive and negative side has long been a societal woe, social media opens up a whole new can of trolls, cyberbullying, fake news and witch hunts. It’s now well known that young people and those with underlying mental health issues are particularly vulnerable.

Given that social media is an important part of personal branding, how do  we stop its dark side?

The first step is for us to raise awareness around these issues and do exactly what Eilish did, speak out.


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Swipe-rightable branding: Making your best first impression online

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It’s the big V-day, so we’re taking a look at using your personal brand to find that special someone online. Part of whether Cupid will strike online is down to chance of course. That numbers game. But there’s part of it that’s down to what you can control: your personal brand.

Our guest blogger this month is Lucy Williams, founder of My Heart Skipped photography. Lucy is passionate about helping people to quickly transform their online dating experience with authentic portraits that attract amazing people. Here she shares her top pointers on how to get noticed online.

Here’s Lucy…

It’s estimated that 1 in 3 couples now start their relationships online. It’s where over half of us will meet our potential future partners by 2031 (eHarmony).  Whatever your thoughts on online dating you can’t ignore that it’s a great place to meet someone, but with over seven million of us using online dating in the UK, how do you make sure your online dating profile is one of the ones that stands out?

Here are three easy ways you can enhance your dating profile…

1. Professional Photos

As a professional dating photographer one of the questions I get asked most is ‘do people actually pay for their photos?’ Yes, they do, And with amazing results. I couldn’t quite believe it myself when I first started offering the service! If you are serious about a) meeting someone like-mined who you connect with, and b) not wasting hours and hours on online dating sites, then having professional photos is the top way you can boost your online dating profile.

A good professional photographer will go to great lengths to help you feel relaxed in front of the camera. I particularly love taking time and building a connection with my clients because I believe that is what gets the ‘real’ you across in your photos.

Professional photographers are also adept at noticing all aspects of your photos from what’s happening in the background to whether your outfits are sitting right. They’ll give you a range of photographs from headshots to full length, and most importantly they’ll give you a set of photos that are visually interesting and eye-catching. Photos that will stop potential dates in their tracks and invite them to click on your profile. We all know the phrase ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ and nowhere is that more true than on online dating. You have literally seconds to have your photo clicked on, so make sure it’s a great one!

I already have photos but don’t know which to use…
Choose well-lit photos with you central in the frame and aim to use smiling photos that look friendly which are statistically the most attractive on online dating. Try to avoid selfies, photos where you can’t really see your face (sunglasses/ hats/ too far away etc) or ‘tiger-stroking’. 😉

If you are getting a friend to take some shots for you then choose locations that have good natural light. Make sure you check out what is happening in the background and avoid visual distractions like lots of people, trees/ lamp posts appearing out of your head, photo bombers, etc.!

A good tip is to use at least four or five pictures including a close-up or mid-length photo as your ‘opening’ portrait, a full length photo which shows your body shape, a mid-length of you in a different outfit or location, and a ‘conversation-starter’ photo like you doing an activity you love or amongst a group of friends (ensure you are visible in this shot and that you stand out).

I hate myself in photos
If I had a pound for every time someone has said this to me…

I do understand. Unfortunately, it’s a necessity for online dating so take a deep breath and trust that your photographer will take the time to make sure you are looking at your best and that the photos reflect who you are.

I need to…. lose weight / get fit / buy new clothes, etc. before I book a shoot
This is an entirely personal choice of course, though do bear in mind that it could also be a way of avoiding getting on with dating. Often, we never feel ready for photos, especially ones that are for attracting a date! In my experience your smile and how friendly you look are what will most attract those matches.

Where should I have my photoshoot?
Somewhere you love to go can be a great place to start. Consider the kind of person you’d like to meet, will they be someone urban, arty, outdoorsy, sporty, etc.? If so, choosing locations that may subconsciously speak to them can also make your photos more appealing. Natural light is often best for portrait photos so think outdoors with interesting or non-specific backdrops.

If you are having a professional shoot make sure you discuss locations with your photographer as they’ll have plenty of ideas of places that will work well for your pictures and give you lots of variation in shots.

Do professional photos look too professional?
Professional photos are well-exposed and visually attracting. They will look natural and help you stand out. I guarantee that potential dates won’t suspect (or care) that you’ve had a professional shoot, especially when it’s led to them finding you.

2) An inviting written profile

Once you have photos that are making potential dates stop and take notice, you’ll need to put together a bit of blurb that enhances the picture they are building of you. Most people find this difficult to do! On Tinder you’ll need just a paragraph, on other dating sites you may need lots of paragraphs. Do fill them all in.

My top tip for enhancing your written profile is to embellish.

Instead of writing ‘I like to cook, read books and do yoga’ consider WHY you like those things. Here’s where your personal brand can really come out.

‘I love cooking especially Italian food to share. In my spare time I like reading, the last book I read was ‘How to be more Pirate’ which gave me lots of useful insights!! Once a week I do yoga, it’s amazing how zen it makes me feel for the rest of the week’.

I just wrote that quickly, but you get the idea. Already it’s starting to tell a story of who you are, how you live your life, invites somebody in (who can resist sharing Italian food?) and, most importantly, gives a potential date lots of ways to open a conversation with you.

3. Update your profile regularly

After all that hard work putting your online dating profile together, it’s tempting to never change it…BUT online dating works best when you do! Changes indicate to the dating app that your profile is active so, even when you make small adjustments, the algorithms will ensure you’ll come up higher in new searches.

Changes can include swapping in one photo for another or altering words in your profile. Having a wide selection of images helps because you can use different photos across a variety of dating apps and also changeover photos on one dating app to keep your profile looking fresh and ‘up there’ in the searches. Some dating sites also give you questions to answer, if you can fill in one a day that will really help keep your profile visible.

Thanks Lucy! When it comes to online dating, perhaps a picture really is worth a thousand words!




Lucy Williams is a portrait photographer who offers eye-catching online dating photography and support with writing natural, engaging dating profiles. She founded My Heart Skipped photography in 2010 and initially photographed couples and weddings before falling in love with dating portrait photography.




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