The Journey 2020 The Journey Blog

A Segue

A few people reading this may be aware that upon returning to NZ, Lydia and I decided to list our spare room on Airbnb. We got the idea from our good friend Hayden who has had his guest room listed on the platform for a couple of years and has really enjoyed being a host while also being able to earn a little extra money (without having someone sharing his space all the time like a full-time flatmate would).

Fortunately for us, Hayden has worked as a photographer for the last decade or so and, when I mentioned to him that I’d like to set up a listing, he offered to take our photos for us – and, wow, did they come out great or what.

With the photos in hand, I spent an evening writing a thorough description of the property that included everything I thought I would want to know if I was booking in at ‘A Lion’s Roar from the Zoo’ (you can quite literally hear the lions from our place!) We almost exclusively stayed in private room Airbnb’s during our travels through the UK and Europe so I was able to able to draw on that experience too while I was putting the listing together.

Within 24 hours of listing our place, we were booked out by 3 different groups for the next 10 days and it hasn’t slowed down since! It’s been a great experience being able to play a small part in people’s travels over the summer holidays with guests coming from a wide variety of places. Given the initial success of our listing and the enjoyment I get out of it, it got me thinking that Hayden and I could be doing this for other people. I’m betting there’s a lot of people out there who would be great hosts and have a lot of fun doing it but don’t have the time to invest into setting up a great listing.

So, I’m really stoked to announce that Hayden and I are launching Big Air Limited – a social enterprise focussing on setting up high-quality and highly-effective Airbnb listings. Big Air specialises in listing spare rooms and guest-houses which wouldn’t be traditional candidates for an ordinary rental. We want to be doing our part to help put an extra dollar or two in the back-pocket of ordinary Kiwi’s while also making a contribution to solving NZ’s housing crisis. In the early days, 10% of all sales will be donated to the Wellington Night Shelter and we will be looking to scale this up as we become more established.

We completed our initial pilot, worked through a few teething issues, and were stoked with the results our first customer experienced. So now, we’re looking to get things moving with the next stage of our pilot.

If you’re interested in listing an Airbnb with us or finding out more about Big Air, you can visit:

We are super excited as Big Air fits neatly alongside side our other work commitments and we feel this is a great way to make a difference in Wellington and, in due course, across New Zealand as a whole.

If you’re reading this (and got this far!), we would really appreciate a follow on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages and if you could keep us in mind for anyone who could make use of our services. Thanks in advance for your support.

The Journey 2020 The Journey Blog

Identifying Skills

Last week I wrote about acknowledging the skills that I have and, following on from that, identifying the skills I think I need to learn (and, therefore, identifying my skill-gaps and weaknesses). All of the skills I wrote about were practical ‘hard’ skills (building spreadsheets, building websites, learning various cloud platforms etc.) but I think the soft skills are equally important to acknowledge – both the strengths and the weaknesses.

One really important tool that I have been introduced to is the Emotional Culture Deck by Riders&Elephants. A few weeks ago I caught up with Lotty Robertswho taught me that the deck, normally used within organisations and teams of people, could also be used for my own self-employment journey to help me work out the feelings that I need to feel to succeed and also acknowledge the feelings that I don’t want to feel but are inevitable in life.

The first step was to choose the 5 most relevant cards to me which fell under the heading, ‘My success relies on feeling this’. My answer in order of importance was 1) understanding, 2) welcome, 3) engaged, 4) empathetic, and 5) involved.

Then, having explained why I chose those cards, I completed the same task for the heading, ‘I don’t want to feel this way (but I might from time to time)’. My answer in order of importance was 1) disheartened, 2) alone, 3) doubt, 4) impatient, and 5) unwelcome. Funnily enough, they’re close to a perfect opposite of the way I need to feel in order to succeed so it’s crucial that I come up with ways of identifying when I’m feeling any of these negative feelings and, furthermore, develop strategies for coping and overcoming these feelings.

Having completed the Emotional Culture Deck session, Lotty provided me with a copy of The Emotional Culture Deck Toolkit for homework (!) a great document for reflecting and expanding on the work I’d already one with the deck. The Toolkit gets you to dig deeper into your chosen cards by asking questions like: 1) my success relies on feeling.. 2) I feel this when.. 3) to feel this more often I need to.. and 4) I won’t feel this if people.. By answering these questions, I’m able to start working out how to know when I’m feeling disheartened (as I know that I will sometimes) and then know what to do when I recognise I’m feeling that way.

Then there are a couple of questions which encourage reflection about skills you’re trying to learn (very appropriate for me at this stage of my life!) and habits you’re trying to break.

All in all, I think the session with Lotty helped me to realise the kind of environment I need to be in to create successful outcomes for myself and my customers – very worthwhile and highly recommended! You can check out Lotty’s work here: and find our more about The Emotional Culture Deck here: 

The Journey 2020 The Journey Blog

Welcome to 2020

Wow, and just like that we’re in 2020 – somehow it still doesn’t seem that long ago that it was the early 2000’s. Awfully cliche, but it must be said!

As I spoke about in my previous blog post, I recently decided to set up Seedling Consulting – an independent consultancy with the ultimate goal of growing NZ’s social enterprise sector. Part of my journey right now is identifying the skills I already have as well as focussing on learning and building out my own capabilities. I have to say, it can difficult to know where to start!

Fortunately, there’s no better time for reflection than the New Year and I’ve been able to do a lot of thinking as I’ve been doing my various jobs around the house. From painting fences to weeding to dog-proofing our house (photos of dog to follow later on!), it’s been a busy few weeks which has meant a lot of time for thinking! 

So, as a result of all this thinking as well as fighting with my typically-kiwi, built-in ‘tall poppy’ syndrome, I have identified some key skills! The obvious opportunity for me to assist businesses is with their banking and finance – think tailored packages of spreadsheets & information that can be provided to your bank or maybe take it back a notch and just think, “what can my bank even do for me?” I also have a head for operations, administration, and research – I’m not trying to be a specialist in anything right now but a jack-of-all-trades who can ease a multitude of different stresses within any business.

In the name of being a generalist, I’m committing myself to learning a bunch of different cloud platforms that I may need to use such as Xero, Trello, and Shopify. In fact, mucking round on Shopify and working out how to code a website is one of more frequent past-times right now – I am loving the creative challenge overlaid with the technical nature of building a website. I’ve unexpectedly realised this is an area I’m really interested in helping small businesses with!

I’m also committed to learning about digital marketing and have been learning A LOT from the wonderful Google Digital Garage platform – check out the ‘Fundamentals of Digital Marketing’ course if you’re keen to know more.

And that’s not even talking about the soft skills that I have and that I know I will need during this journey. I expect I’m going to learn a lot about myself and how I can best work with others. More on this next week!

P.S. Really keen to hear recommendations from anyone on other cloud platforms I should be looking into!

The Journey 2019 The Journey Blog

Seedling Consulting

Since getting home to Wellington in early-November, I have had a lot of coffee with a lot of amazing people. I am incredibly humbled by the way in which everyone has responded to the news that I’ve moved into the world of self-employment.

My LinkedIn post which announced my intentions to ‘go out on my own’ was incredibly vague – mainly because when I wrote that post I was still working out how I could best work toward my goal of growing social enterprise in New Zealand. When I asked myself how I could add the most value to the social enterprises I’m wanting to work with, I realised it was a pretty difficult question to answer. Luckily, I have met a lot of wise people in the last few years who have been more than happy to help me answer this question (side note: asking for help is working so far). So, while I’m definitely still working out how I can be the best version of myself and add the most value to the businesses delivering the Good round here – I do have a much better idea of how things are going to look.

At this stage, my consulting business has a name, Seedling Consulting Limited, a LinkedIn page (with one follower – me!), a very basic Google My Business website (I’m patiently waiting for address verification so that I can actually start editing things properly (edit 31/01/20: I’ve now got a proper website!), and a broad scope of work:

  1. Helping people establish new social enterprises, and
  2. Helping people transition their existing enterprise into social enterprise, and
  3. Helping socially-focussed businesses with project work.

I’m calling these the three pillars of Seedling Consulting. At this stage, I’m looking at building out the 3rd pillar while I work on how I can succeed with the first two pillars which would ultimately help me achieve my goal of growing NZ’s social enterprise sector. 

It would be fair to say it’s early days.. but, of course, I have to start somewhere.

Now, the intention of this blog is definitely not to be a sales pitch but, that being said, if you’ve read those last few paragraphs and thought that you could use an extra pair of hands or help on a project – let me know and we can chat in the New Year.

Lastly, to anyone reading this, Happy Holidays – have a safe and restful break and I hope you all welcome in the next decade with gusto!

I’ll be returning with my next blog post on Friday 3rd January, 2020! See you all next year.

The Journey 2019 The Journey Blog

A new beginning

Prior to departure for my OE back in May 2019, I was sure I would be heading back to work when I returned to NZ. Many people enquired whether I would actually be returning and I quite confidently confirmed that I would be.

What I didn’t expect is that the experiences I had while travelling would change the way I thought about things as well as changing the very things I thought about. It’s terribly cliche but travelling had an incredible way of encouraging me to reflect and reorganise my priorities.

At the time of writing, it has been six weeks since we touched back down in New Zealand and I can quite honestly say they’ve been some of the best six weeks of my life. These weeks have been busy – I think I’m currently busier than I have ever been before – but they have also been incredibly fulfilling (and it’s only early days in my search for meaning and fulfilment!).

But why am I writing this?

A couple of weeks back, I caught up with Chris Desmond (shout out to Chris!) and he encouraged me to put myself outside my comfort zone – Chris has a saying that ‘uncomfortable is okay!’ (also the name of his podcast) and challenged me to write a weekly blog about my journey.

So, here I am, writing my first ever blog post to hold myself accountable and, some day down the road (when I’ve hopefully achieved some good stuff in the world of Good), to give myself the opportunity to reflect on the journey through the words in these blog posts. 

So, how’s the journey going so far? That’s next weeks post!