Pamela Wilson

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Lessons Learned from the Land Down Under

A few weeks ago, I flew to Australia on the invitation of Darren Rowse and the Problogger team. I spoke at Darren’s Problogger Training Event, which took place at the beautiful RACV Royal Pines resort on Australia’s Gold Coast.

This post is an excuse to share my photos — and my experiences — with you.

I want to share a few lessons I picked up: I think you’ll find them as valuable as I did. There’s a mix of business and life lessons — some profound, and some very simple.

Enjoy.

Do things that scare you, Part 1

I have to confess: I was NOT looking forward to the 15-hour flight. At all. And if it wasn’t for the invitation to speak at this event, there’s a very good chance that I never would have made that flight.

I mean, look at this face. This is me, getting off the four-hour flight to Los Angeles, ready to transfer to the plane that would fly me over the Pacific for fifteen hours.

Do I look excited?

1-flight

But this is me once we landed in Sydney (my husband was with me on the trip).

This is the face of someone who confronted her fears head on, and triumphed! It’s also the face of a sleep-deprived person, but that’s nothing a nap and some coffee won’t cure.

2-flightLessons learned: Face your fears. Do what scares you. Travel is always worth the effort.

Don’t be afraid to be iconic

Once you arrive in Sydney, you discover it’s hard not to stare at the Sydney Opera House. It’s an incredibly audacious design:

soh-1

And it looks great from every angle, even close up:

soh-3

And at dawn:

soh-4

And at night:

soh-5

You really can’t take a bad photo of this place!

The funny thing is that this incredible icon that represents Sydney around the world had a troubled history. The architect selected ended up resigning from the project, and it was finally finished ten years late, and 1,457% over budget.

And yet, look at it:

soh-2

All is forgiven and forgotten when you have an end result like that.

Lessons learned: Push the envelope and don’t be afraid to be different, especially if it expresses your true self. Hang on to your vision and persist on your quest, despite the challenges along the way.

See the unusual in the everyday

Birds. You see them wherever you live, right?

But the birds I saw in Australia were just a little different.

birds-1More colorful. More tropical, like this cockatoo, which you can find all over Sydney.

birds-2

And they’re friendly. Like this guy who became my best friend one evening at an outdoor café. (OK, I may have tossed him a few crumbs from my plate.)

birds-3Lessons learned: Keep your eyes open and see the beauty in the everyday things all around you.

Do things that scare you, Part 2

Once I arrived at the Problogger event later in the week, I had to shore up my courage to enter room after room full of energetic and friendly people, 99.9% of whom I’d never seen in my life.

group-1

This can feel quite daunting! But I was happy for every conversation I struck up, and every connection I made. I now have a pile of business cards on my desk, and a “heap” of new friends.

Lessons learned: Everyone else feels as intimidated as you do, so reach out, grab a hand, shake, and start talking and listening. You’ll be glad you did.

Enjoy good coffee

A few days into the trip, it struck me: Australians know their coffee.

There’s a long history of Italian and Greek immigrants in Australia, and they brought their coffee know-how and culture to the country.

coffee

They don’t just know how to make coffee. They know how to enjoy it, too. Coffee isn’t something you slurp out of a take-out cup while rushing to your next appointment. It’s something you stop, sit, and enjoy every sip of.

Lessons learned: Life moves too fast. Find an excuse to slow down, enjoy, and drink in the moment.

Do things that scare you, Part 3

If you’d told me five years ago that I’d be getting up on a stage almost once a month to address a group that had gathered to hear me speak, I never would have believed you.

As a matter of fact, public speaking was high on my list of Things That Terrified Me.

Actually? It was at the top of that list!

But at some point in the last few years, I remembered back to my high school days. I attended a large high school (2,500 students) and was elected student body president when I was just 17 years old.

That meant that on a regular basis and at a young age, I found myself standing on stage in front of a mic addressing huge groups of people.

I’m not sure what happened between those brave teenage years and adulthood, but somehow I became cautious to the point of limiting what I thought I could do.

A few years ago, I decided it was time to get over this fear. And I’m glad I did.

Lesson learned: Look back and recognize the courage you’ve shown in the past. That courage is still inside you! You can tap into it at any time. Don’t let the years you live make you scared to try new things.

Reflect, remember, relate

My trip to Australia was amazing on so many levels. I had the pleasure to spend time with online friends I’d never met in person, like Jacqueline Stone:

jacqui

And Siita Rivas:

siita

I pushed myself to do things I wasn’t sure I was capable of, like flying across the Pacific and back, and addressing a large group of people for almost an hour … two days in a row.

I stretched myself, and my world expanded. And it was worth every bit of the preparation, time, and effort spent.

Lessons learned: When you have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, take some time to reflect and record what you’ve learned so you can carry it forward into the rest of your life.

Share your thoughts in the comments

This post is a little different than what I usually write about on Big Brand System.

Did you enjoy it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section. 🙂

Pamela Wilson

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36 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from the Land Down Under”

  1. LOVE this post and LOVED meeting you and having lunch together!! And LOVE your lessons… My whole trip was an exercise in doing the things that scare me!!

    Look forward to more such posts that brim with personal touches with actionable takeaways for our businesses as well!

    • It was so wonderful to meet you, Prerna … you were the first attendee I spoke to!

      Lovely to spend some time together and meet in person at last. Congratulations for the enormous effort you made to attend!

  2. Sydney is a beautiful place isn’t it?

    Love the “before” and “after” photos of your daunting plane ride — nice touch of humour there!

  3. How fun! I can relate to this in so many ways.

    I have to agree with you about the exotic looking birds in AUS – ones we put in cages here 🙁 AND the coffee. Oh the coffee. Long Black, please. And, “Hello Siita! Looking good!”

    • I miss that coffee so much.

      I’m now on a quest to find the brand that comes closest in my local supermarket, and work on my preparation skills. Much caffeine shall be consumed in the process, I’m sure!

  4. The most valuable part of this post, for me, is feeling the power of the personal story. In this case, yours. There is something real about it. Something authentic. And in a busy world, these details “aren’t producing business results”, so we leave them out. And this becomes a habit. Thanks for sharing with us your struggles and triumphs, even going back to HS class president. It was also cool to hear your husband got to go.

    • Thank you, Jeff! This is the type of fare I tend to serve up in my Weekend Digest newsletter, but I’m happy to share with a larger audience this time. 🙂

  5. Great post Pamela. Now I need to face my greatest fears: Is it too much work?, and Can I ever get enough exposure? Thanks for the boost.

  6. It was great to catch up Pam. I’m so glad you had a great time and you discovered the wonders of our coffee!

    Note: Melbourne’s coffee is better 🙂

    • I can’t imagine any coffee being better … but I am willing to fly 19 hours to find out for myself! Thanks for stopping by, Shayne.

  7. This is a truly great post Pamela, so thank you so much for writing it.
    I live in Australia and have family (2 of my 5 kids) in Sydney but I’m in Melbourne. I am lucky to live in the Dandenong Ranges area though so we have hundreds of sulphur crested cockatoos, parrots of other sorts, magpies who love to sing to us – actually they yodel – and many other birds who visit us for treats regularly.
    I’m glad you enjoyed the trip and using it to illustrate important points is very clear.

    Thanks again for an enjoyable post.

  8. I’m very glad you enjoyed your time in Australia. I’m in love with it here, especially the birds, so it was cool to see them featured in the post. The birds in the first picture aren’t Aussie though, not that it matters to non birders 😉

    Your presentations were one of the best there. I really enjoyed them. I had to push myself a lot during those two days. I struggle with large events but I’ve found they are always worth it. I’m so glad you were one of the presenters this year

    • Jade, it was wonderful to meet you, finally.

      I think large events are daunting for anyone, even though everyone I met individually was lovely and so enjoyable to talk to. It’s just seeing the crowd en masse that makes me want to run and hide under the covers!

      Thanks for the comments on my presentations. 🙂

      I really appreciated all the social media promotion work you did before, during, and after the event. It increased the excitement throughout: great work.

  9. Great post Pamela!
    You made me laugh at your worry about the 15 hour journey.
    I live in New Zealand and everything outside the Pacific is at least that amount of time. I look forward to knowing that once I’m on that plane I can sit back, relax and do nothing for… hmm 23 hours to the Europe! As well as going back in time; I live in your future 🙂

    • Stephanie, that going back and forward in time thing is so weird! I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.

      But I did get used to the long travel time. Compared to the flight over, the flight back seemed like it went by in a flash. I’d do it again in a heartbeat: definitely worth the effort.

  10. After feeling like I’d known you for years it was fantastic to finally meet you.
    What a treat to spend enough time with you to show you a few of the sights and a walk to our favorite cafe. It was So great to meet you both. What fun we had.
    Thank you for taking the steps to let our online and real life worlds connect.
    Come back soon we’re looking forward to the next adventure. xS

    • You were one of the highlights of the trip, dear Siita!

      Thank you for your amazing hospitality, and for listening and providing helpful critiques of my presentations before I flew off to deliver them. They were better because of that afternoon you spent listening to them: I so appreciated that!

      • Awe.. that’s so lovely.
        I was amazed at how easily we connected after our years chatting online. A highlight of my year to have you here. I truly hope we will see you again.
        P.S thanks for the help with our Ducati club poster – everyone thought I was very talented to produce that so quickly!
        I haven’t let on it was you. lol. xxS

  11. Keeping it real with a personal story and relating lessons learned to your biz; that’s not only teaching but inspiring us all to stop and enjoy our sip of coffee (or tea) to give up those little breaks throughout our busy schedules in life. Enjoyed the pics too!

  12. Hey Pamela – we don’t know each other, and that’s how this social thing works isn’t it? You go on about your life unaware that you’re inspiring lots of people along the way.

    I found you on Twitter and I feel I got to know you through this post. Thanks for sharing your trip so honestly.

    It’s just dawned on me that your story is full of the daily choices and decisions we all encounter — and the question is, why does it take a 20+ hour trip to push us into confronting what scares us? Nods and acknowledgments for sharing yourself.

    • Thank you so much, Ivana! I do think that travel heightens our awareness and sensitivity to life around us: it’s one of the many things I love about it. Now to figure out how to bring that kind of awareness home with me …

  13. Thank you for the post Pam.
    Inspirational, and comforting to know that stepping outside the zone is a fearful experience for us all.
    Until we take the step.
    Glad you had a great time.

  14. Hi Pamela,

    Loved your post. Australia is beautiful. I can relate to your lessons. My husband and I are flying to Hawaii, a 19 hour trip; lately I have a problem flying with anxiety attacks. So it’s either fly or miss the event! Also, I recently did a presentation for my business and in the past, I stuttered when I spoke in a group of people. It’s good to know that others are overcoming there fears. Thank you for sharing!

    • Beverly, good luck with the trip to Hawaii. That’s high on my list of places I’d love to visit: I hope you enjoy every minute!

  15. Australia is high on my list of places to visit soon, thank you for sharing Pamela. The pictures are beautiful and I loved all of the takeaways in your post.

    • Thanks, Rashida. It’s an amazing place! I hope to be back soon.

      Once you make that long flight once and realize you can survive it, it opens up all sorts of possibilities. 😀

  16. Great article Pam. Really enjoyed your pictures and perspectives, as well as the gentle pushing that empowers encourages. Thank you for inviting us along and disarming our fears in the process.

  17. Hi Pamela,
    I enjoyed this post espacially since I have been on your list seemingly for dacades.
    Living Downunder, sort of helps you get over that type of fear pretty quickly, because you don’t get far without flying.
    My Downunder is NZ sorry we did not get to see you over here in the land of green, clean and also coffee conscous living. Am off to come up you’re way next month, but western area.
    Thanks for this great post, L & B Annamarie

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