Wednesday, October 5, 2011

From "Faultlines and Failures" blog post

This failure in my business is a doozy, and I am feeling somewhat nervous to share with you what I now see as a big time stuff up. Monumental in fact!
I had a brilliant idea, I was excited it was going to solve many problems for me. One of which was lack of decent product for productivity and organising being available in New Zealand. The world was going to be my oyster, I was going to fly, my business was going to fly.
This idea was brilliant so I decided to embark on a little "market research" before I invested my hard earned dollars,  also so I knew that it was not just me who liked the idea.
There are two options when it comes to market research, the right way and the wrong way. This is a tale about the wrong way. Being a small business I had a limited budget, but I had a wide and varied network of friends, family and colleagues. So I decided to ask my network what they thought of the idea, this was my version of market research, "uh oh" I hear you say...."you idiot" I hear as you pick yourself up off the floor. It seemed like a good idea at the time, especially when I was getting the following responses:

* "Brilliant Idea"
* "I would buy that stuff from you"
* "Fantastic its about time we had this stuff made in NZ"
* "If anyone can do it, you can"
* "I cannot wait for you to develop these products"
*  "You really do have some great ideas"

Lies, Lies, Lies all of them, and I was dumb enough to believe them. So I went ahead and sunk some dollars into developing what I thought was a great range of New Zealand Made Stationary and productivity planners.
The I waited and waited for these customers to come and buy them, and waited.........and waited. Actually in many cases I am still waiting. I am actually laughing at my own stupidity as I write this, because as I mentioned earlier in a previous post. This stuff really looks so obvious in hindsight.

So when you need to do market research, do it the right way. Invest in a proper study to be done by experienced market research, and even better make it blind, so no one knows who is behind the idea being researched. If I had done this I would have invested in the early stage to save huge amounts in the long run, maybe even have saved my business.

So next time you have an idea for your business and you want to run it by a few "mates" don't, because:
* They will tell you what you want to hear.
* They will lie - (with all good intention of course)
* They will talk up your idea
* They will boost your ego, but not your bottom line

Oh and yes for those who are curious I still have a shit load of products waiting to be sold at , that was my attempt as brazen and shameless sales!
For those of you who said you would have have not yet, feel free to make a purchase as well, I know you are reading this.

Also if you are wondering if this is you I am referring too, I hold no grudges as you have taught me an amazing lesson, and now others will also learn form my monumental market research failure. However if in the future a mate asks for your opinion on something that will affect a business decision, think before you answer, and tell the truth even if it is not what they want to hear.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What motivates us to act?

It is amazing what can be organised, depending on the reward and motivation.

Yesterday it was an absolute pleasure and privilege to work with 60+ volunteers and declutter the silt, liquefaction and other related earthquake debris from Christchurch's eastern suburbs. We did it because we could. We made a difference and many people who benefitted from the day of shoveling, digging, clearing and moving. For some it was as simple as opening a cupboard for the 1st time since February and others making a path so they can hang their clothes to dry.
This event was all done by volunteers and organised over a period of 5 weeks. We had folks from all walks of life arrive ready to get down and dirty from Tom who is 8, to John in his 70's and everyone in between. One of the local radio stations 91ZM arrived at lunch time to cook up a BBQ and we all sat and chatted before heading of to do some more work. We had equipment donated by companies such as Fonterra, whittakers and Coldstore, and a happy base at the Waimari Methodist Church.
Everyone went home, tired and sore but totally satisfied at the positive action and organising that had taken place. All volunteers saying they were keen to do it again.
I am also keen to work with the amazing crew of Deon, Ali, Ben, Mark, Betty and Others to organise another "Lets get it done" Event. We called it "Lets get it Done" because we are about action, doing, being positive and getting things done. Next time I want at least 300 Volunteers and we will be getting loads done.
In contrast today there is a Rally (Protest variety) in roughly the same area of Christchurch, I was dismayed to see a picture of this rally and the turn out was huge by the look of the image I saw. I know people are hurting and angry, and this post is likely to piss a few people off, but why cant the energy be turned into POSITIVE ACTION as opposed to negative placard waving and words. There is a veritable community army protesting about land values and payouts, when in reality the Government were not obliged to step in and do the insurance negotiating on their behalf, and the residents to are not obliged to accept the offers made to them and they can negotiate themselves. However still the Community came together to Rally their feelings.
My question is "How do we get the same number of people to come together for a positive event, like "Lets get it Done"?" I know of one volunteer yesterday who is from a RED ZONE home, the others I believe are from parts of Christchurch not effected in the same way as the Eastern Suburbs. It was not an exclusively Eastern Suburbs event as help was sent to Tai Tapu and Lyttelton, however we did the majority of the work within the Eastern Suburbs.
I want to know where the residents who are protesting today, were yesterday? Is one of them the man who expected our volunteers to move car bodies and tyres in his yard (not earthquake related, just junk)? How many of them could have helped the elderly get to their mailboxes, clothes lines or even open their back doors by shoveling some silt and liquefaction? How do we get them to take positive community action instead of protesting?
I would love to hear any solutions or suggestions to this. As I know the reward for positive action is longer lasting and far reaching in comparison to the negative energy and resentment that can come from protest.
So look at what you organise and the implications, make it positive and long lasting, oh and spread the word so others can benefit from helping others and growing positive community

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I am who I am! but I try to be better.

This week I am having a week away from Christchurch, a long awaited and much needed quake break. I am sitting here in Wanaka looking out at some amazing snow capped mountains, a view that is immense and breathtaking.

Naval gazing can be an activity that becomes predominant while relaxing and I have had plenty of time to think while the family skis. (I am keeping Mr 13 company as he cannot ski yet following a broken arm.) during this thinking time I discover that at times I am not a very nice person and probably peeve people off regularly. There are other times in my life when I do thinks that people find fabulous and invaluable.
So I would love to share with you some of the things that make me not such a great person:
* Opinionated
* Incredibly Stubborn
* Over protective
* Lazy
* Overweight
* Love a good gossip
* don't suffer fools

On the other hand, there are things that make me kind of OK:
* Loyal
* Honest
* Fair
* You will always know how I feel
* Passionate
* Family oriented

Some of the less endearing traits can also be my strengths, such as being opinionated and stubborn, which comes in handy at times.
Seeing both sides of a story is something I try to do, but being empathetic does not mean backing down. There are things that really infuriate me such as political hardliners and environmentalists that only see things their way and no other way. I am willing to listen to both sides of an issue and once I hear the differing opinions I may just chance my stance, or I may not.

The title of this blog is "I AM WHO I AM, BUT I TRY TO BE BETTER" This is something I will live my life by, life is fluid, people change, circumstances change, the world changes. But so many remain the same, this is a stagnant and lonely way to live, and I do not want that for myself.

So if I peeve you off or make you feel good please do not take it personally, it is just me finding my way in this crazy world we live in.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Welcome to the new look Blog

Yes things have changed in my life and my new look blog is reflecting some of those changes.
Simplicity and productivity remain a passion of mine and this will be featured in the profiles I will be doing on Christchurch Businesses who have increased their productivity since the devastating earthquakes that rocked our world.
You can read the first profile on CATE GRACE in my recent blog post.
Another big change has been the winding down of Totally Organised Product and Home Parties as well as our hands on organising services. But you can reap the rewards of this by shopping out our STOCK CLEARANCE SALE
This week I embark on a "Time Management Coaching" course with Julie Morgenstern in New York, so you can soon benefit from my Time Management and Organising Coaching Consultations. Watch this space and I will keep you posted.
Speaking Professionally and Writing are where it is at for me in the near future, so let me know what you are keen to hear or read about and I will do my best to deliver.
Rebuilding Christchurch is a major focus here in my part of the world, being part of a new future for our wonderful city is where I am now spending alot of time.
I am on board the REBUILD CHRISTCHURCH team working with other passionate Cantabrians to deliver open two way communications here in Canterbury. Also we are looking to form an Advocacy service and Charitable trust to aid residents who have been effected by recent events. Watch this space as these developments are closer by the day.
One of my main focusses is to raise funds to give these projects a strong future. Please visit if you would like to contribute to the future of these amazing initiatives.

So as you can see exciting times and loads to do, Keep Happy, Keep Safe and Keep it Simple.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


I have decided to run a series of businesses who have grown and thrived since the Earthquakes that hit Canterbury. So sit back relax and enjoy our first Post Quake Productivity Champion.

Cate Grace - Leap2it

On the 3rd September 2010, her car was written off and Cate Grace was working full time as an employee and running her Personal Training Business “LEAP2IT” part time and was about to go full time with Leap2it. She had resigned from her safe Job and was getting ready to launch full time with Leap2it on the 24th September.
When the quake struck on the 4th September 2010, Cates plans did not change; in fact it heightened her desire to go it alone. Her full time job gave her contact and insight into the plight of the resident of the eastern suburbs of Bexley, Linwood and New Brighton. She invited families to participate in an Open Day at CBD gym she was using on the Saturday following the 4th September quake, it was a great success and stress buster.
The Boxing day earthquake was a little closer to home for Cate, the epicenter being less than a Kilometer from her home, however she was again determined to make her business bigger and better despite Mother Nature doing her best to make life for Cantabrians difficult.
Then came February 22, 2011 a day that will never be forgotten in the heart and mind of Cate Grace. She was attending a lunch meeting and preparing to head into the CBD when the Earthquake struck.
It was very evident soon after that things would not be the same for Leap2It for a long time, one obvious change being the CBD Gym that Cate and her clients called home was now in the Red Zone, and it would be over 6 weeks before access was possible.
CBD Gym entrance 8 weeks post 22/2/11

Instead of advising her clients that the gym was not available, Cate contacted her clients and asked them what they wanted and needed. This was pivotal in Leap2It gaining a significant market growth in the period following the February Earthquake.
 Armed with the needs and wants of her clients Cate began searching for an alternative Gym where her one on one clients could come with ease, as well as a venue for her Circuit clients and also fun and accessible outdoor venues.

What is different about Leap2It is the people Cate works with. Her perfect client is someone who is struggling with Chronic Illness; her aim is to get people LEAPING off the couch and moving regardless of their Physical Condition. Often a challenging group to work with, however the positive steps forward Cate saw following the Earthquake was reinforcing her faith in the strength of her clients.

When Cate began Leap2it her goals for her business were to work with people suffering chronic health conditions in a gym environment and to have a maximum of 20x1 hour sessions per week. Cate had this goal in mind and it was determined by Cate’s own condition, Rheumatoid Arthritis, which she believed precluded her from maintaining more than 20 hours of One to One training of clients. She was soon to learn that her limitations were all imagined and she was capable of so much more.
Following the September earthquake Cate began to see a change in her goals and began to see a shift toward working with families, youth and partners as well as her existing clients.
The February quake stepped her up a notch as well, this saw an increase in corporate clients, Outdoor training, utilizing an alternative Gym for clients not wanting to return to the Red Zone.

How did Cate manage the changes to her business in such a short and tumultuous time? She became more productive through the use of systems and tools. Some of the things Cate is doing differently include:
·      Using an Action Station Desk Planner – To plan and schedule her weeks ahead of time.
·      Increased time and diary management
·      Improved costing and invoicing systems
·      No discounts or reductions in fees.
·      Increase her Social Media presence with Facebook and twitter
These changes have directly resulted in a 240% increase in turnover in the business.

Another significant turning point for Cate and Leap2it was applying a true element of marketing to her business.  She went direct to her clients and asked what they needed following their traumatic experiences.  She found out what was going to keep them coming back and changed her service delivery to meet those needs.   Cate is focusing on a holistic approach to health and wellbeing.  She combines lifestyle, exercise, alone time & positivity into an achievable and fun plan for her clients and their families.  Being healthy and happy is a team effort and Cate encourages everyone from children, partners, family, neighbours and friends to support and train together.   Her motto since the earthquakes is never never give up.   "If you want it, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.  A year from now, you'll be glad you started today!”

Business pre September sessions were up to 15 1-1 sessions per week, now Cate is growing steadily with up to 35 varied sessions a week including Leap2it  1-1 personal training, Leap2it Buddy sessions, Leap4it Group Circuits & SMaRT Corporate group sessions.    
This has resulted in her now working from over 6 different locations:
1)   Form Fitness Gym in Beckenham
2)   Circuits in the Alpine room at Clip & Climb
3)   Her previous CBD Gym
4)   Riccarton Racecourse
5)   Waimakariri and Selwyn Operation Suburbs as she takes Leap2it on the road to homes and local parks
6)   Corporate Client Offices
Operation Suburbs - perfect place to work

Embracing the changes, adapting to opportunites, talking to her clients, increasing her productivity through systems and challenging her own beliefs have all added up to one exciting and successful business growing and leaping forward in Post-Quake Christchurch. It can be done and Cate Grace’s business Leap2it is a great inspiration to businesses throughout New Zealand to keep your vision and dreams alive, no matter what.
Get in touch with Cate at or follow  CATE ON TWITTER

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I have had a gutsfull, I am over the bloody earthquakes we have been enduring here in Christchurch. The earth really does seem to have it in for us. HOWEVER, I am not going anywhere. So instead I am going to get me own back a little.
This Saturday the 25th June 2011, I am going to scream at the earth. I am going to give her what for, full decibel scream of anger and frustration. I have been holding in tension, stress and anger since 4th September 2010 when we had a 7.1 Earthquake, enough already. Time to let go.
At 2pm I will be in North Hagley park (quiet possibly on my own) and I am going to SCREAM like I have never screamed before. Then I will most likely laugh, laugh so hard I hope I cry. As it seems I have lost my ability to cry, tears do not come anymore, which is weird.

This is my BIG SCREAM, feel free to join me if you wish where ever you are in the world, and lets tell mother earth that enough is enough.
This is not a formal event just me and whoever else could do with a good tension release getting together and letting go.

Monday, June 13, 2011


As you are aware, we have had some challenging times here in Christchurch over the past 9 months. Businesses as a whole have been working through some exciting and some not so fun challenges.
Totally Organised is no different.
The last nine months have also provided an opportunity to look deeply at what we do and how we are doing it.

So that being said I wish to announce a few changes to our business.
1) Totally Organised Get-Togethers - our direct sales division will be closing down effective immediately.
2) Hands on Organising - Also there will be a reduction in the hands on organising services available, the "Paperwork Power Punch" service is on hold for now.
3) Personal Productivity Consultations - Wendy Davie will available in a consulting role to assist you with your Personal Productivity at home and at work.

So what are we going to be doing:
1) We have an exciting ONLINE store offering a range of organising products to anyone, anywhere. visit to purchase on line.
2) We will be offering a consultation service to businesses offering staff training  and workshops focusing on Personal Productivity and Time Management.
3) Wendy Davie will be writing and speaking on the topic of Personal Productivity and Time Management through the media and Conferences.
4) Development of online products - We are working towards bringing you Productivity and time management solutions in the "cloud" in conjunctions with International experts.

We wish to thank you for all your support over the past 8 years and look forward to future relationships as we endeavor to bring you solutions and products  that will help you become Totally Organised.