Fiona Killackey is a Melbourne-based branding and marketing consultant working with start-ups and established businesses to create strategies to define and achieve their objectives.
She's been a published writer for 15+ years and has written for some of the biggest publications ranging from Monocle, The Design Files to Cool Hunting. We had a chat with Fiona about her inspiring career, how she stays organised as well as a refreshing outlook on dealing with roadblocks.
Tell us a bit about what you do now and your journey to get there.
My career hasn’t been straightforward, [like] getting a marketing degree then working my way up to Head of Marketing. Instead, I studied Arts and then Journalism then worked as a magazine editor and ghostwriter, before studying Book Editing & Publishing and becoming an editor in that field. I then worked overseas as a media developer for Open University and then worked my way up as a managing editor and marketer for Amazon UK and Audible UK, consulting on the latter’s launch into Australia.
A role in audience experience at a digital agency followed and then I worked at MIMCO (Country Road Group) as their Head of Marketing. I went out on my own in late January 2016. I think my diverse experience has helped me understand all facets of a brand and its relationship with its audience(s).
How do you set goals? Do you follow a specific process?
I’m very much a planner (I use Excel for holiday packing!), so I like to look at a 12-month calendar and simply start marking in my goals for that year. These can then be unpacked into tasks and experiences, which I might use a notebook or online planner to track.
For all of my clients, I ask them to not only look at their business objectives but also their personal goals such as taking a holiday, attending an overseas conference or even starting or growing their family. We work with their values and beliefs.
Life and work are so intertwined these days, and personal goals need to be factored in, as much as business/career goals. People can’t ever really be fulfilled, no matter how well their business is doing, if they feel things are missing from their personal life.
Personally, I tend to set goals for the next six months, 12 months, two years and five years. On a day-to-day basis I use - and I’m not just saying this! - your Get Shit Done notebooks to tick off my to-do list.
What do you do when you hit a roadblock, or things aren’t going right?
Life is life, isn’t it? Sometimes I think the universe laughs when you try to plan too much, shaking up everything you thought was your future. I am a strong believer in things happening for a reason and looking back now, all of those apparent setbacks or periods of stress led me to learn more about myself.
In practical terms, I listen to loud and upbeat music that will shake me out of any bad mood or woe-is-me attitude. There’s a part of the brain scientists have identified that helps with those ‘a-ha’ or creative breakthrough moments called the anterior superior temporal gyrus. It will only spark once it’s hit with alpha waves and those waves only happen when the mind is relaxed, so the sooner I can shift the negative vibes the better.
Getting outside for a walk helps, as does perspective - if you’re earning more than $50,000 a year and living in Australia you’re in the top 4% of the world’s population. I volunteer at a women’s charity dealing with refugees and asylum seekers and seeing their hope and drive at just being in this country helps put things into perspective for me.
What’s one habit you credit with getting you to where you are now?
Curiosity, asking questions and reminding myself that people are people. I have written for probably 35+ publications across the globe, and I know so many people who are brilliant writers but lack the confidence/courage to just contact a publication’s editor. I’ve always believed that the worst someone can ever say is “no” so what do I have to lose? People are people and the majority aren’t going to be cruel to you.
I also ask a lot of questions (possibly too many) when I start a job and I don’t mean just about the work at hand. I get to know the people around me, how they like to be managed or manage as well as their interests. We spend so long in the office; it needs to be a place where people feel comfortable to discuss all parts of their life.
And lastly, but probably most importantly, I’m curious. I read a lot of books, blogs and articles and have YouTube to thank for teaching me so much. I never want to stop learning. Too many people get a job and just turn up, do their 9-5 and go home. There’s no initiative outside of that time to learn more about their craft, listen to the experts or investigate alternate methods for doing things.
What keeps you awake at night?
Since going out on my own, work has kept me awake a lot less than it used to! Usually, it’s just checking off things in my mind or occasionally developing different scenarios for my clients’ objectives. If I am giving a talk in the near future, it’ll be little ideas for the presentation – sometimes the best ideas come when it’s dark and quiet.
I am addicted to ABC 774 for my news and local issues and watch ABC and SBS a lot. Often something in the news that day will keep me up. We really are living in such a time of fear and this year especially has just been one shock event after another (Malcolm, Brexit, Trump etc.). We have so much in the West, but yet the greed is overwhelming. There’s also mother’s guilt, which every working woman has, on some level. The main reason I went out on my own is to be around more for my son, but you can still beat yourself up about things.
Who or what inspires you the most?
My husband is pretty inspiring to me. We’ve been together a decade and he rarely gets stressed about work, he’s able to see it for what it is. He has a calmness about him that I wish I had more of. He’s able to separate his identity from what he does for a living. This is something I really feel few people nowadays can do.
My parents are also my inspiration. They came to Australia knowing no one with four kids and just made things happen. And the women I see at the charity I work with. There’s one who came from Sudan with nothing and three children under five. She worked around the clock to get them a house and put food on the table and just when things had finally settled she was diagnosed with cancer. Yet, she just fought on and made the best of every situation. She never, ever focuses on what she doesn’t have, only ever on what she does. She’s one of the happiest people I’ve ever met.
What is your favourite quote or saying?
Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.
What tool, tech or app are you loving right now?
I am loving Screencastify which allows me to record short videos for my clients on how to utilise templates, guides or platforms. It’s so quick and easy. And I’ve been addicted to Canva since it started. Use it daily.
I’m also loving Soon. It’s an app for keeping track of all the TV shows, restaurants or books people recommend. You can also look at what’s trending in cities across the world, which opens up new discoveries.
Oh, and SMS Scheduler. It allows me to input everyone’s birthdays and other key events and schedules a text message so I never forget anything. There are too many great apps to just name one!
Describe one big goal you have set for 2017
To continue to grow my client base as well as launch a new side business - one I registered way back in 2009 but haven’t been in a position to explore until now. It’s a publication and event series, which I’m super excited about (watch this space!).
YOU CAN FIND FOLLOW FIONA ON INSTAGRAM AT @MYDAILYBUSINESSCOACH AND SIGN UP TO HER WEEKLY INSIGHT EMAIL AT WWW.MYDAILYBUSINESSCOACH.COM
Photo by Lee Sandwith