Ideas. I’m filled with them. They woke me up at 4.30 this morning and they keep on coming all day. But even I get stuck for inspiration now and again. Learn how I get my fix of ideas in my column for The Hague Online where I am Writer in Residence. Read more here

Go the extra mile

September 1, 2009

This post also appears as part of The Inspirer, my monthly newsletter, that you can sign up for at my website

Go the extra mile

My inspiration for this month’s article only came to me a few hours ago when I received an email from an ex-student of mine, Amanda van Mulligen. Amanda had got in touch to send me the link to an article she had written called A World of Inspiration and in which, she said, I featured. I clicked on the link and was faced not only a super piece of writing, but also an article that described how many connections and referrals I had given Amanda since we first met almost four years ago. It went on to describe how each of those contacts had become so much more, how they had enriched her life, inspired her, and even made her money. I was delighted. But my happiness was not so much for the fact that Amanda had written about me but that she had gone to the effort of letting me know. She had gone the extra mile.

And as I thought about that for a moment I realised that these days, when competition is tough, we can all do with finding ways to go the extra mile. Here are my top ten ways:

Top ten ways to go the extra mile

1 When you write an article, try to add a box of resources and further reading to the end, so that the readers know where to go to find out more.

2 When you write a book, add a substantial and useful resources section, an appendix, a bibliography and see if you can also add the URLs of all the people, organisations and websites you mention too.

3 Forging a career as a paid writer can be tough, so make it easy for those who may commission you and have your portfolio available online.

4 Publisher like to commission new authors who are more than just writers, people with a presence, a following, a route to market. So start a blog, send a newsletter, build a portfolio of other published work, poetry, articles, reviews, so that you already have Googlability.

5 When I teach, I always give my students handouts and reading lists and in my Life Story classes I now edit all their homework for them, which I then offer to share with the entire class, so that all the students can learn from it. What added bonus can you give?

6 People buy from people they have already worked with, so why not offer your potential clients something for free so they get to see you in action

7 If you coach or mentor, as I do, see if you can give your clients as much extra as you can. I always connect mine to editors, suggest magazines they could write for and introduce them to the people they need to interview for their books or articles.

8 Look out for opportunities to connect other people at all times and then do so. A simple email is all it takes.

9 Develop a ‘paying it forward’ mindset. Remember, the adage: give and you will receive.

10 Say thank you. Thank people for referrals, for work you pass their way, connections, ideas. A simple thank you encourages those people to give again.

One other person has gone the extra mile for me this month and I would like to thank her here, partly because she deserve thanks, but mostly because I think you will benefit from knowing her too.

Meet Sheila Bender

Firstly, I have long admired the work of writer, Sheila Bender. She wrote ‘Keeping a Journal You Love’ and ‘Writing in a New Convertible with the Top Down’ among many others, and my copies of her books are peppered with Post-it notes as I refer back to them again and again. I decided I wanted to connect with Sheila, to ask if I might use an extract from her books in my Life Story online program. I found her at her website Writing it Real and sent her an email. Not only did Sheila reply to me, and fast, but she invited me to write for her newsletter too, and then, knowing that many of my Inspirer recipients do not subscribe to it, she made a special link so that you could all read my article, about The Greatest Block of All. That was going the extra mile. People normally pay for her newsletter, so this was a big favour. Thank you Sheila.

I hope that this month’s offering has inspired you. I wonder how you could you go the extra mile? Perhaps you’d like to tell me by visiting this article on my blog and adding a comment? I know it would mean you had to go the extra mile, but that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Til next month


The power of endorsement

August 31, 2009

I am still reeling. Five minutes ago, a one-time student of mine, Amanda van Mulligen, sent me a link to an article she had written, entitled A World of Inspiration. In her accompanying email she intimated that I was featured in this as I had had a part to play. Well, this is it, you too can read it here at You can read more of Amanda’s work at

I am humbled by Amanda’s gratitude for what I did for her, simply by referring her a few times and connecting her with people I thought might be of interest. I do this all the time for people, students, mentors, friends, anyone. I just can’t help myself. Thank you to Amanda for showing your appreciation, I appreciate it.

But, I call this post ‘the power of endorsement’. That is because, a looong time ago, my mate, the Courageous Marketer, John Sealey, told me that one of the most powerful things you can have in your marketing arsenal, are testimonials.

‘People make decisions based on what other people think about you,’ he advised. So, thank you John for making me aware that I need to share Amanda’s testimonial, however immodest it may feel. There, I’ve done it again, I’ve connected you all with someone else. John Sealey, told you about a website for travellers, Velvet Escape, and a wonderful blog at the Writing Well. I hope you find them inspiring.

But most of all, thank you Amanda, for a wonderful piece of writing that does me ‘right proud’.

The Greatest Block of All

August 27, 2009

Years ago I discovered the work of American, Sheila Bender. Sheila wrote two of my favourite ever books to inspire writers: Writing in a New Convertible with the Top Down and Keeping a Journal You Love. Recently, I found Sheila online at her website Writing it Real and got in touch. I was delighted to discover that Sheila really is real and kind and honest. She asked me if I would write something about my biggest challenge as a writer for her subscriber newsletter. I agreed and Sheila, being the kind person that she is, agreed to post a special non-subscriber version just for you. So, please take a look at Writing at Real when you have a moment and please, take a look at my piece. I think you will enjoy it and maybe even learn something . . .

here it is:

I can hardly believe that just one week ago I was chanting Om in unison with 150 others at the Chopra Center’s Wisdom of Healing workshop in Oxford, England. Click here to read the related article I published on The Hague Online (where I am their Writer in Residence). Pick up some tips that you can try at home, right now.

Books need a wow factor! Find out how to make your book come alive by writing effective anecdotes and case studies. Come and be inspired and empowered when I’m the guest speaker at Storyville in WC2 from 7-9 pm on 29th. Just £15. Details at

Could you, should you, write a book?

If this is a question that you often ask yourself, then maybe it’s time to find out. On 9th July I’m running a Special Interest Group workshop for the European Professional Women’s network in Amsterdam. It will cover topics including:
what makes a book sell?
what is a wow factor?
could I really write a book?
what book would make me the most money?
how can a book help me raise my fees?

So, if you need to be inspired, informed and supported hurry and grab your place on this free workshop. led by me, Jo Parfitt, from 7-9pm at the Renaissance Hotel in Amsterdam.

Places are limited and the link is here

Jo Parfitt's poetry memoir A Moving Landscape

Jo Parfitt's poetry memoir A Moving Landscape

I can’t believe it, but I just wrote my 26th book. It’s been a scary old process this, because, for the first time ever, I am publishing my poetry and my memoir at the same time. Yep, that’s right. My life in verse. You see, I don’t admit it to everyone, but I write poetry too. Non-fiction, fiction, journalism AND poetry. So there you have it, 30 or so years of my life exposed for all to see. Those who did know of my poetry habit have been begging me to publish for years, so I guess I wrote it for you.

In this month’s Acclimate, the expat mag from Bangkok, they have published a preview selection of poems.

If you would like a review copy for your publication, then go ahead and send me your address and I’ll post you one. If you want it faster, I can send you a PDF.

You can order it on Amazon too.


The sight of the tulips brightening up my garden is a reminder to me that spring is here and it’s time for a spring clean of my priorities. I bet you are the same. You start each year with good intentions. You promise yourself that you will only focus on the things that make you happy/earn you money/meet your values. And then, as life gets busier, you end up agreeing to do things you maybe shouldn’t and suddenly find yourself with a To Do list bigger than my ironing mountain – and that’s saying something.

There is no time like the present for taking a closer look at all those things you have to do and asking yourself whether they all continue to serve you well. Do they still fulfil your needs? A chance meeting last week put me firmly back in the saddle.

Last week, I went to the London Book Fair and left behind my gargantuan To Do list, vowing I’d sort it out on my return. And then I met Alison Clark. Alison Clark is a fellow author at Lean Marketing Press. She has written a book called Stop Flogging a Dead Horse. I was immediately grabbed by the title and within minutes Alison and I had swapped a copy of my Find Your Passion book for a copy of hers. I read it from cover to cover on the flight home and am now clear about what must stay and what must go.

It’s simple really. If you keep on doing the same old thing over and over and continue to get the same, mediocre, results, then you may be flogging a dead horse. It is time dismount, let that idea or business stream or associateship go out to pasture, remove its tack and walk away.

Alison’s book is full of tips on how to identify when you are wasting your time on certain projects and how to extricate yourself from bad relationships and move on without making any enemies.

So, you are agreed that you may need to identify your dead horses and move on, right? But how do you know when a horse is a good bet? That an idea has the potential to gallop ahead towards wealth, happiness and success?

While on the subject of horses, I may have the answer. If you have ever ridden a horse you will know that the horse knows when its rider is scared, it knows that if you lose your focus it can get the better of you. It’s the same with a business idea. It is only when you relax in the saddle and allow your instinct to take over that you can move as one with your horse. When it feels right you just know. The wind gets into hair and you find yourself sitting up straight and you know you can conquer the world. When you allow yourself to respond naturally to whatever comes your way, the universe has a habit of giving you clues that show you when you have got it right.

You know how it is. Since I changed my website and became simply the number of enquiries I receive every day has increased. Since I decided to offer a six hour mentoring service rather than a straightforward hourly rate my new client conversion rate has soared. Since I decided to offer to publish their books interest has doubled. You see, I’ve stopped fighting for business in areas that I know should be lucrative but frankly aren’t and instead I’ve decided to go with the flow and watch what comes my way. Because, when you take the time to go for a slow amble in the fresh air, just you and your horse, you make a space in your head, you become more alert, you notice what’s happening and suddenly your focus returns. You just know what’s right.

This May, I challenge you to bring on the empty horses, take a long hard look at your stable of business ideas and products and decide who gets put out to grass and who is going to join you for the ride of your life.




No stick in the muds on Jabiru,
this reunion of strangers
soon became sailors,
as we keeled to the side
then stretched up to the sky,
felt our stiff limbs flex,
pulling wrists to the side.

Watch meandering thoughts subside
with each deep breath,
pushing the envelope of our comfort zones
with each tug of the tide.

As slapping waves tap flat palms
against the hull,
they rock us gently,
soothe us to a lull and slumber,
then nudge us awake
when daylight slides into our berths.

Breathe in the air of freedom,
watch the flying fish arch up and forward,
see them glide,
while we too begin to dance to a new tune.
A slow reel,
switching partners,
finding new rhythm.
Learn to trust the swell of wind in the mainsail.
Let our bodies slip down into an altered state of mind.
Here lyrics lurk in every sentence,
and verse pulses in our veins.

Slowly, slowly we unskein
our busy, busy worlds,
furl and pleat the tasks that map
each ordinary day.
Here we reef our minds to catch
only things that really matter.

We winch in our worries
then hoist them high
to let them luff and flutter and then fly.
Pull hard on the halyard to let your spirits soar.

Friendships are made here
as strangers share their stories
in the sunshine.
Each day melts into Paradise
from ‘Honey Honey’ with our muesli
to ‘I Feel Good’ moments through the day,
til every dusk is starlit
– a marvellous night for a ‘Moondance’ –
and the full moon lights our way.

Jo Parfitt, Marina Cay, British Virgin Islands 11th March 2009