With over 20 years under my belt as a multi-award-winning entrepreneur, creator, writer and marketing communications strategist, I’ve learned that two key things underpinning exceptional engagement are confidence and human (and customer)-centred communication.
Supporting you to express your value, potential, and vision is what gets me out of bed in the morning.
Here’s a little about my backstory below.
At 9 years old, I walked into a shop filled wall to wall with handmade calico dolls. The owner smiled and said, “would you like some felt? If you make something, I could sell it in my shop.”
I took the felt and started a lucrative enterprise making bookmarks, small dolls and teddy bears. Sometimes I’d make $20 in a week! That was the start of my journey as an entrepreneur.
Growing up as a child with ADHD in a time when there was no support for children on the spectrum, I had a lot of enthusiasm but was always getting into trouble and told I didn’t listen. I heard it so much, I literally thought I had a listening disability.
So, I would enter every conversation with massive anxiety. And guess what? Anxiety really doesn’t make listening easy. Instead, it kept me in my own head and disconnected from others.
The power of listening
In 2018, while doing a leadership program, I experienced a fundamental shift that altered my relationship to listening. I discovered the story I’d told myself about not being able to listen was completely untrue.
Suddenly, I saw people differently. I saw myself as someone who could connect, and I discovered opportunities that I never would have seen had I remained stuck in my head.
When I started employing deep listening techniques in my work, I was astounded at just how effective conversations were for sparking ideas, building business relationships, and discovering new growth opportunities.
Despite having built my career on creating written content, I stopped writing long-form thought leadership pieces that came out of my head and I started focusing on listening. I started talking to random strangers about what mattered to them everywhere I went. I interviewed over 100 people in 3 different countries. Every day, I picked up the phone and called someone. I visited people I hadn’t seen in years and I listened. And the experience was transformative.
The surprising impact was the ripple effect listening had on my entire life. Many of the things I once thought were immovable have now shifted.
Rather than hiding my neurodiversity, I am now proud of my ADHD brain. Since discovering listening was actually a superpower of mine, I have transformed how I relate to others and myself. I used to fear talking to people. Now, I can talk to anyone. I used to be so anxious I couldn’t connect with anyone. Now I have high vibe friends, and I had a beautiful relationship with my late partner. I used to seek validation from others to gain confidence. Now I generate confidence.
These transformations have led me to apply a human-centered approach in everything I do, whether it be consulting with a marketing team at a large corporation or working with startups. If you’d like to connect with me about your project, reach out for a free 15-minute session.
ps: I used to be known under my married name as Caroline or Cas McCullough. I have now legally changed my name to Caroline (Cara) Szellemes. If you want to know why read my blog post on why I am changing my name here.
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