How to Be An Introvert and Still Succeed at Conferences

How to be an Introvert and Still Succeed at Conferences

I am firmly introverted. I’m not shy necessarily (I used to get the two confused, but they are very different things) but I find the idea of a room filled with strangers both exciting and exhausting. I love my alone time. I also love talking to new people about things we are passionate about. I am happy and content with these opposing elements of me.

There are times, however, where being an introvert can be challenging:

  • Going to a party solo. (How do I get involved? What if I look like a loser, sitting by myself? What if no-one wants to talk to me?)
  • Turning up to a networking event alone. (Small talk, strangers, awkward introductions. Exhausting.)
  • Attending a conference without knowing anyone. (These people all know each other. They don’t need to talk to me. Argh!)

Over the past few years I’ve been to a number of networking events, parties and conferences on my own, and the experiences – while terrifying at the time – have been phenomenal.

The first time I went to an event solo I hid in the toilets for half an hour, trying to work up the courage to mingle in a room full of strangers.

How to be an introvert and still succeed at conferences

But eventually I bit the bullet, applied my lipstick and faked the fact that I was confident, until I actually did feel confident. I met wonderful people, learned a lot and may have ended up sharing a few (too many) cocktails late in the evening.

How to be an Introvert and Still Succeed at Conferences:

1. Body Language Matters:

  • Be open – don’t stand in the corner with your arms crossed, eyes cast down.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Smile readily, at lots of people.
  • If you feel awkward, hold a drink in your hand and wander the room.

2. Speak Up:

  • Say hello. (What’s the worst that could happen? The person ignores you? So what – that’s their loss. You’re awesome and they miss out on your company.)
  • People attend these events to connect with new people. So take a breath and introduce yourself. Ask them questions about their website/company/blog.
  • Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to someone you recognise/hero worship.
  • If you run out of things to say, simply ask questions about the person you’re speaking to. Married? Single? Kids? Pets? Travelled to be here?

3. Ignore Your Inner Mean Girl

  • Despite what your inner-critic may be screaming at you, you are not the only person in the room who has arrived alone. There are likely many others in exactly the same situation. If you see someone standing alone, go up and say hello.
  • You are interesting.
  • You are there – which is fabulous. Do you know how many people were too afraid to even take this step?

4. Be Yourself:

  • Not everyone you meet will be your new best friend – and that is perfectly OK.
  • Be open, be confident in who you are and what you do and expect others to do the same.

5. Be Prepared:

  • If applicable, bring business cards along. They are a great ice-breaker/conversation booster.
  • Have a brief description of your blog/job/company/website/book prepared for the inevitable question of, “And what do you do?” Resist the urge to spew this out robotically though – people don’t want to be pitched at. (Check out this episode of the Fizzle Show for a great how-to on creating the perfect elevator pitch.)
  • Have some go-to topics in mind for when conversations slow down. If all else fails talk about the sessions you’re attending.
  • When a conversation moves to its conclusion, just excuse yourself. No-one expects that you’ll be talking exclusively to them the entire day.

And that is how I didn’t fail miserably at my first conference. I didn’t have a group of friends to rely on, and the whole experience was actually better for it.

{ Images: via Gemma Correll on Medium + INFP problems }

No ‘Poo for You

How to wash your hair with bicarb soda

Way back in the day, Sparky and I backpacked around the world. We were fairly typical young travellers - straight out of Uni, broke, staying in questionable hostels with questionable company and putting beer above food in our own personal hierarchy of needs. (Side note: we absolutely loved Prague, not only because it was a beautiful, fascinating city but also because beer was cheaper than soft drink! Na zdraví!)

It was during this trip that I first started experimenting with unwashing my hair. I had heard somewhere that if you left your hair unwashed for 30 days, it would “dirty itself clean”. So, like the keen youngster I was, I thought I’d try it out. After all, I hated washing my hair every day or two. That 10 minutes in the shower was eating into beer exploration time.

I lasted 12 lank, greasy days and quickly lost my enthusiasm for going ‘poo free. That was, until Isla was born and I began to research just what was in the toiletries we used every day. Turns out, a lot of it is nasty stuff.

So I tried using castille soap instead of shampoo. No dice. (Stringytown. Population: me)

I tried buying expensive bars of handmade, natural shampoo that never really made my hair clean.

I even tried the old unwashing again. I didn’t even last a week.

I finally settled on an organic supermarket brand of shampoo, which did the job. It wasn’t ideal and my eyes were constantly itching, but I stuck with it for quite a while.

Eventually (and I have no idea why it took me so long to cotton on to this method) I tried using bicarb soda in place of shampoo, and I haven’t looked back.

That was over 2 months ago, and aside from a trip to the hairdresser for a cut and colour, my hair has been completely shampoo free.

I can’t be too sure, but I think my hair looks acceptable and I’m fairly certain I don’t stink.

No 'poo for 2 months.

I know this is hardly ground-breaking anymore, but I know a lot of people are interested in trying the no-shampoo method and simply don’t know where to start. So here are my tips:

Start dirty.

I left my hair unwashed for 4 days before I began using bicarb. It was well and truly in need of a wash by then, so the feeling of the bicarb lifting the oil off the roots of my hair was such a relief. Anything was going to feel good after 4 days of not washing, the fact that it was not my usual shampoo didn’t matter!

It takes time. 

You need time to work out the right ratio of bicarb/water for your hair, as well as how often your hair will need to be washed. My hair has taken over a month to settle in to the no shampoo phase, so be sure to give it at least 30 days before you decide whether it’s right for you or not.

Use a little, or use a lot. 

Some people only need a very small amount of bicarb to wash their hair, while others (like me) need a much higher concentration. I also find I have to wash it twice most times, as I have quite thick hair.

Condition your hair – sometimes.

I use a rinse of apple cider vinegar on the lengths of my hair once every week or two. I also use conditioner on the tips of my hair once a week. This is enough to keep it moisturised and manageable.

Get to love your brush.

The night before I am going to wash my hair, I will spend 10 minutes brushing it. This helps to distribute the oils down the length of my hair, and ensures I stay tangle-free.

How to wash hair using bicarb soda:

  1. Take a clean, empty squeeze bottle, a large cup or a clean old jar and fill it with 1/2 cup bicarb.
  2. Add water to it as needed, give it a little mix (depending on how much bicarb you need in your mixture, this might be a little swirl or a vigorous shake) and squirt onto your scalp.
  3. Focus on one area of your scalp at a time, squirting the water and bicarb onto your head and gently rubbing it in. Move on to the next area of the scalp until you have washed all areas.
  4. Rinse well and repeat if needed. Make sure to rinse the hair and scalp thoroughly.
  5. Pour a small amount (maybe 1/3 cup) of apple cider vinegar through the lengths of your hair and rinse out. This helps to remove residue and leave your hair shiny. And the vinegar smell? It goes away once the hair is dry.

People also ask if I use this with the kids, but to be honest, I can’t tell you the last time I even shampooed my kids’ hair. I condition it once a fortnight and it gets washed with plain water every few days, but they just don’t need the shampoo.

Have you tried to go ‘poo free? Are you curious to try? Let me know if you do and how it goes.

If you’d like to explore other recipes and methods for homemade, natural haircare, there is a great ebook available in this week’s Bundle of the Week. The bundle also includes books on the basics of foraging and herbal remedies.

{Top image via grandmaitre on Flickr}

Your Best Year Yet (and a Giveaway) – CLOSED

Your Best Year Yet >> An amazing little book by Kelly Exeter
We all have a story to tell.

Some stories are more interesting than others, some are darker, some are funnier, but all of them are worthy.

Sometimes we like to fool ourselves in thinking our stories are completely unique. Our struggles are new. Our downfalls, our weaknesses or our trials have never before been felt to this degree.

I’ve often felt like this, but the reality is it’s not true.

So many of the struggles we have are common. The circumstances, the names and the locations may differ, but the battles are shared amongst many. And that’s what I was struck with last weekend when I opened Kelly Exeter’s wonderful new book, Your Best Year Yet – 7 simple ways to shift your thinking and take charge of your life.

“Meanwhile, I was trying to be a good mum to my little baby, a good wife to my husband, a good friend, sibling, daughter, person – you know the drill…

“Life felt completely out of control and before long my mental and physical health started to deteriorate.”

That was me. That story right there is mine.

Turns out it was also Kelly’s. It may also have been yours, or perhaps it still is.

My point is, you aren’t alone in your struggles just as I wasn’t in mine (even if it felt like it). I only wish I had Kelly’s words to fall back on in the days where I struggled to get through to bed time without losing my mind.

“The only person who should get to write the story of your life is you. So start shaping a narrative around the person you want to be, not the person other people think you are.”

At its heart, this book is about rethinking your life and how you are choosing to live it. It’s not about simplifying as such, but it provides very simple, very do-able guidelines for rethinking habits, happiness, decision-making and time management. I found myself nodding along excitedly more than once while reading, and, I’m not going to lie, there might have been a fistpump or two.

Blueprint to your best year yet

Kelly and I really jive on this stuff, and I believe you’ll get a lot out of Your Best Year Yet. Which brings me to the exciting news - I have 5 copies of this wonderful book to give away!   Thanks so much for entering. The competition has now closed and winners have been notified. 

Simply leave a comment below and you’ll go into the draw to win a copy of Your Best Year Yet. This competition is open to everyone, just be sure to include your email address when leaving your comment.

(Entries close Monday 4th August 11:59pm AEST, and I will email the winners within 24 hours).

Good luck!

Keep Moving

Keep Moving

Yesterday afternoon in Sydney we experienced a gorgeous sunset.

Like, a ‘social media and radio and news bulletins lit up with hundreds of photos’ kind of gorgeous. Everywhere I turned, people were taking a moment out of their afternoons, right around the busy peak hour, just before dinner time, to celebrate a natural beauty.

It was a brief shared moment across a city of more than 4 million people. A city that often feels as though it’s losing its heart. Hundreds of thousands of us all stood together (apart) and enjoyed something just for the sake of beauty. It just felt a bit…special.

But then I started seeing other #sunset comments on social media:

“Geez, we get it. There’s a beautiful sunset. So what?”

“So glad to see my feed filled with #sunset photos. Not.”

Come on.

Are we so self-absorbed that we get annoyed at a beautiful sunset? Or even at people who aren’t us enjoying said sunset? I mean… Really? Are we that fond of feeling pissed off that we take aim at a particularly pretty end to a Monday?

I have to say, I’m seeing this more and more online. People engaging in negative behaviours that are not only completely unnecessary, but unhelpful and often detrimental to their own happiness (not to mention that of others).

Rather than skimming over something we don’t care about, or ignoring a status update that we disagree with, we are engaging and getting indignant and becoming easily offended, all because someone else has the audacity to think differently to us.

Here’s an idea: just keep moving.

Keep scrolling. Unfollow if you must. By all means, roll your eyes and sigh in the privacy of your own home.  But honestly, when it’s trivial stuff, just move on.

Part of slowing down and living a more contented life is stopping to pay attention to those easy-to-miss moments of beauty, but another part is knowing when to opt out of the crap. Knowing when to keep moving, when to steer clear of drama, when to ignore negativity or even just dissenting opinions. Particularly when there’s nothing you will say that will make one shred of difference.

There are absolutely battles worth fighting, but an over-shared sunset ain’t one. Nor is an inspirational quote, a movie trailer or a braggadocious (it’s a word – truly) selfie. Just keep moving.

 

 

The Slow Kitchen: Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

Let’s say it’s Thursday night. You’re feeling a little worn out, you’re short on time and food-related creativity but you’re not ready to call for pizza. You still want to prepare a healthy, nutrient-packed dinner that everyone will love but, ugh, can’t someone else do it?

That’s where this super easy baked chicken breast and vege dish comes in. Just like other recipes in The Slow Kitchen series, this weeknight dinner is simple, easy, healthy and full of real ingredients. Enjoy!

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Vegetables

(Serves 4, Ready in 45min)

You’ll need:

  • 2 whole chicken breasts
  • 1 sweet potato – skin on, roughly chopped
  • 1 zucchini – roughly chopped
  • 2 handfuls of mushrooms – sliced
  • handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2-3 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 tin crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tin red kidney beans – rinsed and drained
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic – crushed
  • salt and pepper
  • brown rice

Simply:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/420F and put the brown rice on to cook.
  2. Chop the sweet potato, zucchini and mushrooms and spread over the base of a non-stick baking tray (a deep one with a lid is perfect, otherwise use a castiron pan. A regular baking tray or casserole dish is also fine – just make sure you can cover it well with aluminium foil).
  3. Lay the chicken breasts over the top of the vegetables and rub with garlic, basil, salt, pepper and olive oil.
  4. Top the vegetables with the beans and then the tin of tomatoes. Drizzle this with a little extra olive oil.

Easy Baked Chicken Breast and Veges

5. Cover the dish and put in the oven for approximately 40 minutes, or until the chicken is steamed all the way through. (It should be deliciously tender.)
6. Give the entire contents of the baking tray a good mix, add in the baby spinach and pop back in the oven for another few minutes.
7. Serve over rice, topped with more basil, chilli sauce or the topping of your choice.

Variations/Additions:

Meat-Free?: Leave out the chicken and add in some more veges. You could also up the protein content with some pre-soaked red lentils. (If this is the case, you may want to add a cup of vegetable stock to the mix too, as the lentils will soak up a lot of moisture.)

More Vegetables: This recipe will work with virtually any vegetables you have on hand. Pumpkin, squash, kale, potatoes, carrots – they all cook up beautifully in the tomato base. Just note that you may need to add more crushed tomatoes or a cup of vegetable stock if you up the vege content by a lot.

Vegan: Cut out the chicken, obviously, and you’re good to go.

Gluten-Free: This is a gluten-free dish, happy days!

 

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