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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 54: Authenticity and realness in business

Natalie Coulson

Founder Amped Up Communications

December 6, 2022
Natalie Coulson talks about how she can help you elevate your business by finding your true authentic voice.

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Credits

Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Natalie Coulson

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00:01:19:00 - 00:01:49:23

Carrie Kwan

Natalie Coulson's marketing consultancy, Amped Up Communications. A marketing expert, Natalie says she's driven by a natural curiosity in how businesses, big and small, came to be, and believes in the power of setbacks, trauma and failure for epic transformations. She joins us on Mumbition the podcast today to share some of her business journey. Natalie, a big welcome to Mumbition.

00:01:50:07 - 00:01:52:03

Natalie Coulson

Thank you, Carrie. It's great to be here.

00:01:53:17 - 00:02:04:10

Carrie Kwan

Now, we love sharing stories about amazing small business owner journeys. We'd love to hear yours. Could you please give us your 30 second elevator pitch?

00:02:05:11 - 00:02:32:22

Natalie Coulson

Sure! So I work with businesses and brands to elevate by finding their voice. So, for mums in business, it's about getting clear on who you are, what you stand for so that you can develop that confidence to promote yourself, to become known. I make that happen through strategic content marketing and communications. So yeah, that's one of my elevator pitches, I think we always had several.

00:02:34:16 - 00:02:54:09

Carrie Kwan

So true, and so should be the case, right? Depending on who you're talking to. I do love that you are actually tapping into something which is such an enabler, that confidence to let people share and shine in their own ways.

00:02:56:02 - 00:02:58:18

Natalie Coulson

Absolutely, I think confidence is really the key.

00:03:00:01 - 00:03:09:12

Lucy Kippist

Natalie, you started your career in a very exciting space as a travel journalist flying around the world. First question, did you really go to New York just for lunch one day? 

00:03:10:18 - 00:04:12:13

Natalie Coulson

I didn't go specifically just for lunch, but I think I had two meetings and the lunch and that was the whole purpose of going. 

But I just remembered that pinch me moment because I was working in Toronto in magazine publishing and New York is only like Sydney to Melbourne, it's just an hour flight. Everyone else was busy and they didn't want to go, so they decided to send me. So they flew me all across different parts of Canada and New York because it was very close as well. I was pinching myself when I got on that flight and I thought, “Here I am, this girl from Central Coast, New South Wales, and I'm going to New York to take a client to lunch.” 

This is actually ridiculous, but it was a really important strategic move for the company to build those relationships. I was doing important work, but gosh, it felt like a lot of fun.

00:04:13:04 - 00:04:39:07

Lucy Kippist

Absolutely, I'm sure. I remember reading that on one of your LinkedIn posts and I'm really interested in the way that you so honestly describe the path that you've taken to build your brand and your business over the years. 

But of all the work experiences that you've had in the lead up to this particular business journey, what do you think has led to the greater feeling of satisfaction?

00:04:40:16 - 00:05:55:15

Natalie

Well, I'm obsessed with transformation, which I think you mentioned in the intro. That really can be like working with individuals or it could be working with a company. But if there's a starting place and then an end goal, then I'm able to put things in place to make that happen, that's what gives me the satisfaction.

You always come up against obstacles and there's always amazing things that happen as well. It's just staying on course and also knowing when to quit, when things aren't working as well and pivoting, which we all know so well after the pandemic. But what I'm enjoying most is working with entrepreneurial women, which is why I'm really excited to speak with you both today, because I think we deal with a lot of obstacles in our own mind.

The women I speak to, they're so concerned with imposter syndrome or standing up and saying the wrong thing or just trying to master that jargon and put the right messages out there. So it's working with those women and then seeing them make that transformation that gives me the most satisfaction.

00:05:56:11 - 00:07:02:11

Carrie Kwan

We know that feeling very well. It is truly empowering, not only for that individual, but I think collectively, because we often say that when women start these businesses, they're actually creating this ecosystem of business relationships. They don't just work on their own ambitions, they're actually lifting up and enabling so many others because they're hiring more women within their own businesses or creating more choice.

They're playing roles in the community. We got a lot of regional women that actually do so much to build their local community and doing the side job of caring in that process as well, whether it be for younger generations or older. 

I know that your business has changed shape after the birth of your son in 2019. Can you describe some of the conscious decision making processes that you went through in order to make these challenges with a bit more ease?

00:07:03:11 - 00:07:56:22

Natalie Coulson

Right. So before he was born, the last couple of years, I was always working contracts and that allowed me to go and work in an office sometimes. I was doing part time contracts and I always had my little side hustle, which was working with small businesses to promote themselves better, so that's always been the case in different iterations. 

But in 2019, I thought, and I had no idea and none of us knew the pandemic was coming, but I just wanted to spend more time at home. I wanted that flexibility and I thought, I'll make my side hustle into my main hustle, which was definitely a shift, but once I became intentional about that, I've just seen it grow.

00:07:56:22 - 00:08:29:05

Lucy Kippist

That's so interesting about the side hustle into the main hustle, Natalie, because we are seeing an increase in the number of women who are doing that within the community as well and wanting to pull in that greater level of flexibility and of course, do something that they really love whilst still, working sometimes, almost full time, as well with with caring responsibilities.

I'm just wondering, how did that transition go in terms of the family dynamic? What did you need to adjust at home to make that work?

00:08:29:09 - 00:08:43:09

Natalie Coulson

I needed to take it a bit more seriously. Like, not just sit at the dining table, create an actual desk space. I would do things like I went and worked at the library so I'd work in other locations.

00:08:44:16 - 00:08:46:21

Lucy Kippist

Thank god for libraries!

00:08:46:21 - 00:09:31:12

Natalie Coulson

My partner was also really understanding in that first year. What I did was I gradually increased, so I think I started when he was not even three months old, probably less than that, just a couple of months old, just doing something one day a week.

I was quite lucky before he was born that I didn't have a strong online presence and I had built my business mostly through networking. So luckily in 2019, I started to be able to build a bit more of an online presence because I wasn't able to get out to networking events as much, and then of course that went into overdrive in 2020.

00:09:32:09 - 00:10:14:12

Lucy Kippist

That’s interesting, can I ask you something about the networking element? Because that's something we’re obviously really passionate about here at Mums & Co. 

When you are creating those connections online, it is quite different to when you're networking in your room actually in your life. While those things are changing rapidly now, it's more normal to be asked, but what are you looking for when you're trying to connect with someone online with a view to making a business relationship, whether it be collaboration or just just a connection?

Is there something you're looking for? What’s a tip you would have for other people who are trying to blend in with stuff?

00:10:14:12 - 00:11:42:12

Natalie Coulson

Definitely, so we were talking about LinkedIn before, but it doesn't actually matter which platform. It could be Facebook, Instagram or even Twitter. It's about storytelling, it's about being a bit vulnerable, keeping it professional, but you need to create that trust. What I'm looking for is a connection because if people are holding their cards too close to their chest, you're not finding out who they are.

I think it's really tempting, particularly, I think, on Instagram to show that you're living your best life all the time, and that can get super tiring, because actually no one is living their best life all the time, it's just a big lie, we all have bad days. I've just started to really tune out from that, that no longer resonates with me.

I want to know about the tough stuff. I want to know about how people develop resilience, how they overcame challenges, and then what they did with that. That's what I'm looking for, not exclusively, obviously, someone's had a wonderful, easy life, then I'm very happy for them, but it's that connection and that and being real, authenticity.

00:11:42:12 - 00:13:14:20

Carrie Kwan

I think it's one of those things that especially if I'm talking about myself, sometimes I find that difficult because it is challenging to kind of open yourself up. The parts of your life that might be considered a bit more personal or, but I also see that shift, I've been on Twitter since probably 2007 and Facebook around the same time as well.

And I'm apologising for being on my phone when I was actually at events because I was tweeting from them. I've gone through phases as well, but I've actually thought it's kind of constantly evolving, isn't it? I think it's at that stage where people are actually being a lot more vulnerable on these platforms. I think that's also a healthy thing because we can't have perfect lives and we don't have perfect lives. 

How would you encourage someone who's a little bit resistant to that? Is there anything that's worked for you? I know that you regularly share information, including frank discussions about your personal life, including experiences of depression and the impact that's had on your business. Can you tell us a little bit about what has made you leap into that area?

00:13:16:00 - 00:15:01:19

Natalie Coulson

I had encouragement from a coach to do that because I would not have jumped into sharing anything about mental health because I felt that was super taboo. But what I found by doing that, was that it created that connection, it allowed me to tell a story. 

It's also not necessarily important about the background, like why that happened, why there was a trauma or mental health, it's about what you do after that. My advice would be you certainly don't need to share everything about your life, and I certainly don't. It's to figure out that whole transformation, that whole vision. So what are you trying to achieve? Then it's developing key messages and then deciding on what you're going to share.

So because for me, I suppose my mental health journey did create a lot of changes in my life and it also showed me how resilient I am. Those are really important things to me and for other people it would be something else. But if I do have clients who still find that too much, what we then focus on is thought leadership.

It's sharing your expertise in a particular topic and just creating helpful information. You can weave in a little bit about your personal life in it, but share your knowledge so that you become known as the expert in that space. That's an easier way than oversharing, as some people feel that I do at times.

00:15:05:03 - 00:15:50:17

Carrie Kwan

That actually resonates really well with me in terms of that's exactly what you're doing. You're actually sharing that knowledge, sharing that experience around buckets and themes that you're actually passionate about or want to be known as an expert in. That's what thought leadership is, any content that you write about, that particular area and that sits well to me too. Phew. That's what I've been doing.

You've been running your business for well over six years, thereabouts, I think. Natalie, how would you describe your relationship over that time with the concept of risk?

00:15:51:19 - 00:17:00:01

Natalie Coulson

Yeah, it's challenging. Business is a rollercoaster and sometimes I absolutely love being on the roller coaster and other times I want to get off it and that's just me being honest as well. 

I've really enjoyed the creativity that comes with business and in terms of risk, it's been about the priorities at that particular time. I just want to mention too, I think it's okay to go and make the main hustle back to a side hustle again. We have choices, we can take a risk out at a time and then and then change our mind. Nothing is set in stone and I remind myself of that as well because our priorities change as mums. When kids are really small, you want that flexibility to be at home, but then you might get sick of being at home or get sick of working with a particular type of client, and then it's time to shift. That's a process I'm actually going through at the moment and we've got to constantly evolve.

00:17:01:12 - 00:17:35:17

Carrie Kwan 

Even just reviewing your circumstances, we do goal planning every year, right? Over a period of time, it's just kind of looking at what's working and what's not. That would be a really practical approach to how you view risk as well. 

Things have changed over the last 12 months, things drastically change when you throw in a pandemic and the birth of a child or a milestone of a child, so I think we have to approach it in that same way, too.

00:17:36:07 - 00:18:08:23

Natalie Coulson

We feel very differently. I love the newborn stage and I thrive during that stage, but my son is nearly four now and it's just a very different stage. He's actually quite independent now and obviously he still needs me, but thankfully he’s at daycare more, he’s not as sick as much. So that's just given me more freedom again, which you don't necessarily expect I think, until kids are older. So yeah, it's just embracing the journey.

00:18:10:18 - 00:18:28:14

Lucy Kippist

That's a really lovely segway to two questions that I wanted to ask you. First of all, I'm going to ask you about your son, because I wanted to ask, as you mentioned, he's only little, he's nearly four. Does he understand what you're doing for work and what would you like him to learn from you about the power of running your own business?

00:18:30:09 - 00:20:32:08

Natalie Coulson

I don't think he has any idea what I do for work. It's interesting because he was at my parents house a few weekends ago and my mum said, “Papa is going to go down into the backyard.” He's got like a man cave and he's going to do some work. And my son said, “Oh, is he going to take his computer?” And mum was like, “Oh, that's so interesting.” Then sometimes he will say, “Leave me alone. I've got too much work on.” 

So now we've just moved house, actually, and I've set up my office downstairs in a separate room, so I'm not working on the main floor. I'm making some of these conscious decisions so that mummy doesn't look like she's always working. He has no idea what I do, but he knows I sit behind a computer, at least some of the time, particularly when he's at home sick, he sees me at the computer all the time, “mummy’s got to work, go out.”

But what I'm actually doing and he has no idea. What I would like him to know is that he has options. He can become a university academic, he can become a plumber, he can run his own business, he's got choices. I always felt that I had to follow the traditional path and my parents never presented the idea of business to me. It's been something I've had to learn about later in life.

I know his dad is also passionate about giving him that choice and empowering him. Once you've got that entrepreneurial brain, you can't help but pass that on and and pass those ideas and that thinking. I think he will grow up with an entrepreneurial mindset.

00:20:33:08 - 00:20:57:05

Lucy Kippist

It's a beautiful answer. It’s so important to demonstrate the power of possibilities when it comes to a career. There was an article the other day that was talking about the fact that the generation now, the jobs that they will do, they're not even created yet, there’s that much unknown.

00:20:57:05 - 00:21:03:24

Natalie Coulson

I remember that at school and I was like, “how have they not been invented yet?” I couldn't wrap my head around it, but now I understand.

00:21:03:24 - 00:21:46:09

Lucy Kippist

I guess even when we were probably at university, the idea of being an entrepreneur, well, I suppose it has always existed, but it certainly wasn't in the lexicon or in the media or in day-to-day speech the way it is now. You can only imagine the transformation in the future. 

We spoke a little bit before about how you were talking about the importance of reflecting on where you are at the moment in terms of adjusting, how life works, how work works. What are you doing on a daily basis now to keep you grounded and keep your mental health in check and keep you kind of firing on at home and in the business?

00:21:47:01 - 00:23:53:05

Natalie Coulson

It's definitely the morning ritual and I don't have some fancy morning ritual with meditation and journaling, like that sounds amazing, but I don't. So I keep it really simple, it's when I'm making my coffee, I think about my feet being planted on the ground and I've got beautiful orchids, which aren’t so happy about their house move, but I always tend to my orchids and I just think, well, I’m in the here and now and I'm grateful to be in the here and now.

It doesn't matter what's going on, I always have to have my morning coffee, so that is like a grounding sort of ritual. I know certainly through the lockdown period, I realised that mornings were really important and I didn't rush mornings. That was something else that running my own business allowed me to do, so often I wouldn't take my son to daycare until after nine because I just needed that morning time to have my coffee ritual to just ease into it.

But we're speaking about change, and so that's certainly changed. We've moved close to the beach, so I'm embracing morning walks and that's two or three mornings a week now, but then I come home and do the morning coffee ritual, so it's really simple things like that. 

I think not putting the pressure on myself to be firing on all cylinders all the time because that just leads to burnout. I’ve experienced that and I'm prone to burn out because I like to do a million things. But I have to remember that I need to keep things simple sometimes and go to bed at a decent time. Then those times of massive firing on all cylinders will come back. If I keep on going during the times when I'm not feeling that, I will just burn out. So it's being really aware of my own rhythm.

00:23:53:13 - 00:24:06:16

Carrie Kwan

Now finally, Natalie, in the spirit of women supporting women, who are the mumbitious, those that are unapologetically blending motherhood and ambition, that you would like to say hello to?

00:24:07:05 - 00:25:09:10

Natalie

Well, I know that Julia Scott spoke, I think, at the conference, and she's doing really amazing things and empowering women about how they think about money. I know that she's really helped me to set bigger goals for myself and just to think that there are no limits, she's definitely somebody who I would shout out to.

There's also Karen Eck. She believes in the power of visibility and she's running collaborative lunches for women which have played a really powerful role in bringing women together at a time that works for us, so I would shout out to her. 

There's a couple of other women, Pauline Younan’s been fantastic, as well as Pamela Kominos, just being real, embracing the entrepreneurial spirit, showing how you can parent in different ways and the no BS approach.

00:25:10:05 - 00:25:34:07

Carrie Kwan

Thank you, we will definitely check them out and we had a fascinating conversation with Julia as well. There's a cracker of an episode where she talks about how we are the first generation that's really had control of their finances. So thank you for giving her another shout out along with those amazing women.

00:25:35:01 - 00:25:54:07

Lucy Kippist

Thanks so much for joining us on Mumbition today. If you'd like to hear more from Natalie, you can find her on LinkedIn. If you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business minded women, just like you, at mumsandco.com.au. 

Can you run a successful business and not be on social media?

00:25:54:10 - 00:26:31:03

Natalie Coulson

I would say yes. However, I'm not really sure what that business is, but I wouldn't like to say that you absolutely have to be on social media to be successful. However, I think social media certainly helps and it's an easy way to have your voice heard. There's so much opportunity to create those connections and facilitate that trust and put your content out there. I am not sure of the business that would not need social media, but I am 100% sure that they exist.