This book is packed with inspirational stories from the women who've done it: the student who landed herself a job as a rock photographer, the housewife who started a global charity, the accountant who turned her back on finance to become a wing-walker, the mum who got the idea for a multi-million pound invention from a carpet stain, the novelist who used a split-personality to create a bestseller, and loads more. This book will give you smart, practical advice on following your passion; expert tips on everything from starting a business to travelling the world; and the tools and confidence to finally start making your dreams happen!Published by Hay House Ltd, 2011
Inventor of the Anywayup Cup Mandy Haberman gives her top tips on protecting your brilliant ideas from copycats.br>
Are You the First? Before you do anything else, make sure you’ve actually got a corker of an idea – research it to see if anyone else has already thought of it. There’s no point pouring time, energy and cash into something someone else is already doing better. Be sure to check patent databases, which you can find on the Intellectual Property Office website at www.ipo.gov.uk.
Keep Schtum Don’t tell anyone about your idea unless they’ve signed something to say they won’t blab about it. It’s called a non-disclosure agreement and you can find templates online or get a solicitor to draw one up for not much cash.
Freebies Get yourself down to the British Library in London – they’ve got a whole centre dealing with Intellectual Property and they’re happy to give you advice and info for free. Make the most of it!
Do Your Homework Learn about intellectual property rights. Sounds dull, but a little bit of info goes a long way. If you’re going to get serious about being an inventor, you have to do things properly, otherwise you’ll find yourself winding up with a nightmare legal bill, and you might risk losing everything. Trust me, I know! Again, the website for the UK Intellectual Property Office is a good place to start.
Bring in the Experts Get a patent agent – they’re the guys who know all this stuff for a job, and if you get the right one he or she can be invaluable for advice and actually drafting your patent.
Mandy Haberman is the inventor of the non-spill Anywayup Cup for toddlers - www.mandyhaberman.com
1. "Be decisive in knowing what you want, but flexible about how you’re going to get it. The timetables of our lives rarely run to plan.”
Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel told us this. She has struggled with poor health for most of her adult life, but didn’t let this stop her getting on with the hard slog of writing. She's become a household name in recent years with her novels about Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. She gave us some great tips on finding and using inspiration.
2. “Doing is like dominoes, a chain reaction which will lead you to the right place.”
Camila Batmanghelidjh, who gave us this great line, is the amazing founder of the charity Kids’ Company. The centres she started have changed the lives of thousands of disadvantaged children in urban areas, and she started it all from a broom-cupboard. From that small beginning she is now changing attitudes to child poverty on a national level. Dominoes indeed.
3. “Rejection happens all the time. Believe in yourself, don’t take rejection too personally and don’t let it stop you … The Beatles, Beatrix Potter, J K Rowling, H G Wells … all got rejected several times over before they hit the big time.”
Clearly lots of our readers know what we mean when we talk about the difficulty of dealing with rejection and failure. When things don’t go to plan or people don’t appreciate what we do, it’s tough not to let it deflate us. But for many of the women we interviewed, the knock-backs made them stronger, and they gave us great advice on how to deal with criticism and rejection so that it doesn’t knock the stuffing out of you.
4. “Passion is catching – burning with enthusiasm for something can ignite the people around you, helping you find unexpected help and support.”
Passion for what you do was such an important theme throughout the interviews we did that we devoted a whole chapter to it: how to find it, what it feels like and what it can achieve.
5. “Talk less, do more. There’s no time like now to start your new life – make a plan, break it into small steps, and get on with it.”
It’s obvious advice, perhaps, but something clearly chimed with our readers on this one. It doesn’t matter how small the action is, whether it’s signing up for a course or checking the jobs pages, just taking that first step helps break down the inertia barrier many of us face.
6. “Volunteering is a good way to uncover hidden passions. Get out there, give up your time and see where it takes you.”
It’s true! Doing something to help others makes you feel good, but it also exposes you to new people, new ideas and new skills. It’s a brilliant way of getting you out of a rut and giving you ideas about your future.
Jill Furmanovsky is one of the most successful photographers of the great era of rock and roll. She covered it all, from the big hair and bare chests of 1970s prog-rock through the Mohicans-and-mayhem of the punk scene and the even bigger hair and puffy sleeves of New Wave.
[…] Her break as a rock photographer was so sudden and unexpected that she remembers the exact date. "14th January 1972 ... the Yes concert in Finsbury Park. The date of that amazing incident is stuck in my head.’"
When Jill was 19, she went to see Yes, one of the biggest prog-rock bands of the moment, at the notorious Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park in London. She was carrying a camera because she’d just done a two-week photography course at art college and was looking for interesting things to practise on. Before that she’d never handled a camera.
[…] Sitting in the cheap seats in the balcony with her friends, Jill spotted some photographers in the press pit near the stage. In a moment of sudden bravery, she ran downstairs and along the central aisle towards the pit, camera clutched in her hands.
"I was thinking, well, the camera looks professional. If I look confident maybe I can get away with it. And I did."
Amazingly, no one stopped her, and Jill shot off a roll of film right by the stage. […]
After the gig, the other photographers in the pit asked Jill if she was a professional. "I still can’t really believe what happened then. When they asked me, I said yes. I’d only done a two-week course! They said they worked for the Rainbow as photographers, but they had another job to do, and did I want to take their spot. So I said yes again."
We love the fact that Jill blagged her way to the front of her field. We’re not advocating lying on your CV or anything, but many of the women we’ve spoken to have seized an opportunity that’s presented itself, even if it meant a bit of creative self-presentation. It’s like a kind of magic: if you believe it, so will everyone else. Whatever it was that made Jill run to the front of that gig and claim to be a professional photographer still baffles her a bit. She says she was a shy teenager, too scared even to approach people and talk to them.
"I guess when my opportunity came, I grabbed it and clung on to it for dear life. […] I consider myself a coward. I don’t like confrontation, so I couldn’t really believe it when I was going up to people and taking their portrait. It’s just that I’m not a coward with the camera."
Eye Contact The most important element of any burlesque routine is eye-contact. To lock eyes with your audience is compelling, sexy and open. The most powerful thing you can do when engaging with anyone, from the love of your life to your boss, is to hold your head up high and look them straight in the eye. You are equal, confident and unapologetically you.
Classic Inspiration Being beautiful isn’t all disco ball bikinis or bleached blonde hair. It’s about tastefulness and holding back just that last drop of sugar that leaves your audience curious and wanting more. Put a picture of the glamour icon of your choice near where you get ready, to remind you to make the effort, even if you feel like reaching for the tracksuit bottoms.
Walking Tall We walk around all day without giving it much thought, but if you want a bit of a glamover, try this. Make sure you are never late so you don’t have to rush. Imagine that every time you walk you are in a burlesque show. If you turn the walk-to-work into a fashion shoot for Vogue then you will naturally start walking like a superstar. Head held up, a wiggle from the hips and confident strides. Sounds bonkers, but it works.
Hair Affair As a child I had great fun playing with my hair: I used to collect colourful hair clips and learn new ways to braid it. But somewhere along the way we forget this love affair with hair and settle for a quick blow-dry and a pony tail. Put some bounce back into your barnet: try new styles, accessories, or go a bit vintage and get experimenting with those victory rolls.
Bring on the Bling Add a little sparkle to your outfit! From a broach or earrings to a full-on diamante dress, it will make you look and feel a million dollars. Be inspired by some of the original burlesque dancer and movie star costumes – Betty Grable, Bettie Page, Sally Rand, Mae West. Rhinestones are recommended, as are sequins, lace, frills and ribbons.
Lady Alex is a burlesque performer at London’s Wam Bam Club – www.wambamclub.com