2021 · bloggers · community · consulting · virtual coffee date · weekly · writing

Special Edition: Virtual Coffee Date #4

25.04.21

Today, I’m joined by Yker Valerio, Founder/Editor of Bon Vivant Caffè. Which makes perfect sense as this is a virtual coffee date! It is almost impossible to not smile when you talk to Yker because he is such a passionate character.

This is his story:


“When the Pandemic began, I was working for a consulting firm. I’d been there almost ten years. I was teaming up with another consultant and a client’s Project Manager. Although it was an exciting project, something felt a bit, ‘off’. I couldn’t put my finger on why though.

Leading up to this, I’d been directing my energy into some freelancing projects, mostly translations and writing. I didn’t realise at the time but I’d found my calling.

Writing is a lifelong passion for me, and I just felt it was time to write more. So in 2020, I made my mind up and decided to start my own business as a freelance writer and entrepreneur”

Yker’s next move is great advice to any budding entrepreneurs out there.

“Well, I decided to start my niche research right away, was a coffee blog a good idea? I took Authority Hackers approach to advance and started working on my coffee blog in July.

Curiously enough, the quarantine helped me to focus and my productivity rose very quickly. Commuting time and small-talk at the office suddenly transformed into productive time and made a huge difference for me.

Then, I realised that I needed some time to work alone. So, I prepared to launch my blog and took a part-time contract as a writer, so I could transition away from my full-time job”.

So as the World rolled down its shutters, Yker was able to reflect on his place and purpose in this world.

“All of my career I’d been around HR-related consulting, with some hints of innovation, transformation, and change.

From my standpoint, I was working in supportive roles most of the time, which was essential to me.

I felt worried about the people around me, but something made me think I would be better working on my own. So, when the crisis was becoming overwhelming for most people, I felt liberated actually.

It sounds terrible, and self-centred, but my experience as a remote freelancer and entrepreneur have given me so much autonomy and productivity I can barely understand how I functioned before this.

It still worries me the current status of the people around, but I can’t think about returning to work the way I did it before. I wouldn’t do it, as I know how I can be a lot more productive now. 

With the support of my wife of course, she has always been very supportive. I was a bit afraid of my parents’ response, but without my wife I don’t think I’d have progressed as well as I have.

Fortunately, my whole family and friends have been at my side at every step. I can’t thank them enough for the encouragement and good vibes.

I think it’s key to have a supportive circle of people around to sort the hard times, and I am lucky enough to have a beautiful family and good friends around me”. 

See? It’s impossible to not smile… 

“I can’t ignore the huge pain the Pandemic has inflicted on so many people.

Still, it has forced many organisations, institutions, and individuals to be more open about remote working, engaging in chats, social media, and all-sorts of new conversations.

I have enjoyed many online events during this year, including some coffee-related stuff like High Density, which was completely mind-blowing. I still watch the replays and learn from them.

E-learning was another huge part of my year, since I developed lots of new skills through online learning. I worked, and studied, and researched, and wrote, round the clock. I can’t imagine how difficult it’s for people without access to the internet to face this pandemic.

Every time I hear the story about people struggling because they don’t speak English, or don’t have access to the Internet it saddens me.

I honestly wish more people could have more opportunities to thrive, even in these challenging times.

Many people are afraid and anxious. Others are optimistic. Still, I think the major difference between them is those want to return to the old normal opposed to those who want something different.

As I touched on before, when I realised I was more productive and energetic working on my own, I chose to take the entrepreneurial path.

It’s risky, but no one is safe during a crisis like this one. So I took the bold step.” 

I agree with Yker, it was a risk though I understand the motivation behind it. 

“Energy or lack of, was the biggest reason that compelled me to take action. I felt tired after a meeting as a consultant, but could write the whole Saturday for my blog! 

When I noticed I could focus for 10 hours in a row on my writing, I decided that I needed to take it seriously.”

I asked Yker to reflect on the decisions he made, here’s what he said.

“I have had my ups and downs, but I feel confident that I took the best decision.

It’s challenging to deal with financial instability, but I didn’t have any guarantee it was going to be any different as a full-time employee anyway.

I have a lot more mental stamina than before. The Pandemic put everything in perspective and it’s easier for me to see petty obstacles, just as they are.

Additionally, I am more creative and productive than I was. On the downside, I am more sedentary!” 

Yeah, you and most of us now! 

“I care more about impact than perceptions now. Working as a full-time employee I did my best to contribute to my employer’s bottom line, while presenting myself as an expert consultant.

Today as a freelancer and business owner, I can only see clients, providers, and partners as people. It’s incredible how alienated I was from this simple idea, but as I see human beings in business, my decisions are better grounded and easier to make.”

And that’s not all Yker learnt from this experience… 

“Process and results are equally important. We tend to focus so much on goals that we forget that they come from our effort, energy, time, and skills. The pandemic has made me think about my fragility. 

My advice is don’t overthink about your purpose, and put top. skills to work instead. I tried to convince myself about my purpose. Yet, my goals and skillset are evolving, day after day. Looking for a purpose can be exhausting and confusing. Since I found that out, I do my best to put my skills to work whenever I can.”

And last piece of advice? 

“Love. Sounds cheesy, because we’re so blind that we’re afraid of loving and even say the word. It’s the most powerful thing we have, so sharing love with everyone has become crucial for me”.

Yker drives home a great point here. 

“There’s no magic solution or a Eureka moment that deals with lack of purpose or an odd feeling about your job or your business. It’s easier to find good things in what we have, than waiting for dreams to come true.

I just prefer to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. And I honestly believe everyone can do that as well”. 

And as that concludes our interview, readers can connect online with Yker.

Photo credit © Yker Valerio

“My passion in hobby and business is coffee and writing about coffee, so the easiest way to know more about me and engage with me is on the Website

You can also connect via:

Facebook

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Pinterest

LinkedIn

2021 · at home with lu · blogging101 · community · random stuff · virtual coffee date · weekly · writing

Virtual Coffee Date #2

11.04.21

Good morning HQ-ers,

Back on the 3 in 1’s just for convenience… I ain’t judging you!

Since the last coffee together, we had the Easter Break, some of Europe went back into Lockdown as the U.K. is starting to come out of it.

There’s been a couple of high profile and celebrity deaths, it’s also snowed here for the first time in April since 1984! I remember the day well as I was going to hospital to have my tonsils removed.

I will address the Sarah Everard story eventually. I’m still processing it and the aftershocks it has caused. Every time I try to finish my drafted thoughts on it, I just can’t finish it because you can’t finish a story like that. How do you just write ‘The End’ to such a tragic story? I’ll figure it out no doubt, just not right now. However, please do get in touch if you feel you’ve something to add or just want to vent your thoughts.

Lu Williams, Virtual Coffee Date #1

Schools reopen tomorrow and boy, will I miss my child terribly. Many people are so happy for their kids to return having gone stir-crazy yet my son really is my best mate so I’m going to really feel his absence.

It does feel strange, venturing back to some semblance of normalcy after a year of restrictions. And if I’m really honest, I’m not looking forward to it. I noticed my local shop getting busier and people not keeping 2 metres away in the queue and it unsettles me. I realise just how much I dislike anyone in my personal space, now and it can be quite anxiety-inducing.

Having already been through such an emotional rollercoaster of a time, I’m taking stock just how much my mental health has been tested.

On the plus side, I live in the hope that soon my wingman and I can travel again. I’d love to know your holiday plans, so please do tell me in the comments!

Join me again next week for a virtual coffee date!

Have a great week.

2021 · at home with lu · community

One Scrapbooking Idea

I’ve always liked journalling and collecting little things that remind me of good times and travelling.

Having accumulated a lot of books and stationary over the years, I was having a really good clear out and found a empty red covered photo album that was almost falling apart.

Red…

I also found my collection of tickets from various events (mostly football matches)

Red…

In addition I found a sheet of stickers that came from a kid’s pack that came with a meal that my son hadn’t used much.

Now it’s no secret I cannot draw a straight line with a ruler BUT I’ll always try and give it a go, so a Google search of “football doodles” threw up some images I just copied out from my phone onto paper as accurately as I could.

These pictures are a little walkthrough of my favourite pages that have come from this hour of wasting my time while I was bored the other day.

Collage of scrapbook pages
Collage of scrapbook pages

It’s not brilliant, it’s not artistic, it’s not even that aesthetically pleasing BUT I get to keep my tickets stored safely, I can thumb through it like a photo album and relive the good moments and it brings me a warm fuzzy feeling.

I’d love to know if you have a similar collection or keep a scrapbook journal, so drop me a comment

All I used was:

Old photo album/display folder
My tickets
Pencil & Grid paper
Clear tape
Scissors and eraser
An hour of my day

2021 · bloggers · blogging101 · community · virtual coffee date · weekly · writing

Virtual Coffee Date #1

28.03.21

Good morning HQ-ers,

Kettle’s just boiled, so grab a brew!

I’m on the Nescafé 3 in 1’s, I know! It’s not good, I mean I like them, they are convenient yet they can’t be that good for you really especially at the amount I consume daily.

Actually I don’t like them… I’m not a fan since they fixed what wasn’t broke and their “fresher and richer” recipe tastes like pond water. I’m addicted to them. I have a box a day habit and I get rather antsy if I run out.

I did tweet Nestle once to ask if they contained crack however they never replied.

I’m digressing here, I’m aware it’s a problem and I have taken the first step by admitting my ‘fake-coffee’ addiction so let’s move on.

During the night, Daylight Savings Time kicked in here in the U.K. here’s to those warmer evenings, epic sunsets and hopefully a decent summer.

I’ve been very mindful to not say one word on this site, I want to avoid it as much as I can because it’s all we hear daily on the news. I was immensely disgusted at only very recently finding out the Sarah Everard story because the C-word dominates every news broadcast and after a year, I personally got sick of hearing the same reports over and over.

I will address the Sarah Everard story eventually. I’m still processing it and the aftershocks it has caused. Every time I try to finish my drafted thoughts on it, I just can’t finish it because you can’t finish a story like that. How do you just write ‘The End’ to such a tragic story? I’ll figure it out no doubt, just not right now. However, please do get in touch if you feel you’ve something to add or just want to vent your thoughts.

Its the Bahrain Grand Prix today, so we’ll be watching here. And we are on Easter Half Term too so I’m hoping the clocks going forward an hour will bring better weather to be able to get out more as restrictions lift.

I’d love to know your plans for the Easter break so please do comment below.

Do join me again the Sunday morning after Easter for another #VirtualCoffeeDate and if you’re bringing biscuits, tell me which ones you’re a fan of!

Have a great week.

2021 · bloggers · blogging101 · community · daily · everyday inspiration · weekly · writing

Everyday Inspiration: Day 11

If we were having coffee right now

If you’ve been following along, you’ll know I’ve been ‘studying’ the BloggingU courses.

Day 14 of Learning the Fundamentals prompted me to create my own feature so at the beginning of March I started the ‘Friday Feels’ series which is a weekly reflection of the week I’ve had whilst working through BloggingU, my Consulting/Writing/Comedy work and my general day to day.

Now as Day 11 of Finding Everyday Inspiration suggests another way of regular blog posting, I’m thinking will my ‘Friday Feels’ series clash with a coffee share post?

So I decided to keep ‘Friday Feels’ going every Friday and that will be geared toward my business and then run a ‘Virtual Coffee Date’ once a week that will be more personal and social, less reflective and more spontaneous.

So I’ll get the kettle on and I look forward to a virtual coffee date with you all very soon!

2021 · blogging101 · daily · everyday inspiration · random stuff · writing

Everyday Inspiration: Day 10

Sit and observe…

It is a little uncomfortable when it has been neglected, as I collect what I can into a McDonald’s paper bag destined for the bin. The seatbelt restricts me no matter what height level it is set at and I notice it’s always worse when the weather is warmer. The gentle breeze slips in through the window as I wait, engine off in the car park. Ooh peace.

As I wait enjoying the silence before the schoolyard screams as the concrete block releases its people, before the stereotypical dad comes swerving in, in his souped-up tinpot of a car that’s unnecessary to rev as much when he lives within walking distance of the school. As I wait for his glare which I meet confidently every day until he looks down defeated again. I laugh inwardly, remembering the only time he mouths off is when he drives away. Ooh big man.

The field surrounding the greying concrete block pops its greenery, birds flocking looking for worms or dropped crusts from packed lunches. The gauge reads 17 Degrees Celsius yet it feels warmer. Ooh it’s hot.

We texted earlier, I know how his day went up until lunchtime. I’m nervous now, silently praying nothing happened in the last hour.

The heavy black metal doors swing open and out pour the uniformed souls of varying ages, heights, genders, races, creeds. Some race to their parent’s cars with big smiles, some skulk off to the bus stop. Some just mill around looking lost while others play fight and chase each other. Ooh banter.

The minutes pass by, where is he?

We’re all looking for our kids, but what do we really see? Do other parents feel the pang of nostalgia at their bygone schooldays? Do they look at other parents in silent judgement? Does anyone notice the irony in a big girl calling an even bigger girl “a fat bitch” for no apparent reason? Why doesn’t anyone call out that sly little sod tripping people over? Am I parallel parked in a parallel universe here ? Ooh it makes me mad!

And then, I see him. His eyes meet mine over his mask through my windshield. I see him. Tall, smart, purposeful in his stride. Wary of crossing moving cars to get to me. His discreet wave. He opens the passenger door, greets me cheerfully and puts his bag in the footwell. I greet him back and we hug in the car. I don’t want to let him go but I can’t sit there all night. He fills me in on the blanks of his day, as people drive off towards home for the evening. Ooh what’s for dinner?

Course, I haven’t seen them… I was too focused on him. It’s only evident it people left as we are the last car in the car park.

2021 · at home with lu · blogging101 · daily · everyday inspiration · random stuff · writing

Everyday Inspiration: Day 9

When I’m not writing…

Let’s be real here; as a mother, my priorities are a lot different to when I was in my 20’s

Photo credit: Andy Fitzsimon

A good chunk of my day is taken up by the morning routines of tidying up, sorting out the pets, school runs then the evening routines of cooking, cleaning and chilling with child

Then of course I’m developing my Consulting business and services.

Photo credit: Sabri Tuzcu

Naturally with a global pandemic, live stand-up comedy is suspended yet I’ve still got a hand in behind the scenes

Photo credit: Bogomil Mihaylov

Got the usual family and friend stuff going on so yes I’m active on Social Media too, catching up with people, engaging in groups and following my favourite content

Photo credit: Saulo Mohana

Hobbies include:

Pexels

… amongst other things.