Celebrity brain coach Jim Kwik is world famous for his incredible techniques which help his army of fans to improve their reading speeds and learn faster. As a freelancer and entrepreneur, I’ve been listening to his Kwik Learning Podcasts, following along with his Facebook group and reading his book recommendations check here for my review of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why. When I revealed on my Instagram page how much Jim had been helping me from afar with his techniques, I was super surprised when I received a DM from him telling me that he was visiting the UK on Thursday that week and looking to organise a London meet-up.
With JUST 48 hours to arrange a meet-up, I used my Time Out London Tastemaker network where my friend Michael Ratcliffe (check out his blog here) hooked me up with the fantastic team at Funzing WHO FOUND us a venue at the incredible Beach Blanket Babylon in Shoreditch! So I have to say, it was high praise indeed when Jim said; “Wow, you’re quick and connected.” Sooooo here we are, there is the background and that’s why I ended up hosting Jim Kwik’s London meet-up and on stage interviewing him last week. Here’s a snippet from the interview:
NakedPRGirl: How did you take it from learning brain training techniques to being a proper career?
Jim Kwik: I learned how to fix myself when I was 18 years old and I couldn’t help but want to help other people. I started tutoring people but I didn’t know how to get more students. When I was at university, I saw a classroom that wasn’t being used and I thought I would start a club. I thought next Thursday, I’ll just put five or ten people in a room and just teach them. I thought if I could find one or two people, I would be set and make some money.
I go back to my room and here’s my first piece of marketing ever so I took out this piece of paper and I wrote: ‘Free speed reading memory tips, get better grades in less time classroom 7 o clock next Thursday.’
The next day I make some photocopies and I just hope five people turn up. Fast forward to Thursday, I turn the corner and there’s a crowd of people outside the classroom. I kid you not, this is how slow I am, I think ‘wow whatever is happening in there ends soon so I can get in’. I can’t get in and this really tall guy is like; “there’s a speed reading class.” And I’m like, ‘wow what a coincidence, the same day and same time, there’s another speed reading class’. So I push my way in and this room is packed, but low and behold no one is teaching. This is how slow I am because seeing is believing right? It’s not like you’ll believe it when you see it, it’s like, you’ll see it and you’ll believe it, and I didn’t believe it.
Why are these people here? They’re here for me. I do a headcount and instead of five or ten people, there’s 120 people.
I have a phobia of public speaking because I am the boy with the broken brain. I would do a school book report but when the teacher would ask me to talk about it I would lie and say I hadn’t done it and throw it out after two months work. That’s how terrified I was of public speaking. I associated the fear of public speaking so I was freaking out in that class. So I would love to say I stepped up but I didn’t.
I have a phobia of public speaking because I am the boy with the broken brain.
I started doing a walking meditating back to my dorm room and I hear my mum’s voice talking to me and in essence she said: “It’s a 100 people. You promised you were going to help them. You’re disappointing people, you’re disappointing me.” I never want to disappoint my parents. I’m back at my dorm and I stop and I put one step back to the classroom.
Isn’t it interesting that one step in another direction can completely change your destination or your destiny?
I went back to the classroom and I said “I will be in the student centre tomorrow if you’re interested at 12 o clock. I swear to you guys, 100 people got up and they left. Nobody engaged with me, nothing. I feel two things, totally confused, like what just happened, and totally spent, meaning exhausted. You know whenever you have a fear like sky diving and it builds up for your whole life and then you do it? I was emotionally and mentally spent. I was so tired I fell asleep right on the floor and I have the worst sleep issues ever but I had the deepest sleep ever. I
was woken up by the class the next morning so I freak out. I run back, I shower, have breakfast, get dressed and go to class, then 12 o clock comes and I realise I need to go to the student centre to answer questions. I hope one person shows up but I get there and that same group of people are there.
In an hour 71 of the 100 people signed up for a programme that didn’t even exist.
At $300 per person, I’m not even 19 years old, and I’ve got $21,000 cash in my bag.
Now that’s a lot of money, and it’s a lot of money when you’ve not even seen $200 and you’re 18 years old. Back to one of my mentors used the Mark Twain quote, ‘Don’t let school get in the way of an education,’ and I used the money to feed my body as I was underweight, but I used the money to re-invest in a real education, I would buy every book, cassette, I travelled the world to learn my craft. Figuring out this riddle.
Quincy Jones once came to an event and I asked him: “Everyone always talks about their successes but I want to know about your problems?” Quincy says; “I didn’t have problems, I had puzzles.” He looked at every single one of his problems as a puzzle. Every puzzle has a solution, it’s fun, its a game.
My whole life since then I’ve been figure out this puzzle, this riddle, about how our brains work.
People tell us it’s a super computer, but why can’t you find your phone or your remote control or your keys? You go to the store for that one thing and you come back with two bags of stuff, apart from the one thing you went for. How can you reconcile the two? My theory is that we just weren’t taught how to use the super computer. It doesn’t come with instruction manuel.
That’s what I want to build with this Podcast, I want to give people really easy tips and usable tricks that are fun, that you can use to impress yourselves and impress other people. And mostly get a result and make your life easier. Because I don’t want you to suffer and struggle the way I did. Whether it’s a book or a Podcast, no and make that transformation.
Our job is really about transcending – ending the trance by media and marketing that we’re not good enough. We just weren’t shown how to use this incredible gift that’s inside of us.
So then it took off with these kids, and then I started in universities where these students started getting straight A’s and after that I went into companies after that.
Naked Review David Meerman Scott New Rules of PR & Marketing
David the Self Help for PRs
I got introduced to David Meerman Scott’s excellent book through a friend of mine, Helen who I worked with at Mamas & Papas, for she was …
Guide to Royal Ascot – Royal Enclosure
I would be very happy if it was Royal Ascot every single day. I love the elegance, I like the rush of excitement when I see the races, I love the outfits, I love the names of the horses, the colours the jockeys wear, I love the fact that men have top hats and I even like the slightly crazy dress code. In PR & Marketing terms, it is a surefire winner with The Queen attending, and this time for the first time, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Plus we have the most ostentatious, headline grabbing hats and fab-u-lous outfits that secure column inches and social media squares for the whole week!
I first went to Royal Ascot when I first moved to London and I made a fatal error of leaving my jacket at home. Out in the countryside, an hours train ride from Waterloo, the temperature can be a few degrees cooler and on chilly days, it turns the area into a giant wind tunnel! Brrrr. So this time, when I was invited to Royal Ascot by The Nth Degree Club, I took my flat shoes for the train and took a chic white jacket as a cover-up.
I will be honest and say things were a little last minute so I loaned a neutral hat from my friend Fatinah which she picked up from Fenwicks to team with a little black dress I got from French Connection. Hats in the Royal Enclosure have to have a solid base of 10cm (say what? *gets tape measure out) and dresses must have straps (no strapless/one shoulder or strappy (eek) AND they have to be of an elegant below the knee length (I know right) so here I am, in regulation Royal Ascot dress. Has to be said, not all the enclosures are not this strict – so check before you travel 😉 I finished off with Valentino sandals as they are super comfortable for a long day with a medium block heel which will not sink into the grass (CRUCIAL) and my Lulu Guinness pearl handbag which has been to every wedding I’ve attended in the last few years. The hat thankfully had a headband so it didn’t completely antahiliate my hair like a full on hat would.
I arrived at 10.30am and we were served Champagne in the car park – which is apparently a big tradition -who knew? I can get on board with that though! Our home for the day was the Wyndham Club where we were served Champagne and a three course lunch with the most beautiful seafood and strawberry dessert before heading to see The Queen arrive sharp at 2pm.
I love that she goes everyday – thats four amazing outfits and hat combinations every day! I managed to snap the Royal family arriving from the stands as everyone sung God Save the Queen. There are 6 races throughout the day and by a stroke of luck I managed to get into the pre-race paddock to see the horses going out and coming back for their races where I spotted Frankie Dettori just coming back.
After the racing which finishes at 5.30pm, there’s singing in the bandstand to finish the day off. I can’t wait to go back next year!
For more visit The Nth Degree Club
For more on Ascot https://www.ascot.co.uk
Naked Event – Frida Kahlo’s Making Her Self Up Exhibition At The V&A
I’m going to come clean and admit that the first time I heard of world famous Frida Kahlo was when I went to a briefing at Grosvenor’s swanky Mayfair offices as they talked through plans for the year. I’m not sure HOW exactly I managed to avoid it – is this the Love Island equivalent in the art world perhaps? But miss it I did.
Getting Naked with Interview – Caroline Corcoran
I met Caroline Corcoran through my dear friend Rachel Tompkins (who I interviewed here) and got to know her by drinking copious amounts of wine on Rachel’s hen do and wedding.
Caroline’s a Freelance Editor and Writer, who started out at 3am online (the Mirror’s Showbiz section), before joining Fabulous magazine and moving on to be Deputy Editor at Sugar…I can feel the glitz and glamour from here! Since she went freelance Caroline has built on her vast experience writing on lifestyle and popular culture for a varied range of top titles including glossy magazines from Stylist, Grazia, Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, to leading newspapers like The Telegraph and The Guardian plus she has embraced digital with content appearing on The Pool and Refinery 29. Caroline’s strength is her ability to diversify and she’s moved effortlessly into copywriting, plus she’s contributed to radio and TV channels, written celebrity biographies AND has her own novel on the way, ensuring that writing is at the core of all her projects.
Caroline is quick, witty, loves a good pun and exudes a calm, confidence and sensitivity that engender trust. When I was researching Caroline’s career, I found that Susan Riley, Editor of Stylist had said it even better than I ever could: “When I’m looking for a clever, funny spin on a news story, the first person I think of commissioning is Caroline. She pitches original, timely ideas and consistently files sparkling copy that I can put straight through, which is such a valuable and rare skill in a freelancer – and essential when you’re working on a daily deadline.”
I chatted to Caroline about changes in the industry, what it means for journalists and how she juggles her freelance world:
NakedPRGirl: Where are you from and where did you grow up?
Caroline Corcoran: I grew up in the north west and I now live on the Wirral peninsula between Liverpool and North Wales after relocating recently. Before that I was in London for 13 years.
NakedPRGirl: What did you study? When did you decide you wanted to be a journalist?
Caroline Corcoran: I studied English Lit at Sheffield University, then did my postgraduate course in magazine journalism at City University. I decided at school, I think, doing school newspapers etc (though a careers ‘advisor’ once told me that it wasn’t the career for me as I’d filled in a form saying I didn’t fancy working shifts. News for you careers advisor: magazines start work at 9.30am and you’re usually in the pub by 6.30).
NakedPRGirl: How did you get your big break?
Caroline Corcoran: Two places. I worked at the Liverpool Echo in my summers from university after doing work experience there, which gave me a great portfolio to take with me to my City interview. Then when I was at City I did work experience at Sugar magazine and from there went on to get a junior writer job.
NakedPRGirl: You spent many years working in Showbiz at 3am and The Mirror, how did you find that? Was it super competitive?
Caroline Corcoran: I was actually only there for a year or so but I’ve worked at showbiz magazines like Heat too. Always on the desk-based side though, on features, editing and writing and coming up with ludicrous captions. I’m not the one out at the parties, chasing the stories, I’d be rubbish at that!
NakedPRGirl: How has the world of celebrity changed? Have the Kardashian’s altered everything forever?
Caroline Corcoran: It’s altered hugely since I worked at Heat etc, the sales figures say it all – people won’t wait for magazines now, the major change is that we get celeb news instantly via Instagram/ the celebs’ own blogs etc. So yes, in that way – and, er, in the way we view bums – the Kardashians probably have altered everything forever.
NakedPRGirl: How has social media and online changed how we report on celebrity?
Caroline Corcoran: Hugely. So many stories now lead on social media, ‘Twitter furious that XXX’, ‘XXX posts sexy Insta snap from holiday’ blah blah blah, it just means that the celebrities take matters into their own hands a lot. And it’s much harder for traditional news outlets to keep pace with that.
NakedPRGirl: You’re now freelance, how did you manage to go self-employed? How does that differ to full time? What do you like about it?
Caroline Corcoran: Yes, I’ve been freelance for five years now and I love it. Firstly it gives me the freedom to work from anywhere. I moved to France for six months with my partner a few years ago and now we have a little boy, it’s given us the option to move out of London and live near the beach which makes me very happy. Secondly, and more work-based, it means I get huge diversity in what I write about. It’s not unusual for me to be writing a 2000 word Marie Claire report while doing a food and drink piece for Emerald Street and a TV review for Digital Spy.
NakedPRGirl: From your https://carolinecorcoran.contently.com profile, I can see you are super varied, do you like being able to write on lots of different topics?
Caroline Corcoran: Yes, I do. Maybe it just suits my brain but I’m not a political junkie or someone obsessed with fashion, however I do love pop culture and keep abreast of the zeitgeist and that feeds into various different areas, all of which I then get to write about.
NakedPRGirl: How has digital changed your industry and what do you think the future of journalism will look like?
Caroline Corcoran: It’s changed it beyond recognition and because of that, I don’t think any of us know what the next wave will involve and what the hell the future will look like either. But I’m relaxed about it. It will exist, in some form, because people love reading stories and good writing. It means for us that the industry will still be there too, we’ve just got to be open to how it adapts.
NakedPRGirl: I spotted you also write books, how did the one, for example on Beyonce come about? What’s the next one you’re working on?
Caroline Corcoran: Yes, I’ve written three celebrity biographies, commissioned in much the same way as a feature, through contacts who thought I would be the right person to write them. And the process was similar to writing a feature too really, doing your research, crafting your structure and plan, then writing them. Just A LOT longer! And excitingly arrives with its own cover.
The latest one is very different though – I have just finished my first novel, Through The Wall which I’ve been writing for the last two years.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your favourite social media channel?
Caroline Corcoran: Everyone around me loves Instagram but I find it a little showy-offy… Sorry, everyone! I know it’s not cool and it’s very over but I’m a news/ good writing junkie and I love Twitter for the many links it gives me. It’s nice and quiet now from people’s opinions because no-one posts on there any more so now, I just happily pick up lots of great links and read some interesting stuff.
NakedPRGirl: Do you ever get bad feedback from opinion pieces, and how do you deal with that?
Caroline Corcoran: Oh yes! I’ve had the odd Twitter spat with celebrities and I don’t deal with it well, to be honest and would feel terrible if anything I wrote upset anybody which is why I don’t tackle particularly controversial issues and have shied away from more contentious opinion writing. I hugely admire people who do it – they just have thicker skins than me.
NakedPRGirl: Do you think of your role as part marketer?
Caroline Corcoran: Yes, in fact these days I do a lot of copywriting as well as journalism and sometimes – often – the two cross over.
NakedPRGirl: How do you structure your working day?
Caroline Corcoran: Hmm, often I have a really odd working day structure because a lot of my work is now done in toddler naps and evenings, as I have a one year-old. But on my full work days, I tend to write for deadlines in the mornings and do ideas/ research for more ongoing pieces in the afternoon when I need a change. Then I often finish writing in the evening. Everything feels a lot calmer when people aren’t pinging over quite so many emails so I’ve always loved writing then.
NakedPRGirl: Do you have any advice for aspiring journalists?
Caroline Corcoran: Be open to change. The industry is evolving constantly and if you are determined that you’ll only write XYZ you aren’t (unless you are a real exception) going to be able to make a living. I often juggle the pieces/ projects that I want to do that don’t make much money with other less glamorous work that does.
NakedPRGirl: I love your https://carolinecorcoranfreelance.com/nice-stuff-people-said/ section on your website (some really lovely comments), how important is networking to you? Who inspires you to spend time with?
Caroline Corcoran: I’ve always been rubbish at networking for networking’s sake but handily I’ve just met some really lovely people in this industry who I’ve wanted to hang out with and who have become great contacts. There is a certain sense of humour, buzz and a certain camaraderie in the industry that is pretty special and hanging out with other journalists always, always results in belly laughs and big ideas.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your style? Any wardrobe staples?
Caroline Corcoran: Very different to when I worked in an office! When you work from home there are a lot of Hush luxe joggers going on. But when I do venture out, I am a big advocate of jumpsuits and a really good trouser silhouette with a wide leg and fitted tucked in tops. I love & Other Stories, Zara, the aforementioned Hush and of course H&M.
NakedPRGirl: Are there any brands/people or magazines you’d love to work with?
Caroline Corcoran: I’ve been lucky enough to work for a lot of the ones that were on my list. I think the industry has changed so much that now those ‘dream’ jobs and places don’t exist in the same way and so now I feel much more open to where things go. A lot of my favourite websites didn’t exist a few years ago and I’m always open to new places and new ideas.
NakedPRGirl: What’s your strategy for the future? Where would you like to be in ten years time?
Caroline Corcoran: If this novel goes well, I would like to write books. And maybe scripts. Writing’s a pretty adaptable skill and I’m not wedded to only doing it in one field. But mostly I’m not a planner, I just roll with it and as long as I get to write in some form for a living, I feel pretty lucky with that.
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“Claire was my PR and Marketing Manager for four years at Donna Ida so we worked closely together to build a marketing strategy for the Ultimate Denim Destination. Claire’s PR experience led to an increase in press coverage 30% year-on-year with a focus on luxury titles and targeting key editors"Read The Full Testimonial
Claire was very well liked by the press and they felt very happy and comfortable with her, so much so that they were just as happy going to Claire as they were coming to me. We developed a press strategy of one-to-one appointments and special evening press dinners to encourage exclusivity with exceptional results.
She worked closely with our in-house creative team to build the brand and my personal profile within the fashion and business sectors, managing photo shoots and Look Books. Claire is loyal, entrepreneurial and strategic so when presented with a challenge she sees it as an opportunity.
DONNA IDA THORNTON, www.donnaida.com