The word inspirational is bandied about a lot these days, but there is something in Donna Kennedy’s words that just lift the spirit.
A renowned expert in the areas of personal and business development, Donna talks to The Daily Slog about an entrepreneurial spirit engrained since childhood, and how confidence is a state of mind that we can learn with practice.
What time do you usually get up and how do you start your day?
I am awake by 7am without fail, by as I call it, “Ashton O’Clock”. Ashton is my 5 year old son. He wakes me every morning by kissing my cheek with a “princess kiss” and his smile would light up any room. His wake up call is more effective than any traditional alarm clock as there is no snooze button! As soon as he’s awake, I am. It’s up, get ready and out the door. I am fortunate in that I can (and love to) bring him to school in the morning, after which I start my working day.
I don’t meet people just for longwinded chats; I meet with intention and purpose.
My family is very important to me, my priority, so I commit to getting my work done within school hours, where possible. Of course sometimes it runs over if I have extra meetings, media work or late speaking engagements, but I try my best to fit everything into the time window of school hours. It means scheduling everything in advance and being super focused on what needs to get done. The time constraint is actually very useful in ways because I know I’ll have lot done in a few hours and I don’t waste time.
It’s also taught me to value my time like gold dust so any meetings I have must be important and relevant to what I am doing. I don’t meet people just for longwinded chats; I meet with intention and purpose. Casual chats are part of my leisure time and are not work related.
Take us on a jaunt through your career to date…
I started my first business when I was five years old. I sat on the pillar outside my house and “busked” on my Fisher-price record player. Passers-by used to think it was cute so they gave me money. My entrepreneurial ways then moved me in to every money making creative opportunity I could see. I made “broaches” by cutting out characters from my Care Bear magazines and “laminating” them with sellotape.
I collected stones at the beach and painted them beautifully, later to be sold as paper weights. In the Summer I held circuses in my back garden. I charged the neighbors an entry fee and made a fortune relative to my age. Everyone loved it!
Doing business was always my thing and I put my heart and soul into doing the best job I could. I loved giving people something that they would love and talk about and I loved seeing them place value on it. It was recognition for a job well done.
I started my first adult business when I opened up a coaching business at 24 and I bought property at that time also. I still do this but in a different capacity. My focus has extended into group coaching, speaking and events. I just love it. I love empowering people to feel and be better. I focus on giving people what they want (and more) and they value it. That is the way I do business.
People need to realize that confidence is not a thing and it is not something we can ever have as a constant in all situations
Your most recent book, ‘The Confidence to Succeed’ sets out a framework for success in life and business. Can you give us some of the key tips from the book?
Lack of confidence is a huge issue and holds people back in so many ways. However, if people changed their perception of confidence they’d be a lot better off. Due to various difficulties I experienced growing up, at one point in my life I was afraid to walk across the road on my own so I know what it’s like to be on both sides of the fence. I was born confident (everyone is) but due to my environment and experiences I became unconfident. Then when I changed my way of thinking I became confident again. You have control over your feelings when you learn how.
People need to realize that confidence is not a thing and it is not something we can ever have as a constant in all situations. Confidence is a state of mind that fluctuates depending on what we experience and how much we practice something useful. For example, we can become confident in social settings but if we experience something that causes us to feel bad, we can become withdrawn. Confidence can dip. It’s like learning a language – we can learn it but to be good at it we must practice it often. We can be confident in anything if we practice often enough.
We are born successful and happy – we are conditioned over time not to be. We are conditioned to doubt and compare ourselves to others. Do you know a negative baby or a baby who has no confidence? Of course not! We are born with everything we need to be brilliant. It is up to us to make sure we nurture an environment that supports brilliance. Sometimes people need to be taught to do that. Life doesn’t come with instructions so sometimes it means learning from people who are getting results in the area you want confidence in. Only ever learn from people who have what you want! I go into this in detail in the book as it is so important.
It is so important that we stop comparing ourselves to others, especially to material things that will one day be gone
Success is also something that we can never have as a concrete entity, although so many people chase it. Society measures success based on wealth or achievement, when in fact success is not necessarily that. Success is a result of being the best we can be, whatever that means to you.
It is so important that we stop chasing and stop comparing ourselves to others, especially to material things that will one day be gone. We are good enough as we are. We just need to give ourselves a chance to enhance our unique selves by being the best we can be in whatever we choose. Success is life balance, material things are toys that we can choose to have or not.
You will never be good at all things so don’t be afraid to ask for help in the things you feel you need help with.
Gratitude is also an essential foundation to success. We will never be happy unless we acknowledge what we already are and have. We need to appreciate our lives and build up and out on that so we can create a plan to achieve our goals with a positive attitude.
I also encourage people to look at their strengths and resources. You will never be good at all things so don’t be afraid to ask for help in the things you feel you need help with.
There are so many things I cover in the book but I have laid it out in a simple easy-to-follow way, with personal exercises, so the reader gets the result they want.
Was there a key turning point in your career that you can attribute to your success?
Yes, I learned to value my time and not give it up to emotional vampires or people who don’t have good intention. I became selective as to who I associate with and what I let into my space. It has hugely impacted my results.
What has been the best bit of advice you’ve been given in your career?
Value and treat your time as though it is limited. Select the environment you put yourself in. Only learn from people who have what you want.
Do you have a mentor?
I have several. I constantly seek out people who know more than me in any given area. I mastermind. The day you stop learning and think you know it all is the day you become stagnant. Always learn. Always step up your game. Always learn from people who have results.
How do you unwind & de-stress at the end of the day and during difficult periods?
I plonk myself on the couch and do absolutely nothing, which is divine at times. I also go to the beach or for a walk to breathe in nature and of course I take holidays away. If I find anything difficult I talk to my partner or I go for a little drive. Time out is great and is essential to recharge.
Donna will speak at the Women’s Empowerment Summit on May 12th.