Did you know that Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas’? He went onto become the man who redefined American Childhood. Or that Steven Spielberg was rejected by USC’s film school, not once, but twice? Now Spielberg has grossed more than $US9 billion with his 27 films; won 4 Emmys, 3 Academy Awards and 7 Daytime Emmys. Vera Wang failed to make the 1968 US Olympic figure-skating team. Today she’s a major figure in the bridal gown industry, with a business worth over $US1 billion. So what did they all have in common to get where they are today? Mindset! Success is all about mindset; so if you want it, you have to be ready to work for it. Roll up those sleeves of yours and put all you’ve got to the test.
Another dynamic duo who are currently on the road to success is Meghan and Dominic Loneragan from Citizens Of The World. COTW is a creative travel and lifestyle publication that celebrates people and their places. We got to chat with Meghan and see what her steps to a success is.
1. FOLLOW THE HEART.
Steve Jobs put it simply, “remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Meghan grew up between Brisbane and Hong Kong, whilst her blogging partner and husband, Dominic grew up in Sydney. Dom is a professional photographer working with well-known and luxurious brands; and Meghan is a respected writer who has worked for some of Australia’s largest publishing houses.
Citizens Of The World initially begun as a fun excuse for Meghan and Dominic to use their skills (and passions) and work together. “It was initially all about street style (it was 2012, so it was the ‘thing’) but we quickly figured out that we preferred talking to people and their stores.” By combining their skills and passion for the arts, Meghan and Dom started interviewing creatives in their homes, and is the body of their publication. More recently, they have branched out to travel destinations, which is something they are obsessed with.
“Travel is a huge push for us, even more so than interiors at the moment. It lends itself well to my words and Dom’s photography and gives us the opportunity to talk more personally about things. I used to work for Qantas The Australian Way in-flight magazine, so travel has been in my DNA for a while.”
By figuring out what makes you truly happy and you are passionate about will be key to the success in whatever you choose to do. “It sounds trivial, but you’ll actually save yourself years of wasted energy if you do something just because it’s a trend or cool.”
2. GET UP EARLY & HAVE ROUTINE.
Love hitting that snooze button? Sorry to break it to you, but it pays to be a morning person. Not only do you literally get more out of your day - you’re buzzing (possibly off coffee) and ready to tackle anything that comes your way. Like they say, the early bird catches the worm.
“I get up super early before Dom. I’m talking 5am stuff. I really love having that time in the morning to upload and edit articles and not be bugged by the inbox going off (like most people, inbox distraction during the day can be a killer on the to-do list). That’s probably the best part about working from home. It’s also the worst because we never clock off. They say you shouldn’t discuss business in the bedroom but we’re not perfect beings.”
Keeping a routine helps pretend you’re still going to the office, even if you’re working from home. Having that work/life separation is key for happiness.
When Meghan and Dom wake up, it’s ON! Around 7:30-8:30am they go for a walk. Apart from meetings and travel, this is the only time they get to leave the house, so it’s pretty essential for their mental sanity (and to spend some personal time together). “It’s the time we have to talk about things we have on the boil and trips we have planned and the editorial angles around them. After that we each go into our respective corners but we’re talking over our computers all day about Instagram, editing, freelancers, client goals.”
3. JUST BE YOU.
In the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who matter don’t mind and those that mind don’t matter”. ‘Just do you’ is easier said than done. It is so easy to get stuck into allowing other people’s doings, words or perceptions change you or your ideas. Everyone does it purely because it’s human nature and we’ve been there.
At COTW, Meghan and Dom don’t try to compare themselves to too many people. Their aesthetic (for their website) is clean and easy to navigate. People seem to like them because they are themselves; they don’t try to emulate one particular site or style. Meghan makes sure that she steps away from that world of comparison and just focus on their work so they can fall back in love with the project all over again. So take some time to just step back, focus on the task at hand so you can fall in love with your passion all over again.
“Actively trying to avoid comparisons also results in a lot more fearless creativity (you’re not being influenced too much by trends) and just a naturally happier energy. 'Make love not war' is our internal quote that we try to use when working in such a hugely competitive industry.”
4. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE INFLUENCERS.
Do you have that one friend who shuts downs all your ideas or that colleague who always gives their negative two cents? Well they’re no good for your good vibes, or your road to success! And if you can’t surround yourself with positive energies, draw positive inspiration from people in your industry!
Meghan naturally gravitates to people who can bring an authentic, unique tone of voice to the table. As a writer, two women who immediately come to Meghan’s mind are Tavi Gevison of Rookie and Lena Dunham with her Lenny newsletter. Two women who were writing just to write. And when you don’t have a squad that supports your dreams, get that inspiration from people in the industry who have shined and influenced you to take your dream to the next level. Sometimes it's best to find someone who has a unique voice or reasoning as to why they do what they do.
“I would love to interview Leandra Medine from Man Repeller because I really appreciate people with a unique voice.” Leandra Medine makes me excited about the web because her story is so organic. On the Instagram space, I just love photographers who make you feel like you’re in a moment, such as @ChrisBurkard or @alexstrohl.”
5. NEVER STOP LEARNING.
As the saying goes, “you learn something new everyday”, and sometimes you can be lucky enough to learn more than just one new thing a day. At COTW, Dom and Meghan seem to learn something new more than once or twice in a day; whether it be on their travels or when their interviewing people in their homes. In their jobs in particular, they get to learn something about a new country or culture; or learn something new about a creative and their style or something even on a deeper level. “Travel is always nice but the best part about it are the stories you collect and the people you meet along the way. It really puts life into perspective and I find those experiences more valuable than clothes or material possessions (although it's nice to have a few key favourite things as well).”
One home that Meghan and Dom learned a lot from was Interior Designer, Chloe Matters from TomMarkHenry. “Where to begin, from her 'reading room' idea to how she balances colour, she has so many ideas and has such an amazing eye and she's still quite young for an entrepreneur (she owns her own interior design studio). She definitely inspired us a lot.”
This learning process will not only teach you something about someone else, but yourself and where you want to go with your work.
"You don't learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over" - Richard Branson.
6. GET SHIT DONE.
Everyone has that ‘too hard’ basket that they seem to use during their day, but procrastination and the fear of not being able to do it won’t get the task at hand completed. Sometimes all you need is tea and a tidy desk.
“If I have to do something that seems like a bit of a slog I sort the desk mess a bit, grab a tea and knock it out first thing. Often just starting something takes away the fear of tackling it. Before you know it it’s all done. Also, if I ever have writer's block I have a shower. Something about being in the water and cleansing the body also cleanses the mind. Or maybe I’m just weird. Ha.”
Like Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” So just make the most difficult task your first task to tick off for the day, and free up that negative headspace with more productive thoughts.
7. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS.
Whether it be jotting down small achievements along the way, setting regular goals or reflecting upon mistakes made is a great way to see how far you’ve come. A journal is common among successful folk, even if you don’t reflect straight away. There will be times where you won’t notice or remember these achievements until you look back at it; this can happen even when you find that piece of paper with your goals and say, “oh, I achieved that without realising”.
“Like most people, we don’t just sit around congratulating ourselves on things, normally it’s just on to the next goal. Usually we only realise we’ve achieved a goal a few months after when we look at our list of things we want to achieve for the year (we write one every January but then normally forget we even wrote goals down until we spy it again randomly in the office one day). That’s the best feeling, when you tick off a little internal achievement but you were so in the moment you didn’t freak yourself going “wow, I’m actually doing this”, it all just felt completely right so you don’t notice - you just get on with the job.”
Try to see your failures (trust us, there’ll be some) as life lessons. Learn from your mistakes and move on up that ladder. It’s okay to look at your mistakes and say “well this unfortunately happened, but how do we move forward?” There is no point in dwelling on your mistakes as it won’t help you move forward. Mistakes should be looked at as constructive criticism, and there are times mistakes need to be made so you can learn from it and know how to take a different approach for next time. Meghan and Dom pull each other up and discuss how things might’ve gone better when ‘mistakes’ are made. “We’ve experimented and completely forced ourselves down roads because we felt they were proper things to do, only to come out the end and go “well, that wasn’t great was it?”
8. STICK TO YOUR LIST.
Creating a long two-pager of daily task list holds you accountable to how productive you plan to be. So what happens when you don’t finish all those points in the day? Be more realistic and make a list of all the tasks you plan to get get done in one day, and then another list for tasks that will take time to complete. When trying to be successful at your job, multi-tasking isn’t always the most productive move. Teach yourself to focus on the task at hand; you’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll achieve.
Meghan explains that with being her own boss, the freedom can be pretty addictive, but she has to become so many roles, so sticking to the task at hand can become somewhat tricky at times. And this is why having a notepad, and a REALLY good highlighter can be a lifesaver. From being the editor to content producer to payroll and advertising specialist all in one day, multi-tasking is not an option if you want to tick as much as you can off your check list.
“I have a notepad by my side always and I make to-do lists. I love them. Once something is completed I highlight it. Sometimes I even write things I’ve done already on it just so I can highlight it. I really love my highlighter. I hate multitasking (except I always have emails in the background).
9. TAKE RISKS & NEVER GIVE UP.
There will come a time in your life, especially when you want to venture out on your own where you’ll need to bite the bullet and take that risk. Whether it be quitting your job and going out on your own, or investing a chunk of your savings into your project. For Meghan and Dominic it was making the decision to go full-time on Citizens Of The World. As Meghan was working for a magazine it was scary to make the leap. Taking the big pay cut was the risk she took, but the life experience has been so worth it.
When you take risks and learn to not give up, that’s when all of your greatest achievements will shine through and you will have this sense of accomplishment. For Meghan she says, “the greatest achievement so far has been getting COTW to a point where it feels viable and we’re creating work that feels true to us but also working with great companies too.”