Lessons from a year and case study: Fi Hills, Mind Warrior

Lessons from a year and case study: Fi Hills, Mind Warrior

Dec 18, 2018 | Personal branding

I’ve been feeling particularly reflective these last few weeks – retreating, looking back, taking stock. November marked one year since I took the step of “only” being a branding photographer. October last year I was so scared, scared that I couldn’t do it, that I’d never make a business out of just one type of photography, that no one would want to hire me. I was so deeply sure that it wouldn’t work that I applied for a job in the civil service. And happily, I can now look back and see just how wrong I was. This year probably marks the first year that I’ve really made that time to take stock of the year just gone, so often I’m worrying about what’s ahead, or more to the point, not wanting to think about all the things I *haven’t* done, so easier to look ahead… But this year, as we come to the end of the year that I christened Twenty-Éadaoin, I’m celebrating all that I’ve achieved, and taking stock of the big lessons that have really changed how I approach my work.

Making Time

A huge one has been the importance of taking time out. I was inspired by a wonderful mentor this year who told me that I was going down the path of burn out. She was right, and science agrees. This article published by ‘Scientific American’  explains that  ‘some studies have demonstrated that the mind obliquely solves tough problems while daydreaming’.
‘Cerebral Congestion’ is something I’m sure we can all relate to. Sitting there in front of a screen willing the motivation/idea/inspiration to come but alas, nada.  Solving this problem for me has been about learning to implement boundaries and setting stricter working times. It’s not easy, and I’m still learning, but I’m working on being more conscious and intentional about taking time out for creativity and personal development, and for simply taking much needed TIME OFF. Every time that I do manage it, it’s been a game changer for me.

Someone recently asked me at a networking event ‘what are you working on at the minute just for the craic, just for the hell of it?’ I was intrigued by the question.  As small business owners and solopreneurs, we spend a lot of our time on the hamster wheel thinking, obsessing even, about our businesses. We can’t help it, it comes with the territory when we have invested so much of ourselves and the reality is that switching off can be easier said than done.


For me, taking time out of my usual business routine helps me to stay creative, new ideas are much more likely to come to me at these times, when I’m not feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Some of the projects that have helped me to get creative include taking Fionola Howard’s  ‘Let the Market Choose You’ workshop, where I created a visual representation of my dream client out of clay and Amanda Grace’s RAW workshop, where I learned to journal in a way that helps me get in touch with my deeper unconscious. Instead of taking me away from my business, these experiences have helped me get creative and to think outside the box. Even though you may not think of yourself as a creative person necessarily, we are all creative beings, creativity is really simply defined as solving problems. Taking time away from your daily To Do List  and giving yourself this time means you’ll be able to solve problems more easily for yourself and or your clients.

For those of you who are thinking, but I don’t have the time to take time out!! I’m too busy!! Let me put it this way, taking time out of your business to do something for yourself, for you, makes you a better business owner and you can ultimately serve your clients better. Make the time, and I promise you won’t look back.


October to December are big networking months, and there have been quite a few learning curves for me this year around this. One of the first big lessons I’ve learned is around NOT networking – this won’t get you very far. It’s not as daunting as you think, it gets easier the more you do it, and it’s something that can make or break your business. I’ve only been networking consciously for about a year now, but I’ve actually been doing it for much longer, I just hadn’t realised it. I think we can hold the notion that networking can be very corporate, with awkward conversations and even more awkward handshakes, but today that just isn’t the case. You need to change your mindset to networking.
There are so many ways we can build relationships, and that’s what networking is about – building relationships. Getting out there and getting to know people so that you can support each other in business, either by doing business directly or connecting people in your networks. The second mistake I made was not getting to know people because I felt like they weren’t ‘my ideal client’, but the reality is not everybody is going to be your client and that’s OK!

Fresh Perspective

These people may still be some of your greatest sources of support in your business. It’s also a really great way to see your business in a different light – from someone who might be willing to offer constructive feedback even if you’re not going to work together directly. This fresh perspective can be so vital for your business. The third lesson that I’ve learned has to do with fear, which of course links in to being brave. It’s happened to me often, I meet someone at an event whom I’m drawn to, I feel like our ideas are aligned or we have a similar outlook, BUT I feel a niggling fear that they’ll see me as too pushy, that maybe I’m only approaching them because I’m touting for sales or business. In the past, I’ve held back from connecting with these people because of these irrational fears, but now that I’ve examined this fear it has lost its power. I know that I can’t worry about what other people are thinking and I realise that as long as we’re honest and are sticking with our values and our own philosophies, then people aren’t going to feel like they’re being sold to. Remember, not all networking is face to face, and not all networking is online. Initially I would have done alot of my relationship building online, but I now know these people in real life, I might have worked with them. It works the opposite way also, people that I’ve met at networking events face to face, I now might have developed relationships with them online, where we now support each other’s work.

Getting Brave

Another of the big lessons from this past year has been around Being Brave. I had a really exciting conversation with a client recently who had just taken the leap into her business full time. Her passion, excitement and enthusiasm make it so obvious that her bravery is going to be rewarded ten times over, already her sense of self worth and self confidence have grown exponentially because she’s taken this leap. I can look back at the successes in my own business and know with certainty that it’s in those moments of Being Brave where amazing things have happened.

But, it’s all about timing. Sometimes it’s about taking time out and sometimes it’s about taking the leap and being brave, and usually it’s our gut that tells us which is right. When you feel it in your bones, my guess is it’s time to take that leap and make the jump. What has struck me recently is that quite a few people feel like they need permission in order to do this. Think about this for a second, is there something that you know that you would absolutely love to do, but you’re waiting on some permission slip from outside of yourself before you jump? This is exactly how I felt before I had my Personal Branding Photographs taken this summer. It took another person saying to me, ‘you need to get this done’ before I allowed myself to do it. Having that permission didn’t make it any easier, but my commitment to the process made sure that I followed through, and I’ve been hugely rewarded by that.

So as the nights get shorter and the days colder, please allow yourself that time to step away from your business, but also give yourself permission to be brave when your gut tells you it’s right. Go to that networking event, you might think you know how it will go, but you don’t. Remember that it’s really important for all of us, whether you’re a business owner, or employee, to stay authentic and to do this, we need to be seen as the same person online as offline. I can help you do this, I can create authentic images that truly represent who YOU are.

Permission to get new photos…granted.

This isn’t an indulgent act that comes after the new website and the new marketing strategies and the 7-point, 16-month plan.

This is the beginning of the process, in which you actually look and feel like you in every single image.

About Fi Hills

Fi has been in the business of training for her entire career and has now developed her own signature program called Mind Warrior Leadership Programme

Through this program Fi trains leaders how to use unique techniques and methods that allow leaders to upgrade their own mental capacities and faculties, and then facilitate others to develop theirs. You can find out more at FiHills.com

The Shoot

One of the reasons I love full day shoots is that I get to witness my clients in action. Being in Brixton watching Fi deliver a workshop first thing in the morning was such a priviledge. It was incredible to see how people reacted to the techniques she shared with them and how they interacted with each other as a result.

She brings an amazing energy to her work. We were lucky enough to get to shoot some portraits in the gorgeous Lambeth Town Hall before heading over to river to shoot in a beautiful hotel near Tower Bridge and then out to the Thames. Fi is a true Londoner so it was important to find locations that worked for her and with her brand.

My mission for the day was to help Fi to be seen as the passionate, creative, powerful and courageous person that she is. I was in awe of her from the first moment we spoke and I think you’ll agree that her energy and personality shine through in every image we made.

Thank you for inviting me to work with you Fi, it was an absolute pleasure and a hell of a lot of fun!

All images by Firechild Photography | Personal Branding Photographer Dublin, Ireland

If you really want to take your business and your brand to the next level, with stand out authentic images of yourself that make you the first choice for your clients, Book a call here.

Firechild Photography by Éadaoin Curtin is based in Dublin, Ireland.




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