Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Don’t let the critics stop you: 7 Tips for Handling Criticism

“The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.” cropped

Do you derail your success by listening too much to, or overly seeking, the opinions of others? Do you let negative feedback stop you in your tracks?

Plenty of successful people have received scathing reviews, rejections and public humiliation from peers and critics, but they persevered with their vision anyway. You’ll know some of the more famous ones. Author J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter series was rejected many times by publishers who told her there wasn’t a big market for children’s books. American singer Meatloaf was told that he was too fat to make it big, and no one would want to see him perform Bat out of Hell. It was too operatic and over the top they said. Film producer Peter Jackson was cautioned to stay away from his vision for a trilogy and produce The Lord of the Rings as one normal length movie.

Yet they, and others like them, stayed true to their quest, and all went on to be colossal successes.

The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions,” said Leonardo da Vinci. This could be read two ways. The deception could be yours, or it may belong to others who think themselves more knowledgable.

Other people may believe their negative evaluation of you, your ideas, your work. But what if they are wrong? What if your vision, like Leonardo Da Vinci’s was back in the1500’s, is way ahead of the time? I recall it wasn’t so very long ago that the publishing industry said no one would ever read a book on a kindle – let along a phone!

Know when to listen and when to walk away.

Sometimes feedback is helpful. But not if it stops you in your tracks or if you are so consumed with garnering everyones approval you become immobilised. Nobody can stop you except you. You have to ignore your harshest critics. To thy self and to thy vision and belief you must remain true.

Imagine how many of Leonardo’s ideas would never have come to fruition if he’d listened to others. Forge ahead. Blaze your road to success with your victories – even if the victory is just the one you win over your self-doubt, your laziness, your procrastination, your thoughts that you have no talent, or some other self-defeating habit.

What’s worse – the disappointment of criticism and bad reviews, or the bitter, bitter disappointment of a life spent unfulfilled and loaded with regret?

I’m guilty!

I’ve been guilty of letting the opinions of others sway me too much in the past…and I know others do too, which is why I’ve made sure this important point is covered in my book The Art of Success: how extraordinary artists can help you succeed personally and professionally (Available from 4 July on Amazon.)

I realise that most of my life I’ve been seeking validation that I was ‘good enough’ especially when it came to my creativity and in particular my writing. I’ve entered writing competitions, approached editors and story consultants, and other ‘experts,’  in my search to become a successful author. Sometimes the feedback was helpful, but most often I’ve found acting on their advice has taken me further and further away from my authentic voice, and the vision of the stories I wanted to tell.

You’re not good enough – you’re more!

Other people have shared with me that the fear of not being good enough is stopping them from achieving success now. And this often plays out by listening too much to, or overly seeking, the opinions of others. “My own beliefs, some built over the years, many embedded in childhood, are holding me back”, shared one 30 year old women. What we were told as children is often the root cause of the mistaken beliefs we hold today. We’re more than what others think of us. Much more.

Success to this young lady means “validation and self-worth.”

Who controls self-worth? You do! What you say, think, feel and believe about yourself is such a vital component of your success. If you’re self-esteem needs a kick-start, if you mistaken-beliefs are dragging you down – take heart. There are so many skilled professionals who can help your reconnect with your point of brilliance.

What would you do if you thought you would not fail?

If this young lady could do anything, and knew she would succeed, and there were no obstacles, do you know what she would do?


How wonderful! She reminds me of a client I had once who felt the same way. “But I’ve got no talent, “ she told me.

‘How do you know? Where’s your evidence?” I asked.

“I just know. I’ve never learned.”

“So how could you learn?” I asked.

And long-story short, she went to singing lessons and has now performed in musicals and sings regularly as her special joyful hobby.

Don’t let the passionless, envious people win.

“You think you can sing, but you can’t,” our neighbours four-year old child, spat out the window when my daughter Hannah, aged four also, was singing happily on the swing.

Hannah stopped singing, ran inside and cried. This same child also cut off Hannah’s long blonde hair when she went to play one day. An innocent game of hairdressers or one driven by jealously or spite?

Regardless, Hannah hasn’t let that stop her from following her path with heart, nor from being kind and compassionate toward others. What she has learned is to choose her company carefully.

What would you do, if fear was no longer an obstacle or you weren’t worried about criticism?

In 1987 the songwriters Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh composed “Come from the Heart” which included the following lyrics:

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ll never get hurt
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

Live with passion!

That’s where following your passion comes in. Passion is love in its most powerful and courageous form. I’ve achieved so many things I never thought I was capable of by following my passion – including public speaking to full-capacity audiences around the world. The saying, “Fake it ’till you make it,” always worked well for me. I felt the fear, and I showed up anyway.”

How do you stay strong in the wake of criticism?

Me, I like to keep collections of good reviews and glowing feedback and read them regularly to boost my self-belief and confidence.

Something I need to do more of is self-publish the books rejected by mainstream publishers. This is something I’ve done successfully with my Mid-Life Career Rescue series.

I also love keeping a file of true stories of others who were criticised and succeeded anyway.

And I look at bad reviews and rejections constructively, and ask: “What is this teaching me? Is there something I need to learn?”

I did this following a Amazon review of my first Mid-Life Career Rescue book, where someone wrote that I waffled. As a result I wrote a shorter book, How to Find Your Passion and Purpose, which became a #1 Amazon bestseller.

Do you fear disappointment?

The respondent to my Art of Success questionnaire, the one who wants to sing, asked me an interesting question, “When you achieve one form of success, how do you not feel disappointed?”

Disappointment following success is not something I’ve thought about. “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant,” artist Georgia O’Keefee (credited with creating the highest-priced artwork by a female artist in history at US $44.4 million) once said, “There is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing – and keeping your unknown slightly beyond you.”

And that’s exactly what Leonardo did. His obsession with discovering new knowledge born from his own direct experience propelled him forward.

  • All life arises out of choice. What choices are you making now?
  • How can you stay strong in the wake of criticism?
  • How can you do more of what’s working for you, and less of what’s not?
  • What can you start and stop doing to boost your chances of success?

Too many people die with regret, burying their wonderful talents in coffins of disappointment. Whether you succeed or fail is irrelevant. Far better to say at least you tried. And who knows – you may just surprise yourself!

Take the success survey: Unlock the secrets to prosperity, find your point of brilliance and empower your success

Would you like to unlock the secrets to prosperity, find your point of brilliance and empower your success? Take the short success survey here

The Art of Success: how extraordinary artists can help you succeed personally and professionally is available from 4 July on Amazon.

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Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Podcasts to listen to

The Cassandra Gaisford Show*** The Cassandra Gaisford Show ***
I’m so excited to be re-introducing the podcasts I started 8 or so years ago. Technology has moved on – and I’m moving on with it. Thank you to Olivia Gamber, a career expert in the US for giving me some great tips – and interviewing me for her own show. I’ll let you know when this goes live.
The Cassandra Gaisford Show is where I interview inspiring men and women from around the world and tell you THEIR story of finding, launching, and growing their own passion-driven life and career. I call these people – Passionpreneurs Now let the journey begin…
I’m super excited to be interviewing Vesna Hrsto tomorrow. Vesna is a Melbourne-based naturopath and life coach who specialises in helping women have it all without burning out! Many of you will remember Vesna from that amazing sumitt she interviewed me for, “The Woman Reinvention Project: Fire Up Your Energy, Work With Passion & Enjoy More Freedom Now, By Doing Less.”
Screen Shot 2016-04-09 at 10.24.34 am
You can re-listen to this interview here
But before the show goes live here’s your chance: If you could ask Vesna anything what would it be?
Post your replies below in the comments section and I’ll do my best to weave them in to my interview or have them answered later.
To out find more about Vesna navigate to her site here To listen to some of my earlier (pre-historic but still inspiring) podcasts navigate to here:
Some of my favourite podcasts currently include The Creative Penn Podcast, by Joanna Penn; The Self Publishing Formula, co-hosted by Mark Dawson and The Tim Ferris Show, hosted by the author of the 4-Hour Work week (and other amazing feats).

I love listening to passionate people share amazingly interesting things with others all around the world. And listening to a podcast is a great way to maximum limited time. I often listen to them while driving, doing shopping and many otherwise mind-numbing tasks.

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Thursday, May 12th, 2016

The key to success? Relationships

leonardo da vinci from zollner with textSuccess, a young man told me yesterday, is being happy. Happy and healthy. I love the simplicity of his definition. Roy quit a job he hated and took the risk of employing himself. What was hardest?

“Fear of failure. I was so afraid of it not working out and having to go back to my old job.” Instead of letting his fear of failure stop him dead, Roy did everything he needed to ensure success. He’s now busier than he ever imagined and happy at work as a tree surgeon up here in the Far North. I’m happy here too.


It’s a great place to live and work. Right now I’m surrounded by subtropical plants, sipping Lemon Myrtle tea at Food at Wharepuke and working on finishing my next book the ‘Art Of Success’. It’s dear to my heart. It’s the book I need to read. Whenever I feel fat, defeated, overwhelmed by obstacles or something else I say to myself, “What would Leonardo da Vinci do now?

Then I find a sage few words of his from some historical text and craft my lesson, and the chapter, around this. Today’s lesson? Healthy relationships. The health of your relationships is vital to your success.

Leonardo fa VInci once said, “Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.”  Read into this what you will, but the theme is clear. Make good choices and marry well, keep your relationships in good health, or don’t marry at all. Divorce your job, your boss, your partner – anyone who is toxic to your health and happiness. Take the good with the bad, don’t give up too easily, work at it and recognise that nothing is absolutely perfect. But If you can’t make things work, be it professionally or personally, be prepared to quit. Feeling like you’re always getting your head bitten off, or you’re surrounded by a vat of snakes will only impede your health, happiness and success. Don’t be pressured by society. Be yourself.

As always I welcome your comments.

#Artofsuccess #LeonardodaVinci # success #passion #inspiration #achieving goals #failure #Self-employment #Mid-lifeCareerRescue #renaissance #Monalisa #Employyourself


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Sunday, May 8th, 2016

Why success is a lousy teacher

“Obstacles cannot crush me; every obstacle yields to stern resolve.”“Success is a lousy teacher,“ says Bill Gates, one of the worlds’ most successful businessmen. “It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” The greatest lessons in life, he argues, often come not from your successes but from your failures.

Reading biographies of people like Bill Gates, and other people you admire can give you great encouragement along your journey. Whether this is forging a new career path, building your own empire, speaking up against evil, or opening your heart to love.

Love. Love is a wonderful teacher.

“A life without love, is no life at all,”  said Leonardo da Vinci. He’s the inspiration for my new series, The Art of Success

Love is greater than fear, and more powerful than failure. Leonardo pursued his greatest loves – learning, acquiring knowledge and living and working authentically. He used his failures to fuel his success. He wasn’t afraid of trying new things, and he didn’t let setbacks overcome him. In many ways Leonardo da Vinci is just like you and me.

He suffered at times from self-doubt, he had family hassles, some of his efforts resulted in failure, people jealous of his talent tried to undermine him, money worries meant that at times he had to suck it up and do work he didn’t enjoy , and often he had to work for bullies and tyrants. But he didn’t obstacles stop him from doing the work he was born to do. The pursuit of knowledge born of his own enquiry and experience ultimately lead to his success.

Why Leonardo da Vinci Was No Failure

Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison, Dame Wendy Pye, Oprah Winfrey . . . they could have all been considered “failures” at some point in their careers. But failure played such a critical role in their future success.

Check out this video about the failure behind one of the world’s most visited and revered paintings The Last Supper, by Leonardo da Vinci

Doing what you love, as Leonardo did,  is such an important part of success – and persevering in the face of failure.

In my Art of Success survey I loved the question someone said they would have loved to ask Leonardo da Vinci,  “What gave you persistence in spite of the obstacles?”

Setbacks only made Leonardo more determined to succeed. Leonardo once said, “Obstacles cannot crush me; every obstacle yields to stern resolve.” 

Have I failed?

I’ve failed heaps, and heaps of times. I remember when I went to University as a single mother and mature student just before I turned 30. I absolutely flunked my first exam. But my failure rather than defeating me only strengthened my resolve.

I powered up and armed myself with more knowledge about how to study effectively, and how to retain knowledge and succeed in exams. I still remember the note I pinned on my wall, “I have failed this time but next time I will succeed. I will score 86%. And my faith and hard work was rewarded. In my next exam I scored 87% – a vast improvement on a lowly 16%!

What has failure taught you? 

What can you let it teach you again?  

Tip: Don’t look at setbacks as a negative thing but view them as a reflective tool shining the light on things you may need to improve.

The Art of Success

The focus of my next books, The Art of Success series, is to reveal how the success secrets and strategies of extraordinary artists like Leonardo da Vinci can help you succeed personally and professionally. 

Leonardo’s definition of success was the pursuit of truth and knowledge and the freedom to work and live in the pursuit of his deepest interests and beliefs.

What’s your definition of success? 

What’s holding you back? What’s propelling you forward?

Discover your road blocks, empower your fears, reawaken your dreams and boost your courage. Take the  Art Of Success quiz here

P.S. Happy mother’s day! Whether you’re a mum or not there’s no better time to give birth to your dreams. Maybe like Leonardo you yearn for the freedom and creative control of being your own boss.

If you, or you know anyone else who dreams of being their own boss or is interested in starting a business, please share the link to my Employ Yourself book, or this newsletter with them; and/or ask them to complete my quick Employ Yourself survey. Here’s the link

Mid-Life Career Rescue (Employ Yourself): How to confidently leave a job you hate, and start living a life you  love, before it’s too late

Or even better get the three book bundle, Box Set (Books 1-3): The Call For Change, What Makes You Happy, Employ Yourself here: