Welcome to this Forge & Flourish Newsletter for people creating an independent doing the work they love in service of people they care about.

What do you do when someone says hi to you and you have NO IDEA WHAT THEIR NAME IS?

Way back, I took my husband up to the Cairngorm Ski area. I worked there for a couple of years when I was taking a gap year. I’m still on that “gap year” 36 years later.

We met this couple. I knew his face. He said, “Hi, Louise, how are you?” and introduced me to his partner.

I immediately went into panic mode with a gazillion questions running through my mind…

  • who are you?
  • how do I know you?
  • how should I introduce you to Jeff?
  • how can I brazen this out?

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To this day, I have no idea what his name is but I do know that he worked for the BBC.

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You’ve been on my email list for a little while, but it strikes me that we don’t really know each other.

To save you that awkwardness whenever you see me in your inbox, let’s get to know each other so we don’t have to fake it.

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Me:

  • Born in Gloucester, UK, left at 18 and lived in Scotland since. I appreciate the area now, but back then, meh…
  • I had an early mid-life crisis in my 30s and bought a motorbike. Though I don’t have one now, I occasionally miss the excitement of twisting the throttle and the exhilarating sense of freedom it gave. But then look at my dogs, my faithful companions, and realise they are more important than risking my life chasing thrills.
  • Growing up, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. So I spent 6 years in dead-end jobs, living life to the fullest with no real responsibilities so that I could go skiing, hill-walking and mountain biking on my days off. And then…
  • For 15 years, I worked at sea in the oil industry on subsea construction ships. The tales I could tell, and the scrapes we got into.
  • At 40, I quit. I didn’t want the guys to be stuck in a confined space with a menopausal psycho-bitch. More importantly, I’d had my fill of the offshore life. It was time for a new chapter.
  • That’s when my second mid-life crisis hit. I left a job that placed me in the top 10% of UK earners to start a photography business. It never made the same kind of money, but the experiences were priceless, and I had a lot of fun.
  • I was commissioned by the then-Prince Charles for one of his Trusts. Twice, I photographed World Championship Motorcycle Racer Scott Redding, I am a huge fan, and managed not to embarrass myself. I shot society weddings in Madrid and Portugal, the King of Spains Polo Club is a stunning setting as the sun sets over Madrid.
  • I was awarded the Women Ahead Rising Star Award and was asked to speak multiple times at the UK’s largest photographer convention. Each time, they gave me a bigger room, and it was always full. I must have been doing something right.
  • Stubborn as a mule, I was determined not to be one of the 45% who fail at business within the first 5 years. So I hung in there until that milestone and then changed direction…
  • I was spending too much time driving to shoots and clients (there are only 31 houses where I live), the heavy gear was killing my back and I’d realised that I enjoyed geeking out about business more than being a photographer.
  • Since then my business has evolved hugely and I’ve served 3, 287+ clients, helping them book more clients and grow their businesses. I’ve been seen in Marie Claire, Scotland on Sunday, Women’s Health, HuffPost, Conscious Company Magazine, Woman’s Weekly, Invite Magazine, and f2 Freelance Photographer.
  • I believe that success in business starts with knowing yourself deeply and having the courage to forge your own path. It’s about creating a business that feels like an extension of your soul, not forcing yourself into someone else’s mould. While the Bro Marketers and Gurus may promise quick fixes, true success comes from building a business that aligns with your unique values, passions, and quirks.
  • The ethos of Forge & Flourish is to help people become the person they need to be to create the success that they want to enjoy. My goal is to make myself redundant. I’ve got the first bit nailed, but haven’t quite got the hang of that second bit yet as my clients tend to stick around for a long time (7 years is the current record in an industry where the average is 3 months). Or maybe they just like me?
  • I am a shorts and T-shirt kind of girl, well I would be if the weather was warmer more often in Scotland. So don’t expect to see photos of me all made up and professional looking. Here’s looking at you to the person who wrote telling me that I would do better in business if I had a professional-looking, all-made-up headshot. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m not in corporate, I’m owing that I LOVE having a lifestyle business. πŸ·πŸ–οΈπŸΎπŸͺ΄
  • I’ve had two professional photoshoots. Here’s how I look when trying to look like one of the cool dudes who works from a coffee shop. I never work from a coffee shop, I get too distracted. It’s also how I might smile when I’m trying to remember who you are πŸ‘‡

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  • I can swear with the best of them – I did work at sea for 15 years!
  • I am insanely curious, which is fantastic for my clients because I go down lots of rabbit holes, do lots of research and then distil it into usable wisdom.
  • My favourite rabbit holes to explore are business, AI, personal growth, and developing my new vegetable plot.
  • My favourite TV shows are The West Wing (it’s embarrassing, but I’ve watched it seven times now, and I love it more each time ), The Newsroom, Have I Got News For You, and Would I Lie To You?
  • It’s taken me a while, but I’ve got things to a great place where I love what I do in my business, and it supports me in creating my ideal life…
  • Which is following my curiosity, enjoying time outside, especially with our dogs Duke and Midge, pottering in the garden, reading and the occasional strum on the guitar.

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Now it’s your turn. Tell me a little something about who you are so that when our paths cross, I can say with genuine warmth, “Hey, I know you!”

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If you’re unsure where to begin, share with me a quirky detail that only friends know about you.

What ignites your passion and makes your business feel like an extension of your soul?

How did you come our paths cross? (I always want to know this.)

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Or, if you had to choose one elixir to sip for the rest of your days, would it be a robust red or a crisp white wine?

For me, I’d choose a velvety red wine paired with a juicy ribeye steak and a rainbow of veggies.

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I can’t wait to get to know the masterpiece that is you.

Louise

P.S. Yes, I really do want to hear from you…

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