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    Everything is Management. Everything.

    November 13th, 2023

    Everything is Management: Everything in business, anyway! It doesn’t matter what International Standard you’re looking at – Environment, Safety, or anything else – they all come back to Management. And Management is handled by the gold standard of decision-making, the Quality Framework you get with ISO 9001.

    This article explains why ISO 9001 is like the parent of any other standard. And why YOU – as an artist, freelancer, or sole trader – should care about it.

    Let’s go.

    Why should you care about international standards?

    As a freelancer, artist, sole operator, or small business, international standards seem like complete overkill. Especially if you’re in touch with someone who is out of touch: They’ll tell you they’re a whole lot of useless work, like manuals nobody reads and roles that don’t add anything to your organisation. Those people are working off old knowledge (manuals haven’t been necessary since the last update, which was 9001:2015).

    International standards are, however, gold standards for business. They are created by groups of appropriately experienced consultants worldwide, edited and overseen by them, and those who work in the field are invited to contribute to the next round of changes.

    The standards are also recognised and accepted internationally. This means that if you trade internationally, the systems you create in your business are meaningful to others.

    The standards boil down to this:

    ‘Do it right the first time, every time.’

    It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is. It could be networking, onboarding leads, creating new accounts, handling deadlines, handling risk, handling your insurance, bringing in contractors, creating products, handling queries and phone calls, doing your books…

    And that translates to eliminating trial-and-error.

    You should care about 9001 in particular, because it’s at the centre of the organisation.

    How does this relate to your organisation?

    The principles of the ISO 9001 Standard describe how every aspect of your business functions. But it goes beyond mere functioning: It stretches to quality measurement, to improvement, to risks, to people who have a foot in your business when you may not even realise they do.

    I’ll show you.

    Leadership in your business (which is you if you’re a sole trader, artist, or freelancer) has a customer focus for literally everything that it does. This means that you meet all requirements (statutory, regulatory); that you strive to enhance the happiness of your customers; that everything you do is crafted with one eye on your customer base – from hiring to writing lunch-hour policy.

    The ‘system’ is created for the customer, ultimately, because your customer decides what is ‘quality’ service.

    Leadership (i.e., you) communicates the importance of quality management conformance (which means, complying with your own quality policy) to anyone involved in the organisation. This maintains the integrity of the system and allows you to continually reinforce and improve it.

    In order to do this, you must maintain what I call ‘risk-based thinking’, so that every decision you make is done so within a structured framework of risk and evidence. Sick of selling SEO writing? Want to write memoirs instead? Well, how do you know there is a need for it? What are the social, financial, infrastructure, and management risks? Do you have enough time? How do you prepare the business for a switchover as and when it happens?

    Leadership is accountable for the effectiveness of the business; it follows a process approach, and in every step complies with its own quality policy.

    Your business is much bigger than you, however. It is exists within a range of what the Standard refers to as ‘contexts’. These are the publics with which it and you interact; your industry; your environments; the institutions with which it engages; its history.

    You also have what the Standard refers to as ‘interested parties’. These are all people with whom you have a touchpoint. They are customers, suppliers, financiers, banks, support staff, contractors, subcontractors, regulators, certifiers, professional development bodies, government, staff members, staff members’ families, board members, advisors, coaches, mentors, networking groups, voluntary organisations… These ‘interested parties’ will at some point have an interaction with your business, and their experience must be factored in, too. (They’re ‘publics’, really.)

    Now, your quality policy sets the objectives for the quality of your business and its products and services. Those objectives are established by the purpose of your organisation. And together they drive you toward your strategic objectives.

    The quality system comes before your strategic objectives. And this is how everything in your business comes back to the quality management system.

    The quality system comes before your strategic objectives. This is how everything in your business comes back to your quality management system.

    The system itself is built on seven key principles. They are:

    • Customer focus, which is designed to continually increase value to your customers
    • Leadership, which defines strategy and keeps everything moving towards your True North
    • Engagement, which refers to your team (whatever your team looks like): Recognition, empowerment, and increasing/improving skills
    • Process, which is how everything your business happens – from managing the quality management system to the nuts and bolts of what you do everyday.
    • Improvement, because you want to be improving continually.
    • Evidence-based decisions: You use objective results in order to assess what you’re doing, in order that decisions can be made.
    • Relationships, which refer to ‘interested parties’: That you meet their needs and their expectations.

    Your organisation exists within a broader context, too. It’s easy to lock yourself in your own cave and ignore it. The Standard forces you to look up.

    Your business exists in a context, and that context informs the scope of your 9001 system. This means that everything from production to sale and purchase and reporting fall within the scope of the standard, but so too do all of the external factors. Your industry, history, interested parties, system scope, system itself, culture, environment (etc) create the context within which your business exists.

    That context contains

    • legalities, such as regulation, registration, professional development, legislation
    • tech that you use and with which you must comply
    • the market you’re selling into
    • competitors who exist within that market
    • cultural factors of your business, locality, country, region
    • social factors within and outside of your business
    • economic factors locally, nationally, internationally.

    And the Standard asks that you monitor them. When you monitor them, you are able to collate meaningful data, and that data allows you to make evidence-based decisions for your business.

    Take our example from above. Your gut doesn’t want you to do SEO Writing any more but the market for memoir-writing has dropped 15% in the past 18 months. You don’t know anyone who wants a memoir written. You don’t have enough money to cover shortfall if you run an experiment that fails. Is it a good time to do it? Hell no.

    Thinking in terms of 9001 allows you to create a Watcher for everything you do.

    All ISO systems created on a system of Plan – Do – Check – Act (or PDCA for short). What this means is that you have a policy (say a quality, environment or safety policy). That policy has key objectives. Then you plan to achieve those objectives: You define what to do, what resources and availability exist to do it, who will do it, when it will be done, and how it will be measured.

    Then you action it. And you check it (audit it) against the plan. If you fall short of the objectives, you take the data and decide what needs to be changed. You will document that somewhere, and you will then plan how to implement the change before you take action.

    The movement of a sole trader, freelancer, or artist, is very much feel-think-run, which is why such a system feels odd and awkward. It slows you down. It feels sometimes as if you are hampered. But what it’s actually doing is forcing you to be rational, clear, and properly decisive – in ways that will not damage your business.

    Let’s take a simple example: A customer order

    Imagine that you’re a writer and you are approached to write 5 blog posts for a shoe store. As part of your lead-capture and onboarding, you receive the customer’s requirements (or brief) and you give them product (or service) information.

    You have to document that somewhere. Keep a record of what they request, what you discussed, and what your proposal is. That ‘record’ can simply be your notes plus your proposal.

    You then feed it all back to the customer to check that the requirements are accurate. Great, you proceed.

    If your customer then requires a change, you document that request, and feed it back into the production line. But when the production is complete, you stop and check. Does it meet your business’s requirements for quality? Does it meet the customer’s requirements? If yes, fantastic: Deliver it to the customer. If no, document that and plan how you’ll make the change – and take action.

    The word ‘document’ sounds annoying, doesn’t it? Like you have to write a manual? It’s literally as simple as keeping notes.

    As a writer, for example, this type of process is immensely beneficial because it allows you to see your own process and improve the process. If you document it, it exists.

    Let’s say you’re terrible at time management and you write everything at the last second before deadline. Then the customer comes back to you with changes, which take longer than you expect, and you sigh and berate yourself for simple things that could be avoided. If you had a quality policy that says every item sits for 24 hours, is reviewed, and is checked off against your own quality output policy, then you would find that your customers’ change requests begin to decrease.

    That’s what you call customer focus and continuous improvement in action. But unless you are documenting it in your client notes (or in your quality check records), you’ll never know.

    Information is power, as they say.

    Such a system goes far beyond creation and delivery. It goes into customer feedback and assessment of the process.

    Do you keep your customer feedback/emails in a folder somewhere so you can see what people say about your work?

    Do you assess your work process?

    Do you document everything that falls short, that irritates your customers (and you), that goes wrong? If not, that’s where this all starts because everything – every stage of production and delivery, and post-delivery – is planned and controlled.

    And so, if you have (or want) an environmental management system, or safety system, or anything other certifiable system, you don’t need a consultant with that credential.

    All you need is someone who has an ISO 9001 credential. Everything in your business – from leadership to environment, from staff management to safety, to product creation and sales, to delivery and feedback, from ideation to marketing – everything falls in the remit of 9001.

    If you have an auditor with a 9001 credential, they will be able to understand and audit your entire business. They have the skills and qualifications necessary to assess any system. All they have to do is read through the system, standard, or regulations and understand it.

    Many consultants who have specialist skills (such as dangerous goods, mining, or wastewater) never studied those things. They have simply had enough experience in their fields to know what to look for. And that, my friends, is way more powerful than a certification.

    If you’re an artist, creating a ‘system’ for the system’s sake is total overkill. But you can still benefit from this stuff!

    Thinking in terms of a standard like 9001 pulls you back from the razor’s edge. It gives you the ability to look at, to watch your business and what you do.

    If you’re not a detail-thinker when it comes to your work, you can become one. It might be uncomfortable. It might feel like you’re the business person you never wanted to be.

    But here’s a heads-up for you:

    If you’re an artist, and you want to live as an artist, becoming a business-oriented person is the best thing you can do because it safeguards your time, your money, and your efforts.

    When you have a known process, you can improve it.

    When you have notes about your objectives, you can ensure your navigation stays true.

    When you have any type of customer – an editor, a buyer, a publication, a gallery – you can continually improve their experiences with you, and that goes a long way towards giving you more paid work or more sales.

    When you have a process for sales, production and delivery, you know what is and isn’t working, so you can pattern it, repeat it, and scale it up.

    This stuff is not rocket science. It’s literally keeping notes and reviewing your notes. And once you’ve got notes about the right things, you’ll improve your project management, your money, your outputs.

    And that, my friends, is your system in a nutshell. 🙂

    Everything is management. Everything!

    Let’s recap. Your business exists in a context: An internal and an external context. Everything within your business (the people, resources, products, services, customer contact, marketing, publishing, sales, finance, safety, legalities, regulations, leadership) is management. And the ISO 9001 Standard is really the most beautiful way of handling that management, because it drives continuous improvement in every aspect of your business – including subsidiary standards like environmental management.

    How I can help you

    Talk to me about business improvement, coaching, mentoring, and compliance consulting. I am a certified auditor for ISO standards (yep, 9001) and I can help you create compliance to (and audit to) whatever regulation or certification you’re facing, from organic certification to wastewater. You can contact me for a confidential discussion.

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    Liminal Woman Launch!

    August 26th, 2023

    Liminal Woman Launch week is here!

    The book is releasing in eBook and Print on 1 September 2023 worldwide.

    To celebrate the occasion, I’m letting you get it almost for free.

    The book is $0.99 in most currencies until 8 September 2023.

    To get your hands on it at this ridiculously amazing price, all you have to do is go here.

    For media or queries, contact me here.

    Liminal Woman Launch Week is here!

    Xx Leticia

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    Quality action teams pocket guide: Systems for Great Business

    August 7th, 2023

    The Quality Action Teams Pocket Guide is a tiny little book. It’s so tiny that you can completely ignore it, as I did for about a decade. Yet the Guide is about the most useful little thing you could wish to have.

    Welcome to the series Systems for Great Business.
    Great business requires great systems. It doesn’t matter if you’re just dipping your toe into freelancing, whether you’re a successful, solo journalist, or whether you’re building an epic and amazing creative agency team: Your success is in your systems. This series gives you the insights you need to make yours both useful and robust.

    What’s in the Quality Action Teams Pocket Guide

    The Quality Action Teams Pocket Guide includes a deck of tools that support the FADE cycle. The FADE cycle goes like this:

    1. Focus
    2. Analyse
    3. Develop
    4. Execute

    Modern parlance sort of replaces this with the PDCA cycle, which is

    1. Plan
    2. Do
    3. Check
    4. Act.

    However, FADE is a little more specific because it walks you through defining your problem, analysing your data, developing a solution, and then implementing and monitoring the plan. In contrast, PDCA skips the definition and analysis portions and jumps right to the plan.

    In other words, if you can’t focus and analyse, any planning you do will be worthless.

    This is why the Guide is so useful.

    The Quality Action Toolkit is actually a series of commonly used methods and documents that drive improvement in your business. It includes brainstorming, checklists, pareto analysis, force-field analysis, selection grids, standard operating procedures, etc.

    Why you need this little book

    We’ve all ‘done a brainstorm’. We have all used ‘checklists’. Some of us know of impact transfer. Few freelancers (especially) ever go to standard operating procedures. These are all things that creatives tend to encounter inside other businesses. So why are you not using them yourself?

    That’s not an idle question. If other businesses use them, how are they are useful to you?

    They increase the quality and speed of your output and allow you progressively to iterate on what you’re doing.

    Of course, if you’re not willing to go to the detail (I wish I had a dollar for every creative I’ve ever met who believed that an entire system was the detail), you’ll struggle like hell. The phrase ‘the devil is in the detail’ exists for a reason: You’ll find the problem in the fine print.

    This Guide is, however, not available for purchase.

    It was created way back in 1990 by a company known as Organizational Dynamics. It’s not available for purchase. However, I am in the process of finding out whether I may be allowed to make it available.

    If you’d like to be on the list in case I get ‘yes go for it’, tell me.

    Great systems take your business from good to great.

    Great systems take your business from good to great. If you don’t have the space to think about them (let alone support them), that’s your first indication that you’re in trouble. Here’s how I can help you:

    • Mentoring and coaching (which is really Business Therapy for Creatives)
    • Quality consulting for systems development, management and auditing

    Contact me directly for more information.

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    Women are liminal. (Or, why the prophets were all men.)

    August 2nd, 2023

    Women are liminal creatures, which is why – in mainstream religions – the prophets were all men. Women have no need for (bureaucratic) faith, because they are Life itself.

    First, let’s get on the same page. Where does the idea of liminal women come from?

    As a life reader, one of the things that I have regularly encountered is a conflict in spirit between the ‘New Age’ world and the ‘Religious’ world. It is a conflict that is actively propagated on both sides of the equation.

    On the religion side, it’s fairly obvious as to why this might be the case. Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, etc. It’s often (not always, but often) the case that anyone with a direct connection to the divine is discouraged, so that the hierarchy of the bureaucracy can be preserved. It makes sense, in the greater scheme of things, and yet it can cause enormous angst.

    On the New Age side, in which most people are seekers and never content, religion is viewed (also fairly obviously) as a cult or trapped dogma. It’s trained out by toxic people as something to avoid and to view with suspicion. This is almost entirely as a result of a religion’s bureaucracy, and not necessarily because of its teachings.

    You could argue, for example, that Islam always creates oppression and suffering. But if you read the Holy Qu’ran, you’ll understand that its teachings are that oppression is a state worse than murder. Therefore, from whence does the oppression come? From states and bureaucracies that purport to embody the teachings.

    You could also argue, for example, that Christianity applauds torture because its primary iconography is of a man nailed to a cross. But if you read the Holy Bible – more, if you cross-reference the Bible with the Qu’ran! – you’ll understand in depth about the bureaucracy behind the book. The Christians believe that Jesus was killed. The Muslims believe that he lived, though, that Christians have it wrong, because God wouldn’t kill a holy person.

    So wherever you sit in relation to a ‘religion’, it’s likely that you’re not seeing things as they are.

    In my particular case, I had recently been called to pray the rosary. And not just called, but strongly called. To the point where I couldn’t ignore it. I had to find a way to get my hands on a rosary. I didn’t understand it, I just did it.

    Soon after, I ‘stumbled on’ a book titled The Way of the Rose, which was about a Buddhist who felt called to say the rosary. Seeing the similarities in my path and this guy’s path, I forked out a huge amount of money for the book and devoured it. It taught me a lot about the history of the rosary, and chiefly that it was never a Church-given thing to begin with. Prayer beads have a deep history. They’re in every religion. And the rosary in particular was always a bit of a stealthy F You to the Church. It became sanctioned because the masses used it.

    Along the way, I began to ask questions of this thing I was doing every day. I took issue with some of the prayers. I don’t believe that Jesus is God, because he was just a man. If he is just a man, then how can Mary be God’s mother (even though she is also a representative of every God’s Mother in every pantheon and folk story ever: Ishtar, Pachamama, Anu, the Triple Goddess, just to name a few)?

    My ongoing conversation with Mary is interesting but I’m not going to let it derail this post. So if you want me to write about this ongoing exploration, drop me a note and let me know.

    One thing led to another, and eventually I began to ask why had the archangel Gabriel appeared only to three men in history, when every ritual working witch calls in Gabriel as a protector?

    I sat in ritual and asked, directly.

    After discussing matters with a good friend, I decided to ask. Who do you ask about such matters? In my case, I sat in meditation ritual and I asked directly. I asked the question about why three men, and only three men in all of recorded Abrahamic religions, were guided by Gabriel and given the sacred texts.

    What I learned was something fairly expected: That they were given the story because they were purely holy people. They knew they were here for one reason, which was to share with the world how they were connected with God, and to encourage others to see the world the same way.

    Ok, fair enough. But where were the women?

    Women aren’t prophets, because they don’t need to be. Meaning: They are liminal creatures, existing on the boundaries of two worlds.

    I was told in session that women are liminal: They are Life itself.

    The exact phrasing was this:

    … The men were pure and holy in every regard: They lived in love, connected to the All, understanding that they were here but for one thing: To help others see life as he did.

    Women have always had this knowledge, for they are but life itself – as you already felt when you became the gateway to another life yourself. (…) Women have need for faith only when they have Forgotten. In this realm, the Forgetting is stronger than the Remembering.


    Women already have this knowledge.

    When I was pregnant, I had the phenomenal experience of understanding that the trees and I were the same. I instinctively knew the names of every plant I walked past. I had a sense of absolute and total comfort and love, in every moment of every day. Time was irrelevant.

    And I’m not alone. I spoke to many women who expressed the same thing but in various ways. One friend told me that she experienced a feeling of been a goddess of the trees, an expansive, incredible feeling of being All Life.

    If you had this experience too, email me and tell me your story. I’d love to add your story here to expand the Remembering.

    Women are liminal because they are life itself, and God is Life.

    Women are naturally liminal creatures. The information I received when I asked was also that the core of each of the scriptures is great. That there is no need for bureaucracy for each man is self-responsible and each women, when fertile, open to God.

    The key is being open to God. However you construe your God. I’ll write more about that sometime soon.

    When you understand the key message in any of the scriptures, you always come back to the same thing. That love is key; that forgiveness is important; that you must trust your own heart. When you are in this state, you realise that God is in everything for everything is One and separation is an illusion. Therefore, God is undeniable, because God is life itself.

    That’s not to say that women are God. It is to say that women are naturally closer to God because only women who grow other lives can understand the nature of life from the inside.

    xx Leticia

    PS. If you’d like to read more from my sessions in conversation with the world, make sure you tell me!

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    Liminal Woman set for September 2023 release date

    July 19th, 2023

    Liminal Woman is the new title of the poetry collection I’d originally released as Artist in Recovery, and which I wrote here in May about publishing under its original title, Woman as Artist.

    The word ‘liminal’ means, ‘of or pertaining to a threshold’.

    That’s really what Liminal Woman is about. It’s the threshold between lives; the blind, grappling difficulty of moving from one type of life to another.

    The threshold theme of this work is known now as ‘matrescence’, the period of transition from Maiden to Mother. But it’s always been known. It’s actually one of the world’s oldest stories, co-opted by neo-paganism as witchy and woo-woo: The movement of maiden to mother to crone. Wiccans know it as the triple goddess. Christians know it as Mother Mary. Other belief systems personified the movement in various ways, but they are often the same thing, too; like Tridevi.

    Transitioning to motherhood is difficult, but it is sacred.

    Learning to Mother is a skill, one that contemporary Western world denigrates, and thus fails to teach its young women. Rites of passage, too, in Western society, are all but gone. Rather than celebrating, supporting and mentoring our youngsters through becoming men, becoming women, becoming women, becoming fathers, we celebrate unimportant things like ending school, getting jobs. We celebrate ages 18 and 21 but they no longer have any meaning; they’re just excuses to get drunk. Thus, if you no longer have your village – perhaps you travelled, moved away from family – this transition becomes ever more difficult.

    Liminal Woman was written during the first two years of my son’s life. I wrote it at night, after breastfeeding. One by one, piece by piece. It was an outpouring of love and sadness, regret and disbelief. On the one hand, grief for all the children I never had; on the other, grief for a life that I no longer lived and couldn’t access… and, weirdly, now wouldn’t live if I had the option. It’s the strangest period of time, and as women we (now) do it alone. I got mad at the Sisterhood for keeping so much of the beauty, joy, and glory of motherhood hidden. I still don’t understand why we don’t speak of the fact that becoming a mother is the most magnificent moment in life. It’s far more soulfully important than anything you can ever do.

    This book is a collection of poems about the transition from Maiden to Mother, and it predictably rides the rollercoaster of that transition.

    Liminal Woman front cover

    Official blurb about Liminal Woman:

    This poetry collection explores the dark, scary, solitary journey from Maiden to Mother. That transformation is one you traverse blind, one whose process is known by every other mother, but one of which nothing is spoken. It is one that is filled with love, loneliness, and learning; one that can rip you raw and cuddle you close.

    Women, all women, are divine creatures. They are portals to new lives and, thus, new worlds. They are all artists. Their default mode is “creator”. I realised that I could only know this now because of a specific rite of passage: Motherhood.

    Liminal Woman shines a light on one of the most powerful moments in women’s lives: Hidden, private, and blessed.

    This title is in production and will be available worldwide on 1 September 2023.

    Make sure you subscribe to one of my channels (the best is The Letter) to get updates as they happen… though I’m sure I’ll post more about it here, too. 🙂

    If you’re an arts journalist and you’re interested in covering this title, interviewing me, or running reviews, please contact me with your media outlet details and potential filing date.

    In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for launch-week giveaways!

    x Leticia

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