Category Archives: social media

Getting to know Sarah Prout, a leader of a love infused lifestyle



Sarah Prout is a social genius and an exceptional lady of business, I stumbled across her website recently to be left feeling inspired  and motivated. There was an incredible sense of charm and energy emanating from the site so I just had to get in touch and learn more about this interesting personality.

Sarah Prout is an entrepreneur, writer/author, artist and publisher (co-founder of Alska Publishing). She is passionate about empowering women in business to follow their creative spirit and ignite their entrepreneurial sparkle. Nothing excites her more than someone with an amazing idea and a burning desire to turn their dream into a reality.

Sarah has had an interesting journey she comes from a creative background and spent much of her time as a child in galleries and studios. The entrepreneur has moved about more than the average person ‘I’ve  lived in over 28 different homes in nearly 33 years’ and she went to 2 primary schools and 3 high schools. Personally I imagine these various changes and experiences have contributed greatly into making Sarah Prout who she is today, she has a fabulous outlook on life and shares a positive ‘can do’ attitude which I believe stems from personal experiences of life, people and the world in general.

I think it’s fair to say something magical was always on the cards for Sarah Prout who I believe has always pushed for something more…you know not settling for anything but something that has real value to herself, her family and the worlds around her. Sarah is clear about the fact that she has never been very good at ‘jobs’ and it seems her first job experience at the age of 14 working in a cafe was more than enough to confirm ‘jobs’ aren’t very good! Since those early days Sarah has always been generating income through entrepreneurial pursuits and impressively at the age of 14 she was labelled Hallmarks Youngest Designer Worldwide for creating a range of wrapping paper that was printed internationally.

Sarah Prout has been featured in various publications including the Tiffany & Co. website, Problogger  and in particular she caught the attention of The Australian Financial Review who  say she ‘ranks among the top Australian media profiles and it’s not an opportunity she wastes’.

In an interview with Joanna Penn 2009 Sarah Prout said ‘I absolutely adore Twitter! I’ve made so many fabulous connects via Twitter.

Trends indicate that Twitter is set to skyrocket in 09 so my advice is to get yourself an account now J Think of it as an alternative method of list-building but with a focus on connection and adding valuable micro-content on a regular basis’.

Today 2012 Sarah Prout can proudly say she has a huge fan base of almost 55,000Twitter  followers…incredible…well done!!

Now then everyone this is the part you’ve been waiting for… below is what I found out about The Sarah Prout...

Favourite food:  Anything Vegan.               

Favourite Restaurant:  Shakuhari (Vegan) in Carlton, Melbourne.                            Favourite bar: Polly in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.

Quote of the moment:  “Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do.” ~ RUMI

Recommended music: Anything you can dance to.

Favourite travel destination: Vegas!

Studied at:  Monash, RMIT and Deakin University                     Course:  Psychology, Journalism and Design

Website: +

Name of business and the story behind the name: The name of my publishing company is Älska (elsh-ka). It means ‘to LOVE’. One night my partner and I were laughing and trying to give our combined energy a name and the word ‘Älska’ popped into my head very clearly. We had no clue what it meant and another thought to Google it surfaced to the front of my mind. We Googled ‘Älska’ and it turned out to be the Swedish verb to LOVE. We saw this as a sign that it would be a good name to call our company.

Please can you describe what you do and who and what has influenced you to make you who you are right now? I understand life has thrown some challenging times at you especially when you were younger.

I would describe myself as a writer first and foremost. My true passion is empowering women to see their own unlimited potential in business. I’ve always been a creative entrepreneur ever since I was little.

I got married when I was 20 to a man that was 12 years older than me so I felt like my emotional growth was somewhat stunted due to our domestically volatile existence. I had to explore creative ways to feel fulfilled through starting various business ideas and through study of meditation and personal development.

When I became a stay-at-home mum when I was 21, it was my ticket to empower myself to create an enterprise. I became a veracious reader and student – heavily influenced by women that had created massive success for themselves. At 26, I watched the movie ‘The Secret’ which is where I think the biggest transformation started to take place.

What was life like growing up for you? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in galleries and studios because my parents were both artists – so the entrepreneurial gene was really quite strong! There was never a dull moment and there was always something creative going on. I went to 2 primary schools and 3 high schools so I moved around a bit, but my ‘childhood’ really happened in a place called Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria.

What were your favourite books growing up and why?

I loved (and still do) the books of Roald Dahl and his amazing imagination. I loved ‘Matilda’ and ‘The Witches’. When I was a teenager I loved the books of Margaret Attwood and she introduced me to subtle themes of feminism.

Did you always want to be a writer and what writers do you admire most and why?

Yes. I think I’ve wanted to be a writer and an artist for as long as I can remember. The thought of not doing something creative just wasn’t an option. As I mentioned before, I loved Margaret Attwood and her writing style which was a strong influence. I also loved the non-fiction writing style of Florence Scovel Shinn and her prosperity advice.  Strong female voices have always inspired me.

When did you start believing in metaphysics, how did this happen?

I don’t think that there was a specific start date. My mother is very into spirituality and self-realization so there were always interesting books on our bookshelves. The concept that ‘everything is energy’ really hit home for me when I started studying meditation when I was 19. Our teacher was a really amazing old Sikh man called Sri Bhai Sahib Ji – with a long white beard and a purple turban. He was the first person to explain the bridge between science and spirituality in a way my heart could absorb.

What were your first job experiences?

I’ve never been very good at ‘jobs’. I first worked in a café when I was 14 and the manager touched my bum so I quit. The next job I was a freelance designer for Hallmark at 15. And then at 17, I became a charity collector for the Wilderness Society in a Koala suit…during summer!

I worked in semi-corporate roles in visual merchandising until my son was born when I was 21 and since then I’ve always earned money from my entrepreneurial pursuits.

Can you describe the transition from the start of your business to where you are now? What has the process been like? Where have you worked and who have you worked with?

I started my own publishing company back in 2007. This is when I created my first bestselling book called ‘Sprout The Life You Love’. My business was all run in the stolen moments when my children were sleeping. Some nights I would work until 3am and then up at 6:30 to make the lunches and do the laundry.

Since Sean and I partnered up for the beginning of Älska Publishing back in 2010, our business model has changed a lot more to outsource to our team to create a lot more flexibility. When I started I was the designer, the accountant, the bookkeeper, the copywriter and the cleaner. Now I can happily say that I outsource to our Älska team.

We work from a home based office so I can be here for my 2 children. Our goal is to move to an office building with the next 18 months or so.

There must have been some challenging times…what were they and how did you respond to these?

I left my husband of nearly 10 years, moved states, landed an international book contract with Wiley, had 12 coaching clients and a social media consulting business. The stress was unbelievable! I had to write ‘The Power of Influence’ on such a tight deadline while dealing with my children and the adjustment that leaving Daddy, leaving Melbourne and leaving everything we knew had on their little hearts.

I would block out 5 hours per day to write about 4,000 words. Looking back, I’m not sure how I did it, but I did and it was a fabulous lesson.

How does having your own business differ from working for a large corporation?

Whether it’s a big or a small business, the one aspect that makes it great is the energy and the culture injected into the corporate philosophy. With us here at Älska Publishing we want to ensure that everyone that interacts with us has an awesome experience. We’re truly passionate and know that this approach will ensure our overall success and longevity of our brand.

What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your website? You have about 55,000 followers on Twitter…incredible How have you achieved this and how long has this taken you?

I’ve been online and in business since 2006/07 so it’s been a gradual building process. I’ve achieved this by connecting with people and making sure that I keep everything pretty authentic. I even met my boyfriend and Älska co-founder on Twitter! He was living in Hollywood and I was living in Noosa.

I think that building a personal brand and a corporate presence has been really important for my growth as an entrepreneur. Media exposure has always helped a lot as well. I believe that the key is to keep engaged with your audience and express gratitude for their presence in your online life.

What has helped your success most?

Believing in myself and my strength to see the best outcome possible.  Also landing a book contract with Wiley helped a lot too in terms of adding to my credibility.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?

Our Adventures IN Manifesting books will be a household name. In just 12 months we have over 20,000 books in print so I can only image what another few years will bring.

I would love to work a little less and be less of a workaholic. I would love to spend more time with my kids and my dogs sitting by the pool of our dream home.

I definitely see myself as being happy.

For anyone wanting to start up their own business what are your top 5 tips?

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Believe in yourself.
  3. Invest in the growth of your business.
  4. Be smart with your money from the very beginning.
  5. Never depend on anyone else to make you happy.

 Please go follow Sarah Prout on Twitter for the latest news and updates



Tagged , , , , , , ,

Interview with photographer Charles Davis, the opportunist!

Favourite food: ITALIAN & FRENCH   Favourite travel destination: ITALY & ISRAEL

Favourite Restaurant: A difficult one as there are so many fabulous restaurants now, but it would have to be Italian I guess!

Reading recommendation: The Source by James A Michener


Thanks to Twitter I have recently been in communication with Charles Davis founder and director of Professional Photography. I have been blown away by his work and his general ethos, he is keen and as they say ‘dutch’ in the sense that he gives as well as takes opportunities. The prolific networker recommends that we should ‘network, network, network’  Charles Davis is clearly a big fan of social media  and face-to-face networking groups. He’s right when he says ‘it’s essential to get you and your business out there’ who else will?

Meeting new people on a regular basis and participating in state-of-the-art joined-up social networks is certainly key in succeeding in a 21st century and is very much behind some of the successes of Professional Photography. Additionally try to give something back, it doesn’t have immediate benefits but long term you will be surprised at the opportunities that arise. Another top tip from the man who describes fashion as an industry that takes no prisoners  is ‘do it because you love it, invest in the best equipment you can afford and learn as much as you can. Of course practice practice practice we all have to start somewhere’.

Charles you’ve got an extremely interesting and successful career history which has taken you from being part of the Special Escort Group looking after Royals and VIP’s to advising and leading in firearms operations to successfully filling the role of Fundraising & Communications Director for a large charity. Today I know you for your fabulous photography skills, so what was it that inspired you to become a photographer?

I was always very close to my late Father as a boy, he was an accomplished life-long Photographer  who indeed encouraged me to have a go at Photography. He essentially encouraged me to do whatever I wanted in life, grasping opportunities that came my way with both hands.  This together with my love of beautiful images is what attracted me to finally have a go as a full-time Photographer. Being in the right place at the right time has presented many opportunities and I can’t say no! (it wouldbe very rude to say no)

Your portfolio covers a broad range of skills and services suited to various settings ranging from images of products to beautiful wedding albums, in particular I picked up you’re steady involvement within the fashion industry how have you become involved in this?

I’ve always had an interest and followed fashion from a distance although in recent times more and more people have asked me if I’d be available for their shoot and it’s just developed from there.  Clients seem to be happy with the results and excitingly I’ve just been asked to become the Official Photographer to a new very talented and very interesting Designer. So we will see, I just love what I do and am quite happy doing whatever shoot I’m asked to do as long as the results exceed the client’s expectations.

What do you think is the biggest preconception that people have about the fashion industry?

Do you know what?  I’ve done some tough roles in my career but always been lucky to be able to develop what I’ve wanted to do, yes it may seem from the outside a little more glamorous but I can assure you they have taken a 100% commitment together with wonderful support from my family.

Describe what you do and who and what has influenced you to make you who you are right now?

It’s a fact of life with modern technology that many Photographers joke that they spend far to much time in front of a computer and not enough doing what they love, photography! It’s true, although an essential element to producing the best possible results for a client is in the selection and editing.  Being personable too, it’s so so important  if you can be friendly and build a rapport then your subject/Models have a fun experience and the shots are so much better. Influence has to be from, of course my late Father and in recent times Mario Testino, his work is just the best.

What were your first job experiences as a photographer?

Now that’s a difficult one for me as I’ve been a Photographer since I was a little boy.  The excitement I guess when the developed film came back from processing and seeing the images for the first time.  Gone are those days now, you don’t even have to take a Polaroid, the technology is fabulous, I love it. Being able to instantly have your images transmitted to your iPad2 so that the client can confirm whether your close to the look required or not.  We’re very lucky to be living in such a era of wonderful technology complementing our creative desires.

How does having your own business differ from working for a large corporation?

It’s amazing, together with scary!  I say that as I clearly do not miss having to play the political game that is so often an essential part of your life when working for a large organisation at a senior level, as everyone has their own agenda. However on the other side the freedom of expression comes at a price, and that is ensuring there is enough regular sustainable business coming in.  I’m an advocate of a joined-up approach to Social Media and although sometimes a little time consuming, I’ve built and developed some of my best clients via Twitter, Facebook, & Blogging. (DIY…love it!)

Can you describe the transition from the start of your business to where you are now? What has the process been like? Where have you worked and who have you worked with?

My roots over the last decade have been in the Automotive Sector and it therefore follows that my Photography work started there with Corporate Shoots, Press & PR material.  Soon though I seemed to get booked for more and more Events, which again led to other opportunities, some of which were Fashion related. It’s not all Photo-shoots though I’m a prolific networker and not just Social Networking the vital  face-2-face networking, early morning breakfast sessions, events, travelling just like any other business, building ‘Power-Groups’ of key contacts is really important to success.

Believe it or not, I know both those men in the picture, the man to the left used to race with my father and the one to the right worked for my father as a mechanic for years, what a strange and small world it is. sppppoookkky!!!

What has helped you the most?

Being personable, listening to your client to understand exactly what they want and delivering what they want, on budget and on time!If I had one thing I would ask people to remember, it’s that you don’t always have all the ideas & answers.  Listening to your client, your models and the people around you on many occasions others have brought in a key element or idea that has just made the shoot spectacular.

What has been most challenging? And are there any do’s and don’ts we should know about?!!

In the world of Do’s & Don’t I try to keep an open mind, and secretly I’m a bit of rebel when someone says you can’t do that.  I’d say why not! The current economic climate has been the biggest challenge but at least it’s the same for us all.

What are your favourite styles and looks?

Now that’s a difficult one for me, as I like so much.  I think ‘retro’ styling has been an interesting one, where the old has been revamped and in many cases is so much better than the nostalgic memories we all have of any particular decade.

Do You Have A Favourite Walk Around Lens…If So What Is It?

I’m a BIG BIG Nikon fan!  All my equipment is Nikon Professional Equipment, using the D3 & D3s Pro DSLR with numerous Nikkor lenses depending on the assignment.  If I had to pick just one, it would be my Nikon D3s fitted with 24-70mm F2.8G AF-S E Nikon Lens & Nikon SB-900 Speedlight Flash.

Thank you so much for your time, I love your work and have enjoyed getting to know you a bit better.

Please visit his website:  and keep up to date with Charles Davis on Twitter: ProPhotography Flickr: LinkedIn: Facebook: and his
BLOG: (It’s all bout the networking!!).
Tagged , , ,

What Is Social Media?

What Is Social Media?

“Social computing is not a fad.

Nor is it something that will pass

you or your company by.

Gradually, social computing will

impact almost every role, at every

kind of company, in all parts of

the world.” Anthony Mayfield. (2008).


So Social Media?

The best way to understand social media is to see it as a way of transforming messages from monologue to dialogue. The internet has been a main source for new social media encouraging the world to share, connect, create, deliver, form and participate in this never ending world of conversations. The different mediums mean people can go from talking in an office at the water cooler Lon Safko, David Brake (2009) to being able to share and gather information at a faster rate along with having access to much more,

To break it down into context:

Conversations (being the key): Going from monologue to dialogue means we have moved on from traditional media such as broadcast to being able to reach a much larger audience and move away from one way conversations to two way conversations. People can voice their news, opinions and ideas on anything from any angle. Conversations have the power to make or break, new social media is effectively handing over power to the people so for brands they must be vigilant as they enter this new inevitable era for business.

Participation: New social media engages people, it brings people together and encourages them to participate whether it’s simply through filling in a feedback form, answering an online survey, opening an email or using a social networking site such as Facebook, Twitter or WordPress. People may be worlds apart or in the same office participating online effectively bringing audiences and sources closer together.

People can upload pictures, their own movies or the clips of life experiences they have caught on their mobile phone cameras… everyone can be their owner publisher everyone has the power to be a force online to themselves or others.

Connecting: People and brands can connect with each other, common ground can be found and information can be shared. People love to connect and it’s never been easier. Connecting has a friendly persona to it, people are friends with brands for example Skittles which has 3,830,106 fans on Facebook Skittles. (1923)  and Disney has 3,269,300 fans. Skittles and Disney can connect with people everyday each time they visit their own information. Connecting gives brands a head start to get a buzz going on about them, a new product or concept.

Sharing: Brands and people can share their knowledge and lives on sites such as Twitter and wordpress which have a history of useful links and resources freely available to anyone interested. Sharing is being open and we could agree that openness is part of trust a key driving element for most organisations.

Sharing online can have its implications for third parties for example back in 2008 Robert Peston was the first to break the news story about Northern Rock having cash problems, this was soon picked up by other news media and resulted in queues of customers for days to follow wanting to withdraw their funds  Mark Fenton- O’Creevy. (2008). States of crisis can be achieved rapidly along with reputation damage making new social media a powerful tool.

Community:  Through participating, creating and delivering communities can be formed quickly allowing people and brands to belong to different social groups i.e. groups and organisations interested in science may subscribe to the online sciencemag or The New Scientist.

 Forms Of Social Media:

Social Sites: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and Soundcloud are examples of social networking sites that allow people to communicate and share with friends, co-workers, family and the randoms!! Facebook has more than 400 million active users Facebook. (2010}.

Blogs: WordPress and blog spot are blogging sites that enable people to tell stories about particular topics or simply their lives, they are similar to having a diary only it’s available to the world. Blogs are a great way to show yourself off and put yourself forward for unforeseen opportunities.

Forums: A place to meet people with similar interests and discuss topics i.e. music, health problems and life experiences in general.

Podcasts: Free audio files i.e. iTunes.

Digital technology has allowed people share and expand on ideas and for business digital media has enabled them to increase revenue, improve reputation and become global.


Anthony Mayfield. (2008). What Is Social Medai. Available: Last accessed Jan 2010.

Mark Fenton – O’Creevy. (2008). Has Robert Peston caused a recession? Social amplification, performativity and risks in financial markets. Available: Last accessed Feb 2010.


Lon Safko, David Brake (2009). The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools and Strategies For Business Success. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. Page 3-.

Facebook. (2010). Statistics. Available: Last accessed Feb 2010.

Anti Social Networking

The Blackberry is a wonder to hectic lifestyles, this powerful technology provides individuals with the convenience of being able to have constant access to emails, the Internet and have the use of a ‘hellophone’ anywhere in the world.

Slowly but surely people are getting sucked into a world of their own and creating their very own bubble. Have you ever noticed groups of people in restaurants, bars and other social venues with their heads down tapping away? Or walking down the street and miraculously missing lamp posts, people and bins…quite literally an art! Have you been lucky enough to experience that not so rude but more ‘acceptable’ interruption mid conversation so one can ‘ping’ or reply to a facebook thread?

The above leads onto the ‘boombuzz’ of social media it’s everywhere and there’s no escaping it. PR practitioners and journalists are amongst many who now make use of the Internet and web based technologies allowing broadcast media monologues to be transformed into social media dialogues. New social media does have its advantages:

  • Information can be delivered at a fast rate.
  • Widespread coverage.
  • Allows for breaking news to be delivered sooner than standard media outlets.
  • Improve brand recognition and brand awareness.
  • Search Engine Optimisation can call for an increase in website traffic.
  • Sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Youtube are free.

A common advantage found across the internet has been:

  • Community, Sharing and Connecting.

Designer Kevin McCloud has been experiencing and sharing what community really means in a channel 4 documentary called Slumming it: Kevin McCloud. Shockingly the city is built upon rubbish with streams of toxins and sewage but its normal there and part of the everyday living, they live in what could be seen as ‘living hell’ even houses blend in with the rubbish. Dharavi does have something that the Western world is losing and it’s: Community, sharing and connecting. All that can be gathered from this documentary is that people seem happy! There is family life, everyone shares, people come together and people of all ages will sit with each other and communicate. One can only imagine that word spreads quickly across such a close knit community of people. By the way an important note ‘85% of residents have jobs and crime rate is low’ Damian Thompson. (2010).

For organisations social media is a great tool especially if budgets are tight, it can be free and generate much business not just on a local scale but on global one… ‘Glocal scale’?! The buzz about new media is immense and travelling at a torpedo rate.

So now we must question whether society has gone too far? Does it ever end? Nope not social media, it’s endless and consuming in more ways than one. For the not so new to Public Relations and Journalism it has been noted that work loads have increased without a pay rise and longer hours, it’s as though social media has purposely crept in hoping not to be busted on its high maintenance.

According to statistics found on the National Union of Journalists site 25% of journalists found that with new media their working shift patterns had changed, 37% of respondents said journalists covering all media now worked longer hours and 32% said their hours were longer than agreed in their contract. A whopping 75% of respondents to the survey carried out felt that the integration of social media had increased the workload for some if not all of staff. In some cases it is believed that people have voluntarily taken up on the extra work however in most other cases it is thought that it has just happened.

It’s hard not to think journalists are being exploited for their good will and eagerness to further themselves especially in times of economic downturn. Social media is the perfect way for companies to get as much as they can out of employees no matter what it is doing to people’s health, that’s where it is leading by the way… to STRESS.  Social media is time consuming and needs to be deployed as a job for one person:

Social Media Dynamite required


  • Commitment
  • Dedication
  • Resilience to boredom
  • The ability to write
  • The ability to fight temptation when being led astray by irrelevant materials online

This is a full time position and may need something called creativity. Oh and excellent tea making skills.

Anyway the fact is that the social media go hand in hand with Blackberries and other replications. There are certain pressures that come with social tools and one of the key ones is that people can’t live without them or people feel they need to have their social tool with them at all times and for business people this could mean no peace, literally.

It’s now possible to use your hellophones on aeroplanes if you’re in business class, must be a matter of life or death then if one can’t even have a journey free of calls, emails and texts! Once again social media is making allowances; it’s a government of its own. People are even at it on holiday, shocking and anti social. It seems there is no separation between work and home life, technologies such as the Blackberry have become people’s lives, and they rely heavily upon them and the supporting programmes and networks.

Stuart Gold, a marketing director who receives up to 1,000 e-mails a day on his BlackBerry, said: “I cannot believe this happened again. I’m on the road 300 days a year.

“My entire life is in my BlackBerry – my family life, my professional life, my emotional life, everything. They’re not allowed to do this to me.” DailyMail Online. (2008).

This was in response to the Blackberry blackout of 2008 that upset many people, Blackberry’s are like the heroin of social media and it’s sad that people have become so absorbed and taken over by something that has possibly, dare it be said?… been forced into their lives.

Amazingly people are at it for no real reason other than fuelling their bizarre addiction to technologies such as the ‘crackberry’. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are wonders in that the statistics they can provide look impressive but so what? You’ve got 800 friends or 900 followers, yes your name may have been known for a split moment before being put the back of the mind forever but who are you really? What do these people mean? It’s fair to say in most cases friends and followers are merely numbers and that’s as far as they go.

So are we losing the art communication?  It’s all very well communicating with our trendy Blackberrys and being connected to the world 24/7 but when does it stop? And are we creating our own little bubbles as in people are glued to their iphones, Blackberrys etc. People are out socially and they all have their heads down as they are tapping away or ‘pinging’, now that’s not social at all, social media is almost a cause to anti social behaviour. The knock on effects of social/new media could be the instigator of an acceptable ignorance within society.



Daily Mail Online. (2008). Blackberry blackout hits millions. Available: .       Last Accessed January 2009

Damian Thompson. (2010). Slummin it: Kevin McCloud review. Available: Last accessed 2010.

Tagged , ,
%d bloggers like this: