Kevin Anderson: Personally Speaking – The Art of being a Contented Content Writer - CMA Live 2017

Kevin Anderson: Personally Speaking – The Art of being a Contented Content Writer

You may have already heard about how powerful and emotional Kevin Anderson’s 10 minute ‘lightning talk’ was at TCMA2016.

Apart form the closing Keynote, Kev was the only speaker to receive a standing ovation…out of 14 speakers over the two days!

Being in the room at that moment was an incredibly special experience.

For me, it’s a message about vulnerability, being genuine, open and honest.

It was very well timed directly after Ann Handley inspiring us all to create bolder and braver content.

We’ve all got stories to tell, but for some, sharing them is hard.

In this personal talk, Kev shares his origin story. And how one piece of writing changed the course of his life. Without those words – he would still be working in the job that made him unhappy and ultimately unwell.

Kev learned a hugely valuable lesson and that’s what he wants to share with his story.

We know how powerful content writing can be for your business, but what about writing for you? What if instead of having a conversation with your audience, you occasionally had a chat with yourself? From writing to understand, to writing to entertain – personal writing can have a huge impact on all aspects of your life.

And here’s the real magic – being a contented writer and a happier person will make you a better content writer.

Spoiler Alert – Kev’s origin story doesn’t involve a radioactive spider.

Click here to watch Kev’s lightning talk from TCMA 2016 on YouTube.

What people are saying about this talk

Nicola said:

“In this brave talk I heard last week by Kevin Anderson he tells his story of his battles with mental health. He tells how writing can help you in all sorts of ways.

I’ve had my own battles with General Anxiety Disorder and I admire his courage in being so honest in a room full of people – many of them strangers.

I’ve never shared that before either. But I’m not embarrassed anymore.

Writing works, talking works and walking works.

If you ever need a notebook let me know. It would be my pleasure to send you one and help you on your way.

It might seem an odd thing to come up up at a marketing conference but this wasn’t a normal marketing conference.

The key message of the whole event was be more human. Whether it’s writing for business, for personal reasons or trying to share posts that might help some friends – that’s all you have to aspire to.”

Click here to watch Kev’s lightning talk on YouTube.

Flora said:

“Please watch this! This is my friend Kevin Anderson presenting what I thought was a 10 minute talk at TCMA16 and turned into a highlight!

Friends and business owners watch this when you have time to really watch it.

This is only a slither of this amazing person”

Click here to watch Kev’s lightning talk on YouTube.

Linda said:

“I’m not sure I could have got through standing up there like you did without falling apart. Sharing your story with that room and now this video is very courageous.

Nothing but respect and admiration for you”

Click here to watch Kev’s lightning talk on YouTube.

Ali said:

“My friend Kevin shared his story on stage at TCMA2016 a fortnight ago.

For those of us there, it was an emotional experience, and earned Kev a standing ovation.

I’m delighted that I can share this powerful talk with you and that you can hear Kev’s story too.”

Click here to watch Kev’s lightning talk on YouTube.

Have a great weekend.



PS Click here to watch Kev’s lightning talk on YouTube.

Full Transcription

So the 13th August 2014 is the day that my life changed.

It’s the day that I waved a white flag, I surrendered. It’s the day that I stopped lying to myself and to everybody around me. It’s the day that I admitted to myself that I had a mental health issue. It’s an easy date to remember, because it was the day after this little chap’s fifth birthday.

I’d been working in the media industry for seven years, and it’s fair to say it had taken its toll on me. I wasn’t the person that I was before, I changed, and not in a good way. I was having heart palpitations, I was stressed, I was worried about every aspect of my life, and I told nobody.

It got to the stage where I almost cried twice at my work in front of a team of people that I managed. I’m a leader, leaders don’t cry. So I phoned my doctor, I thought, enough is enough. I phoned the doctor, got an appointment and went along. I didn’t say anything to anybody at work, I just got up and left, and that was the last time I worked for somebody else.

I went to the doctor’s, and the doctor pretty much immediately identified a condition called generalised anxiety disorder, brought on by work-related stress. He signed me off my work for a couple of weeks and he put me on antidepressants. Kev on antidepressants, that’s kind of unheard of. I’m cheeky chappie Kev, I’m the person that people come to when they’re feeling depressed. I’m the person that people come to when they’re feeling low in their life.

I don’t get depressed.

It was a shock to me and it was an even bigger shock to my family, because I didn’t tell anybody, I kept it all in here.

Getting better started the week later when this little chap, Jamie, started school. In a glass half full sort of way, being off my work was great, because I got to be there for the first time and take Jamie to school, and walking him the five minute walk to school every day and picking him up was the start of the process of getting me well again. I didn’t have to think about all the shit that I had to face at work. I didn’t have to get concerned about all life’s challenges. I just had to walk him to and from school, that’s all I had to do, and it was brilliant.

But walking and medication wasn’t enough. I was given the opportunity through my employer to visit a counsellor. Now again, my gut reaction is hell no, I don’t need a counsellor, I counsel people, that’s what I do. So I was a little bit petrified, I’m not going to lie, and this is an actual photograph. I found this photograph last week, this is a photograph of the room, and I thought, I know I’m going to get asked questions, but I wasn’t really prepared for the first question, she got me when I wasn’t expecting it.

She went, pick a seat. She said, pick a seat, and I thought, holy shit, we’re starting this really early! The way my mind works – and a lot of you know my mind – my mind went, if I pick the left seat, I’m safe, I’m saveable, I’m curable, I’ll get through this. If I pick the right seat, she’s going to be scribbling down on her little pad of paper two words, sexual deviant.

For the avoidance of all doubt, I sat on the left seat, I am not a sexual deviant!

So I was really nervous, and Sue had a counsellor’s voice, so I had eye contact with Sue, but in my peripheral vision, on a shelf, a bookshelf, I saw a tub of Playdoh, and again, bizarrely, that relaxed me, because I started thinking, what do I need to do for Sue to bring out the Playdoh? What is it that I need to do for Sue to go, oh fuck’s sake, let’s get the Playdoh out, let’s get it all out there. I thought, if I grabbed her ears and licked her face, maybe that would let me play with the Playdoh, but no, I never got to play with the Playdoh.

I’d been off for two months by this stage, and I was invited to have a meeting with my boss and a senior person from HR, and I’d been on the other side of the table before, conducting these meetings, so I knew what to expect. I decided that I would take control of the situation, and I wrote the most important words I’ve ever written. 2387 words that completely, totally changed my life.

Without those words, I wouldn’t be here today.

So this was a personal statement that I read out to my boss and somebody from HR. It was the most cathartic experience of my life. For the first time in three years I was completely honest and open with myself and with everybody else. Three years of unhappiness, pain, misery at times, sorted in just eight pages.

So what did that teach me?

It taught me that thoughts inside your head are debilitating, they can crush you, they can paralyse you, they can scare you, but do you know what, if you get those same thoughts out of your head on a bit of paper, write it down, they just become words.

Words that you can challenge, words that you can rationalise, words that you can make sense of.

So that’s what I do. I write when I have issues and I have problems, I write, and I get it out of my head. It’s made a huge difference to my life, and that’s what I want the message to be today, is you’re all here listening about creating podcasts, writing blogs, and you’re writing for your business and you’re doing stuff for your business, and that’s great and that’s wonderful, but I honestly think all of you would benefit from time to time, of writing for you.

Writing for you, not writing for your business, writing for you.

I know from my own experience, it’s the thing that has totally changed my life.

So what do we mean by writing for you? Hands up here anybody who has a journal that they keep every day? Quite a few of you, so again, a journal’s a great idea, a great way of just getting thoughts out of your head on a daily basis. It’s a great exercise to do, I started it, I lasted about a week and then I did that classic, oh, I’ll come back to that, and I will come back to that.

Who here has a personal website? Not a website for their business, but a separate personal website, a blog, for example? Quite a few of you.

I’ve got my main business website and I’ve got my Kev Anderson website which is my writing playground. I don’t have to be overly analytical and overly thoughtful, I can just write what I want to write. Jonathan Fox, for example, you could have a personal blog talking about paragliding, that’s one of your big things. Richard Tubb could have one about his love of retro gaming, and obviously some people could have a photography blog, perchance Julie Christie.

The other kind of writing that you can do for you, is writing stories, writing fiction stories, having fun by just being creative. I write a 100 word story every day. Technically last night’s story was done at two minutes past midnight, but I’m still saying that was today, because I hadn’t gone to my bed.

Writing these stories has, for the first time, got me writing consistently every day, and I love it, it’s part of who I am now. It’s made me a better writer, it’s made me a more consistent writer, and it’s made me able to write 100 words, so I can write smaller, shorter pieces, and it makes it much, much easier. If you ever had the idea of writing stories, just do it, have fun.

The other form of writing is if you find yourself in a situation like I was in, overwhelmed, unbelievably stressed, just get the thoughts that are in here out and on a bit of paper. Don’t create an outline, don’t create a plan, just spill it out, and you’ll be amazed just how different you think about the thoughts that are in here. The brain can be a prison for thoughts, so release them, get them down on paper.

Here’s where I link it back to content marketing. I think if you write personally on a regular basis, you will become better, more natural writers and storytellers. There are a lot of people that are intimidated by the prospect of writing blog content. They want to do it, but they don’t do it. Imagine you’re writing personal content every single day, it demystifies the whole thing of writing, so just do it, try it, please, if you’re going to do one thing, just try it.

Of course you can try a very short example by entering my six word story competition. It’s a bit of fun, look at the picture, what’s happening, I think we’ve had about 30 entries so far. You can win a holiday to Barbados…no, you can win a 50 pound Amazon voucher.

The last message I really want to give though is, a lot of people have said to me when I’ve shared this story that I’m brave. I’m not contradicting Ann by saying don’t be brave, but different context. People said I was brave for standing up here telling my story, that I’m brave for writing about it and sharing it, but I was brave for the three years that I kept it in here and told nobody, that was bravery.

My plea to you is if you ever find yourself in a similar situation to what I was in, speak to somebody, don’t keep it inside. Share it, write about it, but best of all, speak to someone close to you, because that will make a difference to your life.

For me, I’ll continue to write, I’ll continue to tell my stories, and as long as he’s happy with it, I’ll continue to walk Jamie to school every day.

Thanks very much.