Philippa Gamse’s BIO
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to be a solo business practitioner?
Philippa: Probably all my working life – I don’t do well with routine, commuting, business dress every day, and especially not well with reporting to superiors who may or may not like me or understand what I do (can you tell I’ve had some bad experiences?)
I’ve always felt that the only really valid review is from clients who either hire me again or refer me to others (75% of my speaking business is with repeat or referral clients).
2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from start to finish.
Philippa: I don’t do well with “typical” days as I’m not good at routine. However, I do try to catch up with news both international and Web-related in the morning, before checking e-mail. Since many of my clients are in Europe and on the East Coast, they’re well into their days by the time I wake up in California.
I also have a very Mediterranean body clock – I like to take off in the afternoon, and then work into the evening – my brain does best in the morning and evening.
3. What are a few of your “can’t live without” applications on your personal computer/smart phone?
Philippa: The Sudoku game – keeps my brain agile. Also, I really like my contact manager – it’s called “Chaos Intellect”. I used to use ACT! which was a great program when it started, but then morphed into a monster.
4. What are your tricks for time management?
Philippa: wish I had some! I do know that it’s a great idea to stop and take a walk when I feel my brain getting really tired (I’m lucky enough to live in the middle of a vineyard with great views of the Monterey Bay!)
5. Best advice received when you started your business?
Philippa: “You can’t pay with exposure at Safeway” – it can be very tempting as a consultant to offer free advice, either to impress a potential client with your knowledge, or to help someone. And people looking for speakers are constantly offering “exposure” to their audiences in lieu of a professional fee. Sounds good, but there are no guarantees . . .
6. When did you know for sure that starting a consulting firm was the right path for you to take in your career?
Philippa: I was working for a national nonprofit, helping their state chapters to start using online technology. When I got my green card, I knew I wanted to stop working for someone else, and go out on my own – I’m not really employable!
7. If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?
Philippa: My sources these days are almost all online – newsletters like eConsultancy and eMarketer, and brainstorming in LinkedIn groups and some e-mail lists that I belong to.
8. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your consulting firm changed for the short-term and long-term?
Philippa: Actually, I have a long-term strategy for my business as a whole, not just the consulting. I am actively exploring other sources of income as the economy affects the speaking industry – I’m currently taking some voiceover classes to see if some work in that field might be viable for me (I do have this classy British accent!)
Also, as the Internet is constantly evolving, it’s important for me to retain my focus on helping small and medium-sized businesses, and what’s appropriate for them. For example, we’re hearing a lot about mobile applications now – my role is to translate for my clients what they can realistically do, and what makes sense for them since they’re not big corporations with deep pockets and massive IT departments.
9. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?
Philippa: I was selected to be the sole expert (and cover photo!) for the UPS “Compass” magazine’s feature story on “Ways to Make your Website Sizzle”, which was distributed to over 1million businesses in Fall 2009.
10. If you could re-start your business, what would you do differently and why?
Philippa: I wish that I’d created product (audio, e-books, etc.) a lot earlier – I’m just starting to create these, and it’s very exciting. I’m also hoping that it will be a great way to get my name out.
11. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?
Philippa: I try to walk most days, I take a Jazzercize class, and I volunteer at the local animal shelter where I play with the cats / kittens, and try to give them some love. It’s not their fault that they ended up where they are . . .
12. The one book you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)
Philippa: I recently read “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell – it’s really thought-provoking about what’s actually behind the achievements of people like the Beatles and Bill Gates, and how certain circumstances have a major impact on our likelihood to succeed.
13. If you received a surprise bonus equal to half of your monthly salary, what (if anything) would you spend it on?
Philippa: Wow – where to start? I’m just recovering from major surgery, and have been stunned at all the things that my insurance managed to wriggle out of paying for, so it would be prudent to save it in case of future need.
On the other hand, I love to travel, I like good wine, and so spending it sounds quite inviting!
14. What is some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?
Philippa: As I mentioned above, I volunteer at the local animal shelter. I’m amazed at some of the truly awful things that people do to their pets (one woman brought in her beautiful 7-year old cat because she had a new sofa and the cat didn’t match the colour!) These animals are mostly in situations that humans have created, and I want to help give back to them a bit.
15. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?
Philippa: I don’t think there’s any one person – I’ve been lucky to have many mentors, advisers, and people who’ve helped to sustain and develop me along the way.
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