What happens once your business is school-aged? Join me as I find out.

17/260 Why you should stop being usual

It might be the first week back at work, but I have simultaneously watched every Alien film - in order - at the same time. If you ever wanted an awesome female character, man, Ripley is it.

I tell you that, because I wanted to add a gif from Alien 3. And, um, couldn’t do it, because (1) Substack isn’t that sophisticated, and (2) I couldn’t find one.

It’s a moment where, in the midst of this dark, insane situation, one of the characters realises just how messed up it is. In response, he stands there and ejects,


And it’s hilarious.

It’s a moment that breaks tension so perfectly. It reflects exactly what the audience is thinking. And it’s yelped so innocently that it is genuinely, belly-laughingly funny. It’s one of those pure moments that are so rare in film, that inspire an unexpected, genuine, rolling-on-the-floor mirth.

It’s a lesson we can all take, I think. We spend so much time in srs bsns (serious business) that we forget that some of the most engaging things we do are unexpected or funny.

The other night when I was out on a walk around my neighbourhood, it occurred to me that extremely few people are willing to take a genuine risk, in business.

By that, I mean that they don’t:

  • just be themselves

  • be funny

  • do things that are unexpected.

Instead, they:

  • do what they think they should be doing

  • try to always be ‘that amazing place’ in the eyes of their customers and prospects

  • do the same thing as everyone else, so nobody calls them out.

Even I’ve been guilty of doing that.

This year, I decided, fuck it. Life’s too short.

It’s for that reason that if you’re on my Daily Tips email list, you’ll find the most opinionated, blunt material that I think I’ve ever published. If you’re reading the Pixie’s blogs, you’ll see the same thing.

This week saw the kick-off of the most focused sales campaign I’ve ever rolled out, and lo and behold we’ve had our best week ever.

Being yourself pays off.

Surprising people, and breaking the tension of staid, same-old business, pays off.

Who knows. You might even get a full belly-laugh in response. ;)

Enjoy your week this week!
~ Leticia

16/260 The last week of holidays

The not-work that is work too.

Isn’t it amazing to get out of your own way?

Now, caveat: I’m still on holidays. So in terms of the business side of the Pixie, not much has been going on.

Well, I say ‘not much’, when really I mean that I’ve been working a few hours every day on things like:

  • year strategy

  • sales campaigns

  • new publishing activity

  • planning the itinerary for my Melbourne + Greater Victoria trip this month (want to catch up? Reply and let me know - I’ll add you to my schedule!)

  • getting the books in order

… and all the rest of the big, fun, getting-ready-to-rock kinds of things.

The beautiful thing about having a single goal is that the effort to achieve it feels way less stressful. This week I started building the habit of doing one sales letter every single day, and pairing it with one publication every single day.

The product for the year is case studies (seriously, I love them, and they do incredible things for businesses); and the theme for this year is publishing.

If you can’t see the relationship between a case study and publishing, you need to read this article I published earlier in the week.

And the fun thing? Rocking the Queen Pixie persona. If you’ve been a fan of the Pixie for a while, you’ll notice the difference. It’s a confident, no-bullshit, take-it-or-leave-it kind of voice. Partly because I am not putting up with any more people who aren’t into it, don’t pay, avoid the work (etc). And partly because great brands don’t ask for permission. They just are.

How’s the beginning of your year kicking along?

Leticia Mooney
Queen Pixie at brutalpixie.com

PS. I am serious about what I said about Victoria. From 28 Jan - 8 Feb I’m doing a roadtrip from Melbourne to Adelaide, hitting Melbourne, Castlemaine, Bendigo, St Arnaud, Donald, Horsham, Stawell, Ararat, Mortlake, Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Hamilton, and Mt Gambier. So if you want to connect - or know someone (or a business) who really should (or who could really use a case study) - please reply right now and let me know.

15/260 Happy new year!

What's your plan?

Hi there

I’m still on holidays until 14 January, which means that I still have a whole week before I go back to work properly. It’s the longest I’ve been off all in one go for as long as I can remember, and it’s all kinds of amazing.

In the background, though, there is all of that brilliant work you get to do when you’re on leave from Actual Work. The thinking, goal-setting, planning, actioning.

As a founder, I find that holidays are the times in which I do my best work. I love all the building, creating, visioning, scoping, and learning work.

So it is that even though today is Sunday, and it’s almost the end of Week 1 of 2019, I’ve got this year’s goal locked in, and an Action Plan for achieving it.

The difference between this year and last year? It’ll shock you. It certainly shocked me when I realised it.

Last year I didn’t write my goals down.

I thought I did. But I didn’t.

I cruised along.

I thought I knew what was going on.

Really, I was drifting.

Michael Hyatt, who wrote 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever, is blunt about what drifting looks and feels like, which is why he’s dedicated so much of his creative output to addressing it. Last week I went through his methodology for the first time, and it was during the review phase that the reality of last year’s drift hit me full in the face.

No wonder it was such a trying year. You can’t do anything effectively if you don’t know where you’re going. You wouldn’t just get in a car and drive aimlessly, and the same with life.

And so, this year I have a singular goal, which is a single revenue target earned from a single product. I’ve got action plans in place for achieving it. I have all my whys locked in, I know why I’m driving in this direction, what the outcome is, and what it’s going to mean to me to achieve it.

It doesn’t sound like much, but getting to this one Company goal took me 8 hours.

You see, dear reader, setting goals for your working life isn’t enough. You need goals for your spirit, your tribe, your wellbeing, and whatever other domains are in your life. I have seven, but just one is in the work domain.

You can bank on it that hitting all the other goals will make working life in 2019 much more of a joy than it was in 2018.

And so, raise your glass with me. Let’s raise a toast to the success of this year. Close your eyes and imagine that you and I are doing this in December 2019. We’re reflecting on the year, smiling as broadly as our faces allow us to, remembering how it felt to hit our goals month after month all year.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

Right, tiger. Let’s go get ‘em.

14/260 Here are the numbers

Numbers are everything.

Hi there,

I was going to be away this weekend, but I changed things so I could clean my house and enjoy my holiday and the return. So in my downtime, I decided to send you a letter regardless.

Today I’m going to share with you our numbers for 2018.

Do you know your numbers?

When you’re young and green in business, you might think that ‘numbers’ means ‘money numbers’. But in a business like Brutal Pixie, money is a shitty metric. It doesn’t tell you anything about how effective or efficient you are.

Better is to look at your exact business and work out all the different numbers that apply. When you do this, you’ll find other metrics that are more effective.

Now, I’m not a brainiac. I learned the true meaning of ‘find your numbers’ from a fabulous client of Brutal Pixie’s: Gina Brooks. (Who, at our Summer Solstice Picnic, became one of the very few Very Important Pixies, having worked with us since our first year).

Brutal Pixie’s numbers: Jan - Dec 2018

Some of these numbers are approximate, by necessity. Nevertheless, they’re fun to look at! Here they are.

Major projects

  • Content audits: 1.

  • Content-first design for websites: 3.

  • Understandability and usability studies: 3.

  • Website rewrites: 1.

  • Corporate strategy facilitation: 3

  • Message architecture workshops: 3

  • Thought Leadership strategy, design and implementation: 1

  • CaRST Program Accreditation + internal MOOC design & build: 1

Content creation

  • 94,517+ words crafted

  • 40 long-form blogs and 20 press releases (an average of 1560 words each) - plus a bunch of other related works that were rewrites or comprised editorial support

  • 8 training videos

  • 10 slide decks

  • 4 reports

  • 1 ebook

  • 3 case studies

  • 10 lead magnets

  • 24 hours in author-coaching and mentoring

  • 24 hours spent in English conversation practice for migrant students

  • 29 academic journal papers edited (approx total of 638 pages), across civil, environmental, water, geotechnical, and structural engineering.

  • 1 complete PhD thesis edited (and it got feedback so good that the Dean was completely surprised and blown away).

Industries supported

  • Higher education (engineering, innovation)

  • Training

  • Human resources

  • Law (immigration)

  • Software

Collaborations with startups

  • WillBits: A digital wills solution that uses blockchain for rigour and transparency.

  • Writally: A Blue Chili startup that is a platform for writers. It asks you what you want to achieve, what outcome you want, who you’re writing for (etc) then gives you a specific recipe to follow while you write.


Three nominations this year, but no awards. They were:

  • Telstra Business Awards

  • Adelaide’s 40 Under 40

  • South Australia’s Women in Innovation


  • Continued our 5-star rating on Google Reviews

  • Achieved 9.1 out of 10 (where 1 = not at all likely to recommend, and 10 = extremely likely to recommend) in ratings about our academic editorial support service

People Care, Earth Care, Fair Share

  • $419 donated directly to deserving organisations

  • Kiva.org loans to 2 countries, totalling $75 (entirely from recouped Kiva loans, not new currency)

  • 3 x Mentoring or advisory in business on a pro-bono basis (UniSA Business Career Mentoring Program, NVI Flinders Enterprise Consulting, SA Leaders - with Training x Design)

  • 6 x Presentations, all pro-bono (Legalwise Seminars - Customer experience; Unley Changemakers Program - How to use the Business Model Canvas and test it; Sydney Content Strategy - Content Mathematics; SA Council for Adult Literacy - Website best practices; SA Council for Adult Literacy State Conference - Panel; Modbury High School - Living Library)

It looks like a busy year… but it wasn’t really

We had so many other things going on this year, from restructures to me working out WTF I want to do with the business actually, that I am about the slowness of the year.

Over the last week or so I have reflected on these numbers in light of the new company, week and time structure in place for 2019. I know with certainty that Brutal Pixie can easily achieve double - perhaps triple - the workload. Realistically, 94,000 words in a year is only 2,000 words per week.

It wasn’t lost on me, however, that if we charged full MEAA rates on a piece-work basis, our revenue would have been massively higher. Taking my example of the 1560-word average this year, across 60 pieces, that equates to more than $86,000 just in blogs and press releases. The rates we charge on package deals are about half of that - and still at the upper end in terms of market rates. Fascinating, don’t you think?

Meaningful measures = good data = a better 2019

Between now and when I go back to work (which is 14 Jan), I’ll be doing a whole lot of thinking, reading, planning, and goal-setting. With meaningful metrics like the numbers above, we have an outstanding benchmark from which to drive improvement and know whether we actually are making an impact in the world.

What kinds of metrics does YOUR business track? Leave a comment and let me know.

May the turn of the year be one that is full of love and fun.

Queen Pixie at Brutal Pixie

13/260 We <3 Simplification

All hail the checklist.

Happy Sunday!

I love this time of year, honestly. There must be something in the lead-in to the end-of-year shutdown that rings my bells. It’s a great time to get things done, and a fabulous time to go out and spend time with people. Summer holidays are literally a week away.

Pixie-side, we’ve gotten through our restructures and changes, and we’ve developed and are riding the wave of a product that people love.

But the thing that I am personally most excited by right now is the simplification of our business systems.

Over the past five years, I’ve documented a lot of what the Pixies do. The challenge of systems is that they have to be built inside a living methodology. Otherwise, they age: You gradually find better, simpler, more effective ways of doing what you do, and the systems need to adapt.

In reworking our systems, I’m going right back to basics, with checklists. There are so many ways to document what you do - from videos to wikis - but checklists can sit in a single folder in any system online or offline.

The thing that is really fun about this, is that I’ve adapted my own working day structure for the coming year. Checklists for all five components of the business - value creation, value delivery, marketing, sales, finance - remove the cognitive load involved in making sure that everything gets done. If you ‘zoom out’ from the business side of things, the productivity these checklists yield make running the business a much less stressful affair. One of the down-stream effects is then that you have a much greater ability to relax when not at work, simply because you’ve already captured everything that has to be done.

The benefits Pixie-side include a reduction in SaaS costs, by streamlining how we keep the system documentation.

One of the lessons that I’ve learned as a founder is that loads of people will try to get you to do things in loads of different ways. I’ve spent ridiculous amounts of time documenting things, recording things, capturing things. I’ve recorded videos. I’ve developed wikis. I’ve captured audio.

Seriously, nothing beats a checklist! Checklists aren’t workflow maps, but they are your essential first step.

(And honestly, I can’t wait to see how this changes the game for us.)

Thanks for joining me for the the first half-year of our next five years. It’s been a dark and introspective kind of six months, but I’m out the other side of it and things are pretty awesome as a result.

The next edition will come out on 30 December 2018. Until then, may your Christmas (if you do Christmas) be safe and happy. :)

~ Leticia

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