Welcome to The Shift!

The Shift newsletter and community

It’s a weekly-ish newsletter and community run by me, Nika Talbot.

Connecting curious minds. Intimate conversations on writing, entrepreneurship and growth.

Creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Build a big life from a small biz 🙌

Outside of The Shift, I’m the founder of Firebird, a small but mighty content consultancy in St Leonards on Sea.

I offer content, comms and newsletter services to help spirited entrepreneurs and mission-driven orgs tell compelling stories.

I love a good story. Curious about everything! Keen as a bean to tell your story.

Nika :)

PS: Newsletter Talent Network! Feel free to add your deets for collaborations ☕️

It’s editable, so a bit of a social experiment!

Nika writes a really helpful newsletter for the intersection of writing, the digital world and entrepreneurship, which can be a lonely place for many people. Her guidance is greatly appreciated.

Ann Marie McQueen, Founder and CEO, HotFlash Inc.

When was the last time a conversation truly changed your day?

I love working for myself, but I can go all day without speaking to another human being unless I'm intentional about it. 

Last week, I tried to start a convo with the chap opposite at my co-working space. He looked up and said, “Sorry, I’m right in the middle of something” and put his head back down.

Put your earphones on then, I thought (co-working code for ‘Do not disturb’).

Sometimes, these third spaces aren’t very social. We want to be around other people but not actually talk to them. I can count on one hand the number of real conversations connections I’ve had there in one year.

I like working in hotels and cafés because it’s real life – noisy, messy, and unpredictable. It can lead to random chats (life stories!) if you take the time - with people you’d never have met otherwise.

It’s also great for people-watching. You can see how much time people spend talking and interacting vs staring at a screen - it’s fascinating.

Rebuilding the (lost) art of conversation

Minter Dial talks about what’s transpiring to undo our natural desire to have great conversations. “The little voice in our head is constantly telling us to be more efficient and to stop wasting time.”

And there’s the fear of saying something we shouldn’t and being cancelled.

But that To-do list keeps getting longer!!

Having a great conversation, being present and really listening to someone is hard with all the digital distractions. Technology is here to stay, so let’s use it to grow our connections - and open our worlds.

So we can survive and thrive as independent business owners.

All in all, meaningful conversation is about building bridges from different shores – Minter Dial.

I love that. So, that’s what I’m trying to do here—have mind-opening conversations and tell luminous stories. Shift my perspective and find ways to work smarter and live happier.

I see this as a living network of conversations and a way to think together for strategic change. “Thinking together, for a change.”

One of my goals this year is to become more skilled in the craft of speaking, listening, and empathy – as well as interviewing and writing.

Getting better at the art of great conversation, connections are made – and you never know where it will take you.

TBH I just want to get back to the campfire!! 🔥 🔥

If you like the sound of this, check out the art of conversational leadership - a term coined by Carolyn Baldwin, educator and World Café host.

I like the idea of putting insightful conversations at the heart of your business - and learning through stories rather than frameworks.

Good for the soul AND it will benefit your bottom line.

No one likes to be sold to, but everyone loves to buy. Imagine learning that people buy best when they feel seen, heard, and understood - Chris Brogan.

#ArtOfConversation
#QuestionsThatMatter

So, when was the last time a conversation truly changed your day?

Answers on a postcard, please!

Mine was in a café with a woman who told me how she couldn’t bear to be home alone in January as it’s when her dad and brother died.

She told me about the best job she’d ever had - a live-in chambermaid at a hotel in Brighton (no expenses, plenty of nosh).

How her daughters don’t bother with her anymore (despite lending one of them £8,000, which she’s not had back yet), and she rarely sees her grandkids.

How she talks to her dad’s photo every day to keep his spirit alive.

Such sadness and grief, but she was chipper and keen to chat.

It was very humbling and it made me feel truly grateful for all that I have.

Leave a comment

Thank you for your thoughtful questions. Answering them felt more like a journaling session than an interview. Very great!

Johanna Renoth, Founder, Bye, Social Media!

What you’ll get

Main stage (free edition)

Backstage pass (paid edition)

Join The Shifties for fun challenges, accountability calls, biz buddies - and maybe even the odd retreat! My goal for ‘24: From 0-10K on Substack.

  • Creative networking - give and get support - this work can be lonely af. I host Office Hours on Mondays - share what you’re working on.

  • AMA: send me questions via Chat or email, and I’ll turn them into short posts so others can learn from them. You can add your name and a link to your website if you like so we can check out your work.

  • Personal essays from me and any creative work opportunities that come my way - be the first to know.

  • Access the archive of must-read posts to help you grow as a digital publisher. Doing my best to overwhelm you with awesome.

  • I contribute 1% of my revenue to carbon removal #TechForGood.

What support do you need? Take my Reader Survey here - YOU decide the next topics for The Shift.

Why I do this

In a changing media landscape, getting support for long-form projects can be hard, which means many powerful personal stories simply go untold.

I also want to help women worldwide build wealth, health and happiness through online entrepreneurship. The UK has an unaffordable childcare system that restricts women’s careers, earning potential and freedom.

I am a lone parent and also have RA - so cheerleading in my corner for women who are in a similar position - and happy to chat!

The internet and remote work were the game-changers that enabled me to keep going when I had my daughter in 2006.

I’m building a six-figure expertise-based business that I can operate from anywhere.

Building my dream and learning how to future-proof it.

Experimenting for fun and profit. Sharing the highs and lows and lessons along the way.

Join The Shifties

A bit about me

My wing woman, Julieta

Since 1999, I’ve been writing online (Y2K problem, the millennium bug - remember that!? We’re still here…) as a journalist, OG mommy blogger, ghost writer, author, copywriter, and content strategist.

Working with media orgs (NUJ, Women Writers’ Network, Women in Journalism) to help freelancers survive and thrive in a tough industry and an expensive city (just cleared my debt from all that, a story for another day!).

I’ve been doing word work for 25 years, often for free and low pay, as was the internet culture at the time*, and I keep coming back to the humble email newsletter.

It was my first copywriting job (for my local church), and I still think newsletters are the best thing since sliced bread—the most intimate form of journalism. Everyone should have one!

Words are still the most powerful channel on the internet -

Everything starts with a script. Writing is thinking; best of all, it’s free and accessible.

There’s never been a better time to be a writer - there are no gatekeepers. But that means the bar is set high, and quality matters.

People don’t have shorter attention spans; they have higher standards - Alex Hormozi.

I’m excited the tide is turning with platforms like Substack creating a culture where writers can build real relationships with readers, make meaningful money from their best work, and be themselves 💯

And curious about the opportunities for us all to work faster and smarter in the AI age. I’m using ChatGPT as my digital coach.

Experts estimate that as much as 90% of online content may be synthetically generated by 2026 - Europol 2023 Report.

Shocking, right? Joe Pulizzi reckons it could be even higher - 99%, meaning authentic relationships and human voices are the way forward.

I have a degree in English literature, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism, and a certificate in UX writing from Berghs.

Winner of the 2022 SME UK Enterprise Awards: Most Innovative SaaS Company, UX Writer & Content Designer.

I’ve written 12 non-fiction books on health and wellness topics.

More juicy reads here

I live in a tiny apt in St Leonards on Sea, UK with my sassy daughter, Julieta.

Big skies, slow living, remote working, and lots of walking.

Simplifying my work and life. Saving to buy a tiny home and travel the world on my mission to Live To 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones (💓OBSESSED).

Have you seen it yet? Turns out the secret to a long, happy life is community.

Gotta have big, hairy, audacious goals, right?

Life’s too short for the in-between.

Tell your story

Subscribe, connect, get involved!

If you have topic ideas or guest suggestions, email nika@nikatalbot.io.

It’s just me behind this inbox, and I read and reply to all messages.

Come find me on LinkedIn | Reddit | YouTube

*”Content boomed because people thought it was a free resource” - Lauren Pope.

Join The Shifties

Ellen Donnelly, Founder and Chief Coach, The Ask

Nika has written 12 books relating to health and wellness. There is fun to be had as we make The Shift to work smarter and live better. Recommended reading for Workforce Futurists!

Andy Spence, Founder and CEO, The Workforce Futurist.

Your emails are 🔥🔥

Adriana Tica, Marketing Strategist, Writer & Trends Analyst, Ideas to Power Your Future.

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A newsletter and community for women (or those) building a big life from a small biz ✨

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Founder at Firebird - a small but mighty editorial consultancy. I offer content, comms, and newsletter services to help spirited entrepreneurs and mission-driven orgs tell compelling stories. Small biz cheerleader 🙌