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    Ming-Zhu Hii of Orlando and Ivy

    Ming-Zhu Hii
    Orlando and Ivy
    Coach / Artist / Retailer / Entrepreneur
    www.orlandoandivy.com

    What is your professional or training background?
    I trained professionally as an actor at the Victorian College of the Arts. Although I grew up in my family's businesses, I didn't really start to get into biz-thing for myself until a few years ago. Prior to opening Orlando and Ivy in 2010, I worked mostly as an actor, director, producer, writer and speaker.

    What do you make, create or do?
    My self-styled position description is several-fold: I coach artists and creative people on how to get deeply connected to their individual practice, and be highly successful (whatever the definition of this for them) at the same time; I curate and manage Orlando and Ivy the boutique (in North Melbourne and online), searching out amazing design and art objects, creative books and tools, and kick-ass stationery; when I feel the urge, I make my own work - in theatre, mostly, but I've been getting more and more interested in installation lately; and I write and speak: I blog extensively at orlandoandivy.com about creativity and creative business, sharing useful tidbits and pieces of my own experience that talk to leading a sweet, happy and successful life as a creative maverick.

    What other creative areas would you like to explore as a side-project to your current work, or move into full-time?My intention for 2011 is to be coaching, writing and speaking full-time, while curating and overseeing O&I the boutique - employing somebody savvy and soulful to manage my baby, freeing me up to pour my time and energy into helping artists to build their empires, and coaching business people who want to get way more creative and holistic in their work.

    What skills do you have that help you run your business, or what skills would you like to develop?
    I specialise in championing creative-types, and motivating them to see their goals as tangible, achievable realities. As well as being able to turn a fairly decent hand to strategy, I am big on vision, ideas, and super-charged personal and professional growth.

    I have a really keen eye, and have spent years developing my spatial composition skills (in theatre, mostly, but as a hobby playing around with interior design as well) so selecting and merchandising product at Orlando and Ivy comes easily to me, and is enormous fun.

    And finally, my background in performance and writing means that I have the communication skills to get good ideas and soulful advice across to people. This is the strength that I personally treasure the most. I love communicating with a burning passion, and communicating loves me back. It's a good relationship we've got going.

    In terms of skills to develop, I'm actually a huge fan of Marcus Buckingham's very sensible principal of maximising your strengths and managing around your weaknesses, so while I feel I could get a little more intimate with my bookkeeping system, and, well - let's face it, filing - when it comes to these kinds of tasks that I'm not so hot at, I either staff them out where I'm able to, or I create simple, easeful ways of getting them done myself, so that I can get back to my "juciy work" as quickly as possible.

    List five people, businesses or websites/blogs that keep you motivated and inspired, and why?
    Chris Guillebeau at the Art of Non-Conformity (the name of his blog says it all, right?) If you haven't started reading him already, then waste not a second longer. He champions those playing by their own rules (and making 'em up as they go along). http://chrisguillebeau.com/

    Christine Kane - this lady's got skillz and insight. She also has arguably one of the most valuable newsletters I've ever subscribed to. http://www.christinekane.com/

    Marie Forleo - gets me going whenever I've hit a slump, or a brick wall. Yes, she is amazingly american; yes, she has a verging-on-the-unhealthy obsession with hip-hop, but this lady knows how to have fun, be creative and make cash at the same time. I give myself over to her huge energy and in return, she makes me feel happy and empowered. http://marieforleo.com/

    The 99% - Super-productivity for the creatively inclined. A kick in the pants when I'm wandering off-track. http://the99percent.com/

    And for something completely different: The School of Life - as a business model, it's an inspiration. In terms of it's philosophy... well, it's founder, Sophie Howarth wanted to find a way of bringing "ideas to the high street" which is something that I can identify with on the grandest scale. In London, it's a shop front and an "ideas dispensary" - not only is it be-au-ti-ful-ly designed, it gives its customers the opportunity to get an affordable hit of thought with a unique, School of Life twist. I could be its biggest fan this end of the hemisphere. http://www.theschooloflife.com/

    Contact Ming-Zhu via shop/at/orlandoandivy.com

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