Human on the Inside with Natalie Coulson from Amped Up
We’re big believers in the power of human skills. But don’t just take our word for it – the evidence for excellence powered by human (‘soft’) skills is everywhere! In this engaging, ever-enlightening series, we speak with industry leaders, innovators and game-changers to learn a little about their personal career journeys, and how human-led strategies, philosophies and cultures are proving a force for good in their working worlds …
Welcome Natalie, and thanks for stepping into the #SuccessIsHuman Spotlight.
You’re the Founder and Director of Amped Up – a content marketing & PR agency Marketing ‘hellbent on ensuring service-based businesses and brands have messaging that resonates with target audiences and converts’.
In 1 sentence (ok, we’ll give you 3), what does your role entail?
Thanks for including me in this wonderful series!
As a business owner my role is varied, which I love. It involves both sales and strategy, plus working with my team to implement content marketing and PR campaigns for clients.
Messaging workshops have been very popular this year, and I’ve also had my head down writing and editing a lot of copy!
Prior to establishing Amped Up, you spent nearly two decades in high profile roles across the media, PR and communications landscape; both locally and abroad in markets like Canada and the USA. You’re also an English Home Tutor for The Smith Family, and have publicly shared your incredible story of beating major depression and thyroid cancer – traumas which rendered you in hospital 7 years ago. What a comeback! How does all this work speak to your personal purpose and what drives you as an individual?
I’ve always been very driven. I’m one of those people who see the mountain, and have to climb it! But with any great mission, there are obstacles and setbacks. I’ve learnt overcoming barriers is part of life and makes the vistories sweeter. Hardships are what make life so enjoyable when we overcome them.
You’re right. I hit rock bottom 7 years ago after burning out and escaping an abusive relationship on the other side of the world. I thought I’d fallen through the cracks of life, made massive mistakes and would never recover. That’s what depression feels like.
Recovery took time, but with each step forward I realised I had the perfect opportunity to rebuild a far better life. I’m still rebuilding, but can now see resilience is such an important driver for me. Before I had goals and boxes to tick. Now I know what starting over means and I could do it again if I had too. There is power in that. You can make all of the mistakes and still rebound and rebuild. We’re capable of more than we realise.
It’s an important aspect of the work I do now. I’m passionate about transforming businesses and brands by giving them a voice- through effective copywriting, messaging, content marketing and PR.
Tell us a little about your personal education pathway/s – what led you to where you are now? How closely do your formal qualifications match your current career?
I knew from the age of about 15 that I wanted to work in the media, and set my sights on a Communications degree.
I studied a Bachelor of Communication specialising in Journalism at the University of Canberra, and I’ve never really looked back. The Internet was in its infancy back in the late 1990s and social media didn’t exist – so while my Print and Broadcast Journalism studies are a bit outdated now, the foundation is something I still draw on. Learning to write well and assess situations using the ‘Ws’ (Who, What, Why, When, Where) is still helpful with copywriting I do for myself and clients now.
I also boosted my studies and career by taking a Media Sales Cadetship program at the University of New South Wales a couple of years after completing my undergraduate Degree – this helped me develop my sales and marketing skills and led to over 10 years in media sales roles!
I’m grateful to have spent so many years working in magazine publishing. It taught me so many skills and paved a way for me to work internationally. It was the perfect segue to working in Marketing & Communications roles.
Starting a business has been a whole new ballgame, but again the writing and sales skills I developed have provided a solid foundation.
If you could share one piece of career advice to your 21 year old self it would be …
My first job at age 21 was as a travel journalist for a small travel magazine publishing company where I was paid to go on trips, here in Australia and overseas. I took it all a bit for granted at that age, and was concerned I wasn’t working for a bigger media outlet. My advice would be to enjoy every moment and not stress about things not going to plan. There will be plenty of time and other pathways to work for a large media company.
Maximising the potential of individuals, communities and businesses through the power of human skills is the reason Maxme exists. Can you tell us a little about the role and / or value of human skills in your workplace right now?
Human skills are so important. Technical skill is one thing, but establishing connection through human skills is just as important. I need contractors and staff I can have a laugh with or chat about my weekend with before getting into the task at hand. It’s the same with clients. We’re all human and need empathy and respect to be effective in both business and as marketers. It’s how we create those powerful connections with customers.
Self Awareness sets the critical foundation for all Maxme learning experiences. With that said … what’s your strongest trait / personal super power?
Empathy. I have always been able to tap into where others are coming from. It’s a privilege to be able to see a client’s needs or concerns and help them transform via effective marketing and communications.
And on the flip side, what’s one human / ‘soft’ skill you’ve had to really work on improving over the course of your career
Empathy is great, but it often means I try to take on my client’s business problems as if they were my own. I’ve learnt I can’t fight every battle, but saying no or walking away when I have developed a connection with a client or potential client is something I always find challenging.
If you could share one piece of career advice with recent Uni graduates or candidates keen to work at a company like Amped Up, what would it be?
Enjoy the journey and develop a growth mindset – the career highs, the setbacks, the spectacular failures and unexpected opportunities. It’s all part of life, and your career. Let go of perfection and any expectations of a never-ending upward trajectory. Expect twists and turns and take delight in them.
You’ve been granted approval to add one University graduate to your team, but have 100 applicants, all with outstanding academic results. How do you find your perfect candidate – what are you looking for?
Someone who isn’t afraid to reach out with a personal note on LinkedIn or via email. It is really about the human skills. I want to feel a connection, because when there is a tricky client dilemma, I’m going through some kind of crisis at home or it’s time to celebrate a win – being able to problem-solve or order champagne quickly will be that much easier!
In the words of John Dewey, “education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.”
What’s next on your #learning agenda?
I’m weighing up a couple of different coaching programs and courses at the moment for 2022, as I need that push and love to be part of a business community.
In the meantime I have a stack of books about marketing, business and writing I want to tackle.