Getting Out of my Comfort Zone and into New Experiences

Last year when I left a #ConferenzNZ ‘Marketing to Farmers’ conference after being part of a panel, I had no idea what was in front of me …… apart from cows and about 200 hungry calves and a night at the Southern South Island #TOPSHOP awards in Dunedin.

It was the 2nd year I had entered my business in the Retail NZ competition and Jess into the Retail professional award, after successfully gaining recognition the previous year.

I flew Auckland to Dunedin via Wellington.  It was that flight between Wellington and Dunedin that gave me this amazing opportunity I have just had, presenting ‘My Story’ to my retail peers and Retail Royalty from NZ and around the world!

I’m still pinching myself!

That flight, I had sat at the very back of the plane so I could be 1st off, as I was in a hurry to catch up with my Carvin girls who were road tripping up from Gore to Dunedin for #TOPSHOP awards that evening.

Was it chance or was it meant to be that a gentleman by the name of Mark Johnston sat next to me? We chatted, general chitchat, he asked about the conference I had just attended, I asked what he did? He said he was CEO for Retail NZ. I Proceeded to tell him I was off to the awards as a finalist. He already knew that (he had recognised my face) but hadn’t let on! And still didn’t! He had booked his seat for a fast getaway to the awards too. We chatted the whole trip, great banter, with him knowing I was actually sitting at his table, and the awards Carvin had won! I still had no clue, he definitely had a good poker face!

Fast forward to the awards, he spotted me and did suggest I don’t drink too much! I thought he was being cheeky! In hindsight he was forewarning me I was about to get up and do several acceptance speeches!

What a wonderful evening and I was fortunate enough to meet many great new people!

Next,Christchurch and the National awards……. Carvin Streetwear Runner up to the Supreme Award of TOPSHOP 2015!  Mark suggested that night he/they at Retail NZ maybe in touch, they were planning the inaugural Retail NZ conference.

4 months later….

Mark Johnston – Retail NZ CEO



Yesterday (16/02/16 ) I presented at the inaugural Retail NZ Conference #shopkiwi , but not before I had- had an interesting evening with some of retails Royalty from around NZ, Australia and America. Dining at one of Auckland finest restaurants “ The Sugar Club” ………….       high in the sky!

Mikayla Whetton, Events & Promotions Manager Retail NZ and I

I was a breakout speaker yesterday 1 of 6. Sharing my retail success as a SME (small medium enterprise)

The Epsom room had seating for 80! By the time my head had stopped spinning on my shoulders through sheer fear and nerves (completely out of my comfort zone), I realised all seats were full (except a couple up the front- noone likes the front haha) and standing room only, people were filed along the back of the room also!


Were they really there to listen to me?

They were!

(2 people even told me they had attended the event because they wanted to listen and meet me! I actually had people waiting to meet me after and another one even wanted a photo! OMG!)

And what more, they were engaged in my presentation!

At the end of my presentation, the questions came thick and fast, it was amazing, so much so, we went overtime of my 40min time slot. Below are photos of the programme line up and a little about what we were all speaking about.

Matthew Shay – National Retail Federation, President and CEO

What a truly great experience, worth all the worry, anxiety and nerves. I choose the blue pill, to get uncomfortable  (see *)

I wanted to blog this, not just because it’s been a truly amazing few days and I wanted to share my experience with you all,  but because I hope that it may inspire just one of you who are taking the time to read my blog ☺


 20160217_134408 One of the main speakers (Paul Taylor) talked of health , wellbeing and your mind. Apart from actually almost getting me to shit my pants, get emotional about running a marathon and teaching me that 8 min exercise in the morning is great for you, he talked of Morpheus (from Matrix – the movie) and spoke about how choices are what define us. We make our own luck! Many people tell me I’m lucky .

Paul talked about getting uncomfortable until we are comfortable and then pushing forward again to be uncomfortable, all the time improving, this relates to anything in life, whether it be exercise, relationships, work , life in general.

*Morpheus said in his movie, there’s 2 pills…. a red one which you can take and life will be the same- easy, what you are used too, or the blue one that will change everything forever! It might be great or it might not. It’s your choice !

I choose to take the blue one every time, I really enjoyed his analogy,it was putting how I see life into context. (Sometimes it’s not so good, but then I get uncomfortable again).

So if you are wondering or umming and aahing, about life and things you want to have, achieve or do, just think are you happy with status quo? What is it you actually want for you, your family,your life and your well being? It’s not going to come to you as you are at status quo, you actually have to get out there and feel uncomfortable to get it.

Which pill do you choose to take?

The red or the blue?

Are you too comfortable?

It’s your choice,it’s your destiny.

I’m blue!

If you think you’re unlucky all the time, maybe it’s time you looked at why? Maybe you need to choose the Blue Pill too!


Our MC for the day Hilary Barry-Journalist

The inaugural Retail NZ Conference #shopkiwi was a huge success! The exhibitors were amazing and all very relevant, we got spoilt with TIPTOP icecreams and as many coffees from Z coffee cart as we wanted, not to mention all the great competitions, networking, yum Food at the breaks and learning about what’s available out there to us retailers! A must to attend!

The break out sessions. Mine was at 11.10am

A few snap shots of the programme,  click on them to read close.



My Second Speech for Toastmasters out of my Competent Communication book, project 2.

Tonight I gave my 2nd speech to my Gore toastmasters group. Even though I have only been attending since April I can’t believe the improvements I have made. All from learning little bits from all the other members. Tonight apart from trying to control the butterflies, my goals were to not clench my fists and not to say umm! I did say 1 um, and instead of clenching my fists I kind of played with my fingertips (hard to describe) but an improvement I think haha. ( please excuse my grammar,spelling and all that’s not right. I could read and understand it, the main thing 😉 .

Below is my Speech I wrote on Saturday inbetween calves and cows, also a photo of my report from my Evaluator, I’m super stoked! And so pleased I went outside my comfy zone! can I inspire you too?

Get out of your comfort zone!

If you put yourself in a position where you have to stretch outside your comfort zone, then you are forced to expand your horizons.

Be willing to step outside of it once in a while;
Take the risks in life that seem worth taking.
The ride might not be as predictable if you’d just planted your feet and stayed put, but it will be a heck of a lot more interesting.

As you move outside of your comfort zone, what was once the unknown and frightening becomes your new normal.

I’ve learnt in my life that it’s important to be able to step outside my comfy zone.
Because of my fear of public speaking,I had let friends down when I couldn’t bring myself to speak at a tangi of my dear school friend and another occasion a best friends 40th.
I had never liked the sound of my own voice, let alone the thought of standing up and having a zillion eyes looking and listening to me!
A few years ago, I was asked to join a local radio show .I thought it was an ideal opportunity for my business. I was sick of letting opportunities go and making excuses because of my fear of public speaking.

The show, 3 years on has become my new normal, though the first few months, everytime I went to go on air, I felt like fainting, sweaty palms and that terrible butterfly feeling. I now am a regular on a couple of different radio shows. It is my new normal, but only because I pushed myself to continue.
It’s the hardest thing pushing through anxiety and worry, to get to the new ‘Normal’.

From there came other opportunities, which I hesitantly accepted. First judging then later comparing a wedding show….
It was during this time I got speaking to a friend about my inadequacies, she suggested coming along to toastmasters….
I put it off………. it was right out side my comfort zone!

We all like being comfortable. But there is a time when pushing ourselves is going to be beneficial. Its times like that we need to recognise.

If we trust ourselves we start to sense when the time is right.

For me the time came with a phone call from Conference NZ, asking if I would participate as a speaker on a panel for an upcoming Marketing conference ,being held in Auckland. It would have been comfortable and easy to say thank you but no thank you.
But the time felt right and I instead said thank you and YES!

Next I messaged my friend Chrissy and asked, what time and day is this toastmasters meeting? Tell me more!……It’s time!

The rest is history!

Although I had only been attending a few months before my speaking engagement, I had learnt so many little things from the great group of Gore toastmasters that, when it was my turn to get on stage in front of 200 attendees, (with a mic attached to my ear-yes another first) , I was able to control my nerves, I remembered to breath and while a little shaky to start, once I was up there for a few minutes, relaxed and was able to discuss all the points I needed and answer the audience questions. The questions kept coming to the point that the 50 mins went 15mins over, but to the delight of myself and the conference convenor , it was because the audience wanted it. I have since been asked to speak again next year! Will this be my new normal?

A comfort zone is a problem when we’re stuck in it, when we don’t let ourselves move with the natural flow of life. When we hold ourselves back and hide where we are comfortable and with what we know.

ARE we effectively saying no to life?

For me, public speaking was becoming a hindrance, I was passing up opportunities because I may have needed to stand up in front of a large group and speak!

Stepping out of my comfort zone, enabled me to recently receive several accolades on stage, with no speech prepared.
3 times I was required to get up and except awards.
Going out of my comy zone and coming along to toastmasters enabled me to be able to breath, stop, think and process what I was going to say that was relevant.
Yes my head was spinning on my shoulders, well so I felt, yes my voice was shaky from emotion, as much as anything, but I was able to get up on stage!!! Remember just the thought of that was waaaay out of my comfort zone, not that long ago!

My next challenge has been set, in a few weeks I am helping MC a local fundraiser, again out of my comfy zone, but the more I do this the more this will become my normal.

I challenge you! Do what scares you. When you think of ideas and it scares you. It is a good sign!
Usually a scared feeling is accompanied with the feeling of exhilaration.

The more we can make it a habit of pushing ourselves, the easier it will become.

Be that person you truly want to be, challenge yourself, and weather it learning something new, changing lifestyle or job or doing something that really intrigues you! It will be scary and you will second thought yourself, but do it!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!
Are you missing opportunities? Are you doing what you dream of?

Are you in a comfy zone?


Who knew I’d sound so good?

An article I featured in from The Otago Daily News Saturday Editon,  has people talking, it’s like noone realised I did what I do.  Or is it because it’s in the news, it’s real? Either way,  I was chuffed and hope all my parents love getting their copy in the mail in the next few days.


The reporter was amazing,  she must have recorded every word, as she quoted me throughly over the phone on Tuesday. 


The photo I emailed through to her wasn’t quite what she wanted to go with the story she told me when she called on Wednesday,  she was sending a photographer from Dunedin to capture me,  with painted fingernails and fur as I’d described to her when she’d called to interview me.  I was about to get changed (after work in my store)into my farm clothes,just as she phoned. 


The photographer arrived at 8.30 on the dot, Thursday morning happy to see my nails done,  allowed me to wear my gumboots but wondered if I had a better jacket to wear.. I proceeded to try on 3 others until he thought the perfect one.  Off we went to the calf sheds..  No hungry calves, rather subdued, sleepy and not interested in us.  (feed an hour earlier so I was ready for work).
I had to sit quietly in my stockings, dress, fur and gumboots.  While Stephen the photographer lay on the ground finding the perfect light and different angles of me and the calves.


Ultimately capturing some amazing pictures, I love!  What a great experience,  a journalist who made me sound great and a photographer who managed to make me look glamorous in gumboots.


Stephen went beyond the call of duty,  found his front covered in calve poo when he stood up.  I true master,  the things you do to get the perfect shot!

My first ever Toastmasters Speech ‘Ice breaker speech’ June 2015

The time given for this speech was 4-6 minutes:

My Time on the very first read was 4.38.34 and after practising, my time on the presentation night was 5 min 15 seconds. My feed back was very positive although I did start with an um before I started my speech! My hair was over my eye which my evaluator felt was distracting and my hands were clenched together at the start before I used gestures. All and all I was pretty stoked, the nervous adrenalin was amazing and the nice comments from fellow toastmasters felt very heart warming.

Below is my Ice breaker speech is supposed to be about yourself.

My ice breaker speech, a little about me, but more about my name…….

What is in a name?

I have always believed there’s a lot in a name, it determines who you are, how people perceive you, it defines who you are as I’m about to share with you, or does it?

My name is Chanelle now, but it has been Nicola, Christine, Chanel spelt C-H-A-N-E-L and now Chanelle with an extra L and E on the end.

I was born in a hospital in Epsom Auckland for unwed mothers. My birth mother named me Nicola, the nuns changed it a few days later to Christine (so they knew which girl I belonged to, yes! Christine is my birth mothers name. And my first birth certificate states Christine Nicola, not Nicola as my birth mother desired.

I was picked up by an amazing family of 5 from Taranaki who choose the name, as the story goes, on the long car trip up to Auckland and called me Chanel…… spelt as I said earlier C-H-A-N-E-L, this wasn’t my last name change..

Now I was named Chanel after my Aunty back in 1973, she was 45 at the time, my grandmother wasn’t a  fashionista but must of loved the name for other reasons because Chanel back in 1928 was not a very known name, nor in 1973 in NZ. It was more Mary, Dorothy or Margaret in 1928! or in 1973, Michelle, Lisa or Julie!  I still get called Shantel and Michelle constantly! I will remind you my name is Chanelle.

By the time I was ready to learn to spell my name before I went to school my adopted mother decided to listen to a nun,,,, with her wisdom had suggested adding L-E  on the end to make it more feminine because Chanel reminded her of St Peter Chanel a man.  He was gentle, kind and encouraging not unlike my namesake Aunty Chanel actually, he was also the patron Saint of Oceania…..but he was a man!

Is it coincidence that nuns have had such part in my names?

What is in a name?

So I did what we all do now days! I googled it!

Google tells me it’s actually a French surname which meant pipe.

It has been used as a American given name since the 1970s, influenced by the Chanel brand (a line of woman’s clothing and perfume), which was named by French Fashion designer Coco Chanel ( born 1883) .

Are any of you familiar with William Shakespeare?

His famous words

“a Rose by any other name would smell as sweet”

Implies that the name of things, does not affect what they really are.

I disagree!

Is it coincidence that I love fashion? And married a fitter welder of Pipe!

I grew up confused!   I had many name changes!  😉 but also had a great family and lots of worldly experiences.

A colourful child hood and adolescence, perhaps in part because of my confusing name changes.

I was asked to leave school at 15 managed to hang in till I was 16, leaving unqualified but looking forward to the big wide world.

I left my little town for the big city and started my career as a hairdresser, first training in Palmerston North then getting an apprenticeship in New Plymouth. By the time I was 20 I was fully qualified, married to my Pipe man the fitter welder and managing a hair salon before we decided to go farming and have our 1st child at 22.

A big decision deciding to ditch the 8-5 townie day to (and I still agree) very ghastly early starts!

2 more babies later, a few shifts including the biggest one, to leave our family and friends and travel South (gypsy day known  by you Southlanders) .

A farm bought and a farm sold we made our family life down here. We’ve travelled the Pacific and the world in between.

I am now a fashion retailer of an awesome independent store right here in Gore and still manage to put my gumboots on too!

Is it coincidence that St Peter Chanel travelled the seven seas and became Patron St of Oceania (the Pacific)? I might not be saintly but I do absolutely

Love the pacific, my favourite place is Tahiti! Moorea to be exact!

What’s in a name? A lot I say, do all my name changes go with all my interests, careers and changes?  Or is it just coincidence? I ask you?


Time 4.38.34 on the first read after practicing, my time on the presentation night was 5min 15 seconds. The time given was 4-6 minute speech.

the warhol: Chanelle’s Screen Test

the warhol: Chanelle’s Screen Test.


A few months back I got a a very special ph call from my little sister ( from my birth mothers side) to attend our mothers birthday.

Another rushed trip but able to fit so much in.


Chris like many of us woman had had one of those weeks when she felt under appreciated and forgotten un-be-known to her that this had all been planned for her. I got to spend lots of time with her, her sisters and brothers, my Sister and brother inlaw, my 2 darling nephews and my brother and his partner too!

Great times! I got to hang with and get to know a little more about this side of the family, including my siblings, not growing up together doesn’t matter now as we all get older. My little brother taking me along to Andy Wahol at Te Papa was definitely a highlight.

Below  is a link of of me doing the Andy Wahol screen test that Troy and Carlos took me along to, I wanted to see it and so did they, inspirational I think is the best way to describe it, as I went on to create his ‘Factory’ theme  (covered everything we could in tin foil) in my store as a Sale promo and Troy my brother a photographer studied and enjoys all Andys work.

78201322044 772013132815 IMG_20130706_164033

 ….. They sat me down and explained to me about ‘the screen test’ as well as many other aspects of Andy Wahol ( I’m a little oblivious to the finer things, I just went cause I liked some of his art) Opened my world up though 😀 .

So I sat in front of this camera, supposedly after 2 mins peoples true personalities start to appear (as Andy Wahol saw it)  I did, and I can see my personality peek through 😉  I wonder if you can too?


Leave a comment if you do, let me know if you can see my personality pop through or if viewing me for 2 mins is 2 mins to long haha.

the warhol: Chanelle’s Screen Test.