Once a month, there is a free event called Creative Mornings. Here, attendees are offered the chance to listen to a speaker on a monthly topic as well as free breakfast and coffee. The only trick is that it’s so popular, there is a lottery system for tickets, but I brave the lottery each month to meet the many interesting people there and hear such great speakers. A few weeks ago, I did a column on one of the speakers, Sam Bradd. Today, I present you one of the amazing professionals I met there, Aura McKay.
At every monthly event I attended, I noticed a lovely photographer roaming around before, during, and after the event, snapping candids. She always had a warm smile and welcomed conversation with everyone she met. Then, one month, she took the stage during the 30-second pitch portion to talk about a free monthly event she was running called Conversations For Creatives. I was intrigued. I haven’t made one yet, but those I passed it on to who attended were impressed. It’s still on my bucket list.
I also found that she donates her services to photographing Creative Mornings each month and has her hands in many other pies as well. That sealed the deal for me. While a one-on-one coffee and a proper interview are high on my list, this 8Q is my offering today. Enjoy!
8Q Spotlight Aura McKay
What is your current career(s)?
I am a business coach for creative entrepreneurs, which means that I help creative thinkers navigate the world of business so they can live the dream of doing what they love for a living.
My passion projects include contributing my time to creative community building projects like Creative Mornings and Creative Pulse, hosting a monthly event I founded called Conversations For Creatives, and pursuing my fine art photography.
I continue to be a member of the Professional Photographers of Canada, recently had three images accepted into the National Loan Collection and will be awarded my Masters of Photographic Arts at the 2017 conference. I love photography and visual expression and will continue to create even though I’m no longer pursuing photography as a business.
Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?
I have been creating and living a life I love for almost 20 years. My path has been about rigorous personal inquiry, trying on different personal and professional development modalities, and a lot of hard work and trial and error. I was a professional photographer during the most disrupted decade and a half of that industry. Nothing that had worked in the business of photography was applicable to the changes in the marketplace and the process of photography itself. It was challenging and exciting. I did a lot of different kinds of photography, led international photo tours, and helped other people get more confident and creative with their photography through workshops and private lessons.
My education was in Financial Management and Marketing Communications and I used those skills while teaching with Vancouver Institute of Media Arts and Vancouver Photo Workshops. There, I was helping others be innovative in their approach to both the craft and commerce of photography. Over the years, I was more and more interested in sharing my experience and helping the creative industry as a whole. There is a gap for creative people between learning and mastering their craft and figuring out how to run a business. I saw that I had a super power – asking the right questions to provoke discovery and clarity – and the skills and experience to guide others to find their own path to success.
What three things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?
- I love to perform. In fact, reciting a Shakespeare monologue with full drama is my best party trick.
- I am an amazing cheerleader and ambassador for others, sometimes embarrassing my friends with my flowery and praise-filled introductions of them.
- Yes, I am always this energetic and enthusiastic. Woot!
My life’s dream is to inspire positivity and self-expression and help shift the current life satisfaction level on the planet.
Highest moment so far?
Tough question. I’ve had so many amazing life experiences, personal and professional recognition, and the privilege of seeing those I supported succeed in amazing ways. See question #7!
What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?
I am working on launching my online business planning course called the D.A.M. Plan 30 Day Challenge (starts June 14th). I also did an outline for my first book on helping creatives with business planning and mindset (the goal is publishing it in April 2017). I am growing a community for creative entrepreneurs through live events and a Facebook Group. And I’m off to India for three weeks of vacation and visual inspiration.
Who and/or what inspires you?
Human potential being fully self-expressed inspires me! Artists, athletes, speakers, thought leaders, change makers…people up to big things in their lives, expanding the boundaries of what’s possible for us all. And not just big things by world standards, but also big things for them as individuals – people taking risks, facing challenges, and being active towards achieving their dreams.
How do you personally define success?
I have been doing a lot of work on this lately as I believe that it is our personal definition of success – as opposed to an externally imposed definition of success – that influences how we feel about ourselves.
So, for me, I have noticed a correlation between being happy and feeling successful and have been looking at success as more of a way of being than of something tangible to point to, measure, or compare to others. To me, being happy means being fully self-expressed in a way that connects to others in a positive, meaningful way, and generates freedom of time and lifestyle.
What are you most grateful for?
I am so grateful for my personal freedom and the lifestyle that I have created for myself, for the autonomy I have over my time, my mornings with my cat in front of my fireplace sipping delicious French press coffee, my health, friends, family and community. Living in Vancouver as a successful “solopreneur” is such a privilege.
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