Jo Johnson

The Content Coach


Business name/name of company you work for?

‘How You Say It’ trading as ‘The Content Coach’

Where did you grow up?

Wheelers Hill

What did you want to be when you ‘grew up’? 

A dancer or an actor. Then I got too tall and tore cartilage in my knees so ballet was out, and I realised that most actors lived in hovels eating baked beans for the first few years, so I decided to use my smarts and set my sights on criminal law (as long as I could do musicals in the evenings!) After travelling extensively I had a new vision – to get paid to stay in luxury hotels and write about them! Who doesn’t want to be a travel writer, right?

When and how did you transition from working for someone else to working for yourself?

I was on maternity leave for the second time at and was made redundant. Job done! I opened up my business within 2 months of that phone call!

What’s your why?

BIG question.  I’ll try to answer it succinctly, because the full version is rather long and detailed.  In essence, both sets of grandparents were battlers but proved that you could raise independent and bright children despite your surroundings – and I guess I want to pass on that tenacity and vision to my children.  My dad’s parents were New Yorkers, living through the Depression with a difficult first child, and my mum’s father disappeared when she was a baby, leaving her mother to cope with being a migrant, single mother of two who had to work – in 1950s Perth! Not the done thing I can tell you.

Despite their difficult upbringings (or perhaps ‘because’ of), both of my parents have made wonderful lives for themselves and for my brother and I. Growing up we were without nothing and in fact got a lot of the trimmings too. But we were always taught lessons along the way and provided reasons for where we were at and why they were doing what they were doing – we were not fed with a silver spoon.  In fact we were taught serious lessons in how to be independent and provide for ourselves from a very young age.  In more recent times things have been difficult for my parents and I have learnt a lot from how they’ve coped (or not, as the case may be).  I’ve also learnt a lot about myself in reacting to their change of circumstance and what that’s done for us as a family. 

All of this has propelled me to do what I do so that I can provide a lifestyle to my children that I’m proud of, whilst teaching them the values of independence, hard but smart work and looking after family.  The cultural and social landscape continues to change and our children are growing up in a vastly different economic and political environment to the one I did.  I want them to be as equipped as possible to thrive, succeed, grow and give back as much as possible, in whatever form that takes for them.

What do you love about what you do?

I get to help people tell stories – THEIR stories.  What’s not to love about that?!

Ok, so I also get to run my own show, dance to my own tune, sing my own song and choose exactly whom I get to hang out with, each and every day.

What’s challenged you most since being in business?

A big challenge for me was learning to believe in myself the way others did.  I’ve never had a problem with self-esteem, but that’s probably because I was always good at what I did (no big-headedness intended!).  I had always been successful in my education and career, climbing the corporate ladder, and I never had to worry about where the next dollar was coming from.  People believed in me.  That feeling changed when I suddenly had to put my own price on my head and my time.  I think motherhood had also made me feel vulnerable and unsure (why was there no manual attached to my first child when she arrived???) so I was in a much more emotive state than I had been for a very long time, when I first started my business.

What are your greatest achievements to date?

One thing I’m really proud of is shifting my business quite markedly just over a year ago, without spending too much time agonizing over the decision (a key point in the achievement!) I had been doing copywriting for ages but knew there was more to what I could offer, more that would energise me and more that I could be doing to remove the time-for-money slog.  I literally made the shift over a weekend retreat with my mentor and started the new process on the Monday.

From a client perspective I’ve also had lots of wins that I’m proud of. One very recent one is the complete shift in mindset, focus and implementation abilities I’ve seen in a coaching client of mine.  After only two sessions he has listened and made subtle changes that have had fundamental and huge impacts on his family and his retail business. It’s very exciting to watch it unfold! 

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way?

·      Listen to your instincts – don’t be swayed by hearsay

·      Invest in a mentor - a good one is an invaluable asset.  Look for someone who is just a bit further along the path than you are; someone who is running a business, not just talking about it; someone who will lead by example, who will show you how, not just tell you how.

·      Create your own work space where everything works and you have the room to be you, to create, to stretch.

·      Ask people questions without fear of the answer.  If you see someone doing something you like, ask them how they did it.  Most people are flattered when you ask, so never be shy or embarrassed or fearful of their response.

 (If you’re a business owner) What’s the toughest decision you’ve had to make since running your own business?

To say no to working with someone who wanted to work with me – because I knew that we wouldn’t be a good fit for each other and I didn’t want to waste her money or my time.

What are some resources you or your business can’t live without? 

Erasable pens – in lots of colours!

My paper diary.


Google images.

My thesaurus.

What advice would you give someone wanting to start their own business or change jobs to an industry/role that they’d love?

Do it – sooner rather than later!

Just get started on the thing you know you can deliver right now. Don’t let your logo or website development stop you from getting started immediately.  Don’t let your marketing or business plan or perfect packaging get in the way of talking to people now. 

I know everyone has bills to pay, but I also highly recommend just jumping ship from your ‘job’ to your business as quickly as you can.  Long transitions are not my thing, nor have I seen them work very well for anybody I know.  Your attention tends to be divided, you work silly hours to get thing done, and you start to resent the job – nothing gets your full focus, so nothing and nobody really wins.

What’s something most people wouldn’t know about you?

I cry at the drop of a hat if a movie involves animals in any kind of sad or unfortunate situation!

What does your ideal day look like?

Cuddles in bed from the kids, then up and off to school/kinder without an argument(!). Then a power session of writing, a client coaching session with breakthroughs, lunch with a friend, reading/writing for an hour, an exercise or dance class, then a leisurely meal and a glass or two of vino on our deck with my main man.

What’s one of your favourite quotes?

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken. (Oscar Wilde)

Who or what inspires you? 

I’m inspired by my children to be more honest, open and playful.

I’m inspired by my husband to be more organised and considerate.

I’m inspired by my clients to keep doing what I’m doing.

I’m inspired by people running private animal rescue organisations to contributemore to our society and speak up for the silent victims.

I’m inspired by Audrey Hepburn to be more elegant, ladylike and humanitarian.