Long way only (no shortcuts)

long way no shortcuts

long way no shortcuts

I’ve been having various levels of back pain for the past seven weeks. 

(Just in case you don’t read the full note: don’t worry. I’ve seen a doctor, several physios, and am doing the work, and it is getting better. It’s just slow. That’s sort of the point of the note.) 

When it first started, I thought oh, I’ve had this before, it’s frustrating but it will go away after a few days or maybe a week. Just have to rest and take ibuprofen now and then and not antagonise it further and all shall be well. 

Turns out, this time, the kind of resting I was used to doing doesn’t help (but actually makes it worse). Lying in bed, or sitting reading, or any kind of sitting at all … those are all not good. 

What I need is to walk, every day. To do regular exercises (at first it was literally every 30 minutes, on the dot) of the kind which stretch it properly. To stand at my desk instead of sitting all day. To vary my standing, sitting, moving. To eat as healthy as I can and drink lots of water. To take ibuprofen regularly to help with the anti-inflammation, and not to wait until I feel in pain and THEN take it. 

But I don’t want to do all those little things. 

I am tired of doing regular exercises (even though it is much better and I don’t feel as enslaved to my watch timer as I did before). 

I don’t feel like taking a walk when it’s cold and dark and grey and windy and rainy in wintry Scotland (even though I know it helps and I’ll feel better when i get back). 

I don’t like taking pain relievers because it feels like weakness, and I want to see where the pain is actually at so I know if I’m improving (even though I keep getting told to take them, because it will HELP with the healing). 

But I do these things anyway. 

Because that’s the deal.

That’s how you get to healing, to improvement. Little tiny steps, one at a time. There really is no shortcut. Even people I’ve spoken to who had back pain so severe they had to get surgery…even then the surgery wasn’t a miracle fix. They still had to heal from that, and go slowly, and take it in stages. 

I was telling one of the team how I didn’t want to do all the little work to get to the good healing ending…I just wanted to magically be there. 

I wanted the shortcut. 

And then i said, “ohhhh, I’m like one of those accountants who comes to PF and says, I just want marketing to be done and get a 10x ROI as quickly as possible”….and we tell them, there’s no shortcut to good marketing. 

You have to do the work. 

You (and/or your team and your outsourced agency) have to….

  • Write the blog posts
  • Post on social
  • Share, comment, engage on social 
  • Send the emails 
  • Gather the testimonials
  • Record the videos, and share them (even when you feel they’re rubbish)
  • Think about your values (and discuss them and work on them daily) 
  • Run the webinars or live sessions 
  • Document the questions your clients ask
  • …and on, and on, and on

There are so many little things which all combine together. A client asked me this week how PF built up our own customised stock library of images, and I said it really is the accumulation of an image here and an image there, arranging photoshoots and editing and gathering the photographs from those, finding good stock photos and having our designers adapt them for the PF brand, each of the team taking photos when we’re out and notice something on PF brand… and over five years we now have hundreds (if not thousands) of images we can choose from which all fit within our brand. 

But getting that same result today would take days or weeks of nonstop work.

And it wouldn’t have the same impact – we wouldn’t have the photographs we took that one day I popped into a shop in London, or that painting a team member did with the PF colours, or the time one of the team snapped a pic of her son wearing the (huge) PF hoodie. You do those small things, one by one, and they add up. 

The same goes for social media. The PF account on Twitter has nearly 3000 followers, and I remember distinctly the day I set it up, and we had about 3. Then we had 30. Then 300. Then, it seemed like for years, we had around 1000. It just didn’t seem to grow – but we kept doing the things. I set up my own personal Twitter and it started growing just as fast as the PF one. I posted, here and there. I got the team involved in posting on all the socials. We had social trainings as a team and each person chose a social media platform they were going to make an extra effort on – and they did. 

Or blogging. I used to be the only person at PF who wrote the blogs, and I did it, every week, day in and day out. I wrote the “PF marketing tips” (which used to be Karen’s marketing tips) every Friday for eight years. Longer, even, since I was writing them even before I started PF. Now the team members are all involved, and each week a different person writes a PF marketing tip, and I write these Karen’s Notes to go out on Saturdays. 

Or gathering client questions. As part of “They ask you answer”, we set up a #they-ask channel in Slack, and whenever we get a question from a client or any accountant, we put it in the channel. Then we add it to our Vault list and prioritise them, and that’s the list the team use to pick their tip for the week. We’ve had clients say “I’m going to make it a goal to find a question you haven’t answered on your blog yet”, or “How do you have so many client questions on your Vault list? I don’t think I’d have that many!” The reason we’ve got hundreds of them to choose from is the little two minutes here, three minutes there, remembering to jot it down in the moment, over and over for years. 

It’s the good small things, accumulated, systemised, repeated. Day after day, week after week, year after year. 

Until one day you realise you have hundreds of blog posts by different team members, and on brand photos to choose from, and a system of writing, and stories and case studies and testimonials, and photographs and a solid team involved in your marketing and prospects appearing regularly and quotes being signed and quite a good marketing thing going. 

Eight years ago, when I sat with my laptop in the second bedroom of my flat, wanting to help accountants with marketing, I decided to commit to writing for my audience of accountants, consistently, weekly, on things they asked about. And I did it and kept doing it and trained a team to do it and…here we are.

Doing the small things continuously matters. 

It gets you where you want to be, but you can’t shortcut it. 

The daily exercises for my back can’t be done at one fell swoop. If I skipped them for a day, I couldn’t just do 200 of them all at once. I won’t get the same result as doing 10 of them every 30 minutes for a day….as a matter of fact, I’d get a worse result. I’d feel worse, it would hurt my back more, and there would be less healing. I’d go backwards, not forwards. 

When I think about where i was 7 weeks ago, it is a lot better. I know what to do and what not to. I know how to move and when to start and stop. I know the exercises to do and I have minutes or even hours at a time where I forget i have a back. (Best. Ever.) 

And 7 weeks from now, it will be better still, as long as I keep doing the small things, daily. 

No shortcuts. 

Follow me


Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon