Today’s special guest on the Not Just About Copy podcast is Ami Summers. 

Ami has spent almost 14 years as a leadership development consultant, engagement specialist and accredited coach. She is the Director and Lead Coach at her practice, Craft Coaching and Development. Ami coaches leaders, creatives and entrepreneurs to make their greatest impact using leadership development tools, certified diagnostics and strengths based coaching. 

Also an accomplished painter, Ami believes the world needs all people to practice creative ways of thinking, working, leading and living. She brings her deep appreciation for, and knowledge of, the beautiful intersection between the creative and business worlds.  Her breadth of experience as a coach and consultant spans across communities and industries. Ami has worked with bushfire survivors, First Nations communities, corporate leadership teams, government and education, arts program participants, small business leaders and CEO’s.

Since 2019, Ami has been my business coach – helping me to solidify my values and develop a strategic plan for my business. It’s safe to say Ami was instrumental in the bringing to life of this podcast, supporting me to transform it from the germ of an idea to a living, breathing thing out in the world.

I know you’re going to love this episode. Ami is a business coach with a difference and her creativity shines through in our conversation today. 

We talk about:

  • How Ami landed on her own business values and how these are reflected in her work
  • The Craft rebranding process and the role copywriting played in this 
  • What creativity is and how it works
  • How words help Ami connect with her clients and her tips for writing better content
  • Matching mood and energy to tasks, plus she introduces me to a game-changing app for productivity, and
  • The Emotion Wheel exercise, which is available on the Craft website.

So much good stuff. Here’s my chat with Ami Summers…

How you can connect with Ami:

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with me:


Emma McMillan 00:07
Hello, Ami, and welcome to the podcast. It’s so great to have you here.

Ami Summers 00:15
It’s so great to be here, Emma. I’m so excited. I mean, I know the journey of you getting to the point where you were recording this today. So this is really exciting for me to be your first guest.

Emma McMillan 00:31
Yes, it really feels very, very aligned that you should be the one to join me for this first episode. So thank you. I’d love to start by just you sharing a little bit about you. For those who are listening.

Ami Summers 00:48
Yeah, sure. So my name is Ami Summers and I am a leadership development consultant and coach. I’ve got 14 years of experience as an accredited coach. But my background is kind of interesting in that it’s a beautiful mix of corporate leadership development, consulting and my background as an artist as well is probably important to talk about. And, you know, as a coach, I have coached anyone from a CEO, board members, executive kind of C-suite level leaders down to an individual who might be trying to power their way forward for their career or their business, from the right at the beginning. So I love my work. And the banner that I do that work under is Craft Coaching and Development.

Emma McMillan 02:01
Thank you, Ami. And it is interesting what you say there too about your background as an artist, and I am sure we’re going to talk a little bit more about that later in our conversation. But I’d love to start from a place of thinking around words and language. And I’d love to know, what have you been reading lately?

Ami Summers 02:24
Ah, that’s a good question. My answer is fairly boring and dry at the moment. I’ve actually had a time recently where I’ve gone back to my roots. And I’ve been, I’ve been really sort of reconnecting with, you know, research that sort of started my work, bridging that gap between business and creativity. So going back to the roots from, you know, a strengths based perspective as I guess, a coaching methodology. And then I’ve been doing a lot of reading on appreciative inquiry, which is an approach to building cooperative capacity in businesses and I think that’s just coming from me working with larger teams now. And I’ve been doing a lot of culture work. So I’m sort of going back to my roots and doing lots of delving into research papers and nerdy stuff, but I’ve loved it because it’s reminded me of where it all started for me, and where this work really sort of ignited and sparked a fire for me. So, yeah, it’s been great.

Emma McMillan 03:47
That sounds terrific. And it sounds like it’s such an important thing to do. And I know for me, it is that opportunity to actually connect back in with why you’re doing something. And it sounds like the sort of reading that you’re doing is just providing you with that opportunity just to really tap into where your journey sort of started and, and how you’re maintaining your love and your passion for it over the years as it evolves and changes. That sounds really interesting. And isn’t it funny how at different parts in our lives, or different times in our lives we’re really often drawn in quite different ways when it comes to what we consume, in terms of words and language. I find myself often going through phases of, you know, it’s all around business books. So at the moment, it’s all around fiction. Once I go to bed, I don’t want to read anything work related. Do you notice the same sort of thing for yourself?

Ami Summers 04:51
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve actually been reflecting on that and I think it’s where I find myself in the business this year, which really aligns with our strategy and what we wanted to achieve this year. It was really a year of consolidation, and just getting those foundations really strong. And I guess part of that, for me, is making sure that the work is continually improved, and full of integrity. And there is that sort of evidence based framework to everything that we do, even though our coaching is really practical and really accessible. So I think I’ve really enjoyed reminding myself of those linkages to the history of where all that thinking kind of started. I was reading a presentation that I put together, back in 2007. And this might be interesting as well. This was just purely to start putting together some content around what I used to do in my corporate world when I used to be able to travel – remember that when you used to be able to travel? And just having those opportunities to actually put my thoughts and the work that we were doing on the ground into some theory, and some thought leadership. It’s just really reminded me of the roots of the work and doing that reading has really helped me to put roots back down into the ground of what we’re doing. It’s been really nice.

Emma McMillan 07:13
It sounds like such an interesting process for you. I’d love to dive back a little bit. I don’t know how far we’re going to dive back. But I’m curious to know, if there are some particular words that have had an impact for you, at some point in your life that sort of really stand out? I don’t know, it might be a significant moment, or it might be something quite ordinary and everyday. Can you think of some words that have had a lasting impact on you?

Ami Summers 07:46
That’s a really good question. There’s a couple of things. I think, for me, the words that underpin our values, and my values, they just keep coming up for me and they’re really important words in how we do what we do, but also I guess, the impact that we’re trying to make for our clients. So those would be creativity, perseverance, connection, and partnerships. So we were just talking about connection of off air before and I think that’s a really, really important part of what drives the work for us. Curiosity in self and others, really kind of grounding in being curious about what drives people and what drives ourselves as human beings. So, those are the words that have just really kept coming up for me. But there’s also a quote that I always come back to, and has been really important in my personal life, but also in my work. And that’s that idea of the only way through anything is through it. So, I think that links to the values that I’ve just mentioned, the value of perseverance and the value of honoring the whole experience of being human. You know and I know, don’t we, like in business, there’s no other way sometimes than to just show up and go through something in order to get through it. And I think that’s a really important part of the thing that drives us. But also, I think that our clients go through it as well. And I know that you will understand that from a small business perspective, too.

Emma McMillan 10:14
Absolutely. And it’s one of those things that you can reflect on afterwards. And sometimes you don’t even know how you got through something. But it’s just that one foot in front of the other. And perseverance, I love that because it kind of takes me back to when you were talking before about that fire. It’s like, there’s just that fire that’s burning within you that just sort of keeps getting you to do the next thing or take the next step and just muddle through whether you feel like you know, where you’re going to or what’s on the other side, or whether you’re sort of feeling your way in the dark. It’s just that carrying on. I feel like I’ve just got this beautiful image in my mind of that, that you’ve just spoken about.

Ami Summers 11:09
And do you know what’s interesting as well, now that you say that. When we were coming up with our values, I really settled on this word perseverance, because I didn’t want it to be interpreted as endurance. I actually played with the word endurance for a while. I thought maybe, maybe it is enduring, maybe it is just that sort of grit. And that long lasting energy that you’ve got to find as a small business owner, but also that we want to teach our clients and teach leaders. But endurance brought me back to another thing that someone said to me many moons ago, that stuck with me. So these were really powerful words for me as well. He was saying, life is not about endurance, life should be about joy.

And he said that at a time where I was going through a really tough time. Our daughter had just died and I was feeling like life was an endurance race, you know, like a bit of a marathon. When he said that, it was like a slap across the face. So that word endurance really made me go, wow, that’s exactly how I am coming at life at the moment, and I want to feel joyful, I want it to feel like that. I want it to feel a little bit less heavy than endurance feels. And, you know, that has stuck with me a decade later, it’s been such an enduring message for me, and it’s something that I go back to a lot. And so endurance didn’t feel right as a value, because I had linked it in the past to a marathon, you know, that sort of thing that was hard? And it was great when you get through it, like that idea of the only way through is through. But during it, it’s just tough. And I guess I don’t necessarily aspire to that feeling. I think that there is merit and learning through the process and through the journey as well. And that that actually can be really joyful, and it can be energising. Even when it’s challenging. Those times are sometimes the best learning experiences that we can get. So, anyway, we decided no to endurance. It had to be perseverance. Perseverance felt slightly more positive and more about the journey rather than the end result.

Emma McMillan 14:29
That’s such a beautiful reflection. And it just reminds me of the depth and purpose of spending the time to craft the values as we do by really reflecting, by really taking time to unpack, why this word as opposed to this word? Like, how are we going to be able to look at these as like our sort of North Star and feel like we’re living out these values in a way that feels really authentic and right for us and for our business. So it just reminds me of the work that we did together, looking at my values, and so on. And it just is something that, I think is such an important thing for anybody to do, whether they run their own business, or whether it’s values for life, to actually have those things to guide them.

Ami Summers 15:36
Oh, yeah. And, you know, that work evolves over time, you get clearer and clearer. And you play with the words. It’s the ultimate kind of wordsmith activity, really isn’t it, the values exercise? Because it does give you this beautiful opportunity to feel the weight of a word and really discover what that the essence of that word means to you. And also what it could mean to other people, and making sure that you get that, that word really right. When I say, right, I don’t mean right and wrong, just right for you. So it’s the ultimate word activity really, isn’t it?

Emma McMillan 16:32
It is, and the beautiful thing that you say there about not, not locking words in, it is an evolving process. And, even recently, I amended one, I had connectedness before, and I amended it to connection, which just felt like a better fit at the time. It’s one of the reasons why I’m wanting to have these beautiful conversations, because connecting through words and through language is something that is really important to me, both in business and in life. Tell me a little bit about how connection shows up for you?

Ami Summers 17:14
It’s interesting that you had that experience with the word connectedness as well as a value because originally, our value was connectedness as well. And I found over time, it just became more about connection, but also about partnerships. So this idea that the value of connection and partnership is really that sense of, we come together with clients, and that it is work that we do together rather than that idea of coaches and advisors in business that kind of sit up there, and the client is at a different level. You know, that’s never felt right to me. Because I’m human, I make all the same mistakes as you guys, I’m definitely not infallible. And therefore we should be equals, we should be a partnership, you should be teaching me things as well.

And I know from our coaching experience, Emma, you’ve taught me so much about the value of words, and just how clearly you and beautifully you communicate, and how diligent you are and all of that stuff – you probably don’t realise, but it influences other people when they work with you. So, I think for us, it really was that sense of collaboration and coming together with clients. And for clients to always feel like it was a partnership, and that they could always give us feedback as well as us give the client feedback. And that, this should be a really neutral relationship. And whenever that happens with a client, it feels so right. And that’s that feeling of like when your values are aligned. It feels beautiful, that flow, you know how that feels. What does connection look like for you?

Emma McMillan 19:34
It looks like lots of different things. It looks like making connections between ideas. It looks like making connections between people. One of my favorite things to do is to connect people with other people who I think they just must meet. It’s about just connecting dots. It’s about creating things that become bigger than just you. It’s about all of those things. And I really feel that I’m in a very privileged position to be able to use words to really speak to people. Whenever I’m writing, I just have one person in mind, you know, it’s a different person, depending on the project, or the purpose of the writing that I do, but I just always picture myself as if I’m sitting down to write a letter, and I’ve just got this one person in mind. Because I feel like that’s how it’s consumed, just by one person on their laptop at the other end, and I want it to feel like more of a conversation. I think there’s a definite trend within the copywriting space for copy to be more of that conversational feel. And I know you underwent some rebranding recently. Talk to me about how words – what words look like in your day to day life and when and how you use them. And the sorts of content that you create for your business?

Ami Summers 21:25
I think it probably has a lot to do with that value that we’ve just spoken about. I’ve found that working with copywriters has been some of the most clarifying experiences of my business life. Being able to hear from a third party what they have interpreted me saying. I think I’m a pretty good communicator, but I also think I waffle on a little bit sometimes, which, if you’re listening to this podcast, you’re probably picking up already. But you know, I think it’s really important that you get that external perspective of the things that I have said to you or communicated to you, or that you are taking in from the words that I’m currently using, what is that interpretation? And how can you help me connect those dots to connect with my audience more effectively? So I think working with a copywriter has always been a really clarifying experience. For me, it’s sort of like being able to be the filter, and the clarifier. And so I worked with Anna Rogen for our last rebrand. And that was really beautiful, because she had been a client as well. So she had that experience of the work as a client, but also, she could put herself in the shoes of somebody that maybe wasn’t a client. And it was a really valuable experience, because she had so many touch points in our business. And that really helped to kind of get to the crux of what we wanted to say.

I use words all the time. I’m always putting together content, I’m always writing blogs and communicating things to our clients. I’m quite a fast writer. So I can produce content quite quickly. However, what I’d normally do is sort of just get down a first draft and then come back to it when I’m in the right headspace to start sort of refining it. So yeah, it’s an everyday experience for me, trying to find words to describe what I’m after. And also trying to deepen or expand my vocabulary all the time. You know, there are some words that I always sort of fall back on and I’m just trying to now get even more sophisticated with explaining my thoughts and the concepts and explaining the tools that we use in coaching. But also, I’m an author. I’ve got my book Heartspace which trickles out, and I come back to that a lot for content. I come back to it a lot for clarification on the kind of tone of voice and the language because I wrote that book very much from my personal perspective, but also using my professional experience to create the content. So, from a tone of voice perspective, it’s a really raw and authentic version of what that is for me. So I try to use that for Craft as well. Go back to it as a bit of a touch point, when I can.

Emma McMillan 25:47
Tell us more about the process of writing the book, how was that?

Ami Summers 25:55
Wow, well, where do I start? I probably approached it in a very similar way to how I create content. So I usually start with a bit of a framework, and I get the idea down when I have it, and I make sure that I capture it. But I don’t try and refine it until I’m in the right sort of headspace, in the right mood to do that. Because otherwise, it doesn’t work if I feel like I’m pushing. I find that, I guess the left, that really sort of creative space where you’re putting down ideas, and you’re capturing thoughts and you’re thinking about the value that this might provide somebody and how you connect with people to refining, you know, editing, proofing, all of those sorts of skills, sits in a very different part of my brain and everybody’s brain. So I think separating the two is a really healthy thing to do. That’s kind of how I approached it, I just got the ideas down. And then I shuffled, shuffled, shuffled, shuffled the content around to make sense. I worked with an editor who was amazing, who gave really constructive feedback throughout the process. So I’d highly recommend getting an editor if you’re thinking about writing a book. Getting an editor to actually help you as you’re formulating your thoughts, to give you feedback along the way, because that really helped. And then lots of time refining because that’s not my strong point. So it took me longer. But that initial stage is really fast for me. Then back and forth with the editor about a bazillion times. And then we got there.

Emma McMillan 28:06
That’s so important, what you say there about creating that space between getting those ideas down, and then that refining. One of my worst habits is editing as I go and I always try to stop myself, whenever I catch myself redoing a sentence in the moment. And I think no, as you say, get it down, get it out, and then put it aside. If you can leave it overnight, or a few days, that’s amazing, but even an hour, or walk around the block, just to get some perspective on it is so important.

Ami Summers 28:43
Yeah, and you would remember from doing the learning styles work with us as part of your coaching those two things, those two approaches sit in a completely different part of your brain. It’s completely different iIn terms of the way you process that information. So when you’re in that creative, you know, I’m experiencing the thought, now I’m going to capture that and I’m going to make sure that I put that down on paper, that’s really dynamic connecting dots. Like you were saying before, you know, thinking about story, why concept, contextualising your thoughts, whereas the editing, the proofing is very much in that sort of rational, organised part of your brain. You’ve got to also align that with the kind of mood you’re in. So when you’re in those sort of pleasant,high energy emotions, that’s a really good space to be in to do that sort of capturing of thoughts. But then when you’re maybe in a bit more of a low space, low energy, you know, a bit more unpleasant, that’s actually really good space to do editing and proofing amazingly enough. Because you can be more critical and you access that part of your brain that’s like really kind of, ‘I don’t need that sentence’. You’re a bit more able to be analytical and constructive in your thinking. So it’s interesting that you go to edit as you go. That’s probably your learning style as well, trying to make sense of it as you’re working through it.

Emma McMillan 30:43
It’s so helpful to hear the words around it, though, the way you describe, how the processes are actually so different, and that they require different things from you. And it helps to see what the purpose and the benefit is of actually separating those two. What are some other tips that you might give other people who are writing, whether it’s for their own business, or whether it’s within an organisation? What else would you suggest or how could you guide others when it comes to writing because, as you say, there’s lots of it to do in business.

Ami Summers 31:23
So true. I think this comes back to the foundations of what creativity is, and that idea that it’s actually like, it can be done. But it’s really, really hard to turn your creativity on like a tap. So thoughts, and I guess, ideas rarely come on cue, but you can do things to cultivate a space and an environment and a mindset that puts you in a really good headspace for that. But I think what works really well for me is just going with it when it happens. So if you get a thought if you’re on a walk, and you’re listening to a podcast, and you’re listening to something amazing, and you just think, ‘Oh, yeah’, write it down. You know, stop walking, write it down, create a voice memo, and then come back to it when you’re in that refining space. So, go with your creativity, go with your thoughts and your ideas when they come up.

But also there’s what we call the mood task match that I touched on just a little bit earlier, around that idea that there are really successful moods and emotions for different tasks. And there are moods and emotions that we try to match with a task that are just going to feel really, really hard, like you’re pushing constantly. And so if you’re feeling like that, one of the things you can do, and this is just a little tip that might help some of your listeners, is download an app called the Mood Meter app. And the app gives you a framework to actually look at, okay, what mood am I feeling? Is it low, or high in energy? Is it unpleasant or pleasant? And then start to see the patterns in that mood and what helps you shift that mood, if you need to shift it. So if you’ve got a deadline, or if you’ve got something that you must write, or an idea that you must come up with, start to kind of map how you can actually learn to shift that yourself.

So I know for me walking is the great shifter. You know, it’s the great mover of mood for me. And if I just move my body, if I just get out and let my feet hit the pavement, it can transform my day. I forget how powerful it is. So learning those patterns, but also being able to say, ‘Okay, this is where I’m sitting in terms of my mood, I’m pretty low on energy, and this isn’t all that pleasant to feel today. I’m going to match that with a task that works really well for that mood.’ And if I’ve got freedom in my day, if I’ve got some choice around being able to pick my tasks, then I’m going to take that liberty and match it. And you’ll find that it’s a game changer for your productivity. You know, if you’re sitting down low in mood, and if you’re feeling some unpleasant emotions, and you’re trying to do something that’s really high energy and needs a heap of creativity, you’re not going to produce the best results, and it’s going to feel hard. So that’s a good little tip. And we’ve got a little exercise as well on our website that people can download that might help, the Emotions Wheel exercise. So just getting to know those matches is really, really helpful. That’s probably my number one tip.

Emma McMillan 35:55
I love that. And I am so curious about that app. I’m going to download it as soon as we finish talking. It sounds incredible, because I am really trying to do a lot more of what you were talking about and choosing activities that match my mood. But I am also curious to find out, what are some of those shifters for those times where you can’t move things around and you need to find a way? Moving my body has always been one too. I used to dance and I still do sometimes. That was always something that helped to shift something for me. I wonder, do you ever use your art as a shifter?

Ami Summers 36:42
Sure, yes, I do. And I ocean swim. That’s a great shifter as well. So it pretty much erases whatever you’re feeling. You start again, it’s a blank slate. So that helps, too. But you know, the beautiful thing about your audience is that most of the people that are listening to this podcasts will be creative. So they’re going to have some outlet they can go to outside of writing, outside of their day job. And I’d encourage you to use that as a tool, as a really amazing vehicle to be able to shift your mood, shift your energy and bring your best self to what you’ve got on your plate for the day. And if you’ve got a bit of freedom in your week, you know, shift it around. We’ve all got cycles of energy. Some people work really well early in the morning, some of my clients don’t get started until after lunchtime. Just work with what you know works. And have some things up your sleeve that you can that you can employ if you just don’t have that flexibility for a day.

Emma McMillan 38:13
Such helpful advice, thank you. I mean, I could talk to you all day, but I will bring this conversation to a close for now. Very much in keeping with one of the main topics of our conversation, can you tell people how they can connect with you or find out more about you and what you do with Craft?

Ami Summers 38:40
Yes, of course. So you can find us on our website, and www.craft coaching and We’ve got a whole heap of free resources that people can download. And then our newsletters are really great as well because we share a monthly tool. So every month we put together or we use something that we use with clients and we give it away and we share a story of one of our clients. It’s a pretty robust newsletter. Very predictable, but we want it to be really valuable and we only send one email a month so we don’t bombard you. And then we’re in all the usual places. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest. We’ve got a range of different tools. We spoke about values today. We’ve got values exploration cards if you’d like to do some of that values work that Emma and I were talking about, and we’ve got lots of tools that you can browse through. Have an explore.

Emma McMillan 40:18
It is really a fantastic newsletter. And as you say, it follows a formula, but it’s a beautiful formula. And I actually love that, when I get a newsletter from somebody, and I know what to expect. The stories that you share and the tools that you share are always so generous. So I highly recommend signing up for that newsletter.

Ami Summers 40:39
Thank you. Yes, it’s a little controversial to do the same format every month, but it works for us. We’ve got good engagement.

Emma McMillan 40:50
Thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today and for being the first guest on the Not Just About Copy podcast. It’s been an absolute delight.

Ami Summers 41:00
Oh, it’s my pleasure. It’s nice talking about words, isn’t it?

Emma McMillan 41:06
It really is. Thank you.