Interview for Canva’s CCC Community
Update March 2022: There is a new post for anyone who had hoped be a Canva Certified Creative. The CCC program is defunct now.
This is my Canva interview from 2020. It was an informal chat with Community manager Charmaine for the CCC group. It was done over Zoom in 2020. Even edited down a bit, it’s long, so just scan through the headings of interest. I tell my background, how I became a CCC and what I love about the community. In her intro, Charmaine said I was the first CCC in Scotland and asked me to introduce myself….I corrected her.
My name is Thea, like Theater without the “ter”. That’s usually how I tell people it’s pronounced. I am the the second, Canva Certified Creative in Scotland – after Vicki. Vicki’s number one, but I am the first Canva trainer in Scotland, I believe. I don’t have anybody that’s contested that yet…So that’s kind of how I bill myself, but Vicki was a the first CCC. She’s up in Fife. I’ve yet to meet her, but hopefully will…
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
To give you a little bit of background about how I came to be here – here’s a little whistle-stop tour. I graduated from a university in Northern California. The next year, I married my Scotland-based pen pal in June and moved here two weeks later, so that’s how I ended up here. I got a degree Communications – emphasis was in radio actually, which is kind of my passion.
I started building websites in 1995. Then I got dumped (twice) and I launched a web forum in 2000. My website, So You’ve Been Dumped is now 20 years old. I kind of jokingly say that when people ask ‘what brought you to Scotland from California?’ or ask if I am crazy, I joke and say, ‘I heard the weather was good’. Then I say, ‘actually, I married somebody from here. It didn’t last, but I did’.
I have now been here longer than there. Silicon Valley is where I’m from.
So what do you do outside of work?
I never not work, actually. I work seven days a week. I guess that’s the joy of being single. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want,…but when not working, I love to travel. I love photography. I love music. So I present music shows (on the radio) whenever I get a chance. I create products to sell via print on demand.
When did you start using Canva and how did you find out about it?
In February of 2014, after seeing Guy Kawasaki talk about Canva on Google+ (if you remember Google+?), I joined Canva on February 19th, 2014. On a live chat, I thanked him and and he said it was Peg Fitzpatrick who turned him onto Canva.
I actually wrote a blog about Canva and PicMonkey – about sprucing up your blog’s graphics in May of 2014. To be honest, I actually found Canva really hard to use at the beginning. I had just such a mental block. So anyway I was back home in California and there was a blogging conference, BlogHer, in San Jose. I went and I met Melanie and Cliff at that conference on their stand in the Summer of 2014. I walked up to them, introduced myself, and told them I was a Canva user. I explained I was a trainer and would mention Canva back in Scotland in my workshops. Then I also added that I found it a little, um difficult…
Recently at the start of lockdown, I found a picture of me with Melanie holding the “I’m a Canva convert” sign. Truer words were never spoken. I looked at the picture and went, ‘oh my gosh, here’s me holding a picture of ‘I’m a Canva Convert’, and I’m basically, I am’. I wrote my first Canva-designated workshop around the end of 2016. Then from 2017 I went on to do it all across the country. And now, thanks to COVID, it’s delivered online.
So can you tell us about your first ever Canva design?
Yeah, my first ever design in Canva is pretty bad. It was actually my friend Nikki’s eyes. One of my side hustles, back then, was that I actually started selling makeup. I created a picture of my friend Nikki’s eye lashes. I was selling 3D fiber lash mascara and stuff. So it’s, it’s pretty nasty, to be honest, but it’s pretty funny.
The next one was like a picture quote, which again was done really bad. And I’m still to this day, not a great designer. I am not a designer. What I think I’m good at though, is teaching other people how to use Canva. I enable others and I create Canva converts.
Tell us your elevator pitch.
It’s kind of a hard thing to give an elevator pitch for what I do, because it kind of depends on what day it is, who I am talking to or whatever. If we’re just keeping it to Canva then – “I empower business owners to market themselves better through content whether it’s for on or offline use using Canva”. Or something like that…
Do you do more customised training?
I did write my own presentation, pretty much starting from scratch. I take people through the dashboard. Covid has kind of been a blessing for me in that it’s opened up a new world. Since March 30th (2020), the sessions have all been online. It means I can train all over the world. My trainings are about two and a half hour webinars. They are long, they’re live and they’re interactive. People can ask questions in the chat or they can switch on their mic and ask questions. I do groups and one-to-one training. I launched a FB group specifically for aftercare.
If people had problems, once they went away after the workshop or webinar, and they get stuck, I say, just message me or share your document with me. I also started to help people create paperback books on KDP. Self-publishing is another one of my passions. So I’ve now helped many people publish books.
What compelled you to start a business?
My dad. He was self-employed. He’d always kind of had to help support me on. He supported me far too long, to be honest with you. In 2010, he had a stroke and he really couldn’t help me anymore. I was out in California and I was like, ‘oh my God, what am I going to do? How am I going to make it?’
And the strangest thing happened. I got an email from a guy I knew through Twitter (Gary). He ran a web, social media and training company. He messaged me on Twitter saying, ‘do you want to have a chat?’ And I said, ‘yeah, when I get back next week’ or whatever. I got back, we had a short chat, and I started working with him immediately. I wasn’t an employee, I was a contractor. I set up my own company and I worked with them as a subcontractor.
One day, before too long, he was doing these training sessions and he’s like, ‘Thea you could do this’. I was thinking, ‘No way, do I want to stand in front of people and train them!” But I went along and I saw him do the training. It was all stuff I knew, because I’ve been building websites was 1995 in HTML in notepad. So I’m like, ‘yeah, I totally could do this’…That changed my life. I had never thought of becoming a trainer. Like never. Ever. If you would have said, ‘you’re going to be a trainer and you’re going to be delivering workshops all over the country’, I would have thought ‘no way, absolutely no way’. And yet, it’s been the best thing that ever happened to me. I love it.
What other challenges have you faced while starting your business?
Gosh, every day is a challenge when you run your own business. It’s cash flow. Also, I think the best lessons I ended up learning after getting a bit of confidence, at doing what I was doing, was starting to value myself more. I think we, especially women, (probably just humans, I don’t like to make it about gender),…I think we tend to undervalue ourselves and our knowledge. I know I’m really kind of hard on myself that way. So I finally started to value my time, my skills, my information, myself, just in general. And I started to say ‘no’ to the type of training I didn’t want to do: YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, whatever…Not that I don’t like them, but they didn’t light me up with joy. So I started to say ‘no’ to the type of work that I didn’t want. I started to say ‘yes’ to three types of training: Canva, LinkedIn and blogging.
That kind of helped me overcome it. Once you start saying ‘no’ to the type of clients, or to the type of work that you don’t want, it allows more space for the yeses to come in. And I love what I do – every day. I mean, I may only be working two and a half days a month or something, and it pays all my bills. Plus Canva and blogging webinars or whatever, I can do from home. That’s pretty lucky. And it’s helped with the cashflow side of things as well. As I’ve gotten more established I’ve been able to kind of ‘cherry pick’ clients. I can say ‘no’ to clients that get referred to me if I want – if they don’t seem a ‘good fit’.
So yeah, I think the power of ‘no’ is what I’ve learned the most in business. Or to turn it around, learning what to say ‘yes’ to. Because I like to always state things in a positive slant – whenever I can…
That is a very great insight. I think I will start practicing that moving forward. So let’s talk about you being a CCC. When did you become one?
It’s kind of interesting. I became a CCC in December of 2018. I’d been accepted before that, but that’s when I got the swag box. Because I was going to be out in California for Christmas with my dad, I got it sent to a friend’s place there. I went over and I got the box and I was sooo excited. I got home and I showed my dad the box. I am so happy that he got to see me totally elated. A few days later, he died. So it’s like the best thing that ever happened to me. And the worst thing. Well, one of the best things that ever happened and one of the worst things. So that week is kind of bittersweet for me. What, what kinda lights me up now is that he saw how happy I was that I was a CCC. It was this sort of validation, like some kind of accreditation. It’s an honour and a privilege and I love it. And I love the community.
What does it mean to you to be a CCC? How has it helped you?
I love being a CCC – without a doubt. It’s kind of bragging rights. It feels kind of embarrassing to admit that, but I feel like it’s, it’s clout. It to gives me kind of credibility that says ‘I know what I’m talking about’. Like I’ve sort of got that backing from Canva itself. I love that we have a community that we can tap into. We can share knowledge. It’s that knowledge transfer that I think is the most rewarding part of the community. Every single day, I go in there and I get inspired by what somebody shared. Or I try to help when I can with any questions. I just liked that it’s like-minded people and we all are so different. Like, you know, my business is different to Hadas or Nicky’s or Vicky’s. We’re all doing different stuff. And yet we kind of have each other’s back, which I think is pretty cool. I feel like it adds credibility, again for the training when I’m out there delivering the workshops, webinars or blogging about it, or what have you. I think it’s really helped my business.
Not only that, but Canva, like it has changed my life. I’ve even written a blog that is called how Canva changed my life. Like it really has changed my life and empowered me to market my businesses. Whether it’s a radio show that I’m doing, or helping other people market their business, or helping other people make their books or t-shirts. Like, I just, I think the whole thing is it’s absolutely wonderful…
‘I eat sleep, drink and dream in Canva’ is how I often put it…
When I do my training, I’m literally no different to how I am right now. This is just me and that can be polarizing, because some people are not going to like me and my style. Then, there are other people that do. And that’s another thing I’ve learned in business. You’re never going to be able to please everybody. Some people are going to resonate with us and some people are not.
So let me ask, what is your favourite feature?
Gosh, I should have thought more about that. What is my favourite feature? I mean, I love everything. So the one, a lot of people say – the background remover. I love understanding grids and frames, and the fact that they’re so versatile. I love that you can put videos in them, and you can make them solid colours, and you can put pictures in them. That opened up a whole new world to me, because I’d seen them for years, and I didn’t really understand how flexible they were. The magic resize too, of course, is super cool. And doing videos.
What would you like to see in Canva?
There are two things on my mind that I would love to see. I’d like to be able to fade out the music. Being someone with a radio background, I want to be able to do stuff differently. Then the second thing I would love to see is in ‘All Your Designs’, I would like to be able to arrange, to most recent and oldest. Like I wanted to find the first graphic I ever created…and you’re scrolling for days. The scroll is real. So I would love, I would like kind of maybe a better way of organising stuff maybe by date, that kind of stuff.
Can you share a person, or anything, that really inspires you.
Wow. Inspiration is such an interesting topic. It’s like I get inspired every single day. Everywhere I go, everything I listen to, everything I watch on TV every blog I read, every video I watch. I get inspiration everywhere.
So on Instagram, I recommended a guy called Detour Shirts. He’s awesome. I briefly met Juna at the Merch By Amazon Conference on in Seattle, a couple of years ago. I had no idea it was him. Like, I’d already followed him online and I was like, ‘oh my God, you’re a genius. You’re amazing’. What I like about what he does, sure he does t-shirt design but he educates. On Font Fridays, he talks about fonts and branding, gives tips, or it gives them ways to create designs and stuff. I always find his stuff really good. He’s really consistent. I’m a big proponent of trying to keep your stuff consistent across every channel. I love that you always know it’s one of Juna’s designs, wherever you are, so yeah, Detour Shirts. The Creative Bloq blog is quite good. I find even going to Canva blog can be quite good. I get inspiration everywhere. I get inspired by the CCC community every day as well
Do you have any crazy big goals that you are working on at the moment, and how do you plan on making it happen?
Yeah, I have a lot of crazy big goals. Again, they kinda change by the day. I’m not somebody that’s very meticulous with their goals and their planning. I see many CCCs and other people are,…Then there’s me. I’m not so much like that. I have some visions. In terms of Canva, I would like to train around the world train because I just love it. I’m pretty good at it. I have no ties. I can go anywhere. Not a lot of people can say that. So I would love to empower others around the world.
Also, I think it’d be cool if we had kind of a, a curriculum where we had a certification that people could take some Canva courses and have something at the end of it, where they would have learned all the basics of Canva. That would take some time to work out, but, you know, Microsoft did it, so that you could get become Microsoft Certified. So why not become a Canva certified? So that’s kind of one of my crazy big goals.
What does success look like for you?
I guess for me, is being able to do what I love and love what I do. Which I do. I think success was something that I always felt it alluded me, again, because I often related it solely to finances. I didn’t make very much money, but I’ve always been able to kind of do what I love. So that, to me, is being successful.
If you can love what you do, you get up, you’re excited about your day. You don’t have the Monday feelings. You want to do it seven days a week. To me, that’s successful.
If you can empower others and inspire others. To do that and help them in their businesses that, I think is an added bonus. It’s like people helping people. It’s like they often say, ‘if you want to reach your goals, help other people reach their goals’. I’ve kind of embraced that, I think. I love working with people and, and having accountability buddies. I have a friend that I went walking with last night and he’s young, and he’s really great. Social media, graphic design and websites, all that kind of stuff. We’re accountability buddies. We’re like, ‘okay, what are you going to try and do this week?’ We bounce ideas off each other, which I think is great. So each of us is trying to help the other become more successful. Perfect.
And I love what you’ve said about, getting rid of that Monday feeling.
Yeah, my dad always said, ‘if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life’. He also used to say, ‘do what you love and the money will follow’. I swear it wasn’t until my late forties before that actually happened! I was like, ‘damn it, dad, you lied’. Eventually I do believe that it’s true. I’ve always been somebody who’s a terrible employee. I suck at working for somebody else. I think there’s probably a lot of us CCCs like that. We’re entrepreneurial spirits in the CCC community, I’m sure a lot of you can relate to that. My dad always encouraged me.
So if we were talking inspirational people, I guess in a way he really did inspire me cause he kind of always worked for himself. It’s that way ‘if the job that you want to do isn’t out there, create it for yourself’. I did with Canva because not only is it my day job as a trainer, that is my main job, but my side hustle is creating books and things Basically it’s all done in Canva. So I’ve managed to create my job in Canva just as my dad said.
Perfectly said. So what’s the most important thing you learned in building your businesses?
So I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned in business, is knowing your worth. Know the type of clients that you want to work with and learn to say no. Embrace the, yes. I do the joy test. So one of the things that taught me this lesson is I got a call one day. They said, ‘do you want to come down and do a Facebook workshop in the Scottish Borders’? I sat for a moment. I did the joy test and I thought, I love the borders. I love to travel. But, I don’t love Facebook and, in the borders, the internet can be really unstable. So that does not fill me with joy.’
So I said, no, but thank you so much for asking. That’s usually what I say. Say that is what I say. No, but thank you so much for asking. I really appreciate being asked. Um, I’m really trying to focus my business on LinkedIn, walking in CAMBA, that sort of thing. So, in other words, finding your note to sit, to make way for your yes. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned in business and it’s, it really does work that it’s it’s it’s. It’s just making way for the type of work that you want, the people that you want to work with, because it’s so important because if you don’t like your clients and you don’t like your job, then it gets to be a chore and it gets to be frustrating. And then you just, you just become a very unhappy person and life is meant to be fun. And, and so that is what I would recommend is do you have the joy test? Yes.
Love how you did this.
I think trusting your gut is really important – because often your gut will tell you. Like, if you know that there’s a client, who’s a pain, I would put a PITA tax on it. Another of my dad’s wisdom. If you know somebody is going to be a pain in the ass, you just mark it up an extra 20%. Then if they do say yes, you’re like, ‘well, I’m making more money and I could pretty much suck it up’. If they don’t, then you’re like, ‘okay, no harm, no foul’, just opening up to bring in a better client. It’s always good learning who your ideal client is. Then work on trying to attract more of those.
Yeah. We can now change the litmus test to the PITA test. I will not forget that. Ok so where do you see your business going in the next five years?
With Canva I will continue to be doing more training, both in-person and online and around the world. That is what I need to make the next five years about…Doing more of what I’m doing, because I love what I’m doing. So why wouldn’t I want to do more and more of it?
So before we add this very fun chat. So would you like to have the final word.
I’m not sure what my final word would be, but my favorite quote, and you can honestly Google it cause there’s lots of posts about it. But my favorite quote, which I made up myself, it is my quote is ‘perspective as a mirror not a fact’. So really ponder that one, like, think about that for a minute. So you may be thinking one thing about a situation and somebody else may be looking at the same situation and seeing it completely different. So that has been my life mantra. Take me for instance. I am a polarizer. There are people that just hate me. They just can’t stand me immediately. They don’t like the way I look or sound. Then there’ll be people that are like, ‘I really like her. She’s fun’. Perspective is not a fact. So, don’t worry about the people that aren’t going to gel with you and resonate with you. Like attracts, like, so you’re going to attract the people that are like you. And that’s probably, I guess that’s kind of my mantra and my way of living. It’s not always easy to remember that, but that’s what I try and live by
Last but not least my question is who would you like to nominate next?
Gosh, I’m trying to remember everybody who’s done it – because there’s so many great people with so many great stories. Now I don’t think Tenna has done it, or Nicky in England, who’s done it either. They’d be my two girls that I would love to see and hear their stories and their Canva experience.
Oh and before you go, please take a look at my links page for all my fave tools and resources…