Coronatude is a mindset

COVID has impacted the world and inspired reflections and actions that show the goodness of folks.

During Stage 4 lockdown restriction across Victoria, we’ve witnessed the resilience, connectivity and inspiration of many.

I know so many Victorian’s who have adapted and contributed in inspiring ways.

So why not share their stories?

This Q and A series shares how others have navigated 2020’s impacts and changes, and the attitude and ideas that have sustained their business and wellbeing.  

If we’ve learnt anything from these times, it’s that a generous spirit and determined attitude in COVD times can have lasting positive impacts. These are Victorian’s worth meeting and supporting!

I started spending time with this week’s guest, Noe this year online through her role as Writers Victoria Chair and Live Write host online. She’s brightened my writing weeks! She and I both work in the not for profit sector and I’ve been a fan of her work!

 Welcome to the Coronatude Chats!


Meet Noe Harsel

Tell me about your business Noe?

I am a communications and fundraising strategist. I am very fortunate because while I am physically based in Melbourne, I work a lot in social media consulting and in the online space, so my work is possible (and has been done), anywhere!

Before COVID, I guess I was more relaxed about getting clients, in that I was happily working either as an independent consultant within organisations or as a mentor or coach totally externally to the organisation. I tend to work mostly with Not-For-Profits (NFP), or cause-based businesses and I have a lot of experience in the arts. I love the work that I do as it is never boring, never the same and there is a lot of flexibility that I am privileged to be able to have and take advantage of.

When COVID started wriggling around, I should have really seen the signs of its potential impact on my career more clearly. I think, but like many, I was very focused on looking on the bright side and initially, I wasn’t seeing a lot of change. Plus, if I am really honest, I always find a lot to do, so any minor loss of business, I was able to shield myself from initially by filling the space with exciting and creative projects.


How did the Coronavirus impact your business?

Originally the impact was in little bits a pieces and slow. It may have been a cancelled appointment here, a shortened contract there … Nothing that initially made me panic. HA! Well, that did change. By the time we went into our second lockdown in Melbourne, I would say that the NFP landscape felt bleak and many businesses couldn’t see solutions to their funding woes and therefore programs and projects were being cancelled. This was in spite of a number of large successes we were having in our fundraising and communication strategies.

So, it wasn’t long before I found that my immediate pipeline had pretty much dried up and I had to look at a new way of doing things.


How did coronavirus impact your own life?

COVID has had some very positive impacts on my life in spite of everything.

During COVID, and as a direct response to writers groups no longer being able to meet, I set up an online writers group called Live Write. While I am Chair of Writers Victoria (peak body for writing and writers in Victoria), I didn’t want this to be a member-only activity. So even though it has the support of Writers Victoria, it is run separately to them.

In addition, although we didn’t mean it to be a COVID specific thing, my great friend, Justine Sless and I started a little two-minute online show called Sless To Harsel, where we have a (very) irreverent chat about books, writing and friendship (on Instagram and Facebook).

I have also been very privileged during this time to be able to complete my first full-length fiction manuscript and I have presented internationally a couple of times on fundraising during COVD and on creating social media strategies. Recently I also gave a paper on an area where I am starting to expand my research, which is how personal cultural narratives, including personal racisms, can get in the way of a good story!

I guess I have found ways to fill my time … although I probably should have spent more of that time soliciting work, right?


How did your business evolve during COVID times? (What did you offer, how did you adapt, who did you call on to help?)

I expanded my online offerings, in that everything that I could do for you face-to-face, I could now make quicker, shorter and online. I am also in the progress of developing self-learning courses for creativity, fundraising and social media strategy. This will enable you to learn easily in your own time and get the basics that you need to get started.

In addition, I learnt to really trust myself. If something didn’t feel right, I didn’t do it. I know that this can sound contrary when I have just said that I was losing work, but funnily enough, it was the perfect time to trust myself. Otherwise, past habits taught me that I would catapult headfirst into endless jobs, situations or clients out of fear and panic. And we know, that doesn’t make anyone happy.

During this time, a few new colleagues, soon to become dear friends, invited me into their existing Accountability Group on WhatsApp. Neither of them lived anywhere near me (not even in the state, so I got no sympathy from them during look down!), and I didn’t really know them that well, so I really felt that I had to show up and do stuff.


What do your customers and community tell you they appreciate about your service right now?

People tell me that they appreciate what I do and I am truly grateful to hear that. I love everything that I do and I have been very lucky with the people in my life.

This is kind of an embarrassing thing to have to answer myself – ha ha !! I do have testimonials on my website – and actually, I was going to ask you to write me one for Live Write!


What has been the hardest thing for you to overcome?

I think like all writers and all self-employed people, particularly now, it is the uncertainty and the loneliness that I have found the hardest to overcome at the moment. I do love workshopping and talking and really just hanging out and having a laugh. There is a part of me that misses being a part of larger organisations since I have moved everything online and within a more traditional freelance model.

However, having said all of that, I don’t necessarily think that any of this is set in stone. If we have learnt anything, it is that all of this can be changed at any time, right?


Who has inspired or motivated you to keep going during the pandemic?

All of these things that have come out and been done during the pandemic have been inspiring – be them things I have done, or things that others have done! I am constantly amazed and inspired by the world around me – right now, inspired by Kamala Harris!

I didn’t expect that I would find new friends or community in a pandemic, but that is exactly what has happened. Through Live Write, there is an ebbing and flowing group of people who are connected by the love of writing (and I wouldn’t have met you!). My Accountability Group has also grown and we have all become friends together and separately, giving one another incredible help and assistance. I think that good things come out of people just wanting to be together for no other reason than to help, to talk and to be.

We are all pretty amazing!


Can you share something you’ve learnt about yourself or others during these times that you’d like to continue to explore or offer?

This may sound really trite, but during this time, I have learnt a lot about being still. And that can mean so many things. To Pause, to stop can be a privilege, it can be a right, it can be a statement, it can be an act of war.

I want to teach this well and use this well for myself and for my children. I am only still learning.


Thanks for sharing your story, Noe. I’ve loved how you’ve energised my writing output this year and am grateful for you keeping writers like me company online.

Keep that Coronatude going strong out there evetyone. 

If you know a regional Victorian with a story worth sharing, I’d love to hear from you.



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