Daria Williamson
Known for: Strengths development training

Playing to Her Strengths: Daria Williamson, Strengths Author

Daria Williamson knows her strengths. As a leadership development coach, facilitator and trainer, Daria’s speciality is in understanding one’s individual strengths – the things we’re great at and that light us up – and cultivating an appreciation for them that allows us to flourish.


Like so many coaches, early 2020 held back a lot of investment in leadership development, which limited Daria’s ability to bring on more clients and have a bigger impact bringing out people’s strengths. Knowing that she needed to take the next step in her business and expand her impact beyond working one-on-one with clients, Daria decided to it was time to draw on her Author strength (“You excel at putting your thoughts and ideas into words and find it easy to communicate through writing”) and write a book of her own.


A lifelong learner with a lifelong ambition

While Daria says that she’s wanted to write a book since her childhood, it was the last couple of years that made the decision to become an author more obvious.


“In early 2020, before there was any talk about lockdowns, I had planned to build my business and bring on new clients,” Daria explains. And while the impact of the pandemic had stalled that goal, Daria had also found new motivation in releasing a new piece of IP in late 2021: The Strengths Deck. With 75 cards covering capabilities from Activation (“You prefer to act rather than thinking or talking, learning as you go”) to Vitality (“You approach life with zest and excitement, undertaking tasks with enthusiasm and energy.”), The Strengths Deck is a tangible way for her clients think about and play with their strengths and discover more about themselves.


“I’d only had a few clients work through the process of The Strengths Deck, and they’d been some really great successes. But I was feeling like there needed to be some next step that would help move that impact wider than just working with me one on one.”


Daria encountered Inker Verity at a book club, where they discussed business and personal development books. After getting to know the Intelligent Ink team better, Daria saw the potential in being coached through the book writing and leverage journey.


“I knew the writing of the book wasn’t actually going to be the problem, because I really enjoy writing. I’m good at it. It’s one of my strengths! But it was a matter of landing on the structure of the book, making sure it’s something that people will want to read, and then getting it into people’s hands in a way that gets a return on investment in terms of my time and energy.”


For Daria, the biggest driver in writing her book was being able to spread her message further than she could working one-on-one or with groups. 


“I was aware that not everyone has the amount of time or money that it takes for that kind of work. And I wanted to get my message as far as I could in a practical and accessible way for people. Plus there’s a longevity to writing a book. People can consume a video online and get some really good ideas – but actually going back and then trying to retrace those ideas and have another go with them is much harder in a video format!”


“I wanted to build my credibility too, to make it clear that this was in my Zone of Genius – the kind of strength that fills my cup and that I’m great at – by helping people figure out what’s in their own Zones of Genius.”


The Better Book Project

Daria was introduced to Intelligent Ink’s Better Book Project – a guided, six-month long coaching program that would see her gain the tools to become an author. With an online training program, and weekly check-ins, the Better Book Project helped remove Daria’s blocks to planning, writing and leveraging a great non-fiction book on strengths and discovering one’s Zone of Genius. 


“The coaching calls were a great place to iron out any of the tricky bits, talk about anything I wasn’t certain about, or toss around ideas, even down to how I would phrase a particular concept. So that nurturing and guidance that went alongside the really concrete practical stuff in The Better Book Project was just a magical combination for me.”


Even when Daria “didn’t have the Muse rolling with me,” she found that the Better Book Project would inspire motivation – helping her switch tracks to work on research or editing, rather than writing. That disciplined dedication to investing time in her book meant that, “even on the hard days, when the writing wasn’t flowing, I still felt like I was making progress and moving forward.”


That also meant her manuscript evolved significantly throughout the project. While participants dedicate time early on to developing a book outline that will guide them through the next months, research and work can often uncover new opportunities for a book, or help them discover a new voice that they’d like to write in. 


“There was plenty of self-doubt as I continued writing and re-writing. I literally wrote the manuscript three times before it even started going through its major editing. But I was also developing more confidence in my ideas; I was developing smarter and better ways to talk about strengths.”


After many months of writing and editing work, Daria developed a launch and leverage plan that would see her book have the greatest impact and the widest possible reach. Intelligent Ink helped prepare some website and launch material copy, and Daria coordinated with a local printer to get her books into her hands.


The result? After many months of discipline and often unglamorous work, and plenty of social media work to build a buzz, Daria was ready to publish her first book – and on her birthday no less.


Unleash Your Awesome!

In February of 2023, around six months after Daria completed the Better Book Project, Daria’s book Unleash Your Awesome: How to live and work from your Zone of Genius hit the market with a lot of fanfare and a stellar launch party at a socially-conscious venue in Auckland (Everybody Eats – check it out if you haven’t already been!). It’s been a runaway success, too. Not only did she sell out of the first print run, she’s fielding enquiries for bulk orders from businesses wanting to share the book with their clients and staff, and also gained direct client work as a result of the book and online promotion.


“It’s been a heck of a ride in terms of personal development. It’s helped me get rid of that imposter syndrome voice that sometimes sits on the shoulder; I’ve realised that if I really want to live in my strengths – which is what I’m teaching people to do – then stepping out to write, and publish, and promote the book has been a big part of that. It’s still only very, very early days, but I’m already seeing positives in terms of my positioning on the market.”


As Daria explains, it’s taken a lot of hard work to get here. Almost a year working on her book – from the early ideas around The Strengths Deck, developing a meaningful structure, finding her own voice in her writing, and then on to publishing – she finally has reached her goal. But it’s also demanded a lot of her as a person too.


“Don’t underestimate the personal development that will come from writing a book. And don’t underestimate the benefit of getting really good tailored support from people who know what they’re doing. You could learn all of this yourself, Googling or through trial and error. But that would make it really hard work. And it would take a long time.


“Work with people who can help you shortcut through the common pitfalls and mistakes and can help you overcome the typical barriers that any author faces. And they can get you on the right path with a sense of confidence.”


With her name now on a book, Daria’s childhood dream has been fulfilled. “And I did it at the right time and in a way I’m really proud of. I still look at the book and think it’s so weird. That’s my name. I did a thing. Little Daria would be so proud.”


If you want more evidence of the impact of writing a great book, then take note. Just as we were finishing this piece, Daria sent us a message. She’d just taken a discovery call with a US-based leadership and development consultant to a large organisation; they’d invited Daria to submit a proposal for a webinar series to their 2,300-strong leadership group, and the interactive webinar would easily reach 800 people. 


“[The consultant] said, ‘Your name came up when we were talking about people we could work with.’ When I asked how my name came up, he said that his boss was reading my book. I’ve had a look at my LinkedIn connections, and her name doesn’t show up in connections or followers, so somehow she’s come across me and Unleash Your Awesome in the wild 🤯.


“I’m about to put the proposal together – who knows if I’ll even make the shortlist, but as a confidence booster and validation of the value of putting a book out in the world, it’s pretty awesome!”