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Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Happy Women's Entrepreneurship Day! (Some great sound bites from Women who know)

Until today, I knew nothing about Virgin Start Up http://www.virginstartup.org/ 

To celebrate Women's Entrepreneurship Day, they held a Virgin Start Up Ignition day that I went along to.  It was just fabulous so I thought I'd share some of the key sound bites that I took away with me:

Annabel Karmel http://www.annabelkarmel.com the UK's leading child nutrition expert and best-selling author said that 'Failure leads to success' and suggested that instead of telling someone about your business ideas, try telling them what you are doing and ask them why they think it might fail?' 

When Helen Cammaack - founder of Buyometric and Interests.me was asked about investment in return for equity, she said that in their experience, they didn't need investment, they needed customers so why not think creatively some times about trading customers for equity?



Madeline McQueen founder of Narratively http://www.narratively.co.uk  said:

'Be Magnificent' (and she truly was). 
She said that women are great at building relationships but not so good at 'Asking for the business' 
She stressed the importance of charging your worth and making little closes all the way.  She doesn't teach selling so much anymore, she really teaches 'closing!'

Another inspiring speaker was Sharmadean Reid  http://sharmadeanreid.com  - Founder of WAH Nails.  Beyond all of her amazing successes at 30 years old, she most impressed me with her natural ease and positive attitude. 
She said that she always had the opinion that if her nail business didn’t work, she could ‘do anything’ like opening a hotel in the Caribbean.  Her advice was delightfully simple ‘Just get on with it!’ and how good women are at being able to do just that.  She talked about how at times she just naively just got on with it and didn’t know what she was doing at the time but she does now! 
She also said that she has always thought that if something is not good for her or is causing her tension, she cuts it out of her life. 
When someone asked about what to do when people in your life are saying ‘When are you going to get a real job’ or ‘When is this going to make money’ her simple answer was ‘Don’t listen to them!  Tell them that you believe in the potential of what you are doing and that you are either with me or not with me’
Jacqueline Gold Chief Executive of Ann Summers talked about leadership and focused on three key areas:
1. Courage - the need to step out of your comfort zone
2. Tenacity - how relentlessly focussed and driven you are born out of passion for what you believe in
3. Empowerment and how having the right people on board is critical for the success of the business. 
Check out Jacqueline's ‘WOW’ (Women on Wednesday) Twitter campaign http://www.jacquelinegold.com/profile/wow/ supporting women in business  
#WOW, takes place every Wednesday and is run through Jacqueline’s twitter page. Each week Jacqueline encourages female business owners to tweet her using the #WOW hash tag along with their business name and a short overview of what they do. Jacqueline then picks her three top entries for that week and re-tweets them to her followers (currently over 30,000).  Then the overall winners have lunch with her and receive some amazing mentoring time. 

Some key messages from all were:

Ø  The importance of your branding and how integral it is for a business - Find your story and tell that story!

Ø  Get really clear on who your customer is, the value of your product and remember that value means different things to different customers

Ø  Don’t be crippled by indecision… make decisions and then change them if they don’t work, just get going!

We still have a long way to go for worldwide equality for Women in business but in the UK Women can start up a business tomorrow and every new business that can create employment helps our economy get back on track so there has never been a better time to do it!


Monday, 10 November 2014

Because we all have to be a little brave sometimes...

Facing the truth that I had to say goodbye to my mum to cancer last year seemed to revert me back to a very scared five year old and I reluctantly had to call on a brave that I’ve never had to conjure up before.  My Mum had to be the bravest and truly was.  My dad also brought a whole new brave that I had never seen in him.  He hadn’t been there when we were born for fear of fainting so to see him nurse my mother and be such a rock right up until that tender moment when she died and he took the ring off her finger graduated him in my eyes to Super Hero status. 

Like every love, every loss is different and like every fear every brave is different and we all have to be brave sometimes whether we like it or not.  The definition of Brave is ‘Being ready to face and endure danger or pain, showing courage’.  I respect that my experience pales in comparison to others losses and that some may even disagree with the fact that one is ‘brave’ during such times because you have no choice but to just cope so when are you ever ‘ready’ to endure danger or pain?   I guess that my experience just made me question feeling Brave, having courage and how I can prepare myself and my children to be ready to face whatever life throws at us with love and grace.  

My kids who are 6 and 4 obviously had a lot of questions about death.  We had travelled from the UK to NZ to be with mum for her final 6 months and lived with my sister who had lost her husband to a brain tumour 9 years ago.  During our stay, a young boy in my daughter’s class also sadly died so death became a very real concept for them.  How could I best answer their questions?  This was perplexing to me but I eventually found my answer…

A very wise friend said that I needed to get my own story clear on death and dying and that when that story felt authentic to my heart, I would be ready to answer their questions.  So I spent time on this with myself and it was really refreshing for me to focus on what story I choose to believe and live by and the perspective that this has now brought to my life. 
I want to be open and honest with my kids and myself about death.  I want us to observe and accept the death and transformation that we see every day to prepare us for the inevitable change that life brings and to be at peace with the process of life.
Not many people seem comfortable talking about death and it’s hard to find good stories for kids about it so I am challenging myself to write one that is hopefully authentic, delightful and makes some sort of sense to the soul. 
Loosing mum was a wonderful rite of passage for me.  It has made me braver in following my heart and pursing my own dream launching ‘Feel Brave’  www.feelbrave.com 
I wanted to create characters and stories that help kids manage tough emotions and feel brave because we all have to be a little brave sometimes.  I wanted to create new opportunities for adults to really connect with kids because there is a special kind of magic when that happens.  I wanted to get kids excited about the potential for happiness and aware of their responsibility to find it themselves because the only thing we truly have control over is the lens that we chose to view our world through. 
My Mothers final lesson came silently to me as I sat looking at her with unlimited gratitude for what she had given me which was that when there is love in your heart, you’re as brave as can be!

What are your thoughts on talking to kids about death and dying?   Do you know of any great stories for kids that deal with this?  Would love to hear your views on this. 

Photo by Dominique Browning 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

When you know your core values… things can start to make sense!

Going through the process to work out what your top 3 core values are can help make sense of why things are working (or not working) in both your professional and personal lives.  Sounds simple but have you ever taken some time to concretely work them out?
Your values are deeply held personal beliefs of what is truly important to you and living your values can help you realize deep connectivity and purpose.  Values come from family background, role models, priorities under pressure, religious or spiritual beliefs and life events.  They give a deep sense of safety, hope and renewal. 
When you are in an environment where things aren’t working, it’s likely that one or more of your core values are being compromised.  If you know your values, then you know what to look for in new situations (and what might need changing in your current situations).    For example, if my number one value is integrity and you say one thing, but then do another…  it’s never going to work.
A great book that can help you go through this process is ‘Bury my heart at conference room B’ by Stan Slap.   It’s primarily a business book but crosses nicely into personal as well. 


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Why now is such a great time for women in business

I am intrigued by how much the business world has transformed in the last 10 years.  I have experienced first-hand the crushing impact that new technologies and disruptive players like Apple and Google have had on old business models in the digital entertainment world... they forced the rules to change and us to change our thinking.  Technology has forced our thinking to change in all other areas of our lives too.  I love the honesty this brings.   

What I find most interesting and exciting is that you just can’t operate in the same way as you did before in business.  Now more than ever, I think you need total emotional ‘buy in’ from your team and to call on new aptitudes to really succeed.
My favourite business book for the last few years has been ‘A Whole New Mind’ by Daniel H Pink.   It’s relevant for both the Corporate and Start Up worlds and I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Daniel Pink offers a fresh look at what it takes to excel and reveals the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfilment now depend:

1.       Design – Making something beautiful and emotionally engaging
2.       Story – Fashioning a compelling narrative
3.       Symphony – Seeing the big picture, combining disparate pieces into a new whole
4.       Empathy –Forging relationships and caring for others
5.       Play - PLAYING!
6.       Meaning – Finding and giving meaning
All 6 things can come quite naturally to women and with the ease of amazing ‘build your own website’ tools like www.wix.com along with online networking organisations, the world is truly our oyster!  There has never been a more opportunistic time to do something really creative, innovative and bold.  It’s competitive and tough (which calls for GRIT), but the opportunity is certainly there for the taking!

Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Magic of boredom - a great article from 'The Magic Onions' website


A great article from 'The Magic Onions' website:
We have it wrong.  Being bored is good for our children.  We are not being good parents by making sure our children are constantly busy.  We are, in fact doing our kids a disservice.  We are keeping something really amazing from them.   For it is after these dreaded declarations of boredom that our children tap into something magical... It is after they've travelled through the discomfort of having nothing to do, after they have flopped onto the couch in dismay and stared out of the window at the rustling leaves.  It is after this emptying of their minds that wonderful imaginings come to them.  Beautiful unique thoughts and ideas.  This is when they find their creativity... and imagination and inspiration.  It's amazing to watch.  Being bored is infinitely good for our children.

Read the full article from 'The Magic Onions' here...

The Ultimate Happiness Prescription - A recommended read!

‘The Ultimate Happiness prescription’ by the wonderful Deepak Chopra is an insightful and inspiring read and one that I highly recommend.  He talks about one of the leading theories of happiness, what causes suffering and the seven keys to enlightenment and contentment.   
H = S + C + V
Happiness = Set Point + Conditions of living + Voluntary Activities
Researchers have found that 40% of happiness depends on your ‘Set Point’ which refers to your genes and your upbringing (Nature and Nurture).  Children’s brains have neurons that mirror the brains of adults around them, so if a child is surrounded by unhappy adults, the nervous system will be programmed for unhappiness even before he has any cause for unhappiness himself.
The good news is that neither your brain nor your genes are fixed structures, they are constantly changing and evolving.  Research has shown that the brains set point can be changed through: 

Ø  Drugs (not ideal as it’s a short term with potential side effects)
Ø  Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Ø  Meditation
Living conditions only account for 7% to 12% of happiness. 
Almost 50% of the happiness formula depends on Voluntary Activities which are the things we choose to do every day.   According to researchers, making other people happy proves to be a fast track to happiness and its effect is long lasting.  Turning to creative expression to make yourself happy can also generate positive results that last a lifetime. 
According to the Vedic and Buddhist traditions of ancient India, 5 main causes were linked to suffering and the unhappiness it causes:
1.       Not knowing your true identity
2.       Clinging to the idea of permanence in a world that is inherently impermanent
3.       Fear of change
4.       Identifying with the socially induced hallucination called the ego
5.       Fear of death
Fortunately, it isn’t necessary to wrestle with five causes of suffering.  They are all contained in the first:  ignorance of your own identity.  Once you experience who you really are, all suffering will come to an end. 
He then talks about the 7 keys to enlightenment
1.       Be aware of your body
2.       Find true self esteem
3.       Detoxify your life
4.       Give up being right
5.       Focus on the present
6.       See the world in yourself
7.       Live for enlightenment
To me the key messages are that some of us are lucky to come from a great nature and nurture set point but if you don’t, it doesn’t mean you cannot change it.  Living conditions are only a small contributor to happiness and what really matters is how you choose to live your life, turning to your creative expression and how important it is to not get mindlessly wrapped up in the delusion of the ego!


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Just start it!

The difference between a dream and a reality is just doing it!  I really believe this statement to be true and ideas are not always perfect but if you can accept that things will evolve as they need to along the way (learn as you go) and just commit to making decisions and executing them, then this is how I believe you can transform ideas into reality.  Determination is definitely required and I don't think you roll alone... you need other people (most people love to help - passion and enthusiasm are highly contagious, everyone wants a piece of it!) 

3 and a half years ago I had a little idea about developing some characters and stories that help kids manage tough emotions and to feel brave.  A very innovative and creative friend said that he thought this idea had legs and that I should just start writing down my ideas and talking to people about it.  So I made the decision to do that (I really believe that everything is about making decisions)

I had read that writing a book is like having a child, you birth it but then it takes a life of it's own and this idea certainly has had a life of it's own.  I have discovered that what evolves is a mixture of your own growth and growth from all of the people that you talk to about it and share ideas with.  Some help and mentor, others don't like it (heaven forbid!) but every interaction is useful in calibrating and shaping what it becomes (even if some feedback is disappointing or hurts your ego). 

What started as a book idea then turned into a TV show idea (but TV is super expensive and risky on an unproven concept), then went back to a book idea.  I managed to sign with a Literary Agent who believes in it.  The publishing journey can be long and gruelling so whilst I work on that side with my Agent, in parallel I wanted to now commit to who the characters are and start testing some organic and sustainable products in the market with the content on.  What if a child had something they loved wearing or looking at that also had a story or poem on it that an adult could read to them?   Content and stories can be anywhere now which is so creative and I love working with this idea.  Also - words are powerful!   I like to have really good words around me all the time.  I hope other people do too.

So this brings me here.  Three and a half years later, I feel like I'm shifting gear and Feel Brave is taking on a new beginning as I now start to truly execute a business plan and evolve the writing.  I hope that I can share ideas with you that give you some value and inspiration on your own brave journeys in transforming ideas into reality, becoming more conscious, living your passion every day and finding happiness and contentment.