Occasionally I like to browse Eventbrite and such alike to see what is going on in the world and what might be fun to attend. With a name like Shropshire Business Live 2- "A 2020 Vision - Reasons to be Cheerful" how could I not attend?
Organised by Nick Jones Wealth Planning in the gorgeous venue of Netley Hall Estate and hosted by Shropshire Business editor and BBC Shropshire presenter Carl Jones, I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast which was made all the more digestible by the positive attitude exuding from both the panellists on stage and the other businesses in attendance.
So what did I learn? (PART 1)
With regards to recruiting and retaining the best staff, Helen Spencer of Whittingham Riddell was keen to point out that gone are the days of placing a job advert in the local newspaper. It’s important to be using all the different online channels that the top talent are hanging out on/in. Apparently there is also an employer review website called Glass Door where your staff can give feedback on you so if you want to attract top talent make sure you are treating your staff properly.
The saying 'do as you would be done by,' springs to mind in this moment. Top talent are clearly going to want to work for the top employers, however in my humble opinion this isn't just about the highest turn over and fancy offices. Is it just me or are people yearning for there to be more meaning in their lives? Of course there are always going to be ambitious cut throat go getters but don't forget to think more holistically too, for when the shine fades on all the 'stuff' we strive for in our youth. How are you feeding the soul?
An emphasis was also made on the need for a hero’s journey. Allowing local talent to get grass roots training in their home town but encouraging them to head off on a quest to expand their horizons, learn new things and then bring their upskilled selves back into the fold of the motherland.
On the question of the weak Pound and how to capitalise on it?
Structural improvements need to be made with regards to roads and broadband provisions, the information highway. Obviously being at a Shropshire Business Live event the emphasis was on Shropshire but this goes for the whole country I'm sure you will agree.
The landscape has seemed uncertain for so very long that some of us are apparently getting nonchalant about it. When the uncertainty horizon seems a long way off into the distance that can be the case but when change seems imminent, which of course it does at the time of writing (for future readers it's December 2019, General Election/Brexit) The panel were keen to encourage us not to let short term uncertainty affect planning. Ignore the uncertainty horizon, at the end of the day if you have a good idea that people want then get on and do it. Strength and Value last. A brief reminder that world class business people will come, NOT because you are the least expensive.
I particularly liked the round up from Nick to say that opportunities are always going to be out there no matter the climate, bumps in the road don’t matter too much because that’s life. Don’t have ‘should'a, could’a' regrets when all this doom and gloom is simply a lot of hot air. No one really knows what is going to happen!
There was a real emphasis on the fact that Shropshire business folks are forward thinking, planning with confidence and ambition with a reluctance to look back.
Thoughts on Christmas – bah humbug, it’s going to be a tough year.
It was generally agreed that people are not spending as much as we would like on the high street. With this in mind panellists spoke of the importance of factors such as the cost of parking, ease and convenience of just popping in if you need to, and creating an experience to entice customers into town in the first place. Empty shops are not good for business and those who are running bricks and mortar enterprises need to also embrace the power of online selling to ensure their services are found, the two really need to go hand in hand. Plus once you have made a sale how can you turn that customer into a repeat customer? How are you nurturing your future sales? Point to note, please don't collect email addresses only to email your customer the following year with another Christmas offer, they will have forgotten you by then, it's important to nurture the 'know, like and trust' factor before hitting them with a promotion, don't be the drunk uncle that only turns up on the doorstep wanting money at Christmas only to disappear again for the rest of the year!
I was also interested to hear that there is such a thing as ‘high street champions’ within communities and that Wellington is in line for a Rising Star Award in the annual National High Street Awards. Further to that, the concept of getting more young entrepreneurs onto the high street and trading, and if we want young people to head into town to do their shopping rather than clicking away at their phones are the right brands and experiences available to entice them in? What kind of ‘vibe’ is your local high street radiating?
At the end of the day any true entrepreneur will tell you that challenges are golden opportunities that once solved lead to the ultimate success. An entrepreneurial spirit is a problem solving spirit.
Apologies for not being able to now attribute every great observation to it's rightful owner however it all came from the lovely panel consisting of:-
NICK JONES - Nick Jones Wealth Planning
HUGH STRICKLAND - Aaron & Partners
HELEN SPENCER - Whittingham Riddell
MARK NORTH - Barclays
I was chuffed to bits when Veronka from Festival of Enterprise @enterpriseexpos contacted me to ask if they could share the write up I did of their recent event held at the NEC in Birmingham. You can find the original article here.
I love the idea of sharing knowledge and helping people, there is always enough abundance in this world to go around and I really don't think there has to be any losers, let's lift each other up!
But this then got me thinking. What is the worst piece of business advice you have ever been given which has slipped you up - or even unintentional bad advice, where someone really had your best interests at heart but equally didn't actually know what was best for you - or it could simply be a self limiting belief you had unwittingly absorbed along the way, that once cleared from you mind helped you super charge your progress. I'd love to know so comment below if you're up for sharing. (Or share on Instagram)
Sometimes it can be as simple as realising you are actually more than qualified, you are not a child anymore and you don't need someone elses permission to do great things.
I remember a particular time when I had just started a new job and the guy training me complimented me on how quickly I was picking up the bespoke computer system software, much faster than anyone else he had ever trained before. This was a revelation as I'd grown up always being referred to as Polly Dolly Daydream or a Dozy Dora!
Probably the most bizarre comparison of womankind I ever heard was when someone likened footballers wives to microwaves and rugby wives to Agas… It was meant to favour the rugby wives, the flattery (if you can call it that) being that an Aga has more substance, character even, and is built to last. Or at least that was how I interpreted it.
My husband doesn’t play any sport but it does take a certain type of character to be a military spouse too. Recently I found myself attempting an early morning Instagram live while standing on some wasteland between military hangers, farmland and a sewerage plant. Such is the glamor of running your own enterprise with an online community to serve, while also juggling life as a mum and trailing spouse.
My husband had been night flying and therefore needed his sleep in the day. So after nursery drop off I'd been attempting to stay out of the house a little bit longer while walking the dog to make sure he fell back to sleep before heading back to creep around the house like a ninja. My home office which doubles up as the spare room was also out of action as a place of work so it was back down stairs to the dining table for computer work and into the car when I needed to take and make calls.
After leaving my last employed job I set up as an online personal progression and business coach when we got married because I wanted to stay independent and carry on working, in this case for myself, and there are many spouses that run their own enterprises, just check out the inspirational podcast 'The Independent Spouse' by the lovely @jesssands but there are also many who are keen to stay actively within the workforce and this is what I’d like to talk about a little bit.
We live in a modern culture of constant change and diversity. Gone are the days of finding a job and then staying with the same employer for the rest of your life. Reflecting on the fact that your average civilian isn’t guaranteed to stay in a role for any particular length of time why should employers be put off from employing a military spouse? They are ninjas! With all the life transitions they have dealt with they ooze adaptability, capability, resilience and transferable skills. Essentially, no matter what life throws at us (OK, no matter what the MOD throws at our families) the show must go on. We adapt, we sacrifice here, to gain there, we adjust and essentially, we continue to thrive. In fact I personally feel the military spouse is one of the most resilient and pro active problem solvers ever and a massively untapped resource. Wouldn’t it be better to employ someone loyal and trustworthy with such amazing skills and capability in the knowledge it will be for only two years or so than settle for an average Joe who may leave you in the lurch anyway?
And if you need someone to work remotely then all the better you will probably be able to keep them even longer. Tech companies or anyone looking for flexible workers really should think about the benefits of employing a military spouse. It was with the knowledge of all of this that the lovely @heledd-kendrick set up the ground breaking business Recruit for Spouses. I would thoroughly recommend checking out her website. When I spoke to her last she said 'This is a really exciting time for military spouse employment. Our clients are describing our trained spouses as overwhelmingly productive.'
And as a closing thought, if I were going to liken the kind of person (male or female) brave enough to marry into the armed forces to any kind of oven, I cant think of anything more appropriate than one of those mobile pizza ovens you see built into the back of a Land Rover! Fired up and ready to roll with a fast turn around.
Yesterday morning, in my capacity as a listening volunteer for the Samaritans, I assisted in giving a talk at Venning Barracks, Donnington for their Mental Health Awareness day.
WO2 Payne had coordinated a great line up covering substance misuse, mindfulness, gambling, suicide and the support available in the wider community through the Shropshire Armed Forces Outreach hub.
As I watched the other speakers two words jumped out at me as they are so key to the coaching process, let me explain why after a brief overview of the days proceedings.
First up was Vanessa Carter of Grey Box UK Ltd– WOW, what an amazing woman. She really knew her stuff and delivered a lot of information in a very funny yet thought provoking and engaging way, I would thoroughly recommend her.
I couldn’t possibly convey all the goodness that she delivered in a few lines of a blog post so I’m not going to try but the message for me which really stood out close to the start of the talk was
‘People take drugs to change the way they FEEL.’
This was then followed by a lot of information not only about the different drugs we can misuse, how they are made, what they do and how they do it with the resulting side effects but also about our natural ways of feeling good such as hitting targets (my line of business,) love, sex, adrenaline, testosterone and the dopamine and serotonin etc that our body releases.
Like I said, too much information for me to go into and I wouldn’t be able to deliver it half as well as Vanessa but if you do one thing from reading this post please go and Google ‘Gordon Ramsey how cocaine is made’ and it will hopefully put you off considering ever taking it forever!!
Next was Cynthia from ‘Find Happiness In You.’ Talking all about mindfulness.
She explained how her tough no nonsense attitude had only managed to take her so far and how she had even scoffed at the concept of her sister having postnatal depression.
When Cynthia was going through a divorce and was pregnant with her third child she even went as far as setting herself a timer for 5 minutes of crying before brushing herself off to face life head on.
Unfortunately this strategy only worked temporarily and in the long run worked against her. She too found herself in the depths of depression with what she felt was simply unexplained and uncontrollable crying as a symptom. Medical intervention would not be available for six months after her diagnosis.
Thankfully she found sanctuary in a local wood. Noticing the difference when she took herself off for a piece of peace she began her somewhat reluctant and sceptical journey into meditation and mindfulness. Clearly it was worth it as she teaches and runs workshops in mindfulness now.
My key takeaway from her talk was spending time in ‘quiet observation without JUDGEMENT.’
Mick and I were next up talking about the Samaritans and the work being done behind the scenes to create a suite of military community specific services. If you’d like to know more about the Samaritans and the work we do then your local branch will have an outreach team who could visit your place of work. Military specific information can be found here https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/military/
For me, the main points I always aspire to get across about the Samaritans though is that we are #thereforeveryone! You don’t have to be suicidal to call, in fact it would be much better if you call before you get to that point.
Although we do signpost to other organisations we don’t give advice, we are there to listen to your feelings, to help you explore your feelings and hopefully help you get them in check before they overrun you but most importantly we are non judgemental, it is a safe place to talk. Talking really does help you get your thoughts and feeling straight.
Despite the name, Samaritans are a non Christian charity. The freephone number 116 123 is operational 24/7 365 days of the year and won’t show on your bill. All calls are confidential unless in very specific circumstances but essentially a volunteer will not be able to see your contact details. You can text, email and even still write to the Samaritans. Non of the volunteers are paid to be there, we listen because we care.
I have no doubt that the training I received to become a listening volunteer for the Samaritans has made me a better person.
Next was Justyn Larcombe but sadly he couldn’t join us at the last minute. I would thoroughly recommend checking out his TEDx talk about how his gambling addiction temporarily ruined his life here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AN3VLLlkdI
Last but not least we had Sarah and Sandy from the Shropshire Armed Forces Outreach centre talking about the services they can offer not only to veterans and service personnel but to their families too. Concerns such as schools not knowing how to effectively use the service pupil premium funding wisely to asking your GP if your notes are up to date with the correct code to indicate you are a veteran and may be in need of additional support. They really are bringing together the people who can help so each person gets the assistance they need in every area of their life utilising all the different charities for all the different issues.
It was interesting to take on board that not all service leavers, especially young service leavers, identify as being a veteran. Somehow the word seems only suitable for Chelsea Pensioners and World War veterans in their minds but that’s not to say they don’t need support. Having the right environment and community to surround them is an essential part of a more peaceful transition into civvy street. After all, if you have spent most of your life behind the wire how could you possibly know the nuances of utility bills, prescription charges and dentists fees etc?
So going back to those two words that stuck out for me today. Feelings and judgement.
These words are so important from a coaching point of view because everything we do, we do to make us feel something. Buying new clothes, eating sugary food, skydiving etc all generate a feeling. But have you stopped to think about how you want to feel on a daily basis? And is it ok to want to feel like that? When you think of that feeling, are you worrying that others may judge you for wanting it? Are you judging yourself for wanting it?
Somewhere in your subconscious you may be running a script which is telling you that you don’t deserve to feel happy, accomplished, powerful, whatever it may be for you. At some point in your life you may have been conditioned by an experience or the opinions of others to think badly of wanting more money or even not wanting to be part of the rat race. All of that could in turn sabotaging your efforts to get from A to B.
If that sounds like you then please do get in touch, I’d love to work through this with you and get you on the road to what true success means for YOU.