How does life go on, even through a crisis?

I remember reading an article or hearing an interview about war-torn Syria, and in the article, a young woman described how life goes on even during a war.  Now, it never occurred to me about the practical logistics of the people who are indirectly affected by a serious crisis.

The reality; there are many businesses, lives, and events that continue outside of the main crisis, although they live and exist within direct contact of the situation.  These individuals sit in a position of having to walk the fine line of remaining focused on their personal endeavors at the same time responding to the needs of victims.

This post is inspired by the fire at Grenfell Towers, West London, where one of the key issues of discontent and anger is the social and economic divides.  Now as I write this post we are in the throngs of the emotion of victims, families and the local community.

People are responding in mass making contributions, donating money, time and resources. Giving a caring hug and a listening ear.

However, my questions are, what happens beyond the current impact?

  • What is happening to the local business who may have employed and supported local people?
    • Will they survive?
    • Will there be jobs for people to go back to?
  • What happens to the employees who may lose their jobs or will not be paid due to their absence?
  • What happens to people on zero hours contracts?
  • What happens in the future, when these victims (direct & indirect) are seeking employment, will their connections to this event, place them in a marginalised position.

One of the issues I am concerned about is what happens when the eyes of the public have shifted to something else.  (Similar to parents with a new child, life really begins after everyone has left, the home after the initial excitement).

The same is true of trauma and a crisis.  In the midst of the incident, people can become very motivated to provide solutions.  However, what happen months, and years later.  How are we treating and managing those people?

I think people forget, that life is made of those seconds and not just of those big moments.

So, I am thinking about what happens after the fact?

  • How can businesses show compassion?
  • What can I do to help build sustainable businesses?
  • How can the small businesses of today be the compassionate multi-national employers of tomorrow?

I am sad that a crisis has to bring about the neccessity for compassion in business.

Deep in thought

My name is Nicola and this is my blog.  I write about things I love and consider important.

This post focuses on compassion in business.

 

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Why should we care about your business?

I was recently interviewed on International Women’s Day about women in business.  During the interview, the host asked, “Why should we care about your business?”  I answered honestly and from the heart.  However, the question got me thinking about my clients and other businesses.  Why should we care about your business? Why should people pay attention to you?

You can click on the image to hear my response to the question, why should we care about your business?

This question was further compounded by an interview I watched, with a physicist, who is pioneering groundbreaking cancer treatment using lasers that leaves little or no side effects. Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green shares what inspired her research and what is needed to take it to the next level. What struck me was her persistence of asking this simple question WHY NOT?

In this world of so much noise and ‘look at me’, the question to ask yourself is Why?

  • Why should someone care about your business?
  • Why should we not be able to find a more effective cure for cancer?
  • Why can’t more women receive funding for their business?

I believe in the answer you find the heart of your goal.

My personal final thought?
Deep in thought

I just want to challenge you to ask yourself, WHY you do what you do?  In the answer lies the truth of who you are and your purpose.

My name is Nicola and this is my blog.

Hidden Figures/Hidden Talent – Dawn Ellis

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Name:            Dawn Ellis

Business:      Instant Teamwork Ltd

Website link: www.instantteamwork.com

 

 

As speaker, performer, facilitator, coach and consultant, Dawn has been working in the organisational and public arenas since 1997. She specialises in Storytelling and has a mission to put dynamic storytelling skills into the hands of people who can make a difference. She co-founded Instant Teamwork with her partner Tom Morley.

instant

Dawn, what is the inspiration behind Instant Teamwork?  As an actor and performer, I had always been attuned to audience dynamics and knew how to change the mood of a group of people. I realised that I had transferrable skills that were necessary and valued in organisations and the world outside the theatre. Between us, Tom Morley (partner and musician – ex Scritti Politti) and I put our decades of knowledge and techniques to the service of engaging and motivating people. We are daily inspired to invite and encourage connection – one of our core values – and that means connection to oneself as well as to others.  Our shared passion and mission, to liberate the human spirit wherever we can and whatever the context.

What are the key foundations of your business?  By delivering unusual activities, often musical or rhythmic, we give permission for people to be themselves in all their enthusiasm and presence. They are surprised at themselves, they enjoy themselves whole-heartedly, achieve something unexpected, and find themselves in a  state of ‘flow’, in the ‘zone’. Now they are open to whatever else is going on – whether it’s a meeting, a seminar or a large conference.  Sometimes delegates even change their lives outside of work and introduce more creativity to their family life.  In practice, this means offering sessions that fall under the labels Team Building and Training. Ideally, we offer the big experience, which embeds memories and has an impact at the time and for a short while afterward – we then follow up with specific training designed to make all this lovely experience sustainable.

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How has your business grown since you first launched?  We launched in 2000 and grew steadily, although the recession of 2008  hit our type of business noticeably, we managed to dodge the worst of it – partly because we are agile and adaptable. Some of our competitors weren’t so lucky.  Since then we have focused on being light on our feet and responsive to the zeitgeist, the marketplace and above all to being creative in the face of challenges.  We keep our core values and offer and constantly re-invent events and ways to engage people, whether it’s Storytelling, Motivational Speaking, Drumming, Song-writing or Circus Powerpoint. We have no wish to become a massive organisation – we have a global reach and are small enough to keep our essence intact.

What have been your biggest struggles since launching?  The recession definitely produced our biggest struggle to date.

What have been your greatest achievements?  For me, our biggest achievements range from micro to macro. Small victories include, for example, working with a group of fairly cynical French bankers and leaving them beaming, loosening their ties and fully bonded as a group of human beings. Achievements on a bigger stage usually involve using our name and reputation to make a real difference to the causes we support. These might be writing anthems for the launch of UN Women, creating flash mobs in Trafalgar Square to provide a magnet for One Billion Rising and Peace Day; to taking drums on to Millennium Bridge to be the heart-beat for the ‘Bridges not Walls’ initiative. It’s all about unity, engagement, and connection, wherever we are.  Finally, in 17 years we have never had a bad review!  And I think that’s an achievement.

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Click on the image above to see Dawn Ellis spreading her wisdom and building communities.

What differentiates you from your competitors?  Our focus is completely on the groups we work with and not on our own cleverness and talent.  So we make sure that all our associates are great facilitators first and great performers second.

We don’t really do off the shelf sessions – we always tailor to whatever is needed.  We are able to de-brief the sessions where needed and offer in-depth training so that our events are fully integrated, not just a bolt-on “well that was the team building, now for the main bit”.

How would you encourage someone who wants to use your service?  I would say that our events are designed to be fully inclusive and uplifting.  There is no embarrassment, no solos, and that the metaphors to be drawn from a simple one-hour session are powerful.  And in answer to ‘that’s fine, but MY people wouldn’t do it’ I would say – ‘You’d be surprised, don’t under-estimate them, or our facilitation – try it.’

What are your goals for your business over the next few years?  We are building on our existing, strong Storytelling areas – partly because Storytelling seems crucial for us all right now – to understand what’s going on and to respond powerfully.  We are also developing our Interactive Motivational Talks more – paying particular attention to the release of talent that comes when you allow creativity out to play.

In 5 years we envision being acknowledged as architects of Collaboration, Trust, and Renewal in the private and public arenas.

What is your message to the reader?  People are at their best and able to make clear decisions and collaborate to the benefit of all when they understand how to get into and, crucially stay, in the Zone.  This is our area of expertise and we’d love to work alongside you to bring this about.  Contact us soon.

My personal final thought
Deep in thought
Deep in thought

Dawn, what a trailblazer you are. You project the image of an empowered, confident woman, who aims to inspire others to realise their full potential.  Thank you for doing this interview.

My name is Nicola and this is my blog!

I am investing in myself for growth

Have you ever just taken moments out of your day and seriously asked yourself, HOW VALUABLE AM I?

In 2016 I consciously and subconsciously started to make changes in my life.  For me, these individual changes were actions to make me happy.  These included:

  • Facials
  • Going out for dinner/lunch with my friends
  • Refusing to do things out of guilt
  • Trying out new foods (gluten free, sugar-free ….)

However, in 2017, as I reflected on my past year, I told myself that I was going expand on what I started in 2016 and consciously invest in myself for growth.

But what does that mean?

For me, it is about purposefully thinking and acting in a space of deliberateness across all aspects of my life for my personal wellbeing.  Spiritual, Emotional, Mental and Physical.  In work, rest and play, I intend to make every second of my life a meaningful moment.

I want every action and thought of mine to be one that not only serves me but also serves others.

For example, this blog.  How does this blog invest in my personal growth and serve others?  That is a question that I asked myself before I wrote this post, this morning.

I want to live life to the fullest and therefore, understanding what my life, my existence is for and why I was created, is important to discover.  This is not a resolution, more of a choice.

I am keen to experience and discover the full understanding of who I am and to live life fearlessly and inquisitively.  I know that this will improve and make my life better, simply because of the experiences I had in 2016 when I reflect on those fleeting moments in 2016 that I consciously invested in myself.

So how have I started?

I have created goals, these goals include all aspects of my spiritual, emotional, mental and physical life across work and play.

To obtain those goals I have set one golden rule; before doing anything take a moment to really consider why I am doing what I am doing.  If it makes me feel good, I will do it, if it makes me feel uncomfortable I will not.  SIMPLE!  

I am open to things failing and succeeding, but above all, I am open to personal growth.

I wish you a fantastic 2017 and hope that your path of growth and discovery leads you to an enlightening path.

My Personal final thought
Deep in thought
Deep in thought

I appreciate you reading the words I write and the stories I share.

If you like it a lot please share my words and stories with your friends.

I am also a contributor to Huffington Post so you will see my work there too.

Finally, do not be shy, please comment and let me know what you think about the blog and the posts.

 

My Small Business Saturday Blogging and Competition Challenge

Okay, I am sure you would agree that this is my blog and I can do what I want with it?

So I have decided to address one of my big frustrations and that is BAD CUSTOMER SERVICE.

On Saturday, I will be out and about doing some Christmas Shopping from small businesses (or as I like to call them emerging brands).  I will be shopping with my own cash and will be coming back at the end of the day to share my experiences with you, the good, the bad and the ugly.

small-business-saturday-uk-2016

However, here is the twist, the business that I judge to have the best Customer Service will receive a prize of Free PR for one whole month.  (If you did not know I work  in marketing, but this blog is something I do for my own pleasure.)

The prize will include:

  • A free press release written and distributed
  • PR Consultation of over 3 hours, where you can identify which publications are right for you and how to build that important relationship.
  • Feature on my blog to reach over 1000 followers
  • You may even get a trophy 🙂

 

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Term and conditions of the competition are simple:

  • You can nominate a business below, explaining what makes them stand out in the marketplace.
  • We will visit as many independent small businesses as possible and judge based only on the criteria of Good Customer Service.
  • We will look at how you not only treat us but also how you treat the other customers in your store.
  • The shopper judging you may be one of my work colleagues or myself who will visit you at any time throughout the day – Saturday 3rd December.
Next step

Do you have a business you would like to nominate? Just send me a link and details of the business below.  It could not be simpler.

We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible!

Celebrating Small Business Saturday and supporting emerging brands!

Deep in thought
Deep in thought

Hi, my name is Nicola and this is my blogging world!

I am loving this space and hope you like some of the content too!

Thanks for visiting!

I am tired of ‘I can’t’ in business

I was raised in Redbridge and spent many years in the area going to school and in fact my office are now based in the local area.

I am very happy to be part of the Ilford community.  Of course it has changed over the years.  When I went to school I was one of a handful of Black children in our year.  Now the culture diversity covers everything from Africa to Eastern Europe, Asia to Middle East.  Yes the cultural population is as diverse as there are races on the planet.

Diverse businesses in Redbridge - Silver Wheels
Diverse businesses in Redbridge – Silver Wheels Roller Skating Business

However, there is one thing I have found very interesting within the cultural mix, it is the entrepreneurial drive amongst all races.  Young and old alike, Redbridge is a business hub.  The range of businesses within the community, range from local farm shops to artisan delicatessens.  We have everything from rollerskating businesses to fashion designers.  I am certain we cover the whole business sector.

There is however, one other thing many of the businesses have in common, they are very insular.  There is a fear factor that really frustrates me.  Local businesses seem afraid to attract and expand.  Of course there is nothing wrong with that, but many business say that they want to be bigger.

I know many of the businesses would say that they disagree, however, actions speak louder than words.  And the proof is in the number of businesses that close on an annual bases.  The reasons for the level of closures are varied, but I can guarantee, poor marketing is high on that list.

What are the key problems?

If you look at the number of businesses that set up in Redbridge, many of them do not utilise and maximise marketing opportunities to promote to new markets.

  • There is a culture of local networking only. For many, this is about their comfort zone, for others, they do not know how to branch out.
  • There is a direct correlation between marketing and sales. Many of the local businesses advertise only based on generating sales and see no value in building brand awareness.
  • Planning in fear.  I speak to many of them and you hear them always saying , I can’t do this until …. , or I won’t do this until ….  The irony is that they never do it.  And what usually happens is that they jump onto the next new thing, without completing what they are doing.

 

Me speaking at Redbridge College
Me speaking at Redbridge College

What am I saying?

Honestly, I am sick and tired of hearing about these amazing businesses that fearfully do not take a step forward and make an impression on the world, (as they initially wanted to).  So here is what I am going to do about it.

I am going to invite a group of people, who want to see their personal business to grow and want to see the local economy to go and I am going to mobilise them all in understanding how they can promote their businesses together for wider success.

The concept of doing it is simple.  It requires a positive attitude and little to no financial outlay, except your time.

If you are based in Redbridge and want to pop over, please just register.

You can click here to book.

There is a saying the power of the fist can strike an almighty blow.  Redbridge have to work together as a fist for us to flourish.

My final thoughts
Deep in thought
Deep in thought

I do not know why I am so passionate about this, but my pet hate are people who just hold themselves back from success.

My name is Nicola and God help me, I was going to burst if I did not write this.

Anyway, click here to book

Overcoming doubt in your business

I cannot pretend that we have not lived through an interesting few days with the USA election.  However, for those of you that are building businesses and striving to do great things in the world, now is the time to switch on that positive mindset to 100% and get to work.Girl planting seedling in ceramic flower pot  If you are like me, there are times when getting back to work and staying focused is easier said than done. I am faced with doubt many times.  Doubts that I am making the correct choices, doubt that I am capable, doubt that I can handle each step of my business’ growth.  I know that I am not alone in this, but what I have found is far more important, is the necessity to overcome that doubt and figure out skills to inspire new growth.

If you are like me, there are times when getting back to work and staying focused is easier said than done. I am faced with doubt many times.  Doubts that I am making the correct choices, doubt that I am capable, doubt that I can handle each step of my business’ growth.  I know that I am not alone in this, but what I have found is far more important, is the necessity to overcome that doubt and figure out skills to inspire new growth.

I am not a botanist or gardener, but I do know that sometimes to stimulate growth in a plant, you often have to disturb the soil and churn it up a little.  In-fact, you may even need to re-pot the plant and switch it to a new position.  The same is true when growing your business.

 

The question?

In the daily activity of life, how do we stimulate growth in ourselves, when we are stuck or uninspired?

  1. I have found that by surrounding yourself with new people, can often trigger off new ways of thinking.  So, why not go out and network with progressive people.  People that have been in your sector longer than you.  People who have a track record of success and are willing to share their experiences with you.
  2. Try new things.  Go out and find new activities that could also inspire you to think a little differently.
  3. Challenge your existing working practices.  Sometimes, something that worked 18 months ago is no longer suitable.  See what else you can do instead.
  4. Ask fo help.  Speak to your community, reach out and ask people to help you.  Sometimes, people need you to spell out to them that they should BUY NOW  There is nothing wrong with engaging with people directly.  (Politely but directly).  You will find that people are quite responsive.
  5. Take care of yourself.  Sometimes when you are uninspired, you may just be exhausted.  Take some time out for yourself.  Treat yourself well and you will reap the benefits of it.
  6. Do not beat yourself up.  One big trigger of doubt is a lack of confidence because of something you have done in the past that did not work out the way you expected.  Use those opportunities as lessons from which you can learn new things.
  7. Take control.  You are powerful.  Decide on what you want to achieve and focus on achieving it.  You are powerful in making that choice – SIMPLE!  and I mean that.

 

My personal final thoughts
Deep in thought
Deep in thought

At weekends, especially Sunday evening can often be a challenging time for me as I contemplate all the issues I have been able to hide away from over the weekend.  However, over the years, as I have grown in confidence, I have employed the attitude of taking control of my life and realising that I hold the key to my own destiny.

My name is Nicola and this is my blog!

 

Calling out JUDGEMENT for what it is.

The other day I was watching an interview on YouTube featuring Meagan Good and DeVon Franklin.  (For those of you who don’t know, Meagan is in the ‘Think like a Man’ film franchise) and her husband DeVon used to work for Will Smith.

Anyway, I was watching an interview with them promoting their book The Wait.  The book speaks about committing to celibacy prior to marriage and the benefits of that choice.

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Now, you and I both know that this is such a personal, delicate and non-conventional topic for a young couple to be talking about. Our modern day language allows sex and the freedom of it to be our daily norm.  Therefore, anything that speaks about control and discipline in this area, is seen as abnormal or bucking the trend, to say the least, especially across all generations.

However, after the main interview, the moderator invites the audience to ask questions.  At which point, we (the viewer) can hear a woman’s voice.  At first, she congratulates Meagan on her beauty and talent.  She then follows the comment with a statement ‘advising’ Meagan to cover up her body and dress more modestly.  At which point DeVon (oh yes I forgot to mention, he works in a ministry as a Preacher), jumps to her defense …. (I will put a link to the interview and you can watch it for yourself). Link to the full video

After watching the interview I reflected on what I saw and learned.   I was particularly touched by the JUDGEMENT and reflected on the impact it can have on our lives.

Let me start with Meagan.  I am absolutely certain that she wrestled and cried many tears with the idea of writing this book, for fear of the judgement she would receive publicly.   It is a very vulnerable position to be in.  However, I consider what could happen if the judgment had stopped her from co-writing this book with her husband.

  • There would be many young women who may not have had the confidence to reclaim their bodies and recognise their own power.
  • There would be many young men who would continue to believe that celibacy is a sign of weakness.
  • There would be many people who would not have even considered celibacy as a life choice.

Then there was the audience who maligned the woman who made the statement.  To be honest, I would say that there were a lot of hypocrites in the audience at that moment. I am certain that she was not the only person to have thought it.

 

My personal perspective:

I think the reason that this clip touched me, is because I live in fear of judgement a lot.  It is chronic in my life.  However, I am learning and have learned that the only solution to counteract that fear; is to become more aware of who I am, what my intentions are and what my reason for being is. (Besides, what would the world be without me being my best?  SERIOUSLY!  Why should any of us deprive the world of our talent?  I am beginning to think that it should be a crime to not be your best!)

I have found that the times I have made decisions based on what I think other people think, I have always gone wrong.  However, during those moments of doubt, I have learned to focus on the core of my soul and what I am building; I get focused and crystal clear about my direction. From there I can navigate the situation with ease, even when the results are not what I expect.

 

My final personal thoughts
Black Owned Business
Looking out to sea

I do have more to say on this topic, but for right now I will stop. This post is definitely therapy for me.  I do not believe that I am the only person who feels this way, but if I am so-be-it.

Thanks for reading this post and if you have a comment or just want to share what you think the biggest barriers are to success, comment below.

I am new at this game, but I am loving every moment of it.

Staying healthy whilst building a business

To date, I would consider myself to be quite a healthy person. I have tried many sports; Karate, Dance and Yoga to name a few.  That said, I have never been a fan of group organised sports, and I am personally not a massive fan of the outdoors, (you will never catch me camping or backpacking).

However, in most recent years, I have discovered that there are tangible benefits to taking time out of my schedule and participating in activities, it has proven beneficial for my mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health.  For me, I love activities that allow me solitude and space to mentally reflect, yet at the same time require speed, and high levels of concentration.

night-ride
One of my many night rides

I love to cycle.  I am not a speed demon – YET, but I am working on it.  I love the wind in my face.

Since I was a child, I loved riding my little red bicycle up and down the quiet streets of East London.  My little red bike offered me a freedom I was unable to achieve without it. Whilst I was with my bike, I was given permission to cross streets and go around corners, without an adult in sight.  It was truly freeing.

Now as a busy, working adult and business owner, social cycling gives me the opportunity to mentally, physically and spiritually re-group.

I along with a small group of family and friends, sign up for a number of the organised charity rides across the country.  These night or day rides are great opportunities for me to centre myself and focus my attention on the task at hand, yet at the same time raising money for a great cause.  For me, it is also a great opportunity to meditate and pray.

On a physical level, it helps me gain great definition on my derriere (bottom, rear, backside), it helps build my stamina and also tones my legs.   Many of the rides we participate in have a diverse terrain and therefore, I have to mentally encounter many steep inclines and rough track, so it helps with my core muscles too.

But the greatest achievements and most rewarding parts of the ride for me are the moments I reach the top of an incline. These hills are tough, your legs want to often give up, but your mind says, you can do it.  I have been known to dismount and walk a few steps, but whichever way I make it happen, there is nothing more satisfying than reaching the top.  If the truth-be-known, I see these hills as issues I encounter at work, and when I conquer them and reach the top, it confirms to me that I can overcome any obstacle. There is nothing better than that!

QUESTION TIME

What do you do to relax and stay fit?

Participate in the poll below and let us see what activities are on trend at the moment for the busy working man or woman.

The turnaround moment

Throughout every business’ history, the tale about success always comes with that pivotal turnaround moment.  That single moment when a word is spoken, a thought is had or an act is done and suddenly everything falls into place.  These are the moments that manifest after hours of crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth.  But why does this happen?  I do not have the answer for that, however, the joy of the turnaround moment only happens to one type of person and it only happens at a particular time;

  • Who is that person?  
  • When is that time?
Well, let’s start with time?
  • The time is that moment when you have more to lose by giving up, than continuing.
  • It is that moment between, fear and just dogged, do or die attitude.
  • It is that moment when you recognise, that instead of it being anxiety in the pit of your stomach, it has been replaced with a ‘pissed off – I have to get this right gladiator attitude’.
  • turnaround-momentThe moment usually happens when you are fed up of being fed up.
  • The time usually happens when you hit the high street and you purchase that outfit,  briefcase or pair of shoes for that all important meeting, that has not been booked yet. (Because, let us be honest.  Whilst you are building your business, you can never justify spending money on yourself. NEVER!)

When is that time? The moment happens when you are ready; the light bulb comes on and suddenly you have a new burst of energy.  All systems go and you have been reborn.  For years, you have been in the day and night of your business and now the season has changed and it is your season, it is time for you to come into your own.

Now, to the next question – who is that person?

 That wonderful and amazing person who receives that turnaround moment is YOU.  Yes, YOU. You have been out there looking, seeking, learning, and building.  You are ignoring naysayers, and staying focused on the goal.

You are the person who says “as long as I am  breathing, my turnaround will come.”   You continue to promote, share, serve and build.  If you doubt me, look at your role models, study them, read about them, tweet them, listen to them and you will see the pattern. They knew that they were that person too and they maintained.

I know that you are bruised and challenged, but there is something exciting about living your success story and experiencing your turnaround moment.