‘Success lies on the other side of fear’ – said Actor Will Smith

Personally, I totally agree with this thought and highlight the importance of ‘facing the fear’ in all of my wellbeing and mental health training.  Many people have said  something along the lines of ‘it’s not things in themselves that affects us but our reaction to these things’  for centuries – literally!  Epictetus a Greek slave  50-135AD said it, so did Shakespeare and many others.  It has stood the test of time.

 

For many the impact on Coronavirus has been negative especially where there are vulnerabilities already present.  For others they have seen the pandemic as an opportunity to reflect on where they are and do something completely different.

 

Check out the feature below from the BBC News website this morning.   Reflect on where you are.  Is now the time for you to do something different too?

 

Coronavirus: The women who started businesses in lockdown

 

Natalie James, Charlie Pears-Wallace, Mya Wander and Caroline Haegeman
Image captionNatalie James, Charlie Pears-Wallace, Mya Wander and Caroline Haegeman

The coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard, leading to sweeping numbers of redundancies and millions of workers being furloughed.

Despite the downturn, some people have decided to take the brave step of starting a business.

We spoke to four women about why they did it and how their ideas are progressing.

‘I started it on a whim but it’s become like my child’

Young entrepreneur Natalie JamesImage copyrightNATALIE JAMES
Image captionNatalie started a subscription service to bring people the beauty, makeup and self-care products they were missing during lockdown

Natalie James, 30, from Wanstead in East London works in fashion PR. Although she continued working through lockdown from home, she didn’t like the fact that she wasn’t able to pamper herself with her favourite beauty products as all the shops were shut.

Realising “a lot of other people felt the same”, she decided to start a £10-a-month subscription box service called Tingle, which offers a curated selection of beauty, makeup and skincare products sent to your door.

“I started to get cabin fever and hated that the only place I could go to was the supermarket,” Natalie adds about her decision to open a business.

She invested £300 in building her own website on Wix and designing the packaging for the box. She also approached beauty brands and managed to get most products gifted, while others were bought at cost price.

The companies that partner with Tingle get to include information about their brand in each box, along with discount coupons for further purchases.

Natalie says she has had 400 orders to date and made £5,000 in sales, but it has been hard work.

“I do literally everything – I’m staying up until 3am on some nights, but it’s worth it.”

‘I needed something to keep me going through lockdown’

Young entrepreneur Mya Leonie WanderImage copyrightMYA WANDER
Image captionMya started a Caribbean takeaway meal service during lockdown

Student Mya Leonie Wander, 20, had always fancied starting her own business and is a “big foodie”.

So in June she decided to start MJ Eats, a part-time Caribbean “soul food” takeaway service, cooking from home two or three days a week.

Mya, who advertises on Instagram, has so far had around 20 orders a week and made £500 in sales. She also says she broke even after just two months.

“I started my business because I needed something to keep me going through lockdown,” she tells the BBC.

She had been a competitive athlete most of her life, but not being able to do sport or find work “took its toll”.

Mya plans to continue running her business part-time and studying for her degree when the new academic year starts in October.

‘I finally had the time to commit to launching a business’

Young entrepreneur Caroline Haegeman and her partner JaiImage copyrightCAROLINE HAEGEMAN
Image captionCaroline Haegeman and her partner Jai pose with her “date night” subscription box product

Caroline Haegeman, 25, is studying for a PhD in oncology at Imperial College London.

Part of her work requires her to carry out experiments in the laboratory at university, but her course was put on hold for three months during lockdown and she had to stay at home.

Spending so much time indoors with her partner made her realise that even if they couldn’t go out, the couple needed to have “fun date nights” for the health of their relationship, but there weren’t many activities to do.

So she set up subscription box service Box42 “to bring back the romance”. Each one-off box retails for £33, or £29 for a monthly subscription, and comes with two fun activities following a theme, as well as snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, curated playlists and “mood setters” like candles.

“I started the company during lockdown because that’s when I started really seeing a gap in the market,” says Caroline, who partnered with independent food and drink companies and negotiated wholesale prices on the items.

“Previously, although I’d had different ideas, I’d never had enough time to commit to launching a business.”

Caroline has so far invested £1,100 in the business and her sales total £950. She hopes to break even soon.

‘It started as a necessity and then I decided it was brilliant’

Young entrepreneur Charlie Pears-WallaceImage copyrightCHARLIE PEARS-WALLACE
Image captionCharlie Pears-Wallace forged a new career for herself during lockdown

Charlie Pears-Wallace, 34, from Newcastle had come from a sales and marketing background and quit her job just before the coronavirus crisis.

She had hoped to change careers and get a new job that allowed her to use her French, but the pandemic made this very difficult.

But during lockdown she began helping small businesses with their social media strategies and marketing, thanks to word-of-mouth recommendations.

She now works as a marketing and PR consultant under the brand Charliecomms, and says she has brought in enough revenue to break even, pay her bills and put some money aside.

“I guess it started as a necessity and then I decided it was actually brilliant,” she says.

“I think if this year has taught me anything, it’s that you never know what might happen. But I like to think that I’ve safeguarded myself in a way, as I’m not a full-time wage to anyone.”

 

History repeating itself? Technology helping or crushing humans?

Watching a feature on a news channel this morning about the pros and cons of capitalism has left me wondering if we have learned anything from the Industrial Revolution to the financial markets crash of 2008.

 

I’m not sure I’m any clearer on an answer!

 

Hundreds of years ago machines started replacing humans’ physical labour.  Less people were employed which more was produced.  But workers laid off faced destitution with no money to feed, clothe themselves or provide shelter – remember this was before state unemployment benefits.

 

With the advancement of machines cracking codes in WW2, computers reducing in size from huge rooms to pocket size and robots being used in medical sciences we’ve seen many pluses to this technology.  But is it now going too far?

 

The online news feature showed Bob Pisani, On-Air Stock Editor for CNBC – American news channel who liaises with stock traders and explains the markets to the general population.  Bob passionately believes in capitalism without which he feels  there would be no financial support within the economy.  Markus Koch a Stock Market Correspondence stated traders have been reduced from thousands to hundreds in recent years as machines have taken over.  More thought provoking for me was Tarek Mashhour, Audi Plant Germany explaining their goal is to have a production network of communicating robots meaning increased productivity with the same resources.  But if less humans are working – who is buying the Audi cars?

 

Dirk Heitmann of IBM Germany explained they are developing cognitive machines capable of learning on their own!  Dirk feels this increases human creativity capabilities.  But could this be at the price of human jobs?

 

Anthony Scaramucci, Hedge Fund owner believes capitalism is the only system which works.  ‘There is tremendous opportunity for growth over the next fifty years.  We can mine for minerals essential in technology in asteroids in space’.  Now that idea might sound completely out there but we have computers that can talk with each other, robots used in manufacturing, healthcare and so on.  Is it really out of reach?

 

An interesting thought concluded the news feature by Professor Tim Jackson – Economist at University of Surrey who believes ‘we live on a finite planet therefore the expectation we can all grow and profit from capitalism is false – we can’t’.

 

We seem to get richer in technological advancements but the divide between rich and poor seems just as wide and just as unbalanced.

 

We watched with baited breath…..

 

Will it work?

Today sees the official launch of the Government’s Kick Start programme aimed at  unemployed 18-24 year olds.  The idea, as reported in the press this morning, is Government will pay employers £1,500 per head towards a 25 per week, six month work experience placement.  The Government’s idea is many will be kept on or step into permanent jobs elsewhere.  Referrals will be made by JobCentre Plus staff.  One of the first employers to sign-up is Tesco who want 1,000 people.

Check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53985144

 

Alarm bells are ringing for me.  I wonder if this has been thought through properly.  We have evidence from various previous work programmes including the recent Future Jobs Fund which doesn’t seem to have been learned from going by the press reports today.

 

My concerns are:

 

  1.     Will there be vetting of employers to ensure integrity that these unemployed young people won’t be scarred further by being used for six months in basic roles with nothing at the end?
  2.     Is a robust audit trail in place so all parties are accountable and progress/gaps in training are addressable?
  3.     What ‘work experience’ elements will be focussed on to ensure attractiveness to employers who do have jobs but don’t want to have to ‘re-train’ bad habits?
  4.     How can employers in good consciousness take part if they have furloughed/made their own staff redundant?
  5.     JobCentre Plus staff are on a huge recruitment drive themselves with thousands being recruited into Work Coach positions.  How will KickStart be managed to ensure any concerns raised are investigated quickly?

 

At Growing Talent, we know it’s successful even where there are multiple barriers to employment in place for unemployed individuals because:

 

  1.     There is a dedicated mentor for individuals, employers and sole contact with JobCentre Plus leads to monitor progress and address issues immediately
  2.     There is a robust audit trail to highlight progress/training gaps
  3.     It’s five weeks long including a week orientation and holistic whole person skills
  4.     There are robust employer and participant agreements in place
  5.     There is a permanent job ring-fenced for the individual at the start of the journey which is theirs on completion

 

I would personally be more reassured if this KickStart programme was targeting future industries – Artificial Intelligence, Coding, green energies or industries that usually look at degree education/experience such as financial services.  To ask someone to work for six months with no guaranteed job on completion with employers like Tesco fills me with concern.  What about you?

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Figures – Acceptable?

It’s long been known and accepted within business that figures will be ‘fudged’ to give a more favourable report on their performance.

 

Take a look at Estate Agent’s house descriptions – often not the same in reality.

 

Today Times Radio reported on the results of their Freedom of Information request from all healthcare trusts in the UK and found there are over 15 million people waiting for their hospital NHS appointments having been referred by their GP for further investigations.  Times Radio went on to report the Government’s official figures of this waiting list is just over 3 million as their stats are not centralised.

 

It’s accepted tough decisions needed to be made during the pandemic but there seems to be no clarification on whether the 15 million is accumulative backlogs from prior to the pandemic or if this figure is due solely to the decisions made to protect the NHS during the pandemic.

 

Either way it seems unacceptable to ‘fudge’ figures when lives are at risk.

 

We’ve already seen countless people who have discovered their unknown cancer has now spread as they couldn’t be seen during the pandemic.  For every individual there is a family who will carry the lifelong scars of these tough decisions.

 

Whatever the real figure, we can’t change what’s happened but we can come up with a solution to address this backlog now.

 

Will there be action or blame shifting?

 

 

Are the quietest achievements the most powerful?

What an uplifting feature in the press over the weekend.  Relative Values featured the author of The War Horse – Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare talk about their life and work on their Farms for City Children which they set-up over 45 years ago.  The idea was to bring children who live in cities to their farm and experience life – where their food comes from, looking after animals etc.  Over 100,000 children have now spent a week at their farm experiencing a different life to take back to empower them with ideas of different paths they can take.

 

Magical for me was reading how Michael got the idea for War Horse.  A child called Billy was visiting their farm and had trouble speaking.  One night Michael saw Billy had crept out and was stroking one of the horses.  Even more powerful was Billy talking excitedly to the horse and the horse seeming to patiently listen.  A bond was struck up and an idea for War Horse was born.

 

The power of animals and people is long known.  The impact on health and wellbeing is hugely valuable.  I had no idea this author and his wife had changed so many lives over the past 45 years without awards and accolades.  They do it because it’s the right thing to do.

 

How wonderful is that?

The two sides of cancer during Coronavirus

A disturbing headline.  250,000 lives condemned because they couldn’t get tested/their treatment during the Coronavirus pandemic.  More families will be deprived of loved ones.  Some will never recover.  Questions will always be asked

 

‘with Nightingale Hospitals, why didn’t my …….. get their test/treatment in hospital? or why wasn’t I given the choice to go ahead with my treatment and the threat of Coronavirus in hospital or holdout and risk the spread – it’s my life, my choice?’

 

Heart wrenching for all involved.  Decision makers will have to bear the weight of their decisions going forward.  This, for me was the worst side of Coronavirus reported in the Sunday papers.

 

Below was an innovative feature alongside the one above which for me shows the best face of cancer during this period.  Medical professionals thinking outside the box to treating reassure their patients.

 

 

Whatever your view, one thing is for sure, a lot of long lasting pain will be caused by this pandemic which we don’t event realise the full extent of yet.

Harness their knowledge

Whose knowledge?  trailblazing heads like Mouhssin Ismail.  Previously a successful but unfulfilled City lawyer, Mouhssin re-trained for a career in teaching and is now Head of Newham Six Form College.  Creating a culture of empowerment and self-belief, striking up relationships with Ivy League universities Mouhssin has seen several of his students reject offers from Oxford and similar UK universities to accept offers from Harvard etc.

 

 

With the debacle of education in the UK currently, why are we not harnessing Mouhssin and his peers  to learn what they do and how they do it to empower education in all areas of the UK to nurture their students to be the absolute best they can be?  Not every student will get nor want offers to Ivy League universities but it seems clear with this level of success Mouhssin is doing something unique and valuable.

 

All students of Newham, London and the UK deserve the opportunity to grow into well rounded, empathetic human beings – how else are we going to grow generations who have the tools to not only look after themselves but those around them and deal with any future catastrophes?

Getting where you want to be – a different path?

We’ve seen the misery inflicted on ‘A’ level students with the release of predicted grades last week and it seems the same is set to follow those receiving their GCSE results this week.

 

Students who worked massively hard and got great grades in their mocks and from their teachers were marked down on the basis of the overall history of their school’s performance.  Does it necessarily follow that a student attending an underperforming school who works hard, studies long and has positive role models in their life cannot soar?  I don’t believe it does.  Many people experience deprivation and barriers in their life but are able to focus on their goal, work hard and get where they want to be.

 

Education is seen by many adults the world over to be a passport out of deprivation for their children.  Unfortunately, not all children see this when they have free education offered to them.  But many do.  Many want to rise-up, work hard and move forward.

 

The one piece of positivity I noted this weekend was the story of strong apprenticeships – see feature photo.  I don’t mean the administration or customer service year long apprenticeships we’ve become used to but quality apprenticeships that lead to great careers and move people to where they want to be without judging them on what circumstances they were born into.

 

The feature picture reminded me of a meeting I had last week with a London Council.  Their apprenticeships are broad and varied including Surveyor, Engineering – two years plus and starting salaries of £21K+.

 

University is a passport to a better life for some.  But so are Apprenticeships.  There is more than one solution.  Look at apprenticeships on offer including at your local council.  The ideal opportunity for you could be nearer than you think.

Graduate Powerhouse!

Approached by JobCentre Plus – South East to write a week long programme aimed at Graduates who were unsure of their next steps, I wrote the workshops to be delivered by Zoom to highlight key thinking not usually discussed in a family, education nor business environments.

 

Through my work on Growing Talent, and before it The Real Apprentice, I’ve long known the fabulous hidden talent amongst us that employers are missing out on because people do not know how to share what’s inside them.  After much preparation, research, scheduling, I finally had an Agenda to deliver 27 – 31July 2020 that I was happy with – but would the participants be?

 

Covering a different, but related theme, each day including employment, empowerment and wellbeing each day using a variety of discussion, whiteboard feedback, powerpoint, films and polls, firm connections were quickly built with a sound commitment to stay in touch.

 

The empathy, encouragement, strength and bravery in each session between all participants for each other was palpable.  This was a joy to witness.  People helping people no matter their background, culture, religion or ethnicity.

 

So what did we cover?

 

Monday – Who are you, elevator pitch – what is it, why is it important, how do you compose one effectively, what do employers look for?

 

Tuesday – Where are you, where do you want to be, what’s in-between?  Your career plan, self-evaluation as a tool for choosing a career.

 

Wednesday – cvs – the good, the bad and the ugly, how to ace a virtual interview, what’s a personal brand?  why are they important?

 

Thursday – Understanding our brain, how it functions and how it can stop us moving forward, fake it until you become it, use the Power Pose, self care, wellbeing toolkits, manage pressure

 

Friday – Perfecting our elevator pitch and personal brand, constructive feedback to partners.

 

So what were some of the thoughts at the end of this great week?

 

“Good afternoon Jane, I would like to just thank you once again. It honestly changed my life and helped so much. I wish you the best and I hope I can stay in contact.”

 

“Just wanted to thank you again. It was an amazing and impactful time.”

 

“I wanted to say thank you for this amazing week. You have helped and encouraged me to look at things in a different light. I think you’re an amazing women and I can’t thank you enough for giving me and the other girls your valuable time. 
Keep doing what you are doing and making other people feel great. Thank you for also introducing me to some new amazing humans! “

 

The power of sharing knowledge – inspirational and can be life changing.

 

 

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