So the madness begins…..

Why is it every year people spend money on things they can’t afford for people they don’t always like, let alone love in the name of Christmas – a great marketing ploy……

Now the awful news for CityLink’s workforce of losing their jobs – what new year beckons for them? – especially if, like many people, they spent overdrafts/loans etc getting presents, food, booze and so on?  The news this morning of queues 500 deep for the Boxing Day sales!  Where does this total consumption end? Half the time we buy stuff in sales which we regret later.

Life can be very cruel and we never know what is round the corner.

Watching the baby in our family show huge excitement at the balloons, tinsel, wrapping paper struck me on how much I’d become wrapped up in the consumerisation of Christmas.  Buying too much of stuff that will be thrown away.  The baby of the family showed me all that is needed is time, attention and love – none of which we can buy.

As the New Year beckons, let’s love ourselves and our families that bit more by giving our time, energy and focus to what they are doing rather than line the pockets of retailers.

I’m very lucky in having a job I love and family and friends I care about and who care about me.  I wish you all the same.  May 2015 be filled with opportunities for you.  My New Year’s resolution is to not fall into the marketing/sales traps anymore.  To enjoy the holidays for their true meaning – not religious dictates – but to be with those we love and show them we love them – not with goods but with us physically being there – all of the time, not just at the holidays.

Instead of being rich, losing weight, never drinking again, why don’t you pick a New Year’s resolution which is achievable, sustainable and will bring you so much more joy.

Happy New Year!

Across the pond…………….

Looking forward to a transatlantic Skype in January with Mental Health professionals in Washington looking to enhance their offering to the corporate market.

It’s so important to remember in mental health and well being training that ‘one size does not fit all’.  Each organisation will have different needs to ensure their workforce are happy, healthy and able to support each other.

What fits the public sector won’t fit the private sector.  Then of course there are all the SMEs, charities, non-profit etc.

As we see people as individuals and respect their individual resilience in coping with life/work events, we should see businesses the same way.  Their cultures and resources will all be different as well.

A great instructor will always listen to the core needs of the organisation and deliver a course to meet these areas, An essential consideration is to remove the stigma/embarrassment by making each element of the course interactive with case studies, quizs, discussions and a little bit of artwork!

Breaking perceptions.  Getting Managers to be people first.  Discussing and agreeing potential easy changes the workplace can introduce such as making mental health the subject of team talks, ensuring staff understand confidentiality will be observed in those initial conversations rather than escalation to a full blown HR investigation is key to making the workplace healthier and happier for all at all levels.

For business minds out there – a healthy workplace is a productive one.  Remember there is no health without positive mental health.

Getting Growing Talent out there…………………..

Shamefully, I’d always thought people working in media, advertising agencies etc were ‘lovvies’ who didn’t really work that hard.  How wrong was I!

I learnt so much in the second meeting with the media agency yesterday.  Publicizing something is a science!  The cost for paper adverts is astronomical.  Where do you start with social media – it’s like a black hole!

Thankfully Initiative know what they are doing.  Lots of ideas and options were buzzing around the room.  It’s so difficult to put Growing Talent into a box.  It needs to be highlighted to both employers and the unemployed.  Unfortunately, they rarely look in the same medium.  This is quite a task we’ve set Initiative.

The Christmas break will give time to think about different options.  Looking forward to the next meeting in January to see the three ideas – Bronze, Silver and Gold versions – from Initiative – what a great name for a media agency!

Prince Ea – sums it up beautifully……..

I’ve always been amazed at how dependent we are on social media.  We have generations who can’t live without their mobiles to access social media.  Surprisingly, it isn’t just the young either.  I often see middle aged men and women just missing lamp posts and other obstacles because they are texting!

The scariest times are when people are texting very close to the platform edge having just got of the train.  No sense of danger.  no ability to wait five minutes.  Are the messages we get really that urgent that we have to put ourselves in harms way?

In Dubai last year, a whole family were walking around Dubai flicking through their mobiles!  Not talking to each other.  Not taking in their surroundings.  What a crazy world.  Does anyone talk to each other anymore?

One of the Growing Talent Associates found this film link.  Brilliant lyrics.  Thought provoking on our behaviours.  What do you think of it?

Growing Talent Interest …….Grows!

Funny how things can change so quickly.  After months of trying to get interest for Growing Talent out into the ‘wider’ world I almost thought it wouldn’t happen.

However, yesterday I had a quick meeting with the global Firm’s media team – who totally love the whole aspect of business supporting people into work giving them skills to enhance their long-term careers not just the employment skills of turning up on time etc along with all the mentoring etc that Growing Talent delivers.

Ideas were buzzing on how to get the website known to both businesses looking to recruit and the unemployed looking for a job.  The energy round the table was almost touchable!  We have a plan in place now to put on social media as soon as it’s live.  This should be Christmas week just in time for those post celebrations when we all start thinking of new opportunities, changing our lives and making plans.

Hopefully I will have lots of stories to share on this blog going forward of the wonderful achievements of those involved and some stories on what happens to those who don’t make it.

One of these is Ariane who didn’t enjoy her placement nor want the job on offer at the end.  She left and secured an internship with Milestone Group in Royal Exchange.  This organisation does many things around marketing, design etc. They also run a programme for young people disillusioned with life and try to give them a different view.  Ariane has linked us up and we’re having a chat this morning to see if we can work jointly.  Although it didn’t work out for her, Ariane is clear on the value of the programme – great for me to hear!

I already have 10 jobs pledged for the next Growing Talent programme.  With the social media exposure over the coming weeks, by the time we kick off we will have many more!

Growing Talent – Mark 4!

Dates are now confirmed for the next Growing Talent programme which sees 100% of completers go into permanent jobs!

We have secured jobs in London in hospitality, catering, office services, administration and operations/drivers – more are still coming in which is great news!

Working with agencies who support the unemployed we have the following dates confirmed:

23 January 2015 – Information Session & Compatibility Assessment for interested applicants

26 January 2015 – Employer Assessment & Selection – employers with jobs select those to take part

28 January 2015 – online police vetting

2 February – Orientation Week – workshops, team/individual challenges, seminars on body language, assertiveness, support analysis and devisement of a business idea all add to bond the guys and build their self-belief.

9 February – 24 April – 11 week, full time operational placement learning the job which will be theirs if they complete.  During this period a holistic stay in the country where personal finances, nutrition, fitness ad wellbeing is delivered.

A Certificate of Completion is awarded to all those who complete and an annual graduation ceremony sees the presentation of a bespoke trophy.

If you want to know more about the programme – check out the film links on the earlier post.

If you are interested in applying or know someone who is then drop an e-mail to

Raising Awareness of Mental Health in the Workplace – a 3 hour snapshot!

Back in October I was asked to design a three hour workshop for senior managers based at Canary Wharf.  The idea was to give a greater understanding of the issue along with some ideas, tools to use and signposting.  The workshop finally took place on 4 December on a grey rainy day in London.

It’s easy to turn these things into ‘lectures’ making the subject matter boring and the absorption of information practically nil!  I focused on three core areas:

First:  What actually does the term mental health stand for? is it positive/negative? can we see it/feel it? how does it manifest itself and is this different if we are working with people we manage, our peers of our senior managers?  This section involved drawing a manager and an employee – the artwork was very good!! – some case studies and open discussion around the flow of mental health stages.

Second:  In this section we looked at what we could do in situations where we noticed there was an issue, how to start those conversations and how to handle the situation is we didn’t have time to have that conversation immediately.  We looked at a film of what employers have implemented for the staff – taking away the mystic of ‘adjustments’  We tackled the language we use.  Remember back when you was at school and the awful names children called each other.  If you compiled two lists one with ‘neutral’ terms to describe poor mental health and one to describe ‘offensive’ terms – you’d have a full page for the second and only a few for the first – we have a lot to learn.  We thought about the reasons we don’t intervene as managers and why we don’t declare as employees.

Third:  Before re-capping we looked at how we sometimes put ourselves and those we manage at work under pressure.  Asking for a quick decision can often be the wrong thing to do.  We will answer using our primal brain which is only good for yes/no thoughts.  Giving ourselves and others time to think through things, weight up potential consequences will often give the right answer and take the stress away from people.  We considered the need to not worry about diagnosis or symptoms but to be aware of a change in someone and start a conversation.  We ended with an exercise in really listening to  Matchbox Twenty’s song ‘Unwell’ which sums up the facts of mental health – it’s a very small part of someone.

Lots of signposting, handouts and questions following.  The three hours was interactive, enjoyable and flew past!