Stay calm this Christmas – just breathe!

Isn’t it strange, the most effective tools in our life are the simplest and free.


Most of us get caught up in the commercialisation of Christmas.  We forget it’s about spending time with those we love and/or just noticing our surrounds –  being thankful for just being.


Unintentionally, we let the bombardment of commercials and subtle marketing infiltrate us without realising it’s happening.  Gradually, in the run-up to the ‘big day’, we start to let the pressure in.


Some of us set unrealistic goals of getting ‘over the top’ presents for our loved ones instead of just telling them we love them.  We hunt down items that are often disregarded quickly afterwards.  For some of us, the price paid for this goods will be high – usually assigned to a credit card taking months to pay off.


So, let’s just breathe.  Be mindful of ourselves and take back control.  My personal survival steps are:

1.    Ask myself would the person really love and appreciate the gift or discard it quickly?

2.     Honestly, can I afford it? Would I be willing to draw the cash out rather than use a debit/credit card – cards make us forget we’re spending our cash so be careful!

3.    Having armed myself with the answers to the above, I draw up a list of the gifts I need to buy with shops, locations and price.

4.    Before going out, I take 10 minutes to breathe consciously:

Breathe in slowly for the count of 3

Hold the breathe for the count of 3

Slowly release for the count of 3


Repeat these three breathing steps several times until I’m engulfed in a feeling of calmness.


With each breath, I concentrate on how my body is feeling.  Over time my mind wonders – which, with a day’s shopping ahead it invariably does wonder! – I re-focus bringing my mind back to how my body is feeling.


I am so relaxed and peaceful by the time I reach the shops, Christmas shopping becomes enjoyable – not a chore.


Why not try this?  Let me know how you feel.  Remember – no one can see what you are doing or hear you focussing on your body as you breathe.


A very happy Christmas and peaceful New Year.


Information Session – GT8

This morning saw the information session for Growing Talent 8 presenting to senior managers from all districts of Job Centre Plus – London and the Home Counties.

Some had travelled for over two hours to attend!

The venue was right on top of Embankment in prestigious offices.  For the first time I travelled by boat – amazing!  Just spending a few minutes taking in the scenery really put me ‘in the moment’.   Everything I had on my mind just melted away.

Camilla, William and Mehmet, seen in the feature photo above, agreed to share their journey on Growing Talent.  Camilla is now working for Portico, William for Harrow Green and Mehmet for MiteTDM.

Jordan from Growing Talent 2 was part of the Welcome team today!


After setting the scene, criteria to take part and showing a presentation, Camilla, Mehmet and William took the floor…………. and stole the show!

Mehmet William Camilla

The managers were inspired as was a new employer sitting in the audience who already has ideas on spreading the word within his business networks.


Finally,  Anna from the London district team of JobCentre Plus took the floor to explain the process, troubleshooting tips etc

Anna 2

The two hours flew past.  The audience was buzzing and we left in the firm belief Growing Talent would be the best programme yet.  Watch this space…….







A word from those that know………………

This short film was made by Anita Montaldo part of Portico’s Welcome Team who has mentored many of the Growing Talent Associates.  She has a personal love of film and offered to make this for the recent graduation ceremony.  This was held 26 November and celebrated all Growing Talent Associates who graduates the scheme from programmes 3-7 inclusive.


Anita lining up


See the finished product here      Growing Talent Graduates


Rehana, Jane, Jacq, Mehmet, Kieran, Michael & Alechenu are great ambassadors for the programme and Julie Reed of Portico explains the process from the employer’s side brillitantly.


To date 60 people – all ages and backgrounds have secured permanent roles on Growing Talent.


Let me know your thoughts on this…………………………


Growing Talent 8 – Open for Employer Jobs

Anyone who is unemployed will easily tell you how difficult it is to secure a job.  Trying to ‘sell’ themselves at an interview with little experience or a large gap on their employment record is really difficult.


What doesn’t always spring to mind is how difficult it is for employers to select the right fit for their team/business from a characterless cv or ‘pressurised’ interview.  Recruiting in the traditional route is costly – not just in terms of money.


Growing Talent takes away the ‘fear of the unknown’ for both sides.


A supportive, medium for both parties over 12 weeks resulting in cost-effective, sustainable recruitment.


No cost to either side.


The only programme out there to focus on the holistic side of life/recruitment.


If you are recruiting, why not send your jobs to Growing Talent ?  Nothing to lose and everything to gain including savings on recruitment fees.

Flowers say it all……..

Following the Graduation ceremony last week, I was surprised to receive a call from James who asked for a meeting.  He was in the London Bridge area and, if I wasn’t busy, he’d like to pop in.


I jumped to the conclusion that things were not going so well for him after all and he wanted to chat through options.


How wrong was I? – very!


Following the completion of Growing Talent 6, James started employment with Wilson James as a multi-site Security Guard.  Working 12 hour shifts at multiple sites including a  leading search engine organisation, gives him great experience.


Things are going very well for him!  He’s now enjoying a few days off and wanted to pop in during his Christmas shopping trip to say thank you for the support of Growing Talent!


Apart from the beautiful flowers, James also brought a box of chocs which the office will enjoy!


It’s great to be appreciated.  Finding out how people we’ve helped are doing is a fantastic boost to our egos.  Let’s remember to let people know how much their support has helped us – easy to forget yet simple to do.

@ptawards – 30.11.15

So the date finally arrived to find out who the ‘winners’ were of Personnel Today’s awards.


Typically, it was raining! not great for those who had clearly preened for hours with hair dryers, curling tongs, non-waterproof make-up finishing the look with totally inappropriate skyscraper shoes!


As a venue, The Great Room at the Grosvenor House Hotel is so luxurious.  Just look at the tables:



the ice breaker of the evening was the announcement of – ‘burst the balloons – ones with confetti in are winners!’ – we all duly burst said balloons – no confetti in any!  The evening commenced with drinks in the bar before going down to dinner……..


Charlie Peter and Simon

Charlie, Peter & Simon from Wilson James and Portico getting in the mood for celebrating whatever the outcome.


Nigel and Sharon

Nigel & Sharon of Harrow Green – who have recruited 13 Growing Talent Associates!  Sharon as always looked amazing complete with her heals despite the pain of sciatica.


After a fantastic dinner, Claudia Winkleman arrived on stay after several selfies to be compare for the night………




Unfortunately neither award we were shortlisted to win were won!  So much great work going on in business.


We relocated to the bar for nightcaps before travel home.


Comparing our entries to those that won in the hard light of day, showed what an achievement all finalists had reached.  It’s a moment to be proud of – and I am…………………