The value of networking

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I’ve had lots going on recently; holiday, a new puppy, some consultancy work and I ran my second networking event. So unfortunately my blog has taken rather a back seat of late. On the plus side it means I’m busy and stimulated which make me happy.

So back to my topic this week networking.  Firstly, not just the formal activity of networking but those general inroductions you make through everyday life and through work.  For example, over the past 6 weeks I have been immersed into the world of DHL and last week I had the opportunity to help run a workshop for the Life Sciences & Healthcare sector.  Working with the global head of this sector and key members of the marketing team was inspiring.  Their passion and knowledge couldn’t help but rub off on the rest of us who were there from Blackdog and I am sure the work we will do for them will reflect that.  But it’s also those casual conversations and off-the-cuff remarks which really help the partnerships too.  Our conversations spanned from work to football to sneaking extra children and dogs into hotel rooms, custard, living abroad, taking home comforts back to the US i.e. Cadbury’s chocolate and even Little Britain! Finding those common links which helps you understand that individual on a more personal level will also strengthen the business relationship.

Back to the “physical” networking events. There are so many out there; those that are for women only such as Athena, referral events; BNI to name a couple but I wanted to start one which is more about supporting individuals and local businesses. “Networking @ No. 18”.  Two in and I’ve found it fascinating. Listening to other people’s ideas and realising that your experience and skill set doesn’t always have to be the right answer or the way forward. People’s minds work in different ways and it’s that different perspective that I am relishing.  I hope that it will make me think broader and deeper when I do my work and take the time to look at it from all different angles – not with a straight communications head on. At the end of the day, for me, it’s not just about trying to win new business but supporting individuals and other businesses to grow and flourish.




Body shapes and working out

Even young superheroes need to train to be stronger.

A very personal blog today….yet again about exercise.

I went to my 1st suspension circuit training class the other day which was a mixture of using the TRX, aerobics and core strength exercises.  I really enjoyed it and felt I’d used every muscle in my body afterwards. Actually I was pooped particularly as I was daft enough to do a fitness pilates class straight after. Will I ever learn?

The funny thing was when I looked around the room I was the only person with my body type i.e what I would describe as somewhat chunky with an ample bosom.  Everybody else was lithe and lean.

It got me thinking… if I continue to do this form of exercise will I become lithe and lean (I somehow doubt it), does the lean body shape respond best to this type of exercise or are the chunky types put off when they see the athletic bods strutting their stuff and think “I can’t do that”? I don’t think there is a right answer but I believe people lean towards exercise that their body responds best to.  For me it’s most definitely heavy weights and endurance which doesn’t lend itself to the long-limbed, bouncy pony tail look (can’t even do the shiny ponytail!) but at least I know I’ll be fit and strong well into old age.

With this is mind I have decided to undergo an experiment after the Easter hols – anything to keep me entertained! Over a 4 week period, with the help of my personal trainer, James, I’m going to see if I can change my body shape by primarily changing my exercise routine but also being slightly more vigilant with my diet. This article from The Conversation outlines what can and can’t be done.  My regime will no doubt include more HIT training, pilates and doing lighter weights but with more repetition.  I obviously can’t change my genes and my physiology but I might be able to give the impression that I look leaner. I might even take a before and after photo if I can face it.

So watch this space and I’ll report back…

Why do we expect something for nothing?

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As I was heading down the stairs at Oxford Street tube last Thursday night I was bombarded with magazines which were being given out for free; ES Magazine, NME and even Grazia to name but a few. But why?  Good journalism comes at a price.  I know it increases circulation and makes it a more appealing to the advertisers but, because it’s free, in people’s mind it becomes instantly disposable.  A quick flick through and it’s either thrown into the bin or left on the tube for somebody else to pick up.  And I know I’m guilty of it…I expect the newspapers to be available online without paying and then get v cheesed off when the article I want is behind a paywall. But if I’m honest I do feel some newspapers are dumbing down their content.  Where’s that great journalism that British papers are world renowned for? I so wish the editors and readers would value great content rather than it being watered down to appeal to the masses.  So instead I am brand disloyal (apart from Private Eye), and read across all publishers to get a true view of a story. Even then I doubt if I get the true story.

However, I digress….these free publications did make me wonder why we have come to expect something for nothing, or at the very least at a knock-down price and for business is it a false economy? We buy food and clothes at rock bottom prices unaware of the impact this has on the environment or that in so doing we are encouraging child labour. Fab advert by the Fairtrade Foundation BTW.  The work we do, whatever it may be, has a value to it and we should value it accordingly.  Of course there are times that we will do the odd favour for friends and family and I’m always up for some bartering or pro bono work for charities. But from (bitter) experience I have learnt that those who try to hammer you down on price are those who don’t really appreciate or truely understand what you can do for them.  And the time you spend trying to justify your work and explain your worth you could be working for somebody else who really does value your knowledge.

So my tips for the day is appreciate other people’s skills and products and pay for them accordingly. If you have a new business win make sure that business understands what you’re offering and its worth. If you’re buying a product think about its provenance. And finally value who you are and what you do and others will value you too.

I’m switching my focus….

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I’m having a week off job-hunting this week.  I need to draw breath and focus on other stuff. It can be soul destroying as you send off your application full of hope and then it seems to get lost in the ether never to be found again. I wish that companies would send out a standard response saying if you don’t here back from them in a certain period of time then it’s a thanks but no thanks. Just to manage my expectations; that’s all.

In an ideal world l’m trying to find a part-time or flexible role so I can focus on other parts of my life but again these seem so few and far between, especially at my level. There seems to be plenty in the press about the rise of flexible working and job sharing but I ain’t seeing much in my sector even though I’ve signed up to Capability Jane, Timewise and Ten2Two! You never know, something might be around just around the corner. However on a positive note this leads me on to this week’s topic of volunteering…

I’ve started volunteering for a local charity for the elderly, CHEER and have the greatest pleasure in visiting Valerie once a week.  A very bright, articulate lady who lives in Claygate.  I so enjoy my visits as she tells me about the history of the area –  I had no idea that the America Air Force was stationed in Bushey Park during the war – and we seem to cover every topic under the sun so there’s always a good debate to be had.  Valerie has also had an idea on my social enterprise project which I’m developing (more about that when it’s further down the line) and I’m sure I will be picking her brains further! We chat alot about how she is getting old and the fear and anxiety which sits alongside ageing.  As Valerie so succinctly puts it you spend your whole life working towards something; university, work, marriage, children, retirement and then what…death?  It must be the strangest feeling not having a focus in life and the loneliness that comes with it too.

From the elderly to the young; I’m also hoping to do a few hours a week of PR & marketing for The Flying Seagull Project which I mentioned in a previous post. They are a troupe of clowns, magicians, circus performers and musicians taking smiles to those in need giving children some precious time to be children. They’ve got some great fundraising events lined up and no doubt I will be thrown into the deep end but it’s for a great cause. BTW they also organise the most amazing kids parties so if you are thinking of entertainment, do get in touch as all the profit goes straight to the charity.

So you see where’s the time for work?  I’m sure I’ll be able to fit it in somehow although I am relishing the shift of focus in my life!


My top ten books

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I had bookclub last week and was dismayed when some of the group didn’t enjoy my nominated book as much as I did.  It was A Year Of Marvellous Ways by Sue Winman which I inhaled as the beautiful prose sucked me in. But each to their own! So for a change this week I thought I would share with you my top 15 books (I couldn’t bear to cut it down to 10); in no particular order.  See what you think and feel free to comment:

  1. Weaveworld – Clive Barker: I do love a good fantasy novel
  2. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulkes: No doubt on most people’s lists
  3. The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak: I cried
  4. Middlesex – Jeffrey Eugenides: Awe inspiring book about an hermaphrodite
  5. Haroun & the Sea of Stories – Salman Rushdie: Children’s book and I think one of his best
  6. The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffinegger: The film didn’t do it justice
  7. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle – Haruki Murakami: Mystical story and the book my husband wooed me with
  8. Cutting for Stone – Adam Verghese: Moving insight into twins and life in India
  9. Skallagrigg – William Horword: Author best known for his Duncton Wood series but this trumps them every time
  10. Creative Mischief – Dave Trott: Non-fiction insight into the world of advertising
  11. A Man Called Ove – Frederik Bachman:  Who knew a book could make you laugh and cry at the same time
  12. The Goldfinch – Donna Tartt:  This seemed to be a love it or hate it book but I loved it. You just have to get through the 1st few chapters…
  13. The Mitford Girls – Mary S Lovell: Biography of an extraordinary family during an extraordinary time.  The Kardashians aint got nothing on these girls!
  14. A Year of Marvellous Ways – Sue Winman: Just read it for the prose if nothing else
  15. The Essential Calvin & Hobbes – Bill Watterson:  Can’t help but love these cartoon characters.  How I wish I could be transmogrified

But of course the list goes on as there are authors who I love and treasure; the older novels of John Iriving, Louis de Berneries’ trilogy set in a fictional Latin America and anything by Maggie O’ Farrell, JoJo Moyes and Tracy Chevalier who have to get a mention too.

Thank goodness I have a place where I can centrally log the books I’ve read rather than in old notebooks scattered around the house. Over the past few years I have been using  but there’s a new app on the block Litsy which I’m going to try out based on a great review EConsultancy.  I’ll let you know how I get on…