Food, Glorious Food!

Recently I visited Food Matters Live, an exhibition about all things, you’ve guessed it, food.  As I was interested in emerging and maturing trends,  I honed in on a variety of niche products.

What struck me, and I don’t mean to sound critical, is the number of “me-too” products there were. For example gluten-free products and protein bars were everywhere. Hence my concern; is there room for them all in what seems like rapidly maturing markets as these products become more mainstream?

However there were some product highlights for me. And funnily enough all are protein based….

Fori bars – most protein bars tend to be sweet but sometimes after exercise you crave something savoury (bovril & peanut butter on rice cakes is my go-to snack on such occasions).  This is where the Fori bars come in. They are paleo and made from free-range meat, fruit and seeds.  A soft, sort of jerky in a bar if you will.  Fab for when you need re-fuelling on the go. I really hope they succeed as it’s a product unique from the other protein bars currently on the market.

Borough broth – I could have drunk a whole sachet in one go.  The most delicious organic bone broth I have ever tasted and I could feel it doing me good as I drank it.  (Maybe it was a placebo effect of the phrase “bone broth” but I don’t care!). All the bones are sourced from Soil Association Organic farms in the south west of England from grass-fed beef and organic chickens.  What a fantastic way to use what would otherwise be, a waste product.  I’m meeting with the founder, Roz in the New Year as I really want to find out more about the business.

Eat Grub – Don’t be squeamish but this brand is all about using insects and grubs as a protein source.  And I nibbled on some delicious crickets as a snack. More popular perhaps is grinding the insects and using them in products such as pasta and protein bars. I had long chats with the founder Shani Radia who mentioned that the UK was lagging behind other countries at accepting insects as a protein source (The Netherlands is leading the way).  There seems to be is a long way to go in educating the British consumer and our palate. Just think…

  • It takes 22,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef protein vs 1 litre of water for 1kg of cricket protein*
  • 45 square metres of cultivable land is required to produce 1 kg of chicken protein vs 15 square metres for 1 kg of cricket protein*

*Eat Grub stats

I really hope that all 3 brands gain traction. They deserve to.  They are all fantastic products developed and run by passionate people who truely believe in what they are doing.

 

 

 

Do you have the right skills once you’ve been promoted?

I had a bit of a revelation this week…

Much to my dismay I didn’t get a job that I really wanted but in my heart of hearts I knew I wouldn’t get it, even though they said they liked me, for 2 reasons:

  1. They kept me hanging on for over 2 weeks to make their decision
  2. I admitted in the interview that doing a hard sell wasn’t my thing.  I don’t mind approaching individuals if we had something tangible to talk to them about but I don’t feel comfortable walking the corridors drumming up new business and “cold calling”

Bear in mind that this was for a client services role and not a sales/ new business role.  And I’ve done well in my career, developing my teams and increasing revenue through existing projects; hence why I have been promoted.  But the hiccup seems to appear at the Group Account Director level when you are expected to sell your services to new divisions of your client’s business.

So therein lies the rub…you are promoted to a new level because of your historic successes but there is not the support or training in your new role to ensure your future success.  For me personally this would be around sales techniques but for others it could be for e.g. around team management, technology, financial forecasting or business strategy.

Admittedly in my previous role I probably should have asked for training but to be honest it never occurred to me (call me daft).  It was only once I had my most recent interview feedback and also had a coffee with Jo Wright @ Phoenix Training & Coaching who gave me some invaluable insight into approaching businesses, that it dawned on me.

But why do companies fail to give you the support?  Do they presume you will naturally be good or at least learn as you go along or do they simply not recognise that an individual could do with support to succeed whatever their level within a company?  I acknowledge they have finite training resources but from my experience this is usually spent on more junior members of the team and not mid-senior management who are the driving force of the business.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not bitter about losing out on the job but it’s made me realize that I need to:

1) Reframe my thinking from “sales” to “nuturing relationships” and “solving problems”. I’m know I’m good at the last 2 but at the word sales; I freeze

2) Swot up on good new business techniques to futureproof myself

3) Darn well ask if I need additional training and support in a role

I’d love to hear of your experiences and what you think…..

 

My mantra …the 2 Ps

I’ve had an amazing summer with my daughter – the 1st one ever that I haven’t been working.  But now as she settles into her new school and autumn is most definitely upon us I turn my thoughts to work…

It hasn’t exactly been the most productive year for me so over the next few months I’m muttering my daily mantra “PERSEVERANCE & POSITIVITY” as I knuckle down and reconnect with old work colleagues, attend networking events and apply for roles which have my name written all over it – (apparently not judging by the number of rejections I have had this year).  But as the-font-of-all-knowledge (i.e. my hubby) puts it; it’s a numbers game.  When he said this to me the other day it was like a slap round the face as I was licking my wounds about a rejection.  It pulled me up short but he’s true.  There’s work out there just for me but I’ve got to hunt (stalk?!) it down.

However I take heart form the article I read this morning on The Pool about a 48 year old mother being given an internship at The Spectator.  How awesome is that?  What’s even better they did not request a CV, name, age or qualifications but they recruited purely on a set of tasks the applicant had to execute.

So where does that leave me as I turn 48 this week too?  A friend of mine who used to be in recruitment suggested that I should dumb down my CV if I want to go for less senior, more hands-on roles but I’m not sure how I’m meant to pare back over 25 years experience. Or if I really want to…I don’t mind taking a step back but it’s finding the companies who are forward thinking about recruiting the right person with the best cultural fit irrespective of age, sex and background.

It’s going to be a tough gig but I’ll get there by by-passing the traditional recruitment agency route and and approaching growing brands and agencies where I see myself fitting in and who, in return, will hopefully see the benefit of my experience.

Wish me luck!

Perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, perseverance, positivity, mutter, mutter mutter….

P.S If a recruiter thinks they can help me then I’m all ears

 

Owning a puppy and work – who knew they were so similar?!

Our daughter, Juno, had been pestering us for ages about getting a puppy and we thought it would be a great idea, taking the pressure off her as a only child and give her something to look after.  We all agreed that we would start looking once we were back from our Easter hols.  And within a few weeks the gorgeous Rudi landed on our laps and we were all delighted.  But bearing in mind that this was a joint family decision this is what I’ve learnt – and so much of it applies to work too that it’s uncanny!

  1.  Yes it was a joint decision but guess who has had to take ownership of the “project”?  Me!  No matter if a decision is made by committee somebody has to take control
  2. And of course when the proverbial and actual “sh*t hits the fan, I’m the one picking it up. One day I’ll get Juno to do it but it’s going to take a while…
  3. I had hoped that having a puppy would get us all out for lovely family walks – err no. You can take a horse to water but my horses ain’t drinking.  It’s all about finding a way to encourage people to change their habits and adopt new ideas.  However much I want to shout at them “will you bloody well take the dog for a walk” I need to take a more coercive approach – no doubt involving chocolate and a pint and a packet of crisps or perhaps some subliminal messaging might help!
  4. In terms of my daily work output I seem to lose at least an hour a day to dog walking, playing, feeding but it has made me more efficient.  If I wake early I walk Rudi before breakfast, I group similar tasks together to get through them quicker and I plan and ponder as I walk. And I’m sure once he’s older and trained I’ll be able to make a few calls too
  5. A walk, or an excuse to get up from my desk is definitely good for the soul and the body.  It clears my head, allows me to stretch and move and ruminate
  6. You talk to complete strangers but it’s amazing what you learn – never be afraid to start a conversation and find a common link with that person and you never know where it may lead.
  7. Giving Rudi short bursts of attention for puppy training has meant he’s come on leaps and bounds in a very short space of time.  Apply this to your team at any stage of their development and they will know you are there to support them and give them the confidence to take the initiative and be creative
  8. I’m now part of tribe (for the 1st time EVER) and I fit in as us dog walkers come in all shapes and sizes and judging by Rudi, dogs do look like their owners – small, round with curly hair but very loyal! Embrace being different and be proud of who you are.  We can’t all conform to a certain ideal but learn how to play to your strengths to develop yourself and your role
  9. I talk gobbledygook to my pooch and apparently when I worked in at Seven I had my own vernacular so no change there then
  10. Bumbags are cool, bumbags are cool, bumbags are cool. If I say this often enough they will be.  Thank heavens my friend Torri, a stylist, wears one when she’s on a shoot.  Hers is full of pins, safety pins, cotton, needles and scissors.  Mine is full of poo bags, dog treats, some change, tissues, house keys and my phone.  I know, not much similarity but a start!

And after 5 weeks of owning a puppy I now can’t imagine life without him; he’s well and truely part of the family

What do you do when you’re having a “I can’t focus” sort of a day?

We’ve all been there haven’t we?  You go to work one day and the focus isn’t there and no matter what, you can’t seem to get it back again.  And we shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it…surely we can’t work at 100% capacity the whole time? For me it’s usually for the same old reasons:

  • Too much whizzing round my head
  • I have too much to do and I don’t know where to start
  • Not enough time pressure to get a job done
  • I’ve had a really busy few days, riding on adrenaline and afterwards I hit a downer
  • Hungover
  • Tired
  • Or to be honest…I just can’t be bummed

However, even on a good day our attention span is pretty poor.  A 2015 study by Microsoft Canada found that our average attention span – “the amount of concentrated time on a task without becoming distracted” ­– was 12 seconds in 2008. Five years later it was only eight seconds – one second less than a goldfish’s and according to Caroline Beaton’s article in Forbes as we have evolved as humans it has been instinctively hard to recognize and prioritize. Our attention problem is due to both lack of focus and focus on the wrong things.

I am fortunate as I work from home but I find it even more distracting at times than working in an office environment. However I have mastered some techniques to help me tune in. These are my tips and I do hope some of them work for you.

  1. Exercise is always key for me – whether a good workout at the gym, a walk with the dog or even pavement pounding the streets of London. It gives me some headspace and allows me to ruminate and help rationalise thoughts. Interestingly some research by the University of Michigan showed that walking in “nature” helped refocus and for me they have a point.
  2. I put the big stuff to one side and work through a list of quick wins which don’t necessarily need the brain power but at least I’m achieving something e.g. filing, invoicing, expenses etc.  This then often leads me on to the bigger stuff.
  3. Eat healthily and drink plenty of water – if I do this I feel so much more alert and my concentration increases.  Eating sugary or carb-laden food makes me sluggish and I lose the will to do anything.
  4. I listen to a focus playlist on Spotify.  This really works for me and resets my mind and concentration.  I don’t have to listen to it for that long but gets me into the right frame of mind. Apparently ambient noise is the creative sweetspot according to Helpscout.net. Although weirdly I can’t bear having music on in the background when I’m trying to read a book.
  5. And as per Life Hacks tips I try and avoid looking at my emails the whole time and the same goes for social media too.  This is sooo difficult as they both have become entrenched into our very being.  I now limit myself to Facebook to once a day and save browsing through LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram for 1st thing in the morning and in the evening.  (I could be telling myself a little white lie here…but honestly I’m trying!).
  6. Do something I love e.g. researching for my next blog posts for relevant articles and photography, think about new business opportunities.
  7. Work in a different area rather than my desk or even work remotely

So what do you do?