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Hope is not a strategy – part 2

To do hand written checklist
The world of work is changing fast. Are you ready for it?

Here are 6 trends from a digest of a MPF trends seminar I attended recently by Rohit Talwar of Fast Future. @fastfuture

This blog is the second in a series about world trends and how they will affect the world of work and business.

Change the Board agenda: Most businesses focus on 1 year, so changing the order of items covered on a Board meeting’s agenda is a simple way to get management thinking, planning and having conversations for the longer term

Up technology spend to compete: Businesses need to up their spend on technology e.g. typically companies spend about 1-3% of budgets on technology whereas disruptive small businesses are spending about 30%

Build employer brand: Businesses need to be created so that they attract talent to choose to work there

Reinvent business DNA: Businesses need to create a new game and think about how they can recreate their ‘DNA’

The new business way: New style firms have a clear ‘spine’; a) technology will become the core of the firm, b) project and business management will be separated, c) expertise will be used to serve clients and also other firms

SMEs and technology create disruption: Technology and hungry, nimble entrepreneurial market entrants are eating away at the heartland of traditional slow moving business and firms

How will these trends affect you?

What’s your first step to reflect on this?

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PS We do gift vouchers – they make an ideal present to reflect, take stock, plan and make your career future-proof. Get in touch. #savesshoeleather

Hope is not a strategy

Globe of world in Oyster shell

The world of work is changing fast. Are you ready for it?

Here are 6 trends from a digest of a MPF trends seminar I attended recently by Rohit Talwar of Fast Future. @fastfuture

Old style businesses could become extinct: There is a big ‘clash’ between the old and new worlds. This is magnified for traditional businesses and where technology is changing fast/creating disruption

Change and uncertainty is certain: Accelerated speed of change with uncertainty the new ‘normal’

Quality thinking a must: To succeed, firms and businesses need to create time and a structure for thinking

Danger of stress inhibiting clarity of thought: Stress of downturn pressures has created fatigue – can affect clarity of thought/decision making when quality thinking is becoming more vital

Plans with 3 timeframes: Three different timeframes need to be considered for businesses to stay ahead; longer term ‘radar’ (4-10 years), medium term vision (3 years), short term – clear goals for 12 months

Diverse minds needed in tandem: Different individuals and mind/skill sets are needed to be responsible for these 3 different timeframes and issues

How will these trends affect you?

What’s your first step to reflect on this?

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For more insights and tips to help you liberate ALL of your talent, follow us on Twitter:

Are you singular or plural?

a life (2)
Portfolio careers are growing fast – because of need and want. More information below if this is a new concept for you.

A career portfolio or portfolio career has many pros. I have thought of over 70. Here are 10 of mine for now:

1. Doing what I want
2. No week ever the same
3. Always learning
4. Planning my own tasks around the sunny weather
5. The ability to be spontaneous
6. Taking a day off if I feel like it
7. Avoiding rush hour
8. Avoiding queues and busy times in shops
9. The variety and stimulation of varied work
10. Getting better value train fares from travelling off peak

What would be your biggest pro?

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Below are two analogies for managing your career portfolio:

Comparing a portfolio career to Doctor Who:

Managing a portfolio career like investments

Are you plural or singular?

Who’s marketing you?

Brand you
Do you hate marketing yourself? Many people do especially women; it makes them feel very uncomfortable. With more competition for jobs and the trend to freelance and portfolio working growing apace, marketing yourself is something that cannot be ignored.

Rather than write lots of words, I thought you would appreciate some questions to ponder.

Here they are:

My desired outcome from marketing myself is …………..

I dislike/resist marketing myself because……………….

Ways I currently/historically have avoided marketing myself are ……………..

Ideas to market myself that feel more comfortable to me are ………..

The top 3 key stakeholders to my career success are ………………


Three S.M.A.R.T. actions I will take to market myself are ……………


If you found these questions, just imagine how useful coaching would be to help you market yourself.

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Women in advertising – liberating their talent

Hands releasing butterflies (Individuals site Energise image)
Globally women make more than 80% of purchasing decisions, choosing everything from the family’s food and clothing to holidays and cars. So it seems only logical that their professional contributions would be essential within the advertising industry – an industry estimated by The Work Foundation to have added more than £15.6 billion pounds to the UK economy in 2008 with those figures only increasing year on year.

Advertising as a profession is primarily about calling attention to a brand’s products or beliefs to help shape consumer’s perceptions and encourage sales. But it has the power to go much further, to tackle difficult issues in society. Advertising can be a powerful force for social good encouraging changes in behaviour such as smoking cessation and avoiding drink driving or by holding a mirror up to unhelpful or out-dated societal norms, as with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty.

For all these reasons, advertising is a lucrative and fascinating industry that attracts talented women at all levels. However, it is facing a serious challenge. In the UK women represent 55% of staff at junior levels but this figure drops drastically to approximately just 15% at senior levels. If advertising is directed primarily at those women making 80% of the purchasing decisions, it’s ridiculous not to have women involved in the creation of that advertising.

This career guide considers how women’s networks inside advertising agencies are stepping forward to try and tackle this ‘brain drain’ – the loss of senior women within the industry – and to encourage the career success of women working in this creative and fast-paced industry.

Publicis Groupe, founded in Paris in 1926 is now is one of the four largest holding companies in the world, owner of 1,306 creative agencies globally. The company saw that, as with other holding companies, throughout their agencies senior women were leaving or not advancing to board level and determined to look into why.

A taskforce was established to try and address this loss of talent. After much research and consideration it was decided that quotas or targets were not the solution. Women wanted to be promoted on merit alone. But they needed support and for the management to develop a greater awareness of the issues they faced in the workplace.

So in 2011 a women’s network – named ‘VivaWomen!’ in honour of the holding group’s French heritage – was publically launched at an event at Google’s offices in central London. More than 150 women and men from multiple Publicis Groupe agencies attended. Since then VivaWomen! has been rolled out globally and now reaches more than 2,000 women.

Before the launch of VivaWomen! many companies had small women’s initiatives or mentoring schemes, but the creation of a global network, personally encouraged by the group’s chairman, Maurice Levy, added both gravitas and a more centrally organised way to offer networking, learning opportunities and cross-referrals. To date more than 500 women from different agencies have actively participated in VivaWomen! initiatives.

Interestingly, as VivaWomen! operates across many corporate cultures, and indeed, countries, many different approaches have been observed. Some say that in the US women are focussed on getting through the glass ceiling and achieving board room status whilst in Asia, a key concern seems to be achieving work-life balance and promoting a more healthy approach to the number of hours worked. And in the UK some say women may be most concerned with issues of promotion and long-term success. Across all cultures women are concerned with equal pay, flexible-working conditions for parents of both genders and by the so-called ‘unconscious bias’ whereby men hire and promote in their own image.

The integrated network VivaWomen! attempts to help address all these issues, even if only by creating awareness at first. Organisers set up mentoring schemes, invite in inspirational speakers, organise group coaching or training sessions and generally share information, encouragement and resources.

But it was at digital agency Razorfish that the idea for a network like VivaWomen! first took root more than three-and-a-half years ago. Insights Director Nancy Rowe recognised that the company was losing key female talent – both in terms of women moving to other companies in order to advance their careers and in those who did not return after having children. What began as an informal discussion amongst female colleagues about the challenges facing women in a largely male organisation solidified into a small task force. With the support of Razorfish CEO Chris Mellish, Nancy began researching the issue. What she presented back to the UK board was crystal clear: businesses with gender-balanced boards perform significantly better financially and demonstrate much higher levels of staff satisfaction. Chris and the rest of the management team asked Nancy to suggest what could be done, and thus the precursor to VivaWomen! was born.

“Employer organisations, including advertising agencies, without 50% representation of women at senior levels and without a women’s initiative in place should be asking themselves why.” Nancy Rowe, Insights Director, Razorfish.

When Publicis Groupe too became concerned, they looked to Nancy to help guide their efforts. Indeed, she still takes an active role in VivaWomen! both at Razorfish in London and globally, sharing the responsibility for managing the larger group with colleagues from across the network including founding member Sarah Baumann, Managing Director of Atelier, part of the Leo Burnett Group and Mallika Basu, Director of Corporate at MSLGROUP.

The benefits of VivaWomen! events are clear. Attendees have reported a greater sense of being valued by their employer, a strengthened loyalty to their employer, and an increase in the confidence necessary to seek promotion and to actively discuss their career needs and ambitions with their managers. Human resource managers have reported enhanced employee retention and goodwill for the employer brand. It is funded by voluntary contributions from the individual agencies within Publicis Groupe.

The VivaWomen committee plans to build on the success to date by the creation of a bespoke on-line hub to centralise research, articles and other helpful materials; by curating events featuring more senior creative role models (creative departments employ the least number of women per capita) and by inviting additional volunteers to join in and share their own ideas for other projects and initiatives.

Networks like VivaWomen! ‘light fires’ that ignite potential and make a big difference over time. It’s inspiring to see that even a single person, spotting an area ripe for improvement can, in just a few years, make a tangible different to so many.

In 2014, I (Rachel Brushfield) was invited to do 3 events to support VivaWomen! on: ‘Career strategy and planning’, ‘Personal Branding’ and ‘Blowing your own trumpet’. Like Nancy Rowe, I was originally an account planner/strategist working in advertising. It is vital for women to identify insights and take responsibility for their own careers, with the help of initiatives like VivaWomen! so that they can liberate their talent and realise their full potential. VivaWomen!

This article is one of a series about women in advertising as part of a ‘Women at work’ feature by The Telegraph Media Group out 26 August 2014.

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Indirectisms of the Brits ………..

English is known to be a confusing language to Foreigners because English people do not always say what they mean – they wear a ‘mask’. I am the only very direct member in a family who are very indirect/covert! This can be challenging & frustrating in the ‘communication department’!

The other day I caught up with a contact on the phone. When I asked them how their job was going, they replied: “It has its challenges.” Translation – “It’s a b******* nightmare!”

This got me thinking about verbal padding and how the British rarely say what they really mean and feel and what phrases they say.

This blog, Part 1, is a light-hearted look at the phrases that are used at work. What are your favourites?

“Your dedication has not gone unnoticed.” (but won’t be rewarded)

“I don’t know where we would be without you.” (in a better position, I’d imagine)

“It’s been really helpful you challenging our thinking.” (now get back in your box where you belong, you minion)

“You are a very valuable member of the team.” (but you’re on the redundancy list as your brilliance makes the management feel threatened)

“Would you excuse me?” (I have far too many important matters to attend to, to grace you with my presence)

“I understand what you are saying.” (I really don’t know what you are banging on about)

“You have my backing.” (you’re on your own mate!)

“I hear what you say.”
(and will ignore it and do what I planned in the first place)

“The decision had nothing to do with me.” (I chose the knife, stabbed it in your back and twisted it)

“You can be completely frank with me.” (but only if I like what you say)

“Just between you and me.” (and the rest of the office)

“Do you have a moment?” (you’re sacked)

“This won’t take long.” (just longer than it needs to because I haven’t prepared)

“Is it a convenient time to call?” (I want to speak now whether it suits you or not)

“It’s been a pleasure.” (not)

“We have a no-blame culture here.” (your card is marked)

“I love the new look.” (you look like a dog’s dinner)

Create your own sunshine in August

Growing sunflowers (Better Business)

August is a great time to catch up with yourself!

Stephen Covey who wrote the classic book ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’ talks about the importance of blocking out time in your diary for ‘important not urgent’ tasks.

He defines important not urgent tasks as:

• Preparation
• Prevention
• Planning
• Relationship building
• Empowerment
• Self-awareness, learning, exploration & development
• Learning new skills
• Creative thinking
• Networking
• Prioritisation
• Training & development
• Exercise

People are naturally better at some of these and less so at others.

What are your goals for each of these areas? Do you block out time in your diary for these things? Most people don’t. They spend most of their time reacting, fire fighting and chasing their tail!

Why not choose August to create some new habits?

Ask yourself these questions and score yourself out of 100% for these key effective habits:

1. How good am I at managing time well and prioritising tasks for maximum results?
2. How good am I at marketing myself in a relevant, consistent and targeted way?
3. How good am I creating better systems, healthy habits and behaviours?
4. How good am I at developing my skills/knowledge to stay one step ahead?
5. How good am I at reflecting, planning, refocusing and follow up?
6. How good am I at setting compelling goals with plans to achieve them?
7. How good am I at creating and building key relationships to help me grow personally and professionally?

If your total core is less than 400, coaching would be very beneficial indeed to protect your current work position and ensure you are planning your future with more competition. If your score is 400-650, coaching would help you to achieve excellent results faster than you can do alone.

The world of work is changing REALLY fast at the moment and there is less time to do these things but they are becoming more important to create a secure long term future for yourself.

Important not urgent things to do in August:

5 tasks I am focusing on this month are:

• Catching up on sleep and de-weeding the allotment
• Reducing the paper mountain that has built up over a few months of writing and doing events
• Identifying and removing the cause of annoying ‘niggles’
• Reviewing my technology
• Mapping key systems and processes to streamline them

Here are 6 more ideas for creating some sunshine in August:

1. Reflect on your achievements and learnings from the last 3 months
2. Review your career strategy
3. Tag your LinkedIn connections
4. Update your CV
5. Follow more followers on Twitter
6. Research networking and training events for the Autumn

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Get in touch if you are ready to explore coaching with us. Thanks!

Yes. But, but, but…………

Making a career change can feel as big a decision as choosing a life partner and whether to have a baby. That’s big.

Career Ladder cartoon

To achieve a successful career change, you need to overcome the ‘buts’. A career change can seem like a huge mountain in front of you to climb. Part of my job as a talent liberator is to be your Sherpa.

I was reflecting recently on what ‘Buts’ come up often with my clients:
* Lack of time to think and make a change
* Feel burdened by the weight of responsibility e.g. as the main breadwinner
* How a change will affect future plans and choices e.g. having another baby
* Fear of the unknown
* Finding something that fits you and is fulfilling
* Getting a lucky break and for a potential employer to see the value you bring
* Fear of making a bad decision and regretting a change
* Believing that a change means you have to go to the bottom of the ladder
* Fear of losing financial security and feeling vulnerable

Sound familiar?

7 Tips to overcome career change ‘buts’

1) Design security into your change
2) Set up a savings account to fund a career break, retrain or financial cushion for peace of mind
3) Keep the faith – be persistent
4) Make time to get clear on what you want
5) Create your own luck – be proactive
6) Fill the gap – information, especially for lawyers, provides clarity and reduces fear
7) Block out time every week so you make progress

What tips would you add?

One of my clients has put in a request for ‘compressed hours’; working a 4 day week with longer hours every day, and taking one day off each week for them to nurture themselves, feed their mind and spirit. Fancy that kind of career change?

What next?

The quieter summer months are the perfect time to think about your career and what you really want.
Imagine returning to work in September clear about what change you want to make and how you will achieve it.

A fast track career coaching programme could enable you to achieve it. Act today – get in touch:

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Want to work flexibly?


Today’s the day – 30 June 2014. From today, any employee who has been working for 6 months can request flexible working in the UK, whether they are a parent or carer or not. 20 million people have the right to ask. What impact will this have do you think?

Status re flexible working

Employees want flexible working but presenteism in the office still pervades the work culture in many businesses and an old fashioned 9-5 model of work (often 8-6 in reality!) still exists that creates commuting bottle necks that could be avoided. Companies have become more open to flexible working, but because it jobs to adopt & accommodate flexible working. How to balance clients’ needs and employee demands is the key.

Impact of failure to embrace flexible working
Employee needs and wants are rarely the driver for employers embracing flexible working, when this would enhance motivation, reduce stress and enable firms to operate more 24/7. It is hardly surprising there is a huge drain of talented women from many companies as a refusal to adopt flexible working often gives working mothers no other option but to exit.

Growing desire for better work life balance
The younger generation’s desire for flexibility, enabling technology and a growing employee voice helped by social media will be catalysts for change, as will be lost productivity with peak commuting bottlenecks. Flexible working has become associated with women, but men want it too and wanting a good work life balance is a common and growing desire. In many professions, a request for flexible working is like career suicide.

Transport & commuting challenges
The core problem is that too many people travel to work at the same time on transport infrastructures that are feeling the strain. Data on transport utilization and population growth, especially in London and the South East, indicates that the problem will get worse not better.

What types of flexible working are there?

There are a number of types of flexible working – which one appeals to you?

Self-employment – the ultimate in flexibility – choose your own hours

Part time working – less than full time hours

Flexi time - freedom to choose to work within agreed set hours

Staggered hours – employees have different start and end times enabling employees to avoid commuting and businesses to open longer

Compressed working hours – cover standard hours in fewer days

Job sharing - two workers agree hours and split a full time job between them

Term time working – take paid or unpaid leave during the holidays

Home working/teleworking – spend some/all hours working away from the office

V time working – reduce hours for an agreed period with guarantee of full time work when this period ends

Zero hour contracts – work only hours the employer needs

Sabbatical/career break – employees are allowed to take time off for an agreed time, either paid or unpaid.

5 tips about flexible working

If you are looking to negotiate flexible working with your current or future employer, here are 5 tips:

• Create a business case for your employer to work more flexibly with data about increased productivity working from home.
• Look ahead to tomorrow as well as today. Will you be a carer or parent in future and if so, how can you start the ball rolling today to work more flexibly?
• Get up to speed with your legal rights.
• Find out your employer’s policy on flexible working.
• Think about possible objections and barriers to you working flexibly and brainstorm ideas and responses to overcome them

Self-reflective question
“If I could design my working life to suit my needs, what would I choose?”

Inspiring quote
“We all have two choices. We can make a living or we can design a life.” Jim Rohn.

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PS I have just written a chapter for a new book being published by Globe Law & Business in the Autumn – ‘the impact of coaching on work life balance’. I am self-employed so I can and do work flexibly. I am naturally an early bird, so my flexible working is waking at 4am ish and having a nap at about 2-3pm!

Coaching at 6am is a good time for me :-)

10 inspiring quotes about change

Growing sunflowers (Better Business)

I love inspiring quotes – selective ones. It is like a well-chosen image, more is not necessary.

Here are 10 inspiring quotes about change and attitude to change.

“Often people live their lives backwards; they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the opposite. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do, in order to have what you want.“ Margaret Young.

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay.

“Control your destiny or someone else will.” Jack Welsh.

“But is a fence over which few leap.” German Proverb.

“If you have to support yourself, you might as well do it in a way that is interesting.“ Katharine Hepburn.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.“ Gandhi.

“Your work is to discover your work and then, with all your heart, give yourself to it.” Buddha

“Do not let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.“ John Wooden.

“If hard work was such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it to themselves.” Lane Kirkland.

“If you think you can, you can, if you think you can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford.

Which one is your favourite? We would love to hear any inspiring quotes that you especially like.

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Ready for change? Get in touch if you would like to discuss how career coaching support would help you achieve your change faster and with less pain.

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