Archive of ‘Events’ category

What do I think about CONFIDENCE?

What do I think about CONFIDENCE? | the3rdi magazine | the UK’s foremost co-operative business magazine.

I wrote an article recently for the 3rdi magazine, where the question for the writers was ‘What does confidence mean to you?’ So, my thoughts are below: trying to stick to the word count was a challenge (not altogether a surprise, especially to those of you who know me well!)…I’d love to hear what you think?

And if Confidence is something that interests you, it’s also the theme of a Conference that I’m involved with in Edinburgh on 8th May – why not join us to flex your confidence muscle & meet lots of new women in business from across Scotland? I believe that everyone needs to work at their Confidence…there are very few people for whom it’s completely second nature!


073307-pink-jelly-icon-alphanumeric-quote-open2Having been a working adult for (whispers) nearly thirty years, much of my confidence and cues for confidence have come from work scenarios.

I’m a wife, and a working Mum who for the last five years has run her own business.

When I look back over the jobs I have done, I can see that I have gained lots of confidence in the various roles I have carried out, and I come from a family background where I became very self-sufficient at quite an early age.

I’m sure that much of the confidence I have in myself is down to the control, and feeling of being in-charge, which I’m realising is such a major part of who I am.

When I ask myself if I’ve always been confident, what I realise is that some of that exterior confidence is a bit of bravado, mixed with quite a lot of ‘jumping right in’ and a dash of “I know that I can pick things up really quickly, so let’s just wing it and see where it gets me”.

So I’m asking myself “Do I feel CONFIDENT?” – well the answer to that is the old 80/20 rule rearing it’s head again…80% of the time I do feel confidence: in my abilities to tackle the job at hand, learn the skills I might need to complete & do a good job. 20% of the time I might be questioning whether I can do something, whether I am the right person to be doing it and if it’s all actually going to turn out ok!

I’ve learned over 30 years that I CAN handle most of what is thrown at me in a work scenario – the times I have chosen to move jobs have been for new challenges or promotions, and only ONCE in all that time did I decide to get out because of a fairly difficult work colleague who made it awkward for our team to fully function when she was there.

I make conscious decisions to surround myself with people & work colleagues who have a positive influence on me, or my work. I enjoy working on my own initiative, working with others and leading teams.

Looking back at some of the managers I’ve had, I don’t even need a whole hand to count the ones who have motivated me and, for me, have been inspiring role models. What often happens is that a person is promoted to manage a team because they are technically very able, but they are hardly ever supported to learn the soft skills of people management – that can have a really draining effect on team & individual confidence. And let’s face it I don’t actually think many of them felt very confident in their abilities to lead.

Probably because I like to be in control, I can sense when others are finding it difficult, and I like to jump in and help out – I’m not sure that’s always the best solution!

In 2008 I was made redundant after being with the company 11 years, along with around 20 others across a couple of teams, it was a real shock to the system – lack of control you see (spotting a pattern anyone?)! For a week or so I felt really out of sorts and had no clue how to get my bearings. I took the time to enjoy my family, meeting my son from school and spending time with friends.

After a few weeks I began to realise that I was in a good position to try my hand at self-employment, and with the support of my husband and family I set about finding out how to go about setting up my company and grabbing hold of as many new skills and free workshops that Business Gateway could give me!

I can honestly say that during the first year of business it was the most exciting and scary time – I don’t think for even one moment I questioned whether I could do it or not…what I do remember is constantly evolving during that year, testing my products & services, the marketing messages I was using etc.

I was getting the confidence to continue from the success of running the business, getting new clients and meeting lots of new people.

I am often questioned about the fact that I seem to know lots of people and whether I had a large network of contacts and existing business that transferred to me from my old role.

I’m proud to say that 99% of the contacts that I had pre-My Pinkie Promise were based in Edinburgh & Glasgow, and south of the border – none of the work that I generated came from existing contracts or customers…I’ve built from the ground up.

I know that the work that we do is highly regarded, and that’s important to me from a personal confidence perspective – maintaining that quality, while gaining new customers and working on new projects is what inspires me.

I get real inspiration from the people around me, and role models in my life. I’ve got huge respect for two previous female directors that I worked for, who gave me enormous support and confidence in my abilities to succeed.

Many of the women that I now work and collaborate with give me confidence too – learning how they got to where they are now, or understanding that we all face the same challenges in running a business while juggling families & relationships serves to remind me that others have worn a path that I know I can follow, while doing it my with my own spin!

I’m absolutely an Optimist through and through – but I’m also an Opportunist. I may finally be beginning to believe that I’m a natural entrepreneur – now that I have the heady rewards of running a business, my antenna are SO switched on to new projects and exciting possibilities that I’ve no idea why my feet touch the ground as much as they do:

confidence in myself is the key!073305-pink-jelly-icon-alphanumeric-quote-close2

More of the 3rdi magazine articles on confidence can be found here – enjoy!

Scottish Women in Business | Events | Special Independence Referendum Debate event


Scottish Women in Business | Events | Special Independence Referendum Debate event

McCance Building, University of Strathclyde

Special Independence Referendum Debate event

McCance Building, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 16 Richmond Street, Glasgow G1 1XQ

April 7, 6:00pm-9:00pm

The debate will be chaired by well-known TV presenter, Sally Magnusson.

With ballots before and after the debate, this will be a unique opportunity to directly gauge the views of an important voting audience.

The Panel

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Deputy First Minister Scottish National Party

Annabel Goldie MSP, Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party

Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of Scottish Labour Party

Ruth Wishart Journalist, supporter of the Yes Scotland Campaign


My Pinkie Promise are absolutely thrilled to be able to support & promote this event. There will be few opportunities for women in business to attend an event to hear a facilitated debate & be able to question Scotland’s leading female politicians in the run up to September 18th, so please register for the event and get involved.

We very often hear that as business owners and professionals, that we’d like more information on the referendum, so take this opportunity to find the answers to your burning questions – don’t wait for others to make your mind up for you!

If you are a member of Women Ahead, the Dundee & Angus businesswomen’s group, they are laying on free transport, so its well worth getting together and going through to Glasgow.

See you there!



Finalist in Most Enterprising Business Award 2014

2014 WA Awards Finalist logo
I’m really thrilled to be a shortlisted finalist in the Women Ahead Most Enterprising Business Award for 2014…we’ll find out on 15th March who the award winners are!

Are we ‘Enterprising’?

I’ve been involved in some brilliant events this year, exploring the theme of ‘Enterprise’ and I’m really interested in how enterprise and the smaller businesses underpin our economy.

What often makes me stop & think is the actual terms that we use…enterprising, entrepreneur, business person etc.

I run my own business and have been called an entrepreneur by lots of people – sometimes with a hint of admiration, because they see running a business as an aspiration of their own, or somehow think I’m lucky to be doing it, and on at least one occasion is it was because they thought it was great that I was a risk taker! However, I don’t really see myself as walking around with that label above my head – not sure why?

Being enterprising seems (to me at least) to be a slightly strange way to describe this in a business context – one definition of enterprising is ‘having or showing initiative and resourcefulness’ – and I can see that many business people do exhibit that behaviour, but I believe I’ve been that all through my career – so using the word as an adjective to describe a business owner doesnt feel spot on to me.

At any rate, I suppose what I am getting at is, how will we inspire the people of Scotland – whether they are work for others or are coming out of school & wondering what to do next – to get involved in running their own businesses, generating their own income, fueling the economy and making things happen for themselves if we use words like enterprise, entrepreneur which can mean so many different things, to so many different people?

I guess the best thing we can do is to showcase as many success stories as possible so that people can identify themselves in some way with the person in front of them, whether that’s

  • full-time, running a team of people
  • part-time running a business round a family, second job or caring for someone
  • in partnership with someone else who complements your skills
  • a sole trader working at in a role that they love, producing products or services that people value

There are many ways to run a business, and many many measures of success for the individual involved – and no-one else can (or should be allowed to) make judgements on that success. For me, having the control & ability to ‘make my own money’ and do something that I absolutely love to do is the best (and hardest) way to earn a living that I’ve come across so far!

We have a responsibility to give everyone who wants to do it the resources, information and support that they need – Scotland is a nation with a rich history of invention, innovation, business, leaders and success – and I am proud to be running a business in a beautiful place, with a group of peers who constantly inspire and motivate me – and remind me of why I’m doing it in the first place!

As the Vice-President of the Association of Scottish Businesswomen, I am excited to be part of a team delivering the only Scottish conference aimed at women and business – so get the date in your diary: 9 May 2013 – you definitely won’t want to miss it. It will be a day packed full of interesting speakers; debate; workshops to learn, be inspired and motivated; networking and you will come away from it more determined than ever to build a future for Scotland where women-run businesses will continue to make an enormous impact on our economy – that’s much more than a win, win situation!

WBE Conference

WBE Conference


Dundee is the home of the brave!

I’ve been to several conferences in the last few weeks where the economy, future of the area and business can get ready for future opportunities.

What I have heard has really inspired me, not only as a Scottish business owner, but as a person living, working and bringing up a family in Dundee.

Visit Scotland are involved in a concerted campaign over the next 2 years to bring to life a series of milestones to drive tourism and interest in all things Scottish. From large scale events like the Commonwealth Games & the Ryder Cup to marketing around projects such as the Jubilee, Disney’s new film Brave and the themed years culminating in the Year of Homecoming 2014, there are plenty of opportunities for business to hook into, to help their own marketing work.

Dundee and Angus is a thriving location, and as the sunniest City in Scotland, its easy to see why large capital projects like the Dundee Waterfront and V&A at Dundee are taking place.

Having a bold, forward thinking strategy for a region is just the catalyst that is needed to bring inward investment and attract companies such as Malmaison to open a new flagship hotel.

There are many success stories in the business world too, from BrightSolid’s relaunch of Friends Reunited and their CEO Chris van der Kuyl receiving an award this month from the Institute of Directors; Mackays making amazing jams & preserves in Arbroath, Insights winning Customer Focus award at the Scottish Business Awards, Michelin going from strength to strength at its Dundee plant and many many small businesses continuing to do well in the region, we have much to be proud of and aspire to.

At an Economic Summit in the city yesterday, David Dorward Chief Executive of Dundee City Council led several public and private organisations in an event aimed at ‘laying the foundations for future prosperity in our communities’. Nearly 300 people from local businesses, the education sector, the Chamber of Commerce, the public sector and local & national politicians were in the room to discuss the economic future and positive future developments in Dundee.

And at a National Convention for Youth Employment hosted by Dundee College a large audience heard from Michael Moore MP, Secretary of State for Scotland; Iain Duncan Smith MP, Secretary of State for Work & Pensions plus John Swinney & Angela Constance both MSPs about the issue of how we tackle the future of our young people and ensuring they are well prepared.

However….here is my own personal take on things with a note of caution:

POINT 1: At all of these recent events very very little was done to engage pre, during or after the event via social media. More than 66% of adults use one or more social media platforms – and its widely unknown that 46% of facebook users are aged 45 or older! I certainly found no official event or host organisation use of social media on the day – if they did, they certainly didnt promote it at the events.

At the summit yesterday, there were a handful (less than 10 of us) on twitter using #DundeeEconomicSummit – with a room full of business professionals, I find this quite disturbing. As leaders, engagers in the community and business people, how do we expect to be able to take the brilliant messages & optimism that was in that room and share it if we don’t use a communication tool which is used by so many? There are some very good pieces in the local newspaper today – but I wonder how many of you have seen that?

POINT 2: what is the take-away concrete action from any of these events to keep the audience engaged with the process and build on all the positive things that happened? Apart from yesterday, where we were invited to email someone (without being given their address) if we felt we’d like to take part in ‘something’ in the future, there were absolutely no real next steps for the audiences – no dates to diarise, no websites to look up or register with and absolutely no social media platforms to receive ongoing specific news from.

So in summary – I’ve been very lucky to have attended some exceptional and really inspirational events in the recent weeks but afterwards am simply sent on my way and little by little, as the day job creeps back in, that enthusiasm & energy seeps away and we go back into our individual roles, losing the power of the larger group and movement for future good. So I guess its up to me to make my own next steps count!

MPP logo

Thanks for reading…….Alison

Keeping your Mojo!

As a business owner, its really really easy to be busy with doing the work, keeping clients happy & meeting project deadlines. But there is also the running of the business to be done, and all the necessary (but not so exciting) jobs that come within your job description. For me, I absolutely love the project based side of what we do, the variety of clients that we are working with and meeting so many different people.

But what don’t I like…, filing, and the admin side of what it takes to keep a successful business running. And while I am sharing (hee hee) I will also admit to being in love with social media (facebook, twitter, linkedin, etc etc etc) – and I would like to share a blog post that totally kicked me in the guts recently – in a good way!

I first found Jeff Bullas via twitter and he has a prolific blog which I look out for, and thoroughly enjoy reading. But this one in particular made me really think.

Titled ‘The Secret Behind Every Successful Blogger’, I was intrigued to read more – but what I actually discovered was a re-connection with why I do what I do.

Here is an excerpt from the blog that I connect with in every which way:

“Find Work That is Play

I came across a quote by the famous economist Dr. Paul Samuelson that encapsulates one of the secrets to success in life.

“Never underestimate the vital importance of finding early in life the work that for you is play. This turns possible underachievers into happy warriors.”

Most of us do not have the privilege of discovering this early on in life but stumble upon it in later years. There is no rhyme or reason as to when or how it occurs, it could be an ephiphany or it maybe a slow awakening but if you discover it grab it with both hands, do not ignore it but embrace it with all the energy and optimistic obsession you can muster.

Work that is play is the combination of innate ability and aptitude that combines with passion to create a synergy that lubricates life’s journey.

Sir Ken Robinson in his book “The Element”  says this about discovering being in your element, “it is the place where the things we love and the things we’re good at come together”

Questions You Should Ask Yourself

So how do you find this element? What questions should I be asking to discover work that is play?

Here are some questions you should be starting to ask yourself.

  • What comes easily to you?
  • What do you read about till 2.30 in the morning
  • What gets you up at 4.30am?
  • What do you enjoy doing?
  • What kind of things do people compliment you on?
  • What activities give your spirit energy?  “

I feel very privileged to be running a business, doing a job that I love, surrounded by a brilliant team and meeting lots of interesting people on a weekly basis in our local business community. Of course, sometimes the humdrum does get in the way and I have to force myself to work on some of the tasks which aren’t at the top of my list – but they don’t overwhelm the good feelings.

So I can honestly say that nearly three years on in my business, I’m still motivated to get up at 6am, work through til 10pm if need be, and often get that tingly excited feeling inside which TOTALLY reminds me that I am very lucky to be in the position of running a successful business: helping people realise that perfect event, or rediscover their business goals & vision and create a marketing plan that gets them on track.  I hope you enjoy reading Jeff’s blog and top up your Mojo levels!

And if you’re using twitter (@alisonhendo), facebook or linkedin, say hello!

Alison x

What makes a successful event?

I’ve been doing a review of a week-long exhibition that I ran recently where we had 25 businesses involved in promoting their products & services to the public and it has made me think about the whole process of running an event.

I have a very clear strategy in my own head for how I believe a successful event is put together – to be honest it runs exactly on the same principles as any other promotional activity.

When you put together an event, you have to be very careful to consider all of the elements of what you are running – what equipment do you require, what is your programme to be, who is the intended audience, what is a successful outcome. You need to run an event with the same principles in mind as any project – you should break it down into the various key deliverables and then create a time plan, with actions, owners, deadlines etc.

You have various stakeholders to consider – the person who has instructed you to run the event, the attendees, the suppliers & staff at the venue itself, any speakers you may have – all of these people will need to have their needs met in different ways.

And when you are thinking of marketing the event, then think of the AIDA process: Attention – Interest – Desire – Action. You need to create a hook, a real buzz to begin the process of showing people why they have to attend your event. You have to know how & when to communicate with the prospective attendees to attract their attention, the desire to visit. You then need to continue to promote the event and add extras to convince them that they need to take action and come along.

And of course, you have to be clear from the beginning about how you will measure the success of the event. Is it number of attendees, is it profit, is it satisfaction of attendees, is it media coverage? There could be a combination of these factors, but you must be clear what you will measure success on, otherwise you can’t gauge Return On Investment. The investment may not be cash, it may be time, it may be a different resource – as long as you know what you are putting in, you can tell whether you have reached the outcome that you wanted.

Events are an exciting thing to be involved in, I love the buzz that I get from being creative, putting on a great programme and delivering an excellent event which is seamless to the outside world.

I don’t think I’ve ever done an event where something didn’t go wrong – the main thing is not to be fazed by that, but to think on your feet, find a solution to whatever has happened – and keep it away from your stakeholders during the event. Afterwards, it can be good to share what happened, because the chances are they may have realised something was different but not known why – so show them that you had the ability to be aware of what was going on, and took action & ownership to solve the problem before it impacted the event itself – this is a great ability to have – not everyone can do it.

Events are fun, always throw up something unexpected and you have a great sense of achievement when they actually take place. There is a lot of work involved in putting together an event, and when people enjoy it, its a brilliant feeling.



Why I’m happy working on a Sunday!

Afternoon everyone, I’m writing this having enjoyed my extra hour this morning reading the Sunday papers and indulging in a few cups of tea!

Because I run my own business, I’m always juggling my work time and prioritising what to do next.

I am Chair of the Dundee & Angus businesswomen’s network group: Women Ahead and today am fitting in some work for the group which I never get a chance to do during the week.

Our latest event led to me being seated beside one of the leading women in UK business: Lady Susan Rice who is Managing Director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland.  She gave a Masterclass presentation to a joint lunch that we ran with the Chamber of Commerce and was an inspiring speaker. We heard about her career path and the qualities she believed had helped her to her success in business. I was inspired by her speech and a couple of the things which struck very true for me were:

  • in business, HOW we get there is as important as the end goal
  • we need to be ADAPTABLE, THINK FOR OURSELVES & ENGAGE with others
  • we need to SEIZE OPPORTUNITIES & be QUICK where possible

So here I am, at my desk on a Sunday, updating the Women Ahead members’ database, sending some thank you emails to attendees and updating the website with new events. Being Chair of the group has expanded my own network, let me help the group by adding my event management skills to the mix of committee members and I willingly give my own time to forming a great programme of events for the members. We also raise money each year for a chosen charity, and this year we are supporting Breast Cancer Care.  In August, we held a Strawberry Tea where we raised £1500 PLUS Gift Aid, and we are in the middle of planning our Awards Event where we will add to the charity kitty by holding a raffle & auction.

Anyway, enough from me – I only came onto my blog to accept a comment on a previous post! I think that what is important in this tale is that you never know how you will get your next shot of inspiration when you run a small business, especially if you are working on your own. Its vital to attend events and network, you never know who you will meet or what you will pick up that will drive your business forward.

I hope you have a great Halloween,

Alison x

Summertime and the livin’ is easy….

 Little Miss Sunshine!

I can’t believe so much has happened in my business since I wrote my last blog:

I was awarded a brilliant new event contract to run an exhibition alongside the Royal National Mod, Scotland’s premier Gaelic festival which will last for 3 years (to say I am pleased is a MASSIVE understatement!).

I held my first ever PREVISION layar marketing workshop which brings businesses together to work on their marketing & business planning, giving them access to my marketing expertise and the huge value of their shared experiences. We had a very successful morning at West Park Conference Centre in Dundee – they looked after us very well.

I finalised the marketing planning work for 3 existing clients and began work with another 4 more – I really enjoy working through this process with my clients. We analyse their current business situation and use the work to identify the business objectives that need to be brought to life by their marketing. The next stage is looking at target audiences and how we will take their message to them to make the customers roll in. Of course the final measuring & control stage is of utmost importance too and I walk away from a client knowing that they have a structured plan for their own marketing which will work really hard for them and when we come to do our review 3 months down the line we can then make some informed judgements about what is working for them.

I gave a presentation to the EQ Accountants staff on Marketing Planning & the use of Social Media and it was a very engaging session.

I had a week away on the West Coast of Scotland which was great for recharging my batteries (and getting them a bit damp in the Saturday night downpour) and since I came back I’ve been talking to some students about internships or summer placements.

I’m knew that the life of a small business owner would never be dull anyway!

It was amazing during the month to discover that many of the business people that I meet suffer from one of the same major factors that I do – how do you balance all the things that you have to do and also do all the things that you want to do?

I’ve always worked hard up to the wire on projects, and definitely need a deadline to motivate me – I’d be really interested to hear from others on how you juggle your different work schedules – and how do you fit in home life around running your business?

I can honestly say that I am having the time of my life – I guess that life really did begin on my last birthday in August 2009! Or at least cemented the new life that I was living. Running your own company is hard work, but having a passion for what you do and really enjoying it brings enormous personal satisfaction.

Anyway am now away to lie down in a darkened room for an hour: NOT!

Enjoy the sunshine :)

Alison x

Dundee’s Business Show

Well I am shattered today!

It was an early start for the My Pinkie Promise team today. We were exhibiting at The Business Show at Dundee’s West Park.

It was Donna’s first exhibition with me to promote My Pinkie Promise, and today we talked to a LOT of people about the marketing services that we offer. She did a very good job and it made such a difference not to be on my own at an event like that. I was able to get round and talk to the other exhibitors, though I did cry off the speed networking today.

Many thanks go to Janet & Joan from Events for Business for putting together such a good event – they will be talking to us very soon about the Fife Show, I’m sure.

We were very pleased with the responses when we told people about our Foundations of Marketing service which involves our 1-2-1 business support for companies looking to put together plans for the development of their marketing, business planning & communications.

And we did some research on an exciting new development coming from My Pinkie Promise which was also incredibly well received and will be coming to a venue near you in the not too distant future.

So now we’ve got a bit of planning for that, a lot of follow-ups to do from today’s show – and a couple of people who want us to go in and work for them straight away.

I am a very happy but tired bunny who is away to curl up with a good book and try to switch off a bit. Running my own business is very rewarding but extremely hard work – I would definitely recommend it though.

I’ve got a business trip to Inverness coming up on Monday, followed by a marketing presentation to a group of Dundee business people so I will probably do a bit of unloading on you next week once I have recovered from all that.

Have a good end to the week!



PS Did I forget to mention in ‘print’ that I had one of the best weekends of my life last week when my beloved Dundee United won the Scottish Cup! My family had a great day out to the game, followed by a whole weekend of celebrations, culminating in a pitch invasion at Tannadice from my 11 year old son: what a blast. Roll on next year! :)

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