Archive of ‘Fun’ 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!

http://www.wbeconference.co.uk

@wbeconference

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!

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…..book-keeping, 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

I love to smile….

I came across this video and wanted to share it with you…..anyone who knows me, knows that I smile A LOT – so its good to know that its actually scientifically proven that it helps me generate good feeling in others, and should make me live longer!

Smiling stops you frowning, reduces stress hormones in your body and has the same effect as really nice chocolate – now doesn’t that sound good to you?

Hope you enjoy the video

Alison x

:)

Alison

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.

Alison

x

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 be INNOVATIVE & ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS
  • 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

Motivation…..you need to keep yourself topped up!

A respected business contact of mine shared a quote with me today and it sparked me to write this post.

First a little bit of background: I was approached this morning by a friend who asked me to help her out with a motivational talk she has been asked to do to some prefects on the cusp of ‘growing up’ and leaving school. When we were discussing some of the things she could cover, it struck me that what she was going to say was just as relevant for me and my current business life as it will be for her audience.

Sometimes you just have to be in the right frame of mind to let in a lightbulb moment like that, and I guess today was the day!

We talked about how she should use the right elements of her own situation and experience to talk about thinking and planning for the future. Recommending that you take part in outside interests so that others (employers in the young people’s case) would look at you and find you interesting. I know of some cases where people like to see that you do competitive sports as it can show that you have drive.

And I couldn’t stress enough that she should talk about the importance of creating a plan, for at least the next 3 years, to give something to focus on and drive them forward. My friend currently has a 5 year plan and wondered what that would say about her! She’s going to share her tips on how she plans and give some practical examples to show that it really helps to keep you going in the right direction.

I also recommended that she tells them to get input from their friends and family – if you tell other people what you are doing, then they can often help you with ideas you hadn’t thought of. And for parents, it can relax them and show that their child is thinking responsibly!

It struck me that this was TOTALLY valid for the situation that most of us are in in our working lives, and creating a plan & sharing it can help to manage stakeholders (like partners, bosses, husbands etc). And how many of us lose focus because we simply haven’t planned properly?

It made me go online and ask my twitter, facebook & linkedin buddies how they keep themselves motivated. And among the answer’s was Gary’s quote which I love!

So if you are looking for motivation, the quote below could be something to print off and stick on your wall so that you see it every day!

And if its focus and motivation you are looking for in your business life, and you think that being involved in a planning workshop every quarter would be a good thing for you then have a look at my PREVISION marketing group page – I’m really getting excited and am sure that all the participants will get a great deal out of it.

Have a good day!

Alison :)

“If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost,
For out in the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will.
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man.
But soon or late the man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.”

Social media – do you or don’t you?

I’ve been working this morning creating a couple of new social media pages for the businesswomen’s network that I Chair: Women Ahead.

Have a look at the twitter page @womenaheadgroup and join the Women Ahead facebook page

I am finding more and more when I am advising my clients on their marketing strategy that people are still very unclear on how or why they should use social media. I always say that using social media MUST be done as part of your overall strategy – after all its just another piece of your marketing toolkit.

So first of all, what are some of the options?

These are just some of the sites which will appeal to a large cross-section of people who are active in social media. There are others which can be of specific interest, depending on your business & customer type.

The other consideration is of course your time – you need to be putting in a little bit of regular time to keep the communication going, otherwise your ‘connections’ will lose interest and all the hard work you put into attracting them will be lost.

Here are a few examples of how businesses can use social media to reach audiences.

If you are a customer facing business like a hairdresser, using a Facebook page & Twitter to tell people in your local area about any offers you have on, or new products that they can try, should work well. You should also be sending out hints and tips to showcase your expertise and give a bit of extra added value to those people who connect with you. You can also use competitions to encourage people to become connected and recommend your page to their friends.

If you are a photographer, having a Flickr photostream lets you display your shots, tell people what projects you have been working on, and link to your website to raise your profile.

YouTube is a good way to either give people an insight into you and your service, by recording a short video telling them what you do, or to show your premises, highlight an event you ran etc. Again, linking to your website will drive inbound traffic, and will improve your Google rankings. And you can publicise the video via other pages like facebook and twitter too.

LinkedIn is an online network mostly used by people in business to allow them to connect to business contacts, take part in group discussions and ask for online recommendations of their product or service by their peers. It is also used for recruitment. I recommend LinkedIn for firms who are selling a product or service to other businesses – its less relevant for consumer facing targetting.

The social media arena is a bit like shifting sand, as the popularity of sites rises and falls – for example, Bebo.com, which was heavily used by a younger audience and has now been left behind as people shift to Facebook.

Not so long ago, it was unusual for businesses to have much of a website, now you need not only a good website, but you should be using social media to interact and have conversations with your audiences. You need to take the news about your products and services out to people – your competitors will definitely be doing it!

I run several pages for my clients, who find that this is the best way to tackle social media – its easy for me to do it. Their audiences aren’t aware of any difference, and the business owner can get on with what they do best – delivering their product or service.

If you are interested in finding out more about how I can help your business communicate through social media, or want some help to get the ball rolling, get in touch!

Have a good week,

Alison x

Happy Wednesday?

 Little Miss Sunshine!

Morning,

Just a short note from me to day to comment on what a difference a couple of things make to my working life!

1. The sunshine. Its a glorious morning today and it completely changes my outlook and suddenly I’ve got more focus and motivation to get things done.

2. A good cup of coffee. Well ok, so I am now actually onto my second one of the day – but that’s because I’ve been at my desk since 7:30am

Of course, I could have both of those things but still be a grumpy old so-and-so so I guess the fact that I totally LOVE what I do for a living also has a major impact on things.

As I write this, its dawning on me that I am into the second year of my business and I feel immensely proud of what I have accomplished since setting up My Pinkie Promise, my marketing & event management consultancy in 2009. I thoroughly enjoy being in business and the variety of my work, added to the spark of new creative projects, really keeps me from getting that ‘same old same old’ feeling that can crop up in our careers.

Self-employment is obviously not for everyone – and one thing that I particularly miss is the social interaction with work colleagues. I guess I’m lucky because my job involves attending business meetings and networking with people. Plus meeting new clients and finding out about their businesses so we can bring their marketing and communications to life means lots of human contact. So working for a part of the day from your solitary desk means you need certain skills to keep you on track.

I have a brilliant book called “Eat that Frog” from Brian Tracy which still gives me lightbulb moments – if you have an issue with time management or procrastination, I’d highly recommend it.

Today I’m working on a few things (maybe I need a book called ‘Plate-spinning’!):

  • bringing a client’s target audiences to life: understanding how they buy; what messages are right for them and how we will reach them – and planning her business launch
  • creating an event plan for a brand new ‘Experience’ event for another client who wants to showcase her business, and those who use her service too
  • kicking off another marketing project for a client, and
  • working on the emails, and next lunch event for Women Ahead, the businesswoman’s network that I Chair

Anyway, enough rambling from me – I hope you are having a good Wednesday too

Alison x

How to be a good business ‘Scout': Be Prepared

Give yourself a Tick

When I meet business contacts at events, I often wonder whether people think ahead about why they have decided to attend an event, who they had hoped to meet there, and what they expected (if anything!) to get out of going along.

Sometimes the attraction of a business event is the programme and speakers, but often we go along to an event because we are also hoping to get the chance to talk to people about what we do. And of course there are networking events we go to which are dedicated to finding out about others and spreading the word about our own businesses.

And we should be thinking carefully before we go about what we want people to remember about our products and services – and how we can get the chance to follow-up and tell them more.

I have attended events where it is obvious that the people you are talking to are not even really listening to you – they are just waiting to get the chance to sell their own products or services to you and then move onto the next person. They are usually the serial business card collector who are desperate to grab as many cards to take home and somehow they believe that will turn into a whole bunch of orders for them!

Or the other end of the spectrum are those people who are running a business, and who have a very good service but who are painfully reticent at the thought that anyone will be interested in what they are offering. I’ve noticed that these people don’t usually have a product to sell, and part of the problem is that they are finding it much harder to ‘sell themselves’.

So if you feel you would like to be better prepared for attending your business events, read on! In conjunction with Eugene Clarke from The Communication Exchange, I will be running an interactive workshop which will show you how to integrate all of this into your wider marketing strategy and ensure that you prepare well, evaluate & follow-up.

We will also show you how to be ready for introducing yourself & your business at business events, networking and group situations. We will make sure you are prepared and feel confident.

Do you ever attend events where you see lots of the same people and find it difficult to create that spark of attention?

Or do you look at a sea of new faces and wonder how on earth you will say the right thing to sell you & your business and make them want to find out more?

Do you ever wish you could replay your introduction because you said the wrong thing or missed out on the most vital piece of your business?

Do you know why you go to certain events, and do you get to meet the people who you are likely to be able to do business with?

Come along to ‘StartRight’ on Tuesday 18th May 2010 at Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce, City Quay, Dundee: 5.30pm to 7.30pm and we will help you find the answers!

Email alison@mypinkiepromise.co.uk for more details or call 07552 167801.

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