Weightmans Wednesday – Liverpool Organic Brewery

Today the beer industry in Britain is changing, with the rise of micro-breweries. Creating their unique brand of real-ale, made from traditional and fresh ingredients, micro-breweries are proving very popular with the beer-buying British public.

At this month’s Weightmans Wednesday event in Liverpool, I was delighted to listen to an interesting talk from Mark Hensby of Liverpool Organic Brewery. Along with a packed audience, I was very keen to hear the story of the brewery’s success.

From the beginning of the brewery in 2008, to the success of Liverpool Gin and Real Ale Events, Mark gave a very eloquent talk, taking the audience on a journey. Even more pleasing was that Mark also allowed for audience participation throughout. Listening carefully, I was impressed with how Mark replied with modesty, dignity and humour.

Mark explained about his background, setting up the brewery, growing it and also how it has hosted many successful beer festivals, through Real Ale Events. Examples of such festivals include St George’s Hall and most notably St Luke’s Church, which have been successful. This has resulted in the positive effect of helping to breathe life into Liverpool’s historical landmarks, generating publicity and revenue. There was also a mention of a rum and prosecco event, which drew humming sounds of delight, from some audience members.

In difficult times, when the general beer market is declining, the real-ale market is growing. I learned the number of micro-breweries in the UK have grown from 400 to 1600 today, which is a clear sign of the popularity of naturally created ale. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that market trends fluctuate, which apply to every industry.

Liverpool Organic Brewery has grown to be a real asset. Reflecting on the event, my opinion is that it captures the spirit of what is great about Liverpool. Not only has it been successful with customers in the UK and beyond, but it incorporates and respects the city’s identity, whilst promoting it internationally. The brewery also provides a wide variety of naturally crafted ales.

I would like to thank Mark Hensby, and also everyone at Weightmans for putting on an excellent evening. Just listening to Mark’s story was well worth the excellent turnout alone.

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Taking the Occasional Break

I recently returned from a holiday in Orlando with my family (and no, I was not caught up in Hurricane Irma). With hot weather, laughs, roller coasters and Disney fireworks galore, I not only enjoyed myself, but it was lovely to spend precious time with the family, and visit the wonderful sights including the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Busch Gardens and Universal Studios. All of this allowed me to rest and recharge my batteries, whilst exploring and educating myself on American culture, such as pancakes for breakfast, sports bars, and flea markets.

As professionals, there are occasions when we need to take a short rest, by switching off and recuperating, with little distractions. To achieve this, I cut myself off from LinkedIn and any professional e-mails, to focus on enjoying myself with my family, as well as making the most of what Orlando had to offer. Feeling the warm Florida sunshine and surroundings was so stimulating, that I was so immersed in my holiday and I hardly thought about working or networking.

Taking time away from the trenches of professional life is important for mind, body and soul. The reason is that if we want to remain at our optimum best, we must remember to take an occasional break to unwind and relax, wherever it is in Orlando, Ibiza, Cornwall, or just from the comfort of your own home. It is about taking a short time to do something enjoyable, or completely different, before returning with renewed energy and vigour, and in my case a good tan.

As for Orlando, I will honestly say with a full heart and contented mind, that it was a great experience. This was despite feeling physically fatigued toward the end, due to the constant travelling to and from the resorts, but the great times, laughs and memories was certainly well worth it all.

Rhymes & Records at the Jacaranda – Monday 7th August 2017

Writing and performing poetry is one of my favourite hobbies. Just the thought of creating a piece and reciting it to an audience of like-minded people, is an obsession that fills me with nothing but plentiful joy.

Last week, I attended an open mic night called Rhymes & Records, held in the basement of The Jacaranda. Located on Slater Street in the Ropewalks area of Liverpool, I was unaware of the famous historical significance of The Jacaranda. This was because it was one of the early venues where The Beatles played, so the location was very intimate, as the audience were sat very close to the stage.

I had never previously been to Rhymes & Records or The Jacaranda, so I was surprised with the layout and design of the basement. As I stood on the stage reciting my poems, I felt the buzzing anticipation and warmth supportive feel of the audience, and my fellow poets. It was a wonderful and uplifting atmosphere, which is a very special feeling. An added bonus was that I even managed to thankfully avoid bumping my head against the low ceiling!

In addition, I was impressed with everyone who got on the stage to read out their poems. It takes courage for a person to stand in front of a microphone, and read out a poem they have written to an audience of strangers, especially when it has been written from the heart, and of a personal nature.

There were so many poems related to different subjects, which made the audience laugh, contemplate and cry. These included subjects such as past nostalgic times, as well as serious topics including mental health, LGBT issues and also about grief. This last subject was magnificently covered by Christina Thatcher, who was headlining the evening. Christina performed some poems from her book “More Than You Were”, related to her own personal experiences with grief, which she performed so beautifully, that I was mesmerised and emotionally moved by her performance.

In conclusion, Rhymes & Records was an excellent evening, and I would like to thank Lyndsay Price for organising and hosting the event. My thanks also go to Christina for sharing her wonderful poetry, all the poets who performed, and to the audience for their support.

I recommend Rhymes & Records for an entertaining evening of poetry, of which more details can be found on Twitter and Facebook.

Weightmans Wednesday – National Museums Liverpool

At last week’s Weightmans Wednesday, I was delighted to listen to Fiona Philpott and Sandra Penketh from National Museums Liverpool (NML). This is a group that consists of 8 free museums and galleries, providing various historical, geographical and contemporary collections and exhibitions. These venues include the Museum of Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery and the World Museum, employing 450 full-time staff.

Listening to Fiona and Sandra, I learned about how successful NML has been for the city. This is because MNL’s economic impact on the Liverpool City Region cannot be underestimated, with 3 million visitors attending the city’s museums and galleries each year, contributing £53 million to the local economy.

NML’s success is down to the tremendous effort put in behind the scenes. Organising successful exhibitions require painstaking negotiations with domestic and international partners, devising alternative ways to maximise resources, and identifying what exhibitions will be effective to reach audiences. In addition to the above, having good background knowledge of subjects related to exhibitions, is also very important.

I also learned from Fiona and Sandra about NML’s willingness to try new things. A classic example is by encouraging and providing creative opportunities for contemporary artists, through the John Moores Painting Prize, which invites contemporary painters to submit and display their works. NML also strongly values the importance of education by working with schools and communities, and promoting social change and equality, by tackling social, historical and contemporary issues. An example is their Pride and Prejudice research project, and the Art of Solidarity exhibition, which explores, educates and presents untold stories, through interactive and accessible means.

Fiona and Sandra also touched on some of the upcoming exhibitions. An example is the Terracotta Warriors, which is coming to Liverpool in 2018. Whilst I have already seen pictures of the exhibition, it has already attracted considerable media attention, and I also believe it to be a real coup for the city of Liverpool, to display this interesting exhibit. Therefore I sincerely hope the Terracotta Warriors exhibition proves to be a major success for NML.

I would like to personally thank Fiona and Sandra for providing a culturally enriching talk. My thanks also go to John Kemp, Henry Sterling and Sarah Gerard of Weightmans, for organising an entertaining evening of networking. My thanks also go to Prescient, for providing a sumptuous buffet, which complimented the experience.

To conclude, Liverpool is a city with plenty to offer from a cultural perspective. With a tremendous wealth of art and history exhibitions, there is so much to visit and learn, from the landmarks, museums and galleries across the city. NML provides many opportunities to educate and enrich the lives of everyone, making it a valuable asset to the city of Liverpool.

Professional Liverpool – Networking Lunch with Lawrence Kenwright

Liverpool is a city with a thriving visitor economy, that attracts thousands of tourists every year. Tourism is an extremely valuable asset, which is worth £4.3bn to the local economy, and employs over 51,000 people. The boom in tourism is reflected in the number of hotels, that have opened in Liverpool since 2008. A prime example is Signature Living, which is owned by Lawrence Kenwright. Signature Living owns four Liverpool hotels, including the Shankly Hotel and 30 James Street.

I was delighted to attend this week’s Professional Liverpool’s Networking Lunch event. Held on the sixth floor of the Shankly Hotel, I joined a packed audience in listening to Lawrence himself, talk about the story of Signature Living.

Lawrence gave an interesting insight into the origins of the business. From being broke in 2007, to building Signature Living into a successful business, is a remarkable and inspiring story. Whilst I was aware of Signature Living’s popularity, I learned that they use word-of-mouth, through harnessing the power of technology, to market and promote their brand. Having examined their social media footprint, I have since learned that Signature Living have over 280,000 Twitter followers, over 23,000 Facebook visits, and 14,700 Instagram followers. This is a powerful example of why businesses need to utilise and harness the power of the Internet, to develop their online presence and promote their services.

Lawrence also talked about how Signature’s brand is to be different from other hotel chains. This is through providing a unique feel and experience, from each of their hotels. An example is the Shankly Hotel itself, and its decorative feel and mementos that reflect Liverpool FC’s legendary manager. This helps to generate value for the customer and for the business, whilst providing a luxurious and down-to-earth feel.

In addition, Lawrence also talked about growing Signature Living as a business. This included plans to open new hotels in Belfast and a venue in the Cunard Building. Like any business, growth is required to keep ahead of the competition, but I found it refreshing to hear Lawrence speak about the importance of Signature Living growing as a business, whilst remaining true to its roots. Too often businesses become successful and grow too quickly, that their core customer base becomes neglected, causing an inevitable decline. Lawrence reiterated clearly that Signature Living must never fall into that trap.

My experience of the event was positive from start to finish. From listening to Lawrence sharing the story of Signature Living, to networking with fellow attendees, and tasting the delicious food provided, I was delighted to attend, learn and absorb the atmosphere of the afternoon. I also appreciated how Lawrence spoke briefly and concisely, before allowing the audience the opportunity to ask plenty of questions.

As well as the conversation, discussion, food and networking, I was amazed by the beautiful and stylish surroundings of the Shankly Hotel. When I arrived on the sixth floor, I marvelled at the spectacular view overlooking the city centre, the shiny white tiled floors and golden covered walls. Complimented with an excellent turnout of people (including several familiar faces), the atmosphere was ripe for a fine afternoon of networking and conversation.

Many thanks to Lawrence, the staff of the Shankly Hotel, and to Rosie Davis of Professional Liverpool for organising a first-class quality event.

The Art of Hostage Negotiation – An MYP & CISI event

In all aspects of our professional life, the ability to successfully negotiate is an essential skill. This can be for various reasons, from negotiating with potential clients, to get a pay-rise, or a better deal with a supplier.

Last month, I attended a joint event organised by Merseyside Young Professionals (MYP) and the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), called “The Art of Hostage Negotiation”. Delivered by Richard Mullender, a former hostage negotiator and coach, I was looking forward to a fascinating event, with the opportunity to learn from an interesting and experienced coach. As it turned out, I was not disappointed at all by my experience of the event. Indeed it would have been even better if Richard had given a glimpse into his personal background in hostage negotiation, having worked with Scotland Yard and the FBI.

I am very happy to let the above pass, as I learned plenty from this worthwhile investment in my own time and personal development. From the importance of listening properly, talking normally and building trust, Richard spoke with a quiet intensity, authority and humour. This commanded my attention from start to finish, and I also understood Richard’s teachings with a straightforward ease.

In addition, I also learned that professionals sell successfully when working as a team, and not as individuals. Listening to Richard speak about all of the above, I realised and understood that everyone sells every day, by persuading, influencing and motivating.

Other interesting points that I learned included

  1. It is important to understand what motivates potential clients when selling, therefore it is crucial to know their values and beliefs.
  2. When people give their opinion on something, they reveal a lot about themselves.
  3. Rather than asking too many questions, it is better to talk in normal conversation.
  4. Through listening to clients, facts and secrets can be collected from them.
  5. Professionals must always be honest with their clients, as trust is everything!
  6. Clients need to feel comfortable with others, before business relationships can be built and nurtured.

Upon reflection, I enjoyed listening to Richard share his knowledge and expertise. The best compliment I can give is that I have since re-evaluated what I have learned about what is effective communication. For instance when listening, it is less effective to write down notes, as it is important to concentrate on the speaker’s facial movements, emotional expression and tone of voice. Finally I have learned that rather than asking multiple questions, communication needs to be natural.

Professional Liverpool – Networking Evening with Tomas Maunier

Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending a networking evening, organised by Professional Liverpool and featuring Tomas Maunier from Fazenda Group. Having previously listened to Tomas speak about Fazenda, it was a pleasure to once again hear him speak about the founding, growth and success of the business.

With an excellent turnout, canapés and networking at the Cotton Exchange, the event began with a warm introduction from John Hall, the Chief Executive of Professional Liverpool. As Tomas took to the stage, a hearty applause marked the beginning of an experience, where I once again listened to Tomas’s personal journey, from his law beginnings, to moving into the hospitality industry in 2010. Listening to Tomas again, I was not to be disappointed, as I absorbed his every word from start to finish.

There was plenty that Tomas covered. From his beginnings as a solicitor, getting involved with marketing and hospitality, to explaining about the importance of having the right people, which was a reoccurring theme. In addition, Tomas also talked about the difficult challenges and setbacks, that had to be overcome, for Fazenda to be successful. An example is that working in hospitality, means the environment is incredibly fast-paced, frantic and constantly demanding, leaving minimal opportunity to stop and reflect. This means surrounding oneself with the right people is important.

Thinking about Tomas’s Fazenda journey, I found it to be an interesting insight into how the hospitality industry works. With so many restaurants competing for trade in Liverpool and other UK cities, customers have so much choice and different tastes, meaning that establishments need to provide the best possible dining experiences. Another aspect to consider is that trends will change as money gets tighter, leading to the dining out bubble bursting. Therefore restaurants will need to innovate and adapt to change, or fall by the wayside.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Alex Clark and Rosie Davis from Professional Liverpool, for putting together a fine evening of networking. I would also like to once again thank Tomas for sharing his incredible story, and providing a glimpse into the blood, sweat and tears required, to be successful in business.

Certainly provided me with food for thought!