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!

Weightmans Wednesday – Mowgli Street Food

Whenever I receive an invitation to a Weightmans event, I always look forward to not only networking, but also listening to the stories of others. I see these as opportunities to learn from speakers and fellow attendees, where personal stories are told, rich in heartfelt tone, humour and experience, lifting the human soul and encouraging a belief that anything is possible. A recent example is my experience of last week’s Weightmans Wednesday event, where I had the pleasure of listening to the excellent Nisha Katona of Mowgli Street Food.

Along with her success as a restaurateur and curry evangelist, Nisha has also written two books called “Pimp my Rice” and “The Spice Tree”, along with writing for newspapers such as the Independent and Telegraph. In addition, Nisha has also appeared on television, and you can also find her on Twitter and YouTube.

The audience and I were wowed by her personal journey, from her beginnings as a barrister for 20 years, to founding Mowgli in 2014, along with its subsequent and successful growth. Nisha also spoke about building Mowgli’s success through the back of social media, in addition to helping others. This included sourcing local suppliers, and working as part of a close-knit and supportive community of residents, fellow restaurant owners and small businesses. Located in the unique and eclectic surroundings of Bold Street, Mowgli is one of Liverpool’s popular dining establishments.

Listening to Nisha, I picked up on her passion for homemade Indian cuisine, and of the pride in her work.  To be successful involves taking risks, thus requiring faith and confidence in yourself and your abilities. Other useful points that I picked up, were the importance of integrity, knowing your strengths, surrounding yourself with good people to delegate, as well as remaining true to yourself and your brand. A final and most important characteristic is the ability to tackle and survive setbacks.

My thanks go to everyone at Weightmans for organising a fine evening. I would also like to personally thank Nisha for sharing her heartfelt story. It was not only inspirational, but also powerful, and her eloquently chosen words contributed to lifting the evening, into the realms of unforgettableness. For me this was one on my favourite ever Weightmans Wednesday events.

To conclude, Nisha’s success shows that you can follow your heart, and pursue your passion for something that is a labour of love.

GDPR – How will it affect businesses?

Data is essential to the daily and future workings of an organisation. With commercially sensitive information held and stored electronically and physically, the loss and theft of stored data carries serious consequences. These include reputational, financial and legal damage, meaning there are significant pressures for all organisations and businesses, to ensure all necessary steps to secure the privacy of data are taken.

Next year, an important new data protection legislation called EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced. GDPR is a uniformed regulatory framework that will be coming into force across the EU and beyond, to define and bring together multiple requirements for securing data, under a single and clearer legislation.

Some important facts related to GDPR are listed below:

  1. The legislation comes into force on 25th May 2018 and replaces the Data Protection Directive (Directive 95/46/EC).
  2. GDPR will still apply to the UK even after Brexit, meaning that there will be no opting out!
  3. In the UK, the legislation will supersede the Data Protection Act 1998.
  4. GDPR is a legal compliance issue. Therefore the role of IT is to help and assist organisations, with ensuring they are legally compliant.
  5. Applies to all organisations, business and service providers regardless of geographical location.
  6. The data that is protected under GDPR are any forms of personally identifiable information held, related to EU citizens. This includes names, addresses, medical details, contact numbers and more.
  7. Includes all data held electronically, on paper and in other formats.

As a legal framework, the scope of GDPR is an incredibly large web of complexity. For organisations and businesses, the legislation brings many changes, which will affect how personal data is stored and used. This is through strict new legal requirements, which relate to how they can collect, record, store and process data, in addition to defining what needs to be done to ensure compliance.

These requirements include:

  1. Privacy by design, by reducing data collection and retention, in addition to requiring explicit permission to capture data.
  2. Before processing personal data, organisations must analyse and determine privacy risks through Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIA).
  3. An individual has the right for their data to be deleted, as part of their right to be forgotten.
  4. GDPR applies worldwide to anyone who holds personal data on an EU citizen.
  5. In the UK, any data breach must be notified to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) within 72 hours.
  6. Infringements of GDPR carry penalties, including fines of up to 4% of an organisation’s total revenue.

In this digital age where political issues such as Brexit have created uncertainty, it is more important than ever, that personal data is stored securely and processed legally. Organisations must take all appropriate steps and measures, to ensure their systems and processes are GDPR compliant. In addition, they will also need to thoroughly check that any business partners and suppliers are also compliant.

To summarise, GDPR is an all-encompassing piece of complex legislation that will transform how personal data can be legally used and processed. Technology will play a major part in assisting all organisational areas are working together to achieve legal compliance, by ensuring GDPR requirements are closely adhered to. Therefore organisations and businesses of all sizes must be aware of the requirements of GDPR, as infringements can damage their brand, both financially and from a reputational perspective.

More information on GDPR is available below:

http://www.itpro.co.uk/it-legislation/27814/what-is-gdpr-everything-you-need-to-know-4

http://www.eugdpr.org/gdpr-faqs.html

https://www.varonis.com/learn/what-is-eu-gdpr/

https://techstringy.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/what-ive-learned-about-gdpr/