Tag Archives: Networking

BIMA & The Joy of Work with Bruce Daisley – A Review

In every organisation, the workplace culture has a considerable effect on the productivity of employees. This is because if a working environment makes them feel good and positive about what they do, they will be more productive. However, if the environment is infected with negativity, this has the opposite effect on employees feeling disillusioned and stressed, sometimes to the detriment of their health.

I recently attended an event organised by BIMA (British Interactive Media Association) at The Plaza in Liverpool. Presented by Bruce Daisley who is the European VP of Twitter, the purpose of this event was to look at how workplace culture affects an employee’s productivity. The event began with a delicious lunch, followed by Bruce’s talk, a Q&A session, before finishing with an opportunity to have a free copy of Bruce’s new book The Joy of Work, signed by the man himself.

Following the lunch, Bruce introduced the talk by starting with his background. This was before speaking in detail about how the modern workplace environment is becoming increasingly permeated with stress, affecting not only the physical and mental wellbeing of employees, but also the creativity and productivity of organisations. Reasons include the changing digitalisation of the business world, the feeling of being overworked or underutilised, and the constant daily overload of information. In simple terms, as the modern workplace has changed, the levels of stress has soared through the roof.

I was impressed with how Bruce talked about how stress and negativity in the workplace affects creativity. This is because when under pressure (e.g. sitting at your desk waiting for ideas), the thinking of fresh ideas when under the microscope destroys an individual’s creative capacity. I have always believed that good ideas only come to you when you are relaxed, and this certainly reaffirmed this for me.

Bruce also made other interesting points related to stress, and the negative effects on creativity. These gave me plenty to consider about what the workplace environments of the future need for employees to feel positive, and for creativity to thrive.

These points include the following:

  1. Modern working systems thrive on overwork.
  2. Physical productivity goes down when we are overworked.
  3. We are very close to a burnout generation.
  4. Creativity gets killed when put under the gun.
  5. The human brain is configured to make a certain number of decisions per day.
  6. Mental fatigue is when the quality of decisions made drops.
  7. In order to be productive, it is vitally important to recover well.
  8. Weekend e-mails are a fast way to workplace burnout.
  9. Sleep is a real performance-enhancing activity.
  10. Creative offices have more face-to-face conversation between people.
  11. Time when travelling is creative.
  12. Stress lingers in the mind like a hangover.
  13. Creativity is the last competitive advantage.

To promote a working culture that embraces creativity and encourages new ideas, there is plenty for organisations and individuals to consider. These include providing a workplace environment that supports employees by managing stress, promoting wellbeing and preventing overworking to maintain productivity and quality of decision making. Communication barriers must be removed to prevent individuals, teams, departments and groups from working within silos, by encouraging face-to-face communication between all parties.

On reflection, there were several takeaways that I learned. The first and most important was that stress kills creativity. The second is that being relaxed and loose in thought is when creativity happens. A third takeaway is that creative magic happens when humans work together. My final takeaway is the importance of mental recovery and replenish through sleep, relaxation and even mindfulness. What I have learned from all this and more, has given me a better understanding of what is required to be creative.

I loved every minute of the event. From the talk given by Bruce, to the intelligent and insightful questions asked by the audience, it was an experience that I gleamed so much learning from, of which I am truly grateful.

The event also allowed me the opportunity to network, mingle and share notes, experiences and compare understandings, with many familiar faces. These included Andy Kent from Angel Solutions, Ian Finch from Mando Agency, Gavin Sherratt of Mashbo, Phil Adams from Langtons, Alex Clark from Professional Liverpool, Leon McCowan from Your Business Mobiles, Nicola Forshaw from Mindfit and Sarah Lowe from Bruntwood. An added bonus was that I got a taste of using AR (Augmented Reality) technology provided by Holdens Agency, which involved viewing the venue surroundings in real-time over a superimposed image, which was an amazing experience.

My thanks go to Bruce for a thought-provoking talk, and for signing my copy of his book, which I am looking forward to reading and reviewing. Finally, I would like to thank everyone at Bruntwood, BIMA and LCR Activate for organising a terrific event.

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Weightmans Wednesday – Professional Liverpool

I have mentioned plenty about Professional Liverpool, and of the events I have attended previously. Therefore it was a real pleasure to attend this month’s Weightmans Wednesday in Liverpool, where I was able to listen and learn about the work that Professional Liverpool does in promoting the business community in the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

The speaker for the event was John Hall who is the former Managing Partner of Bermans Solicitors, and since 2011 has been Chief Executive of Professional Liverpool. During that time, Professional Liverpool has grown successfully as a crucial voice in Liverpool’s business scene, which meant I was really looking forward to learning more about the organisation. This is because whilst I already knew that Professional Liverpool provides excellent networking opportunities for businesses, I knew little about the great work they do in providing a voice for businesses in Liverpool.

John talked eloquently about how the organisation’s membership base has significantly grown since 2011. In addition, John talked about how the organisation provides a voice to the professional business community in Liverpool, and how the events hosted provide a valuable and educational insight into how businesses and the economic landscape is constantly changing. As I listened, I came to understand that Professional Liverpool is more than just about networking and promoting the LCR, as it is also about educating, developing and supporting the business community.

I also learned some interesting facts about Professional Liverpool, which I have listed below:

  1. Professional Liverpool has over 500 members.
  2. Members are from many industry sectors including law, finance, marketing, digital and more.
  3. They hold up to 100 events a year from networking lunches, training seminars to the flagship Cannes Do event, which this year raised £13,874 for charity.
  4. By supporting and representing the professional business sector within the LCR, Professional Liverpool has supported an estimated 107,000 jobs in 12,000 companies.
  5. The above helps in generating more than £8billion per annum in gross value added (GVA).
  6. A new Creative, Digital and Technology specialist group to support Liverpool’s creative, digital and tech community is being launched.
  7. Professional Liverpool also has other specialist groups including Development & Regeneration, Healthcare, Private Client, Property, Marketing & Communications and Corporate Finance.

What I have learned is that Professional Liverpool plays a massive role in supporting businesses, and working with public and private sector partners for the benefit of the city. It is through continual collaboration and the willingness of everyone to raise Liverpool’s profile and brand, that will be a decisive factor in the future. This is why the organisation is a tremendous asset to the LCR, and also why John and everyone involved in the organisation, from the board, the membership, and those who work behind the scenes at Professional Liverpool, deserve the respect and appreciation of the entire professional business sector in the LCR.

My thanks goes to everyone at Weightmans for organising the event. I would also like to personally thank John for sharing the story of Professional Liverpool, which was delivered with heartfelt passion, experience and also humour. It was such an uplifting talk that reminded me of how proud I am to work in our wonderful city, and I shall continue to support John and Professional Liverpool in representing local businesses, and to promote the city of Liverpool.

Thanks for reading!

The Platform – Commercial Property in Liverpool

When attending networking events, it can be difficult to find one that focuses on quality of networking. This month I attended The Platform, which is a unique business networking event, in that it not only allows professionals to network, develop quality connections, and listen to top-level speakers, but it also allows them to talk about their businesses. It is the latter that separates The Platform from other events that I have attended previously.

Held at Hill Dickinson in Liverpool, the event’s theme looked at Liverpool’s commercial property sector. This included what the Liverpool City Region (LCR) has achieved, along with some of the shortcomings that can be addressed for the region to do better commercially. Being interested in what is happening in Liverpool, with regards to commercial developments and how the local and national economic landscape is changing, I was keen to find out more for myself.

To discuss Liverpool’s commercial property sector in detail, the event included a panel discussion featuring interactive questions submitted by attendees. The panel featured Sue Wrightthe_platform1-2 who is Signature Living’s Managing Director, Mark Lawler who is the Managing Director of Baltic Creative CIC and Alex McCann of Hill Dickinson. Each speaker talked about their businesses, and their opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of the LCR’s commercial property sector, which was interesting for me to learn about.

The discussion was a fascinating insight into the workings of the commercial sector of Liverpool. With the panel’s experience and knowledge, I discovered some interesting points about Liverpool’s commercial strengths and areas for improvement. These gave me plenty to ponder for myself, which I have included below.

  1. Despite economic uncertainty the commercial property sector in Liverpool is very buoyant.
  2. Investors are still coming from countries such as China and America to invest in the city region.
  3. Major successes include the growth of the Baltic Triangle, which has delivered 1500 jobs in the last five years.
  4. Liverpool has a fast developing digital and creative economy.
  5. 4% of economic growth comes from outside of Liverpool.
  6. Major infrastructure improvements in transport, telecommunications and others are needed.
  7. Getting the balance right between residential and commercial property is paramount.

From listening to the panel discussion, I gained a balanced understanding of Liverpool’s commercial property sector. What I have learned is the city region has a tremendous can-do attitude and massive appeal to global investors, evident from the development of the Baltic Triangle, and to the sight of massive cranes visible over the Liverpool skyline. Future developments such as the Ten Streets, Paddington Village and the Fabric District also bring many possibilities to transform the city region’s economy. Despite these currently difficult economic and political times, the city is looking ahead in an optimistic and positive mood.

I am also aware there is still plenty to improve upon for Liverpool and the surrounding boroughs e.g. Wirral, Sefton and Knowsley to realise their commercial potential. This means everyone in the city region need to not only come together, but to also have a single unifying purpose and vision that inspires, encourages and drives all to work together as one, for the greater good of the Liverpool City Region.

I enjoyed ethe_platform1-3verything about The Platform from start to finish. I loved the quality of the networking, the panel discussion, the conversations, and the plush surroundings. As a result, I am looking forward to attending the next Platform event, of which I recommend to any professional in business.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Garth Dallas, Steve Dickson, Amanda Follit and Mick Ord for organising the event, and to Sue Wright, Mark Lawler and Alex McCann for being such great and interesting speakers. My thanks also go to Hill Dickinson for hosting the event.

Professional Liverpool – Networking Breakfast with Nicola Forshaw

By constantly dealing with the pressures of everyday life at breakneck pace, we put ourselves under plenty of stress. In these chaotic times of this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world that we live in today, the feelings of busyness, tiredness, as well as being distracted and overloaded can be overwhelming, to the detriment of our physical and mental health. This means we need to be non-judgementally aware and feel what is happening in the present moment all around and inside ourselves, which is also known as mindfulness.

Last month I attended a networking breakfast organised by Professional Liverpool. Held at the Cotton Exchange, this was delivered by Nicola Forshaw of Mindfit, which looked at mindfulness. I was curious to learn about how I could personally incorporate mindfulness into my everyday life. A second reason for attending, was I also saw this as an opportunity to develop a mindful approach to leading and helping others.pro_liverpool_networkingbreakfast3

Nicola was a superb speaker with a great passion for her business. From start to finish, Nicola delivered a talk that was succinct, easy to understand, clear, knowledgeable and reassuring for the entire audience. Indeed, I was impressed with how Nicola clearly showed her expertise with a smooth tone and flow, leaving myself and everyone mesmerised.

There was plenty that I learned from Nicola. From using mindfulness personally in everyday life, as well as using mindful leadership to cultivate, nurture and support others, I learned and gained an understanding of mindfulness.

Below are some examples of what I learned about mindfulness:

  1. Mindfulness is a practice of living in the present moment without consciously passing judgement.
  2. If you worry or dwell on the past and future, you will miss out on the present.
  3. Drop into the present to get a sense of calm.
  4. The threat is in the mind most of the time through overthinking.
  5. Overthinking makes you ill.
  6. Meditation is clear seeing of the mind.
  7. Mindful listening involves being comfortable, connected and happy. This is required as you need to feel able to express yourself thorough your presence, clarity, focus and compassion to others.
  8. The quality of your presence has a diverse impact on another person’s thinking.
  9. Mindfulness is not a quick fix, as you must be committed to it for the long-term, and it requires patience and practice.
  10. Being a mindful leader not only improves your resilience, but also improves complexity, communication and collaboration with others.

From the above, I now understand that is important to make the most of the present, and not worry and overthink about the future. The latter is especially true with some things in life and business that you have no control over, as it is easy and understandable to feel concerned about what may or may not lie ahead.

To summarise my thoughts, I found the event to be a fascinating introduction to mindfulness. From this I have learned plenty of interesting points on mindfulness and mindful leadership, and how I can apply this to my own life and to assist others. I can pro_liverpool_networkingbreakfast2honestly say this has been extremely useful to me as part of my personal and professional development, and I have since been trying to apply mindfulness in my daily life, by applying a few minutes every day to practice.

Overall the event was excellent. From meeting Nicola who was delightful to speak and listen to, from networking and catching up with several familiar faces including Chris Burgess, David Wafer, Lee Parry and Leon McCowan, there was plenty of conversation and opportunities to strengthen networking relationships. The breakfast provided was also delicious with fresh fruit, bagels, cookies, croissants, meat, cheeses and plenty of tea and coffee, giving a cultured and continental taste.pro_liverpool_networkingbreakfast4

In conclusion, I would like to thank Nicola for being a wonderful speaker, and for opening my eyes and ears to the power of mindfulness. My thanks also go to Alex Clark, Emma Rittenberg and Keri Stanistreet of Professional Liverpool for putting together a fine networking event, and I certainly hope my fellow attendees got as much out of it as I did.

Thank you very much!

Future Boss Club – Who Are They?

Who are the Future Boss Club and what do they do?

For female professionals and entrepreneurs who work in Merseyside and browse their LinkedIn and Twitter feeds, the name may ring a few bells. This is because Future Boss Club is a networking group for females aged 18-35, which aims to boost and empower the next generation of women in business from all over the North West.

Since being formed in September 2016, Future Boss Club has grown considerably, with a diverse group of talented women representing several businesses. By focusing strongly on business-related issues from a female perspective, from networking and other events related to business, Future Boss Club is an interesting concept that aspires to help and support women in becoming the best they can be in business.

Future Boss Club is more than just about networking. It is also a support network and hub for women from various backgrounds including graduates, professionals and entrepreneurs, to support, help and learn from each other. In simple terms, they are a community of enthusiastic and positive like-minded individuals, with a shared passion for business.

Having read and learned about Future Boss Club, I cannot help but admire their work and ambition. Certainly with talk about gender pay gaps and other inequality issues in business and industry today, I consider the work of Future Boss Club to be very important in supporting and championing women to become future leaders in their chosen industries, from technology, manufacturing, engineering, science, marketing, finance, law and many more. Therefore I believe that Future Boss Club are an important part of the business community in Merseyside, and I certainly hope they continue their fine work and grow further.

To everyone at Future Boss Club, I shall finish with these words.

Keep smashing those barriers!

Weightmans Wednesday – ABS Solutions

Health and fitness is important to everyone. There are so many gyms and other fitness establishments that offer services to customers looking to exercise for various reasons, which is why the fitness industry is currently booming. Like any other business however, fitness establishments need to have their individual style or brand to attract customers.

At last month’s Weightmans Wednesday bi-monthly event, I was delighted to listen to Connor O’Brien the founder of Absolute Body Solutions (ABS), talk about the story of his business. It was a very good story too, from opening the first gym in Speke, to the latest gyms in Liverpool City Centre, and also recently in Manchester. In addition, Connor also talked about the rigorous attention to detail involved with ensuring the business performs and delivers the highest quality personal fitness training to customers. Listening to Connor speak, I recognised the crucial qualities of relentless hard-work, a strong emphasis of quality and consistency of performance when delivering services to customers, as well as Connor’s own passion for fitness.

For myself, I had a particular interest in this event, and of what I could learn from it. The result from listening to Connor’s story, was that I learned of the difficulties of being a good personal trainer and business person, because there are so many responsibilities involved with running both the front and back-end functions of the business. From the personal training of clients, to looking after the finance, marketing, as well monitoring the performance and continual development of the 19 personal trainers employed by ABS, I can only imagine and admire the tremendous work and dedication of everyone involved, that goes into making the business successful. This is why a key takeaway for any business owner is to surround themselves with the right people.

Connor also talked about how the fitness industry is changing. This involved the growth of online platforms such as YouTube to deliver personal training online to a wider audience. In the long term, I believe it will be interesting to see how gyms and personal trainers make use of online platforms. However technology will need to be tailored to suit the needs of gyms, personal trainers and their clients.

Overall it was a very good event, with plenty for me to take away and ponder for myself. This is because I came away thinking about my own self-improvement in my work and personal life, learning new methods and consistently applying them to develop as a person and as a professional.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Connor for sharing his story, and also to everyone at Weightmans for coming together, to organise and deliver an interesting evening.

Weightmans Wednesday – Veeno

In Liverpool, there are so many cafes that serve tea, coffee and snacks. However there is also a cafe called Veeno on Castle Street, which serves Italian wine and spuntini, which means little snacks and appetisers in Italian.

At last week’s event at Weightmans LLP in Liverpool, I had the pleasure of listening to a presentation on the background story of Veeno. This was delivered by Nino Caruso, the CEO and co-founder of the business. Nino delivered a delightful presentation on Veeno’s origins from co-founding the company with Andrea Zecchino in 2013.

Listening to Nino’s presentation, I was entranced by his story. Nino talked about his background in wine, forged through four generations of his family’s vineyard in Sicily, providing pure naturally produced Italian wine to over 35 countries, and how Andrea and himself, founded, grew and nurtured the business. In addition, Nino also talked about the future of Veeno, including the challenge of developing a corporate structure that supports the business, whilst retaining its unique identity.

From the event, I learned some interesting facts about Veeno, which I have listed below:

  1. Employs 150 people in the UK.
  2. As well as Liverpool and Manchester, they also have stores across the UK including Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester and Nottingham.
  3. 10 more cafes are due to open in the UK in 2018.
  4. Veeno made £4.3 million in total revenue in 2017.

The facts above show how Veeno has grown as a business. However it is more than just an Italian cafe that serves wines and spuntini. They also host wine tasting sessions for businesses and groups of people. Having attended the occasional past event at Veeno, they are a completely unique experience which I recommend to anyone.

Nino’s presentation was more than just talking about Veeno’s success as a business. It was delivered with a soft and heartfelt tone. As Nino spoke, I picked up on his passion for wine, life and family, encapsulated with a beautiful photo of Nino and his wife, married in his family’s vineyard in gorgeous Sicily sunshine and blue skies. Closing the presentation when talking about his grandfather, I heard Nino’s voice crackling gently with emotion, which I found rather moving. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful event.

I would like to thank Nino for an informative and touching presentation, as well as Ricky Heath and everyone at Veeno. My thanks also go to everyone at Weightmans for organising a lovely evening of networking.