Monday, 28 November 2011

Ice The Cake - The InCREDIBLE Wedding Supplier of the Year Awards

I was very proud to be asked to be a sponsor at the Ice the Cake The InCREDIBLE Wedding Supplier of the Year Awards and yesterday we had the event with all the finalists.

One of the things I love about my work is being able to meet and work with people who are passionate about what they do and how they do it.  In the room yesterday were people who have made their work about creating and supporting couples on their most special day - their Wedding Day.

There was a wonderful energy and buzz all day as people celebrated their achievements and recognition from their clients and each other and there was much fun, laughter and a few emotional moments.

I for one enjoyed myself immensely and my only regret was that I didn't get to talk to everyone in the room.  I was given time to tell a story (which is below) as I wanted everyone to recognise what they bring to their business and hope that they left knowing what they wanted their badge to say (that will make sense once you've read the story!)

I've also attached some pictures of the day - those that know me may be surprised to see that a) I'm not wearing a hat and b) I'm actually in a dress - don't worry normal service has been resumed today!

I am going to list all the categories, winners and highly commended finalists as I think they all deserve a mention and they were:-

Most Supportive Wedding Supplier 2011
Winner - Claire Ogden Designs
Highly Commended - Your Wedding at Loch Lomond and Danby Castle Events

Most Professional Wedding Supplier 2011
Winner - L.O.V.E. Bouquets
Highly Commended - Absolutely Divine Cupcakes and Lomond Beauty

Best on the day Wedding Supplier 2011
Winner - Eclipse Photography
Highly Commended - Beauty Weddings and Emma Lucy Photography

Most Beautifully Bespoke 2011
Winner - Kathryn Deeley Wedding Stationary
Highly Commended - CakeyPigg Originals and Flutterby Couture

Most Innovative Wedding Supplier 2011
Winner - Clevercow Cakes
Highly Commended - My Little Wrapper Chocolate Bars and Zankyou

Most Inspirational Wedding Supplier 2011
Winner - Cedar Events
Highly Commended - Something Special Flowers and Cerendipity Events

Most Entertaining Wedding Supplier 2011
Winner - Stick It On Wedding Services
Highly Commended - Creation Station and Timothy Lee Toastmaster

Special Recognition Awards 2011
Kate Lewis Design
My Little Wrapper Chocolate Bars

Sponsors Choice Awards 2011
CakeyPigg Originals

The 'Credible and Incredible' Wedding Supplier of the Year 2011
L.O.V.E. Bouquets

Congratulations to everyone!!

So the story I told...

The Gardener's Badge - Author unknown!

A landscape gardener ran a business that had been in the family for two or three generations. The staff were happy, and customers loved to visit the store, or to have the staff work on their gardens or make deliveries - anything from bedding plants to ride-on mowers.

For as long as anyone could remember, the current owner and previous generations of owners were extremely positive happy people.

Most folk assumed it was because they ran a successful business.

In fact it was the other way around...

A tradition in the business was that the owner always wore a big lapel badge, saying Business Is Great!

The business was indeed generally great, although it went through tough times like any other. What never changed however was the owner's attitude, and the badge saying Business Is Great!

Everyone who saw the badge for the first time invariably asked, "What's so great about business?" Sometimes people would also comment that their own business was miserable, or even that they personally were miserable or stressed.

Anyhow, the Business Is Great! badge always tended to start a conversation, which typically involved the owner talking about lots of positive aspects of business and work, for example:

the pleasure of meeting and talking with different people every day

the reward that comes from helping staff take on new challenges and experiences

the fun and laughter in a relaxed and healthy work environment

the fascination in the work itself, and in the other people's work and businesses

the great feeling when you finish a job and do it to the best of your capabilities

the new things you learn every day - even without looking to do so

and the thought that everyone in business is blessed - because there are many millions of people who would swap their own situation to have the same opportunities of doing a productive meaningful job, in a civilized well-fed country, where we have no real worries.

And so the list went on. And no matter how miserable a person was, they'd usually end up feeling a lot happier after just a couple of minutes listening to all this infectious enthusiasm and positivity.

It is impossible to quantify or measure attitude like this, but to one extent or another it's probably a self-fulfilling prophecy, on which point, if asked about the badge in a quiet moment, the business owner would confide:

"The badge came first. The great business followed."

A few special mentions as well for the following for all the work they put into making the event amazing.

Sue Page owner of Ice The Cake
Kate Seber of Seber Weddings and Events
Kate Lewis of Kate Lewis Designs
Ally Jones of My Little Wrapper Chocolate Bars
Natalie Trice of TallyPR and Sponsor
Leigh Quinnel of Leigh Quinnel Photography
Frank Miller of Frank Miller Photography and Videography
Jamie Page of Specialist Cars, Tring and Sponsor

and so to the photos!

 The Winners

 The Finalists

 Me with Kate Seber (centre) and Sue Page (right)

 L.O.V.E. Bouquets - Overall Winners

 Sponsors Choice Award with Natalie Trice (left) and the Winner CakeyPigg Originals (centre) and Me.

 Me with Timothy Lee Toastmaster

 Me with Stick it on Wedding Services

 Me with Emma Lucy Photography

 Me with Beauty Weddings

 Me talking!

 Me talking some more!

Me with the other Sponsors Jamie Page from Specialist Cars, Tring and Natalie Trice from TallyPR

Friday, 12 August 2011

Do you take a break?

I found this article from the BBC first published in June 2010 and thought that as people are feeling the pressure and strain more, how many more people are causing themselves problems and illness through not taking a break when at work. How much more healthier would we be and how often would we only have to do a task once if we did stop and take a break?

One in four 'works all day without break' – survey
BBC article – June 2010

One in four people in the UK often works all day without taking a break, a survey suggests.

More than half of the 3,000 people polled by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists said they went to work when feeling unwell or stressed. Staff shortages were cited as a cause of stress and why breaks were skipped.

While work can contribute to people's mental and physical well-being, overworking can lead to health problems, the CSP warned.

Back pain
While a quarter of those polled took no lunch break at all, a third worked through most of theirs. Half of those who did so said it was because they had too much work to do, and a third because there were not enough staff to do the work required.

Working in the same position for long periods at a time meant many complained of physical pain. The CSP warned that poor working practices increased the risk of chronic musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain - one of the most common reasons for long-term sickness leave in the UK.

Stress was also an issue, with more than 40% feeling stressed at least once a week. For many of these people, staff shortages and a heavy workload were at the root of their anxiety.

Last year, the health watchdog NICE urged employers to do more to tackle stress and anxiety in the workplace.

Alarm bells
Sickness absence and "sickness presence", when staff come to work feeling unwell, is estimated to cost employers and society about £35bn each year in reduced productivity, sick pay and benefits. At least some of this could be recouped through healthier working practices and helping employees access treatment for musculoskeletal disorders, the CSP said.

"Work is good for us and can contribute to our physical and mental well-being - but not when overworking means people don't have the time or energy to look after their own health or when staff are at work but not fit for work," said Ann Green, chairman of the CSP.

Ben Willmott, of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said: "These findings should ring alarm bells for employers.

"A certain level of pressure at work is of course desirable. However when the pressure people face exceeds their ability to cope - in other words stress - it is likely to lead to time off work and is linked to conditions such as depression, anxiety and heart disease."

What are your thoughts, do you work through your breaks and if so why? I would love to hear from you!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Top Tips for planning your Wedding Day

I was recently asked to present at Ice the Cake's Wedding Fayre in Thame as to what my top tips were for starting to plan your Wedding Day. So I thought I would share them on here...

1. Spirit of the day
Together you need to think about the feel and spirit you want for the day. Build a movie of it in your mind, what can you see, hear and feel. This will help you be clear about what you want in the day and what you don’t want.

When you know this then you can start to talk to your wedding planner and suppliers and they can get a clear vision of the day as well

2. Know your budget
Be really clear about how much you have to spend and what the main areas are you want to spend it on. Have a 10% contingency for those unknown ‘must haves’
Remember to include the cost of your Stag and Hen do’s.
If other people are putting money in be clear about how much and let them know what it’s specifically going towards.

3. Relationship with Suppliers
Take time to build your relationship with your suppliers – give them the vision of your day so they can deliver it. Become their favourite client

4. Sticking Points
If you have a sticking point ask yourself and each other ‘What’s important about having/not having that?’ Keep in mind your vision and spirit of the day – does it add to it or take away from it.

5. Your decisions
Everyone’s got an opinion – listen to it, say thank you and then decide what you want to do. If you’ve got someone that can’t leave it alone then it can help to give them a specific job to do.

6. What skills are in the bag
Look at the resources you have available to you – not just money, what skills do friends and family have that you can utilise – what are your skills – Table decorations, dress making

7. Big Stuff First
Plan the big stuff first – no point in worrying about what colour nail polish to have if you’ve not sorted out the venue!

8. The Team
Have a team around you of family, friends and suppliers that want to deliver the day you want and will support you.

9. Wedding Free time
Have time out with each other that has nothing to do with planning, organising or even thinking about the wedding.

10. Remember 1
Stay strong as the day approaches, emotions can start to run high and you may start to second guess yourself - keep in mind your vision of the day and let that guide you.

How could a coach help?

A coach will help you with all of the above and how you start the planning and being really clear about your day. There are also many techniques you can use to help you manage family and friends as everyone wants to play their part in your day. A coach can help with preparing the people that are writing and delivering the speeches and help the bridal party be at their best and relaxed in order to have an amazing and enjoyable day.

Friday, 8 July 2011

The Essentii Club launch

Well what a week it's been. After months of work in getting the strategy right, planning and writing the website, setting up the members only areas and testing it all launch day finally came!

I had chosen the 4th July - mostly because I would have been back from holiday for a week and it seemed like a good start day. I already have some clients who had signed up early and are already benefiting from being part of the club.

So why set up a new part of the business.... I wanted to focus on whole health - mind, body and spirit, not just one aspect or area of someone's life. I felt this was missing, people might think about their fitness or the eating habits or wonder why they feel fed up often and I wanted to offer a way of taking all that we do (or don't do) into account. The focus is about finding balance in all aspects of our lives and not about being perfect. It is about learning from what we do and understanding how we do it, in order to keep what does work and change what doesn't work.

Within this I thought of 3 main areas were this could be most beneficial.

Business Owners - Having happy healthy employees provides positive benefits to the company - less sickness, less stress, less time off = more productivity and employees benefit in their health and fitness both physically and mentally.

Sports Groups and Sporting Individuals - From team work to individual coaching, help getting to the next level in their sport and perform at their best more regularly - learn techniques used by top athletes in all areas of sport.

Individuals - Be in control of their weight management and fitness levels. Find the focus they need to achieve your outcomes.

This then brings together all my passions around enjoying life, getting fit and having fun! This first week has been great and winning Highly Commended for Business Strategy 2011 before officially launching was the icing on the cake and I'm looking forward to a great year!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Essentii wins first Business Award!!

Highly Commended for Business Strategy Award 2011.

I am delighted that Essentii has received it's first Business Award.

I had put the business forward for the Business Beacon Business Strategy Award 2011 for the strategy in setting up a new arm of the business - The Essentii Club (launched on 4th July 2011). I knew I had been short listed and attended the awards ceremony on the 30th June and I was so pleased to receive Highly Commended for Business Strategy Award 2011.

Made all the work over the last few months very worth it!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

What the 7/38/55 communication rule really means

I have read many books and articles on communication and how it works and in many of them they quote the work by Albert Mehrabian and the 7/38/55 rule on communication. A lot of them state that in ALL communication these figures mean

7% of our communication is the words we use
38% of our communication is the tone we use
55% of our communication is in the non verbal (physiology)

NO THAT IS NOT WHAT THEY MEAN – sorry for shouting but in the words of Peter Griffin (Family Guy) this ‘really grinds my gears’. The research by Mehrabian was around how we communicate feelings and attitudes only.

It is emphatically not the case that non-verbal elements in all senses convey the bulk of the message. So what do the figures mean….

An example of when we are communicating feelings and attitudes could be

• Verbal: "I'm Ok with that"
• Non-verbal: person avoids eye-contact, looks anxious, has turned away slightly, etc.

It becomes more likely that the receiver will trust the predominant form of communication, which to Mehrabian's findings is non-verbal (38% + 55%), rather than the literal meaning of the words (7%).

An example of when the words are 100% of the message

• You are at work when the fire officer comes into the room and shouts "Everyone evacuate the building because there is a fire," I would suggest the meaning of the words carries 100% of the message i.e., 1) there is a fire, and 2) get out of here. You are very unlikely to be worrying about the tone of voice and physiology of the person issuing the instructions and are more likely to grab your stuff (despite being told on numerous occasions not to) and get out. You'd get the message fully through the words without having to be an expert in body language to unravel the meaning.

The value of understanding the 7/38/55 rule relates to communications where emotional content is significant, and the need to understand it properly is great.

OK rant over!! What are your thoughts?

Thursday, 27 January 2011

What's the opposite of guilty?

I was recently asked a great question ‘What’s the opposite of Guilty?’ I immediately took the context to mean when I feel guilty about something what’s the opposite of that – after a bit of thinking I came up with Contentment – which didn’t really feel quite right and encompassed a lot of other feelings, happy with my decisions, knowing I was doing the right thing, understanding why I was doing what I was doing.

Then the question put to me was ‘isn’t innocence the opposite of guilt?’. Which I couldn’t disagree with and it got me thinking about the difference between being guilty and feeling guilty. The first one could be said to be quite simple – in a court of law it works that you are either one or the other. However, being that us Human beings are complicated creatures, all that changes when we start thinking about how we feel. How often have you gone through a customs check, knowing that you’ve not gone over any limits and yet still walk through feeling guilty!

Feeling guilty can come about when we start living by our should, shouldn’t, must, mustn’t rules which normally means we are looking for someone or something to blame for what is happening, or not happening, around us. As with all our feelings they are manifested by us, we choose how we want to feel, so why would we want to choose to feel guilty if it’s not useful to us?

I think the first part of changing how we feel is to take responsibility for our own actions and understand that in each moment we make the decision and act in a way that feels right in that moment – we may learn afterwards that it wasn’t the best decision and we can decide to do things differently in future, surely this is all about us growing as individuals and blaming ourselves or others will only keep us in the same place – is that useful?

So the next time you feel guilty about something, what are you going to do to change how you feel, what feeling would be more useful to you?

And good luck next time you wander through customs!