Is it volunteer week or not? The 'spotlight on' weeks can be rather confusing - and dates can differ globally. Still, I've started a series of posts on volunteering (gift work) and discovering that it is actually National Volunteering Week in one country, has given me the excuse I need to write the next piece.
The 3rd step in my volunteering journey saw my active involvement in one of my business school Alumni groups. When we talk about the value of a business school education, there are a few different schools of though (pardon the pun). For me, it was, and still remains the lifetime value and the power of the network. Like anything however, this needs nurturing and attention.
Was it another happy accident? The programme that I was on, meant face time every few months, and whilst I had remote contact globally with others on the journey and at points spent a lot of time in the ground (see pics, who wouldn't?!) there was something to be said for investing some time in building connections with the wider community early on - enter, the Henley London Alumni Group.
I regularly started attending these once a month, informal events. Over time, as in any network, it became clear who the core attendees were and soon enough I was one of them also. Eventually, it was also a no-brainer that I play 'host' when the committee members weren't about. When the invitation came to formally join the committee, I accepted and looked after the marketing.
It didn't feel very different to the 18 months prior and I as the saying goes, when you do something because you want to, it's largely fun. It didn't feel like work, and in this particular volunteer scenario, it wasn't particularly time consuming. I signed up to a '1 year tenure' which simply rolled for a little while. Eventually life happened and I started to pull back after I took on my 4th volunteer role. For about 6 months however, the two ran concurrently.
I may no longer be active here but the current team continue with the consistency of these events. I calculate that the group is probably now been going in some way for over 30 years. As I referred to in my previous piece on gift work, the longevity of a volunteer cause or endeavour relies on fresh blood coming in at the right time and a core team in place.
I still look back on this time fondly. I remain an active member of a global network that will serve me and that I will continue to serve over the course of my lifetime. These days it is pretty cool to 'join-the-dots' when I meet Henley Alumni through daily life. This year I found one in my team in my current volunteer environment. We'd all do well to remember our points of anchoring - they serve well as ice breakers and often lead to relationships that blossom.
Henley Business School - https://www.henley.ac.uk/alumni/community-and-networking
Rupa Datta - Founder, Portfolio People
‘How ARE you?’ is a question I'm beginning to dread. Pre-Corona days I’d answer with a simple ‘Not bad’, (British speak for EXCELLENT) or ‘Good, good’ (British for NOT DOING WELL leave me alone). Now I respond with a timid, ‘All good, good’, which I hope translates to, ‘I’m virus free and still have toilet paper'.
Under the circumstances, it would be callous for me to answer truthfully. How am I doing? How do you think I’m doing?! TERRIBLE! All my gigs have been cancelled, I have no income and 'family time' is beginning to feel like I’m doing time!
I’m not a negative person but if you ask me, ‘Is the glass have half full or half empty?’ I’ll answer, ‘Is the glass clean?'
What makes matters worse is that we're surrounded by what I call the ‘Happiness Brigade’. People who insist we look at the bright side of things and take the opportunity to better ourselves. They're all over social media, ‘I want to learn Chinese, I want to learn Russian, I want to learn Nuclear Science!’
Me? I just want to stay alive.
Don’t get me wrong, I realize some positive things have come out of the lock down. For example McDonald's closed shop to prevent deaths from Corona. And inadvertently from heart disease, obesity, cholesterol and diabetics.
Then there’s Easy Jet, that will be leaving the middle plane seats empty. What they failed to mention was that middle seat passengers will now travel in the overhead compartment.
Let's not forget property sales have gone down by 70%! Now a tiny studio in London will only cost £8 million! What a bargain!
Best news? They found a massive cocaine haul smuggled in face masks. It makes perfect sense! Face masks to prevent CORONA fever, cocaine to prevent cabin fever. Brought to you by the 'Cartel that Cares'.
Having said that, there's still a lot of nasty stuff happening out there, which I won't go into because it makes the Exorcist look like a Disney movie. Even more distressing, experts predict the lock down could last six months. Six months? I can't live with myself for the next six minutes. Let alone putting up with my partner, who in fairness is sleeping in the shed because he can’t stand me either.
It doesn't help that people are breaking the two-meter rule, which many put down to the use of the metric system which is relatively new (1965). I suspect it has more to do with the pandemic’s ‘branding’, which was done by amateurs who had no idea of how to get a message across quickly and effectively.
Let’s start with the name: CORONA. A popular Mexican beer with the foreboding slogan ‘Miles Away from Ordinary’. They might as well have called it HEINEKEN, or BUDWEISER. Who on earth is going to take this seriously?
As for COVID-19? COVID 19 sounds like an energy drink!
If you really wanted to name it after a Mexican beer, choose DOS EQUIS (XX), with its sinister slogan, ‘Sooner or Later You’ll Get It'. Personally, I suggest scarier sounding stuff. Something like 'The Hitler Virus', 'KGB Torture Virus' or go a little Hollywood, ‘Black Death – The Sequel’.
Re branding done; TV programs need to get with the program. ‘Newsnight’ will be renamed ‘NewsFright’, as it has more spine-chilling news than a funeral home's coffin menu.
‘Britain’s Got Talent’ updated to ‘Britain’s got CORONA’, with the winner being the vaccine. Rumour has it McAfee will win, as it solves most virus problems.
‘Dragons Den’ revamped to ‘Dragons Lend … Us Your Money', to find the vaccine you cheapskates!
Finally, ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ modified to ‘Strictly Come Dancing Alone'. It will feature iconic 'dance by yourself' tunes like 'The Chicken Dance', 'YMCA' and 'The Macarena', giving everyone a chance to dance like no one is watching. Because no one is.
Sonia Aste is a writer learning line-dance moves to 'Cotton Eyed Joe'. No one is watching.
No, seriously. Every since the 1990s, slowly but surely we've so called gurus pop up claiming to be experts in this field. Lo and behold, apps also popped up!
Let's rewind a second. Defined in the Collins English Dictionary Millennium Edition, to meditate is:
'To think about something deeply; To reflect deeply on spiritual matters...'
Needless to say, the wikipedia version is a tad different. You can look that up yourself! :)
A few years ago, one of my best friends invited me to come along a meditation and wellbeing day that she was organising locally. She was raised in an environment where every Sunday there would be seva and meditation. I sort of knew what I was expecting ahead of time, apart from the meditation bit. Those that wanted were guided into a state of meditation for X hours - I fell asleep! I remember telling her that afterwards. She replied that this was fine, as most people do the first few times. Stillness brings out different things for everyone in the beginning, in some cases this can be a recognition of how tired our body and/or mind is or enjoying the stillness enough to carry us to a state of relaxation and rest.
As we progress to Lockdown UK Week 5, I've been reconnecting with ancient spiritual stories, such as The Mahabharat - people would go into meditative states for months, even years! So here's a thought, for some of us, this lockdown malarkey is giving us a little more time to allow ourselves to unlock the gateway to meditate. For others, sadly not at the moment.
If you are truly open to owning your time, then do it! Here's a basic relaxation snipper that a friend of mine recorded. In my view, it works best if you'll permit yourself an uninterrupted nap, as a cure for insomnia or just before you intend to go off into dreamy dreamland.
Rupa Datta - Founder, Portfolio People
We've entered into Week 4 of UK Lockdown - now also knowing that we have a few more weeks of this. A summary of the week's so far:
Week 1 - a minor adjustment to business as usual for me. Not hitting the road nor networking, I welcomed what felt like simply an extended period of 'admin time'.
Week 2 - much of the same, with the added sprinkle of navigating the odd change to home routines. For an introvert and someone used to being very autonomous with their time, the sudden increase in video conferencing and additional meetings from all directions were an interesting initial reaction to observe.
Week 3 - Here I went into organise mode following an inevitable change to the time devoted to 'paid work'. By the end of the week though, I was super relaxed, valued the home time with loved ones and had found my creative flow once more.
This week, I'm not sure how much I've achieved and felt rather like a busy fool. What I have noticed however is that my penchant for naps has returned. Hoorah!
For the last year or so, I've been working on consciously listening to my body's needs (I'll expand on this another time). Often, external demands on this. However, our health and the shell that surrounds it is our guide to our own needs and we owe it to ourselves and listen.
A friend of mine has been releasing short videos to help us all during this period of change. Whether they are an opportunity for you to temporarily switch off, or when the call for a nap comes, give this a try. This particular one I'm sharing here has really helped because I am organically at the point where I am listening to the need to relax.
This is a piece that I've been meaning to write for a number of years and have perhaps told this some or all of this story in a number of ways. I sense a shift towards volunteering and hope that it is not a one-off, short-lived affair, but something that we all to some degree or another choose to do.
'Gift work' for those unfamiliar with the term was first coined by Charles Handy in 'The Elephant and the Flea' as part of one's portfolio career. Defined loosely as a type of work done with no (financial) reward expectation in return. To you and I, this is most synonymous with volunteering.
Here are a few reflections of my own entry & experiences into this world:
Whizz-Kidz - I'd recently left the corporate world for the first time. By way of synchronicity, I'd me the CEO of this medium-sized charity at a party and she'd said that they were always open to new volunteers and I was willing to explore how I could help out. A meeting with the then Volunteer Manager followed. It wasn't an interview per se - rather an exploration of fit, what I could bring to the table and what I too wanted out of it.
I was placed in the Corporate Partnerships team - and had a very flexible work arrangement with the team. Here, I had my first real exposure to a not-for-profit, took part in fundraising events & made new friends. This is what led me to my next 'gift work' stint.
Find out more about Whizz Kidz - http://www.whizz-kidz.org.uk/
Unseen Tours - A co-founder of this fabulous little social enterprise was working at Whizz-Kidz at the same time I was volunteering there. We became friends and over time I found myself hanging out with the crew. To begin with, my involvement was quite informal. Over time, I became known as the 'Critical Friend' to the organisation providing a sounding board and commercial advice.
I certainly witnessed a few waves of evolution during the years I was actively involved and to my mind, the right people, and the right energy came and went naturally. The business model remains somewhat unique. Here, I learnt a lot about volunteer motivations, humility and had my first dabble with public speaking engagements, predominantly within educational establishments.
Although I'm now longer actively involved, I remain passionate about the cause and a strong advocate. I'm truly humbled by how people are currently giving their time, yet saddened by the effect on income streams for not-for-profits.
These are but two examples of gift work evolution in my own portfolio and I'll no doubt share others in due course. Other small doses of community and service are coming to the fore now - sometimes it may be our creative side that makes the world go round. My mum's brought her sewing machine out and makes a handful of masks per week for friend's and neighbours. Others are revisiting their hobbies for the same. That's humanity right there.
Find out more about Unseen Tours - https://unseentours.org.uk/
Rupa Datta - Founder, Portfolio People
It's inevitable that our portfolio focus whilst in lockdown has shifted for all of us - be it by default of design. For those of you not familiar with the original theory behind a portfolio career, 'home work' was the segment dedicated to work done 'at home' - often unpaid and often that which the female would pick up. Over time, this work if you were of a certain economic background would be outsourced, and as a result we redefined homework as how we spent 'home time' and with whom.
Now it feels to me that there's been a major global reset in this area, with some culture adapting seamlessly; others less so. For me the first week or so of lockdown wasn't anything new. A remote worker for over 7 years, I simply felt like I was having additional admin time, with an added dose of this video conferencing malarkey. Then, like many others, I experienced my 'paid work' segment being impacted.
Frankly, I thought this was great. A few days of getting myself organised and crunching the numbers and voila! I knew this new found 'free time' would last for at least a month and thus would eventually give me the headspace required to stop, reflect and hopefully allow my creative streak to pop its head up again.
Whilst the split or balance of home work in each household may indeed differ, there is something to be said for us going back to the future in our experiences here:
When we come out the other side, perhaps we'll all have a realisation of what 'home' really means to us. I for one am grateful for the additional quality time I'm not getting to spend with my parents and what I will learn as a result.
Got an upcoming presentation? Do you want to engage, entice and persuade an audience or potential client to buy your product, service or idea? If so, trust is a must. According to Zig Ziglar: "If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you they'll do business with you."
So far so good, but with a new prospective client, how do you quickly garner trust whilst busy presenting your message?
Using the simple three step process: Know - Like - Trust.
From this point on, trust and persuasion are intertwined and you have the opportunity to keep on persuading the audience of your message.
Aristotle defined three modes of persuasion: ethos, logos and pathos. How do you use these in your (sales) presentation?
Ethos – your personality, character and values build trust and credibility. The energy and confidence you bring to the presentation underwrites your confidence in what you are selling.
Pathos – your sincerity, empathy and energy. While facts may impress and sway an audience, buying is an emotional action. Your sincerity, conviction and passion will most likely create an emotional shift in your audience. Understand the feelings in the room and you can tap into that emotion with your sales solution.
In summary, present as you would be presented to. Connect with ethos, logos and pathos, build trust and create presentation/sales success.
About the author
Glen Savage is a public speaking trainer and voice coach at Purple Speaking Academy. If you’d like to speak with more confidence, clarity and impact, contact Glen to learn how he can help you. firstname.lastname@example.org.
Facilities Management - it's just like running a household, only bigger, isn't it?
Guest blog by Bernard Crouch
I approach my house, there is Mr Tibbs the security guard keeping a watchful eye from the front window, in a neat bit of ‘bundling’ as those of us in FM describe it, Tibbs is both our security guard and pest controller. However, whilst his pest control efforts are admirable his security work is actually rather lapse, but nonetheless only costing a few tins of Whiskas each week, so well within budget!
The grounds (or front garden) need a trim, I must have a word with our groundsman (that’ll be me!) and get the strimmer fired up this weekend.
Access control is important, partly due to Tibbs and his feline approach to security, so thankfully I have those Yale door locks manufactured to BS 3621.
Inside it’s feeling a bit chilly, so I go to the PC that hosts the BMS (Building Management System) in a house though it’s simply a thermostat on the wall. I am carrying a few heavy items so I might take the lift, except of course there is no lift in the house.
In the bathroom I remember that I haven’t done a legionella test recently, but wait this is a private house where we use the shower every day so no need for that. The bathroom looks like it is due for a clean, Magda the clean is due in tomorrow so that’s all right. Magda is our cleaner, two hours every Friday, thankfully it’s pretty simple she cleans and gets paid, or we get someone else!
The bathroom was refitted recently, I had three quotes from local builders and chose one, of course I requested details of their trade memberships, three years accounts, detailed project programme with milestones, risk assessments and method statements, whilst I provided them with an asbestos register detailing any asbestos known to exist in the house. Actually all I did was get three quotes and I checked out their references online, job done.
Meanwhile upstairs I notice that my in tray of invoices and receipts is building up, time to call the archive company and have a box picked up, no wait, I’ll just pop it into the loft along with the other boxes of paperwork. Of course I should revisit my health & safety policy before climbing up into the increasingly crowded loft.
On the way downstairs I pass Tibbs who unexpectedly takes a swipe at me scratching my hand, time to speak to HR I think, a member of my team has attacked me for no apparent reason. But hey, I am HR and all the other departments so I’ll have to have ask Tibbs to come to my office and have a stern word with him about his behaviour. I could fire him of course and put out an ad ‘elderly furry security guard, also good at pest control, immediately available’. Of course I would have to train up his replacement, so maybe I’ll just dock his dreamies for a week.
Yup running a house, exactly like running buildings full of people and issues and policies and paperwork (but no one like furry old Tibbs thankfully).
With thanks to Bernard Crouch of Acumen FM
After many years working in FM and the workplace, Bernardstarted Acumen FM to provide a range of services to help organisations in delivering more efficient healthier workspaces.