Sunday Inspiration

Nervous about going for that new job? Go for it! What’s the worst that could happen? Unsure about a new project or objective? Try it, you only fail by not taking that first step. A member of your team not performing as expected? Have a conversation. Don’t leave it to unravel even further. You are doing both yourself and your colleague a disservice. Asked to speak at an all staff meeting but you are secretly petrified? Fake it until you make it. I guarantee you, there are a lot of people in the audience who would be as terrified as you are standing up there and who are secretly cheering you on!

A little bit of inspiration this Sunday to start the week ahead!


Incubate to accumulate

  • I – innovate
  • N – new ideas using your
  • C – creative insights while
  • U – understanding the process to
  • B – be your true authentic self
  • A – achieve what you set out to do, then
  • T – teach others , pay it forward and
  • E- excel at all that you do


A Wrinkle in time, saves nine

“A wrinkle in time, saves nine”. I used to be told this saying as a child and into my early teens and never understood this parable and what it meant. It truly sounded like nonsense, especially as every woman I knew who developed wrinkles before they expected them to appear, were fervently applying Oil of Olay daily to reduce the appearance of said wrinkles! Given that when this phrase was tossed at me I was running helter skelter for something or the other, I can only assume that my patient, all-knowing parent was reminding me to not be in such a hurry and to slow down before I caused myself an injury.

It is strange to think of wrinkles appearing in time as it is such a precise measure, however, I choose to interpret the phrase to mean that by slowing down and taking time out to think or reflect, and taking things in the order in which they appear that I can save myself mistakes, or errors that may otherwise trip me up. Don’t rush into everything, take the time to think things through carefully. Think about what you are trying to achieve and plan it out, this can save you needless work and expenses later on down the line. Trust the process and don’t rush headlong into everything. Be mindful and reflective in your thought process and your actions will follow suit.

In our everyday working life deadlines and decisions tend to be due yesterday. We often become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of our inbox and so we rush from one deadline to the next, from one critical incident to another. There is little time to plan or be strategic in our thinking as we are constantly in fire fighting mode. This is very reflective of my experience in working in the HR profession. The number one debate seems to be how HR adds value, even amongst HR professionals themselves! the consensus seems to be that we can hardly add value as we are always putting out fires. I find it incredible that fire fighting is not seen as value add in and of itself! have you ever seen a fire fighter putting out a fire? it is a serious endeavour!

I am not making light of this debate but sometimes I believe we lose focus of just how integral we are to the overall success of an organisation. We don’t just exist to put out the fires that crop up, but we also plan and strategize to ensure that our organisation is up to code to continue the fire metaphor. We work with others to ensure that training and appropriate guidance is in place to prevent such incidents but that if they do occur we have the tools to bring things back to where they need to be. So for me human resources is the “wrinkle” in an organisation’s time that saves nine!



“No matter how good you are, you can always be replaced” (unknown). This feels like a sad statement but ultimately a pretty factual one. I often have conversations with HR professionals who are just starting out or are midway in their career who mistakenly believe that they need to give everything they have to the detriment of friends, family, health, personal wellbeing and personal time to show their competence at work.

They are often stressed, unable to cope and will often leave roles because they are at breaking point or lose confidence as time goes on. Nothing is worth your health whether physical or mental. Nothing is worth losing yourself or your family. At the end of most people’s lives when you read their last words none have reminisced about a report they wrote or how many hours they put in or how much money they made or what award they won!

I have a simple mantra, I Work So I can Live! I don’t live to work. In my case, it’s a very good thing that I also love my work so the two are rarely in conflict but if work ever impinged on my ability to live then I would need to rethink it! It’s a very freeing thing when you evaluate work in this way rather than seeing it as something you have to do, rather see it as something you want to do that enables you to sample and enjoy this truly great adventure called life.

No one is irreplaceable in the world of work so ensure while you take care of work and have things on lock there, that you don’t get it twisted and let the irreplaceable things in your life replace you!


This thing called culture

When you type the word culture into Pixabay, one of the largest images site, it returns a range of pictures showcasing well known sites and scenes from countries all over world and weirdly quite a good range of pictures showing garlic. I am still trying to figure out that one! What this showed through the use of images is that culture is not something that is easily defined and differs greatly from one country to the next. The images also highlighted that it is not something one can necessarily touch but experience. defines Culture as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.” From an organisation‘s point of view Culture is defined by the same source as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.”  The use of the word “shared” when used in this context had me thinking about how culture is formed at organisation level. At a social group, religious or racial level culture is easily understood and perpetuated.

As a Black Caribbean woman of African descent, I grew up feeling, breathing and living my culture which manifests and displays in many tangible and intangible ways. I was taught our way of life at my grandfather’s knees. The values of respecting your elders; putting God first in all things; cooking, laughing and dancing together as family and friends; being ambitious for yourself and others; being open and honest in your dealings with self and others; working hard, always having a clean home and the list goes on and on. My culture is so much an ingrained part of me that it is like breathing. I didn’t truly understand this until I left the Caribbean and moved to the UK. Talk about a culture shock!

At an organisation level Culture takes on a different context in my view. Different racial, religious and social groups have chosen to come together to work at a common goal. They bring with them all their different cultures and we have what I like to call a culture cocktail. The inherent problem with this is, with so many mixers involved, how then does an organisation maintain and define what it wants its culture to be and how does it ensure this is what all these different groups are perpetuating when they are with them?

I think in very simplistic terms it is very akin to how you parent a child. You set the ground rules ( not many, keep it simple and relevant). You reward compliance; you call out non-compliance and ensure there are consequences to behaviour which breaches the ground rules. You also leave enough space for the creative spirit to manifest itself and bring new things in that enhance what is already there.

When it is time you also provide the opportunities for your child to spread their wings and take flight to forge their own journeys and create their own subcultures. Similarly within any organisation for the culture to remain a thriving microcosm, some will need to leave and others will need to arrive and bring their experiences to bear.


I’m a woman phenomenally

Today is International Women’s Day and all over the world the movement for women’s rights is being celebrated. Today I pay homage to my ancestors who fought and campaigned for women’s rights. To those who came before, are here now and to those who will come, we give thanks, we celebrate, we encourage and we teach. Today there are many black women I follow, encourage and support in many different ways because of the effects they have had on my life.

Maya Angelou for her writing which made me fall in love with the written word and still inspires daily!  “Pretty women wonder where my secret lies. I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size, but when I start to tell them, they think I’m telling lies. I say, it’s in the reach of my arms, the span of my hips, the stride of my step, the curl of my lips. I’m a woman, phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, that’s me.”

Leslie Esdaile Banks (also known as L.A. Banks) whose writing took me into worlds previously not travelled. Your use of prose is unmatched by any other fictional writer I have read to date and your death has left a gaping hole in the liars club. For the Vampire Huntress and Crimson Moon Series of books I salute you Leslie. For inspiring me with strong female lead characters who were strong and handled their business!

Iyanla Vanzant: for living your truth and inspiring women and men daily by your words and deeds. Thank you! and keep on doing what you do!

Luvvie Ajayi – the side eye sorceress!! Luvvie you make me laugh, cry, cringe and want to every single day do better! for showing up and never being afraid to be you. This gives others courage to speak up and show up!

Louise Bennett: Miss Lou, I grew up with you, the poetry, the drama productions, we are ever grateful that you walked this earth and left your mark!

Nanny of the Maroon – the only acknowledged female heroine in Jamaica, who escaped from slavery and led many successful rebellions against the colonisers. Growing up and listening to the stories I knew that I could do anything I set my mind to, despite the odds.

 Thank you ladies! background-584223_640




Is reading really worth the hype?

Some of the most influential Chief Executives and thinkers all advocate reading and laud the value that this has on their ability to be effective people. Even before I read the personal notes from these people, I was convinced that reading on a wide range of subjects in a consistent way gave an individual an advantage that others lacked. While I am nowhere near the level of some these highly successful and motivational individuals, I like to think that in my own small way, I am also able to influence and coach others based on my reading list.

I cannot speak for others but I know that if I was not able to read I would one day wither away and die. Death will happen eventually but without books it would come sooner than it should. For me 80% of everything I know and have learned has been through books. Even though I am often pretty pragmatic in my approach, I am enabled to be so because some way along the course of my life, I have read a book on the subject I am delivering or teaching. In 2018 my reading is list is pretty ambitious as it was in 2017 but I exceeded my expectations and can foresee that this year will be no exception. So without further ado what is on my reading list so far in 2018?

  • The Total Money Makeover: Classic edition: A Proven plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey
  • Dave Ramsey’s Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey
  • The Power of Habit:Why We Do What We Do and How to Change by Charles Duhigg
  • Learn Dutch: Word Power 101 by Innovate Language
  • Trust: Mastering the Four Essential Trusts by Iyanla Vanzant
  • What I know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey
  • Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
  • Well that Escalated Quickly by Francesca Ramsey
  • The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
  • Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy
  • Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath

Mixed in with these will be a suite of non-fiction books that will take me into the world of fantasy and magic, of love and tragedy, or music and food and exotic destinations. Life if nothing without balance.

What is on your reading list? comment below, I am always looking for good thought-provoking books to add to my bookshelf.

Do you have a book club at work? if you do, is this something that you think adds to employee engagement?


Management 101

Taking initiative does not mean being pushy, obnoxious or aggressive. It does mean recognizing our respon


True Leadership


I have had the great privilege of working with Save The Children on an interim basis for the last three weeks and had the great privilege of reading the anecdotes from Gareth Owen, Humanitarian Director, Global Programmes, some of which with his kind permission I have shared below. I hope you will be as inspired as I was by these lessons/reflections.

 Lesson 1:             You have to fight really hard for what you believe in

Mainstreaming your cause is not a popularity contest. You have to fight really hard for a very long time and be ready to be extremely unpopular for what you believe in. The fight will be multifaceted and feel almost endless, with progress achieved almost imperceptibly at first, accelerating later as momentum builds.

The fight will be mostly internal: to be heard; for space on the agenda; to do what you instincts are screaming is the right thing; to overcome obstacles and bureaucracy; to shift stubborn ideology; to simply keep your spirits up. Sometimes the fight will be loud and obvious, with tears and pain in the white hot heat of battle. Sometimes it will be more subtle to change the organisational DNA by stealth, to shift the organisational mechanics, to quietly unlock a huge potential leap forward, like unleashing your cause’s atom bomb. The ultimate question is: how much fight do you have in you?

It is right that we should fight hard for our cause, but we should fight less with each other and save our strength for the huge fights that wait for us on the external frontlines the world over. This is about finding ways to lead the fight together as one. However, beware: if all you have done is fight, then eventually that is all you know. But I’d rather give my all as a fighter than be known to lack the stomach for it. It is a mindset thing, what do you want to see and feel when you look in the mirror at the start of each day? It’s okay to be scared, to fear the dread consequences of losing, but you must never take flight or give up the fight. Never stop fighting. To stop is to give in to despair. When all seems lost, hope remains.

This takes enormous courage and stamina. The gremlins of doubt will chatter constantly in your ear and you will experience exhaustion. This is an exercise in personal and collective resilience, so the trick is to pick your serious battles carefully, learn to fight with skill and impact and acknowledge that even then you won’t ever win them all. The inevitable defeats and set backs will hurt deeply along the journey, so learn to let go and just move on to the next piece of the fight if it hasn’t all gone your way. Don’t store it all up as a catalogue of injustices or you’ll drive yourself mad with the infuriation when you realise that no one else appears to care as much as you do. They may just show it differently and in your anger you risk losing all perspective and getting seriously bent out of shape. This is very damaging physically, mentally and emotionally and will render you a spent force in quick time if you let it. Self–awareness and coping strategies are critical.

Lesson 3:             Practice Authentically Selfless Leadership

You absolutely must, at all costs, live your core values as a leader when mainstreaming your cause. This is about walking the talk, about being vulnerable and disclosing the truth about your own feelings in a self-caring, self-respectful way so as to give permission to others to also behave as the best and most productive version of themselves as much and as often as humanly possible. It is about being kind without being weak; showing strength of character; the application of considerable wisdom; communicating with inspiration and a tremendously galvanising sense of purpose.

It is about maintaining positivity in adversity so as to seek new opportunities to keep moving forward in new and uncertain directions. It is about remaining humble, forgiving and above all tolerating the foibles of others, the realities and compromises of complex enterprise and the myriad challenges of collective endeavour. It is about the power of trusting your gut instinct and acceptance of failure as the only true measure of having properly tried hard enough.

Lesson 4:             Care passionately about people

Staff are like customers – they are always right, even when they are absolutely wrong. Leadership is a service industry and if you don’t care passionately about people they will quickly sense it. This is about being a ‘giver’ not a ‘taker’ and ultimately about exhibiting kindness in your dealings with others. But this is not about suffocating people with excesses of love, it is about being honest enough to speak the plain truth to the best of your ability, to treat people as adults and avoid mollycoddling staff like children, with patronising or paternalistic behaviour.

True kindness is borne out of a genuine respect for others. You honour that respect best by being willing to confront the difficult truth where necessary. This is a philosophy centred on creating the most enabling environment in which others can have the best chance of succeeding. You become a true a leader in service of others by placing yourself last and by measuring how well you are facilitating and encouraging all those others around you to succeed – it is always about others and never about yourself. You have to invest heavily in this as it does not come easy.

Trust is a fickle beast, hard won and easily lost. Not everything will be in your control so you have to be accepting of trust as a fluctuating currency, with wider organisational forces impacting on your own sphere of influence all the time. You will never be able to keep everyone happy and the most ‘squeaky wheels’ should neither be ignored, nor should they be taken as representative of the prevailing body of opinion.

Seek to judge yourselves on how well you handle the harder management tasks, not the easier options; be curious; listen much more than you talk, coach and mentor rather than instruct; be accessible; above all else be straight with people all the time, especially if it is not what they want to hear. Above all, always believe in people far more than they believe in themselves.

Lesson 6:             Always Call It as You See It, But With Compassion

The longer you are in an organisation, the more iconic your personal history, both good and bad will become. A narrative will build up around you, especially if you are in a high profile role, but you should not concern yourself with it too much. The only thing that really matters is whether you can honestly say to yourself that you have always sought to do the right thing. People will instinctively know whether this is true about you and will trust that you can be relied upon in this way if it is.

Do not be political, slippery or Machiavellian; do not play power games or seek to weave a tangled web of deception. It is all too tiring and will unravel on you. Hold a consistently fair line and communicate it with authority. Speak truth to power in the right way so that your message is heard; avoid berating senior Executives for organisational failures and unnecessary compromises as you perceive them – there will always be more to it than you know. Be accepting that human fallibility applies to all at whatever level but speak passionately about the cause at every opportunity. Objectively measure any compromises made against their consequences for the cause in your choice of words and you will always be on safe ground. Bring people back to that at the start and at the end of every encounter and above all else, never under any circumstances allow yourself to be coerced, merely for expediency’s sake, into changing an opinion that you genuinely hold to be true. Stand your ground at all times and allow others to manage the consequences of your honestly held beliefs, accepting the situation and towing the party line as necessary, and with good grace, when your opinion does not hold sway.

Being open is more important than being agreeable or conformist. In fact, do not give in to the temptation to be too agreeable, especially around more senior colleagues, and don’t conform just to respect the hierarchy. Being subordinate and ‘on side’ by default is helpful, but only to a point: essential when supporting the organisation through difficult moments, but useless for creative strategic thinking. The most useful, but often most difficult, people to work with are the ‘disagreeable givers’, whose hearts are in the right place but who prefer to be the grit in the oyster. Their giving nature means they always have your own and the organisation’s best interests at heart, but they are not afraid to be critical and highly challenging. It is their way of helping to sharpen the cutting edge of your ideas. Done well, this gives real life, verve and substance to your originality. So deliberately seek out the gruff, awkward, un-glossy, shabbier, rumpled and abstract types to test the strength and quality of your ideas against their kindly intended scepticism. Beware the ‘frenemies’ and the ‘agreeable takers’. The former are too unreliable and ambivalent towards your efforts and the latter are not on your side at all. Fortunately they are quite easy to spot: they will be dressed the same as the boss. They will borrow your watch to tell you the time and will steal all your good ideas as to present their own if they think it makes them look good. But if taking the best from you is their real intent, then simply give them something you want them to have – it’s another canny way of propagating your own agenda through their blind ambition.

 Lesson 9:             Know thy self

Don’t take it personally: practice the art of self-reflection and seek an internal locus of identity from which to derive the necessary confidence. This means embarking on a deep conversation with your inner being to ascertain what really matters to you – your core values. Hold on to these as they are your touchstones. They will endure and you can nourish and develop them over time. In this way the external changing world around you will become less significant to your identity, less threatening and will generate less anxiety. You will view inevitable change in a positive and creative way and ultimately feel more at peace. I never believed this was possible until I really tried with the help of a great coach. In learning this I found myself feeling less in conflict with the organisation I had devoted a third of my life to working for. As if by magic, my influence on the organisation suddenly grew exponentially.


Very special thanks to Gareth for allowing me to share his work. Are you not inspired? I know I am and was 🙂




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