About Me

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The business bit: I have had 25 years experience in the IT sector encompassing equipment finance to computer recycling. The coaching bit: is about delivering business mentoring and personal performance coaching. My clients range from senior executives to the unemployed and I delight in working with them all to build excellence and promote growth. My specialisms are working with business leaders and entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses and enjoy themselves in the process, and helping individuals to realise their full potential. I also work with young people to build confidence and life skills so they can grasp life's opportunities and make the right life choices.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Funding for Enterprise Education is no longer a barrier

With the government calling for young people to be trained in Enterprise Education- in order to drive economic growth, there is need for urgent action! Yet with already overburdened budgets, where can you get the funding?

Funding Help is at hand!
Until March 2011 £15 million has been made available for Enterprise Education in Primary Schools and Further Education colleges. This money is for the:
delivery of enterprise education through Enterprise Learning Partnerships, the London 2012 Education Programme and Young Chamber UK.”  (1)

This is on top of the existing £55 million, which is already allocated to secondary schools.

 In the Higher Education sector:
there will be a £2 million expansion of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship’s (NCGE) “Flying Start” programmes to support current students and recent graduates to set up their own businesses. In 2010/11, these programmes will be made available in all English universities.” (1)

So funding is not a barrier to schools and colleges providing valuable enterprise projects and programmes. The government is providing funding for enterprise- for these educational organisations to use as they think best.

The Future is Bright
What is more, it looks like this funding is set to continue. The DCSF paper “Guidance for Commissioning and Funding Education Business Partnership Services in 2010-11” states: 
The National Council for Education Excellence recommended that the Government and local authorities should ensure that there is universal access to high quality education business brokerage in every area.”(2)

Why choose the Yes 12 Step Programme?
There are many providers of Enterprise training out there. The Yes 12 Step programme is very different. It starts with the students- helping them to work out what they really want to do, building their confidence and then helping them to make their dream a reality. What a wonderful gift to give our students.

What is more, by offering the YES programme students cannot lose - because they will be learning  the skills and mindsets they require to set up their own business or t get a good job.

2.www.teachernet.gov.uk/publications, Search Ref:DCSF-01144-2009

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Yes to the 12 Steps to Success

Wow, what a great week at Wiltshire Council with the young group from the Future Jobs Fund. Well, I was only there for half the week but it was energising to see the 12 Steps to Success being so well assimilated.

And what a shame that the Future Jobs Fund is not open to new applications any longer. Just as well we have the 12 Steps to Success ready to take into schools and colleges to help people in that most important of decisions - what to do with their lives. There is so much entrepreneurial potential in our young people and we only need to allow them the opportunity to test it out, explore their possibilities and passions and build independence for them to start out on their own, either in business or in their future career.

Well done and all the best to Alexis, Nathan, James, David, Chris, Sara, Ryan and Fatna. It was a privilege to work with you all!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010


YES – A brilliant name for a unique enterprise project which is being offered to schools to create successful learners through developing entrepreneurial capability in children and young people. The programme is called The 12 Steps to Success and is an easy to follow series of steps with a fun and interactive learning style encompassing different entrepreneurial and personal development subjects. It incorporates goal setting, confidence building and dealing with rejection as well as developing business ideas and making your ideas happen.

It was devised by Carly Ward, a young person who experienced first hand how difficult it is to decide on what to do with oneself after leaving school or college and the vision behind it is to nurture the fresh talent, ideas and energy of the emerging youth of today.

The project has been accepted into schools in Buckinghamshire and Princes Risborough School are using the programme "to provide our pupils with a better insight into their own capabilities and exploring ideas which might lead to business opportunities in the future" (Sue Collings - Deputy Head Teacher).

Other interest has been expressed by Wiltshire Council who are funding the programme to be delivered in workshops, Bedfordshire Central Council who are taking it into a youth centre for Connexions clients, Befordshire & Luton Education Business Partnership have booked training and are looking at subsidising 12 schools for the programme, and Buckinghamshire Economic & Learning Partnership who have accepted the programme suppliers in to the school curriculum as an Enterprise provider. Buckinghamshire have offered every school a Connexions adviser to run the programme over 12 weeks. As you can see there has been a lot of interest!

Each of the 12 Steps includes an interview with a top entrepreneur including Richard Harpin, chief executive of Home Serve, Mike Clare, the founder of beds giant Dreams, tycoon Julie Meyer and Dragons' Den survivor Levi Roots. The interactive learning experience includes a video presentation, workbook and suggested reading for each step. And after the programme, the young people can go on to join the YES network which provides a fantastic support resource sharing ideas and experiences, meeting regularly and continuing the learning curve.

The programme sits neatly with the government’s current focus on building economic growth through encouraging entrepreneurs and high growth business start ups. Why not support the natural creativity and drive of our young people at a stage when their ideas could be the basis for their futures!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


Throughout our adult life we are seeking the particular way of life by which we wish to live. This search takes us through different levels, but the quest is never ending as each stage leads to another and as we travel we realise there is no final stage to aspire to but rather we change our psychology and rules to adapt to that new search and style of living.

Spiral Dynamics is a theory of human development propounded by Don Beck and Chris Cowan and based on the work of Dr Clare W Graves, professor of psychology at Union College New York and specialist in the theory of personality.

Grave’s psychological levels (vMemes) included:
Biege AN - Automatic psychological satisfaction
Purple BO – Safe mode of living
Red CP – Search for power and glory
Blue DQ – Search for peace
Orange ER – Search for material pleasure
Grey FS – Search for affectionate relations
Yellow GT – Search for respect for self
Turquoise HU – Search for peace in an incomprehensible world
(The colours were added later for ease of labelling).

Graves depicted these levels in a Spiral Vortex (like a double helix) showing how they evolved through levels of increasing complexity. The upward turns depict the adding of new behaviours and rules on top of what already exists. The spiral represents a coiled string of value systems, attitudes and views on our world which are each the product of the particular circumstances we are in at a given time – thus our mind develops as our world changes.

We can use Spiral Dynamics to help us understand individuals by understanding their particular thinking and behavioural type while they are at a particular level in particular conditions. So don’t ask about the type of person, ask instead how to understand or manage for example, the GT part of the person, i.e. the seeking of respect for self in this person at this particular time?

Grave’s levels of psychological existence are termed vMemes (these structure how we think about things) and can be thought of as valuing systems that impact our life choices and can manifest both in healthy and unhealthy forms. Changing life conditions activate vMemes which come in phases ebbing and flowing. They exist together in mixtures, so you could have a person who is essentially in the FS phase of seeking affectionate relations whose CP search for power and glory might be activated in the competition of sports and whose ER search for material pleasure might be found in achieving well in those sports.

Grave’s model is a useful tool for assessing personal values showing how we utilise different values at different times when some levels acquire pre-eminence over others while not destroying those less dominant values which can then re-emerge in different contextual situations.
For more information visit www.clarewgraves.com

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Emotional Intelligence at work – do we need it?

Psychologies magazine carried two articles recently, one about ‘Why it pays to be tough at work’, the other about making your relationship work. The first article expressed the view that being too empathic at work did not help you succeed in your career or business. The second article pursued the idea that the secret of a good sex life lay in using your emotional intelligence.

Which way forward then? Do we need to use our emotional intelligence, and what is it?

Emotional Intelligence first came to prominence in the mid 1990’s although discussion of other types of intelligence had been around for some time before this. In his book ‘Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ’, Daniel Goleman expounded the idea that non-cognitive skills were as important as IQ intelligence for succeeding in the workplace. There is still a buoyant discussion in the field of EI but to keep things simple here are some of the better known models:

1. The Mayer-Salovey Ability Model – where EI is the ability to understand and regulate our own emotions and those of others, and to assess and manage this understanding so as to guide the way we think and act.
2. Goleman’s Emotional Competencies Model – personal and social competencies including self-awareness, self-management, adaptability, social awareness, empathy, social skills, and communication among others.
3. The Trait Model – which is about our own perceptions of our emotional abilities.

So do we need to be emotionally intelligent, and if so when? Have a look at these contrasting opinions...

 Bill Amelio, the CEO of Lenovo said that managers ought to allow more silences in cross-cultural meetings to enable proper translation and understanding of what is said.
 A study conducted at the University of Bedfordshire indicated that “trainee social workers who were more emotionally intelligent and socially competent were more resilient, and this seemed to protect them from the high levels of psychological distress that are endemic in the job."
 John Moulton said in an interview that one of his best features was "..insensitivity – it lets you sleep when others can't". John made millions as a venture capitalist despite major fall outs with colleagues along the way.
 “Men still dominate in every boardroom. The reality is that, at senior levels in highly competitive organisations, life is tough, demanding and often mercenary. You need to be ruthless to survive.” Katie Hopkins, former contestant on The Apprentice.

Nobody would argue that having good communication skills and being able to understand and process someone else’s viewpoint are not essentials of good management. But the debate continues. Here are some thoughts to take with you.
1. Use your powers of observation and awareness to notice how your colleagues interact and note the effective behaviours – these are the ones you can model.
2. If something upsets you at work, temper your reaction until you have time to moderate your response. Avoid acting rashly or being over-emotional – don’t fire off a first draft of a ranting email in response to something that riles you; wait a bit, read it again and then consider the message you really want to put across.
3. Don’t over-analyse, either yourself of others. Concentrate on what you do well and make that your focus.
4. Acknowledge your own and others’ achievements fairly, without being excessive or overly familiar.
5. Steer a neat path between being ‘nice-as-pie’ and the ‘dragon’. Address people by name, smile and listen properly as appropriate.
6. Handle challenges head-on even if you are afraid. Running for cover won’t make them go away.
7. Be yourself and feel good about it.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


The Swindon Coaching Team next meet up at Swindon Connections on Thursday 8th July at the Madison Hotelin Swindon.  Be there to meet some interesting people!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

SWINDON COACHING TEAM - Next Drop-in session

Our next free drop in coaching evening is going to be on 1st July at a yet to be decided on venue in Swindon.   It would be interesting to get feedback on what the preferred good bars are for Swindonians...post your views if you have some good suggestions.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Stress and Sandwich Women

At an evening networking meeting not so long ago I was talking to a bank manager about the stresses people were experiencing as a result of the recession and how hard we were all having to work to make ends meet.  He bemoaned his long day which had started with a breakfast meeting and would finish when he got home at about 8pm.  Happy man!  My day had also started early, 6.30 to be precise, preparing breakfast, getting my son off to school (making lunchbox, checking games kit etc), fitting in some rushed cleaning and house-tidying, flinging some clothes in the washing machine before heading off to start work at 8.30.  Into my working day I squeezed minor but essential tasks – renewing the car tax, calling the vet, checking in with older children who are both at university and quite a lot of other stuff, and then a visit to my very frail, housebound elderly parents-in-law.  And my day was going to end not at 8pm after the meeting, but after I had spent some time with my son talking about his day, homework etc, hanging out the washing and clearing up the supper dishes – oh, and getting ready for the next day.  A typical day in the life of a middle-aged woman!

In 1981, Dorothy Miller coined the term “sandwich generation” to refer to those middle-aged people who find themselves supporting both young and older family members.  Crucially her definition stated that the sandwich generation did not receive reciprocal support from the people they cared for.  And in 1998 research by Maaike Dautzenberg and others pointed out that most of these intergenerational caregivers were “often women dealing with the complex role configurations of wife, mother, daughter, caregiver, and employee”.

So a big welcome to all you Sandwich Women!
Most of us cope reasonably well with combining the demands of looking after those who rely on us and our work life pressures.  But sometimes just trying to be ‘normal’ about it all can be just too hard.  Marian Keyes blogged about her depression earlier this year and the Daily Mail columnist Allison Pearson shared her experiences in the Daily Mail under the heading “Depression's the curse of my generation and I'm struggling in its grasp”.
The Health & Safety Executive has a big push on at the moment around stress, depression and anxiety in the workplace, which is just one of the arenas inhabited by the sandwich woman.  What would be really good is to know that there is support and help in the other areas of our lives.  But part of our problem lies in the fact that we sandwich women facilitate the lives of our dependants so well that in a way we are disempowering them from taking a part in our own welfare.  So perhaps we might step back and review just how much of what we do we might be able to devolve or delegate.  In my case, as a widow with no husband to share the load,  I share the care of my elderly parents-in-law with a close family friend.  Without her input my intergenerational care load would be unbearably heavy.

With so many roles you might have as a carer, supporter, breadwinner, facilitator, not to mention all the secondary ones like driver, cleaner, receptionist, cook, etc, if you feel overwhelmed, under resourced and lacking in support this can so easily lead to feelings of tiredness, lethargy, lack of motivation, anxiety, indecision or loss of appetite and insomnia.  These are just some of the things that could flag up the onset of depression and the effects of stress.  Before you get here try to put in place some safety valves, talk to someone, look for support, explore options of what you could say no to without increasing your stress levels.  And try some simple techniques like meditation and deep breathing to get some space and give you some minutes to yourself. 

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


Mindfulness techniques

Mindfulness, meditation, awareness – what’s the difference?

Mindfulness is present awareness and mindful meditation is distinct from concentration meditation, where we focus concentration on a particular object. Mindfulness in everyday life is about being aware of how we are in the present moment, and in mindful meditation every aspect of our experience is welcomed and acknowledged and we are able to know it is there without it being judged or assessed as defining us as individuals.

Studies of mindfulness in a business context have shown that increases in mindfulness are associated with increased creativity and decreased burnout (e.g., Langer, Heffernan, & Kiester, 1988). A study with businessmen in Korea found an increase in productivity as well (Park, 1990).

Studies in the education field presented in The Power of Mindful Learning (Langer, 1997) show that increasing mindfulness in learning, be it academic subjects, sport or music, encouraged participants to use objects more creatively and move away from mindsets that hamper competence in learning. One study demonstrated that telling people to mindfully notice new stimuli improved attention and memory.

So here are some techniques for trying to increase your mindfulness....

1. RAIN – (Tara Brach – Radical Acceptance)

R – Recognise when you feel a strong emotion
A – Acceptance – acknowledge the emotion to be there
I – Investigate the feeling deeply, how it affects your body, feelings and thoughts
N – Non-identify what is there by seeing that it is a passing emotion or state of mind and does not define who you are.

2. STOP – (Elisha Goldstein – A Mindfulness Stress Reduction Workbook)

S – Stop what you are doing.
T – Take a breath – concentrate on breathing in and out naturally.
O – Observe what you are feeling and thinking. Name your emotions. Acknowledge your thoughts and let them pass on.
P – Proceed with something that will help you at that time, i.e. continue deep breathing to aid relaxation, talk with a friend, go for a walk.

3. What are you doing?

Start focusing on how you do particular things. When you are driving how are you sitting, how are you holding the steering wheel, what are you observing, what are you thinking?

What happens when you are eating – are you savouring each mouthful, what are you tasting? Are you eating quickly? How are you sitting?

Practice being more aware of ‘how you are’ when doing normal or habitual activities to build mindfulness of ‘how you are’ in your life generally.

4. Breathing

Breathing is central to your mindfulness practice. Breathing can undo the tensions created by inner emotions, relax stresses and restore balance.

Start by noticing your breathing, put a count on it – how many counts to the in-breath and how many counts to the out-breath. Is there a pause between breathing in and breathing out? Establish a comfortable count, say 4 in and 4 out. Then add a little pause between the in and out breaths, say a count of 2. Experiment with other counts, try a pause after the out-breath. On the out-breath feel your abdomen rising and then your chest . Let your breathing be soft and gentle and natural.

.....or try a mindfulness meditation class or a yoga class...

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Women are 'web thinkers'....

Web thinking Women

Every day women juggle their different ‘jobs’ and duties and manage to do several different things at the same time. Or so it seems. ‘Multi-tasking’ is our strength. It’s interesting that the BT ad on TV has Kris Marshall (from My Family)calling his mother while walking/cooking/etc. That’s usually the woman’s role.

Studies say that what we are actually doing is swapping between contexts. Some research suggests that this is not necessarily a good thing in that it we are not really concentrating properly on any one task. Linda Stone, a writer who worked at Apple Computer, coined the term ‘Continuous Partial Attention’ to describe this type of information processing.

"It usually involves skimming the surface of the incoming data, picking out the relevant details, and moving on to the next stream. You're paying attention, but only partially.

Harold Paschler said that we can perform some tasks simultaneously without difficulty e.g. we can regulate sensory input while performing information retrieval, however in trying to perform more difficult tasks at the same time we lose effectiveness in processing these tasks.

But we women know we really are effective! Helen Fisher in her book The First Sex explained how women are more able to think contextually and can tolerate ambiguity better. She theorises that women are able to consider more variables, options and outcomes when decision making and finds that this is most obvious in an office environment. Women pick up on little nuances and non-verbal cues, object positions, body postures and so on and use this absorbed information to help them in their decision making.

Helen Fisher calls this ‘web-thinking’ where women have a broader perspective in their way of processing information that enables them to integrate lots of different facts, rapidly retrieve and selectively analyse these and plan the next step accordingly.

So next time a ‘step-thinking’ man challenges your ability to think clearly, remind him that you can take in a lot of information quickly, rapidly recall the bits that matter and use them effectively!


Harold Paschler – Dual-Task Interference in Simple Tasks: Data and Theory Psychological Bulletin 1994 Vol. 116 No 2 220-244
Helen Fisher - The Natural Talents of Women and How They Are Changing the World

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Somewhere you want to be on 23rd March 2010 . . .

Somewhere you want to be on 23rd March 2010 is the Old Bank Wine Bar in Wood Street, Old Town, Swindon.  The newly formed Swindon Coaching Team are hosting their first FREE drop-in evening so for the cost of a coffee or a glass of wine you can come along and meet some great coaches, find out about coaching and try it out. 

The Team coaches come from a wide range of backgrounds and have a diversity of skills and expertise ranging from business and career coaching to psychotherapeutic and relationship coaching.  We are a very friendly and inspiring group - and look forward to seeing you there!