The HR Juggler

Posts Tagged ‘Advent Blogs


One of the aspects I really enjoy about curating these blogs is that they bring me into contact with people I have not necessarily met or interacted with previously. Today’s post is written by Annette Hill, who can be found on Twitter as @familyhrguru and over on her blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) by the brilliant Simon Heath.


At least one person reading this will know why I have chosen SoMe as a personal topic. In fact more than one, as I have shared my failure to grasp the blindingly obvious with a few colleagues now… Yes, I spent several weeks after I first heard the term, wondering what ‘SoMe’ was:

  • A new social media app I had not come across yet?
  • A special one for HR or L&D types?
  • A club I had not yet been invited into?
  • A club/app/group that was all about being ‘so me’ as in authentic, true to your values etc. (I really like that one, actually!)
  • I even Googled it, and was treated to the Wikipedia explanation of the meaning of the word ‘some’!

What makes this worse is that I love acronyms; an essential criteria for working in the public sector. I also have older teenage children who try to keep me up to speed! But clearly, I wasn’t getting it, and MRW (my reaction when) I found out what SoMe is short for was to hit my forehead in disbelief, whilst SMH (shaking my head.) Slightly easier than rubbing my tummy and patting my head at the same time.

Anyway, to return to SoMe (Social Media, of course!) and what I have learned and enjoyed in the 2 years since I joined Twitter, here is an attempt at the 12 days of SoMe and what it means to me.

On the 12th day of SoMe, my i-phone sent to me:

12 New Followers-a-Tweeting. It is always great to see new people following and to look at their profile and recent tweets then re-follow. I personally find those automated follow thanks, or apps that say how many followed, or unfollowed you somewhat soulless. Is SoMe really social if people use automation to reply instead of humanly (humanely) interacting by commenting personally?

11 Great people to follow. As above, there are so many people with such a breadth and diversity of views to share. It took me nearly 2 years to sort out the people and organisations I follow into Lists, so I can be discerning when I want to be.

10 Retweeted articles. I read articles from a broader range of newspapers and journals since I joined Twitter and I do try to avoid just reading from the sources whose views are most like mine.

9 Virtual learnings. Where to start? It’s great to be at events, but as an employed full-time person, I more often than not can’t be there, but I can still follow what’s going on.

8 HR Peeps-a-Sharing. I’m a bit biased about my profession, and this includes L&D and OD as well, but I think we are grasping the benefits and possibilities beautifully. We tend to be a gregarious lot. The trick is sharing more widely.

7 Bloggers-a-blogging. Writing a blog has been quite a scary step for me. I have been intermittent and sometimes lacking in inspiration, but my learning is to read and support loads of others and to keep going with my own.

6 Leaders-a-learning. SoMe is perfect for busy people with little time. I love the opportunity to dip in and out of the rich seam of information available. I also think all leaders should be learning all the time.

5 Facebook Memes. Some funnier than others, and apparently shared more by older Facebookers, according to my daughter. Maybe it’s my light relief from the (semi) professional use of Twitter, or maybe I don’t have much of a life…

4 LinkedIn invitations I haven’t really used LinkedIn as much as I could, and am still a bit unsure, especially when getting invites from people I don’t know and e-mail reminders to congratulate people I haven’t seen or interacted with in years for quite trivial things…

3 Annoying hashtags. Indeed, but for every #annoying one there is an #amusing one.

2 Retweeted comments. This is how I have found most of the new people to follow, and presumably that’s the whole point.

And an i-pad on my knee at all times. Oh, possibly a bad thing. Has my attention span shortened? Or has my ability to multi-task improved? We’ll see. This is why I am reading Daniel Goleman’s Focus, and in real book format…!


Today’s post is written by Broc Edwards, author of the excellent ‘fool with a plan’ blog.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.


the less things change, the more they stay the same

The alarm hasn’t gone off yet, but it will in a few minutes. It’s 4:25am and I’m tired, I’m hungry, and I hurt. All over. In a few minutes, I’ll be getting up to run five miles in 32 degree weather. I’m officially ten days into my training program. Only one hundred and seventy to go…

*     *     *     *     *

By all rights and measures, 2013 has been a banner year for me, full of accomplishment and rewards. Great things have been happening both personally and professionally and I accomplished several significant, long-held goals. I was asked to chair not-for-profit group that provides leadership development in the community, I received a promotion at work, I co-presented at several conferences, I published a book, my blog started to get noticed, and I contributed a small part to an e-book that was topping very established authors as a best seller on Amazon. This past year social media has opened my world in a big way and I am meeting and developing relationships with so many fantastic people who inspire me to do more and better. I’ve even been able to get out and mountain bike more this year. Hard to go wrong with a year like that.

I hope this doesn’t sound smug or braggy – I write this all in amazement and gratitude. We all have good years and we all have bad years, and in so many ways, this one was one of the years where everything seemed to come together. Many seeds I’d been planting for a couple of years began to bear fruit.

Yet… yet.. yet.

As I look back on the year, I see plenty of failure and set-backs. I see areas I neglected and things I didn’t do as well as I needed to. I’m disappointed with too much. While I was charging ahead and reveling in the new and novel in some areas, I got too cozy with the tried and true in others. Responsibilities I should have been maintaining moved far down the priority list or were just plain ignored. I started making and accepting excuses to myself, rationalizing, justifying, explaining away.

This showed up in my personal life. I really enjoy physical activity – it’s a great stress relief and some of my best ideas come while exercising. Years ago, I used to race mountain bikes and motorcycles and I miss the discipline that focusing on competition brings. My last race was seven and a half years and some 50 pounds ago. For a couple of years now I’ve had the nagging awareness that I need competition to inspire me to be in shape, but was too out of shape to compete. It was a vicious downward spiral leaving me frustrated and angry at myself on a daily basis. Every night I vowed I’d get with the program tomorrow. And every morning I’d find that tomorrow never came.

This showed up in my professional life. I took on a couple of huge challenges this year and surprised myself with how well it all panned out. But rather than leaving me sated, that success showed me how nestled into my comfort zones I’d become and how far below potential I’m operating on most days. It’s massively frustrating to do so much and be rewarded with the blessed doubled-edged awareness of how much more could be done.

There is a choice of course. There is always a choice. Every day there is a choice. I could choose to stay in my comfort zone. And I’ve demonstrated to myself that my comfort zone is big enough I could spend the rest of my days there and really have a pretty decent life. Sure, I’d still be frustrated but, ironically, I was clearly comfortable with disliking myself for being so comfortable. Staying the same is a realistic option.

Or… or.. or.

Or I could choose to change. I could do something big to ensure I stayed deep within my discomfort zone on a daily basis. Something frightening and inspiring and huge. For the past several months, I’ve been looking and searching and even winding down other commitments to leave room in 2014 to play bigger. I knew there was something out there, I just didn’t know what it was. By sheer coincidence, I had two brief exchanges the first week in November that led to me hammering stakes in the ground and making self-commitments to redefine myself for myself.

The first was Chris Ponder (@ChrisPonder) over at Performance I Create. He had recently completed a Tough Mudder event and when I congratulated him he responded, “You should do one.” Uh, yeah… 10-12 miles of running and a couple dozen obstacles involving mud, fire, electricity, freezing water, heights, and three or four hours of intense effort to complete. My initial response was “No” followed by “Maybe” followed by “I could do that” and finally “Where do I sign up?” I’m terrified. And apparently that’s what it takes for inspire me to get back in shape. I have exactly six months to be in prime condition – just enough time and completely doable if I don’t waste any time or effort. So every day I’m tired, hungry, sore, and enjoying the commitment to myself.

The second was a conversation with Tash Stallard (@StirTheSource) at Stirring the Source and WorldBlu. I’m a big fan of WorldBlu’s efforts create a world where 1 billion people work in democratic workplaces. I believe organizational democracy is the FutureNow of work and applaud their vision. To reach more people beyond their organizational certification programs, they are creating a leadership development program called Freedom Centered Leader. I was intrigued and interested in participating when I first heard about it, but hesitated to take action.  Then, in what was supposed to be a casual and unrelated conversation, Tash asked the simple question, “If you’re interested, what’s stopping you from signing up?” Sooo…. after listening to myself offer up some really lame excuses I gave it some good, hard thought and joined the inaugural class of 150 or so from around the world looking to advance their own leadership skills and improve the world by improving business.

As I reflect on that oddly pivotal week, I’m struck by a few thoughts. First is that I was primed and searching for ways to push myself and play bigger in very specific areas of my life. Cris and Tash provided sparks – gentle nudges – that would have been meaningless if I weren’t already looking. Second, is that these things are important only to me. Who cares if I do a Tough Mudder, return to racing mountain bikes, take up golf, or sit on the couch? What’s it matter if I learn from WorldBlu, take other classes, pursue another degree, or watch TV? Just as I don’t want other people’s goals, I wouldn’t wish these goals on anyone else (unless they wanted them). The only significance these goals hold is the significance I give them.

That said, these goals are highly significant for me personally. Both are big undertakings with plenty of unknowns, requiring commitment, belief, and willingness to push and test myself. I don’t know what either holds for me, but I’m simultaneously excited for the challenge and frightened of letting myself down.

Jim Rohn once said, “The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them.” Yes, I’ve drawn the lines and set the stakes. But, the stakes I’ve put in the ground would be worthless if they didn’t inspire me to have the tenacious discipline to take action and be the person I need to be to accomplish them.

The less things change, the more they stay the same. If I want things to be different, I need to be different.

How about you?


Day 4’s post is by Andrew Jacobs, who you can find and follow on Twitter @AndrewJacobsLD. I don’t know Andrew well…and I love the insight that his post gives into the variety of different roles that he has held.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.





And so it begins, the inexorable list of activities that you put in place for Christmas. You get the idea from the holidays in the past; those moments with family gone that mean you pause and reflect.

So pull up a chair for 5 minutes with me while I pause and reflect.

I remember helping to launch the Sinclair C5 electric car. That doesn’t usually sit high on my CV as it wasn’t a resounding success.

No really.

It wasn’t. It was a fun experience though with some great people who believed in what they were doing. It just liked to pause a lot on its own.

More fun was being a children’s entertainer. A 3 foot foam head, Royal Mail uniform, a stuffed cat and I became Postman Pat for children’s parties. Playing hide and seek with two dozen 5 year olds in a village hall prepares you for fatherhood. That was 20+years ago – 5 years ago I was a Santa in a Department Store grotto and remembered why Christmas is magical for children. In our desire to know we forget how innocence can cause so much delight.

I enjoyed being a butcher. Cold and hard work in a windowless room for up to 12 hours a day meant you had to be authentic – no hiding places. I’ve got good knives and good knife skills as a result and I learnt a lot about which meats offer best value. Wasn’t much fun with a girlfriend who was vegetarian at the time but has helped me become a pretty decent cook (if I don’t mind saying so myself).

Arranging housing repossessions taught me a lot about compassion and priorities. It also touched me deeply. I realised that it’s not always about the money – it’s about the life we lead. It also gave me a thick skin. Scared people react differently. It did help when I did stand up comedy for a while. A very short while – I learnt I’m not that funny.

That skill of being able to talk with complete strangers helped when I sold cars. I learnt a lot about needs and wants, why people buy and the remorse when you buy the ‘wrong’ thing. That talking skill didn’t help so much when I sold menswear; men didn’t like to shop then, let alone talk to someone while they were doing it. I learnt a lot about influence and negotiation in that role. That and how to fold jumpers.

Being a cashier was too routine for me but counting a quarter of a million quid by hand was a different experience. It changed my thoughts about money again – money as a tool. Spotting fraud livened the days, learning the extent of my trust and how far people would push it. I took my first steps in management there too; steep curves, not many plateaux.

The list above contains lots of indoor jobs.

For variety what about delivering papers and directories? Different experiences entirely. I learnt a lot about dressing for the weather. Being a pools man was interesting too. Being invited to become a regular part of people’s lives through a number of years was humbling. Being recognised by a syndicate when they won £300k a week before Christmas was especially nice – particularly with a significant tip.

Reading back through it’s an eclectic mix. A mix that doesn’t mention what I do now. Looking back, this work history seems chaotic, confused, complex. At the time it was just what I did. I’m reminded of a hundred different incidents and events, all great stories.

Stories. They’re what bind us together and ground us.

Have a good Christmas but don’t spend too long on your lists – spend time with the people who will add to your stories.


Today’s post is by the wonderfully warm-hearted, generous Bina Briggs, otherwise known as @PlainTalkingHR and occasionally as the Chief Hello Officer of Twitter, which reflects how welcoming and friendly she always is on a daily basis.

Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.


@AlisonChisnell: Twitter, I have a question for you. Would you like another series of #adventblogs this December? Speak now or forever hold your peace 🙂

What a question, eh? I was going to ask Alison the very question when I saw the above tweet on my timeline, suffice to say that I was overjoyed. The tradition will be maintained for the 3rd year. Thank you Alison!

The year has brought calmness, happiness, positivity and personal successes of a different type – deeper, spiritual and emotional ones for me.

This year has had a running theme for me, that of a mother. Maybe because I have been thinking about my mum a lot this year, it was the tenth anniversary of her passing away in October. Christmas is the celebration of a birth of a very precious, divine baby, sometimes though we forget Mary the mother, her rare inner strength, her graciousness, her pain in seeing her son die at the cross.

For me, the story starts back in the last century when a 15 year old girl was married off to a much older man and emigrated from India to Uganda, leaving her large family behind.

The marriage was not a happy one, after some years, she gave birth to a girl and a few years later, another daughter was born. Both daughters decided early in their respective lives that as soon as they could, they would rescue their Mum to live a life away from the family home. Destiny took over and this happened a lot sooner than they’d anticipated; they arrived in England as refugees in 1972.

It was a strange beginning and Mum showed that inner strength that we had not seen before of having to start afresh in every way. I took it for granted how she made things happen and always had food on the table for us. Mum went looking for work and joined a local company as a seamstress where they made exclusive women’s clothes for a global market. Mum’s independence and confidence grew with every passing day. She became the true head of the family in every sense.

In her personal life, my Mum looked after everyone she came across, did not miss a single birthday of her extended family in India (102 at the last count) or the new friends she’d made in this country. The maternal instincts always came to the fore as she took everyone she met under her wing…

On 19th May 2003, my Mum was given 12 months to live, she had liver cancer. On 27th October 2003, my world, my family’s life changed and 10 years on, I miss her more than ever.

This year, my young nephew started University at UCL in Euston and my sister was totally lost and devastated in the first week he wasn’t at home. She cried her eyes out. All my friends who have had their sons and daughters in Universities confided in me that they had done the same in the first few weeks. The youngsters had in the meantime found a new life of adventure, excitement and new friendships!

In the past 12 months, I think I have become more aware of mothers around me and of course, the social media has been also contributory to these heightened senses.

I think I have some understanding of mothers experiencing the pain of the loss of their offspring – may it be temporary; or a permanent one. I have recently come to know those who have lost teenage daughters to cancer and how they quietly grieve whilst outwardly smiling away at the world. They have selflessly devoted their lives to Teenage Cancer charities.

And then there are mothers who walked the Three Peaks in Yorkshire for hours, for a cause to help fund research for their son’s medical condition – and for children they’ve never met; when they’ve never done anything like that in their lives before. Then there are mothers who cope with the daily agony of watching their children endure horrendous medical conditions by sharing their experiences through blogging.

And then there’s the single mum who loves her daughter to bits – calls her “her sunshine”… That overflowing, no holds barred, love is there for all to see and reflect in its glory.

There are the happy times too when the expectant mum is sharing her joy, every discomfort, every change in her body and of the growing child and loving the experience of being a mother soon!

So, during this festive period where it all started with a mother giving birth to a divine child, when we rejoice and celebrate the birth of this precious baby, do spare a thought for all mothers…

Mother, Mummy, Mum, Maia, Ma, Mere, Mama, Mutter, call her by any other name, I salute you all and dedicate this ode to you.


Day 2 is brought to you by Peter Cook, author, speaker, blogger and self-confessed provocateur. You can find him on Twitter as @AcademyofRock and over on his website. Artwork for today (and every day!) is provided by the brilliant Simon Heath.


The discipline of yearly reflection and planning has been a constant since I started running a business in 1994.  I still commit the results to one side of paper, which I show to my wife.  She then ‘corrects’ my ramblings and we move on together! 🙂  In all seriousness, it’s incredibly valuable and has undoubtedly helped me run a business for nearly 20 years, through two recessions. So the opportunity to do this ‘online’ is well worth grasping, as it increases the chances of my looking rather foolish if I get my predictions for 2014 wrong!

Success Stories

After several years of incredibly difficult trading conditions, this year brought some respite in terms of projects and therefore producing a reasonable income to support my family.  The highlights of this were a major piece of innovation consultancy for a large pharmaceutical company in New York.  Two things were great about this.  Firstly we won the business against fierce competition from the market leader in the field and secondly, I was able to include Corporate Artist and all round good egg Simon Heath in the work.  He was an absolute rock’n’roll star in New York, and as I write this, I’m just about to take him off to Amsterdam to handle another summit event around making a European Supply Chain work better.

My normal ‘cycle’ for writing a book is around 5 – 7 years, but that was also broken this year.  I released my 5th book “The Music of Business”, having gained an endorsement for the book from Harvey Goldsmith CBE, the man behind Live Aid.  I was also delighted to be invited to contribute to David D’Souza’s book “Humane Resourced”, which has a forward by Peter Cheese at CIPD and I contributed to a book on storytelling, which is a key modus operandus of my speaking career.  Hard times have clearly been good for my creativity and I’m now trying to fit in the writing of a major tome on innovation and creativity for release in 2014, plus a biography of the strange and wonderful next door neighbour of Peter Cook, no, not me, the comedy genius.

At the pure pleasure level, it has been a year filled with fun for the most part.  I compered and performed at a Charity Event, which raised a tidy sum of money for Demelza House Children’s Hospice, an absolutely vital charity ignored and overlooked by Governments.  I was also invited to jam with a former member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee at Dr Andrew Sentence’s garden party.  Andrew is an intellectual giant, having challenged various ‘sacred cows’ in terms of monetary policy during tough times.  He has just released his first book on the economy entitled Rediscovering Growth : After The Crisis. It was even more of a surprise that Andrew is an avid rock music fan and musician, with his hugely talented son, Tim.  I was honoured to be asked to perform with him and the band at his garden party in the company of a Bishop and other luminaries.  I hope I did not disgrace myself through nerves! 🙂

Rediscovering Growth – with Dr Andrew Sentence

Rediscovering Growth – with Dr Andrew Sentence

Sticky moments

Recession not only rhymes with depression, it is a key component of what Baroness Susan Greenfield predicts as the fastest growing medical condition in 21st Century Society.  Listening to Ruby Wax talking about depression and mindfulness reminded me of my own vulnerabilities in this area, having suffered from time to time with mild symptoms of depression due my inability to bring in a living wage for my family at times in the recession.  We can’t help our genes and I have a healthy ‘male gene’ of needing to be the breadwinner in the recession.  Although I’ve continued to face plenty of demand, nobody has had the means to pay for my services.  One of the more amusing moments was when someone asked me to travel 500 miles to present at an HR conference.  I asked what the commercial arrangements were to be told “It’s not our policy to pay for speakers”, to which there could only be one reply: “It’s not my policy to come then”.  Meanwhile, none of us get any younger and at 55, I’m acutely aware that new entrants to the market appear young, vibrant, willing to work for nothing and with ‘shiny toys’, which appear to be very attractive when compared with wisdom and experience.  Ah well, we make our choices etc.

In my case, if any minor thing goes wrong, I tend to ruminate upon it, which makes it worse.  Some years ago, I decided that (a) drugs were not the answer for me (b) physical exercise helps a lot – in my case swimming and cycling and (c) the key to good mental health for me is meaningful work, so I set about doing this to address my symptoms.  I’m pleased to say it has worked.  The recession is one thing that has weighed on my mind re my ability to bring in a family income from self-employment when all others are not buying from the market.  My antidote? I wrote a rock song to unleash some of my angst about how we have all contributed in smaller or larger ways to the ‘buy now, pay later society’.  The result?  A pithy and deeply ironic song about economics, banking and shopping called “Fiscal Cliff” which nearly reached the charts.  It was featured in The Evening Standard, City AM, Management Today and soon on the BBC World Service.  We had an absolute hoot recording it, with a Swiss Banker on vocals and a Class A rock God in the form of Ozzy Osbourne’s former guitarist.  Here’s the video, which we made from start to finish in two hours – Not exactly a Hollywood production but great nonetheless.  Feel free to download a copy on iTunes or Google Play for Christmas – All profits will go to Demelza Children’s Hospice.

The Show Must Go On – 2014 Resolutions

In 2013, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps from the depths of recession and achieved an incredible amount, professionally and personally.  I see my job as being one of firstly extending and consolidating this in 2014 as I enter my 20th anniversary of running Human Dynamics and The Academy of Rock.  For me this means:

Professionally: Continuing to challenge the stereotype that the ‘bigger branded consultancies’ are safer bets for procurement departments to choose.  As I write this, I am on a train to a meeting with Nokia to be followed by the delivery of some bespoke training and development at Lloyds of London.  For me, this means trading from a platform of intelligent content and thoughtful customer focus rather than handing out branded pens and fluffy toys to clients.

Developing the global network – for too many years, people have seen what I do as a one-man business and I admit that my antics with guitars tend to make people think that it is just me.  One sign of breakthrough happened last year when Nadine Hack asked me to collaborate in a piece of global consulting.  This was a true honour – Nadine is recognised as one of the worlds’ most trusted leaders on ethical behaviour in organisations. She has worked with Nelson Mandela, Barak Obama and many of the world’s greatest corporations to change their collective mindsets about ethical and sustainable business strategy and practice.

To complete the research and writing of my 8th book on Business Innovation and Creativity.  This will require the usual ‘get up early, stay up late strategy’ if it is to all be fitted in…

Creativity takes time, most of my best work is done at night …

Creativity takes time, most of my best work is done at night …

Personally:  To find more time for looking after myself.  Yes, this includes cycling when it’s cold and wet!  Damn – I’ve told everyone now, so I’ll have to do it :).  Making time for my son, who is suffering under the weight of constant tests and exams in an education system which now resembles the arrival of The Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at my local school.  And finding time to support my wife as she cares for her mum.

We leave with a reflection and muse on the one of the songs from the album with the same title of this blog piece.  Happy Christmas!


Today’s post is by the  inimitable Doug Shaw, encourager par excellence, blogger, artist, advocate of work as useful fun, proceeding until apprehended and much much more besides. You can find him at @DougShaw1 on Twitter. 


2012 started in a burst of optimism. I’d set a goal of winning and delivering more ambitious, stretching work projects and I was hoping to forge some new associations to help make this goal a reality. Two really interesting ideas were taking shape, the first a piece of business development and marketing work, the second a project around smart use of social media to drive more colleague and customer collaboration. We had also lined up an Unchristmas lunch for a few people who had supported the business over the past year or so.

The lunch was on a Friday. It was great fun catching up with a lovely group of people and then heading off to enjoy the weekend. From my experiences lots of offices are empty on a Friday as a slew of people choose to ‘work from home’ (don’t worry – I won’t tell). For me, Friday is a good day to strengthen the social fabric that is woven throughout a great place to work; I’d like to see more people lunching together more often.

I digress.

Time Stands Still

“Summer’s going fast, Nights growing colder
Children growing up, Old friends growing older
Experience slips away”

It is late Sunday afternoon on January 22nd 2012 and my phone rings. One of my Sisters wants to know if I’ve heard from Dad, ‘he was due to pop round and he hasn’t showed’. Carole, Keira and I were just diving into a local restaurant for a family meal and I said I’d call him and check in afterwards. As we left the restaurant the phone rang again. This time it was my Brother in law, Steve. ‘Doug, I’m at your Dad’s place, sorry to have to tell you he is dead’.

Suddenly you were gone.

I took Carole and Keira home and headed off. The police came round to Dad’s to satisfy themselves there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death and then left. I encouraged Steve to head on home to be with his family and I waited for the coroner’s ambulance to come and take Dad’s body away. That was a weird few hours sitting in an empty old house, listening to it move and sigh like an old building does. 

Prime Mover

“From the point of conception, To the moment of truth
At the point of surrender, To the burden of proof
From the point of ignition, To the final drive
The point of the journey is not to arrive

Anything can happen…”

Functions sometimes get in the way of feelings, and so it was as funeral and other plans were made. Dad died intestate, so I steeled myself for the mountain of paperwork that began to accumulate. The family and friends supported each other well through this time, and I had given my commitment to Dad that I would take responsibility for his affairs. This period of time was tough, I found it almost impossible to keep the business going and take care of family business to the point where I suffered a bizarre physical breakdown. My right knee stiffened and blew up like a balloon. My right arm and chest ached like I’d never felt before and for a few weeks I could barely get about. I was scared.

My physical condition was temporary and things began to improve. Through this time I took support and encouragement from many people and places. Most people aren’t aware of how important they became to me, and I want to recall one incident in particular that helped enormously.

Vital Signs

“Leave out the fiction, The fact is, this friction
Will only be worn by persistence
Leave out conditions, Courageous convictions
Will drag the dream into existence”

In November of 2011 Dad and I had talked about what the future may hold for the business. I told Dad I planned to go to America. I said I didn’t know where, to do what or how, I just knew I would.  Dad replied, ‘Go ahead and make me proud’. In March 2012 Steve Browne and I exchanged correspondence and a couple of months later I was booked to travel to Ohio for the annual state HR conference. This was pivotal for me in turning the sadness at the loss of my father into an opportunity to honour the simple exchange we had towards the end of the previous year. It also helped me get the flywheel of What Goes Around turning again.

The Big Wheel

“Wheel goes round, landing on a leap of fate
Life redirected in ways unexpected
Sometimes the odd number wins
The way the big wheel spins”

A business needs wheels to turn on. I used to think they were a little like bicycle wheels, spinning along the flat, whizzing down the hills and pushing up the other side. And they are not. The truth is that when you stop turning the business wheel, it loses momentum really quickly. And to get it started you have to put your shoulder to it and push, hard. And you need to keep going, persist, believe, persist, believe, persist. If you have the courage of your convictions, if you love people, and love who you are and why you do what you do, and if you can find a Steve Browne, you can choose to keep the big wheel turning.


“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill
I will choose a path that’s clear
I will choose freewill”

I choose for 2013 to be a year of useful fun and support for one another when things don’t go quite according to plan. I hope we can continue to create opportunities to better ourselves and each other, and to continue to raise a well-intended challenge when we see something ain’t going quite right. Proceed until apprehended.


Alison Chisnell – for the kind invitation to write this post.

Steve Browne (aka The President of the United States of HR) – for helping me make something magnificent happen

Neil Peart – for lyrical support

Paul Shaw – for being my Dad and for showing me, through example, that it is better to be a critical friend than to strive to be liked.

20 v2

Today’s post is by @OlMoore, back on Twitter after a long break away from it…and it is lovely to have him back!


I have two older brothers, seldom do they provide pearls of wisdom or guidance on what it means to be a grown up in this age.

But once my eldest brother did land a rather prophetic statement on me.  

“Life starts at 28; your whole world will change for the better, things will become clearer, your path will be set.”

2012 was my 28th year and it was one on an epic scale.

And boy was it needed; the end of 2011 saw me surviving my own personal credit crunch, escaping a difficult work situation for something with more potential, love also began to bounce around for the first time in a long time.

My professional life certainly took an upward turn at the beginning of the year, new horizons appeared, new opportunities to learn and to develop – all be it I only realised this far later in the year. That said it took a nose dive for most of the year but recovery is on the way and despite some quiet evenings pondering what could have been and where my career had gone there are now goals in place to achieve what I want to achieve.

I put myself on a social media hiatus to focus on things that are important in the real world – namely my wife, daughter and step-son.

Yup, you read that right, my wife. You see the most epic moment of 2012 for me was falling in love, and proposing on my wife-to-be’s birthday surrounded by friends, family and with a New York cheesecake in my hand, standing by my faith and arranging a wedding for under £750.

I fell in love quickly and wonderfully, my daughter and her son began to grow together and play and argue and act just like siblings who had never been apart.

I have had to learn what it’s like to be a fulltime Dad again and also what it means to be a husband – a new position for me. And despite having to stop writing this blog 3 times to go tell a small person to “shhh” and it is far too late to be awake, I am very much enjoying being husband, a step-dad and the best away-dad I can be for my little girl.

I have 2 cats (I’m allowed a puppy after 6 years of marriage so the boss tells me) having never been a ‘cat-person.’ My dinner tonight was Chicken Goulash with rice, freshly made and prepared at home. Rather than the micro-wave meals I lived off 12 months ago.

All be it leaving some stuff out, that is in essence my 2012, in that time I have also gone “teetotal” (5 year olds don’t appreciate the need for a rest with a hangover, however slight, and apparently neither do wives). Gone back on to Twitter (not Facebook), attempted to grow a beard, given up and gone for a goatee, given up and gone for some fluff on my chin and a pencil moustache. Bought my dream car and sat dismayed as this beautifully designed soulful Italian legend has failed time and time again. (For those petrol heads out there it’s an Alfa Romeo).

The point to all this – Alison’s theme for the advent blogs, reflections and resolutions, I started this blog reviewing my professional life.

The rest is about my family – that’s the reflection and the resolution. My professional life isn’t that important and it isn’t to take any precedent over family. My brother was right, life starts at 28 and I am very much looking forward to the next 12 months and the next 28 years watching my kids grow and enjoying the trials and the triumphs with my Mrs Moore.

No bonus or promotion will ever beat your daughter giving her little step-brother a homemade calendar which states he is the best little brother ever.


Jane Blackmore (@janeblackmore) also known as Northernmum, is the author of today’s post. Her blog is one of my all-time favourites and makes me laugh and cry in equal measure….which is exactly what happened when I first read her guest post below. My daughters are only a couple of weeks older than Jane’s twins and our professional lives crossed briefly whilst we were both pregnant. I can relate so much to many of the things she writes about…and yet in recent times there have been a whole set of experiences that I am so thankful I have no direct knowledge of. To me, she…and her family…are simply amazing.


This is the first new year that we won’t be ‘doing’ anything. New Year usually finds me and the father of my children dressed in ridiculous outfits surrounded by friends; last year was onesies – where I looked like a pregnant snowman, before that we were race jockeys and the time before we were eighties legends. This year I will be wearing my new Christmas pyjamas, pouring a very big glass of wine and closing the door firmly on 2012 without any fuss or celebration. I hold little expectation for 2013 as the last twelve months have taught me to live each day as it comes and seize happiness with both hands.

2012 was my annus horribilis.

I told this to my six year old son and he immediately told his teacher that I had a horrid anus which was embarrassing when we were all seated in the classroom making decorations for the upcoming celebrations. Since then one small child has insisted on trying to examine my anus every morning in the queue for class which has led to me wearing tunic style jumpers and a long duffel coat to avoid his prying fingers. I am not a fan of people trying to poke my anus.

The year started with a week in hospital watching my beautiful 18 month old daughter undergo hip surgery and have her legs pinned into a half body spica cast for three months. I cannot even begin to describe the agony of emotions that we endured that week that spilled into the next 3 months, tears well in my eyes as I type the words and I know I am not yet recovered from the journey we took together.

Through a turbulent time I learnt about true strength and determination, I watched a baby learn to crawl without using her legs, I saw a child grow and play without even knowing her legs were bound. So many of us think happiness must be found or bought, my daughter showed me that happiness is a state of mind.

I say 2012 was my horrid anus but actually I cannot recall a more elated moment in my life than watching my smallest girl take her first steps for the second time.

Life has spiralled past this year, it has been unrelenting, fraught with confusion and change. Our family started the year surviving on one income whilst the other parent cared for a sick child and we will end the year the same way except it is a different child and a different parent.

We survived the summer, six weeks of no childcare for our three children whilst their teachers partied on a Greek island relishing the freedom. We emerged in September a little battered, slightly paint smeared from attempts at crafts and with a full recycling bin that groaned under the weight of empty bottles of mummy’s medicine. School took the children back, my husband started work with the smallest child well on the road to recovery and then life picked up his bowling ball and sent us spinning.

October was full of washing, night after night of bed stripping and mattress wiping. My eldest daughter, the girl who is growing at a relentless rate and seems to be ageing daily suddenly went backwards. A confident, beautiful child who lived for her next dance lesson and thrived on trying her hardest suddenly turned silent, pale, a six-year-old who wet the bed up to six times a night.

We asked the question, was it us, is two working parents too much when you are a family of five, did she need me at home?

We couldn’t find the answers.

My nights became sleepless, mixed with worry and so many urine soaked sheets.

Halloween came and a routine appointment sent us straight to A and E with a diagnosis of diabetes; in forty-eight hours colour started to flood her cheeks again and my dancer returned brimming with insulin and not so full of sugar.

Alison has asked us to reflect and look for resolutions, when I reflect I don’t purely see a hospital cot but it lingers behind most memories. But I also feel wiser, my priorities are firmly in the right place I have leapt from being a career focused mother to being a mother who has a career on the side. I can be both but the scales just lean slightly heavier to being mum.

I learnt everything from my children, I learnt a six-year-old can puncture her skin up to eight times a day to give herself life saving insulin because she simply wants to stay alive. I learnt that if you want something hard enough you can make yourself move no matter what is tying you down. I kept my sanity by having an incredibly amusing sidekick in my son who made me laugh no matter what ever the circumstances.

I have spent enough time in children’s wards this year to see that my annus horribilis is nothing compared to the trials of other families and knowing I am lucky keeps me warm at night.

I told my children my hopes for 2013 were centred on keeping them well, my elder daughter nodded solemnly and promised to do her best to keep all of her vital organs functioning, my youngest child leapt 2cm’s into the air confirming her legs were here to stay, then my son said….

“Well I am sorry mum, but it is simply not happening.”

I turned to my six-year-old boy with a questioning glance,

“I really want the new sky-landers game and if I have to give up a pancreas or sit my backside in a cast for three months then I am more than prepared to do so, I don’t care what you say it is my blooming turn to sleep in hospital and have you all to myself!”

With a flourish he wandered off murmuring “who needs a pancreas anyway…”

I have added sky-landers to his Santa’s list – I am fond of that child’s pancreas…..

To the end of the year I raise a toast, so many lessons learnt, so many tears shed and so much laughter found in the strangest places. To the children I have spent nights sharing a ward with, thank you for showing me bravery I have never imagined. To my own family, I only hope you know how much the year has made me love you all so much more deeply.

To 2012 – don’t slam the door on your way out.


Today’s post is written by Margaret Burnside, or @MargaretBurnsid as I usually think of her! As with a lot of people, Margaret has seen huge change this year on pretty much every front.


2012 has been a year of change, personally and professionally…

The big change came half way through the year when, after 24 years of working for myself (one way or another!) I had the opportunity to consider being employed again. This was the first job to seriously tempt me out of self-employment for a long time. I loved my flexibility, independence, my long-standing customer relationships, working from home; in short freedom to choose when I worked, what I worked on, who I worked with and which tools (gadgets) would best help me do the job. How would I make the transition? The opportunity cropped up in a week when my husband and I had taken a spontaneous day off to go to the beach with the dog – magical! So, when discussing it with my husband and said ‘what about the chance to take a day off and just go to the beach like we did this week?’ His response was ‘… and how often do we actually do that?’

So what else would I miss? Lots of travel and time away from home? No! Working evenings and weekends to keep up in the extremely busy periods? No. Uncertainty about when invoices would be paid? No. Having to keep an eye on the ‘phone and e-mails on holiday and days off? No. Perhaps there was something to consider here …

I took the plunge, made the call, had the interviews, did the aptitude (!) and psychometric tests and then waited for the results … The powerful, positive feelings and real excitement I felt when offered the job told me all I needed to know about whether it was the right thing or not.

I’ve adjusted very quickly to my employed status; I have a lot of freedom to shape my work and do all the things I love doing with L&D; I have enjoyed having a great team around me to help make things happen; I’ve had some early successes to build my confidence; I’ve struggled to take all my paid holiday this year; I love my 32 minute commute; I’ve been able to keep working with some of my favourite customers; I’ve even been able to adjust to working with PCs and Microsoft again after converting to Apple Macs and I particularly love being home most evenings to eat with the family and even go out for a dog walk after dinner!

A big highlight in the year whilst making THE decision was an unexpected night out in London with some of my Twitter friends, meeting @onatrainagain @PlainTalkingHR @MrsDurbs @AlisonChisnell and seeing @StirTheSource again. It was a lovely, life-affirming, fun, supportive and giggly, girly night and gave me a great space to talk through my fears, hopes and concerns about being employed. Thank you.

So what does 2013 hold? Some great work projects and product development ideas, a visit from my brother, his wife and their two gorgeous boys from Australia, more paid holiday and evenings and weekends to enjoy! We’ve also been able to use my regular and predictable income to remortgage and spend some money on the house we’ve been trying to sell for the last year, giving us a chance to fall in love with it all over again! So, for the first time in quite a few years I’m going to have a life… (the closest thing to a resolution I’ll commit to!)

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Today’s post is by the very wonderful Kate Griffiths-Lambeth. She writes her own blog, which inspires, educates and never disappoints. You can find her on Twitter at @KateGL, in the meantime, enjoy her reflections and resolutions.


Tricky things mirrors and reflections…they can be very unforgiving.  I scared myself not so long ago by catching sight of a person in the mirror behind the bar in a theatre – I was struck by how pale and tired they looked and then realised that I was observing myself.  We seldom appreciate how others see us and we often believe that we have all the information and hence can justify our decisions.  This safety clip showing the rear view from a lorry’s wing mirror demonstrates how easy it is to make assumptions; although looking in the mirror, the driver is unaware of what is really there beside and behind his vehicle.

And similarly in this clip, which always makes me smile, the kitten clearly believes that it is under threat because of what it can see in the mirror:

Reflections need to be treated with caution as they are from a single viewpoint and hence can fail to show the whole picture and, although change needs to start with “the man in the mirror”, self-realisation can be unnerving. 

However, enough ponderings… as is conventional at this time of year (and also because I am now exactly twelve months into my new role), here are a few thoughts on the months that have passed, with my connected resolutions:

Spring – I wish I hadn’t burst into laughter in the company of a colleague whom I did not know well, as, unwittingly, I caused offence (when he thought I was laughing at him) and it has taken me nearly a year to make amends.

Resolution: think harder about how I come across to others and adapt my behaviour to get the best out of every relationship;

Summer – I held a fantastic Team Offsite – we really are making great progress and the businesses are as pleased as we are.  With work as a back drop, I should not have been sceptical that the Olympics would live up to people’s hopes.  I expected London’s transport system to creak and fail under the strain, with locals and tourists alike suffering in sweltering, crowded tubes.  How wrong I was (and I am so pleased and proud of all that was achieved).  Perhaps, if I had attended the excellent Positive Psychology in Action workshop by Sukh Pabial in July, as opposed to in August, my attitude would have been different.

Resolution: don’t be a Romney – have greater faith in others to do a good job when they have made a commitment to accomplish something;

Autumn – As a family we went on a wonderful holiday to Crete, to celebrate my mother-in-law’s 70th.  Whilst there we endured a terrifying drive through the mountains, travelling on a rough dirt track with a sheer precipice to the side and the threat of rock falls (it was the only time when everyone was silent, simply willing the driver on).

Resolution: No matter how daunting something appears, don’t give up.  The pride and satisfaction of achievement (and the memories) will last a lifetime; and

Winter – I had an unnerving health scare and was amazed and humbled by the support and encouragement I received from the friends, family and acquaintances.

Resolution – I must become better at looking after myself, as there are many people who care about me and I owe it to them as well as to myself.

The poet Edgar Guest wrote a poem, “It Couldn’t Be Done”, which encapsulates many of the things I have learned during 2012 and my resolutions and intended approach for the year to come:

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
     But, he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
     Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
     On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
     At least no one has done it”;
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
     And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
     Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
     That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
     There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
     The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
     Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
     That “couldn’t be done,” and you’ll do it.

Looking back over 2012, despite the moments of doubt and worry, it has been a wonderful year – thanks to all of you who have enriched and shared parts of it with me.

Final Resolution: Don’t always rely solely on the rear view mirror – it’s good to look back but probably even more important to look ahead…

Here’s wishing you a wonderful 2013.

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