Brexit or no Brexit?

Dice Roll Brexit European Union
Brexit or not?

The term ‘Brexit’ is the friendly or tedious new name for what we are about to do as in Britain by exiting the EU. When I say ‘about’ to do, it now seems like years ago and we are all tired of this unknown.

The Brexit Referendum

Our once in a lifetime (so they say) opportunity to vote on whether we would like to remain a member country of the European Union was held on 23 June 2016. To be honest, did anyone really know what it meant? It felt like a bungling attempt to be popular with the people before the real implications were understood. Were we all desperately eager to jump on this new alternative power to vote or voting because we knew what was right? Did we know how hard it would be to actually do? There were many incredible promise tactics used by ‘Leave’ supporters (Brexiteers). Including vast sums of additional money saved given to the NHS. And Remoaners (Remain) did their fair share of defence scaremongering as well.

Never as a citizen have I felt and still feel my country so divided, tired and angry.

Change

With all change, there is uncertainty, however, not all change is bad. I remember when we joined the EU back in 1973. I remember ‘decimalisation’ in 1971, how we all wondered how we would manage with only 10 pence and not 12 pennies in a shilling? And how about Litres instead of Pints/Gallons? Inches and Centimetres?

We adapted very well as you can see. Now, we worry about the future again. Decimal currency was simple enough as we knew what it meant in the long term. When we joined the EU, we actually gained many benefits in trading, travelling and education (Eramus+). Human rights gained an extra level of protection and Justice.

Brexit as a change feels far more concerning. It is all the things we do not know, alongside all the things we are trying to hold onto – the Northern Ireland border and Good Friday (or Belfast) Agreement of 1998 after the years of ‘Troubles’ in the 70’s.

A Brexit Deal for Deal’s Sake

This week’s news is astonishing. Reading one of the latest Brexit articles on Business Insider it appears that the deal on the table could well be the only deal available. We see protesting and resignations by Conservative MPs on the terms laid out, and the calls for a leadership challenge. There is the notion that Labour MPs could vote for this deal, despite not being in agreement. And this is to avoid no deal, no exit or another referendum!

Further turmoil is read in an update ‘Brexit Won’t Be Easier If I’m Ousted‘. The ‘backstop’ deal on offer could keep things running as normal now, but could it indefinitely mean we have no say when this stops or if it stops?

Is Jeremy Corbyn in favour of a second referendum, another election or does he have another plan? What is it? Jeremy remains honest, he doesn’t know what he would vote if there was a second referendum tomorrow. However, by now we would hope that the leader of the opposition party would act as a leader and have a clearer view. He says the current draft is ‘vague’ and yet he is non-committal.

Would it really be so terrible if a ‘remain’ vote was the decision of a second referendum? A remain could be a stopgap until real insight is available about the benefits. Other than kneejerk proposed control of immigration. That control also having blurred lines.

Originally we were told, ‘No deal is better than a bad deal‘, now we are told, ‘A deal is better than no deal, a second referendum or no Brexit!’

Change Management – Empowering Brexit?

Kurt Lewin’s 3-Step Model – And the missing parts

Burnes (2004) says, Kurt Lewin believed “only by resolving social conflict, whether it be religious, racial, marital or industrial, could the human condition be improved”. Brexit has unearthed great social conflict along with religious intolerance and racial prejudice.

So far with Brexit, we see a simplistic theoretical use of Kurt Lewin’s 3-Step Model. You ‘unfreeze, change and refreeze’, Voilà! Apply that to anything and Bob’s your Uncle!  We’ve seen ‘unfreeze’ with limited scope – the vote. We want the ‘change’ but we’re not sure what the change should be. With positive change not determined and players not empowered, at this stage, there is no hope of a satisfactory ‘refreeze’.

Lewin’s 3-Step Model was designed to be incorporated as part of 4 steps within a plan consisting of “Field Theory, Group Dynamics, Action Research, and the 3-Step model” (Burnes 2004). If you miss out the other steps you fail to understand why and how people act the way they do. The dynamics of Brexit mean you must understand how all groups work.

So, what is Field Theory – or Why we do things the way we do?

Lewin illustrates field theory as the need for a group with a certain set of values to maintain and protect a ‘status quo’ experience in order to survive (Burnes 2004). Therefore, any attempt to change an element will provoke defensiveness and criticism. The modern-day political arena in worldwide debate both on the news and in social media show this. The group’s behaviour can manipulate or modify individual behaviour so that any change attempted on an individual level can be undone/reversed by group peer pressure. It is important that the whole group acts as one with a positive influence upon each other.

Group Dynamics

With Brexit, in the UK., we have two colliding parties, each with divisions that attack their leader.  We also have the SNP and the DUP who all play a significant part in the whole decision. For the SNP the Scottish Electorate voted 68% remain, 32% to leave. The DUP’s interest (55.8% voted remain) lies over the Irish Border. They formed a coalition with the Conservatives giving them the vital majority in the last General Election in 2017. Arlene Foster, the DUP Leader already threatened to vote against the October budget over Brexit. This morning we learn that ‘DUP abstains on government Finance Bill votes‘.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, (SNP) ponders over the possibility of a second Independence Referendum (Sturgeon Marr interview – The Guardian Politics Live 18 November 2018).

Outside of the UK., there are 27 other countries with a vested interest.

Theresa May continually says she will deliver Brexit, but her party and the opposition have no confidence in her. Likewise, they have no confidence in their own role.

Everything is rigid and obscured. Instead of delivering a positive trade deal, all parties fight among themselves.

Enlightening today, we read Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘sense of urgency’, and ‘it is important to understand why people voted as they did, and to put forward proposals that bring society together.‘ (17.26.) Personally, there you have it. And we have a fairly good idea now with the demographics analysed after the voting. The group has to be extended to the ‘people’, why they voted and does Brexit solve the reasons why they voted? Those reasons, some of them misled will continue after Brexit unless they are tackled now.

Brexit’s Action Research

Only by intense research, feedback and analysis can we find a way forward with the intended split that is Brexit! The Referendum vote was speculative. It is hard to judge the complexities of an outcome without a plan. The first draft has just been made.

However, the complexity that Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon see and agree make offering alternative plans/Independence calls unclear. Therefore, wouldn’t it make sense that this is not a simple Yes/No Leave/Remain, poll? The main bullet points of any proposed plan need putting forward with an itemised Yes/No. Giving a little bit more understanding, it might equally produce a yes where there was a no.

Research being gathered by BMG on behalf of the National/Scottish Government over the last 3 years among SMEs holds vital information on how Brexit will affect services and products. Even though they want to run another year until October, why not use this now? Empower businesses by an additional vote on vital issues this agreement will raise. Consult and empower all voices. Then a workable plan will emerge.

A Sense of Urgency?

How about using John Kotter’s 8 step model to look at Brexit? Creating a sense of urgency to deliver a required outcome. Theresa May is now creating ‘urgency’ to push through a deal. However, the deal being pushed is not necessarily one that will deliver what the United Kingdom requested or needs.

Jeremy Corbyn has never really presented a sense of urgency. As can be seen from the article above regarding the question of a second referendum, ‘it is not an option for today‘. This is probably wise considering he does not know what the question is, nor have an answer. Nicola Sturgeon needs to recognise the majority of Scotland voted to remain. But her hands are tied regarding a second Independence Referendum. She is ‘waiting for the dust to settle‘.

There is a sense of urgency to ‘get out’, but not a sense of urgency to plan, accommodate, and empower.

Building a Team has been exasperating! Admittedly the party in government gets the first chance. Far better would be to involve all parties with key talents and unique voices from the beginning in a non-partisan team. As a group with all views represented, they would then take ownership of the task; ‘focus’. Instead of sitting back waiting to build a wall on offerings. Deliberation on that first offering has taken forever, meaning time is running out for any other. Theresa May seems adamant that it is this or nothing whilst key members of her cabinet ‘feel sure they can get her to make amendments’. There have been numerous resignations within the Conservative party. Including Brexit Secretaries unable to provide adequate communication. The calls for a leadership challenge provide a further distraction for the job at hand.

Vision and Strategy of Brexit

The vision following the vote on 23 June 2016 is to leave the European Union and take back control. The strategy of Brexit, looking at the above is vague at best and falling apart with constant disagreement and lack of commitment. There are complex issues to consider such as the Northern Ireland border – the customs union and single market. This was never going to be an easy task and nobody in honesty would have wanted to oversee it. There are hardliners who want a total break, and those who want to keep single market access. People are not happy or empowered.

It is clear that the draft 585 pages rest uneasily with the UK MPs. Yet it will be voted upon on 25 November by the 27 European Countries on the other side of the table. They may say yes, and then we say no. The feeling at the moment is that the United Kingdom will be giving away more and taking back less in terms of control. A ‘no deal’ result would be catastrophic for Northern Ireland. There needs to be a deal that honours this agreement or no Brexit. There is no clarity in the backstop offered for the United Kingdom having control on deliverance or total withdrawal. In effect, not the Brexit voted for.

Communication

Communication has not been a strong point throughout this whole fiasco. During David Cameron’s years as Prime Minister, he did not manage to a) negotiate with the EU what the United Kingdom wished from membership, and b) on a whim he came up with the notion of offering a Referendum in exchange for election popularity. Hoping to call the UK citizens bluff. The outcome was a shock. Communication since then has down spiralled. People feel hopeless – including those who were for the option of leaving.  Earlier today an update read that Theresa May’s speech with the CBI gave concern that ‘she’s listening but not hearing‘.

If you were to apply the Kübler-Ross Change Curve to the UK’s present situation evident is ‘Denial, Avoidance, Confusion and Fear’. You will still see ‘Anger, Frustration and Anxiety’. There is very little bargaining to be done. Although I’m sure we all feel, if only we could turn back time? The people are powerless and struggling to find meaning and you find ‘Overwhelm’ with depressive inclination after years of austerity.  We feel a long way from removing barriers and acceptance. March 2019 will still shock those in denial.

We often get the ‘carrot of hope’ on a final agreement ‘vote’ before the opportunity is taken away. Then we get confirmation, no. We will do this anyhow. Why aren’t we building on a positive side of either leaving or remaining? We need to build a new culture of acceptance and determination. It feels like a stressful relationship ending; the one who leaves can ultimately end up paying a hefty price. The one left behind will miss you for a while but will rebuild.

Democracy

The Referendum resulted in a very small margin, 51.9% for and 48.1% against. And that was with skewed advice. ‘This was the decision of the People, we will do what the People wished’. However, is this what the People wish for now? A final vote given to the People on the final deal would be the right choice. An informed decision provides clarity. If the choice to leave the EU was a mistake, then people need the right to recognise this before it is too late.

What is at stake for our economy after Brexit? What are the deals and regulations of the global future? How many businesses are already suffering because they do not know what they will have to change to stay on top? These are all questions that still do not appear to have answers. However, we are beginning to see that Brexit especially for business, will be costly.

People who are against a second referendum call it ‘sour grapes’, but it is far more than that. Now we know more about the procedure, difficulties and potential consequences, we can accept if the majority of voters feel the deal on the table is the correct deal, we can work with this. But not having the chance to reassess when it is very clear the sitting government and shadow cabinet cannot agree is shameful.

Retrial Brexit, please?

The democratic vote in 2016 was to leave the EU.  This vote was cast on misguided and incomplete information. In the justice system, a retrial can take place when additional crucial evidence is brought forward. Surely with Brexit, we can say we didn’t know this? Can we reassess our verdict given the new knowledge we now have? After all, change is easier when you are inside the house than shouting outside the door through a letterbox!

 

 

Further Reading and Sources:

Burnes, B., (2004). Kurt Lewin and the Planned Approach to Change: A Re‐appraisal. Journal of Management Studies, 41(6), pp.977–1002. [Online] Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2004.00463.x [Accessed on 18 November 2018]

Grief.com: Kübler-Ross (The Five Stages of Grief) – information surrounding grief modified to become the Kübler-Ross Transition Curve in Change Management. [Online] Available from: https://grief.com/the-five-stages-of-grief/ [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

Harvard Business School (2008). YouTube A Sense of Urgency – John Cotter [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

Institute For Government (2018). The November Draft Withdrawal Agreement. [Online] Available from: https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/draft-brexit-withdrawal-agreement-november  [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

Kotterinc.com: (no date). Kotter – 8-Step Process. [Online] Available from: https://www.kotterinc.com/8-steps-process-for-leading-change/ [Accessed on 20 November 2018]

 

 

 

Online Learning Courses, New Year, New Cause, Udemy & New You?

Online learning courses - photo leaping from 2017 to 2018
Wishing you a Happy New Year – 2018
I’m quite excited tonight… New Year and all that… I’m a bit of a collector of online learning courses… as well as currently halfway through my hons year of a degree. 
 

Stepping Stones

The reason I mention online learning courses is because over the last few years, by purchasing one for Microsoft Office, it encouraged me to steady concentration enough to ‘think’ and stop some of my silly ‘self-doubt’… after ‘two of the big life changes’ that came my way 2013.

Prior to this over the years I have used SAMS Teach Yourself  xhtml and css in 24 hours, books and volunteer webpages giving tips, alongside World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)  standards to validate my studious hours of coding in Notepad with great satisfaction and pride.

I had self-taught skills dating back to 1997, when I became the proud owner of a 40mb hard-drive home computer. The technological and digital world has changed vastly over the period 1995 – now. I had started off with a ‘state of the art’  5 interchangeable daisywheel, A3 electronic typewriter!  You could change font?  Wow!

Nowadays, young people would be hard pressed to know what a daisywheel is. Now it is rare for anyone not to have access to computer, laptop, tablet, and ultimately SMART phones.

My online course then took me round the corner to the local adult flexible learning unit/community centre and two ECDL’s successfully completed with great marks.  And that… after one year gave me the confidence to go to the open day at my local college. Thinking on more Office software type admin skills to instead, jump in the deep end of 3rd year of a degree.

 
So, little steps that can lead you to big mountains and knowledge, always, always brings you a sense of growth.
 

Online Learning Courses, New Year & Udemy

Why I’m writing tonight? Udemy … these courses are peanuts to buy and I saw one on sale today via a newsletter which will endorse a lot of what I have encountered this last academic year – some grounding and a great deal more towards successfully understanding more about what my potential clients/customers need in the way of support. How to provide an even better customer experience.


Udemy, GoRaise & Spider-ede Appeal

The most important surprise for me though is that… Udemy supports GoRaise – THE SPIDER-EDE APPEAL. I added this App to my browser just before Christmas when I heard that my kind and helpful friends (who have given me so much guidance with my web designing skills) David and Sarah’s little grand niece had been struggling with headaches and possible diagnosis of DIPG. They are trying to raise awareness and help Edie journey across to Mexico to receive the life-saving, pioneering treatment that is available there.
 
When I made my tiny purchase, Udemy gave £1.75 towards their cause. That thrills me, because, I get to learn, the person who compiles the course gets a customer who may wish to buy more courses (this is my second by this instructor) and more than anything, I get to help a little towards Edie’s treatment.

New Year, New You!

 I know, I will continue to enjoy learning new skills, and a better understanding about how the world ticks, and how I tick. I want to wish you all a wonderful journey through 2018 and hope that maybe my blog item does not come across so much as an advert or an appeal, I know you all have your favourite causes, but more, you catch my excitement; it might offer you the opportunity to enjoy a browse on some of the things you might want to explore more, such as a hobby, interest or skill.

 

Who knows what road you may take up after this? Whatever it may be, have fun!  And if it also inspires you to add the ‘GoRaise’ App to your browser to help Edie or knowing that what you buy helps others, even better!

Happy New Year!

Please watch out for the Homeless…

I went to Edinburgh on Tuesday, it’s my favourite city. Near 7pm we dropped into McDonalds – yeah, I know. Outside sat a young homeless man, (probably around 19-20), calling out for spare change. He was very loud, to the point of awkward.

As we were just going in, I had decided, I would drop by him when I came out if still there. It is the charity most closest to my heart… and I usually do watch for one homeless person on any trip. It’s not hard to do.

Later…

When I came out, I handed him ‘a little help’. He was very quiet, and then I observed his face. I tend to like eye contact – the eyes are the windows of the soul. He was sitting, holding up a cardboard sign, his face was scrunched in pain. I’m guilty of not reading what was written. My concern was with his body language. I asked the obvious ‘stupid’ question. “Are you okay?”

He said, “not really.” I did venture to ask him what was wrong. Again, pretty stupid, but I didn’t want to leave him, because… he was crying.

His reply was, “I haven’t slept in 3 days, I’ve been here 5 hours. I just want to be able to go to a hostel and sleep. I’m sorry.” “I’m too scared to go to sleep in case I get attacked on the streets.”

His woolly hat had about £2.50 including my contribution.

I asked him how much the hostel was – £18.

Seriously, this is just so heartbreaking…

He didn’t need to apologise, and whilst our conversation wasn’t long, I felt both his fear and knew this wasn’t an act. Most of the homeless I’ve ever met, manage to mask stuff. This was sheer exhaustion and breaking point.

What we don’t notice but would if we were homeless

Earlier on, I’d spent half an hour at 2.45 sitting on a picnic bench outside a small converted garage, whilst my daughter was attending an appointment. I noticed the lovely cyclamen in containers outside the door. I managed to half-heartedly read a page or two on my phone – a kindle book. Then, my butt felt damp, my back ached, my knees pained and my hands were freezing. I had no more concentration (and inside I was screaming for warmth and time to pass). So, I escaped for a walk along a street to find a cosy gift shop full of beautiful things to gaze upon.

Back to where I was now and our young homeless

He didn’t really have that option, did he? I did what I could to help him further towards his goal. He had time to find a few extra quid. Richard, it still plays on my mind, I hope you found somewhere safe Tuesday night (and last night). And possibly a few more strangers willing to help you.

All I’m really trying to say is, please watch out for homeless folks… it’s freezing out there. It could easily be you or I.

Think on the ‘any spare change’ thing, cos honestly, you can’t buy a chocolate bar for much less than a pound these days, so 20p won’t even buy YOU a treat. If you can spare more, think on that.

That’s it really… thanks for reading.

A little information on how we might be able to help

WHAT IS YOUTH HOMELESSNESS?

Retracing steps finding Inspiration

Inspiration hits and excitement grows when ‘re-vision’ means opening your eyes. Not just to ‘go over’ what you have learnt, but to gain insight from a different angle.

As someone who can identify with panic and overwhelm leading to absolute procrastination and further panic, Adam Grant captures everything I wanted to hear and more. I like to play! It’s okay, the endorsement of an organisational psychologist is good.

I have to admit I have lots of ‘bad ideas’ that seem brilliant at the beginning.  My master plan for this week was, it’s a ‘holiday’! I will go back over ALL my last 5 weeks lectures/tutorials and ‘do it again’ – transcribe, re-read etc. If I break it down into ‘bite-sized chunks’, I can creatively draw a plan for each subject. Thus, giving immediate recall on content. Well, I’ve managed one lecture and it was an introduction… and it’s Friday already.

Inspiration to roll with it

The thing is, I’m being side-tracked all the time. And not just the phone, work, life ‘things’, it’s discoveries like this. There is just so much out there to be explored.

Earlier today I was drawn in by Edward de Bono and the Marmite tale I had heard in class (and I had forgotten). So, I researched a little more –  De Bono’s Marmite plan for peace in Middle Yeast  (and other snippets). Ended up getting yet another two books for my Kindle – Six Thinking Hats and How to have Creative Ideas… more reading??? I need six thinking heads to multi-task books!

Adam Grant and this TED talk has really made my evening. Watching this little gem has given me another strategy. And courage to keep on plodding and probing innovative ideas to make it all ‘sticky’.

and so, the key to being original is just a simple thing of avoiding the leap from step three to step four. Instead of saying, “I’m crap,” you say, “The first few drafts are always crap, and I’m not just there yet.” “…the greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones that try the most.” … “If we want to be more original, we have to generate more ideas.

I will cut out the ‘I am crap’ thoughts (for at least the next hour) and recognise that even if ‘I am crap’ it doesn’t matter. Concentrate on being an original and creative thinker by not admonishing my creativity sparks! And instead, follow positive inspiration. Enjoy the journey… even if I am under tall in a forest of overgrown green things with no idea how to be left handed and swing a billhook in the right direction, the pathway IS in there somewhere.

Cardenden Village Fair 2017

Cardenden Village Fair

Sunday 27 August 2017 – Wallsgreen Park,  Cardenden, Lochgelly, Fife – 11am – 4pm

It’s time again for our wonderful Cardenden Village Fair!  Cardenden has a close knit community with many groups and local businesses offering so much to choose from.

Here I am sharing a video featuring some of the performers who put on shows in our Centre Ring and around the park from the year before (2016) – audio in places is muted so do not turn your volume up.

The weather behaved again and we had a wonderful day!

Come and explore this year:

Crime Prevention,  Scouts, Local History Group, McMillan Cancer Support, Kinglassie Parish Church, Environment Group, Kirkcaldy Blind Bowlers, Swimming Club, Maggies Charity and Fife Society for the Blind, Cruse, SSPCA, Cardenden Community Development, representations from Cardenden Play Park & Cardenden After School Club, Cadets.

We will have:

Green Watch, Glenrothes Aeromodelling, Remus Equestrian, Falconry,  Cardenden Santa Train, Bikes & Trikes, and Clydesdale Horses.

In the Centre Ring:

There will be a programme from 11.00 till 2.00 featuring: Cadets, Rosyth Sharks Rugby (to be confirmed) Suzette Twirlers, Bowhill Karate Club, Sarah Hendry School of Dance,  Kirkcaldy Pipe Band and Remus Equestrian.

There will be Children’s Races in between the performers many thanks to John Gilfillan.

Beautiful Gifts from our Local Businesses and Crafters:

Exquisitely Beauty’ful:

Princess Helena Designs:

Bead Dazzled Jewellery:

Grandma Knits:

Tinkability Crafts:

Caroline – Sand Art:

Glittered Wee Gifts:

Crafty Lil Monkey Designs:

Cruzing Scents – Scentsy:

Personalized by Claire:

Dressed to a T:

Janie McNeil – Aloe & Forget-Me-Nots:

Marina’s Creative Crafts:

BewTique:

Elizabeth – Toy Stall:

Candle Parties by Wendy:

All Things Crafty:

Sock Creations by Mardie:

The Wee Tailor Maid:

Lexibell Gifts:

 

What have I missed?

Why not try Bowhill Community Centre Flexible Learning Unit & Fife College to update your learning skills?  I can personally guarantee how good the classes are from taking ECDL Group Certificates here in 2015 and jumping straight into 3rd year of a BA Business Management at St Brycedale/Abertay University, 2016. I’m going back to start Honours next week! Bowhill Community Centre will be hosting a stall and can give you information on all they run.

We will have refreshments provided by: Pams Ices &  Peter Scott’s food vans

And fun & rides by Andrew Masterton Fun Fair.

There will be face-painting and balloons – might even be tug-a-war if time permits!

Peter Grant MP and Cllr Linda Erskine will kindly open our event with the releasing of St Serf’s Race Pigeons. Also in attendance will be Cllr Rosemary Liewald.

Surely this is enough to whet your appetite?  Certainly more than I can fit in a 140 Character Tweet. If you cannot make it – Sunday 27th August (11am – 4pm) then why not take some time following the links above to ponder on gifts for Birthdays and Christmas?

Most of all, a big thank you to everyone for making this day so special. Look forward to seeing you there!

Cardenden Village Fair Event Page:

Cardenden Twitter Feed:

General Election, 8 June 2017 – Vote!

Image "Vote" wood blocks - General Election 2017
“image by Wokandapix – Pixabay.com”
General Election! Please vote 8th June, 2017

Please Vote!

Good Morning, UK!  I hope you wake up greeted with more glorious sunshine wherever you are. It doesn’t seem that long ago we were voting on local council elections. Prior to that, we were asked to vote ‘remain’ or ‘leave’ for BREXIT. Before this, the last General Election and just before then, the Scottish Referendum for those of us in Scotland. Many people rightly feel, it’s all too much. However, I can’t emphasise strongly enough, your vote is important!

What’s the point?

I want more than ever to appeal to our younger voters.  You may already feel the frustration of your voice not being heard. You are our future, this election looks to be closing in by the polls and you could very well swing it to ‘all change’.   Never feel you can’t make a difference so why bother? Those who fought to give us the right to vote, could have felt the same. But they didn’t give up! They gave us a democratic right to express our ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The trouble is when we don’t all come out and use it. We can’t blame anyone other than ourselves.

‘You have to be in it to win it’

Someone I once worked for used this phrase about winning the lottery. ‘You have to be in it to win it’. In other words, if you don’t buy the ticket you can’t expect to win.  Yes, it’s not quite the same satisfaction or as life changing overnight, but, it still can mean quite a lot.  If you are not happy with the way things are now, don’t be complacent, join in, be heard – support those who are standing for what you would wish to see done both locally and nationally. If you think the party you really like does not have a chance where you live, no one standing, vote tactfully, choose the next best.

Tactical Voting Guide – The Guardian

By not voting you give those whom you are not happy with the ‘go ahead’ to stay right there. So, please vote! It takes very little time out of your day and even if you don’t feel anything, the rest of us will be grateful that you tried.

At the end of the day, we are all accountable for the way things turn out. And blaming is not the intention, it is about being aware, becoming more involved in your community – the more you join in, the more you gain a sense of belonging.

I’m looking forward to watching the results come in!

Control & Marketing Analytics…

Control

Control Pulse Graphic
Control Pulse

Where do you start ‘Control’ with marketing and analytics?  As a first step, it is important to know how you use social media platforms and whether you understand the protocol.  I’m in the process of redesigning my websites and how I use social media using expanding skills and my knowledge base, and thoroughly enjoying where it is leading me. Alongside this, part of my Business Management degree course studies Communication & Creative Design. This is also looking at Marketing, branding image, social media, etc.

I’m probably selling my soul with the endless ’email’ subscriptions to gain treasured knowledge (seems to be the trend in marketing tactics) but keep finding fascinating journeys. Yesterday, I joined yet another community… ‘Inbound.org‘, here I found an intriguing article.

‘We Looked At 137,052 Tweets & Found Out Hashtags Are Worthless’

Well, that headline certainly shouted out at me!  And don’t worry, the link will follow. I don’t want you like me running off to grab a read before I finish talking!

Twitter

So, taking that ‘control’ and ‘analytics’ are important, how do I best use Twitter to market Fine Print Secretarial Services and her successor ‘butterfly’ currently a snugly chrysalis?

Well, I have a Twitter account –  personal for many years (February 2009). Not sure I ever really learned how to use it. It was hard enough to follow all the other social media platforms/forums and stay sane – but all my friends (business and other) were there. I like my words, and being limited to 140 characters to get my point across is challenging.

I linked my personal Twitter account to my business Facebook page, because it was handy to share my blog via a post on Facebook to Twitter. This wasn’t a great idea. My personal username in no way relates to my business. Nor did it then feel right to update to my personal audience on Twitter which could now include my business audience, I was being lazy.

I have now corrected that and have a new Twitter account (February 2017) – @FineSecretarial. You can follow me there if you’d like! I’m mostly quiet due to my undercover website revamp and completing my degree, but occasionally, I may surprise you. While you are at it, you can also like my Facebook Business Page, but I will take on board the advice in the article you will get to read, and vanity.

I never used hashtags. Call me stubborn as a mule, and possibly getting old, it felt uncomfortable, I didn’t know ‘why’ or ‘when’ I should use them – or the benefit I would gain?  It felt like saying ‘LOL’ every five seconds just to fit in, and they were everywhere!  I tried clicking on a few random ones and sadly, the ones I found led me up the garden path. Over the years I found it even more that way.  Do people actually search up a tag and then put it next to their post?  Where do I find the right tag to use when being creative?  It can be frustrating if you want more information and find nothing exists.  On the whole, I felt an outsider to this strange language.

I believe you gain real wisdom when you are open and challenge your set ways. Therefore, finding this article today based on research the writer had conducted gave me a better understanding. Use hashtags sparingly and meaningfully on the best platform intended. Engage with your audience.

I would be really happy to hear your comments and thoughts?  Are you a wizard on Twitter? Do hashtags serve you well? How and when do you use them?

Articles for Reference:

Well, I will close with two articles I have read in relation to hashtags – I found both interesting.  Firstly, the one I promised you, if you haven’t dashed away madly and Googled it by now:

We Looked At 137,052 Tweets & Found Out Hashtags Are Worthless by RYAN MCCREADY, AUG 24, 2016 found on: https://venngage.com [Accessed 25.03.2017]

Secondly, this: Should You Use Hashtags on Facebook? Here’s What the Research Says by Andrew Hutchinson June 19, 2016 found on https://www.socialmediatoday.com [Accessed 25.03.2017].  By the way, the second article goes well beyond Facebook and explores their use on all social media platforms.

Here, I am only just dipping my toes in the arena of ‘control’ and only one element of social media. I will be away soon to study my Google Analytics, AWStats, WordPress analytics and all the wonderful insights served up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube (not yet but soon) – I’ll be ‘watching this space’, as I hope you will do too!

Thank you for reading.

Cardenden Village Fair 2016

28th August, 2016 – 11am – Wallsgreen Park, Cardenden, Lochgelly, Fife.

This will be my third Village Fair I’ve had the privilege to attend. Cardenden is a close knit community with many groups and local businesses offering so much to choose from.

I thought I’d start by sharing a snippet featuring some of the performers who put on shows in our Centre Ring and around the park from last year – the sound at the beginning is muted so don’t alter your volume or the pigeons and pipers may take you by surprise.

We were very lucky and the weather stayed fine. A wonderful day!

This year we have even more!

Find out about:

Crime Prevention, Forestry Commission, Scouts, Local History Group, McMillan Cancer Support, Kinglassie Parish Church, Environment Group, Kirkcaldy Blind Bowlers, Swimming Club, Maggies Charity and Fife Society for the Blind.

We will have:

Green Watch, Aero Modelling, Remus Equestrian, Falconry, Cartmore MOT Centre, Vintage cars, Digital Scotland, Santa Train, Bikes & Trikes, Police,  Clydesdale Horses.

In the Centre Ring:

There will be a programme from 11.30 till 2.30 featuring: Suzette Twirlers, Karate, Stacey Anderson Dance Troup, Remus Equestrian, Pipe Band,  Generation Twirlers and ZeeDC Dance Group.

The final part of our centre ring will be put on by St Andrews Sky Divers who weather permitting will do a parachute drop!

Beautiful Gifts from our Local Businesses and Crafters:

Exquistly Beautiful:

Princess Helena Designs:

Blue Nile Crafts:

Sally Nekrews – Partylite:

Bead Dazzled Jewellery:

Scarves by Tracy:

Grandma Knits:

Maggie’s First Glass Designs:

Tinkability Crafts:

Lindi’s Bridalwear:

Caroline – Sand Art:

Karen’s Tasty Treats:

BeadyBoppers:

Louise – Sand Art:

Kat – Chilli Papas:

Emma – Sweetpea Designs:

Vegalicious: 

Other stalls I have to find web addresses for:

Lia – Dousafavour Hair Accessories; Jackie – Children’s Books; Rena – Creative Cards; Elizabeth – Toys; Wendy – Home Treasures; Emma – Lights & Candles; Maureen – Yankee Candles; Ann – Bags & Bracelets; Olwen – Olwen’s Angels; Samantha – Forever Living Products; Donna – Candles & Bath Bombs…

What have I missed?

Well, if you wish to extend your learning/education why not try Bowhill Community Centre Flexible Learning Unit & Fife College. June Anderson will be holding an information stall. I can personally guarantee how good the classes are as I recently took my two ECDL Group Certificates here and am now stepping it up to Fife College, St Brycedale because I have indeed got the ‘learning bug’!

On top of all this we have: Pams Ices, Peter Scott’s food vans, Dinky Donuts, Andrew Masterton Fun Fair, Tombola and a 50-50!

I believe there might be face-painting and balloons, I know there will be Children’s Races – might even be tug-a-war if time permits!

There will be Councillors!  I will edit the blog when I have the names!

Ian Chisholm will be attending for SNP.

Surely this is enough to whet your appetite?  Certainly more than I can fit in a 140 Character Tweet. If you cannot make it – Sunday 28th August (11am – 4pm) then why not take some time following the links above to ponder on gifts for Birthdays and Christmas?

Most of all, a big thank you to everyone for making this day so special. Look forward to seeing you there!

Cardenden Village Fair Event Page:

Cardenden Twitter Feed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finishing School… Pondering Thoughts

Photo of OwlBecause I’ve had a little more time to ponder today, I realise I’ve had some very strange ones this afternoon.

I was reading an article about crime rates in Scotland – Most crime in Scotland is property related, 11,500 people survey reveals – BBC Scotland News It was interesting in relating how we imagine crime to the actual statistics.

This in turn strangely led me to thinking about very successful companies and individuals – top marketing, top entrepreneurs – and it’s a strange thought I admit it, but it occurred to me, criminals probably have an untapped wariness/eye equal to those of Entrepreneurs. Both are successful when they know the loopholes, the way people think, what people need and want, and how to exploit the market.

Just to balance those books, earlier today, on waking I was reading an article about entrepreneurs 8 Things Entrepreneurial People Do Differently – Huffington Post Now, the reason I say ‘balance the books’. I have been privileged enough to work for some very inspiringly people during my own very small contribution to the world of being an entrepreneur. I’m not raking in the millions and I don’t have that totally unique niche in the market, but, I do aspire to provide the very best service – one that looks at the client’s needs and not my own. One that responds in as many ways as possible to make others lives better – and this I am proud to say I continue within my life outside of work. I like to ‘serve’ and make others smile, it makes me feel accomplished and whole. These values I am sure were instilled in me by my parents and I thank them for that.

I am aware that I am adding a fair few links here relating to my thoughts, and I would urge you, if you have time to visit any, the above Huffington Post one I recommend. I would quote so many things from this if time permitted. I know these things to be true in the people I have admired in my business world. Maybe the strongest I want to bring out is the sense of inclusiveness and enabling services those at the very top reach out in spirit to others no matter their status. They want a better world for us as they know the generations that follow will succeed and grow through this inheritance to be all they can and look out equally for their fellow citizens in life. They will be inspired. Inspiration brings with it gratitude, comfort, strength, hope, teamwork, encouragement, and dare I say ‘love’? This is what I feel and see through their eyes. Yes, many are rich, but they don’t use this to bring others down. They use it to create wealth for all – many philanthropic acts are quiet but create huge opportunities, and I feel a sense of real gratitude for these people and how they use their own success.

Another thing that is key and again quoted in the article is that “they never stop learning” – they are open to new and old ideas and evolving. They scrutinise what works and what doesn’t work – I have to say I haven’t learnt to embrace failure yet but, these people turn failure into success. They move the goal posts, they change the team tactics.

Of course, there are some people who reach the top of the food chain via other methods, they are not criminals, but they are very clever on marketing techniques, reading the minds of the people and adding to wealth, they know how to exploit loopholes and evade taxes legitimately. They know how to use people to their best advantage ie increase their profit margin, reduce their overheads, do their ‘spin’. They offer ‘false promises’. They pull you in taking advantage of your disadvantage with words that make you think there is a ‘quick fix’. They don’t appear to have a ‘social conscience’.

In our political world, it’s quite easy to see this in action as well – so the next time you go to vote, bear this in mind – whether it be a Referendum as we in Europe face, or a top Presidential Election as our friends over the seas will soon see and are already making decisions towards. Will the people or yes/no decision you face make a better world for all at the end of the day? Are they offering you their responsible hand on heart stewardship or are they buying your frustrations and insecurity?

I know this is long, but my closing thoughts are on another article I read on our BBC News A look inside China’s first finishing school – BBC News I admit that the BBC lured me in with that wonderful photo they have of ‘The ‘polite’ way to eat an orange’. This had me smiling and I can honestly say I’m not sure I can look at an orange the same way ever again. All my life I’ve been doing it wrong! Although, I confess to knowing that wonderful skill of scouring the skin with a knife across the middle and then from top down in to four segments to make them very easy to peel.

Why am I sharing this? Surely finishing school is for the elite and a bit snobby? I believe not only in ‘serving’ but also in ‘elegance’. It does not hurt for a woman to know etiquette. Although, I think whilst it is important to keep eye contact with those you come through a door to, I would worry deeply about closing it behind me without looking. What if someone else was about to enter? So many times in shopping centres I’ve seen doors swung with no regard to who is behind. It doesn’t hurt to acknowledge a 360° awareness of your surroundings. And that 360° awareness applies to all aspects of your life. Do not close the door for others, because you failed to look behind you once you have successfully navigated your own way through.

What I like about this article is the sense of empowerment for women, as well as wanting to better their environment of being a wife, mother etc. “It’s about your character, and the feeling you give to others,” “You should make people feel you are confident – a person you can trust.” – these sort of statements tie in with leadership thoughts earlier on. Service and leadership go hand in hand.

My last thought was one of intrigue. I couldn’t help noticing at this school of elegance a white board. Now, I’d love to be a fly on the wall and know what they are teaching here? What I did notice in my fly’s eye is that there appears to be some awkwardness in the writing on the wall. Obama has a line drawn to Michelle, she is a woman in her own right and not shown to have a subservient status – but what about Mrs Trump? Wouldn’t she also be a woman worthy of equality and a first name? I leave you with a smile. You can make up your own mind on that one!

As to the title of my blog article – you never finish school, there is always something to be learnt! So continue to be open, continue to grow and continue to share your wisdom for the better of all mankind.

How do successful people spend the first hour of their day? Eating Frogs!

Green Frog - cc Stephen Michael Barnett
Green Tree Frog – Creative Commons
Stephen M Barnett

Mark Twain quote:

Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.

 

 

A business forum I belong to (Quora) allows people to post and answer questions.  Some are amusing, some are very helpful/insightful and people are encouraged to use their expertise and experience to help others.  I confess I haven’t visited it as often as I had hoped I would but have recently been taking the odd look.

The title to this article is based on a question I found there.  I guess one of the first things we must ask ourselves is ‘what is considered success?’ To me it comes in several measures and it isn’t all financial, although many would argue, that’s the main reason we do what we do.

So, presuming ‘success’ can be related to any one of us, I thought it interesting to see how we can relate or put into action things in our lives that help us get the most out of our working/creative/living day.

I don’t know about you, but eating the above fella to me is not something I desire.  One he is far too cute, and two, er.  I’d rather not – frogs are an acquired taste, as I supposed ‘success’ can be!

I have to confess I haven’t heard of this term before – but as laid out in one of the answers

“In the morning, right after getting up, you complete the most unwanted task you can think of for that day (= the frog). Ideally you’ve defined this task in the evening of the previous day.

Completing an uncomfortable or difficult task not only moves it out of your way, but it gives you great energy because you get the feeling you’ve accomplished something worthwhile.”

 

The thought of doing ‘unwanted tasks’ often make me procrastinate. But I have mentioned making lists before and I can see I certainly have a few frogs that could be had for breakfast!  I do know this also makes sense as I had a session of doing just this the other day, and completing just two ‘put off’ tasks before my working day did make me feel good. And work light-heartedly (some stress removal) and focused.

I’m interested though, what do you do to help you become in tune and ready for action?