Positive Impact in Action

BALANCE FOR BETTER: A MOMENT TO TRACK OUR PROGRESS

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On International Women’s Day 2019

It’s come around again and we know it’s not just about the day itself but how it provides a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we need to go in the coming year. The theme this year is focused on #BalanceForBetter and we’re taking this day as a chance to track our progress of positive action towards gender balance.

Last year, we launched a joint manifesto in partnership with our positive impact partners Mac&Moore with the aim to support our clients, partners and network to develop structures and cultures, which inculcate genuine equality and diversity. It focuses on ‘thinking is good, talking is great, doing is best’, centred on the three pillars of:

Doing things properly

Doing things differently

Providing a platform for those on their way up

We wanted something that would ensure we hold ourselves to account and that we were actually doing some of the right things. The time for talking has been long overdue, women have (and continue to be) silenced over so many incredibly important topics, but as three people with a lot of in-built privilege, we are in a powerful position to act on those words, and begin to create small but mighty changes which will hopefully start to create some tangible difference across the equality landscape.

We’ve reviewed the three pillar and tracked what we’ve managed to achieve or what areas we still need to work on and then look forward into 2019 to map out how we’ll connect our actions to this year’s theme of ‘Balance’. Perhaps some of these initiatives will give you inspiration of what you could implement to #BalanceForBetter.


GET OUTSIDE OUR ECHO CHAMBER:

“Thank you for an inspiring start to the morning - you girls are great, fostering positive culture for women in work and life”
— Hannah Arnett, Comms Freelancer
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We joined Mac&Moore’s event series in London where a group of likeminded women from the world of marketing and PR gathered around a breakfast table to discuss ‘Levelling Up’ over tea and toast. We discussed how to tackle Learning and Development when you work for yourself, the differences between in-house and remote services, but a large part of the conversation revolved around the importance of getting together face-to-face to provide a sounding board and friendly ear. We’re venturing out of the London Bubble and off to the next one in Leeds next week and more to come!

“I didn’t realise how much I needed the face-to-face time until I was there”
— Indie Foolheea, Unfold Change

The breakfast really highlighted how powerful and supportive women can be with one another when they’re put in a room together and all barriers are dropped. It was a stimulating session of honest conversation of the highs and the lows of work. And what also came through is the power of the human connection - face to face meet-ups make for better relationships that you can value not just in a business sense but personally.

SUPPORTING FEMALE FOUNDERS & LEADERS:

We’re still seeing female founded or co-founded businesses raise less investment than their male counterparts and the percentage of minorities and women on the boards of the largest public companies is only rising slowly. The system is flawed. We’re working next to a host of female founders and leaders in positions of power in sectors such as Health, Tech and the Creative Industries to support them in setting the right tone as a woman for creating change for themselves and others.

It goes without saying that we go over and above to support our fellow supporters and partners like Jess and Nat at Mac&Moore, Jess Sims and Laura West at The Doers and a host of incredible freelancers we work with on behalf of our clients and initiatives, to share notes on how to do better at work and support eachother on the way up.

REPRESENTING & PROMOTING FEMALE TALENT:

Changing the landscape for women means promoting female talent. We build bespoke teams with best-in-class freelance PRs and marketers to plug into businesses and organisations. Together with a strong network of freelancers and our skills we deliver stellar results for our clients. We have begun a new journey with Athena Stevens, national spokesperson at the Women’s Equality Party to provide advice and guidance on greater gender equality in the media.

Our joint content series, The Female Focus, is our beloved platform to promote women at all stages of their careers to show us their worth and talent and prove that there’s more than one way to get there. Success looks like so many different things!

MENTORSHIP:

We’re really passionate about mentoring and supporting those on their way up. Last year from September to December we took part in mentoring for You Make It, a programme to support underprivileged BAME women to succeed in the world of work. The work that the YMI team do is incredible, and as is often the way with this kind of set-up they are always in need of additional funding or mentors, so if you’ve considered sharing some of your time to help others in the past, check them out!

We also uphold reverse mentoring relationships with two incredible women. Clo mentors and receives advice from Lynne Parker, founder of Funny Women, the UK's leading female comedy community helping women to perform, write and do business with humour, as well as with Judy Claughton, freelance PR star and founder of BalanceTime, the creators of mindfulness meditation workshops, retreat days, one-to-one coaching and tips. We gain so much from mapping out challenges and routes to success and vice versa! It’s such a useful level of support that cannot be underestimated.

We’re looking towards 2019 as the year to embed even more ‘Balance’ in everything we do and support our male clients and partners to take meaningful steps forward too. With the support and energy of friends and colleagues and our excellent Mac&Moore partnership, we will try and balance the scales to deliver greater representation of women into the mix. We look forward to sharing our progress with you this year and if you have any comments or suggestions on how we can do better, shout! We want to hear from you!





WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A POSITIVE ROLE MODEL IN 2018 AND BEYOND?

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The theme of International Men’s Day this year is ‘Positive Role Models’

We wrote a blog post last week that you can find here about why we decided to team up with Mac&Moore and chat to some pretty incredible men about this topic. We’ve been so excited to share the responses we asked to the following three questions and feel as though there were some powerful common themes, despite the participants working in the worlds of sport, education, advertising and beyond which has been both refreshing and encouraging in the midst of all the media misery we’re enduring at the moment. So with no further ado, let’s dive right in!

Phil Bartlett – Managing Director, CDM

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Authenticity, consistency and tenacity. People will forgive your (inevitable) weaknesses and failings if they can see you’re sincere about your beliefs and efforts.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

First, it’s down to the individual to take the first step: just let go of all the old bullshit and there’s a real freedom and poise that can come with that. “There’s more courage in truth than there is in pretending to be strong.” But the long game is all about teaching our sons about empathy and the importance, and huge value, of vulnerability in building trust.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I don’t think women need men to be positive role models for them. I think people need to decide they’re going to be positive role models for other people. Like-minded, forward thinking and open-hearted individuals will always find and support each other. (Find Phil on Twitter and LinkedIn)

Nick Bridge – Founder, Girls are Awesome

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I really think just not being a dick helps. I try not to be a dick as much as possible. I’m not always successful because working with people is a dynamic thing and sometimes life is frustrating. Thank goodness we’re not robots and we’re forced to navigate and be diplomatic and empathic. Strategies are great because they forget the people have egos and fears and ambitions and interests. I really think just trying to try to see things from as many different points of view as possible helps. And being large enough to admit to your mistakes, shift perspective and not always have to be right. That’s something I work on every day. I’m not the expert though.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Wow, big question. I’m not ‘strong’ or unemotional so I can’t speak to those particular traits, but I think somehow showing and experiencing success through failure can go a long way. I also don’t necessarily think that being strong or unemotional needs to be a restriction - we just need more females in all levels of business, government and society, and especially at the top. I also don’t believe in a total revolution either, obvious big things need to happen and the scales need to tip for women in order for dudes to shut the fuck up for a second and stop being protective and mean and greedy. There’s only one way to find out if power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely regardless of gender, or not.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I really only think about how to be a role model for my kids, how I have to show my son and daughter to be respectful people - and to be honest, there’s so much Girls Are Awesome in our lives at home as well as the studio that I have to try to figure out how to raise my boy amongst this societal shift - if you know what I mean. There’s a lot of positive encouragement for young girls and women right now but we mustn’t forget that might leave the boys to figure it out for themselves, again - and it will be interesting to see how that goes. Not saying it’s not about a shift, and that after thousands of years of oppression that women deserve what’s coming through this movement, but the overall goal is equality. (Find Girls Are Awesome on Instagram)

Chris Wyles – International Rugby Union Player and founder of Wolfpack Lager

Source:  Sky Sports

Source: Sky Sports

What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I believe the most important element is to lead by example. It's easy to talk the talk but you need to walk the walk.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

In this case it's all about communicating. We need to make sure men feel comfortable to share their thoughts and concerns and open up. This is an important step to allowing men to look for help and guidance rather than internalising emotion.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

It's all about being respectful to people rather than making it about men or woman. If you are respectful and considerate you can be a role model to anyone! (Find Chris on Twitter and Instagram)

Dr. Kerry Featherstone – Lecturer in English and Creative Writing, Loughborough University

Credit: Suzi Corker Photography

Credit: Suzi Corker Photography

Firstly, I have a strange relationship with gender. My first name is asexual, and many people have assumed that I’m female. Mobile phone providers have refused to allow me to change contracts on behalf of Kerry Featherstone. I get asked what my relationship is to the patient when I pick up medication at the pharmacy. And I’m not particularly macho: as a teenager I was beaten up for being gay on more than one occasion (I’m not gay). Should I have made it clear that I wasn’t gay in order to avoid the beating, or would that be tacitly acknowledging that if I had been gay, the beating would be understandable? So, as we know, gender can be a pain in all sorts of ways, petty or horrific.

- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I think it’s something like a combination of integrity and empathy. In practical terms, be kind to other people. Try to help them to get where they want to go, rather than helping them to be more like you. For me, the ability to be generous with your time and energy is a sign of strength. That’s about empathy. Also, try to live according to standards that you set yourself, and are happy with, regardless of how other people behave towards you. For me, a role model has self-respect that doesn’t rely on the response of other people. In order for it to become a model, you have to do it publicly: show that other people’s behaviour doesn’t diminish your belief in your values. That’s the integrity bit.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think you have to be prepared to ask yourself some questions! “Why am I behaving like this?”; “Why do I feel I have to do or say certain things?”; “Why can’t I do or say certain things?” If you start unpacking the reasons for behaving in certain ways, there’s no logic to or need for it. So that might be a sign that you should let it go. That’s personal interrogation, I guess. At societal level, we need to let go of the idea of ‘growing a pair’: it’s ridiculous and harmful.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

By showing respect regardless of gender. I’m fortunate to work in an environment where women have as much expert knowledge as their male colleagues and – as far as I’m concerned – are valued accordingly. That should be true anywhere. If, as a man, you behave differently towards the people around you because of gender, you need to be asking yourself why you’re doing that. Perhaps part of the answer is to accept that, as a man, you can have female role models. I certainly do. (Find Kerry on Twitter and Instagram)

Josh Uwadiae – Founder, WeGym

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I think one of the most important elements of being a positive role model is a mixture of vulnerability and optimism. People should be inspired by your optimistic views and actions but equally grounded by the candour at which you articulate the bad and ugly, which complements the good work you’re doing. A good example is the book Shoedog - the autobiography of Phil Knight the Founder of Nike.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think men need to be given the liberty to be both macho masculine and feline feminine. Being too manly is judged and vice versa with femininity so I believe the modern man is lost in today’s climate. In terms of action I would first start with spreading awareness to the traditions which have been handed to us as men as we are often acting these out subconsciously... my dad hated talking about my emotions and I found myself growing up similar so it’s about breaking the cycles publically as well as at home!

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I heard a great talk by David Wade where he said, ' we're all sexist, even the good people ' and that really resonated with me. I think I'm a good person and therefore I'm really not sure the specificity of male role models to women in a general/societal setting but I do feel a responsibility to manage my own sexism, bias, discriminative opinions and make other people (including men) aware too. (Find Josh on Twitter and Instagram)



Paul Mellor – Founder, Mellor & Smith

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

  • Listening. As the old adage goes "you've got 2 ears and 1 mouth" so shut your mouth and pin your ears back.

  • Humility. It goes a long fucking way.

  • Empathy. Having compassion for another person’s life, problems, hopes and dreams is incredibly powerful.

  • Having a backbone. Displaying the guts to stand for something or someone, especially if that opinion costs you.

  • Being fucking real. Having the confidence to show weaknesses as well as strengths.

  • And remember, nobody likes a dickhead.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Suicide is the biggest killer in men between 20-45. How the fuck did we, as a civilised world, get to the point where the biggest thing killing young men is themselves. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. It's definitely connected to society's demand for men to be strong and unemotional. But I reckon it's bigger than that; patriarchal structures don't actually work for anyone apart from the one fella at the top. Equality isn't women superseding men, it's men and women thriving together.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

By calling out bullshit, misogyny and inequality at every opportunity. The people who’ve been to our Take Fucking Risks events know I call out the problems in the advertising industry whenever I can: "Fuck white, male creative directors”. I've got 3 kids at Primary School: 2 daughters and a son. I despair that my daughter’s opportunities will be hindered as they grow up, whereas my son will afforded baked-in privilege. Fuck that shit. It’s time for change. (Find Paul on Instagram)

Matt Boyles – Founder, Fitter You and Wireless Fitness

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Always challenging and calling out sexism, bias and privilege. Plus continually challenging my own prejudices and biases and catching myself when this happens, as embarrassing as it might be. This can start on a micro level, ie. with your friends, as well as in the wider field. Carefully thinking about the language I use in real life and online and also ensuring I don't do anything that might be construed in any way as intimidating. Not to mention supporting the women I know in all their endeavours, both personally and professionally.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

Listening to the amazing women in our life as much as possible - really listening. Calling out people who are consciously (and unconsciously) supporting the current toxic structures. Having the awareness to notice and work on when we do fall into the old traps. eg. even though I'm an out gay man, I occasionally find myself hiding or disguising who I am in order to appear more manly or fit in with certain groups and it's not doing anyone any favours. Being more 'masc' or manly doesn't mean you're stronger in any way, it just means you're still subscribing to ridiculously outdated notions that are holding all of us back.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

With the consistency of our language, support and approach. By listening more. By not assuming we know everything. By staying open and grateful to the women in our life and wider circle for everything they've done and will do for us and with us. (Find Matt on Twitter and Instagram)

Luke SturgeonFounder, GreySpace

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

I believe a good role model will frequently find moments to reflect on what they’re doing and whether their actions and opinions can be improved. I enjoy seeking out critical feedback from others and encourage criticality. I’m most happy when someone asks me why I believe x is a good idea versus y.

A) it forces me to articulate my thinking clearly

B) whilst trying to explain I’m also deciding if I agree with my old opinion

C) we can compare and imagine alternatives.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

I think men already thrive in many areas. The challenge here is a broader one of changing gender stereotypes. I’m aware when I’m speaking to mostly male, mostly female, or mixed groups. But the moment someone speaks to me - regardless of gender - I’m listening to a person with a different background, experiences, education and interests to myself. That’s always fascinating and rewarding. Women are underrepresented in many areas of society. Work being an obvious and important one. I believe we need to create more opportunities for underrepresented people to excel. But I also don’t believe someone should be empowered just to fill a diversity agenda, we should see and celebrate the value each person offers on a case-by-case basis.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

I don’t think men should be role models for women specifically. I think someone who’s intelligent, passionate, articulate and interesting can be a positive role model to someone else who’s looking to better some aspect of themselves and grow in new ways. I think people should surround themselves with a diverse set of interesting men and women, younger and older, who will encourage them to challenge their assumptions, develop their own opinions, and take their own action. We all need to support others who are on this journey of growth and self-development. I think most people would be proud to discovered they positively impacted someone else’s life.

Adam Jones – Policy and Advocacy Officer, UK Council for Psychotherapy

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- What are the qualities or most important elements of being a positive role model?

Speaking generally, I think positive role models are those who lead by example, and think very carefully about the effect that their actions have on other people, particularly those who may be looking up to them for guidance. In terms of men, I think positive role models are those who are brave enough to challenge patriarchal values and traditional ideas about masculinity. Men who use their position or platform to show others that it’s OK to break away from typical notions of “manliness”.

- What actions do you think need to be taken to ensure that men can thrive without being restricted by patriarchal structures?

The feminist movement needs to continue to grow. Many men are terrified of the “fem” part of feminism, but a movement to dismantle patriarchal structures and end sexism and oppression stands to liberate us all. That is what is needed to create a world where men can thrive regardless of whether or not they conform to traditional notions of masculinity.

- How do you think men can be positive role models for women?

Of course there are many wonderful men who can act as positive role models to people regardless of their gender. But, in a society where the achievements of men have long been put on a pedestal and the achievements of women diminished, I don’t think men should be motivated by being role models for women. They should do what they can to help to break down the barriers that so many positive female role models face – and that sometimes includes stepping aside. They should also shun the patriarchal values that have so often belittled women’s status and achievements. Follow UKCP on Twitter and Instagram)



We'd like to say a huge thank you to all the men who spoke to us so honestly and candidly on this topic, we look forward to hopefully having many more conversations to come!

OH HI BOYS

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As many of you will know by now, we’re kind of keen about women.

Talking about them, celebrating, chatting with them, swooning over their brilliance. Following on from International Women’s Day earlier this year, we teamed up with Mac&Moore to create an action plan on how we’d #PressForProgress and make our contribution towards ending gender inequality. So you might be wondering why this blog is all about men? 19th November is International Men’s Day, and far from believing that we should be in any way threatened by this event, we’ve instead decided to offer our thoughts.

We know so many incredible men in our lives, and often the discussions around feminism or gender are very black and white, men OR women, which is not only incredibly limiting, but it excludes so many others from the conversation such as trans or non-binary folk and other intersectional issues. We’ve never believed that the discussion around feminism should be exclusively limited to ‘female-only’ spaces. As individual businesses, we work closely alongside a whole range of different types of businesses made up of different people. We’re committed to creating change within the infrastructure of the working landscape by partnering with companies who share our values, and believe that more diverse and inclusive working spaces benefit everyone. We can achieve better work, build better businesses and foster greater creativity by challenging the ‘norms’ that we are all guilty of becoming comfortable in, and we believe the best place to start is by listening to each other.

The theme of International Men’s Day 2018 is ‘Positive Role Models’, an important topic in today’s world. We have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a role model in 2018, and ways in which we can remove gender from the equation altogether to achieve both more representation and more access to role models for all different types of people, from all walks of life. To coincide with International Men’s Day we’ve spoken to some incredible men who are all influential in their own respective fields on what the phrase ‘positive role models’ means to them.

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We’ll be revealing the answers very soon (watch this space!) but in the meantime, and so that we can be absolutely clear, here are three reasons why we, as a collective, feel this is an important conversation to be a part of…

1. The patriarchy is most of the problem. Men are part of the solution.

The patriarchy and its terrible terrible structures are a problem for everyone. In that, at least, it does not discriminate. We strongly believe that the only way in which we’ll create long-lasting, positive change is by engaging men in the conversation, not isolating them. We want them to listen to us, understand our perspective and our experiences, so we need to encourage conversations, open communication channels and create dialogue. Caitlin Moran demonstrated a sterling example of this recently with this Twitter thread which prompted some amazing learnings and insights, off the back of conversation. We think that more of this can only be a good thing, so we wanted to ask men both in our lives and that we admire about role models, and we cannot wait to share the responses.

2. Privilege and perspective

Due to the aforementioned patriarchy, there are many ways in which men (particularly white, middle-class, able-bodied, cis men) are afforded preferential treatment and privilege in this country. Recognising that we are all part of a system of oppression and supremacy and knowing and acknowledging our place within it is very important to avoid conversations around certain issues being misunderstood. We three, as white, straight able-bodied cis women, are no exception. Once that has been understood, we can drill down into some of the specifics facing certain groups without feeling as though the raising of these issues are monopolising the conversation, or taking it away from others.

Suicide is the leading cause of death of men aged between 20 and 45 in the UK. That is an absolute tragedy. The fact that men often don’t feel able to reach out for help, be vulnerable and show their emotions is not just unfair, it’s dangerous. Toxic masculinity and its effects are a problem of the patriarchy, and that’s why we should all be trying to get rid of it.

3. Behind ‘enemy’ lines

If you do a Google search of ‘positive role models for men’ or ‘positive role models for women’, literally all the suggestions or for people within the same gender. We think that’s just weird. Traditionally, we only really had access to white male role models that were beyond the home, but as times have now begun to change, we need better representation of role models for everyone. We need people within minority groups to be able to see themselves as leaders, Olympic champions, award-winners, innovators and entrepreneurs…. because that’s what will make the world a better place. Fact. So we started wondering whether we can break down the idea of a role model, take it away from gender… and focus more on the qualities and attributes that make up a great person, and we’re going to take it from there.

So keep your eyes peeled for our interviews coming up next week. We’re really excited to share the conversations we’ve had and hopefully start some new ones. These kind of topics and discussions can be a little uncomfortable at times, but in discomfort, change can occur and we’re interested in pursuing that. Also, please do get in touch… we would love to have more conversations on this and hear your perspectives, even if you disagree… just no trolls please!


Check out what the girls at Mac&Moore are up to here.

POSITIVE IMPACT IN ACTION: SAM CONNIFF ALLENDE

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Sam Conniff Allende, Serial Entrepreneur & Pirate

Multi-award-winning serial entrepreneur, with 10 start-ups to his name, including industry leading Creative Youth Network; Livity, is at it again. Restless for social change, Sam is now the best selling author of Be More Pirate. We find out what it’s all about.

Did you have any role models or someone you admired as a kid?

I once had a lucky experience. My friend’s mum worked in Parliament and I bunked off school so she could take me to see Nelson Mandela speak. His gravitas was not lost on me. I’d seen so many political figures on TV, like Thatcher, but never in the flesh. Mandela pieced together words in a charged room of people hanging on every one of those words. It was then compounded as he left the stage and walked in my direction and I couldn’t have felt smaller. He stopped in front of me and asked why I wasn’t in school. My mutter of reply was that being here today was more important. He chuckled and said, “Hopefully you’ll learn the right lessons, then.” It was an instructive moment. When I was playing characters as a kid, I thought maybe I want to be Nelson Mandela one day.

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We all know you from your heady days of building the incredible Livity agency. An agency and brand with purpose and that seems to give a sh*t about young people. What drove you to set it up in the first place?

Multiple reasons. A deep one I discovered later in life, that my dad had followed a very similar path to me. He died when I was 5 and my family made sure I was sheltered from his death so I didn’t find out much about him. It turns out that he set up a version of Livity in professional services (rather than marketing), which focused on community engagement. I believe my deep subconscious proves why I did it.

And then I have always needed to know what people’s values are. Fairness drives me. I want to know what your values are, what you sit up and fight for. It’s actually quite rare to get people who know what their 3 values are. I grew up in South London living with my mum, grandma and my sister. We were also a surrogate middle class family for disadvantaged people, for years we gave them beds and food. I was very conscIous of the opportunities I had compared to my peers.   

What’s the campaign you remain most proud of at Livity?

I can’t name one as there have been so many. What’s very clear is that Livity is better run now. Alex Goat, who took over from me, is amazing. It’s difficult for me to take sometimes. It makes you reevaluate that you’re not as good as you think you are. What Livity is doing with young people is incredible. Take Livity’s product, Digify, a talent spotting and hot-housing digital skills incubator and supported as part of Sadiq Khan's Digital Talent Programme. When I was around it used to be a diversity programme centred around digital skills. It now flips on an old problem and solution to be a fully grown business. I am very proud of the new look.

What started your obsession with pirates?

Well, tell me one person who hasn’t been touched by pirates in some way. They’re in culture everywhere – from the hardened biker with skull and crossbones to 5 year olds who grew up reading Peter Pan. They are a proxy for rebels and I didn’t know their history beyond Treasure Island and the rather alluring Jack Sparrow.

My favourite work with Livity was always working with young people - they inspire me and I knew that they’d help me in my preparation for transitioning out of the business. (Sam was 24 when he started Livity and nearly 40 when he left). I didn’t want to be that old guy desperately trying to hang out with young people. Taking that age old fact that as an entrepreneur you must do what most scares you, I decided I needed to write a book. I hadn’t gone to university and it was time to write the wrong - excuse the pun. Purpose had to come first though, otherwise the book would end up being like a TED X Talk in Balham. It began as an entrepreneur guide book. I went to hundreds of entrepreneur workshops to test it out and I got a lot of feedback on my overuse of metaphors and that basically it wasn’t very good! My interest in pirates continued to grow with the more I researched them. Their story is not one we know - they were true creators of social revolution and rebellion. The mainstream story wasn’t promoted at the time as they were seen as a threat. I fell in love with pirates. Finally I had found something people don’t know. They had to be exposed.

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You’re calling for a rebellion in the form of ‘professional rule-breaking’. What can progressive businesses that want to protect young people’s futures do to foster this mindset?

Be honest about what change is made in an organisation and question whether you listen to your talent - which you probably don’t. Do you really believe what they say you are? Are you close enough to the culture that you can hear the future of your business being talked about by staff in the pub? Do you know their side hustles, their walks of life? Young talent has more than one thing on the go at any one time and you must assume that they’re hustling when they’re not at your workplace. Businesses need to choose whether they want to be an incubator to serve young people’s futures. Most businesses are of the past and they’re not going to get anywhere without emotional experience. They’re missing a big opportunity with the very people with the tools to change the world and work alongside those who have already been around the block. Naivety meets wisdom...there’s chemistry in that.

You talk about the fact that no one is coming to save us. This is both scary and realistic. But not every young person has it in their armour to be a pirate and re-write the rules. What are the key strengths of pirates to be successful in this fractured society?

Change follows a pattern and if you identify a problem and don’t raise it or complain about it, nothing happens. This seems to be a habit rather than a rule. Rules have always been made in the past when circumstances were different. The biggest mistake to make is to accept things the way they need to be. The weird paradox is that 99 per cent of leaders would like to hear from young people in order to create positive impact. Young people need to stand up to change.

You liken pirates to Suffragettes in their similarities of workers’ rights and ambitions for social revolution. Do you think that women today are pirate enough?

I am inspired by women I see today and I support the debate. I grew up in a strong feminist household in which only one would call themselves a feminist. The Slumflower fills me with excitement and I am rooting for her to create a children’s book for my daughter.  Emma Gannon is another who has been very open with her journey. The thing is; the topic of gender equality is getting divisive – diversity and feminism can create a vacuum. We need a unified sense of action. Strong leadership is as important as strong messages. And to draw on the quote, “well behaved women rarely make history”, we definitely need more female pirates.

You’ve talked about the changes advertisers need to make to stop selling ‘fake’ happiness in a world of adversity. What can they be doing differently?

Doing something else. They need to work with a business model that champions ‘less is more’. Coca Cola being pleased with themselves that they’re using less water in their products when water shortage threatens life is disgusting. And they do not own the word ‘Happiness’. We’re still in the Malboro era of selling us stuff wantonly for money. The saying, ‘Advertising needs to decide if it wants to be a signature on humanity’s suicide note’, springs to mind. Business models are broken and non–circular business risks being a war crime.

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What have been the essential factors that have enabled you to be an entrepreneur that you'd think you'd struggle without?

Optimism. I think I have a buoyancy of optimism. If everyone could switch on optimism all would be fine. With me, even if it slumps low I see it rise gradually again to the surface. I think also the support I get is invaluable. We think about resilience retrospectively but we need to consider it in real time. When we see loved ones break down we look back surprised that everyone is surprised. I keep an active resilience chart with 4 quadrants - Resilience, Life, Personal Development and Leadership. Under each quadrant are key aspects of my life I need to keep in check and I refer to it regularly. It’s now habit to check my levels of resilience in real time and if they’re off balance, it’s time to address them.

Who is the female pirate of 2018 and the future?

Again I’ve been so impressed by Chidera - The Slumflower. She came down to Livity and did a talk - she is a special woman, articulate and channels her anger masterfully. The way she speaks vociferously about complex issues such as trans-identity is incredible.

Name the quote you live by

‘You don’t know what don’t know’. I spent half of my professional career believing I knew everything. I later got over my ego and realised that my knowledge is really small when I put my ambitions into context. As humans we have no comprehension of what we don’t know. And that’s okay.

 

Check out what Sam is up to on his quest to build the #bemorepirate movement by following @samconniff on Instagram and Twitter.

FREELANCER LONELINESS AND HOW TO TACKLE IT

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Small Business talks to Claudia

She shares her experience of freelance life, the loneliness of it and tips on how to combat it.

Freelancers cannot be lazy when it comes to overcoming solitude. Like new business, it’s part of the job and one that you can’t pick up and drop down. It needs to be part of your routine.

Claudia set up CLO PR 18 months ago and overcoming loneliness was the hardest part of the new job. The worst thing is not having anybody to bounce ideas off so you’re just left wondering if what you’re doing is actually any good or if it’s all rubbish. As a team player, this didn’t sit well with her. Check out out how she overcame it.

http://smallbusiness.co.uk/freelancer-loneliness-isolation-2545287/

THINKING IS GOOD. TALKING IS GREAT. DOING IS BEST.

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A Manifesto powered by CLO PR and Mac&Moore

CLO PR and Mac&Moore have teamed up to turn words into actions and to alter the landscape for the next generation of women in work. We have created a manifesto and an action plan based on three pillars of doing things properly, doing things differently and creating a platform for people on their way up.

If every journey begins with a single step, this manifesto is ours. We’ve thought about the route, planned the journey, talked about how we’ll get there, so there’s nothing left for us to do except for getting started. We want to create long-lasting, impactful and infrastructural change across both traditional workplace structures and the new but rapidly developing freelance economy.

A united front

Why bother teaming up at all? We’re both established businesses working in the worlds of marketing and PR, why not just get on with it ourselves? CLO PR creates positive impact through targeted and award-winning PR, allowing businesses to be kick-started and reach their target audiences in a long-lasting, memorable way. Mac&Moore currently provide creative and strategic marketing to businesses of all sizes who want to create strong foundations and truly stand out from their competitors. We feel that through the complementary skill sets of the two businesses, alongside a matching mind-set, our efforts will be far more powerful united. We’re hoping it won’t stop there, with several other tactical partnerships in the pipeline.

We must start somewhere

We’ve chosen to create an action plan in distinct, specific areas where we feel like we can make the biggest difference. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something, and that’s where we want to start. By recognising the individual areas in which we can create the biggest ripples of change, we’re striving for those ripples to reach out and connect with others to create waves.

Creating positive action

The core function of both Mac&Moore and CLO PR is to work closely alongside businesses who are looking to build something great. We are never afraid to challenge the status quo, confront the thought process behind certain ‘norms’ and tackle the potential issues blocking brands from achieving explosive growth and success. It, therefore, made absolute sense for the focus of our actions to be in this space. We’re working closely with some incredible businesses looking to create supportive, successful and inclusive cultures that allow all people to thrive and contribute. To do that, we’ve had to recognise and identify the problem areas and work together to resolve them. This can be difficult and uncomfortable at times, but no real change started without a little discomfort. By confronting issues head on and engaging people, rather than isolating them, we can create sustainable impact.

We need to ensure these businesses are built on solid foundations, and here to last, so that this better way of working can benefit future generations, not just our own. As three individuals we are also incredibly experienced in our separate but connected fields, and that’s why we're stepping in as a trusted voice with the right tools to share our knowledge. We aim to build a bridge to allow others to succeed in this present and precarious climate.

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Our manifesto is built on the following three pillars:

DOING THINGS PROPERLY 

- There is so much choice out there now that the working world is changing and evolving. Our extensive experience can help build trust in clients and partners.

- The value of partnerships. We curate strong teams with the right skills to do the job properly.

- We’re always learning. The traditional training/career paths offer learning and development but where do you go to advance your knowledge when you work for yourself? We can help both each other and acting as a trusted source of information for juniors stepping into the field. We’ve been inspired by so many others creating specific, positive change in their own fields already such as The Other Box, 72 and Sunny and many more.

DOING THINGS DIFFERENTLY

- Always challenging our own bias and echo chambers by listening and opening ourselves up to the experiences of others

- Stepping out of the London bubble, we recognise that successful businesses and people thrive outside it. We want to support those who are looking to take their business to the next level

- Engaging and including men in the conversation, not isolating them. We recognise the reality of the current state of play and by working together to educate, inspire and empower, we can make the best progress towards real, tangible and sustainable change

A PLATFORM FOR PEOPLE ON THEIR WAY UP

- Providing workshops, resources, mentorship and events to those working in the freelance or small business community

- Offering the social stop gap that is currently missing when you work for yourself (watch this space for a very exciting festive event coming soon where we’ll be partnering with the glorious Jess Sims at The Doers to make some serious magic!)

- Championing and hero'ing people who are doing incredible things in their field but who might be on the tipping point of achieving amazing success and need a bit of help to get them there.

We are really excited to get cracking, please get in touch and let us know if you want to be involved or have any thoughts … there’ll be plenty of opportunities to connect and collaborate along the way.

In the meantime, make sure you’re following both @weareclopr and @macandmoore on all the socials to make sure you don’t miss a minute… and while you’re there you should 100% follow @thedoersUK as well!

Love and all the good vibes,

Claudia, Nat & Jess 

POSITIVE IMPACT IN ACTION: MIKE STEVENS

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MIKE STEVENS, CO-FOUNDER OF PEPPERSMITH

We caught up with Mike, who met his co-founder Dan at innocent, before setting up challenger confectionary company Peppersmith. He tells us why they saw an opportunity to bring positive impact to the category with healthy, sustainable products. There's also a job ad within!

Peppersmith has stayed relevant because we make consistently good products and are true to our values. We try and be human in everything we do.
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You guys started out at innocent before setting up Peppersmith. Did Innocent teach you some valuable lessons?

For sure. Our time at innocent definitely gave us an unfair advantage. We were involved for a long time in a company which figured out its own rules as it went along and was true to a core set of values. Being immersed in such a dynamic and ultimately successful business gave us the knowledge, experience and confidence that we could do it all again in another part of store.

What drove you to set up Peppersmith?

Working at innocent Dan and I noticed a profound change in just about all food and drink categories. There was a firm shift towards better made, more natural, more healthy sustainable products with a strong brand to tell the story. This was something we understood well from our time at innocent. There was, however, one exception to this, which was the confectionery category. In this area, things were just not moving with the times. It was the same old high volume, low cost junk, which had been around for years. The insight was that if all other food and drink products were fundamentally changing why should confectionery be any different? We then set out to test our belief that the need for better made products applied to all categories including confectionery. 

What has surprised you most about the process?

Good: The help, time and support other challenger companies and the entrepreneurs give to each other. We seem to share a mission and desire to make better products, give people a better experience and ultimately make things a bit more enjoyable. This spirt means that everyone is always happy to help with each other’s challenges.

Bad: The time it actually takes to make anything meaningful happen.

What has been the thing you've most struggled with that you've had to overcome?

Lack of funds. This definitely makes things harder than working for a bigger organisation. Every step we make seems to be a huge investment and/or a big gamble. This raises the stakes and means that failure hurts a lot more than simply getting a telling off by your boss.

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If you could turn back time, would you do anything differently?

Experience is a good teacher but everything we do is a judgement call based on the information we have at that particular moment in time. Unless its feels like you are making the wrong decision at the time and then you are proved right there should never be any regrets.

Have you needed to raise investment? If so, what piece of advice would you give others looking to do the same?

Yes we have, we needed the cash. My advice is that selling the dream is easier than selling reality. So either raise cash right at the start or when you are sure you are onto a good thing. 

What's the one thing you'd like to change about the food industry?

Retailers having more resources to spend working with challenger brands. In our experience it's not that the retailers don’t want to bring new brands and products into their portfolios, it is just too often a low priority as they don’t have the time or incentive required to do this properly.

We absolutely love the brand here at CLO PR. Why do think it has remained so popular?

I think it's stayed relevant for a number of reasons. Firstly, we make sure we make consistently good products and are true to our values. This means we gain trust. And we try and be human and relatable in everything we do, which I think means that more people are willing to believe in our mission. 

Where do you get your inspiration?

Great people doing great things and being successful. Whether it’s Ben Fogle climbing Everest or Pip & Nut winning another listing, we use this admiration and excitement as fuel for our own fire. 

What's the best thing about working for yourself?

No bureaucracy or politics getting in the way of getting on with the real task at hand.

Who do you admire?

Anyone who is prepared to stick their neck out to do the right thing.

What is Peppersmith up to this year?

We have some exciting new listings coming up, so it's all hands on deck to make sure they are a success. We are also building the team, so anyone out there who likes mints, dislikes the status quo and has an entrepreneurial calling should get in touch.

If you weren't doing what you do now, you'd be....

Something as equally as challenging and possibly as ill advised.

Find out more about what Peppersmith are up to here.