ExCel, the real Wolf of Wall Street and a pre-Raphaelite threesome

When Jordan Belfort published his memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Martin Scorsese cast the very pretty Leonardo diCaprio in the starring role, the controversial stock market fraudster was exposed to a whole new global entertainment audience.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI don’t read the financial news and I have to admit to missing the film (a sin to be rectified this week if my eBay bid wins me the DVD).  I can’t stand the people sitting behind in the cinema who sniff, whisper and ruffle popcorn loudly.  So, in fact, I first heard Jordan Belfort’s name only a couple of weeks ago when a Facebook friend mentioned him in connection with a secret scandal involving Kermit – but that’s a whole ‘nuvva story….

In the stark auditorium of the ExCel convention centre, with the Hollywood glitter replaced by chilly grey air and surprisingly comfortable embroidery-branded chairs, the real man was laid bare. Well, not actually bare – it wasn’t one of ‘those’ weird conventions…

The provocative entrepreneur was in London to share his tips for making money.  Legally.  Along with his guest speakers he explored techniques for succeeding in get-rich-quick schemes in property and stockbroking – I’m sticking to social media marketing though.  If you’re lucky enough to find a niche you’re happy in and clients you love, why change your career on the advice of a charismatic multi-millionaire who reached dizzying heights of success but crashed horribly in a crime-laden, drug-fuelled disaster?!

Actually it was amazing to see hundreds of people literally run across the auditorium to sign up for his training programme, and good luck to them all!

The Wall Street superstar certainly made more money than most of us could ever imagine, and achieved greater infamy than we may ever want.  Blowing his millions on a sumptuous lifestyle of cocaine and debauchery, Jordan found himself in jail as a result of fraud, scams and stock market manipulation.  But he clawed his way back to success.  He had stories to tell, that’s for sure!!

Back in the day, William Morris also had stories to tell.  For a special treat, I was taken to his exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery on Thursday.  Widely known as the premier textile and wallpaper designer of the Victorian Arts and Crafts Movement, it’s less well known that he was a busy social activist with a circle of friends to put today’s craziest rock stars to shame.

I’ve mentioned my love of

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywriting

My favourite pre-Raphaelite painting

Pre-Raphaelite art before, and Morris was friends with all the artists whose work fills my study bookcases.   Yet although imagining the dreamy, floral-minded designer as a key figure in Romanticism is true, it’s equally far from the truth; he embraced anarchy, founded the socialist league and was seemingly happy about some free-flowing threesomes going on around him.  Hey ho – makes for an inspiring art project, I guess.

Haven’t quoted my favourite Jim Steinman for a while, so I have a good excuse to indulge myself now:  “On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?”  Jordan Belfort’s women did, so did William Morris’s muses….

If you’d like me to ‘take the words right out of your mouth,’ I’ll happily help with your copywriting, blogging or tweeting.  Email for more info, or ask me here, as always: @WeekendWitch.

PS… Thank you to Mark at Nordens for the photo of Jordan – he has a better camera than me and I was busy eating a flake when he snapped it! (And thank you for the invitation!!)

Paddington Bear, a magical store and naughty days before social media

I first stepped in to Liberty when I was 11 and had bunked off from school with Angie.  We were oh so brave and naughty, catching the central line to Oxford Circus and spending the day wandering around.  That was before the days of social media of course… and oyster cards!  It was the same day I first walked down Carnaby Street, with its then psychedelic orange and yellow pavement and weird and wonderful people.

Liberty is a magical store.  The carved wooden atrium balconies, sparkling chandeliers and beautiful mystique make it a wonderful place to spend an afternoon.  It really is a charming place: eccentric, indulgent, flamboyant.  Much of the inspiration came from Mr Liberty’s collaborations with two of my favourite pre-Raphaelite artists: William Morris and Gabriel Dante Rossetti, so it’s no wonder I feel at home there.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingI shared a lovely afternoon tea with a graphic designer who illustrates amazing little characters – many of which you would recognise, but I don’t know if I’m at liberty to name them. (See what I did there?!)  He was charming too, and very knowledgeable about art and etiquette; So much so that I had to apologise for eating my cakes in the wrong order – more naughtiness.

Just like that naughty day when I should have been doing double maths, I walked the length of Carnaby Street.  Liam Gallagher’s Paddington is a new addition!! He’s the first one I’ve seen actually, and very cute.  (It really was a day full of whimsical characters!)  Have you spotted any of the marmalade loving bears yet?  I’m invited to dinner at a posh private bank on Tuesday so I’ll be able to say hello to Boris’s bear too – he’s keeping guard outside the National Gallery.

Right off Carnaby Street, on

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywriting

Choccywoccydoodah Christmas cakes…

a movie set type street corner in Fouberts Place, stands the unobtrusive and shy looking shop and café that has become my new dream home.  Because inside Choccywoccydoodah is chocolate heaven!  Extravagant cakes with rich, thick, deliciousness can be eaten amid an environment that I really can’t describe because I was too focused on the giant creations on my plate.

Kevin took me for a post-birthday treat and we were very greedy whilst laying down plans for a new website for his charity.  Naturally, obligatory cake photos were posted on Facebook.  It’s all so different to the days when I worked in the street and got arrested…… (Ssshhhh… can’t mention that now with Paddington Bear possibly reading this, but you can see it in this old blog here.)

I dance around the room to Donna Summer in an attempt to de-calorie some of the cream-tea-chocolate-cake-cream-trifle-more-chocolate-week-of-celebrating.  The queen of disco sings out in my bedroom, “Someone left the cake out in the rain; I don’t think that I can take it, ’cause it took so long to bake it.”  Feel free to dance along with me, or follow the trail of chocolate buttons… You’ll find me here: @WeekendWitch.

Creative LinkedIn headlines, a breakdown and witches & wicked bodies

It’s been a week of business meetings, training sessions and, yet again, cakes and pink wine!!

From creating a strategy for world domination with a fantastically whacky, potential client in Covent Garden’s Patisserie Valerie, to networking at the heaving Doyle Club, the excessive number of words in this sentence correlates with the extreme amount of deliciousness I consumed during my working week!

I’m hoping the moderator of my creative writing group won’t see that last paragraph – very naughty of me.  In my defence, it’s my birthday weekend so I am allowed to say anything…  And as you can imagine, that means more chocolate, more wine, more fun…

Creative writing can be a huge asset when it comes to LinkedIn headlines.  A memorable tagline that markets your business and reinforces your brand sets you apart from competitors. It also enables you to introduce those all-important keywords into your profile.  My LinkedIn training session at Liverpool Street was full this week, with a few hopeful latecomers sadly being turned away for elf and safety reasons – the room was overcrowded.  I met some fantastic people with dynamic businesses, all eager to improve their LinkedIn marketing skills.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingSo, after a week of working hard, I took a couple of hours off on Friday to visit the Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition at the British Museum.  If you think the name sounds intriguing, you’d be right.  I wandered around with someone who I was able to check out first on LinkedIn. We both work in the social sphere – me in social media, he in social innovation. He was less impressed with the witches; I have to say, it wasn’t the most exciting exhibition.  One of my Facebook friends asked if I was there searching out ancestors – it made me laugh, but no.

Of course, you can only seek out people on LinkedIn – or any social media – if you know a little about them.  There’s someone I’d love to find but I have absolutely no starting point.  On Saturday night – shortly after my birthday ended and sleepily heading home, the car broke down on the M11.  2am, heavy rain and no emergency chocolate, with a phone almost out of battery… not the best end to the day.

Shivering on the hard shoulder, the welcome sight of a stranger pulling over, running towards us, offering assistance, a phone, an umbrella…  official help arrived at the same time, so we didn’t actually need this lovely man’s help, but I would really like to find him to say thank you properly.  I know it’s a long shot, but if you happen to overhear a man – or see him on social media – saying he stopped on the M11in the early hours of Sunday morning, please let me know…

So Sunday started late for me.  I was up in time to pay my respects to the heroes who fought for our freedom though.  Working closely – and being friends with – serving and ex-military personnel, it all has more meaning now.  I wear my poppy with pride and don’t only remember the fallen on Remembrance Day, but every day.

Gary Numan once said, ‘Here in my car, where the image breaks down; will you visit me please if I open my door In cars.’  I usually prefer not to entertain strangers in my car, but if you’d like an improved image on social media I will certainly open my door!  Email for more info, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Social media passion, kissing zombies and shooting into the night sky

I’ve spent a couple of hours this week chatting to people on an on-line forum.  (Or is it ‘in’ the forum – I’m not sure!)  It’s different to chatting on Facebook as people are totally focused on their reason for being there and their end goal.  And it’s interesting to see the level of passion people bring to the table.  Strange how a stranger can open new doors and, stranger still, how it doesn’t seem strange at all.  Strange!

I held two one-to-one social media training sessions this week with people who are completely passionate about their work.  Nik’s an award winning architect with a lust for creating increasingly innovative buildings, and Christine is a hypnotherapist: ridding people of their Achilles heel so they can bounce forward with a Tigger-like spring.

Both businesses thrive on developing a creative approach to making people’s lives easier and happier: Nik by designing beautiful, accessible buildings and Christine by creating an internal environment that lets people deal with issues that are blocking them in business or in life.  Both, in their own ways, make people feel on top of the world!

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingAnd I was up there last week – twice!  Maybe not right at the top of the world but definitely high enough to lord it over London with a lychee martini and a thick wedge of Brie.  Dr Patrick arrived from Mexico to undertake a three-year medical project here.  We met at Bank with plans of coffee and lunch and ended up after dark at the elegant Vertigo Bar, shooting 42 storeys into the night sky with fabulous panoramic views over London.

Two days later I wasn’t quite so high – but 29 storeys above the river, the Sky Bar at Milbank still afforded impressive views of the city. The CBI’s launch of plans to improve public services was interesting, and the bar provided some of the best canapés I’ve been offered at a networking event this year.  I didn’t drop any food, spill any drink or trip over anyone, so that’s always a good start at a business event!

Lots of people have asked me to post Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingpics from Halloween, so here’s one.  Not all that interesting – there’s no evidence of falling off the broomstick, transforming princes into frogs or kissing zombies. If any of that actually happened, I can assure you that photos would be kept far, far from any social media… :-) What I can tell you is that the pumpkin soup turned out well this year and the family-sized tin of Celebrations that sat by the candlelit front door was empty by midnight.

There’s no point trying to write something original about ‘Remember remember the fifth of November’ when Katy Perry oh-so-wisely says: “You don’t have to feel like a wasted space; you’re original, cannot be replaced.  If you only knew what the future holds: after a hurricane comes a rainbow.”

Show your originality with an updated LinkedIn headline.  It’s true that we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but a strong social media presence can guarantee you a positive step forward and help your business to rocket like a firework.  “Come on let your colours burst!”  Let me know if you need a guiding hand…. @WeekendWitch.

A recipe for social media, stardust and a lyrical Welsh witch

I’ve been working with some fantastic businesses over the past few weeks, helping them to get more out of their social media.  This week’s training combined two of my favourite things: arts and cakes!

On Tuesday, I visited Eat Work Art, a community of artists and designers housed together in a converted factory in the gentrified part of Hackney. It was such fun!!  Once I’d finished revamping Louise’s LinkedIn profile she gave me a tour of the studios.  I always love watching artists at work, and there were plenty of them in their hubs that day, sketching, painting, making wonderful creations out of tatty bits of fabric.

The conversion includes an outside market square with a few niche shops and a very cool café.  I’m happy to train my clients anywhere, but spaces that serve chai latte with raspberry and ricotta cheesecake win every time.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywriting

Vanilla Orchid’s gorgeous Vogue cakes

This theme of cakes cakes cakes continued into Thursday, when the owner of Vanilla Orchid Bakery arrived for her social media training with a freshly baked lemon drizzle just for me!  I’d like to ask for the recipe but it’s always so much nicer to receive as a gift.  And the same day, another client sent me a jar of Nutella – how cool is that to receive through your letterbox?!

But that evening I was sad to read that Alvin has gone to sprinkle his stardust in the heavens above; his black gloves coo-ca-chooing over the mortal world below.  (Or whatever it was that he did in the 70s).  Eating my cake with chocolate spread for dinner cheered me up though.

I grew up in a block of flats where everyone Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingknew everyone, and all the kids played in the gardens and surrounding streets until 11 o’clock each night without fear of being abducted or attacked.  Alvin Stardust’s manager lived two floors above us and, in the summer when a few of us danced and sang Leader of the Pack on a continuous loop, Alvin would come down to join us kicking the football around.  I’ve got hundreds of old photos stored in a huge trunk in my attic but I don’t think there are many from those days.  Unlike today… it’s hard to remember a world without Pinterest or Instagram.

There will be photos this week.  Yes, I’ll be around on Friday night with my witch’s hat and cauldron of spicy pumpkin soup, turning some tricks and dishing out some treats. Maybe I’ll put pics on Facebook.

You might already know that Stevie Nicks is one of my favourite artists.  I wrote about her last year.  Rumours of her links to witchcraft abound, and her beautiful lyrics are copyright of Welsh Witch Music – a company named in recognition of the lady in this song… Do you know her name?  “Would you stay if she promised you heaven?  Will you ever win?  She is like a cat in the dark and then she is the darkness.  She rules her life like a fine skylark and when the sky is starless… All your life you’ve never seen, woman taken by the wind.”

Hopefully wind, rain or thunder won’t take me away on Friday; I’ll still be here: @WeekendWitch.

Beauty of social media, True Heroes & taking lifts from strangers

Murray Hambro lost both feet when he was blown up in Afghanistan.  Four months later he was determinedly back doing what he loved the most: riding a motorbike.  A year later he formed True Heroes Racing, a team especially for injured servicemen, then he surpassed all medical expectations to ride at the British Superbike Championships.  What a hero!!  And I was there! [Read more...]

Tweeting, misbehaving and hot ladies in (not much) lace

It’s been over 20 years since Gill and I got told off in Stringfellows for helping ourselves to dinner before the giant gong announced that the buffet was open!  We still laugh about it, but I never ventured back to the glamorous nightclub.  So visiting on Saturday night was quite something.  Firstly, it’s no longer the disco I remember so vividly; it’s now a ‘gentleman’s club.’  I won’t go into detail here, but suffice to say, the decadent Victorian furnishings and gilt angels didn’t distract from the fact there were ladies cavorting around the brass poles. [Read more...]

British designs, a promiscuous man and Dark Knight Rising over London

Attending the opera is one of the cultural highlights of my year.  Drapers’ Hall must surely be one of the most beautiful secrets in London; its plush avante-garde décor and sparkling crystal chandeliers providing an elegance that I attempt to uphold.  So I’m pleased to report that I managed to get through the evening without dropping a canapé down my bra, like last time. Didn’t even trip down the stairs, get celebrity stalky or anything like that. [Read more...]

Tweeting in Corrie, Lowry’s obsession and chocolate naughtiness

We all have guilty pleasures; whether or not we admit to them in public is another story.  So here I am, standing up and publicly confirming – I love Coronation Street.  At least I don’t hover by the door pretending I’m not watching, like some people I know.  So what a fantastic treat to have been taken to the studio as an early birthday treat. [Read more...]

A hair-raising business, London Fashion Week and the full Toni & Guy experience

I don’t generally find myself being pampered; simply don’t have the time for such sweet indulgence.  You’ll never find me being wrapped in seaweed at a fancy spa, for example – or enjoying a manicure at a posh nail bar.  No, a bright pink splash of varnish that sweeps accidentally over my car’s dashboard is the norm there.  And if I’m ever wrapped in seaweed I’m not sure I’d be telling you here… [Read more...]