Renee

The Business Show at ExCel: 14/15 November

The largest business exhibition in Europe hits London in November with over 25,000 visitors. I’ll be there at the heart of it to explain about social media marketing and training – both on my stand and as a seminar speaker.

     

I’ve never exhibited at a huge business show before – at least, not for social media marketing and training. I’ve visited many exhibitions – mainly food-related ones, especially if chocolate is involved – and jewellery, but that was in a past life: pre-Internet.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing
In more recent times I’ve traipsed around business shows at ExCel and Olympia chatting to networking friends who are exhibiting, and I’ve met new contacts who’ve enticed me to leave my business card by offering some kind of delicious treat or the chance to win a prize.

I have joined clients on their stands at various trade shows to help with their marketing – that’s always great fun and highly rewarding.  And I’ve exhibited at smaller networking events, such as the YBC days in Spitalfields, where I also sit on a panel to answer questions about social media marketing.

But this is my first time alone at ExCel – the country’s largest auditorium!  So pop along to say hello – you’ll find me on my stand: YBC88, not far from the main entrance. I might well run a competition for people who stop by to say hello – all in compliance with GDPR, of course.

“The Biggest Business Event in Europe” is hailed as “Packed full of the very best speakers, features, innovations, education and opportunities in the business world; the event is dedicated to guiding startups, SMEs and large corporations on their business journey.”

You can register for free entry to the Business Show here.

Hope to see you there!

Tips for blending your business and personal Facebook profiles

Using social media in a personal context can still lead to business opportunities, if it’s handled sensibly. And nothing happens by chance, so we should always be prepared for someone to check us out online at any time.

ec00c4d7-822f-4ded-9ea4-3f14e9520601

As an example, I recently met Ade, a celebrity events planner who has masqueraded around the homes of some top A-listers. We connected on LinkedIn, naturally, then – as we have a number of shared social contacts – he added me as a Facebook friend.

Now, I don’t keep my personal Facebook account particularly professional; this is my forum for staying in touch with friends and family.  It’s littered with art gallery pics, trips to the theatre, a few cat photos (yes, I am that crazy lady) and the occasional chocolate delight. My business Facebook page is the place for you to get social media and communication skills tips. Still, although Facebook is my social space, I try to avoid posting nonsense. After all, you never know when an international radio show producer will find you.

mailshot header 450 x 150

Anyway, Ade invited me to join him at a recording of a London radio show for an Australian station, which is why I found myself in a quaint Bloomsbury theatre-cum-art gallery with an eclectic mix of British stage stars and recording artists – including Robbie Williams’ backing singer, the original female lead in the West End’s Phantom of the Opera and the legendary Freddie Mercury’s partner, Peter Straker.

But the masterpiece that blew me metaphorically to Melbourne and back was Aussie pianist Warren Wills, the radio show’s host, who belted out such an incredible Bowie compilation on the grand piano that goosebumps completed a Mexican wave all over my body. I didn’t tweet any of this at the time because I was glued there, mesmerised, but you can hear the performance on a podcast. Such nice people. Such enviable talent.

At the same event, the sister of one of my 80’s musical heroes approached me to help market her novel – a historical rhyming book that I haven’t yet read but will be downloading from Amazon before we meet next week to talk about a marketing campaign.

A second instance of a personal social media connection concerns another gallery and a different group of artists. My friend and colleague Martyn Royce took me to the launch of his summer exhibition at a contemporary gallery in Pall Mall. Momentarily standing alone to sip my champagne, a man started chatting to me, and – to cut an hour’s conversation into a snippet of a sentence – we ended up as Facebook friends.

Although he lives 150 miles away, social media showed that he was born in my town and – this was really quite unbelievable – he’d actually lived in my road and played with my neighbour as a child!  He’s now a leatherworker who does Viking re-enactments, demonstrating his craft at country shows up and down the UK; pretty cool.

A couple of days later I was at the V&A’s Frida Kahlo exhibition with my friend Caroline, coincidentally my neighbour’s sister – and she remembered him well. I’m putting them all in touch with each other as I write – multitasking at its best.

So, one week, two new Facebook friends, three galleries, a lot of fun and doors opening to new business opportunities.  Can’t be bad, eh?

Do remember though, your personal Facebook page shouldn’t be your business façade. Here are a few tips for managing it sensibly for business.

Top Tips

  • Only accept people as friends if you know them or can see a tangible connection.
  • If you want to keep business and social strictly separate, it’s absolutely fine – and not rude – to refer people to your business page and explain that you keep your personal profile for family and close friends.
  • Blend your personal and business pages when appropriate, share business updates and vice versa, but delineate the line between professional and fun.
  • Review your personal profile settings regularly to ensure only people you want to see your personal information can access it.
  • Avoid sharing negative personal updates. While some people use this tactic for engaging with friends, it’s not good practice if you’re hoping to be seen by current or future clients.
  • Don’t include ridiculous or drunken photos, swearing or anything else that falls into the realms of unprofessionalism.

Yell if you need any help with your Facebook presence!

What is legitimate interest? A plain English guide to this confusing topic

Are you GDPR’d out yet?

Last month, I explained my interpretation of ‘consent’ for GDPR.  The other reason many people will rely on for keeping in touch with their mailing list is “legitimate interest.”

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training | social media marketing

If you’re doing business with someone, you have a contract or you’re negotiating for one, legitimate interest definitely applies.  Consensus among the people I network with is that, if you have built your list from people you’ve met who know what you do and can reasonably expect to receive email about your business, this is a valid reason to stay in touch and can be classed as a legitimate interest. Do you agree?

Again, I recommend Suzanne Dibble’s super video collection for anyone who is uncertain about any aspect of GDPR, and some of the following information is taken from her marketing video. She suggests that, unless any e-privacy laws, ethics or industry standards are broken, in most cases direct marketing can be classed as a legitimate interest.  (There are some caveats.)

The key questions to ask yourself are:

  • Is the way you use people’s data ‘proportionate, with minimal privacy impact and people wouldn’t be surprised to receive it from you?
  • Could people reasonably expect to receive this information from you?
  • Have you worked through the “Three stage test?” This includes assessing the purpose for emailing them, ensuring it’s necessary for the purpose, and filling in a ‘balancing form’ to show whether the legitimate interest is overridden by the person’s rights or freedom. Also, did you keep a record of your ‘legitimate interest outcome’?
  • Can they opt out of receiving your emails? (If you use Mailchimp, as I do, there’s always been an unsubscribe button.)
  • Is your privacy policy lovely and clear?
  • Are people likely to object to receiving your email? And further – are they likely to object if you explained your reasoning to them? If the answer’s yes, you can’t count on legitimate interest.
  • Is whatever you’re sending likely to cause them harm? (The example Suzanne Dibble uses is people in debt receiving regular targeted emails from loan sharks or gambling websites, which can have a “significant negative effect.” If the answer’s yes, you can’t do it.)

Please note that, apparently, the ICO says that you shouldn’t rely on legitimate interest just because it seems easier to apply than consent.

That’s all I’m covering on GDPR now – and hopefully forever! Please remember that this is my own interpretation of legitimate interest; it doesn’t mean I’m correct, but I’m offering it as food for thought – or rather, fodder for further research if you think it will work for you.

So how are you deciding which legal basis to use in future? Will it be legitimate interest, consent or one of the other options?

Would you like to join me for a glass of wine? (And a free LinkedIn review!)

If you’re free on Thursday, 1st March, please join me at the Art Pavilion in east London for the private viewing of “In a country far, far away.”

There will be some awesome works of art, live music, wine and dance displays – so it will be wonderful if you can come along!

This exhibition has been inspired by tales from countries in war and crisis. My exhibit is a poem dedicated to the first recorded poet – a remarkable woman who lived over 4,500 years ago in the area now known as southern Iraq. Her work has survived almost five millennia, yet I’d never even heard of her until recently! Just think… her message spread across the globe and made a lasting impact without even a whisper of wifi…

While I won’t be giving out social media tips on the night (apart from reminding people to tweet, share and Instagram their favourite pieces of artwork, of course), I will be happy to follow up with a complimentary LinkedIn review for anyone who comes along as a result of reading this blog!

Here are the details, and I really hope you can make it!

If there’s anything specific you’d like to know about making the most of LinkedIn – or any social media – but you can’t make it on March 1st, please feel free to ask.

Looking forward to – hopefully – seeing you there!

Prince, Diamond, working, not working… a month of being an exhibitionist

Exhibitionist? Well… not exactly – more of an exhibitor and exhibition visitor. I seem to be spending a lot of time in vast London exhibition halls lately – for both work and fun. Not to be confused with work or fun; the work is fun!

IMG_5260 (1)One of my clients provides facilities management services to hotels, so we recently set up a two-day stand at the Independent Hotel Show at Olympia to meet prospective clients. Trade shows are hard work. The environment is hot and airless, with miles of walking along aisles or hours standing – yet the opportunities to meet future customers is wonderful. I was working on their behalf, so I wasn’t targeting social media clients, but hoteliers. However, I did benefit from the eclectic range of free giveaways – bringing home everything from chocolates and coffee samples, to a few shiny bags of lovely mini toiletries – and a rubber duck!

Spending enjoyable time with the team easily balanced the exhaustion of two full days at Olympia, and I’m pleased that I introduced a good amount of prospective business to them. It’s all good networking. However, I must admit to having more fun at Olympia when I visited the Chocolate Show.

IMG_5194If you saw the photos I posted on Facebook and Instagram, you’ll know that I found the afternoon a great success!  I have a very generous boyfriend who, like me, is a chocoholic, so I returned home weighed down with fancy bags full of delicious, mouth-watering treats.  They’ve all gone now, but fortunately a well-timed birthday has restocked my treats cupboard!

IMG_5233In a month of chocolate-filled decadence, I took some time out, working at the very beautiful Hambleton Hall Hotel in Rutland. The autumn sun was warm and washed the lovely gardens in a glow that was more befitting to a summer’s day. I’ve long worked on the basis of have laptop will travel – and the beauty of social media is that so much can be handled from a phone. It’s a luxury I make the most of in my business.  So I sat on the terrace with my hot chocolate and a smoked salmon sandwich watching the swallows swoop over the lake as I crafted a few client blogs and set the week’s tweets.

FullSizeRender (5)Back to the reality of the city and, by coincidence, another business exhibition, this time organised by YBC. I had a stand close to the buffet table (of course!) and chatted all day to people interested in how good social media marketing can boost their business profile.  I was invited to speak on an ‘Expert Panel’ too, answering social media-related queries, and I had the pleasure of meeting a lot of incredibly interesting business-owners as a result.

Aside from the chocolate show, more fun-without-work visits to huge venues has included two trips to the O2: once with Gill to spend an evening in the company of Neil Diamond. This legend of five decades of success danced around the stage and sang in his still-sexy, unaged voice with a packed house on their feet, clapping, cheering, singing choruses.

The second time was with Sharon to view Prince’s collection of clothes, trophies and hand-written lyrics. So who do I quote today? Neil, or Prince? Prince, or Neil?

“Hello, my friend, hello.  Just called to let you know – I think about you every night when I’m here alone, and you’re there at home. Hello.”

Of course, since Mr D wrote that in 1980, no one has to feel alone. Even from across the other side of the world, it’s so easy to send a message on social media any time, day or night, night or day; letting people know you’re here – whether it’s a friend you miss, or a business prospect you’re targeting. So if you’d like social media help from a business perspective, feel free to get in touch – any time!! (I might not reply until after breakfast!) Email hello@imaginativetraining or tweet: @WeekendWitch.

Life After Stroke: stories of positivity, courage and determination

The Stroke Association always puts on a good event: inspiring and motivating for anyone touched by stroke. In his opening remarks, Chris Tarrant said that when he was invited to host last year’s Life After Stroke Awards, he expected the evening to be quite glum. On the contrary, the glitzy surround of The Dorchester Hotel’s grand ballroom is a perfect setting for celebrating the achievements of some awesome people affected by this cruel life-changing event.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training From the photos I posted on Facebook, it clearly looks like I’m a groupie for various familiar actors and actresses. Yet, however it looked, I wasn’t auditioning for a part in Coronation Street.  I think I offended Shobna Gulati when I tactlessly told her I was sad they’d killed her off in the fire; she said she was pretty upset about it too!!

Robert Bathurst, as you may already know – was absolutely charming, and recorded a video for Oli which I gleefully shared on social media. I saw him earlier this year being painted during the filming of Portrait Artist of the Year, blogging about it at the time. I thought he was really nice then, but I’m totally impressed with him now.  James Norton was cute (no sign of any murderous traits), Chris Tarrant seemed interested when we chatted at the bar, Sally Lindsay is just brilliant and Andy Bell was as sensational as he was back in the day.

But the evening wasn’t about all that.  It wasn’t about the fabulous food, the mesmerising ultraviolet stalactite table centres or the flowing champagne. It was about the people within the stroke community who keep going in the face of the worst kind of adversity. It was about the families and support networks, the carers, the volunteers, the fundraisers. It was about the professional teams who keep people alive, and with the best possible quality of life.  And, most of all, it was about the people who have survived a stroke, and embraced their new being with positivity, courage and determination.

We’re still battling to raise awareness of childhood stroke. One child a day is diagnosed in the UK, with many more strokes in children and babies being missed. Please keep spreading the word!!

My congratulations to all the well-deserved winners – and to the multitude of people who were nominated but didn’t make the final cut.  All are worthy of recognition. Huge thanks to The Stroke Association and their Patron, Baroness Karren Brady, for inviting me – and to Toni Mascolo of Toni & Guy (who cut my hair a couple of years ago!); as the evening’s headline sponsor, he made the night happen.

Andy Bell wrote this with Vince Clarke in 1988; seems appropriate now. “And if I should falter, would you open your arms out to me? We can make love, not war – and live at peace in our hearts… Oh baby please give a little respect to me.”

Everyone deserves respect, especially those who find it harder to make themselves understood. The Stroke Association’s current campaign is ‘Lost for Words’ and aims to raise awareness of the communication difficulties many stroke survivors suffer. If you’d like to help make a difference to people’s lives, please donate by texting STROKE AWARDS to 70500 to donate £5. Thank you.

 

Parisian knicker-checkers, a dramatic first night and a very impressive man

Paris in the springtime may be the traditional time to visit, but it’s a spectacular city anytime of the year.  My cousin Stephen had flown over from Vegas for a couple of weeks so we sneaked an overnight trip to the city of love, light, culture and delicious buttery, almondy, gooey chocolate pastries.

We weren’t surprised that security was high. However, the phrase ‘above and beyond’ came to mind.  We were stunned at the extent they went to checking our bags at the Arc de Triumph. The girl removed almost everything from each of our backpacks – including yesterday’s knickers and Stephen’s old pants. Everything was plonked into a plastic box for all to see. It was quite incredible really – nothing was spared.  Should people be allowed to wave our pants in their faces in the name of security?  My lacy knicks certainly didn’t have anywhere to smuggle even a penknife… (Also shocked at how many people were carrying those!)

Being an overnight stay, my bag contained a gas-fuelled curling brush that could understandably have been misidentified as a best-selling item from Ann Summers. Out it came; the mademoiselle picked it up and waved it around curiously as she scrutinised it before moving on to my make-up bag. But the thing that shocked us the most: she wasn’t wearing gloves. This girl was rummaging through people’s personal items with her bare hands. As Stephen pointed out, someone could have had a needle in their bag – or goodness knows what else. What a horrible breach of health and safety!

The Eiffel Tower was less vigilant – but still thorough – and plastic glove-wearing!  The Louvre gave a cursory flick of the zip and waved us through; Notre Dame and Sacré Coeur were more interested in Stephen removing his hat than in a full bag search.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | LinkedIn coaching ! LinkedIn training Our whirlwind tour took in all these tourist attractions, and more; I’m a very good tour guide, even if I do say so myself. I’ve managed to pick up enough trivia on my previous trips to marginally impress an American. While I was in charge of museums, galleries, cathedrals and high-in-the-sky landmarks, Stephen was responsible for food places – typical French cuisine, of course, with lots of melting cheese, cured ham, locally sourced paté and bread. Lots and lots of bread. (For him, not me. I was happy with a diet of chocolate croissants and chocolate mousse.)  And red wine, it’s healthy.

I returned from Paris to attend a first night play. And when I say first night, I really do mean that. The cast were delivering their first run-through, scripts in hand and without dramatic lighting or scenery.  It was the compelling story of journalist Christopher Gunness’ visit to Yangon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the so-called Students’ Democratic Revolution. As a young journalist he’d reported on the 1988 events, and the story switched seamlessly between periods.

The company was made up of a small group of illustrious actors, with the writer and director, Guy Slater, a well-known celebrity in his own right. But the unobtrusive star of the evening was Chris Gunness himself, a man whose CV lists exceptionally high-profile roles within the UN and middle east – and now a chief spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. He is such a nice guy. Meeting him in the cultural ensconces of The Cockpit, a fringe theatre on the edge of Marylebone, you’d never guess for one second that he’s reported from war zones with bombs literally flying around him. He’s one of the unsung heroes, finally with his own tune and lyrics. (That’s metaphorical, by the way; Eastern Star is poles apart from any musical.)

The performance was a benefit event for the educational charity ‘Prospect Burma’ and the ‘Britain-Burma Society.’ Guy Slater spoke at the end, requesting funding to enable the play to gain traction in a wider theatrical sphere.  My fingers are crossed that they achieve their goals of both creating a fuller production and supporting the relevant charities.

As John and Paul reiterated way back when, words that were equally as relevant then, in 1988 and again today: “You say you want a revolution; well, you know, we all want to change the world. You tell me that it’s evolution; well, you know, we all want to change the world. But when you talk about destruction – don’t you know that you can count me out.”

Social media is certainly instrumental in changing the world. If you’re using it for business, make sure you’re using it right. If you need advice, give me a quick call, drop me an email or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

 

(Lyrics credit: Lennon and McCartney – but you knew that!)

Gatsby, Annie and dancing over Instagram

I’ve developed an unprecedented craving for pickled cucumber. No, before you ask, I’m not pregnant.  Although the time clock is ticking on that one. If I wanted another baby I’d better get a move on. I don’t though – a phrase that various members of my family will be relieved to read. It’s enough taking care of Charlie who, at the time of writing, is giving me the gift of a pigeon – delivered one feather at a time through his high-tech cat flap.  Anyway, I have two wonderful sons who will probably make me a grandmother one day soon. Aargh!! Quick!! Turn back the clock!

22290666_10155807902531255_1616715340_oTime definitely turned back this week when I took a couple of lovely teenage girls to Gatsby’s Drugstore in Borough for an immersive evening of interactive theatre. Gatsby, Daisy and Myrtle acted out their sorry story to an audience that learned to Charleston – a dance that’s close to my heart, as my grandparents were world champions!! If only they’d had Facebook and Instagram back then! They were very photogenic anyway, so with a few heel twists and swings the social media activity would have been through the roof.

aaaaaaaaaaaaTime also stood still at a performance of Annie at the Piccadilly Theatre on Thursday. Annie is the first west end show I remember seeing, aged about ten. My newly- found cousins Harry and Dorothy visited from Florida and took us for a treat. I’ve written about Harry before in this blog – he was an incredible man who led the army in to liberate Auschwitz. I didn’t know that at the time, of course. That knowledge came much later, when Adey donated the war correspondence his wife had saved, to the Washington Holocaust Museum. That theatre trip was with my dance champion grandparents too! I have one special photo from around that time; it sits on the bookcase overlooking my desk where Charlie likes to lie as I work.

22154353_10155272772033423_3738147764438839508_nOn the other side of the family, crazy cute Stephen appeared via Facebook five years ago. He’s here for a visit now, and we braved the forecast gales on Sunday to admire the cityscape from the Sky Garden. London is phenomenal from the sky, and 35 floors up you get a fabulous view of the eclectic mix of architecture and the sheer scale of the best city in the world. We’re taking time out to visit another of my favourites this week: Paris. No doubt we’ll be tweeting!

This may be twee, but I don’t know any Charleston song lyrics and it’s too early for anything Parisian. “The sun’ll come out tomorrow; bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun. Just thinking about tomorrow scares away the cobwebs and the sorrow ’til there’s none.” Hopefully the sun will be shining right across Europe this week! So, you’ll find me for the rest of this week either back at ground level in London or hanging over the Eiffel Tower in France. Or here, as usual: @WeekendWitch.

Managing time, feeling creative and a stream of lucky escapes

There but for the grace of God go I. I don’t know who said it, and I’m not particularly religious, but I think it whenever my safety and well-being have been compromised but the danger’s passed.

I have a habit of narrowly missing disasters. (Or should I say, I have the good luck to narrowly avoid them?)

Kings Cross. The fire that was kindling as I rode through the station before the deadly flames engulfed the tragic victims. The Libyan Embassy siege. I walked passed just a couple of hours before PC Yvonne Fletcher was gunned down in broad daylight. I don’t remember now what I was even doing there, but I know I was wearing orange shoes. Pumps. Grosgrain – I’d bought them in Top Shop along with a matching jumper and some kind of weird fishnet scarf.  I was carrying one of those orange plastic basket bags that we all thought were marvellous back then.

There was no social media in those days, nowhere to tell people we were safe or let our loved ones know en masse that we were okay. All night tv was still in its infancy, only broadcasting for about a year in London – although we had that strange robotic teletext thing that was so futuristic. Whichever was you look at it, it was hard to keep up-to-date. There wasn’t even a facility for us to call friends we were worried about; we relied on them finding a public call box to ring home. It seems prehistoric now.  I didn’t even know about the fire until I got back around midnight and my mum was frantic with worry.

7/7 was a close call too. I’d overslept that morning. My mum phoned to tell me the central line was down and I realised I wouldn’t get to my appointment in Holborn on time. And then of course the catastrophic events unfolded on the news. I’d have been in the vicinity at the time of the bomb blast if my alarm had gone off. Again, there but for the grace of God go I.

21360829_10155724413861255_959159822_nAnd now this, a silver arrow shooting out in front of me. Well, not exactly in front of me – I didn’t actually see it. But I was hustled down two flights of stairs at the Oval into an enclosed room along with the other 450 people who were enjoying the networking event, most of us not paying attention to the cricket. Suddenly the sunny terrace, high above the famous pitch where we’d been happily sipping Pimms, was threatened by a security alert. No one knew what was happening. Everyone remained calm, everyone walked nicely, many people looked panic-stricken.  There were mumblings of terrorism. Surely a cricket match isn’t a good target? Or is it? Isn’t anywhere?

When the police evacuated the stadium I walked as quickly as my steadily blistering feet would carry me back to the relative safety of the tube. Rush hour on the Northern Line is quite unpleasant, but two people recognised me as having been at the event and we had a lovely chat, exchanging business cards between the legs of the commuters who weren’t lucky or quick enough to grab seats. I think they recognised me because of my dress, black with a vivid red rose print plonked across the fabric. It struck me that I looked a bit like a walking target, if the archer had taken to the streets with his weapon.

After the stress of that palaver I feel like I should avoid London for a while.  (Until tomorrow, at least!) I should stick to country events; for example, at the opposite end of the spectrum to the sweltering nightmare of the underground, last week’s ceramics fair at Hatfield House was a dream.

21360936_10155724409741255_412055550_nArt in Clay is one of the country’s foremost exhibitions of all things pottery.  Philip’s mum is a potter by trade – I have a lovely collection of vases, fruit bowls and sweetie dishes that she’s kindly gifted to me – so it was great to wander around with someone so knowledgeable and interested in the vast and eclectic collection of products on display. Philip bought a vase – tall, cream, elegant, beautifully curved with a grey squiggly bit at the bottom and a curlicue lip.  I have no idea if that’s a correct ceramicists’ term – I think I may have just made it up.  And if he skims through this blog he’ll probably be thinking I’m describing his ideal woman rather than a vase!

Watching the potters as they demonstrated throwing their clay made me feel (again!) that I want to do something creative.  Fortunately art class has resumed, in a new, Hitchcock-themed venue; still with fairy lights and bananas; still wonderfully calming and focused. Still great fun.  But I want to also do some painting, or even try some of that blobbing about with clay. (Again, probably not the right term…) I haven’t felt inspired to write poetry for a while, although I feel a wave coming on.

21361264_10155724413011255_595205071_nStaying on the pottery theme, I first saw this film in Bermuda in 1991 – and, although the lyrics date back to the year I was born, this song will be forever framed within the confines of white sandy beaches and a turquoise sea. “Time goes slowly by, and time can do so much.”

Time might go slowly by when you’re in love with Sam Wheat, but in business it goes blimmin’ fast.  So I’m offering time management workshops this autumn to set you up for an effectively-managed start to 2018. Call me if you’d like to know more, or ask me here: @WeekendWitch.

Giacometti, calm waters and a bicycle made for two

There are few things lovelier on a gloriously warm day than creating a cool breeze by cycling leisurely through the countryside. It’s even better with the beautiful sparkling waters of Rutland on your left. One thing I do think is lovelier is not having to work your thigh muscles and burn your calves – a usual side effect of the cycling culture.  However, I have found the solution!

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingPhilip suggested touring around the edge of the lake… on a tandem! It’s great fun. He was awesome, pecs rippling as he worked so hard to masterfully control the huge contraption. He took us riding through shady glens and across grassy spaces full of picnickers and small children – whose parents seemed to think it was cute to allow their offspring to toddle dangerously into the path of oncoming bikes and skateboards. Climbing the steeper hills, Philip even stood up to peddle – very impressive, which I assumed was the reason for the playful display.  Turns out it’s the only way to get up the hill if the person behind is sitting there enjoying the ride instead of actually pedaling…

He told me that now I have mastered staying on the seat, the next step will be to learn how to move my feet.  We’ll see.

We’d intended to spend the day sailing, but a calm water meant the sails wouldn’t be very effective, so we abandoned that idea in favour of the tandem. It made me think of my nana singing Daisy Daisy when I was very young – and now that I’ve typed that it’s going round and round in my head again. (And for some reason, so is the rude version.) In truth, I did contribute significantly to the pedalling and part of my body that shall remain unmentionable in this ladylike blog is still sore – so I guess it’s appropriate to still be singing a cycling song three days after the event.  Annoyingly, I didn’t have my recently-purchased magic cycling knickers with me, which was a huge shame.

Rutland Water is so clear and blue, it’s almost a picture book lake. In contrast, the Thames is a dismal grey colour. Far less pretty but still attractive as it snakes its way through the best city in the world. Have you seen the Giacometti exhibition at the Tate Modern? I hadn’t really fancied going, but Martyn wanted to go, and I was tempted by the thought of a cake on the members’ balcony overlooking the aforementioned watery artery of my home town.

It was all the more enjoyable because I wasn’t bothered about Giacometti so hadn’t thought about what to expect. I went with an open mind and returned blown away by the diversity of this Swiss artist’s work. Sculptures towering over me at around 10ft were displayed alongside teeny tiny bronze sculptures smaller than my thumbnail.  Really!  It’s all quite fascinating.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingBut more worthy of a visit is the new exhibition in a large hall at the other end of the concourse: Soul of a Nation: art in the age of black power. This incredible collection of work celebrates black American artists from 1963-83, during the turbulent days of political and social change, following on a huge surfing wave from the impact of the Civil Rights Movement.

One of the things I love about my art gallery memberships is being introduced to artists I’d never heard of before. There were loads here, and their individual artworks, while obviously socially and culturally important – both historically as well as maintaining a global relevance today – are masterpieces in their own right. I’ve never seen such a long queue at the Tate – or certainly not noticed one before – even for the Hockney show.

Imaginative Training | social media blog | social media training | Plain English training | Plain English editing | copywritingThis is a popular exhibition, and rightly so. It actually inspired me to do something more creative at my life drawing class this week. But sadly, I forgot. Stuck to a 3B pencil and my trusted purple and turquoise felt tips. Oh well. My own artistic revolution is clearly still to come. Something to look forward to, I guess.

As Freddie said, “I don’t believe in Peter Pan, Frankenstein or Superman; all I wanna do is…” You can fill in the blank yourself.

If you need help to fill in any business blanks – particularly social media-related, drop me an email – or ask me here:@WeekendWitch.