5 Minutes With... Martin Bisp



I’m Martin Bisp, CEO and Co-founder of Empire Fighting Chance, a charity that helps to inspire young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to realise their potential through a combination of non-contact boxing and intensive personal support.


I am not sure anything makes me different. I am simply someone who saw something I didn’t like and realised that we could, if we wanted, do something about it. This then drove me to create Empire Fighting Chance with Jamie Sanigar. I am determined and resilient which everyone who succeeds needs to be. We have had some really difficult times in launching a charity, especially coming from the private sector, working full time and challenging people’s beliefs about how things should be tackled. This resilience, which I am sure sport taught me, has meant setbacks are only ever viewed as temporary issues.


That is difficult. There are a number of huge sporting occasions I would like to have seen, like Muhammad Ali winning the world title (as Cassius Clay), England winning the World cup and Shergar winning the Derby. But I recently visited Memphis during the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s assassination, when I was here I spent some time visiting the civil rights museum at the Lorraine Motel. After seeing this, combined with all I have read, I would like to go back and spend time with Martin Luther King.


I think I’d have to say eternal optimism. I am a huge Bristol Rovers fan and every season, despite all the heartbreak of previous years, I turn up hoping for miracles. That takes a certain mind set!


To ensure you keep on track and keep a clear mind when things are going very badly or very well and learn from how you got there, That and if you want money ask for advice, if you want advice ask for money!


There are a few, The Dark Trade by Donald McCrae is a great book about professional boxing or Country of the Blind by Christopher Brookmyre.

Is Influence Dead?

Peruse the papers and every day you seem to find a story about a so called “influencer” being caught out for breaking the advertising guidelines.

Putting your brand in the hands of social media influencers can seemingly be fraught with danger and it’s easy to believe from the press that this age of influence is dying out. But with some of the worlds largest advertising and PR agencies now creating their own influencer departments this is not the whole story. A recent article in the FT shows that the influencer marketing industry has more than doubled in size since 2016 and shows no signs of slowing down. 

So, Is this potential risky activity actually worth it?

It's the same with any marketing activity, done well it can definitely help you. Done badly, it's not. It starts with choosing the right marketing channels and the right people to work with as influencers. There has to be a genuine and obvious link between the influencer and the brand or the whole exercise will be deemed as fake. 

It can help to think of your influencer as a brand ambassador. They are there to create more awareness of your brand and product and their endorsement should add value to your product or service and be able to easily introduce it to a new audience. 

My tips

  • What is the objective of your campaign? If you want to sell more product what would a good outcome look like for you?

  • What channel is best for your audience? - it does not need to be Instagram or YouTube if that is where your audience does not sit.

  • Choose influencers (or brand ambassadors) with a clear fit to your brand and a genuine love of your product. Do your homework, check them out and check other work they have done. 

  • Be clear - are you paying the influencer to promote you or are they doing it in return for the product. 

  • Stick to the rules - in the UK you can keep up to date with the ASA’s rules here .

  • Work at it - any relationship needs work so use your best influencers on multiple campaigns and keep coming up with new ideas. 

5 Minutes With... Aaron Geis



I’m Aaron Geis of Aaron Geis Photography and I do professional, advertorial and commercial photography. Throughout the 24 years I have been doing this, I have worked with many different companies, from small businesses to massive corporations and have done a variety of different shoots including; lifestyle, interior, architecture, portraiture, editorial, food and 360- degree shots.


I think what makes me different is that I’ve had the honour of working at the top level from even the very beginning of my career. I started off by assisting on some really sophisticated advertising shots, working on a Nike and a Jaguar photoshoot, both of which were incredible experiences.

The Nike shoot was in Singapore and was during the early stages of digital photography. We took photos of 600 employees with a biography of each that could then be accessed from a computer. Looking back on it, it feels like a precursor to social media, it was really exciting!

The Jaguar shoot was massive, it was like working on a movie. There were car stylists who would do things like weighing the car down so that it would sit lower for certain photos. They even had a sun chart so that they could get the right lighting which was really sophisticated at the time.


I grew up in the Pacific North West, and so I would like to travel back to experience what the area was like before the Europeans came and altered the landscape. The whole West Coast of America was covered in trees and abundant wildlife, I think it would have been really beautiful. If I could somehow go back all those years with a camera that would be amazing!


I’m not sure if it’s really a superpower but I’d say that I’m pretty good at keeping my head screwed on in stressful situations, which can be really helpful when working on a shoot. It can be difficult to be creative and collaborate with a client to keep them happy when you’re in a busy environment. I once had to do a shoot in a bakery type shop at lunchtime and it got pretty chaotic. People were stepping around the light stands, and we had to wait quite a long time to get the shots we wanted.

I have had some other stressful moments in my career where I’ve had to stay calm. One of the worst times was when we were travelling in the Serengeti national park and the Land Rover we were in got a flat tyre. I had to get out and change the wheel with lions around. That was pretty crazy, the jack didn’t work at first because it was full of dust and that minute where it wasn’t working was probably one of the longest of my life!


The best piece of advice I’ve been given actually came from an art director who I showed my portfolio to. I’d known him through some previous work and wanted his opinion. He told me that although my artwork was great and to a high level, it needed to be more personal and focus on my own style.

This piece of advice really reshaped the way I approached my work and actually led to me going to Asia. My whole life would have been very different had I not taken his advice and gone travelling. I would never have met my wife and I probably would never have moved to the UK.


The book I would recommend is “Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin. The book is about how the Aboriginal Australian people would have songs that were hundreds of verses long to guide them across the outback, even including the locations of upcoming water sources. His words really convey how people see things so differently, the Aboriginal people managed to survive by memorising all this complex information in this manner that is quite different to the way we use language. It really captures how people relate to the world in such diverse ways.

Living Above the Line - Why Geraint is a Champion

Geraint Thomas — what a champion. Supportive of a teammate and gracious in defeat. 

As Michael Mortiz commented in his FT column “...you cannot help but feel that the real winner of the race was the man who came second…. He has lodged himself in the hearts of sports fans by helping Bernal win…... Politicians might want to study Thomas’s attitude”.

After the race finished Geraint made no excuses, no hints of how podium places could be different or even complain about the weather and conditions. 

I am very lucky to work with business coaches Gary Keating and Jane Carvell of ActionCOACH Bristol. Something we often talk about is living above the line or living above the point of power. 

Imagine a horizontal line drawn across the middle of the piece of paper. We can choose to operate either above the line or below it. In simple terms being above the line is taking personal responsibility and being below the line is using denial, blame and excuse.. 

  • Operating above the line is open and positive. It’s about ownership, accountability and responsibility.

  • Operating below the line is closed and negative. It’s about denial, excuses, defensiveness and blame.

It sounds so simple but in practice to stay above the line is tricky. Over time, you start to catch yourself using negative language and excuse and more importantly start to recognise the circumstances where you fall into a closed and negative mindset. 

So be like “G”. Stay above the line. Celebrate the success of others, be generous, gracious and a true champion. 

Nicola Naylor - The blind rider who is breaking records

Blind dressage rider, Nicola Naylor has recently won the able-bodied Prix St George class at the Hickstead Premier League with a brilliant 67.81% on her horse Amadeus. This is an incredible accomplishment as Nicola, a registered blind Grade IV para dressage rider, only has a minute amount of light perception in one eye. 

Winning a class of this calibre takes a lot of hard work and dedication for any rider. However, for Nicola it comes with its own additional challenges such as navigating busy warm up arenas and having to be very reliant on her team once she is on her horse to get her around the showground. Once in the arena, her trainer, International Grand Prix rider Dan Watson, has to call out the letters to her as she reaches them so that she can get her bearings. 

Outside of the world of competing Nicola is incredibly independent. She has become an expert at travelling out of London on her own every day using both the tube and the train to go and ride her 5 horses. She is very dedicated to her training and this is shown through her many successful outings nationally and internationally at both para and able bodied competitions since 2011. Nicola had originally showjumped as a child however had to give up the sport when she lost her sight in her twenties. She returned to the equestrian world through dressage after being inspired by her daughter who had decided to take it up.

Having already rocketed up the FEI World Paralympic rankings to 11th place in her Grade this year and with aims to compete at Tokyo 2020, Nicola is certainly one to watch.

Nicola is an accomplished motivational and keynote speaker, if you or your organisation are interested in having Nicola speak at one of your corporate events or training days then get in touch with us. 

How can we help get more women into cycling?

Cycling inspiration website Gallivant have a mission to get more of us on bikes. When going about this, they noticed that there was a definite gender gap when looking at the sport. (Sustrans 2018 bikelife report says men are twice as likely to use a bicycle for travel on a regular basis than women in all seven cities they looked in to) 

Curious as to why many women are put off from cycling they conducted a survey to get some answers.

Chris Gomez co-Founder of Gallivant explains “We knew through our own conversations with people that there are many women who would secretly like to start cycling, whether for themselves or for their family, but are put off by something. We wanted to find out more so that we can help as many people as possible discover the joy of life on 2 wheels”.

The survey showed that the overwhelming reason for why women are put off from cycling is fear of the roads and traffic, with 37% of survey respondents citing this as their answer.

So what can we do to help? 46% of respondents of Gallivants survey suggested that more cycle lanes and dedicated cycle paths are required. 38% of people also asked for more female-friendly cycle rides and events.

Other tips include:

  • Get some inspiration:

Read about other women who have taken to two wheels and find out how they started. Gallivant support InternationElles, a 10-strong team of female cyclists who are taking on a 3-week challenge of cycling the route of the Tour de France a day ahead of the men’s race. Many of these women started cycling seriously later in life. You can follow their progress here: https://www.facebook.com/Gallivant.bike/ 

The team of 10 riders will tackle the 3400 km route of the Tour de France a day ahead of the official race from the 5th — 21st July. In the summer of 2015 a unique event called Donnons des Elles au Velo J-1 was created. Three French women rode one day ahead of the male pro peloton in the most famous bike race in the world. Their aim was to raise awareness for gender equality in cycling and to campaign for women's tours to be held alongside the men’s. In 2019, the InternationElles team will cycle alongside the French team with the same aim, as well as to inspire more women to get involved in cycling.

Team member Alex Chart explains “ Growing up I was the only girl on my street on my bike every day — I used to ride with boys around the local parks. I never saw any female cyclists on TV or heard about females using the bike to explore new countries. I want to show every child that a bike is for anyone. Be it to cycle to school, or to work, to visit a friend in the next town or to race at the highest levels. Regardless of gender. Regardless of background. The bicycle is there to be enjoyed, to find your freedom and to explore new roads”.

  • Talk to your friends and see who might buddy up with you to start cycling. It’s surprising when you start chatting to others, you find people who are in the same position. 

TREE AID - Joanna Lumley Supports the She Grows Campaign

UK government doubles donations to charity using trees to fight poverty and climate change

Environmental and international development charity, TREE AID, has launched a three-month appeal with proceeds doubled by the UK government. With the support the UK public, the She Grows appeal will help people reverse the effects of deforestation and climate change in the drylands of Africa. The UK government will match pound for pound any public donations between 1st April and 30th June through the UK Aid Match scheme.

The charity, set up by foresters in 1987, has planted more than 16 million trees and supported more than 1.2 million people, and is increasingly gaining recognition for its long-term solution to help alleviate poverty and halt deforestation in the poorest and most arid parts of Africa.

Joanna Lumley, TREE AID’s patron and supporter of the She Grows appeal, explained: “I have been supporting TREE AID for more than 25 years because it provides such an effective, practical solution to the urgent issues of poverty in Africa and the environmental decline that so often causes it.

“Trees are being wiped from the landscape in the African drylands and the desert is spreading, making it harder for people, especially women, to feed their families and earn an income. I urge local people to please give what they can to the She Grows appeal, knowing their gift will be doubled by our government. If ever there was a time to support a local organisation working on global issues, it is now.”

The She Grows appeal will help one thousand women in Mali to set up small businesses that process and sell shea butter and honey, and give them the tools and training they need to save and replant their local forest.

Mali is a country in West Africa that is two-thirds desert and where more than 50% of people live below the poverty line. The burden of poverty falls hardest on women who have limited access to land and few opportunities to earn an income. They are expected to feed their children and families but their land is some of the driest in the world and, as climate change effects deepen, the situation is getting worse. Trees are a lifeline, surviving drought, improving the soil and providing fruits, nuts and seeds for food and income.

The She Grows project comes at an important time, with the UN naming 2019 as a “critical year” for climate action and with scientists around the world calling for reforestation to slow down climate change.

Setou Traoré is one of the thousand women in Mali who will benefit from the TREE AID project. Due to frequent droughts and deforestation, Setou is finding it harder to find food for her family and she can’t afford to send her children to school: “Trees are vital, especially for us women. Without trees, we wouldn’t eat. The produce from the fields has reduced. Farming doesn’t feed us anymore, the sources of income are weak. There aren’t many trees anymore. I am worried for my children.”

TREE AID is urging people to donate as much as they can to the She Grows appeal before 30th June 2019 and the UK government will double all donations. Match funding from the UK government will help 1,000 women in Mali to grow their way out of poverty using the power of trees. Donations from the UK public will mean TREE AID can help even more communities across the drylands of Africa to transform their environment and their lives.

To donate and find out more, visit the TREE AID website: www.treeaid.org.uk/shegrows.

2019 BEFA Write Up - Inspiring and Motivating.... Bring on Q2!

Having just returned from the 2019 Business Excellence Forum and Awards I am feeling inspired and happy to have spent time with my brilliant coaches Gary Keating and Jane Carvell of ActionCOACH Bristol https://actioncoach.co.uk/coaches/gary-keating/ together with a group of their talented clients.

What follows are my favourite notes and soundbites from the conference.

Sir Clive Woodward spoke about the DNA of a champion and also about how great teams are formed.



Performance Under Pressure

Winners are those who perform best under pressure and who can think clearly under that pressure.

Prepare for all situations…have a plan






Winning Culture

Winning teams are made from a winning culture. This culture is based upon Leadership, Partnership (both internal within the company and outside) and Teamship.

Teamship is a brilliant concept.

In simple terms you get the team to come up with an agreement that 100% of them sign up to. You can start with simple thing like dress code or punctuality. Let your team come up with the rules. Bring your teamship rules to life by making them fun. Don’t do too much at once and drip feed these rules in.

You can take a look here to learn more from Clive

Nicky Pattinson


is a sales communication expert and lead conversion guru. Down to earth, authentic and entertaining - her session was one of my event highlights.


It’s all about the story….tell a story to seat people at the table. At your table.

Take a look at these two videos from Nicky, they are both short views and are well worth it. All of us in business are sales people -  it gives a really good insight into her techniques:


This one is from her work at Halfords, it’s brilliant how she gets involved with the customers:


For me personally, this was the take away from the whole two days…..


Damian Keyes did an excellent session on social media and focussed on giving value:


Find out more about Damian here - his book looks fabulous: https://damiankeyes.com

James Clear https://jamesclear.com

is the good habits guru. I think we all came away with ideas of small habits/rituals we can make that will over time make a big difference. Focus on getting 1% better each day.

For example “After I make my first cup of coffee of the day, I will meditate for 1 minute”



Jo Fairley shared the story of the founding of Green & Blacks.

This is the first time I have heard someone of her calibre speak on stage and share their love of PR and its importance to the growth of their brand. Thank you Jo! I was especially impressed by how much she has used and uses print. It’s easy to discount print as being old- fashioned but as Jo said, each time they had something in print they saw a spike in sales.

I would encourage you to follow Jo and her business journey for inspiration (and she gave us all chocolate!): https://www.josephinefairley.com

Brad Sugars  https://bradsugars.com is the founder of ActionCOACH and he entertained and inspired us to look at our business systems as a way to save time and ultimately money. His book Instant Systems is well worth a read.

My team will be getting used to us documenting everything we are doing on a day to day basis so we can create checklists. My favourite bit:


The 2 days ended with the brilliant Steve Judge - an inspirational story, and such a lovely guy as well. I really enjoyed meeting him. If anyone will inspire you to stop making excuses and to get on with it, he will: http://steve-judge.co.uk

I can’t do a write up without mentioning my client Sophia Ali of Amma Life https://ammalife.co.uk who was a finalist in the ecommerce category on the Thursday night awards. Keep up the hard work Sophia, you are changing lives.

Thoughts for Mothering Sunday

On Mothers Day, busy mum and owner of Amma Life https://ammalife.co.uk Sophia Ali shares her top 5 tips for relaxation….

  • Create time to hang out with your friends - spending time with your friends helps you to relax and unwind. Sometimes this is the first thing we cut out when we are busy, though we should always make some time to socialise. Whether it’s having a chat and a few laughs over a cup of tea or going to the gym together, we don’t need studies to reveal that time spent with a friend can reduce the body’s stress response, lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So, no matter how busy you are, be sure to make time at the weekends or after work to get together with your besties.

  • Biohack your Mindset - This may sound like some futuristic activity, but it is a really about understanding the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your best. One simple way to do this is to focus on 5 things you are grateful for every night just before bed. This encourages you to recognise all of the positive things that occur in your life and view the world through the glass is half-full lense (as opposed to half-empty).

  • Another technique is to get outside and exercise regularly - exercise is incredibly beneficial for your body & mindset. It is about much more than helping you to keep physically fit and healthy. Any form of physical activity increases the brain’s production of endorphins. This neurotransmitter has a positive effect on your mood, thus making you happier and decreasing stress and anxiety levels. Additionally, getting into the zone - the intense focus you maintain during many forms of exercise, can be viewed as a form of physical meditation. As it often helps you to forget about unimportant irritations and helps to retrain your mind to remain clearer and calmer in future stressful situations. These are simple forms of bio-hacking to help you work with your biology to ensure it works to support you.

  • Gain more natural energy – Do you frequently find yourself craving a cup of coffee to make it through the day? One simple step to support your energy system is to reduce the coffee consumption. Excessive consumption of high caffeine drinks can have a negative impact on your body, increasing cortisol levels and prohibiting sleep. Why not consider switching to a caffeine-free alternative. There are so many herbal teas on the market to choose from such as our CBD tea? Be brave, set yourself a challenge and give up caffeine for 7 days then observe how you feel at the end of that week.

  • Do check out our CBD tea range here (CBD and CBD & Mint) https://ammalife.co.uk/collections/cbd-tea/

  • These are naturally caffeine free drinks and we believe they are a great choice of beverage at any time of day with their delicate and floral taste. We recommend that you drink the tea when you have time to relax and make the most of enjoying some ‘me’ time. You can even add honey or lemon to it for a great bedtime drink!

  • Write your way to a happier you - Journaling is such a great way to relax and reduce stress. Keeping a journal helps you to prioritize your goals & challenges, look at any concerns in a new light and gives you an outlet for your emotions. Being able to look back at your day and take a few moments to connect to your inner wisdom can support you to evaluate any situations that had caused you stress, look at what steps you can take in future to avoid these or turn the situation around to suit you.  It can also be used to monitor any negative behaviours you wish to reduce and change. Journaling provides some great time for self reflection and in time you may find it much easier to come up with logical solutions for any issues you are faced with, when written out on paper.

  • Turn off and tune out - Ditch the guilt that we often feel when taking some ‘you’ time and create a schedule that allows you to have a designated time that is completely your own. We can be consumed with constantly checking our phones and ‘just quickly’ responding to work emails in our own time. However, it is important to put aside some time where you can focus solely on yourself for the purpose of self-care and personal growth.  So leave your phone in another room and choose an enjoyable hobby, play some music and dance in the living room, find a new book to read or simply take a relaxing bath. Whatever it is that you choose, enjoy it without interruption.

  • Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, whether you are mums, step-mums, mums-to-be, daughters, single dads, have children in your life or want to have a baby! This is your time to take a break and make it a regular thing in your life.

The Subtle Art of Swearing....

Is it me or does it seem like you have to write a book with a f**k on the front cover these days? Don’t get me wrong, they are some great books out there. I particularly like the idea of a f**k list by the way........

But are we heading for swearing overload? Now as a PR you might think that I have a strict no swearing rule. And that I impose this rule on my clients too. Well you would be right - most of the time. Lazy swearing really annoys me as there is no need for bad and lazy language. You know the sort, a f*** or b****** every other word. But well used swearing as part of well crafted language is another thing entirely. In certain circumstances it is acceptable and evidence shows it’s good for us. Take a look at this article - and also look at the Emma Byrne website if you want to find out more.

This is when swearing is a bad idea:

  • On TV

  • On radio

  • On social media - just don’t do it PLEASE. It’s too risky. Your clients or potential clients could see it. Really. Oh yes and you know when you think you have a private profile? It probably isn’t - the risk of information leaks are really high….

  • In front of your mum

My rule is if you wouldn’t say it to your gran then don’t say it or write it. Well actually my gran was pretty liberal but you know what I mean………

Happy Christmas and New Year….

Book Review - The Jelly Effect

The Jelly Effect - Brilliant Communications Tips

The book I’ve read most recently in the The Jelly Effect - How To Make Communications Stick, by Andy Bounds

The first thing to say is that it’s the kind of book I like as you can dip in and out of it and read in detail the sections that apply best to you and your challenges.

The overarching theme is telling people a load of irrelevant information is like chucking a bucket of jelly over them in the hope that something will stick.

The next theme is the AFTERS - audiences don’t care what you say - they only care about what they are left with after you’ve said it.

What I will do is go through my favourite topics and tips here for you and leave you to go and read the book yourselves.

  • The aim of your networking is to arrange to have a cup of coffee with a big fish, on a subsequent date. Your big fish could be be potential customers, potential suppliers, potential recommenders and the guest list

  • The best question to ask at networking events is “what professions are good contacts for you?”

  • Prepare for presentations using the RAP method: Results - what do you want to achieve, Audience - what are they like?, Preparation - only do this once you know the first two areas

  • Every single product is bought because of what the customers are left with AFTER they bought it - e.g. you will buy a lamp because you want light

  • Your customers want problem solvers (not technicians)

  • A referral is a personal recommendation, to someone you don’t know but who is your target, that target is expecting AND is looking forward to it

That is a very quick pick of the best tips - for more info take a look at Andy’s website 

The CEOS Guide to PR - What the Hell is PR Anyway?

You may have a marketing department, and perhaps a social media and comms function too -  but do you need a PR?


First things first, what the hell is PR anyway? It’s all about building great reputation. Everything you say and do is PR. The steps normally taken are:


  • Deciding what you want to be known as/what you want people to talk about


  • Deciding who you want to see/hear this info (who is your customer)?


  • Work out the best way for that to happen – what do these customers read/watch/listen to?


  • Putting together a great story/angle/opinion piece


  • Getting it to the right journalist


  • Following up and setting up interviews


  • Making sure the campaign is featured on social media and in newsletters and other marketing communications by liaising with other marketing and comms staff


  • Measuring the results of a campaign and to be ready for future campaigns


Do you need a specific PR expert to work with you? You won’t be surprised that I think you do. You certainly need someone who has the right connections and who can see the right opportunities for your company. It’s not a "dark art", but it takes time to sharpen the conversational, observational and commercial skills that a good PR requires.


The CEOs Guide to PR - What makes a good news story?

What makes a great (news) story?


The first question to ask may seem obvious but it’s “Is it really news?”.


Put yourself in the place of the reader... is it something that will add to the life & knowledge of the reader, is it useful? Does it potentially solve a problem? Is it helping the community in some way?


Some ideas to help:


  • Hold a monthly/regular meeting with your department heads to find out what’s going on with them, their department and their staff that might that might turn out to be a good story. Remember it could be something in a staff members personal life that makes a story – such as a sporting or community project / achievement.
  • Task someone with the job of keeping an eye on a good story & news ideas within the company and flagging them. There is always someone in a company who knows what going on and all the gossip - it’s a fun role for them.
  • Remember that great stories can be just as useful for internal PR as for external stakeholders – they can keep everyone feeling involved in the company, brand & help them be great ambassadors for the company.

Good topics are:

  • New products
  • New staff
  • New facilities
  • Charity & community work
  • CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Events
  • Awards


  • If you are not sure if something is a good story – Google it & see if anyone else has promoted something similar.
  • If you have favourite publications make sure you read through some recent issues and check what types of stories are popular & what format those stories take.


Travel.....My Tips

Being a mum can turn into a huge list of stuff to feel guilty about. Being a working mum adds to this list for many ladies and I’d love to encourage you to ditch the guilt once and for all. We are all doing the best we can aren't we? Yes we are...


I love to travel and to meet people. It’s something I still do as part of my job despite 3 small people being at home. For me it's an important part of my job, and yes when I call home I do get a little twinge of guilt for leaving them behind but I think it does us all good. I make the most of my time away to have some space to think about work and home stuff and to plan - and I get A LOT of work done. The kids get to cope without me for a couple of days which does them good and helps them be a bit more independent. I feel I'm better when I get home as I've spent a bit of time away refreshing.


But travelling as a woman on your own can be lonely and a bit scary. I especially found this when I started travelling again once I’d had the kids. These are my tips for travel on your own - staying safe and happy.




  • I do invariably forget one small thing at home when I go away (normally to pack my toothpaste…) but I start prep a week in advance with lists, filling the freezer with food and checking the washing has been done (or leaving a note for what must be washed)

  • Make sure everyone knows where you will be and when

  • Make sure everyone knows where they need to be and when

  • Make the most of your time and plan your meetings/ work well


Choosing somewhere to stay


  • As a woman travelling on my own, I do tend to be careful where I stay. I am much happier in a nice environment and you will find your family are happier too. I need Wi-Fi that works brilliantly, flexibility, good locations and an upmarket ambience in case I need to meet client. If you are a regular traveller try staying in the same place as you start to get to know the staff - which makes it feel more comfortable if you are a little lonely. You might get regular stayer discounts too.

  • I recommend https://www.citizenm.com/ They tick all the boxes for me and even don't blink an eye when I walk around in bare feet to get my coffee early in the morning….


Take some time out to refresh (and have some fun!)


  • Make the most of being away and do take a little time out to refresh and relax - you know when you get home there will be a HUGE list of jobs to do so take a breather in between meetings (and you get to watch what you want on TV for a night too)


Enjoy your time away!


Everything You Say And Do Is PR

I went to a great awards dinner last week, but I do admit to having witnessed some PR blunders during the evening. Anyone who knows me will know that I like a party and love to chat and meet people. Awards evenings are great for catching up with contacts and clients, celebrating with your staff, and meeting new people. Yes, we should all have a great time - but we also need to be aware that it is first and foremost a professional event and EVERYTHING YOU SAY AND DO IS PR.

I don't like to be a party-pooper (I've always wanted to say poop in a blog - it will entertain my 6 year old)  but there is a time and place for everything. This is my (slightly tongue-in-cheek)  guide to how to deal with awards nights like a pro….


  • If you drink, please be careful! Make sure if you are nominated for an award that you are able to make a great acceptance speech that is short and to the point. It's polite to the organisers and the sponsors to be prepared and thankful. Save your extra beer for after ;-)

  • If you ask someone to attend on your behalf the make sure its someone who will represent your business professionally - they will be remembered as being part of your company

  • Be nice about other businesses, especially competitors. Be generous. You never know when a competitor might become a collaborator. 

  • Not everyone will share your sense of humour - if you are not sure, don’t say it. Or if you can't judge that then use the “if you wouldn't say it in front of your mum - don’t say it in public” rule


Dress up - be glam - have fun - represent your business professionally!


Know Your Worth



A couple of weeks ago I went to a panel discussion organised by the brilliant The Women's Chapter

The Know Your Worth event was hosted by Claire Cohen, Telegraph Women Editor @clairecohen, Emma Sinclair MBE @ES_Entrepreneur, Ann Franke @cmi_ceo, and Hannah Ford @stevens_bolton.

As can be expected there was a fair amount of discussion regarding gender pay gaps but I wanted to find out more about how you can #knowyourworth as an entrepreneur and business owner. These are a few of the gems I picked up on the night: 

- Think carefully about your tribe - there is strength in numbers (if you surround yourself with the right people). Can you have a WhatsApp group with other leaders? 

- Play the social media "game" and create a strong personal brand. 

- Fake it till you make it! Or in my mind, I prefer to have a vision of myself the way I want to be and I "act" that vision if I'm not feeling it - we all have days like that! 

- Keep an achievement log (this is very useful if you are in a corporate environment and want to negotiate pay and promotion).

- When negotiating - use silence. Say what you need to then shut up and let your statement hang, it's very effective. 


How do you #KnowYourWorth ? 

5 Minutes With...

Who are you and what do you do? 


I’m Lauren Chiren, founder of "Women of a Certain Stage."  My personal experience of menopause was a rollercoaster; in fact until I was diagnosed I actually thought I had early onset dementia! I had concentration issues, sleeplessness and I just became very very emotional. It all left me wondering whether that could possibly be normal. Women of a Certain Stage educates organisations and women on all things menopause, provides pathways and programmes that businesses can put in place in order to support their female talent, and also works with women one to one and in small groups to ensure they thrive through this phase of their lives.


What makes you different?  

Because of my own experience, and the sheer mental anguish that coincided with my menopause, I've now got a real passion for helping other women to avoid going through that. I've got background in psychology, nutrition, training, health assessment, stress management and coaching and I've also held senior level roles in industry. All of that means I'm perfectly positioned to understand what it's like to be a working woman in a demanding job, going through peri-menopause. I'm a member of the British Menopause Society and I keep up to date with all the latest information, tools and techniques to manage it. It’s not all about HRT!


If you could visit any time and place in history where/when would you go?

Oh dear...I’m not much of a historian, so I hope you'll allow me a little bit of leeway here. There's a scene I love in the film Rob Roy… do you know the one? Where Robert says to his wife "You know how fine you are to me Mary McGregor." It's set in the 1700’s in the Scottish Highlands, and they're just living off the land and looking after each other and their clansfolk. It's a tough but simple life. The scenery and the simplicity definitely appeal to me.  


What's your superpower?

Blimey - It’s got to be inspiration! I get crazy ideas all the time - like setting up a business to support people through menopause! It may not make sense to anyone else, but if it works in my mind, then I’m up, up and away making it happen. Nothing can deter me once I get going.  A few years back my son became critically ill, so I decided to raise funds for the hospital and challenge myself at the same time. I entered a marathon, even though, at the time, I could barely run to the bus stop. Somehow, slowly, despite having no training at all, I managed to run it.  I was so inspired, and so determined to honour my sponsorship for the hospital that I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up!


What's the best piece of advice you have been given?

If you are not happy with a situation, you have three choices.

  1. Try to change it
  2. Put up with it with a good heart and carry on
  3.  Walk away

It's tough advice for sure, but when you think about it, incredibly powerful.


What book would you recommend and why?

Informed Touch, A Clinician’s Guide to the Evaluation and Treatment of Myofascial Disorders. It's great wee book. I used it all the time when I was a sports therapist and I still refer to it all the time. It’s beautifully laid out and easy to follow and it helps clients to understand why you might be treating a completely different area to the one they came to see you about.