5 Minutes With... Julia Cawte

Who are you and what do you do


I'm Julia Cawte, and I transform people's relationship with public speaking, helping them to get over their fears and to shine when they deliver a presentation or speech.  I work with individuals, groups and teams, and my goal is, ultimately, to enable them to enjoy speaking in front of others.


What makes you different?

I use an integrated approach in my work, so I help my clients to explore and develop many aspects of themselves - mindset, body, voice and energy. I work intuitively from the heart, creating a safe and supportive space so that everyone feels nourished and able to be the best they can be.

I'm trained in drama, so I use a lot of techniques from that to help people to build a strong connection with the audience and to speak with impact and gravitas. I mix these with Qi Gong relaxation techniques - which ground you, and reduce the adrenaline response, and I also work with clients to help them build an empowering mindset. By exploring all of these areas, people are able to walk confidently into any public speaking situation.


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

Rather than go back in time I would go into the future, where women are stepping into their own divine female power. This will be beautifully balanced with male energy so it will be a truly egalitarian society.  


What's your superpower?

I am a Ninja Warrior; small in height, but big in power and presence. I encourage people to step up into their own power, to love the audience and to allow the audience to love them back.


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

A good friend once told me to remember that life is a journey. You just move forward and get on with it - you don't have to have it all figured out in advance.


What book would you recommend and why?

The Purple Cow by Seth Godwin.  It's all about being remarkable and using that to transform your business. It's something we all need to think about these days, what with social media and the ever increasing pace of life - how are we going to stand out from the crowd? It's a very optimistic book really, and I love it for that. The idea is that you really can succeed and compete with the giants, as long as you start with a great idea and carry it out creatively.

Having said that, I think it's easy to spend too much time with your nose inside a book. It doesn't really compare to learning from experience. 

5 Minutes With... Dani Hall

Who are you and what do you do?


My name's Dani Hall and I'm the owner and founder of The Literary Gift Company. which specializes in book-related gifts and its spin-off sister site Present Indicative, which sells academically themed gifts.  We buy some of our products in, but we also produce quite a lot of them ourselves. We often use work by local artists and designers - including my husband, Geoff, who's worked on quite a few of our literary products. I met him while I was working on the till at Waterstones, and now we work together on looking after our 3 children and running the business.


What makes you different?

I’m not sure how different this makes me, but I seem to be good at seeing the big picture and making connections. I have a hyperactive brain and a lot of notebooks full of ideas for products, websites, and DIY projects. I’m currently finishing an M.Ed. for fun, too, although I’m still not sure how I managed to carve out time to do that.


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

I definitely wouldn’t want to back to any time prior to the invention of anaesthetic; that would be crazy. I'm not sure about the exact place but It would have to be a long sandy beach with the right sort of waves, at the right sort of temperature with just enough infrastructure to provide a regular supply of good friends and chilled wine. I’d want something to do though; I couldn’t just sit around... although that does actually sound tempting for a while.


What's your superpower?

That's a hard question. I think I'm good at creative problem solving, but there are still loads of unsolved problems so I can’t be that super at it. I do have the ability to cook the best cheese straws on Earth, so maybe that could be my superpower.


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

Quiet leadership can be powerful. The focus is on action instead of words, which can generate excitement, encourage ownership and develop loyalty in unique ways. Quiet leaders lack something that is stereotypically present in good leaders – an exaggerated ego. When you think “leader,” you may think “loud,” but those two words are certainly not synonymous. Many times the volume comes from overconfidence, a competitive nature and an inherent need to feed the ego.


What book would you recommend and why?

I’d recommend Not Now Bernard by David McKee, just because it's bloody brilliant. There are only a handful of words in the whole book, and yet it manages to question everything you ever thought about anything. It's profound, informative and darkly funny.

5 Minutes With... Allie Astell

Who are you and what do you do?


My name's Allie Astell and I’m a Squarespace and social media marketing specialist. For those of you that don’t know, Squarespace is a cloud hosted web design platform, which enables millions of people to build their own websites or summon help from people like me to build it for them.

 I founded my digital marketing agency, 'Manage My Website'   back in 2009, and we're approved Squarespace specialists and trainers.



What makes you different?  

I would say it's my strong work ethic and high client service standards. Nothing is too much trouble because I genuinely enjoy what I do, and I rarely take a holiday. Does that make me a workaholic? Possibly!

I’m a real people person too, so many of my clients also become friends. 


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

I'd love to have witnessed the Pyramids of Giza being built. I'd be intrigued to see exactly how they did it and what was involved. I share my time between the UK and Dahab, South Sinai, so Egypt has a place very close to my heart. 


What's your superpower?

 Multi-tasking to the extreme! I can be on a phone call, chatting to someone on Facebook Messenger, updating my Accounts, and Googling the best brand of hair oil while eating a Krispy Kreme donut, no problem. 

 I also once went to a Superhero fancy dress party as ‘Tena Lady’ but that’s a whole different story for another time.


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

 My beloved Grandma Hilda, who sadly passed away last year at the age of 95 taught me:

”Never put off for tomorrow what you can do today.”


 "You pass this life once. Enjoy yourself while you're passing.”

 Both of these are philosophies I try to remember and live by every single day. 


What book would you recommend and why?

 My favourite book is definitely ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini, based in Kabul under Taliban rule. . I’ll never forget the first time I read it as I literally couldn’t put it down. When I finished it I felt as though I’d lost a close friend. Highly recommended.

How does PR Fit in with.......Marketing Planning?

Who ate too many Terry's* Chocolate Oranges at Christmas - just me? 

Anyone who has been to one of my talks will have heard me equate your business marketing plan to a chocolate orange. The whole orange is your marketing plan and each of the segments is one of your marketing "aspects". PR can be one of these aspects. Your orange will be unique to you and your business. 

Let's use my business as an example. Much of my work comes from word of mouth so my orange is made up of marketing activities that support that:

  • Networking
  • Visiting industry events
  • Visiting trade shows
  • Social media
  • Blogging
  • Newsletters
  • And 2 PR segments - speaking at events and magazine columns 

If you want to run your "orange segments" past me then get in touch via the email or Tweet me @ASextonPR

*N.B. No one paid me to mention this brand - though they can if they like.....

5 Minutes With... Sarah Skillin

Who are you and what do you do?


I'm Sarah Skillin, and I'm a business improvement, marketing, management and social media specialist.  My company, EquiConsulting, works with businesses and brands in the equestrian industry to optimise their customer experience by using a range of traditional and digital marketing techniques. Working with me, brands can not only enhance their customers' experience (which of course helps them to attract new customers and keep existing ones) but also become more efficient and profitable.


What makes you different?

I think what makes me stand out, in the equestrian world, is that I really do understand, and focus on, true customer experience. Before EquiConsulting I worked with a company called Oracle - a global leader in customer experience. That means I come armed with a lot of techniques and approaches from the corporate world, which are equally useful when applied on a smaller scale within my niche market.


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

That's a hard one! I'm so fascinated with history; it's very difficult to choose. My university dissertation was on the history of crime and punishment so I think I'd most like to visit the Tudor times. Obviously I'd have to be a very rich lady, very much favoured by the rulers...for fear of losing my head!


What's your superpower?

It's got to be speed tweeting - it comes in very handy as part of the ERM social media team!


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

Again, a hard one as there are so many. A previous boss once told me: 'remember tits and teeth, as sex sells.' That piece of advice always stands out; it's applicable to so many things. Well, ok, maybe not the 'sex sells' bit but 'tits and teeth' really does work. When you walk into a meeting for instance - put your shoulders back and smile... and even in dressage - stick your chest out and smile.


What book would you recommend and why?

I love a good dose of Jilly Cooper. I just lose myself completely in all the glitz and glamour. I think out of all her books, Polo is my favourite, so that's the one I'd recommend

5 Minutes With... Bini Ludlow

Who are you and what do you do?


My name is Bini Ludlow and I run Sweet Cumin Indian cookery school and Bini Fine Foods Ltd in Somerset. I teach people of all ages to cook authentic Indian food, mainly from the Gujarat - the region my family originate from. Traditional techniques and recipes are the ones that my Mum and Auntie taught me from the age of 8 (to prepare me for marriage!) so it's real Indian home cooking. It's all about loving the ingredients and not rushing the process.

I've recently expanded into producing a range of home cooked ready-meals, which have already won several national food awards.  They're really taking off so that's a very exciting development for me.


What makes you different?

I trained, originally, in textiles and visual design, so I love fine art and fashion and use the same creative flair in my cooking. I love spices, and creating flavorful food with simple ingredients... and I believe in using the best. I think it's essential to support local businesses, and I try to source everything locally, although these days I am growing my own vegetables and herbs to 'grow my own curry' from scratch. I know it's going to be a challenge however I want to see what can and can't grow. There is nothing better than picking my own vegetables to use in my cookery school.

Personally I'm very positive and passionate, so when I set a goal I really go for it! I always see the good in other people too, as well as in life, and I enjoy seeing others succeed.


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

Leonardo Da Vinci fascinated me as a child; he was so inventive, creative and artistic, and hugely influential in so many of the arts and sciences. I'd love to go back to fifteenth century Italy and work alongside him as his apprentice.


What's your superpower?

I am the invisible woman. I can go to places without being seen. I'm a petite person anyway, which helps...


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

I think the best piece of personal advice I've ever had was that your school days are the best days of your life, so you should enjoy them.As far as my business goes though, the best advice has been to plan all of my days and have a detailed to do list; crossing items off as I go along. Completing that makes me feel really fulfilled.


What book would you recommend and why?

Long road to freedom by Nelson Mandela. It's a really inspiring book, which reminds us that we should be strong and stand up for our beliefs.

5 Minutes with... Stephanie Betschart


Who are you and what do you do?

I’m a solution focused hypnotherapist and mind-body therapist, and I help people get back into the driving seat. People come to see me because they’re stuck in some way, or don’t feel like themselves:  Like the artist who wasn’t able to enjoy art anymore, the woman who felt lost when the kids left home, or the young adult struggling with moving away to uni.

Solution focused dialogue helps people to imagine how life would be without the current block or illness, and starts the process of moving forward into the future, rather than delving into the past for the cause. I believe we all have the ability to make changes to our lives and be resilient - we just need a hand sometimes, and that’s where I come in.

With hypnosis I can bypass the conscious mind, remove barriers, and embed the client’s vision, so their natural resources and abilities can start to come forward and help them to realise it. I use other tools too, like resilience training and mindfulness. And I give them homework!

I love my job.  I love to see people getting back to their own truth and growing from that healthy place.


What makes you different?

I’m a Buddhist. I was ordained into the Triratna order in 2009, at a mountain retreat in Spain, although I’ve actually been studying Buddhism and practising meditation for 22 years. I practise Qigong too, which coordinates body posture, breathing and meditation and I’m training to become a teacher.

Oh, and I’m French, so I occasionally have French clients. It’s a stretch out of my comfort zone, but I can do the session in French if needed!


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

I know this is going to sound trite and boring, but I’d choose right now. To be really and fully present would be completely amazing and liberating, especially if I was sitting by a lake with some trees!

For us women, this is the best time in history. We have more rights now in Western Europe than we’ve ever had, although of course there’s still progress to be made. It would be great to go back to the Buddha’s time, hear him teach, and hang out with him, but I’d have to be a man to do that.


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

To breathe from my lower abdomen. To be honest, at first, I thought it sounded a bit naff - certainly not an earth shattering revelation. But even though it may sound easy, if you don’t know how to breathe properly it affects both your physical and mental health. Back then I was a constant nervous wreck, partly because I used to breathe up in my chest. Now I feel much calmer, much more myself. Grounded, you might say.

I’ve since found out it’s because deep abdominal breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which controls the ‘rest and restore’ function of the body. And that’s where we should be functioning from most of the time - unless we’re being chased by a tiger!


What’s your superpower?

My superpower’s silliness, and people in the know have confirmed that.  At work it manifests itself through lightness of touch and a good sense of humour. It helps my clients not take themselves too seriously. It’s helpful when I work with teenagers too, and I usually give them really silly homework; then it becomes fun for them to engage in their own growth. 

When I channel it in a more serious way, my silliness lets me be creative and even take more risks in my hypnosis and trance work. Then I can give my clients a space to explore those qualities in themselves.


What book would you recommend and why?

My favourite book is “the little prince” by Antoine de St Exupery. I grew up with it, and it’s a wonderful book full of wisdom and innocence and beauty. It’s bound to warm the heart and make you smile and wonder


5 Minutes With... Regina Carbonell

 So who are you and what do you do?


Along with my husband, Ryan, I own a non-binary fashion brand called Milk Originals. All our clothing is unisex and our mission is to change the social vision of gender roles through fashion.

All our lines feature Ryan's artwork. In fact, one of the reasons we started the company in the first place was to prove to him that he was 'good enough.' That was in May last year, and we're already worth £3 million! We're looking for more investors at the moment, so we can open a showroom in Miami. Ryan is evolving as an artist, getting better every day, so we're really going from strength to strength.


What makes you different?

Both Ryan and myself are gender fluid, which means that we don't believe in assigned gender roles. We think people should be able to dress however they feel most comfortable and be socially accepted that way. Everything the company does reflects that ethos so, for instance, we work with a gender equal manufacturer in India, and we're an LGBT friendly company.

We are passionate about society and about equal rights; In fact the name, MILK, stands for Meaning In Living Kindly. It's the way we run our company and the way we live our lives.


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

I think I would like to have lived in England in the Victorian era. I would have probably have been a romantic writer like Shelley... or maybe an adventurer. Mind you, if I'd ended up in the U.S I might've been burned at the stake. What can I say? I'm just too much of a feminist!


What's your superpower?

If you asked Ryan he'd say it was mind reading! I think it would be emotion related as I easily pick on other people's emotions and understand them. I'm pretty good with animals too.


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

When I was a teenager my Mum told me that my problems would follow me wherever I went. I couldn't run from them, so I should deal with them, and that the best way to do that was to love and know myself. It seemed like grown up crap at the time, to be honest, but now I recognise it's one of the best bits of advice I've ever been given.


What book would you recommend and why?

I've got two really. The first is Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. I read it when I was 12 and it helped me to keep a child's view of the world. I love Jostein Gaarder; his books make you think about life and the world and the way people live their lives. I'd also recommend Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. It really helped me to change my views on finances and money.


5 Minutes With... Kayleigh Steadman

Who are you and what do you do?


I’m Kayleigh and I’m the director of KayleighAlexandra Ltd. I’m a high performance coach for business owners – I work with clients to help them significantly grow their business in a way that supports and enables their ideal lifestyle.

What makes you different?

I think what makes me different, as a business coach, is my focus on lifestyle and work-life balance for my clients. I do help them to grow their business and earn more money but my primary concern is making sure they build a business that supports and enables them to live the lifestyle they really want. I don't want them to miss out on it because they're so busy working.


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

I’ve always been fascinated by Tudor history so I’d probably go back to the reign of Henry VIII to experience life at court. I’d like to meet Catherine of Aragon because she was a strong, female leader who was trusted to act as Regent and command the army in the king's absence. I’d also be fascinated to see Anne Boleyn come onto the scene and change English religion and politics. I’m not sure I’d want to stick around too long though – I imagine the smells would be pretty bad, and there seems to be a pretty high chance of getting beheaded!

 What’s your superpower?

I’m a master planner! I’m a really goal-oriented person and ever since I was a kid I have always (weirdly) loved to plan. I think it's because I’m also a bit of a dreamer so I love to imagine how it’s all going to play out. I’m really great at taking a big goal or project and breaking it right down into a clear, specific action plan. I have “project plans” for almost every area of my life, which baffles my boyfriend, but for me, when I make a plan I really tap into my creativity. It really calms me down, too, so it's my “go to” if I need to chill out and be happy. It also means that I track and record most of my key actions, which I love, as I’m continually looking for ways to refine how I do things.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given was by one of my mentors when he advised me to go into coaching. I was working on a different business and not feeling particularly passionate about it, and he just asked “Have you ever thought about doing what I do? I think you’d be great at it” That changed the whole course of my career - It was my lightbulb moment. I realised it’s exactly what I wanted to do and within a month I’d shut down my previous business and moved into coaching. I've never looked back.

What book would you recommend and why?

That's a tough one - there are so many! One of my favourites is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy. It’s packed with lots of great strategies and advice for achieving your goals, and there’s a lot of synergy with what I teach my clients around high performance. I’m a firm believer in small, consistent changes in behaviour that layer up over time to create your desired outcome. The book talks about that a lot, as well as the importance of measuring where you are right now. It's much easier to see the impact of change if you know exactly where you're starting from.


Digital and the PR Industry - thoughts for the coming year

On Thursday evening I attended the Bristol launch of the PRCA Digital PR and Communications report


An interesting look at the current digital trends and the likelihood of new trends for 2018.

What was clear was PR agencies need to keep on top of digital trends and be able to offer digital content as part of the overall PR mix.

I maintain that my background in strategy and "traditional" PR is helpful as it provides the skills to oversee a whole campaign from all angles. Bringing in young digital talent to my agency has been a priority for the past 6 months and has been the right thing to do.

"Agencies have seen a general rise in their usage as content-creators this year. The purchasing of video-based content has risen by 10% to 13%. The purchasing of image-based content has risen by 5% to 11%; and the use of text-based content has risen by 7% to 11%.

The other leading services clients purchase from PR and communications agencies are social influencer outreach (13%), and paid social media activity (13%)."

One of the surprising stats from the report was the apparent decline in Instagram usage - I know the PRCA will look into this as in the room on Thursday night most of us disagreed with that stat. The announcement of potential  alterations (again!) to Facebook for businesses might alter this hugely in the next 6 months. I'm looking forward to seeing the 2018 results already! 


My social media tips remain the same: Decide why you want to use social and use the channels that will reach your customers strategically. You don't need to be everything to everyone.....

5 Minutes with... Robyn Harris

Who are you and what do you do?

I'm Robyn, and my work is all about energy, and its relationship to wellness. I work with two types of clients - Horses and their owners (well, any animal really, but horses are my main passion) and women who are suffering from stress and overwhelm.

I help the horse owners to explore their horse’s physical and emotional needs, and address any issues they might have, which improves the owner's wellbeing as well as the horse's. It deepens the human-horse bond, too, and helps the person to become more aware of his or her own health and self care.

I help women to reconnect with their decision-making power and discover that they have always had choices. It’s wonderful to see them step out of their shell and into their authentic Self.

It all came from the realisation that my own career was making me ill - I was running a successful sign language interpretation business at the time - so I looked around for ways to support my own wellbeing, and now I want to share what I learned.

What makes you different?

I'm a practitioner in META-health, an analytical tool that's used to identify the original cause of a dis-ease, so the person can find ways to address it and allow their natural healing processes to function. It's quite different to a lot of western health systems which focus on symptoms and how to reduce them, rather than removing the original trauma. I combine this with a range of therapies including EFT ('tapping'), Reiki / Energy Healing and some nutrition and lifestyle advice. I'm the only person I know that offers that particular combination.

In my work with horses, again, I don’t know of anyone else doing quite what I do - energy healing / reiki, nutrition and horse care advice, workshops and soon, equine massage. I love seeing the horses and owners become even closer and start to work more effectively as a team.

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

Ooh - that’s a tough one - too many to choose from!  I'd probably visit the Native Americans sometime in the 1700-1800s, to learn more from them about their relationship with our amazing planet and the plants and animals that share it.  I’m fascinated by the many health benefits that are available to us from the Earth's natural resources.

What’s your superpower?

Energy.  It's what I work with every day.   I’m a strong believer in this quote from Einstein:

"Holding a peaceful energy and vibration encourages everything else around me to vibrate with that same energy.  This in turn allows the body to come out of ‘fight / flight’ and into ‘rest & repair’ - the parasympathetic nervous system - where we are able to better digest our food, repair any damage and recharge our batteries."

Best piece of advice you have been given

Be true to yourself.  Don’t try to be a copy of anyone else.  Allow your own voice to be heard and your light to shine.  That is why the Universe created You.

What book would you recommend and why?

Another toughie - there are way too many to choose from!  These days I seem to read more articles on horse care or on health and wellbeing than I do books, but one book that really spoke to me was Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.  So much of modern life seems to revolve around busy-ness and stress but Tolle is looking at a different way of being in which we can start to let go of fear and anxiety and live with openness and freedom. I'm passionate about the importance of play and I seek to practise the art of Being rather than Doing.  We don’t find happiness by searching for it; we experience happiness by living in the moment and realising that all is well.




Space and Creativity

The need for space for creativity to flourish

Back to school and many a mum is relieved. I'm one of those 'annoying' ones who love the holidays but I do like to get back to my usual routine. Despite my kid's brilliance in the office I find it incredibly difficult to write or create strategy with a full house. This summer has made me realise how important space is for creativity. Personally l like a bit of background noise so I'm happy to work in a cafe or shared space but I have my favourites. There needs to be some physical space between tables and also some comfort - lack of clutter without feeling cold. Temperature is also key for me as I'm distracted by cold feet and get cold quickly when I'm sitting. I often take my slippers around with me.....

10 days ago my dad sadly passed away and again the need for space has risen to the forefront of my mind. Space both to come to terms with the loss and also to carry on with the things that make me happy. 

Writers often say they need to be in a particular place to be inspired but perhaps it's the space they are craving?

Summer Holiday Madness

So it's already August - season of well-earned breaks, fruitful family time, and slight nostalgia. Lots of my 'mumpreneur' friends are taking a back seat this month, and who can blame them? They deserve it! I have to take my clients' needs on board though, as well as my own wishes, so this year I'm combining my busy work life and my quality kid-time.

It's not always easy but it's working out so far. My eldest children take on small tasks in the office, as well as the important job of providing hilarious light relief when they decide to join my Skype conversations...well, somebody's got to do it. Handily enough, they accept Lego as payment, so it's a win-win. It's all about embracing the chaos.

Then, pretty soon, we'll be going into September. A slight wistfulness for the end of the season starts to set in, and of course that 'back to school' feeling. I love it so much, I just want to run out and buy myself a new pencil case - anybody else feeling it? Actually, I'm so organised this year, I've already got mine, and yes, it's a unicorn one. If you know me that won't surprise you one bit.

I love this time of year, this slight pause - it's like a halftime break (except for me, this year, without the break.) Looking back to review the first part - what worked well, what needs to be developed... what I should do more of - or not!  

Plus, of course, there are extra cuddles with the kids to keep me going - and it's great for ice cream!


5 minutes with.....Amy Morse.....

So who are you and what do you do?

I’m a fiction author (with 4 novels published, and counting…) and I'm also a content coach. I work with small businesses on a one to one basis and run workshops to help them find and tell their story in their own words. I call myself an authorpreneur, because I bring my own brand of writer’s razzle-dazzle to business!


What makes you different?

I've had day jobs in training, coaching and business support, but I always harboured dreams of being a published writer...ever since I was a child! I have bucket loads of creative energy but I also have a businesslike mind. It's a rare combination.


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

 I’ve always had a fascination with Tudor England, but I’m not sure I’d fancy going there – too much war, pestilence, savagery and sewage running down the streets!

Maybe I’d hang out with Hemingway in Key West in the 50’s – he had a fascinating life. I imagine he’d have a few stories to tell over a pint in Sloppy Joes Diner; plus, he had loads of cats, and I love Key West. Cats, sunshine, beer and good conversation. What's not to like?


What's your superpower?

I can annihilate negativity with a smile!


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

 There are 2 things my mum told me when I was little that have stuck with me and I try to live by:

1.  Treat other people as you’d wish to be treated yourself

2.  If you can’t say something nice, it’s better not to say anything all. This one I’m less good at, especially when it clashes with the first! I would expect others to be honest with me, and will be honest in return.


What book would you recommend and why?

I could be shamelessly self-absorbed and say ‘The Bronze Box’ – my debut novel and the book that changed the course of my life. I won't though! Instead, I’ll say ‘The Storyteller’s Secret’ by Carmine Gallo. It brings two of my favourite things, stories and business, together brilliantly. It could be my bible!

Contact Amy here

Business Surgery Guest Blog: GDPR - What YOU need to know

Through some work for a new client, KMD Neupart UK, I have recently learned about GDPR and the changes coming next year to data protection laws. If you run an email list or keep any data you need to know about this! 

In this guest blog email marketing experts Winbox give us some guidance.

 GDPR is on its way: a new pan-EU privacy regulation that will have a significant impact on email marketing for small businesses. From May 28, 2018, EU data handling rules are set to change. There will be one set of regulations for every country, requiring written consent (such as an opt-in form) from audiences in order to be able to market to them at all. This consent must also be recorded should any complaints arise, and failure to comply could see firms facing penalties of up to €10m.

You must inform your audience exactly how their personal data will be used before they decide to agree: it’ll be a hard opt-in rather than a soft opt-out process once GDPR comes into effect. It doesn’t only apply to email marketing either - the regulation also covers the use of cookies to track user behaviour on websites. You can read more about what it involves here.

For small businesses, the new ruling has numerous ramifications. For many, it’ll involve a complete overhaul of their existing email marketing operations, changing the way in which they collect and store data. The new regulation will apply not only to future data that’s collected, but also data that’s already held...so while May 2018 may seem like the distant future, there’s no time like the present to start the ball rolling.

This will be one of the biggest shifts in email marketing in recent years: so what can you do to prepare?

Laying the foundations

The Information Commissioner’s Office has confirmed that it will publish regular practical GDPR guidance (and signposting guidance created by others), which can be found on their website. In a document entitled “Preparing for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 12 steps to take now”, first published in March 2016, they stress the importance of acting now to ensure that you gain buy-in from key stakeholders, and put in place any new processes needed for compliance. Their 12 steps include:

  • Raising awareness of GDPR amongst decision-makers

  • Organising an information audit: the data you hold, where it came from and who it’s shared with

  • Checking that your current procedures cover all the data protection rights that individuals have

  • Having the right procedures in place should a data breach happen

It may seem like hard work, but it’s well worth it. By changing your processes early and cleaning up your current mailing lists to comply with GDPR, you’ll not only save yourself a job (and potential fines) down the line, you’ll also ensure that all new data you collect will adhere to the new regulation.

You may worry that adopting this double opt-in process will deplete your mailing list...but remember, good lists are about quality, not quantity. Data from marketing automation software firm CommuniGator shows that opt-in click through rates reach 37%, demonstrating that a more qualified audience is the way forward...and we’re sure you’d far rather have an engaged, relevant database over a €10m fine.

The build-up to the GDPR launch in May 2018 begins now. There’s no time like the present to start building your permission-based opt-in list, adapt the way in which your data is collected and stored, and have a clear plan of action in place. Data has never been more important: it’s time to ensure that everyone in your organisation agrees.

Time Tracking; Part Two

Some of you will know that I've recommended the books by Laura Vanderkam in the past. They really help me juggle my life and loves. But just when you think you have a routine sorted, everything can change.

What is plan A one week isn't going to work for ever. I've become flexible at being flexible and time tracking helps that.
The year has started really well for me and busily - it can be really easy to feel like you are on a treadmill that won't stop. You have to purposely stop it and take a breath.
Currently I am writing this early in the morning whilst the house is quiet having just done some work on a press release. Last night I took myself off to a race (running!) and it was a nice night off for me. I used to feel guilty for taking time out but now I'm better at nurturing myself self in the knowledge that I can take a few hours out for me and make up the time later. There are 168 hours in a week after all. I get to choose how to use them.
The only thing I have to make sure of is that I plan ahead what work I am doing in each of my work time slots - then I use my available time to its maximum.
Now I'm off to read Running Fitness....

Thank You 2016!

Its taken me a few weeks to come up with the right words for this....here goes....

I have a lot of friends who will be glad to see the back of 2016 - for good reasons. Severe illness or losing loved ones is tough. You know who you are and I really hope that 2017 brings you some much needed peace. Life throws all sorts of “stuff” at us, it's what it is all about, and luckily most of us are blessed with friends who will help us through.


For me I am thankful for 2016. It really was a year of learning for me. I pushed myself beyond what I realised I could do and that gives me great confidence going into this year. Not only in a professional sense but also personally. From a work point of view I have the confidence to walk into a situation that pushes me and my abilities and to embrace the opportunity it gives me. OK it’s hard - but that's fine by me. From a sports perspective I am very lucky to be involved in a fantastic running club. Dursley Running Club I love you! After a life in professional equestrian sport to find another sport that gives me as much fun and pleasure is amazing for me. It so refreshing to once more set sports related goals and even to overcome sports related problems that come up.  I have done things I never knew I could do and have started to make friendships with some fantastic people who are becoming an important part of my life. We have a shared love of the outdoors and the way that running helps us to make sense of our lives. It's also tremendous fun!


My plans for 2017

Keep it simple

Have adventures

Work smart



Guest Blog - Patricia Pitt - The Business of Dressage


As the year comes to a close, we become reflective.  Looking back I have been relatively successful in my career, starting out as a secretary and moving through first line management to middle management and now reaching the dizzy heights of Director.

Turning to my dressage ambitions, it occurred to me that what separates ‘the wheat from the chaff’ in the equestrian world is a burning desire, a thirst for knowledge, structure and a business-like approach.   This has clearly been applied in my working life but until recent years has been sadly lacking in the approach I took to my riding.   The burning desire was there but no structure.   Success then is a philosophy, an attitude, it’s a state of mind and it is available to each and every one of us.  

So if you want it, but can’t get the leverage you need, here’s some information on business values that can very easily be applied to your approach to your training and help you get the focus and motivation to achieve your riding goals.


Too many equestrians believe that there’s something wrong with aiming to be really successful. You hear it a lot in these days of Classical versus Competition Dressage, the suggestion that somehow, if you strive for competitive success you can’t care about your horse. It’s almost as if being a go-getter is incompatible with being compassionate, socially conscious and a good person! It’s a generalisation and like anything that tars everyone with the same brush, totally untrue.



How many of you believe that success requires you to revolutionise your riding?  That’s a scary thought. No one wants to make massive changes to the way they think, feel and behave. Human beings love staying within the comfort zone. But guess what? In my work I’ve realised that lasting personal change does not require you to turn your beliefs upside down. The best way to achieve results is through small continuous steps. Baby steps. A little at a time.



One of the primary reasons that people fail to achieve their goals is that they try to be too many things to too many people. The most successful human beings are wildly focused. They have a very clear picture of what it is they want to create and then they have the discipline (and courage) to stick to their mission – saying ‘no’ to everything that is not ‘mission critical’. So my suggestion to you is to simplify. Strip away all that is unimportant, these are the things keeping you from getting to your dreams. And then once you do your clean up, focus, focus, focus. You’ll be surprised how good you will then get.


One of the primary traits of world-class performers (in business and in Dressage) is that their success does not come by luck, it is by the ability to ‘detach from the noise’. Each day, ‘noise’ such as little crises, minor interruptions and interesting distractions beg for our attention. To get to your own unique form of greatness it’s important – no, essential – to detach from the noise and stay ‘on vision’.



You’ll never know if you don’t even try. There is giant power in asking for what you want. All too often, our internal chatter prevents us from taking the steps needed to get us to where we want to be. My partner Mark Bentley could barely keep his feet in the stirrups let alone trot a circle when he asked a world class elite Olympic rider to train him.  The best of the best, those who live the dream – ask like crazy.  The more you do it, the easier it gets (like any skill). And so they ask. For the support and help they need. Nothing happens until you ask.

2017 is looming large and many of us will all be looking to either continue our good work with our horses or find some renewed vigour in our training.  So, why not think BIG? Stretch yourself and go for it!  Here are some more great business leadership ideas that you could help you find your personal greatness as a rider.



Fear is scary, right?  When it surfaces our instinct is to run away, avoid and consider it as a bad thing. But why not try to think of it as an opportunity, a gift really.  What if, the things that scare you are spectacular opportunities to discover more about who you are meant to be?  Overcoming your fears leads to confidence, self-respect, helps promotes growth and makes you better – at everything!


The very nature of dreaming big dreams and stretching yourself beyond the norm is dangerous in the sense that you leave the place where you feel safest; you leave your comfort cocoon you will, without doubt, fail more!  But part of winning is the failure you experience on the way.  Your big dream means you risk more to reach your peak in performance.  So when you fall (metaphorically), get back up, dust yourself off – and off you go again enroute to success.


Every second you spend thinking about what you don’t want is a second denying focus and energy from getting what you do want.  Why worry about what’s not working when you could be creating what will work.  Stop reflecting on the disappointments of the past and look to the possibilities that the future holds. Your thinking creates your reality; your thoughts form your world.  Why? Because you will never act against your thinking. Every action is the offspring of your thoughts.


I love what the co-founder of Google famously said: “Success will come from simplicity.” It fits with the ethos of The Crystal System Book.  Most riders struggle with the complexity of what they need to do; more conflicting instructions; more and ever complicated explanations; more flowery speak.  The best riders can see through those that try to impress with ‘techie talk’, the best riders understand what it is they are aiming for and do fewer but smarter things to get there. They get wonderfully focused and try in every endeavour to get to the heart of the matter, discarding any unnecessary chaos along the way.


 Do you have a lust for learning? The cure for aging that actually works is called lifelong learning! To be a perpetual student really helps you to stay young forever, at least in your thinking. Dressage is a lifelong lesson, there is no final destination.  The best riders have boundless curiosity and open minds and this allows them to work with a childlike sense of wonder. They read and research constantly. They understand that everyone they meet knows at least one thing that they don’t. So they ask good questions. This passion makes them a sponge for learning.

·         Have you stopped improving? Success is seductive but it can make you complacent and inefficient and stale. Too often, once a person gains a modicum of success, the very things that created that success get neglected. The best riders have a hunger to make every day better than yesterday. They are relentless in their pursuit of improvement.

·         Is your Health your Wealth? Most of us take our health for granted. That is until we lose it and if we do, we spend 24/7 trying to get it back. Getting into world-class physical condition will make you more creative, energetic, focused, happy and a better rider!


I’ve heard it said that adversity introduces us to ourselves. When faced with difficulty, obstacles and stumbling blocks we get to see what we are made of. We get to see our strengths and our weaknesses. Hard times always pass but they serve us so well, they deliver wisdom and teach us understanding. As you navigate your way through these difficulties what should you be asking yourself?  Well, here’s the BIG question …


“What is The Lesson Here?” - Draw on your setbacks to make you more knowledgeable, better, wiser.



 You may not know how powerful you are but each and every one of us has so many more choices than we can currently see. We see the world not as it is but as we are. Most of us are looking through the eyes of our fears and our limiting beliefs and our false assumptions.


As you think about your limiting beliefs, you’ll see that they are not the truth but they are opinions that you have adopted and if you question those assumptions, you’ll realise that so many of them are just not true or real!  Allow your mind some expansion room, the possibilities are endless.


Patricia Pitt is an award winning blogger from Huntington, Staffordshire, U.K.



Known as The Dressage Tipster on facebook, in her blog at www.likecrystal.com she regularly shares her thoughts gleaned from her research into why becoming truly skilled in the art of dressage is so elusive to so many riders.  Her book, The Crystal System attempts to unravel these mysteries.  As you read, you will, without doubt, have several Eureka moments, when you recognise that your heroic efforts have been hindering you; you do not need to work physically hard; the work comes from activating your brain and by keeping it simple.  Through questioning and exploration of what you do, the Crystal System will allow you to identify, develop and mould your own system of training as your learning and experience grows. Highly motivational, sometimes humorous book, written in an easy and understandable style.

 Buy at http://likecrystal.com/book-purchase/

Why Injuries Can Be Good.....


And how to overcome setbacks…..


I’ve recently injured myself through running. It’s the first time I’ve had a sports injury like this and after finding the initial week frustrating, 3 weeks on it’s still pretty tough.

Have you ever noticed that when you can’t do something for a while, you discover the real reason why you wanted to do it in the first place? Just a few days of not running and I find my “why”. I don’t care about races and times; I run to find space and peace. And now I’m missing that.

Just as I was feeling really crummy a friend who I really admire posted on Instagram about overcoming unexpected setbacks. Thank you Kim Ingleby!

What’s great about this list is you can use it for any setback - ones at work or in daily life as well.

This is what I have learned,....grab yourself some paper and a pen….


  • Write down what happened.

  • Why did it happen? Overtrain, not enough rest? Not enough good fresh food?

  • What can you learn and adapt to do differently?

  • What is your best recovery plan? Realign the next 3 months and give yourself mini challenges to do each week to keep your focus (and most importantly for me to keep my brain happy).

Massive thanks to Kim and hopefully I will be back up and running before the end of the year.




Tracking Time


I’ve just been through the process of tracking my time following the books of the brilliant Laura Vanderkam (168 Hours and I Know How She Does It)


I tracked my time a month ago when "middle child" had just started school. I logged what I did for a whole week in 15 minute intervals. Try it, it’s fascinating – you can download a copy of it here; http://lauravanderkam.com/books/168-hours/manage-your-time/


The first week I tracked was heavy with kid’s time – looking after, school and nursery run and all the associated house time that goes along with it. It was actually quite scary to see how few hours I had available to work that week. I know my time is precious but it’s made me realise how much it is. As it was a week of new things with new school and new routines for everyone the process made me look at my personal routine and my priorities. I also had to go through a process of lowering my standards in some ways – cutting myself some slack during the time of change. I had to become happier with less. This really helped as if I tried to carry on in my previous level of workload I would have got disheartened due to “not achieving” everything I wanted to.


Now we are in our new routine, I am tracking my time again. This week I am in the office more and the rest of the time is the usual jumble of kids and house stuff. All pretty good but I need to remember to put pauses into my day so that I don’t get frazzled.


This is what I have learned:

-          Time is precious, use it well

-          Follow your natural energy – are you a morning person? Then do the more important tasks then. I am a morning person but at night I am happy to sit with pen and paper and map out articles and projects. I don’t like to go near a computer in the evening – it stresses me out! If I have important work to do and I’m too busy in my core office hours, I’d rather get up early before the rest of the family.

-          Get plenty of sleep. I need lots of sleep and I know I have to go to bed early.

-          Add in some time for you. I like reading crime novels. I make time for this. I also like to run. I get up early to do this on busy days but if I get chance to get out at lunchtime it’s a great way to re-energise.

-           Use afternoons well. It’s not my best time energy-wise. I have carefully to plan organised tasks to complete otherwise I waste that time.

-          Everything else is a bit of a muddle but it’s a happy muddle and fairly organised. I write everything down to make it easier. 


Let me know if you try tracking time yourself.