Transformative, immersive, revolutionary – what’s your experience with colour?

Transformative, immersive, revolutionary – what’s your experience with colour?

Continuing the theme of colour and its subconscious impact on our lives – physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and on our environmental wellbeing – last week I visited an amazing company in Soho called MyCoocoon. For those that are not familiar, MyCoocoon are experts in colour wellbeing products and they design bespoke colour experience solutions. Based on chromotherapy (wellbeing, light and colour therapy), and aimed at relaxing and re-energising, they combine ancestral beliefs with cutting-edge technology. I appreciate that for some people who are unconvinced of the impact colour has on our lives this may seem a little ‘woo-woo’, but for me I was like the cat that got the cream, all my Christmas’s had come at once. 

Speaking with Valerie and her team of colour experts was incredible – I knew I had found an inspirational group of people that were speaking my language. For years I’ve had a fascination with colour, its energy, it’s vibration, and its subconscious power to influence our mindset, our heart rate, our decision-making power and even our body temperature. My approach and interest is quite holistic covering all aspects such as nutrition and the food we choose to put into our bodies, clothing and how we choose to dress on a daily basis, interior design and how we choose to decorate our homes to nourish and nurture our souls, business and how we choose to create a brand and identity for a company, its products, and services. 

Whether we like it or not, the colours we choose to feature and be present in our lives say a lot about us. 

A fully immersive experience – Spectrum Yoga Meditation 

From my experience, the only way to understand the power and influence of the MyCoocoon approach to colour is to get inside a Pod for a 30-minute meditation. There are no words to describe it… immersive certainly doesn’t do it justice, it’s more like embodiment through every fibre of your body and beyond.  

Whilst laying in the Pod, with a blanket over my body to keep me comfortable, I place the headphones over my ears, the pod is lowered so I’m literally cocooned inside, the ‘play’ button is activated on the tablet, and then I hear the relaxing voice that will guide me during the meditation and talk to me through the experience so I receive the optimum benefit.  

Slowly and gracefully the transformation begins. My body and my mind are immersed in key colours in a pre-determined sequence. My eyes are closed but the intensity of colour makes me feel like I’m absorbing it through every part of my body.  Being a yoga meditation, the colour sequence follows that of the Chakras (red, orange, yellow, green, light blue, indigo and violet). What surprised me most is that as I’m lying there I’m transported to a completely different world – almost like an outer body experience. Some of the colours are so intense it’s like you become part of them, fully absorbed and almost living in them. They are not just present in front of my eyes, they occupy my body, extending past the ends of my finger tips and toes – the intensity, vibration and energy overflowing every aspect of my being – truly transformative experience. 

Feeing curious? I actively encourage you to find out where they are next exhibiting and experience it for yourself. There are various methods – the Pod, the Cloud, the Immersion Wall and Energy Hub. 

Let your senses come alive 

Designed to cater for each of our five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch – the colour passport gives insight into how we can engage our senses. Did you know for example that our sense of smell increases when it gets dark? Why – because our sight is reduced another sense is naturally amplified. 

Feel rebalanced when taking time for yourself with purple 

  • See a lavender field, listen to the birds and the bees, smell the scent of lavender, taste a blueberry and touch amethyst to relieve stress  

Feel peaceful with blue 

  • See the sky, hear the sound of the wind, smell the scent of a geranium, taste elderflower and touch lolite to inspire creative self-expression 

Feel and project yourself to be successful with turquoise  

  • See the sea, hear the sound of the waves, smell the salty water, taste old fashioned lemonade and touch topaz to enhance your communications skills 

Feel balance with green 

  • See a forest, listen to the rustling of leaves, smell the scent of cedarwood, taste a kiwi and touch peridot to open your mind and gain clarity 

Feel optimistic with yellow 

  • See the sun, hear the sound of energy, smell the scent of bergamot, taste a grapefruit and touch citrine to cleanse your mind and regenerate 

Feel happy with orange 

  • See a sunset, hear the sound of joy, smell ylang-ylang, taste a carrot and touch cornaline to bring positive energy 

Feel connected to the earth with red   

  • See a fire, hear the crackle of wood burning, smell the scent of sandalwood, taste a tomato and touch red jasper which helps control our emotions 

Feel connected to love with magenta 

  • See a rose, hear sounds of love, smell the scent of the rose, taste a strawberry and touch rose quartz which symbolises love

From stimulating energy and encouraging self-confidence, to activating our memory and calming the nervous system, the benefits of colour to our wellness and wellbeing are endless.

What colour would you say reflects your personality the most?

Influencer Marketing – the do’s and don’t’s from specialists in their field

Influencer Marketing – the do’s and don’t’s from specialists in their field

Last week I joined a networking event hosted by the Surrey Blogger Collective. A totally new event for me as my usual stomping ground is London, but in recent month’s I’ve made a conscious decision to connect with entrepreneurs in the great boundaries of our wonderful capital. Why? Because there’s so many inspirational people out there living incredible lives, establishing new career paths, that in previous years were unimaginable. 

The rise of the influencer  

With Fatima Truscott, Fashion Journalist and Lifestyle Blogger behind the FT Times hosting, the Autumn Social networking event titled ‘Success Behind The Squares’ presented a fantastic line up of speakers, namely psychologist and blogger Anna Mathur, YouTube Star and Channel Mum SJ Strum, Parenting and Lifestyle Blogger Keely Busby, and Co-Founder and Company Director of Wickerwood, Shirley Leigh-Wood Oakes. 

Here are some of the insight’s speakers shared on the night…

Quality and authority 

Focus on quality and authority, both micro and nano influencers, look at who they are, what stories are they telling, are they stimulating their audiences, and are they real, authentic and honest? Your followers will see through content that isn’t genuine, especially when sponsored ads pop into their feed. It’s essential to engage with your followers… reply, comment, feedback… and have a voice. As consumers, we have a love hate relationships with ads – the lines are becoming more blurred. Do consumers even know or recognise one from the other?

Authenticity 

Write about what you think and be authentic. As an influencer you are the middle person between the brand and the audience, you have a responsibility to have a two-way communication, and feedback audience comments to the brand. Be natural. Be human. Focus on great followers, know your community, and don’t be anything that you are not. 

Recognise your worth 

Know your value and what you’re giving to the brand. Remember brands have a budget to work with so don’t work for free. Be confident in yourself and recognise your worth. We proud of the brands you work with, and work with brands that fit into your lifestyle. Influencers used to be at the end of the conversation, now they are right at the start – for example a real mum showing how a product fits into her and her family’s life, in her home – for a brand this is priceless. 

Be relatable 

Be gentle, relate to your audience, and understand how you connect. Think audience first, how will my audience feel about me sharing this post and be responsible for your representation of a brand. 

Gifting 

It’s been suggested that influencers need to make it known when they have been gifted a product that they are posting. Or do they? It’s not legal, but remember your audience and community want authenticity, so it’s probably best to reflect reality. It’s an interesting question to ask and address as currently celebrities are not subjected to this… so why the influencer? Do you think influencers should write a disclaimer if they have been gifted a product? I’m sure this conversation will continue…

Click and pay 

Platforms and new technology have launched features that make it easy for the consumer to ‘click and pay’ on social, so in theory a follower is only three clicks away from making a purchase. If that’s the case for Instagram, imagine what’s coming for TV?

Use the features available 

Maximise what’s available within Instagram, use all of their features and get familiar with IGTV. Understandably they want to keep users within the Instagram platform and video content is more-sticky; it also helps to increasing dwell time. Embrace the changes and be the early adopter of new features and channels. Instagram TV has vast volume and reach. 

Themed content and frequency 

It’s incredibly useful to have a schedule, not only for your structure, but it also provides a reason for your followers to come back and check in with you. For example, create one themed video a week on YouTube on a Monday – your followers will grow to expect an engaging piece of content from you, so give them what they want. Read the YouTube bible, go to workshops, they will show you how to use the channel and tools available. When picking a theme, stay true to what your content is and stay true to you. Stick to your principles, share what you’re passionate about and know what you are there for. 

Establish your boundaries – Instagram is always hungry, what are you feeding it?

It’s good to understand why you have chosen to use Instagram. It’s also good to know what it’s giving back to you – for example escapism, financial freedom, community, friendship, connection, a place to freely express yourself. With this in mind, know and establish your boundaries, the frequency that you wish to post, and stay healthy. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need to respond straight away, DM and reply to everyone who’s messaged you, follow up and review all notifications… but this can be a challenge and also very time consuming. 

Here, Anna Mathur – psychotherapist, mum, writer and speaker – discusses and shares her thoughts about the pros and cons of being an influencer on Intragram. With 79K followers, there’s potentially a lot of people for her to respond to – yet she makes a point of responding to all of her messages. People are emotionally connected to influencers, however, being a psychotheratist means Anna follows an ethical code of conduct and can’t give mental health advice. 

Without knowing it, people and Instagram will take and take and take, so it’s imperative to know what Instagram is giving back to you. As an authentic influencer our soul is in our content – it’s hard therefore, to hear negative feedback. But there’s always more positive than negative. Be mindful to not base your value on what other people think (they may be having a really bad day). Trolling can also become an issue… so remember to stand strong in your foundations, know you are loved, these are the truths, and know you are enough. 

Moreover, as an influencer it’s not uncommon to get what Anna calls an ‘Insta wobble’ or ‘funk’. She deals with them by taking the pressure off having to post every day. It’s also important to remember that not every post will receive the same amount of likes and that’s OK, not everyone or everything appeals to your audience. People are drawn to authenticity so going back to a point mentioned earlier, be true to you and stick to your principles. Don’t be scared to take a break and don’t filter yourself.

On the flip side of being connected to thousands of people, downtime must also be a priority. Leave your phone in another room so it’s out of reach. Find a balance and do things that fuel and energise you – exercise and doing something physical is really important. If yoga keeps you stable, do it daily or weekly. We need to find ways to reinvest in ourselves to stay healthy. Selfcare (or self-preservation) is essential. Everyone benefits when we look after ourselves. 

Don’t berate yourself for not finishing things… life happens 

To all influencers… some final words for @annamathur – My content enables other people to have a voice. I consider the content that I put out, there’s thought behind it – it is filtered to keep my boundaries in place. I value my family’s privacy therefore I don’t show my husband or my children’s faces, and that’s the right decision for me and my family. I am a professional and I have to be accountable – when necessary I signpost people for help – see their GP, call 111, or call 999. 

When in doubt, ground yourself by putting your feet on the floor. Be grounded in your truth, you are loved, you are doing good stuff (teaching and educating), everything else is just subjective, it’s noise, it’s opinion… 

You can find out more about the Surrey Blogger Creative here. I know I will be attending more of their events in the future. Feel free to come and join me. 

Change your frequency – Connect with colour and vibe with your voice

Change your frequency – Connect with colour and vibe with your voice

For those that haven’t had the privilege of meeting or working with Judith, she’s the founder of ‘Your Whole Voice’, and is a public speaking coach, vocal confidence specialist and sound healer. With a background in acting, she is high energy, extremely inspirational and through her business, is on a mission to transform the lives of over 100,000 million people. From ripple to wave, slowly but surely her voice and vibe is going viral, globally. 

This year started with me participating in a competition hosted by Judith whereby I had to create, daily, a 60 second video following a specific challenge; each video was then shared in a closed group Facebook group with other great people from all over the world, vying for their chance to win the range of prizes Judith had on offer. To my surprise, I won a two-day workshop, to take place in London, that gave all participants the opportunity to explore their voice, and to improve their style of public speaking. I had not expected to be filmed during the training (before and after), but there was a marked difference. It’s incredible what 48 hours can do for your vocal confidence.  

Many of the exercises to explore and gain confidence with our voice stemmed from Judith’s professional training as an actress, she truly understands how to connect with your voice, and to find a natural pace and tone where your audience are able to receive and fully hear what you’re expressing. 

Immersive retreat – sound your voice 

From completing the workshop, I felt compelled to join a three-day sound your voice retreat being hosted by Judith in Sussex, to explore my voice, and sound, further. Just for the record, by now I’m feeling well and truly out of my comfort zone – as a child I had a lisp and a stutter, and to this day I still get stuck on certain words.  At a very early age I devised a strategy whereby if I got stuck on a letter or word, I was unable to speak, I’d deviate and find alternative words that meant the same thing, that more readily came out of my mouth. So, for the retreat, l decided to adopt the approach of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, with the caveat of ‘enjoy the journey, play, and have fun’. 

And what a journey it was – what I experienced over those three days was quite enlightening. From getting up early in the morning and doing silent walks and barefoot yoga on the grass, to sounding on a hill top in a bracing breeze and at the beach with waves crashing in, there’s no doubt in my mind that, for me, being in nature is an essential part of enhancing my wellbeing.

Prior to the retreat I was relatively familiar with chakras, energy and colour, but I had not fully made the connection with sound and yoga, which is strange because I’ve been doing yoga on and off for 20 years – perhaps it never featured as part of the classes.  Either way, as someone who’s passionate about colour, its energy, vibration, and in the business world how it’s highly influential in how we relate and feel about a brand, I was really intrigued to discover this extended knowledge. 

Colour energy – it’s relation to our body and our voice 

I’m going to dive right in… For those that aren’t familiar with what Chakras are, the part of our body they focus on, the colour they represent, and the sound they are associated with, I’ve provided a snapshot overview – in total there are seven.

Chakra – means ‘wheel’ in Sanskrit. A chakra is an area in the body connected with life energy. There are seven main chakras in the body – each is an interface for the flow of life energy. A chakra vitalises a physical body and is associated with interactions of a physical or mental nature… each carries a specific meaning and colour.

Red

  • The theme for the colour red is survival, security, grounding, family and community.  Red is representative of the ‘Root’ and ‘Muladhara’ chakra; located at our coccyx – the sound associated with the Root is ‘Haw / Hore’, and the yoga poses are warrior and tree.

Orange

  • The theme orange is sexuality, creativity and emotional stability. Orange is representative of the ‘Sacral’ and ‘Svadhisthana’ chakra; located by our belly button – the sound associated with the Sacral is ‘Hoo / Who’, and the yoga poses are wide-angled seated forward bend and goddess.

Yellow

  • The theme for yellow is power, purpose, and wisdom. Yellow is representative of the ‘Solar Plexus’ and ‘Manipura’ chakra, is located at our solar plexus just at the bottom of our ribcage – the sound associated with the solar plexus is ‘Hoe’, and the yoga poses are half lord of the fishes, boat and lion.

Green

  • The theme for green is love, healing and compassion. Green is representative of the ‘Heart’ and ‘Anahaha’ chakra; located at our heart – the sound associated is ‘Haah, and the yoga poses are cobra and camel. \

Light Blue

  • The theme for light blue is communication, self-expression and authenticity. Light blue is representative of the ‘Throat’ and ‘Vishuddha’; located at our throat – the sound associated with the throat is ‘Hi’, and the yoga poses are bridge, fish or shoulder stand.

Indigo

  • The theme for indigo is awareness, intuition and imagination. Indigo is representative of the ‘Third Eye’ and ‘Ajna’; located in the middle of our forehead – the sound associated with the third eye is ‘Hay’, and the yoga pose is child. 

Violet

  • The theme for the violet (or white) is spirituality, enlightenment and interconnection. Violet is representative of the ‘Crown’ and ‘Sahasrara’; located just above the top of our head – the sound associated with the crown is ‘Hee’, and the yoga poses are half lotus, corpse and head stand.

Raise your energy

I can’t remember the last time I did a head stand but over the last 25 years I’ve benefitted hugely from practicing yoga – more recently Vinyasa Flow (which focuses on the smooth way the poses run together), Yin (mostly floor based postures held for  3-5 minutes; it may sound easy but believe me it isn’t, however I do feel like a new person at the end of the class) and Bikram (90 mins, 40+ degrees, 26 postures, from head to toe, a full body and mind workout) – now when participating I have this additional knowledge to tap into. 

Speaking of vibe and tribe, synergies and synchronicities this year have been happening with a wonderfully warm frequency – with opportunities crossing my path, introductions being made through my network, new projects I’m being invited to participate in – perhaps the colours I’ve consciously decided to surround myself with and energy I’ve created around me is acting like a magnetic? What do you do to raise your energy?

Digital Detox – Embrace nature, be present, breathe in the fresh air and tune in.

Digital Detox – Embrace nature, be present, breathe in the fresh air and tune in.

Six bikes… Five days… four nights… three great friends… two flights… one boat – and much laughter, amazing adventures enjoyed, and many fantastic memories made. 

In the last few years there’s been a host of press about the ‘digital detox’ – meaning a period of time during which a person refrains from using electrical devices such as smartphones, regarded as an opportunity to reduce stress or focus on social interaction in the physical world’. Spanning ‘Digital Minimalism’ books that advocate a 30-day plan to take your life back, the introduction of voice recognition and virtual assistants that have been reported to discretely push technology into the background of our lives, to some tech platforms and their bosses acknowledging the potential negative impact of tech on mental well-being – to the point that some have built in features to track over use – I’d say it’s a good time to experiment with what taking a digital detox means for you.  

So, in a world that’s ‘always on’, there’s never been a better time to switch off your WiFi, switch to ‘airplane mode’, or simply to switch your phone and other digital devices ‘off’ completely, and be present with where you are, the environment you are in, the people you are with, and to bathe in nature. For me, this meant meeting up with some cycling friends and exploring the Channel Islands.

Guernsey 2019

Going native in the Channel Islands

I’ve travelled fairly extensively over the past 27 years or so, but nothing prepared me for the stunning beauty of the Channel Islands. Not only it is extremely accessible and easy to get to from the UK, a 50-minute flight from Gatwick to be precise, once you get there everything is on your doorstep. From WWII history of Nazi capture, and tunnels and battlements to protect the coastline, to great places to eat locally caught crabs, moules and other seafood, stunning coastal paths to roam, white sandy beaches to walk on, azure seas to swim in – the islander community has a lot to offer people of all ages. 

For me it was real solitude peace and quiet; proper dark nights where you see the stars glow and shine; rosy red sunsets that light up the sky and go on for ever; and the opportunity to spend some quality time with some great friends as they showed me around their native Island of Guernsey and surrounds. 

In five days and four nights we truly packed in some epic adventures, giggle fuelled fun and relaxing down time from work – this included climbing down the 200 plus steps to swim in St. Martin’s Bay in Guernsey before dining on scallops for dinner; mountain biking around Alderney, stopping to explore Fort Clonque and several other battlements, the light house and other sights en route before sleeping on the boat moored to a buoy in Braye harbour (that was slightly wobbly); mountain biking around Sark having scooted the bikes to shore on the dingy; cycling on our road bikes in France having moored the boat in Guilette to pedal around Lower Normandy and through a gorgeous town called Bricquebec; then boating back to Guernsey via Herm, a tiny yet beautiful island that we walked around whilst eating ice-cream and admiring the sandy, shell covered beaches. Whilst on the open water, with the waves and swell swirling up around, you truly get a feel for how tiny we are in the world, it sets a new perspective. 

Creating communities through cycling and sport 

At its core, cycling, a keen interest in adventures by bike (and now boat), and a love of nature, it what formed the foundation of my friendship with Jo and Dan. In the past few years we’ve been on four cycling trips together – we’ve pedalled through the French Alps from Gevena to Nice on the Raid Alpine, ridden the Classic Cols of Gran Canaria, cycled up and down Mont Ventoux a couple of times and around the Verdon Gorge in Provence, and enjoyed the 6 ways in 6 days Tenerife Teide Challenge – all with Marmot Tours. This summer we thought we would mix it up a little, introducing boats, walking and swimming with mountain and road bikes. 

Delight in a digital detox and tune in with nature 

Our world, and our lives – personal, work and social – are increasingly busy and demanding.  In that world, we are constantly ‘on-demand’ by bosses, colleagues, partners, children, family, and often times, if we are not ‘on-demand’ ourselves, we want someone else, or something else (think Netflix, on-demand T.V.) to be ‘on-demand’ for us.  There is rarely a time when our phones and other digital devices are out of reach, as they buzz with notifications to grab our attention. 

Sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to take a ‘digital detox’ to ‘tune in’ – notice I’m saying ‘tune-in not tune-out’ – to what’s really going on around me.  To be present with the environment I’m in and the people I am with, so I enjoy every moment, remaining curious and consciously engrossed in captivating conversation. For me tuning in and being in nature is restorative, it enlightens my spirit and is a must have in my life, as is spending quality time with family and friends – they are all fuel for a happier, healthier, motivated mindset. 

When was the last time you gave yourself the opportunity to tune in and delight in a digital detox? 

A Hattrick of Happiness – Investing in mental fitness, sport and technology… say Hello to MyArkeo

A Hattrick of Happiness – Investing in mental fitness, sport and technology… say Hello to MyArkeo

Nationwide, throughout the month of May, Mental Health remained topical in many publications. The Telegraph explored whether working in the City is bad for your health?, BBC One showed a programme called A Royal Team Talk, which bought together five current or former professional footballers, and amateurs, to talk openly with the Duke of Cambridge about the effects of mental health in sport, demonstrating that mental health is no longer a secret folded away in sport’s dressing rooms, and BBC Two showed the mini-series called ‘Depression and me’ where Alistair Campbell candidly talked about his experiences. 

Moreover, Stephen Moon, Group CEO, Science in Sport Ltd recently shared his thoughts on the challenge’s executives face in dealing with the subject of mental health – his key question being ‘Is mental health the last taboo in business’? – a really insightful read. 

Continuing the theme, locally in Richmond I attended a panel discussion about mental health in sport, hosted by Bella Velo, a south west London cycling club dedicated to women who cycle. The event invited a panel of male and female speakers to talk about their own personal mental health stories following challenging life experiences that have been thrown in their path.

And in central London, The Happiness Index hosted an event at Google called Happiness and Humans – it was truly insightful sharing a day with so many inspirational people and speakers who champion freedom to be human. On a personal and professional level, it’s great to be part of a growing wave of momentum, where businesses and organisations are recognising the importance of investing in employee wellbeing. 

Introducing My Arkeo – Fitness for your brain 

In December 2018 I was fortunate enough to connect with Jana Dowling. A friend, Matt Phelan, had mentioned her and her business idea in a LinkedIn post and I was keen to hear more, so dropped Jana a note to connect directly. 

I’m a firm believer that mental fitness and physical fitness go hand in hand. Yet, at seemingly opposite ends of the scale, whilst mental fitness is less talked about, physical fitness represents a booming global industry of personal trainers, gyms, apps and other wearable technology – all in favour of actively talking about, participating in, and building communities (virtual and in person) to support our physical fitness and to help us achieve our goals.

Which begs the question – What are we doing to support our mental fitness?

From seeding a thought – to seed investment 

Pardon the pun, but a seed was sown when Jana and I first met in person in January 2019. Over recent months it’s been extremely exciting to see MyArkeo preparing to step out of the shadows, and into the limelight. Yes, there are competitors out there, and that’s healthy, but MyArkeo is slowly but surely carving its own path, gaining traction and recognition at every turn. The overall objective of MyArkeo is simple – to empower individuals and organisations to take control of their mental fitness. 

Built from the ground up, on real-life experience of monitoring and measuring her road to recovery post burnout, Jana built a tracking system to give her insight into how her own actions, food consumption, sleep pattern, level of activity – and a whole lot more – influenced and accelerated her road to recovery. Recognising that her tracking system was the KEY component in her own recovery, she wanted to share her system with others – millions in fact – starting in the UK, with a vision to launch in other territories when the time is right. 

In the past six months I’ve downloaded the beta version of the MyArkeo app, used it daily, talked about it to friends and family, fed back on my user experience – as have hundreds of others – delivered a brand and messaging workshop to establish the foundations to build the brand both internally and externally from a marketing and communications perspective, and latterly discussed and agreed seed investment. 

This is a completely new path for me, personally investing in a business. But MyAkreo brings together many things I’m passionate about, namely, sport, fitness (mental and physical) and technology – a hattrick of happiness. I feel extremely privileged to be in a position to invest, to contribute my ideas, and to see the business go from strength to strength. 

So why did I choose to invest in MyArkeo?

  • 9 in 10 UK workers affected by mental health challenges 
  • 48% of employees in the UK have experienced a mental health problem 
  • 300,000 people lose jobs over mental health every year 
  • Poor mental health in the workplace is costing the UK economy about £99bn a year 

MyArkeo – the mental fitness management app, facilitates users to ‘TRACK’ lifestyle habits and symptoms, ‘ANALYSE’ and highlight user pattern and trends, ‘SET TARGETS’ to change behaviour and alleviate symptoms, and to ‘TAKE ACTION’. 

In addition, Jana is an incredibly inspiring individual. Her personal knowledge and experience put her firmly in the driving seat to speak authentically, and her passion and energy for building a global brand and business are unbound. 

Go to market strategy 

There are multiple benefits for businesses and organisations who choose to invest in MyArkeo, namely improved mental fitness, less absenteeism, and higher productivity – so in fact a win-win situation all round – for both employees and employers. 

In addition to those benefits, the MyArkeo app will help reduce the 300,000 people losing their jobs due to ill mental health in the UK, and increase the number of people actively taking care of their mental fitness.

For individuals (B2C) the app presents a simple four-step process:

  1. App – self tracking and analysis 
  2. Data analysis – of your stats over time 
  3. Set targets – around what’s important for you 
  4. Take actions – empowered to make choices that serve you 

For businesses and organisations (B2B) the app presents a three-stage process:

  1. Employee tracking on the MyArkeo app – empowers staff to take control, and facilitates self-tracking and improvement 
  2. Data feedback – view aggregated anonymous employee trends and patterns via a company dashboard 
  3. Training – MyArkeo bring in experts and qualified trainers focused on hotspots highlighted in data feedback 

Jana and her team of experts have developed an ambitious go-to-market strategy, targeting businesses and organisations, cross sector, public and private, with 250+ employees; that are prioritising employee wellbeing, diversity and inclusion; and are looking to invest to further develop their wellbeing strategy.  

What will seed investment be spent on?

Whilst funding rounds continue to secure the £250,000 Jana is seeking to raise, the initial funds will be utilised for app development to build out tech to version 1, to develop UX, and to drive adoption of paid pilots with hero clients and early adopters.

From a traction and growth perspective, with pilots booked with global organisations, NHS Trusts, Financial Services, and Media and Broadcast businesses, and interest from London Sport, the next 12 months are shaping up to be extremely interesting. 

My prediction for the future 

MyArkeo will become the measure of mental fitness and will become a global fitness brand, and the platform will help organisations measure and support staff in improving their mental fitness. 

MyArkeo is so simple to use – it’s informative, it empowers people to make more informed choices about how they support their mental fitness, there’s so much more in the pipeline, and some great features to be revealed in V1 of the app that will enhance the user experience, and provide more insightful data to individuals and organisations. 

I will leave you with a quote:

“Rule your mind or it will rule you”

Horace

You can discover more about MyArkeo here and connect with Jana here. 

Sources

Imagineering – find which way is up and follow your bliss

Imagineering – find which way is up and follow your bliss

Sometimes we just have to stop, look around us, and take stock. As we start a new year many people have asked me ‘What new years resolutions have you made?’ and the honest answer is ‘None’. Don’t get me wrong – I do have goals and aspirations – both personal and professional – but I don’t store them all up with a view to kick-start activity on the 1st Jan to achieve them. 

On the profession front, in 2019 I’d like to continue to work with businesses in the technology and wellness space, create new relationships, and build on those established over the past 18 years or so.  On the personal front, I would like to enjoy many more wild intrepid cycling adventures, bath in the wisdom and nourishment of nature, and embrace the fun, love and laughter of my tribe.  

Discover your Bliss 

Actually, as I write, I’m becoming aware that the Holy Grail is for my personal and professional ambitions to cross paths – that would be bliss, as I would be connecting with friends and colleagues on all levels. 

To reveal my bliss my starting point is ‘What’s important to me – what floats my boat – what am I passionate about?’ – And the short answer to that is to work with people who I find inspiring, who do what they love, and who take care of those around them. Yes that’s right, those who care about their staff and colleagues, both in and out of the work place, and empower people to shine and fulfill their ambitions.  

Wellness and Workplace Mental Health 

With 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year[i]; £6.5 billion being the cost of work related stress to the UK economy[ii]; and 92% of the British population wanting complementary therapies free on the NHS[iii] – there’s never been a better time for wellness and workplace mental health to be taken more seriously. 

2018 has been a big year for employee wellness thanks to events such as This Can Happen that gather companies to discuss their employees mental health. Founded by Jonny Benjamin MBE and Neil Laybourn, the premise of the event is to ‘look positively at the spectrum of workplace mental health and all it entails’ and to acknowledge that ‘mental health affects everyone, regardless of their job title, status, sex, colour, or nationality – we all face the same issues’.

In the last year alone I’ve read many stories about ‘burnout’ and spoken with friends in senior management positions (Founders, Directors) who have ‘hit a wall’ because their focus has not been on taking care of themselves first. So I feel very privileged and blessed to be in a position where all my clients take wellness in the workplace seriously.

If I were to make a nationwide suggestion, I would ask everyone to show compassion to those around them. Not only does it make for a better environment, I firmly believe it’s fundamental to the success of any organisation. It has to come from the heart and works best when the origins are rooted in a companies core values and encouraged in every employee.

Let’s face it, when people feel looked after and cared for, they will give far more than you ever ask of them. Why? Because the feel heard and appreciated for the skills and experience they bring to the table. 

Fire your Imagination

So as we launch into a new year, excited by the plethora of unknown opportunities that we are creating all around us, I would like to share a couple of quotes that made my heart sing…

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” 

Nelson Mandela

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new”

The Good Quote

Sources


[i] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#one

[ii] https://recruitmentbuzz.co.uk/work-related-stress-costs-uk-economy-nearly-6-5bn-each-year/

[iii] https://www.therapy-directory.org.uk/blog/2013/02/14/92-of-people-want-more-cam-available-on-nhs-reveals-therapy-directory/

Intrepid Cycling Adventures – Journey to Ventoux and the Verdon Gorge

Intrepid Cycling Adventures – Journey to Ventoux and the Verdon Gorge

The mountains are calling… there’s a little voice inside my head that’s constantly talking – where to next? Which country has the most compelling draw, is it the panoramic scenery, the rolling hills or simply just the joyful feeling of exploring?

This autumn I had the pleasure of going on a fantastic intrepid cycling adventure. I always like to find a new destination to explore and this time the lure of the Verdon Gorge and Ventoux were too much to resist. So after a few weeks of research, checking the expected weather forecast and speaking to friends, I booked my fourth trip with Marmot Tours, accompanied by a couple of cheeky reprobates aptly named Jet Pack Jo and Dan the Man.

You may be surprised to know that the premise for this trip was to have a holiday, which is where I should probably define, that what a ‘holiday’ means is only cycling four to five hours a day, opposed to seven or eight! And doing 1,500 – 2,000 metres of climbing a day, opposed to a minimum of 3,000 for six days on the trot. 

My flights booked, bike bag packed and trolly dolly in tow… my journey to Provence and the Verdon Gorge was on track. 

Back in the saddle 

Our midday arrival on Sunday 30th Sept allowed for a gentle spin. So with my allen keys at the ready and bike re-assembled – myself, Jo, Dan and some others in our group headed out for a short little leg warmer, followed by a coupe of beers and chat in the late afternoon sunshine. I have to say, this was a great way to ease into our holiday. Here’s how the next six days unfolded…

Heading for the hills…

Day 1 – Saint Maximin la Saint Baume to Moustiers Saint Marie

(98km with 1,494 metres of ascent) – view on Strava

A gentle, beautiful day as we roll through a host of villages – Esparron, Varages, La Verdiere, Montmeyan, Quinson – in the Verdon National Park. Nestled comfortably by the lake side, we stop for lunch – a few of us enjoyed a lovely plat du jour (which comprised a fabulously fresh salad with charcuterie, pan-fried trout with garlic potatoes, followed by a sensationally sweet slice of pecan tart), the perfect set-up for a leisurely afternoon. The rose was good too!

Day 2 – Ride into the Verdon Gorge

(108km with 2,464 metres of ascent) – view on Strava

Verdon Gorge

Today we passed sheer drops and experienced vast vistas as we meander through the Verdon Gorge. We also felt the full force of the Mistral as it rolled and rushed over ridges, for 10km or more as we cycled through the lavender fields – it was actually quite hard to stay upright. More delicious food, local beer and rose are on tap in the evening to replenish stocks for the days that lay ahead. 

Day 3 – Moustiers Saint Marie to Sisteron 

(102km 1,074 metres of ascent) – view on Strava

I absolutely loved today – a few minor undulations and swift descents in amazing scenery. A rambling ride that concluded with a swift peloton swinging around the bends into Sisteron – thank you Jet Pack Jo and Dan the Man for the generous tow. Arriving in the early afternoon permitted a walk around The Citadel of Sisteron to learn some local history and understand more about geology of the land. 

Sisteron – views across the valley

Day 4 – Sisteron to Malaucene and the vineyards of Gigondas 

(120km with 1,468 metres of ascent) – view on Strava

On departing Sisteron I took a slightly alternative route (not intentional), thankfully a fellow rider navigated us back on track. All week the scenery has been epic, yet today it was turned up a notch. Climbing to the top of the Col de la Pigiere (968m) and Col de Macuegue (1068m), then descending through the Gorge de la Nesque was quite stunning; the views are truly something else. Epically expansive evolving hills spill into the distance and revealed glimmers of what was to come… 

I gave a massive thank you the German couple that saved me by refilling my bottles with sparkling water – my saviours in the blazing sunshine. 

Day 5 – Ventoux Double 

(84km with 3,093 metres of ascent) – view on Strava

Malaucene to Bedouin to Malaucene. To be fair I wasn’t intending on making a double ascent of Mont Ventoux (1911m), it must have been the sunshine and euphoria of making it to the top once that made me think, well I’m here, so let’s try the other side. A small matter of three hours later I make it to the summit for the second and final time. 

Tommy Simpson Memorial – it was a hot day

Several others were going for the Cingles Challenge – meaning all three ascents – from Malaucene, Sault and Bedouin. That challenge is something way out of my league but it was brilliant cheering them on as they flew past me at Chalet Reynard. It’s a must to stop at the Tom Simpson memorial.

Day 6 – Malaucene Loop Parc Regional des Baronnies Provencales (95km with 1,420 metres of ascent) – view on Strava

Refuelling once I’d found the group again (I managed to do this ride in reverses – don’t ask)

Today is our last day in the saddle. To be fair my butt is asking for a day off, as are my legs, arms and back – but my heart and head say ‘you know you want to get out there’. And although I did manage to do the entire route in reverse (don’t ask), taking in the Col d’Aulan (845m) and the Cote de Bluye (578m), I did manage to meet my fellow pedal friends for a mouth-watering lunch. 

Other cyclists that day included the Haute Route riders – I don’t think I’ll ever be mad enough to take that on – there were some extremely weary faces passing in the opposite direction. 

All day the summit of Ventoux loomed in the background. It never ceases to amaze me the distance and quite frankly, the incredible terrain we cover when on two wheels. For me, there’s no better way to explore.

I”m a big fan of a panoramic shot

Until next time… a fond farewell!

Without doubt, it is the encouragement; kind words, humour and patience of our guides Gavin and Merve from Marmot Tours that made our trip go smoothly on all counts. As usual, whenever you need them they appear – like magic – out of the heat haze or mist with bananas, banter, jelly sweets, M&Ms, cake, crisps, and most of all a beaming smile. 

I wonder where I’ll explore next?

Jo, Dan, me and the crew
And I made it to the top – TWICE!

There’s a storyteller in all of us

There’s a storyteller in all of us

The more I read, adventures I undertake, and clients I have the opportunity to work with, the more I believe there’s a budding storyteller inside all of us just waiting to find our stage – no matter how big or small. 

Irrespective of our age, we all have previous life experiences to draw on that do, in most cases, teach us some wonderful insights, wisdom and gems to cherish, and on the flip side, show us things we’d rather not experience or want to know for that matter.

As someone who had a stutter as a child, and subsequently went to elocution lessons to iron out the creases, reading and ‘storytelling’ was not something I jumped at the opportunity to do – however I did love having stories read to me, especially when the reader embraced the words and delivered the narrative with energy, pace and passion. In addition, being forced to read pages of books I was studying and to speak out loud in class at secondary school and sixth form was not an activity I relished. 

Delicious delights of the written word 

At secondary school I had a wonderful English Teacher – ‘Thank you Mrs. Turner” – who took the time to show me the delicious delights she experienced with the written word from various authors – subsequently her enthusiasm rubbed off on me. 

To this day, when delivering workshops and presentations, I still get stuck on words that start with certain letters, so have to pause, take a deep breath, and gently rummage through my memory bank to fish out an alternative piece of vocabulary to slot into place – whilst hoping my audience hears a poignant purposeful pause. 

Stir your curiosity – My top 5 reads to inspire new thinking

So decades later, now an enthusiastic reader with a passion for personal development and transformation, keen to continue growing and giving back, which books have inspired me to keep turning the page? Both in paper and digitally on my Kindle…

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind 

Author – Vishen Lakhiani

The founder of Mindvalley, Vishen is widely recognised as one of the most influential people in personal growth. A unique blend of personal stories and cutting edge theories delivered with compassion and humour, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind shares wisdom from interviews with Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington, reveals a 10 point framework for understanding and enhancing our everyday lives, and shows you how to bend reality using consciousness engineering to help you grow at speeds like never before. If you’re looking to accelerate your growth, this is a great place to start.

Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Life

Author – Marchall B. Rosenberg 

When a friend and fellow marketer told me they were reading this book I questioned why as the title seemed quite confrontational. However on doing a little research I discovered that the book is based on the integration of four things – consciousness – to support living a life of compassion, collaboration, courage and authenticity; language – to understand how words contribute to connection; communication – to know when and how to ask for what we want and how to hear others to move toward solutions; and means of influence – which means sharing ‘power with others’ rather than using ‘power over others’. 

If you’re looking to increase your ability to live with choice, meaning and connection, and to connect empathetically with yourself and others to enjoy more satisfying relationships, then you’ll gain invaluable life long insight from delving into this book. 

The Magician’s Way – What it Really Takes to Find Your Treasure

Author – William Whitecloud 

I was introduced to this book when on a course with Natural Success, a business that is run by coach and author, William Whitecloud. I’ve worked with William at various workshops, in London and last summer in Africa on a voyage called the Soul Safari. The narrative of The Magican’s Way takes you on a journey on how to create the success you want to see in your life – by focusing on the end result, and not the process. I’m currently reading this for the second time and discovering new insights.   

Pivot – The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One 

Author – Jenny Blake 

A fascinating lady, Jenny Blake was the co-creator of Google’s Career Guru Programme that shows people how to build on their assets, identify their strengths, bring out their interests and to build on their networks to launch a new meaningful and adventurous career, doing something they love. 

Her book Pivot shows you how to channel your energy to identify new opportunities, to facilitate and transition from your current work environment, and to whole-heartedly take steps to build the next.  If you’re looking to expand and grow, this book will help you discover your next move.

In her own words… 

I LOVE HELPING AWESOME PEOPLE LIKE YOU ORGANIZE YOUR BRAIN, MOVE BEYOND BURNOUT AND BUILD A SUSTAINABLE CAREER YOU LOVE.

Jenny Blake

Daring Greatly – How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead 

Author – Brene Brown 

I was first introduced to Brene Brown when I listened to and watched her very funny and engaging TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability

By means of a brief intro, research professor and author Dr. Brené Brown has written several books having studied courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability, and dispels the widely accepted myth that it’s a weakness. She argues that, in truth, vulnerability is strength and when we shut ourselves off from vulnerability – from revealing our true selves – we distance ourselves from the experiences that bring purpose and meaning to our lives. It’s a fantastic read that encourages you to be courageous, to show up, and to dare greatly. 

On the subject of Brene Brown, I’m looking forward to reading her new book ‘Whole Hearts’ – which is due for release this October.  

When your ears prefer to do the reading 

Encourage your mind to open and be prepared to think differently. Stir your curiosity by checking out some TED Talks – there’s something there for everyone.  

Transformation – the personal kind

Transformation – the personal kind

Serial entrepreneurs and inspirational leaders such a Richard Branson, Vishen Lakhiani, Marisa Peer and Steve Jobs have spoken many a wise word about their learning’s and insights as they’ve grown their respective multi-million dollar global empires; the latter is quoted as saying…

“Follow your heart and intuition. Somehow they already know what you truly want to become.” 

Steve Jobs

My question is ‘How many of us do this?’ – Do we really follow our heart and listen to what our internal compass is telling us?  I’ve often thought ‘Am I on the right path?’ and ‘Am I bringing the best me to the table?’ – When I’m tuned into my intuition, when I’m fully aware and fully conscious, I find it’s almost impossible not to follow it. However, at other times questions arise – do I go left, do I go right, or simply ignore what I’m hearing and plough straight ahead because its what’s familiar?

Follow your intuition 

In many situations throughout my life – both personal and professional – I’ve had a feeling, some may call it gut instinct, others a flash of intuition, that I’ve chosen to follow or ignore in a split second. Needless to say every time I’ve chosen to ignore it, it’s backfired. I was told whilst growing up ‘don’t be selfish – think of others first’ and whilst I value advice, often times it’s not advice that I was seeking, but more to be really heard and listened to. Those who have been lucky enough to experience coaching will know what I mean by this. 

Now more than every it’s so important to follow your intuition, to listen to the whisper that’s inside – I have no doubt that it will lead you to where your heart wants to be and where your passion truly lives.

Insights for everyday 

I’ve always had an active interest in personal development, and during the last four years or so I’ve created the opportunity, and created the time and money, to really invest and explore my curiosity – it’s been an incredible journey to date and one that I know will continue to evolve. 

During that time I’ve come up against some opposition (people who don’t value or understand personal development) and those that have been keen to know more – thankfully the latter has been more prominent; an open mindset certainly generates more insightful and interesting conversations. Fundamentally I guess you can say it’s about finding the ‘essence’ of who we are, through words, thoughts, feelings, images, experiences, and looking at what they create. Similarly you could say it’s about finding a special kind of people – a tribe who share your values and beliefs – who enable you to explore the real you. 

What I do know is that when people can feel you through what it is that you are doing, and creating, it enables a new level of connection and a new level of relationship – the kind of relationship that delivers new insights every day. 

Find our personal brand voice  

Brands are built on visions, values and beliefs – and these criteria can equally apply to businesses as they do to individuals. 

I believe we live in a world where finding our tribe is so much more important than material things that give momentary pleasure. I want to attract people that resonate with me, who share my values, and who believe what I believe – because it makes me feel real and connected. Moreover, I believe people invest in people because of who they are, the stories they tell, the insights they share, and the knowledge they bring to the table – people buy based on what they want to become and achieve. Therefore it’s essential to live in the fullness of your potential and find your brand voice – you’ll find fluid, natural synchronicities start to happen. 

Be curious and inquisitive 

Focusing on personal development and coaching has been truly transformational, so much so I’m now a MOE certified coach. It unlocks our potential, enables us to tune into our intuition, gives us real insight, and helps us to make the right choices on what’s true, and to create what we love in all areas of our lives. 

Having completed an NLP Diploma in January I’m now half way through the NLP Practitioner. Why do I continue to study? Because I love learning, I’m inquisitive about how our brains are wired, and I’m keen to discover and understand a range of tools and techniques to better serve myself, and my clients.

Focus on the end result

When we have an end result to focus on and a goal in mind we’re actively moving towards something that will serve us, rather than moving away from something – be that an environment, person or place – that doesn’t. In this mindset our energy propels us forward, we have a real sense that what we are doing will nourish our soul; benefit ourselves, and also those around us – family, colleagues, friends, neighbours and the wider community.  

Be in alignment with you

We’re way beyond a time where people buy just information or products or services, because they need that information or that product or those services. No matter how good the product or service is, people buy in to people. 

Become more congruent in the way you present yourself both online and offline – be prepared to stand out, because when you are that one person, saying the same thing, in the same way as everybody else, nobody is really paying attention.  

It’s no longer enough just to be awesome at what you do – it’s really about who you are and how you make people feel – this is what people remember; this is what makes you stand out. 

In other words

Give to yourself, be in alignment with you, refocus your energy and create what you love. Leave footprints of love and kindness wherever you go and be the type of person you want to be – shine brilliantly and lead change to a positive future.

Live fearlessly, become extraordinary – Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day

Live fearlessly, become extraordinary – Let’s celebrate International Women’s Day

In celebration of International Women’s day 2018 I thought I’d share my top five things that make me happy. I’ve stumbled across them at different stages of my 44 young years – some of them I’ve known for decades but haven’t actively embraced, others I’ve discovered in more recent years and now feature as a daily practice. Irrespective of your cultural, economic and educational background, or political views, I’m sure some of these will resonate with you.  

Focus on the journey not the destination 

Of course it’s a great feeling to reach a final destination – to be named as a winner for a prestigious digital experience industry award, to be awarded a gold medal at a sporting event (I’m thinking of Mo Farah as he stormed to won Gold in the 10,000 metres at the IAAF World Championship in 2017), and for those that know me and my passion for cycling, arriving at the end destination of a long distance, multiday ride, for example the Raid Pyrenean or the Raid Alpine.

But it’s not just about that mille-second when you are presented with your award, accept your gold medal, or pass the finish line – it’s about the relationships developed, new connections made, unique experiences enjoyed, places visited, conversations participated in, the up and downs, and learning’s along the way. 

The journey is 99.9% of the experience – the destination is the icing on the cake.  

Being grateful – for everything 

There are many benefits of practicing gratitude on a daily basis – from a stronger immune system and better sleep, to feeling more alive and experiencing more positive emotions. Some people create a gratitude jars and write a note on a piece of paper every day, then open the jar at the end of the year to read what they’ve written, making the moments captured more meaningful.  Others write letters to people who have had an impact on their lives to thank them properly. The simple act of being grateful can change your life

It doesn’t need to take much time, just a few minutes every morning or evening, which ever suits you best – I guarantee you’ll begin to see the benefits almost immediately. 

Play – do what you love 

For me this covers all aspects of my life. From being involved with work that I love and that inspires me, spending time with family and friends, making time to do things that I love – just for the sheer fun of it, to investing in personal development to stretch my thinking, and to keep my mind open. 

This quote says it well…

“I was early taught to work as well as play,

My life has been one long, happy holiday;

Full of work and full of play-

I dropped the worry on the way-

And the universe was good to me every day.”

John D. Rockefeller

I’ve made one small amend – you can work out what it is – the word ‘universe’ works better for me. 

Have a goal – and go for it 

Everyone has goals they’d like to achieve. It could be to launch your own business, to take your family on a special holiday each year to experience an amazing part of the world, to be financially independent by the time your 50, to live fearlessly, to handle conflict with integrity.

Some goals can be achieved in the short-term (3-6 months, like passing your driving test), or over a lifetime (like living your life purpose 24/7). The key thing here is to know what you want to achieve – what’s makes you tick, what’s your bliss, what’s your calling? 

Discover and identify your goal or goals, believe you can achieve them and go create.   

Go with the flow – change is good

Whether we realise it or not, we often subconsciously try to control situations to avoid change, or to engineer circumstances to achieve a specific outcome (and avoid change). Yet however I look at it, change is good. When one door closes, another door opens. Be open to change, to new ways of thinking, and new ways of doing things – you may just find change helps you make improvements in your life, and the lives of those around you. 

As the big man from Apple said:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forwards; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future. Believing the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even it if leads you off the well-worn path; and that will make all the difference.”

Steve Jobs