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Collection of Reflections to end week 10 of Lockdown


Smart works is a great charity that aims to link women who are attending job interviews with brand new outfits, a style mentor and a confidence mentor. High impact and immediate. I was just about to  sign up as a confidence mentor for LEEDS when Lockdown happened. I can wait and will pick it up Autumn I imagine.

Meantime I signed in for this virtual workshop “Fashion Club” yesterday to see what’s-what. It was with Josh Wood world-wide high impact hair colourist. Nice offering, reasonable price to sign in. It was less about the hair and more about hearing this man’s journey to a world-wide career. In the latter sense, a great booking as it spoke of humility and self believe driving ambition forward. As well as a fair amount of talent.



Alison and I had the chance to talk to a fast paced, young bright, high impact business this week whose policies and practices with reagrd to their employees was best in class, truly impressive.

One of the things we spoke about was mental health and LEXIT anxiety. All three of us on the call wondered where the numbers would land as in terms of the working population of the UK who were:

1] Happy to be back in the office

2] Nervous at first but adapting

3] Extremely anxious.

In my professional practice I’ve seen most things roughly land as a third a third a third, but with this who knows?

This engaing firm shared they were providing mental health support for returnees which was so welcome to hear. In addition they had already surveyed their teams and had a rough idea of how many people would be wanting to work from home longer term. Some anxiety based but others had really appreciated the chance to work from home and vary their engagement

My guess is that many firms will follow Facebook and twitter in offering the freedom to choose. I hear this morning of a finance firm [Richard Dunbar of Aberdeen Standard Investment on BBC 5 Wake-up-to-Money] whose firm are requiring  home-working till the end of 2020. One would imagine they are a] not alone in finance 2] will choose to continue the practice.


I am vry excited to be mentoring the live and emergent research process of a young Yorkshire based woman who, using her impeccable connections is researching the BAME specific impact of COVID. It is pleasure to support this research theme and this woman whose energy side swipes me on every call. Fabulous.


CEO of Waterstones the Bookseller was speaking about store re-opening on 15th June. He shared many interesting and helpful insights but I tuned in to his firm’s noticing of the return to old familiar novels during Lockdown. Seemingly we have all reached for our well thumbed friends for reassurance in a book.  I did Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. What can I say, I’m on trend.

He also pointed out that without instore inspiration via promotions and staff advice, people were not trying new authors or latest publications. So…..scroll forward….this does re enforce the belief that the purpose of the high street is not the purchase but the engagement. Dual channel: online selling high street telling.



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Leaders & Entrepreneurs Build for the 2020s

Dr Phyl Hughes

If the previous decade’s ECONOMIC GROWTH was symbolised buy a Bull Market and overinflated IPOs with vaulting valuations, the next will be about the turn toward the kindnesseconomy and sustainability. Recession is coming yes, but we still need our business builders our leaders and pioneering brave entrepreneurs to GROW UK PLC. There will be a skill shift, here’s a few ‘rethinks’ to consider.

  1. From fast track to valuation toward sustainability via profitability. Nothing about the years ahead with be about quick wins, slow growth is highly likely and that needs profit and slack in the system to invest. Good profit hunters will prosper focusing on the right strategies with the right people, leadership etc. to find and sustain value. If it’s not core it’s not happening. And costs, they as well as sales will be central.
  2. Less ME more US: entrepreneurs as stewards and enablers not charismatic outliers. As wisdom, restraint and humility all fit growth that’s steady as she goes, there are likely to be less ego dizzying mavericks about. Capital will undoubtedly chase meaningful missions and their steady leaders. Leadership is far more likely to be distributed than person-centric.
  3. Advoates of triple bottom line, kindnesseconomy, and social responsibility will be the star turns of the 2020s. People, Planet, Profit is needed to meet complex and maturing stakeholder needs and expectations. Customers buy from business they buy-into and so socioeconomic status matters. Leaders who know what they value, can articulate that in troubled times and can inspire and lead value-driven business will thrive. This is by default multi-dimensional and not at all unitary; not just the entrepreneur and their idea but the health and sustained wealth of the business.
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LEXIT: Which business are you?

Have you got your Strategy Thought Through?


As we move into June and the country is tentatively opening for business, it is a crucial time to reflect where our businesses are and who needs which kind[s] of support and leadership.

Different journeys that different businesses have been on leaves them and their wider industries facing some shared, some overlapping and some different challenges.

Common to all has been governmental business support to enable continued trade where possible through March April and May 2020.

  • Furloughing of staff
  • Access to Self-employment support
  • Easy access capital

Each of these being phased out over the next months will see a repositioning of the UK economy in a ways that have not been seen in living memory.

In the business community our hope is to pump prime and deliver a V shaped recovery but recession looms, Brexit is back and costs across the board are set to rise. However, there are opportunities as well as threats. Our suggestion is map your business into the UK landscape. Where do you sit, who is in a similar place, who is in your potential network, where to you need to connect and how?

  • Pause
  • Think through a focused plan
  • Give yourself a V shaped hope.




These are the businesses who have been in the right place at the right time with the right product [s] to market.

Supermarkets being the obvious example. But others would include Glaxo, Astra Zeneca, NETFLIX, AMAZON, APPLE, VODAFONE etc

The issue has been meeting the customer demand that shot through the roof overnight. The challenge for thrivers is clear, sustain the performance but doing so in a balanced way.

The customer needs to feel supported going forward not taken for granted during a phase when there was no option from whom to buy.

Innovations introduced during the lockdown period need to be sustained and leveraged asap while the sensitivity / malleability of the customer is at receptive levels. For example, a strong push toward cashless payment in the supermarket seems doable and a cost saver seeing head count reduction.

These businesses need to attend to staffing as do all businesses as there will undoubtedly be head count reduction. But the fortunate position of healthy cashflows ought to trigger not just dividend payments but also 2030 innovation linked investment.



These are our favourite stocks, the healthy blue chips that have strong businesses, have had a loss of turnover but anticipate fully recovery by 2023. It is a case of using cash reserves [usually a debt ratio of 30% or less] to ride out the storm.

Examples would be BP, Shell, Whitbread, Vodafone, Easyjet

Whitbread for example launched a rights issue that was well taken up in late May and placed them in a strong position to capitalise on market recovery and or boost [staycations drive demand in the UK market] as it emerges.




The biggest question marks hang over these firms. They will no doubt thrive or dive. They are the firms whose faces fitted during lockdown such as Pelton the high end [previous derided] exercise cycle, e-gamers such as Fanatic and even the BBC. The latter had seen a big uptick in figures but with no additional source of income and cuts demanded, rapid turnaround innovation will be needed to retain anything like a similar footprint by 2025.

The challenge here is to not confuse a market driven by temporal demand with one that truly reflects the sustained customer base required to drive into a challenging decade.

Three issues will be ditching a pivot at the right time, rapid innovation and liquidity. It may be that high degrees of collaboration are sought amongst this strategic group.


Nose Divers

These are the businesses that were on borrowed time or cash or both and the lockdown has simply brought forward their demise.

The high street being the obvious location as well as the hospitality sector.


Laura Ashley



In many instances, it was the debt from multiple private equity rotations that killed the business.


LEXIT means breathe, re-group and power forward across UK plc. It is a question of keep the faith, hold your nerve and enable the V shaped recovery we all so desire.








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You can find a pause for thought in many places

Bishop Nic Baines was the pause for thought on the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show today. He’s always good; got a gift for communication and at ease on broadcast media. His point,  in music there is a chance to pause and reflect. He focuses on Leonard Cohen’s Album ‘Thanks for the Dance’. An album created as he was dying.

If you are looking for reflection enablers that are not words-words words, have a listen. Songs go deep-deep into the human brain. Ask anyone who has a loved one with dementia: everything else may go but the songs somehow remain.  I was with my Mum last night. She’d no clue who I was but together we sang and she knew every word. Thanks for the Dance indeed.

Midnight from Cats by the way…….

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MINDFULNESS is great but what if you find it hard to swtich off? ZENTANGLE ANYONE ?

The case ‘for’ mindfulness has been well and truly made: game over, job done, concept sold, move on.

The positive life benefits spread over

  • Mental Relaxation in a hyper-stimulated world
  • Positive outlook on life thereby easing all social interaction and the efficacy of future decisions
  • Positive health outcomes associated with a reduction in stress & bodily inflammation: e.g. Type 2 diabetes, dementia risk both reduced
  • Fabulous. 

But it is so hard to actually do it. As in many things that are ‘good for us’ we know they are, we are positive toward them and still don’t do them. There is undoubtedly a will and skill element in play here.

To make time for something new means letting something else go or reduced in duration. Are you willing to do that?

The other issue is skill: how to ?

Meditation, just the word, can be off putting for people. That’s a whole debate in itself…….

I came across an alternative the other day. It is for people who are ‘doers’; find it hard to stop action and pause. This is an active process, easy and accessible. I gave it a go and rather enjoyed it. I have done several.

ZENTANGLEPhyl's Attempts...Not fine Art But R&R

Get a piece of paper, a pen, a cuppa and off you go.



This Book is OK ...I thought

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Yorkshire has a connected look and feel to doing business.

Yorkshire has a connected look and feel to doing business notes from a New Business ….US !!!

I’ve lived and worked in Scotland as an academic and corporate consultant. It has its own system of law, politics, public sector management, networking with universities, investment / banking industry and well, just a social connectivity. It is big [geographically vast] and yet small; the central belt between Glasgow and Edinburgh connects all and everyone does seem to know everyone. It is pretty darn easy to network into. At least that is what I found.

After moving to Yorkshire and basing myself of the edge of The Dales near Ripon and being near A1, east coast rail and Leeds Bradford airport I rather lazily still worked my networks in London and Scotland. However in the past year, I made a pact with myself to do business in and for Yorkshire: travel less and embed more.

I had never assumed there was not business to be done in Yorkshire; I knew from working closely with the Dean at Ripon Cathedral on their strategic change that there is plenty of talent and energy in the county. I was just sticking to my particular knitting in the way that solo traders can and do. As a psychology and strategic change expert it was a case of physician heal thy self lass: make a change.

I set up a new branch to my consulting [] found a business partner to collaborate with [also a new thing for solo trader me] and set off onto social media. It has been a joy to experience the connected and positively supportive business community of the region. With exciting businesses storming their way into Leeds with entrepreneurial energy [Channel Four, Meatless Farm, Hero Well Being all attention grabbers. Great media in print and online. Strong business networking communities [IOD Yorkshire, Northern Powerhouse, She Thrives, Asian Business Network]. World-class arts [Royal Northern ballet, Opera North, Symphonia and theatres]. With three, yes three Cathedrals in the UK’s super diocese [Ripon, Bradford, Wakefield] and two Minsters [Beverly and York] wow. It can be hard to know which way to look. That is where social media has really enabled me.

Deploying the usual business suspects of Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Zoom has worked, is working, I’m getting there incrementally. That too, using social media to its full, has been a first for me. OK it takes time, Ok there is a learning curve not to be underestimated, but an hour each day seems to have been the level I found and worked for me. I’ve learned some lessons along the way and thus how to delete a tweet, how to block and that people love a picture: Yorkshire does Hills not cats praise be !

Just as I found in devolved Scotland, Yorkshire has a voice and no fear of using it. Yorkshire has something to say and will say it. I value that and it is, believe you me different from doing business in the south especially London. I’m still classed as an incomer [not here 30years yet], so I have bright eyes to see things as they are before I too become embedded in the culture and stop fully seeing it.

Blockers have been woeful wifi, just no no no; unacceptable. Rail frustration, again no, not sustainable. But most irksome is a projection of less talent in the North, it somehow being the proviso of the elsewhere in the UK to be the talent pool /hub. It is a great frustration to me to read reactions projected onto this region suggesting it is hard to get people to move North from London and other southern regions [tagged to Channel Four and Ballet]. Just look what energy, passion, talent and belief there is an what it can achieve. In my view The Piece Hall in Halifax is the classic example of what energy delivers.

Enablers are plentiful. The people the places the investment the energy and the belief. But intertwined in the mix of all of these is the ‘other facing’ psychology of the north. Northerners [I hail from the mighty Liverpool] are rereferred to as friendly. It is more than that. Some of the basic psychology that seems to be present in a northern mindset is other facing; seeing other people, connecting to others, regarding them and therefore naturally caring for others. Of course people are people and we all have the capacity to be other facing, but the embedded psychology of the northerner is to look beyond oneself first. This is a genuine selling proposition; it is northern it is talent and it is sustainable. It simply is who Yorkshire folk are.

I am firmly, I add superlatives most firmly, of the view that The North needs its own voice, needs control of its infra structure. Just need a chance to be devolved and power up this North of ours.

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Personal BRANDING sensible suggestions

I picked this up on LINKEDIN

Goldie Chan 8th NOV FORBES

10 Golden Rules of Personal Branding

Having said earlier today I am not a list / recipe / rule fan in the sphere of personal development, I am signposting ANOTHER list. Go Figure……

Personal Branding is at heart about the identity [and all of its associated assumptions and behavioural predictions] that others see in us. We have a choice to attempt to manage that identity by clearly focusing what were we are either deliberately or semi / unconsciously projecting. Although it is not possible to ‘control’ another person’s sense making of YOU, influence attempts can and ought to be made.

And so a catchy phrase like PERSONAL BRANDING pops up and guides a practice that is essentially identity management.

Here are the 10 headlines to think about in personal branding  / identity management

  • Have a focus.
  • Be genuine.
  • Tell a story
  • Be consistent
  • Be ready to fail
  • Create a positive impact.
  • Follow a successful example.
  • Live your brand.
  • Let other people tell your story.
  • Leave a legacy.

“Once you’ve built your personal brand with a reputation and community behind it, the next step is to think about the legacy that you’ll leave behind. What are the keywords and actions that you want to be known for? Blake Jamieson, artist at Blake Jamieson LLC, who paints pop art portraits of famous tech and sports heroes reminds us that: “Building a personal brand is much bigger than building a business. The only exit strategy is legacy.”

I am struggling to think of my legacy phrase ? It would possibly be “we expected too much change in one year and not enough in ten.” either that or ” does your black americano coffee come in a large size?”

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Michelle Obama’s 31 Questions you SHOULD Ask Yourself

Hot off the publication press [19th November 2019] and hot on the heels of a rip roaring best selling Memoir [every middle aged woman I know got it for Christmas last year] Michelle Obama is posing us with 31 questions. And, she suggests we should ask them of ourselves.

Generally, as a psychology professional I am not a fan of

  • the word should or ought for that matter
  • and the dreaded self help formula e.g. list.

Newsflash I think that there are some truly insightful offerings on Obama’s list. Questions I have not come across before that are genuine pause creators and reflection leaping off points.

Here are all 31…..happy weekend. 



  • Describe your childhood home. What are some of the details that stand out the most? What made your home different from your friends’ homes?
  • What did you do as a child when school let out for the summer? What activities did you previously pursue but don’t have time for now? How can you get back to them again?
  • Who was the most influential teacher when you were little? How did this person leave such an impression?
  • Write a letter to your teenage self giving advice and revealing what the future holds.
  • Write a letter to your future self outlining your expectations for the years to come.


  • Where did your ancestors come from and what challenges did they face?
  • What kind of childhood did your parents or grandparents have? How was it different from and similar to your own?
  • Who do you care for in your family? How does that relationship help define you?
  • How do you celebrate the holidays? What traditions do your family hold dear?
  • Describe a specific place that holds important meaning to your family.


  • List three people who contribute to your circle of strength. Next to each person’s name, describe why he or she is so dependable.
  • If you had to choose, who is the most precious person in your life? How did you meet this person and what do you think your future together holds?
  • Who looks up to you? How do you nurture that person’s spark?
  • Write a letter to someone you haven’t seen in a long time updating him or her on what’s happened in your life since you last saw each other.
  • If you could have a conversation with a loved one who has passed away, what would you ask him or her?

Me, myself and I

  • Where did your name come from and how has it influenced the person you’ve become?
  • How would you describe yourself to someone who does not know you?
  • Have you ever felt subject to a cliché? How did you react?
  • List 10 items of clothing you loved along with when and where you wore them.
  • What is your most prized possession and how did you come to own it?

Health and happiness

  • What happened in your life today? List five things that went well.
  • Describe your perfect day — beginning with breakfast and ending with dinner.
  • Write about the last moment you remember being truly at peace. Where were you? What were you doing? How can you tap into that feeling again?
  • When was your last good cry, and how did you feel afterwards?
  • How do you look after yourself after you’ve had a bad day?
  • What keeps you up at night?
  • How has this year been different from last year?
  • “When they go low, we go high.” How do you put this phrase into practice?

Hopes and dreams

  • Describe the world of your dreams. What changes — whether on a local, national or global level — do you wish to see?
  • How do you want to contribute to the world? What is one small step you can take this year towards that contribution?
  • Change happens from the ground up. What is one small thing you can do this week to bring about new change in your life or in the life of someone else?

© Michelle Obama. This is an edited and abridged extract from Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice by Michelle Obama, published on Tuesday (Viking £15.99)

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I saw an article in the LAW section of  The Times this week [published each THURSDAY].

It offered a damming diagnosis of legal training in England Wales and N. Ireland. The spotlight has been shining upon legal training with the introduction of the Solicitors Qualifying Examination [SQE] in Autumn 2021. This reform will result in

  • Much streamlined process
  • Examination pass & some work experience
  • No University degree required.

This is a major shift in offering and mindset and in the higher education sector, this usually means new entrants into the market. Whether you are of the view that legal training needs a shake up or not, it would appear it is happening.

The College of Law [Australia and New Zealand based in a JV with US firms] is offering a cramming model that they claim will push a ‘faster, cheaper, better’  form of solicitor training.

Faster and cheaper will appeal to the students who can clear the debt accrual stage and into income generation asap. It is the word better that will prove contentious as it plays out.

Better in whose terms?: Less experienced ‘qualified’ professionals in the job market pushes the training agenda into the firm. Just about doable for mid to large firms [not known for outstanding HR practice]  but smaller firms will have neither the will nor the skill to pick up the mantle.

In this area, as is many many others in the University / Higher Education sector, the blurring of boundaries between University as educator and industry as consumer of education, will increase. The prediction post BREXIT is for that to accelerate as Educators can a afford to do less with less talent [brain drain of EU national academics already happening].

So Universities and other Higher Education instructions can offer less, will industry offer more ? Is industry capable of offering more ?

Watch this space I guess.

Meantime, we at H2Pro continue to develop our latest additions to UK University-based legal training programmes.  We are designing and will be offering content around

  • well being a legal practitioners
  • the psychology of the law
  • client psychology
  • lawyer as leader

Most enjoyable process to be involved in course design and the production of something pioneering and new for the new year of 2020.

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January Diary Filling Up Already

It is remarkable that every year at this time I still ‘take a moment’ each time I book diary dates into the ‘new year’. It is a surprise [here already !] gate closing panic [ahh need to get X, Y, Z done before everyone starts Christmas shut down] and relief [another year, another fulfilling year, I feel lucky] that the new year is upon me.
Today I added so much into my January 2020 schedule that it is virtually full.
Am meeting with or networking with people from the Media, the Drinks industry, New Non-Executive Directors and key stakeholders in the Northern Power movement and colleagues in this field looking to collaborate.

Happy with that so far, more than happy. #Blessed.