BLOGS & ARTICLEs

Here are a couple of examples of blog posts and articles I've written for various clients. please get in touch for more samples.

For regular blog content, please check out Rising Vibe! I’m content creator for the entire site.

Learning and Development

STop playing the blame game

As a society we just love to blame anyone or anything else for our problems. We blame our partners. Our ex’s. Our parents. Our kids. Our past. Our current circumstances. Our education. Our lack of education. Our employers. Our friends. The government. Society. Even God!

We lay blame elsewhere because it lets us off the hook. It’s easy. It stops us facing up to our own contribution towards the difficult situations we find ourselves in. We take the path of least resistance and simply abdicate from responsibility. It’s much less complicated when it’s someone or something else’s fault.

But blame is like drinking poison and expecting someone else to die. If you’re stuck in blame, you expect the other person to feel the same pain you’re feeling. But they don’t. Moreover, when you blame others you give away your power to them. You place your happiness in their hands. So you stay stuck. You have no control and you can’t move forward.

 “But hang on, what if I’m a victim of crime, or an abusive relationship? Is it all my fault?”

No. Not exactly. But even in extreme situations, we still have the power and the opportunity to decide how we respond and how we live our lives as a result. We must treat ourselves the way we want to be treated. The behaviour of others isn’t our responsibility but we have a contribution towards whether they remain tangled up in our lives or not. Letting go of the blame doesn’t make what they did ok, but it gives us the space to move on.

‘You can’t change what happens, you can only change how you respond to it.’ Victor Frankl.

Our outer world is a reflection of our inner world. I understand that taking responsibility for everything that happens in our lives can be overwhelming, but it’s only by doing so, that we can truly be the captain of our own ship.

Blame doesn’t just worm its way into our relationships. We spend way too much time finding excuses for why we’re not reaching our true potential. I could blame the fact that I have 3 kids, a husband, a dog and a full time business on why I’m not fit right now. There’s a list as long as my arm I could use to get myself off the hook - I just don’t have time to train. I'm so tired. If I train I’ll exhaust myself. My feet are killing me after being in these heels all day. What I really need is a foot spa, a glass of wine and a Tom Hardy movie…’ This is of course, complete nonsense (I’d watch the Tom Hardy movie after the training!). If I don’t have the time or energy to train, then I need to take responsibility for my contribution towards the way I manage my diary. It’s all about prioritising and making the right choices.

When we’re in blame, we’re actually living in the past. We replay a set of stories around previous experiences, to justify our behaviour. Interestingly, when I’m with clients they talk a lot about 'Root Cause Analysis' – tracing a problem back to its origin, so that they can get to the bottom of what happened, why it happened and learn from it. It sounds good in theory but using Root Cause Analysis keeps them locked in blame. They aren’t really looking to create opportunities to learn, they just want to create a scapegoat and let themselves off the hook. What we ultimately uncover here, is that there’s a deep culture of blame through the company.

On the flip side, the airline industry is brilliant at truly having a ‘no blame’ culture. Using Black Box technology, they learn from failure, adapting not just machinery, but human processes and procedures, so that the same mistakes aren’t repeated. Check out our book review on Black Box Thinking (link) by Mathew Syed. The book has some really great examples of how, when we take away the blame, we can interrogate the error, not the person. And as a result, view failure differently.

If real change is to occur and progress is to be made on an individual, team or organisational level, the blame has to stop. Instead, look within. If we accept where we are and then look at what lessons can be learned, we can grow, develop and move forward.

So stop playing the blame game. Here’s how.

1. Be open to the lesson - Stay vigilant when you get into blame. What is it that you’re avoiding? What can you really learn and how can you grow from it? Our external world is a mirror of our internal world and there will always be a lesson to learn to make a positive impact. Make yourself open to it.

2. Acknowledge your contribution - If you don’t understand you have a part to play, you will stay stuck, miserable, powerless and victimised. However, acknowledging your contribution is very different from blaming yourself for the situation you find yourself in.

3. Let go - Remember that blame keeps you in the past. You can kid yourself with Root Cause Analysis, but what is really important, is to accept where you are now and then consciously decide how to move forward.

“The day you stop blaming others is the day you begin to discover who you truly are.” Anon.

Retail

hybridisation is raising the bar for convenience store shoppers.

It’s been a tough old time for retailers since the financial crisis of 2008. Gone are the heady days of low interest rates, freely available credit and unprecedented levels of consumer spending. Fast forward into the recession, plunging profits, store closures and falling share prices and the gloom sets in.

Yet, in the face of adversity comes innovation. In true wartime spirit, London convenience stores in particular have responded with a surge of new ideas to win back customer loyalty, increase productivity and strengthen market position.

Cue the rise and rise of hybridisation. The IGD defines this fairly new phenomenon as:

‘The collaboration of retailers in an attempt to alter their perceived identity, to keep up with the markets ever changing needs.’

No retailer is an island. More and more retail businesses are happily collaborating on new concepts and hybridising brands, throwing into turmoil our previous perceptions of how grocery retail is organised.

Raising the bar on the consumer experience.

Lets head to an old iconic cinema in East London, Hackney to be precise. It combines a SPAR convenience store, a restaurant and a burger bar. So, instead of just popping in and out for their staples (still the primary shopper mission according to the IGD) customers, can also grab a burger with friends, or stay even longer for a meal in the restaurant. A quick fly through on the way home from work has evolved into a destination experience.

Raising the bar on quality.

Convenience stores are finding ever more inventive ways to create that point of difference to attract customers. ’Simply Fresh’ in Bethnal Green has become a destination store for its surrounding local community. As well as it’s locally sourced fresh produce, it has teamed up with a local wine merchant to offer ‘wine refills’. The wine changes with the seasons and consumers can’t wait to try the exciting new wines on offer.

Raising the bar on inspiration.

Now, what on earth to have for dinner? We’ve all been there. You can see the product but can’t seem to find the inspiration. Some forward thinking convenience stores have started ‘mission based ranging’*, which can be something as simple as putting certain cheeses next to complementary wine, or a tomato juice and Tabasco by the vodka. With 74% of convenience store shoppers claiming to have purchased an unplanned item on their last trip*, mission based ranging plants the ‘impulse buy’ seed. It saves the customer time and makes them feel like their wants and needs have been carefully considered.

Raising the bar on technology.

Today’s consumers want not just to shop, but to be heard. It’s crucial that retailers have an online presence as 72% of the population now have access to mobile broadband.* Social media plays a key role here. Launching a Facebook page or twitter account were customers can feedback, win competitions and find out about up and coming brand promotions, helps to personalise a business and create an emotional attachment to it.

Ultimately, consumer’s still want value. After all, they have less money to spend and are frugal with it. But there’s a lesson to be learned in the way London convenience stores have embraced these hybridised techniques. Retailers need to re-focus. Getting to know your customer is key. Give them something nobody else can. Become ‘famous for something’. Offer quality products and in store ideas that inspire and enthuse. Look after your loyal customers and make them feel like they have a voice and they will spread the good word. 

It’s time to get up close and personal. 

*Source – IGD.com