Author Archives: Antonia

Why consider a career in Civil Engineering?

The desire to build and create is one of the primary driving forces that separates humans from other animals, and is one that has led to civilisation as we know it. It is something that manifests itself from a young age – kids of both sexes and all ages love building and making things – from those first simple towers to complex models that are often as popular with the parents as the offspring.

Family owned civil engineering firm Lagan Construction has developed generations of civil engineers over the past half a century. They say that those who choose a career in civil engineering are typically men and women who have carried that passion to create into their late teens and adult life. Here are five reasons civil engineering makes a great career choice in 2018.

  • There’s never been a better time

This is an ideal time to get into the civil engineering industry. There are projects in the pipeline worth around £500 billion over the next few years, including HS2, Crossrail 2 and numerous motorway and regional rail expansion projects. There are also plans for several new power plants, included the proposed Bradwell B in Essex.

  • Entry levels regardless of qualifications

Most civil engineering jobs require the candidate to have a degree, but there are other routes into the industry that do not mean years of academic study. For example, steelworkers form the backbone of any civil engineering project, and entry level roles do not require any specific experience or qualifications. Of course, even here, the right certificates will always help to land that first job, so a specialist course is always a good idea.

  • Career development

Get a job in civil engineering and a whole world of opportunities is open to you. You might choose to work your way up to a supervisory or management role, or perhaps you will decide your talents lie in the technical and design side of civil engineering. The point is that once you are in, it is just a matter of gaining experience and acquiring the necessary professional qualifications to develop your career.

  • Acquire new skills

Whichever area of civil engineering you ultimately settle upon, you will be certain to gain a wide range of useful skills and abilities, that can open doors in a variety of related fields, including manufacturing and construction. As well as practical talents, the soft skills in areas such as teamworking, problem solving and critical thinking will put you in good stead, regardless of the career route you ultimately pursue.

  • Lucrative earning potential

Civil engineers can earn a good salary, particularly those with knowledge, skill and experience that is in high demand. The specific salary opportunities will, of course, vary  depending on the exact role, but starting salaries are typically around £23,000 and even those without a degree can soon find themselves earning £30,000 or more when they have acquired around five years’ experience. Members of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) earn an average basic salary of £50,000.

How to Plead Exceptional Circumstances to Keep Your Driving Licence

You’ve committed a driving offence and you’re about to be prosecuted. It’s possible that you could lose your driving licence and while you’re obviously remorseful and know you must face some consequences, you’re still very worried.

If you’re disqualified from driving for a significant period of time, then the impact on your family could be very serious indeed. When you’re dealing with a driving offence you should get legal help as soon as possible so that you’re treated fairly in court. If you’ve pleaded guilty to the offence then your best hope is to try to reduce the punishment, maybe by pleading exceptional hardship. Here are some helpful pointers to pleading exceptional hardship.

Avoid online templates

Letter templates don’t work because they don’t take you and your unique circumstances into account. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with visiting a website or two to find out how to structure such a letter, but don’t be tempted to copy it to the word.

The prosecution will want to examine your exceptional hardship case

You should expect the prosecution to ask if you can’t use public transport, or a cab, or even get a lift from a friend or relative to get to work or to appointments.

You’ll need to provide written proof rather than verbal testimony. Stick to plain facts, not maybes and what-ifs and certainly not emotive language. You can use bullet-points if you like, as this helps you to focus on facts.

Use sensible examples of the hardship you’ll suffer

Strong examples of exceptional hardship include job loss and therefore the potential loss of your home. You can also include the fact that you can’t drive vulnerable relatives to medical appointments or the fact that you can’t do your usual community or charity work. You need, in a nutshell, to show that others will suffer as much as, if not more than, you.

Is losing your job serious enough?

If you’re in an unusual or niche field and you’re well-qualified and fairly young, then losing your job could be seen as a temporary setback. If you’re older and in a saturated sector, then you may find it harder to replace your livelihood.

Leave out the trivia

Losing your driving licence will make shopping and going on holiday more difficult – you’re being punished, after all. No-one will care about these problems, so focus on the bigger issues like keeping your job and paying your mortgage.

Don’t embellish or lie

You’re dealing with lawyers…

Gather all your evidence in advance

Documents are the way forward here, so talk with your lawyer about the evidence you can collect and how you can best present it. This sort of evidence can make or break your case.

You mustn’t make yourself the star of the show (as it were). If you talk about how much you do for your local OAP group and the village Under 14’s football team, you’ll come over as smug. What you need is letters from the OAP group and the team coach explaining how they’ll find things harder without you. Letters are especially useful because they don’t get nervous in court and forget things.

 

 

45 ways to build your Facebook following for your business

Have a Facebook page, it’s a great way to promote your business! That can feel like it is easier said than done, however. In this article, Antonia Chitty, co-author of Making Money Online and Blogging: the Essential Guide, outlines 45 steps to make sure that you don’t just create a Facebook page, but you create one that really works for your business.

    • When setting up your page, choose a good username, something memorable that is easy to spell.
    • Start with a clear ‘about’ and links to your business website.
    • Add in your business telephone number and address as appropriate – the easier it is for people to see that you really exist, the easier it is for them to trust your business and click ‘like’.
    • Use the milestones feature to build in your business’s history, awards, etc – this can all build trust and encourage people to like your page.
    • Build trust with good content – and add content regularly. Carol Smith, social media consultant for EyecareFAQ, says, “Create content that engages your fans, the more they like posts and comments the more their friends will see in their feeds.” Social media consultant Liz Weston says, “For The Baby & Toddler Show we have consistently found and curated content that has truly connected with our audience. It sounds so simple, but the “job description” of a parent, was shared more than 180 times and brought us more than 400 new, organic likes in under 24 hours. At that point the page was 4K ish of fans, so this felt like a big number!”
    • Focus on the problems that your potential customers or clients need to solve. Which issues cause them most ‘pain’ – physical, emotional or psychological? How can you help them address these?
    • Ask your friends to like your page. We all do it, but it has its limitations. Are your friends really your target market? And don’t you need your business to extend beyond friends and family? What asking friends for like is good for, however, is getting the page started, finding the first 25 of 100 followers. Having a number followers already can take away one of the barriers to people clicking like: the more people who like your page, the more people want to say ‘me too!’ and follow the crowd.
  • Another way to build your initial ‘likes’ is to invite email subscribers to go and like your Facebook page. People who are on your list already will be warm to your business and more likely to take action. Remember to go back every so often and remind them about the page again as not everyone takes action first time.
  • Use Facebook resources: https://www.facebook.com/business/overview. Facebook wants your page to succeed and their tips will help. Something simple to start with, as suggested by Facebook, is to ask yourself, “What do your ideal customers have in common? How old are they, and where do they live? How can your business help them? Would one group be more interested in specific messages, products or services? A sale or a timely offer?
  • Once your Facebook page is set up, add the link to your email signature block (and that of all staff members if appropriate).
  • Put your Facebook page on all your print media
  • Add the link or a QR Code to business cards.
  • Now, make a plan for promotion. Planning now, rather than simply wandering round Facebook every day, can save you time and effort and make sure you ae getting the results you want.
  • Be clear about the overall aim for your business and how Facebook fits in
  • Set some goals and targets: this makes it much easier to focus your efforts and see if they are working.
  • Be clear about your target audience – and refine this as you see what type of person likes your page, and how this compares to people who buy from you.  Consider where your audience already gathers online? What would incentivise them to like you – what’s in it for them? Who are their leaders, who would be a great ambassador?
  • Allocate time each day where you or your staff will work on your Facebook page. Regular interaction is vital – people expect Facebook to be a place where conversations happen. Try different times too – do people check in first thing, at lunchtime, in the evenings?
  • Advertising does work to help you boost the number of people who like your business page. See the ad create tool at https://www.facebook.com/advertising. It really is simple to use, and also to adjust as you use it. Try different adverts for different target groups. Try something for a week then adjust, and assess your results.
  • Ask questions – open ended questions encourage discussion and give you insights you’re your audience.
  • Include the link to your Facebook page in your own blog posts and in guest posts on other blogs.
  • Hold a ‘chat’. Liz Weston says, “For SnoozeShade, the most successful thing we have done is brought high profile and truly valuable people to their Facebook page, to have a FB chat. We don’t need a giveaway – it’s just the value of the conversation. As well as bringing FB followers, because people want to be part of the conversation, it’s ended up carrying on well after it should finish – like an online lock in, in the pub!”
  • Comment, thoughtfully, on other pages as your own pages. Focus on those with overlapping target audiences.
  • Competitions bring people in to your page, though as I write this regulations are changing about ‘liking’ as a requirement for entry. Check the regulations before running your own competition at https://www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php. Facebook Business News, https://www.facebook.com/business/news, will keep you up to date with future changes.
  • Offer coupons and discount codes exclusively on your Facebook page. Regular offers will keep people checking back, so flag up when your offers will occur, whether it is every week or month.
  • Embed the ‘like my page’ widget on your website
  • Build follower involvement. Social media consultant Donna Pinnell says, “For Love Boo Shop it has been all about getting people involved, so we do a Sunday night quiz. There are small prizes involved but the engagement is great and we have fabulous feedback from it.”
  • Business consultant Helen Lindop says, “I’m part of a big, carefully moderated Facebook group, one that is on-topic and spam free, where people know and like each other. Very occasionally the owner allows a thread where we all like each other’s pages, which gave us all lots of relevant page likes. ,
  • Link your Twitter to your Facebook fan page and automatically post your Facebook content to Twitter. This isn’t a rule that you always have to follow, sometimes it can become annoying, so test out the response.
  • Another way to cross pollinate your social media is to share what’s happening on your Facebook page with your Linked in contacts. Make sure you select people who are in your target audience, and approach them with email letters that appear to address their particular interests.
  • Network by making connections with other page admins – business owners or social media consultants – who have a similar demographic to yours and cross-promote each other.
  • Make it personal. Facebook gives people who like your page a chance to get the inside take on your business. Consider what might push their buttons and make them feel part of the family. It could be sharing pics of staff, your customers own cake designs, your pets or theirs? Think about what will appeal to your target audience.
  • Photos are key to Facebook. We’ve already mentioned photos of the behind the scenes part of your business. If you have products, can you ask customers to share pics of them in use, perhaps with incentives to share? If you offer a service, get consent from those using the service to allow you post photos. Tag people in the photos once you have their consent and you may find they share the pics too.
  • Polls can make people feel part of your business. If you are selecting new designs or products or considering offering a different service, ask for views. It gives you a good reason to promote your page and get people involved.
  • Promote your posts. This one is straight from the Facebook guide and it makes perfect sense: “Make successful posts into successful promotions: When you notice that a post is getting a lot of engagement, promote it to reach even more people. When people like, comment on or share your posts, their friends are also eligible to see those posts in News Feed.”
  • Use scheduling apps like Hootsuite to ensure that content is coming up regularly. Nothing beats real-person interaction when running a page, but if your busy times are in t evenings you don’t always want to work then. Scheduling can ensure new material appears when it is needed, whether you are online, working on something else, or on holiday. It is also time-effective to plan content for the week or month ahead.
  • There’s nothing wrong with asking others to share. You could simple add ‘please share’ to a significant post, or build relationships with opinion formers within your target audience and drop them a message to ask them to help spread the word about a particular post or event on your Facebook page.
  • Share other relevant page content via your page. It always helps to gather good information on regular topics and disseminate it to people who like your page – they will know where to come for news on their interests.
  • Create custom tabs to use as landing pages for specific campaigns – this could include a sign up box, a coupon, a video, some of your most popular posts, calls to action or other marketing ideas.
  • Take photos at live events and encourage people to tag themselves in them.
  • Add testimonials, customer letters, comments etc, but always make sure that you have permission to do so. This builds trust and also interaction as it can encourage others to share their views.
  • Respond to complaints promptly. Sometimes customers will complain via Facebook and this isn’t always bad for business. Show that you are addressing the complaint and sorting the problem and it can, in fact, help people trust your business.
  • Video is just as important as photos and written updates. Add in videos of your products, your services, your customers. Upload video direct to Facebook rather than embedding and it will display a like button for everyone … and that even includes people who aren’t fans. You can load video content to your Facebook fan page, then take the source code and embed on your blog/website.
  • Tweak your content and check results. Try posting photo posts and those without photos, try posting at different times of day, compare posts where you share other people’s contents with posts that link to your own site. Count the reach for different types of posts and adjust your mix accordingly.
  • Measure and adjust: Find out what’s working well, so you can maximise the impact of every post and ad. Facebook has a lot of different tools to help you measure how you’re doing. Visit Page Insights regularly and look for trends so you can develop more of the best-performing content. It will help you understand more about the people who respond to your updates. You’ll learn more about their gender, age and location, and who is most engaged.
  • Ask how people heard about you—at the end of a call, in a survey, or at the point of sale—and keep track of what they say. This will help you know if your Facebook page is working for your business.

Free event – my tips for taking your writing to the next level #writingforaliving

FOR FEMAIL/FMLDo you write? Come and join me in Hastings next month, on the 3rd of November,  and find out how to move your writing on to the next level, whether you want to finish something short, get a publishing deal, or earn your living from writing. 

Antonia Chitty is a writer and author of 20 non fiction books including How to Earn a Living as a Business Writer and Making Money Online (both Hale Books) and Blogging: the Essential Guide. She combines writing for a living with studying for a MA in Critical and Creative Writing at the University of Sussex.

Antonia originally trained as an optometrist and says, “Back then, I never dreamt I could write a book, and didn’t know what I could write about. I don’t ever regret my initial training, though, because it has provided me with a unique niche and one of my income streams comes from writing features about business and optics, while another is from managing social media for an optical organisation.”

How to earn a living as a writerAntonia made the move from optics to PR to journalism after working on an eye health campaign with RNIB. She says, “It was then I discovered that I liked writing and research more than seeing patients every half an hour.” She wrote on health for Which? Magazine for a number of years, and worked for the BMA before having her children. She says, “I ran my own PR business for a number of years, alongside having children, which brought me into contact with women running family friendly and flexible businesses. That inspired one of my first books, Family Friendly Working. I started a blog as a spin off from the book, and www.familyfriendlyworking.co.uk has been running for around 7 years, showcasing parents who work flexibly, and sharing information and advice for those who need it.” Antonia has also run networking events and conferences for women in business, as well as an online training business. She is now focusing on developing the more creative side of her writing, as well as researching how experiences become stories.

 

Find the full event details on Facebook.

10 tips to help entrepreneurs implement effectively

WB_332-300x212 Ideas mean nothing unless they are made real. Entrepreneurial ideas get turned into products and services and are sold to customers to make a difference. Yet, entrepreneurs are often not implementers, nor project managers. They’re often distracted by the next idea, the next development, and the new opportunity. William Buist, CEO of Abelard and Founder of xTEN Club offers 10 tips to implementing effectively as an entrepreneur:

 

  1. Crystal clear clarity of where you’re going.
    Firstly, have really clear goals. If you can’t tell everyone what you are doing, quickly and with passion, why would they care about it? If the picture you paint is of a future that makes the effort worthwhile then people will yearn for it and fight for it, with you.
  2. Slow down to go faster.
    There is the work that directly creates our idea and makes it real, and then there is the planning and administrative work. That indirect work is an ‘overhead’. Many entrepreneurs treat overhead tasks as something to do as you go. However, by doing do them early you’ll save a lot of time later.
  3. Set a realistic timescale.

You’ll need some time to adapt and change on the journey. Work expands to fit the time available too, so be sensibly realistic, when you set the goal.
If there are critical dates you need to hit then those should be clear at this point, so expectations are properly set.

  1. Find the big chunks.
    Look at the work one quarter at a time. Identify what would have had to have been delivered three months before the end date, six months before the end date and so on.  By doing that your team can see what they’ll be building.

 

  1. Identify the building blocks.
    Now create monthly goals for the next two quarters and weekly goals for the first month or so.

    But do not go further. Great teams rely on the ability of everyone to plan their own work within the framework.

  2. Identify “Now Win”s.

It’s now useful to plan forward and look at what could be done this week, this month and this quarter. This can show you where there are opportunities to win now and get ahead of the game.

  1. Don’t be a slave to the plan; the plan is your slave.
    If necessary take a step back, do some work on the project, deliver some elements of it and then look at where that takes you and how to plan further from there.  Project planning should be no more than a few minutes each week once the original plan is put in place.
  2. Remember resources and materials.
    In any project there will be times when you need specific essential materials or resources, so each week and month take a look ahead, check what resources you’re expecting to need and make sure that they’re on track for delivery.
  3. Reward success.
    It’s important to recognise and reward incremental successes within the team; let them know that it’s on track and going well.  It will help ensure that this and every implementation easier.
  4. Document along the way.
    In reality every task in a project has probably been done before in a different context. The mistakes have been forgotten, and so will be easy to repeat, and the shortcuts forgotten too. This step is not for this time; it’s for next time. You’ll get quicker and can move on to the next idea ever faster.

Implementation is the work that brings your ideas to the world, and when it’s done brilliantly it’s because of attention to detail and great planning.  It builds on past experience and creates the foundations for future success too. Brilliant products, and remarkable companies, implement brilliantly.

 

William Buist is owner of Abelard Collaborative Consultancy, and founder of the exclusive xTEN Club– an annual programme of strategic activities for small, exclusive groups of business owners. xTEN helps accelerate growth, harness opportunity, build your business and develop ideas. William is also author of two books: ‘At your fingertips’ and ‘The little book of mentoring’. See: http://Abelard-uk.com  / http://Williambuist.com  / http://Societal-Web.com

 

Five tips to change your child’s daytime activities for better sleep at night

3 sen book coversA bad night’s sleep affects the whole family, but have you considered how your child’s day time activities might be adjusted to help them sleep better at night? Here are a few straightforward tips from Antonia Chitty and Victoria Dawson, authors of Sleep and Your Special Needs Child, that might help your family. If your child struggles with change, as many children do, pick just one suggestion to introduce gradually, and see if it helps before moving onto the next one.

  1. Does your child nap? Children with special needs may continue to nap even past the age of two to three, but for some older children, naps can become a problem. According to the Children’s Sleep Charity, “Sometimes older children may take naps during the day that they don’t really need. This can mean that they do not sleep well at night because they simply are not tired. Keeping a sleep diary is helpful for noting the number of naps that a child has. If your child is at school or uses school transport it is useful to ask the staff whether your child is napping during the day or on the bus home. This helps to build up an accurate profile of the amount of sleep that your child is getting.” Remember, your child needs a certain amount of sleep, and a nap during the day means they will sleep less at night.
  2. Food can affect your child’s sleep. Make a food diary, noting down what they eat and drink and when. Once you have created your food diary, here are some suggestions that will help you test out changes that could help your child sleep:
  • Swap sugary snacks for foods that your child can digest more slowly, and which provide less of a sugar rush
  • Change sugary soft drinks for milk or water
  • Change the time of your child’s last meal so they have time to digest it before bed
  • If one food or group of foods affects your child’s behaviour, talk to the GP about a referral to a dietician. Don’t eliminate whole food groups from your child’s diet without professional advice as this can affect their growth and development
  1. Exercise is great for helping sleep, but some sorts of exercise have been shown to help more than others. One compared moderate-intensity exercise with high-intensity exercise. Only high-intensity exercise resulted in better slow-wave sleep.[i] So, for some children aerobic exercise, which raises the heart rate, may have positive effects on the different chemicals in the body that contribute to sleep. There are different benefits to other sorts of exercise: if your child is a live wire, you could think about exercise like yoga as a way to teach them to relax. Consider when your child exercises: afternoon and early evening exercise can help your child sleep. Exercise stimulates your child’s heart, muscles and brain, and raises their body temperature. Their body temperature then falls naturally as they are getting ready for bed which can help them drop off. One note of caution: vigorous exercise in the hours immediately before bed can make it h harder to fall asleep.
  2. Daylight and sleep. Exposure to light in the morning helps us all wake up, but some research has shown that morning light also helps you go to sleep. It acts by regulating the biological clock: exposure to light every morning ‘sets your clock’ for the day. The body is most responsive to sunlight between 6 and 8.30 am. Direct outdoor sunlight for around thirty minutes has the most effect, while indoor lighting has little effect. If your child doesn’t seem to have a strong internal body clock, try some outdoor play first thing, or walking to school if you can.
  3. Switching off at night. If your child has problems dropping off to sleep, remember that their daytime activities can affect this. TV and computers affect how your child sleeps. One study has found that computer game-playing results in significantly reduced amounts of slow-wave sleep. Television viewing reduced sleep efficiency significantly but did not affect sleep patterns.[ii] If your child is used to watching TV in their bedroom, test out using a story CD instead. Light from the TV can hinder the body’s efforts to produce melatonin, which aids sleep. Similarly, have a cut-off point for computer use: perhaps allow your child to use computer games or the computer before the evening meal, then get them to read or play board games after dinner. Try this for a week, add the results to your sleep diary and see if it helps them drop off.

 

9780719807916Sleep and Your Special Needs Child is on offer at just under £9 at time of writing. It addresses sleep problems using a highly successful behavioural and cognitive approach to sleep management, and is the first book to explain these approaches in detail. The practical advice contained is invaluable for parents who want to feel more in control and more confident about tackling sleep issues in a way that is appropriate for their child.

 

[i] Dworak, Markus, Wiaterb, Alfred, Alferc, Dirk, Stephanc, Egon, Hollmannd, Wildor, Strüder, Heiko Klaus (2008), ‘Increased slow-wave sleep and reduced Stage 2 sleep in children depending on exercise intensity’,   Sleep Medicine, Volume 9, Issue 3, March, Pages 266–72.

[ii] Dworak, Markus, Schierl, Thomas, Bruns, Thomas and Strüder, H.K. (2007), ‘Impact of Singular Excessive Computer Game and Television Exposure on Sleep Patterns and Memory Performance of School-aged Children’, Pediatrics, Vol. 120, No. 5, November 1, pp. 978–85, DOI: 10.1542/peds.2007-0476.

Top Five Tips for Better Bedtimes from Victoria Dawson #specialneeds #sleep

Victoria Dawson

Victoria Dawson is a sleep practitioner and special educational needs teacher. She is the founder of the Children’s Sleep Charity and has written sleep-training materials for Scope. She writes in the national press and presents at conferences across the UK.

Sleep and Your Special Needs Child, co-written by Dawson and Antonia Chitty, is out this month. Here, Dawson discusses her top tips for a better bedtime for your children and yourself.

If bedtimes are a battle it can leave you exhausted every evening. When your children have special needs it can seem difficult to build a good bedtime routine. Here are five tips to help you from sleep practitioner Victoria Dawson.

1. Start by writing your routine down so you know exactly what’s going to happen when. The act of writing can make you look at what you do at bedtime, and which parts of it are working and which are not.

2. Consider using a visual timetable so that your child knows what is coming next. Take photos or find drawings of your bedtime activities: a meal, bath time, teeth brushing, story time etc.

3. Fine motor skill activities are a great way of promoting calm in the run up to bedtime. Take time to help your child complete a jigsaw, for example. This is a great alternative to watching television and helps the brain wind down.

4. Try using music in the bedtime routine to promote calmness. Using the same calming tune every night can provide an auditory cue that it is bedtime. There are sound recordings specifically designed for children’s bedtime, some with just music, other with guided relaxation exercises and stories.

5. Seek advice from your child’s therapists. Your OT can provide sensory advice, the physio can help you with information on positioning and the speech therapist on promoting understanding around bedtime.

Sleep and Your Special Needs Child by Antonia Chitty and Victoria Dawson is available to order now with a limited time only discount.

9780719807893 9780719807909 9780719807916

New series of books for parents of #specialneedschildren #parenting

handprint smallThe news series of books from Robert Hale for parents of children with special needs. What other topics should we cover? Victoria Dawson, Founder of The Children’s Sleep Charity, and I have been working in the fields of disabilities and special needs for a long time … I won’t say how long … and we’ve brought together our own interests with expert views and case studies and tips from parents in what we hope will be a practical series for every parent who is at the end of their tether, as well as those looking simply to make life better for the family.  Read about the books, below, and let us know what you think.

sleep 3d Sleep and Your Special Needs Child

Sleep is vital for children’s well-being. Without enough sleep their health, mood, behaviour and learning ability may all be impaired. Research shows that children with additional needs are more likely to have sleep disorders than typically developing children, and that without intervention these problems will persist. Victoria Dawson is a successful sleep practitioner and founder of the Children’s Sleep Charity. Here, together with health writer Antonia Chitty, she shares her own experiences, those of other sleep experts and those of parents. While most parents of babies expect sleep problems to resolve within months, parents of children with special needs can find them lasting into adolescence and beyond. This is a pressing issue for parents, as disturbed sleep can cause depression, relationship problems and a weakening of the immune system. The majority of parents receive little or no help with sleep problems, and few families have access to sleep practitioners. This book addresses sleep problems using a highly successful behavioural and cognitive approach to sleep management, and is the first book to explain these approaches in detail. The practical advice contained is invaluable for parents who want to feel more in control and more confident about tackling sleep issues in a way that is appropriate for their child.

food 3d Food and Your Special Needs Child

Children with special needs and disabilities may have accompanying issues with food and eating. This practical guide for parents will help navigate this often difficult terrain. In typically developing children, eating problems are relatively common, affecting 20 – 40% of children. In children with special educational needs and disabilities, eating problems can be even more common; they can be severe and can take many different forms. Anyone who has a child between the ages of two and nineteen with an additional need and a food or eating difficulty will find this book useful. Discover the origins of how we eat, and get practical tips from experts, plus read what has worked for other parents in similar situations.

 

journey 3dAre you worried that there is something wrong with your child? Many parents have concerns about their child’s development, and going through the process of assessment and diagnosis can be stressful. If you believe that there is something wrong with your child, but have yet to get a diagnosis, this book is for you. The Journey Through Assessment will help you through the period of uncertainty when you have to negotiate healthcare and education services. Compiled after extensive research and interviews with parents, it will help you navigate the processes necessary to gain access to the care that your child needs. Discover what might happen during the process, and get practical tips from experts, plus read what has worked for other parents in similar situations so you feel less stressed, less isolated and are more able to help your child on the journey through assessment.  

5 ways to shift your business story from stuck to successful

We are all storytellers, constantly telling ourselves stories about every aspect of our personal and business lives, says Claire Taylor from The Story Mill.

The quality of our lives and our businesses is greatly influenced by the way we tell our stories, how we frame our experiences.

When we tell ourselves empowering stories that support our success then all’s well.  The trouble is when we’re telling ourselves negative stories, we wind-up feeling stuck with a problem.

Claire Taylor co-founder of The Story Mill and author of ‘The Tao of Storytelling’, recommends five steps we need to take to shift any business story from being stuck to being successful:

Recognise that your frustration is coming from a story that you’re telling yourself

It is easy to see our stories as the truth about a situation. However they are not the truth – they’re just our perspective.   What creates frustration is not the ‘facts’ that we see, but the meaning that we’ve give them or they story that we tell.  In businesses, these stories often become a collective perspective and so everyone in the company believes them.

So the first step is to recognise that we’re simply telling a story – we’re framing our experience with meaning.  Next we need to ask if our story is keeping us and others stuck in frustration, fear, stress and other disempowering emotions.

Now is the time to let go of the disempowering story and start creating a new story about our business.

Redefine your difficult problem story into an inspiring challenge story

If you frame problem stories as difficult, impossible or insurmountable you are actually portraying yourself and your business as victims of circumstance.  This is demotivating and depletes people’s energy and enthusiasm.

So what can you do instead?  Start by redefining the problem story into one that is empowering.  That begins with taking responsibility – so if the market or the economy has changed, how are you going to respond to it?  How can you anticipate change and surf the waves of it?  See yourself and your business as the heroes of the piece.  Reframing the problem from this perspective will help people feel more enthusiastic, and even excited, about tackling a challenge as they see themselves as heroic wave surfers.

See your problem story as an opportunity for growth within your business and yourself

Resolving these business challenges calls for innovation, creativity and processes to implement your ideas. Innovation is about creating value from what you have right now.

Begin by creating a vision of what your business success looks like and be sure to include how you’ll know that you have arrived.  Tell the story of having arrived – what would you see, hear, feel?  Who would be there?  What would you be doing?

Consider your stakeholders as your allies along the journey.

It is easy to get into blaming others for your business problems. If you find yourself doing this remember that you’re telling yourself a negative story about them and your business.

These people can be demons and devils or warriors, guides and guardians.  The latter is definitely more useful because your stakeholders can be your greatest allies in achieving success.  When you see them as warriors, guides and guardians you’ll look for their strengths, open up to their ideas, ask for their help, trust them and innovate together.

Remember that successful teams comprise ordinary people inspired by great leadership to achieve extraordinary things

If you find yourself believing that your team isn’t up to scratch, it’s time to stop and ask yourself if you’re actually connecting with them or rejecting them.

You may be projecting your own fears and feelings of vulnerability on to them.  If you’re doing that, then don’t be surprised when you get your story mirrored back to you by the way that people behave.

Taking the opportunity to learn how to empower, trust and learn from the people in your team, would enhance your self-image as a leader.  Investing in your people begins with believing in them and telling yourself positive stories about them, even if they’re not like you.

In summary, we tell ourselves stories all the time.  Mostly these stories are kept to ourselves and often we don’t even acknowledge that we’re carrying them.  However we live by our stories and they drive our behaviour.

Stories can be changed once we acknowledge them, recognise them as stories and make the choice to create new and more empowering business narratives.

Your new inspiring stories create shifts in attitude and motivate you and your stakeholders into doing the activity it takes to produce the business success that you desire.

 

Claire Taylor is a Business Consultant, Writer and co-founder of The Story Mill, an innovative organisation that works with business people to create sustainable success through authentic brand stories, personal branding stories, business strategies & collaborative cultures using a variety of business tools and the art of storytelling.  Claire has worked with companies that include manufacturers; Novartis, Abbott/Abbvie, Pharmacia/Pfizer, and retailers The Burton Group (now Arcadia) and The Kingfisher Group.  Claire holds an MA in Marketing from the University of Westminster and is an NLP Master Practitioner and Storyteller.

Claire is author of ‘The Tao of Storytelling – 30 Ways to create empowering stories to live by’: www.thestorymill.co.uk/ and www.the-tao-of-storytelling.com/

 

Using your intuition spiritual and emotional intelligence in business

Do you rely on facts to make your business decisions or do you follow your gut instinct? I’ve noticed a big interest in articles on the Family Friendly Working site about using your spiritual intelligence so I decided to find out more.

According to Wikipedia, Spiritual intelligence is a term used by some philosophers, psychologists, and developmental theorists to indicate spiritual parallels with IQ (Intelligence Quotient) and EQ (Emotional Quotient). Danah Zohar coined the term “spiritual intelligence” and introduced the idea in 1997 in her book ReWiring the Corporate Brain. There are ongoing debates about Emotional Intelligence – does it exist, can we measure it, and how? The same debate is very much starting around spiritual intelligence. I wonder, though, if the need to define and measure is ignoring something fundamental, as well as being promulgated by those who might not rely on their instincts!

There’s a place for scientific investigation, but I think that it is also interesting to look at what people do every day. I had been thinking about doing a masters for a number of years, but I was always too busy, with family and business vying for time. Some problems with my health coincided with closing part of my business, and all at once I had time to spare, and a reason to reorganise my priorities. I started a course with the WEA which gave me the confidence to apply for an MA in Critical and Creative writing. I’ve been on the course since September and it’s great, giving me loads of new fuel for thought as well as opening up whole new areas of writing. If I hadn’t followed my intuition that the time was right for a big change, I might be struggling to grow a business that wasn’t really working for me anymore.

Joe Gregory runs publishing company Bookshaker.com. He says, “I definitely use instinct when deciding who to partner with. I think we humans are amazing at spotting incongruity when we trust our gut. When buying product and services though I usually check the data.” Small business blogger and trainer Helen Lindop says, “Yes, big life decisions I tend to go with my gut (then justify it to myself with the facts), smaller decisions I tend to go with the data.” Joe recommends Robert Cialdini’s book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, to understand more about how we make decisions. Lucy Carraher is Managing Editor of Rethink Press. She advises, “Consciously seek out facts then wait for intuition to process and give a definitive response. “Gut” or intuition is not irrational or non-factual. It’s our subconscious linking all information, knowledge and emotion in a broader but less visible way than our conscious thinking processes are able. “Gut” is bigger than but includes “facts”.”

But when it comes down to it, when faced by a decision, what do you actually do? In my own experience, I’d say that at the final point of making a choice, you can only follow your instinct, however many facts you have consumed before that point. You will be able to make an informed choice, the facts may seem to point in one direction, but it is your instinct that tells you whether the time is right, and whether that is the right direction for you and your business.

This article first appeared in Business Rocks magazine.