Dare to… make history

At our latest Pearls of Wisdom event – “Dare to Make History” – we were thrilled to be joined by Cathy Newman, who spoke to us about her bloody brilliant new book, “Bloody Brilliant Women – the pioneers, revolutionaries and geniuses that your history teacher forgot to mention”.

Channel 4’s Cathy regaled stories of the often sidelined, diverse women throughout the UK’s history who have fought for change and championed equality for women. Drawing parallels between modern society and 20th century life in Britain, Cathy described the incredible lives of a few of the political pioneers and female advocates that are showcased in her book.

Before beginning her account of each woman’s tale, Cathy asked the floor if we had ever heard of these women and their formidable achievements. Only a few proceeding murmurs from the audience said it all; proving the important role this book plays in celebrating these lesser known women and the humbling truth that these stories would be lost if books such as this didn’t document them.

Although she would never say it, Cathy too is a bloody brilliant woman. When answering questions from our panel, Cathy told the audience how she juggled her career as the first female main presenter of the Channel 4 news, her role as wife and mother to two young children, and becoming a published author all at the same time. An astonishing achievement that is both awe-inspiring and empowering. Cathy spoke about how she has always been fascinated in history, and as a hard-hitting journalist has always loved to write, yet never thought she would successfully finish writing a book. “Hearing the word ‘author'”, she said excitedly, “I still can’t really believe it”.

Thank you to Cathy who was an incredible guest, and thanks to all who came along to our special event. If, like us, you love a trailblazer, a disruptor or a champion for change – you really don’t want to miss out on reading this book…

With just two months left of this year, at WICT UK, we’re keen to close the year out in style with two more events that will ensure you end the year on a high! At November’s event we’ll have double the Pearls of Wisdom as we’re joined by Lessons for Life, a children’s charity that funds education projects in Africa, and Ria Hebden, who was recently nominated as ‘Presenter of the Year’ by the 2018 Diversity in Media Awards. You can check the “coming up” section for more details and a link to register for your tickets. Hope to see you there!

Dare to… use all your gifts

We were thrilled to listen to the impressive Clare Anyiam-Osigwe at our latest Pearls of Wisdom event – this month’s theme was “Dare to use all your gifts”, something that Clare has certainly been doing.

Clare founded PremaeUK, the world’s first freefrom beauty brand, before having her own private practice at No.1 Harley Street, specialising in vegan facials and skin/ diet consultations. Peamae skincare has been awarded a number of awards – including an honour from the Queen for her services to dermatology. Clare has also been named by Forbes Africa as one of the most influential women in West Africa. As if these achievements weren’t enough, Clare has turned her hand to film-making, using other gifts and talents to create her first feature film, “No Shade” – which premiers this Summer.

Clare’s skincare brand, PremaeUK was born following her personal struggles with skincare issues. PremaeUK grew from a small stall in Spitalfields market before growing to a pop-up shop in Carnaby Street, developing to a flagship store in Whiteleys before calling #1 Harley Street home. After working tirelessly to successfully grow PremaeUK,Clare decided that she wanted to make use of her other gifts, addressing her passion for film by deciding that now was the time to write her first feature film, “No Shade.” Clare’s advice is that “if you want to try something different – don’t be afraid. Start to think about the skills and the gifts that you have. There are always options, and you are never going to fall completely flat on your face, and if you do, you get back up”

In order to really focus, Clare decided to delete the social media apps that she felt she spent too long on and hone in on what the message was that she wanted to convey through “No Shade.” Clare discussed with us that film is a powerful medium for social change, highlighting that in the industry, there has only been one type of rhetoric shown since the 1980’s. Through “No Shade,” Clare hopes to begin conversation around colourism and misogyny, as these are issues that need to be addressed. We need to embrace diversity, it is good for everybody in every industry, and is something that we should be talking about.

Clare discussed with us the importance of leading by example, but acknowledged that big risk comes with big responsibility. Taking responsibility for your actions is important – however it is also important to give people the chance to change.

Though using all your gifts and trying new things is something we could all aim to try, it is also important to practice self-care, and admitting that you need a moment isn’t weak, nor does it mean you are failing.

Thanks to all who came along, keep your eyes peeled for an invite to our May Pearls of Wisdom event, where we will be joined by Julia Immonen, who will be sharing her story of rowing the Atlantic in a quest to help tackle modern day slavery. You can check the “coming up” section for more details and a link to register for your tickets. Hope to see you there!


Dare to… challenge the status quo

In a week that saw the Oscar’s herald a “new day” for women in Hollywood, and with International Women’s Day calling us to #PushForProgress we were thrilled to host the latest Pearls of Wisdom event, hosted by Virgin Media. We listened to stories from trail-blazing women who chose the path less trodden when it came to their career choices, to hear what it takes to go boldly where few women have dared to before…

Lauren Dolan discussed driving culture change and nurturing talent in a male dominated world. Lauren highlighted the importance of knowing yourself, your strengths and the value you bring to a team – and then making these known. The magic ingredients for a team player? According to Lauren, hard work, passion, humility and resilience are the perfect combination for a team player. Though it is important not just to focus on the team, you need to focus on the league. Your network is essential – getting the right people, the right women, behind you will undoubtedly help propel your career.

Natalia Awodeji is one of the few females in a senior STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) role, and shared with us some pearls of wisdom on how and why we should be aiming to build a diverse pipeline within the industry. Currently, there is a lack of confidence, a lack of support and a lack of mentors for young females interested in a career in STEM. As a senior design engineer, Natalia has found herself in situations walking in to a lab to work where was asked whether she was lost. It is important that we inspire, inform and support young girls in order to encourage them so that they understand that they are just as capable of carrying out a STEM role as boys are. Change is slowly happening though, over the last 2 years, the number of women in STEM roles has increased from 9% to 11% and we hope this number will continue to grow!

Laura Denton was one of the first female STEM graduates, and joined us to share her experience and advice of carving a successful career in a male dominated industry. Laura discussed how being a woman in a STEM role is an advantage, because she chose to see it as one. One of Laura’s key pearls of wisdom was about confidence; we have to have the confidence in ourselves. There’s no stereotyping, we can all do it if we believe in ourselves. If you don’t believe in yourself then how can you expect anyone else to? One thing that we do need to address is the language that we use “stop being such a girl,” “she’s just like one of the lads,” “she’s really good for a girl” – why is being a girl such a negative?

Dr Carolyn Lorian joined us to share her pearls of wisdom on how to stay resilient and maintain your purpose.  She highlighted three key pearls of wisdom;

  1. Adapt
    Men and women respond differently to risk, as women tend to underestimate their ability to cope moreso than men. You need to identify what is risky to you, so that you can redefine risk and gradually expand your comfort zone
  2. Engage
    Maximise your time “in the zone” by balancing skill and challenge – figure out what it is that engages you. This can mean constantly re-calibrating where you are at.
  3. Recharge
    Understand what it is that re-charges you and make that non-negotiable. Think of yourself in the same way as your phone – when you have a low battery, you aren’t working at optimal level.

Thanks to all who joined us for the event, and to our inspirational guest-speakers. We look forward to seeing you at the next event coming up on 25th April, keep your diaries clear, and your eyes peeled for more information coming soon…

Five Rules of Mental Toughness

In 2017, Dr Jim Golby shared with us a presentation on mental toughness, referencing the impressive LaRae Quy’s 5 rules. LaRae spent twenty-three years working as a counterintelligence agent with the FBI, focusing on mental toughness as a means of surviving environments of risk, uncertainty and deception. In case you missed it, here is a refresher of the 5 initiatives that LaRae believes helps to develop mental toughness…

Rule #1 Develop Emotional Awareness
To be mentally tough, you need to have a deep understanding of what makes you tick so you can follow your calling and create a richer life.

Mental toughness is often associated with sports activities where athletes need to bulldoze their way through to the finish line – and yes, strong minds are needed to build strong bodies that are physically competitive. Any top leader worth their salary will tell you that the will to win has to come from within. That requires individuals to have mental toughness so they can control their emotions, thoughts, and behaviour in ways that will set them up for success.

Mental toughness is accepting our feelings without being controlled by them.

Rule #2 Push Through Your Limits
Mentally tough people know that to reach their potential, they need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable .

World class experts fail a lot. They like to play at things that are too hard for them and accept challenges that are too big – but this is key: In the process, they’re always getting valuable feedback. You cannot be mentally tough if you cry like a baby because it’s scary when left in the dark. Guess what? Life frequently throws a wad of darkness into our midst—even when we aren’t expecting it or don’t want it!

We are confronted with the unknown everyday, and we choose to either navigate it with success or avoid it like a wimp. Mental toughness requires us to push through the limits that we’ve imposed on ourselves, or have been imposed upon us by others. We need to practice moving into our discomfort zone—frequently. Each time we fail we need to take the time to stop and analyse what we learned from the experience. With these experiences comes the confidence that we won’t break like a china doll in the process.

A message to all wimps: You cannot grow if you don’t move out of the centre where it is safe and well-lit. Instead, follow your calling and celebrate each time you break a new frontier. It is ironic that you must move to the edge to find your centre.

Rule #3 Transform Your Mind
To be mentally tough, you need to keep a tight rein on your thoughts – we become what we think.

We are impacted by our thoughts because neuroscience is proving that we can actually rewire our brain by changing the way we think. Recent research in the field of neuroplasticity explains how new neural pathways and synapses can be created by changing our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour. In other words, mental toughness is not something you were born with, it is something you can develop!

Neuroplasticity replaced the former opinion that the brain was a static organ that stops growing by the age of 25. Now we know the brain is capable of changing throughout our lifetime. Norman Vincent Peale made the expression “The power of positive thinking” very popular several decades ago. Instinctively he knew, without the benefit of neuroscience, that if we change our attitudes we can empower ourselves to achieve the impossible.

The Rule of Transform Your Mind states that by changing the way you think about self-limiting beliefs and other obstacles in your life, you can rewire your brain in such a way that it is always working for you and not against you.

#4 Focus Your Energy
If you want to be mentally tough, you must be able to focus your mental and physical energy. When we focus, we are present to what is happening right now, not in the past or the future. It’s important to keep the mind and body completely engaged in the actual performance and NOT the outcome of the performance.

Olympic athletes are excellent examples of how to channel talent into success. They do not rely on luck to take home the gold medal. World class experts practice with laser focus with a specific goal in mind. But it’s not just repeating the same task over and over—it is deliberate practice, and that has certain features:

  • Break down each task into individual parts
  • Work on the hard stuff
  • Get feedback so you can get better
  • Put your ego on the back burner
  • Remain steadfast in your goals

Rule #5 Pursue Personal Growth
If you are seriously interested in sharpening your mental toughness, you need to read… books, articles, blogs. I have never met a mentally strong person who was not a voracious reader. The reason? The mentally tough are learners who understand that the world is not made of up of winners or losers; instead, the world is made up of learners or non-learners. If you have mental toughness, you learn new skills and expand your horizons, study to become more intelligent, and find ways to make yourself more likable and attractive.

If we were born smart and talented, we wouldn’t know to work hard because it would all come so naturally to us, meaning that when times get tough, we would give up. Mentally tough people are scrappy folks who know that just because you started out the smartest, it doesn’t mean you’re going to end up the smartest.

Christmas Spirit and Inspiration with WICT

Did you miss our fabulous, festive, final event of 2017? Fear not… here is a round up of our Christmas Spirit and Inspiration event, including video highlights too!

We ended the year on a high. Our first inspirational guest speaker Caroline Strood (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP) discussed the Gender Pay Gap… did you know that 10th November marks the day that, in theory, women in the UK start working for free until the end of the year! This date hasn’t moved in the past three years, and reflects the mean gender pay gap for full time workers. However, thanks to new legislation, we can look forward to more open, honest conversations with companies regarding gender pay differences, as companies with 250+ employees will have to publish average pay for men and women (including any bonuses).

When you are going for a new role, Caroline advises that  you do not disclose your previous salary to your potential new employer, as if you have been underpaid in your previous position, this will exacerbate being underpaid. Whereas if you do not share this information, you are more likely to be paid for the role itself.

Our second speaker, Deloitte’s Cornelia Calugar Pop took us through the latest mobile consumer trends, including “silver surfers” on Snapchat, and a lack of productivity on mobiles in the workplace! Cornelia also discussed the rise of women in Tech – often a male-dominated industry, sharing her own experiences with us.

Our final speaker of the day was Dana Strong, president and COO of Virgin Media. Dana’s impressive career has taken her around the world, and she had some fantastic pearls of wisdom to share with us. First and foremost, we should all “think big and go for it” – there is nothing to stop us trying to smash that glass ceiling.  Throughout her career, Dana found that throwing her hat into the ring for a more senior role helped raise her profile, and ultimately opened a lot of doors for her and contributed to her success. She also shared with us the importance of failure as well as success; “failure is good, scar tissue is formative. A lot of learning has come from my failures.”

Finally, she stressed the importance of having a strong network around you…”be careful not to skip those after work cocktail parties and networking events.” With that in mind, it would have been rude not to raise a glass and toast to a wonderful year of being bold! Cheers to that!

Round up of our March Be Brave event

The sun was shining on us as Virgin Media hosted our March WICT UK “Be Brave” Event, continuing the “Be Bold for Change” conversation from International Women’s Day 2017. There was a fantastic turnout, and we would like to say a huge thank you to our inspirational guest speakers and panellists who shared their personal experiences of how being brave has impacted their lives and careers.

We would also like to thank those of you who were able to join us for the afternoon. For those of you who weren’t able to join us, fear not, we have rounded up some highlights to share with you below.

Brigitte Trafford, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Virgin Media
Virgin Media’s very own Brigitte Trafford shared some of the brave decisions she has made throughout her career, and how they have led her to where she is today. Brigitte emphasised the importance of a strong support network, and consulting people when it comes to bold decisions – such as upping sticks and moving countries for a new role!

Alex Mowle chaired our first panel of the day, who were brave enough to take to the stage to discuss the practicalities of being bold early in your career, and how doing so can help to create future leaders

CEO and president of WICT, Maria Brennan
Maria discussed girl power, and not in the spice girls sense. Many of us these days are modern day superwomen; often juggling a career, a family, friendships, hobbies, exercise, and somehow still maintain a social life. Unsurprisingly, we are scientifically proven to be better at multitasking than men. Put simply: women are good for business. Therefore, it makes sense for businesses to invest in women!

Kerry O’Brien, CEO and Founder of Young Urban Arts Foundation
Kerry challenged us to think about the meaning of the word “brave” – sharing her personal experiences of bravery, vulnerability and perseverance in the face of adversity. Despite coming up against many challenges throughout her career, Kerry has always found a way turn negatives in to something positive, using her talent to help and support others via her youth charity; The Young Urban Arts Foundation. YUAF works with young people, engaging them through music and arts to build self-confidence, self-worth and teach them new skills as they develop.

Helen Scott – WICT UK Advisor
I am sure you will have heard of the phrase “YOLO” (You Only Live Once) – well, Helen Scott certainly has. Helen shared the brave decisions she has made both professionally, and personally – and how life is too short not to be bold. Career-wise, Helen explained how staying true to herself served her well, and meant that she found the confidence to be bold in her decisions in challenging times. Personally, she recently made the bold decision to swap her career in the city for the country air in “Beer” (yes- that is a real place!)

Poppy Weston-Davies, Director Business and Legal Affairs at Scripps Networks Interactive headed up our final panel for the day. Our panellists told us about the wildest things that have happened in their careers. From failed restaurants and being chased by the IRS, to re-locating for new roles, to going in to labour and still managing to deliver a presentation (and then a baby!)

As you can tell, it was a jam-packed day, and we covered a lot of topics! We hope you left the event inspired, and connected and ready to go forth and #BeBrave!

Kathleen M. O’Connor | The Art of Persuasion

We were incredibly excited to be joined by Professor Kathleen M. O’Connor at the end of last year. She shared some extremely thought-provoking insight on gender stereotypes and how we can all make smarter decisions, negotiate better strategic partnerships and build more effective networks.

If you missed her brilliant presentation, you can view it here and please share with your fellow colleagues and peers.


It’s Okay to Celebrate Success! However Big or Small

We’re constantly talking about how to better our work and personal life. How to achieve your goals? How to get the next promotion? But how often do we appreciate our smaller successes?

Whether it’s the mental fist-pump after speaking up in a meeting, or if you receive praise from an unexpected colleague. Whatever the size of the success, we should celebrate it.

It can be very easy to become submerged by ambition and drive and although determination is important, it doesn’t mean we should forget our daily ‘winning’ moments in the office.

Persevering and knuckling down through stressful times is one thing, but appreciating your quick wins is a great way to feel more energised and positive about future projects. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like to hear when they’re doing a good job?

It can be equally beneficial to look at this from another perspective. When was the last time you aired someone’s success or gave positive feedback to the presenter of a meeting? Small efforts to uplift the mood and appreciation in the office will go a long way, not only for yourself but for those working with you.

Here are some successes I’ve celebrated recently. As I’m sure you can tell, some are much bigger achievements than others, but each have been a productive step in meeting my monthly and annual goals.

  • Completing a content launch for a new TV show to an excellent standard
  • Finished all video edits for the month
  • Connecting with content producers within the domestic business
  • Crossing off the last action on my to-do list by Friday afternoon

Being proactive is one of the best steps to making yourself feel more energised and motivated. Ask for feedback from employers or simply ask for advice. Having a positive outlook won’t just make you feel better but highlight areas for improvement and provide the reassuring feeling that you you really are doing a good job.

What are some of your successes that you want to shout about? Comment below.

Lucy Vince