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Project Slippers Volume 3.0 Part C

We’re onto Part C of Project Slippers Volume 3.0, and although some aspects of lockdown have been eased, life is far from normal!!

This round-up starts with a traffic jam, before moving onto the need for a superhero…where’s Superman when you need him?!

We then get to an exciting part of the update, which is the welcoming of a new member of the team, Kieran Durnan, who is embarking on a new career in Digital Marketing, which he says is testing his brain cells (very apt, as that was the topic of the next instalment!)

The final instalment for this update is the value of supporting dreams…from the local pub….yes, really, read on to find out more!

Let’s hope the next round-up is full of updates on the ‘unlocking of lockdown’. We hold the key to the unlocking programme, and the freedom it’ll bring. We need to be sensible, we need to be careful, and we definitely need to keep washing our hands! Let’s get unlocking!!

Volume 3, Week 11 - Week Ending 19/04/2021 - "Traffic Jams"

This week I've realised I miss something else from my "normal life"…..traffic jams….

Yes, really!

Or rather, I miss driving to various client locations and meeting lots of different people, and if those drives encountered traffic jams, so-be-it.

The thought was triggered by a colleague who sent me a reminder of some work we did together in 2019 (the last 'normal' year on record!)

The project was for a Global automotive brand. We were tasked with improving the efficiency of their Global network's aftersales departments. With briefs like this, it's very easy to focus on the areas that aren't working so well, which is a negative way to approach it.

Instead, we identified examples of great practice in Dealerships across the UK, the US and Dubai, and documented what worked well, why it worked so well, and how it was implemented, along with what difference it made.

We then packaged up a toolkit of materials to help other Dealerships to roll out the great practice, in a range of formats including video clips, written documents, and even podcasts.

It was a brilliant project, working with brilliant colleagues, and brilliant Dealerships, and I was honoured to be part of it). It involved driving all over the country, and in my case, flying to the US to work with Retailers across New York State.

It was fascinating to work with the Retailers in the US and to understand the similarities and differences with their sales and aftersales operations. The people I met were so helpful and so welcoming. They even directed me to new attractions in New York, including a beach! Who knew that New York had a beach?! I didn't, but I do now!

As I sit here in my office in Northampton, I can only dream of those trips to New York, and I even remember fondly, the many miles I drove up, down and across the UK motorway network. I sincerely hope those times return soon…I won't even complain about the traffic jams, I promise….

 

Volume 3, Week 12 - Week Ending 26/03/2021 - "Calling All Superheroes!”

We've hit another milestone this week; a year since we were put into a national lockdown in England.

This time last year, I was in the middle of a Global project for an automotive brand. I was programme managing the rollout of a critical system to all markets, so I'd been in regular contact with colleagues in every corner of the world for the last 4 months.

When colleagues in China started talking about a virus spreading throughout their country, it was worrying of course, especially when they were made to stay at home and were only allowed to leave for essential shopping trips, but it felt very very far away. 

Gradually, more and more markets started to report similar impacts and restrictions. As each week in 2020 passed, we could feel the virus 'wave' getting closer and closer.

And then, on 23rd March 2020, the announcement came; we're in lockdown. All non-essential shops had to close, no hairdresser appointments, no holidays, and not even a visit to anyone outside of your household. It felt surreal, but it also felt very temporary! How wrong…

I had a hair appointment booked for the 26th March, so quickly messaged my hairdresser to rebook for 3 weeks’ time when it'd all be back to normal (priorities hey!). Of course, the hair appointment got rebooked another 3 times before I gave up, cancelled it, and bought a home hair dye kit!

We've been plunged into a surreal world, which sometimes feels like a film, except in this film, we don't have a superhero to come and save us…

Where's Superman, Batman or James Bond when you need him (or Wonder Woman of course!)

With a lot of grit and determination (and a lot of fantastic teamwork), the programme I was working on throughout the first lockdown, was delivered on time and on budget. The client was happy, and we promised ourselves a celebration when things got "back to normal". 8 months after that promise, we're still waiting! As quickly as the world opened up again over the summer, lockdown 2 came, followed by our current lockdown.

My list of "in-person catch-ups" is growing by the day, so let's hope I manage to start scheduling them at some point this year. Like many, I'm not sure I can face us getting to the second lockdown anniversary…

Volume 3, Week 13 - Week Ending 02/04/2021 - "Welcome Aboard Kieran"

This week's instalment is dedicated to welcoming Kieran to the team, who is Team Akeno's new full-time Digital Marketing Apprentice. 

As you can probably tell from his job title, Kieran will learning about all aspects of digital marketing, including websites and social media, and I look forward to learning with him! 

I thought the best way to get to know Kieran was to ask him for some fun and/or interesting facts about him and his life. Here's what he said:

  • "I like mountain biking, white-water kayaking and snowboarding" - as a fellow adrenalin junkie, he's going to fit in well! 
  • "I have swallowed a marble" - he assures me this is when he was a child!! 
  • "I have lived in Cumbria, Shropshire and Northants" - where next I wonder?
  • "I fractured a rib sledging on a snowboard holiday" - OK, perhaps I should revise the adrenalin junkie bit, I can't have him hurting himself, he's too valuable to the team!
  • "I have been an Outdoors Pursuits Instructor, a Delivery Driver (during the first lockdown), an Undertaker and a Fishmonger" - wow, what an eclectic and varied history! I wonder what's most daunting, being an Undertaker, or working with me?! 

It's Kieran's last fact that actually drew me to him during the recruitment process. He isn’t afraid of a challenge, and has worked hard to 'find' his career identity.

He's now 2 weeks in, and he's doing a great job - although I'm sure his head must be bursting with all of the new knowledge he's taking onboard! Thank goodness for the Easter break to give the brain a rest!

So, it just goes to show, when you're unsure what your career identity is, it's important to maintain effort and momentum. No effort is ever wasted. All effort gives you something; experience, learning and ideas. 

Welcome aboard Kieran! Fasten your seatbelt, it's going to be an exciting rollercoaster of learning and growth for you and the company!

 

Volume 3, Week 14 - Week Ending 09/04/2021 - "Grey Matter”

It’s been a 4-day working week this week thanks to Easter Monday. I thoroughly enjoyed the long weekend, and even managed to stay away from anything client or business-related, in order to give the old grey matter a rest!

The first stage of the lockdown release measures meant I was able to spend the weekend visiting my parents and parents-in-law for the first time in a very long time, which was really lovely. I also managed to get out for lots of walks in the sunshine and fresh air; definitely much needed (even if the plummeting temperature on Monday meant it was VERY fresh! Brrr!)

I certainly feel better for spending the 4 day weekend resting my brain. Instead of screen time, I picked up a book (a paper book - I’m old school when it comes to reading!), and read for leisure. Heaven!

I realised that what I’d been doing, was self-kindness. Looking after me, so I’m stronger, happier and more capable to power through the week ahead.

 Self-kindness can be very simple, as this image illustrates:

 

My usual way of looking after myself is holidays or weekend breaks. The future is still very uncertain, so I can’t plan any travel. Instead, I’m going to practice the following self-kindness techniques over the coming weeks:

  • Walking - I’m going to aim for a walk every day, even a short burst is better than nothing.
  • Podcasts - I’m really enjoying listening to podcasts, so feel free to send me your recommendations!
  • Reading - I have a pile of books waiting to be read, so I’m going to dedicate some time to get through them.
  • Commitments - I’m going to be mindful of my diary, and will only commit to something if I really want or need it in my life. No half measures!
  • And of course, the moment travel becomes possible, I’ll be the first on a plane outta here!

 

Volume 3, Week 15 - Week Ending 16/04/2021 - "Supporting A Dream From The Pub!”

 

Pubs are open!

Car showrooms are open!

Non-essential shops are open!

Hairdressers are open!

Beauty salons are open!

 

  • Eyebrows done
  • Hair done
  • Met a friend for a walk
  • Had a glass of wine in a freezing cold pub garden
  • Table booked for a meal in a freezing cold pub garden for this weekend

Wow, what an exciting week!

As I’m sure you’ve realised, we’ve hit another phase of the lockdown release plan, and what a brilliant milestone it was. It’s amazing how much we value the simplest things in life now, isn’t it? One of the highlights of this last week has been the ability to meet a friend for a socially distanced walk. Even the chilly, and slightly drizzly weather didn’t dampen the spirit!

Another reason why it’s been such a great week is from a business perspective.

It’s been so hard for businesses that have had to close during this lockdown. Hopefully, this next release phase will be a chance to plug some of the financial gaps. My local pubs have certainly been busy this week; or rather, their gardens have been!

So, I encourage you to support the small businesses around you. There are many ways to show your support:

  • Spend your money in local shops where possible
  • Share social media posts
  • Like social media posts
  • Comment with something positive, or even just a nice emoji
  • Leave a review on their website or social media channels
  • Tag a friend, and encourage friends to support too
  • Ask how else you can help
  • Pay your way, especially when using the services of a friend’s small business

 

And the best bit? When you support a small business, you are supporting a dream.

So, you see, that glass of wine in a pub garden, is actually supporting a small business owner and their dreams.

Win-win!

Before you go, how about supporting me by sharing this post, liking it, or even just adding an emoji.

And better still, if you have 2 minutes, how about writing a comment of support about me and my business!

What do you like about me, my work, or my business?