The rollercoaster continues!

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In my last blog I wrote about how rubbish things had felt for me that week.  I promised myself that the following week I would be fired up, focused and fabulous.  So here I am ready to report back to you on how that has been.

I posted my blog on Friday morning and felt pretty flat, but after an afternoon of gaining some perspective, doing things that made me happy and taking some time for my mental wellbeing being I was feeling a little more positive.  I understand that to some people that will all sound a bit American but for me it works and let’s be honest, your general wellbeing is so important.  We should focus on that more often rather than simply being happy burning ourselves out.   Anyway as a result of some head space I then had a cracking weekend, doing simple things with someone who makes me smile.  This all set me up for a blinding week and that is what I have had.  So good that I am now writing this blog 3 days late!

A week ago today I drove to Newcastle to spend the day with my friend Sophie.  I mention Sophie in a few blogs.  To recap, we worked together at JL for a few years and she left after being made redundant 4 years ago.  Since then she has set up Smart Resourcing Solutions and in my opinion she is flying.  She is a great inspiration, motivation and support to have in my life.  Alongside being a great friend she has unofficially become my mentor.  Last Monday we had planned in time to go through my business plan, look at the financials, share experience and plan for my strategy day that I was having with my coach later in the week.  As ever, time with Sophie was thought-provoking.  I came away with a head full of ideas, actions, motivation and positivity.  It is really uplifting to spend time with people who get it!  I always love hearing about her plans and work and the highs and lows that she faces too.  Although to be honest it is a whole heap of highs right now for Soph!

I spent Tuesday focusing my head after the day in Newcastle and getting a strategy plan together to compliment my business plan.  I didn’t intend to do this but after I sent my business plan to Lisa (my coach) she sent me some thought-provoking questions and I decided to explore them fully.  They were so helpful in supporting me to be clear about my mind, emptying my head on to paper and to see everything written down.  That actually brings me nicely on to Lisa.  I have written about her a few times.  I have been working with Lisa as my coach for the last 2 months I think.  I didn’t know her before and this is the first time I have had a meaningful coaching relationship. Something that I can see and feel is making me a better person.  It is helping me to stay focused, hold myself to account, consider things I didn’t even know needed consideration, believe in myself, challenge myself and plan.  I came across Lisa via a post on LinkedIn and after an initial discovery call I knew that we could work together.

Thursday was spent with Lisa, she had structured the day exactly around my needs.  We have spoken often and in-depth and so she really understands my head and where I am at, what I am struggling with and how I tick.  This allowed us to have a really great 3 hours together.  We got straight to it, using my business plan and strategy document to help formulate my operational plan to being ready to launch Sparkle HR in November 2017.  As you can imagine, there is a lot to do and a lot to learn along the way but I can now 100% say I am ready for this!  My plan is set out and I can track how I am progressing confidently.  I posted on LinkedIn about my day with Lisa and I will say it again in my blog, if you are going through change, or simply need support with your development/progression then working with a coach can be a beneficial relationship to have. Investment in yourself is important and I can speak from experience now, Lisa is fabulous.  If you want to know more drop me a message.  Her name is Lisa Jelly and she offers a free 45 minute discovery call for anyone interested.

My parting paragraph for this week is to say, I am feeling in a good place, I feel that no matter what happens with this venture I am giving it my all.  That is all I can ask of myself.  Last week was a great week, this week is starting off that way too but as my previous blogs have captured, that can change at the drop of a hat at the moment.  For now, I am focussing on me, my future and my feelings.  That feels good, long may this fired up, focused and fabulous lady continue!

Sometimes the strength within you is not a big fiery flame for everyone to see, it’s just a tiny spark that whispers ever so softly, “keep going.  You got this”

Love Laura x

Desperation and Hope 

That’s a pretty dramatic title but hey I’m a dramatic kinda girl!

When I started my blog I promised myself and also documented it in writing that I would write honestly. This is after all, a blog taking you on my journey from employee to business owner and beyond.  It won’t be easy, I always knew that!  It is with that thought that I decided this week to write about how I have been feeling over the last 7 days.

This week has been tough. Returning from a beautiful holiday is never easy. Returning from holiday to 700 emails at a time when you are being made redundant, in a week when you are being formally assessed by the CIPD and you’re trying to focus on a bright future and when that future is so alien to you, I can tell you now is utterly hideous.

I think that some of my panic, worry and upset has been triggered by a significant milestone in the change process of my currrent employment. Group consultation has closed and the proposal is now final. Meaning being served my notice is one step closer and the reality and enormity of this huge change is slamming me in the face daily.  Yes I have my plan and I am well on my way to setting up Sparkle HR but this week I’ve found myself doubting all of that. I’ve doubted my ability, progress, decision making and sanity!

I think it is because I am not in a great frame of mind that everything seems so scary.

It’s not all been bad though. I’ve been listening to a podcast called Style your Mind by Cara Alwill, she is a life coach and focuses on women who want to empower themselves and build a beautiful life.  I’ve also used a site called Fiverr to source a creative to do my branding. So, she has my brief and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with. Sparkle HR is about to get a logo!

My point of telling you all of this is not to start your Friday off in a depressing way or to look for sympathy. My point is that I need to acknowledge for myself that it’s been hard and hard days will continue to come. I have to face in to them. I am also sharing because I hope that this helps others to know you’re not alone. I’m sure lots of people have been on a similar journey to me in the past and I know lots of people will be on the same one right now.

Find the moments of light in a dark week and acknowledge them. Feel proud of them.

So yes, it’s been hard, but there has been some positive baby steps forward and I’m determined to keep the momentum up and to squash the negativity and worry.

Decide the kind of person you want to be and go be them, but do not let a bad day become a bad week, month or year.

It always seems impossible until it’s done – Mandela

Love Laura x

The power of networks

Two blogs down and going strong. I’m really enjoying writing them. They are keeping me on track, making me accountable to myself and I’m enjoying all of your helpful offers of support or advice.  Still utterly amazed by the amount of views. Over 6000 views of my first 2 blogs. Just wow!

This week I’ve returned to work after a week off and the inbox had exploded! I’m not going to complain though because I’m off again shortly! Alongside the exploded inbox I have also attended 2 webinars.  A bit of personal development time for myself. One about how you might be holding yourself back and how to step up to your plans, the other about making the most from your LinkedIn profile.  Both were super useful. The first was hosted by Amanda Alexander and I literally came off the iPad after it ended, put my women of the 80s Spotify playlist on (yes I have that playlist!) and danced around like a fool. That’s how energised I was!  It’s ok to laugh at this point!  In fact, yesterday I had a call from Amanda to say she is offering me some of her time for a career momentum call. How fabulous. 

The content was so helpful though and funnily enough a chunk of it was about networking and I had already started to draft this blog so great timing really!

I mentioned briefly last week about networking. So I thought I would focus on that this week because in the last 2 months my opinion has changed massively on the value that this has.  I also said I would be honest about my highs and lows. I had a lot of time to think whilst relaxing in Palma last weekend. That was great to get some head space but I definitely have been through a range of emotions and then returning to work after a week off has been hard. Hard because when I’m there I am acutely aware of how much I will miss the place when I do go. That makes me sad.

Honestly. It’s emotionally exhausting and there’s still so much to do and let’s not forget that Monday to Friday there’s still the day job to take priority. My head has never been as full, or excited to be fair.  It’s an equal split of mega excitement and utter fear right now!

So before I get on to my thoughts about networking let me tell you a bit more about me.  I’m sociable, fun and I like to think I’m pretty funny too but maybe you should ask others that know me if that’s true or not! I enjoy meeting new people, I love learning about others, from others and equally I love supporting others.  I’m pretty good at making myself stay out of my comfort zone but like most I don’t like the feeling that at  times this brings. I have high standards for myself.  That can be a good and bad thing.  I put a huge amount of pressure on myself to succeeed. I’m the kind of person that’s loyal personally and in business and I try my hardest to keep friendships and connections strong. There’s a definite art to that and you most certainly do have to make a conscious effort to do this well.

So I’m sure most of you would think they are all great characteristics to apply when networking and I agree, they are.  But really, when I said last week I nearly didn’t attend my first I’m being honest. I felt so sick.  That’s an odd emotion really for something so simple. It’s bizarre how your body can take over in a way that I can only describe as ridiculous but hey it happens to us all from time to time. It’s what you do as a response to that I suppose.  It’s the age old fight or flight scenario. I didn’t want to go but I did, and I said last week how fabulous I felt as a result of making myself.  So yes, I have the skills to build effective connections and yes it is something I do daily and am currently doing more than ever.  Is it always easy? No. Will I face in to it anyway? You bet!

In the past I’ve always questioned how useful it was, I now wonder how much of that was my own excuse to not step up but I suppose I also never had a clear reason for being there and I guess now I do.   Don’t get me wrong, I network in my current organisation it’s not like this is entirely alien and a newly acquired skill but that’s internally and not externally. It’s different. You have a common topic internally. It’s a little more comfortable and familiar. There’s the common goal that’s easier to pinpoint. As part of her webinar, Amanda also made me realise that networking isn’t just face to face. This blog is building my networks, LinkedIn is exactly that as are all of the other social media platforms. I had never made that link in my mind. Networking is simply connecting with others. So, my challenge to myself is to connect with at least one new person a week from here in. I will keep you posted but I’ve definitely been doing that so far.  I’ve had a number of great conversations with new people this week 😃

Networking isn’t all about taking from others or attracting potential future clients either, it’s about learning, trying new things and equally offering support.  I never knew how supportive it could be. I expected it to be competitive. My experience so far is the opposite.  I have been blown away by how so many people want to help and are keen to share. In fact it’s infectious and I’ve found myself sharing my experience and helping others more freely than ever.  Why not? I’m a firm believer that good things happen to good people.

You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want – Zig Ziglar

Love Laura x

16th March 2017 a day like no other. 

So, since my first blog post has had over 3000 views (how crazy and amazing is that!) I’ve definitely decided that my idea to blog weekly is no bad thing. What has been amazing has been the support from people I know, people I don’t know, the suggestions of resources that might help me and well, In general the all round genuine kindness. You see…..being kind is so underrated and something that personally means a great deal to me. Therefore you lovely lot, do not underestimate the power of your kindness and the impact that has had. It has given me masses of positivity and reaffirmed that this is the right thing to do. Thank you so much and long may that continue.  From the bottom of my heart, I really appreciate it.  It’s also nice to know that so many of you like the name I’ve chosen. Sparkle HR feels like it is off to a good start 🙂

Last week I explained the main circumstance that has brought me to this place.  What I didn’t share though is some of the things that have helped me make the decision to take the risk and go it alone. You see, in my mind my two options were to look for a HR role in another organisation or to set up my own HR consultancy. Both daunting but I felt I had to choose one of the routes, one is more risky than the other and certainly not in my comfort zone. 

So how did I get to this place then? The place where I’ve chosen the unknown, the risk, the place of uncertain waters. Well it’s a mixture of things, all of which I will cover in future blog posts but too many for one sitting so let me tell you about the main lightbulb moment for now.

It all started on the 16th of March, just over a month ago. Not long really! It’s turned out to be a pivotal day.

  1. I attended my first networking event
  2. The idea of of starting my own business became a very real possibility for the first time in my life.
  3. I texted a friend to share that spark, the first time I had shared that with anyone.
  4. I bought a book called She Means Business
  5. I started a journal of ideas, thoughts and actions.

I found a local networking event to attend and did so on the 16th March 2017. What a great decision that turned out to be. I won’t lie to you, I nearly didn’t go, the thought of walking in to a room of strangers….successful strangers at that was very daunting. However, I pushed myself and I went. I’m so so pleased I did. I genuinely really loved it. I left buzzing and I met some great people. I’ve since been to more. I don’t feel apprehensive at all now (well maybe a little). In fact I look forward to them. In such a short space of time I’ve conquered a fear. I’m proud of that. It’s amazing what you can do when you make yourself.  That doesn’t mean it’s easy, it just means that every day I’m trying to be a better version of myself. I spoke to a number of people at the event, but one person, Nicola, really struck a chord with me. She has recently done what I am now about to do. She chatted openly about her journey and she shared so much and when I left I had her words ringing in my ears “I’ve never looked back, I love it”. That night after finishing work. I bought a journal.  You remember in my first blog I told you I was a bit of a control freak, well Its no surprise that my first entry on the evening of the 16 March looks like this….

On the 16th I also texted my lovely friend Sophie – I will tell you more about Sophie in a future blog because quite frankly she has been amazing in showing so much belief in my ideas and I feel I have a lot to share with you about her, our friendship and her support. I will definitely share all of that with you because she has been and continues to be an awesome cheerleader. You know I said last week, I dream of a group of cheerleaders. Well, don’t leave Sophie on her own. Come join in! Infact, going on the support from my first blog I would say I have a superb group forming 😉

I texted her to say

Hey Soph. I’ve been to a breakfast networking event today. Totally loved it. Got so much from it. Was wondering if you were free one night for a chat as I would love to pick your brains on going it alone as an hr consultant. It’s something today that’s sparked in me as a potential next move but I’ve never considered it so would love your advice opinions etc. Hope London is good. Xxx

Her response was very Sophie and exactly what I needed. Someone to simply give me permission to go for it.

Oooh how exciting! That’s very very cool. It’s actually a really good move and I’ve loads I could help you with/tell you about so def up for a chat xx

And so if I’m honest. In my heart. I knew that was it. My decision was made.  Thanks Sophie ❤️

On the 16th of March I also bought a book written by Carrie Green called She Means Business. Which by the way I can not recommend highly enough. I stumbled upon her originally because my friend Sophie (as mentioned above) sent me a link to one of her TED talks – programming your mind for success. Anyway, I bought the book and it has been amazing. Carrie runs something called the Female Entrepreneur Association and my goodness, you know when you can totally relate to someone and what they say. Well, that’s been the power her book, free resources and webinars etc have had on me and my life so far. It continues to be my bible!  You should check her out. She is a strong, powerful, successful northern woman in her 30s. What’s not to love! 😉

So that was the 16th March 2017, a day that started out as any normal day but has turned out to be one that could change my world forever! 

I will share more next week, I hope you all have a good weekend. I’m currently enjoying a lovely weekend in Palma with my sister. Bliss.

Love Laura x

My current screensaver on my phone is simply this (and the reason I started with that picture in this blog) 

“I can and I will, watch me” – Carrie Green

Taking baby steps

Every day I’m trying to do something that is a small step towards creating Sparkle. I know it won’t simply happen over night. I know it won’t happen easily and I know it won’t happen by accident. I also know I’ve got a lot to learn about being the Director of my own company. As I said last week though, I put pressure on myself to succeed and my standards are set high. I believe that this will help me to make this a success but I have to keep moving forward. I can not afford for the time to disappear unutilised.

I’m spending all of my spare time reading things, asking questions, talking to people and getting involved in personal development opportunities where I can. I’ve opened my mind to areas of opportunity and chances to develop my skills even further.

I’ve had my first career coaching session this week with Lisa Jelly which was fantastic.  She’s someone I found via a LinkedIn post a few weeks ago and I suppose it has been another one of those lightbulb moments really. It is so useful to have a coach at such a key point in my life. I’m really enjoying that relationship, in Lisa’s words she wants to help me get clarity and calmness in my life. I’m up for that! So, what else have I been up to?

Well, I met a graduate at a CIPD event recently and I’ve since met up with with her in a mentoring capacity.  I’ve also signed up to the CIPD steps ahead mentoring programme and have matched myself with a student that I’m due to meet soon. I’ve supported a charity with a grievance and I’ve registered my company as a limited company and bought my domain name.

I’ve done lots of other stuff too but my point is this, there’s loads to do, lots to build and lots to learn but I have time to do it if I focus. I’m trying to stop the overwhelm crippling me. It would be easy to let it! My coaching with Lisa is helping me with this point actually!

There is so much I don’t know about being a business owner but in a short amount of time I already know so much more than I did! That excites me. The possibilities excite me. At least one thing is for sure. I know HR! I keep imagining how hard this must be for people starting from scratch. A new business and new services or product. It’s a blessing I’m taking my love and passion for HR and simply offering my skills in a different way to different people.

A couple of weeks ago I was sat thinking through what my purpose is, why will Sparkle HR exist, what makes me different? It was during this reflective moment that I remembered something I have learnt about in my current employment. That is a theory by Simon Sinek called the golden circles.  I’m sure many of you are familiar with this but if not check him out. His theory is simple but effective, in my opinion anyway.

It looks like this:


Simon says 2 things that are currently ringing through my ears daily.

  1. People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
  2. The aim is not to do business with everyone but to do business with people that believe what you do.

So with that I set about thinking about my why for Sparkle. When I had completed that I felt so liberated. It felt like a huge achievement. I had purpose. I am now clear why I’m doing what I’m doing. That night I had a few celebratory cocktails with friends.  It felt like a very small but very significant milestone.  I will share my why with you in a future blog. It might continue to be tweaked slightly over the coming weeks so I don’t want to share too soon!

Thinking about the golden circles let me give you a great example. Take Katy, she’s someone who gives me beautiful HD brows every month. Over the years I’ve been to many salons to get my brows done. Why stick with Katy for the last 3 years? (and I will do as long as she is trading) Simple. I like her, she’s fun, creative, talented, ambitious and a normal woman with 2 young children. She has a huge ambition and a dream that she’s succeeding at. Why wouldn’t I want to support that. I don’t go to her because I have to. I go to her because I love everything she stands for. I don’t buy what she does. I buy why she does it. It just helps that I leave with great brows 😉

Interestingly enough my lovely friend and colleague Tom, sent me a link this week to a guy that has his own jeans company.  Tom knew it was the kind of thing I would love, me and him are similar in the way we work and where we get our passion from. So I knew I had to watch it. The guy was called David Hieatt. He’s similar in his approach to what I’ve been talking about here. He cares about his customers and he knows why he’s doing what he’s doing. He’s not in it just to sell jeans. He wants to offer employment back to his local town. He’s passionate about people not being obsessed with themselves and suggests that giving back is more important.

I could not agree more!

In a fast world don’t be slow – David Hieatt

Love Laura x

I know some pretty amazing people, lucky me! 

Hey everyone. I’ve been in Florida for the last 10 days and I’m feeling happy. It’s been wonderful. I’ve had a good balance of totally switching off and time to do some reading and planning for when I return. Actually I’ve been reading a book this holiday called the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, it’s about following your dreams. I can totally relate. I’m going to be honest, I have struggled writing this blog. My flow doesn’t seem to be there, I’m blaming the heat and excitement of being in holiday mode!

I’m in Florida with friends. Friends I’ve had since my early teen years actually. I went with friends but also came to visit friends who live here. I’m going to run with this theme for my blog this week as it seems fitting.

We all have at least one friend in life, some of us have more than others. I have enough to share around if anyone needs some?! Since I was a kid, I’ve held friendships close.  I care about others and I just love people. I get my energy from others, I’m not a fan of being alone and I love to chat things through. Probably why I love writing my blog actually.

I have been giving a lot of thought about the people in my life recently. You kind of rub along, admiring their talents, successes, their careers and families.  You feel proud of what they achieve and often aspire to be more like them.  You’re there to celebrate the good times and support them through the tough times. You learn from their mistakes and they learn from yours.  I don’t take that for granted but what I have never really considered is how key friendships will become as part of my journey to starting Sparkle. Having as many people in my life as I do I have some I see often, others less often and some hardly ever. Down to no other reason than circumstances. But that’s ok, what matters is, that you’re there.  In a world of technology it’s easy to stay connected if you really want to.

Two weeks ago I was having a random panicked moment and at that same time I had a text from Dino, a friend that lives in the Midlands.  He’s the kind of guy that’s bold, successful and great to learn stuff from.  (He’s also wicked fun!) Anyway, his final message in our conversation was this

Take this opportunity and grasp it with both hands! It may seem like a downer but it’s time to change your life and be in control of your destiny! You will do so well! I believe in you xx

I believe in you. Those four words changed my entire mood in seconds. It’s not just Dino that has said something to boost my confidence, support me, encourage me, lots of other friends have too. All at different points in time. I know I couldn’t do this without their unwavering support. For that, I’m grateful.

I’ve had friends contacting me with offers of their skills, advice, specialist knowledge. On all kinds of helpful things. I’ve had others contact me with possible leads for future work and then there’s the heaps of friends that are happy to listen to me waffle on about my excitement and fear over and over again!

So, without going on that’s kind of all I wanted to say this week. Cherish the friends you have, invest in them and care for them because you never know when you will need them.

There are some people in life that make you laugh a little louder, smile a little bigger and live just a little better.