Tag Archives: children

Will you donate just £1 for my birthday?

So its my birthday, I’m another year older. 38. How has this happened? Seems like only yesterday I was hanging out at Virginia Water Lakes with Stan Gower in my knee socks and sandals.

My priorities have changed a bit over the years. These days I’m a marketers dream; anything that says anti gravity or anti ageing or age defying and I’m there.  Can’t get enough.

This birthday I have to admit that I have been very impressed with the direct marketing I have received. Lots of organisations are helping me celebrate. Facebook Causes are onto me and even Next are offering me £5 off my ‘birthday’ order. This is a big improvement from the birthday direct mail I used to get a few years ago.

From about 1997-2003 I used to get mail from one of those companies that take free ‘glamour’ shots of you in Vaseline edged lenses and then charge you hundreds of pounds for the prints. I think they were featured on Watchdog once.  Every year the letter started, Dear *Harriet, Have you ever wanted to look really beautiful like the models in the magazines…? one year the letter made me cry real tears.

So my point? I’m getting to it. I treat my birthday like many people treat New Year, as an opportunity to reflect on what has happened in the last 12 months and hatch fresh plans for the future.

So this year I have been thinking about who has inspired me. Who has made an impact on my life. One such person is Simon Berry.

Simon and his partner Jane are the inspiration behind Colalife, a charity that hopes to be able to use Cokes distribution networks to get vital medicines out to rural areas in Africa in order to save lives. Simon and Jane have given up their day jobs and are about to move to Africa to get the Zambia Colalife pilot up and running. Awesome.

So, if you were thinking of buying me a birthday present, and actually even if you weren’t, please can you help Simon and Jane help children who are dying in Africa because they don’t have access to basic medicines that you and I take for granted.

Please sponsor the Colalife cyclists Nigel and Bill who are cycling 400 kilometres across Normandy to raise a target of £6,000  to save lives. So help them out.  You can sponsor them here. 

Just £1 will fill an AidPod with simple medicines to help a mother in rural Zambia rehydrate her child and save her child’s life (there are only 70 retail pharmacies in the whole of Zambia – and public clinics can be a 20 kilometre walk from home).

You can also tell your friends on Facebook and Twitter and perhaps some of them will donate £1 too. Or maybe more…….

So together we can help save lives. We don’t need to look beautiful like the models in the magazines. We just need to make a difference. Right now.

That’s all.

*yes according to my passport Harriet is my first name.

A story of fish and focus

Imagine the scene, a small Mediterranean island, miles of beautiful beaches, warm sunshine, fragrant olive groves and a scattering of tavernas serving local, fresh food and wine.

A businessman on holiday strolls along the port and is fascinated by a fishermen hauling in his catch.

Noting the quality of the fish, the businessman asked the fisherman how long it had taken to catch them.
 “Not very long.” answered the fisherman.

“Then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the businessman.

The fisherman explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
 The businessman asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
 “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have a nap in the afternoon under a palm tree. In the evenings, I see my friends and family, have a few beers, play the drums, and sing a few songs….. I have a full and happy life.” replied the fisherman.

The businessman ventured, “I can help you…… If you fished longer every day, you could sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you could buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you could buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have a large fleet. Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you could negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You could then leave this little island and move to a city, from where you could direct your huge enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the fisherman.

“Oh, ten, maybe twenty years.” replied the businessman.

“And after that?” asked the fisherman.

“After that? “When your business gets really big,’ replied the businessman “you can start selling shares in your company and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” pressed the fisherman.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, move out to a small island, sleep in late every day, spend time with your friends and family, go fishing, take afternoon naps under a palm tree……”

I love this story. Sometimes, on the treadmill of daily life its easy to lose sight of the important stuff. The stuff that doesn’t really matter like the latest Apple gadget, expensive fashions, a bigger house or a bigger boat.

Are you swept along by what you think others think and expect of you? Or are you doing what you are passionate about and enjoy? Take a deep breath and think about what is important. Now focus on achieving that.

If you like this you might also like

Fish! – Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen, Ken Blanchard

The Fred Factor – Mark Sanborn

The Element – Sir Ken Robinson

The Four Hour Working Week – Tim Ferris 

Stop caring what the other kids think

Last week I happened upon the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. To be honest it’s more like a museum of nostalgia as the core audience seems to be thirtysomethings peering at their old toys in glass cases.

There were some children there too, playing at being giant vegetables in the Food Glorious Food exhibition and acting out their own Punch and Judy stories with the help of Mr and Mrs Punch puppets.

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Saving Nemo – film star fish the struggle for survival

Last Friday I joined a few hundred underwater fanatics at the Royal Geographical Society for the London Diving Chambers’ annual dive lecture in support of the Scuba Trust. Two specialists shared their passion for their underwater careers; John Boyle and Dr John Copley.

John Boyle; self-taught underwater film maker and owner of Shark Bay Films shared stories of his underwater film adventures. He encouraged us to take his lead and do what we love, and love what we do. Can’t argue with that – although he admitted doing what you love doesn’t always bring in the money and circumcision filming pays more. But that’s a different story.

As well as inspiring film footage John told us about the concept for his film ‘Saving Nemo’. A fishcumentary (invented word) to raise awareness about the increased demand for Nemos (or clown fish or anemone fish as they are also known). The market for these fish has increased massively after the Disney blockbuster Finding Nemo captured the hearts and minds of children across the globe and inspired them to find a Nemo of their own.

In Thailand the illegal Nemo trade is flourishing, putting the lives of these colourful fishy guys, and in turn the reefs they live on in peril. I’ve commented before on concerns about the destruction of our underwater ecosystems and the yet unrealised consequences that this may have on the health of our planet. Nemo farming adds to the picture of underwater destruction.

Disney objected to Shark Bay Films using the name ‘Nemo’ in the title of their Saving Nemo film. Disney forced Shark Bay Films to rename and edit Saving Nemo to remove all references to Nemo.  For a small operation like Shark Bay Films this was a considerable outlay.

Some may argue that Shark Bay Films were naive, perhaps foolish to call their film Saving Nemo. However, in my opinion Disney does have some responsibility in helping to protect the ecosystems that the success of their film has put at risk. The popularity of Finding Nemo has resulted in children across the world wanting their own Nemos. This demand has been met by illegal fishing and farming which is threatening the existence of this brightly coloured stripey species and the reefs they live on.  We are yet to realise the bigger impact this will have on our oceans and the planet.

So I think Disney should have been more gracious towards Saving Nemo, it was an opportunity for them to give something back to help a situation that they had an undeniable part in creating.

The Shark Bay Film production Saving Nemo is now more commonly known as Film star fish – the struggle for survival

Shame on you Disney.

Dr Jon Copley’s story to follow …..

Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon and help protect children. How does that work then?

I’m fascinated by people’s behavior generally. One of my favorite pastimes is people watching and now I can people-watch online from the comfort of my sofa.

Last weekend I was watching the NSPCC trending on Twitter because people were changing their Facebook profiles to cartoon characters.

Friends were getting all nostalgic from the likes of Captain Caveman to Donald Duck to Barney Rubble. According to the LA Times, nearly every of the 20 most actively searched terms on Google were to do with ‘old cartoons’ on Saturday morning. That’s pretty big.

The chain message going round Facebook was:

Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same, for the NSPCC. Until Monday (December 6th), there should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. This is a campaign to stop violence against children.

It was only when a few sceptics started to point out that just changing your status profile wont really help children, and started to suggest that people made a donation that the validity of the campaign was questioned.

As time progressed more messages appeared about it being a ‘scam’ set up by pedophiles. This was followed by messages to remove your cartoon profile urgently or you would get ‘kicked off’ Facebook!

According to the trend-tracking website Know Your Meme, the cartoon fad started with Facebook users in Greece and Cyprus in mid-November.

I’m a bit bemused by the whole thing, whilst I can appreciate that thinking about your childhood may connect you to the cause;  how it helps protect children is pretty tentative by any stretch of the imagination. There was no call to action or a link to a donation page. Sadly it meant that lots of people just thought they had done something good. When they hadn’t really.

There is an argument that all publicity is good publicity, and anything that raises awareness of a cause and encourages people to help in any way is good. But I worry how it is that people feel they have ‘done their bit’ by just changing their avatar to Touché Turtle.

Cartoon Weekend wasn’t a NSPCC campaign but apparently the NSPCC increased fans on Facebook to over 100,000 as a result, which is no bad thing as now the charity can communicate with those good willed cartoon lovers and ask them how they really might like to help. The results of that conversion would be interesting.

What really interests me is why this campaign went so viral. Did thinking about childhood spark some nostalgia? Was it because it was so easy? Is there so much online peer pressure on Facebook that people just did it to fit in? Was it the link to a good cause that made people feel like they were part of something important?

There is a lot of research into the psychology of group behaviour and the dynamics that social network sites create. Please can an expert do some analysis into Cartoon Weekend as I think it could show up some fascinating trends and behaviours that could help charities generate support in the future.

I recently read Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky which is about behaviours in online groups and networks. I wonder what he has to say about Cartoon Weekend?

The views in this blog are my own and do not represent the organisation I work for.

innovation and the rules of uncommon sense

On Friday I went to a lunchtime seminar with Heather Sim, founder and Chief Executive of Space Unlimited.

There is a lot of talk about innovation; anyone with half a brain knows that getting fresh perspectives, working in collaboration, sharing skills and taking risks will increase your chances of having your breakthrough ideas – no matter what industry or sector you work in. The challenge for many is stopping the chat and tacking action. Space Unlimited are taking action with great results.

Space Unlimited links young people, businesses and educators to facilitate creative thinking around an issue that the business would like a fresh perspective on. It’s a teenage innovation consultancy.

Space Unlimited’s work connects two fundamental beliefs:

1. That great innovation often comes from a beginner’s mind-set.

2. That successful people use their natural strengths to create value.

Since 2006 Space Unlimited have facilitated a range of projects from providing a new perspective from the Royal Opera House set design in Thurrock to KPMGs strategy to communicate with young people. Check out their website for more information and results.

The beauty of Space Unlimited is that it provides a business with a new burst of fresh creative thinking and insight and tools to practice innovation, it also provides young people with an opportunity to learn and develop and build confidence in their talents an education with a practical application. Space Unlimited adopts the rules of uncommon sense to their work.

The rules of uncommon sense

Collaborate naturally

Rethink risk and uncertainty

Be honest about outcomes

Reflect on value and value reflection

Keep the process visible

Question behaviours

In an uncertain world, one thing that is certain is that fresh thinking and new action are desperately needed to respond to the economic, social and environmental challenges we all face. If all organisations followed the rules of uncommon sense we would be much better equipped to meet these challenges.

I thought Heather was inspiring, most of all because  she believes in the value of Space Unlimited and she is taking action in driving this way of working forward and achieving results. A thousand good ideas are worthless unless you take action. Space Unlimited are walking the walk, working in a way that demonstrates and drives innovation, taking risks, learning and developing. Learn from them. Take action too. Today.