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I’m Alex Hatvany and I am your #EDUCATIONPRO

This week on the #YOURPRO series, we speak to Alex Hatvany, co-founder of Atom Learning, an innovative educational platform that is revolutionising the way of teaching using Artificial Intelligence algorithm.

Alex Hatvani Co Founder of Atom Learning
Alex Hatvany Co-Founder of Atom Learning

Location: Soho, London

Current job: Co-founder Atom Learning 

Your role model: Charlie Munger

My biggest fear: Churn

My favourite movie: The Social Network

First of all, tell us about you and  your background 

I met my co-founder, Jake O’Keeffe at university, where we lived together. Jake went into finance and I went to law school. I privately tutored throughout law school and when I started my Training Contract at a US law firm, I suggested to Jake that we begin a tutoring company. Every weekend, we put flyers through letterboxes in affluent parts of London to get the business going, offering our unemployed friends from Oxford as tutors. Jake worked on the business early in the morning and I helped at night after work and we’d both work on it over the weekend. As soon as I qualified as a solicitor, I quit my job – Jake had quit slightly earlier.  the tutoring business allowed us to quit our jobs but we both knew we wanted to use the money we made from tuition to bootstrap a technology company.

When did you become passionate about education and get the idea of Atom Learning

I’ve been interested in education since realising what a profound impact great teachers have had in my life. From the inspiring English teacher to the teacher who gave me the confidence to apply to Oxford, it all compounds into something very significant over time. The idea for Atom Learning came through operating a private tuition company. We determined Key Stage 2 (ages 8 – 11) is this incredibly important time in a child’s education in terms of laying the right foundations for future success. This area was almost entirely overlooked by ‘edtech’ that had traditionally focussed on older students. By combining the highest-quality teacher-made content with the technology that adapts to the individual child’s level, it is possible to automate the role of a private tutor, at least from an academic perspective. This is also far more scalable and has the potential for a genuinely positive impact on a massive scale.

Atom Learning uses an algorithm based on Artificial intelligence, how can this make a difference in education?

Put simply, it’s impossible for a human to determine the optimal learning path for an individual pupil and even more challenging in a class of many students. On Atom platform, our questions are initially graded on a difficulty scale by a professional teacher but questions are then re-graded by the hundreds of thousands of users to determine the questions actual difficulty level. This way you get a much more accurate understanding of a question’s difficulty level.

Atom will quickly understand the optimal probability a student should have of answering the next question correctly or incorrectly. We want students to be pushed but not to the point where it’s demotivating.

The results of adaptive learning are profound and not really discussed enough in my opinion. I believe even now, children are at a significant disadvantage from an attainment perspective if they’re not engaging with an adaptive learning platform and this will play a major role in the future of education.  Below are some CAT4 data comparing Y5 and Y6 performance pre and post Atom at a leading prep school. I have permission to share this data but not the name of the school:

 

 

 

 

 

 

You are offering Atom Prime for schools and Atom Nucleus for parents, what is the Brand Strategy behind this?

Atom Prime is our school platform and this allows teachers to create lessons, homework, run mock tests and get performance insight. It is entirely free to use in school.  

For parents who want to do additional work, they can use Atom Nucleus, our home platform, as a viable, school-supported and much more cost-effective alternative to a private tutor.

Where a platform is already used and endorsed by a school, this provides parents with the confidence to trial Atom Nucleus.

With that said, parent word-of-mouth travels even faster than teacher word-of-mouth. Many of our parents sign up directly to Atom Nucleus and are not part of the Prime community.

What Atom Learning wants to achieve in the next two years?

Atom has grown to around 100 employees and is still bootstrapped – we haven’t needed to raise any external investment yet and we’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible.

We believe we can 5x the number of incredible people we work with right now in the next 2 years so that we can continue building great features, enter new markets and pull away as one of the UK’s leading startups.

Digital is shifting the way to learn and teach, do you believe pen and paper are going to disappear

I personally still like good old-fashioned pen and paper and I’m sure, I’m not alone in that but when I was at primary school, Snake on a Nokia 3310 was the latest in mobile gaming tech so I suspect the children using Atom today will be quite different.

A digital platform can be very useful but it lacks human connection, what do you think?

After a year of COVID, I’m very aware in-person is often nicer than remote. With that said, remote really does allow for much greater efficiency. A balance is the answer.

On Atom, if you’re ever missing a human connection, our incredible teachers James and Jono, are always available through our evening and holiday clubs. Many of their lessons are completely free to attend and we can have thousands in a single class. They’re incredibly good fun!

Tell us your trick to have a good work/free time balance in your day. 

I haven’t got this right yet and COVID isn’t good for any workaholic! I think ultimately balance might be the wrong word. I’d like to achieve a work-life integration or harmony (like Jeff Bezos talks about) where one energises the other. The most important thing is that you love what you do and it’s giving you the energy to be a better person outside of work too.

Last but not least, a piece of advice to keep children academically engaged?

Absolutely, sign up for one of Jame and Jono’s free lessons – they’ll love it, I promise! https://app.atomlearning.co.uk/atom-clubs

Now please fill the gap about your 5 pro tips: 

  1.  A golden tip for a tech start-up: Don’t raise investment too early. Bootstrap for as long as possible – this will also force you to understand what your customers actually want.
  2. A sport to keep you fit: semi-embarrassing but I’m loving the Peloton at the moment.
  3. A game for your brain: start a company.
  4. Kindle vs PaperBook: paperback.
  5. Your favourite social media: I prefer to stay away but LinkedIn seems useful

You can follow Atom Learning on Instagram

At Wegiveit we help businesses to navigate the digital transformation by adjusting their Brand Strategy.  Contact us to learn more.


I’m Polly Neate and this is #MYCHARITY

This week for the #MYCHARITY interview series, we speak to Polly Neate, Director at Shelter, a charity that helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness through advice, support, and legal services.

Polly Neate Shelter CEO
Polly Neate, CEO at Shelter

Location: London

Current job:  Chief Executive at Shelter,

One word that best describes how you work: Positive

Your biggest success: Times when I’ve been able to use my privilege and influence as a leader to actually change things

Your greatest fear: Big scary looking dogs

Your biggest dream: A generational change in housing policy, which I helped bring about

Your favourite movie: At the moment, Rocks

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got into the charity sector.

I started my career as a journalist and specialist early on in social policy. For many years, I absolutely loved journalism, but eventually, I started feeling it wasn’t as much of an opportunity to make a difference as I had once thought. Maybe I got less idealistic, and that’s why I joined the charity sector – which is ironic because I think a lot of people think working in the charity sector must be about as idealistic as you can be!

Tell us more about Shelter and what has been the impact of the pandemic in your workday?

Shelter exists to defend the right to a safe home. We are here to change things for the better by working with individuals, in communities, and across society. I have about 1400 incredibly committed, talented and expert colleagues who make that happen. In terms of the impact of the pandemic on my working day personally, the main thing has been that I have hardly seen a colleague face to face for nearly a year now. I am now missing everyone very badly and struggling to think of ways of being the best leader I can be under these circumstances. It’s also meant some difficult decisions having to be made very rapidly and under a lot of pressure.

How much digitalisation has helped the charity sector and Shelter in these difficult times?

I am very proud of our response to the pandemic, and it would simply not have been possible without our use of technology, from directly providing digital advice to the fact that our telephone tech allows colleagues to answer our helpline from anywhere in the country – or indeed further afield: when the first lockdown started, one colleague was stuck visiting family in Pakistan and answered helpline calls from desperate people facing homelessness in England from his rooftop in Lahore!

Shelter‘s partnerships have the best cause/purpose alignment, can you give quick advice to small charities on how to look for the best partnership ‘match‘?

I think the answer is in your question: if a company or organisation doesn’t share your values and genuinely buy into your purpose, the partnership will be continually strained and may be more trouble than it’s worth if you’re writing a funding proposal that feels like squeezing a square peg into a round hole, thinking again. Having said that, though, for smaller organisations, there often simply isn’t the luxury of avoiding going for every pot of funding you can see. So I would turn the challenge back onto funders: listen to the organisations that really need the money; don’t think you know better than they do; don’t be afraid to fund core costs – if you need a back office, why do you think a charity doesn’t?

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I really need to get outside, and I’m probably most relaxed when climbing or on my bike. I think that’s why I’ve been struggling more in Lockdown 3 than in previous lockdowns because the weather has been so awful. Cycling really helps me to reflect. If I have something difficult to think about, it can be resolved by the end of a couple of hours on the bike. Climbing is different because you can only think about what you’re doing. I need both. Recently though, my job has become a lot less creative, and I’ve been having to consume a lot of arid information and make a lot of decisions, and I’ve been missing using my creativity (such as it is!). I’ve been trying to do more writing, and play the piano, to compensate. I am very lucky, though, in that I have a wonderful partner and two brilliant daughters. I love talking to them. And we have enough space to live in. This past year has made me more aware of my own privilege than ever.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

When I’m not on holiday, I can’t manage to read anything outside what I have to read for work. It’s a nightmare. And because I couldn’t get away to Ireland last summer like I do every year, I read a tiny fraction of the fiction I would usually read on holiday. So instead, I will recommend what my eldest daughter has been doing during the pandemic. She set herself the challenge of reading every single book by Marian Keyes, and boy did she enjoy it!

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.

Sarah Hughes CEO of Centre for Mental Health

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My Dad once said: “You’re not special, you’re just lucky”. Accepting that is accepting privilege. And that is a lifelong challenge.

What’s the best advice you would give to Millennials who want to approach the non-profit sector?

Find a cause that matters to you—a lot.

You can follow @Sheltercharity on Instagram. 

We love to interview charity’s leaders and listen to their work and their way to create great partnerships. If you want to learn about Brand Strategy and how your Purpose-Cause match can be effective and well-communicated check how we can help.


I’m Glenn Pougnet and this is #MYCHARITY

This week for the #MYCHARITY interview series, we speak to Glenn Pougnet, Director at StreetSmart, a charity that aims to support homeless organisations by providing the most personal and effective care for individuals in need.

Glenn Pougnet Director at StreetSmart
Glenn Pougnet Director at StreetSmart

Location: London

Current job:  StreetSmart Charity Director

One word that best describes how you work: Juggling

Your biggest success: Raising £7 million for the homeless

Your greatest fear: Being lonely

Your biggest dream: Opening the batting for ENGLAND

Your favourite movie: Bladerunner

Your role model: My grandmother

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I was born and raised in Essex, a mixed-race family, the first member in my wider family to go to University. Growing up in the eighties, I hated seeing inequalities not just being tolerated but lauded as a good thing. I worked in Publishing for 13 years until I took over at StreetSmart in 2006 despite not knowing much about fundraising or homelessness. Been blagging it ever since.

Tell us more about StreetSmart and what has been the impact of the pandemic on your workday?

We are a small team that run a successful fundraising campaign working with restaurants, pubs and hotels during the build-up to Christmas. The pandemic greatly affected the hospitality industry and therefore frustratingly for us it meant a huge reduction (approx. £500,000) to the funds we raised. Although communication with the team and participants was relatively easy to maintain we struggled to implement the physical aspects the campaign requires – deliveries of collateral, visits to promote. We are all very much people persons so we’ve missed that day to day contact and the constructive mixing of business and pleasure over lunch.

How much digitalisation has helped the charity sector and StreetSmart in these difficult times?

Huge help when it comes to communication and getting our message out. It has also helped when looking at alternative ways of fundraising We’ve tapped into the food delivery boom and had successful online raffles and virtual cook along.

StreetSmart has incredible partnerships with some of the best restaurants in London and the UK, how challenging has been to grow so quick?

We’ve been around since 1998 and started with 30 restaurants so I would say it’s been a steady growth to now 600+. Some of that growth has been organic – owners expanding, chefs from established restaurants setting up on their own but bringing StreetSmart with them. High staff turnover in hospitality means keeping a good, up to date contact list is important in order to help maintain those prized relationships with supporters. Also, the key to our growth has been our sponsors – LandAid who cover all our central costs and make it possible for us to plan properly for the years ahead which is gold dust in these uncertain times.

Can you share a few tips StreetSmart has used to create such an incredible cause/brand awareness?

Keep it simple – It‘s a great idea for the right cause at the right time of year. We’ve tried to keep it consistent and sustainable and never getting greedy and I think the industry has responded to that. Good media partner support and respected industry endorsements have helped create a strong and trusted brand.

In your opinion, which digital channel is working best to communicate to your donors/supporter?

That’s probably Instagram now given the foodie world we operate in.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

Play with my twin toddlers although that’s like another exhausting job so hardly unwinding. I like cooking although the lockdown has exhausted my repertoire, I still find chopping vegetables therapeutic.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

Grace Dent’s book HUNGRY

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.

Edmund Elephant from Peppa Pig, he’s a clever clog.

What’s the best advice you would give to Millennials who want to approach the non-profit sector?

Learn a bit about business first – the best organisations and individuals I’ve encountered in the sector have some business acumen and operate efficiently. Add flair and enthusiasm to that grounding and you’ll make a difference, who knows you may even make the world a better place. You don’t necessarily have to think out of the box – as so many problems just require a better box.

You can follow @StreetSmartuk on Instagram 

We love to interview charity’s leaders and listen to their work and their way to create great partnerships. If you want to learn more about how your Purpose-Cause match can be effective and well-communicated check how we can help.


I’m Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu of Turmeric Co and I’m a #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu, an international and premier league football player and founder of the Turmeric Co. – a company that produces a delicious range of functional natural turmeric shots.

Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu Social
Thomas Hal Robson-Kanu

Location: Belgravia, London

Current job: Premier League football and CEO of The Turmeric Co.

One word that best describes how you work: Effective!

My role model: Dr Joe Dispenza

My greatest success: My family

My biggest fear: Snakes

Something I love: My family!

Something I hate: Sitting still!

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you get the idea for The Turmeric Co?

As a kid, all I wanted was to be a footballer. I was well on my way to achieving this dream, but I had a huge setback. A terrible challenge left my knee totally shattered – at the time the doctors said it was unlikely I’d ever play at a professional level again. Naturally, I was devastated and became somewhat obsessed with finding a remedy. Especially since the painkillers, I was given had adverse side effects. So, I looked everywhere I could for a solution. Ideally a natural one. When I used the natural, raw root of the superfood, turmeric – within a unique blend that we developed as a family, the effects really were incredible. The inflammation in my injury totally subsided. I went on to have a successful career as a pro and am feeling fitter than ever and am now focused on helping as many people as I can with feel-good, functional nutrition.

Where does your passion for sport come from?

I’m naturally really competitive. Even from a young age, I’d race the other kids to lunch. I had to win at everything! So that definitely helped. But I guess I’ve always loved how the sport makes me feel. It’s an amazing way to be able to spend your time and express yourself and the joy it brings so many people around the world makes it a privilege to be experiencing this at the highest level of the game.

How was the transition from football player to entrepreneur?

For me, it was all really natural. I have so much belief in the benefits of the product we have created, so it doesn’t really feel like work. Every day I hear from people who have had positive experiences with our shots – it’s almost as thrilling as having fans chant your name but even more rewarding in the long run! It’s also great because I am able to really physically push myself while playing football, and then mentally push myself with the business, and they almost offset each other which allows me to really give my best in both.

Do you see ‘behaviour changing’ in people healthy lifestyle by paying more attention to their nutrition?

I think what we’ve seen over the past 40 years when it comes to attitudes toward exercise is just incredible. People didn’t use to run for leisure. Or have any idea that smoking was bad for you. Nowadays though, science and nutrition have come such a long way and people’s behaviours are certainly changing – just look at what the high streets look like compared to the 90s… But there is still a long way to go, and at The Turmeric Co., we are enjoying playing a role in that nutritional education of society. An example is, most people wouldn’t see an issue with a ‘health’ shot with its base ingredient apple juice, whereas for us, we would never put a filler such as concentrated apple juice in functional health shot as ultimately that is both high in sugar with very little added nutritional value, while also being a really cheap ingredient to use. These are some of the examples that we are committed to educating people in all walks of life on and that is why we are proud to say we offer the best natural health shot range on the market, because of the quality and the benefits every ingredient we use offers, and we do not want to shortchange our customers on this, we want to give them the best.

What do you think it’s essential to adjust a business in this unusual time?

Flexibility, empathy and drive! It’s been such a difficult time for so many people, but we’ve had the privilege of being able to help – by supporting the public’s natural well being with our shots and providing key workers with hundreds of free shots – to help them get through their toughest days. So being dynamic as a business is key, if you didn’t sell online and relied on stores to get your product into the hands of consumers, you will have needed to shift that model, so you are now able to deliver to your customers directly to their doorstep. If you didn’t focus on having a really strong brand and paid little attention to your customers and community, then you are going to lose customers because their purchasing patterns are changing, so you want to be communicating directly with them at every opportunity. But most of all, behind the scenes of every business, you want to be supporting your team and staff, as this time has been difficult for everyone and they are the ones keeping the engine room going, so start paying real close attention to your team on a human level.

Where do you see The Turmeric Co being in the next three years?

We are committed to continually bring the best quality range to our customers, and that means making sure every day we give our best, which is something we love doing. This ultimately will allow us to continue to bring functional nutrition to as many people as possible. Tens of thousands of people are now using our range daily, which is an incredible achievement in itself, given how new a concept a natural ‘health’ shot is still to people. So for me, it’s continuing to focus on the small wins each and every day, and this is what gives you the best opportunity for success.

Turmeric Co_Products
Turmeric Co Drinks

Do you have a cause that is close to your heart?

 100%, I’m passionate around education for future generations. I feel the old models of education are outdated and because of technological innovation, the exchange of information, new information, is happening faster than ever. So for me, I want to play a positive role in creating an environment that shares information that wasn’t available to our grandparents and even our parents as this will inevitably lead to better lives and have a positive impact on society as a whole.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

Spending time at home with the family is when I feel most relaxed, whether that be in the evenings with my wife or on the weekends with the whole family. With a cup of turmeric tea, my feet up with the paper on a lazy Sunday – that’s when I get one off!

Best advice you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur just starting up their business?

Persevere! If I had listened to the doctors, I’d probably have never become a footballer. Had I not kept looking for a natural solution that’d help me fulfil my dreams, I’d never have started The Turmeric Co., let alone have become a professional athlete! If you’ve been knocked down… that’s great. Show us what you’ve got on the rebound!

If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Nothing! Life is a journey full of experiences that are there to inform and guide us. Some will be harder than others, but you are never meant to stop learning.

Last but not least, can you suggest the best diet to have balanced nutrition?

I’m a firm believer in natural functional nutrition, and what I mean by that is nutrition with a purpose, not eating for the sake of eating, and understanding what you are putting into your body. It is empowering because it ultimately becomes a lifestyle change for the better when people commit to it. However, everyone is different, and no one nutritional plan will fit all, and therefore it is about trying what works for you and having self-awareness on the impact of what you put into your body, has on your energy, clarity and body. Nutrients act as building blocks that support every single function of the human body, when your nutrient deficient, these building blocks are weak or become damaged, causing a knock-on effect that leads to fatigue, stress and disease. As a rule of thumb, look for unprocessed foods which are nutritionally dense. Whether these be protein, carb or fat sources because you need them all.

You can follow The Turmeric Co on Instagram

We love to interview #WORLDCHANGERS and listen about their challenges and their achievements. We can help you analyze your Google Analytics data, in order to understand where your visits come from, who are your users and which are the most visited pages, providing bespoke reports on a specific period. After this deep analysis,  we can support you to optimize your Brand Strategy to reach your business goals.


I’m Mauro Sanna from Olivo Restaurants and I’m a #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Mauro Sanna, owner and founder of Olivo chain, four restaurants, a deli, and a gelateria. All places are famous for the authenticity and quality of the food.

Mauro Sanna - Founder of Olivo Restaurants
Mauro Sanna – Founder of Olivo Restaurants

Location: Belgravia, London

Current job: Owner and founder of Olivo & Oliveto 

One word that best describes how you work: hard

My role model: My uncle

My biggest fear: Opening Olivo in the middle of a recession in 1990  

Something I love: Cigars and good food and wine

Something I hate: Bureaucracy

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today

I was born in Sardinia, Italy and came to London in 1977, hoping to learn English in six months with an ambition to study architecture. I decided to become a restauranteur when I fell in love with the city but saw the quality of food in London could be improved and saw a huge opportunity to bring Sardinian cuisine over here.

Do you believe that import Sardinian delicacy has been the winning idea for your business success?

Yes, I think that it definitely helps my business to be more competitive and gives us a deeper and genuine identity.

Which restaurant was the first and how you managed to expand your chain to six places, becoming a point of reference for your local community?

In 1990 I opened Olivo and quickly established a local and loyal clientele. Following its success and have kept all the funds in the company we were able to expand the business to three more restaurants, a delicatessen and gelateria. I had the long-sighted view of creating a small but compact business that is manageable and allows me to get to know our regulars and what they want.

Olivo carne Restaurant
Olivo carne Restaurant

Tell us about a moment when you knew that it was all worth the hard work. 

After opening Olivomare 10 years ago which was the third restaurant to open.

How did you adjust your business in this unusual time?

From day one we set up a well-organised takeaway operation with Deliveroo as well as deliveries to locals that allowed us to keep in touch.

What do you think will be the next big thing in the hospitality sector?

I reply with a question: What is the next small thing?

If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently?

Nothing.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I have a house in Sardinia where I go to when I get the chance to take a week off and like to spend time with my wife and family relaxing and gardening.

Last but not least, what is the best Olivo’s dish we can now order on Deliveroo?

Any one of our Pizza’s from Oliveto made from 100% Sardinian ingredients.

You can follow Olivo on Instagram here 

We love to interview #WORLDCHANGERS and listen about their challenges and their achievements. We can help you analyze your Google Analytics data, in order to understand where your visits come from, who are your users and which are the most visited pages, providing bespoke reports on a specific period. After this deep analysis,  we can support you to optimize your Brand Strategy to reach your business goals.


I’m Louisa Mitchell from West London Zone and this is #MYCHARITY

This week on the #MYCHARITY series, we speak to Lousia Mitchell CEO of West London Zone, a charity offering children and young people access to new opportunities in their community.

Louisa Mitchell, West London Zone CEO
Louisa Mitchell, West London Zone CEO

Location: West London

Current job: CEO of West London Zone

One word that best describes how you work: determined

Your biggest success: every child who has overcome a challenge or achieved a goal supported by West London Zone

Your greatest fear: giving up on hoping for a better future

Your biggest dream: that the children and young people we support go on to thrive in adulthood and our west London community becomes a more equitable society

Your favourite movie: Good Will Hunting

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.

I started my career in finance. It was a good role for developing my ability to focus, pay attention to detail and work hard, but my heart was never in it. I went on to work in ‘socially responsible investment’, journalism and policy, and it was this plus some travels around the world, that got me into working with children and young people and through which I found what really motivates me, what I feel really passionately about. It’s pretty simple really, I just don’t like unfairness. I can’t bear that some children in our country, which is full of opportunity, are not furnished with the tools to thrive in life and I believe we can change that, with the right support in the right way at the right time.

Tell us more about West London Zone organization and what were the significant changes in your workday during the pandemic?

We are aiming for a west London community where all children and young people have access to the support they need to enable them to overcome challenges and achieve their goals so that they can go on to thrive in adulthood and contribute positively to their community.

We provide a personalised 2-year programme of support for every child we work with using our team of trusted adults – West London Zone Link Workers – who are based full time in a school and know the children really well. They guide and champion each child and are responsible for designing and facilitating each child’s 2-year programme with them, their families and their teachers. Programmes often include specialist support such as therapy, drama, sport and catch up literacy, delivered in partnership with organisations working locally.

During the first lockdown, when schools were closed, we were unable to deliver the specialist support children needed, so our Link Workers shifted to daily wellbeing check-ins and facilitating emergency support as needed – food, technology, paying bills, activity and learning packs in partnership with the schools. By the summer, we managed to mobilise some remote specialist support – therapy, catch up tuition. In the Autumn term, every Link Worker has been in school, guiding the children through the return to school and mobilising as much specialist support as they can to keep the children engaged in school, remaining positive and focused, and addressing their learning loss.

My team is working in very tough and restrictive conditions at the moment, so my job has been to keep us financially robust and to ensure that everyone has the training and support they need to do their jobs well and keep their wellbeing in check. For example, all Link Workers were trained in trauma-informed practice before they return to school in September and have additional clinical supervision this term. I have never been more proud of my team, every single person at WLZ has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to getting children and families what they need this year and empowering them to take ownership of their futures in an increasingly difficult landscape.

What are the main changes in the charity sector following these difficult times? How digitalization can help?

We have had to adapt quickly again and again in order to provide what children and families need in a constantly changing environment. We are a small organisation so we can be nimble, and our model is to provide personalised support for every child – and every child is different. So we were naturally able to pivot and provide what they needed in a new environment. My team showed extraordinary adaptability as we gripped how to work with new tech platforms and how best to communicate with each and every child and family. We also have a diversified funding model and are deeply embedded in schools and working in partnership with other local organisations and services, so those partnerships held us in very good stead.

But the pandemic has put the charity sector under enormous pressure as the demand for services is rising all the time, but fundraising opportunities have been lost. I fear that this situation will continue to escalate for many months, years yet and I am constantly trying to look and plan further and further forward to ensure our sustainability while also having to adjust and adapt daily in the here and now. Technology is a massive help, but it isn’t the whole answer. For example, we have had to make group tuition and other sessions smaller and shorter for the children to keep them focused and make the most out of each session, so it’s difficult to get them all the support they need.

West London Zone has many partnerships with businesses and charities, how challenging is to align your cause with a purpose?

I always say that ours is a very practical model of support. We operate according to the principles of ‘Collective Impact’. For us, partnership is not me, as the CEO, sitting around a table with other CEOs talking about how we might strategically align our organisations – although that’s important too – it’s about practically bringing people together, on the ground around individual children, one child at a time.

Our focus is the children. Every person and every organisation involved in our network is focused on the children and therefore wants the best for every child. We have learned over the years that if we keep that focus, it is not challenging to align. It’s when other things get in the way that challenges arise. And when that happens, we have learned to drill down to the individual child or children involved, and then we can nearly always get there.

How do you communicate to your donors/followers a partnership on your digital channels?

We are very relational in our approach to all our work – it’s one of our values. So our delivery model is all about relationships, and that spills across to all our work that supports that delivery. We have always done lots of meetings, school visits and events with the children, but that has not been possible this year. So we have stepped up our virtual communication – through video briefings including a range of team members, and more regular written comms via our ‘insight of the month’ newsletter and a more systematic approach to how we communicate on social.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I’m not very good at forgetting about work. My whole team is incredibly dedicated and works very hard. We are all passionate about what we do and I love the fact they send me podcasts, videos, articles and books on social justice issues because they care so much. I’m not sure if listening to or reading those counts as recharging. I often listen to them when running or walking. I like to be active and the increased number of hours at the computer over recent months has been challenging for me – while I am indebted to Zoom and Google hangouts and Teams and so on, I don’t enjoy using them one bit! Aside from that, meals, games and outdoor activities with my family are the times I guess I really forget about work. I learned early on when my own children were young that whatever else is going on, when you are with them, you need to be mentally and emotionally present…because you get back what you put in. They are my greatest battery re-charger and inspire me daily…and sometimes they are my greatest exhaustion!

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

During the first lockdown, we set up a West London Zone book club to provide the team with some relaxation and social activities. Books have been around the theme of inclusion as we work hard to ensure that the values we adopt in our work with children and families every day drive towards inclusive practice and we need to translate those across the whole organisation too. The latest book was Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams which gripped my attention with some brilliantly unexpected twists in the plot.

Fill in the blank: I’d love to see _____ answer these same questions.

I am continually impressed by so many of the people I meet who are trying to develop the systems we need to support children well in this country, particularly those trying to adopt a collective impact and deep partnerships approach. In particular, Ed Vainker, CEO of Reach Hub Feltham continually inspires me. As do many of the headteachers I meet in our Zone – too many of them to name but their dedication and commitment is incredible. As do my West London Zone Link Workers – again too many of them to name, but Farial Missi, our Deputy Head of Link Work who was one of our first Link Workers back in 2015 is an inspiration to us all at WLZ on a daily basis.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

My father worked incredibly hard his whole life and he used to cite the wartime quote: ‘Time spent in reconnaissance is rarely wasted’. I think it’s another way of saying: ‘It’s all in the preparation’. I do believe in luck, but I also believe in preparing for every meeting, every eventuality and in forging really strong and positive relationships. If you do that and you work hard, you can be pretty sure you will be ready to never waste an opportunity. I can’t bear a wasted opportunity.

What’s the best advice you would give to Millennials who want to approach the non-profit sector?

My first job wasn’t in the charity sector, it was in finance as I’ve explained earlier. Although I didn’t love it, it furnished me with great skills. I think it’s really useful to go into a first job that is going to provide pragmatic and useful skills to fall back on throughout life and throughout different careers. This might be in the non-profit sector, or might not be. But I also think it’s important to enjoy work, so if you end up in a job you don’t love, you need to find another reason to stay in it and treat it as a stepping stone to a job you really do love. It’s also useful to supplement your life with other things that are going to motivate you and provide you with satisfaction in other ways while you cross that stepping stone. Volunteering can be a really powerful tool for that. If you do embark on a career in the non-profit sector early on in your career, I think it is important to find the cause that really speaks to you as it is a tough career path if you don’t feel wholly mobilised and driven by it every day. But I always remind people that you aren’t necessarily going to love every day at work, whatever you do…so be realistic!

You can follow West London Zone on Instagram @westlondonzone

We love to interview charity’s leaders and listen about their work and their way to create great partnerships. If you want to learn more how your Purpose-Cause match can be effective and well-communicated check how we can help.


I’m Claudia Curran, and I am #YOURCOACHINGPRO

This week we are interviewing Claudia Curran, founder of The Inner Impact, executive and life coaching business. An accomplished Finance Executive with over 20 years in the industry, Claudia decided to become a certified Executive and Life Coach to help people to get the best of them.

Claudia Curran - The Inner Impact
Claudia Curran – The Inner Impact

Business description: helping people get results – drama-free and stress-free 

Current job: Executive & Life Coach

One word that best describes how you work: curiosity

My greatest success is: turning a life-controlling burden into a gift

My role model is: Sarah Blakely, CEO of Spanx

My favourite movie is: The Notebook

My comfort food is: Ben & Jerrys Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Best place to recharge: Kamalaya in Koh Samui, Thailand 

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got the idea to found The Inner Impact

12 years ago, my husband was diagnosed with leukaemia, and three months later our baby passed away on her due date. I didn’t know how to process the grief; I thought moving forward with life and being strong would be the way. Little did I know that I was actually avoiding pain and that it would eventually show up. And it did, through anxiety. It started with occasional panic attacks and grew into chronic anxiety over the next 8 years. 

There are so many different services and products out there for anxiety that I didn’t know where to start. I would try various ways, some of which might help for a short while before anxiety would return stronger than ever before. At first, I didn’t realise that I was combating the SYMPTOMS of anxiety, but not the ISSUE itself – which was my mind. I was extremely fortunate to come across an amazing life coach. She taught me the power of thought management and understanding how your brain works. It was life-changing. Our brain is arguably the most important asset we have, and yet we are never formally taught how to manage it. Whether it’s anxiety, relationship issues, or wanting to work on confidence, I then realised that once you learn the skills of supervising your mind, you can apply it to any aspect of your life. You then have this powerful life-changing skill with you always.

You have been able to transform your anxiety episodes not only in a strong resilience mindset but in a business, what were the challenges you faced in the first year of The Inner Impact?

Learning how to be comfortable with the fact that I am the product / and therefore the brand. I have always been rather shy about being in the public eye, so there was a bit of self-coaching to be done here! I had felt that if I didn’t share my story, then I wouldn’t be vulnerable. But now I know: When you are authentic, you are vulnerable. When you are authentic, people connect to you and trust you. When people trust you, the magic happens and you can help them.

We are living in an unusual time, how has the pandemic affected your business? 

I work with a great number of people in the corporate world who were normally having meetings in person.  The shift to Working From Home required some getting used to. Whilst a few were initially resistant to this idea, many today appreciate the benefits of this new style. It’s far more efficient in terms of time, but also, in some cases, it permits people to be more “vulnerable” (open) as they are in their familiar “safe” surroundings, so it’s easier for them to reflect inwards. The pandemic has taken my business almost 100% online now; previously all my clients were based where I was located, now my clients are GLOBAL. Now, people look for the right coach for them, rather than for a coach located near them.

How do you see The Inner Impact in 2 years?

Currently, all the coaching is done on a 1:1 basis. Next year I will be launching group coaching programmes. I envisage that in 2 years’ time, most of what I offer will be coaching on a group level. Group coaching allows people to uplevel themselves by being within a carefully curated group of like-minded peers. You get to access other people’s ways of thinking, expanding your limitations to what’s possible and causing you to grow yourself to new levels, all within a safe and confidential container. It is the most powerful thing ever. The first group will be launching in the middle of next year and the programme will be running every 6 months thereafter. I will still be offering 1:1 coaching, but to a far smaller, selected base.

What is the coaching service you would like to suggest to everyone and why? 

With my coaching programme, we zero-in on your strengths, change behaviours, and work to create a specific plan to actually get the results that you want. In just 6 months, 45 minutes per week, WE DIVE DEEP to get clear on what’s holding you back, what you really want, and make a plan for how to achieve it. I teach you proven techniques to manage your mind. You will leverage your problems to work for you and create new results. I help you become a person who achieves what you want.

How do you find the right work/free time balance in your day?

It all comes down to planning. A lot of people think planning your entire week out is very restrictive, but it’s actually the opposite. The key is to make sure you plan for all your free time in there FIRST. And from there, plan around it.

As #COACHINGPRO, what is your advice to maintain our mental wellbeing during this stressful period?

Be kind to yourself. We live in extraordinary times where there is so much uncertainty in all aspects of life.  Take this opportunity to get to know yourself, and really understand WHY you feel the way you do. Get into the habit of taking 5 minutes in the morning to write down everything that is on your mind, no filter, no edit and without judgment – a brain dump of what’s in your head. We have 65,000 thoughts a day, and most of them are subconscious. Writing is a good way of helping you bring them to the conscious surface. When this happens, you understand yourself a bit better. You are then able to consciously decide if you want to continue thinking this way, or whether you want to do something about it.

Now please fill the gap about your 5 pro tips: 

  1. Your golden rule to stay positive: the opposite actually! I embrace that life is not always going to be positive, that it is normally going to be 50:50, and that this is ok. This is how you grow, learn and know to truly appreciate the times when they are glorious.
  2. How to achieve your goals: Always understand WHY you want to achieve that goal, and HOW life will change for you once achieved. Let this be your motivator. Most important is spending time with yourself.
  3. A good exercise for your mind: Asking yourself “Why is this an issue for me?” at least four times to get to the real underlying root of the matter.
  4. A game for your brain: Taking the facts of the situation, and coming up with a completely different narrative to what you are currently telling yourself, to push yourself to see a different perspective.
  5. A book for your soul: Charlie Mackesy, The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. My most recent discovery that I am sharing with everyone, from children to adults.

 

You can follow @theinnerimpact


I’m John Shepherd from Partridges and I’ve been selected as #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to John Shepherd owner of one of the few remaining family-run food shops in Central London, Partridges – a company that still cherishes its original idea of providing the very finest quality foods.

John Shepherd – Partridges

Location: Duke of York Square, Chelsea, London

Current job: Partridges Owner & Managing Director

One word that best describes how you work: Improvisationally

My role model: Clement Attlee

My biggest fearHeights

Something I love: Padula, Italy

Something I hate: Brexit

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how Partridges began.

Partridges was opened by my brother, Richard, in 1972. I first worked at the shop in 1973 after leaving school. I was actually born under a mile away from where the shop is located today when we were living in Chelsea.

After I finished my education at Johns Hopkins Graduate School in Bologna in 1980 I returned to the shop and have worked there ever since. Although I acquired an MBA and was also working as a Magistrate part-time.

In 1972 retail food shops in the UK were moving towards self-service supermarkets and delicatessens were something of a dying breed. Partridges was something of a village store in Chelsea.

The original motto was ‘good things for the larder’ and we sold traditional British Foods like Jugged Hare, Ox Tongue and Gull’s Eggs alongside our favourite foods and wines from the Continent.

Partridges was granted the Royal Warrant as Grocers to Her Majesty the Queen in 1994, how was the journey to get to this achievement? 

We started supplying the Royal Household in 1991. I had actually originally written to them asking to be considered as a supplier, but this is not always the right approach! As a matter of fact, they were already buying from us discreetly.

Normally a business has to wait 5 years before being granted a Royal Warrant but we were Granted ours in 1994. Being a Royal Warrant Holder means that you have to abide by the Lord Chamberlain’s Rules which is the Highway Code for supplying the Palace.

There is an emphasis, of course, on very high standards and environmentally sensitive products and currently, there are 3 Grantors: HM the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles.

The Royal Warrant is always Granted to an individual rather than a Business. If a business is sold the Royal Warrant does not necessarily go with it. In total there are about 800 Royal Warrant Holders and in 2007 I was appointed President of the Royal Warrant Holders Association which involves overseeing the various charity initiatives and travelling the country to meet other Warrant Holders. There is a very active social scene as well.

Partridges Shop Duke of York

What is the secret to maintaining this unique level of quality and service?

The secret to maintaining the Royal Warrant is not a secret at all really. It is about being constantly vigilant in ensuring deliveries are on time, in good quality and anticipating problems early. Recognising the customer and the customer’s needs is the ultimate goal regarding everyone who walks through the door at Partridges – even shoplifters. When things go wrong, and they will, it is important to act quickly to put them right. Recognition and an element of surprise are two key aspects. And a good PR team to spread the word.

Today we talk more about sustainability, you were then well ahead of the time starting Startisans, how did you get the idea?

Running a food shop that just sells groceries is running between two very fine margins. It is important to innovate and constantly surprise customers with new ideas and initiatives. This is the surprise element to accompany recognition. So we have tried to introduce new initiatives into the mix. We celebrate as many major festivals as we can throughout the year, we have an American ex-pat section, we run the World Chelsea Bun Awards, we have created a range of own-label products which we export, we distil our own Chelsea Flower Gin and we created the Fine Food Market on the Duke of York Square which first opened in 2005 to help attract footfall onto the Square. The traders who attend are smaller businesses or ‘Start-Up Artisans’ which one of my daughters named Startisans. We actually ran over 20 regular markets around London over the past decade offering Startisans places to trade at a very low-cost base. Due to the pandemic, we transferred the Duke of York Square market to the historic running track where it has flourished in a socially distanced manner. We also offer Startisans a space on our website, sell some of their products in the shop and provide an Award for the Startisan of the Year at the Great Taste Awards – see  Startisan. 

How have you adjusted your business in this unusual time?

We have adjusted our business spontaneously, if not willingly, in reaction to Covid19 by carrying out actions that we would never have done otherwise. For example: closing the in-store Café, redesigning the shop floor layout and upgrading our delivery services by for example starting to be featured on Deliveroo. It has been a challenge to manage 120 plus staff in the time of self-isolation and track and trace and encouraging customers to change habits too. However, we have also been very lucky to be able to stay open every day so far and to be supported by loyal local customers in such good spirit.

What do you think is the next big thing in the food market?

I am not very good at spotting the next big things. Usually, they hit us on the head before we embrace them. But I see increased specialisation going forward. The Pandemic has encouraged the return of smaller independent food businesses. In one area of London we know well, a new Italian deli and a fruit and veg store have recently opened. There are now at least 9 shops selling various types of food. When we opened there were only 2. The success of these newcomers may also rely on their engagement with delivery platforms which I believe will keep expanding in London for the foreseeable future. Food technology will also become increasingly important in the quest to find greater sustainability in food production. In terms of types of food, we work closely with the Great Taste Awards where the quality and presentation of many new food products is outstanding. 

If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently?

If I knew what I know now I would be more inclined to take risks and follow more instincts. We have kept going for 49 years but I always tend to remember the projects we didn’t carry out and the time spent treading water. Standing still is a risk in itself.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

My wife and I go to our house in Padula, Italy. I used to play in the local football team but we like travelling, and staying with our grandchildren. Personally, I am a fan of film noir, sport, writing and single malt whisky, and making pizza in the garden.

What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

I enjoy reading a lot. One of my favourites is James Thurber as I like the humorous approach he takes to life’s travails. One of my favourite books is the fictional “Autobiography of Fezziwig” by Danny Kuhn. He takes my favourite character from Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’ – Mr Fezziwig – and spins out an interesting life story. The reason why I like Fezziwig is that he becomes the model of Scrooges redemption. I think it has been referred to as the Fezziwig Approach. He is the hero of a Christmas Carol.

Last but not least, what is your favourite comfort food?

Comfort food, how long have you got? There is a lot of it. But pasta in many, many forms and chocolate would have to be at the top of the list.

You can follow Partridges on Instagram here.

 

We love to interview #WORLDCHANGERS and listen about their challenges and their achievements. We can help you to optimize your Brand Strategy to reach your business goals and to adjust your Cause Marketing Strategy to improve your social responsibility message in your digital channels.

 


I’m Massimo Cassani, and I’m #YOURNOVELISTPRO

This week we are interviewing Massimo Cassani, a well known Italian fiction writer, Journalist, and professor at ‘Bottega di narrazione’, a Creative Writing Academy. founded by Giulio Mozzi. Massimo speaks about his passion for writing and what is his opinion about digital transformation.

Massimo Cassani, writer.
Credits to Dario De Andrea
Massimo Cassani, writer and journalist. Photo credits to Dario De Andrea

Location: Milano, Italy

Current job: writer, journalist and editorial director at “Ambiente&Sicurezza”.

One word that best describes how you work: quick, quick, quicker!

My greatest success: seeing my novels published.

My biggest fear is: disappointing myself

My favourite writer is: there are so many talented writers, I will pick an English one, Jonathan Coe, as my way to thank you for having me on your blog

My life dream: to continue publishing novels one after the other

First of all, tell us something about your background and when your passions for writing started.

I studied classics and then I specialized in journalism. My passion for the written word was born very early, together with my passion for writing. But I only dedicated myself to it when I felt ready enough to do it. My first novel is from 2008; I was forty-two, not really a kid!

How was the transition from being a journalist to a writer?

These are two completely different worlds. As a journalist, I have always tried to develop simple, accessible writing. The journalist’s goal is, first of all, to convey information through the medium of writing. As a writer, however, I have to focus not only on the contents but also on how to evoke emotions, even in the descriptions of the characters and places. We can say that writing novels can and must be played on several levels, and various nuances; by contrast, writing journalism has to be direct, and the more direct, the better.

How did you manage to keep both careers and at the same time, to collaborate with the writing academy ‘Bottega di narrazione‘?

I try to manage all my journalist work over the week and spend my free time working with Bottega di narrazione. It’s not an easy task because free time is so rare, but I believe we all have this problem nowadays. As for writing novels, it’s something that always goes on in my head.

Can you tell us a bit more about ‘Il Commisario Micuzzi’, when and how the character was born? Was the character inspired by someone in your life or does he have anything in common with you?

Il Commissario Micuzzi was born really by chance. An international literary agent asked me if I was available to develop the plot of a kind gentleman – non-writer – who had a good story (a true story) to write. I should have been a ghostwriter. I hadn’t published anything at the time; I had just finished writing a children’s novel with a friend (a novel that has never been published). I was enthusiastic about the proposal and straight away wrote the synopsis for the story which was enriched with other invented characters, including a minor character whom I called “Micuzzi” because in Italy it is an uncommon surname. But my synopsis was rejected, so I cut everything from the plot that wasn’t mine and made this Micuzzi the protagonist of the first novel (“Sottotraccia”). Micuzzi has a fatal distraction, like me: sometimes I go around the house looking for my cell phone and asking myself desperately: “But where will I have put my cell phone?”. Now the series is stopped, I want to write other things. But in the future, we will see..

L’ ultimo ritorno is a different kind of book. Why did you decide to move away from detective stories into another genre?

L’ultimo ritornois a family novel, yes, very different from the previous detective stories. Writing this story, however, I realized that the mystery, the secrets, the double games “live” well even outside the typical genre novels. And in family stories they “live” very well … many families are not the paradise that some want us to believe.

As #NOVELISTPRO, what do you think about the digital transformation? Do you believe it’s a good change or is digital somehow polluting the nature of writing?

Nothing lives forever, but above all, things change. I don’t think the past is better than the present and that the future will be worse than the age we are living. Writing is no exception. Today we write in a completely different way than a century or two ago, and in a century or two, the differences will be just as marked. Let’s not forget that writing is a medium and objects (ink and inkwell, ballpoint pen, typewriter, writing programs …) are just tools to express it. Even in the web age, there are those who know how to express themselves very well and those who seem semi-illiterate. The instrument certainly changes the writing, but I would not speak of “pollution”, I would rather talk of “contamination”. And contaminations are always fertile, in my opinion.

Tell us your trick to have a good work/free time balance in your day. 

I really don’t have one! Unfortunately, there are no fences in my head, and everything gets confused. Sometimes it’s a resource, many other times it’s not. Maybe that’s why I’m so distracted.

Last but not least, tell us three books that you should bring with you on a desert island.

What a difficult question! I prefer not to mention the classics: they would be too many. I choose three novels from the ones I have read recently, and they impressed me:Berta Isla” by Javier Marias, “Waiting for Bojanglesby Olivier Bourdeaut, andWhat Happens at Nightby Peter Cameron.

Now please fill the gap about your five pro tips: 

  1. Your golden rule in writing: let the stories grow inside my head, every moment, not just as I write.
  2. Best place to recharge: there is no specific place, the important thing is to walk, walk, walk.
  3. A movie to watch over and over: Ulysses’ Gaze by Theo Angelopoulos
  4. A game for your brain: I love to imagine possible things.
  5.  A bit of advice for an emerging writer: reading is essential, yes, but reading while trying to understand what are the mechanisms that govern the stories is even more important. Often these mechanisms emerge even in the most unsuspected novels, even in those that are not considered masterpieces.

You can learn more about Massimo Cassani’s book here


I’m Dicky from Morse Toad and I’m a #WORLDCHANGER

This week on the #WORLDCHANGERS series, we speak to Dicky Broadhurst, founder of Morse Toad, a chocolate gifts company that creates personalised chocolate bar messages delivered to your letterbox.

Dicky-Broadhurst-Morse-Toad-scaled
Dicky-Broadhurst-Morse-Toad

Location: We are based in Lymington which benefits from both the beautiful New Forest and the seaside.

Current job: Morse Toad, I am the Chief Everything Officer.

One word that best describes how you work: Happily

My inspiration: My wife

My role model: Anyone who kept going.

My biggest fear: I’m not much of a worrier, to be honest, The only thing I worry about is my family.

My favourite e-commerce: Monster Supplies. They’re winning at the product, tone of voice, sense of humour.

Something I love: A good story.

Something I hate: Complainers.

First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you get the idea for personalized chocolate gifts.

Back in 2010, I was made redundant. Rather than find another job, I answered an ad in the paper asking me to cycle to Cape Town and the football World Cup for charity. Five and a half months later, we arrived in Cape Town exhausted but jubilant having crossed deserts, tropical forests and savannahs complete with every sabre-toothed beast you can think of. It was a great experience, made better by raising £10,000 for charity.
Shortly after completing the trip, I received a package. Inside was a few useful items, but there, hidden underneath it all, was a chocolate bar. It transpired that my Mum had sent the package 4 months earlier, but it had missed me at the first checkpoint. It had duly been shipped from country to country in hot (literally) pursuit of the avid cyclists. Saharan sun and tropical heat had not been kind to the chocolate, and by this point, it looked a shadow of its former self. But at that moment, I recognised it for what it was….a gesture of support from mother to son. Via the medium of chocolate, my Mum was saying ‘good luck; you can do it’.
Even in its miserable state, this chocolate packed a massive punch, and this got me thinking. Sometimes it’s those little gestures that make all the difference. In our world of relentless digital messages, a proper gesture, an actual physical thing, can go a long way to making a big impact on someone’s day, or even someone’s life.
And so Morse Toad was born. A messaging service dedicated to making small gestures with a big impact.

Does your chocolate passion come from your childhood?

Whilst I enjoy chocolate as much as the next person, my passion lies around the idea of making other people happy. If the opportunity is there to go a little bit further to make a much bigger difference to someone’s day, then you should take it. Life is short. Why not celebrate every moment? Get the balloons, make a cake, make a fuss of someone. You can’t underestimate the impact that might have.

Have you seen the clients’ behaviour changing on your e-commerce in the last six months?

The last six months have been the craziest ever for my business. We were very fortunate. What do you do when you can’t give someone a hug or a high five in person? You send a hug in the post. And send them we did.
It’s safe to say that, during the lockdown, there was an outpouring of love, positivity and humour that came through our little business. It was nothing short of extraordinary. Lockdown taught us what was important and what to be grateful for, and that is the other people in our lives.

What do you think it’s essential to adjust a business in this unusual time?

As a business owner, you often face challenges that come out of nowhere. Clearly, the pandemic is unprecedented, but behind every cloud is a rainbow. My hope is something positive will come from this tragic and challenging time. If I have adjusted anything during this time, it is to identify what really truly matters, and that is my family.

Where do you see Morse Toad being in the next three years?

We exist to connect people in unique and wonderful ways. We want to help people make the world a happier place, one small gesture at a time. So in three years, we will have created many more exciting ways for people to connect. Chocolate is just the beginning.

Today every business tries to find a way to give back to society, has Morse Toad been involved with a cause or a charity partner?

During the lockdown, we created a gift box specifically for NHS keyworkers. We shipped many hundreds of boxes and got amazing feedback from both the recipients and the senders, who were happy to give some moral support to those at the coal face.
– From an environmental perspective, in a bid to reduce packaging waste, we converted our chocolate box into part of the gift. Now you can add your photo to the top of the box. Once all the chocolates have gone, you can hang the box on the wall from the holes in the back. There’s no need to throw it away. There’s even the option to include a frame.
– We also offset our footprint by contributing to a tree-planting organisation.

Our gifts have the potential to lift the spirits of people in challenging  situations. We are looking for an ongoing charity partner to work with on an ongoing basis.

How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

I am blessed to live in a beautiful part of the world. Every day I get out and about to enjoy the countryside with my family.

Best advice you would give to an aspiring entrepreneur just starting up their business

Be sure to celebrate every success and brace yourself for a marathon.

If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently? 

I was so green when I started. I had no clue. If I were to do anything differently, it would be to find someone to help me inhouse. You can’t do it all yourself, and I have wasted so much money over the years paying for external help.

Last but not least, can you suggest the best corporate gift ideas?

Is it cheeky to suggest ourselves? With our corporate gifts, a business can apply their own branding or imagery to the top of the box. Inside, a message made from the best Belgian chocolate. We can send these, including shipping, for £10 each depending on the quantity.
During the lockdown, many businesses sent boxes to all of their staff working from home, and this Christmas represents a great opportunity to send something festive to clients all over the country.

You can follow Morse Toad on Instagram @Morsetoad

We love to interview #WORLDCHANGERS and listen about their challenges and their achievements. We can help you to optimize your Brand Strategy to reach your business goals.