Don’t panic!


This morning I have already advised caution, suggested that we act proportionally and came very close to telling someone to calm down.

Now if you have read much of my blog you may be aware that I can be Queen of ALL the drama but if I can advise you anything it’s take some time – take a breath and exercise some caution.

Not every situation is exactly as it looks when you first see it – look inside see the nuances, the back story, the not so obvious facts that are quietly sitting there and not the sensational ones at the front shouting LOOK AT ME, ME ME ME.

Yes there are times when it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck but we do ourselves and those we work with a disservice if we don’t take a moment to check and breath.

The situation this morning is a bit more serious than a feathered friend but the potential for escalation and causing a stir was there.  A conference call was arranged as a matter of urgency – 3 more people than needed to be there were invited; the invitation title was sensational and would set alarm bells ringing in the most level headed.  There were whispers in the office among those that weren’t involved but somehow knew what was going on. On the call there was talk of specialists and investigations and the small (ish) circle that knew what was going on was at risk of rippling to a much larger audience.

So I stopped it.  I listed the facts, stopped the scaremongering.  Made it clear that this was not to be shared further as it was not necessary and would be gosssip which was not only unprofessional but distasteful.  There would be a proportionate response. We would be sensible and calm and fair.

Interestingly there was a sense of disappointment – no was was going to get to be Colombo. There was no drama, just an unfortunate situation which was dealt with quietly and sensitively and we can now call move on.  No drama.

It’s not the fun option, or possibly even the popular one.  But its the right thing to do.  No need to Panic.

The Feast of IHL

Last night was date night. Having been away at the CIPD conference all week
and himself being pretty much confined to quarters on dog sitting duties during fire work celebrations it was time to head out, have some good fun and properly reconnect (I’ll talk about date night another time but for now beer!).

So we headed off to Camden and the Feast of IHL. The Feast was the last event and the culmination of Camden Town Brewery’s 7 days of IHL. The Feast was a four course affair with food provided by Texas Joe and as much IHL as you could drink – including an IHL cocktail where it was mixed with tequila blanco, pink grapefruit juice and agave nectar and served in a beer glass with a sugar salt rim. Now that’s the way to drink a Tequila beer!

The event was Hosted by the brilliant people from Camden Town Brewery who are led by Jasper Cuppaidge. Jasper stared brewing in the basement of The Horseshoes pub that he was running in 2006 and their beers are now brewed in a £2.5m turnkey brewery built to his specification under the railway arches in Kentish Town. Probably best known for the popular Camden Hells and Camden Pale Ale they also brew Camden Pils, Gentlemans Wit and Camden Ink as well as a number of specials throughout the year – including most recently a Pumpkin Spiced Lager they produced just in time for Halloween. And now IHL.

The brewery made Indian Summer but wanted to go further and make an IPA in lager form. They tested and tried an improved and tinkered and eventually IHL was born – Indian Hells Lager. To celebrate the launch of IHL the brewery have undertaken 7 Days of Hell – a week of event including the Feast – ending on Saturday with a festival of cans with a pop up can off licence at the Temple of IHL (205 Royal College Street, London NW1) with 19 different canned beers from 6 different breweries.

The Feast was a lot of fun – the food was excellent. You may know Texas Joe from his appearance on Dragons Den where he got the offer of investment from Peter Jones. He was telling us last night that whilst that deal didn’t pan out the plans he talked about have all come through and his Jerky and other products are now stocked in major retailer including Tesco, Sainsburys and Asda whilst he kept all of his equity. An Actor by trade from Dallas and sporting a fabulous hat and belt buckle Joe was there to make sure his food was served well and answer any questions about it.

Well the food was lovely – particularly the brisket and jalapeño corn bread. If you’d like to try his food he’s currently in residency at British Pub of the Year 2014 The Grafton in Kentish Town. If you like your meat and American food at American portions I’d highly recommend making the trip to NW5.

So what about the beer – well IHL is 6.2% alcohol which is strong to say the least. I asked Jasper and he said that they had wanted to make it strong like an IPA and that through the breeding and fermenting process they’d managed to get this result. IHL is a labour of love. It’s brewed for nearly 6 weeks and it’s all about the hops. As Jasper told us hops, hops and more hops. He described part of the process like mashing tea but they don’t just squeeze the tea bag they also then add more hop flower.

And you know what it works. IHL is clean and crisp to drink. It has an underlying sweetness but isn’t cloying in any way. It’s not overly gassy and is easy to drink (judging by himself’s snoring this morning possibly a little too easy.

If you like your craft lager/beer and are in London it’s worth heading to Camden Town Brewery as their tap room is open Tuesday & Wednesday 12-6pm Thursday, Friday & Saturday 12-11pm (with street food in the evenings). They also run brewery tours you can book on to on Thursdays and Saturdays.

If you can’t get there look out for their beers – and hopefully you’ll get to try some IHL.

In the meantime I’m pretty sure this is going to be a three can of coke kind of day and there may be a need for a stack of pancakes!

I feel I should point out that this gush fest is not a sponsored post in any way and we paid and booked privately for our tickets to The Feast – no payment has been received though we did leave with a cheeky case of IHL to share with our friends! I









My time at CIPD14 (all my posts in one place!)

I’ve had a brilliant few days at CIPD14 and still have a few more blog posts brewing but for now here’s an easy list of links to my other blogs and Storify’s.  I’ll add more links as and when I upload them.

– Notes from the Session on Being Brilliant Everyday

– A reblog from Helen Tracey following the Key Note Speech – The Future of Work

– Limbering up for CIPD

– A Storify Summary of my first day in tweets.

– A reflection of the first day

– Summaries of sessions I attended on day two Introducing the HRBP Development Programme, Leading Change by Embedding Best Practice and Where did all the tribunals go?

Reflecting on the first day of CIPD14



This year I’ve been invited to blog and tweet from the annual conference by the CIPD. I’m part of what’s call the ‘blog squad’ and I couldn’t be happier.

It’s just before midnight at the end of the first day and I’m tucked up in bed in my rented apartment about 10 mins walk from the conference venue.

So thinking about what I heard today from Dr Alan Watkins the emotions I’m feeling right now are:

Curiosity (is that an emotional state?)
Disappointment and

I’m exhausted – last night I attended the international delegates welcome drinks and then stopped out with some of my fellow bloggers and social media HR types drinking cheap white wine and forgetting to eat. It was a great start – catching up with friends, meeting new ones and finally putting faces (& hugs proper big hugs) to those I’ve ‘known’ on line for a few years but never met IRL.

I fell into bed about midnight and after a fitful sleep was up and out by 8am to meet again for a strategic latte. It’s been non-stop since then. I’ve been ‘on’ all day (in person & online) and I’m frazzled. Frazzled in a contented way but nonetheless I’m spent.

But my brain – oh what an amazing day and night. Such brilliant, generous, thoughtful people. Some amazing speakers (see my other two blogs) and the opportunity to meet,connect and build relationships with people I respect and admire. The passion of one who today upgraded to Chartered member through the brilliant and inspired conference face to face interview process. The boundless energy of the HRD blogger who despite her feet killing her still cared at 11pm how others were doing and still wanted to share and have fun (karaoke anyone?). The elder statesman and his smoky whisky giving time and insight and showing genuine interest in what’s going on with others. I can only hope I’m some way near being like them and I’m elated from spending my day and evening with them.

I’m curious as to what’s next – how can we raise the professionalism of the profession? How can HR stand alongside finance and be seen in the same way? How can we ensure that the education gap in capability is filled and what part should we as leaders, employers or just members of society play in making sure that we leave the place of work in a way that the young people coming through (& their children’s children) have something they can build on -that isn’t toxic or broken.

And I’m disappointed – why on earth are we still talking about a freaking seat at a freaking table? Why are we still talking about the need for diversity in our profession & the workplace? Why haven’t we fixed this stuff or at least moved on from it? Why are there still people gazing at their navels when the train that is the future of work is leaving the station? Where is the insight and the new ideas?

But I’m hopeful. Tomorrow is another full day. I’m not sure I’m going to be up to it physically but I can’t wait. I’m hopeful that we’ll reach the highs of the frankly brilliant key note speech and there’ll be no more generation blah or seat at the blah blah blah klaxons.

It’s been a good day. And there’s more to come.

Bring Brilliant Everyday – developing high performance leaders (notes from the session)

After a rousing Key Note speech, a quick battery charge and water stop I’m ready for my first session.

Presented by Dr Alan Watkins an international expert on leadership and human performance from Complete Coherence Limited – and the son of 1970s comedy TV writer including episodes of Terry and June {impressed face!}. The session promises to cover:

– how to go beyond behavioural biology, to permanently step change performance
– how learning differs from development; and how to transform talent by working the difference
– practical techniques to strengthen leaders’ decision-making skills and overall performance levels

A great start as we are encouraged to Tweet from our seats in the session using the #CIPD14 by Gill White from CIPD.

Dr Watkins started talking about living in a VUCA world and that the world is getting faster and faster and becoming more ambiguous. Post world war 2 knowledge was doubling every 25 years – now its every 3 months….within 3 years everything we know right now will be 12% of what we know if 3 years……..IBM predict that this will get down to 12 hours. The entirety of what we know will double in a day!

We’re living at one of the most dramatic inflection points ever – a great time to be around. A perfect storm is brewing. Currently we use 100% of our brains but only about 10% of our mind and its potential.

We’re working with horizontal learning – shared experience and information to build and learn skills. Profoundly different from development. So the game changer in a perfect storm world is depth not width – increase depth through vertical development.

Development see’s a change in a human person – more than learning but actually changing. Profoundly different from learning a few new skills…..

We learn a lot post teenage years – skills, knowledge – but don’t necessarily develop. So we have a C suite of 40 year olds on the outside who are actually 14 inside.

– How we are physically is one of the ways we can develop.

All human beings are focused on results. The results may vary but we’re all focused on some sort of result in some way. Entirely true that you can’t change a result without changing behaviour but not enough to focus solely on behaviour. Whether a behaviour is present or absent depends on whats happening beneath the surface – its about their thinking. We need to understand how people think (the awkward sticky stuff) – how people think about you and what you’re suggesting will influence behaviour and results. It’s not just thinking but also about a reciprocal loop with Feeling, which is the dominant action. Feeling drives and overwrite thinking – so if you want to change behaviour change how people feel, change the active ingredient.

But feelings a underpinned again by emotion (stick with me) spontaneously many people don’t make the difference between thinking and feeling.

So what determines the emotion? Physiology….the reason for variance in performance and not being brilliant every day is people don’t know how they are doing it. Don’t understand how the system works and that there are multiple systems to get the result.

Emotions are energy in motion – composite of the data from physiology. Feelings are an awareness in the mind of the emotions and data and the thoughts that arise in our mind are happening in the context of our biology and emotional state. You can change the concept of thinking by changing things at the biological level.

In the human system the electrical signal of the heart is one of the most relevant signals. The distance between heart beats is not the same, envy signal beat your heart rate changes – heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is important because: can predict major illness and ill health (so can predict when someone could die); it underpins energy, dynamism and ability to respond to a threat (HRV can quantify how much energy you actually have); it underpins the ability to think clearly.

Under pressure HRV increases and it cuts off the frontal lob – DIY Lobotomy. Brain shuts down under pressure – under a threat thinking becomes binary – fight, flight or play dead. We’re all at the mercy of brain shut down.

The good news is – turn on some coherence and the brain switches back on and smart thinking returns. We need to take control back of our own physiology. Some things we can control – most simple and important is breathing. Number one is take a few rhythmic breaths and you will see physiology move from chaotic to coherent. Knowing you can bring your a game every single time because you control your physiology – it’s the start point.

So where do you go after you’ve got physiology under control. Greatest myth is you will only perform well if your are fired up – got the adrenaline going. What really determine how brilliant you are is not how aroused or relaxed you are but whether you’re in a negative or positive emotional state. Negative – angry, frustrated, anxious or positive – passion, enthusiasm, motivated with lots of DHEA not Cortisol.

To be in control you want to increase DHEA and working with positive emotion not with Cortisol and negative emotion.

Write down where you are – how many emotions have you notices on your own system in the last week (personally frustration, excitement, joy,). There are 34 thousand distinguishable emotions…….most people can list an average of 12. The bigger repertoire you have as a leader the better equipped you are to help others and build successful relationships – emotional literacy/mastery. Getting a bigger repertoire than what you had will help you.

If you want yo be brilliant every day – start by controlling your physiology, then what emotions am I experiencing and then can I turn any single emotion on on demand. Taking control back is game changing!

A whistlestop tour touching on key things to be brilliant every day – a passionate and energetic session backed up with science

The Future of Work

Great insight from Helen following this mornings keynote at the CIPD Annual Conference 2014

HR Potential


When I tell you the future of work is about individuals, the automatic reaction is likely to be “it already is”. But it’s that thinking which is a fundamental stumbling block to all the hallmarks of today’s competitive advantage.

Compare these two employees.

The first is building their own silo, bigging themselves up as they climb their own career ladder, not caring who they take down on the way up. In exchange for a job for life they’ll give you their loyalty.

The second hops from experience to experience, soaking up learning, honing their skills and acting more entrepreneurial. The organisation needs to fit round their abilities rather than the other way round.

Which is more risky? And more importantly, which would you rather employ? If you answered the first then I’m afraid your company is in trouble.

Yes, the future of work is transient, but isn’t that the nature…

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