Monday, 28 October 2013

A Chunk Of Change...

via Pinterest
 When I get an e-mail from the amazing Emma Woodhouse of The Wedding Reporter with just the word...


... followed by a blog post, then I know this is something I want to read. And Emma wasn't wrong to recommend this great post by Seth Godin.

 I absolutely love the sentiment in this post and agree wholeheartedly with the idea that something we should all be doing is giving others confidence to change - whether it's inspiring them to follow their passions or just helping them to try a little new thing. The unknown can be scary and the untried can be terrifying but with someone on your side, someone to emulate or someone to take heart from, anything is possible.

Over the last few weeks, and at the risk of sounding like a complete lovey, I've been changed, inspired and spurred on by others who overflow with passion and encouraged by their confidence. Those huge things I thought I wouldn't do or couldn't do suddenly become smaller things I'm keen to try when a fraction of their confidence finds its way to me. Conversely, I've had conversation with clients and potential clients in the last week where I hope some of my certainty has been transferred to them and given them the belief and conviction to move ahead with plans or to take a chance on ideas.

Nothing is supposed to stay the same, change is necessary, inevitable and nothing to be scared of. Change should be embraced.

And if you've got someone at your side to give you a little hug and to deliver that injection of support to get you through it, so much the better. Who knows how we might all be able to help each other?

Monday, 21 October 2013

Decisions, decisions...

via Pinterest
Something I never fail to appreciate about working for yourself, and working with people who more often than not work for themselves, is relative simplicity of making decisions.

Yes, yes, I know that sometimes we are all crippled with indecision, we slump helplessly over our laptops, not sure what to do or how to do it and sometimes we can keep ourselves awake into the wee small hours biting our nails and tearing our hair out trying to decide what to do.

But, all of those (minor) inconveniences aside, once we'd made the decision, we're able to get things going and my goodness, this is something to thank your lucky stars about every day.

This ability to make a decision and just get on with it is, in my humble opinion, one of the things that makes the wedding industry so special. It allows us to be creative, to get things moving, to strike up the band and dance to our own tune. We can set the pace and set the agenda. It's a huge privilege and it allows us to get things moving in a light-on-our-feet, speedy-minded way that is really rather special.

This was bought home to me so many times last week. Firstly, I had a lovely trip down to Bristol for the launch of Little Wedding Space. This pop-up, powered by Kirsten of Little Wedding Helper and photographer Ruth Garner is the perfect illustration of my point. Kirsten & Ruth had the idea for a wedding pop-up to showcase the work of a fabulous group of wedding suppliers and they just got on with it. From first tiny thought to opening night in the blink of an eye. No papers to present to the board, no endless e-mail trails between endless departments with everyone adding their two penceworth whether or not they understand what they're talking about and no interminable meetings full of bluster and other things beginning with b.

Maybe this is why some traditional businesses feel threatened by us agile little up-starts, maybe its something to do with the fact that we can speak our minds or that we don't have the 'rules' of big business to work around. Yes, sometimes being the accounts department, the marketing department, the receptionist, the officer manager and the cleaner can be tough but flipping heck, the benefits of being able to call the shots are huge and please please please never forget them.

We make the decisions, we get things moving, we can work with people we want to work with in ways that suit us. We get to hang out with wonderful people, we get to try new things and turn seemingly impossible plans into real things in the blink of an eye. We are professional but human at the same time. We haven't lost ourselves behind corporate facades and we can be silly, funny, kind and caring whilst still knocking out top-notch, amazing work.

The hours can be long, the annual leave allowance can be non-existent, there are no dress-down Fridays or bake-sales in reception. There's no safe salary or Christmas bonus but we have something far more valuable.

We have the ability to make our own decisions and go in our own direction. And my goodness, you can't put a price on that.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Corkscrew Thinkers & Brides The Show

Miss Bush at Brides The Show
Now, this post might start with a little bit of an indulgence as I ramble momentarily about military history but stay with me. I promise it's relevant.

Back in World War II when the intelligence war was at its peak, men (including Ian Fleming of James Bond fame) sat in the Admiralty trying to come up with a plan to fool Hitler into thinking that the Allies would attack Greece and Sardinia and not, as was actually planned, Sicily. What they came up with was the macabre but effective and brilliant plan of 'Operation Mincemeat' when the body of a dead vagrant was dressed as a Marine officer and floated ashore in Spain carrying apparently genuine documents tipping the Germans off about the landings. It worked like a dream.

But it worked because Churchill had given these men the courage to try something new by prizing 'corkscrew thinkers'. He didn't want ordinary, middle of the road plans that do what was expected in a predictable and formulaic way. He wanted creativity, a willingness to try new things and he wanted to take risks. Calculated, well planned and well thought out risks but risks nonetheless.

And, on Friday night at Brides The Show, there were corkscrew thinkers aplenty.

Those of you that follow me on twitter will have seen me trumpeting the jaw-droppingly gorgeous 'Boudicca' shoot that Miss Bush Bridal had put together for the show and their stand, next to the catwalk, was an extension of that. With hooded capes, striped bustles, stunning floristry from Bloomin'gayles and even specially commissioned scented candles all adding to the wow-factor.

There's no doubt that going hard on the warrior queen theme was a risk. It didn't play safe, it didn't go along with the cute bridal stereotypes but my goodness it paid off. The stand was packed, the brides loved it and the buzz and the feedback was amazing.

But the corkscrew thinking here worked for the same reason Operation Mincemeat worked all those years ago. It created a compelling story that you couldn't ignore. It was so brave, so ballsy and so bold that there was no way you could look away.

And there was similar daring on display right around the show and I was so proud to be there. Proud to be part of an industry that's pushing itself and trying new things. Proud that we're no longer all pandering to the lowest common denominator and imagining  that brides all want to play it safe with identikit weddings.

Whether we're all getting more sophisticated, I don't know. I'm absolutely sure the blogs, Pinterest and social media are all playing a part in giving confidence and I know that brides, grooms and guests are becoming more used to seeing weddings that don't follow the church/buffet/disco pattern of old.

So, as brides are changing, suppliers have to change too. Doing what you've always done isn't going to cut the mustard any more and hoo-flipping-rah for that. Trying new things, spurring yourself on to be better and pushing the boundaries are why so many of us love the wedding industry. Creativity is to be embraced and routine shunned.

'Creativity' isn't using a different shade of pink. It comes with doing something that scares you and is actually a bit of a risk.

Because, as Churchill knew, great things can't happen when you just think in safe, straight lines.

Corkscrew thinking is the way to go.

p.s. if you've not watched the 'Boudicca' shoot behind-the-scenes video on Love My Dress - watch it now!

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Goals & Your Fingertips...

via Pinterest
So yesterday, I spent the morning at my son's prospective senior school. He loved it, I loved it, it was such a hit even my step-daughter is now considering moving there for 'A' levels.

Aside from the location, the staff, the students and all the quirky fabulousness of this school by the river with more than a hint of Hogwarts about it, the Headmaster just rocks.

I know, I know, an odd thing to say about a head of school but his speech that opened the morning was really rather good. So good in fact that I found myself nodding along like a groupie at a cult meeting.

But, frankly, if you're going to worship at the altar of thoughts and ideas, you might as well make them good ones and these were gold. So gleamingly, gorgeously gold that I'm going to re-hash them here...

The first thing that really struck home was this Head's comment of "if you didn't feel a buzz about the place when you drove up the drive, then we're probably not for you." A bit of a ballsy comment but I loved it and the same is true of true of wedding businesses and clients. Like over-protective parents who visit endless numbers of schools in the hope of finding the perfect place for their dear darling off-spring, brides and grooms spend substantial amounts of time visiting venues, meeting suppliers and hunting for that perfect partnership. We know what this head knows - sometimes, you just don't click and do you know what? That's fine. We're not supposed to get on with everyone, we're not supposed to change ourselves, our pricing our offering or our style just to fit in with every client. If they don't 'get' us, that's ok.

Secondly, this Head doesn't just want to do a job, he wants to make a difference. He shared a story of a high achiever who got great grades in his GCSEs but was more than a little miffed not to be offered a place for 'A' levels. Why not I hear you cry? Because the school had tried to connect with him, tried to engage with him and nothing. So they didn't feel they were making a difference to this pupil and sent him off into the world to find another place that might. And we want this from our wedding clients too. We want to leave at the end of the day having made a difference. Who wants to slide through an average life adding nothing but average value? No, we want to make a difference and if we don't think we are or if we don't think we can, we should step away.

There was also talk of pushing yourself, of trying new things, of embracing new ideas and keeping your eye on the end game. Do you want to make more money, attract more clients, attract different clients, be more creative, diversify, expand or grow and sell? What is it that you want and does what you do help you take steps to get there?

But the thing that stuck in my head, the words that made my ears prick up in happiness and my soul sing a little with the beauty of the expression was the phrase...

"Your goals should be the ones you can just get hold of with the very tips of your fingers."

The visions in my head instantly had me reaching upwards to the shelf that's always just out of reach. You know, the shelf where the treats and the good stuff are always hidden. My fingertips can just touch something and I know it's great, I know I want it but it's just out of reach. All I have to do is figure out how to get there and what I need to do to just lever myself up that little bit more, to rise up and take it. No, I can't grab it straight away, I need to work a bit, strive a bit, try a bit and push myself more than a little bit. And then I'm there.

Because when you know what you're working for is worth it, and it's something you want above the average stuff on the shelf below, then reach up as far as you can and just get your fingertips on something wonderful.

Then don't let go.