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nice to meet you (without the elevator pitch)

A few weeks ago, I encouraged you to hang out with your role models in order to experience the reality of the life or career change you’re seeking to make. Once you’ve discovered the groups or places online and participated or followed the discussions, activities and insights there, you know what comes next. You have to go out and do it in person.

It’s one of the most common fears I hear. What will they think of me? They’ll think I’m a fraud or a wannabe. What will I say?

First – no one is an expert at the start of their journey, we all need to start somewhere. Just like your role model did.

Second – you are a potential wannabe. Just like your role model was.

Third – say what you comes naturally, when you meet new people. Just like your role model is, a new person.

My plea is please please please don’t fall into the trap of the over practiced, cliched 60 second elevator pitch. You know the ones, the slightly mind numbing, so rehearsed that all emotion and passion is sucked out of it.

I say you can do better and thanks for my wonderful role model, Heather White of Smarter-Networking, I know a better way.

Start with purpose

What do you want to achieve from this conversation or introduction? Knowing this will help you match your introduction to your aims.

Think back

Remind yourself that you have conversation all the time with different people. Information is passed, jokes are made, relationships built. You can do this.

Check your options

Are you more comfortable initiating conversation or responding?

Option 1: Wait to be asked then give your name, why you’re there and what you’re about. Remember to finish by asking a question back.

Option 2: Start with “I don’t think we’ve met yet, I’m … insert your name……”. The natural reaction is for the other person to introduce themselves and you’ll be able to follow their example.

Then the conversation flows from there. Stuck for small talk? Try these:

  • ask if they’ve been to this event before
  • ask who they came with
  • comment on the speaker or event topic and ask their thoughts
  • explore their work (Who? What? Where?)
  • make sure you know the headlines of the day (stay off anything controversial)
  • suggest going to the drinks table or bar to get a drink.

Leave with style

When it’s time to go your separate ways, revisit your purpose – did you achieve it or is now the time to ask for a further coffee, their business card or a piece of advice? (Remember this is like a first date, no a wedding proposal!)

That’s my way of beginning conversations at events, I’m intrigued – what’s yours? Share your technique to introducing yourself with style in the comments.

  • Daniela

    i tend to do two things. If its an event in which each person gets up and gives their 60 second pitch, then I just try to make it simple enough for a 10 year old to understand, but also enough mystery that they want to ask me more. If its an networking event in which we are meeting lots of new people at once, I try to find something we have in common and talk about that. I like to break the ice. Once they are comfortable, I find that when they ask what I do, they generally care to know because they already like me as a person.

    • Sarae

      I love your idea of making others comfortable first – it’s one of the key ways to build trust as you demonstrate your interest and care for others you build intimacy and credibility, whilst diminishing self interest. Thanks for sharing!

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make tough decisions easier on yourself

Today is the day that those living in Scotland vote on whether to become an independent country or remain within the United Kingdom. The Kingdoms united back in 1603 and since then, there have been several revisits of this tough decision.

How do you decide? Yes or No. There’s no Maybe.

OK, so I’m not about to get all political on you in this b-mail. The compelling and passionate speakers on both sides of this vote have enough airtime without me lending them this page. All I would say is, if you can, please vote.

Instead, I want to look at how you can make tough decisions easier. Lots have been said about various processes from “pros and cons” lists to fancy algorithms in web based solution finders (see this one.) I’ve also talked about balancing the head, heart and hands of decision making in an earlier b-mail. (Missed it? Read it here.) I want to look at how you can go easier on yourself, whilst making important or sticky decisions.

Get Ready

Mediate. Ponder. Daydream. Focus. Whatever your personal preference, take a moment to consider the emotional and physical impact of your decision and the process you are going through. Answer these questions:

  1. What are my energy levels doing?
  2. What is my mood like?
  3. What is my general health right now?
  4. What would I like them to be to support me?

Take out your diary and now add 2 or 3 quick and simple things you can do each day to ensure you attain the right energy, mood and health.

For example, a walk round the park, a chia pudding treat or a chat with a mate could all perk you up in less than 15 mins. Quicker? Take a multi-vitamin, practice a little mindfulness on your commute, fill a post-it with gratitude items.

Must know more!

Before you hit the overwhelm button or divert to procrastination city, STOP!

Gathering lots of data, facts, opinions, reviews and the like can be really beneficial in making decisions. Yet, this gathering mentality can also be a great avoidance tactic. Striving to be a giant computer taking in as much data and the like, followed by some complex analysis – both lead to overwhelm and procrastination.

Try stepping back and imagine it’s your friend taking this decision. What are the 3 major influencers and 3 main impacts on or of the decision? Ok, so now what would you advise them to consider and what to put to one side. You’ve cleared the overwhelm and now have the key areas to concentrate on.

Pick your time and place

Very few decisions are about life and death, needing to be made within minutes. Very few deadlines are rock solid, unable to be move or flexed.

Make the decision are your pace, when you’re ready. If you wake at 4am knowing the right way to go, keep the faith at 8am that it’s right and move forward. Likewise, if you need to be outdoors with the wind in your hair to be able to tune into making the decision, do it rather than forcing yourself to sit in a stiff meeting room.

And breathe….

Yes, one of my favourite things. Open your chest by gently pulling your shoulders back and down, extending your collar bones and breathe in to the base of your rib cage.

Drawing oxygen into your body and brain replenishes your reserves and helps expel stall air on the exhale. It relaxes your muscles, slows your heart rate and eases your mind away from stress and threat to calm – meaning your prefrontal cortex (the bit of the brain behind your forehead for complex thinking) can now begin its work.

You’re human. It is completely ok that important, tough decisions require significant efforts to ensure the right outcomes for you and yours. Make tough decisions easier by going easy on yourself and accept you’re reacting in a totally human, natural way. You have every capacity to make the right decision.

So tell me, what are you doing to go easy on yourself when faced with tough decisions? What works for you and what is blocking you?

(Feeling really blocked? Book a Skype, FaceTime or coffee coaching session and together, we can make it easier. Drop me a line.)

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back to school spark of inspiration

Several of my friends and clients work in schools or universities and are preparing for early mornings, ironed shirts, new stationary and homework. I’ve enjoyed their company over the summer holidays and will miss the catch-ups, but they’ve got me inspired.

They hold a key to the future for their students. They share themselves, their passion and energy to create a spark of inspiration, a chain of fireworks and a vision of what life could be like for their students. We’re back to school.

Get your new notebook out and your finest felt tips or crayons. I want to take what they’re doing for tomorrow’s scientists, dancers, leaders, inventors, writers, carers and holders of jobs not yet thought of and bring it to you.

Create your spark

These can come from anywhere – a book, a speaker at an event, an documentary, a quote on a bumper sticker. Or perhaps someone you admire, who is doing or being what you want to. Or a place you like to visit. Look back at your journal or diary or photo library.

When something leaps out at you, drawing you in and making you want more.

That’s your spark of inspiration.

Next ignite your chain of fireworks

Working with that inspiration, build upon it – ask yourself: what does this link to in my life now and in the future? Then record the outcomes – brain dump, illustrate them, mind map their interrelations or use a dictation app (like Siri) and talk through where this spark takes you.

If you get stuck – ask yourself “what else?” and pause to allow other thoughts to bubble through. Invite a trusted friend or partner to bounce ideas back and forth.

Once you’ve got a chain of inspirations, that make your tummy flutter, heart beat faster or make you catch you breath – all with a huge smile on your face – you’re good to move to the next step.

Finally, a vision of what life could be like

Put aside today’s restrictions, barriers or blockers. Look ahead with your blinkers removed. Divide a page in 3 (or if like me, you’ve got giant handwriting, 3 sheets of paper!). In the first third, add a header “Tomorrow”, middle area “3-6 Months” and the final one “And beyond….”. Or in other words, short, medium and long term.

Taking your fireworks, add each one to your paper into the timezone, in which you can begin them. For example, water features in my work and life goals. Tomorrow, I can work in the Lido Cafe on the Serpentine and use the waters’ calming effect to allow me to focus on a new course design. In 3-6 months, I can book a long weekend away on the coast to feel the salty wind blow on my face and beyond that, I’d love to live somewhere near water with an office overlooking it.

My final step, as I often get my sparks from pictures or visuals, I like to make a vision board above my desk or on Pinterest (for on the move quick fixes..plus I can add more sparks as I go!).

I’d love to know how you approach your back to school futures, does this time of year evoke memories of itchy new jumpers and stiff new shoes? Perhaps thoughts of a teacher, who created your spark, fireworks and future? Share in the comments, your sparks, fireworks and where or who they come from.

How did you find this exercise? Need a hand? Shout. I’ve got coaching slots opening up and would be thrilled to help take you from spark of inspiration to future vision!

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time for bed – sleep better

My mum used to stay I was a wiggler. I’d mess the bed up every night. I’d roll about, lie one way, then another and another. Limbs would hang off the bed. Duvets and blankets ended up on the floor. I’d be awake, asleep, awake, asleep or wakey sleepy as it’s now known.

So, I’m a few years older and not much has changed. Instead of thinking about exams and gymnastics, now I wake up thinking about the next day’s plans, a coachee’s blockers, a new training session design or how to promote a b-more to new solopreneurs.

Whilst I know sleep is important, I don’t always prioritise it. I start a new task or chore a bit too late or simply, faff about.

I’m starting again. I want to sleep better. I’m going to try to rewrite my wonky programming and find a way to enjoy being asleep. I’ve researched, read, asked and more – what strikes me is how much information there is. I’m also surprised by how simple some of it is.

1. Get enough for you

How much sleep do you need? I can function on 5 hours, but way better with 7.5. However, I average about 6.5 most nights. The number you need will be personal to you. Keep a diary of bed times, alarm times and note how many times you woke up and how you felt upon waking.

2. Schedule it

Book in your bed time and alarm time. And then stick to it. (Yes I know. Tricky, right?) It is suggested that by making the times regular or if that’s not possible, allowing for your right number of hours between them, we’d wake refreshed and have better quality sleep.

3. Create a routine

Warm bath. Lavender Oil. Hot chocolate or warm milk. A few slow stretches. Breathing or mediation exercises. Removing your make-up and massaging a little facial oil into your skin. Anything that relaxes your body and mind.

4. Avoid blue lights

About 60-90 minutes before your sleep time, turn off your tech. Smart phones. Tablets. TVs. Computer or laptop screens. (Yes I know. Another one I’m gonna struggle on!)

 5. Do some exercise

But not to hard or too late before bed time. Think low impact class, walk round the block – not fast paced run or swim or weights session. You want to exhaust yourself a little and get a good dose of endorphins without having the “Woooo, I’m wide awake now” post exercise high!

6. Fuel your sleep

Eat or drink something with natural sugars just before bed (and brushing your teeth!) – why? Sometimes, our brains feel like they’re running out of available fuel so wakes us up. (My trick is honey or agave nectar in my milk)

7. Clear your mind

Pick the method that works for you – talk to a friend, write it down, draw a mind-map, mediate, a spot of NLP practice – and keep a pen and paper next to your bed so if you are woken up, you can clear again.

8. And relax….

This is my favourite bit: full body relaxation exercises. Slow your breathing rate, by drawing in and counting a slow 1, 2, 3 and release. (Increase the number if you’ve got a big lung capacity!) Starting at your toes, screw them up tight. Move up to your calves, knees, thighs, pelvic floor, tummy, bum, back, shoulders, arms, fingers and neck. Finally screw up your face. (Yep, you’ll look a bit weird. Lights off.) Then release your toes and stretch them, ankles, calves, knees and so on up your body again until you relax your face….if you get that far 🙂

Here’s my promise – for September, I am going to:

  • do a short, light burst of exercise before 1900
  • switch off my devices at 2130
  • drink milk and honey each night
  • ditch the faffing about for a bedtime routine of pampering
  • get to bed by 2245 and get up at 0600 on weekdays
  • get to bed on the weekend by 2345 and up by 0800

What’s your sleep inducing, sweet dream making tips? I’d love to know a few more pragmatic or unusual ones to add to this list. Tell me in the comments.

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time for a change?

The summer holidays are over. It’s back to school time and the annual cycle starts again. Ok so school wasn’t optional or particularly tailorable to our individual needs, but life is.

What cycle are you rolling round? How’s it working for you? All good. Great. Keep going and achieve brilliant things. Oh. Not that sure?

Time for a change?

OK, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water just yet. Let’s break it down and see where the rub might be coming from and what you can do to resolve it.

If you are feeling constantly fatigued, catching every bug going or unable to focus – see a doctor. Book a mini health MOT, get some bloods tested against kidney and liver functions, iron levels, diabetes, hormone levels and so on. Be guided by your doctor’s expertise – definitely a time for change.

Assuming your health and well being gets the green light, where next to look. Ask yourself:

  • when you wake up and think about the day ahead, do you want to stay under the duvet?
  • on your way to wherever, do your limbs and stomach feel heavy?
  • when busy, can you focus and pour your energy into what you’re doing?
  • does time pass sloooooowly?
  • rather than get on with things or people, do you tend to avoid them or procrastinate?

Got a “yes” to any of these, then it’s time for a change. But how?

First things first – the short term patch

Which part of your life is currently the most draining for you? List down all your potential “quick fix” solutions – logical, emotional, physical, just plain crazy. It’s all valid in idea generation. Now take one and do it. Live with your fix and its ripple effect for a while. (Or try a couple – just give them a chance to deliver).

Room for seconds

If your first things worked, great. If you’re a bit better, yet not quite all the way there – it’s time for a change. Only this time, no small quick fixes. We need to work on the big ones.

Consider the ripples. Where or when are you still getting that “stuck” sensation? Pinpointing this can help you draw better conclusions and awareness of the change you need at a deeper level. Then cast your nets far and wide – research your options, trial new behaviours or ways of doing things, meet people doing what you’re looking at, conduct an experiment, put out a survey.

Move ahead by finding the right advisors, teachers, mentors and safety nets. Let me give you an example.

One of my clients was looking to branch out into a new direction after years in a role and organisation where she was well respected and well rewarded in a lovely team of people. Each morning, she wished for a duvet day, the office to burn down or a terrible illness to keep her away from work. The sense of purpose, challenge and love for her work had gone. In fact, she wasn’t sure it had ever been there. Only now it was leaking into other areas of her life – her relations were tense; downtime wasn’t relaxing but rather a chance to be negative about her life; fun was no long fun.

Her “first things first” was to recognise her responsibilities to pay the bills and deliver good work – to do this and feel better about it, she set up mini treats throughout the day or at the end of the day. For example, getting her nails done or reading a book in the park. A little self care goes a long way.

Seconds came in the form of a mixture of Internet and real life in-depth research. Together we worked through her VIA and MBTI reports as well as looking at strengths-finding coaching. This gave several longer term career shift options. Using her holiday, she took 3 short internships alongside attending events in her potential new industries.

A new CV, LinkedIn profile and haircut later, came the new job. Now she leaps out of bed. Even on rainy days.

How might life look, feel and be if now is the time for change? What’s your “first things first” action to get you moving? Can we help? Tell us in the comments.

Drop me a line if you’re sure where or how to start: I’m currently taking on coaching clients for late September/early October starts.  Can’t afford one to one support? Please still get in touch and we can look at a group programme.

It may be scary realising it’s time for a change. Be bold and be brave, my friend.

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