Sunday, 21 August 2011

I'm back!

...with a soon-to-be-published book and a pending internet start-up...who said it couldn't be done? Back soon with more on a well-earned break for a week and leaving you with my favourite blogger on How to Be a Human...

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

An inspired queen

What would you do if you were young, elegant and extremely beautiful - with a handsome husband in a position of power and great wealth; a huge residence; the opportunity to travel the world; four beautiful healthy children: 2 boys and 2 girls; and the ready-made adulation of many?

Most of us aren't in this position. But what does your instinct tell you? That you'd sit back and enjoy your charmed life of leisure and family? That you'd relax and enjoy life without a care? That you'd take on a few charity engagements just to justify it all? That you'd never have to work again?

How about choosing tirelessly through every medium, to improve the lives of those around you?

How about working so hard you become... UNICEF's first Eminent Advocate for Children; Co-Founder and Global Co-Chair of 1GOAL;Honorary Chairperson for the UN Girls’ Education Initiative; Chairperson for the Global Campaign for Education; Board Director of the International Youth Foundation; Board member of the World Economic Forum; Foundation Board member of the Forum of Young Global Leaders; Board director of United Nations Foundation; member of the Every Child Council for the GAVI Alliance; Honorary Member of the International Advisory Council for the International Center for Research on Women; Co-Chair of the Arab Open University; Honorary Chairperson of the Jordanian Chapter of Operation Smile.

And, you were thinking it was an effort to even read that list???!

Who are we talking about? Queen Rania of Jordan, in her own words "a mother, a wife, a boss, an advocate, and a humanitarian."

But having titles means little if you don't ACT. Queen Rania has launched a public-private initiative aimed at refurbishing Jordan’s public schools; awards for excellence in education and teachging; an interactive children's museum; a public Health Awareness Society; a Healthy Schools Project; a Scholarship Program in partnership with several leading universities from around the world; Community Empowerment Programs and Children Programs including income-generating projects;a community champion award (Ahel Al Himmeh)to highlight the accomplishments of groups and individuals who have helped their local communities.

Her Child Safety Program addresses the immediate needs of children at risk from abuse and initiated a long-term campaign to increase public awareness about violence against children. “Dar Al-Aman”, the Child Safety Center, was the first of its kind in the Arab region, offering protection and rehabilitation to abused and neglected children, as well as counselling to their families; while the Queen Rania Family and Child Center promotes positive, practical training for parents, and provides facilities to encourage constructive and educational activities for children. She initiated the Al Aman Fund for the Future of Orphans in 2003 and has also partnered with a various number of international universities providing scholarships for Jordanian students to study abroad; and at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, she launched the "Empowering One Million Arab Youth by 2018" campaign.

Think Public Health and Education, Educational promotion and reform, Children's and Youth initiatives (and writing children's books) are enough to keep anyone busy?! Launched by Queen Rania in May 2008, The Arab Sustainability Leadership Group (ASLG) encourages businesses to show that profit does not have to be sacrificed for the sake of environmental protection and equal opportunity. The regional network brings together the Arab World’s most progressive business, government, NGO and civil society leaders, and is the first of its kind from the region to commit to sustainability and global reporting standards.

It doesn't matter if Rania Al Abdullah has access to wealth and contacts. She still has the same 24 hours a day we have, and this is how she chooses to spend it. You see, it matters little what we have and where we come from, because we can always choose to enrich our lives and those of those around us, more and more each day. If we have much (as she has), we can always give more. If we have little, we however have our capacity to give and to contribute to someone, somewhere.

"No matter where we come from… what we look like… how we dress… or to whom we pray… when it comes to what makes us laugh or cry… when it comes to what we dream of for ourselves and for our children… when it comes to how hard we work each day… we are usually more alike than we are different."
(An extract from a keynote address given to Harvard University by Queen Rania Al Abdullah, May 3, 2007).

Oh... and... she's on facebook and twitter and youtube!

Want to leave your mark on the world? Take Rania as a role model and never rest on your laurels! Oh, and by the way, on Twitter Rania calls herself: "A mum and a wife with a really cool day job..."

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The road leads over the mountain...

The following poem was sent to me a while back by a really great entrepreneur and spiritually-rich guy, Dr. Javaid Kiyani.I hope you don't mind me sharing it with you. It speaks for itself!

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill.
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh!
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit!

Life is unique with its twists and turns,
As every one of us eventually learns.
And many a fellow turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out!
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow!

Often the goal is nearer than it seems
To the faint and faltering man.
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup.
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar.
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit!"

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Believe/ HELP HAITI/ Will Smith on Life

For those who search for life beneath destruction,
For those who know there's hope beyond despair,
For those who seek another option
When someone says "You can't go there"

For anyone who ever dreamt a dream
And knows they'll bring it to reality
For anyone who knows that greatness
Is simply creating destiny

Make each day brighter than its former
Build each a link upon life's chain
Know you're getting a little warmer
Each time you try again, again..

Bend vocation to a holier vision
Give and take in equal share
Watch the birds circle round heaven
Feel the wind surge through your hair...

Never give up, my son, my daughter
And what you seek will follow after.

Folks, don't forget to take a moment out of your everyday lives and give to those less fortunate. I was browsing the pages of "Paris Match" this morning, a report on Haiti. That 8-yr old bundle... with concrete-dusted legs and oozing eyes, crooked arm and fly-covered... being thrown over a wall into a makeshift mortuary: that was and is someone's son, brother, cousin, grandchild...and could have been yours if you'd had the tragic misfortune to be born into the world of this dead child instead of where you are now. Please don't turn away: turn towards this cry for help and HELP A GOOD CAUSE (UNICEF) to help the children of HAITI: those who were luckier to escape with their lives (and to enable dignified burial for those who didn't, like this nameless boy). HELP by donating HERE

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Opportunity Cost and our Breathing Earth

Welcome to Breathing Earth.: A real-time simulation you MUST visit!

As for an answer to why I am spending less time writing on my blog, here's a story about judicious use of time (acknowledgements to Christopher Howard for the text below):

Warren Buffet was asked:

“What do you attribute your success to?”
Buffett responded with a story.

He said that when Bobby Fisher the American chess player, was playing chess against a Russian player, a big debate ensued about whether a human being could beat a computer at chess. All the articles coming out on the question were saying that a human being would never be able to beat a computer because a computer could think through every infinitesimal possibillity and choose the best move to win the game.

But what they found was just the opposite – a human being could not only tie the computer, but could sometimes even beat it through a process of what Buffett called “selective grouping.” Selective grouping is the internal process by which humans can automatically discount 90 percent of possibilities without ever having to consider them fully, so that they can focus their attention on the remaining 10 percent of possible moves that would make the greatest strategic impact.

“If you want to know what makes our overwhelming success,” Buffett responded, “It’s been selective grouping. It’s what we FOCUS on. And equally important, it’s what we choose not to focus on.” The process of choosing what to focus on is occurring in your brain every second of every day. And it is determing what you experience in life and what you don’t experience. It’s a great lesson to apply to time management. It also speaks volumes about focus as one of the most important factors in producing results, since you cannot experience that which you don’t put your attention on. To Buffett’s second point, you must always seriously consider the “opportunity cost” of choosing to focus on things that take your focus away from building (what) you truly deserve...

You must carefully evaluate every investment decision of time and resources, and never be afraid to re-assess situations and ask yourself the question “Knowing what I now know, would I still get involved in what I’m doing?” If the answer is a resounding “NO.” Have the courage and intelligence to step away from these wastes of time, energy, and resourcess and use your time in the highest and most effective way possible, in relation to your ultimate goals."

Couldn't we also apply this principle to climate change, to the Breathing Earth simulation you've just clicked on above? What's the OPPORTUNITY COST of NOT acting now to limit the damage our carbon emissions - and our economically progressive, but environmentally regressive - policies cause? Food for thought...

In the meantime, I will get on with building my business and furthering my eduction, folks, but promise to write personally next post. Until then: be aware of the opportunity cost of YOUR time and your actions...

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The 12-year old who silenced the Powers that Be for 5 minutes...

This could be the most important, amazing and moving message at Christmas you've ever seen. Trust me. Please do pass it on, the link is below. I have no other words nor would ever attempt to add any, as I bow before the words of a child mature beyond her years and wise beyond her age.

Monday, 21 December 2009

A season of giving more than receiving

As I sit in my car and turn the radio up to volume 9 to kill those stray draggles of guilty emotion after my husband brought home a broken Christmas tree and I over-reacted - I am reminded that this is the season of thinking of others (!) Please look at the video above and join in the Annual Basket Brigade to remind ourselves that helping someone else can transform a life, especially the lives of those who have gotten into the rut of feeling that they deserve nothing (and thus have nothing to give). Being on the receiving end of unconditional generosity or love is inspiring and enabling. Hmmm. Must remember to apply that to my marriage...

Monday, 14 December 2009

Head up

I knew I'd hit a wall when I woke up this Monday morning with stomach cramps. Stomach cramps are what happen when all is not well. And they only serve to make things worse: it's hard to be bursting with remedial energy when your abdomen hurts. Or to hit the gym and kick in the adrenalin and feel-good hormones.

As I suspected, when I sat down at my laptop at 6am to continue with the (tight) schedule to complete my book - where every day counts - I felt that familiar sag. Disintegration of the will. Motivational droop. That stretched-across-the-ground-feeling I used to get when teachers at school burdened us with a particularly tiresome and timeconsuming assignment - you yawn to yourself inside, and wish you were elsewhere.

After regular 5am wakeups eagerly brushing the sleep from my eyes in front of a sparkling computer, the weedling thought that I'd prefer to be back under the covers in oblivion only jabbed to smart my annoyance further. The screen glowered. I shut it almost with a snap.

To be honest, my Sony Vaio's got a big part in this. My husband and I had been competing to work on the machine for the whole weekend (early wake-ups and late nights, that is.) Needless to say, it's the wrong type of marital stimulation. He lugged home a castoff CPU from work on Friday (victim of financial layoffs - the box, not he thank God), all excited to assemble it privately upstairs - only to find it was still password locked and inaccessible. Then we had a row. After which, we grudgingly had to communicate to try and schedule who would work on "my" laptop, and when (it had been a birthday present, but becomes "ours" when things swing that way). The rest of the weekend was spent in grunts. Actually the argument was all about perception: how I perceive him to be unfriendly and moody, when he is sure that he's not. Considering he's not friendly or fun or light-hearted at these times, I'm not sure where perception ends and reality begins.

I'd hoped that driving my son to a birthday party might ring a change: empty road, invigoratingly loud music, whoosh of freedom and all that...but the spanking Jaguar in front with the personalised number-plate "P E 5 I M S T" didn't help. Considering those cost at least 20,000 pounds (on top of the car, of course!) I wondered if the guy was taking the proverbial, if you know what I mean. Normally I would have chuckled and saved up the gem to tell my husband. Instead I predicted his grunt - and wrote on Twitter instead.

On the way back, I fixed the damp shine on the roads with moroseness as the evening shrouded the air, winter's 5pm. The tyres spluttered through the dirt-laden London rain, the dull leftover dribbles of Sunday and a stray Tesco bag wretched and ragged on a naked branch at the corner of my vision as I waited with resigned frustration at a red light that seemed to be fixed at red forever. Christ. Not even my favourite musical porn, Enrique Iglesias, lifted my sodden mood. The ballad surges irritated me and I clicked to off.

However the way to force through the blockages (mental, physical, you name it) is to create a surge. I've got to fall in love with my book again, with the process of tapping it into existence even when words don't come easy. And fall in love with my husband again even when words don't come easy. And fall in love with life again even if I don't have a Jag with a personalised number plate telling the world to fuck off (sorry!) - or maybe fall in love with life specifically because I don't.

Then again, at least I'm not Tiger Woods. Or anyone else: things could be worse.

No, head up! Forge on. Credit crunch, marital crunch, lack of inspiration, you name it. It's the ability to break through the barriers of pain, fear, uncertainty or even plain boredom that is the mark of success. Maybe I'll have a Jag one day. It'll have a plate stating: O P 7 I M S T.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Talent will be Rewarded!

I can't resist this - talking of talent and reward, just take a look at this amazing 6-YEAR OLD boy...and the outcome is a real treat at the end. Enjoy!

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Out 2010

Image: Suat Eman /

This is the book I am going to be marketing on behalf of my guru and in-house motivational psychologist, Natasha Reddy. She says it's probably not the final version of colours - but you get the drift.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Put a penny in the pot

A fellow Mum at school - a muslim lady - was telling me how her children have 3 jars at home between which to divide pocket money - one for buying, one for saving and one for giving to charity (the muslim concept of 'Zakat'). Which reminded me how important it is in life not to forget others. After all, people are just people all around the world.

Incidentally, to let a thread of higher purpose permeate all that we do is also the direct route to success and wealth (so take the tip: become less materialistic and more spiritual if you are seeking out the pot of gold!) Why am I sure of this? I seem to be meeting a lot of incredibly successful people recently. And all of them have the spark of ambition to create some lasting good in the world. Wow - how far I'm drifting down the river from my position as "reluctantly frustrated stay-at-home mum!" And... is the frustration and feeling of inertia gone? You bet! Believe it!

So, on the subject of thinking of others, let me introduce you to Arvind Devalia: born in Kenya, living in London, Indian heritage, citizen of the world. Arvind says: "I am committed to a life of contribution, connection and celebration. And I am convinced that ultimately we all want to do the same".

Before anyone starts to scoff, sit up and listen, and ask yourself if you can measure up:- whereas others might hesitate, Arvind makes things happen: raising thousands of dollars for a charity school in South India (Nirvana School); writing and publishing a book in just 4 weeks; being part of an internet startup which raised millions of pounds of funding; taking part in the London Marathon, where he walked the entire route in over 7 hours rather than letting down his chosen charity.

Arvind feels he has a charge to help alleviate world poverty by raising money for micro-finance website Kiva. You can read more about Arvind’s bold aim to alleviate world poverty and how to join the “Blog with Heart Challenge” here.

Arvind has specially created some resources for any blogger who wants to join in:-

1. A resource page for bloggers with lots of ready made posts you can use in any way you like

2. A videos page with a heap of videos about Kiva and their download links.

In addition a team as been created on Kiva for the London Bloggers Meetup group called, unsurprisingly LBM. If you would like to join this team and see the difference the LBM community as a whole can make, please let me know in a comment together with your email, and I’ll organise an invitation for you to join.

Alternatively, please support this campaign by joining Kiva directly, by creating your own team and of course by publishing Arvind’s campaign on your blogs or webpages. Thank you.

So, if I adopt my fellow school mum's principle of jars, well perhaps today I've put a little penny in one by penning this posting. And sometimes a little coin can spread a lot of happiness.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Product placement and our children

Today I'm going to proselytise a bit. Who wants their children not to be encouraged to eat junk food? Hands up!...Then, please read on: the following is an email sent by myself (and others) to our government. And I attach the reply: if you share my opinion, I suggest you might copy the body of the letter and send it to Mr.Green's email address as below (let's hope his name augurs well!) - with fingers crossed as to the power of public opinion. Do exercise your duty as a parent in this regard.

I suppose the alternative is not letting children watch television: already seriously curtailed in our house! (But still. At some point we have to reach outside our own little worlds to take greater responsibility.) And don't log out, U.S. readers, thinking that this is only relevant to my side of the pond - you might be interested in some of the information below...

Dear Sir,
Please do not allow product placement in British made television programmes. The proposals to allow product placement in UK-made television programmes will lead to children being exposed to more marketing for unhealthy food products. While I welcome commitments that product placement will not be allowed in children's programming, research by consumer group Which? in 2008 showed that 16 of the 20 programmes on the commercial channels most popular with children were not classified as "children's programming" and therefore, under your proposals, would be able to contain product placement of unhealthy foods.

In the US, where product placement is permitted, Coca-Cola is the brand paying for the most product placement. Yet research from the US has suggested that sugary drinks such as Coca-Cola may be the biggest driver of the obesity epidemic. Product placement on UK-produced television programmes could lead to a similar situation in the UK, contributing to the already worrying increase in childhood obesity rates.
I am particularly concerned that product placement breaches the principle that advertising should be clearly recognised as such, and distinguishable from editorial content. It is important that people know when they are being advertised to, and parents are able to recognise advertising and protect their children from it. With product placement, marketing goes on behind parents' backs.

I know that I am not alone in these concerns: a recent survey of 1,349 UK adults by Redshift Research found that 91% did not think it is right to influence children with product placement.

Please help us to protect our children from covert marketing for unhealthy food , and not undermine our effort to give our children healthy diets by allowing junk food companies to target them with their brand of 'secret selling'.

Yours sincerely

Reply from:

Thank you for your recent e-mail about the Government’s consultation on television product placement. This is an important issue on which the Government is keen to hear peoples’ views, and we are grateful to you for taking the trouble to write. Our consultation closes on 8 January 2010 and we plan to make an announcement as soon as possible after that.We will give careful consideration to your comments before we do so.

Yours sincerely
Chris Green
Public Engagement & Recognition Unit
Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Sugar-coated dreams

I went to a seminar the other evening where a bastion of our business establishment was speaking. People came up with the usual questions: "how can I be a successful entrepreneur?"; "what's your advice about investing in property?"; "do you think we're out of the recession yet?"; "what is the best piece of business advice you've ever been given?" - and the less usual: "how can I resolve the fact that I've under-priced my product?"; "I'm setting up a company at 50..."; "I sell solar panels but all my retail partners have pulled out"...

Nothing new under the sun, really. And the answers given to most of these questions were also pretty much what you'd expect: nothing new under the sun. Including the one about solar panels (tip: we're in the UK. Along the lines of : certain 'trendy' trends just don't work as expected!...)

Until I asked a question which would seem to be a pretty bog-standard-business-school-essential-information-gathering-cum-personal-curiosity-one: "Have you had mentors in your career?"

The answer was surprising. When starting out, he'd has his Uncle who'd had a shop. And other people he'd looked up to. But the people he most looked up to were those who had "contentment" and they, he said, are people "you in the audience will have never heard of", nor will ever hear of. People, therefore, who are contented in their everyday lives despite not having achieved either fame or fortune. He envied them, said the moghul businessman. He said: "I've amassed more money than anyone can spend in a lifetime...than even my wife [audience chuckles!] or family can spend." Then he talked about it being "a disease", not being able to stop, never being contented. So, his greatest 'mentors' are those who have the luxury of contentment in life. Who are able to reach a point where they are contented. Contented with life and what they have - but most probably and most importantly, also with what they don't have.

Forget all the business talk. As this multi-millionaire success story told us: "It's not Rocket Science!" Almost every answer he gave to every business question was based on pure common sense. They should have called the seminar: "Business Success De-mystified!"

But the one thing I came away with was his answer to MY question. That's what I learned that evening. Don't wish for what others have, unless you are fully aware of what's involved. Unless you are fully aware of the consequences. Of the road you'll have to travel to move in the same, or a similar, direction. And sometimes, even if you do end up getting there: you may not be happy. Even if you're the type of person who can't but help taking the journey in the first place, because you're born with the urge to travel (by the way, entrepreneurs are born, not made, and if you don't get it, you aren't one - apparently. Lord Alan Sugar was showing the Mayor of Hackney around his local school at the age of 11...)

Oh. Did I forget to mention? The name of the seminar was: "In Conversation with Lord Alan Sugar..."