25 Years, 25 Lessons - Part 2

Thank you for reading, sharing and commenting on Part 1 - apologies for the delay in Part 2, but I have been decorating and also, much more pleasurably ....the weather has been glorious ;o) so, where were we?

Lesson 13

Recognition - give it, seek it, enjoy it

So this one I owe to Steve Leach ... oh and my own cripplingly low self esteem. Yeah so look, I am far from confident, despite appearing as though I am, and getting recognition in any form is really important to me. I had picked up some external recognition prior to Steve's stint as my leader, but he really shone a light on the hugely positive impact it can have on individuals, teams and organisations. Oh and I also LOVE champagne!

Steve took over as Head of Retail in Vodafone UK and immediately said, we are going to win some awards, and that is just what we did! The reason this is important is not just for the night out, the fancy frock and free champagne, and rest assured I know that these ceremonies come with costly tables and sponsorships and all the fabulous and the cringeworthy elements, but they really are fantastic in a number of ways. You finesse your story, you totally reflect when you are writing the submission, you back it up with data, you canvas the reflections of others and for once you totally consider what is outstanding about you and your team or your project. You show your team, or individual colleagues that they are worthy of external recognition, they aren't just good, they are world beating. You get to see what amazing stuff other companies are doing. You can set truly ambitious and ground breaking goals that really push creativity and results around that common purpose of being the best in the industry, the segment or innovation. In 2012 I won two awards, a Retail Week Rising Stars Award - for Customer Experience (fantastic ceremony and an opportunity for a telco to show its worth amongst the good and the great of Retail!) and the one pictured above - Leader of the Year at the everywoman Retail Awards, it built my confidence, and that of my team, it made awesomeness a reality and gave it a certificate and fancy-dancy ornament!

Funny story - our table was nearly in the car park of the Dorchester, and in the big award of the night I was up against Judith McKenna ummm THE Judith McKenna now CEO of Walmart, then COO of Asda - truly famous in the retail world and someone I completely was in awe of, she also went to Hull Uni like me, but when we get to net worth our paths divert somewhat ;o)... anyway ...obviously Judith was going to win so our table decided to REALLY enjoy the evening as we weren't going to come away with the funky purple glassware on this occasion. So imagine my surprise when in fact my name was called, for several seconds my whole table just looked at me, I was trying to figure out if they had just read my name out twice in the nominations - the rest of the gang realised first and were up shouting and screaming and had to drag me to my feet to make my way to the stage (pictured above). I had to make a speech, do you know what I said? No neither do I....I only remember the first remark: "OMG!" yup, that's what I said, my opening statement, my chance to inspire the room and show my gratitude, OMG was the best I could do, and eventually an emotional thanks to every one back in the stores and operational teams I had worked in. Rest assured, Judith went on to win an incredibly well deserved lifetime achievement award instead and I went on to walk what felt like miles to a nightclub, take my shoes off and dance like I was the queen of the world.

My team won Team of the Year at the Mobile awards for an innovative project that improved the sales and service in our flagship store generating huge revenue benefits, and I, last year, won Learning Professional of the Year at the LPI Awards. Never underestimate the value, whether internal, external and your own employee recognition schemes, if you can help people believe they are award winning, they sure as hell will be. Thanks Steve and good luck at your next ceremony!

Lesson 14

Learn to switch off - you will never get back that time you could have spent with your family

Ok, this really hit me in Newcastle Airport (of all places!) a couple of years ago as I faced into becoming an empty nester. Yup, my daughter was heading to uni, we are incredibly close and it is fair to say I was a tad emotional at the prospect! I was heading off on a work trip, not a long one, but when I got to the airport there was a big display of beach stuff for wan