Royal Holloway: Alumni Entrepreneurs Profiling Campaign

So honoured that my wonderful university, Royal Holloway, University of London; who supported me through three life changing years of study and personal growth, asked to feature me in their current campaign to profile alumni entrepreneurs.

Who’s Failing Our Kids? Let’s discuss…

Excited to be a part of this important conversation – let me know if you are able to attend and if so make sure you RSVP to c4events@channel4.co.uk

TedXOrenda

Yesterday I spoke at the #TedXOrenda conference. The theme was Austerity Britain and I was asked to inspire the audience of 200 educators at a time when they face unparalleled cuts and shrinking budgets.

I shared stories and memories of my personal educational journey and my thoughts and musings on the priceless, intangible elements of education, those that are not affected by budgets or cuts. Such as the ability to influence and inspire, to invoke belief and encourage free thinking. The need for young people to be taught how to engage with information and people they don’t know, how to make informed decisions and articulate ideas. I spoke about the dynamic changes taking place in society and industry, and the desperate need for education and curricula to catch up and meet students’ varying needs in order to become engaging and relevant.

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I am 25 action-packed years young today!!

Dear blog readers,

Firstly, thank you for being a part of my journey, yes you. Thank You. I know lots of you check in here and don’t comment, but you tell me in other ways you read this online scrapbook of mine, so thanks.

I want to say that my life so far has been absolutely mental and totally action-packed, and I am very grateful for all of my life experiences, both good and bad, because they have made me the woman I am today. I think 25 is a bit of a milestone, and so think it is a good idea to spend some time reflecting on where I’ve come from and where I’m heading.

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My first ever Radio Show: The Forward Show with me & Kaylie B!

Please listen to The Forward Show‘s first episode aired live on Reach 87.7 FM (RSL) on Tuesday 11th May 2010!

We chat about issues that affect students during exam time and interview Tarik F – a very pro-active London based student.

Produced & presented by myself and my partner in conversational crime Kaylie B!

Google Enterprise Apprenticeships

Hi all!

I hope you are all well. 🙂

I have a fantastic opportunity to share with you all!

I am (4WD Foundation) working with Livity and Google on the Google Enterprise Apprenticeships (#GEA) pilot programme.

If you know of any 18-24 year olds ex-offenders who would like to become a successful entrepreneur please do e-mail me with their contact details or better still get them to email me at naomi@4WDfoundation.org ASAP.

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Wonderful Women – Lyande Kaikai

Can you really have it all?! With a lot of hard work, Lyande Kaikai shows you can…

Follow the inspirational Lyande on Twitter and check out Jewel Clothing’s online bouquet.

Dear Antonia…

Hi Antonia

I hope you are well.

Just wanted to share my concerns with a successful women who I hope will understand my frustration.

I have noticed a number of articles recently, some disappointingly written by female journalists, that seem to not only reinforce ancient gender stereotypes – ‘women are not natural networkers’, but more importantly, inadvertently discredit women’s natural business potential by reinforcing associations between female success and  adoption of ‘masculine’ behaviours- we must ‘start schmoozing like men’.

I am tired of reading about femininity being a hindrance in business ‘you need to change your female mindset’. Tired of reading articles that seem to identify the primary cause of women being the second-rate enterprise gender as exactly that, the fact that they are female. As though our sexuality is a disability in business that we need to camouflage with testosterone in order to succeed.

I am worried about the way these powerful media messages will shape my younger sisters’ worldviews.

For that reason, I feel urged to e-mail you. You are a prominent woman in the UK’s media world and I would like to share with you some of my thoughts on your article (and the wider issues it addresses) which I read yesterday on The Times Online.

Interestingly it was filed in the Life and Style section as oppose to the Business section of the site.

REF: ARTICLE

On top of the perhaps necessary controversial headline ‘Why Women Are Such Bad Networkers’, skim reading the first few paragraphs results in this visual summary:

Why women are such bad networkers: it’s no good thinking hard work will get you anywhere…you have to start schmoozing like men. The champagne is not working. Women are not natural networkers. “It’s a complete scandal” Gordon Brown agrees...

Not a pretty picture. Why do we need to behave like men in order to be successful? We are not natural networkers… I totally disagree! We are relationship builders through and through! We connect with people, we nurture and sustain relationships, we tell great stories, we really listen

In the article, gender inequality, particularly in the corporate world, is highlighted, and of course necessarily so, because it is a massive issue, and we all know the playing field is far from even, especially in the board rooms and top half of Corporate UK. But to attribute this inequality of success to the ‘fairer’ sex not being male or manly enough (something none of us should want to change) is reinforced sexism and innately wrong.

We as women, can embrace our femininity and individualism be extremely successful in business without acting like men. I will not reel off real life examples, you mention some in your article and I am sure many names come to mind.

Sweeping generalisations are also made (some are from quotes and are not your own words) without reference to statistics or ratios – ‘Women tend to lack social capital’ and “Women do their jobs in a quiet professional manner and don’t tell everybody what a good job they are doing”. This is far from true in my workplace!

The article discusses networking and its value in the climb to the top. However a clear definition of networking is not provided. Networking is loosely defined as an altruistic activity- ‘it’s about forming relationships that can be used to help others, and get help in return’. Why?! Do we need to do this to ‘sell’ networking to women? Are we that selfless a gender?!

Networking is about forming mutually beneficial professional relationships and finding the people you need to get the resources you require. It is not always about a giving transaction. That is ok. Women can cope with that! Networking is also not isolated to formalised events, it can take place in an elevator as often, if not more, as over supplied champagne and vol-au-vents.

“You insert yourself at a given point, spray your card around and meet people. Then you invite them on to something else. You have to be so disciplined with yourself. I carry a notebook around with me, always”

The importance of networking and building and banking social capital (especially via social media) are also highlighted. Great. The problem is that suggestions made for women to address their inability and also get noticed at work include “volunteering within your organisation, setting up some charitable initiative that gets you noticed”. Volunteering or setting up a charitable initiative– why? Again an altruistic focus. This is business not the DoE. Perhaps because we wouldn’t possibly want to hold a conversation about football? Chats about footy / darts take an awful lot less effort and organising! I personally would rather read the back pages of the Metro to be honest.

Reinforcing gender stereotypes? Yes. Maybe some suggestions about cross-gender networking above ‘sharing war stories’ would have been less patronising and more helpful?

In the same space, the referral to charity work and volunteering baffles me no end. This is an article about businesswomen, social capital, networking; its importance and benefits, gender comparisons in techniques and what women can do to enhance their networking skills isn’t it?! No wait, then I remember the title! Why are we mentioning doing things for others, and for free so much?

I know there is research behind the generalisations and statements made and that isn’t what worries me. What worries me is the overriding notion that we as women are at a genetic disadvantage when it comes to building networks, climbing ladders and selling ourselves, and that in order to  overcome our gender disability we need to further emphasis it through the traditional altruistic behaviours associated to womanhood OR deny it by adopting ‘unnatural’ male behaviours.

I passionately believe that something needs to be done about the fact that women are being told time and time again that they are naturally too feminine to achieve success equal to men in business environments. The solution to this issue does not lie in women being willing to do as men do or play up to out-of-date female stereotypes.

The solution is more likely to lie in individual businesswomen learning about and harnessing their individual strengths, identifying and building on their individual weaknesses, learning, improving and exploiting every transferable business skill (including networking) that there is in the book, confidently presenting their abilities, seeing themselves as equals, working damn hard and being the best at what they do. (This is of course not an exhaustive solution, I know the situation is an awful lot more complex, as your article suggests).

You are in the position to do something about this! To promote the benefits of being a woman and perhaps more importantly, an individual in business and using what skills and traits we often have as women – intuition, compassion, understanding, balance etc as well as all of our individual differences (we are all women and of course all individuals) to succeed in the corporate world.

Also I would really like to know about your personal journey of success so far, have you written about this? Could you please send me a link if so?

In closing I would like to let you know that I had such a fantastic International Women’s Day on Monday. I spent the day schmoozing and networking like the Networking Queen that I am at the Stepping Into Success Conference held by Women Unlimited at British Library with over 200 other female entrepreneurs / businesswomen who are doing pretty damn well in the enterprise / business sector despite their breasts and female mindsets!

I also live- tweeted from the event, letting my social network on Twitter know all about what I was doing for my business’s benefit. You can check out the tweets from the day (and many of the attendees) using this hash tag #WUC . I couldn’t find you on Twitter though Antonia. Are you tweeting? If not you really should! It’s great for networking / business.

Thank you very much for writing the article and for getting this much-needed conversation started.

Thank you also for taking the time to read this e-mail, I am sure as the Deputy Business Editor of The Times you are ridiculously busy!

I look forward to receiving your response.

Warm regards

Naomi Jane

(Sent via e-mail to Antonia on Friday 11th March 2010)

The Vixen & The Beast

She is from south
He is from east
She is a vixen
He is a beast

Match made in Heaven
So it would seem
She is the cat
He is her cream

Put them together
Fireworks start
He gives his body
She gives her heart

Intellect prospers
Challenge they must
The least that they have
Is a mountain of lust

Engaging Young People In Social Action…

Firstly happy Social Enterprise Day! To all current and future social entrepreneurs. It is a fantastic privilege to be able to contribute simultaneously to lasting social change and the economic well-being of ourselves and the world at large. I hope you are all enjoying and making the most of the fantastic week that is Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW).

Last week I had the luxury of having a hot chocolate accompanied by a rather thought – provoking discussion with two very dear friends and fellow social entrepreneurs, Matt Kepple and Duane Melius.

Sharing stories and frustrations with these two fantastic young men is something I’ve had the pleasure of doing for a while, but this time it was different. In amongst our usual creative and visually aided ramblings and disagreements about the parameters of youth, engagement, social change, the economy, politics and the plight of the social entrepreneur, we stumbled across something rather beautiful, an Idea.

Well to be honest first we argued quite a bit and drew lots of random diagrams, but that’s normal. And then we came up with a cool question which is also pretty normal (we are a pretty cool questioning bunch) :

How could we combine our resources, experience and contacts to create a broader movement of improvement within youth engagement for social change?

And then the Idea came. Ragged, unformed, imposing and dangerous. It stormed upon us bit by bit until we got so dizzy with excitement we were quite frankly shouting the Coffee Shop down. We actually scared the lady sitting next to us away (but the guys wouldn’t let you know that!) We played with the Idea, pulled at it, questioned upon questioned it (and each other) and ‘thought-showered’ on it until we’d rubbed it up the wrong way so much that we could actually see our faces in the darn thing. Poor Idea.

So, here it is:

We now are creating a practitioners model for engaging young people in social change. One that acknowledges the variety and homogeneity within youth, the spectrum of ‘engagement’ and the tension between adult leadership and youth empowerment.

What do you think?

As the sunsets on Social Enterprise Day, please join the discussion around how we engage this next generation.

Please check out Matt’s blogpost on this same topic here

❤ Naomi Jane

 

Twitter: #SocEnt #GEW
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