‘Do well by doing good’ that’s the InspirEngage message. It’s such a pleasure when we can work with young people to train them to do exactly that. This year marked the 4 year of our involvement and partnership with Mosaic and the National Enterprise Challenge. Once again, we brought all the finalists of the challenge together and delivered a tailored InspirEngage Social Enterprise Bootcamp – helping the 13-15 year-olds to develop their aspirations of future careers, deepen their life skills as well as learn how they can take their social enterprise ideas to the next level.

A quote from a teacher at the Bootcamp

Here’s the summary from the Mosaic article (see original source here)

Some of the finalists from May’s Grand Final of Mosaic’s Enterprise Challenge recently took part in an Enterprise Bootcamp run by businesswoman and trainer Melody Hossaini of InspirEngage.

Throughout the day, Melody built on the impressive skills that the young people had already demonstrated in the Enterprise Challenge competition and led workshops for them designed to hone and extend their business acumen and further raise their confidence. The feedback from the pupils at the end of the busy was very positive. Nathan Gage from Rivers Academy in Hounslow said: “I enjoyed today very much and I learnt a lot of valuable skills about communication in business.”

Kajal Parekh from Dixons Kings Academy in Yorkshire, said: “This was hugely beneficial for me, not just in terms of business but I’ve also learnt a lot of skills that will helpful in everyday life.”

Hamzah Khan, Head of Year 9 at Dixons Kings Academy, said: “Today’s Enterprise Bootcamp has been fantastic. Melody engaged the students in a really fun and interactive way whilst also helping them to understand some important business concepts and develop the skills needed to be a successful social entrepreneur. The students have had a great day and I’m sure it will give them the confidence and know-how to be able to achieve great things in business in the future.”

Jack, a student from Rivers Academy added: “Today has really helped in terms of bring able to use new skills in daily life. We have leant how to understand how people can notice how you feel based on how you act through body language.”

Abusafian from Dixons Kings added: “Today has helped with our confidence and has taught us what to do and what not to do when presenting. I have enjoyed looking at feedback and learning about evaluations.”

Mosaic’s West Midlands Regional Manager, Becky Mitchell said: “The Bootcamp was a really inspiring and interesting day where the students gain many skills that will not only aid them in the future careers but day to day lives as well. The students went on a journey throughout the day which was fascinating to watch and you could clearly see, in the space of a few hours, the confidence and learning that they had gained. An excellent day and thoroughly recommended! Thank you!”

——–

Further statements on how students and teachers found the Bootcamp:

“It’s been very interesting and very useful. In our lives we will be able to use what we have learnt, as well as in business.” Zulkarnain, Dixons Kings.

“Today had been a very interesting experience. We have leant new skills and will be able to develop our future careers. Introducing us to proma development will really help us in our futures.” Abdurrahim, Dixons Kings

“The InspirEngage Bootcamp was wonderful experience and opportunity for the students. A fun and exciting day that encouraged, not pushed, them out of their comfort zones with brilliant results.” – Winchester Wilmot, Business Teacher at Rivers Academy West London.

“I think that the InspirEngage workshop was very beneficial for me as I have learnt skills that I can use n everyday life as well business skills. For example communication and meeting new people and working with them.” – Kajal Parekh, Dixons Kings

“The InspirEngage  workshop was a great experience and I learnt lots of useful skills that will help me in the future” Ruqayyah, 15, Dixons Kings

“It was very ‘inspiring’ and ‘Engaging’, but there was nothing fishy but the sandwiches.” – Nathan Patel, Dixons Kings Academy

“I learned loads of communication skills that will help me in life” Jack Shircore, 14, Rivers Academy

‘I enjoyed today very much as I learnt valuable skills about communication and roles in a business’ Nathan Gage, Rivers Academy

“I have a had a great and positive experience, met new people and learnt more about business” Darren Clarke, Rivers Academy

 

Stats have shown that social enterprises are outperforming the mainstream business model (see full stats here). Watch this uncut interview with me at the National Social Enterprise Festival held at Greenwich University. Questions include what qualities young people need to go into social enterprise, what educational institutions can do to help and main lesson I have learned as a social entrepreneur.

Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini

Kicking off IWD 2015! InspirEngage Seminar to Adult Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Birmingham

International Women’s Day Activities

Speaking to adult aspiring entrepreneurs in Birmingham

My IWD activities kicked off in the heart of Birmingham when I was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event to inspire adult females to go into business.

'Breaking barriers in Business' IWD Birmingham

Some had already launched an enterprise and wanted to grow it, some were sitting on ideas and were not sure whether they wanted to take the plunge and some were there networking. I shared a little bit of my journey, including a personal stories, but my main focus was on being honest with the ladies – it’s hard work, yes, but it’s never been a better time to go into business, if that’s what they want to do.

I also shared the first practical steps they can take as well as low-cost methods in building their business and getting it out there. It was a pleasure, and I was moved by the ladies who came up to me afterwards. The aspect which had impacted on them most from my interactive speech was about women supporting eachother- I call it ‘becoming women-lovers!’ – see my youtube video on this > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdJ6hA4pFBs

Melody Hossaini, founder and CEO of InspirEngage International, began her talk with a strong statement: “I’m not going to give you an inspirational talk, I’m just going to keep it real.” She then proceeded to give an incredibly powerful talk, highlighting challenges she has faced so far as a business woman. The room was in complete silence as she shared stories, tips and advice, from being on BBC One’s Apprentice in 2011 to tales of how she has disarmed people with kindness. Melody gave a realistic account on the impacts of social enterprises and provided encouragement for women who are considering taking the same path.” Annika Spalding

School girls from Tamworth- Taster Startup & Stilettos Bootcamp

On 11th March, I was invited to speak to some 200 schools girls.

Provoking thought is always interactive

The day was split into half- half the girls first, then a repeat session for the rest. I spoke to the girls (aged 14-16) about how to break a task down and plan to make it happen. I did some interactive exercises with them and got them moving and thinking! They also got an opportunity to ask me any questions they wanted, mainly around my tips to them about paths to success but a couple of questions also about my fave hair products may have come up!). It was great to see transformation, despite the short session.

“Thank you so much for today. I really enjoyed what you had to say and it really has opened my eyes to different career paths that I may not have considered before. You were an amazing inspiration”Holly Boyne

“Thank you for the incredible speech, you’ve inspired me never give up at the first hurdle”Chloe Kindon

“Your talk was amazing, you really are such an inspirational person” – Luke Ash

“I loved your talk today, it was great. I learned a lot from what you said. Bootcamp sounds good too!” – Paige Nagington

“Your speech was really good and inspiring!” – Alex Reynolds

“Such a good speech Melody, you’re inspiring and beautiful”Chels Simpson

Selfie with the girls at IWD Tamworth

“The girls were very upbeat on the way back to school and I wanted to share a couple of their comments with you. One student said ’I now believe that you don’t have to be someone big, to make something big of yourself”(from a student with negative self image) and secondly, my House Captain thanked me for adding her to the list for the talk, she said it was the ’lift’ she needed to go on, when the pressures of impending exams was getting her down. Thank you for being such an inspiration to them. You have inspired me to do more work with them in school in year 11. Where do I start?” Susan Taylor, Teacher, Wilnecote High School

In the press: http://www.tamworthherald.co.uk/Teenaged-girls-Tamworth-inspired-successful-women/story-26200408-detail/story.html

Mentoring Girls with Corporate Execs

On 12th March, I was invited by Miriam Gonzalez, wife of Nick Clegg, to join the #inspiringwomen campaign (led by Education & Employers Taskforce). The campaign brings together successful women from various fields to mentor young girls. I was honoured to be joined by senior women such as Claire Valoti, Head of Agency Relations, Facebook, Nishma Robb, Head of Marketing, Google,  Simone Schuurer, Community and Social Media Manager, Microsoft and Ngaire Moyes, Director of Communications, LinkedIn.

Mentoring girls at Mulberry School

We walked in to around 150 girls at round tables, with lots of questions prepared for all of us. As mentors, we were all seated at a different table each and had 7mins to take as many questions as possible before the bell ringing and having to rotate! The girls asked me questions such as; ‘what did you study as school’, ‘what do you do on a typical day?’, ‘What advice would you give your younger self?’ and lots more! Really interesting day and a great energy in the room. The girls seem very motivated!

 

 

Ever asked yourself what you really work for. I mean I know we all have to earn a living to afford a roof over our heads and food in our belly- but away from the bare necessity- what are you working for?

What if tomorrow, someone put enough money to cover necessary costs comfortably for the next 10 years. Would you sit at home on the couch watching daytime TV in peace and do things you enjoy? Or would you (after a couple of weeks of fun!) get out and get active and do some form of work anyway? In that case- ask yourself then, are you working for something other than money.

Too often, amidst the busy flow of life, we find ourselves on autopilot. We work because that’s what we’re told we have to do. That’s just what we do. But how often do we stop and ask ourselves what the driving factor actually is behind it.

I recently read that ‘Time is free but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.” Time, truly is, our most valuable asset. For most people, work is the number one thing, occupying their time during their usual weeks. So what are we exchanging our most valuable asset for and is it worth it?

The answers to these questions are obviously different for different people. For example, someone who genuinely enjoys their work would look at this very differently to someone who is only doing something to earn enough to live. Personally, I did what I now do for a living, for free voluntarily for 10 years before making it a career by launching InspirEngage International in 2009. So the answer is, I would do it anyway. For social entrepreneurs, their driving factor is their cause.

In a recent TEDx talk ‘Social Enterprise Revolution’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95f8RV_YdKY, I speak about the danger of living on autopilot- the importance of doing things with purpose, as opposed to allowing the ‘flow’ to direct our actions. This is another way in which you can prevent this. What is your driving factor for work?

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini

 

Read recent blog:

‘My top 10 Tips for Securing Your First Job’ > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/10/top-10-tips-for-firstjobs-dwp-campaign/

‘Speaking to Female Social Entrepreneurs’ (video of my speech at Govt launch of ‘Women in Enterprise’ > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/10/video-melody-hossaini-speaking-to-aspiring-female-entrepreneurs/

Melody Hossaini’s Top Tips for first job.

Top 10 tips for those looking for their first job by social entrepreneur and skills expert Melody Hossaini- as part of the Department for Work and Pensions #FirstJob campaign inspiring and supporting those entering the job market. (See in both Youtube Video and Text below).

 



1. Be Strategic
Think about what you enjoy, are good at and ultimately want to do. A job that is as close to your ultimate goal is ideal because it can act as a stepping-stone to future opportunities.

2. Find ways to reach the employer!
InspirEngage speak to a lot of employers who ask us why people have stopped showing up to places introducing themselves with their CVs. Do it! This is a great way to get your face known by prospective employers. Also, if any of your friends have a job that you’re interested in, get introduced to the employer and hand in your CV for future opportunities.-

3. Make yourself stand out from the crowd!
What makes you unique? Show employers a taste of your personality and avoid the generic adjectives like punctual and team player – you’d be surprised just how many people claim to have these traits. You can achieve this by discussing your passions, telling a relevant story, showing your character and sharing something you find interesting.

4. Do your Research!
I’ve interviewed people who were asked whether they knew what InspirEngage does and they looked at me blankly! You can learn more about companies by visiting their website, following them on social media network and speaking to current employees.

5. Do yourself justice in the interview
Everyone gets nervous going into an interview. A little bit of nerves are endearing so don’t worry, just make sure you do yourself justice. Leave that interview room knowing they’ll remember you for a positive reason.

6. Show you actually want the job
Success is driven by passion and employers want to see this. Too many people have sat opposite me at the table and not shown enough hunger or interest!

7. Make each application unique!
No employer wants to feel like you’ve copied and pasted your answers or sent in a generic cover letter. There’s no harm in re-using strong responses just make sure they’re relevant and formatted correctly.

8. Follow up & get feedback
If you don’t hear back from an employer, don’t lose motivation and don’t be afraid to follow up. It shows you actually care about the job and have taken initiative. It’s also a great way to obtain some feedback for future applications and interviews.

9. Questions!
The questions you ask are just as important as your answers. When asked if you have a question – ask one! Not just when you’re likely to hear back, but something about the future of the organisation that shows your interest and reflects your ambition.

10. Social media – clean up!
Anyone can write a pretty CV using a template- but your social media says something about you that your CV can’t- make sure it’s professional and reflective of how you wish to be perceived- anything from you twitter, fb profile pic and whatsapp (you can take numbers from the CV and check!)

Hope you’ve found these a useful! For more application form and interview tips check out my videos at http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2013/11/how-to-have-the-perfect-job-interview-my-top-tips/ Best of luck!

Join the campaign by using hashtag #FirstJob. You can tweet Melody on @Melody_Hossaini and @DWPgovuk
For all enquiries relating to InspirEngage Bootcamps, Career Clinics or how we’re supporting people into employment, email: info@inspirEngage.com

Are women better in business than men? What challenges do women face? This and many other questions in a recent interview with Melody Hossaini with Ultrapreneur Magazine.

1. Describe your business or current project

We are a social enterprise delivering innovative programmes that support young people and women to be successful by giving back. We work with educational institutions and businesses delivering shock-tactic skills Bootcamps.

2. What made you want to be an entrepreneur?

I’m an accidental social entrepreneur! Since the age of 13, I had been volunteering and being part of building engagement frameworks for young people’s participation in their community, and after my law degree, I made it my career. Just thought to myself- how can I continue doing what I love but earn a living out of it, that’s how InspirEngage was born.

3. What do you think are the biggest challenges’ that women face today as female entrepreneurs?

It’s different for different women and each sector has its own traits, however, here are the most common I’ve seen:

  • Not being taken seriously if you’re a feminine woman- you don’t have to be alpha-female to be strong in business ladies!
  • If a man is a go-getter he’s ambitious, if a woman is a fiery go-getter she’s often branded as aggressive.
  • Women with children (I’m pregnant right now and really thinking a lot about this) have barriers relating to their priorities at home and work. Something has to give and it’s not easy.

Having said all that, the times are changing and this is the best time to be a female (social) entrepreneur.

4. What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

The freedom to innovate.

5. Do you think that the entrepreneurship sector is too male dominated and that more doors need to be open for women?

In the world of social enterprise, the male/female ratio is now at 50% with women changing the dynamics of business. Buckle up ladies- this is our time!

6. Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

Been running InspirEngage International for over 5 years now having achieved some awesome things like launching the UK’s first hands-on social enterprise programme embedded into the curriculum of schools, colleges and Unis (http://inspirengage.com/wp-content/uploads/SocEnt-Revolution-Flyer1.pdf) and contributing to international platforms such as Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (which featured on the Queen’s speech)- but most important, supporting young people who never believed they could, and adult women who had lost confidence, to launch their own successful social enterprises that not only make money but give back. I want to continue this- a lot more to do.

7. What would you say to other women out there both young and older that want to break out there as entrepreneurs but don’t know how or where to start from?

There’s a lot to say! I often blog about it – see http://www.melodyhossaini.com/blog/. But in short:

  1. What do you ultimately want? Don’t set up a business for the sake of it- tap into what you’re passionate about, your strengths and where you want to go and find a path that fits.
  2. Make a 1 pager and run it by some people in that sector
  3. Make a start! So many times, people build things up so much that it overwhelms them and they never begin. Take the first step and watch it snowball.

8. One of the main things that female entrepreneurs get most cross about is that they are treated differently, that they don’t get the same chances and opportunities as men. What is your perspective on that view?

Perhaps that’s true for some- but I actually think that the greatest barrier to women’s success is other women unfortunately. I recently recorded a Vlog (a video blog on my youtube channel) about this and how we can become ‘women lovers!’ > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdJ6hA4pFBs&list=UUlGNevYoZDDNarSIeCHf4ng&index=2 Tweet me and let me know what you guys think!

9. As a female entrepreneur, do you feel that you have had to work harder, or change your way of working, in order to make a success of what you do?

I’m a feminine woman in business, an ex-asylum seeker/ immigrant who started in my sector when I was just 13. You could say I was ‘disadvantaged’ but I resent that label. I think mindset is everything. See no obstacle and that will be your reality. That’s not naive- that’s proactive.

10. It has been said that women do make better entrepreneurs than men? Would you agree?

No- not necessarily. Women, men, young people – I don’t care what you are, but I care about what you can bring to the table and what difference you can make. Ultimately your work should speak for itself.

See Melody’s youtube video on how women can support other women to prosper!

 

Follow Melody on twitter + ig: @Melody_Hossaini and @InspirEngage

InspirEngage Bootcamp for students

“Everybody is a genius- but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree- it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid” Einstein. This is ethos behind the InspirEngage Skills Bootcamps- each young person needs to find their path to success. In order to do that, we support participants to explore their personal identity, strengths and long-term goals, coupled with practical life skills to achieve their goals. We use unique shock-tactics and extremely (!) interactive methods to push participants out of their comfort growth, resulting in growth.

In June 2014, we were invited by Mosaic to support their Enterprise Challenge for the 2nd year running. As one of the prizes, students came together from across 5 schools to receive a unique Bootcamp- and here’s what happened…..

(Piece below from Mosaic article)

MELODY HOSSAINI TAKES APAX-MOSAIC ENTERPRISE CHALLENGE 2014 FINALISTS TO BOOTCAMP!

Melody Hossaini with Enterprise Challenge students

Melody Hossaini, former contestant on BBC’s The Apprentice, took this year’s Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge finalists to a special Enterprise Bootcamp organised by her company InspirEngage International.

Part of a series of follow up prizes to the competition, the enterprise-focussed workshop gave the 23 students from the five schools that finalised in the competition – St Bede’s Catholic Grammar School in Bradford, Harborne Academy in Birmingham, Langley Academy in Slough, Ladybridge High School in Bolton and Brondesbury College for Boys in London – a day to remember.

The students heard from Melody at first-hand about her experience in setting up her company and were given an opportunity to develop their own knowledge and skills across a range of areas linked to setting up and running a social enterprise.“Was really impressed with the students’ progress – not only in their engagement but also their personal growth and consideration for each other.”

Commenting on the Bootcamp, Melody Hossaini, founder and CEO of InspirEngage International said:

“Really pleased to have worked with the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge Finalists for a second year in delivering a taster InspirEngage Bootcamp! The Bootcamp covered life skills modules as well as a strong theme of social enterprise. This forms part of our work with schools on embedding social enterprise into the curriculum- a programme called ‘Social Enterprise Revolution!’

“Was really impressed with the students’ progress – not only in their engagement but also their personal growth and consideration for each other. Look forward to InspirEngage International and Mosaic working together again in future.”

Here’s what some of the students had to say about their day:

“Memorable, exhilarating and definitely a lot better than I thought.” – Abdulhamid, Harborne Academy.

“InspirEngage International is a valuable enterprise for young people like us, Melody is a fantastic ambassador for social enterprises.” – Abrar, Ladybridge High School

“This was a very different working environment I enjoyed it as well.” – Justin, Ladybridge High School

“It was Amazing!” – Francis, St Bede’s

“I’ve never done anything like it. It was unique.” – Dhanseet, Harborne Academy

“It was an amazing and unique experience, I need to do this again!” – Chabir, Ladybridge High School

Jonathan Freeman, National Director of Mosaic, said:

“This was a unique opportunity for the students and provided them with really exciting way to develop their knowledge and skills from somebody who has a very successful story to tell. We are very grateful to Melody Hossaini and InspirEngage International for their time and support for the Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge and to all of our sponsors.”

Photo Credit: Romana Love Photography

There’s absolutely no hinderance for women to succeed, if they work hard and kick ass! Or is there…? I’m a 37 week-pregnant entrepreneur running InspirEngage International and for the first time, I am feeling the difference in men and women as I prepare to juggle motherhood and a busy career. Here’s my latest pregnancy blog.

On 7th January, we found out I was 2-3 weeks pregnant and it’s been a beautiful blur since, made up of baby nurseries, travel systems (yes that’s what a pram, car seat and whole thing is called!) and baby Ralph Lauren all-in-ones! I’m now 37 weeks pregnant with a little boy and due to give birth anytime in the next 3 weeks.

I’m also the Founder and CEO of social enterprise InspirEngage International- an organisation focused on developing skills of young people and vulnerable women in order for them to be successful by giving back. Have been working in this sector since the age of 13, taken InspirEngage into 100 countries in the world and supported thousands into work that also supports the community. It’s an important part of my life- not just a job. One could say InspirEngage is my baby.

So what happens when a real baby is about to enter the picture? Well, needless to say, the answer is different depending on the circumstances and choices of that particular parent and the needs of that particular baby. But that’s the key word- choices. You have to, as a female career-driven mother, make choices. The age old question of- ‘can women have it all’, I’ve always felt is, yes! However, with that, comes a level of sacrifice.

My pregnancy has been a pleasure and pretty hassle-free (not counting the unbearable itching in this last growth spurt!). This has meant that I’ve been able to balance pregnancy and work very well. Going into the office, travelling -even out of the country delivering a tour of InspirEngage programmes for students and teachers in Jordan, and managing a team have been doable. But that’s just the beginning- have been asking myself, what happens, when the baby arrives?

Well, firstly, I see this is a beautiful journey and feel extremely blessed- I can’t wait to see what’s in store! However, reality remains that there will probably be a lot to juggle. How long do you take off to dedicate to the baby? How long should you breastfeed and be available to the baby? Is it ok to want to get back to work? All questions women may ask themselves at this stage.

I tweeted about this earlier and @Michelle_BID responded: “that’s just the start of it, then nursery costs / juggling career and then school holidays all to come”. Yep that’s true- and it’s all a pleasure and what life is about, I am looking forward to it all- but it has impact. An impact which I think men feel a lot less- career wise. For the first time, I am really feeling the difference between men and women in business.

Having said that, women don’t have to let having babies be the end of their career- that’s not what I am saying at all and every mother is different! However, you do have to give birth, you may have to take time out and do things differently for a little while at least.

During my time of working and training incredible women as part of ‘Startup and Stilettos’, I have also seen inspirational stories of numerous women who reassessed what they wanted to do following having children and changed their career for the better- perhaps due to the added motivation gained by having their baby – many female entrepreneurs are born this way, in fact! They naturally find a way to balance their growing priorities better.

Startup and Stilettos ladies and I. 27 weeks pregnant

So what’s the role of men in this – I read the above to my husband and this is what he had to say: “The role of men is to be the pillar and rock. I’m already used to you being independent and career-driven, balanced with marriage, and this is just another step. The role of a man (or my role, at least) is to create a stable platform for you to pursue your ambitions.”

I’m just at the beginning of this journey- so much yet to experience and learn once the baby arrives and no idea what the answers to the above questions are, but know that it’s never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur, I know that it’s important to have a strong support network, I know that it’s vital to have a strong mindset. I look forward to the challenges and pleasures ahead!

Tweet me your thoughts- how did you find it? @Melody_Hossaini

 


Aug 142014

Did you (or someone you know) open that special envelope today to get your A-level results? Was it what you expected or disappointed with your results? I cried my eyes out when I opened mine- didn’t go to plan, and here’s my story and what I did next.

At A-levels I took German, French, English Lit and Psychology. I wanted to study Law at University and my first choice was University of Birmingham which, I think, was 4th or 5th in the country for law at the time. I needed AAB to get in.

Having grown up in Sweden (came to England when I was 13) and English being my 3rd language, meant that I always had to work harder than everyone else academically in order to achieve. I worked hard for the A-levels and thought I’d done well.

I remember the morning of the results so well! I woke up really early despite the results not being out til 10.30am at our school. I made my mum go with me early and I was literally the first one there! As I opened my envelope, I was full of hope, but that soon came crashing down as I read my results. I got BBCC…. at that moment, I felt like my world fell apart. I burst into tears and kept staring at the paper hoping that the letters would change.

So what do you do if the results aren’t what you were hoping for? There’s no right or wrong answer in a way- depends who you are, how badly you wanted ‘the plan’ and what you want to do. I immediately phoned Uni of Birmingham and told them of my grades and they confirmed that they had filled their places with AAA students and some AAB- so there was no chance I would be accepted (another spurt of tears!).

My second option was Oxford Brookes University- which, at the time, was 7th in the country for Law. I really didn’t want to move away and am the kind of person who focuses in on a goal so I hadn’t even entertained the thought of going to my second choice. I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to go through clearing or go to my second choice. I chose Oxford Brookes Univerity.

The day I had to go see the city of Oxford and the uni was my first time there altogether! I cried the whole day (I’m not a big crier by the way, but my education and University plans were so set in stone in my mind and it was a shock).

September came and I moved to Oxford to begin my course. Thinking back now, Uni years were some of the best years in my life. I absolutely loved living in Oxford, loved the Uni and the course. The Uni supported one of my projects for the community and funded £4,000 for me to get it off the ground (for which, I later won an award from the Home Office). I also did really well in my degree achieving a high 2:1.

Not only that, but it was at Oxford Brookes that I met my husband. I was in the canteen having lunch with a friend, when my friend recognised one of his friends. She was sat with my (now) husband and they introduced us!

Whether you got the grades you wanted or not- this is just the beginning. I tweeted earlier saying young people have more opportunities than ever for creative career paths- whether it’s Uni, business, social enterprise or employment and apprenticeships. Stay focused, apply yourself to whatever you choose to go with and don’t rush – make an informed decision that’s right for you.

I ask people why they do what they do and too many shrug their shoulders and can’t remember the reason. Don’t live your life on auto-pilot. “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” InspirEngage Bootcamps support young people to develop the skills and support to consider their passion and create viable career plans backed by the core skills- so we see time and time again the difference that mindset can make.

My warmest wishes to all those entering the next chapter of their lives. As always, tweet us your thoughts and questions on @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

For those going into the job market- see the below video for my top tips in an interview!

 

In 2013, Harrow College became a national Pioneer of Social Enterprise Revolution- an InspirEngage programme and the UK’s first hands-on programme to embed social enterprise into the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities. By incorporating social enterprise into their curriculum, they took an innovative approach to pathways into work for students. Here’s the round-up!
 

The InspirEngage team put the students through the intense 8 Skills Bootcamps and Incubator throughout the academic year to develop core skills to launch their own social enterprise connected to the curriculum area. Make money and make a difference!

Student projects included,

  • Hair, Beauty and Love! > One group of students took the initiative to organise an event to offer their hair and beauty services to staff and visitors of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Fees from treatments offered were donated to the renowned children’s hospital
  • Bringing cultures together! > A group of female students felt passionately about celebrating and bridging the gap between various cultures in their community and planned a wonderful event with culture food and dance that students contributed to!
  • Be active- be healthy! > If young people have something to do and somewhere to go, they can get out their houses and be active and lead healthier lifestyles. This group of students organised outdoor games for young people in their area.

One student said, ‘I’ve found it very inspirational, because you’re doing something to help someone- which is a good thing for us teenagers – doing something good to help and give back to our community.’

As part of the programme students promote their social enterprise projects at the end of programme Showcase Day. On reflection one student said, ‘Social Enterprise Revolution has helped me develop my future. I know better what I might be doing and I’ve gained knowledge in business and my future is a bit clearer now, than it was a few months ago’.

After Showcase Day, students who have successfully completed the one year programme attend the Social Enterprise Revolution Graduation Day! After graduating, one student said, ‘Social Enterprise Revolution has helped me develop my employability skills, my leadership and management qualities and I am more confident about my future and I’ve got a better idea of how to start and run a business thanks to Social Enterprise Revolution – thank you’.

InspirEngage Mentors, Hannah Catmur and Seun Oshinaike who are successful young entrepreneurs gave up their time to support the students on their enterprise journey at one of the InspirEngage Bootcamps.

InspirEngage Founder and CEO, Melody Hossaini said at the “Amidst a time when there is so much pressure on educational institutions to think innovatively about pathways into work for students, I would like to congratulate Harrow College for adopting social enterprise within their curriculum. Over the course of the year, we have seen positive development in the students, and feel Social Enterprise Revolution finally offers the opportunity for formal education and creative social enterprise to collide.”

Benefits of Social Enterprise Revolution:

  • Allows students to develop their life skills
  • Make their learning real by connecting it to local community causes
  • Develop an enterprising mindset
  • Students make money & start potential work whilst still in education
  • Educational institutions become national Pioneers of Social Enterprise

For all enquiries email: info@inspirEngage.com

Tweet: @SocEnt_Rev / @InspirEngage

Putting other people down to make yourself look big is one of the most cowardly things one can do. Ever thought about why bullies behave the way they do? Felt angered and just put them down to a lost cause? We speak to a lot of young people who are victims of bullying and we explain that those who attack and generally feel the need to belittle someone, are very troubled individuals themselves.

If you think about it, no one who is confident, stable and happy would feel the need to put someone down. Nothing is gained. However, unfortunately, it’s a very common coping mechanism for others. What we do and say is a reflection on us, not on the person it’s said about.

In 2011, I took part in BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ – and a competitive show like that does push you to your limits. Although it was a little cringe at times when watching back me justifying why I was the worthy winner, it did make me proud to know that I don’t put other people down to make myself look big. Focus on what you can bring to the table and what you can do, rather than relying on why other people can’t, because otherwise, when that component is removed, you’re not left with anything.

You can disarm people with kindness. Sometimes that shocks people more than being mean. I spoke about this in a previous video which can be seen below. Ultimately, that gives you a good kind of power. That’s what’s important and that’s what will make you big- by helping someone else. Blowing out someone’s candle, won’t make yours shine any brighter.

So here’s the challenge we’re setting you- next time, you come to say something negative about someone, don’t and replace it with expressing kindness or a compliment. This will help them and you.

Tweet us your thoughts and experiences on this @InspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

Watch the video explaining how you can disarm people with kindness!

Startup and Stilettos: Social Media Bootcamp- Class of July 2014!

We’re living in a world of hashtags, follow and share! It’s difficult for any business starting up today to be successful without the powers of social media. Through social media you can network, promote and learn for free- this is why InspirEngage International designed a brand new course for our Startup and Stilettos programme: The Social Media Bootcamp.

We piloted this in June 2014 to over-subscribed numbers and saw some really valuable results. Having just delivered to another group of diverse adult women, we wanted to share some of the insights gained both in this video and text below.

 

The Social Media Bootcamp: The Bootcamp was a 3 day residential hosted by our partners Hillcroft College in London (the only residential women-only college in the country), and focused on components such as what social media is, the good and bad sides of it as well as creating a personal brand online around your particular message. This set the foundation because everyone uses social media differently and instead of just getting on and posting everything and anything on there, it’s important to consider what your purpose is and what you want your message to be. The ladies found this particularly useful.

On day 2, we moved onto the nitty gritty of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook groups/pages. We showed, told and helped them to all create accounts and get started! Afterwards, one of the ladies said that, had we not forced her to create an account within the room, she probably would have never done it. InspirEngage mentor Adam Knight, Founder of Astonish Email (an e-marketing tool for small businesses), who are partners of this Bootcamp came along and helped the ladies on their journey of social media discover.

By day 3, the ladies were ready to be set their social media task, and worked in mixed groups to put together and present their social media strategy, bringing together everything they had learned.

The Insight and Feedback: We saw that amongst adult women, there was a general fear of social media. A lot referred to their children being ‘obsessed’ with social media or had heard of cases where people had pretended to be someone else, and were afraid of those implications on their lives. The key thing we got across at the start was that social media is there to be used to suit you!

The other fear commonly held is around privacy. For some, it;s understandable if the ladies are vulnerable and fleeing from domestic abuse etc (which we handle with care). For others, it’s more a fear of being so accessible and visible- which of course is the whole point of social media! We had to help create a whole new culture and attitude towards sharing online, connected to business.

Outcomes! They all got there and we were so pleased with their transformation by the end of the course! Here are some of their feedback:

  • ‘Another fantastic weekend full of learning with a bunch of lovely ladies. I’ve just finished a long conversation with a dear friend who is a life coach, author and business consultant telling her all about it and she wants to “employ” me to set up her social media marketing strategy. After today I had the confidence to say yes I can do that! Thank you so much! X’
  • ‘I found it a very inspiring, interesting and uplifting experience – I learned to set up my business and social media accounts!’ Kate
  • ‘Melody and Adam really kick started a revolution of inspiring and engaging us, a group of very diverse women adult learners at Hillcroft College.’ Zoe
  • ‘It has been invaluable for my startup business and how it’s seen online’ Elizabeth
  • ‘Very inspirational and uplifting’ Juliette
  • ‘This was a liberating experience for me’

It’s apparent that if we want to support more women into business, then a greater focus and support should be there for social media also, as the two are entwined.

If you’re interested in our programmes or want to book the Bootcamp to deliver it for your groups, email: info@inspirEngage.com and follow on twitter: @StartupStiletto / @InspirEngage

 

Video made by MFT Media.

 

Earlier today, I read an instagram post from one of the entrepreneurs I follow (Manny Khoshbin) that stated: ‘What goes on on my head: A constant hustle, Gratitude and yes Disappointment that there is so much more I can do.”

It was the last sentiment that grabbed my attention. I found it a very honest reflection and one I can truly relate to. In the course of building a business, and experiencing a level of success, as well as feeling inspired and grateful, you also develop a ‘nagging friend’ who sits on your shoulder saying you could do so much more. There is a positive correlation between success and the volume of the ‘nagging voice’. This is because the more you achieve, the more you become aware that you have an ability to make things happen, and the more aware you are of this, the more you feel disappointed in yourself for not doing more.

This is something which you have to find a fine balance to and manage. But here’s the thing. Funnily enough it is exactly that mindset of a self-critical attitude which allows you to motivate yourself to achieve more, so accept that sense of ‘disappointment’- stop being too hard on yourself but at the same time be grateful that you have that feeling which is keeping you on track.

Keen to hear your thoughts- do you ever experience this feeling of disappointment that follows from a achievement? Do you find it’s productive and motivating? Tweet me your views @Melody_Hossaini.

For more on mindset and why ‘Personal Responsibility is Vital to Success’, read my previous blog.

Melody

Q: Are you Person A: Believes that the main reason for your successes and failures were due to external factors out of your control? OR Person B: Accredit your failures and successes to factors you controlled? It is 99% more likely that Person B is much more successful than Person A. Read on to understand why.

I always say that your perception is your reality. How you view something and your mindset relating to that, determines your outcome. You are in charge of your perception. This knowledge, scares some people- “whoah, not ready to accept that I can influence all that- surely not?!”

Those people, are not ready to exercise that level of personal power over their lives. However, whether they like it or not, they hold that power.

Heard anyone lately who was moaning that they are not achieving what they want in life? They would perhaps mention things like;

  • Economy
  • Background
  • Family
  • Education
  • The system
  • Geographical location

And there’s many more!….

Did you notice the common thread in that? They are all external factors. Reasons why they feel it’s out of their control. Some are so caught up in saying why things aren’t happening that even when you ask them what it is exactly that they want, they look taken back and shrug their shoulders saying they don’t  know!

On the contrary, ever noticed how someone successful speaks or someone with a high level of personal control and responsibility? They will attribute successes and failures to factors within their control. The difference is ownership. A sense of personal responsibility.

The point here is not to ignore people’s circumstances- but here’s the flash news: your circumstances do NOT define you. If you render control of what happens to external factors, it means you are not operating with the right mindset and exercising your power in creating the situation you want.

You become your own worst enemy. Your peaks come from something you did and something you said, and same with when things are not going well, they come from your own actions- even if they were a small level of external factors at play, take responsibility- this will help you solve it- instead of waiting for the system, the weather, the economy to change!

It’s much easier to sit back and blame the economy for why you can’t achieve something- but the only thing that does is that it lifts the responsibility off you to act. And when you do not feel responsible to act, you won’t fix it.

Change your mindset. Take personal responsibility and ownership and watch how your ‘luck’ changes. Don’t let your dreams be subject to probability.

My Tip: Take a blank piece of A4 paper and a marker and in capitals, write exactly what you want. Be specific and be bold. Once you’ve done that, ask yourself what you can do to make it happen. Turn the page and write a specific plan of action. Then put this paper up somewhere you will see it. A Harvard Study found that something is 80% more likely to happen if you just write it down. Not because it’s by magic, but because you decided what it is you exactly want. That’s often the most difficult thing. The next step is adopting the mindset that it is within YOUR control to make it happen. This power shouldn’t frighten you, but motivate you! Just think of the things you could do!

Let me know what you think by tweeting me as always: @Melody_Hossaini – Best wishes!

 

For all enquiries or to book Melody Hossaini as speaker, email: info@inspirEngage.com


Ballerina? World-leader? Cowboy? Inventor? What did you want to be when you were little? This blog explains why going back to your childhood dreams, could make your career more fulfilling today.

Remember when you used to say the sentence ‘When I grow up I want to be a…’ and it was so easy to commit to an ambitious dream. Not because it seemed unrealistic or so far away but because as children our thoughts are bolder and free of complexities that also create barriers. Those early dreams are more important than you think. Here’s why.

When I was 8 years old, I was obsessed with being a clothes designer (I couldn’t even spell the word ‘designer’!). I remember walking to my local library, sitting there for hours with old books about clothes and fashion through the centuries and sketch in my little sketch book until the library closed. That same local library became something I kept connecting to my ambitions. A couple of years later aged 10, I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up. An inherent sense of wanting to make a difference through knowledge. A passion for social justice.

Aged 13, upon moving to England, I became a co-founder of a national democratic youth organisation working in the community (including with libraries!) to help improve the lives of children and young people. We lobbied, changed policies and even laws. Years later, I went to University and studied for a qualifying law degree. But upon graduating, I decided to ask Oxford Institute of Legal Practice (where I had a place to complete my LPC) to hold my place for the year, while I explored my passion in the sector I’d held since childhood. I never looked back.

I realised I was the child who needed to be out in the community, I was the child who couldn’t be bound by rigid lines- but a creative child who liked to innovate (drawing new designs), and fight for what’s right (lawyer). So I created a brand new thing. A social enterprise called InspirEngage International.

The dreams you held when you were a child, are some of the most daring dreams you’ll ever hold. It wasn’t because you wanted to hit your financial targets, it wasn’t because people forced you and you were caught in the flow of the system to be something, and it wasn’t out of fear, therefore settling. Those dreams reflected the purest part of you.

So what should you do now?

Research released by Foosle.

The point isn’t about going and pursuing whatever you wanted to be when you were 5! But sit down and reflect on why perhaps you were drawn to those things at that age- the notions behind it. When your mind allowed you to be daring and bold without limits- what did it choose? Then see whether you have incorporated those elements into your life in your career now… or are you 1 million miles away? Going back to my personal example, I feel that although I am not a clothes designer, nor a lawyer, I have incorporated the reasons I was drawn to them, into my career now.

According to research released today by job site Foosle, people don’t just measure job satisfaction against a salary. People want to enjoy the work every day (40%), have a feel-good factor (37%) and have passion for the role (34%). See picture.

So when it comes to entering a career you truly enjoy- think back to those things you enjoyed for the sake of enjoyment when you were young, and passions you held without reason and ask yourself whether there is room for this in your career now. Seems our childhood dreams- weren’t just dreams, but perhaps even a forecast of a side of us more reflective than our current reality.

And before you go- here’s something to make you chuckle!

This is a genuine picture drawn by a little girl depicting what she wants to be when she grows up! Followed by a very uncomfortable explanation by her mummy the next day!


Melody Hossaini. CEO, InspirEngage International.

We want to know what you wanted to be when you were little! Tweet us using #WhenIGrowUp @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

 

 

 

 

Are you an entrepreneur or aspiring entrepreneur? You’ll want to see the video below.

In October 2013, I was invited to speak at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit being held in Malaysia. See a previous blog for info and outcomes from that. One of my fellow speakers was the extremely talented Mr Don Tapscott.

Melody and Don at GES, Malaysia

Don is one of the world’s leading authorities on innovation, media, and the economic and social impact of technology and advises business and government leaders around the world. In 2011 Don was named one of the world’s most influential management thinkers by Thinkers50. He has authored or co-authored 14 widely read books including the 1992 best seller Paradigm Shift. His 1995 hit The Digital Economy changed thinking around the world about the transformational nature of the Internet and two years later he defined the Net Generation and the “digital divide” in Growing Up Digital. His 2000 work, Digital Capital, introduced seminal ideas like “the business web” and was described by BusinessWeek as “pure enlightenment.” Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything was the best selling management book in 2007 and translated into over 25 languages. Forbes has just identified him as one of the most influential business thinkers.

He spoke at GES about the key changes occurring in the world and what that means for business. Later that day, I had a chance to sit down and probe a little deeper, as well as ask him for his top tips for entrepreneurs.

Watch the full video of me interviewing Don Tapscott below:

As always, you can tweet us @Melody_Hossaini/ @InspirEngage and Don is @dTapscott

As the Education Minister introduces his new plans to make students more employable, we argue why we disagree and where the true value of developing life skills of students to be employable, are.

Secondary pupils returning to school last week faced tougher requirements regarding English and Maths. In simple terms, those who fail to score a grade C or above in their GCSEs must continue to study the subjects to the age of 18. Education Secretary Michael Gove has introduced the new rule to make school leavers more employable.

As a skills trainer of life skills and youth engagement expert with 16 years experience of working with young people- I find this infuriating. Let me start off by saying, yes, I absolutely agree that more needs to be done to develop young people’s employability skills and yes, as a part of that, there needs to, almost always, include an adequate level of English and Maths. No one can argue with that.

But here’s my problem with this new policy. At InspirEngage International, our foundation of belief when delivering the skills Bootcamps to young people, is this: The InspirEngage EthosThere shouldn’t be any one measure of success. Yes, every child needs to do the basics and what’s compulsory, however, not every child or young person is in their element in academia. And to subject them to something which they may feel weaker in and not enjoy, can have more damaging effect than good.

Besides, what is the real meaning of employability skills? I recently spoke to a senior at Ernst & Young who interviews applicants regularly. He tells me; ‘If an applicant sits in front of me, and has nothing interesting to say, doesn’t show charisma, then I won’t employ them. Regardless of their academic achievements’. THAT’s employability skills.

When we deliver the InspirEngage Career Clinics, Life Skills Bootcamps or Startup and Stilettos for girls to develop their confidence- the key objective is to support the individuals to discover who they are and where their strengths and passion lies (through ‘My Passport©’) and then develop pathways into work based on this, in a way that’s personal to them. Life skills are key- knowing how to carry yourself, introduce yourself, feel comfortable and familiar with your USP and where your limits lie. Knowing how to engage with different kinds of people, the process to achieve a task, being able to positively influence people- THESE are life skills which make you EMPLOYABLE.

This week, we’re launching Social Enterprise Revolution (@SocEnt_Rev). Imagine a curriculum that:
1) Developed Life Skills of students
2) Allowed you to use those skills to create a job for yourself
3) Which also helped your local community.

Social Enterprise Revolution is a 1 year programme aimed at schools, colleges and Universities (with a strand off that called Primary Revolution @PrimaryRev, for primary schools) which does exactly that. We’re also aware of several other fantastic programmes that support students to succeed, in a way to achieve the true objective.

The policy to effectively force students to continue a path which may actually just break down their confidence and perhaps act as a blockage to a much more suited path, will have an adverse effect on those students, and frankly in my opinion, it’s an easy short-cut. At the same time, students do need to have those basic skills- we propose that the solution be a 2 line-approach with academia and life skills working hand in hand, making the formal curriculum better connected to the real world, allowing students to use and apply their skills.

Tweet us your thoughts @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini and email: info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries relating to programmes mentioned and to join to the Revolution!

 

 

Sep 032013
Job Vs Career – what’s the difference and why is it important.

We start another academic year and for InspirEngage International, it marks the launch of 2 of our programmes; Social Enterprise Revolution; aimed at schools, colleges and Universities, building social enterprise into the curriculum, allowing students to use their skills to help their community whilst making money- and secondly we’re launching Primary Revolution; social enterprise for primary schools.

Earlier today I was discussing career paths linked to our ‘Career Clinic’ day for students which sparked this blog. Many of you are considering your careers, what you want to do and what options you should pursue but have you ever considered whether you’re in a phase to look for a suitable job, or whether you’re in fact shaping a career? There is a difference between having a job and having a career.

Your 20s are for trying different things and finding out what is right for you. During this phase you will perhaps embark on different jobs which shape your choices – I personally don’t mind seeing this on the CVs of people in their 20s.

But at the same time, if you’re fortunate enough, your mid to late 20s should be for laying the foundation for what becomes a solid CAREER. Another difference in Job Vs Career is that a career is built over time. It may involve study, may involve volunteering etc. A career is a long term path. A job is a job. Of course, you can have a job as part of your career, but the difference is that it’s relevant- it’s all building for the same field.

You guys had interesting tweets on the subject:

“@SumaiyaYahmadi:  but in the Arab world, exploring different jobs makes many companies hesitant to recruit you” My response was: Every employer is different I guess and it depends which sector you’re in- but I’d rather have someone who is 100% sure they want to be there and has made a well-considered choice than someone who is there based on wrong reasons.

“@xopriyaox but then don’t you lose valuable time getting relevant experience in the career you want to go into?” My response: Well, if you know what career you want to go into, then don’t waste time & go for it. But the problem is that many don’t. That’s the difference between Job Vs Career.

“@leejackson I always tell them to try lots of stuff in holidays etc – young people need to see diverse options not the same old” My response: Yep- people feel pressured to lead auto-pilot lives instead of really thinking what’s right for them- that’s a career, not a job.

“@ProgressionPlus So you are saying consistent employment rather than relevant employment is always looked on more favourably?” My response: Similar to what I said above- differs depending on employer and the sector- of course relevant experience is ideal but above that is someone who’s 100% sure they want to be there- not just for their employer but also for that individual’s own benefit, where they can be sure they’re working int he right path.

Bottom line- a career is a long term path that can involve many phases but all building towards the same thing. A job is what you do whilst you find out what your career path is (or to fund your career path). It’s important to know the difference so that you’re focused about what you want to achieve and ensuring it’s what you really want.

Hope this has helped in shaping your thoughts and provoking thought on the difference of Job Vs Career. Feel free to tweet us your thoughts on @InspirEngage and @Melody_Hossaini and also share with those who may be interested!

“@tarankbassi reading this has made me feel so much better! Thanks ☺”  - Thanks Taran! :)

Melody Hossaini- Founder and CEO, InspirEngage International. Email: info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries.