‘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

 


Today on 13 November, it’s World Kindness Day. Kindness has been an important theme through the work of InspirEngage International and our social enterprise programmes, and also at the heart of my speaking tour ‘How to Change The World’. It’s really quite simple- be kind, give back and show empathy. It’s the only way our world can survive the increasing social issues facing us. I saw this video the other day, which is one form of kindness, but what really struck me was the way someone who has nothing is willing to go to such lengths to give, when those who have everything, sometimes don’t. It’s a beautiful reminder. Enjoy world kindness day!

 

The kindness of a homeless man- social experiment. Beautiful!

 

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

No-make selfie going into my social enterprise ‘BETTER’ gym . Lady at reception said “oh we haven’t seen you in a while!” That’s because I haven’t been for over 1.5 months. Pre-pregnancy I was 49/50kg. Post birth I was 62kg. Right now, exactly 10 months on, I’m 57.5kg. All my old clothes don’t fit! Of course I want to be back at my original weight.

However my daily choice between priorities is:

  • spending time & caring for Kian (cooking his every meal, as well this I spend so much time on his development of mind and character doing my own exercises to refine his communication skills).
  • business. I run @inspirengage and absolutely love what I’m doing. I have 3 international trips & projects coming up as well as launching new projects. Needs my time.
  • family & friends, quality time with my husband (who really helps with Kian so much thankfully)
  • exercise and time for pampering (hair, nails, exercise).

It’s a struggle sometimes to do it all- especially to a high standard. It’s a matter of priorities. And because of that, the ‘me’ time including exercise, frequently comes last.

It’s all good-  I’m learning to find balance and feel truly blessed. Can you relate?

PS – I wrote all this whilst on the treadmill! See, I’m a juggler!!

Tweet/ig: @Melody_Hossaini

Yesterday I witnessed something that stirred a lot of feelings in me about bullying. Keen to hear your thoughts….

It's nicer to be nice.

Bullying is such a serious issue, we need a cultural change in how we are allowed to treat people.

I was at the library on Friday (I like to work there every now and again) and shared a table with a few young people aged around 18. They were chatting like best mates- even making plans for the weekend and laughing away! One of the girls excuses herself and goes to the toilet, suddenly the other girl turns to the guy and says “OMG she’s so f****ng annoying… Let’s just ignore her when she comes back!!” I was so shocked! The girl comes back and tries to chat with them again but they were trying to ignore her. I was weighing up whether I should have a quiet word with the girl who was being mean but someone told them to be quiet as it was a library and they were chatting so loudly. I also didn’t want to get involved with a relationship which I didn’t know much about and be out of context. But it really stayed with me.

Don’tknow how people can be so two-faced. If you don’t like someone, there’s a polite way to let them know and let the relationship fade. It made me so sad. I hate seeing people being treated badly. Please be kind to each other… This isn’t a mushy plea – it’s about survival!

Unfortunately, I experienced bullying whilst at school- more of which can be read on my blog ‘Bullying – Refuse to fit in’ (http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2013/09/bullying-refuse-to-fit-in/). In my blog, I talk about THAT look. The sideways look like ‘Omg what a weirdo’, I HATEEE that look.

When I go and talk in schools and I ask students a question and they give an enthusiastic answer and others do THAT look, I never let it slide. THAT look kills enthusiasm. It kills passion. It kills confidence. Let people be who they are and don’t belittle them, unfortunately some don’t recover. Sadly nothing will change, unless WE do and unless we COLLECTIVELY start to not accept those looks and that behaviour. I would bet £1,000 that if I told the mean girl in the library that what she’s doing is bullying, she’d be shocked. So few are aware of what they are doing. STOP.

I live tweeted this blog and here are some of your tweets:

@lotusflowerldn ; I was bullied in the workplace so this piece really resonates. The experiences don’t always build you up it’s true

@CleverJames ; Sucks. It happened to me at school too, but like to think I would feel the same even if it hadn’t. Just mean and immature

@_PC_ ; It happens at every age. Some people I know were not to friendly with a woman I knew who was ill. She hung herself.

@haaayles ; I once auditioned for the main part in the school play, got given THAT look and never tried out again…

@c_syal ; story of my life at school, massively knocked my confidence. Ironic how those bullies are now trying to be pally pally with me

Have you experienced THAT look? Are you someone who bullies people? Are you recovering from being bullied? Tweet me @Melody_Hossaini

To book a speaking engagement on topic of bullying, email info@inspirEngage.com

Why are we limited by society's gender specific toys?

From birth we are programmed to follow the usual ‘blue for boys’ and ‘pink for girls’ – so much so that we don’t even question why things are so gender-specific, even for babies who don’t even know what they are! Last night, I was forced to stop and think.

These little teddy comfort rags come in blue & in pink. Society has forced us to robotically purchase blue for boys and pink for girls- but why? Babies enjoy colour- any colour! So why do we surround boys in blue and girls in pink? And also why is it so impossible to imagine a boy having a pink rag or a girl a blue?

Last night I was invited to a family dinner to reveal the sex of an unborn baby in our family! Kian was there and in the middle of dinner, he began crying- unfortunately, I realised I had forgotten his little rag toy (the blue one someone bought us as a gift). Our friend was kind enough to lend us theirs (pink one). But instead of it looking odd that he had a pink one- instead it made me think- why not!?

Kiki has a pink and a blue now. I think he probably likes the variety. But it made me think how society limits or pre-determines boundaries for our children by way of gender. I think that’s wrong. Furthermore, why isn’t there more gender neutral colours available like yellow, orange and gold? I will set my own boundaries for my baby- not society. And my parameters will be as wide as possible to allow him to explore and be free to be creative and to become what he wants to be. That goes for gender colours as it does for life. Mindset is built from an early age.

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini – interested to know what you guys think!

 

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!

 

 

Have a social mission and want to turn it into a business? Recently, I wrote a blog on why Social Enterprise is the best business model: http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2015/01/why-social-enterprise-is-the-best-business-model/. Here’s how to set it up.

The Early Days

Have an idea and still working on the concept? Get your idea onto a one pager- what the outline is and why it’s needed, who it’s intended to benefit and what it’s going to do. It’s always good to run this by a couple of people in the sector. They may be able to offer you input at this early stage to make sure you consider your options and start the right way.

A social enterprise is a business- different to having a hobby you’re passionate about, or a charitable model. Social Enterprise, whether for-profit or not-for-profit, is still a business. If you’re sure this is the right model for you, this is how you register your business.

Setting up a social enterprise

You must choose a business structure if you’re starting a business that helps people or communities (a ‘social enterprise’). If you want to set up a business that has social, charitable or community-based objectives, you can set up as a:

If you’re setting up a small organisation like a sports club or a voluntary group and don’t plan to make a profit, you can form an ‘unincorporated association’ instead of starting a business.

Community interest companies (CICs)

A CIC is a special type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders.

To set up a CIC, you need to apply to Companies House, and:

  • include a ‘community interest statement’, explaining what your business plans to do
  • create an ‘asset lock’- a legal promise stating that the company’s assets will only be used for its social objectives, and setting limits to the money it can pay to shareholders
  • get your company approved by the community interest company regulator – your application will automatically be sent to them

The CIC regulator has guidance on CICs, including the forms you need to set one up.

Mutuals

Co-operatives and industrial and provident societies are both types of mutual. A mutual is an organisation owned by, and run for, the benefit of its members.

 

Find out about legal forms for social enterprise.

There are also opportunities to invest in local enterprise with community shares or to bid to run a local service.

(Source of registration info: gov.uk)

 

Watch the Socila Enterprise Revolution at TEDxhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=95f8RV_YdKY

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reading – central to education, communication, development of imagination and language! Here’s my blog on how to help your baby to love reading too.

From a young age, I was passionate about reading. I was the first person on both sides of my family to wear glasses as a child (aged 12), due to the many hours I spent over books! Therefore, it’s no surprise that when I knew I was having Kian, one of the things I looked forward to the most were reading time together.

Firstly let’s look at the benefits of reading to babies- because after all, they can’t actually read yet:

  • They like listening to your voice
  • They like looking at bright colours and pictures
  • Helps them with their development- hearing different words
  • They like quality time spent together and sitting against your chest
  • They like touching things and exploring
  • They’re more likely to enjoy reading later in life if they become familiar at a very young age

Now at the age of 4.5 months, he holds his book himself (did it for the first time yesterday!), turns the pages and recognises different books. This isn’t because he’s more intelligent than other babies, but simply learned behaviour. Here are some of the things I have done with Kian, that may help to support your baby to enjoy reading:

Kian - The first time he held the book himself

  • It’s never too early to start! – I read Kian’s first book to him when he was 7 days old. They can’t see very well then yet, but they can enjoy hearing your soft voice, especially if you read something to them that rhymes.
  • Do it in stages – Firstly simply read, secondly let them look, thirdly show them and finally let them do it themselves. So for example, with Kian, when he was a little newborn, I held him to me as I read and told him stories. When he could see better, I would show him the book, then let him watch as I explained about turning the page and would repeat things whilst showing him things on the pages and turning each page. Thirdly, I would hold his little hand in mine while I held the book and turned pages. And fourthly, let them have a go- you’ll be amazed at how quickly they learn and want to hold the book themselves and will turn the page (even before you’ve finished reading it!)
  • Get them to interact - It helps if you get them to interact with the books before they learn to turn the pages and hold it themselves. A couple of ways to do that, which is also fun for them, is to get a book which has a button to press which makes a sound. My mum got Kian books which make a cat ‘meow’ sound. He learned really quickly to press the button himself. The other way is to get a book which has different textures on each page for them to touch and explore, which also aides their development.
  • Sit on your lap – For them to get used to holding a book, it helps if you sit them on your knee so that they’re looking at the book the way they would if they were reading it themselves.
  • Foreign language –  If, like me, you’re teaching your baby a second language, reading provides a great opportunity for them to hear that language and interact with it. I speak Farsi with Kian and ‘read’ to him in Farsi, regardless of the book.

    Bedtime reading with Kian

  • Make it up! – Don’t be afraid to make up your own stories. One of the most valued memories from my childhood bedtime reading, were my aunt making up funny stories we could relate to that were about children our own age. Obviously babies are too young to make those connections, but I do believe that we can plant seeds when they’re really little, so I tell Kian stories that I make up myself about kindness. I tell him about children who stand up for those being bullied, I tell him about the boy who found a lost cat and helped it, I tell him about the boy who spoke to his teacher about drawing secret friends and doing something kind for them that week, I tell him about the boy who had special powers and used it to defend those who couldn’t defend themselves, and the boy who helped the environment with exciting projects in his community! (Yes, the social entrepreneur in training!)

Whatever your do, have fun and enjoy the special quality times with your baby!

Have a look on my blogs for other baby blogs. Tweet me your thoughts and how you get on with reading with your baby @Melody_Hossaini.

Melody x

(For all enquiries email: info@inspirEngage.com)

 

 

Last blog of 2014

It’s been a year of enterprise booming in Britain (most notably social enterprise), of Gogglebox making us laugh and Google becoming more valuable than Russia! As always, the year has flown by way too quickly, packed with exciting developments both at InspirEngage International and in my personal life. Here are my highlights.

InspirEngage International has had an exciting 2014:

  • Startup and Stilettos has been growing and helping more women to launch their social enterprises. One of the ladies, Patricia made her dreams come true by setting up a business selling her art, using profits to help young people in her area have something to do

    Startup & Stilettos

    and create their own Art which they can sell! We also branched out and for the first time ever delivered a Social Media Bootcamp in partnership with Hillcroft College and Astonish Email. This is vital for adult women and it was really well-received inopening a whole new world of possibilities. Blog on this here > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/07/startup-stilettos-social-media-for-adult-women/ Another highlight was attending and contributing at G8 Summit in London on women in the Arab world attended by the World Bank, Eve Branson, Cherie Blair and Royal family members.

  • Social Enterprise Revolution – Embedding social enterprise into the curriculum, this year featured in the Lord Young ‘Enterprise For All’ report. Our first year has come to an end with our Pioneer Colleges. We’ve seen several social enterprises being born by students- impacting their communities, making money and being assessed in their curriculum. Here’s an insight into our work at Harrow College > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/08/social-enterprise-revolution-harrow-college/
  • InspirEngage Grows! – This year InspirEngage has expanded our team by taking on new expert Trainers as well as extended our intake of Young Ambassadors, Patrons (including Princess Badiya of Jordan) and Mentors. A special thank you to everyone who make up the InspirEngage story.
  • Personal news: Kian… My 2014 is defined by me becoming a mother. On 10 September, I gave birth to a little boy who has changed my world. We named him Kian (name of the ancient Persian Kings – pronounced ‘Kee-aan’). He’s a happy little boy and a social entrepreneur in training! I regularly baby-blog; keep an eye!

Kian and I

Wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful 2015 ahead.

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti!

 

It’s been just over 2 months and already I can not remember life before changing-mats, dummies and sterilising bottles! People ask you if it’s what you expected and honestly, regardless of how much you prepare, you will never be able to expect what is to come. This blog is a little insight into the first 2 months on the outside for the baby and adapting to this big change as a family.

The first few weeks, you just stare at him- not believing he was actually inside your body. How can it be possible? You stare at every little move he makes. Everyday there’s something new. So far we’ve had first smiles, first time he grabs hold of a toy, the first time he starts gurgling! Must say, it’s not all easy and smiles. Becoming a first-time mum has its difficult days. The sleepless nights, the constant demand on your time as well as a change in identity (you’re predominantly now a mother, as well as the other identities you previously held.). It’s a personal journey and it’s different for everyone, but for me, it’s taken 2 months for things to settle.

4 important things have happened:

Routine- For the first 6 weeks a newborn needs all the care it demands, but it pretty much takes over your every minute of the day. That can not continue as you will either go mad or simply not have time for anything else! One day we simply decided we wanted to implement a strong routine for Kian, and decided for feeds only every 4 hours and that we wouldn’t hold him when he was fed and changed- and we stuck to it. It changed our life! Both Kian and parents are happier with this!

Making Memories- As well as a video diary (which I share with our family on a whatsapp group as we go!) we booked in for a photoshoot! A lot of people take photos when the baby is newborn in the first 2 weeks but I found waiting until he was 8 weeks meant his face was more settled and he was more alert, yet still little and cute! With photos as important as these, it’s so important to pick the right photographer. I can thoroughly recommend Paul Ward Studios in Birmingham- he took the photo above. He is patient, talented and has multiple sets in the same studio for varied shots. We took 3 outfits -one of them was a cute Christmas outfit for his our Christmas cards! One casual and one dressed up! I was blown away with the photos! Paul is offering 10% off to my readers and followers. Just quote ‘Melody’. Info on > http://www.paulward.net/melody/

Date Night- BC (before child), my husband and I used to go on date night regularly- but that becomes difficult with a baby. However, it’s vital to make time for eachother and so we left the baby with my mum and went to a lovely dinner together (steakhouse since I couldn’t have my steak medium cooked whilst pregnant!. It was nice to catch up, reflect as parents and focus on our relationship as a husband and wife.

Baby Talk isn’t cheap!- The most important thing you can do to benefit your child’s development (even if they’re newborn) is to talk to them. Each morning, during his morning feed, I tell Kian what day it is, what the weather is like outside and what we have planned for the day ahead. I speak to him constantly when I am with him. People think babies can’t communicate but they’re naturals! The key is to speak to them then pause, and they will speak back (ok, gurgle obviously) – this is helping him to become alert as well as learn the basics of communication.

 

I want to thank you all so much for your constant support. This week my facebook page hit 31,100 people- thanks for following and your kind words! You can tweet/ instagram me on @Melody_Hossaini.

 

 

Bump to Birth in 10 Photos!


You’ve heard your body changes and the bump grows during each month of pregnancy- but what does it really look like if you took a photo on the same day each month? The following blog shows photos taken from first month of pregnancy in January, to holding the baby in my arms in October.

Here’s a very brief breakdown of each month:

Month 1 – The moment you find out you’re pregnant is one of the most beautiful moments (it was for us anyway!) Brought my husband and I so much closer and took us a good month to sink in that we’re having a baby! It’s also important how you begin something, so enter pregnancy with a positive mindset. You’re carrying a baby who will mirror your feelings, if you’re calm and stress-free, they will be too!

Month 2 - Highlight is telling the family! I’m never going to forget the moment I told my family we’re having the first baby in our family. It’s rare that you give such happy news in life and it’s a beautiful feeling. Enjoy it!

Month 3 - The pregnancy symptoms at play, whether it’s nausea or cravings, but by now they should have somewhat settled, as you complete the first trimester, you’ll also be amazed at how quickly it’s going! You’ll also spend time standing sideways checking if your bump is visible yet. Probably won’t be visible to everyone just yet.

Month 4 - Exciting month and a big highlight as you get the choice to find out the sex of your baby! I wanted to know the sex of my baby, not because I wanted to paint the nursery blue or pink but because it helped me connect with the baby and mentally prepare myself. You can see from my bump I was having a boy! Boy bumps are neat and forward, girl bumps are generally wider.

Month 5 – Well into second trimester and you should be feeling at your best (if no complications- although every pregnancy is different). The symptoms should be gone but you’re still not so big that you can’t do things. Use this time to spend time with your partner. My husband and I went on a lot of date nights to spend time together and connect before the baby comes.

Month 6 - This is a good time to go on ‘babymoon’ the last holiday your partner and you will take for a little while (make sure to check the allowance for amount of weeks you can still travel, from both your doctor and the airline if flying). I also found it a good month to have my pregnancy photoshoot, whilst on holiday on the beach.

Month 7 – The 3rd trimester is for preparation! Speak to your midwife and find out what antenatal classes are available in your area- I found them really useful. This is also the time to baby-shop if you haven’t done it already and get the nursery ready! Very exciting once it’s completed, I went into the room a few time a day and gave me such a nice feeling.

Month 8 – Time to finish work (if you’re working) and winding down. By now you’re heavier, bigger and less mobile. Start to relax and take it really easy, but keep mobile- go for nice walks and swimming. The more active you are, the better your labour will be. (I went swimming for 45 minutes, 2 days before giving birth).

Month 9 - Almost there! It’s normal to feel anxious, excited and constantly wondering when you’ll be going into labour! Take this time to discuss with your partner what your expectations are of eachother. You’ll be too emotional and tired once baby comes- this way you are prepared. Have a great labour- your baby is almost here! (this photo was taken 3 days before I gave birth).

Month 10 - Your baby is in your arms. I experienced more emotions and feelings at once than ever before. You’re on a high, and even lack of sleep can’t get you down! You sit by the basket just staring at this incredible creation! Enjoy this beautiful time. Things start to settle in the 2 months that follow. Kian is 1 month old in the 10th photo.

Check out this youtube video on my product reviews, tips to deal with pregnancy symptoms and more:

 

For all enquiries, email info@inspirEngage.com / Tweet @Melody_Hossaini

 

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

Sep 162014

My first blog as a mummy! Been meaning to write this blog for a few days now but finally getting round to it while my angel is napping.
Wow… where do I start. I’ve experienced a lot in life but nothing comes close to giving birth and becoming a mother. In this blog, I want to share my labour story, sentiments in these first few days of motherhood and introduce you to our angel!

Contractions- During the latter stages of my pregnancy, I’d been wondering how my birth would go and what would happen… everyone’s experiences of labour are so different. My baby was due on Sunday 14th and although people kept telling me your first one is very likely to be late, I had a feeling my baby would come early.
I woke up on the morning of 10th September with minor cramps- which grew in intensity but still felt too mild for me to think I was in labour! I was walking around saying to my cousin (who was visiting at the time) and my husband, “hmm well this hurts a little… hmm here it comes again…what could it be?”

We called the labour ward- and they told us to come in, which I felt was strange- I kept telling my husband (who quickly grabbed the pre-packed hospital bags, and was walking in circles in a nervous & excited tizz!) that there was no way I was going to give birth that day- I can’t possibly be having contractions. How wrong I was! I got to the hospital and turns out I was 6cm dilated and ready to be moved into the labour room to give birth. It’s very important how you go into something- especially something you consider challenging (that’s what I speak about in my motivational speaking engagements), so I knew labour was no different. I remember walking into the hospital and even during the latter stages of contractions, and kept saying out loud- “it’s ok, I’ve got this- I can do this”. Going into it saying, ‘I can’t’ or ‘I don’t want to do this’ will make it 100 times harder.

Labour - They encourage you to make a birthing plan – and I had decided to try water birth on gas & air. However, in reality, we had no time for that as I was moving along so quickly and the baby was ready to come. Although a quick labour is great, all wasn’t perfect. The baby’s heart rate was going too low and the baby was distressed, which left no time for pushing. The emergency button of my labour room was pressed twice and the senior consultant and various doctors were at my bed (I had no idea what was happening and was focusing on following instructions that they were giving me to get the baby out).

I distinctly remember the senior consultant coming close and saying; “Melody, listen to me- we have to get your baby out right now” and me just replying, “Fine- just tell me what to do.” The baby was pulled out with forceps, without epidural. I never knew I had the ability to scream the way I did- the immense pain. But he was there and that’s all that mattered. Got to the hospital at 12.30 and he arrived at 14.16, weighing just over 3kg.

Meet our angel… - Lots of you have been asking me what we named him. His name is KIAN (pronounced ‘Kee-yaan’ as opposed to the Irish version which is pronounced ‘Kee-en’) . It’s a Persian name, after the second dynasty of Persian Kings. I always said, if I one day have a son, I will call him that. Can’t believe that just a few days ago I was still awaiting the arrival of my angel and today is his 5th day with me and l can honestly not even remember my days without him. People ask me if it feels weird but it feels like the most natural thing in the world- like he was always meant for us. The Love I feel for him and our connection is something that only another mother can comprehend. Beautiful & gives life its true meaning…

I’m excited about this new chapter. In this note, I also want to thank my husband who has been an incredible source of support and love (he says something just clicks!) and my beautiful family who have made sure I eat healthily and rest lots (they’re nagging me to put the laptop down right now!!). It’s really added a beautiful new dimension to our family (being the first grandchild!). More to come- going to cuddle my angel- can NOT stop!!

Thank you so much to all of you for your extremely kind wishes. I truly appreciate it. Follow the rest of the journey- connect with me on twitter and ig: @Melody_Hossaini and facebook ‘Melody Hossaini (The Apprentice).

 

All you need to know before baby! Confused about travel-systems, suffering from heart burn or itching or just anxious about becoming a mother? I’m now coming up to 39 weeks pregnant- it’s almost time! Here’s my final pre-baby blog- Covering my tips for pregnancy problems (including my life-saver for itching!), how to be make the most of pregnancy and avoid problems later.

At 37 weeks pregnant in the new nursery

Find me on twitter and instagram: @Melody_Hossaini Let me know what you think!

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!