Mind The Gap- Women & The Future of Work

Where is the future of work for women headed? Read my article for Huffington Post on how women can maximise their chances in the work place and there’s so much more to it than the gender pay gap. Read full article on Huffington Post, here.

 

We’d love to know what you think and where the solutions lie. Tweet @inspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

 

The world is wonderful because of the kind people who care and tackle the greatest threats facing us. They are people with compassion and who get out there and do it. As passionate social entrepreneurs, at InspirEngage, we are always on the look-out for inspirational stories, particularly from young people who are making a difference. This is Alex’s story. Apart from the vast social impact she and all her supporters have had, it’s also a moving tale that shows you can start small (and be just 4 years old) and yet, begin a powerful movement about a cause that means a lot to you….

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is an amazing organisation that was started by an inspiring little girl at the young age of 4.

Before Alex turned 1 years old, she was diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer. The doctors informed her parents even if she beats it, it would be doubtful that she would ever walk. By her second birthday she was crawling and able to stand with leg braces. By a shocking discovery the cancer started coming back soon after that.

During her treatment on her 4th birthday she told her mum “when I get out of the hospital I want to have a lemonade stand.” She said she wanted to give the money to doctors to allow them to “help other kids, like they helped me.” True to her word she held a lemonade stand later that year with the help of her brother and raised $2000. Alex and her family continued to hold yearly lemonade stands in her front yard to benefit childhood cancer research.

News spread of the remarkable sick child dedicated to helping other sick children. People from all over the world, moved by her story, held their own lemonade stands and donated the proceeds to Alex and her cause.

Alex passed away in 2004 at the age of 8 knowing that, with the help of others, she had raised more than $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life. Her family continues to keep her legacy alive today and thriving through this amazing foundation.

Interested to support this wonderful cause? Check out http://www.alexslemonade.org (@alexslemonade on Instagram)

‘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

 

InspirEngage Bootcamp on Social Enterprise at JWEF by Melody Hossaini

During the week of 15th February, The InspirEngage team carried out a tour of activities in Bahrain, including Skills Bootcamps at Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum (JWEF), our Business Masterclass for SMEs as well as a stop on the international speaking tour ‘How to Change The World’. It was our second time in Bahrain, having previously delivered the InspirEngage Bootcamp training young professionals from across the MENA region to launch their own social enterprises relating to the environment, in partnership with the British Council. Here’s a breakdown of what we got up to and what we learned.

InspirEngage Skills Bootcamp

InspirEngage Bootcamp Day2

The JWEF brought together hundreds of young aspiring entrepreneurs. On the programme were a range of panels and speakers. But our stance was – magic happens when you take inspiration and turn it into action in that moment when a window of opportunity opens in your mind. This is what the Bootcamp was for. Covering the practical aspects of building an actionable plan from an idea. We delivered the Bootcamp in 2 parts- the first focusing on setting the foundation by training the participants to use our tool called ‘Career Map’ to define their goal, their identity and strengths as well as setting the right mindset for impact. The second part was hands-on and high energy including helping participants to understand social enterprise as well as putting it all in practice with our social enterprise task. They amazed us with their concepts and proved that although at the start, none of them really knew what social enterprise was- by the end of it, so many were aspiring social entrepreneurs- helping people to turn passion into profit.

‘How to Change the World’ – Speaking to Students

As Melody Hossaini’s signature speaking tour – we made a stop at Al Rajaa School in Bahrain to speak to hundreds of excited students! The presentation focuses on provoking thought in students about success and impact as well as share actionable tools and methods for ensuring their individual potential being fulfilled. The students and teachers were blown away by Melody’s interactive style – including having students up to take part in a shock-exercise. The students were eager, energised and stayed around for a long time to ask lots of questions sparked by ideas they had!

Business Masterclass for SMEs

InspirEngage Business Masterclass for SMEs

As part of supporting the growth of the eco-system as a whole in Bahrain, it’s vital to engage SMEs. For this reason, we designed an interactive ‘Business Masterclass’ hosted by Bahrain SMEs Society and the British Council. Participants were taken through a range of exercises to consider their place in the market, their social impact models and how to adopt a mindset shift leading to organisational transformation. What struck us was the fear that exists amongst people to share their ideas for risk of someone stealing their concept and replicating it. We had a fascinating dialogue on this, with us sharing the network models and changing face of business to be much more transparent.

 

Facilitating Panel on Success Stories of Local Entrepreneurs

Success Stories of Local Young Social Entrepreneurs

On day 1 of the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum, Melody was invited to chair a panel of 4 young entrepreneurs from the region- Wafa Obaidat, Faisal Sherraif, Aysha Al Oraifi and Abdulrazag Al-Mutawa. We started with each panelist giving an overview of who they are and what they do. Melody then prompted them to tell tales of how they went from having an idea all the way to making it a success. Topics of discussion included whether starting when you’re young is a barrier or strength (most of the panelists felt that there young age worked in their favour although a couple of them did mention that sometimes they had to work hard to be taken seriously), the exact step-by-step of how they got started and got their first clients as well as their top tips for success for the aspiring entrepreneurs. Melody fielded questions from young people including from a 13-year-old who wanted to know if he was too young to get started. The panel’s advice – you’re not too young – go for it! Melody had some added words as someone who began in her sector aged 13 also. “Of course you can begin when you’re 13- but like anyone else starting a venture; do your research, speak to people who know that industry and be committed.”

It was a pleasure for us to be back in Bahrain and working to shape a strong eco-system of entrepreneurship – but one which is also socially responsible and allows young people to thrive. We wish all the young people and SMEs the best and look forward to their continued impact!

For all enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com

Family is good. Yes, we can all agree on that- but is it good to operate with a spirit of family in business? My views on why the Kids Company – a sizeable youth charity in the UK – fell apart.

Camila Batmanghelidjh - Kids Company Founder

Having watched the BBC documentary ‘Camila’s Kids Company- The Inside Story’ the answer is clear in my mind. The spirit of family is good – especially as a long-time youth sector supporter and social entrepreneur, I admire the ethos Camila Batmanghelidjh had, which was to see others as her own. However, in practice, the spirit of ‘family’ needs to be differentiated from the running of a business.

But what do you do when you’re so deep in the sentiment and feeling of giving and too emotionally involved? Well, this is where the big flaw was. The demise of the Kids Company underlined the importance of co-leadership (in whatever role and however structured) of someone who is emotionally tied to the mission and drives it with passion, and someone whose role it is to oversee the running of the business, the figures and finances and importantly accountable governance.

Watching the documentary, Camila reminded me of a bitter ex-wife. The ex-wife who doesn’t feel the new wife as fit enough to run her home and look after her kids. She was simply too emotionally involved to run the business side of things the way it needed to. In a way, I truly admire her strength and drive. She really was a woman on a mission- she had skills and assets which the charity almost couldn’t do without, but she was perhaps in the wrong role, and had she allowed someone in to run the business and instead focused on liaising with the community and ensuring that delivery on the ground was sufficient – the charity would have probably survived.

The thing which made me very uncomfortable was how dependent the service users were. There’s no doubt that Kids Company made a substantial difference to people’s lives. That was clear. However, I don’t think it a mark of success that people cry out your name in need- because that means you haven’t empowered them or helped them develop their skills to survive- you’ve simply empowered yourself to help- a help, they’ll always depend on. A help which without they’d drown. That’s dangerous. At InspirEngage International, we always instil a sense of social and personal responsibility in the individuals we train and work with. Otherwise, we’d be doing a disservice to them.

As a former Chair of The Board of Trustees at UK Youth Parliament, I was always conscious of the legal and financial responsibility I held. Something must also be said for their role in this.

When all is said & done- the demand & need in community is what should be highlighted. There’s work to be done.

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini.

Melody

 

Muslim women who can’t speak English – that’s been one of the main stories in the press today. The point about people learning to speak English – it’s something I’ve been talking about for a long time. It’s absolutely VITAL that people who settle in a certain country, learn to speak the language of that country. As a former resident and national of Sweden, I know that no one was able to get a Swedish passport unless they passed Swedish language tests.

It’s unacceptable that some have lived here 40 years and can’t put a sentence together- or that some children start primary school at 4 years old, having been born in this country yet don’t speak a word of English! How can you appreciate the culture, contribute meaningfully or integrate? (yes you can pay taxes but that isn’t the only contribution that matters!)

However, having said all that, I don’t like how the news is speaking about the English language barrier, solely as being relevant to MUSLIM WOMEN! It’s not! That has nothing to do with it! It applies to everyone. If we really want to solve the root of this problem – we have to look at the cultural traits of the communities where this issue is prevalent, and understand that in order to solve it.

What are your views of the news bulletins on this issue? Tweet me: @Melody_Hossaini – Facebook here.

Trained these young children in Dubai in the InspirEngage International Bootcamp with the aim of breaking their norm of a classroom just being about books. We developed their confidence, trained them to think about their ongoing self-education, got them to stand up- push desks out of the way and interact. We also wanted to build their sense of social responsibility to see that they have the power to make a difference in their community.
After the Bootcamp, their teacher went up to the host client and was saying something in Arabic, that looked like a complaint. Afterwards, I asked what she’d said, the host answered; “the teacher said that now that the children had seen what a classroom can be like, she’s worried that they’ll never listen to her!”
We have to break norms of what education has to look like and be creative in the classroom to engage students, to open their minds and skills but also to ensure we’re teaching them lessons for life- not just exams.
In the past few years, InspirEngage and myself have trained many educators both in the UK and abroad on implementing more creative methods and social enterprise models. Email info@InspirEngage.com for all enquiries

Baby’s Christmas is always so special- especially for first-time parents in trying so hard to create memories and wanting to do everything right. Read what we decided to give to Kian as his second Christmas present.

If you have a baby, you’ll know how much effort goes into making Christmas special for them- and a lot of effort goes into spoiling them with gifts! Last year, I gave this a lot of thought. About the message I wanted our gifts to give him. As Kian’s very first

Gift of Giving - last year's gift

Christmas gift, we decided to give him the gift of giving and made a donation to help less fortunate children through NSPCC in his name (read more here.)

And this year, we decided to give him the gift of experience and quality time. Yes, we try do this everyday, but as his Christmas gift, we took him to Winter Wonderland in London and watched his face light up as he saw all the lights and went on his first ride! I loved him taking in his new surroundings and new sights and he looked fascinated by the London tube! We had a beautiful day as a little family and have made some lovely memories.

I want him to know that first you give, and then when it comes to yourself, the most valuable thing you can give anyone is your time and nothing more precious can come from it than an experience and memory. When all is said and done, we don’t remember that great outfit we got, but we remember moments that made us feel good, with the people we love. Granted – he is too young to fully remember all of this, but I think that lessons are learned through our everyday interactions and being able to set an example.

Hope you’re all having a beautiful Christmas with your loved ones and making the most of your time together. Sending you all lots of love.

Melody

xx

 

Your baby’s first magical Christmas? Pleasure working with Toys R Us for their special blog on a baby’s 1st Christmas with all mine and two other lovely mummy bloggers top tips and little insights to make your first Christmas with your baby as memorable, cost-effective & safe as possible!

The main thing from me is to relax, be happy with what you have instead of pressurising yourself with added stress and pressure to make everything perfect, whereas children just want a calm and happy atmosphere as they’ll take much more from that than gifts and decorations (they’re probably too young to realise all that anyway!). It’s their 1st Christmas gift! What did you guys get your babies? Read in the article what I decided to get for Kian!

Read full Toys R Us blog here > http://blog.toysrus.co.uk/our-journal/mums-first-christmas-three-mums-share-top-festive-tips/

Kian's 1st snow! December 2014

Last year I wrote a blog of Kian’s First Christmas. Read here > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/12/baby-blog-kians-1st-christmas/

Want to hear all your tips and little ways to make Christmas as special as possible for your little ones! Tweet/ instagram me: @Melody_Hossaini


Ever wondered what the recipe for raising successful children is? Well- there isn’t one! But here is a list of 10 things which parents of successful children have in common. Here at InspirEngage International we train individuals as young as 4 years old to develop the social and life skills alongside mindset to fulfil their potential. As seen below, this is an important ingredient to maximising the potential of children’s success.

1. They make their kids do chores

“If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford University and author of “How to Raise an Adult” said during a TED Talks Liveevent. “And so they’re absolved of not only the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute for the betterment of the whole,” she said. Lythcott-Haims believes kids raised on chores go on to become employees who collaborate well with their coworkers, are more empathetic because they know firsthand what struggling looks like, and are able to take on tasks independently. She bases this on the Harvard Grant Study, the longest longitudinal study ever conducted. “By making them do chores — taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry —they realize I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life.”

2. They teach their kids social skills

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University and Duke University tracked more than 700 children from across the US between kindergarten and age 25 and found a significant correlation between their social skills as kindergartners and their success as adults two decades later. The 20-year study showed that socially competent children who could cooperate with their peers without prompting, be helpful to others, understand their feelings, and resolve problems on their own, were far more likely to earn a college degree and have a full-time job by age 25 than those with limited social skills. Those with limited social skills also had a higher chance of getting arrested, binge drinking, and applying for public housing. “This study shows that helping children develop social and emotional skills is one of the most important things we can do to prepare them for a healthy future,” said Kristin Schubert, program director at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded the research, in a release. “From an early age, these skills can determine whether a child goes to college or prison, and whether they end up employed or addicted.” Through the InspirEngage Bootcamps, we’ve seen the difference to children in developing their social skills.

3. They have high expectations

Using data from a national survey of 6,600 children born in 2001, University of California at Los Angeles professor Neal Halfon and his colleagues discovered that the expectations parents hold for their kids have a huge effect on attainment. “Parents who saw college in their child’s future seemed to manage their child toward that goal irrespective of their income and other assets,” he said in a statement. The finding came out in standardized tests: 57% of the kids who did the worst were expected to attend college by their parents, while 96% of the kids who did the best were expected to go to college. This falls in line with another psych finding: The Pygmalion effect, which states “that what one person expects of another can come to serve as a self-fulfilling prophecy.”. In the case of kids, they live up to their parents’ expectations.

4. They have healthy relationships with each other

Children in high-conflict families, whether intact or divorced, tend to fare worse than children of parents that get along, according to a University of Illinois study review. Robert Hughes Jr., professor and head of the Department of Human and Community Development at the University of Illinois and the study review author, also notes that some studies have found children in nonconflictual single-parent families fare better than children in conflictual two-parent families. The conflict between parents prior to divorce also affects children negatively, while post-divorce conflict has a strong influence on children’s adjustment, Hughes says. One study found that, after divorce, when a father without custody has frequent contact with his kids and there is minimal conflict, children fare better. But when there is conflict, frequent visits from the father are related to poorer adjustment of children. Yet another study found that 20-somethings who experienced divorce of their parents as children still report pain and distress over their parent’s divorce ten years later. Young people who reported high conflict between their parents were far more likely to have feelings of loss and regret.

5. They’ve attained higher educational levels

A 2014 study lead by University of Michigan psychologist Sandra Tang found that mothers who finished high school or college were more likely to raise kids that did the same. Pulling from a group of over 14,000 children who entered kindergarten in 1998 to 2007, the study found that children born to teen moms (18 years old or younger) were less likely to finish high school or go to college than their counterparts. Aspiration is at least partially responsible. In a 2009 longitudinal study of 856 people in semirural New York, Bowling Green State University psychologist Eric Dubow found that “parents’ educational level when the child was 8 years old significantly predicted educational and occupational success for the child 40 years later.”

6. They teach their kids maths early on

A 2007 meta-analysis of 35,000 preschoolers across the US, Canada, and England found that developing math skills early can turn into a huge advantage. “The paramount importance of early math skills — of beginning school with a knowledge of numbers, number order, and other rudimentary math concepts — is one of the puzzles coming out of the study,” coauthor and Northwestern University researcher Greg Duncan said in a press release. “Mastery of early math skills predicts not only future math achievement, it also predicts future reading achievement.”

7. They develop a relationship with their kids

A 2014 study of 243 people born into poverty found that children who received “sensitive caregiving” in their first three years not only did better in academic tests in childhood, but had healthier relationships and greater academic attainment in their 30s. As reported on PsyBlog, parents who are sensitive caregivers “respond to their child’s signals promptly and appropriately” and “provide a secure base” for children to explore the world. “This suggests that investments in early parent-child relationships may result in long-term returns that accumulate across individuals’ lives,” coauthor and University of Minnesota psychologist Lee Raby said in an interview.

8. They’re less stressed

According to recent research cited by Brigid Schulte at The Washington Post, the number of hours that moms spend with kids between ages 3 and 11 does little to predict the child’s behavior, well-being, or achievement. What’s more, the “intensive mothering” or “helicopter parenting” approach can backfire. “Mothers’ stress, especially when mothers are stressed because of the juggling with work and trying to find time with kids, that may actually be affecting their kids poorly,” study coauthor and Bowling Green State University sociologist Kei Nomaguchi told The Post. Emotional contagion — or the psychological phenomenon where people “catch” feelings from one another like they would a cold — helps explain why. Research shows that if your friend is happy, that brightness will infect you; if she’s sad, that gloominess will transfer as well. So if a parent is exhausted or frustrated, that emotional state could transfer to the kids.

9. They value effort over avoiding failure

Where kids think success comes from also predicts their attainment. Over decades, Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck has discovered that children (and adults) think about success in one of two ways. Over at the always-fantastic Brain Pickings, Maria Popova says they go a little something like this: A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens that we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of un-intelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities. At the core is a distinction in the way you assume your will affects your ability, and it has a powerful effect on kids. If kids are told that they aced a test because of their innate intelligence, that creates a “fixed” mindset. If they succeeded because of effort, that teaches a “growth” mindset.

10. The mums work

According to research out of Harvard Business School, there are significant benefits for children growing up with mothers who work outside the home. The study found daughters of working mothers went to school longer, were more likely to have a job in a supervisory role, and earned more money — 23% more compared to their peers who were raised by stay-at-home mothers. The sons of working mothers also tended to pitch in more on household chores and childcare, the study found — they spent seven-and-a-half more hours a week on childcare and 25 more minutes on housework.”Role modeling is a way of signaling what’s appropriate in terms of how you behave, what you do, the activities you engage in, and what you believe,” the study’s lead author, Harvard Business School professor Kathleen L. McGinn, told Business Insider. “There are very few things, that we know of, that have such a clear effect on gender inequality as being raised by a working mother,” she told Working Knowledge.

 

Interested in finding out more about how we are training children and young people to develop the social skills & mindset to success through our Bootcamps? Contact info@inspirEngage.com

InspirEngage Bootcamp for 4-11 year-olds with ‘Primary Revolution’

 

 

Source of article: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/science-says-parents-of-successful-kids-have-these-11-things-in-common-a6751951.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This must be the top issue raised by young people. Sorry, but if you graduate or even finish school and have zero experience, then what were you doing in your most time-rich period? You can get involved in so many fun things, meet amazing people as well as clock up years of experience.

A lot of employers are now telling us that they are rating experience on par with qualifications, if not higher. I started in the youth and community sector at the age of 13. Now at the age of 31, I have 18 years experience in my sector. Aside from the experience, volunteering allows you to also make a difference in your community. And what you do out of pure choice- for free, says a lot about you. #DoingWellByDoingGood

 

Watch Melody’s Top 10 First Job Vlog (in partnership with the Department for Work & Pensions).

 

For all speaking enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com

 


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!

 

Women’s Forum Panelist

Since 2005 the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society has been the world’s leading platform featuring women’s views and voices on major social and economic issues.

'Lighting Many Fires' Panel at Women's Forum 2015

Deploying the experience of both women and men – business leaders, researchers, politicians, entrepreneurs across all generations and geographies come together in rich and edgy debates, acting as a sounding board for today’s important ideas and a springboard for tomorrow’s solutions. I

Panelists at Women's Forum on advancement of women in business

was thrilled to be invited as a speaker at the 2015 global gathering in Deauville held 14-16 October. I was instantly hit by the unique energy- it’s not often you are surrounded by 1000′s of incredibly powerful women.

On the panel, I was joined by Seraina Maag- President & CEO, AIG and Jane Griffiths- Company Group Chairman, Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), moderated by Christie Hunter Arscott. a mother with business, as well as personal anecdotes (revealing that Seraina grew up wanting to work in the circus!). My contribution was focused on the role of social enterprise in the changing dynamics of the business world, as well as how we can better equip young people (especially young women) to advance.

Watch a short clip of my talk on this:

It was a fascinating panel discussion highlighting the fact that children of those mothers who work are statistically more likely to also work and do well, than those who don’t. Another interesting point was also the importance of sponsoring alongside mentoring. This is vital to supporting women to reach senior position (this is a large factor in both Seraina and Jane reaching theirs).

CEO Champions Member

As part of the conference there’s also a private gathering of of 45 leading figures from the public and private sectors called the CEO Champions, which I am a member of, that come together in a luncheon to debate concrete action on “building and strengthening the pipeline” for women’s advancement. Hosted by Clara Gaymard, President, Women’s Forum and CEO and President, GE France.

CEO Champion Members 2015- Deauville

The partner representatives were: Sandrine Devillard, Director and Global Leader of the McKinsey Women Initiative, McKinsey & Company Anthony Gooch, Director of Public Affairs and Communications, OECD, Mary Goudie, Member, UK House of Lords, and Founding Member, the 30 Percent Club, Jane Griffiths, Company Group Chairman, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, Seraina Maag, President & CEO EMEA, AIG Property & Casualty. Among the participants, the CEO Champions meeting, welcomed notable leaders including Marie-Christine Coisne-Roquette, Executive Chairman, Sonepar, Yves Daccord, Director-General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Agnès Ogier, CEO, Thalys International, Stéphane Pallez, Chairman and CEO, Française des Jeux, Jean-Paul Paloméros, General, former Chief of the French Air Force and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation, Shamsa Saleh, CEO, Dubai Women Establishment and Su-Yen Wong, CEO, The Human Capital Leadership Institute and many more.

Melody Hossaini presenting at CEO Champions

Our discussions were fuelled by findings from The Power of Parity: How advancing women’s equality can drive $12 trillion in global growth’, a new study by the McKinsey Global Institute which was previewed during the Global Meeting.

We brainstormed in break-out tables on two main issues: How can we help close the gender gap in society to bring more women into the workforce? How do we create a robust and sustainable pipeline of talented women at each stage of our organizations?

Following this meeting in Deauville, all CEO Champions 2015 will co-sign a white paper capturing key insights and recommendations from the workshop — including their commitments as a group — for sharing broadly with the media as well as with preeminent institutions from the private and public sectors.

Among the “big ideas to explore” that arose:

  • Identify the “invisible” women in organizations and give them what they need to advance
  • Allow family life in the workplace: how family life can better define our professional life (not vice-versa)? Appoint gender diverse couples for CEO positions: a man and a woman to co-lead
  • Build coalitions between public and private sectors or NGOs: partnerships to influence the G20 and governments for greater equality in societies
  • Launch a global survey on employee self-esteem and develop organization-based self-esteem (important for women but also for GenY)
  • Create and disseminate a Gender Parity Index — similar to the McKinsey Gender Parity Score and sustainability index — to assess gender equality in private and public organizations on critical performance indicators
  • CEOs and Executive Committee members can act as role models: take paternity leave, part time, etc.

Look forward to taking the initiatives forward and fighting towards gender parity.

 

Big Brother, X Factor and The Apprentice – just some of the big reality shows dominating our screens. But what’s the truth behind it all and where do we draw the line?

Last year, I was invited to Birmingham City University to join a panel chaired by Matthew Wright, joined by Steve Brookstein, Donal MacIntrye, Melody Hossaini and Sinitta. It was an interesting revelation of secrets behind the show and discussion as to whether as viewers we are asking for more and more, hence pressure building on TV producers to shock us, yet we then moan that this isn’t reality.

In my view, reality TV has been forced to become unreal in order to feed our ever-growing need for entertainment. This is a shame, but it’s also what those who go on reality shows (like myself on The Apprentice), signed up for.

Watch this taster video of the discussion at BCU:


 

 

 

You are your greatest asset & opportunity, just like you can also be your greatest limit. I always say that your circumstances don’t define you- your mindset does. In this blog, I wanted to share a little story with you on how to turn failure into your advantage.

I remember at GCSE maths mock exams, I got an E (maths was never my strength). For my report predictions my teacher predicted me a E/D for the final GCSE. I begged her not to write that in my permanent documented report and that I promise I’ll do better. She said there’s nothing she can do since I got an E. I refused to accept this.

I went home and spent months re-learning everything from that year- I even asked for the syllabus and went over everything myself. When the exams came (I had to take 2 or 3 exams for the intermediate level), I remember turning the page in the actual exam and being shocked as nothing made sense. I sat there for about 7 minutes (which is an eternity in exams!) just frozen to the spot.

Then I put my hand up, asked for a hair tie (the teacher gave me an elastic band) and I put my hair up, rolled the sleeves up on my school shirt & focused my mind with a persistence that I can do this. I scored one of the highest in my class in that exam. In fact, I got a GCSE B (the highest you can get on an intermediate paper) overall. That meant so much to me and it will always be a testament to the fact that your attitude to something can combat your lack of natural ability. It’s also worth mentioning that, had it not been for the ‘failure’ of getting an E in the mocks, I may not have worked as hard. You have to allow even your ‘failures’ to inspire you to do better, not be your reason to give up.

Mindset isn’t an abstract ‘magic’ that transforms your reality – no! But it’s the factor which determines your behaviour in a situation and what you do about it. And that’s what transforms your reality. It takes hard work but healthy attitude is what makes the difference. This is something which you can learn over time and train your mind to do.

That became the central aim of how I designed our InspirEngage Bootcamp and courses. Drop me a line on info@inspirEngage.com to be added to our list to be sent exclusive info on upcoming courses and opportunities.

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini. Sending you all my warmest wishes.

 

Happy Youth Day! An important day to celebrate the young people who work tirelessly to improve the world we live in. Supporting young people to feel better and acquire skills to create change in their communities, has formed a central focus for me which later turned into InspirEngage International. On this day, I think about the many young people we have met and trained in our InspirEngage Bootcamps across the world, who wanted to give back even when they had nothing, the young people who gave of their time and energy even when they were told they were crazy dreamers and the young people who showed kindness without agenda when adults couldn’t set the good example. You are the hope for our better world.

Here is an absolutely fascinating and inspiring short video sharing the stories of 3 young change makers, Eden Full, Zach Ingrasci and Amit Dodani on why they became such pioneers of social action. Video by our friends at Youth Venture and Ashoka.

Story of 3 young change makers.

 

All enquiries: info@inspirEngage.com Tweet: InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

 

 

As the social enterprise world grows, a lot of conversations are taking place on what really makes them unique and what is it that defines them. I touched on this recently at the Social Enterprise Festival- see this > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3GVlWN-nj4

A new business contact of mine, Peter, sent me the following article from Stanford Social Innovation Review which I find extremely thought-provoking and insightful (although I must say, I don’t necessarily share the perspective fully, yet the article is poignant).

Doing Less, Better

Call me a natural skeptic. As the social enterprise movement has gained momentum over the past decade, launching new conferences and awards, I have found myself continually puzzling over what makes the enterprise approach different from traditional charities and nonprofits.

The typical definition of a social enterprise—an organization that combines revenue-generation with a social mission—fails to line up with the reality of how we use the term. Many organizations carrying that label lack any form of customer or client revenue.

At one end of the spectrum are businesses that use some portion of profits for charitable work, such as TOMS Shoes and Newman’s Own Foundation, which could just as easily be called corporate philanthropy. At the other end are mostly donation-funded organizations. For example, Shining Hope for Communities is a great organization working with girls in Nairobi’s undeveloped areas, but its business model is not so different from traditional charities.

In between, there are organizations such as Sanergy, a sanitation company also in Nairobi, that has leveraged grant funding and innovation prizes to subsidize the development of a revenue-generating model for urban toilet franchises. Adding to the diversity, there are also product companies focused on creating ethical value-chains, such as Divine Chocolate.

It’s clear that, despite the alleged importance of revenue-generation, the social enterprise movement contains a variety of financing models. And while definitions of social enterprise have used the broader, vaguer criteria of applying “commercial strategies” to social issues, this translation of management practices across sectors is an old practice.

Meanwhile, there is something new about the fervor attached to social enterprises. Something about them attracts attention and excitement in a way that other nonprofits, charities, and NGOs fail to do.

Focus, Focus, Focus

My conversations with professionals at various organizations have suggested a subtler and largely unrecognized difference: Today’s social enterprises have a relatively narrow focus.

Large NGOs work on multiple issues in dozens of countries. Plan International’s website, for example, shows that it works on eight broad issue areas—including education, emergencies, and child protection—and in about 50 countries. A former employer of mine, Mercy Corps, lists 12 similarly big issues and about 45 countries.

Balancing priorities across broad missions and locations leads to serious management challenges. How do you trade off between investing organizational resources in education or health projects, when they lack common metrics? Setting strategic direction becomes about competing values for the issues that matter most to the organization, which can turn analytical discussions into political ones. Too often, organizations resolve such questions based on the interests of donors, whether those are foundations, government agencies, or public appeals.

At the same time, new ideas struggle in large organizations. They frequently get caught in “innovation units”—silos that often lack the organizational footholds needed to influence broader practice. In this way, the innovation challenge facing large NGOs is not so different from the one facing corporate giants like GE or IBM.In contrast, most social enterprises do essentially one thing. Kiva, for example, connects lenders with borrowers via its field partners. Digital Divide Data provides business outsourcing that creates backend jobs for disadvantaged youth, military spouses, and veterans. These clear, straightforward missions guide strategic choices and management.

Another well-known example is One Acre Fund, which serves small-scale farmers in East Africa and views every decision through that lens. The primary service line is asset-based financing paired with agricultural training and market facilitation. Significant management attention goes to improving that service line. When the organization experiments with supplementary services like microinsurance or solar lamps, it evaluates each one based on whether it makes the farmer more prosperous. If not, then One Acre Fund cuts that service.

In short, for social enterprises, focus can be a competitive advantage when it comes to impact. Focus helps leadership drive better methods and operations. It creates incentives to innovate within a targeted scope. And when the business model requires external support, a focused goal leads to clearer appeals and more excitement from fans.

Keeping Perspective

Of course, a focus that’s too narrow also has drawbacks. For example, the buy-one-give-one models of TOMS and others have been rightly criticized for displacing local production, and ultimately making a greater impact on the company’s own marketing than on poverty. A narrow focus must be justified within a broader view. And we must keep in mind that larger, multi-sector organizations have a critical advantage in addressing complex problems at scale.

Ultimately, the social sector needs a combination of focus and diffusion to drive progress. Social enterprises play a special role by focusing energy and effort on a single problem. That role distinguishes them from other organizations far more than how they finance themselves. They can pioneer innovations that larger organizations absorb and scale, or they can grow into larger organizations themselves, bringing their improved management methods with them. They should just make sure they maintain focus along the way.

Original source here.

 

Commonwealth Secretariat

Climate change – one of the greatest threats facing our world. We’re not talking a slightly warmer Summer, we are talking a substantial shortage of resources, natural disasters triggered by causes of climate change and a threat to vulnerable species. This is an issue that’s been at the heart of

InspirEngage with the Young Experts

InspirEngage’s work which began in 2007 when Melody was invited to be trained by Al Gore on ‘The Inconvenient Truth’ which she adapted to suit young people. InspirEngage has since delivered programmes across the world training young people to develop the skills and projects to create change in their communities (we’ve even seen young people turn their projects with us into their current career), including working with British Council HQ on managing their climate youth programmes at the UN and COP talks.

On 10 June 2015, Melody Hossaini and the InspirEngage team were invited to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, to present to young experts from across the Commonwealth nations. The topic: ‘How Social Enterprise Can Help Solve Climate Change’.

The evidence provided by Melody along with other expert speakers, was used to shape a recommendation by the young experts to be presented to COP UN talk in Paris 2015 and can be read here.

Watch a snapshot of Melody’s presentation at Commonwealth Secretariat:

 

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

A few days ago, I posted the following video on my youtube channel, making my special announcement:

 

As said in the video, after working and helping communities across 100 countries and having spoken in over 50 countries, it’s always been a dream of mine to work with people in my own country. As you know, I was born in Tehran, but have never been back for business purposes. This August, I will be a keynote speaker at the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum being held in Teheran on 20th August 2015. I will be sharing my story and also outlining the importance of social enterprise in the new business world being created to over 500 participants. This will be followed by an InspirEngage Skills Bootcamp. Information on speaker profiles (and a very rare pic of me in Hijab) + conference info here > http://tehran2015.jwef.ir

Importantly, it will also be the first ever speech or training I have given in my own mother tongue! (my mum says I better get practising!)

Make sure to subscribe to the my youtube channel as there will be a video of the conference going up there (with behind the scenes!). As well as this, I have gathered some leading Iranian social media talents for a little hashtag campaign sharing my journey via #AroundTehranWithMelody (if you’re a social media influencer in Tehran, drop us an email to get involved info@inspirEngage.com).

For now I want to say thank you to everyone for your support and kindness, as always!

Kheyli mamnoun- ghadresho midounam, va dar Iran mibinametoun!

Melody

 

I witnessed a lovely Random Act of Kindness in my community. When I told the person that what they’re doing is a lovely thing, they told me that people probably wouldn’t care. I wanted to prove that wrong……

Ed and his lovely dog Daisy

Meet Ed and Daisy. In the past week, I have noticed Ed walking his dog around my area and whilst walking around, he picks up other people’s litter. I talked to him one of the days when I was out walking with Kian (my 10 month old son), and I told him what a wonderful thing he is doing. I asked him if I could take a photo as I wanted to share his random act of kindness with all of you. He laughed and said- people will probably not care! I wanted to prove him wrong. That evening, I posted the following across my twitter, instagram and Facebook social media accounts (with the photo above):

“This is Ed & his dog Daisy. They live in my area. Every night after work, Ed takes Daisy for a walk and whilst going around, he picks up litter in his little plastic bag. And he does this with a smile on his face! Have spoken to him a couple of times and tonight when I approached him and asked if I could take a pic and post about what he does to you guys, he was surprised about why anyone would even care or that is in fact a big deal. Next time I see him on my walks with Kian, I’ll let him know what you guys have said! People like Ed make an area, a community. Show them love! ‪#‎community‬ ‪#‎kindness‬ ‪#‎randomactofkindness‬

Sure enough- the love rolled in! Comments like:

All your comments + my note to Ed

Peggie Allison: It’s all the small things that really matter in life.

Jay Miah Bless him! We need more people like him in the world! keep it up ed! Ur awesome

Farzana Nazir-Mohammed Melody this is amazing and good for you for highlighting such great acts of kindness . People like Ed deserve to be popular on social media because they actually set a great example for others to follow. Best wishes to Ed and Daisy and may nothing but good be returned to them. XOXO.!

In 24 hours, my posts had been viewed by some 11,000 people with 3 pages worth of lovely comments! I collated it all, printed it and put a little note on it. The next day, I gave Ed this. He was absolutely shocked as he looked through your beautiful remarks about his act of kindness. He’s a very manly man! He said he doesn’t know how to react to compliments, as he almost welled up!

With Ed & Daisy after giving him the print-out (in Ed's hand!)

There are so many people in our communities who do their little bit to make our world better. We need to create a society that recognises this and makes those people feel appreciated. Kindness is infectious – it gives people energy. Thank you to those who contributed in making Ed feel appreciated. Next time you see kindness, make that person feel good about themselves. It will undoubtedly make them want to do more. The little things matter.

Love,

Melody x