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.

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:


 

 

 

Following my post yesterday, I wanted to do this video in response to some of the comments about whether we should share our random acts of kindness. I gave this a lot of thought and here’s the conclusion I came to!

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

Christmas is a magical time- especially, since having grown up in Sweden, we have lots of Christmas traditions but this year it was made more special with Kian being here! It’s his very first Christmas.

Dressed in his ‘My First Christmas’ outfit which my sister got him, he took his place by the tree to watch us all opening presents! There were a lot of presents but he sat quietly and patiently for 2 hours taking it all in! The first present of the day, we opened was his gift from my husband and I. I thought a lot about what we wanted to get for him for his first present. Perhaps new clothes (he grows out of them so quickly!), perhaps a toy (as he loves flashing lights and movement)… but nothing felt just right.

I am aware that Kian is a very fortunate and lucky boy. Not just for the material possessions available to him, but more importantly because he is so loved within a safe family unit. Sadly, not every child is that fortunate. For this reason, as his first gift from us, we made a donation in Kian’s name to a children’s charity (NSPCC) working to help vulnerable and innocent children. His first gift is the gift of giving.

As parents, the greatest thing we can give our children, aren’t material things- but teaching them values- the importance of being thankful, of giving, of caring about the world we live in. In order for this to become inherent within him, we have to truly live it. From my own childhood, I have very little memories of me receiving material things, but my most beautiful and vivid memories are of sitting around the dinner table with my family and my mum telling funny stories and us laughing. Those are values.

Our Christmas was also made special by my sister visiting from Dubai. I miss her dearly since she moved there just under a year ago. The beautiful thing with a new addition to the family in Kian is that it changes the dynamic of family and brings you all even closer. A sister becomes an aunt and a little brother becomes an uncle.

Hope that you’ve all had a beautiful time with your loved ones. Thank you so much for your continued support. Sending you my warmest wishes in the run up to the final days of 2014.

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini

 

Read recent blog:

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

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

What was your first job? The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a brand new campaign sharing #FirstJob stories, in the hope to inspire young people seeking their first job. I’m pleased to be supporting it, and this is my first job story video.

Melody’s #FirstJob Story: 

Also see ‘Top 10 Tips for finding your #FirstJob’: http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2013/11/how-to-have-the-perfect-job-interview-my-top-tips/

 

Join the conversation with hashtag #FirstJob and tweet us @Melody_Hossaini / @DWPgovuk

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Video made by MFT Media.

 

As we watch the heartbreaking events between Palestine and Israel unfold further, we are left dumbstruck at how long this has been going on and wondering how many more lives have to be lost before something comes to a head.

A lot of you have been writing to me asking me to comment on this- but there’s really nothing new. It’s a tragic ongoing feud between 2 countries who are not in a position to be equal in fighting eachother. The first thing to say though is that any life lost is a tragedy and all life is valuable- whether Palestinian Muslims or Israeli Jews. This isn’t a matter of religion but humanity.

The purpose of this blog isn’t to go into the complex layers of Politics and history of this conflict. A few years ago, I got the opportunity to meet with Tony Blair in his office, the then Prime Minister. One of the questions we asked him was about Palestine and what Britain intends to do- to which he responded that it was most certainly a concern and something which the world should be involved in solving (he clearly had no ready answers or solutions).

However, a while later, I got the privilege of a greater insight into this issue. Whilst working on a project with young people, we hosted a visit from a group of children (aged around 14-16) who lived on the Gaza strip itself. They spoke openly about their lives. One young boy spoke with a smile on his face about how he had a passion for running- in future he wished to become an athlete. He told us that due to the occupation and guards, he had very little space to physically run in, so he used to run in a big circle or along the wall and back (he had a photo of this). Imagine not having space to physically run.

Another child told us about his daily routine in going to school. His school was situated across the guarded area which meant that every day he had to be strip-searched before he could pass to go to school. He also hadn’t seen his grandmother for a while due to her living on the other side of the occupation.

What struck me as I was listening to their experiences, was how matter of fact they were- as if that’s how everyone’s life is. They were positive-spirited and spoke of their hopes for the future. They were happy children despite living in extremely tragic circumstances. It became clear that they had accepted this life and simply got on with it (perhaps because they naively weren’t sure what they were missing compared to other children).

Their strength was humbling and extremely inspirational. They never once spoke badly of Israelis- never once bad mouthed anyone, didn’t even show anger. These children are innocent.They’ve shown a level of maturity beyond what the adults in the conflict are showing. They deserve to be taken care of, to have a better life.

Incidentally, a couple of months after meeting the children from Palestine, we hosted a visit from adult teachers from Israel. The purpose of the visit was to discuss education, however, during lunch when I was speaking to a few of the teachers, they moved onto the subject of the conflict and spoke with a sense of defence about being victims too and how many of their lives had been lost too.This is, true to a degree, but what interested me was the difference in thinking between the Gaza strip children and these privileged Israeli teachers.

It’s a complex issue- that’s for sure. There are no easy answers. But everytime I hear of the ongoing conflicts, I think back to the children I met and wonder how they are, and what they’re thinking, now as they’re getting older. There’s a lesson to be learned from their way of thinking.

In the meantime, I pray for all of the innocent people who are, sadly, paying the price. As always, feel free to tweet me your thoughts on @Melody_Hossaini.

 

Getting ready to pop! Baby Moon Photo shoot

The Baby Moon! The pregnancy is zooming by! I’m now just entering my 29th week- 7 months! Last week the hubby and I went on Baby Moon to spend some quality time together before the baby comes! Our last trip as a two-some. We went to the sunny Antalya and had a very relaxing week- would definitely recommend a Baby Moon to anyone pregnant if you have the opportunity to go.

The Pregnancy Photo Shoot! Had been considering for a while, whether to do a maternity photo shoot or not as wasn’t sure I wanted a studio forced photo shoot, but while we were on holiday, our resort had photographers available and so we decided what better backdrop than the ocean (it also helped with making wearing a bikini top in the photos much more natural as you have to show the belly!).

I had come up with the ideas of how I wanted the shoot and had a clear brief for the photographer. Would strongly recommend this as maternity shoots really vary and it’s important to do it in a way you’re comfortable with. I decided to opt for the blue bikini top and matching blue nails (as having a baby boy!) and a loose flowy skirt from H&M (which I ran to the shops and bought the day of the shoot!). I had seen people wear the flower band in the hair but didn’t have one myself, but on my run to the shops there was a Turkish man selling them to picked one up for £2 and was really happy with it. I also bought the ribbon from the photo on to the right from a market and opted for this polka dot one which I think added a nice touch to the belly shot!

If you aren’t comfortable with the exposed look, you can also go to the fabric market and buy some flowy organza or something similar and use as a drape- works especially well against wind blowing, ceating a goddess look.

The 3rd Trimester Symptoms and Business! Can definitely feel the 3rd trimester symptoms of lower back pains and swollen feet- the size of my feet on the plane ride over to Antalya were surreal! I’m still very busy at work at InspirEngage International delivering our skills Bootcamps as well as doing quite a few professional speaking gigs. I find the energy and it’s all fine- but the problem is what to wear that is professional and comfortable at the same time! I’m thankful that at least it’s the season for flip-flops and sandals!

Poolside at the baby moon!

Here are some of our fave shots…

This week, I was honoured to be invited to Malaysia to speak at TEDx – but not just any TEDx but TEDx Women. All across the world, on the same day, leading inspirational women come together to present ideas worth sharing.

It was my third time on business in Malaysia, having only just returned from there last month after speaking at the 4th GES (Global Entrepreneurship Summit).

Above anything else, I enjoy working in the East Asian countries due to its warm and inviting culture. In the first couple of years of establishing InspirEngage International, we delivered a lot of Bootcamps across the region including Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia- each time working with young people from across all the countries in the region for 1 week at a time. Despite this familiarity with the culture, it still doesn’t fail to move and astound me. It’s the little things- such as, when networking, they present a business card with both hands as a sign of respect- when they thank someone they gather themselves almost and lightly bow, when you need something, they go above and beyond and even run as opposed to walk.

But above all, there’s a certain spirit in the culture that is much more difficult to describe- but can be felt and seen in the way they support eachother, in the way the women display a type of sisterhood and in business, how they very naturally collaborate. This is also seen in their ability to seamlessly integrate the various religions and backgrounds (mainly Chinese and Indian into the Malay).

All of this contributes to the essence and eco-system of social enterprise. However, interestingly, the UK is some 4 years ahead in developments in the social enterprise sector.

My TEDx talk was titled: ‘Social Enterprise Revolution and Why the Future is Female’. I gave a considerable amount of time (including waking up at early hours of the morning to make final amendments) to think about my message and points I wanted to cover- afterall, I only had a very strict 18 minutes!

I decided to focus on; the real meaning of social enterprise, the ‘new world’ indicators in force, why a large proportion of women find a natural fit in social enterprise business models and what we need to do in order to go forward.

Here are 3 x 15second videos providing a sneaky peak (Copy and paste links into web browser- the full video will be appearing on the official TEDx Youtube channel soon):

http://instagram.com/p/hpj9Ygyyc8/
instagram.com/p/hjMguJSycL/
http://instagram.com/p/hjAWLBSybB/

I was so touched by the response from the young people about why social enterprise is important for the economy and communities. A young lady called Sylvia, shared this:

http://instagram.com/p/hpm5U8yyRB/

Speaking at TEDx was truly an incredible experience- made even more so by being surrounded by the warm culture. In the knowledge that, although social enterprise has a long way to go yet in Malaysia (Social enterprise is not recognised as a business model as such at present), I feel that the hardest battle we fight is well and truly there in the kindness and eco-system of the culture- which makes me think that there are a large number of social entrepreneurs and enterprises who simply don’t know that’s what they are as yet!

As I’m writing this, I am sitting on the airplane flying out of Kuala Lumpur- and reflecting on this short but valuable journey. What I’ve realised is that Social Enterprise isn’t a job- it isn’t a cold entity. Social enterprise isn’t even a lifestyle as such (like many describe). It’s a culture.

You can’t be a true social entrepreneur, if the only time you’re giving is during the rigid definition of investment of profit. To be a true entrepreneur, you have to be a lover of people, take an interest in why things are the way they are and above all extend the sense of kindness to other aspects of your life. It isn’t something you switch on and off- unlike, perhaps, other jobs.

For now- I want to thank the incredible people who worked so hard to make TEDx KL Women happen (Kakiseni, Women:Girls and colleagues)- and a final mention to the incredibly inspirational women I was honoured to share a stage with last night. Let’s keep flying the flag ladies- the future is female!

Tweet @Melody_Hossaini / @inspirEngage

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

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

Melody and Don at GES, Malaysia

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

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

Watch the full video of me interviewing Don Tapscott below:

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

The 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was held in Kuala Lumpur on 11th and 12th October 2013 bringing together the world’s leading speakers on entrepreneurship. I was honoured to be there speaking on the 2 days, firstly on developments in youth entrepreneurship and secondly on social enterprise. Here’s my overview blog on outcomes and emerging trends.

Barack Obama at 4th GES

4 years ago, President Barack Obama announced he wanted to hold annual summits with the aim of empowering and connecting entrepreneurs, whilst also developing USA’s relationship with Muslim countries around the world. The annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) was born and 4 summits on, I was honoured to be invited to attend as a speaker, here in Malaysia.

Upon arriving, I got to appreciate the true scale of it! Over 4,700 delegates from across the world, including entrepreneurs, Government officials and organisations flocked to the 2-day event. Barack Obama was due to be opening the ceremony, however a few days before the event, was forced to send his apologies due to the US currently being under lock-down.  Instead, a video message was played. See a short clip here > ‪http://instagram.com/p/fUDYCsSyRw/

Senator John Kerry GES

In his place, Senator John Kerry took to the stage. I had never personally heard him speak previously, and was impressed with his very natural and easy delivery, as well as use of humour (with communications trainer hat on!).  His opening line was amusing; “If only people in Washington were as collaborative as people in this room, we’d all do better!”

Senator Kerry’s points were centred very much on highlighting the need to support the younger generation into business.  “Great seeing so many young people here- your energy- it’s really all in your hands” He went on; “No one is better to talk about innovation than young people. Every step towards progress has always started with young people”.  This is music to my ears as someone who’s spent many years in the youth sector, advocating for young people as champions of positive change.

Senator Kerry also shared a few announcements:

  • Obama’s focus on entrepreneurship will be on young people and ensuring they have access to networks and relevant training as well as mentors. They’ll facilitate a greatest link between the private and the public sector.
  • Obama is going to launch a new research network with World Bank and others, supporting entrepreneurs
  • They’ll be connecting innovators with relevant capital
  • This is the bit I was waiting for, John Kerry stated; “Obama understand that business is so much more than just profit- it’s about making people’s lives better” He continued in his announcement; “We’ll be collaborating with social entrepreneurs to provide joint space for them to work on to tackle leading issues”.

That afternoon, I was a speaker in a panel session entitled ‘Are we there yet’ – referring to the journey of development for young entrepreneurs. My focus was on social enterprise and it was my pleasure to share the incredible advancement in social enterprise being led by young people and women- as well as the relevance of the education sector in supporting the shift occurring. I spoke of and was asked questions about InspirEngage International’s latest programme Social Enterprise Revolution and how we’re embedding this into the curriculum of educational establishments, allowing for students to develop skills as well as make a few quid by improving their communities- as part of their education.

An interesting question posed was how a social entrepreneur can balance commitment to a social cause with the need to run a viable business. With the development of social enterprise- the two are becoming seamlessly linked. The other speakers, included young entrepreneurs in the App-industry as well as Ms Jolene, a 23 year-old articulate young Malaysian spoke about her business in delivering financial education for young people.

One of my highlight speakers was Prof. W Chan Kim, Co-Author of Blue Ocean Strategy- speaking about Blue Ocean Entrepreneurs who align 3 key propositions: value, profit & people. The ‘blue ocean’ refers to the untapped market and the move away from the ‘red ocean’ of competitive approach that only aim services for current consumers. All about changing the way in which entrepreneurs choose their market, in light of the more collaborative world we live in. Very thought-provoking so no wonder Prof. Kim was named one of Forbes most influential thinkers. Another highlight as speaker was owner of Air Asia (and the Asian equivalent of Lord Sugar!) Tony Fernandes.

On the second day, I was a speaker on a panel called ‘Social Entrepreneurs’ – this is really where my passion lies and where I believe the future of business is headed. The panelists, including Mr John Gage- Director of Sun Microsystems and Human Needs Project, spoke passionately making a case for business with a good cause! The audience, unsurprisingly, was made up of mostly young people! St the end, I felt it only right to share the InspirEngage Social Enterprise Anthem! Video: http://instagram.com/p/faXF0eyyeh/

At lunchtime, speakers were invited to a VIP luncheon where Don Tapscott was a speaker. Don Tapscott – CEO of the Tapscott Group. co-author of Wikinomics and co-author of Microwikinomics. One of the world’s leading authorities on innovation, media and the economic and social impact of technology.

Just been announced as Forbe’s most influential business speaker on social media. Shared interesting insight- my highlight being reasons highlighted about how small businesses can now compete and be as powerful as large corporations. In an afternoon meeting with Don, I interviewed him which will be released as a youtube video on my channel: MelodyHChannel.

Over the 2 days, we attended several workshops, including a session on ‘How I made my first million’ which highlighted the importance of responding and adapting to change as well as developing a strong vision and positive attitude.

The recurring theme across most conversations was that there is a strong change in dynamic occurring which truly affects how we do business- the old models simply do not work- the world is more collaborative, social media driven and shifting towards socially responsible business, with young people as priority.

On a personal note, being back in the region (have delivered InspirEngage programmes across East Asia previously) reminded me of how much I enjoy working with such a collaborative, respectful and innovative culture. NEXT GES -It was announced during the closing ceremony that the next GES 2014, is due to be held in Morocco. Until then!

Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini / @InspirEngage

 

Startup and Stilettos, InspirEngage International, Melody Hossaini

The Future is Female- why? The current trends of our time favours women’s more networked minds & sharper emotional intelligence. Things are about to change, and we’re delivering tailored women-only Bootcamps to support women to make the most of this shifting landscape.

On Friday 12 April, InspirEngage International will be launching our latest initiative Startup and Stilettos, with Hillcroft College. We’re delivering a range of tailored Bootcamps helping women to set up their own social enterprises.

Our mission is to prove why the Future is Female. The current trends of our time all point in favour of women. Neuropsychologist Dr Anne Moir found that women and men are different in terms of their cognitive abilities, pointing out that women have better developed verbal processing faculties on “both sides of their brain” so “they can hear two sounds at once”.  This was later endorsed by networking expert Indra Adnan, who said that women are “natural at networking” and better at “soft power” tactics.

She continued; “If it doesn’t belong to them, we won’t have a future!- Business success could rocket if you took more women out of middle management and into boardrooms”. Women have a more acute moral awareness resulting in greater sensitivity to the impact of the decisions they make.

According to research by Dove, the lack of self-esteem among 11-17 year old girls prevents them from realising their full potential, with huge consequences for their personal and professional future.

They found that lowered self-esteem among today’s girls and young women could, by 2050, be costing the nation:
14% of our female managers in UK businesses
16% of our British female Olympic medalists
21% of our female MPs
17% of female doctors & lawyers

Meanwhile the social enterprise sector is leading the way! Women in social enterprise leadership teams are challenging the glass ceiling, with 86% of leadership teams boasting at least one female director. 26% of social enterprises are ‘women-led’, which is almost twice as many as compared to small businesses.

The LAUNCH on 12 April will mark the beginning of this movement! We’ve got wonderful speakers attending including Minister Ed Davey,Joanna Hill from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, Rabia Bhatti- UK’s youngest female councillor and Emma Jones, co-founder of Startup Britain!

I very much look forward to delivering the Startup and Stilettos residential Bootcamp course for the women, which follows straight on from the launch. The Future is Female- and it starts right here.

Be there! 12 April, 11am at Hillcroft College, Southbank, Surbiton, KT6 6DF.
For all press enquiries- please email: info@inspirEngage.com