Let me start off by writing that I don’t even know if I can adequately express just how EPIC (in caps) last weekend in London, was for me.
Uplifting, moving, inspiring, laugh out loud funny and most importantly, life-enhancingly fun (isn’t that the best kind of fun?), there’s NOTHING, nothing that quite compares to being around women, seriously gifted, open, kind-hearted women who simply ‘get’ one another and who actively support, collaborate and celebrate each other.
I found a pin the other day which read, ‘Team work makes the dream work’ and it couldn’t have popped up at a more poignant time for me, because while I’ve always worked in a team as a director, I am collaborating as a blogger, more than ever.
…And, as Ellie Goulding would sing-it’s all about my army: ‘When I’m with you
I’m standing with an army’.
I feel incredibly lucky to have so many true friends and colleagues in my life: we are each other’s army.
…So back to my 24 hours in London…I arrived at KX station at 7pm on Saturday night, frustratingly in possession of a broken phone (a blogger unable to call, tweet, text or dm is an unhappy blogger indeed)…which lead to me actually using a payphone for the first time since the 90s (I know right, how retro-cool) before literally running (in heels-and ones I designed myself too #showoff) to meet one of my closest gal pals, Casting Director Extraordinaire Nicci Topping.
Nicci is the most loving, smart, creative, hilariously witty lass I know. And she really is a lass too being a fellow Yorkshire girl #2yorkiestogethermeanstrouble.
Nicci is killing it in the film industry, casting feature films all over the world and putting her stamp on must-see movies. My heart bursts with pride for my girl.
Fighting the rain (heels, umbrella, frizz concerns) we made our way to The Library Members’ Club of which Nicci is a member- past Moroccan tiles and into a basement restaurant (which is open to the public) finding ourselves fittingly transported into a literary-meets-culinary world.
Menus come nestled deep within books-I was handed Adele Parks’s ‘Spare Brides’-( I love Adele and interviewed her HERE)- and while this desk-cum-dining room vibe is definitely quirky, it works and make dinner the occasion it deserves to be… With low lighting, blue walls and super-cool music from 70’s tracks to current hits, The Library makes for a truly unique yet tranquil setting.
I now need to read ‘By the Seat of My Pants’!
How beautiful is the cover for this print of Pride & Prejudice?
And here with Adele’s ‘Spare Brides’!
Food-wise The Library hits all the right notes with its Parisian brasserie meets Michelin-star style food I’ve frankly not experienced as good, this side of the Channel.
Nicci and I literally ooohed and aarghed our way through teeny tiny poussin, so delicately crisp on the outside, tender within, enjoyed with side dishes of tangy greens and thin sweet potato fries (just as they should be). We would have liked slightly bigger portions of poussin but the mother of all desserts: sticky toffee pudding more than made up for it and was the tastiest of my life.
The meal made made for the most decadently delicious supper I’ve had this year. Truthfully.
Sunday saw we sleepyheads gobble up a full (fat) Full English before making our way to see our mutual friend, the wonderful Michelle Collins’ and attend her ‘Women in the Media’ event co-founded with comedy writer and performer Brenda Gilhooly.
A monthly meet-up, I’ve only been able to make the first one before now, launching in September (which you can read about HERE) but I’m determined attend as many as I can from now on- because there’s nothing quite like it out there for women in the arts. Intimate, welcoming and vital, it’s a way for creatives to connect and build relationships.
Women are statistically known to veer away from networking and this event is a vital way for ladies from all sectors of the industry to meet, connect, make friends and thrive together.
Meeting up with another great friend, the actress Harriet Thorpe is always a JOY and together we sipped coffee and scoffed croissants before Baroness Margaret McDonagh gave a keynote speech on her career followed by her PROFOUND and INSPIRING 6 tips to success.
Harriet Thorpe, me, Margaret McDonagh and Charlotte Johnson.
To offer some background (thanks to Wikipedia) Margaret Josephine McDonagh/ Baroness McDonagh is a British Labour Party politician and was General Secretary of the Labour Party from 1998 to 2001. She now works as a management consultant.
McDonagh was part of the New Labour leadership inner-circle for the 1997 general election campaign and was one of the inner-core deciding the official party position on specific issues.
In 1998, McDonagh became Labour’s first female general secretary, after serving as deputy general secretary the previous year.
After stepping down from the position of General Secretary following the 2001 general election, McDonagh took a short Harvard University business course and became General Manager of Express Newspapers. She has been a non-executive director of Standard Life, TBI plc and CareCapital Group plc. She is Chair of the Standard Life Charitable Trust.
Here are her 6 keys to success (paraphrased by me as I scribbled down notes during the speech):
In order to have a successful life and career you need purpose. In politics they call it a cause. It is a purpose which keeps you going.
No one has a perfect life or career it is how you deal with those aspects day to day. Resilience is key.
We often tell ourselves, ‘When I’m confident I’ll do x and y’ yet it’s doing the things you want to, that makes you confident. We are more risk averse with girls and it’s a real issue. Boys from a young age are encouraged to take risks and have adventures.
The brain is plastic, when you worry a lot, you get good at it.
Women aren’t good at networking and it’s crucial to push yourself to do this. To work on team building. It’s teams which achieve- never on your own. Sport stars still always thank the team which helped them be successful.
5. FINDING SPONSORS
Women are less likely to have sponsors. Sponsorship is when someone in your organisation helps and supports you, someone that offers you a chance to deliver. Many men only sponsor their younger selves so can be scared to sponsor women. We need sponsors to help give opportunities.
Find the gatekeeper and forge a relationship. You cannot just get on by yourself.
We wait to be picked and are not used to articulating what we want. That must change.
Successful people know the one thing they are good at and that gives them confidence. You need to stick in people’s memories for those things.
She ended by saying she doesn’t care what people think of her and it feels so wonderful not to be concerned with that.
What a woman and what an incredibly inspiring set of rules for success. I left re-energised and excited for the future.
Thank you to Michelle, Brenda and of course Margaret.