Friday, 27 February 2015

Coffee Date Interview 4 - Alison

Name: Alison Weir

Job Title: Senior Policy Manager

1. Did you have a career plan or just meandered your way into your present job?
Definitely meandered - I started on a 6-month temporary contract and have clocked up more than 20 years!

2. Anything is possible,what would you want to do?
Good question! I'm not sure I've ever figured that one out (see the answer above!) Cornwall has its attractions!

3. What’s you top tip for staying on top of things and getting stuff done?
Focus and organisation - keep the main priorities in mind and try not to get distracted by other tasks or what's happening around you. But bear in mind that the priorities might change, so don't get too blinkered either.

4. What’s the last thing you do at work before leaving?
Stop for a quick chat with colleagues I haven't seen during the day.

5. Do you have a mid afternoon power snack?
And mid-morning!

6. When is your most productive time of the day?
Definitely morning - after that first half-hour until thoughts turn to lunch!

7. What song will guarantee to make you feel better?
It varies, but Pass it on by The Coral is a good one (or Brimful of Asha by Cornershop or Boys Don't Cry by The Cure or A New England by Billy Bragg (slightly, strange, but I like singing along!)

8. What was the worst job you ever had and what did it teach you?
A summer job in a cake factory. I was horribly shy and found my colleagues rather scary (to be fair, some were!) The lesson was that I'd need to learn to engage with all sorts of people throughout my working life - I think I've made progress!

9. Marmite- yes or no?

10. Mary Berry or Delia Smith?
Mary Berry - she seems to have much more fun than Delia!

11. Bond or Bourne?
Depends which Bond...........

12. Early Bird or Night Owl?
Early Bird, unless I have a night out planned.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 5 - Let down

Can’t believe Darren isn’t going to make it home on until Friday, I was really relying on him. Just going to have to knuckle down and get this distribution schedule finished. We were supposed to be watching Marcus receive his football award tonight, which means it’s going to be late before I can finish the work at home.

I’m feeling shattered and I’ve got a cold coming, not having much luck with the client calls, I would get Louise to help but I would hate her to know I can’t manage, although I do think this falls under her remit. 

Now I have just heard the “Team” are all going out to the comedy club next Wednesday…. Clive patronisingly said I was welcome to come but knew I would find it difficult to get childcare. Just as well really because I’m definitely having a sense of humour failure at the moment.


Feel I’ve over committed myself, not that I had much choice.

It was a bit of a push but I did enjoy that family time for Marcus.

Is my social life ruled by my children?


Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Mental well-being -Its OK to talk

Saw this article in our local press (Swindon Advertiser 26/2/15) and  some interesting facts and figures about attitudes to mental health in the workplace have emerged.
According to research by YouGov and the Institute of Directors, one third of employees surveyed reported stress and anxiety make it difficult to get their work done, yet fewer than 1 in 10 businesses (7%) have discussed emotional well-being or mental health with their employees in the last year.

Simon Walker, director general of IoD says "There may come a time when people are as comfortable talking about their mental health as they are talking about going to the dentist, but we're not there yet".

We know it can be difficult to raise the subject of mental health at work in a positive way, but maybe  just trying to talk openly is what we need to do to remove the stigma from a very common human experience.

Question- Would you be comfortable to talk to some one close to you or at work about mental health?

Midweek Motivation - 25th February 2015

Friday, 20 February 2015

Coffee Date Interview 3 - Jackie

Name: Jackie

1. What’s the best advice given to you ?
At my age, I’ve had lots, and all relating to different periods and events in my life and all of which I have appreciated. However one of the ones that sticks most in my mind is To Always Be True To Yourself.

2. What one thing would you change about your job or place of work?
Ultimately it would be that the company that sells doughnuts came in to sell their doughnuts more than once every fortnight…………… However that’s more from a yummy scrummy personal perspective and it would be no good for my waistline if that did happen!

I’m quite fortunate in that overall I enjoy the work that I do, the people that I work with and the location of where I work. However, I do get a bit frustrated sometimes that other areas within the business don’t fully appreciate and understand the work my team does when it comes to project deliverables and that we are expected to “fit-in” with timelines set by others without actually having too much initial input into setting the timelines.

3. What made you laugh this week?
I have just taken up machine sewing classes (well I bought my daughter a sewing machine for her birthday last August so I thought it would be good if I knew how to use it so I could show her rather than it just gathering dust behind the chair!!) and during the last 2 weeks we have been making bunting. Now, as Lisa (from Work Smart Work Savvy) know's I am not the most domesticated person so it’s been a bit of a “challenge” to say the least. Last week, we were shown how to cut-out the triangles (which I had to finish at home as I was a bit behind during class time – oops!). This week we had to put our bunting together and had to sew the triangles (you needed to use your imagination when you saw mine to even view them as triangles as my eye to scissors co-ordination is abysmal and there was no consistency in the shapes!) onto the bias-binding (I think that’s what it’s called). I then had to use my eye to sewing machine and material co-ordination (which is even more abysmal than my eye to scissors co-ordination!) to sew it all together and when I took it off the sewing machine, I had to laugh when I saw this long string of bunting in my hand. There was no such thing as a straight sewing line, I’d even got one of the triangles doubled over at the top so had sewn that folded over instead of flat and the machine stitching, instead of being hidden was showing on my triangles. So I took it home to my hubby and he loving said that I should be very proud of it and that we could hang it in the spare room (no-one ever goes in there!). It did make us giggle! I’m moving on to cushion covers this week - God help us all!

4. What drives you crazy at work?

5. What’s the first thing you do on arriving at work?
Have a cup of tea and a quick chin-wag with the people I directly work with. This sets me up nicely whilst my PC is booting up, ready for the day ahead.

6. What are the 3 “nevers” in your life?
Oh where do I start, I have loads of these that I constantly strive to achieve but have to hand-on-heart say that I am not very good at fulfilling most of them! Here are 3 from that list. Never dwell/look back (learn and move on), never stop telling and showing my husband and children how much I love them (I am really good at this one!) and never stop believing that “I can do it if I want it” (i.e. believing in myself).

7. What’s the best thing about your job?
The flexibility it gives me to achieve a really good work-life balance.

8. When is your most productive time of the day?
Morning, I become a right lazy bum in the evenings and don’t really want to do anything!

9. Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?
That’s a difficult one as I love the impetuousness, dedication and passion they both have for their jobs. But to give you an answer I’m going to go with Jamie as he has, in my mind, done more to promote and encourage healthy eating amongst children and in schools.

10. Coffee or Tea?
Tea (am having a nice cup of decaf tea as I write this).

11. Del Boy or Rodney?
I relate more to Rodney as I’m a bit like him from a work and life perspective. I’m not very good with coming up the ideas (which is where I see Del Boy) but am happy to go along with the suggestions. I will always offer my opinion/advice though should the situation present itself.

12. Bright colours or neutral tones?
I like more neutral tones as I like the fact that they can give me warmth and comfort if that is what my mood/spirit requires at that time but also they give me the flexibility to “brighten-up” should I be in a brighter, lighter frame of mind.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 4 - What a difference a day makes

I’m still smarting from the meeting with Clive (or ‘Clipboard’ as I call him, he’s always carrying around something he’s trying to tick off). He had a real go at me about having to leave early because Amelia was sick at school. Came out with his usual comments about being ‘flexible’, I can’t just magic up childcare. I expect it was Louise bleating to him about me leaving early. 

Clive and I go back a long way…OMG I’ve just read that back and what I meant to say was we’ve both worked for this company for donkey’s years, in fact Clive reported to me when he first started. 

This is Louise’s first job out of uni, we used to get on really well when she was doing her internship. I was really pleased when she got the job as Business Analyst; it’s just that now she seems to bypass me and takes everything straight to Clipboard Clive. 

I also received an email from Clairmont saying how sorry they were that I was unable to I attend the race meeting but thanking Clipboard Clive for stepping in! That’s the 3rd time he’s “stepped in” and covered me for an event I didn’t know anything about until afterwards. Thought he was being a bit defensive. 

On top of everything he now wants me to call all our existing clients and get them to complete the satisfaction questionnaire. I’m only half way through that distribution schedule he wants in by next week. Darren is going to be home this evening so maybe he can take the kids to school tomorrow so I can get in early to finish it.


Don’t get me started!

I’m really relying on Darren to make it home this time.

No chance this week.

Too busy to give it a thought.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Coffee Date Interview 2 - Andy

Name: Andy Monis 
Job title: Javascript Guru

1. What eats up most of your time at work?
Debugging. Then talking.

2. How do you relax / wind down after a hard day at work?
​Play pool at work or watch 8 out of 10 Cats Does Countdown at home.

3. Best light bulb moment?
​Haven't had it yet.

4.Did you have a career plan or just meandered your way into your present job?
​No plan as such. I have ideas on where I would like to get to but technology moves so quickly it is difficult to plan. Hard work and lots of reading.

5. Do you have a mid afternoon power snack?
No ( just a cup of tea )

6. What’s the biggest compliment you’ve had a work?

7. When is your most productive time of the day?
​10-12 and 3:30-5pm

8. What’s the best advice given to you?
​Before you have kids, if you want to do something, do it. Do it now!

9. Coffee or Tea?

10. Star Wars or Star Trek?
​Star Trek.

11. Bright colours or neutral tones?
​Generally neutral

12. Ketchup or Brown Sauce?

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 3 - Right Down to Business

Received an email from Clairmont saying how pleased they were that the point of sale material for the last display reached all the retail outlets in good time. Will speak to Clive about the next Easter promo, should be able to get all the last quarter’s stats ready for the meeting with Clive tomorrow. 

It’s always so good to get positive feedback from a client; it makes all the difference to me. 

Clive is the new Locality Manager who is all shiny suits and sharp shoes…..ooops I mean sharp suits and shiny shoes. 

Can’t believe as soon as I start this diary I’m having a good day.


Feeling pretty pleased with myself …a good week.


Marcus’ football team won again at the weekend, good to meet up with other footie families sipping hot chocolate on the sideline.


Caught up with Jo which always lifts me.


Feeling OK but the footie hot choc and a ½ pack of bourbon biscuits may have been pushing it!

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 2 - Facts of life

So today is the first day of my new Hannah Fox's Diary

It still feels a bit strange writing this so I thought I'd start off gently  with five facts about me on the first day of my new diary...

Fact 1:
I am married to Darren is a Civil Engineer and who has just been made a partner.

Fact 2:
I have two brilliant children; Marcus is 14yrs old and Amelia is 10yrs old.

Fact 3:
I am 44 years old.

Fact 4:
I’m an Account Manager for MaxiSales a point of sale distribution company. I work 30 hours and week and have been with MaxiSales for 16yrs. Yes I know that’s three facts rolled into one but you can break the rules when it’s your own diary!

Fact 5:
My best friend is Jo who I worked with at Les Vacances when we were both Chalet Maids straight out of uni.

I know I won't manage to write in my diary every day but I promise myself I will write at least once a week.

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Coffee Date Interview 1 - Karen

Name: Karen
Job Title: Self Employed Tour Rep

1. When the going gets tough......?
Depends whether work or personal. I will work however many hours it takes to get the job done (and done well), to the exclusion of everything else, including taking care of my well being, so I can get worn out and stressed very easily

2. What’s the first thing you do on arriving at work?
If working from emails, although I know that's perhaps not best use of time! If away working it varies according to the job.

3. Anything is possible,what would you want to do?
I like my work, so probably wouldn't change it too much. Maybe more research into new places for tours and putting holiday programmes together in France. I enjoy academic learning so would probably quite enjoy doing a degree course or similar. I would like to give away some of the "dross" and maybe spend less time doing unpaid jobs and admin (e.g running clubs) which something (conscious??, hidden agenda?) seems to pull me into....... I'm adaptable and can cope with most things, so I'm usually happy to go along with what everyone else wants, but sometimes that leads to my needs being put aside so I would maybe like to change that. Also life feels very cluttered, needs a spring clean....

4. What’s the best thing about your job?
No routine, peaks and troughs, varied and interesting, constant learning/educating myself e.g about France and its history, chance to travel somewhere I love, being relatively free to do the job how I want to do it, can work by myself but have lots of contact with people.....

5. When is your most productive time of the day?
In the morning

6. What’s the best advice given to you?
No one thing but lots of little tips from managers, mentors and teachers in the past e.g "don't guild the lily", although I don't often follow that one! "You are what people perceive you to be" - helps you understand why you are misunderstood sometimes; the first line of "A road less travelled" - "life is difficult" so you don't expect too much, and probably the best advice from a dear friend "there's no right or wrong path, they will simply be different"

7. Did you have a career plan or just meandered your way into your present job?
No career plan, just followed my interests. Status and career development not important, enjoyment of job, variety and freedom most important and enough money to pay the bills.

8. When you were little, what did you want to be?
Nurse, wife/mother, later a PE teacher. Love of French as a teenager has come through in career.

9. Star Wars or Star Trek?
When younger Star Trek, now Star Wars!

10.Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey?
Definitely Jamie

11. Pudding or Cheese and Biscuits?
Cheese n biscuits

12. Ketchup or Brown Sauce?
Ketchup, but usually neither.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hannah Fox's Diary 1 - It's all about me

Getting started....

Well this feels strange. I’ve never actually kept a diary before so don’t really know how to start it. I guess I should back track a few days so I’ve got a starting point and a reminder to myself why I decided to keep this diary in the first place. OK, it wasn’t strictly my idea but I’ll come to that in a moment.

Last weekend we caught up with some dear family friends who have 3 adorable, children a little younger than my two. Katy and Shaun seem such a team, so together in knowing what they want for their family and careers yet supportive of each others independence as well. They have a beautiful, warm and stylish family home, successful and interesting jobs, Katy bakes the most delicious scones which she serves with her homemade jam from her garden produce, oh and she’s stunning, Shaun is engaging and fun, their children are polite and sociable and....I could go on and on but basically they just seem to have it made. They’re happy and seem to have found the perfect balance between having fulfilling careers and having plenty of quality family fun time.

After our time with Katy and Shaun I got thinking about their lovely perfect life and my not so perfect life.

Yesterday I met with Jo who has been a fabulous friend of mine for years. Over a glass of wine I told Jo all about Katy and Shaun’s perfect life and how I wanted to be more like Katy and really love my job like she does and how I used to. Jo just let me talk (she’s good like that) and even though my story was wandering all over the place, she listened. When I stopped for breath Jo said,

“Hannah, don’t try and live someone else's life. If you want to make some changes to your life then picking up ideas from others can be helpful but you can’t re-create their life for yourself.”

Jo suggested that if I was serious about wanting to make some changes then now was a good time to start.  It was her idea to keep a diary so that I could get some clarity of how I'm feeling and
 have a timeline of events for when we talk again, otherwise I may just end up repeating myself.  She suggests I put down the positives as well and don’t try to write everyday unless I want to, because I don’t need to beat myself up if I miss a few days. 

I have decided that I’m going to use this diary to look at four areas of my life;

1.  Work

2.  Family and home

3.  Social

4.  Wellbeing

Hannah Fox is a character.  She is based on our years of experience working for a national mental health charity supporting people facing stress in the workplace.  
The names and characters are not based on any one person and all similarities are purely incidental.
However, hopefully we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hannah.
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