I’m an optimistic, pragmatic friendly soul from the North of England. Passionate about human behaviour, especially interested in decision making. I’m a self-professed music geek, wannabe gardener and water lover – I live part-time on a boat and part-time by the sea.
I don’t live in a city (that’s very presumptive! Good stuff happens in smaller places too.) I live in a town – a small seaside town on the East coast of England. In town, my favourite spots are the beach, especially walking my dogs on the beach and the surrounding dunes and looking out to sea to appreciate the space in front of me. I am transfixed by the harbour, it’s still a working harbour, full of boats and boat work. I could walk through it every day and not get tired of it. Finally, I have to mention The Lord Nelson pub, a place where I will always feel at home, especially outside of the holiday season where everybody knows everybody. It’s so good, I named one of my dogs after its nickname, The Nelly. I dearly love the view from my house, it’s over a nature reserve which means we have all sorts of wildlife at arm’s length. In the last 18 months this has been particularly important to me, and I really appreciate how lucky we are to have it. One other thing about living in a seaside town, the buzz of holiday-makers over summer – everyone is happy, it rubs off on you. You can’t be grumpy (not that I ever am really) when everyone is relaxed, smiling and eating ice cream. Tourists have now started to return to our town and it feels really nice.
In a town popular with tourists I am sure many of the great things are covered somewhere. I would say probably the back bar in one of the hotels, The Crown. It’s tiny and easy to miss, you have to go round the back of the building or through the hotel to get to it. It feels a bit like being in a snug ship galley in the ’70s and it’s much more interesting than the restaurant in the front, you can easily lose an afternoon in there with good friends on a rainy day.
This is really difficult as there have been so many. One was meeting a chap called Nick Neads on my 21st birthday. I happened to be running the guestlist for a music venue called The Social in Nottingham and he was managing a sponsored tour with Snow Patrol (before they were really famous). We became friends (and still are), shortly after Nick intro’d me to someone at the marketing agency he worked at in London. They promptly hired me. It was a bit of a random lucky break really. That move introduced me to lots of great people and skills – friends for life, the opportunity to work with some of the world’s biggest brands, the chance to travel and work in other countries, the chance to work in music. It’s also where I met my business partner Phil Dearson. Fast forward (an undisclosed number of years!) – the most recent is jumping ship from my relatively sensible job to join Phil in building the N2D Method. It wasn’t a lengthy consideration process, I just knew it was the right adventure to pursue. We had an unexpected chat on the phone and I had already decided by the end of the call.
I keep a 25 year plan, which I change and update every quarter, so I could get pretty precise on this! I’ll generalise. My vision is really just to have the flexibility to live in a few places around the world throughout the year, be able to commit time to causes I am passionate about and to make a positive difference to the communities I live in. Not such wild dreams really! I don’t have a major desire to be rich, but just to be able to have the freedom to be able to make choices about my time and the way I engage with paid work. All of that means you need a certain amount of security but I stopped worrying about financial goals a long time ago. Outside of working on the N2D Method, I’ve recently launched an anti-racism initiative for small businesses called Open to everyone. Closed to racism. I run a bi-weekly radio show on Isolated Talks Radio which is a themed social listening party. You can catch it every other Sunday at 7pm GMT (find me on Twitter if you want to pick a track.)
There are lots of pretty kick-ass women in my family, that’s definitely had an influence. My Mum has, since I can remember, been passionate about social justice and equality – that’s definitely passed to me. Also, her expertise on plants and flowers has influenced me, can’t say I’m anywhere near her level of knowledge, but I’m slowly creeping towards something like it. I can hold my own in our gardening chats. My Dad brought me up from the age of 12, he’s sadly no longer with us, but his obsession with music, fanatical love of boats and the ocean and his dedication to hiking and the outdoors have, pretty much, all been handed down directly. I’ve worked things out so my life can include all of these things in one way or another.
I feel uncertain about the future all of the time, especially given the last 18 months. Feeling really uncertain used to bother me but I think I’ve found peace with it in the last few years – just as well given the experience we’ve all been going through. At points of uncertainty there are a few things that ground me. It’s (now) a total cliche but I meditate. I genuinely think that it’s changed my life and my ability to deal with ups and downs. Also getting really good at thinking about the worst-case scenario and getting comfortable with whatever it is. The reality is, my worst-case scenario is highly likely to be much better than that of lots of people, it’s always worth remembering that.
Here’s a long list of things that keep me going, most of these are rituals in some way: Meditation, spending time with friends, love, family, yoga, being in green spaces or by the sea, meeting new people, doing something useful or helpful for other people, cooking, gardening, music. What motivates me in our business is meeting our practitioners. We have people all over the world using the N2D Method and they’re using it to improve their decision making. Hearing about their successes, hearing them get excited about projects they are working on using the method and getting to know about the breakthrough moments where it helped them win a new client or change the course of a project – I get a buzz out of that. It’s a nice shift – you have a product that you love and that’s cool – seeing other people loving it, telling you about things you’ve not thought of, that’s a real kick. We also have practitioners using it to make decisions for their social enterprise or charities – it’s helping them get a strategy together when they can’t afford consultants. That’s very cool, it’s making a difference for people making a difference.
That we could create an equal society. One where we don’t have marginalised groups of people at all. Why? I don’t even need to answer that.
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