The ‘transformational journey of motherhood’, ‘tech and togetherness’, ‘fashion piazza’ just some of the recent event themes of Hub dot, a revolutionary new way of networking and connecting for women.
I’m no stranger to networking.
It is a major part of our business marketing strategy but, I have to admit when I stumbled across Red Magazine’s article on Hub Dot and founder Simona Barbieri I was curious.
Why hadn’t I heard of it before? It’s not like I’ve been living under a stone for the last three years the time it has taken for Hub dot to make its mark on the networking landscape.
A room full of women is enough to make me run like Wile E. Coyote the looney tunes character out the door and down the nearest hole.
Fear, anxiety and a rather large glass of red spring to mind.
I’d rather have a tooth extraction than be in a room full of ‘hit the ceiling, lean in women!’
But my fears were unfounded.
What Hub dot has created is a new and exciting way of networking; to call it networking is well, a bit of an insult.
It is nothing like the stand up in a room scenario where you have 60 seconds to pitch ‘you’ then, give your name, rank and serial number.
Hub dot have dispensed with the need for job titles, what you do, how long you’ve been doing it for, what your USP is (unique selling point), and the what’s in it for me scenario I’m so very familiar with?
Is it just networking in disguise?
It is so much more than that.
Hob dot is about connecting in a unique and positive way.
Women love to talk and Simona came up with the idea of women sharing stories, what they’ve achieved, what obstacles they’ve overcome, why they do what they do and what inspired them.
And some of the stories have been truly remarkable, emotional, a straight from the heart story of a young woman finding out she had been adopted to establishing a charity, setting up an online jewellery business, developing a unique app for a smartphone and the stories keep coming.
Women from every cross section of working life you can think of – stay at home mothers to women who are boldly striking out on their own with a new idea they want to take further, midwives, nurses, PR, coaches and mentors, sales, print, banking you name, every conceivable job title you can think of found in one room.
Many shared and familiar experiences, women who, like me, had something important to say, who wanted to share their experiences, some were at the crossroads of their life wanting needing inspiration, seeking direction and someone prepared to listen without passing judgement.
Hub dot is dotty! Five dots that represent what you are or where you want to go:
Red – I’m established in my career/business/motherhood
Yellow – I have an idea can anyone help
Green – I’m here to be inspired
Blue – I’m here to socialise and shop
Purple – I want to tell you about my story, my work, my charity
There were women as young as twenty, middle aged women, women who had, to put it frankly seen it done it and worn the t-shirt, women who enthralled me after just five minutes of talking to them.
One young lady had travelled from Riga in Latvia, there were students from Italy, Spain, Germany, Sweden, one woman had travelled from St Petersburg, Russia such is Hub dot’s reach and influence.
17,000 members to be precise but with no membership or monthly fee, you simply select the event you want to attend and pay for it, a bit like PAYG and I’m loving it even more.
So far I’ve been a green and red dot.
Surprisingly, I found the whole idea of being in a room full of women liberating there was no pretence, no haughtiness, no showmanship, a bunch of women coming out having fun, talking and sharing their ideas, thoughts, worries and inspiration.
By the end of each evening new friendships had been forged and ideas developed.
Hub dot has events spread across Europe and the USA and it’s growing.
After three events I consider myself to be a hub dotter, do I need an excuse to board a flight and head off to a hub dot event in Milan??
Ciao! A presto.
“These are the ingredients to every Hub Dot event, anywhere in the world. They create a collective energy, a spirit of togetherness and a contagious sense that one can shape one’s own life and that reinvention is always possible. Our themes are only an excuse to bring us together.” (Hub dot)
Recently I’ve been contemplating life without work, what would it feel like to wake knowing I only have the school run to negotiate, how cool that would be.
There would be no income, that’s a bit of a downer but the thought of dropping the kids into school and then wallowing in my duvet would be a nice thought.
Waking up in the morning worry free – a nice feeling, after all no matter how much you kid yourself you don’t worry about things – you do.
And no matter how hard you try to push stuff that worries you to the back of your mind it’s always there.
At times I feel like I am co-existing in a time warp, stumbling from one day to the next trying to hold it together. God forbid my cleaning lady retires, my whole house of cards will definitely come tumbling down.
You see my working life is a fine balance – more like a juggling act.
GCSE’s have dominated our household for the first time and I considered a ‘TAXI’ sign for the top of my car and adding a duvet and pillow for the back seat given I’ve spent more time in this vehicle than anywhere else.
‘As soon as the exam is over I need to be collected so I can get back home and study for the next exam’, my son says nonchalantly.
Like I have nothing better to do with my time, ‘I do have a day job’ I tell my son.
I know it’s important to do what you can for your kids when they are right in the middle of important public exams and I’m one of the lucky ones I can leave work to collect them and then work from home.
These last few weeks have all been about the exams but I realise that this treadmill I call life has nothing to do with work but rather kids.
When they are babies they are cute and cuddly and you love, adore and dote on them jump forward 15-16 years and they are bumbling teenagers with grotty tempers and raging hormones and you are just the over worked, stressed, under paid parent doing the running around.
A eureka moment, I’m not actually stressed about work, I realise that I’m stressed because of kids.
They are hard bloody work and it doesn’t stop when they become teenagers.
More time running around, never a moment to sit down. A late pick up from school at 8PM; a cricket match at 9:00am no wonder I’m knackered all the time.
What do non working mums do? It’s hard enough fitting all this in as a stay at home mum but fitting in work as well?
In fact work very definitely fits around school life and not the other way around, unfortunately.
Type into google ‘working mothers’ and there is a myriad of ideas to help the working mothers of today:-
How to balance your work/life schedule? You can’t
How to fit sex into a busy work schedule? Plan 2 years in advance by that time he’ll have forgotten.
How to make time for yourself without feeling guilty – Pleeeeease, working mothers always feel guilty whom ever they are and whatever they do.
Working mothers risk damaging their children’s prospects – just make us feel even worse than we do already why don’t you?
Can women really have it all? – If I hear that phrase again I’d probably kill the person who says it, the answer is NO we can’t!
The case for working mothers – DO we really need one…
The pros and cons of being a working mother – that’s a new one on me!
The best companies to work for as a working mother – None they all want your 110% commitment, they use cute advertising to induce working mothers.
Kids benefit from a working mum – that’s because we don’t spend 24/7 with the little buggers.
And so it goes
What is it like for me?
When I established Digital Print Management fifteen years ago I had a son under eighteen months and he came everywhere with me.
The office, on appointments when I needed to visit customers.
I wanted to break that mould and take my son with me after all, I’m a mother why should I hide him away just because I had a meeting to attend too.
Back then business was fun and a lot easier. I wanted to do my own thing so I could be with my children more and take the time out to see those school concerts and sports days.
And I’m proud to say I’ve only ever missed two events, one due to sickness the other because of a train delay. Ninety per cent of the time I drive them to school, pick them up and drop them around to their extra activities.
But it has been a different level of sacrifice and at times I’ve cursed the office.
It is a half-term break and I am working from home but the office is like a vortex it sucks you in and spits you out at the end of the day.
Before you know it, that trip you’d scheduled is abandoned, in mutual agreement, but that time you had committed to spend with your kids vanishes into thin air.
It’s all in the planning, I know, but when something unexpected crops up you can’t tell the customer can you wait until morning I’m on the way out with the kids.
The downside of running your own business is there is very little ‘me time’. It is impossible to to justify time away from the office when it is your business.
Ridiculous really because what’s complicated about booking an afternoon out in your diary, thousands who work for companies do but when it’s your business it isn’t always that easy and you end up playing catchup for the rest of the week.
Trying to get 8-9 hours of work into 6-7 hours won’t go so it feels like you never really empty your plate by the end of the day.
I have learned to be less hard on myself and not to go into panic mode if something isn’t finished on time. The other thing I’ve learn’t is not to put so much pressure on myself to get things done. No one will die if that task doesn’t get finished on time.
Prioritising has become an essential part of planning and now I try and go with the flow of things. Just when I think I’m on top of everything, some other issue comes along that needs to be sorted.
I know I’m not the only woman that feels like there is a permanent vice like grip in the pit of the stomach, the ‘I’m sure I’ve forgotten something’ moment when things seem to be going too smoothly are commonplace.
Friends who know me suggest that I would be lost if that’s the right word without work, I don’t think so it’s just that thing you do because of necessity rather than choice.
I’m still trying to find that balance between calm and stress, there are days when I could pack my bags and walk but instead I get my head down and carry on.
It’s a Sunday evening and for once the sun is shining and I can feel the warmth of the sun on my skin.
Yet I’m feeling melancholic.
I have that heart in the mouth sinking feeling in my stomach that precedes the back to work on Monday feeling.
Reality with all its glory.
One of those reflective moments few and far between I might add given the speed in which the majority of working men and women are being propelled so forcefully along.
I’ve been tinkering in the garden and watching my boys play football enjoying the freedom and envying their worry free child-hood.
How blessed we were to be children.
We didn’t appreciate how wonderful childhood was.
No worries, no real time pressures, no responsibilities and nothing that couldn’t wait until tomorrow.
In fact as a kid the only worries you had were getting to school on time, how to manage to get to the next meal time without fainting and making sure homework was handed in on the required date.
Sitting in the garden early evening with my husband and the compulsory bottle of wine enjoying the remants of the last of the sun’s warmth I was thinking how quickly time has taken away my babies and turned them in to young men.
I can recollect so many wonderful and incredible moments that my husband and I have witnessed as our children grow.
Yet I feel cheated by time, cheated by the need to have to work, cheated by life’s treadmill and cheated by my own self for somehow being responsible for not making more time to be with my children.
I consider myself fortunate, a working mother business owner which means that I can choose to slip out and watch that school play, scream and shout at the annual sports day and cry when singing christmas hymns because I am caught up in the moment.
Looking at my children play brought in to sharp focus the precious moments we’ve shared as a family and how quickly time passes.
Another school year is almost coming to a close and there is nothing I can do to slow down the time, a visible ticking clock changing the speed of our lives.
Reminding us of the next pressing business meeting, an important deadline, that appointment with the dentist, school concert or a presentation that needs to be completed.
I feel that life is passing me by in a haze. I am omni-present and there, yet, I am standing outside of myself watching as I run on this treadmill they call life.
You see I don’t recall childhood being this way. I remember long summer holidays laying under the sun, playing aki 1,2,3 dreading the moment when one of our parents would shout out ‘inside now, ready for bed-time’.
Time was something we knew existed we didn’t look at the clock or our watches, our stomach governed our safe return home for lunch and tea.
Yet roll the clock forward 35+ years and here’s me the grown woman, married with 2 children, running a business, an organiser and tablet/smartphone in tow trying to keep the plates circling in the air.
With so many things to organise and manage and being so reliant on people being where they need to be at the right time and doing what they are suppose to do when asked to it’s a precarious balancing act.
It’s a wonder the plates don’t crash down sooner.
I know that as a woman or man if you are reading this you can relate to these mixed feelings of lost childhood and mother/fatherhood.
Our children come into our lives as babies and leave us as grown adults. When you hold your baby for the first time in your arms, the sheer joy and amazement of being part of life’s creation is such a wonderful gift from god.
There aren’t words to describe it and just when you think you can’t cope with being a mother, suddenly they are screaming and shouting and behaving like the insolent independent teenagers you expect them to be.
Time is a continuum it knows no wars, famine, hate or love.
Never mind about the work-life balance there isn’t one, it’s as elusive as Spike Milligan’s ‘bongaloo’. Search the internet and you will find zillions of articles on how to improve your work-life balance, how to have the perfect career and still be a great mother and father.
Nicola Horlick was the first woman in the city to hit a six figure income earner as a hedge fund manager in the late 80’s and 90’s even she admitted that it’s nigh on impossible.
But is this a contradiction?
Marissa Mayer CEO and President of Yahoo 38 years, Sheryl Sandberg, 43, Facebook Chief Operating Officer have staked a claim that the work-life balance can work and dispelled that myth.
But it’s not the same I hear you say, they are earning millions and can afford nannies and child-care. Marissa reputedly had a nursery built next to her office so she could attend to her new born baby.
Does this suggest that she wants to redress her own work-life balance?
I know many mothers who are still even though they have teenagers, subconsciously being nagged by that ‘guilt feeling’, the one that says what if I… hadn’t gone back to work.
I’m one of them.
I had to go back to work because I really did feel that it was my duty as wife and mother. I was contributing to the household which means equal status in my marriage.
In truth, I didn’t want to be ‘beholden’ to a man, it was fear of being divorced, separated, left out in the cold from the work force and insecurity that fuelled my desire or rather need to work.
Yes there was guilt.
My first born was almost 6 months old before he started 3 days a week at a local nursery and I felt that a long weekend and my time with him in the evenings I could give more to him physically and emotionally than if I had been a full time mother.
But I still wonder if that was the right decision for him and me?
When my second baby was born it was easier to let go and what I did for my first born followed suite with my second child.
New research undertaken by the Institute of Education suggests that my guilty feelings are unfounded because it has now been proven that children of working mothers do not suffer from any long term cognitive, literacy or reduced ability in maths.
“Professor Heather Joshi studied children born in 2000 and 2001 and found no significant difference in children’s cognitive ability or behaviour at the age of five if their mothers had gone out to work or not in the first year.” [Institute of Education]
Maternity, paternity leave, better childcare, father’s who are more hands on, flexible working hours, a better quality of working life and job and mother’s who are in a better state of mind along with the social acceptability of mothers going back to work were all factors in modern babies not being affected by mothers going back to work.
The Daily Mail reported in May that Lady Justice Hallett said that ‘the pace of working life needed to change to help women end the frenetic working environment’.
In spite of this, women are faced with working environments which are not conducive to family life?
The current economic climate means that there is greater stress on employees and pressure on women to return to work to ensure a double house-hold income.
In 2012, 51% of employees were concerned about job status loss. Concerns were about pay reductions, loss of say over their job. Work intensification common in the 1990’s, speed of work and pressures of working to tight deadlines have risen to record highs. [Institute of Education]
The work-life balance is elusive and is governed by how the scales tip as to how you manage life.
Women go to work to preserve their sanity from singing Dora the Explorer for the hundreth time, others work because a dual income is a necessity for the household.
Some women work for the sheer freedom and independence it gives them so they can hopefully give more emotionally and spiritually back to their children when they return home from work.
Something’s gotta give but where?
Whilst I search for my work life balance why don’t you share with me how you do it? Do you have a magic mantra that enables you to balance work, children and family life.
Please share your thoughts with One Womans View and let’s see if we can make a change.
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It seems a lifetime ago when I entered the working world fresh out of University at a time when the internet, mobile devices and cloud computing weren’t even thought of.
The nearest I got to anything remotely computerised was a prized possession, an Olivetti electronic typewriter capable of holding 8 pages of A4 in its memory including my C.V.
Over the last twenty years technological advancements make it possible to work remotely and this has changed the way in which we approach our working day.
Remote or mobile working has given the family with young children more flexibility!
Mobile devices, smart phones, tablets, e-readers, kindles can provide accessibility to the internet.
Work is now seen as an activity and not a destination or location that one has to trawl through traffic to get to day in day out.
One particular Manager I recall working for in the City in my days as a Sales Rep absolutely insisted I report to the office first thing in the morning prior to the commencement of my customer visits for the day. This meant a trip to the Angel, London, my place of work and then on to to see customers which could have been North of London.
This was an absolute waste of my time, valuable company time and a waste of car fuel.
No matter how hard I tried I could not convince him that working this way was tiring and ineffective. Clearly, me showing my face at the beginning of the day was the reassurance he needed to know I was working.
It didn’t cross his mind that if I wanted to I could have easily slipped off any afternoon and gone to Oxford Street shopping!
Despite earlier resistors to remote working, Managers now appreciate the benefits that can be derived from employees working from home.
In the last ten years there has been a radical shift in mindset toward the advantages of the mobile working model.
Accessing emails, connecting to remote systems and company data on the go have revolutionised the way we work, engaging with customers either on line or face to face, via social media, email and mobile phone are an accepted part of the new working model.
Employees are no longer obliged to sit at their desks day in day out. With the advent of mobile computing and smart devices accessing company data couldn’t be easier. Mobile working is effective wherever you are.
Organisations have streamlined integration of business applications into the mobile world through cloud computing providing a deeper level of functionality and security on mobile platforms for remote working.
In turn this has resulted in:-
Full access to all business critical systems and data resulting in quicker decision making
Enhanced productivity as employees can work wherever they are
Increased flexibility, changes in working hours and the option to work from home especially during bouts of heavy snow and interrupted travel
The remote working model has made portable mobile devices indispensable, the biggest headache is deciding which one is the right one for you! In turn, mobile devices and cloud computing have revolutionised the way we work!
Many organisations embrace this way of working because it provides tangible benefits such as cost reduction, growth, employee satisfaction and better customer care.
There is a convincing argument for mobile working but is there a downside to working alone, at home, remotely?
Carrying your “office” may have its disadvantages, leaving us disconnected from work colleagues and associates. Working from home or mobile working does require a degree of discipline its easy to be distracted by other external influences such as the home phone ringing, a neighbour seeing your car on the drive who just happens to call unannounced.
None of which is insurmountable, as long as you set your working boundaries, hours of work and bolster a big sign that says “I might be in but I am actually working from home today”
What initiatives can you implement to ensure employees are singing from the same hymn sheet:-
1. Set and agree goals. Employees can lose direction without a sense of purpose. Managers are required to set goals reinforcing the importance of collaboration and agreement between team members.
Remote employees actively suggest new ideas, create their own projects, set and share personal goals and put forward solutions.
2. Stay connected . Great team players are trustworthy and available. Web and mobile connectivity makes it easier to connect with remote employees but it can also make it harder and less certain i.e. are they on a call with a client? Is she on Skype with an associate?
Whose responsibility is it to stay connected? The remote worker’s or the office? No wrong answer here but remote employees assume the onus is on them to stay connected.
Remote employees let others know when they won’t be available and the reasons why, they also make it known how they can still be contacted in the event of an emergency because they consider working remotely as a trade-off they may have more freedom to slip into the kitchen and make a coffee but they also recognise that with that freedom comes the responsibility of super-availability. This in turn means that super-availability creates trust with employees and customers.
3. Focus on results not time. With some organisations it’s enough to show up and put in your time working and what you actually accomplish is almost secondary to being present.
Employees working outside of the main offices tend to focus on results, not presence.
Remote employees focus on accomplishing objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. If a task “should” take a week and it is completed in three days that opens up time to accomplish other tasks.
There is no doubt that remote working and cloud computing have opened up our lives to being more creative, imposing self will and more freedom to manage the end result.
As long as the end goal is a sense of well being, accomplishment and more time to spend with the family then mobile working should be welcomed by employers and employees alike.
What do you think?
Do you prefer working from home or do you need a more governed, routine approach to work?
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When the coalition Government was voted in to power in June 2010 I for one viewed it optimistically for two reasons:
Two heads have got to be better than one
Certainly better than the prospect of a Labour Government that admitted to having left behind a catastrophic trail of economic blunders and destruction in their wake
But it appears to be proving difficult.
What the country lacks is firm and decisive leadership.
As a business owner-manager the start of 2012 hearalded a feeling of optimism; the tide was beginning to turn albeit slowly.
There was a perception that businesses were ready to start making and taking decisions but it all fell foul when the greek crisis reared its ubiquitous head, business owners were left shaken.
From that point on, seemingly the economy ground to a halt.
Simply put, nothing in the world happens until a sale is made.
This may sound glib, but it is true.
Until company A makes a decision to part with money and buy from company B then the process of buying and selling stagnates.
This isn’t rocket science.
British businesses need to see a parting of the sea and have confidence in the economy before spending. When that happens the UK will edge out of the recession it finds itself in.
It may well take until 2015-18 before we see and experience an improvement.
A lot can happen in five years, wars can start and end, businesses can come and go, Katie Price will be married and divorced again.
What we need is a new age of enterprise, individuals, entrepreneurs and companies willing to take risk and be bold.
Sadly no decisions are being made and this appears to be reflected at the door of No.10.
If businesses perceive a lack of rigour, a lack of decisiveness and see bureaucratic paper shufflers and a dragging of heels in Government, businesses wont have the confidence or motivation to make business decisions through fear and uncertainty.
Why does every decison in this country seem to take such an eternity to come to fruition?
We can’t get rid of a terrorist – Abu Hamza who resides in our beloved country yet we find it impossible to grant an application to stay in Britain to a former british army soldier from Jamaica who served in the 1st Royal Tank Regiment.
Seriously have those in government lost their marbles. Those in the highest office seem incapable of being able to make clear and concise judgements without having to debate it for what seems like an eternity.
1,000 indecisions (source: The Daily Mail)
What time should an ice cream van turn off its musical chimes?
Should pig movements be recorded electronically or on paper?
How much do people like eating scallops?
Is this really the best that our coalition government can do?
Steve Hilton, the prime minister’s former policy advisor reportedly stated in the Sunday Times that No. 10 hears about policy changes being made via the media in the inference being that the PM is making decisions but they are not being implemented by WhiteHall.
Not a good advert for a government determined to push through social change, tackle the national debt and create a more family orientated society.
With all these ‘special advisors’ for ice cream van chimes, pig movements and debates over whether the public prefer scallops over fish fingers, the civil servants must be so weary trying to weigh up these life changing decisions.
If business owners took that long to make a business decision they wouldn’t be in business.
If politicians show decisiveness and determination even in the face of strong oppostion or adversity then this has a domino affect and permeates in to businesses.
Boris Johnson said in his speech at the Tory conference in October 2012:
“We need to go forward now from the age of excess under Labour, through the age of auterity to a new age of enterprise in which we do what we did in the Olympics and build a world-beating platform for Britain for British people and businesses to compete and win and we need to do it now under the Conservatives and it begins here”
If 51% of the decisions made are right and the remaining 49% wrong or don’t work out as hoped then that isn’t failure.
Discuss it, agree it, move on to the next decision.
Umm I can’t make up my mind, can you?
What do you think? How are you finding business? Drop me a line and let me know what influences your decision making?
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Caroline McCormack is a professional freelance journalist and blogger. All views expressed on this website are the author's own.