Why wait for Valentine’s Day to be loving?

February 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Valentine’s Day may be an annual celebration of love but my invitation to you is to consider making every day a celebration of love, by feeling it and showing it – and not just to your partner.

Think about how love feels.  I could use numerous adjectives, but I think we all agree it feels good?Love

Imagine if you started “loving” everyone in your life – colleagues, your boss, the person at the supermarket checkout……They don’t need to know you’re doing it, but if the idea of feeling “love” for some people just doesn’t work for you, try substituting forgiveness, kindness, acceptance or compassion instead.

And why would I suggest that?

Think about how you feel when someone does or says something that you believe is wrong.  I’m guessing, the feeling is not so good.   Frustration, anger, resentment and other painful feelings are commonly experienced when our head tells us that the other “should” or “shouldn’t” have done or said something.  We judge others but we’re the ones who don’t feel great because of our judgement.

Many of my clients (both personal and corporate) often want to see a change in behaviour in another first, before they are willing to feel any compassion or kindness themself. They get stuck in the painful feelings, blaming the other person for them.  Can you see how that is a powerless place to be?  What if the other person can’t or won’t change?

You can choose to continue holding onto the negative feelings. They are yours, after all.  However, as Buddha said “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”  When you get stuck in a negative feeling,  you are unlikely to be hurting anyone but yourself.

If you try the opposite and focus on love, forgiveness and compassion, then your experience will be far more pleasant.Love2

Notice too when you feel anger or frustration with yourself.  Often we are our own harshest judges.  Try speaking to yourself with the same love and kindness you would speak to a small child or your closest friend, when they have made a mistake.

So this February, as you plan your Valentine’s surprise, how about spending the whole month loving everyone you meet (including the person in the mirror) and notice not only how it feels on the inside but also the impact it has on the outside.

Juliette Smith, Relationship Coach


The Secret of How Much Time We “Should” Spend Networking

February 3, 2014 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Networking Tips | 2 Comments
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TimeHow much time should I spend networking?

This is a question we are regularly asked when we meet people and talk about their businesses.  In fact, it was a question I asked myself when I started up my own business in 2010.  I was so busy thinking about all the “work” I had to do, networking was another item on to the already burgeoning “to do” list that we each have as busy business women.

I knew I “should” be doing it so I started going along to various networking events.  As I walked away from each event, with a handful of business cards, I mentally crossed off “networking” on my “to do” list and moved on to do something else.

Those of you who know me will be aware of my views on the word “should”.  If ever I feel I “should” do something, loud alarm bells start ringing in my ears!  “Should” is a word of obligation rather than motivation and, as such, is one of the most energy-draining words I know.

It was, therefore, not much of a surprise that I neither enjoyed networking nor found it useful for my business.  And yet I was spending lots of time on it!  Does this sound familiar?

Get rid of the “should” in your networking

To change the way I was thinking about networking, I asked myself what I wanted from networking.  Think about all the things you are looking for from meeting people.  (Let’s presume that everyone wants to grow their business, so take that as a given.)

Do you enjoy listening to people? Does being with people give you energy? Do you get better ideas when you talk them through with someone? Do you like helping others? Do you work well as part of a team? Do you like being accountable to someone? Do you benefit from taking time away from your office?  Do you want to make new friends? Do you want to connect with businesses that compliment yours? Do you want to meet people in the same industry or profession as you? Do you want to learn new skills to help you run your business?

Once you are clear about WHAT you want from networking, you can look at how important those things are to you and your business.  This supports the prioritisation of the networking activities.

Finding the time

In The Athena Network, the networking is centred around creating relationships.  These relationships allow us to collaborate, inspire and learn.  It is through those relationships that we and our businesses grow.

But how much time does it take to create a strong relationship?

The truth is “it depends”.  Typically relationships develop with time and intensity.  Athena Meetings are designed to provide both time and intensity – working on personal and business development together.  So, by just attending a monthly meeting, your relationship with each person will grow but at a fairly slow rate.

But really great networking is SO much more than attending a meeting.  Here are some of the characteristics of our most successful networkers:

  • They are great listeners
  • They think about how they can help you BEFORE thinking about how you can help them
  • They are punctual and respectful of your time and commitments as well as their own
  • They are passionate about their businesses
  • They keep in touch when they’re NOT promoting something (as well as when they are)
  • They have a “go to” list of connections that they readily recommend to anyone
  • They have their eyes and ears open for opportunities for others, even when they are not “working”
  • They are seeking and are open to feedback about themselves and their businesses
  • They set bold goals for themselves and their businesses
  • They know there is always more to learn from others (irrespective of how long they’ve been doing it)
  • They are willing to share their expertise without expecting something in return
  • They are genuinely interested in other people and their businesses
  • They do what they say they’re going to do

This is what great networking looks like.

Here’s the SECRET

You “shouldn’t” spend ANY time networking.  Be yourself,  Love what you do, Respect others, Be interested, Listen.  The way you are with people says volumes about you and the way you do business even before you get to a meeting.

If effective networking is creating relationships and creating relationships is about who we are and how we treat others, perhaps the questions we can all ask ourselves is

“When I am not networking, what on earth am I doing?”

I’d love to hear your  views.



FREE WINE AND CHOCOLATE! (well, sort of)

February 3, 2014 at 9:53 am | Posted in Articles | Leave a comment
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Wine-Lovers-IndulgenceOK, I may have exaggerated about the free wine and chocolate but it would probably take a headline like that to make me even look at an article about my personal finances.

According to the adverts, “Tax doesn’t have to be taxing” and yet so many of us (me included) find it either confusing, frightening or just plain uninteresting.

Fortunately, that’s where Financial Advisors can help.   Tax is what tickles their fancy. Pensions are their passion.  So the Financial Avoiders among us can get a helping hand or a polite prod to make sure that we are making the most of our money.

As the end of the tax year approaches Reading East member, Josephine Blythe (www.josephineblythe.co.uk), offers us her Action Points, designed to help you make the most of your our tax allowances within the next few weeks.  Who knows, once you’ve completed one of the actions, perhaps you could treat yourself with some of that wine and chocolate!

  1. ISAs – you have until 5th April to shelter £11,520 in a tax efficient ISA wrapper
  2. Junior ISAs – you have until 5th April to shelter £3,720 in a tax efficient JISA for a child under 16 and now Child Trust Funds can be transferred to JISAs
  3. Pensions – you have until 5th April to make lump sum contributions of up to £50,000 to your pension plans on which you will receive tax relief – this will have the effect of reducing your tax bill and may gain you back your Personal Allowance and Child Benefit. The allowance drops to £40,000 for next tax year
  4. Inheritance tax saving – you have until 5Th April to make exempt gifts to reduce Inheritance Tax
  5. Corporation Tax Relief – If you are a business owner with a year end of 31st March you have until then to reduce your Corporation Tax Bill by making a pension contribution should this be appropriate for you
  6. Lifetime Allowance – you have until 5th April to safeguard pension pots from a tax bill if they will be more than £1.25million

For more information, do contact Jo or the Financial Advisor in your own group.

The value of an investment in St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds selected and may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than the amount invested.

The levels and bases of taxation and reliefs from taxation can change at any time and is generally dependent on individual circumstances.

Josephine Blythe represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the Group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the Group’s website at www.sjp.co.uk/products.

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