An Exciting Trip To Birmingham

Award, Events, Important Announcements
Theo Paphitis presenting Jack with his SBS certificate

Yey!! Happy days.

I’m pleased as punch. Last Thursday I was at a fantastic get together in Birmingham, it’s an annual networking meet up for all the winners of Theo Paphitis’ Small Business Sunday people. For anyone who doesn’t know about this I’ll quickly try and explain, basically it’s all on Twitter for a start, as a former member of the Dragons’ Den team Theo was often getting messages from people about their business ideas or ventures or whatever. He decided it would be a good idea to get people to focus all of these messages within an appointed time at an appointed day each week, so it’s between 5 and 7pm on a Sunday evening, you send him a message with the hashtag #SBS included about your business and then the following night at 8pm he retweets six of those messages to him enormous amount of followers, generating fame and interest in those six companies.

So, he got together with some business sponsors and they set up and organised this massive convention for all the winners to be able to get together, meet each other in person, receive award certificates and meet Theo. It was held at the ICC in Birmingham, a large and splendid place that does a lot of events. They really pushed the boat out in my humble opinion, they gave everyone a name badge on arrival and then started serving teas, coffees and biscuits. Then moments later, they got out the wine and beer too – which to be truthful, a lot of people just weren’t ready for at 11.30am. Then they brought out tray after tray of sandwiches, nibbles, quiches, cakes and gorgeous macaroons. We were blown away by the splendour. We did our best to network and mingle with the 900 other people in the room before taking our seats for the speakers. The sponsors had their moments to chat to us before finally the man himself was introduced onto the stage, Theo Paphitis. Everyone was very excited and pleased to see him, and he was a really nice guy too. Chatty, friendly, nothing was too much trouble. People were asking him all sorts of things during the question time and he was really going out of his way to be as accommodating as he could be.

He was very inspiration with his speeches, saying about how we should be getting out there and making a success out of our businesses, how he built a business from nothing during a recession and we can do anything we put our minds to – that kind of thing. It was really motivational for me and I hope I can bring it to bear on my business in some way and really move forwards and upwards.

The rest of the event was equally brill, I had my photo taken with Theo when I got my certificate, went to a couple of advisor sessions with some of the top people from Rymans and other big companies. It was brilliant, I collected many business cards, met scores of interesting people from a diverse range of businesses. I felt a little overwhelmed with the sheer volume of people, and I think I only managed to work up the nerve to talk to about 1% of those who were there, but I hope that quality and not quantity is what counts.

Apparently there’s going to be one every year, so I’m really keen to relive the experience that’s for sure, it was brill!


Girls and Boys


I don’t want this blog post to come across as sexist, so hear me out. The thing is, more and more recently I’ve noticed that Twitter, the internet…maybe even the world – is snowed under with women only stuff. Every time I see an award opportunity available on Twitter, 9 times out of 10, it transpires that it’s only available to women. I saw someone looking for writers the other day but upon closer inspection it became clear they only wanted writers of the female persuasion. Time and again out and about I see ladies night, ladies days, ladies only gyms, ladies only insurance companies, women in business networking events etc.

There’s #WOW every single Wednesday on Twitter, an award that I found out this morning stands for “Women on Wednesdays”. There’s also #mumpreneurs for mum sole traders too, is there a dad version? Well, yes, but they’ve not posted a single solitary tweet!!

In real life, there’s the EVA’s which I’ve heard ladies talk about many, many times, it stands for Enterprising Vision Awards and it’s “specifically for ladies who excel in business”. I decided as an experiment I’d do a quick internet search for that exact quote lifted from their website, only instead of ladies I’d substitute the word, men. Unsurprisingly, no results.

I know I haven’t scoured the length and breadth of the internet and the world to see if anyone has set up men only awards but as far as I can make out, the only thing I can see at the moment appears to be a Twitter award called #Kingof which pairs up with its equivalent #Queenof and takes place once a month.

My thoughts are, if these female only awards were men only awards, there would be a hue and cry and protestation. If these things were specifically and exclusively available only to men, surely women would feel extremely left out and cry “sexist!”

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be awards, or that I should win them all or anything. I’d just like the opportunity to at least put my hat in the ring and give it a go, you know? Yet every time I find an award opportunity, the door slams shut in my face simply based on my gender. It’s a little hurtful. Let me make it clear, I don’t actually want “men only” awards, I’ll be honest with you, I find large groups of men really rather intimidating, and the thought of business driven suit wearing power houses clustered together swilling beer in a dog eat dog race to the last man standing finish line gives me the chills.

What would a woman do if the situations were reversed? Would they have the time to set up and monitor their own version of an award? Would they complain and write a blog post about the inequality and unfairness of it all? Would they just enter the men’s competitions anyway like the suffragettes of old and say “to heck with you!”

Something for me to ponder anyway, and like I said at the start, I’m not being sexist am I? So I hope you don’t think badly of me for feeling left out.