Friday, 9 December 2016

How Link4Growth is changing to embrace being an Association

For those that are familiar with Link4Growth it has been known for a while that the organisation is changing to be an Association in January 2017. This means in simple terms that the ownership of the organisation passes to the members. The constitution about how it is to operate on a day to day basis and decision making is yet to be finalised but it has been a fascinating year listening to comments, suggestions and ideas on the subject.

When it was first mooted back in 2015 that Link4Growth would become an association there wasn't a huge amount of thought put into it to be absolutely honest. It just seemed that this would be the right type of structure which most closely mirrored what the organisation was attempting to achieve. Owned by the people, built by the people and under the guardianship of the people.

18 months on there is no doubt the steady course that was set to become an association is the right one. But... there is always a but... the ramifications of that decision are much more far reaching than first envisaged. It's not just a change of ownership, that is a fairly simple idea to grasp... it changes things at a very deep level.

We are now collectively responsible for the idea of Link4Growth. What this means is that it is no longer the responsibility of a leader (or even a few leaders) to make decisions and then roll these out. That just replaces what we have with something so similar as to be indistinguishable. We all have to play our part. How do you create an environment where everyone can play a part?

Before we get onto the question above, setting an Intent to become an association like we did I believe set the wheels in motions for events to take place. During 2016 certain things have happened to act as a catalyst in our transition. I believe the universe was effectively saying 'come on then, time to get this moving'. Secondly certain connections have been made that were necessary to change thinking and make the transition to an association possible and... most importantly... sustainable for the long term. It has been a very big year 2016 in many ways.

In order for us to create a new future, we need to provide a space that allows us the freedom to be who we are, have a voice, be respected, not be judged... in fact the '7 Principles of Link4Growth'. To create that space there are a few requirements :-

  1. A Community Coach trained and qualified to create and hold the space for those attending
  2. A guarantee that those attending will be free from the pressures of meeting the needs and expectations of others (the coach delivers this guarantee)
  3. An environment where people will be encouraged to find their own way, i.e. what works for them
  4. That the only right way is that... there is no right way.

Upon this foundation we have the potential to really begin to change things

One of the biggest challenges we face today is apathy. Apathy because "I am just one person, what possible difference could I make?" Apathy because we have grown to accept the conditioning of "it's the way it is you can't change it" to be the truth, and that what we're being offered is the only option. We have been divided and segmented by Politics, Religion, Race, Creed, Money and even Brexit and Trump so that the only consensus we have is to choose from a set of poor options that serve the minority who invented them. It's not good enough, it doesn't work and it's time for change... but to what?

We have been napping in 'apathy' for too long

I spend about 7 hours at least a week thinking. I like to think. I like to re-evaluate, assess, think of new ways to do things using the resources available to deliver more for less. I am incredibly fortunate to have this amount of space, many do not.

What I like about thinking is the world of possibilities. Nothing is impossible. We can try anything in our thoughts, we can dare to dream, think out of the box, imagine if things were different what would other things look like then. It's exciting, it's fun... it's even better when there is more than one of you, thinking together!

All the division, the fear, the nanny state, the education system... all contributes to 'fitting in' being 'part of acceptable society' ... being normal. We're in a mess because the only ideas are coming from 'inside the box thinking' via those with vested interests (in it staying the same), and based on existing systems and frameworks.

To elevate ourselves to a new future we need to innovate and create. As Einstein said. "we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them".

What if we brought back thinking, made it fashionable and encouraged people to do it?  We are definitely in need of a lot more independent thinking, innovation and creativity so that we can find alternative ways to solve the challenges we face and... we need the freedom to do it and a framework that makes it easy.

Link4Growth providing a place to innovate where you live

Link4Growth has always been about innovation and about rebuilding our communities, bringing people together, collaborating to create what works. Together along with thousands of others out there investing themselves in great community work we have accumulated over the years great experience and infrastructure to support the community. There are 5 services already defined to support society click here to read about these.

To introduce reslience into the rebuilding of community we are introducing the concept of community coaches. The 'Community Coaches' will deliver a guarantee on ensuring we have a secure, safe space to innovate, create and find alternatives free from any peer pressure to meet the needs and expectations of others. The community coach through example will by default underpin each event with the 7 Principles of Link4Growth.

During 2017 the Link4Growth transition to an Association is completely aligned with each of us taking responsibility for 'Finding our own way',  what do we want to do? ... and wouldn't it be amazing if we were surrounded by supportive people with no peer pressure. Where we were encouraged to learn the three skills to 'find our own way' :-

  1. Make our own conscious choices
  2. Innovate and find alternative solutions to our situation
  3. Consciously accept the risks associated with our choices

And if we came together as groups to tackle larger social issues that are everywhere around us, what then? What could we then achieve? Maybe just maybe we could create that new world that works for the majority.

2017 is our year

Imagine a country exploding with new groups of people coming together to innovate, people finding their own way and together creating alternative solutions to local challenges. Imagine how when this catches on how our belief systems will transform from "it can't be done, to watch us do this"... imagine ... when we all start to use our brains... and imagine... just what could we create?

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Peer-2-Peer mentoring now available to all...

There are 6.7 million of us now running small micro businesses with 5 or less employees and the vast majorty of these are solopreneurs; people working by themselves. How so many of us got to running our own businesses is not the subject of this blog, but the fact is there are a very large number of people that are now responsible for their own endeavours, and, more than likely doing it for the first time.

There is a huge amount of inexperience out there and running a business today is probably more complex than it has ever been. Trying to work it all out on your own is almost impossible and can be daunting, isolating, lonely and not to mention very time consuming. How do you know if you are doing things right? Who can you trust to be giving you objective and impartial advice? Who can you share ideas knowing that it stays in the room?

You go to any networking meeting and ask people how they are doing? You'll probably get the answer, "great thanks... could be better, but really busy which is good. How about you?" ... you will probably find yourself answering in the same way. It's not honest or authentic is it? Nor is it accurate most likely. It would be considered bad form though to disclose that there are some real issues... and anyway no one wants to hear your problems do they? So everyone 'pretends they are doing well' and we go away even more miserable because everyone is doing great and yet we know that things are no where near as good as we made them look in the backroom of our own business.

Actually being able to be vulnerable with people, trust them to help us and look out for us when our soft underbelly is exposed is not easy. In fact it takes a great deal of courage, and it needs a different environment to be able to share at this level. It is however, at this very point of vulnerability that we let the magic in. It is at this point when we openly ask for help and support that people respond to our call.

Why is this such a powerful tool?

Imagine 5 other business owners with all their knowledge, experience, expertise and connections... all their life lived so far and their wisdom gained being applied specifically to your challenge. Couple that with a desire to see you succeed and a real willingness to help you move on past your issue. It is powerful stuff, and it is no wonder that 'Peer-2-Peer mentoring groups' or 'Mastermind groups' have been the source of great leaps forward for many people (and businesses) and continue to do so.

It's not a new idea

The idea of Peer-2-Peer mentoring is not new. Bringing like minded people together with all their collective knowledge has been going on for decades. The word Synergy is often used in this context which means "The combined power of a group of people when brought together is greater than the sum of the individuals". With this the inference that with 6 people you effectively get a 7th as the melding of combined minds achieves much more.

We're here to help each other UP!

There is enough business for everyone out there! Link4Business is committed to helping all businesses in our local communities succeed and these Online / Offline Mentoring Groups are another item in the toolbox  :-
  • Learn from other people running businesses (and their mistakes)
  • Share experience and knowledge
  • Fast track through obstacles and challenges
  • Accountability
  • Ongoing support through a closed G+ community
  • Share trusted connections and networks
  • Build deep relationships and trust
  • All the networking and other benefits of being part of the Link4Growth / Link4Business network

No excuses...

  1. Information accessible and available on the website
  2. Low cost... Free to Link4Business Members or just join up here for £12 per month
  3. Flexible ways to be part of a mentoring group with people you know and respect
  4. Deeper levels of connection leading to faster growth, personal and business development

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

How Link4Growth serves us and our communities ~ the 5 tools explained

Link4Growth provides a platform that contains 5 tools that are a service to the local communities, and the majority are free of charge. Link4Growth encourages us to (1) talk to each other through community events because everything starts with a conversation and knowing those around you, (2) grow a strong local business club for each town with businesses all collaborating together, and, collectively promoting the ethos of buying local, (3) Keep learning and sharing our collective knowledge, the world is ever changing and we need to adapt constantly, (4) Share what we are doing through local CommunityTV and a national TV Portal, all free to use and where anyone can join in, (5) The Community Communication Hub websites where we can share the 97% of good news that is happening in our community with everyone else in our communities, easily, and at zero cost.

Every organisation in our community struggles with similar challenges and Link4Growth is here to help alleviate those challenges and empower us all to play a part and contribute back to society.

By sharing the good work that we are doing in the community we are enabling others and inspiring them to replicate and duplicate elsewhere... Link4Growth is purely a conduit, an infrastructure, and a facilitation platform that exists not for its own glory, but for all of us, and to help us pull everyone up.

... the diagram below helps to summarise the information above.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

KIDS Create

David Mills
Linda Anderson
Sometimes you get to speak to people and you sense an energy and purpose that is incredibly intoxicating.

Often those people are blissfully unaware of it, believing it is something they might shake off one day but just seems to never go away. Often coming back a few years later to have another stab at taking hold. Maybe just maybe the circumstances were just not quite right earlier, both in terms of the environment, or maybe personal growth and development. Whatever the reason it doesn't matter, what does matter is that this unshakable purpose gets a chance to be 'aired', to surface in all its glory and be able to make the difference it was supposed too.

It wasn't so long ago that by chance (if you believe in such things) I discovered a post by David Mills about a concept he had created called Eduspired (@eduspired on twitter). I'd never met David before but what he had written resonated with me 100%. Basically the education system is not delivering for our children. We have met subsequently a few times and together given birth to the Education Show on L4Gtv's Education Channel. Rarely have I met someone so passionate about what he believes in... I am truly inspired each time we have an opportunity to speak and I know a whole generation of young folk will be grateful for some of the actions +David Mills is taking right now.

But he is not alone... a short while ago David was introduced to +linda anderson of +The Kitchen Croxley fame in the +Link4Growth SW Herts District of +Link4Growth. This meeting was to organise and set the first ever date for David's initiative called KIDS CREATE. Basically this is about holding a space for a group of young people (aged 10-13 years) to listen to how they see things and come up with solutions to the very real human problems we have out there right now.

The Kitchen in Croxley is a community Coffee Shop... a public space providing a safe place for young people to meet from the local area. But... there are thousands of such community spaces around the country. What if each of these was to play host to a KIDS CREATE group... what if there was one each day. How amazing to include our young folk in such important community discussion... the table is layed...

Below the introduction to what will be taking place on the 8th September at the Kitchen... 


Connect - Collaborate - Create

The Kitchen Croxley
Thursday 8 September 2016
4.30 – 6.30pm

  1. Are you aged 10-13?
  2. Are you passionate about creating a better world?
  3. Do you have ideas for improving your community?
  4. Do you enjoy working with others?
  5. Are you ready to show adults what you are capable of?
If you answered YES to the above questions, then KIDS CREATE could be for you!

KIDS CREATE brings young people together for the purpose of collaborating on 'real life' innovation projects of their own choosing. It is a vehicle through which they can channel their innate passions and imagination into creating real value in the world. Whether the project is to launch an awareness campaign, create a positive news channel on YouTube, coordinate a litter picking exercise in the local park, organise a charity concert, film a documentary or provide blankets to the homeless, this is a place where young people's voices are honoured and heard, and in which they are trusted and empowered to take action on their ideas.

Facilitated by David Mills, an education visionary, confidence coach, youth mentor and former school teacher, this will be the first of many meetups at The Kitchen.

Supported by #Link4Growth, The Kitchen Croxley


Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Nikki Pepper goes on air to talk about Link4Growth

Link4Growth is not often in the news, the organisation prefers to just work in the background and get on with the job. In a world where we are led to believe standing on the podium and shouting from the rooftops about what is wrong is the answer, Link4Growth steadily, quietly, effectively is putting in place the infrastructure for change.

Sometimes an opportunity comes along to share some of what we do in a more public way, and an opportunity fell last week to Nikki Pepper to talk about Link4Growth on local radio in Peterborough. The show was the working lunch show with Craig Bunday.

The Working Lunch show (BundayBrunch) hosted by Craig Bunday is a 2 hour show where Craig invites local businesses and interesting people, often met through Networking, onto the show to share some of what they do with his listeners.

Craig (left) met with +Nikki Pepper at the Nene Park coffee event and following a conversation about Link4Growth and its purpose invited Nikki to join him on the show.

4 years ago, Nikki would probably agree that she would never have imagined doing anything like this, and so as requested it was all kept rather hush hush until after the event.

Link4Growth although very simple in concept 'we bring local people together to have conversations' the effects of this can be life changing for many. Link4Growth is a platform that empowers 4 types of growth. (1) Personal Growth, (2) enterprise growth (business, charity), (3) Community growth and (4) Country growth. This growth journey is one that we all engaged with, some are further along their own journey than others, and their is no right or wrong.

We would all agree that Nikki has achieved remarkable personal growth in the past 4 years being part of Link4Growth and very many congratulations to her for this major milestone, fantastic, well done. To listen to the show, click on the link below. Nikki is on air at about 26 minutes and 40 seconds into the recording.

Click here listen to Nikki Pepper talking to Craig Bunday about Link4Growth (26 mins 40 sec)

Sunday, 27 March 2016

A historic day for Link4Growth 24th March 2016

On the 24th March there were two huge events in the #Link4Growth calendar. The first was the launch of #Link4Business in #Watford (Herts) and the second was the launch of a new country with the first ever #Link4Coffee event north of the border in #Scotland.

The Link4Business in Watford kicked off in a brand new venue, Fresh Shop (a local cafe) downstairs and with 25 booked in promised to be a successful (and very packed) event. With a few casualties on the day around 20 people attended and the team of +Jean Flower +Simon Cox and 2nd speaker +Tania Clarke carried if off beautifully. Thanks to all those that attended to make this a very special launch.

This is the 10th #Link4Business event now running, with #Whittlesey and #Alfreton launching earlier in the month. The popularity and success of Link4Business continues apace. Well done to +Joan Richardson and +Len Harvey for their respective events. Both also hugely successful. Well done +Simon Cox the national lead for #L4B for all his hard work too!

On to #Scotland and it is amazing how things come about. Andrea McGuinness first heard about #Link4Growth via watching a Video Show with +Gerri Riddiough talking as a guest on an American based show. Andrea was instantly taken by the idea of Link4Growth and then followed a relentless pursuit to find out more... eventually this detective work was to lead to +Nikki Pepper and the rest as they say is history... until the 24th March.

Andrea had prepared the ground well and 28 people turned up to find out more about this idea of community building. There is an appetite for change in Scotland and Link4Growth is something that everyone can get involved in. Almost without exception the attendees not only marveled at both the simplicity of just turning up and having a conversation, but also, how much they learned about what was going on around them that they didn't know about.

There is very little going on in our communities to bring people together without any other agenda these days. Yes Fayres and other charity events exist but they have an agenda often to raise money... but nothing to just enable people to talk and get to know each other... meet, talk, listen, learn, connect, share and inspire... well here it is... it's called Link4Growth. Welcome to a world of conversation... it just came back... please do come along to something near you... and if there isn't anything... then start something... the time is now... let's take action! Together we really can change the world... one conversation at a time...

Thank you so much to the Moorparkhouse Hotel who not only provided the venue but all the teas and coffees too!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

The 1st ever Link4Growth Conference 8th January 2016

The 1st ever Link4Growth Conference took place on the 8th January 2016. The venue was the amazing Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire and brought the Link4Growth family together for the first time. A historic moment and one that many of us will remember as the day that connected people in the flesh who had previously only known each other virtually.

It is incredibly difficult to single out individual performances and comments fed back through January confirmed this as one of the most inspirational collaborative events people had attended. Link4Growth has indeed come a long way since its initial launch on January 9th 2012; nearly 4 years to the day.

Below some of the highlights... links to picture albums, the live video feeds of the 8 speakers on the day and also the 6 Laminates which will help us to visually explain the different aspects of Link4Growth going forward.

Photo's from the day

Picture Album No. 1 - Credit to +Mark Mountford
Picture Album No. 2 - Credit to +Diane Richardson +Catherine Baldwin & +Jonathan s Darby

Live Video feeds of the 8 Speakers on the day

+Paul Violet  ~ Opening the conference

+Emma Jaynes  ~ Community

+Chris Ogle  ~ CKi (Community Kickstarter initiative)

+Su Ball  ~ Link4Business

+Jeremy Silverstone  ~ OMG's (Online Mentoring Groups)

+Carol Dodsley  ~ Link4Skills

+Diane Richardson  ~

Chris Ogle ~ Leadership Programme

+Nadine Standish  ~ BITC (Collaboration)

Chris Ogle ~ New Laminates

+Tania Clarke  ~ Taking Responsibility

Chris Ogle ~ Recognition

Chris Ogle ~ Closing Address

Link4Growth Laminates

A fabulous day had by all... thank you to everyone that supported the event... it was a memorable day for us all.