Dreams

A Curious Evolution

curious thinking-02

Curious Decisions today is very different to what Curious Decisions was going to be at launch.  I started Curious Decisions with a dream.   It was a dream that if it materialised, and became reality, would change the world.  It was a powerful and beautiful dream, a dream of a better, kinder world where Curious Decisions had played it’s part to change marketing, to make marketing great, where the definition of great marketing was that it was marketing that would make people feel better about themselves, that it would be marketing that would be using the power of influence to make the world a better place.  And if the 5000+ marketing messages that we as consumers saw every day, not only reflected the diversity of us as consumers but also implored us to be kinder, nicer, more helpful to each other, then the world would be changed.

It was a dream.  And I was going to make it happen.  Curious Decisions was going to offer Strategic Consultancy – to help corporates, and the agencies they worked with make decisions based on an insatiable curiosity about their customers.  Curious Decisions was going to offer Marketing Capability workshops, to help marketing people improve their marketing skills and understand how to create powerful insights, inspired story-telling and turn strategy into action.  Curious Decisions was above all, going to change the face (literally) of advertising with our Diversity Marketing approach which would normalise difference.

It was a great deal of fun, setting up the company, dreaming the dream.  Less fun though was the things that a start-up can’t provide so easily; office camaraderie, laughs, sparking off others’ ideas and creativity.  And some of the things that a start-up can provide buckets of, in large measure are quite stressful.  Flexibility is so precious, but the responsibility for your whole day stretching out in front of you, just there, to be filled and so much to fill it with, the choices that need to be made – whilst social media distracts.

I learned a lot, some new skills, some learnings about myself. I learned about Companies House and being a Company Director.  I learned about basic accounts.  I learned some website basics and wordpress.  I learned I’m not a sales person (yes, sales is different to marketing).  Even when I totally believe in the product (and that product is me), I don’t want to sell it.  I learned to enjoy networking, for the first time, ever.  Talking about what I was passionate about, in collaborative and supportive environments has given me the impetus to take forward a new project, to create inspiring, supportive learning spaces for women in middle/early senior management within corporates which was always lacking in my previous career.

My biggest learning, and the most impactful part of my adventure was coaching.  I had always known that I loved coaching and Curious Decisions was going always going to feature coaching.  I love helping people, and like Phoebe in that episode of Friends where she is looking for the selfless act, the instant gratification that’s possible from when you’ve helped a coaching client crack a problem, have a breakthrough, achieve their goals, that’s what I love.  It’s entirely selfish, the desire to help.  I’m hugely grateful that my time with Curious Decisions (which I’d always framed to myself as an experiment) has enabled me to formally pursue my coaching training.  I will shortly be an ICF accredited coach and am an NLP Practitioner.  During this year, I am furthering my NLP studies with Master Practitioner and Train the Trainer as well.

Curious Decisions is evolving.  Dreams can be powerful, but they cannot be achieved overnight (or even, in a 6-9 month experiment window).  Curious Decisions is now reframing itself to achieve the dream at a slower pace. During the 9-5 working week Curious Decisions is now happily undertaking a Curious Assignment which will help marketing people be better at being marketing people.  The Curious Dream to help  people achieve their dreams through coaching, and through delivering personal growth workshops will continue to live, during evenings and weekends.   I’m looking forward to this next iteration.

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The Curious Brand (& thanks)

curious thinkingI’ve had Curious Decisions in my head for quite some time.  It wasn’t a fully-formed idea for a while but as my 5th decade started to approach I kept coming back to the truth that I wanted to go my own way, carve out my own path, and subtly change the direction of my career by using my extensive marketing strategy experience to help enhance marketers’ marketing capability and change the industry for the better.

It was probably around 3 years ago that the seeds were formed.  I started thinking deeply about what I wanted to be doing in my working life for the next 20-30 years.  And it wasn’t what I was doing.  I had one of the most awesome jobs on the planet, having a part in defining the marketing strategy for one of the best brands in the UK, but it wasn’t fulfilling me.  A coaching session with the wonderful Sarah Lane helped me to visualise what I wanted to be doing longer term and create a plan for getting there.  Last year, with my 40th birthday, I began in earnest to put the plan into action.  I got a secondment into Learning & Development and learnt so much from some very capable colleagues.  I created the opportunity to work with Imparta on designing & delivering training.  I was so lucky to be able to work side by side with, and get advice from, some of the people I have most admired and wanted to emulate – thanks to Liz Machtynger, Fiona Maktari, Mark Abell, Mark Simmonds and Nick Baggott, your input and advice have been invaluable.  Support from my colleagues, Simon Groves, Ben Messore, Roger Beesley and Justine Jenson also deserve special mention, thank you.

The opportunity to start Curious Decisions probably occurred about 6 months earlier than I’d planned; I wasn’t quite ready, I’d wanted some time to let it settle on me some more, to build some client & project leads, to get my name ‘out there’.  But you can’t pass-up the opportunity to make your dreams come true when opportunity comes knocking.  And so Curious Decisions was born.

The Curious Manifesto attempts to explain what Curious Decisions is standing for in the industry.  Sitting down in May to try to articulate how that should be encapsulated in a brand, a logo, a website, was really very difficult for me.  I can’t draw to save my life and my visual thinking capacity is fairly limited.  I was therefore delighted that a wonderful friend was able to put me in touch with Jo Harrison who is the designer and facilitator behind Make Bright.  Jo was able to take my vague ramblings about Alice in Wonderland and wanting to connect with child-like wonder, avoiding anything that looked too corporate and staid, demonstrated the female touch, yet was still professional and turn it into what you see today.

The essence of Curious Decisions is the combination of art and science, of emotional and rational, of the micro influences in the macro world.  So the lettering for Curious represents the whimsical, wondrous imagination of the child and the emotional responses that go into decision-making.  And the lettering for Decisions represents the harder, more tangible decisiveness of the rational, grown-up with a business imperative to meet.

Jo has created some beautiful, unique illustrations to bring to life some of the concepts that Curious Decisions stands for, and everything has a very personal connection to me.  From the chosen fonts (art nouveau, art deco), to the bi-planes, skydivers, Russian dolls, everything, there is a link to something I have felt connected to or experienced in my life.  I wanted the brand itself to inspire, to take you to a place in your heads where you can embrace your creativity, your curiosity.  I wanted the brand to relish the process of coming up with decisions, and not focus only on the end-result of the decision itself – favouring the journey over the destination.  I also wanted the brand to feel other-wordly, because Curious Decisions will create a new world; it is my new world and it will change the world.  I’m super-happy with the result: I hope you like it too, thank you for reading.

Addendum, 16th August 2014.  I went on a copyright course this week and learned that I should have checked with Sheryl Sandberg and Cindy Gallop for permission to use their quotes.  I’m really happy that they have provided that permission; thank you.  I was also relieved to discover that Lewis Carroll’s quotes from Alice are out of copyright, but in case you didn’t realise, of course those wonderful quotes which I use are Lewis’ words, not mine.  Namaste (I’m assuming the Dalai Lama won’t be minding me using his words).

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