Using Blockchain to help Ethiopian coffee farmers

Moyee is the world’s first FairChain coffee brand. Based in Amsterdam, Addis Ababa and now Dublin, the provocative coffee company is on a mission to transform global coffee to a fairer, more transparent industry. Shane Reilly, who brought Moyee to Ireland, talks to ThinkBusiness.

 

What does Moyee Coffee do that’s different? 

Most of the value-added aspects of Moyee’s coffee production take place in Ethiopia, including roasting, and because Moyee pays coffee farmers 20% above the market price, they have access to the country’s best coffee. The combination of premium coffee and a progressive social and economic agenda is behind the company’s tagline: ‘Radically good coffee with radical impact’. A cult coffee brand established in the Netherlands, Killian Stokes and I brought the FairChain movement to Ireland in late 2016.

“We see our social mission as being central to our business.”

Helping the coffee farmer

By roasting our coffee in Ethiopia, we ensure more of the value of coffee stays in the hands of those who contribute most to coffee production. Coffee production is notoriously complex and involves countless middlemen, each taking a piece of the pie along the way. Coffee farmers are always at the short end of the stick. Currently, only 2% of the added value of every cup of coffee ends up in the pockets of coffee producers.

In a similar way to other campaigning brands like Patagonia, we see our social mission as being central to our business. Customers want to know where their products are coming from and they are starting to see through corporate social responsibility box ticking. Our ultimate aim and brand promise is to create a true 50/50 partnership with coffee-producing countries like Ethiopia.

Why Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is the birthplace of Arabica coffee and grows some of the best coffee in the world. It’s also a symbol of many of the problems with the coffee industry.

Despite being Africa’s biggest coffee exported, Ethiopia makes just shy of €800 million per year. At the same time, it has to rely on nearly €3 billion in development aid from the international community. If Ethiopia exported roasted, branded speciality coffee – like Moyee has started to do – it would triple its income overnight and rapidly reduce its reliance on development aid in coffee-producing regions.

A major point we make, however, is that this trade should be based on quality not charity. This is why when we do a free tasting for a potential office customer, we always start with the flavour and taste of our coffee.

“All Moyee’s coffee will be fully blockchain-traceable from the washing station in Ethiopia to our retail and office customers in Europe.”

How does FairChain work?

Since early November, we have been running a pilot project in Ethiopia with blockchain pioneers bext360 and the FairChain Foundation to prove more than ever that coffee is capable of leading the way to a more honest, fairer society.

We’ve been following the progress of our coffee through the supply chain since November. The first step in the chain was real-time payments to Ethiopian farmers for their coffee cherries. This blockchain project will mean all Moyee’s coffee will be fully blockchain-traceable from the washing station in Ethiopia to our retail and office customers in Europe.

The next phase of this project is really exciting as you have the ability to use tokens to ‘Tip the farmer’ directly from a consumer to a farmer’s digital wallet in Ethiopia. This has the potential to connect customers and producers like never before.

“The average coffee farmer in Ethiopia earns about €480 a year, even with the premiums we pay, and we can start to have a radical impact in coffee-growing regions by increasing this to €1,000 per year.”

What is the USP?

A physical blockchain token – or a scannable code – on a coffee bag or on your take away cup would allow customers to see who their farmer was, what we paid them and how much added value we leave in Ethiopia by roasting there.

This allows a sceptical consumer to see that their coffee is actually fair, from where we said it was and in the top 5% of beans.

The average coffee farmer in Ethiopia earns about €480 per year, even with the premiums we pay, and we can start to have a radical impact in coffee-growing regions by increasing this to €1,000 per year. Being able to offer our customers blockchain tokens to crowdfund towards an infrastructure project or to help farmers upgrade equipment and improve yields is our ultimate aim and an important part of our FairChain principles.

“We’re on a mission to bring speciality coffee into the workplace.”

Growth

We’re on a mission to bring speciality coffee into the workplace and that’s our main channel for the company in the next year. We’ve had great success in 2018 with co-working spaces and recently became the coffee partner for both The Tara Building & DogpatchLabs in Dublin. We’ve had good traction with tech companies like Groupon, fellow social enterprise FoodCloud and as well as creative agencies.

With a new eCommerce site about to be launched, we’re also looking to bring on board more subscribers who join our FairChain Coffee Club and get a fresh coffee delivery each month.

Moyee is also launching a ‘One million cups revolution’ in May to show exactly the impact of one million cups of FairChain coffee would have in Ethiopia. We think this campaign will bring on board companies who want to contribute to this impact.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/moyee-is-the-worlds-first-fairchain-coffee-brand/ on
thinkbusiness

Smart Sandyford – strategies for successful innovation

On Wednesday, May 23, the Smart Sandyford meetup will address how firms can increase agility, accuracy and responsiveness to rapidly changing market trends.

Businesses have never had more opportunities to harness breakthrough innovation, but in parallel, the risks of failure have increased. As technology underpins significant changes across biotech, medtech, fintech and many other industries, how can organisations plot a path to successfully navigate the development path of new products and services to stay ahead of the curve? Register now. 

The panel

Hosted by Smart Sandyford’s ‘Skills & innovation champion’, Eoin Costello, the panel of experts includes:

  • Paul Farnan – Microsoft
  • Jamie Tallon – ICON
  • Florence Irwin – SNP Communications
  • Bartley Doyle – Accenture

Who should attend? 

The meetup is free to attend and will be of particular interest to:

  • Business owner/managers
  • Coders/developers
  • Project managers
  • Product development teams
  • Innovation managers
  • IT staff

Space at this free event is limited, please register now. 

May Smart Sandyford meetup

About

Sandyford Smart Innovation Taskforce (an initiative of Sandyford BID) is committed to strengthening the digital community in Sandyford, helping business upskill for the capabilities needed in the smart era and helping companies in traditional sectors in the district leverage the benefits of digital transformation and collaborative innovation.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/smart-sandyford-meetup-agile-innovation/ on
thinkbusiness

Mattress Mick – ‘I never gave up’

Despite many setbacks, Mattress Mick says he never thought of giving up. He spoke to Stephen Larkin about his highs and lows in business.

Across Ireland, Michael Flynn, aka Mattress Mick, has become a household name thnaks to his unique business style. However, despite his bubbly character, his career has been a constant battle which resulted in some “serious failures” along the way.

Having started out working as a banker, Mick opted to take over the family business in Pearse Street, Dublin, following the death of his father. He made the premises a place of “real wheeling and dealing” as he sold everything from furniture, to clothes, and even curtains.

With money coming in from the success of his business, Mick decided to expand and at one point owned eight premises, which he feels led to his downfall. “I was young and I started spending my money very stupidly. I really took my eye off the ball. I knew I needed to make a change and I held on to them for far too long when I look back on it now. Eventually, I made the decision to close up and I sold those properties to clear my debts, but I still kept the original furniture business in Pearse Street.”

This recession in 2008 led to the birth of Mattress Mick. “When I looked at my businesses, I noticed bedroom furniture were the best selling products, so with very little money left, I decided on using a gorilla marketing strategy to get me going again. I was out on the streets doing the gorilla marketing and putting up signs everywhere without any permission, which resulted in things beginning to blossom again.”

“Not once! I had some bad days alright, but I never thought of giving up. I think it’s part of who I am to not give up.”

Famous for his quirky YouTube videos, Mattress Mick saw his popularity rise to the point where he was getting asked for photos on the street, doing meet and greet events, and even receiving wedding invitations. Mick puts his likeability down to his failure in the past. “The fact I’m just an ordinary guy, and I’m not afraid to admit that I have made mistakes, I think people can relate to that. I think it gives people motivation because failure is normal and to be successful you must overcome some sort of failure along the way.”

When asked was giving up ever an option, Mick’s entrepreneurial spirit awakes. “Not once! I had some bad days alright, but I never thought of giving up. I think it’s part of who I am to not give up.”

“Failure is normal and to be successful you must overcome some sort of failure along the way.”

Mick says this to be the most important characteristic for any aspiring entrepreneur to possess. “You need to believe in yourself above all else. Believe in the plan you set out and go execute it. Don’t get distracted by anything. It’s so important to do everything honestly because you’ll get far by being honest with people.”

Mick looks back on his career in business, which started in the 1960s with great fondness. However, he has one or two minor regrets about his adventures. “I think if I could go back I’d look to adopt technology earlier because back then I didn’t realise the power it could have on business. I also got ahead of myself and had too many shops at the one time. I should’ve just had two or three and really concentrated on them, definitely not eight.”

Despite having no plans to retire anytime soon, Mick wishes he was, “20 years younger to develop the brand”, and so he “plans to establish an exit strategy because I have to be realistic with my age”.

Related Resource

How to innovate to remain successful. 

 

 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/mattress-mick-life-business-failures-success/ on
thinkbusiness

The man behind Paddy Power’s biggest stunts

Public House is an advertising agency that prides itself on making the headlines through its creative and sometimes provocative advertising campaigns. 

Colin Hart is the managing director of Public House, one of Ireland’s leading advertising agencies. The agency partners a number of different companies, with Paddy Power being one of their biggest clients.

Speaking at the OFFSET design conference in Dublin, he said; “Eighty percent of advertising is pretty much spam. We don’t want to be a part of that. We know it doesn’t sell so what’s the point. Our motto and founding principle is ‘boring doesn’t sell’.”

Creative push

While Public House likes to push its clients in terms of creativity, they don’t believe in being overly creative and bold when it’s not necessary. “There has to be substance,” said Colin. “We work with 123.ie insurance and we tried to find a nice edge. With Paddy Power, we tend to push them even further.”

One of their most successful campaigns came with Paddy Power in 2012, during the opening of the European Championships. On the eve of the England vs. France game, Paddy Power revealed a 100ft tall construction of ‘Roy the Redeemer’ on the White Cliffs of Dover. The huge image of the then England manager Roy Hodgson could be seen all the way across the English Channel in France.

“Originally, we planned to put a giant finger put on the Cliffs of Dover, so France could see it,” said Colin mischievously. “Then we came up with ‘Roy the Redeemer’.”

The statue was a reproduction of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue which overlooks Rio de Janeiro, but the face of Christ was replaced with England’s new ‘saviour’, Roy Hodgson.

“We were small and trying to make an impact,” said Colin. “It was covered by every national publication in the UK and France. France thought it was good fun. We present in headlines rather than pitches.”

Olympic hijinks

During the Olympics Games in London in 2012, Paddy Power put up billboards saying it was sponsoring ‘the biggest athletics event in London’. Initially, it was assumed Paddy power was referring to the Olympic Games, however, it was actually referring to an egg-and-spoon race it was sponsoring in a small village in France, ironically called London.

“We make an opportunity out of nothing. Before the All-Ireland hurling final last year, we put a ‘cousin shifting booth’ outside Copper Face Jacks in Dublin for fans from the country to enjoy,” says Colin.

In an effort to give Mayo’s footballers some divine inspiration ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final against Kerry in 2017, Paddy Power projected a 70ft image of the Mother of Christ holding the Sam Maguire trophy onto the front of Knock Basilica.

“If you know how far you can push it in one area, it means you know how people behave. We get lots of analytics and we can use it with other brands. Provoking debate looks like success for us. We go big or go home.”

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/the-man-behind-paddy-powers-biggest-stunts/ on
thinkbusiness

Thinking business with Queila Doyle

Thinking business with Queila Doyle, CEO and founder of My Beauty Squad.

I am originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and I grew up spending my days on the beach, enjoying the fantastic weather. Brazil is a country where the beauty industry is central to our culture, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with everything related to beauty. I met my husband (who is from Cork) and moved to London with him over five years ago. Since moving, I set up My Beauty Squad in London which has been a great success. We have worked with amazing clients, celebrities and brands, and we have built a fantastic team. During this time, I have been on countless trips to Ireland and I’ve fallen in love with the country and its people, which has led me to bring My Beauty Squad here.

“Have the patience and stillness to accept the highs and lows. It’s not a smooth journey.”

How it all began

It was all because my husband booked a last-minute holiday. I wanted to get my nails done around 7 pm after work, and all the salons were fully booked or closed. I ended up not finding anyone and wishing for a platform that could bring beauticians to my home and make me feel pampered. Having a beauty industry background myself, I knew that beauticians were not treated fairly and I decided to build upon this by having a company focused on their wellbeing. Consequently, they make our customers feel special, and we can grow the business together.

My Beauty Squad team

Motivation

I love bringing amazing beauticians together and working on ideas to improve the beauty industry. These women are passionate professionals who help me to grow the business and also make our customers feel amazing. I love their loyalty and how we all feel like a family.

The big challenge

I believe it’s the fact that you need an all-in-one degree where the skillset can change every minute. At any moment, you can change from being the CEO to a counsellor, administrator, mediator, artist and many other professions that I’ve learned along the way.

Plans

We want to become a beauty platform trusted by women, that offers beauty services and products, reviews and honest advice through our blogs and podcasts.

“There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t get started, but if you just do it, you will learn along the way.”

My advice

Just do it. There are a million reasons why you shouldn’t get started, but if you just do it, you will learn along the way. Since the very beginning of my journey, it has been learning as I go. The only thing I would do differently is to practise more meditation and have the patience and stillness to accept the highs and lows. It’s not a smooth journey.

Role models

I love the serial entrepreneur and presenter Marcus Lemonis. He is hugely successful, a self-made millionaire and I love the way he genuinely cares about the people he works with. I am a firm believer that a business that is out only to make money is a poor business. But outside of the business world, I have to say that my husband inspires me with his positive views about life. I think Irish people always have a smile to give and that has inspired me to gain new perspectives in adverse situations.

“Life is too short, so just get out there and follow your dreams.”

If I wasn’t running a business?

I would love to be a detective. No criminal would be safe. As for a job that I would hate to have it would be any job that would make me grumpy waking up on Mondays. If this is you, then my advice is to think about how you can solve this problem. Life is too short, so just get out there and follow your dreams.

www.mybeautysquad.ie
Instagram: @mybeautysquad

Interview by Laura Mellett. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/my-beauty-squad-queila-doyle/ on
thinkbusiness

Attention management is the new time management

Time management is all very well but it’s not enough. Here’s how to incorporate attention management to be more productive. 

Most people I know in business have excellent time management skills. They set out their goals, they prioritise their work, and they make a daily task list to get things done.

In days gone by that was enough. Planning meant that work could be scheduled into the time available. By and large, an organised person could get all their work done quite routinely. Imagine that?

“As soon as we check our email in the morning, our task list is already out of date.”

The problem with time management

But those time management techniques were designed for a business world where people had control over their time. It was a business world without email, mobile phones, i-messenger, apps, iPads, tablets and social media. Blocks of uninterrupted time were easier to find and in general, the plan for the day could be completed as expected.

“This will impact business growth as the focus becomes less strategic and more operational.”

New challenges

Technological advances have completely changed our work environment. Constant communication brings a steady stream of new requests and ever-changing deadlines.

So allocating time to a task doesn’t mean it gets done. As soon as we check our email in the morning, our task list is already out of date. And when everything seems urgent, it is impossible to stick to our priorities. As the day goes on the work plan can go out the window.

“Understand where your focus is going throughout the day.”

Working reactively

The steady stream of requests means comes with an expectation of almost instant response time. So we work in a reactive, responsive mode.

And this is great for customer service and team cooperation. But it’s not productive for the achievement of the plans and goals. And ultimately this will impact business growth as the focus becomes less strategic and more operational.

“Spot patterns, track who and what distracts you. Use a time log for a few days to get the data on this.”

Attention management

So in a way time management techniques have never been so important. But we have to supplement these techniques with skills to manage our attention. How good are your attention management skills? Is this something you have ever thought about?

Here are some tips on how you can become more aware of your attention and then how to manage it.

attention management

1. Understand your attention

Do some initial work to understand where your focus is going throughout the day. Spot patterns, track who and what distracts you. Use a time log for a few days to get the data on this. Make a list of those attention stealers to remind you what to avoid.

Then use a timer so you can check your progress versus your plan during the day. This will help you see where you have drifted on to another task without realising it. But it also enables you to get back on track before too much time is lost. After a while, you develop the skill yourself, so the timer isn’t required.

“To give you the confidence to make decisions you should be clear about your responsibilities to your clients.”

2. Protect your attention

We often feel obliged to respond to new requests, new emails or interruptions. It can be hard to say no to your customers or your colleagues. But we often end up working on something that has a lower priority than the work we planned to do.

To give you the confidence to make decisions you should be clear about your responsibilities to your clients. What is a reasonable response time for clients? What has been agreed? Are you doing tasks that are not in your role?

With this knowledge, it can be easier to say no or at last negotiate a different response time.

“If your business allows it, turn off the phones at least some of the time.”

3. Develop the right environment

If you run your own business take a look at how easy or difficult it is for people to focus. Is there a noise level that can be improved? Can you work together to give each person some “Do not disturb” time throughout the week?

  • Encourage people to focus on one task rather than multi-tasking.
  • If your business allows it, turn off the phones at least some of the time.
  • Provide a quiet room as a contrast to the open plan office.
  • Offer your office to your team when you are not there.
  • Allow the use of noise-blocking headphones if it doesn’t compromise your service delivery.
  • Above all, be creative. Come up with your own solutions for attention management that will suit your business.
moira dunne

Be proactive, take control and be productive

So let’s give some time to attention management. It is one of the essential business skills in today’s workplace. Combine this with the classic time management techniques and watch your productivity soar.

Guide by Moira Dunne, BeProductive.ie.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/how-to-manage-your-time-and-attention-in-work/ on
thinkbusiness

A diverse culture helps a business thrive

What does a 235-year-old business feel about issues like gender equality, inclusion and diversity? Andrew Keating, the chief financial officer with Bank of Ireland, discusses the historical changes afoot in Ireland’s largest and oldest bank.

Most successful, well-established businesses have a life cycle of fewer than 50 years. Bank of Ireland was established in 1783 by Royal Charter, making it 235-years-old. For a company to survive this long, it must be good at many things, but mainly it must be an expert at adapting to generational social, political and economic changes.

18 months ago a decision was made at a board level to change the bank’s culture and develop a framework to make it a more inclusive, diverse and gender balanced workplace. One of the leading advocates and architects of this framework is Andrew Keating, CFO of the Group.

Why change now is the obvious question?

“There are obviously human and moral reasons,” says Keating. “But there are also very clear and very tangible commercial reasons. We know that our colleagues all have unique strengths and by embracing these, we can be better for our customers. Ireland is now a much more diverse country and we, as a business, must reflect this so we can serve our customers and our communities better.”

In practice, what does it mean?

“To be diverse we must have a culture that values uniqueness,” explains Keating. “To be inclusive means inviting diverse groups in – ensuring that people with different viewpoints, cultures, genders, and races can take part in company life.”

“Inclusion and diversity won’t work unless people feel they belong.”

Is it as easy as that?

“We can’t just say we have an inclusion and diversity agenda and hope it works out,” admits Keating. “Inclusion and diversity won’t work unless people feel they belong. Belonging helps each person be fully known and accepted for who they are. We have a dedicated inclusion and diversity council at the bank and a governance framework and strategy in place to drive this important agenda. We also have goals in place, and the leadership of the Group will be held to account for these goals.”

“A lack of diversity negatively affects the behaviour and culture within firms.”

Why diversity at the top matters

A 2017 report by the Central Bank showed that since 2012, 80% of the almost 18,000 applications for regulatory approval for senior level roles in financial services firms have been for men.

A lack of diversity negatively affects the behaviour and culture within firms, their decision-making and their risk management. In short, it is easier for group-think to emerge and evidence clearly shows that greater diversity at management level reduces a business’ risk of mistakes and failure.

Having board-sponsored and executive committee sponsored diversity policies and programmes in place show that diversity is a real priority at Bank of Ireland, says Keating.

“We want to give more support to our colleagues who are parents.”

The gender agenda

Regarding gender diversity and equality, what is the bank doing to ensure female colleagues are treated equally?

“Finance and banking don’t have a good historical track record when it comes to gender equality,” admits Keating. “While acknowledging the past we are very focused on the present and changing the future.

“To take a particular example: as anyone who has children knows, having a child is wonderful but can be exceptionally challenging at times. We want to give more support to our colleagues who are parents and make sure that the supports are consistent and codified so managers can also understand the challenges new parents are likely to experience.”

Keating also believes that the bank needs to achieve better gender balance at all levels.

“There is no question that gender balance on boards and at executive level means better leadership and governance,” he says. “It also means better all-around board performance and increased performance for our colleagues, customers and our shareholders.

“We have signed up for The 30% Club because we believe in its mission. 60% of the graduates who come into the bank are female, but at senior level, this percentage drops off dramatically. This needs to change.”

“I think it’s a fitting ‘arc’ for these coins, once a symbol of such blatant discrimination, that they now represent inclusion, diversity and equality.”

Gold Sovereigns

One of the most symbolic initiatives Keating launched involves the famous ‘Gold Sovereigns’.

“The Gold Sovereigns are a tangible symbol, a reminder, of just how far we have come as a company (and as a country),” explains Keating.

“Before Ireland joined the EU in 1973, a professional woman who got married had to give up work and ‘return to the home’. I mean looking at it now it was such a shameful law.

“In Bank of Ireland, pre-1973, a female colleague who got married would be given a Gold Sovereign on her departure from the Group. Can you imagine? What was worse was that if she were marrying a male colleague, she would only get a half-sovereign and he would get the other half-sovereign!

“We have a stock of these sovereigns in our vault, and now we present Gold Sovereigns to colleagues and people who are driving the inclusion and diversity agenda in the bank and in our wider society. I think it’s a fitting ‘arc’ for these coins, once a symbol of such blatant discrimination, that they now represent inclusion, diversity and equality. I think it says a lot about where were have come from and where we are going as an organisation.”

Interview by Stephen Conmy. 

Related Resource

Brid Horan of The 30% Club explains why a lack of diversity damages society. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/andrew-keating-bank-of-ireland-diversity-equality/ on
thinkbusiness

Reduce stress by taking control

Most of us are experiencing increased levels of stress, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here’s how to take back control. 

One of the great advantages of being self-employed is having the freedom to make all your own decisions. You can shape the direction of your business and control what you do each day.

Despite having most of the control over their daily lives, business owners are feeling more stressed and less in control. Dedication to excellent customer service requires constant contact. Mobile technology requires instant response. As a result, a large part of the day can be spent on unplanned work. And the priority work for our business doesn’t always get done no matter how many plans or to-do lists we create.

“Why is the problem getting more prominent as our technology gets smarter?”

Stress and frustration

‘Doing it all’ can be both frustrating and stressful. And once that stress kicks in it can be hard to think straight. Hard to make the right decisions and hard to be strategic.

Too often we try to reduce the stress by working longer hours. But of course, in the long run, that’s bad for us and bad for our business.

So what is going on? Why are so many professionals feeling this stress? And why is the problem getting more prominent as our technology gets smarter?

The business world has changed

The way we do work has changed radically in recent years. But the problem is that few of us have adjusted the way we approach work to reflect this. Here is a list of some of these changes:

  • A constant stream of requests on multiple devices
  • Instant communication has created an expectation of immediate response
  • Our contactable hours are longer
  • We have decreased downtime to refresh and reset
  • All notifications disrupt us to the same extent
  • Our mobile devices are used in both work and personal lives

We need additional skills to deal with our changed world. And we need to strategically adjust the way we approach the working week.

how to reduce stress

A different approach to work

Most people in business apply good time management skills such as planning, scheduling and creating task lists. But these skills were designed for a more straightforward nine to five working day. There was a time when we left our work behind us and refreshed when we went home. We read books or newspapers on our commute and the only technology in our bedroom was an alarm clock.

Nowadays because of the constant flow of new work and requests throughout the day, we need to be able to: 1) continuously reassess priorities, 2) stay focussed on planned work, and 3) say no to less important work.

“Set weekly goals, so you have ongoing clarity about your priorities.”

1. Decision management

To reassess priorities quickly use a simple question: “If I say yes to this new request what tasks am I saying no to?” In a split second, you clarify what work is not going to get done if you take on an unplanned task.

But to make the correct decisions, you need to do a bit of background thinking and planning about the overall goals for your business. Then set weekly goals, so you have ongoing clarity about your priorities. Then your daily and hourly decisions about what to prioritise will be well informed.

2. Attention management

It can be hard to stay tuned in throughout the day to continually realise what is happening and where your time is going. This is because we often react to new requests without thinking of the time implications or we can spend too long on a planned task.

Who hasn’t done a quick email check and spent an hour or two longer than planned? The work you do might be important, but it may not be the most important thing at that moment in time.

To counteract this frequent use, you should employ checkpoints. Assess your progress as you move from one task to another. Ask yourself:

  • Am I still on track?
  • If not why not?
  • What (or who) distracted me?
  • How can I stop this happening again?

If you are spending too long on tasks, try using a timer to limit yourself and give yourself a chance to move on.

“Mornings are often best for working alone on tasks that require deep-thinking. Energy levels can drop in the afternoon.”

3. Energy management

Recognise the importance of refuelling and refreshing. Take breaks, eat good food, stay hydrated. These factors have an impact on our ability to focus as the day progresses. They also affect our ability to make the right decisions.

Be strategic about your day. Understand the times when you focus best and protect this time for the most critical work. Mornings are often best for working alone on tasks that require deep-thinking. Energy levels can drop in the afternoon so use this time for interaction with others which helps maintain your focus.

Be proactive, take control

In summary – the world we do business in has changed, so we need to change the way we do business. Reduce stress by taking control:

  • Be clear about your priorities
  • Re-evaluate throughout the day
  • Use your most productive time for your most important jobs
  • Say no sometimes (see our top tips on saying no)
  • Manage your attention using checkpoints and timers
  • Manage your energy by taking breaks and refuelling
moira dunne

By making some simple changes, you can take back control of your time. Be proactive, and your work life will be less stressful and more productive.

This guide is by Moira Dunne, BeProductive.ie.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/how-to-reduce-stress-at-work-and-home/ on
thinkbusiness

Thinking business with Shannon McNamee

Shannon McNamee is one of Galway’s community leaders working with Galway-based software company Ex Ordo,while also taking up a number of other roles in her free time. Here she discusses her passions as well as her love for Galway.

What’s your role?

Monday to Friday I work in customer support with our US and Canadian customers, consulting with them and training them to use our product to suit their needs as best possible. My day is tailored to suit their business hours, so I work evenings. Ex Ordo is the type of company where, if you have an idea for a project you’d like to work on, and it aligns with company goals, you take that project and run with it. That’s how I got to organise Edify, the talk series we started this year. I also write for the Irish Journal of Music and State Magazine, and help run Louth-based music festival Vantastival.

What are you most interested in?

Music and writing are my biggest interests. I play guitar and like to listen to as much new music as possible. I also write about music so it’s a good chance to combine both passions.

What are your ambitions?

I’m at an early stage of my career where I have many possibilities ahead of me, so I don’t necessarily want to restrict myself by having one specific path in mind. However, I know that I’ll always want to work on my own creative projects – whether it is running my own events, collaborating with festivals or writing my own content. Also, since starting to work with a tech company, I’ve become more interested in combining elements of technology and creative arts. So I aim to explore that idea more in future projects.

“I’m at an early stage of my career where I have many possibilities ahead of me, so I don’t necessarily want to restrict myself by having one specific path in mind.”

What drives you?

Seeing local businesses or people I know succeed. This, to me is a huge inspiration and spurs me to work harder and aim bigger.

Who do you admire in business?

The Dough Bros! Their story is such an inspiring story of success, and everything about their business from their food, to their brand and their customer service is phenomenal. I also really admire lifestyle blogger Erika Fox of Retro Flame. There can be a lot of inauthenticity in bloggers and influencers these days, but Erika’s content always seems to fit with her brand and she genuinely has a really inspiring work ethic.

“Galway is a very inclusive city with resources and facilities for those with disabilities, in the arts at least.”

 

What are we doing well in Galway?

Galway is a very inclusive city with resources and facilities for those with disabilities, in the arts at least. There was a large arts and disability conference here last year called Creative Connections, so I think there’s a great awareness of inclusivity in the arts in Galway. Galway businesses and organisations are also huge supporters and creators of art with many arts festivals and events all year round. So with the 2020 Capital of Culture coming up, it’s exciting to see what else will pop up around the city.

What makes Galway unique?

Galway is the only place I know where everyone thinks fondly of. The people who grow up here, the ‘blow-ins’ like myself and people who come from around Ireland and abroad always seem to think overwhelmingly positive of our city. I think this has to do with all aspects of life here, including the welcoming nature of the locals and businesses, the student and research community, the buskers on Shop Street, the night life and the beautiful natural surroundings of Galway bay.

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/thinking-business-shannon-mcnamee/ on
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Turtle Bunbury and the business of History

Entrepreneurs come in all guises. Turtle Bunbury’s business, his product as such, is History. This is his fascinating story.

Turtle Bunbury pictured at his home in Oldfort, Tobinstown, County Carlow.

Some years ago, Turtle Bunbury, the well-known historian and author, took part in a mentoring programme at Trinity College Dublin, which was aimed at advising history students on how to make the most of their degree. He spoke about how a broad skill-set can help provide the freedom and financial independence, to work as a freelance historian. He has worked in a wide variety of areas as a TV presenter and radio guest; genealogist; public speaker and interviewer; travel writer, tour guide, film scriptwriter and festival organiser and takes us back to Co. Carlow, where his interest in history, first began.

“As a child, I was absorbed by historical swashbuckling movies and biblical epics.”

What inspires you to write on the topics you write about?

I grew up at Lisnavagh House in County Carlow, the walls of which were lined with scary portraits of ancestors from the 18th and 19th century. As a child, I was absorbed by historical swashbuckling movies and biblical epics. I also had an excellent history teacher at school called Charles Shiffner who showed us how the history of one part of the world, was so often influenced by what was going on in another. All up, I was a historical nerd by the time I was a teenager.

The topics I pursue tend to be quite broad – old people’s reflections on their life, big events like the Easter Rising and WW1, family histories, Irish pubs – but I am always interested in the experience of people, and how they reacted to the events and circumstances they found themselves living through. For instance, my recent book ‘1847 – A Chronicle of Genius, Generosity and Savagery’ has a strong focus on how different people responded to the crisis of the Great Famine in Ireland.

“My career is varied, and as the wonderful writer Peter Somerville Large once said to me, ‘your life shall never be dull’.”

Who is your target audience?

I have a pretty wide net really, so the most likely answer is ‘general readers’. My greatest hope is that I can hook people who had little or no interest in history and to make them excited by it. I want to bring the past to life for them, so it is not just a dull list of dates, dates, and dates. I want to show them that history has the juiciest plots, the greatest twists, the richest characters, the best lines – and ideally, I want them to consider their family origins and try to work out where they fit into it all.

“There is a perception that being a historian is not a real career or that it’s a glorified hobby.”

What aspect of Irish history excites you most?

I’m pretty interested in the whole spectrum, but I am presently homing in on the Georgian Age, which I find a fascinating era, especially when the principles of the American Revolution began to influence the debate in the time of Grattan’s Parliament.

I love stories that put Ireland in its global context. My ‘1847’ book is replete with tales of Irishmen who served in faraway wars, as well as women who made a major impact on the world stage. I’m particularly excited by the links between Ireland and the Americas in the Tudor and Stuart period, not least because the brother of the first ‘Irish’ Bunbury emigrated to Virginia in 1660.

“As a freelance historian, I am marketing what is essentially a luxury commodity.”

What obstacles do you encounter in your career?

Focusing on history has been a two-edged sword. I’ve always loved it, but I was not a professional historian. I earned a BA degree from Trinity in history (after initially starting a law degree), but I suspected it would be challenging to make a career out of it. There is a perception that being a historian is not a real career or that it’s a glorified hobby, which can be reflected in the pay packages on offer. I did not want to be a teacher although I do enjoy giving lectures on historical subjects, which I now do quite regularly. I started out being a travel writer but then realised it was vital that I establish historical credibility if I was to be taken seriously with works such as my World War One book ‘The Glorious Madness’ or my 1916 book, ‘Easter Dawn’.

As a freelance historian, I am marketing what is essentially a luxury commodity. Although history is not that high on the radar, I passionately believe the past should be much more important than it is, and it is my hope that comes through in my writing.

I’ve found it necessary to wear many historical hats over the years, and some of them are starting to fit quite comfortably at this stage. From writing books to giving talks, presenting TV shows to historical consultancy to writing private family histories … my career is varied, and as the wonderful writer Peter Somerville Large once said to me, “your life shall never be dull”.

“I think you need to have that combination of persistence, optimism, and humour along with a generous dollop of luck.”

Turtle Bunbury pictured at his home in Oldfort, Tobinstown, County Carlow.

What advice would you give someone wishing to publish a book?

I self-published my first two books in 2004 and 2005, and that was a very useful exercise. It gave me an insight into how the publishing industry works from the inside out and taught me how to reach my target audience. I learned that if a book is ‘face out’ in a bookshop, its chances of selling are greatly better than if the book is on its spine. I learned that if you’re going on the radio to talk about your book, you have to let the book trade know in advance and then they will make sure your book is ‘face out’. When the opportunity arises, it is certainly an easier ride to go with a publisher, particularly regarding distribution.

I recently visited the Eason’s warehouse to sign books and saw the hundreds of thousands of books stacked up there. It made me feel very fortunate that my books have somehow stood out amongst such a vast number. It also highlighted the challenge of focusing on specialist subjects. Regarding making it all happen, I think you need to have that combination of persistence, optimism, and humour along with a generous dollop of luck.

The future

My present focus is on getting myself into a broader market, primarily in the UK and USA. I’ve also moved deeper into fiction, conceptualising historical films and TV series, as well as a novel. The bottom line is, if you want to make it as a freelance historian, you’ve got to go at it, hammer and tongs, full steam ahead, and be prepared to become a jack of many historical trades.

Interview by Brendan Byrne. 

Photos by Dylan Vaughan.

Related Resource

Ten ideas, conceived in Ireland, that went on to leave an indelible mark on human history. 

This post was originally published here - https://www.thinkbusiness.ie/articles/turtle-bunbury-and-the-business-of-history/ on
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