What I’ve learnt from starting to write

A little about me, General ramblings, Thoughts

‘Don’t be a writer, be writing’ — William Faulkner

I’m not a writer. I never clicked with English at school. Studying for exams felt I was forcing myself into an unnatural state of being. English Language, English Literature; it all felt alien to me. Then, 18 months ago, something changed.

2014 was an intense year. Every part of my life seemed to be crumbling to dust around me, challenging me to rebuild it if I could muster up the energy. Everything I thought I knew about love, relationships, work, friendship, happiness proved to be naïve at best, down right foolish at worst. I was using every last breath franticly treading water, trying to keep afloat in a life I no longer recognised. I remember being emotionally exhausted constantly trying to find my feet and stay still long enough to catch my breath. I was in the middle of a storm, powerless, being tossed and turned at the whim of the world. I was lost.

I struggle to this day to define and describe completely what was happening in my mind. My current understanding is that I was feeling the complete and utter anguish of trying to desperately escape the present moment I was in. I was consumed by wanting to either trying to reach back into the past to calmer, happier times or to press fast forward and trying to erase and forget everything I was feeling and skip forward to some future bliss.

I sunk heavily into numbness, apathy, the sweet murkiness of giving up. Until one day, from under a blanket cocoon I opened up a blank word document and began to type. These are some of the things I’ve learnt so far from doing so.

There is always something left to try

Even when I thought I had hit rock bottom and I had tried everything, I was wrong. You might not think it at the time, but you have infinite resources within yourself to survive and even thrive in this world. I don’t have a one size fits all plan to access these resources, but for me it tends to be a balance between more patience, so, so much more patience, finding other people’s stories so you know that you are not alone, never, ever even contemplating giving up, finding a way to release my feelings in a creative and not destructive way and re-connecting with myself. These philosophies manifest in many different ways. Sometimes I write to feel creative, meditate to re-connect with my mind and body, read/watch/talk to someone to remind myself my experiences aren’t uniquely awful. Most importantly I’m learning to just do something. Worst is always letting the thoughts consume me. Doing something, keeping moving, however tiny the act, is empowering and the first step to making change.

Writing creates a concrete expression of your experiences

For months, before I’d started to write, it felt like I had lost all control of my emotional stability and ability to make sense of the world. The fiercest joy, excitement, anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness would crash into me unexpectedly like a monster wave and I’d have no time or processes to understand it. I couldn’t explain what was happening so I couldn’t talk to anyone and just lived through it. As soon as I started to write though, it forced me to first become aware of and acknowledge what I was feeling and then find the words, metaphors, labels, descriptions to describe it. I had to crystalize my experience into coherent structures which helped me finally begin to recognise and comprehend it all, laid the foundations for me to begin to talk to those around me and recognise my experiences in the stories of others.

Writing is art, art is important

I used to really struggle with defining what art is and what it isn’t. Until I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking, a transformative book in its entirety which defines it like this:

‘When artists work well, they connect people to themselves, and they stitch people to one another, through this shared experience of a connection that wasn’t visible before. Have you ever noticed that this looks like this? And with the same delight as we took as children in seeing a face in a cloud, grown up artists draw the lines between the bigger dots of grown up lives; sex, love, vanity, violence, illness, death’.

Writing connected me back to myself. I don’t consider myself to be a great writer yet, but I will continue to write and share what I write to attempt to connect up the big dots in my own life as well as those in the lives of those around me. As I meander through my life I’m finding the process of having an experience, being aware of the experience in the moment, fully accepting it, trying to process and understand it, translating it, communicating and sharing it and then connecting with the world through that, creates endless curiosity and brings me fulfilment that I never imagined possible.

Shane Koyczan’s spoken word explains what I mean so beautifully here (gets me in the feels every time *sob*) :

Blueprint for a Breakthrough: Shane Koyczan at TEDxYouth@SanDiego 2013

If your heart is broken, make art with the pieces’ — Shane Koyczan

The pen is mightier than the sword

Phew. I’m still a little bit in tears after watching the video above again. If you’ve skipped it go back and watch it. I insist.

Writing, I’m learning is one of the most powerful tools we have to shape and change ourselves and the world we live in. Its versatility, universality and permanence make it uniquely able to connect us to ourselves and to each other across space and time.

Ok. So now I’m coming to know that writing makes sense to me, its important and I want to continue to use it to shape and connect with the world around me throughout my life. How exactly? There are hundreds of ways, but here are some of the many ways I’ve stumbled upon and continue to experiment with daily.

  • This blog — connecting with you wonderful people out there about what I learn as I live makes me happy and it forces me to try and find what is useful and what I’m learning in every experience, positive or negative
  • Morning pages — Getting it all out first thing in the morning to allow you to get on with your day and is powerful, meditative, productive
  • Journaling — Creating pitstops to record and reflect on your experiences provide endless opportunities to re-connect with your self, see how far you’ve come, solidify memories, create your own unique story
  • Poetry — Stepping outside of your comfort zone, doing something new, connecting on a deeper level, using form and structure and musicality to have a lasting impact. A little one I wrote a year ago:

There is a little hollow, I can’t quite locate.

I stumble into it occasionally, as if it were fate.

I catch myself curious, willing myself to peer in.

Against some other judgement my reflection leering.

Equal parts curious, terrified and daring.

Eyes shut, diving in, taken under my own wing.

  • Daily affirmations, goals setting — If you write it down, you are more likely to do it. However you choose to do it, having a list of the things you want to achieve in practical steps and referring back to it regularly will bring more of what you want into your life. I’ve got various lists of all the things I want in my life on the go, one in Wunderlist, some scribbled on bits of paper on my wall, some on sticky notes on my work desktop and then I usually try to write daily to do lists that hopefully line up with the bigger goals. I notice if I don’t maintain my lists or haven’t looked at them in a while, I tend to feel a little lost and unproductive
  • 10 ideas a day — I haven’t done this one for a while, but its genuinely one of the most powerful I’ve ever tried. James Altucher asks you to make yourself come up with 10 ideas for anything you can think of every day. It has incredible potential to super charge your creativity, give you confidence in your own ideas and effectively problem solve
  • Letter writing, thank you notes — writing to others is something I’ve not done much of in my yet. That will hopefully change this year. Letters are so rare and so personally touching. There are few better ways of showing someone that you care, you’re thinking of them, that you are grateful to have them in your life. If you’d like a letter this year let me know 🙂 I’d gladly send you one!
  • Gratitude/things that make me happy lists — Another couple of lists that sit in Wunderlist and I’ve started recently. Gratitude lists of all the many, many wonderful things I am incredibly grateful for in my life. Also a list of all the things big and small that make me happy. These I find are incredible, proactive mood lifters when you’re feeling a little battered by life
  • People profiles — this one might might sound a little creepy! Something I’m experimenting with right now is having a little note on Evernote for important people in my life. In it I note down memories we’ve shared, things they like, anecdotes they’ve shared. My memory fails me often and I’m meeting a lot of new people at the moment. It feels difficult to build deep relationships with people, even those I care most about. So these little snippits have helped me enormously for gift giving, remembering important milestones and events and re-connecting with people if its been a while.

So there you have it. My initial experiences into the world of writing. I don’t know where this journey will take me, but for me writing proved to be the gateway into myself and my own creativity and I could not be more grateful to have found it. I may not be a writer, but I will always be writing.

What I learnt from being a tribe junkie pt. 1: Escape the City


Its becoming quite clear now that I love tribes, In all their shape, sizes and reasons for being. (case and point the esc themed pumpkin I carved this weekend, for my Esc insta takeover!). So I thought it might be interesting to trace back to where it all began and talk about how various tribes have impacted my life over the last 18 months or so. First up…

Escape the City… my gateway drug into the world of tribes. Where do I begin!

It all started back in Spring 2014. Familiar story, I was stuck in my Corporate PwC audit graduate scheme, uninspired and exhausted. I’d been getting the Escape the City newsletters for a a number of months previously, and as many of us do, I’d scan them and file them away into a ‘to come back to later’ folder. Until one day, I spotted an event ‘How to start a food business and get on TV’ with Patrick Drake from Hello Fresh. See, I had this friend at work, who had a food blog and was an amazing cook and was not enjoying her current audit job, so I bought 2 tickets and told her it was my treat. We went along to the Adam Street Social to listen to Patrick who shared his inspiring story. As it happened my friend never came back, but I’ve been here ever since!

Just a whistle stop tour of my escape adventures to date…

I attended a few more events, didn’t say a word, sat in the back listened in awe at these amazing stories of people doing things I didn’t even know was possible. Eventually plucked up the courage to speak to Adele, Matt and Rob and explored what they were up to. Just before one of the events I had signed up for ‘How to travel and write for a living’ with Caroline Sylger Jones (what a promise), Adele emailed all attendees asking for someone to write up the event for the Esc blog. I immediately hit reply and volunteered. I’d just that month started my fledgeling blog, so heck, I was a blogger, I could do this. I wrote up a few more of the events I went to for the Esc blog. A few weeks in I became a willing volunteer, meeting and greeting people as they arrived at events, helping to register people, sorting out drinks and snacks.

Esc announced the idea of beta testing these ‘tribes’ and I jumped at the chance of becoming a Founding Member. As they migrated over to Bathtub to Boardroom and their new permanent home, I came in to help paint the new digs. Escape to the Woods pt.1 happened and once again it was a no-brainer, I was in.

At this point I’d actually been able to find my dream job in Learning and Development, with a bit of hustle still at PwC, due to start 1st October 2014.

I graduated from Founding Membership and became part of the Tribe Alumni. This year I volunteered at a Start Up MBA weekend, worked with Skye and volunteered at the first ever World Escape Day event in London, came along to Escape to the Woods pt.2 and just these past few days taken over the Escape the City Instagram page to show fellow Escapees a little of what I get up to in my #21centurycareer.

Phew!! I think that covers it. Putting it all on one page like that makes my mind boggle. This doesn’t even capture the FB messages/emails to the guys with random thoughts and ideas and suggestions. The escape team have enabled me to get me to where I am today in so many myriad of ways, and there are so many things I’ve learnt about myself, community and how to get shit done. Here are just a few.

Say yes… even if you don’t think you’re ready

You’ll find a way to make it work once you’ve committed to a plan. So many times over the past 18 months I didn’t think that I was in a place to do something, whether that be blogging for Escape, asking folks at work for new opportunities, contacting people I want to get to know better. Most of the time I just ‘held my nose’ and did it anyway. There was just enough excitement in the potential outcome and just enough fear of regret that I just jumped before I was ready. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of those encounters, such as the time I decided to meet with a partner at PwC and give him a copy of The Escape Manifesto or the time I sent a ballsy anti CV to a start up founder to ask for work experience, where I was met with rejection or I wandered straight into a complete dead end and had to go away and nurse my wounds. But it just doesn’t compare to the elation you feel when you say yes and then it all works out just as you’d hoped. I said yes this year to becoming a property guardian, being the project manager on TEDx Brixton, speaking in public, facilitating train the trainer sessions at work and survived. Even though at times I thought I wouldn’t. Now I get to say that I did that stuff and that’s pretty cool.

Consistency makes all the difference, show up and be reliable

There are times, just before a big event, social, work, project, Escape, that I think to myself… I think I’d rather go home, I’m tired, I’ve had a long day, I’m not in the mood. Just a flicker of doubt crosses my mind and I try to rationalize a reason to go home, grab a pizza and watch Netflix instead. There’s a lot to be said for finding time to rest, to recover, to just be, as I discussed in my last post, but ultimately no progress is made if you’re not out in the world bumping into new things, people, ideas. Sometimes I wonder if there is a short cut, a hack, a way to achieve the things I want any quicker and I’m beginning to realize there is no magic to it. Every opportunity I’ve had over the last couple of years has been because I showed up, I helped in any way that I could, stayed positive and did that consistently and reliably over time. The other sure fire way of getting what you want is


I read Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking earlier this year and it fundamentally changed the way I think of the idea of asking for what you want. Even since reading the book, I’ve really struggled to remember just to ask. I try to remember at the end of each day, if I’ve asked for anything that day and often the answer is no. Instead, I hope that the people around me know me well enough or can read my mind somehow and will just know what I need. This is simply not the case. I can’t read others minds, and surprisingly enough they can’t read mine.

Looking back over my escape adventures, work adventures and the like, the quickest way I got what I wanted was by having a clearly defined ask and then just asking for it. I asked Rob if I could help Esc with my volunteer hours I needed to allocate as part of my property guardianship, I got to help with World Escape Day. I asked Steph, the founder of TEDx Brixton if I could be on the team, I became the project manager. I asked a number of people at PwC about opportunities to work in a more people focused role and eventually I got through to my current boss who told me to come in for an interview. Most people are incredibly willing to help if they are able, particularly if you’re specific about what you want, and you

Give as much as you take

I’ve learnt this one slowly and surely so far on my path. You really do only get what you give. Give first, receive later. However you want to think about it. The more you give without any expectation of something in return the better. I’ve learnt so, so much from all the times when I’ve given my time freely to projects I’ve passionately believe in. Whats more, every project that I’ve volunteered on thus far has enabled me to put up my hand for the next project I’ve wanted to work on. Its almost like each time I’ve given, I’ve unlocked another opportunity down the line, without me even realizing it at the time.

Wherever I’ve given my time, my attention, my energy, my focus is where has flourished over the past 18 months. That for me has been my career, my community, my social circles. However, I’m also quite mindful of parts of my life that have been neglected. My family for one has drawn the short straw whilst I explore and adventure about. My fitness and general health and well being had also taken a back seat up until 2 months ago. I struggled with stairs, ate poorly, felt tired all the time. So I’m in the process of fixing that with various accountability buddies, gym memberships, pole dance classes, karma yoga, project awesoming and slowly but surely getting back into shape. Its a constant act of re-balancing.

There are a hundred and one other things I feel I’ve learnt and I could go on, I just rediscovered a the long post I wrote after our Founding Members closing ceremony, equally long and soppy, (I’m clearly a fan of the long form content!) but I’ll pause here. Just a big fat thanks to to the Escape team and all the really important work you’re doing at Escape. Can’t wait to see and be part of whatever is next!

There are a few more tribes I’d like to feature here when I get some time to collect up my thoughts, so watch this space!

@poppetino on instagram

@rimapatel7 on Twitter


What I learnt from a weekend home alone

A little about me, General ramblings, Thoughts


(Pug purely because he’s adorable) This weekend just past I decided to decline all social invitations and all outside commitments and have a full weekend (Friday 6:30pm – Monday 7:30am) completely by myself. I was tempted by the immense line up at Yestival (and as a long term sufferer of FOMO, this week has been especially tough hearing about what sounded like a magical weekend), asked to see family, have friends who I’ve neglected to spend time with in weeks, but I said no. I’m not sure why exactly but a part of me was really craving some alone time.

When I do the tests they tell me I’m an extrovert, if you meet me, you’d probably guess the same, but if what determines if you are or not, is where you get your energy from, this past weekend makes me question where on the scale I fall.

I used to hate being alone. If I had to be home alone, I’d eat away the time curled up in bed numbed by various box sets which looking back doesn’t really count as time well spent.  I’m certain now, deep down I was afraid of being alone. It’s only since my first Vipassana 10 day silent meditation retreat at the beginning of this year that I realised that my own company wasn’t so bad after all, I had nothing to fear and everything to gain.

I’m going to begin by listing everything that I did this weekend.

  • Woke up and meditated for 20 mins both Saturday and Sunday
  • Did a meal plan for the coming week, created a shopping list and did my big shop
  • Got a haircut
  • Went to the gym both days for approx. 45 mins
  • Cooked 3 delicious meals from scratch; my dad’s famous spiced scrambled eggs (so simple but incredible, will happily share the recipe), an asian chicken and noodle dish and a tray of coconut oil brownies, that went down a treat at work on Monday
  • Wrote a 1500 word blog post about my recent Escape to Umbria
  • Wrote up action plans from said trip
  • Tidied my flat
  • Watched an incredible documentary on Netflix; Alive Inside, a real tear jerker I warn you now, about the power of music to transform the lives of people suffering from dementia
  • Listened to 2 Tim Ferriss podcasts (Jimmy Chin & Lisa Randall)
  • Finished reading my Rebel Book Club read of the month Wild Courage by Elle Harrison
  • Got through a quarter of the Influence by Robert Caildini audiobook (3 hours)
  • Listened through my entire weekly Spotify Discover playlist and saved my favs
  • Gave myself a facial
  • Went shopping and got myself a sizeable winter wardrobe haul and did a personal fashion show to myself when I got home to remind my self of what I bought (please tell me I’m not the only one who does this?!)
  • Watched 5 episodes of Friends (towards the end of S4.. Ross & Emily are about to get married)
  • Got a full 10 hours sleep Friday and Saturday night
  • Did my full 20,000 steps over the weekend according to my phone

I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging here, though just thinking back I’m amazed at how much I feel got done. I write the list to illustrate what I learnt:

There is so, so much time

There are 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week.

I had 61 hours alone over the weekend, of which I spent 28 sleeping.

That still left me with 33 hours of time awake to fill with whatever I wanted. 33 hours is a seriously long time, in which you can do a hell of a lot. Time is a precious, non-renewable resource that I consider to be my most valuable possession, but I don’t think I have a shortage of it. I have the same number of hours in my weekend as everyone I love or admire out in the world. So ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I’m too busy’ are just confessions of what my priorities are at any given time. This weekend I prioritised rest, fitness, life planning and admin, myself. If I look at my life as a whole right now, I can’t say that I always prioritise the things that are important to me, this weekend was an exception rather than the rule, which worries and saddens me. This I need to change. Have you thought recently about how you spend you time? And what this implies about your priorities? Intentions, maybes, somedays are imaginary. All that is real is what we do.

How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives‘ – Annie Dillard

1 hour of planning saves 10 hours of doing

I have to confess… I have no idea where the above statement came from or if its accurate, but I read it on the interwebs last week and its stuck with me. So much so that first thing Saturday morning, I wrote out my master plan for the weekend to test it.


I’d say I stuck to about 85% of it and it astonished me. It surprised me how many times I forgot what I was planning to do and had to check back to the plan, I’m clearly a slow learner! There is definite value in writing down your plans, goals, dreams, whether that be micro daily ones or the big lifetime ones. Coincidentally, Robert Cialdini confirmed this with the research in Influence, the audiobook I’m listening to. The research says that both writing down your commitments and then going one step further and making them public make you far more likely to follow through.

The above 2 points highlight to me that clearly theres a lot to say for effective time management and goal setting. I attended a mini course on time management at Escape the City by the lovely Alejandro Kaufmann a few months ago and picked up the art of time blocking which I have to say has changed my life. Time blocking encourages you think about the important stuff you want to achieve in the coming days and block time out in advance to do it. I now try to do this each week for work, blocking huge chunks of time where I can focus on specific tasks. It reminded me of a brilliant post by Paul Graham, co-founder of Y-Combinator who writes brilliantly about the difference between the Makers Schedule and the Managers Schedule. All to often in a corporate where I find myself currently is heavily skewed towards a ‘Managers Schedule’.

Time alone is time well spent

I mentioned in my last post that you are the average of the people you surround yourself with. I strongly believe that one of those people should be yourself. I want to be mostly me, honestly. I don’t know who that is yet, and I’m sure it will evolve over time, but spending time alone is one catalyst to figuring it out. Just 2 and a half days helped me reconnect with a few things about myself.

  1. I’m deeply in love with music. On some some level I was probably aware of this already, and sometimes I think but surely everyone is right? Who doesn’t love music? But I feel like I take it to another level in my head… The documentary I watched, Alive Inside, all about the power of music resonated so deeply. Actually if you look at my Netflix wishlist, my audible wish list, my book wishlist (outside of the genre of self-development!), its full of music history, musical autobiographies. I’d say one of my favourite books ever is John Peel’s autobiography, Margrave of the Marshes. I love new music… Spotify Discover brings me endless joy and excitement at the moment. I hadn’t noticed it really before but on the tube, bus, walking down the street, I’m the one trying to keep head and feet from tapping uncontrollably to the beats pouring into my ears. Whilst cooking I had my speakers turned up high as I danced around my kitchen as I cooked. If you’ve ever seen me on a night out on the dance floor… it speaks for itself! I’m in my own little world. I’ve always been this way, thinking back, but only now I’m paying attention and connecting those dots.

2. My second love is space and time and all the wonders of the universe. Also heavily featured in the books and documentary wish lists. I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. I read Simon Singh’s Big Bang when I was 12. Cosmos: A space time odyssey is probably one of my fav TV shows ever.

3. I love to cook. For myself, for others, savoury, sweet. It excites me.

4. I love to write! The post I wrote on Saturday was the first time I felt like I’d spoken in my own voice for a really long time and here I am again.

5. I currently don’t invest my time in the above 4 things as much as I’d like.

We spend so much time doing what we should do for some goal outside of ourselves, I think we bury our natural passions and the things that excite us just because they excite us. I’m never going to be an astronaut (fingers crossed for a trip to space though!), but that doesn’t mean that following that excitement is a waste of time. I can’t play an instrument (yet), music probably won’t ever make me money, but it makes me fundamentally happier and more my whole self. Elle Luna a wildly incredible artist and author wrote a beautiful book which comes to mind whenever I think about this, The Crossroads of Should and Must. If you haven’t read her blog post, it’s an absolute must.

Time and how I’m spending it, is clearly on my mind a lot right now, reading back this post!

I’m also enjoying trying to breakdown my experiences in to what I’m learning as it’s helping me focus and have a purpose to what I’m writing. Any feedback is greatly appreciated. 🙂 Coming up in the next couple of weeks or so… I’ll be sharing what I’m learning at work in my role in corporate learning and development, at Rebel Book Club, at the first ever Escape Mondays, perhaps my experiences as a property guardian and TEDx Brixton…

@rimapatel7 on Twitter

@poppetino on Instagram

What I learnt from escaping to Umbria

A little about me, Events


Last weekend I had a mini escape from my whirlwind world, to the idyllic Tribewanted getaway; Monestevole in Umbria, Italy. Escape the City were running a weekend long workshop and it didn’t take much convincing to book my spot. Knowing Escape it would be exactly what I needed, even though I wasn’t exactly sure what that was. Romy one of my fellow escapees writes wonderfully about some of the experiences we shared here, and I also wanted to share some of the things I learnt.

You are the average of the people you surround yourself with

Do not underestimate this one. Being surrounded by open, like-minded, inspiring people all weekend, made me feel centred and invincible, like I could take on the world and I was going to laugh until it hurt while I did it. The right people energise you, support and encourage you and make you feel like all your crazy ideas are possible. The wrong people drain you, make you doubt yourself and your ambition and stir up all of your deeply buried insecurities. Think carefully about who you choose to spend your time with and be ruthless. This reminded me of something I’d heard of from Tim Ferriss, an 80/20 emotional inventory. What are the 20% of things in your life that are causing 80% of your stress, worry or sadness? What 20% is causing 80% of your joy and excitement? Can you avoid that bad 20% and plan more of the good 20% into your life? I did this recently and its shocking to see where the bulk of my frustrations come from, and it helped me refocus my energy. (Bad mornings=bad days, so one of my goals is to wake up 1h earlier each day).

It is the little things

Umbrian life was simple. We slept, we ate, we drank, we stroked the kittens, we chatted and plotted, we laughed, and it was perfect. The big group trip of the weekend was to the local Chestnut Festival in Preggio. We ate chestnuts, drank 1 euro red wine and laughed uncontrollably at the guy with the phallic, homemade instrument. We all have a tendency to overcomplicate our lives until it becomes unclear why we’re doing what we’re doing. Happiness and contentment are always within touching distance if we stop for a second and remind ourselves whats truly important.

Frequently mentioned over the weekend was #smallsteps. Each tiny step we take in the direction we want to go in adds up to a life long journey of endless miles of memories and achievements. We all made a commitment to making a number of small and not so small steps and promised to hold each other accountable to them.


Get some perspective

Before I left for Umbria I felt trapped inside an exhausted mind and body with no idea what I wanted or even needed. Thankfully, a wise chapter in The One Thing by Gary Keller, had reminded me to plan my rest/break/recovery time first. So back in September, I knew having just pulled off TEDx Brixton the weekend before, I’d need some space to process and rest, so I booked my spot on Escape to Umbria. Thank god I did. Inside my normal life I was feeling uninspired and stressed by work, tired and overwhelmed with TEDx finishing. From Umbria I saw that this was just the way I was feeling at a point in time. I had the space, the people and the right questions to process everything that had happened and think about what was next. I urge you to think about when you might need some space, some perspective and block that time out now. Its hard to find the time when you’re in the middle of it all. Also, know the difference between a restful break and one that leaves you more tired than when you left! (My next break will be a 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat in January!)

We all need warmth and validation

Sometimes I like to think that I’m emotionally strong and stable and independent. I’m all good on my own and I’ll get on with my life just fine, with or without the support of others. Up to a point that’s true, but trust me… when you’re welcomed warmly and openly into Monestevole by Adrienne, the general manager, when you hear someone else share your story positively and impressed, when someone tells you that your ideas are interesting and that they could help you maybe, when you’re told you can do whatever makes you comfortable and don’t have to explain yourself here, when you get a fist full of personal post it notes telling you how awesome you are, that warm feeling of being accepted and validated is incredible and like no other. You can’t recreate it on your own. Lucy, one of the escapees, described it as the moment when your ‘shoulders drop‘. You relax, you open up, you stop trying so hard to do it all yourself and you let others in. There is such power in finding a place where your ‘shoulders drop’, where you are free to be vulnerable and honest and yourself, and then miraculously accepted and even liked! In our busy lives I think we forget that this is what most of us spend our whole lives in search of, a place to be our whole self and be unconditionally accepted for it.

You already know the answers

This one came up in a number of forms, through various discussions over the weekend. Over and over again when we all tried to explain what we wanted and some of our thoughts of how we were going to get it, we apologised for our vague, incoherent ramblings. And time and time again everyone else responded by noticing the remarkable coherency of our dreams and plans. It felt as though our answers were basically fully formed, but they only revealed themselves when we were asked the right questions.

Linked to this were the discussions we had over dinner about some of our experiences as Samaritans listening volunteers. The rigorous training you receive as a volunteer focuses on the art of active listening and the fundamental principle of self-determination. You’ll never understand fully another person’s situation and therefore can’t offer them any advice, only reflect back whats been said to you, to help them come to their own understanding and plan. This is an act of empowerment and it applies to all of us. We know what we have to do, sometimes we just need an encouraging sounding board and the right questions to bring it in to our consciousness.

It never stops

We all varied in ages, experiences, backgrounds, industries, passions, achievements. Yet not one person felt that they had reached a point where they had achieved everything they wanted to. We were all impressed and inspired by each others stories, what we’d all achieved so far, what our plans for world domination were for the future, but each of us down played it and felt like we had infinitely further still to go. Rightly so in many ways. As a wise lady and fellow escapee Shari, from MP Cosmetics writes, ‘Anything that does not grow is dead‘.

I’d encourage all of us to be proud of everything we’ve done to date. Own it, shout about it, sure. We’ve all come so far and achieved so much. But we can’t stop here, we’re not done yet. We have so much more to give to the world. We need to keep growing, creating, giving together until there’s nothing left to give. The more we do, the more we can and must do. This might sound competitive, ambitious, tireless and it is, but we are not competing with anyone else out there, we are only competing with ourselves, to be the fullest, truest versions of ourselves. Do it. Do it afraid, but just do it.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.Marianne Williamson

Thanks Escape the City, Monestevole, Tribewanted and the wonderful, wacky bunch that joined me in Umbria 🙂 ❤

@rimapatel7 on Twitter

@poppetino on Instagram

Interview part. 2

A little about me

The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.’ – George Bernard Shaw

Hello lovely folks out there. Hope this post finds you well. I thought it was probably time for another interview with myself. Mainly for myself to take stock of where I am and how things are going, so here it goes. (Kenan and Kel flashback: Just in case you’d like to relive it. I just did.)

Me: Welcome back!

Metoo: Why thank you, its rather nice to be here, where ever we are pretending here is.

Me: Well, we could say we were anywhere right? So I’ll say we are in a tree house, in a Scandinavian Forest, at dusk.

Metoo: nice.

Me: so how are things? Whats the craic?

Metoo: you know what, mad busy. But great! I feel like I’m on an accelerated learning curve at the moment and everyday just seems to throw another great opportunity to take something from. Which is great, but I have not stopped. Saturday was the first day in about 3 months where I just stayed at home. With no plans. Did nothing. It was bizarre. I felt the need to schedule my free time… I worry myself sometimes. 

Me: you worry me too. You need to learn how to relax and appreciate the down time. Whats been keeping you busy?

Metoo: Well as I previously mentioned, I’m planning on leaving my current job in September, so I have been racing against myself to have a bunch of things to do then. I’ve also been socializing a hell of a lot. Specifically, I’ve been going to a bunch of Esc the City events, for whom I now guest blog and help host events, which has been awesome. I’ve also been looking for work that inspires me. So applied to a cool start up, looked internally where I am, for a role more suited to what I want to do (education based), chatting to all my wonderful friends about my ideas etc. Reading a shit ton. Like I can’t actually read enough right now. I’m writing this post as efficiently as possible so that I can get in a solid hour of bedtime reading.

Me: geeze. do you ever stop?! What are you reading at the mo/have you read in the last few weeks?

Metoo: Well I’m currently reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington which is amazing. Packed full of wisdom about how to redefine success (so far I have taken 3 things from the book. meditate, sleep and walk; maybe basic, but completely underestimated and wonderfully simple to incorporate in to our lives). I just finished Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull the co-creator of Pixar. Seriously, it is now my management ideal bible. If I never read another management book again it will be ok, because this defines the environment I want to work in and cultivate where ever I end up. I also finished Sane New World by Ruby Wax and the Escape Manifesto by the guys who set up Escape the City. Another 2 exceptional reads. I really need to get back into reading some fiction though. So once I’m done with Thrive and then Risk by Dan Gardner :$ I will be taking a little break from non-fiction.

Me: dare I ask whats on your reading list at the mo…?

Metoo: seriously do not. There are about 40 books on there right now and I keep adding to them. I downloaded 5 more books on to my nook over the weekend. I have a habit. I need help. Is there a self help group for obsessive readers? :S But as a little sneaky teaser (mainly because I’m lazy and may never get round to writing blog posts for them all, soz guys.) I will be reading A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway, Margrave of the Marshes by John Peel, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia MarquezThe Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin and On the Shortness of Life by Seneca… after Risk… at some point. Maybe I need to take a year out of life and just read solidly.. is that a thing?

Me: erm… it is a thing. But most people will judge you and think you’re a bat shit cray my friend. Listening to you is exhausting! Does your mind ever stop?

Metoo: No. not really!

Me: hmm. what do you do to relax?

Metoo: well I started yoga this year which has been utterly trans-formative. It opened up the door to meditation and general connecting the mind and body so I really hope to continue/increase my practice A LOT. I am currently appallingly inflexible. Boo. Also I listen to a lot of music. Omg. you musttttt check out some Nils Frahm. Seriously. Stop what you are doing right now and listen to this:

Nils Frahm- Says

Me: okokok! I’m listening…..

Dam. I have no words.

Metoo: I know. I KNOW. He is playing the Barbican in the Autumn and the tickets are sold out. I am gutted. Oh one other weird thing. Or at least everyone I’ve told seems to think its weird. I’m considering/am planning on going on a 10 day silent meditation retreat later this year. Where you meditate for 10 hours a day… you don’t speak to anyone else. You aren’t even allowed to bring writing/reading materials with you.

Me: not going to lie. sounds freaking weird bud, like you’re torturing yourself. Why are you going doing this?

Metoo: well. I want to learn to meditate. Well. Intensively. The more you do it the better, you can’t over meditate. So the discipline of the center will force you to be comfortable with yourself, face the parts of yourself that you usually mask or run away from. I’m curious more than anything…

Me: ohh kayyyyyy. well you let me know how that goes won’t you!

Metoo: of course 🙂

Me: a couple of final questions my friend. 1. How are you feeling about all the imminent changes about to happen in your life? 2. Is there anything you’re going to miss about this old life?

Metoo: hmm. well 1. How I’m feeling now is approx. 70%- relief/excitement/enthusiasm and 30%- like I’m standing on the edge of cliff about to jump off, not knowing if I’m going to figure out a way to sprout wings before I hit the ground. It’s completely exhilarating and nerve wracking in equal measure, but I feel that I’m slowly getting addicted to that bizarre feeling. So much so that I try to do something that scares me each day and I deliberately do things differently just to see what happens. It’s fun. 🙂 for example I gave away an £80 ticket to Blogstock today for free to a lovely lady who I spotted on Twitter who wanted to go and could no longer afford it. Felt right. What can I say. Sure its a bit mental. But as a wise friend always reminds me; ‘It’s only money, right?’. Right. 2. I am going to sorely miss the people that have pulled me through the last few months. I am surprised each day by their kindness and wisdom and support. I give my firm something, they pick the good eggs. Other than that, honestly, no. The money, security, the kudos just doesn’t excite me. I’m worried about not having it, sure, but its not the end goal I want so it doesn’t motivate me at all. 

Me: I lied, one more question; What are you looking forward to over the next couple of months?

Metoo: Oh wow, so many things, Hanging out with my awesome comic book artist friend from the Backwards Burd guys this weekend to work on a little creative project, Transpride next weekend who another brilliant friend is co-organizing, Boomtown in a couple of weeks, working with the Escape the City team hosting and blogging. The list is endless! I’m lucky and happy and looking forward to blogging more too perhaps. Completely failing at the semi regular posts thing. You’re lucky if you get one a week out of me! I’ll try do better I promise 🙂

Me: I’ll hold you to that! As always its been grand. Oh god Nils Frahm, I think my life changed the moment I listened to that. It was tangible. WAIT can we have a picture of you? Can we oh can we?!

Metoo: and you think I’m dramatic. Erm. ok Creepy McCreeperson:


Me: ahhhh. Lovely. even if I do say so myself. Till next time! 🙂

Follow Me on twitter here: @rimapatel7

How to Start Your Own Business – An Evening with Female Entrepreneurs

Events, London

Female entrepreneurs

‘The Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams’ – Eleanor Roosevelt

Esc the city launched its first event in the ‘She Series’ last week, which Adele reassured us was not a women’s event, at least not like the ones that we have become accustomed to.
There was a real buzz of energy and excitement in the room as we heard from Emilie Holmes (Good & Proper tea), Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie (Mallow & Marsh), Victoria Eggs (Victoria Eggs), Lizzie Fane (ThirdYearAbroad.com) and the girls from Broad Minded.

Escape the City’s thoughts
Initially against the idea of ‘women in business events’, a dinner with the ladies from broad-minded convinced Adele that there is a need for opportunities for women to get together and inspire and motivate each other. What makes the She Series different to other women’s events? These ideals:
– Passion and talent are gender equalizers
– It’s not a competition. Not against men, not against other women. There is space for everyone to succeed
– Get your map, compass and supplies in order! (map=your network, compass=you core values and supplies=information and allies)
– The aim is not to turn us all into business women, CEOs, stay at home mothers, adventurers or a juggler of all of the above. It’s about finding out what you want and working together to get there.
– There are no rules. Think outside the box.
– These events are here to excite, engage, inspire, motive, unite women, but they are what you make them, so get stuck in and give as much as you take.

Victoria Eggs (Victoria Eggs)

Victoria Eggs designs premium quality home ware and gifts celebrating Britishness, all handmade in the UK. Founded by its namesake in 2011, Victoria Eggs evokes a true sense of British spirit through playful and punchy designs which bring a smile to the face. Fine Art graduate Victoria has been awarded many critically acclaimed accolades, including winning ‘Gift of the Year 2012’. In addition to featuring in publications such as The Sunday Times, Living Etc, Marie Claire and Time OutVictoria Eggs is also stocked in Selfridges, Southbank Centre and West Elm UK. The Aprons have even made their TV debut on ITV’s This Morning!

Some of her key bits of advice:

– Define your Unique Selling Point
What are you really selling? Think bigger than your product/service.
Who are you selling to?
Brand positioning– are you high end or low end?
Margins– ultimately you have to be making some money to continue operating
Manufacturing– gets a great supplier and have back-ups just in case!
Be realistic– if your product is handmade and takes a day to make what happens if you get an order for 100?
First impressions count.
o Trade- make their life easy, include a call to action
o Customers- social media is a must, engage with them
o Press- make an impression. Be the purple cow
Keep in touch with key suppliers, customers, contacts
Be persistent!
Have fun and be flexible: be prepared to change some of your initial ideas

Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie (Mallow & Marsh)

Harriot studied Fine Art and photography before leading emerging market research for a headhunting firm. She then founded De Bouverie, a fine jewellery website making independent designers more accessible. As a business, this became the learning ground for almost every mistake in the book, and is what she now refers to as her ‘MBA for Entrepreneurs’. She was then light heartedly challenged to make marshmallows and founded Mallow & Marsh, which has gone from strength to strength and is now carried in selected Sainsbury’s stores. Since the launch Mallow and Marsh has been ranked in this year’s Startups100 and Harriot has been shortlisted for Management Today’s 35 women under 35.

Advice from Harriot

Be prepared to fail; it really is how you learn. Accept and embrace it.
Don’t over think it. It’s so tempting to spend weeks, months, and years meticulously planning your idea. Don’t.
Stop talking and start doing! ‘The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now’- Chinese proverb
Cut your budget in half. Check out the Lean Start Up by Eric Ries for proof, or come along to the Escape the City Start-up MBA.
Feedback is critical. Be a sponge and adapt.
Micro test your idea– give your customers what they actually want not what you think they want
– Be the best, be remarkable.

Lizzie Fane (ThirdYearAbroad.com)

Lizzie studied in Italy as part of her degree course and, based on the problems and wonders she experienced, she founded ThirdYearAbroad.com in 2006 to support other students through the process and give them a place to pass on advice. The site is now the UK’s biggest network of students who study or work abroad and new high-growth products are designed for the target audience, such as YearAbroadInsurance.com and a Careers Platform. Lizzie is an Academic Associate of The Higher Education Academy and Communications Director for Speak to the Future: the UK’s Campaign for Languages.

Key bits of advice from Lizzie

Solve a problem. What bugs you? Don’t complain, fix it!
– If you don’t know how to do something, learn.
Don’t underestimate yourself or overestimate others
– There are so many resources out there to help new entrepreneurs not least your old university’s business/start-up/ entrepreneur societies.
– Also check out Smarta.comaskstarting.com and hang out at Google campus

Emilie Holmes (Good & Proper Tea)

In 2012, Good & Proper Tea founder Emilie Holmes decided to take off her corporate advertising hat and don a trader’s apron, bringing her obsession for tea to the people of London and beyond. Leaving a successful career at Ogilvy & Mather, Emilie had a vision for tea done right. She parlayed her corporate advertising savvy into establishing a new “classic” brand that restores quality and craft to this quintessential component of British culture. She bought herself a stylish 1974 Citroen H van, had it fitted out for the tea trade, and opened her side window to London’s tea lovers. And the people of London are better for it. Emilie makes a mean cuppa.

Key bits of advice from Emilie

You don’t have to do it right, you just have to do something!
– Be prepared to change
Question every decision, based on your initial goal
– ‘Cash is King’- you’ll hear it repeatedly in the world of start-ups but it’s true.
Get some perspective. Talk it out with someone you trust.
– There is no such thing as ‘I don’t know’ Google is your friend.
Switch of from external negative forces.
– There is no how to manual, each person’s journey is different, that’s the beauty of being an entrepreneur, so get out there and just does it!

A little on Broad-minded

Broad Minded are a group of women who have formed a network to support and encourage each other as individuals and professionals. There three main aims are to:

Inspire: Regular dinners with inspirational speakers and the chance for us all to share ideas and network. We feel there’s a real opportunity here for us to create a voice for women of our age and position.

Educate: The opportunity to sign up for talks or courses on anything from managing your finances to leadership skills to presenting skills.

Motivate: An out-reach program through which we go into schools and universities to offer talks and the opportunity for mentor matching with students.

Click here to for their Facebook page.

Penny Wing & Ollie Codrington – How to Start & Sell a $15 Million Company

Events, London, People


What man actually needs is not a tension-less state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.’- Viktor Frankl

As always another fascinating Esc event last night (if you didn’t take a detour via the Eton boys entrepreneurs club) led by serial entrepreneur Penny Wing and her recent escapee partner in her new venture, brojure.com; Ollie Codrington. If you are looking for a simple 10 step program explaining ‘how to start up and sell and $15m business’, you may be slightly disappointed. Granted, Penny Wing has built and sold 3 successful group travel businesses from scratch and sold each of them in turn, the most recent having sold for $15m. However, that was through her own personal circumstances that led her to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities when they came knocking, which are difficult to distil down to a formula for others to follow and replicate.

Instead, I personally learnt about more practical insights about the nature of successful entrepreneurs and the wealth of wisdom that both Penny and Ollie had to offer based on their own journeys.

Key thoughts:

  • Do something different. Be creative, be brave, think outside the box.
  • Failure is inevitable. The secret is to fail fast, fail often and fail as many time as it takes to succeed
  • There is no harm in having the intention to aim high
  • Do not underestimate yourself- ‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you are usually right’- Henry Ford
  • Micro test your ideas
  • You can’t be good at everything. Surround yourself with people who are good at what you are not
  • Do your research
  • Don’t sell; solve problems

As a brief summary, Penny started out as an engineer with an educational background in math but through pure chance, was sat on a plane next to someone who owned a travel company and who happened to think that Penny’s frequent travel (she had lived in 36 different places before the age of 21) meant she was suited to a job in a travel company. By the end of the flight she’d been convinced to join his company and never look back. She spent 8 years in the industry working for someone else, honing her skills and understanding of the industry and then started her first company in 1988, in her living room, with $30,000 in savings. Three businesses later, each more successful than the last, she is on to her next venture brojure.com with Ollie, who coincidentally, she met on the Start-up MBA course run by Esc.

What struck me as the root of so many of her successes in her many roles was the bold and courageous actions based on Penny’s belief in herself and the willingness to do things differently. From the get go she approached things innovatively, refusing to follow her competitors by creating lengthy proposal documents when pitching for business. Instead, trying something new, she created simple visual one pagers, which appealed far more, stood out from the crowd and secured her loyal multinational customers.

One creative new idea led to another. From a need to be able to create these visual pitch documents wherever and whenever she wanted to, she hired a software developer to create a program for her. She then realised that these ‘brochures’ could be used by a multitude of different businesses; wedding planners, photographers, event planners, yacht brokers even, so decided to set up a software company, brojure.com to sell the program, despite no previous technical background.

You don’t always need to have the exact relevant skills to create something successful. For one, don’t underestimate yourself. Whatever your background, you will most likely have transferable skills that are highly sought after in any new venture. Whether that’s the ability communicate professionally, be organised, manage a team, build great relationships you are more skilled than you think you are!

On this note, an interesting point was raised about the benefits/disadvantages of MBA programs. Adele shared some of her thoughts having spoken to numerous escapees over the years. The choice to complete an MBA is personal and down to the individual, but question your motivation first. Do you want to do an MBA because you don’t know what you want to do yet and in effect is another form of procrastination? Do you have that nagging fear that you don’t have the skills to do what you want to do? Is it worth the time and money if you aren’t sure what specifically you are going to get out of it? Are there alternative ways to get the same information but from a less costly/time consuming resource? I like to think so personally. I feel that I learn in a far more constructive and efficient way by simply speaking to people, reading great books and experimenting in small ways with my ideas. One other thing, I think, is that to be truly entrepreneurial you need to do something different, be creative, be brave and there are so many people doing MBAs, perhaps it’s no longer a differentiator.

If you really don’t have the required skills for your idea, no bother! Surround yourself with people that do. Penny’s strengths are in starting a business, growing them big, growing them fast and then selling them. She has no long term desire to run one company; she prefers to focus of winning big, high value sales contracts. Recognising this she started looking for a partner to run the business. Cue Esc the city and their brilliant start up MBA program. Interestingly both Penny and Ollie may not have been there. Penny was initially discouraged as she seemed on paper to be over-qualified, and Ollie was reluctant to come along as he didn’t have a business idea. Well, Penny convinced Adele and Adele convinced Ollie and as fate would have it they were on the same course and have been working together on brojure.com ever since. If ever there was a case study for there being no rules in life and for doing something different, this would be it.

Ollie- ‘I Can’t remember wanting to be anything but be a lawyer since I was 15, until I was one.’

Ollie was a lawyer as of 4 years ago, but knew someday he wanted to run his own company. The problem was that didn’t have an idea. His quote above stuck with me as often we have an idea of what we want to and hold on to it so tightly. When we eventually get there it may not be what it first promised or what you were actually looking for in the first place. This, to me, highlights the value of micro testing your ideas. If you want to be a lawyer, go speak to a lawyer first or shadow one for a week. Figure out what you’d be doing every hour of everyday and the realities of the job before you commit to a degree or training focused on Law. Similarly with any other venture, if you think you want to be a chef, cook, write recipes, go volunteer in a kitchen, start a food blog. All low risk, low commitment, but will allow you to explore an idea before fully commit to it in an expensive, ‘can’t go back now’ way.

What do Penny and Ollie attribute to their success? One of the things that came through strongly is to focus on your strengths and what excites you. Ultimately you can’t be good at everything nor can you be passionate about every type of task involved in your business. Penny is excited by aiming high, going after the big million $ contracts and is great at it. So why should she also invest time running part of the business and targeting the ‘low hanging fruit’, the small business owner, tasks she has no interest in. She recognises the value in it, but acknowledges it just isn’t what she wanted to focus on so brought on a partner, Ollie, who was excited, and good at doing just that instead.

There is also no harm in aiming high. You have nothing to lose by having the intention to aim big. By leaving yourself open to all possibilities you are more likely to spot opportunities that you may have otherwise shut out. Case and point, brojure.com’s focus is service industries looking to pull together great visual material to show clients/customers. However, Ollie had a friend who had a friend who worked at British Gas, Centrica, and thought there was no harm in an introduction and a chat. As it happens, British Gas regularly pitch for work using presentations (who knew?!), but there is a lack of consistency across the various different pitching teams. Brojure.com may well be just the solution to their problem. The power of speaking to people and a ‘what’s the worst that could happen? attitude’ can’t be underestimated and clearly paid dividends for Penny & Ollie.

Another thing to note is that failure is inevitable. Both Penny and Ollie have failed as has pretty much every entrepreneur I have ever heard from. The lesson here is to fail fast, fail often and fail as many times as it takes to succeed. Also, consider your risk appetite and personal circumstances. Everyone’s different; one person’s shaking hands with a stranger may be another person’s skydive. Just honestly assess occasionally if you feel you are being too risky or too risk adverse.

When asked what they would change looking back on their journey so far, both agreed that they needed to have far more software industry knowledge than they first anticipated. They wished they could have ‘seen the road ahead more clearly’. They recommended spending time with people who know what you want to know and learning from them and getting experience in you desired field or industry in any way you can. Penny remarked that today there is a lot of pressure to grow businesses fast and to make as much money as possible as quick as possible, but maybe there is some value in slowing down and doing a little more research.

As an aside, Ollie brought up a really interesting point around status. As a lawyer he enjoyed being able to walk in to a room and others valuing his opinion and presence. There are a lot of added benefits to do with security, ego, and self-confidence that come from having what is defined as a traditionally successful profession. Even those closest to us find it difficult to accept when you do something less well defined/non-traditional sometimes; Ollie quoting his mum; ‘But what do you do? What are you going to be?’. ‘I’ll be your son?’ He suggested. Sometimes people just won’t get it and that can take a toll on your confidence, particularly if it’s someone you care about. Ultimately though, Ollie realised ‘we all want to be able to look back and have fantastic stories to tell our grandchildren’, to inspire and excite, no matter if we fail or succeed, we’d just like to be able to say we tried and had a great time in the process.

What becomes clearer to me every time I go along to an Esc event or any else new for that matter is that difference between success and failure boils down to people who do and people who don’t. If you never stop learning, experimenting, challenging yourself, finding out what excited you and that you’re passionate about, you will always eventually find things that make you happy and fulfill you.

Hey, look, no-one said it would be easy or without some tough decisions, but it’s dawning on me at least, that it really is as simple as getting out there and doing.


Penny and Ollie




Start up MBA:



The lean startup- Eric Ries (how to start a business in the leanest way possible)

Creativity Inc.- Ed Catmull (how to create a truly creative and collaborative working environment, based on the incredible story of Pixar. I want to work for Pixar!)

4 Hour Work Week- Tim Ferriss– (A must read for all escapees. Whether you want to start a new business, become more productive in your current job, do something different, challenge you assumptions about how you work, there is something in here for everyone)


Post also featured on Esc the City blog:



Sane New World- Ruby Wax

Books, People

sane new world

‘When you get to the end of your rope. Tie a knot and hang on.’ – Franklin D. Roosevelt

I promised a separate review on Ruby Wax’s book as it deserves one. I feel, (correct me please if you think I’m wrong), that mental health and well-being  is completely underestimated and neglected in society.

So how the hell do we address the issue? Individual responsibility? Education? Change in attitude? Awareness and media coverage? Change in policy? All of the above perhaps.

This is why I feel that Ruby Wax, her show, her book and public presence is doing something so fundamentally important as it works on these actions simultaneously. It’s candidly written from intense and dark personal experience, so rings painfully true at points and she doesn’t hold back which allows the reader to fully accept the reality for those living with mental health illnesses.

Once on board you are given, the fascinating and eye-opening facts about the brain and how it functions, how mental health issues develop and why it is so difficult to over come. What I found most intriguing is the section about mindfulness based cognitive therapy. The way it helped Ruby herself, how it is always accessible and completely in control of the individual and the potential positive impact it could have for those suffering. Though it may be a constant battle with yourself, its curiously simple and easy to start.

This is essential reading, not least because it is peppered with Ruby’s unmistakably candid humour. It is a great summary for any one suffering with poor mental health, who knows someone with mental health issues or those just curious to understand better.

Also check out her TED Talk and UK tour of Sane New World, links below: