In life, we all look for inspiration and reasons why we should choose to do or not do the things that would make us happy and strong. So why is it that so many of us choose to hold back and be content with the life we have been given rather than take the chance and live the life we have always dreamed of? Fear, laziness, a lack of confidence perhaps? Or maybe we’re just waiting for the right time, whenever that may be!
I saw a quote somewhere on Twitter this week which made me stop and think…
“All of us die but not all of us can say we have a truly lived”
I took a step back and looked around me to see who among my friends and loved ones would be those that could say that they have ‘truly lived’. My conclusion? Those that ‘truly live’ are the ones who embrace their Super Powers and use them be the best they can be for the good of themselves and others. Too profound? Well, let me break it down…
Do you have Super Powers?
When I say ‘Super Powers’ I don’t necessarily mean the kind that you see in the movies and comic books. If you can fly, see through walls or shoot webs from your wrists though, kudos to you! You may also be interested in reading my other post: Super Heroes: Identify your Kryptonite.
My definition of ‘Super Powers’ is very much a descriptor for the talents we have within us that make us useful and inspirational to others and define us unique, indispensable and individual. No lycra required, unless that’s your thing 😉
People who we associate with having ‘Super Powers’ find them through inspiration which in turn inspires others.
Super Powers of a girl named Bubble
Over the years, my Super Powers have been my strengths and my weaknesses but since I’ve learned to own them, I have now truly become empowered.
My Super Powers: Positivity Energy, Empathy, Hope, Connectivity
Finding the positives in things is something that comes easily to me; it’s just part of my DNA. When I’m on form, I know that the energy I radiate can be incredibly powerful and like moths to the flame, my friends and family are drawn to me. I’m empathetic to their needs to find the light but it’s often my empathy that can often be my kryptonite; sometimes you see and feel too much and can be left powerless to resolve an issue for someone else when it’s them that needs to make the change to make things better.
Whether I’m having a day where I can see life in all it’s beauty and I’m enjoying the all little bubbles of loveliness around me or I’m having a day that’s not so bright and shiny, I will always have hope. My hope comes from having lived through many of life’s trials and tribulations and even some moments of despair and knowing that I’ve made it through and come out stronger, time after time.
The Super Power I use most often however, has to be my connectivity; my ability to reach out and connect to people on many different levels. I owe some thanks to the wonderful world of social media, digital and telecommunications which has been the infrastructure through which I depend on so very much. Especially with friends, family and new connections that are dotted around the globe. On a face-to-face basis, I love meeting new people and deciphering the language they use, consciously and unconsciously. Whenever any one has ever asked me which Super Power I’d most like to have, it has always been to be able to speak and understand everyone.
My Inspiration: Until the mid 90’s my inspiration came from two women who were somewhat average looking and underestimated at first glance but seriously hot and powerful when the occasion arose. I’m talking about Kara, aka Super Girl and Aurora, aka She-Ra!
Random fact: My first car, a bubble shaped Ford KA, was named ‘She-Ka – Princess of Power Steering’! I’m not even kidding!
It wasn’t until The Spice Girls were unleashed on to the world that I realised I could be anything I wanted to be. Embracing the notion of ‘Girl Power’ and the ‘Can Do’ attitude, I owned the persona ‘Stephy B’. They were an incredible source of inspiration to me.
Later in life, I discovered people who had a little more substance and stature. There’s Malcolm Gladwell, who talks about making the small changes that have a bigger effect on the world around you; Gary Vaynerchuck who’s personality oozes passion and who believes in doing what suits you to maximise your potential and live your passion; on a broader scale the Paralympics were a huge inspiration to me in my pursuit to complete the Great South Run and a reminder that saying “I can’t” as an excuse is simply not good enough!
Inspiration comes to each of us in very different ways and what I’m about to share with you is the story of those women in my life that I see as inspirational. I’m not excluding the guys here. I’m saving those up for my next post. The reason I”m focusing on the females is because at the root of my inspiration was ‘Girl Power’ movement and without them, Steph’s Bubble may never have existed *Gasps*! :0
Girl Power: Inspirational Women
These are the women who have found their passion and are living it!
Gemma Phelan, Managing Director of DigitalBinx
Gemma and I, first met at a #GAGLDN event in October 2012 where I saw her present alongside the lovely Hassan Mirza.
What struck me about Gemma was her passion and understanding of social media and her desire to share her knowledge, experience and expertise.
It was also hard not to notice her signature red lips, confidence and sass.
DigitalBinx is Gemma’s specialist digital and social media agency, offering social media campaigns and management, social media strategy and training and social media for events. “We make your content, events and social media POP!” says Gemma. The DigitalBinx #CitizenCurators campaign devised for the Museum of London and the University of Westminster was absolute testament to their ability to do so. #CitizenCurators was a social media research project documenting Londoners’ experiences during the 2012 Olympics. Read more about #CitizenCurators here.
Super Powers: Communication, sass and leadership give Gemma the edge. Her ability to listen, understand and communicate a solution in a language her clients understand enables her to build trust and solid on-going relationships. People want to work with people they can relate to and her attitude, personality and cheeky sense of humour keeps her clients and colleagues feeling good.
When I asked Gemma about ‘Taking the Lead’ she told me:
“Being an entrepreneur means you need to be able to lead the way without anybody telling you what to do and without necessarily knowing you’re making the right decisions. Good intuition, a positive mind-set and solid focus on the solution rather than the problem, helps me to confidently lead my team to overcome new challenges.”
Inspiration: Gemma’s inspiration growing up was without a doubt her parents. They started in business together when they were 25 and have had huge success in their business ventures. At the age of 7, Gemma started her own business selling sea shells in front of her house. Her parents helped her to calculate how much I had made, gave her tips on how to sell more and made her think of other shell-like products that she could add to her little store. She went with corral and coloured stones. Product development at the age of 7!
Gemma’s parents continue to inspire her but she’s also inspired by every person she meets. “Everyone has something unique to offer, a new angle, perspective or idea” says Gemma. “I find connecting with people and taking the time to get to know them helps me to understand the world a little better one person at a time.”
It will come as no surprise that as a lady about the internet, I discovered the lovely lady Cat, through the infamous social network we call Twitter! We bonded through a mutual love of all things digital, social and artsy!
We’re both keen runners too and Cat became a reliable source of cheerleader-style tweets to keep me motivated during my training for the Great South Run. I intend to repay that favour in full this year as she is running her own #Catathlon aka the Virgin London Marathon in April 2013.
It’s funny when I think back because for many months I know her only as her Super Woman-esque cartoon avatar. That said, I instantly recognised her when we finally met. I spotted her unmistakable crazy-big and beautiful, blonde locks and she let out a ‘squeeeee’ of delight to see me!
Cat’s started her career in politics as one of the founders of PoliticsHome an online political news website, where she covered the 2008 US elections, the London mayoral elections and developed the site as a niche go-to source for Westminster news.
From here she headed up online communications for the Liberal Democrats during the 2010 election. Working across the digital space, from redesigning the campaign site through to the full social strategy, and particularly closely with activists and youth organisations to inspire and motivate. She then went on to manage the redesign and roll out of The Brand Union’s online presence and eighteen national sites around the world.
In early 2011, Cat joined Rabbit where she focused on creative digital campaigns and communications strategies to much success. But now, she entering 2013 as a co-founder of Native London, a digital communications agency she’s set-up with her partner in crime Bridey-Rae Lipscombe aka @BrideyRae. Cat tells me it’s a different kind of agency for so many reasons; where the focus is on people first and then everything else follows. As for the working partnership, Cat and Bridey complement each other in every sense of the word which can only mean one thing: Success!
“I love it. I have always wanted to send something positive out to the world 🙂 Starting your own business tests you in ways you’d never thought possible, but if you find yourself rolling with the punches, then you know you’re on the to the right thing.”
Super Powers: Cat’s incredible instinct, ability to read people well are her Super Powers. She’s receptive to people’s emotions and behaviour which allows her to adapt to situations well; something she finds essential in business. “Ultimately, you need to be responsive and adapt quickly. Therefore a good instinct is totally essential. And of course this leads to confidence.”
“She’s incredibly selfless and very beautiful with it. I really aspire to be like that.”
Cat’s mum raised her as a single parent and taught her to to be confident and work hard. Whilst other parents followed the unwritten rule book telling their children “you can be whatever you want”, “you are beautiful”, Cat’s mum’s mantra to her daughter was: “Be financially independent”. So when she was a little girl, she just wanted to be tough and speak my mind. Thankfully for us, this still holds true and Cat remains the strong, independent woman she was raised to be. Good job Mumma Cat!
Chloé Adelia Watts, Website Developer and Owner of chloédigital
Chloé is quite a character! At a recent LDNBloggers meetup I saw her speak for the first time about her inspiration to create a boutique agency creating digital experiences within the fashion and beauty industries.
What caught my attention was her eagerness to do something and do it her way! An off-the-shelf solution was never going to be good enough, so Chloé started teaching herself to code.
“At chloédigital we want to make it a natural occurrence for someone to love fashion AND to love code, creating a beautiful playground for the two.”.
Her enthusiasm however, doesn’t stop there. Now she’s out telling the world how to do it too. She even prepared a branded jewellery box, complete with blogger tips for all the guests at the LDNBloggers meet-up to take home! Inspired marketing 🙂
Super Powers: “Feeling the fear and doing it anyways”
It’s Chloé’s commitment to her goals in life that drives her to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Every day she is faced with situations where she feels fearful. The key to her success is not acting on how she feels but instead, acting on achieving her goals and honouring her commitments to her clients and herself.
“I have noticed that whenever I have doubt or feel fear it is because I am stepping out of my comfort zone and stepping up to the next level, so when it passes over me I smile as it assures me I am doing the right thing.”
Inspiration: Chloé’s inspiration growing up was her family and her parents positive energy and outlook on life. She knew from an early age that if she worked hard and worked smart she could achieve anything she wanted. This still rings true. Chloé’s keen interest in gadgets meant that she was the first in her school to get a first generation iPod. The idea that brands like Apple and people like Steve Jobs could be so ahead of their time; they were creating the technology of the future was a powerful one. As for her favourite female entrepreneur, that would be Beyoncé. Chloé describes her as having so much grace and presence; a woman who you would never describe as trashy and who always holds her own. Beyoncé is renowned for working hard from a young age and sticking to her dream in order to achieve it, just like Chloé.
“Ideas are worthless without execution”
It takes a lot for someone to say “I love what I do but I want others to be able to do it too”. These lovely ladies are teaching and inspiring people of all ages.
Esther Crichton, Founder of E^3
The best way to describe Esther is a singing ray of sunshine! There’s not really anyone else who smiles, giggles and sings quite as much as her! We’ve known each other for about 2 years now and are both what some psychologists will call ‘Yellow people’. While Esther has had a fantastic career over the years, the loss of her much-loved father in September 2011, was the wake up call that she needed to harness her creativity and start using her Super Powers in a new venture.
E^3 is a an exciting new chapter in Esther’s life that will enable people from all walks of life and ages and stages to create beautiful colourful canvases. Take a look at my earlier post to see just how much fun it can be getting paint in your nails and playing with glittery things: Art Class: Canvas, Colours and Creativity.
Super Powers: Sunshine, compassion and the ability to inspire through the power and patience of art.
Inspiration: Esther takes her inspiration from just about everyone she meets but I there are a few special people in her life that should really be acknowledged.
It’s her daughter Olivia who is everything she loves about the challenges and experiences of the unknown and a lady she met on a plane last March, Patsy Wood who have given her the courage to own her Super Powers. Patsy, in particular, was the one who saw her true potential and invited her to do her NLP qualification and set her on the path to creating E^3.
“Without these two ladies in my life, I’d not have had the guts to do what I’m doing” says Esther.
Esther also praises her mum, sisters, brothers, nephews and the true friends that have really believed in her and promises to give back tenfold when it all comes together!
Linda is a Norwegian gal who has been living in the UK since 2004. Although we’ve never actually met in a non-digital or social sense, we often chat on Twitter where I catch glimpses of her work developing interfaces, WordPress themes, web and mobile apps, interactive installations and more!
Recent projects through Owl Creative have seen Linda solving problems by using technology in creative ways the Municipality of Oslo, Department for Urban Environment, making a cycling game with real cycles as the controllers to encourage more people to ride bicycles. “It was a real crowd pleaser, and drew loads more attention than a flyer would have.” Right now she’s consulting on cool projects with the Science Museum, launching things into space! #Amazeballs!
The Code Club initiative on the other hand – a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11, is a result of Linda and Clare being fed up of people talking about how much ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in this country sucks. Together, they decided they would actually do something about it! As a consequence, Linda is now writing her first book, which she describes as being “just a colouring book for kids” and creating lessons for Volunteers to take to the classrooms.
“Most of the things I do because I enjoy doing them and I have fun. Like playing with lego! I just happen to also get paid for doing the things I love. Some of the things I do because they are a real challenge, and I guess also some sense of duty.”
Every Monday she also tries to do something outside of her comfort zone. So far, this has resulted in a successful application for a UX internship at Last.fm, and to be a creative technologist at an art gallery through a Nesta funded project (Happenstance) – even though she admits she didn’t meet any of the criteria they listed! “I got to spend 3 months in an art gallery playing with all the cool technology and generally just have fun.”
Super Powers: Optimism. “I’m not overly optimistic all of the time, but I do think I am more optimistic in than the average person.”
When Linda and Clare started Code Club for instance, Linda could only see the possibilities while Clare, on the other hand, had quite a few concerns. Linda’s optimism allows her to try things regardless of the consequences. Failing is not something she fears.
While I admire Linda’s many interests, I have to say that it was her entry into the 1000km Mongol Derby last summer, riding semi-wild horses through outer Mongolia that left me in awe! Having never competed in anything equestrian before, she applied and got invited to a rigorous interview and two days of training in Mongolia, where she was final permitted to take part and start the race. Only 35 people got this privilege.
While things got off to a good start, Linda suffered a nasty fall. She managed to continue riding for another 60km but eventually got stopped by the medics and sent straight to hospital where she discovered she’s punctured a lung. Linda is convinced that if it wasn’t for her infallible optimism she would never have been able to achieve what she did and she’s also convinced that she’ll do better next time with a little more training! *Round of applause* 😉
“for a few glorious moments, I *lived*!
Inspiration: When she was little Linda wanted to be MacGyver. 🙂 Now her inspiration comes from people she knows who are working on awesome things. In fact it turns out she’s surrounded by great brands and companies in the co-working space at @shoreditchworks where she’s based: This Is My Jam, Poetica, Moo, Makie Lab, Real Interesting Group, Good Night Lamp (currently on kickstarter, woo) etc. Plus, she lives just minutes away from Sugru, Technology Will Save Us, and Lumi in London Fields. “Their passion for what they do is contagious. We’re living in very interesting times.” says Linda.
The Super Mums
These are the women who have dedicated themselves to being full-time mothers and part-time money makers, proving that being a mum doesn’t mean you have to give up on your passion or your dreams.
Sandy Wan, Founder of Sandy’s Cupcakes
I’ve known Sandy for about 8 years and she never fails to energise me with her new ideas, commitment to her family and friends and her ability to continue to be Sandy! We met at work and bonded over a common love of events and being super social and chatty. The truth is, I’m not sure anyone else got a word in edgeways when we were in the room!
Sandy has been baking cupcakes for her friends and family for quite some time. After she gave birth to her second child, she decided that it was time for a career change. Armed with 10 years of experience as a Marketer, Sandy now runs her own bespoke Cupcake business catering for all your cupcakes needs in the East End of London and beyond!
Super Powers: Vision, creativity and super baking powers, resulting in visual and taste-testedly delicious cupcakes!
Inspiration: “My Dad inspires me”. Sandy’s dad, a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, stayed in school until he was just 14 before he went on to work as a trainee in a factory. Never giving up on his passion, he used his evenings to study medicine. 3 years ago, he even completed an open university degree for alternative medicine.
Emma Warrington, Founder of BabyMoneySavers
Emma is one of those gals who is super handy to know, as she can spot a deal a mile off!
A woman who dedicated herself to her career in buying and category management, Emma is now a proud mum.
While her daughter keeps her entertained day-to-day, Emma has never been the kind of girl to sit still for too long and so it came as no surprise when she told me she was launching a new website.
BabyMoneySavers.com has been designed for parents to discover ways to cut costs when buying for their baby or toddler. Sharing essential tips on how to make savings, blogging about her own personal experiences as a mum as well as capturing and hosting information about great deals, vouchers, baby clubs and hot products. Emma strongly encourages parents to follow Baby Money Savers on Facebook and Twitter for the latest updates.
Super Powers: Determination, dedication and self-motivation which, in turn, help parents save £££ when buying for baby.
Inspiration: It was a lecturer at university who inspired Emma and her approach to learning and doing. He believed that in order to really understand something you need to experience it firsthand. He would often share examples of how he practiced this belief and even infiltrated a group of football hooligans to understand their motives for a module in social behaviour, so Emma tells me!
“I like to get my hands dirty! It’s the best way to learn.” says Emma.
It was this attitude that saw Emma take the plunge and her own website in the first place, whilst at the same time developing her knowledge of SEO, affiliate marketing and social media. Her next plan is to teach herself HTML coding whilst watching her beautiful daughter grow!
Kirsteen Kamming, Founder of alphabets&animals
Your typically cheery, straight-talking Scot, Kirsteen is a mother of two who took a leap of faith last year and quit her career in Marketing to follow her dream.
Kirsteen has been honing her illustration skills for friends and family over the years, producing beautiful bespoke hand-drawn prints for kids and the feedback was always “you should be doing this full-time”, “start your own thing”, “I know so many people who would love these”…
Now, alphabets&animals sees her creating and selling personalised pictures, greeting cards and other cute things based on her own illustrations.
Super Powers: Inspired Illustrator, Believer in Edith Piaf and in dreams that do come true!
Inspiration: The catalyst for Kirsteen, only came after reading an article in The Guardian about a young mother who had given up a well paid city job to set up on her own. It was her line “fear lasts five minutes, regret a lifetime” that really hit a chord. I didn’t want to regret not trying and it seemed I had very little to lose.
Her office based role was becoming increasingly demanding, her home life chaotic and her salary was just about covering the cost of childcare. There seemed to be very little reward. Something had to change. Her first series of greetings cards. Vol. 1: Christmas. They proved so popular, the wee robins in particular, that she already has orders for 2013!
Kirsteen has big plans for 2013; alphabets&animals line extensions, a big presence in big shops and a royal portrait (who knows!) She now has time for her children, her husband and is doing something she really loves. Although she tells me the house, interestingly, is still a mess!
“So far, I can honestly say, je ne regrette rien…”
Finding your inspiration: Take the Lead
How can you discover and embrace your ‘Super Powers’? Maybe you already have! If you’re not quite there yet, ask yourself the following questions:
Who are you?
Who inspires you?
What talent do they posses that inspires you?
Do you have that talent too?
What are your talents?
What makes you inspirational to others?
What ever you take from this blog post, make the decision to take the lead every now and then! Why? Because by empowering yourself, you will start to grow your confidence, find your talents and ultimately own your Super Powers!
So…Be the person in the office that says “No” to the latest greatest idea if you don’t believe in it. Be the person to do what feels right even when everyone around you is telling you it’s not something they would do. Be the person who takes that opportunity to move to the other side of the world if that’s the place that feels like home.
Don’t be the person who says “I never truly lived”.
Huge thanks to all the Super Women who agreed to feature in this blog post!
To all the Super Men out there who want to feature in the next, tweet me @stephsbubble #SuperPowers!