Job satisfaction – what’s the big deal?

Article by Michelle Abrahall 16.11.15

Do you have job satisfaction? And what does that really mean? Us Brits work some of the longest hours in Europe, meaning our jobs take up a huge chunk of our lives, and with retirement age getting pushed further and further back that’s not going to change anytime soon. We’re all aware of the theory behind job satisfaction; the idea that work should fulfil not only your financial needs but your emotional ones too. But how do you get it?

I’d like to reverse engineer this by looking at how you definitely don’t get it. What makes me the expert? A period of job-hopping after Uni that, although I’m not proud of, was instrumental in teaching me what I did not want in a job, and how important job satisfaction is.

Let’s start with the post-grad job: working front of house in a gym. A delightful mixture of early and late night shifts (which I’m sure was an infringement of employee rights), being made to push sunbed subscriptions on customers (some of whom were so desiccated by their ‘bed’ habit I felt like an enabler) and colleagues who openly sneered at my choice of degree topic (ok, so art degree + leisure industry isn’t a likely pairing, but I had rent to pay). I latest a few months. Lesson? Shift work and sales were not for me.

Next was an ill-advised stint in retail. I had worked at Woolworths (RIP) while at Uni, but this card shop was another kettle of fish. Woolworths was busy. This shop was dead. And I mean, ‘lucky if you see one customer an hour’ dead. I think I may have had a small mental breakdown while working there, bought on by the kind of mind-numbing boredom I have never experienced before or since. My mind was not only numb, it was withering away. If you think I’m being dramatic, you try working eight hours in an empty shop with nothing to do but rearrange greetings cards and dust figurines and see how you do. Lesson? Retail was not for me. And you might think that having a job in which you’re not that busy is a good thing, but it most definitely is not.

Moving on to a job that most people have had at some point in their career – the Admin Job. At last, I thought, an office job! A desk of my own! No more standing around all day! No more cheap uniforms in unflattering colours! I liked working in an office. The mix of personalities, the unspoken etiquette of tea making, the structure. It was great for a while. But I soon realised how starved my creative side was when I started drawing unnecessarily fancy notes for the milkman. Lesson? I needed to get into something creative, fast.

The first job I got that actually required some sort of creativity was in a print and copy shop. I was only a ‘bureau assistant’ to start with but I nagged the other designers to show me how to use the design software and I pushed my bosses to let me layout simple jobs like business cards and letterheads. That job had a lot of flaws (the biggest being we ended up moving to an industrial unit in Coventry) but it made me realise that I did want to be a graphic designer, after all.

Because, after three years of art courses at college and three years of Uni, I was burned out and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But the lack of job satisfaction I had in the jobs since graduating made me realise I wanted, and needed, to be in a creative career. After working for the print company it was still a long, bumpy road to where I am now (a freelance Graphic Designer) but those post-grad years really were formative. I realised the importance of job satisfaction because I didn’t have it for so long.


Illustration | Design | Copywriting

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Commissioning Art- The Do’s and Dont’s

Article by Brian Dickinson 11.11.15

Commissioning Bespoke Stained Glass

Myth 1: Stained Glass is just for Church Windows.

When I introduce myself as a stained glass artist, one of the first questions I get asked is “Do you make Church Windows?”

I can understand why people say this, before I became a stained glass artist I would have made the same assumption.  

Church glass is very specialised sector of the stained glass marketplace. Working as #dolittleglass I create unique contemporary stained glass for homes and businesses. Windows make only a small part of my stained glass work. The majority of my creations are portable artworks & lamps, ideal for today’s mobile lifestyle. 

I’m constantly finding new places where stained glass can make a impact. 

Who commissions an artwork?

Myth 2: Bespoke art is just for the Rich or Arty folk.

You don’t have to be a member of the Saatchi family to commission art. Everyday folk like you & me buy and commission art.


In a world where every high street is selling the same stuff, it’s difficult to put your own stamp on your home or workplace. Commissioning an artwork is a great opportunity to create something personal & unique.

Some people treat themselves, others commission work as a special present to celebrate a birthday, anniversary or other landmark.

Often it’s a cost effective way of purchasing art as it avoids the heavy gallery commissions, frequently 30 – 50% of the purchase price.

Working directly with an artist is a fun and rewarding experience. The rest of this article highlights how to get the best out of the relationship. 

What’s involved in commissioning an artwork?

Choosing an Artist
Perhaps the easiest way to choose an artist is to look at their past work. Do you like the style of their work? Do they have the capacity and capability to create what you are looking for?

Another important criteria often forgotten, is the artist themselves. Do they listen to you and take care to understand your needs? Is this someone you can work with and trust? What do their past customers say?

As you are choosing an artist, the artist is also going through a process of vetting you as a client. Good artists may say no to your request.


Getting Started

Deciding on a Subject or theme.

How much input does the purchaser need to give? Talking with other artists, this seems to be a difficult question for both the artist and the customer.  

Successful collaborations can take many forms.

a) Agree the general theme and leave the rest to the artist. This requires a lot of trust on both sides. This approach often gives enough freedom for an artist to produce their best work.

b) If you are unsure about a suitable theme. It’s a good idea to spend some time with your chosen artist. A conversation over drinks can home in on a suitable theme. It might be a personal hobby or special interest. Artists a generally very flexible and imaginative. After one discussion the all a family could agree was their favourite colours. This was enough trigger the creative juices.

c) Many artists take inspiration from other images and photographs. This can be a mood board of the type of artworks you like or a single photo to be used as a basis for the commissioned artwork.

How the artwork is to be displayed?

It might seem a bit early to decide how an artwork is to be displayed, but for a medium like glass it’s crucial. Get it wrong and a spectacular artwork can appear bland. Early consideration also helps prevent unexpected costs.

For glass questions like:

• Where will the artwork be displayed? E.g. Against a wall, standalone, in a window….

• Will a frame be required/needed? What material best fits the location?

• Will the artwork need artificial lighting? As a light box or to illuminate.

• How much natural light? 

Timing is an important consideration.

If there is a deadline for the commission, it must be made clear from day one. The creative process can be lengthy, please give your artist enough time to schedule and produce their best work.

Quotation, Payment & Deposits

Once the terms of reference are agreed, it is common practice for the artist to ask for a non-returnable deposit. This is to cover up front costs – materials and payment of third parties (e.g. picture framers). This deposit also is a sign of good faith, showing the customers commitment to the commission.


Creating the Artwork

How much is a customer involved in the creative process?

The main objective here is to ensure the customer is going to be delighted by the end result. Whilst avoiding wasting too much time and money going down the wrong path.

There are several ways to involve the customer in the design process:

a). A quick outline design sketch prepared early in the design process gives an opportunity for getting feedback from the customer. For stained glass this is a layout diagram together with design notes showing proposed glass colours. Samples of the glass can help the later.

b). Sometimes a few sketches may be prepared to give the customer a degree of choice.

c). Occasionally an artist might be able to involve a customer directly in the making process. With my stained glass work there are a few steps in the making process where this is possible. Here the customer becomes the artists assistant. This is a great idea if the commission is creating a present for a loved one.

d). Some artworks can take a long time to produce. Here the artist has a choice: Either have a big reveal of the completed artwork; or give regular updates throughout the making process. I prefer the later option as it keeps the customer interested.

e). Excessive customer involvement can be a cause of stress an conflict. This is where the customer constantly changes their requirements, attempts to take artistic control or interferes with the creation process. Trust your chosen artist to deliver.

Unveiling and Handover

At its simplest this is a basic exchange of goods for the agreed fee. With the care taken at the earlier stages, the customer should be delighted with the newly created artwork.

A bit of drama!

Some customers like to have a big reveal for themselves and their friends. This can be a fun way for the hand over. I has the additional benefit of showing the commissioned item to a wider audience. Great publicity for both the customer and the artist. 

Sometimes this exposure can be in a public exhibition at a gallery or other space.

Is that the end of the story?

As the customer you are getting the benefits from a fantastic artwork.

A positive way of expressing this delight, is to prepare a testimonial / written review for the artist. Recommend the artist to your friends, family and wider contacts. This generous spirit will bring its own rewards. 

The artist may also want to use an image of the artwork in their portfolio and publicity material.

Who owns the copyright for the artwork?

In lots of cases this is not an issue. Once the handover is completed that’s the end of the story.

An artist may want to reproduce the artwork to gain extra revenue for their efforts. There is a long history of artists doing this by creating additional versions of their popular artworks. Additionally the image may be reproduced in the form of prints, limited editions and greeting cards.

This opportunity for future revenue may reduce the original commissioning cost.

If you are very sensitive to the uniqueness of the work, you may request and negotiate exclusivity.


Commissioning Art is a Win – Win – Win proposition. 

Go for it.

The Power Of Mindfulness – 28 Days to a Happier, Healthier, Calmer YOU 

Article by Mita Mistry 04.11.15

You may have read my article, The Mindfulness Revolution and how it is taking the world by storm. In a nutshell athletes, celebrities, CEO’s of large companies as well as schools and small business owners are using it. The chances are you have come across this hot buzzword “mindfulness”. Why? Because as we strive to become better and brighter we are burning out and that is real life.
 I don’t need to sell mindfulness to you as it is scientifically proven to help anxiety, depression, OCD, addictions, stress and workplaces and schools use it to enhance performance. So, in theory it makes a lot of sense to advocate mindfulness to your employees, whatever the size of your business and to practice it yourself. But it’s not that easy to do or a quick fix overnight. Let me tell you about my own journey into mindfulness and how I can help you…

I have been practicing mindfulness for over 25 years. It was introduced me to in 1988 by my father when we visited a Guru who gave us personalised mantras/affirmations to use every morning along with a short time for contemplation. I practiced this most days until my early 20s (1993) but sadly had no time for it after joining the rat race. During the rat race I still read inspirational texts (E. tolle, Wayne Dyer and many, many more) but the inner calm I once knew was not there.

In 2002 after several stressful life events I went back to finding this calm space within me to cope with it all. I came across a local Buddhist temple near Leamington Spa where I would retreat to feel peace amongst the chaos around me. Sitting in lotus position for 90 minutes adorned with incense, hearing wisdom from monks in saffron robes was incredibly inspiring and calming. It helped to deepen my mindfulness practice and feel creative and calm again. Since then I have continued with it and have used it to help my children feel happy and confident.

As an acupuncturist and mindfulness coach, treating the root cause of illness is essential and that means I work with clients to help manage stress and release negative emotions. Seeing clients’ access their inner calm how it can boost their wellbeing and transform their life is very rewarding and everyone should have access to this. So I have been writing about mindfulness in magazine features and my newspaper columns because I want to share the benefits of connecting with your inner calm with EVERYONE and ANYONE can do this regardless of age, background, gender or beliefs. My passion to share this has reached another level after healing and coping with a horrendous bike crash in June 2015.

So while I have been recovering from the bike crash, I have created a unique 28 Day Mindfulness Program that combines ancient healing techniques with science. You may not have time to attend a formal training program or funds to employ a mindfulness guru or sit in the lotus position for an hour and a half a day. So I have created a unique way for you to start getting mindful and apply it to all aspects of your life. You can enjoy the benefits of learning these skills and tools in the comfort of your own home or workplace, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.

 I want to share the Power of Mindfulness with you as it has helped to transform my life and get through very stressful times and I have seen it change the lives of many, many people in my clinic… I highly recommend it if you want help to stay alert, focused, calm, less stressed and experience greater happiness and wellbeing as well as being more productive and creative.

If you would like to know more about this programme and how it can help you or your employees or family and friends then please drop me an email on.


The Importance of Following Your Dreams

Article by Daniel Browne 02.11.15

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a bit of a dreamer. Whether it was dreaming of being James Bond when I was a child or dreaming of becoming a Police officer when I was a teenager, dreaming big has always been a part of my life.
Clearly I’m not going to be the next James Bond, but it was a nice childhood fantasy. I did nearly join the Police, but after completing a work experience placement at seventeen years old I was put off by the huge amount of paperwork and lack of catching criminals that I witnessed. Why wasn’t it like The Bill?

As I moved into adulthood I continued to dream big, but didn’t really do anything to achieve those dreams. Then one day I had a bit of a lightbulb moment, gave myself a talking to and decided that if I want to achieve the dreams I have in mind I need to take action. So that’s exactly what I did.

I’d had a dream in mind for some time regarding become a therapist and helping people to work through their issues. I wanted to develop a career in an area that would be worthwhile and rewarding, but at the same time allow me to develop and grow personally. After seeing an advert for a therapy training school in a local newspaper, I decided to apply for the course and become a hypnotherapist. I was in a part time, low paid job at the time and knew that financing the course would be a difficulty. However, I wanted to do it and was determined to not let anything stop me.

After an interview to ascertain my suitability for training to become a therapist, I was offered a place on the course. My age had been a possible concern, but I had enough life experience to make up for only being in my early 20s. I was set to begin when I had a crisis of confidence relating to my finances. I knew that paying my course fees would mean going without food and not being able to pay my bills. So I chickened out and decided to withdraw from the course.

I beat myself up about that for a few weeks, but after some time came to realisation that I needed to make some sacrifices and remain focused on the ultimate goal if I was going to succeed. I wanted to be a therapist and nothing was going to stop me.

So I resolved to apply again the next year, get a place on the course and really put my all into qualifying. That’s exactly what I did. By that time my finances were not much better. I was still in a low paid job, but decided to take on a second job to help pay for my course fees. I successfully interviewed and was again offered a place on the course. This time I refused to let anything hold me back. Later that year I attended the first class and the rest is history.

Having being a hypnotherapist since 2009, I’m settled in my career and still thoroughly enjoy it. So much so that earlier this year I had another big dream. This time it was about setting up a hypnotherapy training school to help others develop personally and professionally in order to move into a career as a hypnotherapist. I’m passionate about helping people to achieve their goals and saw this new dream as an extension of that.

After much thought and consideration I decided that I simply needed to go for it. I’d proven to myself that dreams can come true if they’re realistic (that’s where the problems with becoming James Bond began) and you’re willing to put in the effort to make them come true.

Fast forward to the present day and I am in the process of launching The British Academy of Hypnotherapy. A Diploma in Hypnotherapy has been written and I’m ready to begin classes from October 2016 pending the outcome of gaining accreditation for the diploma. It’s been a lot of hard work and lengthy, time consuming process, but ultimately it has to be that way if it’s to happen.

I guess the point I’m making here regarding following your dreams, is how important it is to do that. Here’s why:

• I’m sure we can all be dreamers, but following your dreams can make you feel truly alive. They can be another reason to get up in the morning and help you make it through the bad days.

• On your dream chasing journey you’re bound to find other dream seekers. When I began my therapy training I met several people who were in a similar situation. I thrived off them and like to think they did the same with me. With similar values, interests and goals, it made the process of training even more joyous. Those fellow dream seekers helped me to keep going and striving to achieve, and I in turn aimed to inspire them.

• Speaking of inspiration, if you follow your dreams and end up achieving them, you are then giving hope to others who want to follow their dreams. You’re then perfectly placed to help them and lead by example.

• By achieving your dream you may end up creating a better life for yourself. I don’t necessarily mean financially; achieving your dream can help you to feel much happier and healthier. A healthy life is often a happy life, and vice versa.

• Nobody is going to follow your dreams for you, so you may as well give it a go.

• It will make people feel proud of you, but more importantly than that it will make you feel proud of yourself. Your confidence will build, plus you’ll get to enjoy that feeling of satisfaction and the excitement that comes with following and achieving your dreams.

• The truth is that we only live once. Life is too short to not follow your dreams.

Of course I’m fully aware it can be easier said than done. There can be all sorts of obstacles in the way. However if there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years, it’s the fact that there are obstacles every day. Choosing to overcome them is key to success.

If you’d like to discuss your dreams and how you can make them come true, why not book a free no obligation consultation with me to see how hypnotherapy could help. Email or call 07816 181428 to discuss. Helping you to achieve your dreams is my dream.