New Year’s Resolutions 2016: Time to get on the scales or simply just eat it?

It is yet only a few days into the New Year and as usual the “lists” are probably getting longer or even shorter with each passing day or perhaps floating around in your wallet, ironed out by your fridge magnet or like myself, on my little “whiteboard”. I’m sure you know what I’m on about, the fated ANNUAL New Year’s Resolutions conlist!!

New year
New Year’s Resolution – A fantasy or fallacy.               Source:

So what exactly have you decided to do? Are your plans or lists achievable or are they the usual 2-3 week strong effort and 11 months and 1 week grumble and regret for even bothering to think you’d do what you wrote?

I’ll tell you mine, well the first and main one!

Projections NOT resolutions – My (Emmanuel) 2015 went as fast as a bullet and my 2015 resolutions list became a distant memory long before spring. So after lamenting on my failures of 2015  my little eureka was to cheat a little ahem! simply change the wording (very easy right?). So, no resolution this year but achievable, meaningful, valuable yet exciting projections that I can quantify or evaluate at the end of the year. This, as a starting point, I was forced to set realistic targets! At least with  target i can have a focus and it trumps an unrealistic resolution which is akin to you dreaming of marrying the queen and becoming King of England…it’ll never happen and you know it 🙂

What else?

#EntrepreneurChat – Is it time to shake up your business strategy?

The business environment around us is constantly changing. Successful organizations have to learn to adapt or face the prospect of their competitors ‘eating’ into their market share. The ability to navigate ‘new waters’ is important to all entrepreneurs – whether you are a sole trader or have 1,000 employees! In today’s article, Adeyinka shares steps aspiring entrepreneurs can utilise to ensure their businesses succeed in spite of a changing internal and external environment.

Let’s take a look at Burger King. Once ranked number two on the list of top fast food chains, it now finds itself number 5 in the top 15, according to Business Insider. In 2012, the top 15 fast food chains ranked in the nation had a combined $115 billion in sales. It may sound like this is a good thing for Burger King with sales of $8.4 billion and 7,231 locations right? The fact is that they are losing market share to Wendy’s, Starbucks and Subway which is reason for concern. Additionally, Burger King have Taco Bell in the number 6 spot nipping at their heels. So what has Burger King done?  They are now one of the first fast food chains to come to market with turkey & veggie burgers – tapping into the health conscious and vegetarian consumer market. Like Burger King, every business, whether large or small needs to be able to recognize when it’s time to shake things up.

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Dr Leon C. Meggison misquoting Charles Darwin

The Art of Acting II – Impact of ‘Type’ and ‘Casting Choices’ in Finding Roles and Honing Your Craft

Recently, we featured an article on the Art of Acting by Shauna Blaize, an actress, model and film producer. In the article, Shauna shared her perspective and the “reality” facing budding actors in the film industry. In today’s post, Shauna reflects on how type and often race play a part in casting choices and how she is showcasing her own abilities as an actor and a producer.

We all have a type and when casting directors look at us they see the girl next door, the sassy girl, the best friend, the leading lady, etc and quite frankly it may not be what you or your friends/family see when they look at you.  But again we are not looking at our personalities or our inner essence; we are looking at ourselves with a critical eye, knowing the type we fit into and how we can sell that type. In other words how our type fits in with the need they are trying to fill.

Type has a few branches; it’s not only if you have straight or curly hair, if you wear glasses, or if you are short or tall or have a “look” that is more on the “businesswoman” side versus a “hippie chick.” It goes deeper than that. For instance I need to know that as a Black woman I will be viewed for certain roles. Roles such as the neck twisting/”around the way” type girl. If you want to go even deeper, I am a woman of mixed ethnicity and “light skinned” so I will be viewed as that “pretty light skinned chick” from the projects that is considered a “prize” because let’s be honest, I have a lighter complexion.

We look at Kerry Washington (Scandal) and recent Emmy winner Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) and it seems that it’s all good for actresses of color but we are still quite far behind.

#CareerChat – What Does It Mean To Be A Good Leader?

Image: Image Basket

Are we born to lead or follow? Are there any certain, genetically determined traits found in some people that naturally puts them in a leadership position? In today’s post, Dr Monika Stuczen shares her thoughts on what it takes to be a good leader and simple tools that make for effective leadership. Enjoy reading!

I was born into an average working class family and grew up under communism in my country. I can’t say that my parents or the society helped me to become a confident child. I was rather treated like someone without any rights to speak, especially at school. If you spoke out loud, it was seen as a lack of respect towards adults and teachers so we always kept our thoughts and opinions to ourselves. As a young person, I was so shy that even a trip to the shop was a challenge because I had to speak and ask for what I wanted. I so hated this feeling of shyness and over years was trying to do everything to overcome it by exposing myself to many challenging situations which required me to be more open and take a lead.

#WideningParticipation : BME & STEM Engagement – Can we do more?

Big Bang Fair
Image – Central Sussex College

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion focused on how to deliver diversity within Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM). However it is still the case that a lot of work remains in addressing the underrepresentation of black and minority ethnic (BME) individuals, disabled people, women and those from socially disadvantaged groups in STEM.  In this article, Hephzi and Amara discuss how decision makers within STEM can engage with BME communities to ignite a passion for STEM in young people and create an awareness of career opportunities within these sectors.

Up until 2011, the concepts of ‘science communication’ and ‘public engagement’ were alien to me. I had never been to a science fair, a science show or even visited a science museum! I had never sat in an audience where someone or a group of people discussed the range of opportunities and possibilities which could arise from pursuing a career within STEM.

I belong to two categories classed as underrepresented audiences in STEM; I am black and female. My recent discovery of the variety of ways in which scientists engage with the public is despite the fact that I have always been interested in science. I studied all three science subjects – Physics, Chemistry, and Biology – as well as Maths for my A’ Levels and have ‘stayed in science’ till date – working towards a PhD in Cell Biology. So, how does one with such an interest in science have such a myopic view on the diversity of career pathways within it?

“Writing is Fun and Escapism.” -A Journey into the World of Fiction

Are you thinking of writing your first novel or have you started writing but need that bit of inspiration to help you complete your first manuscript?  In this article, John Hancock, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology and Author of several academic textbooks in Molecular Biology and Cell Signalling shares his experience of writing fiction. John also shares some advice for prospective authors on taking the plunge into writing that first novel. Enjoy!

Writing is both fun and escapism. Having written quite a lot of non-fiction having the chance to write a story is refreshing. There is no right or wrong way to do fiction, by which I mean you can write about anything as long as it, hopefully, comes across as engaging and enjoyable. 

The Professionals: The Art of Acting

Image – Shauna Blaize

Interested in acting and dreaming of glamorous nights on the red carpet, a big award speech and champagne flowing parties? Getting into the movie industry or television requires careful planning, grit and a huge dose of business sense. In this two part series, Shauna Blaize, an accomplished model, budding actor, producer and writer, shares her opinions about the art of acting as well as the reality which budding actors may encounter and should prepare for.

When I say actor, I don’t mean the A list celebrities that we see on the red carpet. That is a level that many of us (let’s be honest) won’t get to see. In this business, you are lucky enough to just be a ‘working actor.’ To be a working actor it means that your income comes from acting-you don’t need to waitress, work in a fast food restaurant, basically you don’t need to do any side job(s) and/or mind-numbing work that allows you to eat while going on auditions.

I live in New York and to meet a true actor…it doesn’t happen very often. I meet tons of actors (as a matter of fact who isn’t an actor in this city?) but rarely do I meet any that actually earn their living from acting. So here we are, the “non-working” actors consistently looking for acting work while working that dead end job. Now this is the day to day that you don’t read about too often when you Google “how to be an actor.”

Most people think you take a few classes, get a manager, then a talent agent and then boom! you are on your way. Well not exactly. When you graduate from an acting program at a well-known school like Julliard or NYU for example, they have showcases where agents and managers can come to see you perform and you may get a bite off that. Those of us who did programs at conservatories/studios that are not Ivy League (and for those who didn’t get signed on the spot at a showcase), we have to hit the pavement.

I won’t tell you how to go about getting representation because Lord knows I am not in any position to share the secret as I myself am not privy to it! Also, the truth is that even if you were to obtain representation, your job doesn’t end there. An agent/manager’s job is not exactly to get you a job so much as to put you closer to it. YOU still need to book it. Also keep in mind that you are not the only client your representation has. Even if you are with a boutique agency that has a smaller roster of clients, you still need to have the mind of a hustler. You still need to wake up every day with an intention. You cannot sit down and wait for a call. To be an actor is to be an entrepreneur. There is no boss giving you a “to do list” or a desk where you sit down every day, open up Excel, and then find what your responsibilities are.

Acting is a business with a lot of grunt work and many of us don’t realize how much of that type of work is involved. Many of us focus on the creative side but there is absolutely no getting around the need of having a business savvy mind. You hear it all the time but to actually live it; to get up every day and push yourself when there is no one standing there managing you or telling you that you will be fired if your work is not completed, is a different thing.  Any work, pay checks, professional and personal fulfilment will all be generated by you. The truth is, you can’t have the creative mind without the business smarts.

“You can be creative from your head to your big toe but if you do not have the drive or the savvy to sell yourself, you will not get far”

In a business that people think involves a lot of “pretending” or “faking” you actually need a lot of truth.  According to the late Sanford Meisner, “acting is being truthful under imaginary circumstances.” You want to be truthful in your work of course but you also need to be truthful with yourself-brutally honest to be exact. You need to be able to ask yourself if a life of uncertainty (that can stretch for years with no visible end in sight) is something you can deal with.

“You need to ask yourself if you can motivate and light a fire under your feet when you are tired and there is no immediate or obvious consequence should you decide to skip a day-or two or three”

You also need to be truthful in what you are in this industry and that is the most personal and I think the most important thing I can share with you.

APH: Many thanks to Shauna for sharing this great post with us and we look forward to sharing the second part of the “Art of Acting” with our readers in December.

About the Writer: Shauna was recently in the off-Broadway play The Girls of Summer and last month she produced and starred in her self-written short film Winning.

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