A Day In The Life Of – Amy Corfield

I am a consultant at Kan Do Ventures and owner of two crazy kittens. Here is a typical working day for me. Kan Do Ventures really support a great work life balance for the team and I make sure I have time for the things that make me happy and relaxed. Cooking, running and cats (when they are not fighting!)

I wake up at – 6:00am

The first thing I do is – Open the bedroom door and let Thor & Loki in.

Before work I like to – Go for a run

I start work at – 8am ish. Kittens allowing!

Not sure where one cat ends and the other begins – Thor and Loki up to mischief

Three things always on my desk – Laptop, water & normally food!

Typical morning tasks – Once I have had a run or gone to the gym pre-lockdown, I then have breakfast and feed the cats. I then get on with work checking emails and having calls to get ready for the day.

For lunch I usually eat – Whatever we had for tea the night before. There’s no point cooking twice!!

From my desk I can see – The wall, not very inspiring but we’re getting furniture collected from the office soon and will be rearranging, which means recently I’ve been set up in the kitchen. It’s better here as I can see the garden.

Amy’s desk. Checking out Kan Do Ventures website and eating cake

The best bit about what I do is – Sounds cheesy but it’s definitely the team, I love working with these guys.

Typical afternoon tasks – This varies each day with work tasks. I have ongoing projects and jobs that have come up in my morning calls. One thing is always the same, I’m normally telling Thor & Loki to stop playing with everything they shouldn’t be or to stop attacking the dining chairs.

Before I finish work – I check I’ve done everything I needed to or said I would do for the day, I like to know I am signing off having achieved what I needed to.

After work I like to – Cook something for dinner (and lunch the next day) exercise again if I can, tidy the house (the cats make a mess not me!) I also like to watch TV, spend time with Thor & Loki – and my fiance Tom I suppose ;-)

The Power of Yes

The Power Of Yes

Yes is a short word, only 3 letters and we say it countless times a day but I recently discovered how powerful it can be when said positively and with meaning.

I am guest writing today for Kan Do Ventures and I have recently started working for them. It’s been a great experience so far, such a positive atmosphere and attitude in everything they do. It’s something I am trying to take into all areas of my life since lockdown started, although, that got increasingly difficult being stuck in the house and on furlough from my previous role. Things got worse as time went on. I was under threat of redundancy several weeks ago and after sitting at home like the rest of the nation I was feeling out of control and a bit lost.  The redundancy threat was a huge blow, so when my previous employer offered voluntary redundancy I realised there was one way to get back control……. I could say YES! 

Deciding My Own Fate

This little word meant that suddenly, the ball was in my court. I had decided my own fate and I felt so much better for it. It gave me a whole new outlook on my situation and new motivation. Someone suggested trying to set myself up as a freelance Social Media Manager and Virtual Assistant. Staying with the theme, I said YES! It’s an ongoing process but so far so good. My website is almost ready to launch and I feel my confidence building by the day. I am joining groups online for like-minded people and others in the industry. I am joining courses and workshops and reaching out to people for advice.

Kan Do Attitude

I have know Chun-Kit and Alice Kan for a few years now as we attend the same amazing fitness classes at Carla Gilder Fitness. I got a message from Alice suggesting that I should contact Kan Do Ventures as they might need support. I was nervous about putting myself out there but by saying YES it’s opened up a whole new range of possibilities. Not just work but networking, firing my brain back up after furlough and getting the chance to talk to some lovely and supportive people.

I don’t know what’s next for me exactly but I do know what I am going to be saying to opportunities that come my way………… a big, positive, hopeful YES!

Saying yes to opportunities can lead to unexpected and amazing things. Don’t let fear hold you back.

Dion J Sully is a freelance Social Media Manager and Virtual Assistant – https://www.dionjsully.co.uk/

A Day In The Life Of… The Boss!

Lockdown has changed a typical day for me, mostly for the better I think. I used to leave the house at 6:30 am to get to a project site and usually did not return until after 6:30 pm. Once home I used to head straight back out to training. Lockdown meant an end to the 1 hour 10-minute commute and a rethink of where I can fit my training in. I now have a personal training session at lunchtime and couldn’t imagine life without it now!

Back to a typical day in the “new normal”

I wake up at – 5:30 – 6:00am

The first thing I do is – Make coffee. It has to be Kickback Coffee too. They are an amazing local coffee roaster and I love to pop up to their shop for a brew and to grab a bag of coffee for home. https://www.kickbackcoffee.co.uk/

Before work I like to – Drink coffee obviously and I also train 2-3 times a week before work. Sometimes I have a catch up with old friends over a brew.

I start work at – Any time between 8am and 9am depending on what I have on that day or if we are having a team brief and catchup over Zoom

Three things always on my desk – A drink, water and a brew. Working set up including laptop riser, keyboard and mouse. Post It notes.

The “office” at the kitchen table

Typical morning tasks – I like to review emails and do any of the general admin tasks first. It helps me get into work mode and I always feel more productive.

For lunch I usually eat – Meat with veg. I need a decent meal with protein especially if I have had a pre-lunch training session with my personal trainer Vikki Thomas. She never makes it easy for me as you can see from the photos. You can check Vikki out here https://www.facebook.com/vikkihaleythomas/

From my desk I can see – The back garden or the kitchen wall.

The best bit about what I do is – I love collaborating with other people. Not just people in the Kan Do team but on projects and other businesses. I love making things happen being productive.

Typical afternoon tasks – In the afternoon it’s mostly meetings (virtual) and phone calls. All my deadlines seem to be towrds the end of the day so I am usually at my busiest checking what planned activities are happening and re-planning them if things haven’t gone to plan.

Before I finish work – I like to catch up with the team and review my tasks for the next day. If there is something quick I can deal with it or leave until the next day. I am a fine procrastinator, especially if there isn’t a brew in my hand. I am detecting a strong brew theme to my days.

After work I like to – Train, cook a family meal, and eat as a family. The benefits of not communing right now are that I have more time to do this and the work-life balance is good.

Taking a step back to move forward

Alice's medals

Start small but be consistent…

It’s that time again, when many people’s thoughts turn to making changes, using the new year (and this time decade) to start (or stop) a habit. For me, the festive break was a time to slow down, and spend time being rather than always doing. And now I’m back to my (very welcome) routine, I want to continue some of the good habits I started.

In previous years, I have used this time to make some crazy resolutions, which come March have all but evaporated. Last year, my goal was to run two half marathons, as I had never run that far before. And I’m proud to say that for the first time, I exceeded my new year’s resolution, and did three!!

So it started me thinking and reading about why I was able to achieve my resolutions last year when previously I’ve failed. There were a few things that I did differently which really helped. And by reflecting on what they were, I’m hoping that it will help me with future resolutions or changes I want to make.

Support

Firstly, I had plenty of support from the Carla Gilder Fitness family. I’ve been a member of CGF since Carla started the business, and in the last five years have radically changed my attitude to exercise. I now can’t imagine a week without it, and love going to classes not only for the exercise, but also to see my friends.

In the last two years, exercise has become a consistent part of my life. It’s an ingrained habit now, and I really miss it when I don’t do it. So training for a half marathon was more a case of changing what I was doing, not how often. And with the encouragement from the CGF instructors and members, it made it so much easier.

Clear plan

If you’ve ever wanted to run a half marathon, it’s pretty easy to find a comprehensive training plan. Whether you are starting from the beginning, or can already run the distance but want to get faster, there is a plan for you. Finding the plan was easy, and then it was just a case of sticking to it. Which wasn’t as hard as I’d expected – three (or four sessions) a week, with one long run.

Having a plan to stick to with what I needed to do took any decision-making out of my hands. I just needed to put on my trainers and go. Which was made easier with the support of the CGF Run Club with twice weekly training sessions.

Take time to reflect

One new habit I’ve started over the festive break has been to write in a journal most days. By letting my mind wander and write about anything I want, I’ve discovered various things I hadn’t realised about myself.

One of the things that I have reflected on a lot is that I succeed more easily when I establish small but consistent habits. Like walking to the station on my commute to work. Calling my mum when I’m walking, even if it’s only for five minutes. Taking time to plan my week in terms of exercise and food. Meal prep on a Sunday.

And I didn’t start all those habits at once – they have evolved over time. But they are easy to do now, and I feel the benefits throughout the week, not just when I’m doing them. The fresh air and (occasional!) sunshine from a brisk walk in the morning sets me up for the day. And I sleep better at night. Fun exercise classes with friends are sociable as well as benefitting my health.

Start small and be consistent

So what about my work resolutions for 2020? Well I’m going to start with small changes, and be consistent. Before the end of each day, I’ve been making a list of my priorities for the following day, so when I start work in the morning, I don’t get distracted with emails, but focus on my plan.

And we will be bringing this approach – providing support, having a clear plan and being consistent – to our clients in 2020.

So if you want some help with your 2020 resolutions, why not get in touch, or come to one of our business skills courses in Macclesfield or Bolton.

We’d love to see you there.

comfort zone

Having a voice which is valued and listened to

Some people might think if you’re the youngest and least experienced, your opinion isn’t valued. At Kan Do Ventures, I can always voice my opinion and know it won’t be ignored, but will be valued. When I first joined, I was nervous and not confident enough to disagree or add my own point of view. Three years down the line and they can’t shut me up!!

I haven’t got as much experience as the rest of the team, so initially I felt my opinion didn’t matter. But I soon realised that isn’t the case here! My opinion is just as valid, and positively encouraged as I have a fresh perspective. We are always aiming for the right outcome for the business and our clients, so all opinions are welcomed.

Getting involved to learn

Having an experienced team around me with knowledge of different sectors has enabled me to learn every day. Previously, I would have sat and absorbed as much as possible, but I’ve realised I learn more by being actively involved. In the past I have sat and not understood a conversation because I was too shy to ask a question. Now I always ask if I have a question, as we will all benefit and come to a better outcome. If I don’t understand something, I know the team will all be wanting to help. 

In the time I’ve been working for Kan Do Ventures, I’ve been out of my comfort zone at times, but I know it will only help me in the long run. It’s easy to get too comfortable in a role and just get on with day-to-day tasks. 

It’s amazing what working in an experienced team with people who actually want to help and make a difference ‘Kan’ do! I still struggle with confidence sometimes, but I’m working on it and will hopefully it’ll happen less and less often in the near future! 

Exam stress

Risky business?!

Exam nightmares

So, this time last week I was getting over sitting two exams – I swore I’d never do any more exams after university!!  Immediately after the exam, I panicked about whether I’d missed out important points or misread questions.  After a week of time to reflect, I feel more confident and hope I’ve done enough to pass the exams!  However, the exams were definitely more difficult than I anticipated, especially considering one of the exams was multiple choice. 

I’ve always hated taking exams, from school right through to my finals.  I tried hard to find subjects with more coursework especially if it reduced the number of exams I had to sit.  Throughout university, I tried to pick the modules of interest to me but without exams if possible.  But to study an IRM course, I knew I’d have to sit exams. 

A new set of skills

I wanted to specialise in a subject and bring new skills to the Kan Do Ventures team.  My background has always been in sport but I’m struggling to apply this knowledge in my day-to-day job.  I was unsure about what to specialise in, but after reading about risk, I was excited to get started! 

To be honest, when studying the IRM Certificate in Enterprise Risk Management, I found distance learning quite difficult. I definitely learn better by attending classes and learning from the experiences of others who are also studying.  However, the flexibility of distance learning has allowed me to study alongside working and gaining experience in risk management. 

I had no understanding of risk terminology or standards, so I started from scratch with both modules I studied.  It took a while to get my head around it, as had to understand the basics of the first module before I could apply it in the second.

Underestimating the importance of risk

During my time gaining experience of risk management, it became immediately obvious how different sectors manage risk in different ways.  Many businesses don’t see risk as an important aspect to consider as part of every day operations. But if risk is considered and managed correctly, it can prevent major issues and also help organisations to identify opportunities. 

Hopefully when I receive my results next year, I will have passed and I can enrol on the diploma to further my understanding of the topic.  The subject is really interesting to me and I’m excited to apply my new knowledge, and really add value to Kan Do Ventures and our clients.

MEN Awards 2019

It’s not the winning…

This time last week, our team (and supporters) were reflecting on a fantastic night at the Manchester Evening News Business Awards. Being finalists in the One To Watch category, alongside Nadine Merabi and the winners of the category, Code Nation, makes us so proud.

It was disappointing not to win, but we celebrated like we had! We know that being included as a finalist is something to celebrate. We were by far the smallest business there, but felt we belonged, as we have big ideas for the future. Hearing from the finalists across all categories was inspiring, particularly knowing that they have all been where we are now.

Taking the positives

It’s easy to feel intimidated by businesses who are hugely successful, when we are still on the early part of our business adventure. But hearing from other businesses, who were once where we are now, was so inspiring and has really increased our determination to succeed.

Before the end of the year, we are taking the positives we heard, and developing a really exciting business plan. Having a goal which inspires the team to aim higher than we thought possible, so that next year, we can enter a different category.

Faking it until we make it

KDV MEN Awards
Double winners at the MEN Awards 2020?!!

We may not have won, but we borrowed two awards for our vision board for 2020! Thanks to two other winners, we have created our vision for next year. And before anyone asks, yes we did return the awards!!

So what does the next year hold for Kan Do Ventures? Growing our client portfolio, expanding our team of passionate individuals and finding even more ways to have a lasting positive impact on the businesses we work with.

With a great team, an inspiring goal and plenty of hard work, I know we can make it a reality.

KDV in Portugal

Escaping the tick-box mentality

Following a fantastic few days in Portugal with the team on a Carla Gilder Fitness holiday, it seemed an appropriate time to stop and reflect on how we do things. The way we work and how we implement policies within Kan Do Venture is something I’m incredibly proud of. We pride ourselves on doing things the Kan Do way.

Just to tick a box, not adding value

“That box is ticked.”

“We’ve been re-chipped.”

“The PC police say we cannot do that.”

These statements seem to feature in regular conversations in the corporate world.  While I (personally) understand the need for policy, tarring everyone with the same brush is a very simple way to enact a policy. However, it also goes a long way to making your staff – the people who make things happen – feel undervalued and like they cannot be trusted.  

What does the policy actually drive?

All too often I have seen policies stuck on a wall with a squiggle on it to show that a company has the required policy.  Does it actually mean anything more than the policy ticks another corporate box?

After writing a policy, it’s essential to implement, sustainably embed it and ensure that it is adhered to.  And now begins the true tick-box world of inefficiency.  If these words are ringing true to you, have a look at what you do.  Is it actually adding value to the day to day running of the business?  Or is it being done because someone had to write a policy and an action plan and now, you’re stuck ticking their boxes for them!

I am not for one minute saying that you should throw the policy out. Some of the tick boxes will be required to meet rules and regulations. But it is essential to know the difference between fulfilling the minimum legal requirements and adding value to your business. 

The Kan Do Ventures approach

My biggest focus on is two required company policies – Health and Wellbeing, and Diversity and Inclusion.  I have seen these two policies become a tick box exercise. In the past, I have even joked that I (being Chinese) immediately tick a diversity box for a department, as does my wife, who is a female engineer.  

As the Director of Kan Do Ventures, I like to do things slightly differently.  Ask any member of the team and they will roll their eyes, and say, “Here he goes again!”. But then we will discuss whether it is right or wrong, whether it adds value to the business and if it’s right we’ll get on with it.  

Health, Wellbeing and Fun Mission

I am personally very proud of having a health, wellbeing and fun mission at Kan Do Ventures.  This is definitely a way of life for the team and me, and so much more than a traditional health and wellbeing policy that is purely a tick box exercise.  Daily fresh air and exercise during the working day has become a habit, making sure that we get some Vitamin D and a change of perspective each day.  This makes us more productive, but also having time together away from the job makes us a close team with a really supportive culture.  

Our annual fitness holiday in Portugal and team building breaks to celebrate Christmas are key features in our calendar. These breaks have provided more opportunity to challenge ourselves physically as well as doing activities outside our comfort zones. And it is this that has created a very strong foundation to build our business on.

Another part of the health, wellbeing and fun mission is for each of us to have a personal challenge, while raising money for a charity close to our hearts.  In 2019, we have run four half marathons, and over 100km for the British Heart Foundation.  These events have challenged each of us individually, and for me, running 3km every day for a month has been harder than expected!!

Diversity and Inclusion

With diversity and inclusion, we recruit on diversity of experience and perspectives.  Attitude and work ethic is really important, but having a truly diverse team in terms of experience and ways of thinking is essential. It means that we are able to challenge each other to get the job done in the right way.  If you’re the best person for the job, then you should be doing it, regardless of the policy.  Just look at our team and you’ll see we all come from different industries and our common goal is to do the right thing in the Kan Do Ventures way.

If you want to talk about how to implement truly value-adding policies, please contact a member of the team.

www.KanDoVentures.com

Alice's medals

Maybe I am a runner…

I don’t think of myself as a runner

I’ve always said I’m not a runner, as I hated it at school, and despite having done a lot of races, until yesterday, I still didn’t think of myself as a runner. But getting myself around one of the hilliest half marathon courses at the Run Macc Fest yesterday, maybe I can say I’m a runner…

I’ve been running since my kids were little, and with the eldest now a teenager, that’s a fair few years of running! I used to run regularly as it was easy exercise to fit around work, the kids and being a taxi service. I found it was a great way to clear my head, get some fresh air and a fresh perspective. But I wasn’t a runner.

Catching the running bug

I ran my first 5km race at Tatton Park in 2009, having run a lot on my own, and since then, I’ve done quite a lot of organised races. It started with Race For Life for Cancer Research UK as a few friends, relatives and colleagues had cancer. And then I caught the running bug, and started going to Park Run regularly, which is a great weekly event with a fantastic community of support, without any pressure to run fast.

Up to now I’ve done over twenty timed runs, varying between 5km and half marathon in distance. And even though I haven’t done a marathon (yet!), I’ve supported friend with her marathon training, so my legs have done a lot of miles over the last 10 years. But I’d never call myself a runner.

To me a runner is a gazelle-like being, who bounces out of bed into their trainers, desperate to go out for a run in all weathers, and often very long distance. Which is certainly not me! Getting myself out of the door can be a challenge, but I never regret it once I go.

I’m a determined snail, not a runner

I’ll never be fast, and I think that is one of the reasons that I don’t consider myself a runner. I run for the way it makes me feel, and as a personal challenge to go further than I have before. And also to just keep going. Running 13.1 miles up some crazy hills was definitely more of a mental than physical battle. The voice in my head has a habit of arguing with me, and telling me that I’m not a runner, and can’t do it. But I did it – continually talking myself into keeping on putting one foot in front of the other, and arguing back against the negativity.

Finally, I feel like I can call myself a runner

Running 13.1 miles has been far more of an achievement than running the distance and getting a lovely medal. It’s made me realise how easy it is to be limited by your internal voice, which has years of beliefs (often based on incorrect assumptions) that can still have a massive influence on how you think. Finally I’ve told my internal voice it’s wrong about me and running, and I’m celebrating my achievements – but more importantly, I’m going to be a bit more critical of what my internal voice says to me in future.

So maybe, just maybe, when the London Marathon ballot is drawn, if I get a place, the internal voice that tells me I’m not a runner, will finally be silenced…