We totally understand what it is like to feel unfulfilled in life and the real challenge of changing direction. We are firm believers that nothing has to last forever. We have each spent 2 decades figuring out who we are, what we want in life and how to make that happen. We hope that our story, the stories of our podcast guests and community, plus our resources and programmes can help you define what success looks like for you.
WHERE IT ALL STARTED
We met in April 2018 at a LinkedIn Local Newcastle event that Michelle had created: part of the global movement started by Anna McAfee. We're even in her book - "How a Hashtag Changed the World" - which is worth a read!
James was working from home and decided he needed to get out to meet more people and came along.
We quickly became friends over our shared interests of psychology, coaching, personal development and inspirational speakers.
A PODCAST IS BORN
As we got to know each other better at the monthly events, James mentioned he always fancied being on the radio or having a podcast as a weekend passion project.
In true Michelle style of making ideas happen, she sorted some training, we talked around the overall concept, what the name should be, and by December 2018 we started recording. No messing around! Our first episode of the Inspiration North Podcast was launched on the 7th January 2019.
We have launched a podcast every Monday since then, come rain, shine, illness, holidays and Covid!
COULD WE WORK TOGETHER?
We could see the potential in building the Inspiration North brand with more types of events that would help others to take more practical action in living life on purpose and finding happiness.
We have always loved following the charity Action for Happiness and their brilliant monthly calendars.
We signed up to become volunteers to run their 8-week "Exploring What Matters" course. We have met some wonderful people on the courses and we both get so much from facilitating these donation-based events with all funds going to the charity.
Oh...and it turns out we work really well together and have many complementary strengths!
Participants on the courses got so much value from the weekly sessions that they wondered if there was a way to keep the connection going.
Action for Happiness had created the concept of Happy Cafes, which brings people together with an interest in promoting happiness and wellbeing (plus we like to add enjoying coffee, tea and cake!)
We started to run these in The Journey cafe in Newcastle Upon Tyne. With Covid arriving, we fully took these online and run events 2 Saturdays each month. The friendly and upbeat community has given much needed social connection and laughs during lockdowns.
Wanting to bring science and research to back up what we are doing, we were introduced to the University of East London (UEL). A great team of Masters Occupational Psychologists worked on a project for us to analyse 15 of our podcasts to see if there were common themes in how our guests found their passion and happiness.
They went above and beyond with market research as to how we could create a programme that would help others to define their own success, discover their passion and work towards living life on purpose.
Keep an eye out for exciting things in the months ahead!
AT THE CORE OF OUR MISSION WE AIM TO...
FLY THE FLAG FOR THE NORTH EAST OF ENGLAND...
to show the world the great passion and stories from our region, plus bring inspiration from further afield.
CREATE A MOVEMENT...
for people to raise aspirations, take action and create a life of sincere purpose.
USE RESEARCH AND ANALYSIS...
from our podcasts (to show how people found their passion) and from positive psychology to give our programmes a science-backed core.
HAVE LOTS OF FUN...
where we can speak to and learn from inspirational people and share their message.
MEET THE TEAM
James is a Gallup® Certified Strengths Coach. His role in Inspiration North is Managing Director; he is happiest when he is developing close relationships with and connecting people, planning exciting new projects for the future and facilitating positive change in his clients.
He is great at spotting the potential in others, helping them learn new things and he gets excited when exploring opportunities and brainstorming options. Working with James is transformative, he has a knack for putting people at ease and building deep rapport, his calm positivity and gift for collaboration shines through in all his interactions.
He speaks 3 languages, has an MBA and brings 18 years of experience working across 3 continents. He has started multiple businesses, supported other entrepreneurs, and been in the big corporate world across the real estate, construction, manufacturing and training sectors. With all his experience of change, uncomfortable situations and learning jobs in other languages, he is comfortable with being in uncomfortable situations.
In James’s coaching business – Zira Life, he helps his clients discover and develop their talents to give them the clarity and confidence to perform at their best through strengths-based coaching.
He gets energy from seeing people grow and develop.
Michelle is a Chartered Organisational Psychologist and Coach. Her role in Inspiration North is Delivery Director; she is happiest when she is creating courses, programmes, webinars and facilitating positive change in her clients.
She is great at spotting the unique strengths in the people around her and championing them to put them into action. She loves to meet new people, connect humans, create communities, understand and get to know people well. Working with Michelle is fun, she is great at creating a safe place for humans to explore. She is curious, playful, sensitive, intuitive and has a deep understanding of positive psychology and personal development.
Michelle is passionate about the science of work and careers. After a corporate career in psychology, resourcing, career coaching & employee development across the public and private sectors, she became self-employed in 2016.
In her other business, Michelle is the Captain of Work Pirates, collaborating with other people professionals to help organisations solve their people problems. She loves designing and running leadership development programmes and supporting her clients to get the foundations in place to hire and retain awesome humans.
Helping people positively transform their lives is the most rewarding part of her job.
2021 Update Podcast
We both reflect on 2020, our lessons learned and discuss some of our plans for our businesses and new ventures in 2021.
WHERE ELSE CAN YOU FIND US?
We have also gone through our own discoveries and transformations since joining forces. We joined the Board of a children's charity, and during lockdown in 2020 we created two new businesses!
Like the A-Team, but for organisations. Helping people professionals unshackle their organisation's talent and leave happier, more productive workplaces.
James' coaching business that helps clients discover and develop their talents to perform at their best through Gallup strengths-based coaching.