Jen Tait

I would say not everyone is always going to be on your side. I think as an 18 year old, I was fairly naive. I was very happy go lucky. I grew up around positivity. People rooting for you. People celebrating your success with you. Everything was lovely. And that it's you don't have the experience at 18, but through experience you find that actually that isn't the case sadly, with everybody. And I was quite shocked, I think to discover that. That took me by surprise.

 

So I would say not everyone will celebrate your success. Some people will actively go out of their way to bring you down when they see your success, but don't spend any time or energy on them.

 

Just remove yourself from their company, remove them from your network and surround yourself with the people who are your supporters.

Jen Tait

 

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Our 82nd episode is with Jen Tait.

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Theme: Keep going until you’ve got it right.

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We talk about: 

πŸ’‘ Her love of talking in front of an audience and wanting to be a newsreader.

πŸ’‘ How you should surround yourself with supporters.

πŸ’‘ And hear our favourite German words.

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Bio

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Jen is Director of Rise Learning Group, a training consultancy based in the North East. Having spent 14 years in L&D, she has witnessed the transformation of the industry first hand. Jen has always loved public speaking and delivering engaging, value-adding training is her passion.

 

Jen believes that what cannot be taught can still be learned and that not all learning takes place in the classroom. She founded Rise Learning Group to give individuals the tools to turn downtime into learning opportunities.

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Jen is a mum of girls and has spent the majority of her time in lockdown pretending to be Olaf, building dens and sledging down sand dunes!

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Michelle:

So Jen, thank you ever so much for joining us today. So, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?

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Jen:

Yes, and it, isn't what I am now. I always wanted to be a news reader. I wanted to be on the six o'clock news, anchor woman on the six o'clock news. At school, I was on the public speaking and the debating team, and I've always loved talking in front of an audience. So I wanted to be a news reader. And there was no doubt in my mind whatsoever that I was going to be a news reader. And I would achieve this dream of mine until when I did my English A Level.

 

And the teacher said to me, you can't be a news reader. You can't pronounce your "Rs" properly. And I do have a slight funny sound when I pronounce my "Rs." So, that totally put me off but I thought, do you know what, I'm still gonna do something with public speaking, speaking in front of crowds.

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Michelle:

Hmm.

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James:

What a shame.

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Jen:

Could you see me on the six o'clock news on the red sofa?

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James:

I could, or even as a reporter, you've got a good name actually for the end of a section, Jennifer Tait, BBC News, Baghdad.

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Jen:

Yeah. See, it was meant to be.

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Michelle:

And this one's on the radio. You're on the telly.

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Jen:

You see it was meant to be!

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James:

It's never too late!

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Michelle:

Okay. So you were put off by your English teacher.

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Jen:

I was. So thanks for that.

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Michelle:

What did you do instead then?

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Jen:

Well, I've always been a worker, to be honest, Michelle. I've always had quite a strong work ethic. And even when I was at school, I had a few different jobs. So when I was 16, my first job, I did a Saturday job in a skateboard shop in town in Newcastle city centre and then I would go straight from there after I finished at five to Chiquito's. You know, the Mexican chain restaurant? I was a waitress there. So I would go and do my evening shift there and do a few nights after school as well. And so I was working two part time jobs while I was at school. I think that came from just that kind of environment I grew up in to be honest. You know, we never wanted for anything. There's four of us kids in the family. We never wanted for anything, but it wasn't because we just had the money either. You know, my mum and dad both worked, especially my dad.

 

My mum did a brilliant job in bringing us up, all the childcare and working. And she worked evenings on phones so she did a brilliant job at that. And my dad was just always at work. He's a builder. So real salt of the earth. You know, the advice was things like always save a third. If you want to increase your wealth, either earn more or spend less, never get on anyone's debt list, you know, don't borrow money if you can help it. It was that real ethic of work and earn the money. But you know what I loved it as well, absolutely used to love going to work. So that's where I kind of started my introduction into the world of work.

 

And then I went onto university, went to Northumbria University to do International Business Studies with German. And so while I was there, I worked at Northern Rock on the phones. I was selling mortgages. I used to do the Twilight shift after university. And I absolutely loved my time there. And that's where I really started my career, I would say, was at Northern Rock. So, it was on the phone selling mortgages. In my third year of uni, there was a gap year and I went away to a placement year. I went to Germany, I lived in Munich and I worked at Siemens for a year there. So you could either spend the year working or you could go to a German university. So I chose the working route, spent a year working at Siemens, came back straight back into Northern Rock again on the phones.

 

And then I just kind of naturally progressed really within Northern Rock. So, I went from the phones to being a team leader to then being a section manager. And one day I was on a course, a training course and someone was at the front with their flip charts and, you know, doing their thing. And I thought, well, I could do that. I would quite like to be a trainer and stand at the front. Everybody listening to me, you know, that kind of thing, the glamour side of it. That's the side people don't see is, they're lugging around the laptop on the tube in London and all the prep and everything that goes into it but just see the glamour side. So I thought I really would like to be a trainer. So I applied for a job in the training team. And I was successful in that and that's where I started in training.

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Michelle:

Wow.

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James:

It's a bit like being a news reader cause you're delivering key messages and things of importance to other people I'm trying to draw some comparisons here.

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Jen:

Yeah, exactly. It's a similar skill that's needed and you can see why the appeal would be there to be a trainer. If you wanted to be a news reader, you know. You've got to like to talk, put it that way.

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James:

Yeah. It's funny the comparison because I did International Business with French at Northumbria. So...

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Jen:

Oh did you?! Well, there you go. So did you go away in your third year?

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James:

I did, although I went the university route. I don't remember there being another option to go and work. So I went to do a double degree, which was, it was tough. I mean, I think it was about half eight to six lectures Monday to Friday. It was a couple of hours for lunch, of course, but it was solid graft. And it was all in French, mostly. So really quite tough but a good experience.

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Jen:

Well, that's it. I mean, that's why I chose the work option to be fair. I had to speak German, they did make me speak German when I was there. Loads of people are desperate to try out their English on a real English person, but they said, no, you're here to learn. You've got to speak German. And they had a swear jar. So every time I said a word in English, I had to put a Euro in the jar of the office. I was like, you may as well just not pay me. I'll just speak English and do it for free.

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Michelle:

Oh wow.

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Jen:

It was really useful. It was quite a lot actually to take on because not only are you doing it all in a foreign language, that you're nowhere near fluent in and you know, you're just studying at the university, you're doing it in a foreign language, but also at that point, you've only ever done part time jobs, you know, bits of jobs here and there. You've not worked full time. So it was a lot to kind of take on, but I loved every second of it. It was great.

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Michelle:

Do you think you've got a lot of your work ethic from that? Cause I know Siemens and German companies are very different, I suppose, from UK companies in terms of process and organisation things.

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Jen:

Yeah. I mean probably Michelle, to be honest, it's probably just a build-up of all of my experiences I've had over the years. But I do think that solid foundation from my family, that's the core of it. I would say, we all work and all of us in the family, we all want to kind of do our best and earn as much as we can, do a good job, have a quality output, improve things for ourselves. We've all got that drive. I would say.

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Michelle:

That's great.

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James:

Have you got a favourite German word?

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Jen:

Do you know what, you've just reminded me. So, something that they never told me at uni, but on the way to the canteen at Siemens. It would be lunchtime. Everyone would be walking along and everyone would go "mahlzeit, mahlzeit." And it's just like a lunchtime greeting. But I didn't realise this. So then at the end of the day at five o'clock when I'm going home, I say "tschΓΌs, tschΓΌs, mahlzeit." They're like, no, that's not right. That's not the context. We just say that at lunch time. So, I'm going to go with that one.

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Michelle:

What's your favourite German word?

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James:

The one I always used to try and get in A Level essays was Black Forest Gateau. "Ein stuck Schwarzwalderkirschtorte." It would take up like a whole sentence in an essay. Or "bushaltestelle" for bus stops.

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Michelle:

My favourite was, I did A Level German as well stupidly. And my favourite one is always "mirschwanzen." Guinea pig.

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Jen:

It's funny the ones you remember, isn't it? It is funny. I don't think I've used any German since, so there you go. But it was a good experience.

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James:

Yeah, definitely.

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Michelle:

Yeah. I lived in Germany when I was little. My dad was in the army. So we lived in Germany for three years. Absolutely loved every second of it. It was brilliant. Brilliant.

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James:

So you'd come back from Germany, you were back on the phones at Northern Rock...

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Jen:

Yep, then moved into the training team. Yeah. And I absolutely loved it. So that was my favourite time of being in employment was when I was on the Northern Rock training team. We were like a huge family. I'm still in touch with loads of them now. So shout out to anyone who is listening, who was in the Northern Rock training team, they were such great days. And then in 2008, I left there to work at an insurance company and loads of people left in 2008 because of the financial crash. And I was offered a job as a regional trainer there. So I left and went to work as a regional trainer.

 

Within a week of starting, they said, do you want to be the training team leader? And they said, you know, we've obviously just done your interview for the regional trainer role. We have a position to fill for team leader and we feel like you've got the right skills. So I said, yep, great. You know, career progression. I'll take that role. Then I was promoted again to training and development partner, there were six of us within the company, all working on projects. And so I progressed pretty quickly, but I found that I was removed from the classroom, you know, so I started as a regional trainer. I'd done a week of it. And then for the rest of the time, I was there it was projects and meetings, which is fine now, but I was fairly young at the time still, you know, I wanted to just really to be in the classroom.

 

So I thought, you know what, I'm going to ditch this and I'm going to make the transition to go self-employed because that way I get the best of both worlds. I can choose the projects that I want to work on, but I also get to do more of the delivery as well. Because I think in employed positions, a lot of the time in L&D, if you're a trainer, you're not on the senior salaries, so how can you get the money, the income, but also still do what you love? So I thought, well, I'll just do it myself. So, that's what I did. So in 2010, I left and went self-employed and that is thanks to a wonderful lady. I don't know if I can name her or not, if that's okay to do so?

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Michelle:

Yes of course.

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Jen:

That's thanks to a wonderful lady called Christina Pritchard who runs a training consultancy called Metalucid. She came in to work at this insurance company that I was at, as a contractor. And Introduced me to the world of contracting really, and she was just so professional. She knew her stuff. She was really talented. And even now she is one of the people in my network that I really look up to and aspire to be like, really. That's what I would base my success on. So she introduced me to what a potential day rate amount could be. And it didn't take much for me to then leave my employed job and say, I'm going to give this a shot instead if that if what everyone else is getting.

 

So, I did that and I set up, so I left there in 2010 and set up Tait Training Limited. For the first year of that, it was pretty good going in the sense that there was a load of variety, I'd won loads of different clients independently, myself. And it was the true nature of being self employed. But then in the second year of it up till about year eight, I would say so for a good chunk of my self employed life, I was day rate contracting through an agency, which was absolutely fantastic. You know, it was lucrative. It was fairly easy to get the work because the agencies there got the work, you're in the books, great you're in. But then it got to the point of couple of years ago, I thought this is great. I've made a load of close business buddies through it, but is this way I went self-employed?

 

I feel like I'm now just working for a company again, but getting paid a day rate. I'm not making the difference I wanted to make. I don't have the influence that I wanted to have in how the training should be developed and implemented. It's not consultancy. It's just come in and do it this way please. And we'll pay you for it, which like I say, was great and worked really well for us, especially because I had my two girls Sophia and Zara. So, Zara is now five and Sophia is now six. So when they were young, that worked really well. You know, it's kind of almost guaranteed money, really, in a sense. And then I just thought right now is the time when Zara is starting reception. Let's just stop and think, is this what you really want to do?

 

And that's when I rebranded to Rise Learning Group. Still self-employed but now I do a lot more work of winning the client, it's business development, it's providing quotes, you know, the pricing comes from me. There's no agency saying this is the day rate that's been agreed. It comes from you. And it's very different. And it comes with more challenges, I would say, but also richer rewards.

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James:

No, it does. You're seeing it's almost all processes. It's start to end with a client, it's new connections, all the way to delivery of a project. And I suppose that gives the variety and the excitement. And I mean, you obviously have the better times and then times that things are not as lucrative, but I suppose that's part of the point of being self employed as well, isn't it? You see the result of your efforts.

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Jen:

Yeah. That's it. And there is a lot more effort, but then you get to see the results. So it is rewarding. I do enjoy it.

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James:

So, for Rise Learning Group, tell us a bit more about the sorts of things that you do.

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Jen:

So we've been doing loads, well, that was one of my pivotal moments, really. I mean, hasn't everyone had a pivotal moment recently with COVID-19 and lockdown and everything is now digital. One of the things that we've always wanted to do, which we've been given the opportunity to do now, because of all of this is to supply a digital offering. So over my years in L&D, there is so much that is face to face, classroom based training. And that has been unsuitable, shall we say now for years. It's not just recently in the last few months, that it's been unsuitable. People are used to getting the information they need at the click of their fingers and you shouldn't have to book onto a course and wait to attend and then you have a day and then see you later, good luck with that and you're never going to hear from us again.

 

So one thing that we're developing at the moment at Rise Learning Group is the rise to business excellence programme. And this is an eight week programme, really excited about it. It's an eight week programme and there's different topics that make up that programme. So we've got leadership, project management and customer service that form part of this programme. The first eight week category that we're going to release, that we're going to launch is the project management one. So the stipulation for anyone to come on to this course is you must be working on a project because the whole idea is we're going to help you through that project and implement the learning as you go. You're not just going to log on and do a one module online on project management. You're not just going to go on a one or two day project management course.

 

It is an eight week programme where you will join as a cohort. You have to be working on a project. We've got various different topics that we cover within that. I'll go onto those in a minute, but you also get as well as doing your online learning, which you can do whenever you like within those eight weeks, you also have coaching sessions with myself and the team at Rise Learning Group. And you also get to dial into a live Q&A each week at the end of each of the eight weeks. And so eight Q&A sessions where you can say, look, I've done the project management module and with the project management tools. So where we're talking about, Gantt charts, critical path analysis, lean principles, stakeholder mapping, you know, all the project management tools. We're covering that this week, I've done the online learning, but I'm really struggling to do my stakeholder mapping on this project I'm working on. And we do a kind of group Q&A coaching session at the end of each week to help you really apply it to that project.

 

And one of the modules that I just think is brilliant is the process mapping one. So brown paper exercise, you know, map out your entire project, map out your process. And one of the things we do identify is cost savings for that project that you're working on. So the business is realising a return on investment immediately during the training. And so that's one of the things that we are working on at the minute in development. We've got it all mapped out. We know exactly the topics that we're covering. Some of the other things are communicating through change, reporting, so defining KPIs, SLAs, monitoring billable and resource utilisation, reporting on a balanced score card, quality improvement; so we're looking at the root cause why is this project come about that you're working on? What was the root cause? What's the five why's principle and how can you apply it here? And then finally organisational culture. So this is where we test their tolerance for disagreement during a project.

 

So I'm really excited about that. That is the first one that we're working on, that we're going to launch. And I think that that's been necessary more so now than ever because projects still need to land and the risks have never been greater. The scope has never been tighter. So how do you make sure that your people are supported in landing these projects? Some of the projects might be to do with introducing a new product to the marketplace or some kind of sales, some kind of selling, how do you do that sensitively given the current environment, the current situation? So there is a need for it.

 

We went out to our current client base and got a lot of feedback as to what is it that you are struggling with. And everything I just mentioned, that's what came back. We need people to be managing these projects a lot better, or we don't have, we'd love to support them for eight weeks, you know, and coach them and have these Q&A sessions and help them help them through the project. But we just don't have the time. We don't have the resource.

 

So for anyone who wants to help their project managers, it's aimed at junior project manager level, programme manager, you probably will know a lot of this stuff already that we're covering, but it's that starting out, those junior project managers or workstream leads, perhaps within an organisation, that still has an input into a project. This is the course for them to go on to support them through that.

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Michelle:

It's exciting.

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James:

It is. And I like that it's very practical. It's not just a kind of a log in, do your training, tick a few multiple choice questions, it's working on something that's relevant today and that will have an impact. So, I like that.

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Jen:

Yeah, exactly. So that's the big thing that we're working on. That's the thing we're all excited about at the moment. We are, however, also doing a lot of onboarding. So, we're working on two separate inductions for two different clients at the moment. One in financial services and one in the public sector. That again has been a challenge for people during lockdown. We still need to recruit, but how are you going to...we used to have them in a classroom face-to-face for five weeks. So how would we do that now? Or even if it was we just used to have them in a classroom for one day, you know, as an introduction to the company, how is that done remotely?

 

So we've done a lot of work with clients about not just picking up your existing induction and dumping it online, but actually looking to solve the business problems that you've got at the moment by redesigning this new induction to be able to deliver it remotely. And then of course you get the benefit as well. You don't just have to recruit from your local area. You've got a global potential workforce then if you're doing it remotely. So yeah, I mean, I could talk all day about what we're doing, but loads of exciting stuff on at the moment.

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Michelle:

Yes. We've had that discussion. One of my friends who works in a public sector organisation, and you know how we're moving from sort of name blind applications to jobs, and they're talking about doing geography blind. There's a job in Newcastle. I've got a talent pool of X, but now quite a lot of jobs can be done remotely. And it's taken this pandemic to jolt the world of work, probably about 50 years forward compared to where we were looking to go in terms of flexible working. And in that more digital workforce. It's really interesting time, isn't it? And you know, I could, I'm not going to, don't panic James. I could get a job in LA, you know, almost it's crazy.

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Jen:

It's exciting. And I think as well another challenge though, that's going to come out of this, which is what we will cover in our leadership arm of the rise to excellence programme, is leaders are then going to have to go from leading a local team to how do you then lead a global team potentially. And what are the challenges that that's gonna present? So there will be some more development needed for managers if this is the way that it's going to go. But I think it's a great opportunity.

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Michelle:

Definitely, definitely.

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James:

I think as well, have you found with lots of conversations with friends, it's all of a sudden it opens your mind to, I'm not just looking for clients within a two or a three hour drive from Newcastle, I'm now actually thinking, well, I could quite feasibly work with a company in Amsterdam or...

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Michelle:

Singapore...

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James:

Yeah. And it gives you that sort of scope to say, well, actually, yes, I could do that. And I don't know why I've not really thought about it before. Has that ever crossed your mind as well?

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Jen:

Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, there's loads of stuff that we're doing at the minute that we thought why has it taken this to jolt us on? Which I suppose is all part of the learning, isn't it? One of our lessons is just try to think about the possibilities, you know, don't limit yourself. But yeah, I think that's a good point.

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Michelle:

What have been the biggest lessons you've learned from moving from that sort of almost freelance contractor phase to a proper business owner with staff, what are the lessons you've learned?

Jen:

So I think for me the biggest lesson has probably been around pricing and I would say there's been bumps in the road, but I wouldn't call them failures because we've kept going until we've got it right. So maybe it hasn't been as plain sailing. So for instance, I might have agreed a piece of work and been really happy to accept it. Fantastic. But then actually in hindsight, you think that that was probably worth more than what we've done that for.

 

And so I think we're still getting our heads around that, that balance, that fine line between charging actually what it's worth, but it still being within budget and affordable. And you know, basically where all parties are all happy with the outcome, I think that's probably been a big lesson for us. And I think it is for a lot of business owners, if I'm honest, I mean, you know, all you can do is base it on what you feel you would be happy with and turning it away and saying, no, if it's too low.

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Michelle:

So it's awful when you send a proposal and everyone's like, they get really excited, like, Oh yes, that's brilliant. I didn't expect it to be so cheap and like, nooooo!

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Jen:

Yeah, exactly. That's well within budget. Yeah. That's fine. We'll go with it.

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Michelle:

Could we have that twice?!

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Jen:

Yeah, exactly. But I think if you're happy with it and you feel like you're getting your worth, then I think that's fine.

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Michelle:

Yes. I've tried to introduce the concept of fun based pricing as well into the organisation. But I don't think James is going for it. You know, if something's going to be loads of fun, it doesn't cost as much.

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James:

It's always the joke isn't it that if there's a project you don't want to take, you put the price like way beyond...you think no one will go for that. But then the problem when they turn around and say well ok, actually that's fair. Oh no, now we've got to deliver this.

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Jen:

Cause you were the only one that put a price in for it. No one else wanted it.

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James:

But I'm still a believer. So I get the concept of fun based pricing, but I like the idea that, well, if you're going to enjoy it, why don't you get paid as well for doing it? In effect, that's why you set up a business. I do this because I enjoy it. I totally believe in it. I'm passionate about it. Therefore I should get paid for delivering something of value.

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Jen:

And that's exactly why I pivoted to Rise Learning Group because I just thought, what is it, what is the reason I wanted to do this? You know? And because it's L&D and it's training and that's where my passion is. And pretty much any L&D project I'll be happy to do. I wouldn't want to do a project that I don't find fun and that I don't like. So I think I'm with you, James, I think just charge anyway. If it's fun, it's a bonus.

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James:

Totally.

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Michelle:

This is why we keep James around.

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James:

It's like, you wouldn't go to a...I'm trying to think of an analogy...a premier league footballer and say, well, we know you absolutely love football. So would you mind just, you know, if we don't pay you?

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Jen:

Yeah. Just do it for the fun of it.

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James:

It's kind of make hay while the sun is shining kind of thing. And if you do enjoy it, I think you will deliver something of the highest quality. People feed off that energy and say, Oh, I love working with Jen. I love working with Michelle because they clearly enjoy what they're doing and we feel great. Something happens that's good. There's results. What a great feeling. I'm happy to pay for that. So, here endeth the lesson!

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Michelle:

So you're clearly a very busy lady and with two very young children, how do you juggle it all?

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Jen:

Well it's okay when they're at school? It's tricky, but you know, Michelle, I have never been off, you know, even when I had them as babies, I didn't take any maternity leave at all. And I'm really fortunate and very lucky to have a wonderful, supportive husband who is full time Dad. And he is around to help with the girls and housework and shopping and everything else. And he sees how much my career means to me and how much I love work. And he roots for me, you know, my biggest supporter bless him.

 

So he is happy to take on that role to let me pursue my dreams really, I would say. So it really helps having him around and with the girls they are used to me working. But I do, I mean, this makes it sound as though I never see them. And I'm working all the time, which isn't the case. Being self employed, running a business, you have quieter times. It's one of the benefits of it. You can pick and choose, I might say right. If the girls are off on Wednesday or something random or it i's half term, something like that, then I might say like, come on, we're all just gonna go to the park. Or, you know, I live near the beach. So we spend a lot of time down on the beach and then I might work Saturdays instead.

 

And it's just, you just make it work, but I've never been one to take time off. Like I say, didn't have any maternity leave or anything like that, just straight back into it.

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Michelle:

Bless you.

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Jen:

But that was through choice though. I could have been off, but I didn't want to be.

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Michelle:

I had my little boy in like a really, really, really snowy winter. So when he was born on Christmas day, of course, cause you know why would I do something that was normal and that first six weeks I couldn't drive anyway. But even if I could, it was snow and ice. It was that 2009 winter, which was like, it didn't stop snowing. It was relentless. So, I was very lucky. I was in an organisation where I had really generous maternity leave. So you had to take advantage of it, I suppose.

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Jen:

Well that's it I mean I was self employed when I had mine. So I didn't have any maternity pay or anything, which was probably one of the drivers to make me not take any leave and just get straight back into it. But they're good kids. I'm thankful for that actually, but they're not really too much of a handful. They're good girls. And with having them so close together in age, they entertain each other and they play really nicely. So yeah, hey'll sit and play with their Sylvanian families and do some colouring in, write letters to each other and things like that.

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Michelle:

There's definitely a difference between boys and girls. Really, really markedly.

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Jen:

I'll tell you what's helped though in lockdown is the Xbox. So they've both pick that up pretty quick, so they play Sonic and they play Minecraft. And they like Mario. So they do have some, I mean, you can't really say boys toys, toys are toys aren't they? But yeah, they're not just typical girly girls.

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Michelle:

Oh. I used to love Sonic on my Sega Megadrive back in the day. It was brilliant fun. It was my favourite. Cool. So moving on to the quick fire round. James, do you want to take it away?

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James:

Question number one, what is the most beautiful view you have ever seen?

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Jen:

You do know a place called Wallington Hall?

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Michelle:

Yeah.

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James:

Yeah.

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Jen:

So we go to Wallington Hall quite a lot and I do like it there and you can stand outside the old house next to where the sun dial is and look over the meadows. And I love that. Not so much just for the view of the meadows, but cause it always reminds me of doing that as a child and happy days spent at Wallington Hall, running around the fields, climbing the tree, you know, sitting on the lions heads, that kind of big stone lions heads that they have in the grounds. And it just brings back happy memories. So I would say that one.

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Michelle:

Aww that's lovely.

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James:

I used to run around with my sister and we used to pretend to be statues in the gardens as well at Wellington Hall. Good memories.

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Michelle:

Oh, awesome. So question number two is what skill or craft would you love to master?

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Jen:

Sign language. Definitely. I've always wanted to do that actually. And the nearest I got was when Zara was born, I took her to sing and sign, which wasn't really what I had in mind, but I would love to do sign language. And again, it comes back to I'm destined to be on the TV. It comes back to this, you know, when you have people on the TV and they're doing the sign language in the corner, I either wanted to do that or be a news reader. And also, there was a guy at Northern Rock who was deaf called Chris and he was so lovely and he was convinced I was called Claire. So he used to yell across the canteen...."Claire!" So I used to just try and kind of sit and talk to him.

 

And there's just been times throughout my life where I thought I really should be able to do sign language. And I would love to be able to offer training courses where I can sign as well. It's just been one of those things I've never got around to doing, but I would like if I ever get any time on my hands to go and do a sign language course somewhere.

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Michelle:

Awesome.

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James:

Yeah. Very good skill to have. Question number three. If you owned a restaurant, what kind of food would you serve?

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Jen:

Seafood. I love seafood and Paul does the majority of the cooking in our house, my husband, and he doesn't like seafood, so I never get to have it. So for that reason, I would have a seafood restaurant. I used to work at Loch Fyne, which is a seafood restaurant. I used to be the host on the door. So yeah, definitely seafood.

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James:

Excellent.

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Michelle:

So I've learned some new things about you Jen, it's been brilliant. So if you could get into a time machine and go back and speak to your 18 year old self, what advice would you give to her?

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Jen:

I would say not everyone is always going to be on your side. I think as an 18 year old, I was fairly naive. I was very happy go lucky. I grew up around positivity. People rooting for you. People celebrating your success with you. Everything was lovely. And that it's you don't have the experience at 18, but through experience you find that actually that isn't the case sadly, with everybody. And I was quite shocked, I think to discover that. That took me by surprise. So I would say not everyone will celebrate your success. Some people will actively go out of their way to bring you down when they see your success, but don't spend any time or energy on them. Just remove yourself from their company, remove them from your network and surround yourself with the people who are your supporters.

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Michelle:

That's amazing advice.

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Jen:

Don't be shocked if people aren't clapping on the side lines.

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James:

It's very powerful advice. Definitely be good to hear that as an 18 year old. So, if what we've discussed is of interest to anybody, what is the best place to find you?

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Jen:

The website - so www.riselearninggroup.com There's a contact page to find out more about our services as well. And you can also find me on LinkedIn.

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Michelle:

Wonderful. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to come and talk to us today.

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Jen:

Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

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James:

Thank you.

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