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What would the 10 year old you say “Yes” to?

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What would the 10 year old you say “Yes” to?

Did you have a hobby or something you loved when you were young that got dropped the moment you hit your teens?

This “Yesvember” why not think about picking up where you left off and give it a go again.

Recently I’ve started a few things that I realised on reflection were things I loved when I was young, but the teenage me stopped doing – mainly due to angst about how I looked or that “it’s not cool” feeling.

So I thought I’d share a bit about one of the things I’ve said “yes” to again and the feelings it has given me. I think it is also going to help at work.


Cello, is it me you’re looking for?…

Yes that is probably the kind of terrible joke that confirmed to me by the age of 15 that playing a musical instrument was most definitely not cool.

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I’d been so lucky to have a Dad who plays the clarinet and meant music was a huge part of my childhood. When I started secondary school I began cello lessons and loved learning to play initially, but as I hit teenage years practicing felt a chore and playing in the school orchestra was embarrassing.

Roll forward 30 years and I saw a post on Facebook by a local cello teacher and wondered if it could be like getting back on a bike. I’ll admit I was nervous about it and managed a good few months of procrastination, “work is too busy” excuses, before actually sorting my first lesson.

But I’ve now picked up the cello and can play four notes (this blog is also a bit of a commitment device to make me keep going by putting it out there to the world, and Dad, that I’ve started to play again).


Better than teenage kicks

Honestly the endorphin overload from that lesson was amazing. It’s definitely not like getting back on a bike – but my teacher said (maybe encouragingly but that’s ok) that she could tell I’d been taught before and I found some elements of playing were easier than I had worried about in advance of the class.

I’ve set aside 30 minutes a week for a lesson (no longer lugging it on the school bus is a win) and starting with trying to practice every other day to build my arm strength back up again.

The most exciting part I found was the moment my teacher picked up her cello and played a melody to my two note bass. Suddenly I was making music again with someone and it felt incredible.


And this applies to work, how?

I’m sure as the lessons continue I’ll find more ideas spring to mind. But so far these are a few things I’m thinking I should consider work wise too.

Firstly pausing is important.

In music the rests are as important as the notes. They are what build the emotion and character to the piece.

This counts for our work:

  • Give your words space and it will have more impact on the page
  • Pause often in meetings and give others a chance to be heard
  • Gazing out the window is ok – do more of that

Having a rest is important for our wellbeing. In September I attended my first CommsUnplugged. The ethos is very much that you must take time for yourself and one of the steps to wellbeing is to keep learning.

Secondly, I’m wondering what ideas I have dropped because I thought I wasn’t good enough, got overwhelmed with other work or lost interest when a shiny new “cool” thing came my way? Might they be worth revisiting and dusting down or changing direction with? (Messy by Tim Harford is worth a read for inspiration).

Finally, practice alone at work, but also hunt out those people you can duet with, or strike up a band. Through playing together everyone improves and that’s the same with work. You may play a solo sometimes and that can be fantastic, but working together will bring so much joy, so seek out a mix of different ways to work and people (instruments) to play with.


Back to the future

Other activities that I ditched as a teenager but have made a comeback this year…

Netball – I found a “back to netball” group locally. There’s a lot more laughing than I remember from PE classes!

Drawing – Follow @Salzasal and look out for any online drawing sessions she runs, brilliant fun for an hour and encouraged me to pick up my pencil again.

If you don’t fancy revisiting your youth maybe search out some other non-work skills to practice little and often. Micromastery by Robert Twigg has lots of ideas and recommends not feeling you need to become an expert in one area. Keep trying lots of different things and you are better equipped to deal with problems that come along the way.


By Jo Osborn for Alive!

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha Varghese — Tata Consultancy Services

“Alive helped us create a video of our response to the floods of winter 2019. Our Chief Officer received messages from all round the country praising us for it and was really pleased with both the video and the response to it.”

Alexander Mills, Communications Manager — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“We had the privilege to work with the Alive team. It was our first time to be involved in creating an animation for our patients within paediatrics. The team were approachable, friendly, creative and very accommodating. Your vision for what you want to create, is at all times acknowledged, appreciated and accommodated by the team. They worked effectively and with great passion towards our project and worked not only alongside health professionals but also our patients who really enjoyed the experience of working with the Alive team. It has given our team the confidence and inspiration to do further projects in the future. We highly recommend Alive and their exceptional team.”

DR ELENI ATHANASAKOS, Lead Paediatric Clinical Scientist — NHS Barts Health

“‘The short animation developed in co-production with clinicians and young people is outstanding! Informative, developmentally appropriate, vitally fun and engaging. We are really grateful for the expertise of the Alive with Ideas team for their innovative approach in building children’s health literacy.'”

Kath Evans — Director of Children’s Nursing at Barts Health

“Our mission was to update our brand visuals to better reflect our innovative and forward-thinking organisation. After receiving numerous pitches from different branding agencies, Alive stood out with their clear passion and understanding of our identity and goals. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Alive Team to create an engaging new brand that we are immensely proud of.”

Lianne Springer — Communications and Engagement Lead

“Alive wowed us during the pitch process and they didn’t stop wowing us throughout the whole project. Every person we worked with at Alive were so friendly, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about what they do. They have worked with us to really understand what we do and have created a new brand and website that really stands out from our competitors. Thank you!”

Louise Burnard, Head of Marketing and Communications UK — Be | Shaping the Future

“I think the team have done such a brilliant job, particularly with responding to our requests. It's one of the best mental health videos I've ever seen. Very proud to be associated with your exemplary work. Thank you so much.”

Dr Anna Batho — Clinical Psychologist – Critical Care, UCLH

“We have worked with Alan, Caroline and the wider Alive With Ideas team for many years. In that time, they have provided a dedicated service that is second to none. We appreciate their attention to detail and creative approach to bringing our brand, communications and stories to life. And would recommend them to anyone looking for creative communications support.”

Georgia Beech — Internal Communications Specialist, Ocado Group

“This is brilliant. I wanted to give my heartfelt thanks to all of the team who worked on this. You all understood exactly what we wanted to communicate and why, and then managed to do it in a way that was far better than anything I could have imagined. I’m a bit choked up to be honest!”

Sarah Wright, Head of Communications and Campaigns — NEA

“Each time I work with the team, I am always stunned at the effort and creativity that goes into each detail and am always eager for the end result. The team is extremely accommodating and always provide a fresh approach to our projects that elevates our communications materials!”

Alana Khaytin, Communications Specialist — Braskem America

“What I really appreciate about Alive is that they work with us as partners, and care as much about getting it right for our patients as we do.”

Sara Langston, Patient Engagement & Marketing Manager — italk

“Alive are unique in how much they deeply listen and invest in you and your ideas. I have not come across a company that listens as much as they do to ensure your needs are understood and met (actually - they always exceed my needs and expectations). Everyone I recommend Alive to has an equally brilliant experience. When you work with Alive, you are not only getting some genius creativity brought into your life, you are also hanging out with some of the best examples of human beings I’ve ever known.”

Steph Tranter, Hybrid Exec Coach & Psychologist —

“The (Alive) team were able to creatively pull together and document (in just over 2minutes) everything our service has achieved over the last few months, from thousands of prescriptions deliveries to hundreds of phone calls made to the vulnerable. The final product was so powerful and reflective of what our service has and continues to achieve. It couldn’t have been better received within the service – thanks Alive for once again helping us to communicate our vision!’”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire & Rescue

“We worked with the team at Alive to create our staff recognition video.
At a time like this, its never been more important to share the amazing work that our staff have done and continue to do on a daily basis under very difficult circumstances. We wanted to shout about this and recognise that when the time came, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue stepped up to the plate. We didn’t want an ordinary thank you post on social media or a basic email sent out internally, we wanted something special. Enter Alive. ”

Emma Wright — South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue

“Our company is fun, we have great brands, but most importantly we’re all about our people – and I wanted an agency who would understand that and help us bring it to life through our website and other comms. Straight away I felt that Alive ‘got’ us and provided the creative inspiration exactly where we needed it, as well as the technical expertise to deliver a well-functioning website.”

Keren McCarron, Head of Corporate Affairs & Communications — KP Snacks

Thank you so much. Incredible work done at incredible speed by incredible people.
Outstanding work as ever and what a turnaround. As for the concepts – wow. These are that good it would be an insult to describe them as just good. It’s a joke, quite frankly. This is exactly the Alive effect I was after. Right now I feel like I am living in an Alive With Ideas wonderland. Thank you!”

Jack Grasby, Campaigns Manager — SYFR

“If you are looking to improve creativity and build teamwork, I highly recommend a session like this for your team. No matter where you are in your creativity journey, a workshop like this can give your team a boost of energy and ideas to invigorate their creative thinking.”

Amy Lilja, IC Manager — Hennepin Healthcare

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q
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