Acting The Fool
26 April 2017
Recently I was approached by Lynda Casserly, director of a brilliant training company called Peas Above Sticks, to be part of a cast to deliver some new bespoke scripts for a new designed workshop for Nottingham homes “women In Construction” sessions. Lynda is a fantastic, caring, supportive and yet challenging facilitator, and so of course jumped at the chance to be involved. I had the opportunity to play a few roles, including Simon, a gent of certain years with a belief that women in the building trade is just a fad, and they are not up to the job, and also a manager named Rob who really is just a bully to women….and unfortunately, both characters taken from real case situations!
Peas above sticks are an exciting company that is an association of creative and talented individuals with over ten years experience of working together delivering results-driven programmes across every sector. They design and deliver training that blends learning styles and guarantees a truly memorable experience using a blend of expert facilitation, live theatre and role play, talk and experiential activities that really engage with people.These are great to be involved with from an actor’s point of view, but also from a delegates point of view, and I agree with this opinion so strongly, While they are having fun…they are also learning.
The event itself was a truly inspiring event to be part of. The workshop was held first for the women themselves and then another session for managers of the organisation. The reaction on both days was fantastic. Some real genuine emotion and passion form people that have had great obstacles to overcome and have still more to go to get what they truly deserve….fairness.
Nottingham homes are at the front of the line as they drive to battle this challenge and meet it face on. And with research showing that across the country, in 2015, there were more men called Dave working in the industry than women all together.This is going to be a long battle.
Designing and Presenting A Customer Excellence Workshop
11 April 2017
In January I was approached by award winning training provider Juice Learning, to see if I would be interested in working with them, designing and delivering a bespoke training event for LoHAC (London Highways Agency) about customer service. Of course to design and deliver a project from start to finish was an exciting offer, so naturally I jumped at it straight away.
The process began with me holding two days of consultation with members of the LoHAC team, from top to further along the chain. It turned out, that customer service was already being delivered, (but I will come on to that later.) What they required was really a lesson on customer excellence, in my book, an entirely different thing altogether.
The challenges I was faced with was how do I communicate not just what customer excellence is, but how to deliver it to front line staff that are often threatened with abuse, both verbal and physical on a regular occurrence?
These delegates are working day or night shift, on roads across London that allow some 30 million journeys to take place every day, and where people get upset if they can’t get to where they need to be, by the time they want to be there. Asking someone to smile and say thank you while someone is trying to run you over while driving a taxi or threaten you with a shotgun (actual events that have happened to some of these delegates) is not going to cut it, obviously.
The fact was that delivering customer excellence is not always just about what you do while carrying out a task, but what are the things that people can do before a task is carried out to prevent an unhappy situation building as well? How much focus is put on planning and support?
To help achieve the correct conditions for customer excellence to prevail, this requires total commitment from everyone in an organisation to create a culture that has delivering customer excellence at its core. That’s all customers, internal and external supporting and being supported.
For my point, customer service is available in most places. Customer excellence feels however, very different. It is about value. I call it the non MacDonald’s model. In most Mac Donald’s, you will receive a fair amount of customer service; with a smile they might ask “do you want to go large with that order?” Or “please wait in bay 2 and we will bring your order out to you when it is ready.” All very nice but I would say I feel no more valued than any one of the 3.8 million people that are served by them in the UK every day. They focus on meeting expectations rather than exceeding expectations. They are warm and friendly but how accommodating and flexible are they? They will focus on the function but not focus on the purpose. These, in my mind are some of the differences that make the difference.
Customer excellence is something that happens that creates a feeling for an individual when they are on the receiving end of an experience than is better than the majority receive. To create it means it has to become a habit, an attitude. It’s extraordinarily good and it’s the result of aiming for perfection. The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim to high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark. All this means that excellence takes time and constant effort to attain.
The delegates I was working with are already doing lots of the actions and have lots of the beliefs that do create customer excellence for their stakeholders; they just didn’t know it was called that. People can just say, “Well that’s just what we do” when they would help move a residents bin for them while working on their street, or move some of the barriers and plant, so a hearse for a funeral can gain access to a property near where a team are working that day think nothing of it. They would just expect the same done to them if required and so believe it is the norm. But believe me, nothing is the norm about any of those things if it is not in their sights to want to do it.
What designing and presenting this project has taught me, is creating customer excellence does not need to be expensive. I believe people get it. The “going the extra mile” does not have to be that hard and it doesn’t have to be the earth that is being promised, but if people feel that someone is doing even the smallest thing with them in mind, they feel valued. Sometimes that is just listening, showing empathy and truly understanding that this is not ideal, but if they do that and truly mean it, that can go a long way to creating value for someone and that in my book is customer excellence, and I truly believe it can get companies a lot further than just “ do you want fries with that?”
Acting In The Corporate World
11 March 2017
I am delighted to announce that I have now recently bagun working as an actor for the long standing role playing company professional Role Players. This is a company that has been delivering training using theatre based learning since 1997, and I have been looking to work with them for some time, as their reputation for how they treat their customers and actors alike are brilliant.
Professional Role Players Ltd is one of the leading London-based companies to provide professional actors and facilitators to the public and private sectors. In 2016 they completed 1,810 jobs for their clients, supplying over 5,700 roles for actors, nationwide, So you can see why I am happy to now be working with them cant you?
PRP have grown organically, training and retaining a large and professional team of role players. They have established two specialised groups of actors who are fully committed to working with them, either in the medical or corporate field.
As one of those actors, I have always received a detailed briefing before and after each job. The ultimate goal for them is to witness the personal development of every individual who encounters role play. From my point of view, it is great to keep those skills alive and create new characters that have to be constant in every detail of their delivery, however many times in a day they need to be performed, especially in exam conditions in the medical field.
25 February 2017
With the last week of PMA’s production of Aladdin now at an end after another fantastic run at the beautiful Forum Theatre, Billingham. It is time to hang up my dress for another year.
This years production has been one of the best I have had the pleasure to be involved with as a performer and as a director. The hugely talented cast have all been an absolute pleasure to work with and could not have asked for more.
PMA productions always seem to put so much effort into finding the right mix of talent not just for on stage but to work and mix with off stage also. This positive blend of professionalism and friendship helps everyone through the busy show schedule, and even more so for those cast members that are far away from their home town at Christmas time.
The show has enjoyed brilliant reviews from critics and the public alike from Darwen library theatre and also the Festival theatre, Market Drayton, where it has enjoyed a rise to over over 90% box office success which is a large increase from their previous years.
This was my first time playing Widow Twankey and I loved it, especially working on stage with the very talented Will Cousins, who once again for the second year in a row has played my son. It is always great to create such trust between performers who just know how to work off of each other. Something very special indeed when it happens.
Next year PMA productions are producing Alice In Wonderland…..
Accidents Will Happen?
15 January 2017
I am passionate about whatever I deliver, and none more so when it involves the Health and Safety of people. Over the years of delivering training sessions on this subject, I have spoken to many individuals that have attended an event, that have seen their team mates, colleagues and even family members either seriously injured or even ended up involved in a fatality. This does arm me with so many stories to pull upon when speaking about this subject, but also why I believe the events I have had the pleasure of delivering for Juice Learning, have always been genuinely powerful with amazingly positive feedback from all that have attended.
This was my latest tour of two weeks for Juice Learning delivering to front line staff at Griffiths.
Founded in 1968 and still privately owned, Griffiths is one of the leading civil engineering and construction contractors working in Wales, the English border counties and the West of England.They currently have an annual turnover of circa £100m placing them in the UK Top 20 of civil engineering contractors.
The workforce were great and really understood the importance of the message the team of actors and myself were presenting to them. We looked at many things over the course of the sessions, but using live theatre and hot seating and forum theatre conventions, the delegates were engaged and open to challenge the widely held fatalistic belief, that is present in many cultures, at many large construction organisations, that “accidents” are part of the job and you can’t do anything about them. For if that is the culture, the belief that is held by people, they will probably be right, and accidents will happen. That is why I believe it is crucial to get the culture right. If you don’t get the culture right, nothing else matters!
What a night
12 September 2016
What a pleasure it was to work on Grimm and Co grand gala at the Barnsley Civic theatre. What brilliant writers we were working with that had created fantastic stories that included characters like…a zebra, some Wild West scrub, a brick from Disney land, a gerbil who can do Kung foo, a stick, a ship in a bottle and a fossil…and I got to play a bed!!
Not just silly stories, but some amazing thought and imagination on show and also some pretty deep ideas, that was a challenge and pleasure to perform in all at the same time. Very Proud to have been involved with a night those young people will never forget.
It just shows what young people can produce when they are encouraged and engaged enough to be able to show it. Whether that is through writing, drama or dance. What a shame some people want to stop this as they get older, or still feel that this kind of work for children is not beneficial.
Please check out Grimm and co. Their magic shop is in Rotherham, and it is great to see something positive from there at last after all the bad press. If you have children or teach children, check them out for courses and school packages. So pleased to have found out about them and have helped in a small way, and to raise some cash for them and create a little bit of magic for those writers of tomorrow, if they go on to write in the future…and if they don’t? they still will never forget that night, when someone performed their work, and people watched, and laughed and cried and were amazed at their work!
1 September 2016
I am delighted to announce that I have been cast in a short two hander play,as part of an evening of new writing, to be performed at the Barnsley Civic Theatre on the 10th of September 2016.
Each play has been written as part of a script writing workshop for young people. The whole project is the inspiration of the literacy charity Grimm and Co, who produce reading and writing workshops for young people.
I am performing in the short play entitled, “Gary and Twisty”, and will be playing the role of Gary. The piece will be directed by Paul Clayton, who I have had the pleasure of working with before, when he directed myself in the production of “The missing mood pants”, written by Elly Brewer,writer of the hit childrens programme Tracy Beaker returns and the dumping ground, at London’s regents park, open air theatre.
This is going to be a fantastic and exciting project to be involved with and I am delighted to have been asked to be a part of it.
Production shots will follow and tickets for the performance are available at barnsley.civic.co.uk/events or the civic theatre box office.
Radley Film Shoot
31 August 2016
I have never been an expert on ladies handbags, but even I had heard of the luxury brand Radley of London when it came to quality handbags.
I was delighted to have been ask to join the cast, and finish my first filming appointment, working with the media company MOBEDIA, who specialise in marketing for some of the largest clients in the world, including; Vodafone, Intel, JCB, grosvenor house, Glenfiddich, Toni & Guy, Max Factor, Gillette, Ebay, Audi and many other big names in the motor industry.
It was a pleasure to work with an exceptionally talented and dedicated team, including producer Adam Johnson and director Gary Bannister – simm. Even though the shoot was a night shoot, everyone was fantastic and moved the filming on calmly and smoothly, with even some time for a joke or two on set.
Great fun and looking forward to working with this production team again in the near future.