Finding resilience in times of change

Over the last few months we have seen further changes across the UK, tier systems introduced, closure of high street brands and curfews at 10pm. Since our last update back in April the Martin James Network has also been adapting to changes, and it’s been a busy few months.

Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter movement made us stop, reflect and change. We made a stance to support the fight against any injustice both inside and outside the workplace. Not only did we talk candidly about Black Lives Matter on our blog, we also created a new diversity charter, ensuring that all our colleagues are treated fairly and without prejudice or discrimination.

During this period we have welcomed to the network Cliff Faulder and his business ‘About Face’. A new anti-racism training business that provides a safe space to ask the hard questions about diversity and equality in the workplace. Cliff recently created a blog for Black History Month where he discusses his dreams, diversity and more. Read his blog here.

VR and being a disruptive business

We expanded our business with the acquisition of a VR company – VR Simulation System which forms part of the TalkOut Group. Incorporating VR into our business allows us to expand our mental health services, offer alternative learning and support through VR and allow us to reach more people than ever before through collaboration.

In June, Martin James Network were successfully nominated and announced as runners up to Disruptive HR’s ‘Better Normal’ Awards. The awards recognised our leaders’ response to the Coronavirus pandemic – we were congratulated for our innovative and disruptive initiatives during lockdown.

Say hello to CoLAB – we welcome the Mayor of the West Midlands

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands officially opened our creative incubation centre ‘CoLAB’ in October.

The CoLAB will serve EPIC Youth, which is part of the Martin James Foundation. EPIC Youth allows access to mentoring, finance, marketing, and business advice. This collaborative, safe space allows them to cultivate an entrepreneurial mindset, with access to laptops, camera and video equipment, plus a photo and podcast studio. 

The space has also been utilised by our colleagues when we hosted a ‘Festival of Learning’, offering workshops on creative storytelling, photography and video editing. CoLAB will be a cross functional space for everyone to use and gives our EPIC entrepreneurs direct access to mentoring from MJN talent.

Graffiti trail across the Midlands to celebrate National Poetry Day through founder’s COVID experience

To celebrate National Poetry Day, we decided to take over key areas around Birmingham to raise awareness of the poet ‘Basic Existential Boy’ – also known as our founder Jim Cockburn.

During the 1st lockdown, Jim launched a collection of COVID-19 poetry the month before after falling ill with symptoms of the virus at the start of the year. Showcasing parts of his work across the city, the ‘clean’ graffiti could be found in areas such as Moseley, Harborne, Digbeth, New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill.

Supporting our colleagues for World Mental Health Day

At the network, we have a variety of initiatives to help support our colleagues’ mental health. Throughout this period we have offered access to our TalkOut app – allowing all colleagues to connect and speak with each other, access resources including mental health, employee rewards, and internal company updates all in one place.

We also increased online webinars to cover topics such as mental health, wellbeing and fitness. And we encouraged colleagues to join virtual hangouts, quizzes and celebrate birthdays online. We understood the pressure on working parents – juggling work life and family life as it merged into one. Everyone was offered flexible working, access to additional support online and more check ins with their managers to discuss any issues they had.

Welcome new businesses and a new vision

Even though it’s been a rocky year we have been fortunate to have a strong, resilient business which has allowed us to grow and welcome new leaders and businesses into the Network.

Cliff Faulder has joined as CEO of AboutFace a new diversity training business which will help educate around equality and diversity. We also welcomed Richard Morcombe who has taken lead at UK Fire Training – both new businesses to the network.

Paul Putman will now head up Talkout Group as their new CEO with Daniel Croft joining us as CEO for our Fostertalk brand. 

This period has also given us time to step back and solidify our network vision and mission. A vision of a ‘society in which every individual is valued and where all dreams can be realised without fear, limitation or prejudice.’ As we move toward the end of the year, we take comfort in the work that we have achieved over the past few months, despite the global uncertainty. 

Talk In For Talk Out – Series One

A new mini-podcast for the Martin James Network where we get to meet the people we work with.

We fire a load of fun, random questions at our employees to understand a little bit more about what makes them tick.

Episodes include Olivia Tanner, Rebecca Stafford, Faye Grundy, Ayyab Cockburn, Mark Shrimpton and Jim Cockburn.

Fearless Futures – A note from Jim Cockburn, Chair at Martin James Network

Fearless Futures – A note from Jim Cockburn, Chair at Martin James Network

I want to take this opportunity to unveil our newly clarified vision and mission for the Martin James Network, to which all of our companies and brands are proud to belong.

Here at the Martin James Network, every one of our employees is united in the desire to make a positive contribution to society and amplify the voices of the mould-breakers and change makers of the world. We are now also unified in our vision and mission statement.

The individual groups and companies within the Martin James Network, often pioneers with their own vision, can clearly link back to this unifying purpose. It only serves to demonstrate further the powerful sense of connection and community in our unique and diverse network.

As a lifelong advocate for change I’m proud to be associated with our new vision statement. The vision of ‘a society in which every individual is valued and where all dreams can be realised without fear, limitation or prejudice.’

I love the wordswithout fear’. I’ve always believed in the quote ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’, because too often we are constrained by internal and external fears. And this feeds into our new Martin James Network strapline:

 

“Fearless Futures”

Our new mission is to improve social outcomes by reimagining what’s possible and utilising disruptive technology and practice, to unlock human potential.” 

This is a fantastic statement which surprises me as an old technophobe but I’ve learnt lately, especially and unsurprisingly during lockdown, that a pivot to technology is essential even in human powered organisations.

Providing real-time answers to global problems, the Martin James Network harnesses a talented team of digital winners whose VR, Chatbots, Apps, AI, innovations and more, will only increase in popularity during the unconnected, changing information age. Aligned with the ability to reimagine futures, which we have always been able to do, we become an unstoppable force for good.

Our values describe how “we’re fearless pioneers with a social conscience”. This simple sentence highlights the prominence of the care, courage and creativity that drives our employees. But it is also essential for us to work collaboratively, challenge existing ideas curiously and candidly, and adopt an unwavering commitment to succeed whatever barriers we may face, in order to really change the world.

 

On a personal note, I am blessed to be working with Ayyab, my wife and business partner. She is a constant inspiration, in turn conquering new technologies and driving forth our social mission. She is a passionate advocate of the need for diversity of thought; to develop understanding, create better solutions and ultimately grow as people and communities. Valuing the power of our differences whilst recognising our common ground of improving human outcomes, strengthens the collective power of our network.

The Martin James Network will continue to advocate for change by pushing boundaries and breaking moulds. By encouraging our employees and partners to be courageous and creative, we empower a truly fearless community which collaboratively bounces from one another.

We have come so far and achieved so much already, but through our new overarching vision and mission, we can and we will continue to build fearless families, fearless communities and ultimately fearless futures.