Courageous mistakes, measured risk, and disruptive strategies – our leaders share what fearless means to them

Courageous mistakes, measured risk, and disruptive strategies – our leaders share what fearless means to them

For some, the word ‘fearless’ encapsulates bravery; bold and intrepid pioneers. When we asked children what it meant in our recent Fearless Stories competition, we received stories about parachutists, soldiers, and birds taking their first flight.

But we can also look at the word ‘fearless’ another way, which is the removal of fear. At the Martin James Network, our mission is to challenge and change societal behaviours in order that every individual can live a life with less fear, and empower them to fearlessly pursue their dreams.

We asked three of our leaders from our TalkOut, OKRA, and caseflowhr, to outline what what ‘Fearless Futures’ means to them. From courageous mistakes, measured risk, and disruptive strategies, our leaders are redesigning the way in which we make positive social and economic change.

Tim Luft is a Director of TalkOut. Tim leads the TalkOut VR studios, transforming mundane training sessions into exciting sensory experiences. They help the most complex scenarios become easy to understand, and the most dangerous environments become safe. We asked Tim what fearless futures mean to him:

Fearless Futures is an ecosystem which creates the environment to allow people to work in a truly unique way, specifically to engage in critical thinking, challenge the root causes of inequalities and to champion transformative change. It is trusting people to ask the questions that need to be asked and if a clear answer is not received, putting forward new disruptive strategies which solve the problem.’

The Martin James Network has seven overarching values which apply to every Group within the Network:

These values promote a unique working style where we encourage colleagues to respond to change with creative solutions, whilst continuing to challenge our personal biases. Our core vision of creating fearless futures, involves consciously listening to others in a mission to improve communities and promote equality using disruptive technology. Tim’s response really highlights our Creativity and Curiosity values whilst emphasising our approach to Fearless Futures.

Greg and Jill Hartigan have many years of HR & Legal experience between them. Last year they fearlessly started-up their new company caseflowhr, a digital ER specialist. Their product uses ground-breaking technology to aid HR professionals’ decision making and monitoring cases. When asked about fearless futures, they submitted this poem:

Fear transforms into courage
Rewards are for the trying
Bravery is for rising after the falling
Boldness is worn by the timid
The inner impostor is slain
Scars become medals
Bitter tears savour sweet and
From setbacks flow the springs of life
Greg and Jill Hartigan

Greg and Jill’s creative interpretation of Fearless Futures ties into another of our values: Courage. It reiterates that although we all face fear, it is the action of transforming fears into action that shows bravery. And although sometimes we may fail, the attempt of trying shows courage over anything else.

The final thoughts on fearlessness in this blog come from OKRA’s Rasim Shah, who leads the implementation of AI in life sciences. OKRA delivers predictions, suggestions and explanations to empower life sciences executives and operational teams to drive the right drug to the right patient with humanised and understandable AI outputs. 

As Winston Churchill brilliantly said “never let a good crisis go to waste.” For me this represents embracing the uncertainties we currently face (for me there are many), facing the future with optimism (this is a daily challenge), adapting fast and daring to allow controlled mistakes to happen along the way (this causes major anxiety). Fearless Futures for me is about having the courage to reimagine both business and yourself, and empowering others around you to build their future irrespective of the differences and by challenging the current norms.’

Rasim mentions ‘embracing uncertainties, adapting fast, and daring to allow controlled mistakes to happen’. At Martin James Network we encourage our people to be mould breakers and change makers, but doing so can often causes anxieties. One of our values is being Candid and we welcome candid conversations around the challenges that individuals feel in the workplace. We work hard to support our colleagues on their entrepreneurial journey by assigning internal mental health ambassadors to support and listen along the way.

Our Network works fearlessly in its approach to deliver ground breaking experiences. We are proud that this is felt right across our teams, who want to ensure that the communities around us can live without limitation or prejudice, thus creating a fearless future for all.

Feeling the fear but doing it anyway

Feeling the fear but doing it anyway

Richard Dooner, CEO of Antser.

I liken Martin James Network’s vision of ‘Fearless Futures’ to my two all-time favourite quotes. Quotes that both inspire me and also sum up my journey leading Antser with a future-facing approach.

“We choose to go to the moon this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard…” – John F. Kennedy

I see this as extraordinary leadership because he pushed the boundaries and dared to do something that others hadn’t done before. Essentially, deliberately choosing to do something incredibly difficult, but incredibly brave and fearless at the same time.

He dared to look down the barrel of opportunity which equally could have been the barrel of failure. Instead of seeing the prospect of failure and fearing to do something, Kennedy proactively engaged his bravery and ultimately led his people and nation to achieve one of humankind’s most amazing achievements.

“If you can’t fly, then run, and if you can’t run, then walk, and if you can’t walk, crawl… but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King

This quote inspires me because to be fearless like JFK is simply not enough. To dream and to dare is one thing, but you have to turn that ambition into hard, relentless work. When the days are hard, you keep going, and on the days that are harder still, you push deeper. Persevering, doing whatever you need to do to keep moving forward and succeed.    

When the opportunity came to build and lead Antser I wanted to. Not because it would be easy but because it would be hard. It’s been one of the scariest and most challenging things that I have ever done.  

With the constant weight of fear and anxiety, questioning, are we making the right decisions? Are we going in the right direction? What do we do next?  

But each day I enjoy facing that fear, because knowing how many lives Antser could change, inspires me to keep going. And in doing so, every day, every week, every month, every meeting and every decision is another step forward to a future where Antser becomes the leading, most trusted partner in its sector.  

Thus further linking back to the Martin Luther King quote, in that some days I feel like we are flying, other days we are slowly trudging along. But in pursuit of our goal, we move forward, even if we are crawling.  

So for me, ‘Fearless Futures’ means a belief in opportunity, creating something better that hasn’t been done or achieved before. It might be hard, and others might shy away from it, but underpinned by hard work at Martin James Network we can turn these dreams into reality. 

A world where just being yourself is enough and no judgement is passed.

A world where just being yourself is enough and no judgement is passed.

By Daniel Croft, Chief Executive Officer of Foster Talk

When I think about the phrase ‘Fearless Futures’ I think of a society where my children can thrive, a world where just being yourself is enough and no judgement is passed.

A future in which my daughter can decide to be an astronaut, or a stay at home mum, or a poet or all three and she’s given those opportunities in such a way that she’s not afraid or constrained by her environment to take them and blossom.

A future for my sons to be proud sensible and sensitive men without any recourse to be a man’s man and hide their feelings.

A future that provides the platform for all children to be children, live in safe and stable environments in which they can express themselves fully.

But mostly it makes me feel like we can fearlessly fail forward, make mistakes and do great things, not being afraid to change the status quo to try new things and make huge leaps forward that benefit us all.

From Partying to Parenthood: LGBTQ+ History Month

From Partying to Parenthood: LGBTQ+ History Month

Happy #LGBTHistoryMonth! This February, the Martin James Network is excited to celebrate the lives, legacies and histories of LGBTQ+ people in the UK and abroad. Throughout the month we will be posting information pieces, stories from colleagues across the network, useful links and much more. Kofi Aboagye-Broadhurst,  Director of Kingston Noble , shares his story on raising a family as a LGBTQ+ household.

I would love to say that weekends in my 20s began with raspberry quinoa smoothies and mile-long runs – but they didn’t. Saturdays usually started with a massive hangover after yet another Friday night of partying with my friends. We’d spend the rest of the weekend comparing our hangovers and watching our favourite TV boxsets.

Then the next Friday, we’d meet up straight after work and try to make that weekend’s session even more epic than the last. At the time, this seemed like living the dream. Constant fun, no responsibilities, and the freedom to do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.

But then life reached a point where I wanted more. Was the highlight of my week always going to be downing ten shots and getting a shout-out from the DJ? There had to be more to it than that. It had to be possible for all of us to get more from our lives…

In 2021, life is completely different. My husband, two wonderful children, and fun family days out fill days that I used to waste doing nothing. Adopting has changed our lives forever. The process was one of the most difficult, but rewarding, things we’ve ever done. Here’s everything you need to know about the LGBT adoption process. If we could do it, then so can you.

We hope that this article inspires a few people to take a leap of faith and give a loving home to some kids who really need their support.

Finding a greater purpose

There was a void in our lives that only children could fill. Surrogacy seemed too difficult, due to the legal complications that can arise during the process in the UK. At any time during the process, the woman who gives birth to the child can decide that she would prefer to raise the baby herself, causing a heart-breaking situation for everyone involved.

In the end, we chose adoption. We wanted to give a loving home to one of the many thousands of children across the UK who are not lucky enough to be born into one and grow up in the care system. Government figures released early in 2020 showed that 78,150 children in the UK were in care.

Although the number of LGBT couples putting themselves forward to become adopters and fosterers has increased annually over the last decade (1 in 6 of all UK adoptions in 2020 were by LGBT couples), many in the LGBT community who would love to adopt don’t put themselves forward. This is often because of fears of being judged, or even being rejected, because they are gay, bisexual or transgender.

Why do so many in the LGBT community avoid the adoption process

This is something that many straight couples struggle to relate to. Imagine having to sit in an interview saying: ‘Hi, please evaluate me against your social norm. I’m totally positive that despite my heterosexuality, you won’t find me incapable of looking after kids. Btw, did I mention that I’m straight? Hope that’s OK.’

Adoption agencies continue to make huge efforts to appeal to the LGBT community. That is evidenced by LGBT adoption statistics above.

However, this fear of homophobia and ostracization still puts many off applying. Questions such as ‘how you would react to your child getting teased for having gay parents?’ Or ‘do you think you would be able to meet the needs of a child in the same way as a mother?’ can be incredibly hurtful. Answering questions like these were very tough. You’re sat there wondering why society can’t see past the fact that you’re gay and appreciate the amazing life that you would give any child who joined your family.

Despite this, going through the process and adopting a child is one of the most worthwhile things you will ever do. Research suggests Parent-child relationships are typically just as strong in same-sex couples as in heterosexual ones. Research published by CoramBAAF actually suggests that gay fathers show greater levels of interaction with their child than other types of parents

How adoption changed our lives

For a start, cutting out drinking every single week does wonders for your health. Before lockdown, our weekends were spent visiting theme parks, zoos, bowling alleys and generally doing the exact opposite of everything we used to do on a Saturday. With two kids to look after, we’re always busy (even in lockdown).

Our children have brought so much happiness to our lives. Helping two wonderful humans grow into wonderful adults completes our lives and gives us the purpose we were looking for. Adoption gives you the opportunity to change the lives of each child you invite into your family for the better, forever.

People often look back on their lives and reflect on their career success, the wonderful holidays they went on, and the amazing things they owned. These are all fantastic memories, but are they all that life has to offer? What if you could look back on giving a child who was facing a hugely difficult life the opportunity to live their dreams? How rewarding would that be?

Inspiring others

After hearing about what we did, one of our good friends also decided to adopt. He is now father to three siblings with his partner. That’s the course of another three young lives transformed from a negative pathway to one filled with love and happiness (and two more immensely proud LGBT parents).

Sometimes life gives us great opportunities that look like opportunities. On other occasions, huge opportunities are hidden behind bigger challenges. The size of these challenges often mean that a lot of people never seize the opportunity. This is often the case when it comes to adoption in the LGBT community.

Adoption is one of these hidden opportunities. The process can seem particularly difficult for LGBT couples, but these difficulties are just temporary. The fulfilment that adopting will give you and your newest family members will last forever.

Keep an eye out on more stories to come from the Martin James Network as we celebrate and remember LGBT History month. Follow our social media pages to find out more.

MJN launches it’s first Fearless Storytelling Competition

MJN launches it’s first Fearless Storytelling Competition


To celebrate National Storytelling week on 29th January, the Martin James Network launched its very first children’s ‘Fearless Voices’ creative writing competition. In a time when home-schooling is the new normal, we want to create a platform for children to be brave with their imaginations and creativity. Fearless Stories will amplify the voices of children, in a year when they have had little opportunity to be heard. 

What would you do if you weren’t afraid?

From Friday 29th January children between 5-15 years will have the opportunity to submit a fictional story of 500 words (or less!) about being courageous. The only limits are imagination and creativity!

There will be a bronze, silver and gold winner in each age category: 5 – 7 yrs, 8 – 11 yrs, 12 – 15 yrs.


Gold: One double page spread of your story illustrated by children’s book illustrator

Silver: £50 Waterstone book tokens

Bronze: Creative writing book, notepads, pens and colours (worth £25)

Entries must be made by a parent, guardian or teacher who can submit the story by emailing
Please include the child’s name and age when submitting.

Competition closes on 26th February.