Our New ‘Fearless’ Series – What ‘fearless’ means to me, by Ayyab Cockburn

Our New ‘Fearless’ Series – What ‘fearless’ means to me, by Ayyab Cockburn

Recently, we clarified the Martin James Network vision, mission and strapline. Here at Martin James Network, we are united in  working towards a a society in which every individual is valued and where all dreams can be realised without fear, limitation or prejudice.’  

But what exactly does ‘Fearless’ mean?

We asked our employees across the network what fearless means to them. Over the coming weeks we will be featuring articles, videos, and creative work in our new Fearless series. We kick off with Group Chief Operating Officer, Ayyab Cockburn:

One of my favourite quotes has to be:

“There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings”

I take great inspiration from this as ‘fearless futures’ for me, is very much about roots and wings. The roots representing the strength and support to empower our children, our fellow human beings, but also ourselves to grow into who we want to become, and the wings representing the self-belief to live our truths and thrive.  

We can learn so much from young people about being fearless. As children we believe we can do anything. We are unapologetically ourselves, honest, experimental, curious, flexible, and non- judgemental. But somewhere along the way we lose some of this, some of us more than others. 

Research has shown that at around the ages of 11 or 12 we can start to cling to limiting ideas we have about ourselves or that others have about us, which begin to constrain our real and authentic selves. For many, socio economic factors that may have always existed, can start to become more acutely felt. The effect of all this being to turn dreams once so freely and joyously imagined into almost impossible fantasies.

For me, a large part of the resilience we need to not only cope with but to overcome such challenges comes from a sense of ‘feeling rooted’. By this I mean a sense of togetherness and connection from being part of nurturing families and other supportive and social networks. For amongst these very networks exist people who believe in us, encourage us, equip us, show us what good looks like, provide us with the feedback we need – good and bad, help us develop boundaries (never walls) and ultimately give us the freedom to flourish and grow in confidence towards our destinies. For the vast majority of people in society, access to these enabling structures exist from an early age and continue to remain with them throughout their lifetimes.

Ayyab Brice

But the reality for many others is that these structures have been severely weakened through life events and/or societal barriers. This gives rise to internal emotional chains which shackle and eventually destroy the once healthy roots which held such promise of facilitating that fearless flight towards longed for dreams and goals.

It is these very communities of people both young and old, for whom I believe as network we seek to empower ‘fearless futures’ We do this in the main by ‘supporting the supporters’ to unlock the potential that exists inside many young people, families and communities that have in some way, shape or form been uprooted emotionally or physically. But we also do this by modelling ‘fearless’ in every sense of the word ourselves – courageously re-imagining, co-designing and implementing innovative human centred practice, tech, science and evidence-based solutions to help achieve better outcomes.

Let’s learn from our children and young people about what it means to be fearless. Let’s help build and repair the structures which promote the ‘togetherness’ our communities need to flourish, grow and achieve their dreams. Let’s be inspired to really reach within ourselves to connect to who we want to be. Let’s do whatever it takes to create ‘fearless futures’ for this generation and the next.

 Fearless futures: re-imagining what’s possible.

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.

Martin James Network founder marks National Poetry Day with city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his experiences of Covid

Martin James Network founder marks National Poetry Day with city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his experiences of Covid

To mark National Poetry Day (Thursday 1st October), Birmingham poet – Basic Existential Boy – has installed a city-wide graffiti trail, inspired by his own experiences of Covid.

Basic Existential Boy, or Jim Cockburn as he’s also known, launched his collection of Covid-19 poetry last month after falling ill with symptoms of the virus back in February.

Now, as we approach National Poetry Day, Jim hopes to inspire others and share his love of the written word with this thought provoking ‘clean graffiti’ art trail.

The trail aims to highlight the importance of art and poetry at times like these but also analyse how the pandemic has radically altered our society, rendering everyday life virtually unrecognisable overnight.

Showcasing excerpts of the poet’s work, the graffiti can be found in a number of locations throughout Birmingham such as Moseley, Harborne, Digbeth, Broad Street and New Street, as well as Moor Street and Snow Hill.

Speaking about his Covid poetry collection, Jim says: “Lockdown created time and space for me to reflect and writing this poetry has been a cathartic experience, helping me to deal with the mixed emotions the pandemic has brought about.

“The Coronavirus has disrupted every part of our lives in profound ways and no one has been immune from the effects. Within the pages of the collection, I have tried to capture some of these momentous times, good and bad.

Available to purchase on Amazon, Jim’s collection – called Covid Spring – features 17 poems reflecting on the world we’ve come to witness during the pandemic.

All proceeds from the collection go to EPIC Youth – a project set up by the Martin James Foundation to help disadvantaged young people with business and entrepreneurial success.

For more information visit www.basicexistentialboy.com or to purchase the Covid Spring anthology, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/Covid-Spring-Basic-Existential-Boy/dp/1527268446.

Follow @BasicExistentialBoy on Instagram and use the hashtag #BEBTHEPOET if you spot his work across the city.

Martin James Network founder publishes Covid-inspired poetry book for charity

Martin James Network founder publishes Covid-inspired poetry book for charity

Martin James Network founder and chairperson, Jim Cockburn, has launched a collection of Covid-19 inspired poetry after falling ill with symptoms of the virus back in February.

Jim is usually known for his candid, straight-talking approach in business but he also has a surprising love for the arts, theatre and literature.

Like many of us during lockdown, Jim re-evaluated the things that brought him joy and he started to express himself through poetry.

It was here that Jim’s pseudonym, Basic Existential Boy, was born. He was inspired to write Covid Spring – a collection of 17 poems reflecting on the world we’ve come to witness during the pandemic.

The collection features pieces such as The Covid Singalong, Kick It Out Covid, and Covid the Crow, and analyses how the pandemic has radically altered British society, rendering everyday life virtually unrecognisable overnight.

The anthology is available to purchase on Amazon, with proceeds going to EPIC Youth – a project set up by the Martin James Foundation to help disadvantaged young people with business and entrepreneurial success.

Jim comments: “Lockdown created time and space for me to reflect and writing this poetry has been a cathartic experience, helping me to deal with the mixed emotions the pandemic has brought about.

“The Coronavirus has disrupted every part of our lives in profound ways and no one has been immune from the effects.

“Within the pages of the collection, I have tried to capture some of these momentous times, good and bad, with my verse as the drama unfolds.”

Fellow Brummie and renowned spoken word artist, Amerah Saleh, has brought a selection of the poems to life in a series of short performances on Basic Existential Boy’s YouTube and social media channels.

Amerah says: “It’s really important for me to connect with any work I take on, to feel the story and to be able to relate it to my life. These poems are a glimpse into what a lot of people are thinking and feeling around the world. The writing is poignant and raw, and that is the kind of thing I have always loved to read. To bring it to life feels like I’m able to share these important words into voice.

“Writing like this really hits home with life right now and allows you to reflect on the world as a whole rather than our micro-society. Basic Existential Boy looks at the bigger picture and how Covid-19 is impacting everyone’s lives.”

To watch Amerah’s performance of Covid App, visit https://youtu.be/EdbHyZFvI80, or to buy the Covid Spring anthology, go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/Covid-Spring-Basic-Existential-Boy/dp/1527268446.

Birmingham business expands with VR acquisition

Birmingham business expands with VR acquisition

Birmingham-based business, the Martin James Network, has expanded its portfolio further with the acquisition of VR company, VR Simulation Systems.

Headquartered in Edgbaston, and employing over 1,200 people globally, the Martin James Network is formed from a variety of organisations ranging from start-ups to well-established brands that have been in business for over 15 years.

The network has gone from strength-to-strength over the last two years, having started as a team of ten in rented offices in October 2018.

This latest move sees the network expand its mental health group, TalkOut, as it looks to help businesses navigate new ways of working and support staff wellbeing following the coronavirus outbreak.

Headed up by CEO, Jill Mead, TalkOut will now be able to offer workplaces across the country access to the best employee mental health support using the latest technology, in addition to its existing training and consultancy services.

As well as the new VR offering enabling employees to better understand and manage mental health through simulated environments, TalkOut has launched an app to help businesses connect and engage with teams as the nation adjusts to home working.

Rigorously tested for 18 months, and developed to work across countries and continents, the app helps businesses encourage collaboration, boost engagement, break down silos and provide crucial mental health support and counselling through a specialist chat function.

Ayyab Cockburn, chief operating officer at the Martin James Network, says: “We’re an ambitious network of businesses and we’re always looking at ways to diversify and grow, whilst keeping an eye on emerging trends.

“This latest acquisition is our response to what is a global issue. We’ve all been forced to work remotely, and whilst flexibility is an attractive benefit, this way of working can lead to isolation or silos.

“Businesses now more than ever are faced with both emotional and physical barriers that can and will impact on their success. Accepting that we need to change how we communicate with our employees, will be key in driving businesses forward during this challenging time.”

For more information about the Martin James Network, visit www.martinjamesnetwork.com or www.talkout.com.