Monday 26 October 2015

2 inspire Network Men's Special Profile: John Byrne - Theatre & Entertainment Industry Careers Advisor

John Byrne combines his own successful career as a writer, artist and broadcaster with his work as Entertainment Industry Career Advisor for The Stage newspaper, helping a wide range of actors, singers, presenters and artists develop their careers. In addition to his Stage work he runs Actors Business Plan workshops and one to one sessions across the country. He is associate director of New Wonder Management a talent agency representing a diverse range of established and emerging artists as well as a tutor for the London Art College, and is also a huge draw (pun intended!) at festivals nationwide with his Learn to Draw Cartoons Live show. 
Image by Kirstin Reddington

What is a typical working day for you?
I’ve always been an early riser, so it’s good to get the creative work done at the least ‘distraction heavy’ time of the day. I’ll usually start the day with a short period of prayer and meditation, focusing both on the day ahead, but also on what I am grateful for from the day just gone. You can always find something, even in a difficult period, and when you do, you start the new day on a much more positive and hopeful note. I tend to divide my day between mornings where I work on my own projects, which might range from Journalism for The Stage or Cartoons for Private Eye and other publications, as well as more long term script and book work.  Afternoons are the time when other people’s projects and careers are more the focus. There are often theatre shows or events to attend in the evening, so I try to take some time out around lunchtime to go for a walk, as having your bum on a seat all day is never a good thing!  Not every day is typical, but probably the one thing I have learned in almost 30 years of self-employment is that keeping to good routines and systems as much as you can is pretty essential.

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
I realised I was spending as much time consulting with other people on advancing their arts careers as I was working on my own. Economically, I had the choice to either focus solely on me or to try and make the advisory side at least cover its costs. I set up a website as the ‘Showbusiness Life Coach’ (Cringe!) in the early days of the net, and got a surprising number of clients…but in working with them I realised that what arts people need most is not big ‘lifecoachy’ visions and ideas (they are already good at those) but very practical business advice and support to make a practical plan and stick with it until they see results.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
As I have been advising and mentoring for almost two decades now, the best feeling is being able to feature successful performers in my Stage column whose stories can inspire others, knowing that I may have once given those people their first press coverage or helped with their own original career plan.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
The biggest challenge is doing business ethically in the entertainment and arts industry and making it work-you can quite easily create a business ripping off people who have acting, singing or writing dreams-they will pay huge amounts of money (often way outside what they can afford) for workshops, seminars and ‘secrets’ most of which are of no practical value. I don’t want to be yet another person who takes advantage of that. In addition to offering quality support, I try to make my service affordable to people who are on a low budget. That can involve creative thinking whether it is linking up with government training organisations or industry events (so that they fund the work and the clients can access at low cost) or doing the occasional ‘pay what you can’ day of one to one sessions.

John with recent participants at an Actors Business Plan Workshop held at Spotlight in London.
What are your future plans for the business?
I’m keen to explore using the power of the net and social media to reach more people, but without losing the ‘human touch’. The arts can be a very lonely business and often it is contact with just one other person who is actually on their side which actors and singers-even very famous ones- most need.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
Interesting question-when I started off as a cartoonist and comedy writer in Ireland, there was no internet so I had to physically come to London to find work. If I was starting now, I often wonder if I could have stayed in Ireland and worked from there. I love Ireland, but I have met so many wonderful people over here that I certainly don’t regret having had to make the move.

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
While most of the work I do is helping people to achieve goals, occasionally performers have decided not to do something, even to the extent of turning down what on the surface have been financially attractive offers, because I felt the jobs were ultimately not in their best interest.

One person even turned down a major prime-time TV spot because I felt it was setting her up rather than building her up. I am always really grateful and humbled by that level of trust.

Why is it so important to inspire the next generation to follow their dreams?
Hard work is important, but it is hope which inspires hard work. So many young people are told ‘somebody like you can never achieve something like that’. Without playing down the work and sacrifice which might be involved we need to reassure them that though not everybody starts with equal opportunity, everybody has equal value and the right to our support in creating more diverse opportunities to even that balance. 

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?  It is neither easy nor impossible. It’s both an art form and a business and to succeed, your time and focus needs to be divided sensibly between being your best at both.
What or who inspires you in business and why?  My wife Lola Williams is going to say I am only picking her because she is my wife, but that’s not true. She is an excellent actress who has juggled her talent, her work as a high level programme director and the needs of the family for years, and who, as the director of the New Wonder agency is hugely and genuinely committed to supporting other artists in developing their own careers, based on the lessons she has learned building her own.
She can also work late into the night to finish a project, and then watch her favourite crime shows, which as a morning person who is fit for nothing but dreamland by 11pm, is a constant source of wonder to me!
John and his wife Lola Williams at the National Television Awards
What is your favourite inspirational quote? 
It’s not really a quote as much as something I occasionally hear God whispering to me whenever I realise that I’m not half as calm, positive and in control as my ‘public’ self likes to pretend: ‘’Relax…I’ve GOT this.’’ God probably has to whisper this quite often-it’s just that I usually have to get to the end of myself to be ready to listen.
Contact details:
John’s performing careers website:
John’s cartoon website:
New Wonder Management Website:
Twitter: @dearjohnbyrne
The Stage newspaper
John Byrne is originally from Dublin Ireland, and his work in the arts encompasses regular journalism and cartooning for a wide range of publications such as The Stage, Private Eye, The Guardian, Media Week, The Bookseller and many more. He has authored over 40 books for publishers ranging from Random House to Harper Collins including Writing Comedy (now in its 4th edition) and Learn to Draw Cartoons which reached 12 editions. Broadcast work has included on air and behind the scenes roles for BBC, Nickelodeon, Five and Virgin, while theatrical work has included Opera, Comedy and Musical Theatre. In John’s careers role, he regularly speaks at venues ranging from The Guildhall, Portsmouth University, University of Cumbria, The Brits School, Stanmore College, NSDF, Surviving Actors, Perform and The Edinburgh Festival, often in conjunction with Drama UK, Spotlight and other industry bodies. Hi ongoing work for The Stage involves regularly interviewing successful performers and industry leaders across the domestic and international scene (currently 1200 plus and counting), as well as contributing to publications and broadcasts ranging from Young Performer magazine to the Actors Podcast and the popular In Anything Blog.

Thursday 22 October 2015

2Inspire Men's special profile Interview: Derek DeCutter Clement

Derek Decutter Clement is an experienced Hairdresser, author of ten novels and Architect of a nutritional product line. From his inception Derek has been commuted to the health of black hair and overall development of the industry,his journey began with an apprenticeship at the renowned Splinters London Mayfair and thereafter he became artistic director a testament of his dedication and expertise.

After owning a strings of salons in the UK, Decutter returned to his birthplace, Grenada, in an attempt to utilise the islands resources. While there he consulted with many of the Caribbean most reputable figures in medicine, education, law, and politics forming long lasting contact,armed with this knowledge and an organic base for his impending product line, Decutter traveled to New York where he penned ten novels. Read his inspirational profile interview below.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
A typical business day at the salon..
From the moment I open the salon I go into over drive since clients are usually booked days in advance. 
I hate starting my day with no clients.
I live breathe and dream hair, that is making my clients feel the best they can be..and empowered.

What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
What made me start hairdressing in the first place was quite odd. I always tell people I didn't find hairdressing it found me, life as a black boy in the 70s was daunting to say the least.
I figured since institutional racism showed it's ugly head in the school system, my youthful mind told me clearly so will it be in cooperate UK. One day while sitting at Splinters international hair  salon in Mayfair waiting  for my girlfriend, overwhelmed with the fact that it was a black business I immediately ask for a job. Needless to say the following day I started my apprenticeship.

After five years having rose to the top of my field I collaborated with two other  liked minded black friends a Banker and an Accountant we opened the upscale Derek Clement salon in maid a Vale. 

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
My greatest accomplishment in the business to date has got to be, besides being nominated as the first top Afro hairstylist of the year in 1980s, is owning my own Product line.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
My Biggest challenge happened in March 14th 2014 2am in the morning at my cousins birthday party I had a phone call to say that my salon was on fire, the next day I was homeless and jobless.

What are your future plans for the business?
Future plans will be to open a one stop shopping salon for men and women of colour. A brand with Academy salon product and restaurant under one roof.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
If I had to do it again I would have purchased a high street property in the 1980s and not waste all that money in a house in suburbia and paying rent on the I'm high streets.

What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
Best compliment could receive in the business is when a white women ask for her hair to be cut like her black Friend. This happened to me on New York while working on Lexxington Avenue Manhattan in the cooperate environment I did many sisters hair with amazing haircuts and their white friends would come for cuts too having seen theirs.

Why is it so important to inspire the next generation  to follow their dreams?
Somebody showed me the way therefore it is incumbent that I pass on the skill relevant to empower future black boys and girls with their woes and quandaries. 

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
I am always giving sharing and coaching the young and my advice to the young and coming hair dresses is to start their line if products asap.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
Winston Isaacs was and still is my biggest inspiration. He was humble giving and patient, he aimed high and continued to seek knowledge above all he began what is today, the highest level of black hair we can imagine in the UK AND The cutting of Afro hair that demonstrated  balance movement and Shape.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
Power In Your Hair Cut, Good health = Healthy Hair And HAIR GROWS AT A CELLULAR LEVEL.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

2inspire Network: Men's special profile interview: Ansa Archibong CEO of Financial Intelligence

Ansa Archibong, Founder and Director of Financial Intelligence is a Chartered Certified Accountant with eleven years’ experience of working in the small and medium sized market incorporating all disciplines from systems implementation for Start-ups to audits of medium sized businesses in various industries and across different specialist areas. Ansa has built up a solid reputation for success.  With a vast network he has secured major opportunities for his business associates as well as the entrepreneurs, professionals and leaders that his business supports.  

His passion for finance alongside his philanthropic desire to share his knowledge was the inspiration behind featuring Ansa. Not only does he support entrepreneurs of small to medium-sized businesses, leaders and professionals to achieve their aspirations and bring their dreams to life, he also works with young people to raise their aspirations and to help them to explore enterprise, leadership and careers as viable and sustainable paths to secure their socio-economic futures.

1/ Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
Day starts around 6, meditate for thirty minutes. Have breakfast, check emails and catch up on the news. Open diary and see what jobs need to be done. Plan the execution of my scheduled tasks for the day.
See what jobs are outstanding. Allocate work to various consultants I have working as part of the team. Carry out conference calls with various clients.
This is important because it keeps me in sync with any developments or issues facing our clients’ businesses and helps build a productive client/ accountant relationship.
Have lunch for approximately 15-20 minutes. Review twitter interaction as well as schedule tweets. Usually between 2 & 4pm have meetings with other stake holders.
From then until about 5pm complete various assignments. Review emails and consult team re targets set for the day. The Team Work flow plan is reviewed and edited accordingly.
6-9pm is spent on reading Accounting journals etc. to develop understanding and to keep abreast of recent developments in the industry. 

2/ What made you start the business and what steps did you take to start operating as a business?
The urge to deliver an exceptional service and to have a positive impact on the businesses of my clients. I love to see when my work has made a difference and the impression my work has, this motivates me to certainly do a better job.

3/ What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
My greatest accomplishment to date is yet to come. At present I am grateful to the universe for having the opportunity and will power to set up and run an accountancy firm in the city. Right now I want to serve clients, am sure any sense of great accomplishment will come in the foreseeable future.

4/ What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
My biggest challenge is being able to find a work and social life balance. It is easier said than done but the truth of the matter is that it takes so much energy especially now that I have to work ten times harder than when I was working for someone else.
During the start-up phase of any business, there is a high demand of your intellectual ability but want gives me the strength is the vision and the belief that the impossible is nothing.
Building a business is very demanding but what I believe is that it is a process and path I have chosen to follow and that if I commit myself to the process wholeheartedly, the process will certainly reward me for my endless and selfless service.

5/What are your future plans for the business?
My future plan of the business is to become an international brand but at the same time get more involved in a lot of social projects that will give someone else the hope and reality to accomplish their dreams. In life you can be so gifted and talented but you still need someone to open that door for you, grant you a platform to showcase your greatness to the universe.
Success comes through being in the midst of the right people. Which makes sense when you hear people say your network is your net worth. It is the people around you that can make or break you. Who you associate yourself with today will certainly have either a positive or negative impact on your future.

6/If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
If I had to do It all over again, I would still do it the same way. I had always wanted this.
The key is not the sense of achievement or accomplishment when it arrives on your path but the process and experience you go through to achieve that goal.
Whether it is a good or bad experience there is always a lesson to be learnt. What better teacher is out there than the lessons laid out before you in the process of life itself.

7/ What’s the best compliment you could receive in business?
The words “Thank You” and knowing that the client means it means a lot to me.

8) Why is it so important to inspire the next generation to follow their dreams?
It is quite simple. It is very important to inspire the next generation to follow their dreams because someone once inspired me to follow my dreams.
In life what is very rewarding is not how much wealth or knowledge you have acquired but the positive impact it has had on the lives of those around you.
We all are born with nothing and we leave the Universe with nothing. Therefore we should strive to leave a legacy that will make the next person accomplish their chosen dream and bring it to reality. I am particularly passionate about helping those from disadvantaged groups such as the unemployed and ex-offenders. To help them achieve the very best of their abilities. He wants to see everyone in contact with him achieve all they are capable of achieving irrespective of background, race or location.

I met Mr Theo Paphitis at an evening standard event and before I met him I researched his background I was moved by his journey from being a poor immigrant from Cyprus because of his setbacks at school due to his dyslexia. 
People mocked him but he is now extremely successful. I have had my fair share of such negative experiences but the key is not to dwell on such nonsense and move on. Life is too short to waste any energy on anything that is not adding value to your life.
I always channel my energy into something that is of beneficial to the process of life itself. I do know that the sweetest revenge in life is success.

9/ What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

PPR: passion, process reward. Find something your passionate about, commit yourself totally to the process and in the end the process will surely reward you as a result of your commitment.

10/ What or who inspires you in business and why?
Steve Jobs because of his ability to find perfection in simplicity. Most people think that in order for something to be great it has to be complicated and that one should never challenge the status quo.

11/What is your favourite inspirational quote?
I often write quotes to motivate myself and my team and one of my favourites is: when you look in the mirror the person you see is the architect of your own destiny. 

You can be anything or get what you want. All you have to do is demand it from yourself and the rest follows. What the mind conceives, the mind can achieve.

Ansa is offering a special 10% reduction on fees for *Start Companies that sign up with Financial Intelligence before January 2016.

* Been in business for 6 months or less

For more information:

Financial Intelligence Limited
A: 107 Cheapside, London. EC2V 6DN
T:  0203 053 8652
M: 07440 653 573

Ansa will be one of the professionals running a business clinic at the 2inspire Network Christmas Fayre on Saturday 7th November 2015, for more information and to book in some time to see him. Click on:

Monday 19 October 2015

The 2Inspire Network Winter Fayre 2015

Visit 2inspire Network Winter Fayre to reserve your free ticket

2inspire Network Inspirational Man: Lindsay Wesker

Lindsay Wesker is Music Editor for MTV Base and is a man that we really wanted to feature on our Men’s special Profile on the 2inspire Network blog not just because of his philanthropic work but also because he has been a mover and shaker in the music industry in the UK for over two decades. Read this great interview from Lindsay which gives a great insight into his career.

Before joining the music industry, Lindsay wrote two episodes of BBC TV series ‘Angels’, then a radio play for Capital Radio. He then wrote three plays for the Black Theatre Co-Operative, all performed at Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. Since joining the music industry in 1981, he has worked as journalist at Black Echoes, a radio broadcaster, co-written a black music encyclopaedia, worked at 5 different record labels, created free! magazine (later re-named Touch), and helped radio station Kiss FM earn a legal licence. Whilst working at Kiss (86-94), he presented shows and was Head Of Music between 1990-94. Since 1999, Lindsay has worked at MTV. He was initially employed by MTV to create R&B and hip hop TV station MTV Base, and then went on to launch MTV Hits and MTV Dance in 2001. Lindsay still works at MTV, programming music videos. Lindsay has also self-published a novel (about the music industry) and, in 2012, self-published a ‘stocking filler’ book entitled ‘The Crap Husband’s Guide To A Successful Marriage’. In 2013, Every Generation Media published ‘Masters Of The Airwaves’, written by Lindsay and co-author Dave VJ, which is a history of British black music radio.

Please tell us about typical working day for you?

I wake up at 6.00am, walk to work (6.1 miles) and start work at 8.30. I’ve been walking to work for about four years. I like to finish at 5.00 but, if all my daily tasks are not completed, I work until they are complete. That could be 6.00? 7.00? Or 8.00?

What made you enter this line of work?

I joined MTV in 1999. They wanted to create an urban music TV station and they knew I’d created the music policy at Kiss FM, so I launched MTV Base in 1999. MTV has been an essential part of my life since it launched in 1981, so it was a really honour to start working there.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?

My greatest accomplishments in business have been the things I’ve helped to create and launch: free! magazine in 1989 (later re-named Touch), Kiss 100 FM in 1990, MTV Base in 1999, and MTV Hits and MTV Dance in 2001.

What has been your biggest challenge in the business so far?

The perpetual challenge in business is to maintain your market share. I love being No. 1 but I prefer being No. 1 all year long!

What are your future career plans?

My future plans are to maintain and grow the TV channels I work on.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. Every experience, even the traumatic ones, have been educational. Every mistake I made taught me a good lesson!

What’s the best compliment you could receive in your line of work?

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so I love it when people copy me. I’m a creative person and some people in the c
reative industries are not, so they are always reliant on ideas people like me!

Why is it so important to inspire the next generation to follow their dreams?

It is VITAL to educate and inspire the next generation; important to give them good habits and principles. Whether they listen is down to them! Kids always think they know it all!

Lindsay delivering a talk & educating the 2inspire Academy: Young, Gifted & Talented Group

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
I would always advise anyone to know what they’re talking about. Knowledge is power. Serious people only want to deal with serious people. A business expert can spot a phony a mile off!

What or who inspires you in business and why?

I’m always inspired by people who believe 200% in what they’re doing and have the drive and determination to see it through. Lots of people have dreams and make plans and talk about doing things but never make them happen, let alone see them through! Success takes courage and mental strength.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

My favourite quote is something I always say in my talks and lectures: “Be nice!” Good manners and a cheerful disposition go a long way. Good people would rather deal with good people. If you can converse and find common ground with someone, you can create a business relationship and maybe even a friendship?

You can catch Lindsay on his weekly radio show on (and DAB all over London), ‘The A-Z Of Mi-Soul Music’ (Saturdays 1.00pm.)

Twitter: @LindsayWesker


Friday 2 October 2015

The 2inspire Network Blog Celebrates 3 Years of Inspiration With Our Top Ten interviews

October 1st 2015 saw the 3 year anniversary of the 2inspireNetwork blog which has profiled a total of 115 women in business, since its birth in 2012. Inspiring individuals is the core objective of the network and so we endeavour to share messages that make a positive impact in peoples lives. The 2inspire Network blog and the 2inspire Network Youtube channel, are two of the mediums we have used  to do this. Using these two mediums we share interviews with successful women who share their experiences in life, work and business, so as to inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more. It really has been a great opportunity for the ladies featured to share their journey, their experiences and their knowledge with the 2inspire Audience and beyond. I say beyond because we have witnessed some of the women featured who have really utilised this opportunity as a marketing platform and have managed to use the interviews to create exposure and opportunities for their business. They continue to promote themselves and their 2inspire interview, after the blog has been published.
We have sifted through the interviews and have listed the top ten most viewed interviews on our blog, since 2012, the highest ranked one has so far had a total of 1082 views to their interview:

Interview Published
Interview Link
Tokie Laotan Brown
28th June 2013
Dhylles Davis
19th August 2015

Toks Aruoture
28th May 2013

Iman Ogoo
5th March 2015

Harriot Pleydell-Bouverie
12th November 2013

Annette Clark -Headley
16th October 2012

Catherine Yaa Arhin
13th April 2013

Remi Akinmoyewa
14th January 2014

Ruta Uleviciute

9th September 2015
Many of these business owners are on this top ten list because they have linked, referred and re-promoted their interview through a number of sources.

So instead of making your 2inspire interview or any other blog interview a one-time blog post, keep it alive! See below some tips and tools to continue the longevity of your interview and get more exposure for your business.

Make use of the various social networking sites: The scope of social networking has multiplied over recent years. Not only can you post your interviews on Facebook and Twitter, but also you can use Linked In and Google Plus.  One of the great aspects of social networking is that it is a constant feed of current activity. What is posted today will be replaced with new content. This means that you can repost your interview more than once. Content posted on a Facebook Fan page is only live on your fan's newsfeed for 24 hours. so post it a few times a year. The constant growth in friends, fans, and followers on your various social networks means that someone new will get a chance to read your interview even if it’s a year or two after the blog interview was first posted.

Some of this social networking promotion can be as simple as tweeting: Have you read my 2inspire interview lately, etc with a link to your interview. If you joined a new social network do not be afraid to post your interview as well. Each social platform will reach a different audience group.

Post multiple Links: Multiple direct links creates greater SEO (Search Engine Optimization). If you want to drive traffic (or readers) to your interview, embed the link in relevant and easy to locate sites such as your website or blog.  Whenever you can stick in a direct link, do it! Consider blogging about your interview, or even guest blogging!

Utilise Newsletter space: If you have a digital newsletter that you send out to your database share your interview there so everyone who may not be on my social network sites can get the chance to read your interview.

Email Signatures: Another easy marketing tool to keep your interview active is to have it as a tag in your email signature. Most businesses have a link to their website but why not include your interview too?  
Talk about it: Talk about what you are doing! Being a business owner is part of your lifestyle so tell people what you are doing, show and refer people to your interview. One of the great aspects of a lot of blog interviews is that it provides a unique and personal window into the world of the individual business owner.

Interested in sharing your story on our blog? Email

To mark the anniversary of the blog we will be running a special series of interviews with inspirational men on the 2inspirenetwork blog. We will be showcasing the interviews of inspirational men who are doing some great things in the business world and their local communities. If you know of any that would love to share their story, please get in touch.