The Country Mouse heads to the Big Smoke.
I don't get to our nation's capital city much. I'm not a massive fan I have to admit but this is generally more in relation to my country mouse type attitude to the hustle and bustle which invariably comes with getting from A to B and the fact that the cost of staying and doing in London is invariably its own bubble. A bubble, which whilst acceptable if you live in it is quite a leap when you do not. So, way back in November, when I received an email from Christine Esson with an invitation to present at one of the Scottish Business Network’s events in London, I saw it as a duty before it could ever be termed a pleasure.
The Scottish Business Network was set up in 2016 with the aim of building networks for Scottish business leaders in London but with plans to expand its work to other countries such as China and North America. (I know, a trip suddenly sounds more pleasurable). Founded and run by Russell Dalgleish and Christine Esson the remit of the group is to help Scottish business exploit the incredible good will there is internationally for Scottish business. No one can argue that historically Scotland has punched way above its weight but for whatever reason, we perhaps don't do as well now as we have done in the past when it comes to international recognition.
So, after a tiny bit of research and with a love of presenting and networking in regards to my business I bit the bullet, placed my sandwiches in my gingham table cloth, tied it to a stick and headed South.
St Paul’s Cathedral has long been an iconic building for me, in fact, one of my favorite WW2 photographs is of its domed roof pushing through the smoke of a war-torn London in defiance of the blitz. Seeing it up close for the first time was really quite special for me and then to look out of the window of the Shepherd and Wedderburn offices (our venue for the evening’s event) was really quite fantastic.
I was met by Christine and quickly introduced to delegates as they arrived. Perhaps "delegates" are the wrong term here as it was immediately obvious to me that these were friends I just hadn't met yet. There is a real comradeship and esprit de corp in meeting anyone from home when out of your own country but, I'm going to stick my neck out here, and say that when they are Scottish it really does feel like something special. The atmosphere increased in conviviality until, with a “sell out” crowd, we were underway. First up was Helen Livingstone of Branding Boutique who created a real buzz in the room with her talk and gave me a super foundation on which to build with my own presentation. I'm not going to tell you here what I said but suffice to say not only did I get an incredibly warm reception from the assembled guests but I felt a real warm and genuine interest in what I had to say. The 10 minutes flew by and I was able to avoid the shepherd crook of Christine’s stare that would have followed any overruns. There then followed a Q&A session before Fraser Allen, the Guardian of World Whisky day and CEO of White Light Media, regaled us with stories of whisky and how much it was loved as a “wee swallie” the world over, as if this was ever in doubt.
Networking followed with an increasingly happy crowd becoming even more convivial as the evening spilled into a local watering hole. I made my exit and jumped on the tube. And you know what? It wasn't a bad ride at all...
Thank you so much to Christine and Russell for my invitation and also to Leah Hutcheon of Appointedd who had put my name forward. It was a real pleasure and you have a new convert to your organisation and its purpose.
Should anyone wish to know more about Neatebox and perhaps why there was a buzz about my presentation then please check out Neatebox.com or give us a wee search on YouTube. Failing that, here’s a link to the video I showed on the night.