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An Education with HART

Posted June 5th, 2020   By JWAdmin

Hartlepool College of Further Education are shaping a generation with more than just qualifications.

Education is a huge part of our lives. Moving from primary school and playground games to further and higher education; caps and gowns and certificates as scrolls. Many of us are privileged to have had access to different levels of study and what that means for each individual is different. But Principal of Hartlepool College of Further Education (HCFE); Darren Hankey spoke to us via Zoom to discuss their learners and the college’s reaction to the Covid 19 pandemic.

It is with a small smile that Darren said that it was a “heroic team effort” that allowed the college to pivot almost overnight to the lockdown restrictions from Government in March. He talks about his team responding so quickly to use of their Virtual Learning Environment, to get learners working remotely, with a genuine pride that is touching. It is clear that he cares deeply about the team, the students; but also the community that it represents.

“Once the students were working as best they could from home, there were other things we were doing – our kitchens are open to a community group in order to provide meals for vulnerable people and a member of staff took home our 3D printer to make visors for the NHS”. Given the recent focus on diversification in different businesses, this is a great example of working together for one community, “and it’s just that, ‘community’. We’re right in the centre of town, it’s like a big village mentality – all supporting each other, and that’s the attitude we try to instil in our learners”.

HCFE has roots dating back to 1849, making it arguably one of the longest serving colleges in the region (if not the country…!) but it’s Darren’s team principal of ‘HARTS’ that will lead the way in continuing the legacy of further education in the town and beyond. HARTS is a progamme of Hard Work, Ambition, Resilience, Thankfulness and Self Awareness that the HCFE team embed into all their work and teaching. “It’s not just about getting qualifications, it’s about ‘education’ as a whole; about building character as well” said Darren.


In a world that is changing day-by-day it is reassuring to hear what the HCFE and Darren are doing to ensure the future of their college, safeguarding their current learners needs as well as helping to produce generations of learners with more than a paper scroll and a passing grade. These learners travel from all over the region to experience the college, its enviable facilities, its outstanding reputation and relationships with the giants of industry – but more than that – they travel to Hartlepool for its heart.

Talking of themselves only as the ‘current custodians’ of the college Darren’s team are working hard and making exciting plans for their future – and with a team in place that have reacted so effectively and considerately to one of the greatest challenges of our time; we are excited to see what the NEXT 170 year brings for this amazing establishment in our region.


Socially Sold!

Posted May 27th, 2020   By JWAdmin

We hosted a panel discussion on Sales and Social Media – and here’s what happened…


Whether you’re an established business, or just starting out – one thing is for sure, you’ve had a conversation about how to sell during the covid-19 pandemic. And I’d put money on the fact most (if not all of you…) have suggested using social media more.


Not surprising, and absolutely right to do! But over the last few months what has become apparent is the amount of us who are not social media experts… Not meant as an insult, we all have our strengths – which is why we assembled a panel of industry experts in our region to level the playing field and help us unify our selling on social media platforms.


Simon Clayton (Marketing Skills Academy), Jess Facchini-Tucker (Social Allies) and Paul Lancaster (Plan Digital UK, Newcastle Startup Week) joined us today to help shed some light on best practices to sell on Linked In, Instagram and Twitter. With over 50 delegates registering to attend, we already had high hopes for what came next…


With relaxed conversation (and a bit of friendly platform rivalry!) the panel quickly set about giving out amazing tips, tricks and advice on how best to get the most out of each platform, and different ways of selling and attracting audiences. But it was the lively and continued engagement from the delegates that really set this panel alight. It’s rare these days that a video call or conference sparks so much engagement, but with the delegates keen to learn all they could in the time allowed, it was exciting to try and field so many queries.


I won’t go into specifics of what was discussed (because you can watch the whole session for free on our YouTube channel *shameless plug*) but what was overwhelming obvious to us was that people are keen to learn, keen to engage and very keen to grow online. And this is so exciting in a time where the world seems so uncertain.


So, let’s stick together, learn together and grow together. With more panels and webinars in the pipeline for coming weeks, we can’t wait to get more of you in front of exciting industry leaders and join you on that journey of discover too!

Watch the full session here: https://youtu.be/Y4k7GmEYF3U

“Just look after them”

Posted April 24th, 2020   By JWAdmin

Communicate PLC’s Reaction to Supporting Their Clients During COVID-19 Pandemic.

It’s not news to say recent weeks have been challenging, or that we’re all having to adapt to a ‘new normal’ whilst the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. But, we were interested to know how some companies have managed the changes, and how they’ve evolved during this crisis.

Speaking to Chris Mullen, IT Infrastructure Manager of Communicate PLC, we asked him how this massive change to life and business has affected Communicate what they were doing for their clients. Very simply he said; “Just look after them”. Knowing that most businesses were going through a period of panic or upheaval with the movement to working from home, Communicate has worked hard to make sure that their clients have as seamless a transition as possible.

Chris said; “We saw a massive increase in demand from our existing customers at the start of the lockdown in the UK. They needed to be instantly remote, so we set to work in making that happen”. With many businesses using desktop PCs, fixed landlines etc their task was not a small one; but one that they more than rose to the challenge on. Often working until 9 or 10 o’clock at night, Chris and the rest of the team made sure that where possible organisations could continue to function; setting up VPNs, redirecting telephone lines, establishing profiles on laptops etc.

This continuation of functionality meant that their clients could keep going; to keep managing their day-to-day business as well as keeping their staff safe working from home. Chris said; “We tried to put ourselves in our client’s shoes – how would we want to be treated if roles were reversed? And we knew that we would want our issues resolving as quickly as possible – so that’s what we did. Working later hours during those first few weeks meant that our clients got what they needed – and that’s so important to us; so we just did it”. It’s clear that their clients have felt the benefits of their commitment too, with many taking time to leave glowing reviews of the business on Trust Pilot.

Looking to the future we wanted to know whether or not the Communicate team expected remote working to become more of the ‘norm’ than before; or if we would ever go back to the way we used to work completely. They said; “We think most companies will adapt to more home working; it makes sense when you can prove it has worked. But it will only continue to work if a company’s support system is robust and can support that in an ongoing way. That’s why were so proud of our staff and services because we know it works; we know that it can help companies grow and be connected effectively – but also safely”.

We don’t know what will happen in the coming weeks as the pandemic continues, but what we do know is that the team at Communicate are working hard to help their clients keep going. And in the grand scheme of things, that is an exciting prospect. If you are looking to discuss your IT, telecoms or network systems, or cyber security, you can learn more about Communicate here www.communicateplc.com

Communicate Technology PLC offer a range of IT, telecoms, network and cyber security services and products. Based from their Head Office in Wynyard, Teesside; Communicate PLC has a national presence with offices across the country.

In Review: ‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be’. By Paul Arden

Posted February 18th, 2020   By JWAdmin

By James Pirie.

It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be. Even the title of the book makes you challenge your way of thinking from the off. We’re hard wired to think that we must get better at this, we must do better at that. Why? Because in life it’s how good we are. Isn’t it?

Arden argues the opposite. What matters most is the mind set behind your actions. Why are you becoming good at something? Is it because social etiquette dictates that you have to be good at it in order to progress – or is it because you want to be as big as Persil automatic?*

A collection of helpful, motivational hints and tips, Arden’s work almost reads as a microcosm of every self-help guide or motivational hard-back most of us have ever read. Pocket-sized and paperback some of the help contained in the brief 127 pages can sometimes read as obvious. But then again, some of the best ideas in the world are the obvious ones. It just takes a second of redirection, a second of pause to realise this.

The book itself is very much a book aimed at those in the professional world who are looking to make a difference. It reads as though it may be more geared towards someone in the marketing/media sphere. However, with a little thought and care when reading, Arden’s advice can be redirected to fit almost any profession.

Throughout life we often find ourselves in periods of doubt and distrust in our own ability. Arden argues that in reality, it is our choices that show who we truly are far more than our abilities.

Two things about that really connected with me about this book;

  1. People love a show. If you get the opportunity to get in front of the MD that you have spent the last 3 months reaching out to over LinkedIn, over telephone and at networking events all around your region – do not waste that opportunity by given a presentation about how good your organisation is (if your meeting is mid-week, chances are you’re the third one he’s listened to.. *yawn*). Use the opportunity to explain to the MD how much you want to make changes for them and how you want to do that together. Make it memorable. People love a show – make it memorable.
  2. Do not seek praise. It’s so easy to ask your colleague that you eat lunch with every day if a piece of work you’ve done is good – of course they are going to tell you yes! You buy them coffee every other day. Instead, ask those around you what you could improve upon? What do you not like about this? How can we make this better for ‘x’? Generally speaking your work is probably OK at best most of the time, so how can we make this better? Ask those around us to tell us what’s wrong with it, you’re much more likely to get an honest response. Why? People don’t mind picking something apart once you’ve asked them – we are British after all! Do not seek praise. Seek criticism. Can you find fualt with this?

To summarise, Arden has carefully selected real life advice. Advice that at some point in everyone’s life we need to hear. If you’re going through a period of self-doubt or feel like you need that push but you don’t know where to get it from – get it from Paul Arden and remember  – It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be.

*Teenage Victoria Beckham

All The Love for The British Heart Foundation

Posted January 30th, 2020   By JWAdmin

by Emma Storey

2020 is seeing Just Williams adopt multiple charities throughout the year, chosen by staff members as causes close to their heart *no pun intended…*

As many of you may already know why Just Williams is choosing to support The British Heart Foundation in the first quarter of 2020 – but for those of you who don’t know; here’s why…

I am a true ‘family gal’, with a really close connection with my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles etc. This is important as my Dad, a bit of a legend in Teesside after teaching in secondary schools for over 50 years(?!); suffered cardiac arrest at home at the end of August. He was resuscitated and taken to North Tees where he suffered a further cardiac arrest – was resuscitated AGAIN before spending a week with the unbelievable Critical Care team; but unfortunately on 1st September; a third arrest took him. Nobody can say he wasn’t ‘tough as boots’ to have survived so much.

However, given that he had no previous cardiac diagnosis or condition – the fact he died so suddenly has left a huge, un-fillable whole in mine and my family’s lives. But, the support and understanding I received from the Just Williams team was incredible – allowing me time to spend with my family until I was ready to return to work.

As a result I wanted to ‘do my bit’ to make sure that at some point in the future other families may not have to go through the same heartache; losing someone close. That is why I am choosing The British Heart Foundation.

On Friday 14th February we will be hosting a Valentine’s Heart Party at Fusion Hive from 11am-1pm, where we will be selling delicious baked goods, running a Secret Tombola and an amazing raffle! Then, at 12.30 I’m running a short quiz where the victorious team will take home the (soon-to-be coveted) Hive Heart Champion Trophy! We’ll be running little games and competitions on the day and will release information on how to purchase raffle tickets in advance very soon – but it would make a wonderful difference to see as many of you there as possible!

Please help us support The British Heart Foundation, and beat heartbreak forever!

Please feel free to contact me directly if you would like to be involved (you don’t have to be a Fusion Hive resident to join us either!) on emma@justwilliamsltd.co.uk

In Review: DO/DISRUPT/Change the status quo. Or become it.

Posted January 14th, 2020   By JWAdmin

By Mark Shayler

“If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got”, this quote by Henry Ford has been used time and time again and is one we can all relate to. This famous quote is the opening gambit to this challenging (and as its front cover indicates) ‘disruptive’ book which questions your perception of normal and everyday activities challenging you at every step. Why do we do things a certain way? Because we always have…. But does that make it the most efficient, cost effective and the best way of doing it?

Do Disrupt is the type of book that is very much an interactive read, it’s a workbook and encourages scribbling and scrawling on all its pages as I have myself found myself doing throughout. So why have we chosen this book as our first book review of the decade? Well innovation and challenging the norm is at its heart. So in a time when we hear on such a regular basis ‘New Year New Me’, this small accessible and very interactive book allows the reader and scribbler to immerse themselves head first into thinking differently by disrupting their own thought pattern. Scary right?!

So as we embark on 2020 how are you going to do things differently when we all have the same amount of time? Do Disrupt suggests this starts with giving yourself permission as asking for forgiveness over permission is far easier. Thinking differently and being deliberately different after all is the key thing that enables us as individuals and companies to stand out, but change is hard right? I once saw a jar with coins in it on a desk with the label ‘if you fear change, leave it here’. This illustrates the point perfectly. In this age change is inevitable and so Do Disrupt gives you the opportunity to lead it rather than follow others need for change. Change, Disrupt and Implement. It may be your role, pursuing your dream job or setting up on your own, implementing a full new strategy for your team or business or increasing your sales. Whatever it is, this book will make you think. It will also make you uncomfortable as from front cover to back page, it will make you think about your own life and how disruption can indeed be for the Good.

So, again, why have we chosen this book at Just Williams as our book of the month? Well its about doing what you love, disrupting a traditional model without fear and all whilst being deliberately different. All things we endorse and support whole-heartedly here. As we start 2020 all our team members have an hour a day ‘Goal Time’ to do exactly this. Work towards their own personal and professional goals as well as time to think, reflect, innovate and of course Disrupt.

The best innovators are the ones solving problems that we didn’t even know existed and the ones who challenge the norm. So if you want to start 2020 differently whether it be achieving your sales targets, embracing a new market, a new career or dare I say it, being a new you… read this book. In fact don’t just read it, scribble on it, highlight it and cover it in stick it notes. Carry it round with you and start by thinking in ink, giving yourself permission and time to challenge your own thought processes.

Got a book you think we should read and review? Let us know! 

2020 – It’s Great to Innovate! But how…?

Posted January 9th, 2020   By JWAdmin

It may not be the start of your new financial year yet year on year, the first week back in January gets us all a little philosophical about how we are going to do things differently. How this year we are all going to smash our sales targets, enter new markets and increase market share as well as launching new products and services and achieving those pesky KPIs.

So where do you start? Is doing something differently classed as innovation? Innovation is a word used so regularly it almost begins to lose its meaning. Yet the actual meaning is greatly debated and if asked to a crowd, you are more than likely to attract a wide array of answers. A fair definition for innovation is the ability to turn an idea into a solution that adds value to the organisation and customer.  It is not therefore simply doing things a little differently or just the initial idea that is the innovation, it is bringing that idea to life and making it happen which is key.

Doing things differently in your every day sales life is a good start but how can sales be truly innovative? Well let’s see… are you chasing the same old contacts in the same markets in the same way yet expecting different results? Is this not the definition of madness according to dear Mr Einstein. So lets look at doing things a little differently shall we…. Let’s turn it all on its head and start at the very beginning. What is your mission, your vision and what are your objectives? Start with The Why as Simon Sinek’s global bestseller promotes. You’ve got to start with the right questions to achieve the results you are looking for….., obvious right?!

As an example, our Vision as a sales company is to professionalise the Sales Industry. So whilst we offer a range of sales solutions; our impact is relatively small on the sales sector as a whole for now!. We wanted to professionalise the sector creating entry criteria for all those entering the sales industry and started right at the beginning with our Vision. After assessing entry criteria, existing provisions and conducting market research on what our clients wanted we launched The Just Williams Sales Academy. The last three months have been quite the journey and the next twelve months present a huge opportunity for the business in achieving its national ambition and reaching 10,000 learners in the coming years. It’s taking the original vision and bringing it to life through innovation and surrounding ourselves with those who know and understand the training market, taking a service based business online and becoming an accredited provider.

Back to your new year, ‘New You’ mindset and the definition of innovation in its purest forms – how are you going to be deliberately different this year? Start at the beginning, start at why you launched your business, strategy or why you joined the business you work for. Why do your clients buy from you? What do you do differently? Why do you conduct sales in the way you do? So if all your business comes from referrals (lucky you) look at the opportunity this provides to think bigger and how much more you would generate with a little more pro-activity. Or do you receive leads from social media and if so what’s your conversion rate? Are you attracting the right customers enabling you to make the margins you are keen to achieve?

So very many questions, yet all key to ensure you reevaluate your position allowing you to change and adapt your business or tact to support your sales strategy and overall business growth. So start small with thinking differently – challenging your existing processes. Start with a reflection summary on what worked well last year, think about your wins and focus on what you can do BNT (better next time). We do this daily – it’s a great exercise to really look at the detail in each day and quickly work out the most efficient and effective routes to market.

Make sure you check out our first book of the year in review next week which is Mark Shayler’s Do Disrupt – well worth a read if you are looking to do things differently and innovate your own mindset and actions. It breaks down the word innovation which can be quite daunting in its own right and is a great way to start.

So here‘s to the next decade of being deliberately different, disruptive and even innovative in the way we conduct sales.

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