Inspired by hairdressing wasn’t what I expected!

(Lewis O’Connor  Apprentice, Bright Futures Programme)

When I was informed of the opportunity I was being given to meet and present to Jennifer Cheyne, I was slightly apprehensive and was questioning how I would be able to relate to Jennifer’s experiences, compared to those in my own life. I do not have a great knowledge or understanding of what goes on in the hairdressing world, therefore I felt I may find it difficult for myself and Jennifer to build a platform and an understanding of each other.

I had a look about on the internet and did a lot of asking around about Jennifer only to find out just how successful she was and how well known Jennifer and her 7 award winning salons have become not only within Edinburgh but the UK. This, if I am being honest did not help my nervousness in anyway what so ever. I have presented before, but never to someone as successful and as well recognised and thought of as Jennifer. After digging a little deeper into my research, I found that she too has academies just like Bright Purple and I was keen to know more, to look at how they train there apprentices and how Jennifer feels about what both parties get from their time together.

Once I and the other apprentices presented to Jennifer, she took the floor and began to talk about her childhood.

I was straight away very surprised, as she explained where in Edinburgh she had spent her youth and it so happened that two of my apprentice colleagues came from the same area of Edinburgh.  Jennifer then went on to explain about her performance at school, which again took me by surprise, because just like myself and fellow apprentices she too did not go on to further education in her desired working sector, instead choosing to go straight into hairdressing direct from school at the of age of 15. I can only imagine how daunting an experience it must have been for her at such a tender age. It was very inspiring to hear that an average girl from West Field Court had started off as a Saturday girl apprentice hairdresser and become such an iconic figure, in not only the hairdressing world, but the business world alike.

Jennifer spoke about going with what you feel is right and to trust your gut feeling, explaining how it has got her through many tough decisions she has made along the way and I think this is a priceless piece of advice, I will take this advice into the future decisions I will make, not only in work but in life itself.

I went with my gut instinct to grab the opportunity that Bright Purple was offering and since then I haven’t looked back. Growing as a person each day and gaining life experiences that are very hard to come by for many young people like myself. To meet someone like Jennifer Cheyne was an exceptional opportunity given to me by Bright Purple and is something I won’t ever forget. She is very inspirational and this past week I have met a number of others like Jennifer, who have given me even more belief in myself to go on and be as successful as I can be.

A Small World

(Craig Lamb – Apprentice, Bright Futures Programme)

Before this whole experience, I had no idea who Jennifer Cheyne was, so when I was told I would be delivering a presentation in front of her, I didn’t think much about it at the time. But when my colleagues and family told me what she had achieved as a business woman, I got nervous shiver throughout my body.

Before I delivered my presentation to Jennifer, I had already presented one to the Bright Purple staff, in this presentation I spoke about my personality and experiences I have had in my life so far.  I felt quite comfortable as I had presented to the Bright Purple staff before. I knew the presentation I was going to deliver to Jennifer was going to be a lot tougher.  I had to adapt my presentation so it was more business-like, I have been doing presentations were I take a more laid back approach and try and make it as funny as possible. Making it more business-like was a challenge in its self. Also knowing I would be delivering it in front of Jennifer; I felt so much pressure on my shoulders. After I had delivered it, I was so proud of myself, and knowing I had coped with the pressure of delivering it in front of such an icon, my confidence was sky high!

I feel Jennifer’s stories would inspire anyone. Hearing where she lived previously and what high school she attended, shocked me. To hear she used to stay at West Field Court was breath taking, the reason I say this is because when I was growing up as a child, it is where I used to hang around with my friends. Looking at what she has achieved, and where she came from is truly inspiring and I feel having belief in yourself proves you can do anything you desire, like Jennifer Cheyne!

Jennifer started off by telling me and the apprentices where her hunger for becoming a hair dresser came from. She told us about a woman who stayed in her street who was a hair dresser; the women Jennifer seen had bright red hair and looked ‘cool’ as Jennifer said. This gave her the hunger to become a hair dresser as she wanted to look “cool”. Coming from a family where her brothers where A- grade students, Jennifer felt pressure on her to be just as smart as them, but she knew her grades would never be as good as her brothers. She had to persuade her father that she was making the right choice in leaving school with no grades; her father compromised with her and said she had to attend night school so she had grades to fall back on.

One of the main things I remember Jennifer telling me was if you have a slight feeling making you doubt an idea, follow your gut feeling. This stood out for me because when I was given the opportunity to undergo the programme here at Bright Purple, my dad wanted me to stay at college and pass the unit, but I followed my gut feeling and left college and came here to Bright Purple, and it turns out to be one of the best decisions I have made so far in my life.

Jennifer also told me and the apprentices about all the different salons she has worked in, and how she was the first girl to work in a barber, which gave her a taster of fame. She was in the newspapers because it was unheard of back then for a girl to work in a men’s hair dresser.

To hear some of her experiences and the risks she took, for example when she borrowed £2000 to start her own hair dressers. This is inspiring for a young man like myself. Before I met the likes of Jennifer Cheyne and Nick Price, I believe people who were successful and built empires worth millions had a bit of luck on their side, but they both make it quite clear, if you want it bad enough, and work hard enough, you will be rewarded with a lot of success.

You are about to be Demystified

(Tom Wilson – Apprentice, Bright Futures Programme)

When I heard the news that I was being given the opportunity to work closely with Kevin Watters, my new boss and to help redevelop the company’s IT Demystified course, by restructuring and creating a more interactive presentation I felt very honored and excited.  To know Nick Price, my CEO trusted me with this amazing opportunity was such an unbelievable feeling and I felt like I was in a completely different world. I have promised myself I won’t let him down.

To be brutally honest when IT Demystified was first presented by Kevin, I thought it was boring and I literally took nothing in, which wasn’t his fault because his presentation skills are great, it was just a weak presentation. But things are going to change, Kevin and I are going to restructure the whole presentation and make it much more interactive with a few videos, quizzes and have it more like an open discussion just to make it more interesting.

I can already feel a little pressure on myself because I have to learn a lot of information in 5 weeks, which will be a difficult task considering how much I will have to take in. I also have to present our new presentation and deliver it to the man who gave me this opportunity, Nick. I am relishing the challenge because it is exactly what I wanted and needed, as I knew I could contribute a lot more to the company and when Stuart (my programme mentor) and Marielle (leader of the Bright Future’s Programme) broke the news to me, I couldn’t stop grinning and I just know I can do this with so much hard work.

I have also been given the opportunity to be Kevin’s assistant to the database moving forward. This is a huge achievement for me because, Kevin has promised me when database meetings are held he said I can sit in on them and have an input of what system we will be using. Another bonus of this great opportunity is that apart from Kevin, I will be the first person to use the new system which will then put me in a position to help others to get used to it, when we have finally moved on from the current system.

To round this off I would like to thank Nick, Marielle, Stuart and Kevin for giving me such a boost to my confidence through these opportunities and I promise to make them proud, as well as myself of course!

We are not all neds and hoodies

(Sarah Dougal – Apprentice, Bright Futures Programme)

Hoodies – Thugs – Neds – Chavs – Lazy and Anti-Social

All terms which I am sure are used more than necessary to describe the youth of Scotland and the rest of the UK today. With Britain having more than a million 16-25 year olds unemployed I feel that people’s individual circumstances, such as graduates struggling to find jobs after completing their courses at university, are not taken in to consideration and all Scottish youngsters are being tarred with the same brush. It seems that our previous generation think that all Scottish teenagers are either stricken by teenage pregnancy, obsessively drink, hang around streets, vandalise and abuse people, speak with horrendous slang and ill manners or take drugs. Yes of course there are teenagers who suffer from some of these problems, however there are also adults who are under the same category and it is in fact a small minority.

As a Scottish teenager myself, I can most definitely say that the statements which I have discussed above are the complete opposite of myself as well as 99% of other teenagers I know. So straight away the well-known stereotype of Scottish youngsters is blown out of the water.

The fact that a lot of the older generation think that the youngsters of today are lazy and don’t have any ambition to make a go of their lives or become successful I can straight away say is far from correct, as I am an apprentice on the Bright Purples Bright Futures Programme who along with 5 other amazing apprentices, want to get to the top and achieve the impossible. We all push ourselves each and every day and take on challenges which make us blossom as youngsters. We have been given amazing opportunities by our employer Bright Purple, which I am sure most people would not expect us as teenagers to have been given.

Examples of these fantastic opportunities include; meeting people who are inspirational such as our recent meeting with Craig Paterson and you’ll read of other’s soon like Jennifer Cheyne and Andrew Muirhead. We are also being given the chance of meeting Professor Muhammad Yunus, the world famous Noble Peace Prize winner and Banker to the Poor on the 7th of March in Edinburgh, which is not only hugely exciting but a great honour, that our CEO has decided to give us this opportunity.

I and my fellow apprentice Lewis also got the opportunity to go to Napier University to talk to IT Graduates at a recent Grad Fair. It was a fantastic opportunity and we flourished during our time there, in fact we were more confident communicating that a number of the graduates we met, which of course surprised me.

I am sure by the end of our six months we will have had many more fantastic opportunities. We have already started to open doors for ourselves to succeed.

So, we really aren’t all the same are we – try and remember that the next time you pre-judge a teenager, because we might just amaze you with the good things we are capable of achieving.

My confidence grows weekly – how far can I go?

(Deonne Budge – Apprentice, Bright Futures Programme)

Tuesday 21st February and I had an excellent opportunity to meet a most inspiring person in Craig Paterson, Founder and Chairman of FootballAid. We presented to Craig and it seems to get more natural every time I stand up there to talk. It is great to see how much we have all come along in the past 8 weeks at Bright Purple, Bright Futures Programme. The confidence has grown not just in me but everyone taking part in the programme.

Craig Paterson’s journey inspired me. He has achieved huge success in business and managed to get so far, at such a young age, just like the man himself Nick Price.

I have learned so much just from listening and speaking with Craig. He started as a trainee in a variety of jobs pasting bill boards, lorry driving, disk jockeying and delivering toilet seats to owning, running and eventually selling his own business, Melville Craig.

I have come away from meeting Craig feeling more inspired than before. Each day at Bright Purple is always a challenge and while you never know what is round the corner, I am more and more driven to do well in life.

Having the opportunity to meet Craig and other senior business people in the weeks ahead and being invited by my CEO to join the other apprentices to meet the great Professor Yunus, “Banker to the Poor” very soon in Edinburgh, is not something that everyone will ever say they can and have achieved. For myself I don’t think many people at the age of 17 have had to opportunity to present and ask questions to as many senior people from the business world and get a picture to remind you of these great experiences.

Craig has also given us the chance to email him with any questions, which for me is a great opportunity. One of the questions we asked Craig is if we could come along and help him with events. This is also an excellent chance to see exactly what he does and how hard he works at running and making sure FootballAid is consistently performing.

Football, Recruitment and Inspiration

(Tom Wilson – Apprentice, Bright Futures Programme)

Tuesday 21st February was an absolutely fantastic experience for me and the other apprentices. We had the chance to meet a friend of our CEO and Edinburgh based business man, Craig Paterson. I can say that he is a brilliant and inspiring man.

To kick things off today we started by giving a presentation to the man himself. The apprentices and I have been working extremely hard to make a presentation that is very different from the lunch and learn session which was more of a fun and personal speech about our family, friends etc. This presentation was more of a business presentation which involved what we are doing at Bright Purple, what we have learnt and our goals in the short and long term. I felt very honoured that a man of Craig’s stature actually had the time to listen to what I want to achieve in my life and I am very determined to follow through on my goals after our session with him.

After our presentations it was time for Craig to discuss what happened in his life and all his different experiences. To hear that he literally came from nothing and earned his success through hard work was very interesting to hear, it makes me excited to work even harder and have the sort of influence on other people as Craig had on me.

He started off his working life in jobs that didn’t really look like taking him far career wise, but when he met his wife to be he said that’s when he started to mature and got a job in a Recruitment Agency. Craig progressed through the company to become a Consultant, then Manager and then he was given the opportunity to become a Director in the new Edinburgh base. Craig’s progress then kept getting better and better, but he felt that he could run a business on his own! So after discussions with his wife he started his own business in recruitment, while risking his flat deeds to fund it! Needless to say it all worked out and his company Melville Craig were a massive success. With hard work he found out how he was going to pitch ideas, sell and expand his company which they became a massive hit and he went on to sell the company to an American business.

When his son was diagnosed with diabetes Craig came up with idea of FootballAid.

Craig’s charity gives people the chance to play football in the stadium and on the pitch of the team they support which has given the chance for people to live their childhood dream. Craig had a contact at Celtic and he got the chance of kick starting FootballAid at Celtic Park. How FootballAid worked is that if anyone were interested in playing in a game in a particular stadium you have to bid on the website for a place, sort of like ebay in a way and all money goes to charity which 50% of the money earned to a diabetes charity and the other 50% was donated to a charity of the clubs choice. He pitched his idea to top clubs all over Britain and even to the English FA, which is such a fantastic opportunity and benefited many charities.

Hearing how Craig met such inspirational figures in the footballing world such as Sir Alex Ferguson, was absolutely mind blowing and I felt so honoured to be in the same room as him. I think the main thing I took out of Craig’s session is if you have something that you want to achieve and are willing to work hard enough and maybe take a risk or two you can achieve anything you want. I think all the apprentices would love to help out with football aid, we asked Craig if this would be ok and he said yes we just need to get in contact with him. Personally I would love to help out with the charity in my spare time, because it is for such a fantastic cause and seeing as many stadiums as I can has always been a little dream of mine. If Craig read’s this, I would like to thank you for taking the time out to see us.

OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

(Caroline McFarlane, DGM Training Consultants Ltd)

Life is about choice, not chance – and the choices we make mould and shape our future. I’d like to invite you all to consider the title of this blog…….. and choose what you see.

It’s now 7 weeks into the Bright Futures Modern Apprenticeship Programme and having had another opportunity to work with the 6 young adults in a group environment, but also meet with them on a 1:1 basis – they are all only making one choice OPPORTUNITY IS NOW HERE!

What is the opportunity you may ask?  Well, along with recognising the opportunity to work in a supportive, inspiring and creative environment.  Being given personal and professional development resulting in increased responsibility and ownership of tasks. Working with great role models and being exposed to key business professionals, learning from their stories and success…….. they are part of a nationally recognised modern apprenticeship programme, rubber stamping their evolving business skills and knowledge with a Scottish Vocational Qualification.

But what’s really valuable is that they have realised the opportunity to learn and grow from their experiences.  To take real insight from the changes they have recognised in making the transition from school to the working world. To learn from each other and recognise each other’s strengths.  To make those changes required to be the best they can be.  To have the desire to succeed.  To bang the gong!

How often have you heard the phrase ‘what you see is what you get”?  On the flip side, how often have you heard the phrase “what you get is what you see” ?   By this I mean that we can have pre-concieved ideas of people…of young adults.  These can be based on a number of things – our own experiences, our core values and beliefs or those imposed upon us by media and public perception.

Given time, these pre-concieved ideas can become a reality and individuals live up to the expectation i.e you get exactly what you see. Great if what your expectations were positive, full of belief and encouragement.  Not so great if those were negative, full of disbelief and ‘I told you so’s’.

Working with young adults, I am never disappointed in their thirst to succeed.  Are they all perfect, no none of them are.  Are they going to make mistakes, yes all of them are. Are there going to be ‘blips’ along the way – without a doubt!  But that gives them, gives us, the opportunity to learn and make changes – to catch them before they fall and encourage them never to trip up again.

So it’s amazing to be part of this programme, to work with all the positive people at Bright Purple and prove all those with that negative “what you get is what you see” attitude wrong, because its definitely a case of “what you see is what you get” when it comes to Craig, Becki, Sarah, Tom, Deonne and Lewis – and I see PURPLE passion:

Pride

Understanding

Respect

Positivity

Loyalty

Encouragement

So my OPPORTUNITY IS NOW HERE – to pat them on the back and acknowledge their journey to date.  Support, encourage, develop and motivate them through the months ahead and toward the achievement of their Modern Apprenticeship.  After all “it’s great to have an end to journey towards, but it’s journey that matters in the end”.

So what do you see…and where is your OPPORTUNITY?