Getting started: A happy chance
I first found out about the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women following a chance conversation with a foundation mentor on a train.
As a great believer in the power of mentoring, and using it to to develop high performing people and teams over a 40 year career, it seemed natural to explore what the foundation had to offer.
As I now know the Foundation focuses on mentoring as a way of empowering women across the world to take charge of their own futures.
To someone who is, politely speaking, in the later stages of a career this seemed like a great way of paying back some of the help I have received in my professional and personal life.
I suspect that like many I thought that Foundation mentors had to be women, but the train conversation put me right on that one. As the person on the train said “The Foundation is there to help women, but it will take help from anyone willing and able to contribute“.
After passing the initial on-line training and assessment programme I was assigned my first mentee, a business lady based in Hong-Kong and started participating in the Foundation’s webinars.
After a few months an invitation was offered to run a webinar of my own on the topic of “Being a Mentor”. This was well received and for I enjoyed the fact that I had in some small way contributed the work of the Foundation.
The same, but different
About a year later the opportunity came along to run another webinar, this time on the subject of “Managing Business Finance”, one of my key themes for entrepreneurs.
The aim was to give a easy to follow walk-through of the technicalities of business finance and how it is different to managing personal money.
The small complication was that this session would be pre-recorded and I would be responsible for running the webinar, rather than just being the speaker.
Having done neither of things before I was understandably nervous. To see how it panned out, read on.
A brave new world of webinars
Between the first and second webinars the Foundation changed it’s delivery system. My first webinar was run live with Foundation staff taking care of the technicalities and I just did my piece and and answered question live.
By the time of the second webinar session were being pre-recorded. This gave the presenters a chance to correct any mistakes and for the video to edited to iron out any glitches.
Pressure, what pressure?
While this new approach was great it meant a trip to a rather posh recording studio in London, complete with a live link to the technical team in America, a video screen the size of my living room wall and a one hour time slot. So no pressure there then……
Happily all went well. After one false start the 30 minute presentation was recorded in one hit and I was able to head home, leaving the technical team to work their magic.
A few day later I received a copy of the finished video, and very professional it was too. Anyone who can make me look good on screen gets my vote.
Making it happen
With the video approved there was just the minor task of actually delivering it.
Between the Foundation’s schedules and pressures of running my own business consultancy,
Windmill Insight Solutions Ltd, it took a while to set a date but one was eventually found.
On the day I was seriously nervous. The briefing from the Foundation was clear and seemed easy to follow, but years of experience said that things that seemed easy on paper became much more challenging under the pressures of expectation and time.
On the day
My recollection of the day was struggling to come to grips with the presentation controls, wrestling with multiple on-screen windows plus the voice connection though my mobile.
Thinking back, the words I would use to describe the session are “scraped through”.
However the Foundation staff assured me that the webinar went smoothly and was well received.
I don’t think they were just being kind because there was also some good feedback from the participants and lots of really good questions were asked.
Should you have a go?
If you get the chance, go for it. It’s a great experience and way of learning new skills. After all, isn’t mentoring a two-way process with mentors learning as well as mentees.
Was it easy? Ultimately I think the best description is “straightforward“. Yes there is pressure, but with the support of the Foundation staff it is nothing to be scared of.
After all, the worst than can happen is it all goes horribly wrong and you have the opportunity to re-record or re-present.
Just remember, the only time you fail is when you stop trying.
I mentioned earlier that lost of good questions were asked during my webinar. In my this post I discuss the key questions from the webinar.
I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post. If you have thoughts on what I have written so far please leave a comment. Also if you have an idea for another blog topic let me know and I’ll be delighted to find a space for it.