February 21, 2014

My learning journey continues… today!

So as I pack my bags to start travelling once again I ponder about buying a new suitcase.  This year I have fifteen speaking and training trips that I know about already that are planned and in the calendar.

I know that I don’t actually need a new case, my current two (one medium and one large) black numbers on wheels are sturdy and have seen me through numerous trips, but I want some colour in my travelling life.

blog case

The way I have done this so far (and also to differentiate my black case from the hundreds of black cases at the airport baggage claim ) is to adorn it with numerous colourful baggage straps top to bottom and side to side in a sort of criss-cross fashion – so that mine stands out from the crowd.

What I would really like is to customise my cases – so rather than buy a new one have decided to start adding stickers and badges on my plain black ones.  Recreating something like the case shown below is what I have in mind, however, it won’t have the character and richness of being on a lovely brown leather case, as in days gone by.

blog case2

I can slowly transform my dull black cases into a thing of some character and beauty like this lovely specimen.

First overseas trip this year is today, 24th February, to Kazakhstan, where I am delivering a management training programme for executives at a Corporate University all week.  At least my first new badges will be from somewhere that I have never been before.

There will be updates on this blog about how my customised travel look is developing.  I also always post films from my travels on my Facebook and LinkedIn pages – so connect with me on social media using this my ONE digital signature.

Józefa Fawcett’s World Speaking & Training Tour 2014




February 20, 2014

My learning journey continues…

Note to self:  Repeat the above mantra three times each and every day.  Why?  Because this time next week I will be in Kazakhstan delivering a five-day management development programme for a client.

The daily challenge is the way that the delivery will be conducted.

Many of us as trainers and professional speakers have worked in a foreign country where English is not spoken as a first language and had to use translators.  This is the case for me for this next project, where I will be working with translators – two of them – all week long.  Whereas the term ‘simultaneous’ translation is often used as a generalisation, there are in fact two types of translator in this live context.

During Consecutive Interpreting the trainer/presenter stops every 1-5 minutes (usually at the end of the paragraph or complete thought, and then the interpreter steps in to render what was said into the target language.  A key skill involved in consecutive interpreting is note-taking, since few people can memorise a full paragraph in one hearing without loss of meaning.

Typically, while performing Simultaneous Interpreting, the interpreter sits in a booth wearing a pair of headphones and speaks into a microphone.  Strictly speaking “simultaneous” is a misnomer: the interpreter cannot start interpreting until they understand the general meaning of the sentence.  Depending, for example, on how far apart in the sentence to be interpreted, the subject and the verb are located, the interpreter may not be able to utter even a single word until they have heard the entire sentence!

This fact should make it evident how difficult the task of the interpreter really is:  they must translate the sentence into the target language while simultaneously listening to and comprehending the next sentence.  You can appreciate the difficulty of the task even if you only speak one language: try paraphrasing someone’s speech with a half-sentence delay while making sure you understand the next sentence and paraphrasing the previous one.

Notwithstanding this,  I now learn that I will:

  1. Present in English
  2. Two consecutive translators will take turns to explain to the participants what I have said after say one or two paragraphs
  3. The slides that I will be presenting will be in English
  4. The notes that the participants will be reading will be in Russian (and in English as well)
  5. The exercises that we do will be instructed in English and Russian and their responses will be in Russian and translated back to me in English

Mantra being repeated from now until I touch down in Kazakhstan “I am a professional trainer and I can do this”

Józefa’s World Speaking & Training Tour 2014



February 11, 2014

My learning journey continues…

One of the most exciting things about working as an independent learning practitioner, trainer and consultant is choosing when, and who, you want to work with.  Sometimes it’s lovely to design and work on your own and serve your clients with solutions that meet their business needs.  In our super-fast connected world, social media means that you’re never really that very far away from a professional colleague – or two, especially when working on your own isn’t motivating enough for you anymore.

Remaining independent and working for yourself can be exciting and lonely in equal amounts.

Now it seems, it’s becoming more and more popular for independent practitioners to work collaboratively.  Whether it’s working together on a client project or speaking at conferences on the stage with a colleague,  learning to work as part of a team again after spending time on your own, can be challenging.

team working independently

  • How do you retain your hard-fought independence when you now face working within someone else’s business brand?  And do you even want to?
  • How do you feel about having to discuss everything with others before making a decision, when you could do this on your own before?
  • What if you get too used to working as a team player and it makes it hard for you to work independently again?

These are great questions and certainly ones to be considered when you work as an independent practitioner.  Since I started working on my own in 2002, there have been many times when I am asked to be part of a short-term project-led team, and I love the challenge.  Even more so when the team members come from many different disciplines and cultural backgrounds and countries.


Well for three reasons.

Firstly, it is great to re-use the very management and leadership skills that I train others in and remind myself of the days when I was a real manager of people (in my last substantive role before becoming an independent).  The text book tells you how to manage people, however, really managing people is such a fluid and changeable skill that it needs to be practised regularly to keep it fresh and current and in order to understand its complexities.

Secondly, it is so easy to become insular when you work independently.  We would all like to think that we retain a certain level of objectivity, however, it can become harder and harder the longer that we work as an independent.  Seeing things from a different perspective and acknowledging feedback from others without feeling like we want to defend our position is very often what we ask learners to do in a training session.  Working in a team again can revitalise this skill in us once more.

Thirdly, being held accountable for your actions (as part of a short-term team working arrangement as opposed to being part of a mastermind group which approaches it a little differently) re-teaches us the very skills that we trainers pride ourselves in. Skills such as listening, communicating, project managing, time managing and negotiating.

Working as part of a team again after time on your own can be challenging, but so rewarding.  I am really looking forward to my next new adventure working with two of my trans-national project team members PLUS a virtual team of twenty trainers, coaches and facilitators on a new and exciting project funded by the European Commission.

Fingers crossed that we all come out of this enriched by the experience.





August 21, 2013


After many years of being away from holding an operational management role in both the private and public sectors here in the UK, I find myself once more managing, facilitating and leading a team of people.

They all have a role to play in the development of services and products created within the LearningVoice family of brands.  However, things have changed considerably since I left permanent employ as a senior manager back in 2002.

Firstly, these are not employees, but independent freelancers who are specialists in their own fields of expertise.

Secondly, none of them work full-time with me and all have their own businesses to run.

Thirdly, they live and work in many different office locations around the world:

Alison, Ann, Ces, Rowena, Anita, Jakki, Geoff, Richard and Venita are in the UK. 

Sarah, Judith and Beata are in Spain.

Greg, Astri, Azizah, Stefano, Dody and Irsyad are in Indonesia.

Pascal is in Dubai.

Manar is in Kuwait.

Gonca, Gurcan and Nazan are in Turkey

Maxim, Pavel, Oksana and Natalia are in Russia.

Adela, Evija and Vanda are in Latvia.

Fourthly, and most importantly, they don’t actually need to work together to undertake their role.

So what do they have in common?

Well, they are all now part of my ‘virtual project team’ supporting LearningVoice development.   There is no requirement for them to work with each other, however, there is a need for some inter-dependency as opposed to solely independent working.  This is vital if the brand and focus is to be maintained.  Too many strands can dilute the brand and steer us ‘off message’.

So, is this is a team or simply a group of people that I have brought together under the one umbrella that is LearningVoice?  What skills must I now dust off and re-use from my managerial days?  Should I focus on leading rather than managing?  What about quality and consistency?  How do other people management skills get employed in this very different situation?

I have spent the last ten years working for myself and on my own.  Like many other sole traders, I had to adjust to this way of working.  Now, the trend is to utilise other people and NOT do it all yourself.  Seems like it is time to brush up on my own managerial skills and re-learn and re-use what I know and have taught others on management and leadership programmes, but with a twist so as to adapt to this more flexible agile way of working with ‘virtual teams’


Website:  jozefafawcett.com

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July 12, 2013


After six months of work travel around the world, I am happily sitting here in my garden in the South of England catching a few British summer rays and reflecting upon what I have done, where I have been, what I have learned and, more importantly, what am I going to do differently in the next six months.

It’s crazy how busy life and work can be and the almost impossible task of reflecting never quite seems to happen as often as it should.

When I say I am a learning specialist, this is often followed up with the question, yes, but what do you do?  Well, this is now my refined reply:

I offer those who want to use learning and training as a business improvement method, help with creating strategies, systems, processes and programmes that really make a difference, so that they can achieve more of the results that they want.


What have I done these last six months and where have I been?

I have been doing this around most of the UK (Bristol, Bath, Nottingham, Peterborough, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Manchester) and abroad to Beijing,  Jakarta,  Sydney, Kuwait,  Abu Dhabi and Barcelona – phew!  And now is time to down tools and stop for a few weeks and reflect.


What have I learned?

So much about how different business people in different cultures around the world want many of the same things.  Better opportunities to improve their own business status and position.  A chance to connect with like-minded people in other sectors.  Ways to improve the work that they, and their teams, achieve.  Tips on how to build their confidence in their various work situations.  Ideas about how to do things differently and cope with the changing economic climates.  I have also learned that no matter where I go I am starting to make a difference with some of my ideas and approaches – huge boost for my confidence after launching myself into an unknown International marketplace.


Where am I off to during the next six months?

Coming up from August to December my next few trips include: Malaysia, Moscow, Amsterdam, Armutlu (Turkey), Hong Kong, Kuwait, Moscow (again), Nairobi, Pisa and Istanbul.  I will be doing a mixture of recording my next set of audio learning CD’s for launch in the Autumn, running HRD conferences (and speaking at them too), delivering training workshops, getting involved and speaking at a massive African venture that is promoting women’s development and contributing to European Commission trans-national learning projects.  This is a really diverse mix that is sure to keep me out of trouble at least😉

I will continue to blog (instead of just Facebooking) insights and pictures with my ‘Roving Reporter’ series and share with my social media sites too as I have neglected this blog area for far too long.

For now, a bit of a relax with the family and recharging of the batteries and looking forward to the next six months with eager anticipation.





January 12, 2013

2013 on fire

This picture taken one minute into Jan 1, 2013 in Les Arcs, some 2000 metres up a French mountain, signifies the business mood I want to adopt during this coming year.  Just like the numbers burning brightly in the dark against the snow and cold of the air, during 2013, LearningVoice is going to be ‘on fire’.

With so many exciting activities already planned, alongside new opportunities, this year looks as if it is going to be the year that training, learning, knowledge, voicing and quality will feature strongly in organisations around the world as part of their re-growth plans.  To lift our fortunes up from the dying embers of a long and devastating world-wide recession, we need to have more than just a ‘can-do’ attitude, we need to raise our game, leveraging our opportunities and thoughts higher than just one level. Forget about simply setting goals and creating impossible lists of (sometimes) unattainable milestones.  Spurred on by a recently featured quote by Carl Jung “Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakens” – my mantra for this year is :

Keep it real!

Keep it focused!

Keep it going!

In order to make a real difference and affect change, we need to be ‘on-fire’ ourselves – so come on 2013, bring it on!


Website:  jozefafawcett.com

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October 7, 2012

And now for the next exciting phase of my journey…

Well,  today is my anniversary, a whole decade of working for myself – I can hardly believe it!

Time has gone so quickly and I have experienced so much in terms of the type of work that I do, my business name and my look.  It has been great to delve into archived files to look at my first attempts at ‘branding’ who I was and what I was offering back then.

My very first logo was designed when I was still working on contract at St Marks Hospital in Maidenhead, Berkshire and was produced by someone who knew all about DTP – however, it brought much mirth as my husband assured me that it looked like a burger bun😀

First POL logo (2002)

Back in the early days, I struggled with what I would call myself, settling on The POL Experience, with POL standing for Personal and Organisational Learning.  The red/white colours were also a nod towards my Polish heritage and the Polish flag.

I keep true to the ‘red’ theme, even now, albeit a little more on the orange side than before.  Back then I designed the ‘looks’ myself and as you can see from the images below, experimented with many different ideas with varying success.

Experimenting with many different looks for The POL Experience

The POL Experience logo, circa 2004

In 2005, The POL Experience became The POL Group, a sort of portal gateway to things I was experimenting with, such as:  KnowledgeWorx Research Unit (a space to explore my CPD); 4XP (a business network of local providers) and OFQT (focusing on quality management issues).

Brands within The POL Group (2005)

It was clear that I was over diversifying and the branding stuff had gone too far – time to pull back and consolidate.

It was at this point, LearningVoice (at that time a small brand within The POL Group) seemed to grow in stature.  I was working on projects for the European Commission, dabbling with voice-over work, speaking at conferences around Europe and running a wide range of training and quality management programmes.  It seemed that LearningVoice was taking over… so what to do?  Develop a new logo of course😀 and in 2007 LearningVoice became a limited company and The POL Experience and The POL Group were no more.

The first LearningVoice logo (2007)

My journey of change came just before the recession hit the UK in 2008 and, like many small businesses, I had my own rough patches along the way.  Not only was business getting tougher but I also lost two people I was ‘caring’ for, my father-in-law and my mother, both dying within 6 weeks of each other.  Work in actual fact is a great thing to focus on when times are emotionally very difficult, and though the recession was biting hard, there was never a time when I had no work at all, just much much less than before.  Not to be beaten,  I entered 2009 with a new resolve to re-establish the basics and found myself a fantastic business mentor – a dragon no less – Rachel Elnaugh.

Considering the next steps for LearningVoice

Rachel was one of the very first dragon’s on BBC TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den and, right from the start, hated the logo because she felt that it didn’t best represent me and who I was.  She started me on a path towards re-thinking the focus of the business and the way it looks.  Through her advice and guidance, I found a new lease of life for LearningVoice and even though the recession was still in full flow, began to position myself in a new and wider market place that was better for my skills and knowledge.  I even won an International Award.

Global HR Excellence Award (2009)

Since 2011, I have received excellent support from colleagues, including my good friend, Maxim Teryukhov, in Russia, who helped me to realise that to achieve the growth that I wanted, I needed to let go of things that don’t work and have a team of specialists who can ‘balance me off’. Looking back I can see how messy everything appeared, just can’t understand why it took me so long to realise it.

Fast forward to today, 7th October 2012, I am starting work on two new European Commission projects with a small team of personally chosen experts, I am delivering more training than ever before, usually bespoke rather than off-the-shelf and I am beginning to do voice-over work and developing that side of the business and running conferences around the world – to date I have appeared in nearly 30 countries on three continents!

There is a new website being developed with a look that better represents what LearningVoice has become over the last few years.  I now have a virtual team around me to take care of the areas that I shouldn’t be spending time on – these include branding, marketing,  finance, project management etc…

So my present to myself today is something that I have been eagerly waiting for these last few years, a huge bottle of POL Roger champagne in remembrance of the POL days and where all of this started.

Thank you for your continued support and here’s to the next decade of LearningVoice!

Huge thank you from Józefa

Personal website landing page:   JozefaFawcett.TV

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