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The Art of Knowing When to Go


So another mid term break has come to a close, it all seems to be flying in so fast, no doubt helped by the fact that the shops have been pushing Christmas decorations since the end of September. I foolishly went into Pennys a couple of weeks ago to buy Halloween decorations and left with Christmas decorations in my hands instead ( a lovely Late Late Toy Show blankie thank you for asking). The place had been completely cleared out of Halloween and the freshly arrived Christmas decorations were being picked over by those annoying people who always snag the best stuff and are only thrilled when you ask them where they got it from (Pennys, hun).
And with Christmas comes pressure. And most of that pressure lands on women. To produce the idyllic Christmas day, to have cherubic children wrapped up in matching pyjama sets (and now course a Late Late Toy Show blankie as well). Most of us are smart enough to know it is completely ridiculous and far from it we were reared but still it takes a better woman than me not to be sucked in. For most of us we are also working (hello quarter end), trying to see all the relations, lose a stone for the big day and have an Insta fabulous table setting. Our rational minds know that is impossible but still the gnawing feeling of not ever having done enough is nearly always present.
But sometimes a trend comes along that is so completely nonsensical in its own right that it sort of snaps you out of your stupor and make you sit up and think “you must be fecking kidding me”. This trend has been bubbling along for the last couple of years and it is of course the complete nonsense that is foraging for Christmas decorations. I am not talking about picking blackberries on a summer day but rather the completely insane idea that a grown working woman will not have an ideal Insta fabulous Christmas without heading down to her local verge and cutting out branches and twigs. Now obviously if you are super crafty and have been doing this for years then knock yourself out. I am more speaking to how the bar for perfection is always getting higher. The expectations and pressures society puts on ourselves are beyond the point of what is possible. We talk a lot about expectations and values in our Female Leadership course and how to manage them. Sometimes it helps just to articulate what those expectations are and sometimes even just saying them outloud makes you realise how completely unrealistic they are (which brings us back to forgaing).
Talking of all that is possible/ impossible, I attended the Tangent, Trinity’s Ideas Workspace Generative AI workshop last week. It was very well organised and pitched perfectly. There were a few gob smacking moments I thought I would share here:
Microsoft have spent $10 Billion Dollars on the exclusive license of Open AI
60% of Microsoft code is currently written by AI
Less then 10% of companies are using AI at scale
The number one barrier for AI Adoption is Cultural Resistance
All very interesting stuff and lots of food for thought. Expect to see more from us in this space.
Till next time,



I pre ordered Adam Grant’s new book “Hidden Potential” ages ago and promptly forgot about it until it appeared on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago. Am only half way through but not really loving it so far, can’t say there is anything massively new or insighful in the book? I could be wrong and I know Adam Grant is a huge deal, I saw him being interviewed on Oprah (Oprah!!) recently but so far it is nothing I haven’t heard before? What does everyone else think?


It’s football season! The Beckhams, Wagatha Christie all totally enjoyable & completely voyeuristic. It is an insight into how the press works, how incredibly misogynistic the press coverage was/is but also how lots of money and time can make you look pretty fantastic at any age.


This Diary of a CEO episode was recommended to me, it is an interview with Scott Galloway. I don’t agree with all of it and I certainly didn’t appreciate the language sometimes but it made interesting listening and I did think there were some good points in there. Always good to listen and read outside your echo chamber anyway which is something we recommend in our Unconscious Bias training. Easy to say, harder to do!

So, LinkedIn and numerous news outlets have been all over Jacinda Arden’s “shock resignation”. The BBC was first out of the gate with a very click baity “Can women really have it all article?”. Absolute nonsense of course (and am a little disappointed with the BBC for stooping to such obvious click bait methods).
In my books, Jacinda is a very wise women. How refreshing to see a leader who realises that they no longer have the energy or ideas for the task ahead? How much better would we all be if people knew when their time was up? Obviously this speaks to politicians but also anyone who leads a team or even sits on a local committee. Most people don’t have the self awareness to know when to go and so struggle on taking it out on those around them while they descend into cynicism and “We’ve tried that before and it didn’t work” behaviour.
It is also a reminder that politicians are just human, they get tired and a little burnout like the rest of us. As I mentioned in last weeks newsletter the last few years have been exhausting for all of us and most of us weren’t guiding a country though Covid.
It is also a reminder that womens careers can be more like jungle gyms then ladders (We talk about this in our Female Leadership courses). Jacinda has up until now had a straight line to success. Her career has been meteoric. And now it looks as if she is going to spend some time concentrating on other areas of her life. And she may be do that for a year or even ten years but I have no doubt we will hear of her again. She will come back refreshed and revitalised with a greater depth of ideas and knowledge then if she had clung to power, stayed doing the same job, meeting the same people, all the time getting a little bit more burnout and cynical.
We spend a lot of time talking about how to get a job. But it makes me think maybe we should also talk about how to know when it is time to leave? What are the signs? In my experience it can sometimes be financials, a perceived loss of lifestyle or status which keep people in a high powered- jobs. Those can be valid concerns. But it is when peoples own sense of identity is locked into their job that things get tricky. If who you are is “world leader” or “high flying tech executive” then the loss of an election or a job is going to hit you particularly hard. It will wipe out not just your job or your livelihood but who you thought you were. If you are someone who defines yourself as a son, a father, a GAA coach, an ardent Liverpool fan then the removal of a role in one area of your life doesn’t necessarily seep into the others. It doesn’t define who you are and so makes things easier.
The stories we tell ourselves about who we are so important. And we are always more then our job title.
Till next week,
What we are Reading
Lost Connections, the Real Causes of Depression by Johann Hari.
I am a huge fan of “Stolen Focus”, Hari’s book on why we all find it so hard to pay attention so when Melissa Curley, one of our lead trainers, offered me a copy of his other book “Lost Connections” I was intrigued. This was a very
thought provoking read, am sure it is quite controversial, particularly when it
discusses medications. There were however themes about the importance of
being involved in something bigger than yourself, and the value of belonging in
a community greater than the nuclear family which really resonated with me

Also a really interesting article from Yuan Yang in the Financial Times on the “quiet quitting” being undertaken by Chinese women in their own homes and how the all male politburo is unlikely to figure out a solution any time soon.

What we are Listening To
Excellent podcast featuring Michael O’Leary speaking with Nicolai Tangen In Good Company. First spotted this recommendation on the Renatus newsletter. I know we all love to give out about Ryanair but O’Leary’s energy and optimism came shining through and it made for a very refreshing listen.Was also very impressed he ‘let his kids own a playstation! And fair play to him he was selling to Nicolai right to the very end..

What we are Watching
The Marvellous Mrs Maisel.
Her energy, humour and ambition are getting us through the dark dog days of January.

Caitriona Hughes


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