Why Afia and why be more human?
Have you ever felt like you were in the wrong job?
I’ve seen inside tiny family businesses and global corporates. I’ve worked from the factory floor to the boardroom, wired car stereos and excavated medieval cesspits. But in my early career I felt like a failure. Maybe I was a square peg in a round hole – but what frustrated me was that I had all this energy, I just couldn’t understand why it didn’t seem to be working for me.
Some of those businesses felt less than human, as did some of the people running them. And I realised that no matter how good we are, our environment can completely demoralise or be the making of us. I’ve also seen how everything that happens inside a business affects customers.
Then Boots took me on to transform how they use language to connect with people. At last, I’d found somewhere that made the most of my strengths. I learnt about the subtle power language has to connect culture, brand and communications. I saw what happens when you don’t take a position, and so have nothing real to say. And what happens when you lack the confidence to say what needs to be said.
I made good friends, began to thrive and grow with the work. And then, with our first baby on the way and a deposit on a bigger house… Boots started a huge redundancy programme. Having explored what I was best at, made me realise that to wholeheartedly be myself, it was time to start my own business.
So in 2004 I launched Afia. To help people find confidence in their strengths, to grow and flourish by starting with what’s already working. I started out as a copywriter specialising in brand tone of voice (having never actually worked as a copywriter). I wanted to prove that you could deliver world-class consultancy to some of the world’s biggest brands, from home.
It worked, and I was soon asked to apply written and spoken tone to voice in call centres, and then to create training for thousands of people. Companies like Vodafone, Allianz and Google have since asked me to help them get in touch with their heartbeat and change the way they speak, think and feel about themselves.
A sucker for personal growth, I’ve taken the CIM postgraduate diploma in marketing, trained in sales, negotiation skills and in pricing strategy. I’ve trained as a coach and as a facilitator, in Appreciative Inquiry and had years of my own coaching that’s helped me understand what kind of human I am and what I have to offer.
It means that I’ve developed a very personal approach to consultancy. I thrive when I’m facilitating large rooms of people, helping people explore what’s already working and then envision new, exciting futures.
I’ve had fun training teams from Denver to Delhi, spoken to audiences from Atlanta to Berlin. And I coach teams in corporates and individuals inventing start-ups. Now I’m exploring artificial intelligence (AI) and how it’s changing our world. I’m digging into how Alexa and Siri will change how we communicate and connect with services, brands and each other. And I’ve partnered with an AI software company helping huge teams write better and make their customers happier. More than anything, I enjoy meeting people with interesting perspectives. Let’s talk.
With a few of our associates…