East Midlands Only Star Code Club & Regional Champion

Anybody that knows me will know I am involved in many areas of technology and education, be it on various boards or as ambassador and advisor to companies and charity’s in these areas.

Back in 2014 after getting to meet and talk to various people about Code Club – I decided it was time to bring a louder voice to the East Midlands with Code Club. As one of the few clubs that would be run by a business owner I knew I could give my Code Club a different direction than most. After numerous discussions with various venues – Derby City Council had the Central Library on offer to host Derby Code Club.

Roll on some two years or so later and after being a very vocal advocate of Code Club, training others, growing the club locally and ensuring that as many youngsters got into coding as I could – my club was awarded the Star Code Club status, the only club in the East Midlands at this time to have the star club status. Not only that but I was named the East Midlands Code Club Champion.

Working alongside Derby council and the Derby central library to teach children aged 9 – 11 to write code, produce games, animations and projects using the MIT project Scratch is nothing short of fun, inspiring and entertaining for all involved. Following on from a very successful 2014 & 2015, the Derby CodeClub run every Saturday morning in Derby central library has been a great opportunity for young children with a passion for computers and learning how they work to come along and spend the morning creating games, using their imagination and figuring out how to piece blocks of code together to create truly unique pieces of work.

In an article last year for the Derby Telegraph Alison Martin, the city council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, said: “It is very important that our children acquire good computer skills as early as possible. Our code clubs will engage children in fun digital activity outside of school, and so contribute towards their overall learning.”

The official Code Club web site offers up the best description of their mission:

“Code Club is a nationwide network of free volunteer-led after-school coding clubs for children aged 9-11.

We create projects for our volunteers to teach at after school coding clubs or at non-school venues such as libraries. The projects we make teach children how to program by showing them how to make computer games, animations and websites. Our volunteers go to their local club for an hour a week and teach one project a week.

Each term the students will progress and learn more whilst at the same time using their imaginations and making creative projects. Terms 1 & 2 use Scratch to teach the basics of programming. Term 3 teaches the basics of web development using HTML and CSS. Term 4 teaches Python and so on.”

With an ever growing waiting list of children wanting to attend Derbys local CodeClub, its important that more people get involved with the local community to help develop the skill sets and interests of young children with a passion for IT being the Derby truly is the city of innovation.

You can find more information and request updates on Code Club Derby by following this link to the official Code Club web site. Also worth reading the 2014 year in review blog post to see how the organisation is growing across the country herbal weight loss supplements.

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Selling your time for pennies

On the internet, they like you should spit it
I’m like you should buy it, n**a that’s good business
 – Jay Z

Hourly, salary or shareholder getting paid dividends in a business – it matters not how you get paid but the fact that you do. You are no matter how you look at it – selling your time for pennies (some more than others).

That doesn’t bother me so much, rather its when we swing the pendulum too far the other way that we need to adjust our focus. When folk won’t go past 5:01pm to do their job, or perhaps worse still take take take and don’t give back – namely to those who would most benefit from that time.

time-is-money

Ditching agency life earlier this year where I committed a good 70-90hrs a week of my life for ten years – means that now I do have more time to give back.

That said anyone that knows me will know that even at the busy agency times I was still able to give back with being active on Derby Councils Enterprise 4 Education board, mentoring a number of fantastic secondary school pupils through STEM, mentoring & supporting students at Derby University (such as DrivenMedia), developing training academies and the list of boards and charities goes on.

I rarely promote the majority of entities I am involved with but after a thrilling conversation today which lead me to feel more comfortable with being as active as I am in so many fantastic ventures – I feel like I may just shout a little more from time to time about the companies and individuals I work with.

For we all sell time for money in one way or another – wouldn’t it just be great if perhaps a few more of us left money on the table to give a little more back. I’m not perfect by any means – but putting an hour to one side now and then to sit down and help others is the bare minimum I can accept from myself.

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3 Things I have learnt from mentoring entrepreneurial students

Over the years I have mentored numerous students who have the dream of running their own businesses or becoming entrepreneurs in their own right good weight loss supplements. It would come as no surprise that there are things to be learnt from both sides of the table. As I have helped with marketing, technology and general business advice – I too have picked up on a few things from the students I have mentored and wanted to share with you here 3 things I think to be of interest I have learnt.

Variety of drive

What one person desires and is willing to put into achieving their goals isn’t nearly as much as the next might be willing to do. This can cause some controversy over the word entrepreneur which is being thrown around to anyone who has a web site and an idea to play on, but the real fact is where one person maybe entrepreneurial in the sense of willing to give it all up for greatness – there is (rightly so) those who are only willing to go so deep in the rabbit whole and who still may be entrepreneurial.

A variety of both how far one person is willing to commit vs others – neither is bad – but in a world where people boast of their 20hr days and 4hrs of sleep a night – it is hard not to follow the convention. Those putting in a solid 10hr day may just well outwork their tired caffeine infused counterparts.

Understanding your passion, your drive, your ‘why’ – is crucial. Are you happy to be putting in 8-10hrs a day? Can you commit 14hrs+ a day? What are you willing to put in? There is no right or wrong answer.

Its the latest craze

For a lot of students I speak to often ‘entrepreneur’ has become that ‘cool’ job title or term to use. What was once a label for ‘unemployed’ or ‘still trying to figure it out’ has become a buzz word for many. Since Zucks put on a hoodie and made a few billion and the likes of Dragons Den put ‘entrepreneurship’ in the spot light it has become the one word bio for many.

Not everyone with a web site is an entrepreneur in the same way that not everyone that buys the Ralph Lauren shirt is a model. Its a term that many people are applying to themselves and others incorrectly and is detracting from what the real purpose is.

Far too often I’ve asked the question ‘what do you want to do in business’ and the answer comes in the shape of ‘an entrepreneur’… there is something inherently wrong with that answer in my opinion.

That age/race/background still matters

Its a sad thing to say particularly as we have so many young talented entrepreneurs doing so well, that people will still undoubtably ‘judge’ someone based on their looks, race, ethnicity and even age.

The human race has a tendency to judge people far too quickly – we are all guilty of this to some degree. Having mentored a number of students of different ages, backgrounds and seen first hand how they are dismissed or not taken seriously because of these facts.

I recall being 21 years old and meeting a potential client at an event who would later become not only an influential figure in my development over the years but a great client to work with for several years. Being young, smart and good at explaining who I was and what benefit I could bring to their business, I thought I had it in the bag – only to be largely ignored because of my age. Once my name kept floating around this person decided to bring me in to consult on some projects and after a very short time I was told the reason for the quick dismissal in our initial meeting.

“When I look at 21 yr olds – they have all the talk and none of the action – you proved me wrong” the client said. The fact that we can look at someone and immediately make a snap decision we don’t want to work with that person because of age or cultural background is astonishing.

This particular client grew to be someone I considered a mentor myself and a great businessman – perseverance keeps you going. If you are 18 to 25 (or even older) and regularly get knock backs, or if you are finding it difficult to get those meetings or be taken seriously – KEEP PUSHING.

Patience is GREATLY underrated. You need to be patient.

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Culture matters – but so does IQ

It is easy to understand that agency life and the technology world has been largely influenced by those great American firms such as Google, Twitter, Facebook and many other Silicon Valley giants.

So it is not uncommon to walk into startups or agencies that have the fridge stacked with fizzy drinks, the football or pool table, the best of tech, huge multi monitor setups, bean bags and all the other crazy antics that go along with such a young, vibrant and energetic environment such  as the agency I ran for the last ten years had.

The problem is building a fantastic culture will only ever take you so far – you still need to hire the best people possible for the team. Recruitment has forever been one of the most difficult aspects of growing a business.

At my previous company iBox which I ran for 10 years we hired some of the best and brightest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and couldn’t have been more proud of each team member and their empathy, intelligence and drive.

This is not something that is straight forward to find – along side building a team that creates and maintains a culture you want to exist in your company, the fact that each member of the team has to be at the top of their game every day can only exist in an environment where they work well together and operate under a single vision.

You can teach culture, it can be instilled into your new recruits by your existing team – scale the vision. But a good team member needs to have IQ (and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence" target="_blank" data-cke-saved-href="https://en click this link here now.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence”>EQ) enough so that they can make those sales calls you need, build that beautiful web page or put together the incredibly detailed marketing plan but also integrate within the organisation beyond their basic job description.

A team member that goes above and beyond those ten bullet points set out in their job description is someone that doesn’t need telling on a daily basis how much value they bring to their organisation but realises that they are making a difference every day. A problem solver vs a problem stater makes an enormous difference to an organisation.

iBox had an incredible collective of highly intelligent people and I’m happy to see each one in a role they can continue to develop in going forward.

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Becoming a UN Peacekeeper – Alex Webber

I met Alex some weeks ago at the University of Derby and Flint Bishop hosted event – “Network of Entrepreneurs (NoE)”, something I have been involved with since the first event in November 2014.

During the event Alex gave a very heartfelt speech about why his goal was to become a UN peacekeeper and how he intends on going about achieving it. Having spent a lot of time meeting with Alex, and numerous emails discussing this, it is very clear that there is very little standing in the way of Alex and his goal.

Alex, who turns 25 this month, aims to become a UN Peacekeeper knowing that this is no quick process – in fact, it could take him some time. Currently, Alex works as a mentor with the University of Derby and recently sought support from Flint Bishop’s new initiative “Inspire and Ignite” (http://www.flintbishop.co.uk/solicitors-and-lawyers-derby/inspire-ignite/).

If you ask Alex why it all started – he doesn’t really know, but he can explain why….

“This all started around three years ago when I made the very sudden shift in career change. I was at the time still working on a Princes Trust backed business that was in a ‘prototype’ mode after the second year, which I was looking at leaving as a side project after so long trying to get it going.

I didn’t have a ‘Eureka’ moment unfortunately, that one moment when it all became clear.

It was over the several years that I have been watching the scenes we see in the Middle East and now also Europe ,of international politics and terrorism movements clashing more so than ever. I took an interest in the news headlines from day one and after seeing this day in, day out I began to wonder if I could be involved in any way.

At first I considered simply working with a charity and doing something on a smaller scale, but very quickly it dawned on me that it wasn’t just a passing interest. After seeing a report into Peacekeepers, particularly their civilian numbers, I became fascinated and knew I wanted/needed to be involved.”

Alex is  currently fundraising for an internship in the USA and will ultimately need financial aid to reach his goal.

Alex comments on his fundraising goals:

“Fundraising wasn’t something I ever intended to do in regard to my career ambitions. Having seen the opportunity before me, I simply can’t ignore the chance to find myself at the heart of a Humanitarian operation and unfortunately I simply cannot manage that on my own. The skills, knowledge and networking involved is invaluable to someone in my position. The internship itself, a position within the UN Peacekeepers base in New York, will allow me to survey the other side of working in Humanitarian roles and gain a greater understanding of the paper side of such an operation.

It’s something that not all Peacekeepers, in fact very few, are be able to see first-hand. In doing so, I am able to create connections with a large number of crucial contacts in my field, as well as plan towards moving up within the Peacekeeping and UN system itself. My ambitions don’t stop at working as, or alongside, the Peacekeepers. I fully intend to progress through either the UN system, or another in my work in Humanitarianism. I’m already reading heavily on the use of drone or UAV technology in the NPO sector and the developments within the industry, that we’ll see over the next ten years. The scope for potential involvement that I’ll have with the help of this one internship, and what will come from it with the associated skills, will be massive.

This internship will be the first step on my way into, a hopefully very long and involved career and is the single best step to allow me to pursue it. I fully intend to be working in the field within the next five years within Africa, the Middle East and Asia, helping me in my efforts isn’t a ploy to save me money, it’s verifiable support in helping me to obtain skills, information and abilities that will eventually help to manage to refugee and overall humanitarian supply lines of the future. I’m grateful for any and all support. I sincerely thank you if you’re able and willing to do so, I hope to be able to repay the efforts of others one day myself.”

If you would like to get in touch with Alex you can find him on Linkedin here (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/alex-webber-6bb0ab40) or via email awebber68@yahoo.com

But most importantly the Justgiving page: https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/alexander-webber

Every little donation would help Alex achieve his dream of becoming a UN Peacekeeper.

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