The Man of The Hour, My Work With Heads Together, HSBC & Just a Touch of Magic!

Forum, Davos, Switzerland - 23 Jan 2019

I’m sure you’ve already seen a raft of mental health campaigners post videos of Prince William and then allude to their agendas in the space recently… but that’s because he’s frankly one of the heroes in our field.

Having looked on for a number of years now at Prince’s William & Harry’s work within the mental health space, it’s difficult not to be inspired by their continued mission and enthusiasm for our fight.

When you live with a bipolar disorder it’s a dark place to be, often wavering on a knife edge wondering whether you’ll fall one way or the other… or for the more optimistic, fall down the middle and be sliced in twain…

I’ve personally had the pleasure of being a part of their Heads Together Campaign work, speaking with huge businesses, who’ve support them with funding and made light of the issues still faced within many businesses today. I think the last speech I was booked in for was due to be 20 minutes and ended up at 45-50 because of the sheer volume of questions and responsiveness to what I was trying to talk to people about.

I work with many big brands as a consultant, I meet many CEO’s and board level directors with their own demon’s and with Prince William, once again shedding further light on the issues surrounding our UK businesses, I feel a renewed hope that perhaps something fundamental is ‘really’ changing for the future.

In the last 3 years, personally reaching over 1million people now with my writing across the blog, various articles, publications, key note’s and beyond, I can see that people are so desperate for an outlet.

I’m a bit of a black sheep in some arenas of the mental health space, some are concerned I might be over candid in a speech, some feel that I shouldn’t shed light of what big brands issues are, but fundamentally if we keep telling it how it is then we’re more likely to see the real change, not just the superficial.

I often mention that the financial industry were the first to react on mental health, because they were the first to draw the parallel between happy staff and revenue dips, but frankly, they’re now much further ahead of the curve than most other industries and because they built the foundations early on, they have more opportunity to change on a wider level now…

HSBC are a casing point, they’re innovators, they’re probably the primary guiding light among UK businesses in my opinion. Yes, they know the bottom line’s effected if your staff aren’t happy, but the sheer amount of variation and diversity in their approach to an ‘all out onslaught’ on mental health is probably the most commendable I’ve seen in the years I’ve spent campaigning for change.

What HSBC have done that’s different to others is not just stop at sharing a few stories, they’ve gone to war with the whole concept of mental help, seemingly in every channel available to them and any business who’s not trying to match their model seriously needs to sit up and take note.

They’ve invested in their internal staff, spending millions on the evolution of thinking, and not just with a bit of mental health first aid, but with the most innovative consultants and creatives in our field. They’ve run workshops, internal support networks have been developed and still further their CEO John Flint, among other inspirational Directors like Brian Heyworth and Andrew J Rogers have come forward (with gusto might I add) to share their stories in an industry that’s always been inherently against any form of diversity historically.

10 years ago John, Brian and Andrew would never have worked again… just think on that for a moment…

10 years ago, they’d have been ostracised for any waver in their stride. But not today… not today!

So if you’re a CEO or Director with the fundamental clout to make a change… get up and do it… you only have to connect with one individual to save a life that you didn’t even know was at risk…

As a country we are changing in the UK, we’re beginning to evolve… sure the capitalist mentality is still crippling us slightly, but the irony is that the change in mental health issues, that mostly stem from the grind the average human had to go through to live, will be the stake that drives the devil home in time.

There’s not time for arrogance, there’s limited time for hierarchy and the more ‘the madmen’ like myself and others put a dent in the stigma the more open we’ll become as a society.

Now for some magic…

magic-time-002One of the biggest issues I face every is the want to mean something to the world… it’s every man’s vanity I suspect that we have to make a point, there has to be a record of our achievements… but I don’t have any bifocals, or paper clips in my creative lock box, so I’m taking a different tack.

I originally started training as an actor, unfortunately the school I attended threw me out off the back of my mental health issues and some time off due to extreme anxiety related migraines (superficial f**kers!), but today I suspect that’s why my high energy key note speeches, that cut through any concept of the PC are widely being requested, in fact, I’m presenting as their mental health lead at every one of the IoD’s diversity conferences across the UK this year… so what the BBC are missing out on, the leaders of industry will not.

Anyway, the concept of what am I doing day to day continually burdens me, I try to affect change wherever I go, but I’m often unhappy in where I find myself, so for 2019 I decided to shake things up!

About a year ago I saw a company called the Abracademy present at a forum called Minds@Work, which was set up by a friend of mind Geoff McDonald, probably the pre-eminent light in our mental health space.

Geoff originally saw my blog come at him, via multiple VP’s at Unilever who’d read it as individuals and he invited me to London around the point of Mind@Work’s inception & evolution very early into 2016. Safe to say, I’d attended a lot of the events, from the days of 20-30 people in an empty office talking about creating the ‘Jamie’s School Dinners’ of mental health.

The collective, now some 1500+ people from across the UK and Europe has continually filled me with inspiration and has allowed me to address my own issues, through seeing others express theirs; in turn I’ve spoken at many of their events and at events through that network… but little did I know that last year, some magic just might change my life forever…

It’s not worth me trying to inspire in telling you what I saw that day, but the concept of the Abracademy is not something that I’ve ever seen in our field.

The team essentially work with businesses to change their mindset, their thought process, their creative nature and envelope them in a different way of thinking that means staff become symbiotic with one another regardless of race, gender or job title… and it’s all done while harnessing the medium of Magic!

You see, Magic inspires, us, it sets us free… you don’t have to believe it’s real right now, that’s ok… But, when you see something unbelievable there’s that small child inside you that wakes up… the child that wanted to be an astronaut, a rock star, an actor and beyond; and it’s that child that will free you of the hurt that’s been drowning you, so let them out!!

This isn’t some wanky ‘clap trap’ from a personal improvement specialist, this is just me, a bloke with issues, telling you that he guarantee’s your freedom if you simply let go… believe in the child you were and don’t be burdened by what ‘they’ the other folk in society, the ‘dementors’ want you to be…

And so this year I make a change… I’ve streamlined my other work and my focus is on becoming part of this magical world, on developing my magical edge and evolving that alongside my work in mental health, to support the Abracademy in their quest of wonderment… the Commercial Conjurer if you will, I’ll support them in growth, I’ll invest my time in learning as much as I can, about as much as I can and when I wake up on the 1st January 2020, I will know that when I do, it’s to go out an bring magic to others.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that perhaps the cure for the dark within us all, is just to free the child within and allow them to guide you to their happy, you just might find it sticks…



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