Just the right amount of hope


Looking out to the future – sculpture on the Malecon, La Paz, BCS Photo: HH

Last week – on my final day of full time work actually – I happened to catch the end of a Radio 4 programme entitled “The Art of Now”.  This episode was actually about the art produced by detainees in Guantanamo Bay whilst in detention.

Artist Mansoor Adayfi concluded – “We live in hope actually:  too much hope it has an effect, because if you hope too much you’ll be devastated, you’ll get depressed.  No hope at all, people end up taking their lives.  So that’s what kept us going there.

These thoughts – in a less extreme form –  also struck me as being entirely pertinent to my setting out on a new business venture.

Hearing that quote also reminded me that inspiration is all around:  I went for a drink to celebrate my last day at work.  Our waitress (Janae) asked if we were celebrating something.  As I explained I also mentioned the danger of too much hope.  “Oh I see,” she replied, nailing the thing in just one sentence, “what you need is optimism and realism”.

It would be very easy for me to be wildly optimistic about the new business:  to have giddy daydreams of fame and fortune just dropping in my lap.   “This is going to be great – my income will double, all I need is a website and Twitter feed!”  Such thoughts are bound to disappoint in the long run – they are not grounded in reality.

On the flip side, fear can creep in:  “Who really makes a living doing this?  Surely I’d be better off finding another job.  I know this offer isn’t really paying properly but I’ll do it rather than do nothing.” And fear leads to poor decisions and actions caused by panic.

It strikes me that what is required to set about a new venture (business, hobby, sporting challenge, academic exercise) is *just the right amount* of hope:  that people make their own luck, that hard work and preparation are key to success and that there will be setbacks and failure. Optimism breeds hardiness, the ability to, as Jerome Kern song goes, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.”

So, it is with these twin thoughts that, like the old man in sculpture on the Malecon, I set out on my paper boat “made of a page where I wrote my dreams“.



Moving on from Birmingham Hippodrome

This post is the announcement from Birmingham Hippodrome – to find out what’s next click here and to book the In Conversation With event click here.


New horizons – photo credit: Helga Henry

This is a recent announcement from Birmingham Hippodrome – where I’ve been working both as a consultant and then as Director of Organisational Development since 2011.

“Helga Henry has been Director of Organisational Development at Birmingham Hippodrome since 2016. Her role was created to support the cultural and organisational change called for by the Hippodrome’s new strategic plan. Her work focused on our people (Board, staff, interns and apprentices, volunteers and placements) and specifically new systems and procedures, training, development and internal communications.

Externally, she created and delivered a talent development programme (ASTONish) in Aston and Newtown, and represented the theatre at speaking and hosting engagements nationally.

At this point in the implementation of our strategic plan, the requirement is for an operational – rather than transformational – people function. The role of Director of Organisational Development will therefore cease to exist from 1 April 2018. Helga will be leaving her full-time post at Birmingham Hippodrome on 31 March, although she will continue to support us as a consultant throughout 2018.

Helga plans to launch a leadership and communication consultancy, and this will include promoting approaches from her book “NetworkAbility – Building Your Business One Relationship At A Time”. Helga will also continue her work in the creative industries as the new Chair of the Creative Advantage Fund – the UK’s first specialist VC fund for the creative industries – and as a board member of the Totally Thames Festival.

We look forward to working with Helga as a consultant and wish her every success in her new venture.”

My new consultancy – Helga Henry Ltd – will launch in May 2018.

Welcome! Plus an invitation to the launch of “In conversation with…”

Welcome to my new website and online presence.  Click here to book your place on the inaugural In Conversation with Anthony McCourt event.

Please take a look around – I am aiming to develop this site over time to respond to issues of interest in the field of communication, confidence and leadership.  If there’s anything you would like to see on this website, any topic you think I should write about or if there’s any other information you need, please contact me.

Helga Henry “In conversation with…” inaugural event

Those of you who know me, know that I am keen to encourage more of a “salon culture” in Birmingham.  And so I’ve created a quarterly event that aims to create a space for considered conversation and insight.  I’ll be interviewing people from the world of business, culture, policy and government – and we’ll be in conversation about a specific theme or question of importance.  Rather than the soundbites you get in a panel discussion,  we’ll converse:  teasing out a topic in more depth.  The aim is that the conversation will leave all of us in the room challenged, enlightened and energised.

I’m completely delighted that my first conversation will be with property wunderkind Anthony McCourt of Court Collaboration.

CEO and Founder of Court Collaboration and its group companies, Anthony has an extensive track record in complex real estate development and investment transactions, working directly with investment partners.  In 2008, Anthony joined the company behind the £100 million ‘The Cube’ development in Birmingham City Centre, which he led out of administration on behalf of Lloyds Banking Group and through to completion in 2010.  Anthony started Court Collaboration in 2010 where he is responsible for the company’s growth, vision and ultimate strategic development. Anthony spends much of his time in Asia visiting current and new clients and is proud of the inward investment record Court has into both the UK and Birmingham.

We’ll be talking about Birmingham and its development, particularly the recent .  If, as Court Collaboration’s website claims “Property isn’t about bricks and mortar, it’s about people”, who owns Birmingham now?  What does the growing infrastructure of our city mean for the people who live here?  For the people who are enticed to move here?  And for the communities that feel left behind?

Helga Henry “In conversation with…Anthony McCourt” is on Thursday 21st June from 6pm – 8pm at 1000 Trades Bar, Frederick Street, Birmingham,  B1 3HE, in the upstairs room.

Admission is free (there’s a pay bar) but spaces are limited so please register your place here.  To paraphrase the musical Hamilton – “You’ll want to be in the room where it happens“.  I look forward to welcoming you to this new initiative.

Thanks for stopping by!