Sharing tools and inspirations

Sharing tools and inspirations

Diamond mining for beginners.

On discovering my story, people often seek to understand what and who inspired me, and what drove my desire to achieve. They wonder if I have the keys to unlock the secrets of success.

In reality we all hold a number of keys to the many definitions of success that there are. It’s only by sharing them that we help others find their own keys.

In the coming months, I will share stories, tools, techniques and insights I discovered on my journey, in the hope that they will unlock something for you or someone you know. I positively encourage you to do the same.

Please share your stories, tools, techniques and insights in the comments below, who knows, it might inspire us to make a featured blog post about it!

When I was around 16, I stumbled upon Earl Nightingale. I saw a flyer for an audio book series, and sent off for the ‘free’ trial. When I received my first recording, I was absolutely hooked. Not only did this guy’s voice sound like a worldly wise grandad giving me great advice, his story telling was so effective, I immediately felt compelled to act on his words.

I have chosen one of his stories to share with you. It’s one of my favourites, because it is applicable to so many situations, and it continues to help and inspire me 28 years after first discovering it.

The story is attributed as inspiration for countless people’s success and is told by hundreds of people all over the world. Temple University in Philadelphia exists because this story inspired its founder. Even though it’s been adapted many times, it is based on a true, and quite incredible real life story. Its timeless wisdom is as thought provoking and relevant now as it was when first told in the 1800’s.

Acres of Diamonds

A farmer who lived in Africa became tremendously excited when a visitor told him about Diamonds being discovered in abundance in fields on the African continent. The farmer, consumed by the idea he could find millions of dollars’ worth of diamonds, sold his farm to head out to the diamond mines.

He wandered all over the continent constantly searching for diamonds and the inevitable wealth which would follow, which he never found. Eventually he went completely broke and threw himself into a river and drowned.

Meanwhile, the new owner of his farm found an ugly and unusual looking rock the size of an egg and put it on his mantle as a curiosity. A visitor saw the rock, and almost had heart failure there and then! He told the new owner of the farm that the funny looking rock on his mantle was probably the biggest diamond that had ever been found. The new owner of the farm said, “Heck, the whole farm is covered with them” – and sure enough it was.

The farm is now known as the Kimberly Diamond Mine, with the Orange River running right through it… the richest mine the world has ever known. The original farmer was literally standing on “Acres of Diamonds” until he sold his farm.

Modern day kimberly

Modern day kimberly

If only he started his quest by first understanding what Diamonds looked like in their rough state. If only he had a good look in his own back yard before looking elsewhere.

Each of us in this very moment are standing in our very own acres of diamonds. All we need is the wisdom and patience to intelligently and effectively explore both ourselves and the life we are currently living.

10 Questions to Mine Your Own Diamonds

What I love about Earl Nightingale, is that he not only provides the inspiration through great story telling, he helps us find our own way by giving us a great context and then asking some pertinent questions.

Albert Einstein

Albert Einstein

Here is Earl’s guidance on Diamond Mining:

To prospect your own acres of diamonds and unearth the opportunities that exist in your life right now, regularly challenge yourself with some key questions:

1) How good am I at what I’m presently doing?

2) Can I call myself a first-class professional at my work?

3) How would my work stand up against the work of others in my field?

4) Do I know all I can about my industry or profession?

5) How can the customer be given a better break?

6) How can I increase my service?

7) There are rare and very marketable diamonds lurking all around me. Have I been looking for them? Have I examined every facet of my work and of the industry or profession in which it has its life?

8) There are better ways to do what I’m presently doing. What are they?

9) How will my work be performed 20 years from now?

10) Everything in the world is in a state of evolution and improvement.

How can I do now what will eventually be done anyway? Now, I have reduced the story and Earl’s wisdom into a blog sized retelling. If you can find 10 minutes, I’ve found what I think maybe from the original 10 minute ‘free audio book’ taster I heard all those years ago. Click Here. It looks and sounds old and cheesy, but the wisdom is relevant and insightful. If you are interested in the Acres of Diamonds story, the audiobook is 1 hour and 17 minutes, it’s online here. As with a lot of the old teachings, there are often out-dated turns of phrase and religious references – I just tune out of them, as the lessons are far more valuable than the sometimes frustrating idiosyncrasies of a bygone age.

About Pennie Raven

Pennie is a UK Business and Social Entrepreneur, currently living in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Originally from Essex, she

Pennie raven

Pennie raven

grew up on a notorious council estate with high unemployment and above average levels of poverty and crime. By the age of 15 she was homeless, fending for herself, yet went on to enjoy a successful blue chip career in HR and Change Management. By 25 she was an influential voice in the boardroom, and was a director by age 29. She discovered her inner entrepreneur founding the hugely successful Direct Human Resources Group, which then became a casualty of the global recession. She has since founded HR Guardian Angels, helping countless entrepreneurs with their own ventures. She Co-runs Pecha Kucha Sheffield, and recently founded Sheffield Soup, a real life crowd funding event for Sheffield people and their ideas. Pennie has broad interests, enjoying science and technology, arts and culture. She is fascinated by neuroscience and biotechnology.


Websites / Twitter / Facebook: @SheffSOUP Facebook/SheffieldSoup @PKNSheff Facebook/PechaKuchaSheffield @hrguardianangel Facebook/HRGuardianAngels @pennieraven Facebook/JobsInSheffield

Contact Pennie for:

HR Support, Headhunting, Leadership and Management Development, and Business Growth Consulting.

Events coming soon:

Sheffield Soup Launch Party on 29th July

Pecha Kucha Sheffield Volume 19 – The Artisan Rises on 16th July

Gratitude: A New Hope …

Gratitude’s something I’ve worked at for a long time, I’ve failed regularly. That’s the truth. Time was an issue. A bad excuse. Knowledge was a barrier. Even worse right? Finally, maintaining the habit of taking the time to be grateful for my life turned the practice into something that started to feel like a total ‘burden’. Yet another thing to squeeze into my already jam packed days. #EPICFAIL

Then I learned that there are ways around all these poor excuses. And they are poor. I finally stopped mentally investing into my deficits and started investing my time into answers. As usual the answer involved learning something new.

My plan is to wipe out all these excuses for you and make a daily gratitude practice something that’s easy and enjoyable for you to do. Something you can do on a daily basis and in such an easy way you’ll enjoy and feel good about doing it. Better yet, you’ll be able to see/track how often you’re doing it, effortlessly, using the principle of visual feedback almost like your score on an Xbox game to motivate you to keep going. How bad ass is that? Apps are so COOL.

We’re going to turn the practice of gratitude into a game. We are going to gamify gratitude. You’re going to ‘play your way’ to successfully incorporating the practice of gratitude in your life to continually enhance it on a daily basis. It’s cumulative. The more you do it, the more it does you. There are so many ways to the top of this mountain so let’s start climbing and discover what works for you, shall we?




Why do it? ‘Convincing’ you part…

Dude, I’ve got s*** to do. This isn’t important. Ok, I get you. Me too. So let’s keep it short and sweet. You can get lists online as long as the M1 and as varied as the sugar in candy crush. All of them show multiple correlated benefits and thus the importance of a daily gratitude practice for your life. Check the links at the end of the article for more info.

Suffice to say the scientific benefits include (but aren’t limited to) the following; exercising more, less physical symptoms, feeling better about your life, more optimistic about your upcoming week, more likely to progress towards your personal goals (academic, interpersonal & health based), higher levels of positive emotional states (alertness, enthusiasm, determination, attentiveness etc), being more likely to help and provide emotional support to someone who needed it. You’ll also benefit from ; higher energy moods, greater sense of feeling connected to others, better quality sleep and for kids having more positive attitudes towards their school and families.

Personally, I can’t think of many things in my life currently that do all that and more. Can you? Btw, it costs you NOTHING. Yes NOTHING. Candy crush can cost ALOT. And like I said earlier it’s cumulative. The more you do it, the more it does you. You will want to do it more often. Just like Candy Crush. Wait! No! I didn’t mean that. Seriously! Anyway, let’s quickly move onto how to do it, shall we? Are you ready? Ready, steady…GO!




THIS is how you do it…The MULTIPLE ways to DO gratitude …

There are lots of ways, many places and multiple times in your day you could practice a moment of gratitude. You’ve probably just never considered how or which times and places those could be, most likely because you didn’t realise how easily you can fill that moment with a brief quick discipline to improve your life. People don’t think like this. We slip into mindless trances at times we could do something more useful with our mind and emotions. It’s habit.

So let’s create a new one shall we? I’m sure you know people who do gratitude differently than I’ll outline below so in the days/months ahead, if you find yourself spontaneously doing any of them when you least expect it, enjoy it and experience the feelings of warmth that comes with it, the inner glow of gratitude. When that happens you’ve found something that works for you. That’s all I want to achieve with this article. You’ll have won already. You’re finished, kind of.

Trust your experience and intuition. Follow your instincts. You’ll know when. The moment may find you before you find it. It doesn’t matter. Once you’ve got yourself a gratitude ritual that triggers those feelings you’re one step away from consistency which is tackled easily using a habit tracking app to provide ‘fast feedback’ to help reinforce your new habit of how and when you’ll best be doing gratitude in your life.

I’m going to give you what I’ve termed the fantastic four; 4 different practices that I use based around the work of Roger A. Emmons (one of the researchers in the field) as a way to simply start. Side note: He outlines 10 practices in his book ‘Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier’. These are just the ones I found most useful. Feel free to use your own ingenuity and creativity to consider where/how in your life you could do gratitude more easily, more consistently. Anyway, without further delay here they are; the fantastic four:

The Fantastic Four:

1. Keep a gratitude Journal; List anything and everything you’re grateful for or could be grateful for. Steer away from avoiding too many repetitions as days go by. You want to keep expanding your ‘gratitude map’; things you could be grateful for so your brain learns to seek out what you haven’t considered yet, new mental categories. This way your gratitude catalogue gets bigger on a daily basis. It’s always growing. So pay attention to what you’re not paying attention to. Notice more and you’ll feel more things to be grateful for every day. And say why too because this gives the facts reasons to back them up making them ‘feel more real’; thicker. It’s like the difference between a short and a grande. One packs more of a punch.

This will increase the significance of it to you, enhancing your experience and remembrance of its power. It’s not the iron man suit. It’s much better. See every item you write down like a ‘gift’. Again I use an app for this for ease of execution. So many journal apps exist but personally I use ‘Diaro’ but again you must find what works for you. It’s all about personalising the process. ‘Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own’ – Bruce Lee’s words.

2. 3 questions (Naikan); A Buddhist meditation involving asking 3 question that helps us see how our life’s connect to those of others around us. The questions: (1) What have I received from…? (2) What have I given to…? (3) What troubles and difficulty have I caused…? Relationships are the bulk of human happiness so this practice reconnects you to their importance and significance for your life.

3. ‘Breath of Thanks’; from Dr. Frederic Luskin’s book ‘Forgive for good’. (1) 2-3x a day, stop, close your eyes, look up, take a personal moment to slow down, notice the rise and fall of your breathing. (2) For each of the 5-8 exhalations say thank you to your body, appreciate your life, all the good you do and that others have done for you. Take time to do this. The simple practice of stopping to slow/deepen your breathing itself is therapeutic. Adding a healthy dollop of gratitude via reflection amplifies the beneficial effects for you. Give this gift to yourself. You just have to breathe.

4. Visual reminders; Put ‘gratitude art’ (artwork/items that remind you to be grateful) around a place        where you’d notice it regularly. Bathrooms, lounges, kitchens etc. in whatever form you like. Plaques,        posters, fridge magnets, paper weights, post it notes, e-reminders on mobiles etc. Whatever you want.        What would you want? Do whatever works. Constant reminders will help provoke ‘gratitude thinking’ thus triggering a biochemical release and awareness. Emotionally lighten up your living environment in a cool new way. Use your down time to create more ‘golden time’ for yourself.

That’s it. Hardly a chore right? Remember, you only need ONE. Only one. Remember the benefits. It’s so simple. My suggestion is that 4 is something that you only need to do once. Just set it up and leave it in place. It does all the work thereafter reminding you when you notice it. Play around with numbers 1, 2 and 3. You may end up practicing variations of all of them or stick to just one. It matters not. What does count is to discover what works for you. Create your own remix of 1, 2 and 3 if you like.

Go play. But you’ve gotta start. Once you’ve begun you’ll want to continue to reap the most benefits so here’s a way to maintain the habit. The final bit and then we’re done…




Gamifying gratitude

Let’s talk about feedback. Feedback is critical. It tells you how well you’re doing. When you know you’re doing well you’ll want to keep going. If you don’t know how well you’re doing or how close you are to your destination you’re flying blind and can lose your desire to stick at something. You get lost in the woods without a map and worse without GPS. There’s a reason planes have a dashboard right? And if you try to figure it out without data you’ll be prone to various cognitive biases which all of us are and these can hinder our own progress let alone mess with our self-belief. So let’s stay objective and let’s keep it REAL.

We need a way to look at our results; this avoids wishful thinking and helps us build our habit faster than without it because we’re calibrating to ourselves like a plane calibrates to the landscape using feedback from the dashboard. If you can see how well you’re doing you’ll feel good about it creating a self-perpetuating cycle that motivates you to keep doing something; in this case your gratitude ritual. By contrast the quicker you can see how well you’re not doing, the faster you can correct yourself to get back on track (course correction).

I want you to SEE your progress or lack thereof at a ‘moments glance’ on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, whenever you like, so you can see the BIG picture not just the daily one. That way you see EVERYTHING and even if you miss a day you will know that it’s OK because you’ve hit so many bullseye’s before today and that it’s a minor trip compared to all your wins beforehand. Knowing how well you’re doing is critical to progress. Feedback enhances learning and the more senses you can receive this through the better.

So now you know WHY to do gratitude, the benefits, you’ve chosen your practice(s) and you’ve started. Now you want to turn this into a ritual so it happens daily, every day until its automatic. You need consistency and a sense of reward. We now turn to our mobile phones (shock! Horror!). No, turn tinder off. That’s not what I mean. Read on… A range of apps exist that are free/cost pennies that provide visual tracking of any new habit practice.

I personally use Habit bull (Android) to track my daily gratitude ritual along with various other daily habits. You could also use many other apps on both android and iphones which do the same thing:


Habit bull & some of the others let me set reminders for any habits I want to keep up, tells me how often I’ve done it and my percentage of successful days of doing it compared to all the days I should have. You can even export your results to view them externally. All at the touch of a button. Neat eh? That’s why I use it.

So that’s it. Pick a habit, download an app and start today. The reasons are various and it serves you in experiencing a more pleasurable existence which you can spread to everyone around you. Now go light up the planet by starting with yourself first. Then you just did. Go play…


Links to scientific studies on gratitude:


Before we go into the how, it’s best to have an understanding of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system

The nervous system can be divided into two parts, the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The level of respective activity of each system dictates many of the functions within the body. When at rest the parasympathetic is more dominant, stimulating digestion, constricting pupils, slowing heart rate, basically channeling the bodies energies into long term activities such as reproduction, muscle growth and fat storage. When the body is stressed the sympathetic system becomes more dominant. Its purpose is to marshall functions of the body which help in dealing with threat, or perceived threat, and this includes raising heart rate, breaking fats into sugars, and dilating the airways; all necessary to fulfil the demands of the fight or flight response. When we are not slobbing about, and not feeling in immediate danger, the opposing systems serve to provide a balance and will work within contextual norms to maintain an optimum eqilibrium.

Various belief and lifestyle frameworks have consciously or unconsciously placed great emphasis upon breathing; Yoga, Tai Chi, Buddhism, and conspicuously when particpants are in very relaxed states their outbreath is particularly elongated. Many religions employ singing, chanting and recitation as part of their prayer, and this unbroken production of noise also requires the outbreath to be extended. When we breathe in we activate the sympathetic nervous system (associated with the stress response) and when we breathe out we activate the parasympathetic system. The consequence being that an elongated out breath is the vehicle which takes us into states of rest and relaxation, and if this is practiced for extended periods the mind is encouraged into the feelings of deep peace often cited by buddhists during meditation, or by Catholics during their liturgy.

We can use this knowledge in our everyday lives to restore ourselves to a relaxed state when things are getting too much or in preparation for a situation we may find challenging. Taking deep inward breaths and letting them out slowly will reduce your heart rate and make you feel more relaxed, a very simple but tried and tested technique people have been using for thousands of years without knowledge of the nervous system to calm their minds.

It has been argued on numerous occasions, that the introduction of video to the entertainment industry killed the concept of the radio star. An argument even our predecessors wouldn´t rise to oppose. Can you Imagine Michael Jackson without ever getting the chance to watch even a video of him moonwalk? I mean, lets face it. Listening to Elvis on the radio must of been great, but watching the King do his thing brings a whole new element to entertainment. We now have the luxury of being able to find mountains of clips from our favourite artists and performers at the push of a button, without having to wait for top of the pops to come on the box. Adding a whole new dimension to Entertainment. What kind of effect has this had on the way we consume? Or more importantly, what kind of effect will this have on the way we create? No longer is budget such a monopolising factor within the entertainment Industry. Platforms like youtube have given aspiring stars the opportunity to share podiums with the legends. And have given us as consumers, a wider selection of choice and discovery.

In the past few years we have seen some great breakthroughs from Underdogs in the entertainment Industry, beating the odds using social media. Look at Beiber, he started out as a Youtuber, performing modest covers of well known songs. He is doing pretty well for himself now! And now we are seeing more and more aspiring stars, using social media to spread their messages quickly and effectively. Tyler the creator built a huge International Fan base predominantly from posting consistently on social media, displaying his inability to conform to modern day society and stereotypes.

A message we can all relate to at times. His Introduction to the Entertainment Industry had such a big impact on sub-culture. It is arguable that his efforts have contributed to the confusions caused by Emo´s Listening to Hip Hop, and “Hip Hoppers” wearing skinny jeans! Strangely though his fame was not found solely through his talents in music, but combined with insights to his life with friends, documented through hilarious short amateur video clips and vines. We all love to see off stage footage of our favourite acts, Celebrity Big Brother taught us that. Plus, who doesn’t want to know all about the Kardashians ?


With the use of social media rapidly growing, and more and more aspiring artists trying to make there stamp out there. What does this mean for the conventional performers and artists? The bigger entities have now got to be more innovative than ever before in order to keep there place, and compete with the rising stars of social media.
Artists and performers are exposed to more and more feedback from the public everyday, how will this shape the produce of there trade? There is more and more content uploaded to social channels every day, meaning the level of choice is at its highest, although our attention retention rates are dipping. Trends in entertainment are rapidly changing, do entertainers have to work harder to entertain us now? How will the stars keep our attention? They can only chuck so many of them in the jungle. We demand more now than just a voice, a pretty face and a couple of dance moves.
Its your story and how you communicate it that’s really important now.
Does this mean the end of the Entertainment “Stars” as we know them? I think so, even Beyonce is taking “selfies”

An interesting topic discussed recently amongst friends, was Liverpool’s decision to buy Mario Balotelli from AC Milan. Was it a decision based purely on footballing ability and fit for the club, or do you share the opinion that the club recognised the potential for growth in their fan base by his acquisition. Balotelli has a high popularity (3.5M followers!) and influence on social media channels which has helped to build a strong sustainable following. This is mainly due to his tweets, posts, and mischievous antics off the pitch. Is this factor enough to influence the decision of a manager and his club by the prospect of increased revenue through shirt sales and memorabilia, regardless of whether the player in question may be the best fit in terms of their footballing style?

Footballers have been role models for decades, often holding massive responsibilities to set a positive example to the youth and their fans. They are in the spotlight more than ever before now, so considering social media presence will become more and more common place as football shifts further and further into the social world. More and more the popularity of a player off of the pitch will play a big part in their valuation to a club. We’ve all seen it, the rise in popularity of a footballer on the latest edition game of “Fifa” will undoubtedly spark an interest on social media, and often effect a players own professional career. Looking at the benefits alone it’s hard to see why a social presence of a player, wouldn’t be considered before making an offer. A highly popular player will bring more revenue in shirt sales and ticket sales and could boost the popularity of the rest of the club as a whole. It’s not just players, even managers are becoming more recognised for their social behaviour in football, for example the famous Jurgen Klopp, Borussia Dortmund’s current manager. Well recognised for his footballing brain, excellent resume but more noticeable is his infamous personality which has made him such a popular figure in football’s social world.

It’s definitely a trend that seems to have caught on in football, and one that will further amplify the social standing of modern day footballers, but are we losing touch with the tradition of football? And as a whole, is this good for the sport or not?