We’ve all heard of the “January Blues” – but what about Blue Monday?
“Blue Monday” is the name given to the third Monday in January (this year, it falls on the 17th) and is believed to be the ‘most depressing’ day of the year. With the gloomy weather and Christmas celebrations ending, combined with it being a Monday, it’s not hard to see why. The term came about in 2005, when Sky Travel revealed the date in a press release after appointing a psychologist and mental health expert, Dr Cliff Arnall, to calculate the date through an equation. The formula, which is based on the main factors that are most likely to contribute to low mood, is:
These are the factors in the equation:
W = Weather
D = Debt
d = Monthly salary
T = Time since Christmas
Q = Time since failing our new year’s resolutions
M = Low motivational levels
Na = The feeling of a need to take action
Although this equation has been debunked as ‘pseudoscience’, it serves as a reminder that a low mood is not always caused by one thing, but rather a variety of reasons. Dr Arnall has later said that he didn’t actually mean to perpetuate doom and gloom by identifying the date, but instead saw it as “a bid to encourage people, where possible, to take a positive outlook on the time of year as an opportunity for new beginnings and change.”
Neurodiversity refers to the concept that individual differences in brain functioning are as normal as diversity within the human population. This not only encompasses mental health disorders, but also autism, ADHD and learning difficulties. This concept steers our perception away from accepting neurotypical as ‘normal’ and seeing the brain as being as diverse as people. This is one of the reasons why some people might breeze through certain occasions (in this instance Blue Monday) like any other day, and some might find them particularly difficult to get through.
Whilst Instagram can often be guilty of presenting us with an unrealistically perfect picture, social media has become a platform for some really positive conversations around mental health. But it’s important to look past an isolated campaign and use these awareness days as a reminder that, there are moments (not just on Blue Monday) where we may all feel sad, down, lost, struggling and worried about something in our lives. It’s okay not to be okay and it’s important to not suffer in silence. The struggle is definitely real, especially after nearly 2 years of pandemic uncertainty which the original Blue Monday equation did not account for.
We hope that you take Blue Monday as an opportunity to check in on yourself. Remember that, if you need help, there is a wealth of specialist support services out there for you – here are some of our recommendations:
- Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/
- Mind – https://www.mind.org.uk/
- National Debtline – https://www.nationaldebtline.org/
- Beat – beateatingdisorders.org.uk
- Refuge – refuge.org.uk
By now you’ll have read more than enough about 2022 predictions for technology trends as an enabler of everything from the abstract – the metaverse, DAOs and NFTs – to the physical: 3D-printed bone implants, machines that suck carbon from the air, and zero-emissions transport.
Naturally, we’re all very excited about that. However, as we hit 2022 running, what our Madano Technology Team is thinking about – and preparing clients for – are the trends in the landscape itself: the factors the UK’s top innovators will need to contend with as they navigate what will inevitably be yet another challenging, but exciting year ahead.
MADANO’S TOP TECH PREDICTIONS FOR 2022
- Demand for technology will rise – but public trust will continue to wane
We’re all carrying a news hangover from yet another year of blow-out headlines dominated by bombshell whistle blower accusations, full-blown security meltdowns and tech executives facing fraud convictions. And yet although there’s a growing contingent of us who might like to, we can’t quit our complex relationships with technology. It’s too entrenched in our lives, touching everything from how we access health, employment and education, to how we engage in personal relationships, social issues, climate change and politics.
Trust in tech is waning, and that’s a problem for firms big and small – and one they cannot simply innovate away from. The winners of 2022 will be those who not only authentically understand public concerns around privacy and transparency – but who seek to meaningfully address them. Effective and active communications will play the starring role in that.
- The talent crunch will intensify
Robots, AI and automation are here. And yet they’re not out to take our jobs – in many cases, they’re creating a lot of them. In 2021, high-tech jobs shot up 50% over 2020, with over 160,000 postings in November alone. In 2022, we don’t see signs of that slowing.
Firms looking to start or scale-up with the best and brightest talent will need to put forward an attractive employer brand to cut through intense competition. Mature companies will need to prioritise retention in the face of the Great Resignation.
On the policy front, this will lead to an increased focus on high-tech talent immigration, such as that tabled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Autumn Budget, and high-tech skills-development for both the current and future workforce.
- Fierce competition for cash…
Last year brought the best-ever year for tech in the UK, with £29.4bn in venture capital investment (up 2.3x), a record 37 listings and 29 new unicorns, demonstrating a significant appetite from investors that is set to continue into 2022. And if the Autumn Budget 2021 is any indication, we can also expect that government will find more ways to ramp up its Science Superpower ambitions with further focus on domestic R&D and international investment incentives.
With the UK becoming an attractive alternative to Silicon Valley, we can expect in 2022 to see even more global and local market entrants, while existing innovators eke out a bigger piece of the investment pie. Competition – particularly in fintech, payments and logistics – will be fierce.
- … And attention
More investment = more tech companies = a crowded media landscape, lobbying circuit and social media newsfeed.
As in recent years past, many innovators will tout novel solutions – but in reality, they will be up against many others who do the same. They will also face a public now fully inundated with options.
How these firms position their tech, founders, and executives will define the cut-through they achieve. With that in mind, our new year’s resolution for start-ups is simple: let 2022 be the year of matching your external presence to your internal ambitions. Build proudly in public, embrace the massive media potential of the Twitter newsfeed, and use the power of creative digital to unlock opportunities.
- Tech for good will breakthrough
2021 brought us weather terms we never wanted to learn, from polar vortexes, heat domes, to a horrifying “eye of fire.” It also brought us significant healthcare access challenges caused by the ripple effects of the pandemic. If we are to believe that 2020 was the year these issues shot to the fore in our collective consciousness, then 2021 was the year that consciousness matured.
But it’s not all bad news, and we like to end things on a positive, which is why our final prediction for 2022 rests in our belief that it will be the year of tech for good. There’s more money and talent in climate, health, life sciences and agrifood tech than ever before, and judging by the UK’s top 2021 tech winners, we can expect these firms to land more investment – and hopefully adoption – this year.
Regardless of what happens in 2022, we can be sure that it will be another big, turbulent and exciting year for technology. Are you a tech worker, founder or investor who wants to share your perspectives with us? We’d love to hear from you. Be sure to drop us a line at: email@example.com.
With the COP26 presidency still sat with us, the UK Government is keen to maintain its leadership position, Madano’s Energy team provides advice to some of the most exciting energy projects from Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and nuclear through to solar and wind. Our team is focused on connecting projects to the most influential stakeholders supporting the UK’s net zero and levelling up agendas. Looking ahead to 2022, here are some of our predictions about trends and opportunities within the energy sector:
1) Will SMRs start to happen, or will fusion make the grade?
With Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and even Bradwell B securing sizeable column inches in recent years, Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) have always been seen as exciting, but something for tomorrow. However, will Qatari investment to the tune of £80m coming into the Rolls Royce consortium be enough to progress to the next phase of supply chain readiness and site selection? They had better get a move on with a number of exciting fusion companies that are hoping 2022 will be the year to recreate the sun and limitless clean energy.
2) Do people really understand what Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is?
Our Energy practice has witnessed varying levels of understanding of CCS in 2021 – from being compared to nuclear geological storage and explained using chocolate biscuits and mugs of tea. There is a need for companies to communicate what CCS means for net zero more clearly. Part of this will be to look past transporting CO2 relatively short distances to geological storage sites and understanding how emitters that aren’t close to storage sites can harness this technology, maybe by boat or truck.
3) Will we have the honest debate about the need for oil and gas?
We saw in recent weeks that the Cambo oil field has been vaunted as a massive win for environmental campaigners, but equally we have seen the Faroe Islands double down on new exploration. With the wrangles around Nord Stream 2 and Russian exports from Yamal, we are still going to be using considerable volumes of oil and gas in our daily lives through to 2050. With the electrification of platforms starting to come forward, there does need to be an honest debate around our longer-term dependency on hydrocarbons and where Direct Air Capture or nature-based solutions can offset our needs.
4) Low Carbon Hydrogen
Ever increasing hype around the potential for hydrogen was seen in 2021 with major investments and dedicated funds launched to promote innovation and investment. More will be unveiled in 2022, as the UK Government looks to publish its draft Heads of Terms for the forthcoming Hydrogen Business Models in Q1-2, and it has already begun the process engaging with end-users to support the development and scaling up of hydrogen technologies. Industry will continue to match and even exceed the Government’s ambitions in this sector, with trade associations like Hydrogen UK, supported by Madano, serving to support key departments to move from strategic thinking to deeper work with the sector to deliver a fully-fledged value chain.
5) Will we see a moratorium on new energy from waste facilities?
Energy from waste assets is seen as highly valuable. With money flowing in from private equity and pension funds, the sector is now mobilising around carbon capture and storage technologies. However, there is ever increasing pressure on the thermal treatment of waste, and its perceived impact on recycling rates. Wales has come out with their own moratorium on large, new scale EfWs to curb development appetite. Further parliamentary debates have asked the same question and now an open letter has been signed with cross-party support. Future proposals will need to be equipped with a clear narrative and be compatible with net zero ambitions.
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Andrew Turner, Associate Director in Madano’s Energy practice, shares his thoughts ahead of COP26. With the Conference finally here, hoards descending upon Glasgow, Greta Thunberg being greeted like a celebrity and the start of the dialogue, it is now time to see what ‘meaningful and effective’ (unsure what this is in Italian/G20 thinking) discussions and commitments (if any) will come from the largest international gathering since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staying relevant in the energy transition
However, one question keeps bugging me. In our race to Net Zero and the climate change commitments, can we really turn our backs on the past? Ben van Beurden’s comments were stark last week commenting that Shell ‘would not have been welcome’ in Glasgow. Whether we like it or not, Shell is one of the key influencers in the UK’s and global energy sector. Would you want your football team to play their cup final without their one of the most influential players?
We have seen the Global Investment Summit bring together exciting technologies, such as fusion, fuel cell and sustainable aviation innovators (all projects we support at Madano) seeking capital to progress along their development pathways. But with natural gas still making up a significant percentage of our energy system, and likely to do so for decades to come, we still need to look at the role oil and gas majors can play in low carbon transition.
Shell have focused on CCS; BP are a leading presence in the East Coast decarbonisation cluster and are setting 2050 net zero targets and Total have rebranded to the technicolour-dream-coat of TotalEnergies in a bid to communicate their commitment to change. We should not be afraid to acknowledge that the Net Zero, or our orderly transition as it is sometimes known, will be A) expensive B) hard work C) involve oil and gas and coal too, especially in the developing world. We can’t simply reinvent out way to a low carbon transition.
Accepting that we can’t forget the past
When we talk about ‘difficult choices’ we see the COP26 President Alok Sharma finding it ‘difficult’ to commit either way on Andrew Marr. We know that there will be changes to our lifestyles – whether that be subtle comments about eating less meat, or increases in taxes for long-haul flights. Things are changing.
The deeper communications issue for me, is the reality that every day we use oil and gas. Whether we like it or not, oil and gas underpins all our activity. We can’t drive our cars, drink a bottle of water or work on our laptops without it. Hydrocarbons play a key role in our society, however, this is not communicated clearly enough by organisations, individuals, and governments. Sure, there can be eye catching headlines from the PM about plastic recycling not working. Focusing exclusively on wind farms, battery plants and fusion distracts from key issues, such as where the oil and gas is going to come from to sustain our lifestyles and how we can ensure this is as low carbon as possible.
The central challenge is how we transition away from these sources of energy, as quickly as possible, but recognising some industries cannot simply be electrified at the flip of a switch. Project narratives and communications plans need to acknowledge the energy mix, today, tomorrow and in the decades to 2050. Stakeholders, whether that be investors, communities or the media are demanding more and more information to make their own decisions about how investments today will impact balance sheets and dividends in our Net Zero society.
What to expect from Glasgow?
We have already seen strong language from the PM around the clock ticking to midnight, Prince Charles coming to the table and Glasgow being the ‘best, last hope’ to hit our 1.5-degree ambition. The UK ranks 5th in the league table for cumulative carbon emissions and this means we have a sizeable role to play in supporting global decarbonisation. One of the core pillars of this COP is to increase financial support for the developing world to deliver $100bn climate financing a year alongside greater collaboration.
Looking closer to home, big issues like Cambo or continuation of hydrocarbon production will not be resolved this week, but with organisations calling for quicker and more transformational change to Net Zero we must recognise that our lifestyles can’t be left behind.
Madano Energy practice advises clients in the energy transition, infrastructure, and development sectors to shape their narrative, engage with Government and stakeholders and to communicate their objectives in creative and impactful ways. If you would like to speak to the author, Andrew Turner, or a member of the team, please contact us: MadanoEnergyPractice@madano.com.
Photo Credit: Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Inspired by more than three and a half decades of his own experience in broadcast media, journalism, PR and communications, Mark Dailey, Partner at Madano, has distilled his expertise into an insightful business guide that explains why the core skill needed by future leaders is authentic and effective communication.
‘A Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Restoring Authenticity in a World of Change’, has been published by Routledge and is now available from Amazon and Waterstones.
You know the cliché about the tyranny of the blank page when you’re faced with writing anything from scratch. Well the thing about clichés is that they are based on truth.
Imagine sitting down to start an entire book – forget tyranny. More like full-blooded revolution.
And yet the idea of writing this book had been building for a while as clients kept asking me to recommend one communications book that pulled everything together in one place – how to present, deal with the media, show empathy, weave in emotion, connect with audiences, show empathy, deal with PowerPoint and get to the point – all the topics I have covered in training and coaching sessions for the past decade. To be honest, I couldn’t think of one book that dealt with everything.
And so when COVID hit, the decision to fire the starting gun on the book was relatively easy. If not now, when would I get another chance like this? The sheer disruption of COVID – and the ‘end of days’ tone adopted by too many journalists – seemed to make everything a bit more urgent. Plus, at 63, you don’t have unlimited time to procrastinate.
I was lucky. Because I had worked in television for over a decade, I was used to writing to deadline.
And I had a built-in framework for what I wanted to do. I would use the structure I follow in most of my communications work – audience, content, and engagement – to set out what good looks like in the beginning part of the book.
But COVID intruded my thoughts again. It seemed to me that the pandemic was accelerating disruptive and fundamental technological change and how people felt about a host of social justice issues. This swirling cauldron of change seemed to me to be ushering in a demonstrably different landscape in which leaders would be communicating. And so the idea of setting the scene and providing a contextual wrapper for what good communication looks like was born.
I revisited some interesting research we had done as a strategic communications agency, back in 2012, looking at the emerging ‘changing communications landscape’ then and updated some key themes and takeaways.
The book began to take shape as I thought about what would be needed from leaders intent on helping their organisations navigate this fast-changing world.
I wanted the book to deliver on the initial premise – which was to provide a guide to what good ‘looks like’. So, I deliberately set this out in some of the most common and important types of communications that all of us face in business: pitching our ideas, presenting, facilitating events or small groups of people, managing team meetings, giving interviews and on to bigger assignments such as driving change and handling crises.
The final ‘missing ingredient’ was that the more I thought about what good looks like – what people regularly say in giving feedback about what they felt was most effective and moving in someone’s communication – the more this equated with what I felt was most needed on the societal front. That is a restoration of authenticity to our communications.
And so in the last part of the book, I tried to articulate what the authentic leader looks like and why these qualities of integrity, compassion, kindness, humility and trust will become even more important as times get more uncertain and change gets faster and more complex. Having become a business coach 10 years ago, I found that the coaching dynamic is probably our best template for what authentic leadership communications looks like.
The book took about six months to write and seven months to edit – and then into production. It contains lots of case studies and observations on the good, bad and ugly that I’ve seen in my 38 years in communications.
Probably the biggest takeaway from the entire book is the idea that the one thing we always fear overdoing – is the one thing audiences crave the most – the off-piste moments when we let our hair down and speak with real emotion and honesty about what is really important. How seldom do we see or hear this and yet it is precisely this kind of meaning that people crave the most.
By Mark Dailey, Partner at Madano. Mark specialises in corporate and strategic communications, media training, facilitation, and transformation/crisis communications. To find out more about how Mark and the Madano team could help you, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alongside a Budget that focused heavily on the immediate actions required to return to growth and respond to the economic impacts of Covid-19, the Government published Build Back Better, its plan for growth, a new economic strategy for the post-Brexit, post-pandemic world with technology, net zero and innovation at its heart.
Autumn’s Comprehensive Spending Review will still be significant in putting this to work longer term, but Build Back Better makes clear that today’s Budget, and recent announcements such as the £800m ARIA and the Green Industrial Revolution, are part of a bigger picture for the Government. Its three pillars are infrastructure, skills and innovation. New strategies expected over the next year, such as a Hydrogen Strategy, Innovation Strategy, a Transport Decarbonisation Strategy, and Digital Strategy, will all connect back to Build Back Better.
It aims to build a connecting economic narrative for the future of the UK, with leadership in science and innovation, and the transition to net zero, all creating transformative changes in productivity and quality of life in regions across the country.
Our highlights included:
- The new Future Fund: Breakthrough, a £375m public-private fund to invest in promising, R&D-intensive companies ready to scale up with equity rounds of over £20m, showing Government’s seriousness about a greater appetite for risk and supporting companies directly.
- The launch of the new National Infrastructure Bank, expected to deliver £12bn in public and sector project investment from Spring onwards and drive forward new net zero projects.
- Freeports, eight new economic zones spread across nearly every region, with special regulatory, development and taxation rules to incentivise high-tech investment.
- Several commitments on green finance, including a change to the Bank of England’s remit to include environmental sustainability, and new green savings products and bonds.
Levelling up remains a key focus. Alongside freeports, the location of the new National Infrastructure Bank in Leeds and the Treasury’s new Darlington hub make that abundantly clear.
Undoubtedly, the focus today will be on measures taken by the Chancellor to safeguard the economy as the UK travels on the roadmap towards the end of COVID-19 restrictions. But today’s Build Back Better plan demonstrates that when the Conservatives go to the electorate at the end of this Parliament, they will be expecting to do so having established a more productive economy that leads in innovative industries, and is making strides towards a lower carbon energy system.