So it’s an ever MORE oft-used word when I post 2 things on the same concept but I did warn you it was a series…

Photo by Mike Marrah on Unsplash

Now I’d like to talk to you about Amanda. And this is much more of a story of a person AND the sense and eventual emergence of potential. Potential is here in droves by the way. You’ll enjoy getting to know Amanda — not her real name — as I certainly have.

2012, and I went to a conference — surprise surprise. It was a big event, with two huge names on the bill. I was eager and I knew the conference organisers really well as it was a membership type of events series.

I was introduced to Amanda, who had taken over the marketing side whilst her colleague was on maternity leave. It was a smiley, very warm and positive introduction. I connected with Amanda on LinkedIn as you do.

We kept in touch as when I had guests to bring, Amanda sorted it all out for me. She always managed to get me good tables, near the speakers. Or so it seemed. I never actually checked.

Amanda moved on from the company — again I spotted this on LinkedIn — and so I messaged her and congratulated her move to a more Learning & Development post. I offered any assistance to her in that new role as it was business development. I do that a lot. But Amanda’s response was one of the most genuine and warm I’d had to such a request. It struck me that this was someone who exuded a lot of personable, comforting traits and was ideal for a role like client-facing, contact and assuring support for whatever the company was offering. I could see some real potential here in that space despite not knowing Amanda THAT well.

Subsequent occasional job moves or promotions or just random contact kept us in touch or a few years. That cemented my view that this young professional was someone who was sincere, committed and held regard for people — all super strong traits and skills and attributes for someone who has to build belief in clients that the product, offer and the company was a worthwhile one.

When Amanda married, I saw the pictures on Instagram and similarly when she fell pregnant and the baby shower pictures and so on. We didn’t really have a super-strong friendship, yet Amanda treated me as if I was. Again, this gave me thoughts about her potential. What else was she good at if she was THIS good at maintaining and fostering good relationships?

I got the answer when Amanda moved down from her Scottish domicile with her husband’s work and we met and talked about the possibility of some super flexible working together.

I knew so very little about Amanda’s skills; I knew her more from her life episodes. Yet in that first conversation, a big notebook out on the table in a coffee shop whilst husband and their little boy went for a stroll, it was clear that ALL I could see was potential.

Not a specific skill like the adeptness in holding relationships even with casual acquaintances.

Not a specific competence like being well organised.

Not a specific trait or behaviour like showing positive regard or empathy (though that was there).

There was enthusiasm. An obvious sense of connection to what I was doing with this business of mine and its soul, purpose and mission. There was a willingness to find a way to be productive, useful, add value, deliver. In what, we really didn’t know.

All I could see was potential.

I guess if my style was to conduct a competency-based interview, I’d have known stuff and asked about planning, how to deal with competing priorities, and how to generate interest in the company.

It actually never even entered my head about Amanda’s marketing and L&D backgrounds. Because, yes, all I could see was potential.

So we worked it out. Gently at first, the odd hour here and there. In fact, my second book included some steadfast and helpful contributions to it that Amanda researched and crafted. What’s in the book is pretty much word-for-word what Amanda had crafted.

Eventually, with the little human a bit older, we agreed on some hours and a pattern of working and we crafted a role around external vigilance. Looking at the world outside and using what’s relevant, inspiring, new and different to inspire us to learn and assimilate that new and fresh thinking to create breakthrough solutions for our clients.

Now I could see what I felt about potential. It translated into performance and very much a way of being.

  • The most adaptable, flexible, fluid and responsive of approaches to work, how it got done and a fixation on creating value with every keystroke or word that was spoken.
  • A social spirited person who really could be the core, beating heart and conscience of the organisation — which is why we looked into our sustainability and aspirations as a thing we wanted to do.
  • Capable, applied, diligent. This is someone who reads every Slack post by everyone including those random things to learn I dump into our curation or learning threads.
  • Willing, eager and driven to be included in everything that belied the number of hours on the clock Amanda actually put in.
  • Assimilation, understanding complex areas of business beyond anything she’d worked on before and a grasp of concepts and theories that if I even mentioned a tiny slither of thought or potential direction, it was like Amanda could assemble all the previous context, learning and background information I was basing my views on without actually sharing those.
  • Accountability, ownership, drive, stamina, awareness, strategic and tactical thinking, appreciation of others, offers of help, stepping in.
  • Being flexible, creative and imaginative about her work and things associated with it.

I could go on but this potential — totally unlabelled or categorised or defined — was purely felt and has manifested in an almost surprising array of attributes.

You could say that my instinct served me well. I don’t think it’s that at all. This is one individual who just gets it. And when you converse, message or work with Amanda, it’s emitted in a way that words and labels aren’t even needed.

Implicit, intangible, innate — perhaps. But Amanda is just the epitome of potential.

Now here’s Amanda’s story of 2020–22.

When we entered into 2020, Amanda was juggling new motherhood but became a voice of reason, conscience and sense in a turbulent period of change brought on by the pandemic.

When we entered into 2021, Amanda led not just on Sustainability and our Insight. She grew both in 2021, to become a standout B Corporation advocate and active member of that community. Amanda created a B Corporation community of change activists who led on the value of working to values and principles that were good for the planet. It was only her loyalty to PTHR that kept her with us as BCorp wanted her to join their BLabs. Instead, we created an affiliative spin-out enterprise of BCorp certified learning programmes that took on the Business Schools unwilling to embrace conscious capitalism and ‘planet & people over profit’ teaching. BLabs Business School became a thing largely because Amanda helped it come into being.

Our sustainability work alongside that grew into a louder drumbeat and more companies we were partnered with, took up our challenge of sustainable, green and pro-planet operations. We didn’t productise our version of the Green New Deal but our version of conscious, multi-point, value-led approaches brought more people to that cause. Amanda even managed an affiliative business relationship with XR — no mean feat in a world that is keen to call out their tactics as too disruptive.

Into 2022, Amanda led our work with a huge investment from a Green Energy pioneer to create a new venture bringing conscious business awareness into schools, non-profit operating principles and social care organisations. It not only ascended to interest from the Duke of Cambridge but also a chartered status influencing education in a way that Sir Ken Robinson would have been proud of.

Amanda led this as a side-venture from PTHR but kept her ties close and made key decisions to the direction of this consultancy enterprise. As PTHR pivoted in the new-found BCorporation influence on political, business and societal elements, Amanda led the sub-team within that umbrella.

At the end of 2022, she became Chief Energy Officer of PTHR-NRG our human, economic and social responsibility offshoot, non-profit and was invited to a working group with the Green Party on sustainable business as a sign of her influence in the area of conscious businesses.

OK, it’s a fast-forward speculative dream of what might be, knowing Amanda though, this IS possible largely through the potential I see, sense and can feel in every piece of work, conversation and the business challenges we face.

So a simpler conclusion here to part 1:

Sometimes, all you can see, feel, sense, hear, appreciate — is potential.

And as the words of Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink — The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, a feeling of potential is sometimes all we have, and in Amanda’s case, all we need.

CEO PTHR |2x TEDx speaker | Author: Transformational HR + The Energized Workplace | HR Most Influential Thinker 2017-2019 | Soulboy + Northampton Town fan