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CapitalSpace marketing expert launches global movement

CapitalSpace marketing expert launches global movement
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Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

02 Nov 2017

The great thing about working with so many small businesses, is that we meet people with tremendous ideas, energy and ambitions all the time.  Not just our customers, but also our suppliers and business experts.  So, when our marketing expert, Siobhan Stirling, said she is launching a global movement, we weren’t overly surprised.

Siobhan and her team at Sharp Minds Communications have been writing the CapitalSpace business blogs – including expert marketing insights – for a couple of years now, as well as co-ordinating our media relations.  Over that time, we’ve learnt that, as well as running her business, she is also a mother of three, avid walker and evangelical mid-life runner, with a few marathons under her belt. 

When she told us that she is marking her 50th birthday by challenging her peers to join her in redefining middle age with the launch of 50 Challenges, we were intrigued to find out more – and to know how she aims to turn a personal ambition into a global movement.

What is 50 Challenges?

50 Challenges aims to inspire those aged 50 and over to do more, achieve more and be more than they ever thought possible. The aim with 50 Challenges is to complete 50 challenges or goals across the decade of being 50.  This is not a mad, bucket-list dash for a year; this is a way of life, as we regain time for ourselves to think, act and be after the demanding decades of establishing ourselves in our careers and bringing up children.

What’s inspired 50 Challenges?

I came up with the idea of 50 Challenges after emerging from the Foul Forties stronger – physically and mentally – than at any other time of my life.  For a while it was no more than a personal ambition, until I realised that my friends and peers were either in the same place or in need of a new definition and identity for the next chapter of their lives

The previous role models for what it means to be 50 plus no longer fit: we are the first generation to hit 50 in the expectation of another good 40 years ahead of us.  50 years olds today are competing in endurance races, wearing the same clothes as their teenage children and taking up new professional challenges at a time when previous generations were counting down to retirement.  50 Challenges is about creating a new blueprint for mid and later life, when the best decades are yet to come.

What sort of things count as Challenges?

Challenges are grouped into Mind, Body and Soul.  We have come up with a lot of suggestions on the 50 Challenges website to give people ideas, which cover everything from reading a poem a day for a year to paying a compliment to a stranger every day for a month, from learning to swim to cutting your food waste by 50%.

Everyone’s Challenges will be individual to them: they need to inspire and motivate them, and them alone.  I love running – it’s my sanity and strength – but if you hate it, there’s absolutely no point setting yourself a target you are unlikely to complete. 

Challenges also need to be relevant to the individual; if you can already hold a passable conversation in French, learning to speak French wouldn’t be an appropriate challenge, but becoming fluent would be.  Similarly, if you cycle regularly at the weekends, you might want to double your miles each week.

When does 50 Challenges get going?

50 Challenges will be officially launched on 5 November, when I start my two first Challenges: completing the New York Marathon (the day after my 50th birthday) and raising £50,000 for the MS Society , which I aim to achieve before I turn 60.  Very dear friends of mine have Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating – but overlooked – condition which affects more than 100,000 people in the UK, so it’s a cause dear to my heart.  £50,000 is a scarily big target, but they say if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.

Running has been key to me to rebuilding my physical and mental health after suffering severe depression in my mid-Forties.  I took it up almost by accident, but it has been central to helping me reclaim myself after the side effects of medication left me on the maximum dose of anti-depressants, barely functioning and two stone heavier.  The strength it has given me has been key to inspiring 50 Challenges, so it seemed natural to launch it with a run.

It’s a great idea – but how will you grow it into a big movement?

First of all, I have got a great team round me who are all as committed to the idea as I am.  It’s my baby, but everyone I have spoken of my age has ‘got’ the idea – it completely resonates with my peers – so I have been able to recruit people to help me get this off the ground.

Secondly, I run a marketing and PR agency, so we have a track record at getting publicity and interest for clients.  As well as using our PR skills, we are also spreading the word on social media.  Our aim in the medium term is to create an interactive website with chatrooms and forums for Challengers to support one another, but for the time being we have set up a Facebook community, to which we have already attracted active members to inspire, support and celebrate one another.

We are also going to be looking for organisations who share our values to help spread the word to their members; organisations that focus primarily on wellbeing, achievement and exploration or whose work is in line with some of the Challenges that we have come up with.

We have really big ambitions for this, but I know we have the drive and determination to make it happen.  Our first target was to have 10 Challengers signed up by the time I launched 50 Challenges at the New York marathon – and we have hit that target.  The next target is 500 by the end of the first year.  Watch this space!

How do people join?

You can find out more on the 50 Challenges website, where there is a link to join our community.  We’re reaching out to everyone aged 45+.  If you’re a bit off the 50 milestone, it’s great to join the community early to start getting ideas for your 50 Challenges.  And if you celebrated it a couple of years ago, it’s hot too late: you just have to do slightly more Challenges each year!

We’re delighted to be one of the first to be able to tell the world about 50 Challenges – and look forward to bringing you updates as it grows.