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Gethin Jones on his books and his business

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As some of you will remember Stef Nienaltowski interviewed Gethin Jones, of Unlocking Potential, a few months ago and he told us the story of the book he is writing and how it could help many people move on from their position in life. You may know Gethin has been in some very dark places and is now turning those experiences into opportunities for others. A quite brilliant individual who has the imagination to match anyone Stef has met.

The book is not the central element of this interview but what it can do for people, and what he is doing as a result of his experiences is truly inspiring.

Stef Nienaltowski: Good afternoon, I have the pleasure of sitting with Gethin Jones to catch up with him where he is on his books and his business. Good afternoon Gethin.

Gethin Jones: Good afternoon Stef, lovely to see you.

SN: Thank you. Gethin, it's been a few months since we last met. How's the business going, and what have been the notable highlights over the last few months?

GJ: It's been a really good last three months. I suppose the highlight really is just seeing the areas where I best fit within my programmes. Some people will have seen on LinkedIn the prisons are really starting to develop, and they're looking at really trying to create a rehabilitative culture, so they've asked me to go along and do some talks, and get involved in workshops about how to change staff's understanding of how to interact with the prisoners there on a daily basis. So that's really, really good. The Local Authority have really actually now started to take on board my knowledge and experience, and I've created some workshops called 'The Art of Communication', and this explores how practitioners can develop really high levels of communication, and trust and relationships with the most vulnerable groups, to kind of support and initiate change.
And then I suppose what my vision always was, was that I know my skills and abilities can be crossed over to the private sector. I had a company called CBM, which is a contractor’s company in Portsmouth, got three offices; one in Portsmouth, one in Southampton, and one in London, and they're a building company. They've also taken on my programme and they found it really, really beneficial, and they've now put me on for two days a month to do a brand-new appraisal system and a supervision process to increase emotional intelligence, self-awareness within the building industry.

SN: Wow, wow, wow. So, can I just take you back to the first of those? The prisons.

GJ: Yeah.

SN: Now, did I hear you say it's actually the staff you're working with, not the prisoners?

GJ: Yep, it's the staff, so what we know is for any real change, it needs to change within the staff, so it's the staff's relationship with the prisoners that they're looking after. So, a lot of my stuff I'm doing with the prison officers, is about people trying to understand the person behind the file. Understand the back story. When you understand the back story, you can better understand how to engage with that prisoner, that can support change. Yeah, so the governors are really kind of on board with it, so I'm kinda mixing with a lot of the strategic level in how to look at how I can help.

SN: Excellent, and again I saw your LinkedIn recently, and I saw the letter of commendation, which was a great accolade from that particular prison, so congratulations. But that's only part of the Gethin Jones story, isn't it? So, the other one we spoke about last time, was about the first book or books. I wonder if we can have maybe a sneak preview of where we are with it, when it will come out, when it will be launched, and you also mentioned in that last time we spoke, a second book. Now, I think there was a big and a little book, wasn't there?

GJ: Yeah

SN: Where are you with that?

GJ: So, the little book is done, that's going to be around about 100 pages, so that is now written, it's now gone off to the editorial team that are doing the proof-reading, and they'll have a nice enjoyable task with that! And we're now also looking at the design, and I've got some characters within the book, and I've actually kind of used some friends that I want to be a part of those characters, so yeah, I'm going through doing the imagery side of it at the moment. I'm hoping for it to be published either just before or just after Christmas.

SN: And that's the first one, that's the little book. Where's the big book?

GJ: So, the big book I'm just starting now, I'm just going through the index of the different stories. As people are aware, the first book is also in relation to introducing a change development programme. The change development programme is related to the story of Scrooge, which is really good because it's Portsmouth and we've got the Dickens history here, and the second book is what's going to be called the 'Authority' book, so it's going to give a lot more understanding of my life and my story, but it's also going to be very much linking to the different characters within my change development programme as well. So, the first book is about 19,000 words, the second book is going to around about 60,000 words.

SN: So, as I say, big and little in that sense. So, come back to the first book, come back to the little book. What are you trying to achieve with that publication, and what would you say is your target audience?

GJ: So, the target audience, there's two parts within it. One is it's about personal development, [the] book, so it's anybody that feels they're stuck or trapped in a way of thinking. And what the whole programme looks at is addictive behaviours, it’s behaviours that get in the way of us actually doing what it is that we really want to do. We call these auto-pilot behaviours, and what I call these is 'The Scrooge Within'. So, we've all got a Scrooge, and the Scrooge is a negative part of self, that sits within the mind, that holds us back from doing what we do. And then the other characters are also related to the story of Scrooge, and they'll take you through the process of how you can overcome and change Scrooge, into a masterful change.

SN: I can't wait to read it! And the target audience really is anyone that really wants to actually change their behaviour, their outlook, their attitude?

GJ: Their attitude, yeah.

SN: And again, it's quite a small book, therefore fairly straightforward to maybe absorb?

GJ: And I've had some people read it, the manuscripts, and all they've said is "I want to know more!"

SN: Great, great, that's great for that as well, so, if I then can take you back to where we started, and your core business, we've talked about the prisons, the local authority, and the company, CBM company, so where do you go next? What do you see as the next 12, 24 months horizon, with your business? I think at the moment you're still a sole trader?

GJ: Sole trader at the moment.

SN: So, where do you go from here?

GJ: So, I've got kind of a bit of a plan going forward, so like you said I'm a sole trader at the moment, next year I plan to take it to becoming a limited company, and what that limited company is going to be, is very much in relation to selling development training packages to private companies that can increase high levels of emotional intelligence, self-awareness, high levels of communication, reduced disfunction, which will increase their bottom lines. So, that's kind of the limited side of it, and also as well what I plan to do is be able to create a manual of what the programmes is [sic] that I deliver, so that I can train up other associates who can also deliver this too. So that's going to kind of be the main part and the main focus, but alongside of that I've also got an idea for doing a programme within the rehabilitation agenda, and that's going to be called 'Con-struction'.
I got the name and the idea from Mike Davis-Marks from Ethos, and I’m just kinda now taking that forward. So, that's going to be a little bit of a CIC that will sit underneath the Gethin Jones: Unlocking Potential umbrella. What it's going to be doing, is I'm going to be looking to recruit prisoners within the prison system, and I'm going to be doing some personal development and awareness, but also creating some practical skills in relation to level 1 maths, level 1 English, and CSCS cards. I've also been talking to a business company called Blanchard and Wells, and they do a really, really good development apprenticeship programme.
They're willing to give me 5% of their places, that I can use for prisoners coming out of custody, and I'm now going to be going through the process of seeing if I can get some accommodation that can support them when they come out, and also mentoring. So, when they come out of custody, they'll have a work placement, some accommodation, and a mentor. With that in place, there's a much higher chance of them becoming rehabilitated, and not having to go back into the system.

SN: I use the word amazing a few times when I talk to you, I'll use it again unashamedly, it's amazing what you're doing, I'm so glad that Shaping's part of your journey. We are small, but we're here to help you, and that last piece, again, what you're doing for society has a value that is almost incalculable, so congratulations. And we'll do whatever we can to help you make it.

GJ: I have got a call to action for that as well

SN: Ok, go on then

GJ: What I’m going to be doing, I'm going to be creating a fundraising event, because I need some money and time to be able to create what it is that I want to do in the rehabilitation side of it. So, I'm going to be looking to create an event. I'm hopefully going to get it sponsored by the construction industry, and then what I'm going to be doing is inviting lots of people around so I can kind of showcase what it is that I'm going to do, and see how other people can help me, so I can help others. So, any way you can help publicise that, or support me within the event, I'll be very, very happy.

SN: Gethin, you can count on us to do that, thank you very much indeed for your time again today.

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