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The TALENT Conference 2019

Inspiring Hospitality Leaders

Thursday 7th February 2019

Principal Grand Central Hotel, 99 Gordon Street, Glasgow G1 3SF

Speaker Q&A

Cal Major, Campaigner

Q How important is goal setting when it comes to professional development?

A I think goal setting is pivotal to professional development! In a world of increasing reward for instant gratification, and distractions around every corner, it can be difficult to focus on the bigger, more important tasks at hand. Effective goal setting enables you to focus your attentions and say no to the things that will distract you from reaching your targets.

Q Is there any advice that you would give to someone setting themselves new goals for 2019? What do they need to consider?

A Goal setting is a muscle that needs to be worked, just like discipline, endurance or fitness. It can be very daunting to look at big goals and imagine how to get there without breaking them down further. I think it’s really important to break a goal down into the steps that you need to take to get you there, working backwards from when you want to complete the goal, to where you’re at now. And be realistic - set yourself up for greatness, not failure!

Q How do you manage to stay positive and optimistic when something doesn’t go according to plan?

A Your attitude is your choice. It’s almost impossible to remain positive all the time, and you won’t always be happy. But you have the choice of whether to succumb to that feeling and become it, or decide to acknowledge it as a feeling, let it go and put a smile on your face, even if things haven’t gone to plan. I find that time outside in nature, being mindful, and cultivating gratitude can also really help to reset perspective.

Q What would your biggest achievement to date be? And how did setting goals play a part in this?

A My biggest achievement to date was Stand Up Paddleboarding the length of the UK, 1000 miles, from Land’s End to John O’Groats. It took two solid months of paddling, and one of the hardest things was just to keep going. It was a feat of absolute endurance, and breaking the end goal down into stages was absolutely crucial, or I’d have been too overwhelmed to even step on my board on the first day! There were obvious stepping stones with this - each mile, each day, each hundred miles… The following are some tips I wrote on mastering the endurance mindset, which I think are really relatable to taking the steps towards a big goal.

  1. Perhaps the most important: Acknowledge that endurance sports are TOUGH, that this is going to be a challenge driven by your mind and that there are going to be times when it’s hard to keep going. When you succeed every day, you’ll know that it was mostly due to your mental strength.

  2. Break each day’s journey down. Whether this is mile by mile, lunch stops, or the half way point, break it down into sections rather than looking at the whole beast. This makes things so much more manageable.

  3. Celebrate the steps along the way. My days were broken down nicely by miles: each mile I covered would cause a vibration on my GPS watch, and I would take a couple of seconds to celebrate that I was one mile closer to my destination.

  4. It is important to look forward, but sometimes it’s a good idea to look back at how far you’ve come too. You did this yesterday, and the day before. You’ve proven you can do it more than once - you can do it again! And even if you’re standing on the starting line - there’s going to have been a journey to get you to that point. Be proud of that, and know that if you can get to there, you can keep going a little longer.

  5. When things got really bad, I would ask myself, “Can I do just one more paddle stroke. Just one more metre? Just one more mile?” The answer was (almost!) always yes. You won’t always need this technique, but when the going gets really tough, it can be a saviour.

  6. Visualisation. Before setting out each day, I would try and visualise what the day was going to be like, what challenges might arise, how that would feel, and how I would tackle it. On particularly long days, or tedious paddles such as big bay crossings where I’d be miles out to sea with no coastline to focus on, I would visualise that familiar feeling of wanting to give up, and not knowing if I could just keep on going indefinitely, before I’d get into that situation. When I found myself there I was much better prepared to acknowledge the feeling and just roll with it, rather than become it.

  7. Every little helps! Watching all the paddle strokes, all the individual miles, and the days add up to 1000 miles on my LEJOG trip was the most incredible confirmation that enormous things can be achieved, if you just keep plodding away at them. Never attempting to do it all in one go, but taking each day at a time.

Q How do you measure success?

A This is a tricky one, as I think the goal posts are often shifting! Especially with awareness raising campaigns, when the results are not always quantifiable. I think it’s very hard with environmentalism too to feel like you’re doing enough, because there’s always more that can be done and often times the issues are so massive. So it’s a really important part of my goal setting to have a marker of success, so that I can be grateful for what good has been done. For me success is bringing hope, positivity and connectedness to people, making positive change however big or small. I love seeing the lightbulb moment for someone when they make the connection between their actions and the environment, and feel empowered to make small changes to help protect nature. I’ve started documenting exchanges I’ve had with people that have resulted in this, presentations I’ve delivered that have inspired people, and a particular favourite, responses from school children I’ve spoken to - hopefully waves of inspiration and empowerment that create concentric circles of positive action,pride and hope.


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Cal is a world record holder having Stand Up Paddle-boarded from Land’s End to John O’Groats earlier this year, to raise awareness of marine conservation and plastic pollution – with Paddle Against Plastic.  Her expedition was supported by Green Tourism and she has been working with them on improving sustainability measures in the hospitality sector. 

Cal has the most incredible, powerful environmental messages, which everyone attending could benefit from.  Her full feature film has just been shown at the Kendal Mountain Festival.  You can watch the trailer here.

She is a Vet who studied in Edinburgh and is also passionate about raising awareness of mental health issues in her profession. 

Cal will speak around the themes of: goal setting, getting comfortable being uncomfortable, resilience, and team work.