"I Create As I Speak"



I’m so pleased and excited to be officially relaunching my communications consultancy Carlin Creative this coming week after a period when I wasn’t able to work.


The reasons relate to a court case which is in the public domain having been reported in the press. Even if I wanted to, I’m still not legally allowed to speak about it because of a Non-Disclosure Agreement or NDA.




That means I’ve been silenced from talking about a work-related situation that pretty much devastated my life over a long and unforgivable amount of time. Fifteen-years to be precise.


For the record, NDAs or gagging clauses are almost illegal now for these purposes thanks to the work of Maria Miller MP, the former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

My advice. Never sign one, ever and here is the reason why:


Bad things happen to good people all the time and I am no exception. The Pandemic has been brutal with families at home and across the world devastated by loss, grief and empty spaces.




People have lost their homes, their livelihoods and jobs, have been forced into poverty and relying on foodbanks and financial support from charities, neighbours, family and friends, all due to circumstances outside their control.


My heart goes out to you. I have experienced much of this although my circumstances were not related to Covid.


For me, the only way forward is not to allow myself to be defined by what happened, to look constantly in the rear-view mirror or allow squatters to live rent free in my head.


On the day my case settled in February; a very talented London based journalist friend sent this message:


“What’s most impressive to me is your lack of resentment. It marks you out as an extraordinary person, a Carrie Fisher kinda gal. For it was she who said: ‘Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.’”


I don’t know about being anything like Carrie Fisher nor do I consider myself to be extraordinary in any way, but I am fortunate to have DNA that makes it impossible for me to bear grudges. I believe carrying resentment in the end only gives my own power and happiness away.




Hating people makes them important, forgiving and forgetting about them makes them obsolete.


When the going got tough, I was very fortunate to have rock solid family and friends around me but I also found kindness in strangers and support and inspiration in odd places.


On one of those days I came across the Bear Grylls book, A Survival Guide For Life. How to achieve your goals, thrive in adversity and grow in character. It was based on his SAS training.


It appealed to me because as a mountaineer, in a previous life, I understood the value of endurance and that putting one foot in front of the other, no matter how hard the terrain, is a strategy that usually pays off.


Although it might seem like it; nothing, even pain, lasts forever (although for me 15-years felt like a life sentence.)




In early 2017, with my hair falling out due to chronic stress, I joined 'The Rise’; a movement of women led by America’s leading Healthy Lifestyle Expert and Transformational Coach, Danette May, although it was called something else back then.


I came across her on my Facebook feed at the end of Christmas promoting a 30-Day Diet and Fitness Challenge in the New Year. There she was, a clean eating goddess making a superfood smoothie, high on energy and life, full of beans and looking every bit as beautiful as the direct opposite to how I felt.


As luck or fate would have it, I was drawn to her energy and my instincts proved right. This turned out to be highly valuable.


It was and still is a global movement of women who are transforming their own lives and those around them for the better. The general theme is women empowering other women; not tearing each other down or scratching each other’s eyes out.


It was the tragic loss of her son and marriage that ended in divorce and near-bankruptcy that in the end would lead May to create and own her own international business, touching the lives of millions of people around the world.


Reviewing her book ‘The Rise’, Kriss Carr, New York Times best-selling author wrote: “It reminds us of the power we each have to turn our pain into purpose and use our lowest points as a springboard to reach our highest potential.”


In other words what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.




The book is dedicated to every woman who “wonders if she matters and deep down knows she does. To all the women who are ready to use their voice, to stand on their stories, to remember on a soul level it is time to rise into the fullest expression of who we are.”


It sounds a bit Hollywood, a bit LA but what’s the alternative?


Ruminate, consume, fester, plan, plot, resent, hate? Good luck to that! If the Pandemic has taught us anything it’s that life is way too short for this type of negativity. All that really matters is today; the here and now. Of being surrounded by people who we love and love us back. To be present in places and situations that promote our happiness and wellbeing.


Shit happens to everyone and sometimes it takes a cataclysmic life event to stretch us so far back that in the end it propels us forward. The process in-between is messy. It hurts. It burns. It humbles.


Cynthia Occelli, the accomplished Author of Resurrecting Venus wrote: “For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.”


In my own journey to rock bottom, I have faced despair, cried so hard I thought I would never stop and grieved for the loss of my previous life, reputation, health and career prospects. I have raged for years internally, silenced by a gagging order that puts corporate reputation before my freedom to speak and ability to recover.



Anyone who has experienced trauma or is an expert in the field knows the importance of being able to speak their truth; to have their experiences heard and validated. It is essential to the healing process. Were I to do this, I’d run the risk of being taken to court because I signed an NDA at a time when I was far too frightened and ill to question it.


As things stand in relation to the organisation I used to work for, I will not say a bad word about it. I felt listened to in the end by the right people and a settlement was the outcome. Apart from the specific circumstances, I loved working there. I was proud of it, rewarded for my performance, sent on prestigious attachments and offered more senior jobs.


I might not ever be able to talk about what happened and maybe I’ll never want to, but something deep down inside tells me it was very wrong and there are people just like me all over the world who have suffered deeply or are suffering in silence and in pain.


Then why not do something about it? I have communications, media relations and lobbying skills and I can’t have gone through 15 of the toughest years of my life to do nothing with the experience and insights I have gained from it. So here comes my gift wrapped in sandpaper.


Kerwin Rae, Australia’s leading business strategist and human performance specialist said: “Your current situation is giving you an opportunity to re-evaluate what you really want. We all break sometimes but that gives us the opportunity to rebuild and grow back stronger. The cure for the pain is in the pain. See the gifts that were there all along hidden in the appearance of discomfort. Pass down your wisdom, not your wounds.”


And that is what’s called post-traumatic growth ‘the benefit of positive psychological change experienced as a result of adversity and other challenges in order to rise to a higher level of functioning.’




I didn’t set out to be a passionate anti-bullying advocate. I didn’t know six months ago, I would be back running my own business again or using my voice and reclaimed strength to speak out about the devastating, sometimes fatal consequences of work-place harassment.


I didn’t know there were vast resources online to support people when they most need it; that experts around the world have been fighting for 30-years for improvement; that there are communities and conferences to join. I want to connect people to that.


I’m only just understanding how other countries around the world are light years ahead of the UK and Ireland in how they deal pastorally and legislatively with this complex issue.




I would never have dreamed that as part of my Carlin Creative communications consultancy I would be launching a new campaign UNABATED to positively use my experience for the benefit of others. My long-term ambition is to provide support, raise awareness, influence change in legislation, ensure NDA’s are abolished forever and that greater protections are put in place for employees who ask for help.


I do know that I want to put my skills and talents to good use to persuade organisations of the benefits of policies and procedures that are designed to work in the interests of everyone and that the best way of protecting corporate reputation is not to sweep difficulties under the carpet but do the right thing in a timely way. This requires strong and enlightened leadership.


All of this will take time. For now, I’m so proud to relaunch and reinvent Carlin Creative Communications. I’ve animated my company logo along the theme of a phoenix rising from the ashes; not just surviving but thriving in business and life. I am free now and ecstatic to get back to doing what I love.


I have a new client list of like-minded people, ground breaking charities, a social enterprise and inspirational female entrepreneurs who are determined to make their mark on the world and other ethically minded businesses who share my purpose, values and principles.  


It was reading Daniel Priestly’s inspirational book Entrepreneur Revolution, how to develop your entrepreneurial mindset and start a business that first inspired me to set up Carlin Creative. Well, it was that and the urgent need for a cover story to mask the obliteration of my CV and otherwise successful career.


In a Chapter, Create the Future, Don’t Consume the Past Daniel writes: “Don’t fantasize about going back to the past as there is simply no such thing. There is no time machine coming to pick you up. You are moving forward in time and the only way things will be better is if you create them as better.”


He subscribes to a theory everything you consume requires energy, either to digest it or to maintain it and that creating is the opposite. When you create, he writes, energy flows through you. The act of creating wakes you up and makes you feel joyous.


I know for a fact that is true. I named my business Carlin Creative because of it.


To anyone in pain or being bullied. Ask for help. It is out there. Then put one foot in front of the other until you walk out the other side.


There are better days ahead. I’ll meet you on the horizon.

How a Pitbull attitude can sometimes help to overcome pitfalls in communications planning

Abracadabra - Una Carlin

"I Create As I Speak"

How a Pitbull attitude can sometimes help to overcome pitfalls in communications planning


Una Carlin, owner of Carlin Creative and former chief spokesperson for the BBC in Northern Ireland talks about how passion and determination can help publicists overcome some pitfalls in communications planning.


Last month I had the privilege of working alongside the incredibly professional and efficient communications team, Joanne McCallister, Director of Fundraising and Communications, Rachel Burgoyne, Communications Manager and Gail Whyte, Press Officer for Cancer Fund for Children providing additional strategic communications and media relations support as the charity announced its ambitious plans to roll out its specialist services across the whole of Ireland.


Those plans also include the building of a new therapeutic short break facility in County Mayo which will be modelled upon and named after its counterpart, Daisy Lodge in Newcastle, County Down supported by Rory McIlroy and the Rory Foundation. The charitable foundation of the four time Major winner has pledged 1.2m Euros as part of a major donor strategy that will help turn this long term vision into a reality.


The campaign marked the most significant development in the charity’s history and was launched at an event in Leeson Street, Dublin on Thursday, June 22 and timed to run in advance of Rory’s return home to host the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open 2017 at Portstewart in early July.

Il Pirata
Il Pirata
Carlin Creative


In the end, it played out into a packed post-election news agenda including the appointment of a new Taoiseach, the DUP deal with Theresa May, the impasse at and never ending saga of Stormont and the still unfolding tragedy of Grenfell Tower which really does puts everything else in life sharply into perspective.


Busy news agendas are challenging at the best of times and can derail months of detailed communications planning without a moment’s notice. In my early days at the BBC in Northern Ireland, shortly after returning home from ITV in London, terrorists flew passenger planes into the Twin Towers in New York City on 9/11 in one of the most horrific attacks the world has ever witnessed.


In the press office, there was nothing else we could do but get on with the job of selling in and promoting our Autumn Season of programmes. We did the best we could in the sombre days to follow making limited headway in a six week sea of local, national and international headlines that did not subside as the world began to come to terms with a new order.


Sometimes, as in the case with Grenfell Tower or the World Trade Centre, there is nothing to be done other than acknowledge the weight of human suffering, take stock and get to grips with the fact that business agendas and corporate goals and objectives are, sometimes, just not as important as what is happening elsewhere in the world.


A sympathetic organisation and a good publicist will know that this is part of the job and that it comes with the media relations territory to expect the unexpected. Press coverage is something that is never guaranteed no matter how newsworthy it is on the day. The world can change in an instant.


In my view, it is how you respond to it that matters, not by giving up and going home but accepting the circumstances for what they are, then digging in deep to try and do the best you can for either your company or client but being tenacious only if and when the circumstances are appropriate.


Careful decisions need to be taken on whether or not to proceed with selling strategies particularly in times of crises when a hard sell at the wrong time can easily be perceived as either bad taste, poor judgment or a combination of both.


As it happened, unforeseen pressures from the external environment at the time of the Cancer Fund for Children launch meant the campaign got off the starting blocks at a slower pace than I would have liked.


The media in Northern Ireland were quicker to pick it up than their ROI counterparts; perhaps due to a greater familiarity with the many positive benefits the charity has brought to local families facing a diagnosis of childhood cancer over 40-years in NI and for the last 20 to families throughout all of Ireland.


Broadcast journalist Paul Reilly from UTV, took time to travel to Daisy Lodge in Newcastle, County Down to interview Cancer Fund for Children’s irrepressible CEO, Gillian Creevy and to speak to a family who have benefited from the short break therapeutic facility they offer.


On a spectacular summer’s day, outside and near the play area in Daisy Lodge set amongst the healing, tranquil and majestic vistas of the Mourne Mountains, I watched on in the background as Paul interviewed Caroline and her daughter Katie Toland.


Katie was diagnosed with leukemia in 2013 at just five years old. Wrapping up the interview, Paul asked her: “Katie, if I was to ask you, if there was just one thing you loved about Daisy Lodge what would it be?” Her reply: “Spending time with my family.”


Not toys, or friends, or food or treats. Just one little girl’s assessment of the amazing work that Cancer Fund for Children does to help bring shattered and exhausted families back together in a restorative and nurturing environment as far removed from a clinical or hospital setting as possible.


The news agenda may well have been creaking at the seams but moments like these make me all the more determined to tell the Cancer Fund for Children story because it is an important one. Each week across Ireland, ten families, seven in the ROI and three in NI will face the devastating news their child has cancer.


No matter what else is going on in the world, in their darkest hours, don’t these families, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents deserve to know that practical and emotional support is coming their direction?


For publicists and communications professionals, it really helps to be passionate about what it is that you are selling. If you believe in it and have conviction you can and will achieve the desired results.


In this case, it took a little longer than expected but in the end the media responded with news and features running across local, regional, national and international broadcast, print and digital press.


Rory returning home (as popular as ever) to host and play at the Irish Open 2017 also gave the campaign new impetus and a fresh set of legs allowing for another round of pro-active press activity some ten days later which secured a front page cover in the Sun newspaper – much more along the lines of the size and scale of the publicity I had originally anticipated.


In the end it was a marathon, not a sprint and where dogged determination paid off. News, features and double page spreads ran in the Irish News, Belfast Telegraph, Irish Sun, Irish Daily Mail, Irish Examiner, Evening Echo, Waterford News, Connaught Telegraph, Tuam Herald, Mayo News, Community Radio and on the BBC (thank you Stephen Watson) UTV (radio, television and online) on RTE, Newstalk, Mid-west Radio, Today FM and international press.


I’m very glad we got there.


One final word of advice on communications planning – always keep a weather eye on the context and environment into which you are going to launch a new product or service.


Do your best to find out what other big announcements or events are happening around that time, launch as early in the day and week as possible and for the love of God avoid an Election period at all costs.

Eat Your Words to Make Great Things Happen

Abracadabra - Una Carlin

"I Create As I Speak"

Eat Your Words To Make Great Things Happen


I’m a big fan of author Daniel Priestley whose book Entrepreneur Revolution is a masterclass in developing your entrepreneurial mind-set, showing you how to change the way you think, the way you network and the way you make a living.


He has an uncanny knack of articulating the multiple, sometimes intangible frustrations many people feel at work but never really express or fully get a grasp on.


Point in case, he writes: “When I look around, I see people living according to a system that makes very little sense to me anymore. I see people giving up the best part of their day to push power to a vision that doesn’t inspire them for a small amount of money that barely affords them an exciting life.”


If you are anything like me, the chances are you want to work somewhere where you are recognised and where you feel the work you do can make a difference. For that reason, I stepped away from the rat race, woke up to the part of myself that is OK with change and that loves a challenge and set up Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications.


Its dual offer includes an artisan, highly customised creative service that takes the pain out of organising stunning events and celebrations and a strategic media relations, PR, copywriting, content and crisis management service that promotes and protects corporate reputation.


Carlin Creative is different because it combines my own particular set of skills and experiences working in media relations and event management for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC for over twenty years with a very real and life-long passion for creativity, production and the process of transformation.


In my first blog I wrote: “I am the type of person, weirdly or not, who likes nothing better than taking a recipe, a dining table, an empty restaurant or a corporate venue and turning it into something remarkable. It’s less a mantra, more a way of life and it applies to almost everything I do.


“Whether it is drafting a press release, writing content for a website, running an event or giving someone a gift , there is joy to be had from taking the standard and elevating it into something unique and the pleasure doubles when it is to someone else’s benefit.”


When I am working with clients, it’s in my nature to care just as much about their brands, their promise of value and reputation, as much as I do about my own. There is nothing wrong with taking pride in your work and doing the very best job you can do. I just don’t do things by half measures.


Neither does my new partner Joanna Braniff. Sometimes through the ‘fell clutch of circumstance,’ the stars align and the universe delivers us something in the form of pure good luck. I’m never one to turn that down or miss out on an opportunity.


In my case, it was crossing paths again with an old friend who I have worked successfully with in an informal capacity for many years. Joanna is a Belfast-based veteran journalist, creative copywriter and award-winning author with a passion and expertise for food writing and has an in-depth knowledge of the local food scene and well, probably just about everything else.


Last week she announced the launch of a new food, drink and hospitality copywriting and PR service for Northern Ireland called Eat Your Words, where she will deliver engaging copy for global brands, local agencies, independent food producers, chefs, restaurants, government departments and luxury retailers.


Rolling stones, however gather no moss! This week, we jointly announced a new creative, strategic partnership in which our companies will both operate independently but where there is opportunity; form an alliance to offer a full agency, marketing, communications, creative, content and events service. Together we are stronger!


Great things really do happen when we work together. We’ve already had a trial run joining forces before Christmas to collaborate on a Carlin Creative commission to deck out Coppi and Il Pirata; two of NI’s finest Italian eateries for Christmas. I asked Joanna to help because, well there are just some things she can do better than me! One of them is flower arranging which includes hand decorating festive wreaths. She is brilliant at it while I’ve no patience.



Il Pirata
Il Pirata
Carlin Creative


I think it is the ability to recognise skill and talent in somebody else and playing to their strengths as well as your own that makes for great team and partnership working. Frankly, neither of us are interested in the ‘your logo is bigger than my logo’ game or in Donald Trump’s case, ‘my inauguration had more attendees than Obama’s’. Nor will we deal or engage in office politics, rivalry or petty jealousies. The world does not need more divisiveness.


It’s our aim to be independently successful but mutually supportive so that we can both have thriving businesses, earn a living and have great fun and satisfaction while doing it. We both believe a good partnership can be a powerful driving force. It’s about working together, thinking about the needs of others to create long term success for everyone involved, now and in the future.


Coming from media backgrounds in print and broadcasting at local and national level, we have fully interchangeable creative, copywriting and crisis management skills and importantly the trust is there which means we are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to getting a job done and to the highest standards.


On a purely practical basis that also means we can be there for each other when the going gets tough, extra pairs of hands are needed or someone is on holiday or gets ill. Our priority is always to ensure our clients are served with a consistently high quality service and that projects are delivered on time and to budget.


I have to say, I love this new way of working. Technology has made it possible for small enterprises like ours, to be supportive of each other, to find a market, define a niche, to build a brand, to be open out-of-hours and to be highly flexible and responsive to delivering to customer needs and expectations.


Super-tankers take a long time to turn. We can manoeuvre on a pin head.


Daniel Priestley sums it up: “The nature of work, lifestyle and wealth is changing….Small businesses can now do almost all the things big businesses can do, sometimes more. Small businesses have spirit. It has people who really know their customers, love what they do and respond faster.


“They are places where there is less red tape and where the workplace is more fun and everyone has a say. There is a tribal feeling that gets lost in big companies. Entrepreneurial teams will be faster, more cost effective, more nimble and more responsive.”


I for one am really glad to have taken the entrepreneurial leap and even more to be working in creative partnership with Eat Your Words and my good friend Joanna Braniff!


To find out more about Carlin Creative contact Una Carlin on (07764) 354917 and

for Eat Your Words, Joanna Braniff on (07808) 862141.


The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It!

Abracadabra - Una Carlin

"I Create As I Speak"

The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Create It!


Maybe this time next year pigs might fly and I will be quoting something profound from President Elect, Donald Trump who obsessed with social media and blindly ignorant of international diplomacy is busying himself this week creating conditions which could belligerently drive China and Russia into each other’s arms.


Ironically, wise old President Abraham Lincoln, once said: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”; an optimistic statement you might think until you consider the cynical and manipulative way in which both Brexit and the 45 th campaign for the American presidency played out leaving the world in a much more precarious place.


For now, I’ll leave my views on international politics aside and will apply (albeit on a micro level) the inspirational words of Lincoln to what I’ve been trying to achieve at Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications since I launched my new start-up business just a few months ago.


Since then, we are delighted to announce a creative partnership with one of NI’s most successful restaurant groups Thornyhill; the team behind Coppi and Il Pirata in Belfast and Bartali on the spectacular North Coast.


Our task; to deck out the Belfast based restaurants for Christmas in a way that is unique to their brand and enhances the already amazing dining experience for their guests during the festive season.


It was an act of faith and a vote of confidence on behalf of management team Andrea and Tony O’Neill and Sam Spain to entrust two of the most beautiful spaces in Belfast, deserving of only the very best. I cannot thank them enough for giving Carlin Creative the opportunity.


For both restaurants we adopted a ‘less is more’ approach installing big set pieces of the highest quality to match a creative brief to supply both restaurants with a traditional theme for Christmas.


When I say ‘we’, I mean myself alongside my hugely talented friend Joanna Braniff who I very much hope will join me at Carlin Creative in a creative partnership when the business is more established. I’ve known her for a very long time. We share exactly the same skill set and work great together.

Coppi Belfast
Coppi, Belfast
Coppi Restaurant


For Coppi, we took inspiration from its dark mahogany panelled walls and green and white butchers’ tiles reminiscent of Belfast city’s industrial heritage and of Titanic days gone by.


Wreaths from Irish designer, Paul Costello were sourced (among others) and customised to add dimension in a large space using burlap sack cloth and patterned ribbon and baubles which would not find themselves out of place a century ago. Red winter berries also formed a key part of the theme.


Il Pirata, Belfast
Il Pirata, Belfast
Il Pirata, Belfast


For Il Pirata, a Narnia-style ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ feel which is on trend just right now with the £2.5m CS Lewis Square officially opening in East Belfast last month on the 53rd anniversary of the writer’s death at the age of 64.


Drive down the Newtownards Road towards town at night time and you cannot miss the five Scandinavian-style snow trees framed in Il Pirata’s windows and decorated to match the teak and creams and blacks of Il Pirata’s reclaimed floor which is a design beauty to behold in itself.


Love and attention to detail has been heavily invested into both these restaurants on behalf of its owners and staff and I sincerely hope Carlin Creative delivered on expectations. True to our own brand, we always try to add a touch or two to surprise and delight customers and guests.

Il Pirata
Il Pirata
Carlin Creative


So if you are visiting either Italian restaurant, Coppi or Il Pirata, during the festive period, which I highly recommend you do (the Christmas menu is fantastic) look out for the tiny Christmas pasta shapes which adorn almost all the decorations.


It’s time consuming coming up with unique concepts, hand decorating in this way and securing each and every bauble by clear fishing line to Christmas proof every branch and tree but it’s an important part of the Carlin Creative process.


We pride ourselves in coming together with our clients and through visual story telling celebrating their work and success. We are here to help businesses get results from their brand, reputation and promise of value and do it in a highly creative way.


Our experiential events are designed to increase satisfaction, retain loyal customers, attract new ones forge meaningful bonds and drive love and loyalty to your brand. Passion, loving what you do and caring deeply about the outcome is an infectious way to do business.


'Love what you do. Do what you love' is a mantra regularly repeated to me by Vikram Khan (Director, Broadcast Guru Technologies) who manages the Carlin Creative website, on-the-go, on demand and all the way from India.


I’ve learned the creative process is never going to be a perfect one nor is it an exact science. There will always be differences in taste and style, opinions, preferences and expectations.


But what we really hope to achieve, now and in the future, is to work alongside our clients, listening ever more carefully to and engaging with their needs, to inform, inspire and educate VIP guests and customers about your products and services and while they are being entertained.


In my third blog ‘Belfast on a Plate’ Delivers Food for Thought which explored the food and hospitality history of our city and some of the top twenty restaurants and chefs that are making such a huge contribution to the regeneration of Belfast, I wrote:


“As the business builds and grows Carlin Creative aspires to work alongside some of the world class talent showcased in Belfast on a Plate and in the world class venues and eateries.”


I hope the images featured here and in our gallery do justice to the elegance and clean lines that are features of Coppi and Il Pirata and set them apart from standard festive decor. They are bespoke and unique.


For Carlin Creative this job was much more than a first commission. It was a prediction of the future and a very real example of how, with grit and determination, something really worthwhile can be created.


It’s also an example of how life is not what you are given, it is about what you make of it, it’s about what you overcome, the relationships you develop and what you achieve that makes it beautiful. It’s also about good people putting their trust in you and taking risks.


Looking back and in less than four months since our launch date, Carlin Creative has lots to celebrate.


We are delighted to announce that since September we have had well over 10,000 page views and counting on our website which has a bounce rate of under 5%.


That means when people come to Carlin Creative, they are not only visiting but staying around to find out more about what we do. I’m reliably told this is good news for a fledgling company.


We have also had recent success on the PR, Marketing and Content side of the house with new clients and prospects on board. Look out for the launch of the rebranded Comber and Ards Veterinary Clinic website coming soon.


Carlin Creative tells their story from an emotional perspective about how the highly experienced veterinary team at Comber and Ards are transforming the lives of pets and their owners for the better.


It was humbling to hear first-hand and independently from a range of pet owners how vets, James Buick and Rob McCabe and each and every one of their staff go the extra mile and beyond expectation to give users an exceptional, high quality experience and how they continuously work to improve services to meet their customers’ needs.


In all my working life, rarely have I heard stories of such undiminished customer loyalty.


It has been an immense privilege to work alongside a variety of new partners and businesses, to share in their passion and to help celebrate their work and success.


I have said before: “Letting go of a 20-year career in British Broadcasting wasn’t easy. I loved my time working in marketing, communications and event management for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC and was proud of my association with some of the best know media brands in the world.


“It was a bold move to quit a high paying job to venture out and see what the world had to offer. It took a while to let go of my normal corporate work ethos, of engrained ways of working and to break free of traditional expectations around finding and keeping a job.”


For now, I’m loving predicting and creating my own future. It’s exciting but also an anchor in a much more uncertain world which politically and commercially, is set in the next decade, to become ever more volatile.


And remember, if you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs for them and can fire you at will.


Perhaps we might all take a leaf from William Ernest Henley’s Invictus and leave Donald Trump and the Brexiters to the ‘fell clutch of circumstance…and to the menace of the years” ahead.


This way: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”


Very glad in the end, to have taken the entrepreneurial leap.

Autumn On Fire

Abracadabra - Una Carlin

"I Create As I Speak"

Autumn on Fire


“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, close bosom-friend of the maturing sun, conspiring with him how to load and bless with fruits the vines that round the thatch-eves run.”


No-one can really describe autumn better than English Romantic poet, John Keats. He composed ‘To Autumn’ most appropriately on September 19th in 1819.


I love this special time of year!


In the northern hemisphere, the first day of autumn is the day of the year when the Sun crosses the celestial equator, moving southward on September 22nd. This day is known as the Autumnal Equinox.


It truly is one of the most spectacular seasons; an intense and pervasive glow of orange and ruby reds, in the sky, in the trees and in the falling leaves. Its burst of colour, a swan song to the exiting summer before the winter and dark nights close in.


With everything back to business, kids at school and the party season almost upon us, I have tried to capture some of autumn’s ‘rosy hue’ in my latest photo shoot to update and refresh the Carlin Creative website. I really hope you like it!


Haloween 2016
Halloween Theme
Halloween 2016


The ‘Fall’ is something the Americans and Canadians do exceptionally well.


Every October, carved pumpkins peer out from porches and doorsteps. These gourd like orange fruits inscribed with ghoulish faces and illuminated by candles are a sure sign of Halloween season and it is a trend that is catching on across the globe.

 But did you know, decorating pumpkins, otherwise known as Jack O’ Lanterns originates in an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas for carving before immigrants brought the practice to the United States?


Legend has it, ‘Stingy Jack,’ invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin so that Jack could use it to buy the drinks.


(Good man yourself Jack!)


Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it in his pocket next to a silver cross which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil under the condition that he would not bother him for one year and that should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.


The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree’s bark so that the Devil could not come down until he had promised Jack not to bother him for many years.


(Fool me once Jack, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!)


Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavoury figure into Heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack played on him and keeping to his promise not to claim Jack’s soul, would not allow Jack into hell.


Instead, he sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved turnip and has been roaming the earth with it ever since.


So it was the Irish that began to refer to this ghostly figure as ‘Jack of the Lantern’ and then simply ‘Jack O’Lantern.’


It was the Irish who began to make lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors on All Hallow’s Eve to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits.


Immigrants brought the tradition with them to the United States where they soon found pumpkins; a fruit native to America that made for the perfect ‘Jack O’Lanterns.’


It now appears we have outdone the United States in the size and scale of our own Halloween festivities. Everything has come full circle. The celebrations are now bigger than ever before with Derry City throwing the deadliest of welcome parties and like no other, as supernatural beings and the souls of the dead flood into Foyle.


The ‘Out of this World in the City of Bones! Banks of the Foyle Halloween Festival’ was recently voted by USA Today as ‘Welcome to Your Best Halloween Destination in the World;” where visitors are invited to take part in the biggest carnival event with a jammed packed programme of events for all ages happening around Derry, Londonderry and Strabane.


Let’s face it. In Ireland, north and south, we are experts when it comes to partying like its 1999!


A few years back, in 2013, Ireland welcomed in the world. Friends, loved ones and connections were invited home to celebrate over 5,000 ‘Gatherings’ held in their honour. Each gathering had its own individual story of friendship and kinship, of long-lost family connecting, rekindling a sense of community and coming together to celebrate and welcome home those now living overseas.


It was a stroke of state sponsored marketing genius that soon turned into a national movement where our unique Irish pride and passion was poured into a year of ‘Gatherings’ that showed just what we are made off – world leading party people who love the craic and who, just as in the case of ‘Stingy Jack,’ never let the truth get in the way of a good story.


It’s in the same spirit of hospitality, generosity and warmth of welcome, I have established Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications. It’s not another PR agency but a boutique, highly specialised offer for private and corporate clients who want to inform, educate and entertain their special guests and stakeholders in an exceptional way.


Everything, as you can see in the pictures above, is in the attention to detail.


We have a big heart and a big ambition and love what we do. We pride ourselves in running awesome events that make an impact upon people’s lives. It doesn’t matter if it’s a house party, special occasion or big business launch, we want to do things differently, go the extra mile and beyond expectation to transform your celebration into something so special it will be talked about now and years down the line.


And we have the media relations and social media skills to make you headline news.


Carlin Creative is here to help you mark life’s milestones, have a great time, live with no regrets and enable you to take all the credit. VIP memories are made from these socially infectious occasions. From fine cuisine to stunning décor, warm hospitality and clever touches, we layer each celebration with extraordinary precision to make your event the talk of the town.


We specialise in the production of intimate parties, special events and full service event planning. So why not set this autumn on fire by seizing the day and celebrating someone really special? Don’t put off until tomorrow, ‘a gathering’ that can be done today. Time flies likes an arrow.


“September has come, it is hers, whose vitality leaps in the autumn, whose nature prefers trees without leaves and a fire in the fire place.”


Warm words to close from Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal and to wish you the very best during this third season of the year.


This is when our eyes will rise from the damp concrete paths to the beauty above, watching each leaf as it makes its final dance to earth, before the trees stand naked, stripped of their gold and scarlet and just before the welcome mat for winter is laid out before us.


Carpe Diem.

Born in Belfast, Made in a Monsoon

Abracadabra - Una Carlin

"I Create As I Speak"

Carlin Creative: Born in Belfast, Made in a Monsoon


My work space in front of me is festooned in a schizophrenic mix of Halloween and Christmas table settings and decorations. Just another day and to be expected at Carlin Creative headquarters, as I make final preparations for today’s photo shoot with Stephen Potts, Creative Commercial Photography. The party season is almost upon us and the early bird is up at dawn in order to catch the worm.


I can’t help feeling, I’m right at home amongst all the bling; the glitter, glue, diamante stickers and two toothless ceramic pumpkin lanterns grinning at me from ear to ear. I’ve finally arrived in exactly the place where I want to be. I’m at the start of a brand new and thrilling entrepreneurial career, where social media has become my playground.


I have to admit, I got a bit of a kick posting a trial run picture of my twin pumpkins on LinkedIn. Two orange eejits, generating lots of likes and sticking out like sore thumbs in a sea of commercial wisdom including the nearby post: “If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to build theirs for them.”


In my second blog: Business from the Beach, I wrote, “Letting go of a 20-year career in British Broadcasting wasn’t easy. I loved my time working in marketing, communications and event management for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC and was proud of my association with some of the best known media brands in the world.


“It was a bold move to quit a high paying job to venture out and see what the world had to offer. It took a while to let go of my normal corporate work ethos, of engrained ways of working and to break free of traditional expectations around finding and keeping a job.”


Reading Daniel Priestley’s inspirational book Entrepreneur Revolution; how to develop your entrepreneurial mind-set and start a business that works, was my first tentative step in setting up Carlin Creative.


In a chapter entitled, Create the Future, Don’t Consume the Past he writes: “Don’t fantasize about going back to the past, as there’s simply no such thing as going back to the way things were. Life doesn’t move backwards, it moves forwards. There’s no time machine coming to pick you up. You are moving forward in time and the only way things will be better is if you create them as better.”


He subscribes to a theory that everything you consume requires energy, either to digest it or to maintain it in your life and that creating is the opposite. When you create, he writes, energy flows through you. The act of creating wakes you up and makes you feel joyous.


I know, for a fact, that this is true. I named my blog and business after it!


There is great satisfaction to be had from coming up with an idea, building a brand around the promise of delivery of great value and infusing it with creativity, passion and love. The experience of building something that gets talked about, is perhaps one of the most rewarding and energetically uplifting things you will ever do.


Like having a child, it needs to be cared for, nurtured and loved.


Portavogie prawns with chorizo, garlic and chilli
chargrilled lamb loin


My Carlin Creative birth plan began with a painting on my bathroom wall by local artist, Gavin Fitzsimons. It’s called Heat and I have always loved it. It has a colour palette of burnished gold, black and deep red. It is stunning in its clean lines, simplicity and richness.


I bought it from an art gallery on the way to sign for the mortgage for my house at the Progressive Building Society in Wellington Place, Belfast. On the way back, it had been replaced by another work called Ice which I also bought and then a third one called Fire.


There I was, the proud owner of three fine paintings and neither the keys to my house nor a penny to my name. I’ve always had an eye for tasteful things and have the knack of putting them together to create something stunning in the sum of all its parts and I’ve been doing it for years. I have a very real and life-long passion for creativity, production and the process of transformation.


I might not be able to sing, or dance, or paint but somehow, I have an innate ability to take the ordinary and turn it into something remarkable and it is around this fascinating process, I have decided to build a business.


So whether it’s writing a press release, running an event or giving someone a gift, it’s my view, there is joy to be had from taking the standard and elevating it into something unique. But having an idea is easy; creating something is an entirely different ball game.


Daniel Priestly writes: “Thinking about having a date with Pippa Middleton doesn’t make you her new boyfriend. Thinking about a business idea, a product or a new service doesn’t make you its creator. What makes you creative is your ability to bring it into the world in a way that other people can understand and value.


“Being creative isn’t easy; you need to decide upon the idea and then do everything required to bring it into the world. The process can take months or years to get a single creation completed. It’s blood, sweat, tears, risk and sacrifice.”


Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to overcome it, so at the end of April 2016, I took a leap of faith and probably a leave of my senses by announcing, via a Friday night post on Facebook that I was launching a new career.


Making a declaration and in such a public way was the only way of getting up on Monday morning and not being able to back out of it.


It was the best and craziest decision I ever made and from that point on, Carlin Creative developed a momentum all of its own. To get the ball rolling, my brother, Peter Carlin, co-owner of Logicearth Learning Services recommended an American company called 99 Designs.


It appealed because freelance designers across the globe compete to create your logo and hosted website design and it's guaranteed; a design you love or your money back. It’s that simple. The process begins with filling in a number of questions asking for a bit more about who you are and the people you reach.


Mine reads: “Carlin Creative is a highly personalised, creative and innovative event management and communications solutions company for private and corporate clients. No event is too big or too small but all are delivered with the highest quality production values and where attention to the smallest detail is key. Transformation is at the heart of the creative process making the mundane not only memorable but truly stand out. Think Martha Stewart meets Pinterest but for the Irish market.”


Asked what do you have in mind for the style and theme of the logo and hosted website? My response: “Visual, clean, angular, rich, high quality, attention to detail with the same brand capable of migrating to all social media platforms. Black, burnished gold and red; a royal rich feel without being fussy.”


And that was it, my creative brief submitted alongside a photograph of my favourite painting in my newly refurbished bathroom.


It took less than 24 hours to receive my ‘stand out from the crowd’ winning logo concept from Vikram Khan, (with the patience of a saint) based in New Delhi, India.


I later found out, he spends most of his time running a number of businesses, Broadcast Guru Technologies and Digital Navigation Pvt. Ltd, kitting out television studios and media labs with new technology.


With both of us coming from professional backgrounds in broadcasting we had far more in common, than that which divided us but God only knows how he put up with pernickety me! I turned out to be a right royal control freak.


Vikram, who goes by the name of Viks, was the only designer of all those competing who had read and fully understood the creative brief. I don’t like flowers, and stars and swirls and doves and ‘all things little girls are made off’.


The design, he produced, bringing Carlin Creative to life and at lightning speed in just under eight weeks, was boutique, elegant and impactful. It was a great privilege to work alongside a complete stranger, now a life-long friend who is just as passionate about the brand and its success as I am.


Apart from the odd monsoon, floods and disrupted networks, working with someone half way across the world and in a different time zone was much easier than expected.


Life has moved on.


Today’s technology enabled culture provides an immediate, accessible, self-directed and adult appropriate way of conducting business. Working is no longer a composite 9am to 5pm picture, belonging to the industrial age. It is now a moving, high tech film requiring constant innovation and re-invention and brings with it creative freedom and flexibility.


In the digital age, it’s all about on-the-go, on-demand; much more mobile, social and global ways of doing business. Commerce is conducted everywhere at home, in offices overseas, on the beach, in coffee shops anywhere that can accommodate a laptop, tablet, mobile phone and broadband.


Never in a million years, back at my desk at the BBC did I dream, I would be planning my own photo shoot, pumpkins at the ready, never mind running my own business with first class technical, creative and mentoring support hailing all the way from India.


Never mind Brexit and all the doomsday stories about economic downturns and austerity. It strikes me there has never been a better time to start and grow a business that brings excitement to the working day and that can make a difference to the world.


And no matter how many mistakes I make or how quickly or slowly I progress, I’m still one step ahead of anyone and everyone who isn’t trying.


Suits me Ji!

Belfast On a Plate

Abracadabra - Una Carlin

"I Create As I Speak"

‘Belfast On A Plate’ Delivers Food For Thought



Singer and songwriter, Fatboy Slim once wrote: “We’ve come a long, long way together. Through the hard times and the good.”


Twenty years ago and pre-ceasefire, Belfast had a reputation to equal Beirut. Bombed out buildings, British Army checkpoints, civil unrest, razor wire and urban ruins were just as much a part of the landscape among our fields of green.


It’s not that the people of Belfast lost their freedom, their spirit or taste of the good life. On the contrary, it was always a party town despite the ongoing conflict.


The craic prevailed, no matter what, underpinned by a sense of humour as black as the patrolling soldiers’ boots and tourists (a rare breed) were more likely to be killed by kindness than any bullet or bomb.


There was a long period of darkness in Belfast’s food history where a trip to McDonald’s meant a two hour drive down to Dublin.


It was left up to the Chinese, oddly enough, to turn a blind eye to the chaos going on all around them to serve us with their exotic oriental cuisine; a welcome break from our regular staple of meat, potatoes and two vegetables.


Well, that was until Ciro showed up; more famous for his Ferrari and a ferocious Italian temper than fine dining. It just wasn’t a good night out unless some plates were smashed and an unappreciative guest got booted out of his Trattoria.


Ciros was pure theatre. Great craic! We loved it! And with Larry’s Piano Bar hot on its heels.


Today, Belfast has come of age. In the last 15-years, it has blossomed. Paul Rankin, one of NI’s top chefs and a regular TV celebrity reckons that our city is in the top three provincial food destinations in the UK and that it has been up there for quite some time.


I found that out at last week’s Belfast City Hall launch of ‘Belfast on a Plate’, a flavour of the city in recipes and stories. This beautifully crafted book gets under the skin of some of our best chefs, restaurants and owners who have helped put Belfast firmly on the gastronomic map.


For all the foodies out there, this is simply a Christmas must buy!


On the evening of the launch, Danielle Barry, Head Chef of Deane’s Eipic and Ireland’s only female Michelin starred chef was unable to attend because she was in London being awarded the first woman to be named Irish Chef of the Year by Food and Wine Magazine.


Danni and all the other talented and committed chefs and restaurateurs from Coppi, Deanes at Queens, Deanes Eipic, General Merchants, Graze, Hadskis, Home, Howard Street, James St. South, Mourne Seafood Bar, Neill’s Hill, Ox, Saphyre, Shu, Tedfords Kitchen, The Barking Dog, The Ginger Bistro, The Merchant Hotel, The Muddlers Club and Zen are all substantial contributors to the transformation of our hospitable and resilient city.


On the same day last week, Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic exhibition was named Europe’s Leading Visitor Attraction at the World Travel Awards 2016.


The project which occupies the same spot where the Titanic was built stole the show from the Acropolis, Eiffel Tower and La Sagrada Familia to take the top spot. It has attracted more than three million visitors since it opened its doors in 2012, on the centenary of the ship’s sinking.


Standing in the grandeur and opulence of our beautiful City Hall, at the Belfast on a Plate event organised by Food NI and supported by Taste of Ulster, I couldn’t help but think, how we, in NI really have come a long, long way together and that life is not about what you are given, it is about what you create, it’s about what you overcome and what you achieve that makes it beautiful.


As individuals, I believe, we are all capable of making a unique contribution to our society that will move us from where we have come from towards where we want to be. It is into this exciting and dynamic environment, I recently launched my brand new venture, Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications.


It’s our job to make it really easy for people in and beyond Northern Ireland to put on exceptional special occasions, parties launches and shows and we have the communications and media relations expertise to make you headline news.


What I hope to establish is an artisan, boutique, highly specialised events and communications service for private and corporate clients who want to stand out from the crowd and inspire, inform and entertain their special guests and stakeholders in an aspirational way. Everything is in the detail.


Carlin Creative is different because it combines my own particular set of skills and experiences working in media relations and event management for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC for over twenty years with a very real and life-long passion for creativity, production and the process of transformation.


As the business builds and grows, Carlin Creative aspires to work alongside some of the world class talent showcased in Belfast on a Plate and in their world class venues and eateries including two Michelin starred restaurants, chilled out bistros and exceptional gastro pubs. I loved the Permit Room, in Fountain Street, Belfast, owned by Niall Davis. It’s an intimate space, with great cuisine, ideal for dark autumnal and winter nights and special private occasions.


In my first Carlin Creative blog I wrote: “I am the type of person, weirdly or not, who likes nothing better than to take a recipe, a dining table, an empty restaurant or a corporate venue and turn it into something remarkable. It’s less a mantra more a way of life and it applies to almost everything I do.”


I’ve also claimed that at Carlin Creative, we like to innovate and are up for any challenge so I put myself to the test by trying out three recipes from Belfast on a Plate just to see how I would manage. My amateur images do nothing to reflect David Pauley’s stunning photography in this highly polished book.

Portavogie prawns with chorizo, garlic and chilli
chargrilled lamb loin

The first, thanks to Cath Gradwell and Jonathan Davis from Neill’s Hill was relatively straightforward. I chose to make delicious sizzling Portavogie prawns with chorizo, garlic and chilli. More Barcelona than Belfast, I would have thought with its core ingredients of olive oil, prawns, chorizo, red chilli, garlic and smoked paprika.


My second choice was more complicated than the first! It was chargrilled lamb loin, with kale and quinoa tabouleh, smoked aubergine with tahini and mint yoghurt made by Home’s Stephen Haller.


I stayed true to using only the very best of local produce and took myself off to the multi-award winning Farmview Meats, otherwise locally known as McDowell’s in the Castlereagh Hills, not having the slightest clue what a loin of lamb looked like.


But I could now identify it in a line up having been presented with all sorts of choice, everything from a lamb chop, to a lamb steak, leg of lamb or rack of Irish lamb and to add to the humiliation did I want it rolled, boned, skinned or tied? I had three master butchers involved in the conversation.


No pressure then in front of a lengthening queue of bemused Saturday shoppers!


I was much less stressed by the many Middle Eastern ingredients incorporated into this recipe. Everything from sumac, pomegranate seeds, quinoa and tahini could be easily found in well stocked local supermarkets and were surprisingly easy to use.


It wasn’t such a difficult recipe after all, more a number of processes to meticulously follow. I was really pleased with the end results in a dish that celebrated Irish lamb but resonated of far off places and a warmer climate.


The Piece De Resistance was an Apple Tart Tatin, with the French making it upside down and in a pan just to make it harder than it looks. This recipe came from Michael O’Connor of the Barking Dog, one of the city’s more eclectic eateries located near Queen’s University.


With only five core ingredients, four apples peeled and cored, 100g butter, 100g sugar, 2 cinnamon sticks and 100gms of shop bought puff pastry (don’t torture yourself) this was simple enough to make and a sweet and stunning end to any mealtime.


All there was left to do, was to turn it out on a plate, upside down, dust with icing sugar and serve with your choice of ice cream while avoiding third degree burns from the boiling hot, molten sugar syrup!


To win a copy of Belfast on A Plate, watch out for our competition on Carlin Creative Facebook!


It’s fitting that 2016 marks Northern Ireland’s Year of Food and Drink celebrating and showcasing the best local produce and promoting the people whose lives are dedicated to rearing, making, cooking and serving it.


In a divided society, this sector has struggled, sometimes against the odds, but has achieved a unique form of excellence distinct to Belfast and Northern Ireland.


We have all benefited from our artisans' love of food, their passion for produce, their curiosity, their experiences at home and abroad and most of all their hard work and determination.


In the words of Fatboy Slim: “We have come a long, long way together, through the hard times and the good. I have to celebrate you Belfast. I have to praise you like I should.”


A phoenix will always rise from its ashes.


Abracadabra - Una Carlin

"I Create As I Speak"

Sometimes it blows my mind just how lucky I have become. As I write this, my second blog since launching Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications a few weeks ago, I am watching the late summer sun descend behind Brandon Mountain on Dingle’s North Shore, County Kerry in Ireland.


The sky and tide are engaged in a crimson, unspeakably beautiful slow dance as the sun sinks low into the west. There is beauty all about; mountains to the left of me, ocean to the right. Here I am stuck in the middle of the Wild Atlantic Way and loving every minute of it!


Can you imagine waking up every day and getting paid to do what you love and doing business where, when and how you love doing it?


Imagine the freedom, the independence, the autonomy to decide that today, I am going to operate Carlin Creative from an, albeit temporary Head Quarters, Sandy Bay Two Caravan Park on the Maharees Peninsula?


I’ve been coming to this spectacular, sometimes unforgiving place since early childhood. Never in my own wild Atlantic dreams did I ever imagine, I would be running my own business and from a place I can be so boringly passionate about. I love it!


It wasn’t so long ago, we would have to queue up at a telephone box in the nearby village of Castlegregory to make any sort of contact with the world outside the Kingdom of Kerry.


Blog-Una Carlin
Blog-Una Carlin
Blog-Una Carlin

Today, enabled by technology, (thank you, Mobile Wi-Fi) I am able to travel, to work and earn on-the-go, on-demand and from wherever I choose to. Freedom!


So let’s be honest! Where would you rather work? Chained to a desk in a corporate company, with little heart and less soul; where you are treated as a number, subject to the shifting sands of efficiency plans and redundancy measures and where the focus is always on the bottom line.


Or instead, would you like to take an entrepreneurial leap, to create a business around a niche that you are passionate about, to be part of a small but dynamic team of creative people who care deeply about what they do and on occasion run it from a beach near Dingle.


What that means, is we all have a choice!


Letting go of a 20-year career in British Broadcasting wasn’t easy. I loved my time working in marketing, communications and event management for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC and was proud of my association with some of the best known media brands in the world.


Broadcasting by its very nature has no shortage of talent, ambition, ideas, genres, programmes, subjects or crises. It is in a constant state of evolution bringing with it multiple opportunities to work with highly talented people and on some great content.


It was a bold move to quit a high paying job to venture out and see what the world had to offer. The first thing I realised was that job hunting as we know it has changed forever. It’s a jungle out there in a depressed market where only the fittest survive and where head hunters and recruitment agencies circle.


I was particularly impressed by two Belfast based companies, the first, 4c Executive Search led by principal search consultant, Gary Irvine. At 4c I met Emma Kieran who set me up with an interim Director of Communications role with Cancer Fund for Children.


I am also grateful to Karl Webb, Senior Executive Search Consultant at MCS Group. Both Karl and Emma provided sound professional advice and guidance and were focused on serving the best interests of candidates as well as their clients. I liked that!


It took a while to let go of my normal corporate work ethos, of engrained ways of working and to break free of traditional expectations around finding and keeping a job. That old saying, as one door closes another one opens, is no longer strictly true!


Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) once said: “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”


Try what?


It was time to take a long hard look at who I was, what I had to offer, to drill down into my unique skills, capabilities and talents and put them to good use in serving others. Naval gazing back through my early years, school and university days and through my career in broadcasting led me to a simple conclusion.


I have a very real and life-long passion for creativity, production and the process of transformation. In my last blog, I write: “I am the type of person, weirdly or not, who likes nothing better than to take an empty restaurant or a corporate venue and turn it into something remarkable. It’s less a mantra, more a way of life and it applies to almost everything I do.


“Whether it’s writing a press release, running an event or giving someone a gift, there is joy to be had from taking the standard and elevating it into something unique and the pleasure doubles when it is to someone else’s benefit. There’s nothing quite like seeing the smiles on faces only a truly special occasion can bring.”


Carlin Creative ‘Time to Shine’ Events and Communications has been born out of embracing that passion, of turning what I am doing and what I love to do into a business. It’s thrilling and scary at the same time, to create something really special, to ignite a brand, and infuse it with creativity and love.


What I want to build is a flourishing business; one where I can achieve a deeper sense of well-being, meaning and purpose. I believe, learning to flourish and helping others to do the same is one of the most powerful and worthwhile investments we can make.


Dr Maureen Gaffney, one of Ireland’s most accomplished psychologists and a respected and trusted commentator on everything from personal development to organisational, cultural and societal change, wrote:


“We all have a dream place, a high place we are journeying towards in our lives. The purpose and direction of travel for each of us, says Aristotle, is to achieve a unique form of excellence distinct to our individual nature. The highest stage of development possible. That is our high place, where we are at our best, where we can flourish.”


Finally, I find myself in a place where I feel vitally alive because I know and feel that I am now doing what I was put in this world to do. I no longer feel blocked or frustrated in my efforts, that my spirit is trapped or that I am being robbed of my place and purpose in life and I am doing it from one of the most beautiful places on this planet.


Time and tide waits for no man.


I’ve gone to catch the surf!