Accidentally on Purpose #25 #cong22


Both Benjamin Franklin and Winston Churchill said something along the lines of ‘to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail’. Just as well I didn’t have a career in politics in my sights because I’ve managed very well without a game plan for almost 50 years. For this article, I’m going to document a series of fortunate (and unplanned) events that brought me to where I am today and the very roundabout but interesting route from where I started.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. I read somewhere once that if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, ask yourself what you wanted to be when you were a child. For me, it was always a writer.
  2. I actively avoided pursuing this career and instead ended up in tech using my storytelling skills. I dabbled in the downtime but never gave myself enough time.
  3. A bursary to an International Summer School in 2019 proved to be transformative both in terms of the people I met and the outcomes of that collaboration.
  4. In 2021, I said enough is enough and took a gap year to focus on my craft and picked up a new one on the way. So much happened in that gap year that if today you were to ask me ‘what do you do?’ I’d answer, I’m a writer. I might mutter the words but I wouldn’t be lying.

About Joy Redmond

I’m a writer and a printmaker with a greeting card side hustle. Before that, I was a marketer, an academic, a researcher, a web/ux designer, and more besides.

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By Joy Redmond

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always written, plays in school, essays that were acted out in class, and articles for local magazines. Despite this leaning, I knew I didn’t want to study English or do an Arts degree because I didn’t like the analysis of writing – the theme of the poem, the motivations of the villain etc. I was Mathsy too and did nearly all Sciences for the Leaving Cert but I didn’t have a particular calling for that life either so I studied Marketing for some reason or other.

In college, I never got excited about consumer marketing or the big brands, I was drawn to the storytelling side and of course, marketing research fed my Quants brain so when I was offered a postgrad scholarship to do a Masters by research (thesis only), I jumped at the chance. My brief was to analyse the internationalisation strategies of the then-nascent indigenous Irish software industry (mid-90s). In early 1996, I came across this text-heavy ‘thing’ called the world wide web. Talk about light bulb moment, I packed up my desk and joined one of Ireland’s first web design agencies and have stayed in the industry since but have changed careers several times within it.

Ever before I had kids, I liked to mix and match my work in preference to the full-time 9-5 with just one patron. So while I was a postgrad, I also lectured part-time, was a barmaid, and did regular freelance research. I learned later that Charles Handy coined this a ‘portfolio career’ which makes me pretty unemployable on paper if I ever wanted a full-time job again but in fact suits me very well in having a skillset that most companies don’t require full time so it’s win-win for everyone. I also had the freedom to be there for my sons when they needed me, particularly in the early days of my son’s autism diagnosis which involved a daily 130km roundtrip to a specialised pre-school and several weekly therapies which would never have been possible within the confines of 9-5 work.

Always during this time, I was still plugging away at the writing but I never gave myself the time instead saying yes to another gig. Then a few years ago as my sons were getting to the age when they want to be neglected, I decided it was time for me and gave myself more space and wrote a play that was shortlisted for a National award and excerpts from which made its way onto the stage and radio. It was a start. Around the same time, I signed up for an Art Writing course in our local art college and a spin-out from that was I built an online art writing journal.

Summer 2019: I was awarded a bursary for the John Hewitt International Summer School on the strength of that art writing journal. This week proved transformative because it was there I met 3 other writers (Ruth, Liz, and Niall) with whom I’ve remained in daily contact since via WhatsApp. I also got the idea for a book and made extensive notes during the week.

Spring 2020: I’m out walking my dog thinking all about how our lives are changing overnight with this pandemic lark and I have this epiphany thinking we need to record this moment in time. I moot this on our WhatsApp group and we decided to start an online forum to publish any writing in response to the Covid_19 pandemic. We hoped to document the Irish experience but were blown away by the submissions from all over the world. The entire collection will be preserved in UCD Special Collections for future generations to visit. Pendemic was featured on RTE Radio One’s Arena, BBC Radio Ulster’s The Ticket and contributors were invited to read their work on RTÉ’s Poetry Programme Special: Poems in a Pandemic. Pendemic also received national and local press coverage and received funding from the Arts Council.

Spring 2021: I finally say enough is enough. My eldest is about to finish college, it really is time for me so I jump on the great resignation bandwagon and decided to take a gap year. I finally get around to getting an adult diagnosis of autism after recognising every single trait in all the reading I’d done for the previous ten years. I wonder how I will process this not-quite-new information so my researcher brain kicks in and I design a survey and answer my open-ended questions over the course of a few months.

Autumn 2021: After chilling out for the summer, I enroll in a part-time printmaking course again in our local Art College thinking maybe I’ll get a few ideas for my greeting card side hustle @trustwordie, my poor neglected child. I was terrible at art in school but fancy my chances using Photoshop and text and whatnot until I discover this technique called ‘Collagraph’ and I’m hooked. I find myself making life-size prints, pushing the physical boundaries of the college press, and end up with some work I’m actually quite proud of which is weird for someone who never graduated beyond stickmen drawings. The print below entitled ‘Polyester makes me panic’ is the first of a series of prints I hope to develop based on the themes that emerged when I postcoded my own survey findings. During this time I apply for the pilot Basic Income for Artists Scheme. I apply for mixed media because I’ve become quite obsessed with printmaking and don’t want to restrict myself to non-visual storytelling.

Summer 2022: I give myself time to work on the 2019 book helped enormously by the encouragement of a tutor giving a course as part of a community arts festival.

September 2022: I’m one of the lucky 2,000 people to receive funding for the next three years to focus on my craft. Only 113 writers were successful so I’m presuming my mixed media application brought me over the line. I won’t question it anyway. A few weeks later the Arts Council award me funding to continue my work on collagraphs based on my personal research.

Today: I’m writing the last chapter of my book which will be finished this week. It’s the first draft so I’ll let it sit for a few months. I’ll turn off the laptop and take up the inks, the rags, the wood glue, the French polish, and all that messiness that collagraphs entail. It’s time to work with the hands. Over the last few months, I’ve met some new people, and eventually the question ‘what do you do?’ comes up and I hesitate and say I’m a writer and a printmaker but I’m getting more comfortable saying it the more I do. My teenage self wouldn’t have hesitated. I guess it’s only taken me 49 years to come full circle and it has been one long, interesting, and very unplanned journey.

Leading from Outside the Comfort Zone #5 #cong21


 I open with a vignette of my son, then aged 10, asking me earnestly ‘how do you get more confidence?’ I was a bit stumped by his question and replied ‘I don’t know, I think you have to do stuff that scares you so you feel better and stronger after it’. As I was saying this, I realised it’s about leaving the comfort zone and could recognise that I was far too comfortable so I set about changing that to set a better example.

From a background in HRTech, I framed most of my essay around uncomfortable questions we must ask ourselves in relation to our hiring practices such as genuine Diversity & Inclusion, mental health, workplace flexibility, and that nasty business of bullying. I concluded with some thoughts on leading by our actions and how one can also lead from behind.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. Leaving the comfort zone can make you better and stronger. Leading from outside the comfort zone can make your followers better and stronger.
  2. Most workplace Diversity & Inclusion consists of 4th level educated full-time staff who happen to be a mix of colours and genders but are basically all the same. Let’s think about genuine Diversity & Inclusion, mental health, and workplace flexibility.
  3. How can we expect vulnerable children and teenagers to solve the bullying issue when adults can’t take decisive action to eradicate it in our workplaces?
  4. We can lead through our actions rather than slogans and oftentimes we can lead from behind.

About Joy Redmond:

Joy is a multipotentialite: marketer/mentor, web/ux pro, content purist, qual/quants geek, sporadic spin dr, founder @trustwordie @wtfisart @pendemic_ie, autism advocate, lifelong learner, wannabe playwright, open water swimmer and mother of 2 sons who are smarter, taller and swim faster than her.


Contacting Joy Redmond

You can connect with Joy on Twitter via email or follow her thinking on the Joy Redmond and TrustWordie blogs which haven’t been updated lately.

By Joy Redmond

I have a vivid memory of my son, then aged 10, sitting on his bed asking me earnestly ‘how do you get more confidence?’ I’ll admit I was a bit stumped by his question and replied ‘I don’t know, I think you have to do stuff that scares the bejaysus out of you so you feel better and stronger after it’. As I was saying this, I realised it’s about leaving the comfort zone and could recognise that I was far too comfortable so I set about changing that to set a better example. Since then, I’ve rowed to Wales, swam far out of my depth in violent open water races in raging seas, fjords and lakes, enrolled in a drawing/printmaking course that scares the wits out of my quants brain, poured my heart out and shared my soul through playwriting, started a few companies and changed careers more times than some people have hot dinners. That ten-year-old is now his university’s SU President so I think it worked!

While mulling over this year’s leadership topic, the concept of leading from outside the comfort zone returned to me. Here are just a few thoughts relating specifically to hiring practices given my interest and background.

Lead through inclusive hiring
To be honest Diversity & Inclusion is a bit of a bug bear of mine. Most companies I’ve worked in think they are doing pretty well on diversity. I look around and all I can see is a payroll full of 4th level educated people working full time who happen to be a mix of colours and genders. Let’s face it, they’re all the same. It’s about intersectionality baby. Shouldn’t we ask ourselves how many come from social disadvantage or disability?

While companies spend a fortune on wellness programmes for staff, you’d wonder how many have ever considered hiring somebody with a managed mental illness? One of the most beautiful and creative souls I ever knew left us a few years ago and part of me thinks it was because she couldn’t find her place. We all want meaningful work aligned with our skills. Too often highly intelligent, talented people find themselves in unskilled minimum waged work because of the fear / stigma of disclosing their mental health status in a ‘real’ job. Exceptionally high unemployment rates for people with disabilities are well documented. It’s hard to feel useful in an increasingly productive world.

Also, we must ask ourselves how many have real work flexibility? Since the pandemic, remote is on the agenda, which is great and about time but location is not the only form of work flexibility. Some of us with caring responsibilities or neurodivergence (or both in my case) can’t manage a 9-5 life but still have much to offer. There seems to be this assumption that good work can’t be done on a part-time basis, and I don’t mean a 4-day week. Rather than focusing on time spent, it’s way more efficient to focus on the deliverables. My most recent role involved generating one substantial piece of research per month and a few smaller case studies/presentations. The contract was for 8 days, which didn’t always fall into two days every week. My manager was less concerned with the when and I never missed a deadline, not even close. You can have specialists doing great work and the really great news is you pay less. Even better, passion isn’t pro rata.

Do you support a bully culture?
Every so often we hear about bullying in schools and on social media and it’s all this, that and the other. How can we expect improvements for vulnerable children and teenagers when adults can’t take decisive action to eradicate it in our workplaces? Why is the onus on the victim, whose confidence is in the toilet, to prove the wrongdoing? The task is often too daunting that they just slink away and move job so as not to ‘get a name’ and the perpetrator stays in situ, having won. Real leadership doesn’t put the company/party line before its people but creates a safe environment that calls out bad behaviour.

Lead through your actions not your slogans
If there is a value we feel strongly about, whether corporate or personal, then that must instruct ALL our actions even the micro decisions we make. For example, I am always amazed at the amount of start-up / shop local events that serve international food and drink brands – why aren’t you serving local craft beers/drinks and artisan food produce? Do you just think local but buy global? If you feel strongly about the environment, do you really need to photograph/video or share everything because the data centres hosting that not so necessary content burn through a lot of energy. Recently, I had a brief spat on Twitter with Dingle Aquarium wondering why, after we were warned of the evils of plastic and our throwaway culture throughout the tour, did they see find it appropriate to fill the giftshop with plastic tat. Just because something isn’t single use, it still doesn’t make it useful or necessary and will eventually end up in landfill. Sometimes on holidays, I give my sons a budget and say you can buy anything you want in this shop if you think you’ll still be using it in one month’s time. We don’t buy much.

You can lead from behind
We often assume the person at the front is the leader. I’m often the spokesperson for local community groups and campaigns but I simply parrot the work of a sterling committee who have done all the work. I’m merely the person with the media experience to talk on live radio. Other times I’m happy to stay in the shadows and see my work speak for itself.

So that’s my tuppence worth, if you’re lucky enough to find yourself in a leadership position, then please try to use your power to affect real change. Personally, I rarely look at captains of industry for inspiration. The people that inspire me are those quietly making a difference to other people’s actual lives and who, for the most part, did not come into this world with the privilege I’ve enjoyed. I won’t end on that #BeKind inanity but be better! We all can.

“For me, success is not a public thing. It’s a private thing. It’s when you have fewer and fewer regrets.”,

Toni Morrison

Joy Redmond Wellness card

Joy Redmond Wellness card

It’s time for Some Real Suicide Ideation. #26 #cong18


Few would argue that there is a mental health crisis with escalating suicide rates in our country. Many of us have lost loved ones or people just one or two degrees of separation from us. It’s time for us to stop failing those with suicidal ideation and start ideating some solutions. In response to the rubbish stylised show ’TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY’, I’ve developed 13 Questions why we’re not making any progress which you may or may not agree with. I’m not providing any answers but am hoping to open out the discussion.

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Almost 400 suicides were registered in Ireland in 2017, with men accounting for almost 80%. That’s more than one family every day devastated by a preventable disease, not to mention the multiplier effect across the community.
  2. It’s time for the medical/pharmaceutical industry to put up their hands and say: ‘we don’t know how to solve this, we need help’. No other illness would be allowed to flounder with such appalling success rates.
  3. We could start by being open and admitting that mental health is boring and hard and from there, try to be better people to those who are vulnerable and suffering.
  4. Maybe could we use our skills and experience in designing thinking, problem solving, product and service development, research to actually assist?

About Joy Redmond:

Joy is a freelance B2B UXy Marketer, content purist, sporadic spin doctor, design thinker, Qual/Quants geek, autism advocate, open water swimmer and Art Writing student at Gorey School of Art. Joy has just launched trustwordie – the thinking person’s greeting card and she hopes they’ll be more than a greeting card but the opening move in a long and lovely conversation. Despite two decades marketing tech, she really loves retro communication i.e. actually meeting and writing to people.

Contacting Joy Redmond:

You can connect with Joy on on Twitter, via email or follow her thinking on the Joy Redmond and TrustWord blogs

By Joy Redmond

Many of us have lost loved ones to suicide or people just one or two degrees of separation from us. Having buried both parents, many relatives and a handful of peers, I can tell you that losing someone to suicide is unchartered territory and unimaginable for the immediate family and closest friends. My friend knew, for over a decade, that suicidal ideation was the manifestation of her mental illness. She dedicated her life and had no shortage of both financial resources and support but still, she couldn’t beat it. 

I think it’s time for us to stop failing those with suicidal ideation and start ideating some solutions. 

We’ve all done sprints, Startup weekends, innovation games where we forced ourselves to conceive, prototype and brand up a MVP in a short space of time. We’ve seen initiatives like Tech4Good and HackAccess come up with great ideas to solve big problems. Maybe could we use our skills and experience in designing thinking, problem solving, product and service development and research to actually assist the biggest health and social problem?


WHY is always the first question everyone asks. We even had a hugely popular tv drama aimed at teenagers. With our friend, we know exactly WHY but I still have the following questions to which I have no answers but am hoping to open out the discussion. 

13 Questions Why:

1.Why does the world watch a stylised show like ’TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY’ when we know that anyone in those depths of despair wouldn’t have the wherewithal to make and project manage the distribution 13 mix tapes on pretentiously retro tech when all it does is make suicide sort of sexy and not ask any really important questions?

2.Why can’t we change the big question from ‘why did they do it’ to ‘how can we prevent it?’

3.Why is so much money put in to innovations like AI, driverless cars, space travel and fintech when we can’t even give people in need the skills and resilience to want to live?

4.Why do we continue to put our trust in a self-serving and hugely profitable pharmaceutical industry to solve the depression epidemic when it does not make commercial sense for them to heal their customers?

5.Why is the medical community the first point of call in a time of crisis even though they are often emotionally stunted, sceptical / dismissive / ignorant of alternative therapies and trigger happy with the prescription pad to get patients out the door and keep the Pharma reps sweet?

6.Why can’t the medical community put up their hands and say: ‘we don’t know how to solve this, we need help’? No other illness would be allowed to flounder with such appalling success rates.

7.Why can’t we be open and admit that mental illness is really boring and there is always the temptation to not pick up the phone or answer the text or instead get annoyed with the burden of it?

8.Why can’t we be better people to those who are suffering and not just be around for the good times? Are we really so shallow?

9.Why do we say derogatory things like ‘you are so good to them’ when they are your equal and not some lucky recipient of your superior benefaction?

10.Why can’t we just accept mental illness as a real illness that kills thousands of people and not need an X-ray of a physical growth or a defect even though we were classically conditioned to believe in God and do not demand such hard proof? Instead, we wait until it’s too late reminiscent of the line on Spike Milligan’s  gravestone: ‘I told you I was sick.’

11.Why do we think people who commit suicide are selfish when they are in such a dark place with no value on their own life, much less think of anything or anyone else?

12.What can we do within the business community to provide a sounding board or safe place to talk for people enduring work related stresses? It’s not just young males, we all have heard of business men and women taking their own lives under enormous work pressures.

13.What can we all do to help, now?

We can do more than hash tagging or sharing mental health platitudes. We can use our intelligence and skills in designing thinking, product and service development, research to perhaps peel back a few layers and behaviours to get to some truth and come up with some ideas that might change some outcomes. We could join together and say – this is not good enough – and we can do it better.  My last question is, when do we start?