MAXINE GORDON meets the organiser of York's first TEDx women's event and learns how you can change your life taking small steps at a time

TWO years ago, Caroline Chapman was not in a happy place.

"I was unfit, really overweight, wasn't happy at work, the house was a mess and I wasn't on top of any of it," says the mum-of-three from York who works in human resources.

So she decided to do something about it – taking little steps at a time.

"I followed a 15-minute-a-day exercise programme which led me to learning to cook healthy meals in 15 minutes. Suddenly, these small chunks of time were making a big difference."

Seeing the benefits, she carried on, turning her attention to her career.

"I started my own business – working on it just 15 minutes a day. I followed a programme – the Business Bakery – where I worked on my business idea for 15 minutes every day for 100 days."

In that time, Caroline drew up a list of what sort of career she might fancy – everything from interior design to dog walking.

"I had 25 crazy ideas on my list, from which I picked the top five. Then I did a SWOT analysis, weighing up the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. From that, I realised I still loved human resources but there were bits of my job that I didn't like, so I decided to become freelance. I like helping people and using my expertise to help people."

Caroline, 43, launched her business in June, but quickly gave herself another challenge, by organising the first TEDx talk for women in York.

TED talks are global events where people deliver short, powerful speeches on an array of topics. TEDx is a local, independent spin-off, designed to help share ideas in communities around the world.

Caroline's event is called TEDxHolgateWomen and will take place at The Mount School, York, on Sunday, December 15, from noon to 5pm. A range of inspirational women will be speaking, including award-winning business coach and speaker Taz Thornton; York-based champion for change Tammy Banks; resilience expert Colleen Horne, and Julia Unwin, former CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The theme of the event is Incremental, Sustainable Change which Caroline translates as "little steps can make a difference". She says the theme is broad enough to embrace a wide range of topics, from the environment, to the personal, to business. And it is, of course, a theme that she identifies with because little steps helped change her life – she even follows a programme of doing housework in 30-minutes-a-day packages.

Just running the event is stretching her too. "I've never organised anything bigger than a children's birthday party. I'm so out of my comfort zone that I can't even remember where it was – but I am having a good time!"

Caroline says she could not have staged the event without the help of other women in the York business community. She is a member of the local networking organisation, Women Mean Business, and has found a host of talented women through that who have all volunteered their services for free (TEDx is a not-for-profit venture).

Among those helping out are Nina Copley of Orchestrate Events, Louise Mason of Your Marketing Specialist, Alex Walmsley of Eternal Edits, Alice Lodge of Alice Lodge Photography, and Carly Crawford of Blue Media Edits.

She hopes the TEDx speakers will inspire the audience – which, under TEDx rules, is limited to 100 (tickets are available to men and women). "I want to inspire people and want them to understand that anything is possible. Women are so busy with jobs, family, housework, volunteering, they can get stuck on a hamster wheel. If I can get just one of these women to pause and think: 'I want to change' – whether that is make a difference to the environment, or to their health and fitness, or to their business, then I want to give them that inspiration."

Tickets for TedxHolgateWomen are available on Eventbrite priced £17 (early bird offer until November 24) or £25:

How Caroline changed her life, 15 minutes at a time ...

DIET AND FITNESS: She used the cookbooks and DVD from Joe Wicks: Lean in 15, and went down three dress sizes

BUSINESS: She followed the 100-day goal from The Business Bakery and now has a freelance HR business

HOUSEWORK: She implemented doing her housework in 30 minutes a day chunks by following:

TEDxHolgateWomen speakers ...

Taz Thornton

Taz is a best-selling author, inspirational business speaker and consultant on confidence, personal brand and visibility. She was declared UK’s Best Female Coach 2018 in the Best Business Woman Awards and has been featured on BBC and ITV, as well as countless other newspapers, magazines and podcasts.

Taz is also a regular columnist for the America Out Loud talk show network. In 2019, she was named as one of the most inspirational businesswomen in the UK.

Taz is also the author of Awesome Sauce – a free, weekly positive life and business round-up, with good news stories, positivity tips and visibility hacks for your brand.

Julia Unwin

Julie is an experienced, well known and respected senior strategic leader, with extensive professional leadership experience in the voluntary and public sectors.

She has experience in the regulatory environment having served at a very senior level at the Housing Corporation, Charity Commission and, as Deputy Chair, and later Chair, of the Food Standards Agency and, until December 2016, CEO of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Julia is currently the chair of the independent inquiry into the Future of Civil Society, a Carnegie Trust Fellow examining the role of kindness in public policy, a member of Scotland’s Council of Economic Advisers, a Provincial Canon at York Minster and the non-executive director and trustee on several boards of directors and trusts.

Tammy Banks

Tammy's personal history, academic achievements and work experience have driven her to champion the importance of effective, achievable solutions to prevent abuse.

Tammy's mission in life is to stop the cycle of abuse, offending, worklessness and substance misuse by working both operationally and strategically in the criminal justice, social care and charity sectors.

Her values are straightforward – integrity, fairness, honesty, safety and equality.

Tammy leads with passion and commitment. She champions for change and is dedicated to helping people have the opportunity to live their best life.

Tammy developed Training for Influence, a method of training that is having a huge impact on the lives of people experiencing multiple disadvantages, by delivering values-based, specialist training to frontline professionals who are perfectly positioned to change lives.

Tammy is also a Lay Member on the Parliamentary Committee for Standards, assessing and adjudicating complaints about Members of Parliament and is also director of central and the north for the homeless charity, Crisis.

Colleen Horne

Colleen’s life has thrown at her some significant adversity. As a result, she developed survival techniques that enabled her to be successful, to tick the box of doing a ‘good job’, to be a powerful, confident woman in the business world. She used these techniques to sustain a career and business working in the field of people transformation for more than 15 years, with experience in a diverse set of industries from retail to utilities, service organisations and the financial industry.

Over the last five years Collen has witnessed the 'rise of resilience' when it comes to people development, both in terms of organisations asking for it and it being what people need. From schools to the boardroom everyone was searching for 'the answer'. So she developed a formula based on her own survival techniques – 'Fortitude'. She was determined to change the world with what she knew, one person at a time.