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Winning Awards with Donna O'Toole
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Winning Awards with Donna O'Toole

Author: Donna O'Toole

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Join leading awards expert Donna O’Toole as she reveals everything you need to know about winning awards.

In honest and open interviews with award winners, judges, and the organisers behind the world's most loved awards, Donna reveals how to raise your profile with real-life awards stories, the latest awards trends, the do’s and don’ts of entering awards, what makes a winner, and more! Discover how the awards industry has reacted to the challenges of 2020, and find out what to expect as we head into a new era of awards and recognition so that you have the best chance of becoming a winner.

Donna O’Toole is the Founder of August. She has helped hundreds of businesses, brands, entrepreneurs, and leaders across the world to raise their profile by winning awards and achieving outstanding recognition for their achievements. Named one of the world’s top 25 Customer Experience Influencers, and recognised for her outstanding contribution to national and international awards judging, Donna is known for her unrivalled success rate in the most prestigious industry awards in the world, including The Queen's Awards for Enterprise, The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, UK and International Customer Experience Awards, Amazon ScaleUp Awards to name a few. Donna has also created the world's only Awards Accelerator programme, where you will discover EXACTLY how to win and supercharge your business through awards.

Donna's work has resulted in some of the most accomplished entrepreneurs, business leaders, VIPs, and charity champions receiving personal recognition (MBE to knighthood) from Her Majesty The Queen via the honours system, as well as major industry leadership awards.

If you want to become the Key Person of Influence or leading brand in your sector it's time to stop waiting and start winning!

23 Episodes
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In this episode, Donna is joined by Dominic Colenso, who began his career as a professional actor, before training as a director at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.He’s worked alongside some of the UK’s most famous actors, appearing on the London stage, in BBC period dramas and most famously played Virgil Tracy in the Hollywood film adaptation of Thunderbirds.Through his company In Flow, he now empowers businesses, sales teams and leaders to increase the impact of their communication and perform at their best under pressure. Drawing on his extensive experience on stage and screen, he shares the secret tools and techniques used by the world’s best actors to help his audience unlock their own star performances.In demand as a speaker, trainer and coach, he’s also the author of the bestselling book “IMPACT: How to be more confident, increase your influence and know what to say under pressure.”Donna O'Toole is the Founder of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. She has seen, first-hand, how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Donna O'Toole is joined by Head of Events at The Learning and Performance Institute, Pauline Saunders. Pauline talks about their flagship awards programme The Learning Awards, including what the 2021 entry process entails, who should enter, and which new categories have been introduced.The Learning Awards, since its beginning in 1996, have continually adapted to align with significant trends in L&D, and to ensure that categories represent current technologies, innovations and people skills - they are one of the highest accolades you can receive in workplace learning and development.Donna O'Toole is the Founder of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. She has seen, first-hand, how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
In this episode, Donna talks with Debbie Gilbert - a multi-award-winning Entrepreneur and owner of Viva Business Support, a marketing and events agency. She is also the founder of Mums UnLtd, a networking company aimed at mums in business which provides support for mums in business. Her book ‘The Successful Mumpreneur’ has been a global success, which shares her knowledge on growing a business around a family.Over the past 20 years, Debbie has built a reputation for being an excellent supporter of small businesses and start-ups. Growing a solid network has been her priority, which has been integral to her business success.Debbie founded The Best Business Women Awards in 2015 and she reveals more about this annual event, which recognises and rewards outstanding female entrepreneurs from across the globe. Her motto is ‘When you reach the top of your mountain – throw down a rope and help someone else up’.Donna O'Toole is the Founder of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. She has seen, first-hand, how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
In this inspirational episode, Donna discusses The Queen's Awards for Enterprise and explains why these awards are widely regarded as the world's most prestigious.Learn more about this year's winners and find out how the entry process works, so that you're armed with the information you need to get started on your Queen's Awards journey.Donna O'Toole is the Founder of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. She has seen, first-hand, how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Sarah Austin is a leading voice of the awards and events industry. In addition to a 12-year career running an international awards portfolio at Informa (formally UBM),  Sarah was notably the Awards Director for the National Business Awards. She has now launched two exciting ventures in 2021 - the first being sarahaustin.co.uk which is a full end-to-end events management consultancy specialising in awards, conferences, virtual events, weddings and private events. Sarah's business has had a roaring start with several projects in the running and her first major project is to deliver (with her team) The Travel Industry Awards by TTG. Sarah’s other main venture sees the launch of The Lloyds Bank British Business Excellence Awards. In partnership with Lloyds Bank, these awards celebrate the resilience, innovation and creativity of British businesses - whether big or small - an innovative new start-up or an established industry player, private, public or third sector, culminating in the UK’s most prestigious business awards ceremony with a rigorous judging programme and a series of networking opportunities across the year. In addition to this, Sarah is a Non-Exec Director at the Tate Galleries and also sits on the Tate Modern Advisory Council, which allows her to advise their events team on sales, delivery and execution strategies whilst being surrounded by incredible priceless artwork.Donna O'Toole is the Founder of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. She has seen, first-hand, how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
As the Founder and Chief Purpose Officer of the Ministry of Purpose and Host of The Unconventionalists® podcast, Mark Leruste is on a mission to help entrepreneurs and business leaders have an impact on the world with their message.Mark  previously  served  as  Country  Manager  at  the  Movember  Foundation,  where  he helped raise €2.8 million for men’s health and inspired 110,000 fundraisers to sign up, winning multiple awards along the way.Since then, his videos have been viewed over 2.5 million times on social media and his podcast has had over 160,000 downloads from more than 100 countries. His book “It’s Not You, It’s Me” is a modus operandi for unfulfilled professionals looking to find more meaningful work.  Mark believes everyone needs a purpose and that no one should have to be one person at home and another at work. That’s why his big goal is to create a world where the vast majority of people feel connected to an important mission at work and feel seen, heard, supported and appreciated along the way – in essence, fostering a positive culture for people to bring their true selves to work and feel inspired to show up every day.  Over the years, Mark has worked with pioneering organisations, forward thinking leaders and disruptive conferences including Google, TEDx, Intuit, INSEAD, Method & Ecover, L’Oreal, StateStreet, The Guardian, Samsung, General Assembly and VirginStartup.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
David Henson MBE is a highly successful parasport athlete, who took up athletics following a life-changing incident whilst serving in Afghanistan almost exactly 10 years ago. Having stepped on a hidden landmine, the impact of the blast led to the amputation of the lower half of both his legs. Following an extensive rehabilitation program, he began walking with the aid of prosthetic legs several months later.From this moment on, Dave was determined to make the most from his ‘new life’ and has since gone on to represent Great Britain at numerous global events, winning medals at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, the 2017 IPC World Championships in London, and the 2016 IPC European Championships.At the inaugural Invictus Games in 2012, Dave was chosen to be the British team captain, and he competed in three events, winning gold in the 200m. Three years later, he was the proud flag-bearer for Team GB at the IPC European Championships.Dave was awarded the MBE in 2014, en route to becoming one of our most recognisable - and popular - parasport athletes.Today, he works for Imperial College London, where his role involves biomechanical analysis to help in the development of prosthetic limbs - a cause very close to his heart.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, and she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Neil Skehel is the CEO of Awards International, an international awards organiser with 12 programmes around the world including in Europe, the Middle East and the UK. I’ve asked Neil to join me on the podcast today to talk about the launch of two brilliant awards - the flagship UK Customer Experience Awards and the newly formatted UK Business Awards. In this episode, you’ll discover how the UK Customer Experience Awards will work this year, and what can we look forward to in October - when the awards ceremony takes place. Neil will also explain how the UK Business Awards will be a really beneficial experience for entrepreneurs and micro-businesses, as he talks through what’s in store for 2021.Finally, with many people feeling the effects of lockdown fatigue, he offers useful advice on driving yourself and your teams forward in a positive, optimistic manner over the next few months.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Join Donna in conversation with Ian Washington-Smith, the Director of Rego, an organisation that works with people to solve problems and support individuals and teams to achieve their goals and reach their potential. With the company strapline “Changing Realities” Ian had his own reality changed when he retired from the police after 30 years as a Detective Inspector. In his last post, he managed the Counter Corruption Unit working across the Thames Valley Police force area, leading a team that worked covertly to investigate police corruption allegations - a little like you see in the BBC series “Line of Duty”.After encountering his own experiences with stress, Ian retrained as an REBT (Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy) therapist, with much of this work based on Stoic Philosophy which has brought him to where he is today, helping people achieve their potential through a better understanding of themselves.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Donna is delighted to welcome Charly Young to the podcast.  In 2013, Charly co founded The Girls' Network with her colleague, Becca. Starting out as a one-to-one mentoring scheme for 30 girls, The Girls' network has grown to support over 1000 girls a year aged between 14 and 19 to overcome barriers and access to opportunities, as well as giving them the confidence and skills to seize those opportunities and thrive. Their impact speaks for itself: 93% of girls on the programme last year said their mentor had improved their confidence, and 96% believe their mentor has helped them feel more positive about the future. In 2020 we were extremely proud to launch a new partnership with The Girls' Network as part of our Who Wins When You Win Campaign. So for anyone who doesn’t know, we help businesses and individuals to recognise their teams and business achievements with hugely valuable awards. And to give them and our team an even greater reward, every time one of our clients wins an award we make a donation to The Girls' Network. We’ve just launched the campaign for 2020 and we’re really looking forward to sharing our winning success with this fantastic cause, because together we believe that no girls should have their futures limited by their gender, ethnicity, background or parental income.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Join Donna in conversation with Stephen Fear, The Phonebox Millionaire™, British entrepreneur, businessman, philanthropist and author with 50 years' international business experience.Stephen first went into business at the age of 15 after reading an article in the Financial Times that would affect the way industrial ovens were cleaned.  He used a red phone-box on the council estate where he grew up and persuaded an American firm to send him their product to sell in the UK. Before he knew it, he was trading with a number of large industrial companies under the brand ‘Easy Clean’.  Four years later, he sold his first business for £100,000 and invested the money in property.From those first days as a young boy, Stephen has had a legendary career, which included being Entrepreneur in Residence and Ambassador at the British Library from 2012 – 2016, a position formerly held by the late Dame Anita Roddick, founder of Body Shop.Now he is Chairman and Founder of Fear Group, an international organisation he runs with his son, Leon Fear, which has interests in strategic land promotion, international property development and investment.In 2013 Stephen was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from the University of the West of England for his continued services to entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship over the past 40 years. Recently, he received a lifetime achievement award presented by The Bristol Post and was a member of the Bristol Education and Skills Commission. He is also a valued judge for the Great British Entrepreneur Awards and last year was inducted into their Hall of Fame.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Donna is delighted to be joined by Alison Edgar MBE, also known as “The Entrepreneur’s Godmother” because of her incredible support of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs.Amongst her many achievements, Alison has pioneered culture change within her five-star global clientele which includes Sky, Equifax, The NHS, and The Discovery Channel, where she has delivered her world-class ‘Intrapreneurship’ methodology to enhance the development of teams by helping employees to think like entrepreneurs.Alison has also overcome her own challenges to become the successful author of her Best Selling book ‘Secrets of Successful Sales’ which was recognised by The Independent as one of the top business books written by a woman. She has now launched a new book, called ‘SMASH IT! The Art of Getting What YOU Want’ - something we all need to read!In 2020, Alison received an MBE for recognition of her long-term work within entrepreneurship and business, and I’m delighted that she can join me today to share her inspirational journey and possibly a few tips for us all to succeed in 2021.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Today we are joined by Neil Foster, Vice President of the Guinness World Records Consultancy who works with brands, agencies, community groups and charities to make and break records by creating challenges that complement their marketing campaigns. And we are also delighted to welcome Hayley Woodward, Head of Global Marketing for Rubik’s - the iconic toy puzzle cube that has swept the world since 1980 and is as popular in Christmas stockings today as it was 40 years ago!We spoke about the impact winning a Guinness World Record can have on the people who succeed, plus how having a World Record challenge associated with your business can elevate your marketing. Neil also shared some of the creative marketing GWR have witnessed in 2020 and how the campaigns have propelled their customers to thrive even during a pandemic.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Donna catches up with Dr Rebecca Zhi Herbert,  founder and the Academic Director of Wisdom Spring Education. As Silver winner of the UK Customer Experience Awards for Customer Experience during the Crisis, and finalist of the Great British Entrepreneur Awards, 2020 has certainly been an eventful year for Rebecca and her team!Originally from Wuhan, China, As a highly respected and Chinese/British education expert based in the UK, Rebecca set up Wisdom Spring Education in 2014 to help families in China to give their children an outstanding British education.Since this time she has ensured children from the ages of 10 - 18 can safely and securely travel between the countries for their education and thrive in the schools and universities they attend.However, in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the UK, Rebecca was ahead of the game, having been aware of the outbreak in her hometown months earlier. In today’s podcast, I welcome Rebecca to tell us her incredible story of how the pandemic impacted on her business and the children and families she was working with, and how this has resulted in a new educational journey for both her students and her business.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
In this episode of our podcast, Donna spoke with Marvin Sordell, former Premier League, England and Olympic footballer, turned creative producer, writer and ambassador for mental health. Marvin shares his stories on leaving the footballing world, being fearless whilst striving boldly into a new industry and his advice on how we can all achieve our dreams. Born in 1991 in Northwest London, Marvin achieved great success as a professional footballer, making more than 300 appearances and scoring a total of 73 goals over the course of his 10-year career. Highlights included playing in the Premier League for Bolton Wanderers after signing for a fee of £3million, and proudly representing England Under 21s and Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics. In July 2019, Marvin’s career ended prematurely at the age of just 28 after he decided it was time to retire, for his mental health's sake.Following his decision to retire, Marvin channelled his efforts into setting up a new business, in a new industry – Oneighty Productions – with two of his close friends. The company focuses on producing story-driven content for a range of video projects and has already scooped two industry awards: for discover. film and the Independent Shorts Awards in 2019 and they masterminded the England Football’s film for Mental Health Awareness Day. He has taken great strides to raise awareness about mental health, he has become an Ambassador for CALM, and appeared in the BBC documentary entitled ‘Football, Prince William and our Mental Health’ broadcast early 2020. He also recently launched Transition FC, a platform for former footballers as they navigate changing careers.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
This year The Queen’s Birthday honours list was delayed to include a special list for ‘COVID Heroes’ - the volunteers, key workers and generally amazing and selfless people who had done something to help others or make a positive impact during the pandemic. And how lovely was it to see that good news and so many wonderful people recognised! Nearly 1500 individuals were given an award ranging from BEM to MBE, OBE, CBE or even a knight or damehood, around half of those were for their work during the pandemic. This is fabulous because the whole point of recognition at this level is to create a virtuous circle, not just to give them a pat on the back and a nice legacy to share with their family.An honour is given to recognise someone’s EXTRAORDINARY impact and to motivate them to keep that impact going. It’s also there to hold them up as a role model and encourage others to follow their example. If you want to nominate someone for an honour, you can find out all the information you need on the Government website here.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Donna is joined by Gold Medal winning team GB Paralympian Neil Fachie MBE. Neil shares his incredible story from learning of his condition and the trials and tribulations to get to London 2012 and achieve his dreams. And as a full-time athlete and now co-founder of a business performance coaching company Neil reflects on the similarities between sport and business.Neil Fachie, who is a visually impaired athlete,  has represented his country in two sports. In 2008. He raced for Paralympics GB at the Beijing Games on the athletics track competing in the 100 and 200 metres. In 2009, he joined British cycling where his sporting career flourished. Neil has won 26 medals at major championships to date, 19 of which are gold. This included gold and silver at the London 2012 Paralympic Games in front of a home crowd. While he's still a full-time athlete, Neil co-founded a performance business coaching company LNF Coaching, and has become the author of a number one best selling book, Earn Your Stripes.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Donna chats with Mr. Customer Experience himself, Ian Golding. Talking everything CX, Ian shares his journey into the world of Customer Experience, his stories of CX nightmares and examples winning CX strategies, plus Ian discusses the businesses who are winning in 2020 through their CX, and the effects of winning Customer Experience Awards Ian Golding is a Certified Global Customer Experience Specialist, internationally renowned speaker and influencer in Customer Experience, and he is the Author of Customer What? The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience. Ian is a founding member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) and was the first person in the world to be a certified to teach the Certified Customer Experience Accreditation (CCXA). Plus he is host and chair of judges for the UK Customer Experience Awards and International Customer Experience Awards.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
This episode Donna is joined by "The father of the UK Data Centre Industry" himself, Michael Tobin OBE. As a seasoned entrepreneur, Michael shares his thoughts on the many challenges life throws us and how you can overcome fear to seize the opportunities now.. Plus he shares his stories from trekking to the South Pole, to receiving an OBE from the Queen, and joking with Prince Charles.From living on the streets of Bermondsey to becoming one of the world's leading digital personalities. Michael Tobin’s outstanding achievements have earned him many awards during his career, including ‘Datacentre and Cloud Influencer of the Decade’, ‘UK IT Services Entrepreneur of the Year’ (Ernst & Young) *THREE YEARS RUNNING* and ‘Lifetime Achievement for Services to the Data Centre Industry’ amongst many more! Mike's latest book, Lifting the Floor, reveals the incredible stories hiding beneath the tiles of the global data centre industry, taking us from blackmail and betrayal to some of the biggest boardroom battles of all time.Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
Donna O'Toole talks with CEO of Ascot Group Andrew Scott, who shares his story in the publishing, events and awards industry, how they've navigated the pandemic and what entrants can expect when entering their award programmes. Founded in 2004 by award-winning entrepreneur Andrew Scott, the Ascot Group is one of the UK’s leading marketing and media groups. They have added several awards to their portfolio including the Amazon ScaleUp Awards, Go:Tech Awards and Business Leader Awards. Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing firsthand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.
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