What type of work are you in and why did you choose that specific career path?
I’m a consultant speaker and trainer, now specialising in productivity, wellbeing and employee engagement after many years of doing lots of other stuff!
I decide to start a business when I was an HR Director in London and wanted to have a baby and didn’t want to continue commuting.
I fairly randomly set up a magazine publishing business as a result of reading an article in a magazine and went on an interesting path via online marketing for small businesses, website development and social media. I then shifted back into the people side of business, focusing on my strengths and incorporating all the extra skills I’ve accumulated over the years!
What is working best in your business right now?
Remembering that we are all individual and planning my days around my body clock. After all, part of the point of having your own business is to provide you with the freedom to do that!
How do you plan/schedule your day?
Firstly by using google calendar to schedule in the big stuff. Then I use Todoist for ad hoc and recurring tasks and Asana for ‘deep work’ projects.
How do you stay focused and motivated throughout the day?
I use various strategies and techniques that I change on a regular basis as I get bored very easily!
I have certain things that I do daily on a routine basis, like ensuring that I drink water, walking and completing a gratitude exercise.
I manage those routines using an app on my Smartphone called Productive. It basically allows me to check off when I’ve done each of those things every day, which keeps me on track with ‘streaks’.
I try to make sure I eat well and get enough sleep (though the latter is very much a work in progress!). And I like to build in some singing time as often as possible. I read a few years ago that singing is as good for you as meditation and yoga, neither of which I wanted to do, so I joined a choir and sing as much as I can!
A couple of other tools I use intermittently are an app called Focus@Will that plays lovely music whilst I work. It has many options including ‘coffee shop sounds’, though I just use the classical music. I also use the Pomodoro Technique, particularly when I’m procrastinating on something. You won’t be surprised to hear that I have an app on my phone for this but you can just use any old timer to set yourself 25 mins to work on whatever needs doing before having a short break. It’s amazing what you can get done in 25 minutes!
How do you tackle down days?
Sometimes I stop and do some singing practise! Other times I read a fiction book and wallow. If I have to get something done on a down day then I knuckle down and get on with it (eventually!) but if there’s nothing that needs to be done on that actual day I try to practise a bit of self care instead. Tomorrow is always another day!
What is your No.1 business or personal goal for this year?
To kick off my mastermind group programme and fill at least four groups. It’s something I’ve wanted to do it for a long time but it took a while to get clear about the format and offering. I was keen to make sure it is an action oriented process with built in accountability as I see so many people investing in ‘shelf learning’ and not taking action. One of my business values is around helping people to make changes so, to keep me on purpose, I needed to create a programme to ensure that happens.
What is one of the most impactful books you’ve ever read: personal and business?
The one I’m raving about constantly at the moment is ‘The Slight Edge’ by Jeff Olson.
It’s such a simple concept but so powerful. All about how small regular actions accumulate into much bigger results whether positive or negative. The challenge is to know this and ensure that we are taking small positive actions regularly to move us in an upward trajectory rather than in the other direction!
Looking back at your business so far, what one thing would you do differently?
Get clearer about my strengths and the part they play in what I offer sooner. It’s taken a good few years of development and changes to get comfortable with who I am and what I offer to whom. It’s easy, if you’re an all rounder, to get drawn into offering stuff that you can do but that doesn’t light you up and play to your strengths. Getting that bit right really does make the ups and downs of running your own business more joyful!
What systems have you set up in your business to help it grow?
When I work with my clients, one of my 5 Fundamentals is ‘systemise’ so you won’t be surprised to hear that I use systems and processes, as well as automation, extensively in my own business.
One example would be the process I use to share useful content on social media that I read via the app Pocket, which allows me to save content to it easily and read that content wherever I am, even when offline. Any article that I want to share gets marked as ‘favourite’ and then I tag it with the relevant platform where I want to share it. Behind the scenes, automation I’ve set up on Zapier then adds that content to my Buffer account so that it gets shared out on a schedule rather than immediately, as would happen if I hadn’t set up the process.
Another example is that I have a podcast that I use to grow my audience, as well as to learn from my interesting guests. In order to get those interviews published on a regular basis, I have set up a template in Asana, a project management tool, to enable me to consistently and effectively publish each podcast, in the least time.
I could go on but I won’t!
Besides money, what are your favourite ways to reward or compensate people?
As an employee engagement specialist, I’d say the biggie is treating people as individuals and allowing them to bring their whole selves to work.
I often talk about how we are taught to treat people as we would like to be treated ourselves, but actually we should be treating them as they want to be treated. We are all different!
What are you doing to ensure you continue to grow and develop?
Stuff every day.
Lots of reading both books and articles, listening to podcasts and Audible books, interviewing and learning from amazing guests on my two podcasts, masterminding, networking. Keeping open to learning from situations, observation of behaviour, from my clients and so on.
What is one of your favourite quotes?
My Dad drummed this one in to me: “you only get out of life what you put into it”. It’s where I get my sense of responsibility and work ethic. Thanks Dad!
If you could choose 1 word for 2018, that would inspire you and remind you to stay focused on your goal(s), what would it be?
Simplify – all too often we allow ourselves to get bogged down in clutter, whether that be physical, digital or mental.
After twelve years in business and with a clearer focus on my strengths, offer and how I can best serve my clients, now is that time to really simplify everything to support that.
Not coincidently it is also the first of my 5 Fundamentals to Life and Business to enable you to ‘Live More’!
Spill the beans, what are 3 of your favourite stationery items?
I’ve always been a bit of stationery addict (aren’t all Sophie’s fans?!). I used to work for Staples and I remember doing store walk at Christmas with one of our District Managers. We were supposed to be checking standards of display etc. I had to break off halfway round the store to put all my prospective purchases down as I couldn’t carry any more (and we still had half the store left!).
So, I’ll keep it simply.
- My Pilot Disposable Ink Pens, in green -, of course!
- And an HB pencil
- and a Staedtler eraser.
The first for marking my singing scores and the latter because we can’t send the scores back without rubbing the pencil out first and they work so well!
And finally, what is your “happy” song?
I have so many! If I had to go with one then I’d probably say ‘Happy’ from Despicable Me. Too easy, I know, but it is infectious!