Where did your personal inspiration, entrepreneurial/leadership purpose come from - what shaped your views?
As a young child I experienced a safe, comfortable upbringing with my brother and sister and hugely influential parents. At the age of 12 my life was turned upside down by the sudden death of my father. I felt the burden of responsibility to support my Mum and make my Daddy proud of me.
Two years after my Dad’s death my rebellious streak kicked in and I lost my desire to do just about anything. I left school with no qualifications despite being predicted 12 grade A’s. I decided I was going to make my mark on the world and be original. Not what my parents or school wanted but I wanted. I guess this was the first sign of my entrepreneurial spirit and it led me down many roads, most of which proved not the right path!
I noticed I was always drawn to individuals who appeared to not have the best opportunities. I did volunteer work with the local children’s’ home, respite centres and disabled youth groups. I was frustrated by people’s lack of consideration, their perception that these people ‘wouldn’t come to much’.
At eighteen I joined the Royal Navy Reserve. I served all over the world and became fascinated with the armed forces way of viewing leadership. It was soulless – no authenticity, no innovation, no creativity. Needless to say I was often in trouble for my desire to do things differently, change the world, and be creative....
I realised that if I wanted to make a difference and encourage authenticity on a large scale I needed to set up my own organisation. I had worked my way up through KPMG and left the organisation as head of health and wellbeing – a job I loved but was not connected to my purpose. At that time I didn’t truly understand my purpose but I knew working at KPMG was not comfortable anymore. I needed to be true to myself and have the courage to take the risks required.
My first organisation was called Flourish Consulting. I wanted to support people to” Flourish” in their lives. I trained as a mentor and coach and set about understanding how my vision and purpose could make a difference.
During my training as a coach I met a woman who changed my life. She was my mentor during training and we very soon realised that we had similar ideas and we decided to work together in partnership.
Nearly ten years on we are still working together in our organisation – The Work Playground (TWP). Our organisation’s purpose is ‘to work creatively with organisations to optimise the performance of their people and teams. The unique combination of challengeand opportunity that we provide creates an environment that inspires learning and maximises potential’. Fundamental to our programmes is the opportunity for people and teams to learn through play and experimentation , to spend time in their ‘free child’, to access their potential without being derailed by their learned behaviours or conditioning.
As we have worked with organisations we began to notice that what gets in the way of exceptional leadership most people have carried with them for a long time. We wanted to find a way of connecting their learning experience with being children again. And what if we could help children learn skills and exceptional attitudes that would support them to maximise their potential from their childhood through to adulthood?
From this vision we crafted the programme Eudaimonics – the science and art of flourishing. The programme brings leaders and children together in a creative learning space, to maximise their potential and lead flourishing lives.
What have been your critical lessons learnt along your entrepreneurial journey?
I think it is crucial to do your own work first. We are all on a lifelong journey of exploration and discovery – rediscovering our potential if you like. We need to be continually learning and developing to be aware of opportunities and maximise our experience. Anyone who believes they know all they need to is missing so much!
For me tenacity is crucial. I have tried many things, most of which haven’t worked. The ability to get up, refocus and go again with as much energy and passion as the first time is what enables us to be the best we can be and create the ultimate path.
Something I am learning more and more is that it is about collaboration. It is about trust and knowing when you need support and help. Finding like minded people and sharing your dream...
What are the characteristics that in your experience entrepreneurs require now and in the future?
I think all of the points I raised above are crucial, even more so now and in the future.
“Take the risk, be creative, be strong and enjoy the journey”.
What would be your 5 top tips for purposeful entrepreneurs?
- Know your purpose, your values and surround yourself with people that love you
- Look after yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually
- Look for the learning in every experience
- Have fun, create fun, be fun!
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