Inspiring Advice From Inspirational Women

One of the main features of this blog is the interviews that I love to conduct with other professionals on the topics of careers, wellbeing at work and work-life balance. I've been lucky to interview some wonderful people and always enjoy learning from their trusted advice, motivation and encouragement. Among them have been some truly inspirational women who are carving out unique paths in the working world and who have offered some thoughtful wisdom that has certainly helped me and I hope has also inspired you as readers. So today, as it is International Women's Day, I thought it was about time to reflect back on some of my favourite tips and pull them together here to provide continued creativity, imagination and determination for all of us in our working and indeed our daily lives. Without further ado here are a few of my very favourite interview snippets!

 Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

1. ON VALUING YOURSELF AND KNOWING YOUR WORTH

From Business and Personal Coach Kim Morgan at Barefoot Coaching

When it comes to your career what’s the one piece of advice you wish you could go back and give your younger self?

That’s a great question but it’s hard to choose just one piece of advice as I think I made so many ‘mistakes’ along the way! If I had to have just one it would be - value yourself and what you are offering. That means:

  • Deciding on your fee structure and sticking to it
  • Resisting the impulse to over-deliver (giving away your time)
  • Believing that what you are doing is making a difference
  • Not discounting your skills and recognising all of the time, energy, training and investment you have put into being able to do what you do.

Read The Full Interview Here: Discussing The Power Of Positivity And Everyday Coaching With Kim Morgan

 

2. ON FINDING HAPPINESS AT WORK

From Happiness Consultant Samantha Clarke

Are there any key points that people reading this right now can consider to help them find more happiness in their own working environment?

  • Identify what’s authentic - take time to distil what really matters, what you need. Educate yourself or your team on your core values to make sure you are consistently embodying and aligning yourself accordingly. When things feel out of sync pay attention to it, interrogate it and hold yourself accountable to the changes that you need to make to put things right.

  • Build the right support framework around you - once you have clarity on your goals, there is no shame in reaching out and connecting to get help to take you closer to where you want to be. Either by getting a consultant into your business or investing in your creative learning or growth, perhaps on a retreat or workshop. Also look to see how you can help others, it’s a two-way street.

  • Don’t be scared to challenge the status quo - without innovation, your work life will become stagnant and not a true representation of the evolving individual or your company. Embrace change head on and any challenges to seek new opportunities.

  • Know your goals - map out the vision you have for your work/life. Is this path you are on taking you closer to, or away from these goals? How much progress are you making? Focus on noting down your wins and successes towards this goal as well as identifying where you might need to pivot, readdress, get creative and move through the friction and resistance that comes with change and action.

Read The Full Interview Here: Finding Happiness At Work With Samantha Clarke

 

3. ON STAYING MOTIVATED AND FINDING THE RIGHT SUPPORT

From the Founder of The Business Girls Network, Amanda Ayres

What is it that really drives and motivates you on a daily basis and how do you keep this momentum when feeling under pressure?

I'm a firm believer of supporting women and giving women opportunities. I think it's something that is naturally inbuilt in me and I do a lot of charity work too which supports this theory.

When I'm under pressure I go and exercise, just take some time out or reach out to the number of different people that support me. I think it's important to have a support network where you can get some coaching.

Recently I was so overwhelmed with the volume of work I nearly gave up. I think I had ‘start up fog’.  Nothing made sense to me. I took some time out and hey presto everything seemed to fall into place! 

Read The Full Interview Here: Amanda Ayres Discusses The Importance Of Supporting Women In Business

 

4. ON MAKING MISTAKES AND STEPPING OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

From the Founder of letterbox florist company Beards & Daisies, Jo Lambell

How do you set about conquering your biggest fears and setbacks in your working life?

When I was working in sales there were always scenarios that took me out of my comfort zone, whether it was a project, a meeting or a presentation. It would be easy to play it safe when you have your own business as there's no one to push you or challenge you other than yourself. It’s cheesy but at least once a month I try to force myself to do something which takes me out of my comfort zone or makes my stomach turn with fear. For example going to a networking group where I don’t know anyone. ‘Living in fear of making mistakes, is the only mistake you can make’ is a great motto to live by.

Read The Full Interview Here: From A Passion For Florals To A Blooming Beautiful New Business

 

5. ON WELLNESS, BALANCE AND LOOKING AFTER YOU

From the Co-Founder of Work Well Being, Louise Padmore

If you could give one piece of starting advice to someone trying to find better balance in their lives what would it be?

My single biggest piece of advice to someone trying to find balance within their working life would be to trust your instincts and remain firm and courageous in your need for space and time for wellbeing.

I know that this is often much easier said than done but, for me personally, now that I look back there were lots of little warning signs pointing me to the conclusion that the path I was on wasn’t working for me. I wasn’t eating well, didn’t feel particularly engaged around those I love, was incessantly scrolling through my phone often even without any real sense for what I was searching for, wasn’t sleeping well and just generally had a sense that all was not right. I do think that perhaps if wellbeing during the working day had been made available to me, then things could have been different. 

Read The Full Interview Here: Discussing Work Wellbeing With Louise Padmore

 

I hope that the great advice from these very inspirational women sparks encouragement and a sense of support within you this International Women's Day. If you're after more motivation take a look through the many other What Now interviews to get some more top tips for work and life here: The Interview.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Louise

 


What Is Burnout And How Can We Avoid It?

THE BUSINESS GIRLS NETWORK DISCUSS BUSINESS GIRL BURNOUT

Burnout is a term that we seem to be hearing more and more in the working world we live in today. It's always been a problem, but perhaps it's something that's now hitting more of us thanks to the demands of the digital age in which we live. Work, family commitments, relationships and now more than ever, technology all constantly pulling us to the edge and hampering our ability to find balance and keep well.

 Image Source: Pexels

Image Source: Pexels

Last week I attended a talk and networking event run by the Business Girls Network and focused on exactly this topic - the idea of burnout and how we can counteract it. So I thought I'd share a little of what I learned, in the hope that it may help any of you out there who are really feeling the pressure.

The talk was given by Lizzy Nichol of How We Eat Now, a writer and health coach who experienced true burnout first hand in her twenties, when training as a professional athlete. Lizzy now offers coaching to help people find their way to better health. She is passionate about enabling people in looking after their bodies, fight stress and sickness and begin to own their wellbeing in a more positive sense. 

So here's a look at what Lizzy talked us through with some thoughts on how we can take steps to avoid burning out and pull ourselves back to a more balanced state.

WHAT IS BURNOUT?

Burnout is a state of complete physical and mental exhaustion brought about by heightened and prolonged stress. It can wreak havoc in your working and personal life as you feel increasingly unable to meet the many and constant demands put upon you on a daily basis. Leading to sickness, serious self-doubt, a lack of mental motivation and a lack of physical ability to continue to get everything done. 

WHY SHOULD WE ACT NOW TO AVOID BURNING OUT?

If you hit that point of truly burning out and don't act on the early warning signs, then it can be incredibly hard, and take a long time, to bring yourself back to a place of wellness. From the perspective of your work and business, you may be worried about letting your level of productivity drop, but think of the impact on your business if you totally burnout and just can't work effectively at all for a prolonged period of time.

As Lizzy put it:

"What's the one renewable resource your business can't survive without?"

The answer of course is YOU!

We often feel that there's no way we can pull back from the demands of our working and daily lives. That if we say no, if we stop and take a break, everything will fall apart. Yet we fail to consider the repercussions of carrying on until the point that we drop. Taking a short step back now to redress your situation will have a far less negative impact than continuing until your mind and body literally force you to do so.

SO HOW CAN WE AVOID IT?

You need to be candid with yourself and honest about your situation. Recognise the early warning signs and take steps to counteract them.

As Lizzy discussed, look at tackling burnout by understanding your needs, think about your own personal sustainability plan to incorporate things such as nutrition, exercise and adequate rest.

Make sure you set boundaries that work for you. Don't say yes to everything, understand your current commitments and don't be afraid to say no when you need to in order to maintain a sustainable workload.

Technology is a big one for our working lives these days. Gone are the days when you left your emails at the office until the next morning, and let's not even get started on the rising impact of social media! With all of our devices offering instant access to our working worlds 24/7 we're suddenly finding ourselves switched on all of the time, and it's just not healthy.

You see I personally can actually remember a time before iPhones and the Blackberry brought work into our homes even after the working day had ended! Today, with everything on tap, we're used to being able to contact each other constantly, sometimes without even thinking whether it's really all that necessary right there and then. If you see it you feel obliged to act on it, even though it's quite possible that whatever it is will wait until the following day without any real or major consequence.

Finally think what do you really do for you? 

When Lizzy discussed this in her presentation she spoke about how she has this question on her initial consultation form and is always intrigued to see what people put as an answer. Many don't complete it at all whilst others say things like, spending time with my kids or going to the gym.

Now these are all great things but they still aren't truly and solely for you. They are things that are still necessary in some way or another and whilst they may bring you enjoyment in the process, they aren't something you are choosing to do purely for your own individual happiness and sense of wellness. 

Now of course to many this might seem incredibly indulgent and impossible to fit in as part of the daily juggle of work and life. However it doesn't have to be a huge thing, just something that offers a little bit of you time and a chance to switch off. Reading, walking, taking a bath, something every now and again that allows you to re-connect with yourself.

I know it can seem so very hard and at times completely impossible to avoid stress and to keep yourself on a even keel. The thing is that the alternative is not a nice option, and if you aren't able to take steps to pull yourself back to a more manageable place then sadly it's unlikely anyone else will do it for you.

We talk about work-life balance as if it's a constant state of equilibrium to which we should aspire. I like to think of it instead, as a place to which we always need to try and bring ourselves back to when things have become too much. It's impossible to remain consistently balanced on that tricky precipice of work and life. It is instead, possible to check in with ourselves every now and again and make sure we try to even out as best as we can, adjusting things as necessary to bring us back to a more central place.

There's only one you and you have to take care of yourself.

 

I hope you've found these thoughts and ideas useful. Have you ever experienced, or been close to burning out? How did you deal with it and do you have any advice you'd like to share?

Louise

 

FURTHER READING

More on the subject of burnout and wellness: 

The Law Of Wellness (As Illustrated By This Dude!) - How We Eat Now

More on the Business Girls Network:

Amanda Ayres Discusses The Importance Of Supporting Women In Business

Business Girls Network: A Private Reception With Theresa May MP

 


Amanda Ayres Discusses The Importance Of Supporting Women In Business

WOMEN EMPOWERING WOMEN

Recently I posted about The Business Girls Network event that I attended locally where I was lucky to have the opportunity to meet the Home Secretary Theresa May MP and network with a group of local and likeminded business women - if you missed it you can read about the evening here.

The subject of supporting women in business is such an important one that in today's interview I wanted to chat to the networks Founder Amanda Ayres to find out more behind the venture, what it's all about and plans for future growth, as well as get to know a little more about Amanda herself and what led her to creating such a vital and useful support network of local women in business. So grab a cuppa and spare a few minutes to learn more about The Business Girls Network and its founding group The Maidenhead Business Girls.

 Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Hi Amanda, to begin please could you tell me more about the Maidenhead Business Girls and the thought behind the initial project?

The Maidenhead Business Girls group was set up on Facebook in 2013 and just 18 months later it now has a following of over 1300 local women. The main aim of the group is to empower women and offer them a local network that promotes inclusivity and collaboration.

MBG was a spur of the moment creation and very quickly members were signing up and using it as a place to glean the day-to-day advice and support that they needed and to find the connections they were missing. We held a big event and a private reception recently that were both attended by Rt. Hon Theresa May MP. It was fantastic to have the support of one of the most influential women in business in our country!

 Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Photo Credit: Peter Christer

What is it that drew you to setting up this venture, what do you most connect with in what you are doing?

I think it was a natural evolvement as I'm a Marketing and Social Media Consultant with particular expertise in using marketing to drive traffic and create integrated tactical campaigns. I also have a lot of experience in building online communities. 

There is a real sense of building a community with MBG and it's satisfying knowing that women have really benefited from the group in terms of the support they get, the expertise they have access to and not to mention the huge number of clients they have gained as a direct result. 

What does the service provide and how can people get involved?

The group provides a way for women to connect with and share highs, lows, experiences and ideas with other local business women in their area. Whilst the majority of networking is done online, there are an increasing number of meet-ups and workshop sessions to further build relationships and a sense of belonging. 

As a result of the success of the group I founded ‘The Business Girls Network’ and set up other groups in other regions. Plus I have now launched the Worldwide Business Girls Network Group to connect likeminded women all over the world. So watch this space for lots of new and exciting news and ideas to come out of this worldwide platform!

 Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Photo Credit: Peter Christer

What is your own career background and how did you arrive at the point you are today?

I’m a Marketing Consultant with over 25 years of experience across many different sectors. I started freelancing over 13 years ago to fit in with family life.  

Are there any particular challenges and difficulties that you face in the work that you do and how do you handle this?

There have been several!

One of the biggest challenges is that people want you to do work for them but they don’t want to pay for it. They think because they have little or no budget you will just do it. I always say you are not paying for my time but my expertise as I have a huge amount of experience and there is a value in this. 

What do you love most about what you do?

I love connecting women together and watching them grow. Part of MBG is about giving women a ‘can do’ attitude. The groups are full of a hugely diverse mix of women. Some like me have professional backgrounds, some have moved from corporate to set up a completely different business, some have no business skills at all but have great ideas. The common theme is that women do want to support one another. It's part of our make-up!

 Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Photo Credit: Peter Christer

What’s the one piece of advice that you wish you could go back and give your younger self? 

This is tricky! But I think it is to believe in yourself more and don’t take it personally when people criticise you. As many compliments as I get from women in the network, I also get lots of criticism which can be hard to deal with. It's not easy to deal with and you do have to become quite thick skinned.    

What is it that really drives and motivates you on a daily basis and how do you keep this momentum when feeling under pressure?

I'm a firm believer of supporting women and giving women opportunities. I think it's something that is naturally in-built in me and I do a lot of charity work too which supports this theory!

When I'm under pressure I go and exercise, just take some time out or reach out to the number of different people that support me. I think it's important to have a support network where you can get some coaching - another reason why MBG works so well. 

Recently I was so overwhelmed with the volume of work I nearly gave up. I think I had ‘start up fog’.  Nothing made sense to me. I took some time out and hey presto everything seemed to fall into place! 

Finally how important is it to you to achieve a decent balance between work and life and do you have any tips or tricks for maintaining this?

This is a very difficult question and I'm not sure there is a right answer to it. It's very important to me but it's not always easy to get it right. 

I choose to work for myself and I choose not to have daily childcare so that I can be there for my children and not miss their sports or school events and look after them when they are sick. This means I do end up working late at night to make up for the time I've lost. In particular the holidays are difficult because there is even less time, making my days even longer because I have to work even later than in term time. 

My biggest tip is to just try and take some time for you. I have to exercise that can be hard in the holidays to fit in but I know I just have to book it into my diary as part of my work schedule. When the going gets tough I just stop for a bit and reach out to my support network, which is what the women in the network do. Another reason why it's so important.

 Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Photo Credit: Peter Christer

I've really appreciated learning more from Amanda about her passion for supporting women in business and I hope it's something that speaks to you too.

Mentoring, support, advice and just having someone there to lift you when you're struggling is so very important and I think it's great that networks such as this can provide that net and the boost that we all at times require.

Keep up to date with the latest goings on in the Business Girls Network here:

Twitter: @BizGirlsNetwork

Facebook: The Business Girls Network.

Thank you to Amanda for sharing and thank you as readers for tuning in. Remember to show some support to those around you, celebrate each other's successes and don't be afraid to reach out for help in return when you need it.

Louise

 


The Business Girls Network: A Private Reception With Theresa May MP

THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING WOMEN IN BUSINESS

This time last week I was preparing to join fellow local business women in my area at a small private reception with the opportunity to meet the Home Secretary, Theresa May MP. Organised by Amanda Ayres the Founder of The Business Girls Network in Maidenhead, Berkshire, this was a fantastic chance to network with other local business women as well as meet Theresa May the Member of Parliament for Maidenhead and, regardless of your political leanings, an inspiring mentor, person of influence and also herself a woman in business.

 Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Photo Credit: Peter Christer

Today I wanted to share a few photos from the occasion but principally offer some thoughts and facts about the importance of supporting women in business. How we can mentor and sustain each other, the challenges that women face and some resources that might come in useful - not just if you're based in Berkshire but from wherever you may be reading this post. I'd also like to invite you to share your thoughts and the places to which you turn when you're in need of such support. Your ideas are more than welcome in the comments section at the end of this post.

The Business Girls Network

As the above quote from the meetings presentation says: "A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult." Melinda Gates.

If I can turn to some of the fantastic statistics that Amanda brought to us during the meeting, some key points really stood out:

  • 33% of the female population (in the UK) would start a business if it wasn't for a fear of failure.
  • 85% of female managed start-ups are underfunded, driven by a lack of confidence, risk aversion and feelings of 'not being prepared.' 

It's sad that these fears, that I'm sure we all do recognise, are stopping incredibly talented women from taking the risk of stepping forward and putting their fantastic ideas into action. As Amanda also shared - if in the UK women started businesses at the same rate as men then we would have up to 150,000 extra start-ups each year. Imagine the jobs, talent and business opportunities such an additional figure would create. Something we can all work harder to support. RBS has calculated that boosting female entrepreneurship could help to boost the UK economy by up to an extra £60 billion a year.

However, aside from the stats above there are also many positives to take away and some truly fantastic women out there stepping into the world of business. With many young people coming up behind them demonstrating the passion and drive to follow in their footsteps. 

This is where fantastic support and networking groups such as The Business Girls Network can really do their very best and most important work. Bringing like-minded women together with an opportunity to share their expertise, their successes and indeed (perhaps most importantly) lessons from their failures. To help support and mentor each other. To be that someone online at the same time as you when you're tearing your hair out at 2am and say 'it will all be ok' and 'you can do this.'

The Business Girls Network
The Business Girls Network

I will be thinking about this topic a lot more over the next few weeks and will have more to share for those looking for further ideas and inspiration. For today I will leave you with some additional resources (see below) that you may find helpful if you are in need of mentorship and support yourself. This list is by no means complete and I would love it if any of my readers have any other inspirational resources that they could share.

Louise

The Business Girls Network