Quite a few people have recently asked me about my story and what does Mindsetup mean. Firstly, because everything in leadership and business starts with mindset. Secondly, it dawned on me that I have never really shared the story. You might also connect the mindset part with the project management part so if you do, you get bonus points. So here’s a bit of background which I hope will start to colour in the picture.

Some people actually enjoy project management

Many moons ago, I worked in the creative industry and sort of fell into project management. I found out that not only I was really good at it, but really enjoyed it too. I worked in a number of organisations in various roles such as marketing, bidding, business development and operations. But I constantly found my talent lay in pulling the right teams together for the right projects and ensuring that they worked efficiently, productively and achieved great results.

I am thankful that throughout my career I have worked in a wide variety of sectors and businesses. From the huge, eye-watering corporates to the smaller-scale businesses looking to grow. In each one I was exposed to the needs and challenges of how each business works differently. They all worked differently towards deadline-driven projects and the fallout from that on employees and leaders.

The baddies don’t play nicely

Working in professional services was a huge insight for me – both positively and negatively. In fact, I’ve never wanted to leave a job so quickly having been there three weeks and being shouted at by someone at 1am. Yes, that was 1am at the end of a run of 16-hour days and I’d made a mistake. Funny that! But I was too exhausted to do anything about it, I chalked it up to experience and dug deep. I didn’t expect to dig deep for another five years, but I learnt a lot. And don’t get me wrong, there were good times – some amazing projects and some interesting travel.

To see this side of business, with certain sectors far worse than others, the pressure put on people and the effects it was having on their physical and mental health spurred me on into wanting to help others, and knowing I had value to add.

The good ones who you want on your team

On the flip-side, for the next few years I also worked with some fantastic colleagues and leaders. There are many I’m proud to have stayed friends with. I think the various experiences we’d been through probably brought us together and it certainly gave me a different insight. I experienced amazing work ethics, leadership styles and dynamics that were equally as insightful into formulating my path. There is great power in great leadership and it can really set the path for a successful business and happy workplace. Knowing that I could play a part in that and help to show others that life is short, means all the experience was worth it.

How experience shaped my business

Having both the ability and the ‘been there, got the T-shirt’ experience set me up to offer well-rounded expertise, empathy, understanding and knowledge. Having been a bit burnt myself in the corporate machine and commuting for far too many hours a day, I knew the time was right to set out on my own.

At the heart of what I wanted to do was a deep desire to help people. When you take this desire and make it tangible by putting it into business, it’s a powerful set of skills. I wanted to take all my years of big business experience and channel it for leaders and business owners. This helps them get crystal clear on where they’re going and ensure their passion and drive is kept on track and alive. This desire also means that I have the joy of being able to get involved with charities and mentoring schemes too.

I spent years on the hamster wheel and didn’t look outwards, but now have the ability to choose how I work and who I work with

Taking time to stop, think and reflect

As we’ve all experienced, when we’re so busy in the moment in our businesses, we don’t have time to stop. Take time to stop, think, reflect and ask ourselves why we are doing what we’re doing in the first place. When I work with clients, I am constantly checking in with them and ensuring behaviours are good, and the culture is shaped from the top, as everything trickles down to employees. This includes the negative and this is what we want to avoid.

Establishing relationships and building trust with my clients takes time. It’s not a transactional business and it takes time for leaders to open up and let me in to help. This can be a very big deal for someone in a senior position. But once we find our rhythm and establish a mutual respect, the long-term relationship really does pay dividends. I am pleased to say that a number of my clients keep working closely with me as part of their team.

Keeping calm so others can carry on

I also work with clients on immediate issues, both as standalone projects or as part of a business consultancy role. Recently I recruited for a client as they didn’t have the time or capacity during rapid growth to dedicate to it. I wrote the job description, interviewed with the client, and gave feedback resulting in a quick and very good hire. The advantage here is that I can stay objective whilst fully understanding the strategic plans for the business.

Having a fantastic support network

At the core of my work at Mindsetup is the power of network and support. Having positive business owners around you to chip in, support, help and challenge you is so powerful. It can be difficult, and at times arrogant, to try and do it all on your own. I learnt at the very beginning that we can’t, and shouldn’t, do everything needed for our businesses as we’re not the expert at everything. Which is why delegating well and working with others is so important to your success.

Focus on what you’re brilliant at and bring in other experts to be brilliant at something else

Being open, vulnerable, humble and empathetic

With all clients, there are multi-layers of working together. It can often start with the top line conversation of targets and commercial goals, but it is followed by a more humanistic one where people open up more. From experience, men always seem to do just that, and once I have gained their trust, they get to work quickly sharing all their issues and challenges. Women leaders are often more open initially, so I love having very different types of conversations to get to know each leader and management team individually. You can read more about how I work with business leaders here.

A big lesson for me in this process is that first impressions are often wrong. I’m much more relaxed and open minded and conscious to not judge prematurely. Working for myself and with some truly outstanding leaders is so rewarding. It allows me to grow and learn every day and to see smaller businesses thrive and succeed.

In my next blog post I’ll share some thoughts around how important it is to listen as a leader. We were told as children “we’ve got two ears and one mouth, so use them in that proportion” but it’s not quite that straightforward.