What big lessons have you learnt over your career so far?
LESSON ONE - STREET SMART
Question Everything. Especially when your gut tells you something that doesn't feel right. Always ask why.
Find Our What’s Expected. When working in business, always identify what the brief is. Never leave a meeting without the exam question.
Identify Your Tribe. You will need them - whether that's the buyer that respects you or the partner you will be able to work with. Many of them will become lifelong colleagues and sometimes friends.
LESSON TWO - HAVE VALUES THAT MAKE YOU YOU
Have And Stick To Your Principles. Establish your principles and consistently apply them - For example - always humble (I know nothing), always determined (I always know where I’m headed) - when others go low - always go high - and so on.
Respect Yourself - Give respect and demand respect. Care about those that care. Remember, you are always an equal - no matter who they are.
Don’t Just Listen - Hear - Listening to what people say isn’t nearly enough these days. Far too often it can be spin and cliche - at best, it’s simply their opinion. Listen widely, yes - but teach yourself to hear and establish the truth hidden in it all.
LESSON THREE - MAKE YOUR OWN PATH
No Is A Deferred Yes. Never take ‘No’ for granted - things can always get done, and sometimes It’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission. Make things happen - don't let what happens make you.
Avoid Compromise. As a mother, I made sure I retained my independence so when the divorce happened, I could survive. I have become proficient at turning disruption into an advantage. Disruption just fires me up and moves me forwards.
As you’ve had to make big changes, what helped you through the process?
Knowing myself, remembering the coping mechanisms
Major life events get forced onto you. There’s nothing you can do about them. You can only do you. And that means this:
Be as prepared as you can be. For me, divorce, losing the Innovation Labs at Ogilvy and my mother’s passing with terminal Cancer - made me go on a journey of ‘self-discovery’ and intense learning.
We don’t know what we don’t know. You need to trust and get some objectivity - from wherever you can. Somehow you must open your mind and your heart.
Discover yourself. You have to dig deep, go through the pain of finding out who you are - surface all your strengths and weaknesses. By knowing who you are, you will stop being bullied into doing something you know ‘feels’ wrong. This is the ONLY route to being able to stand up and defend yourself.
Get a mentor. (Or call me.) Someone who will listen, assess and give you a totally honest opinion - no matter how much you (initially) just want to vent!
What would you recommend to anyone feeling like they're in a similar boat?
My answer is, just start
Thinking is a raw and rare material.
Find space to reflect on the situation - find someone you trust and respect to keep you honest.
Improve your capacity to be curious - find new solutions to things.
Curiosity is a raw and rare material.
Always raise and broaden the context of the situation you find yourself in.
Start to write down a plan and work at it.
Define the outcome you want and figure out everything that will stop you from getting there.
Keep it simple but adopt a determined stance, and don’t be swayed by those whose motives you doubt.
How have you made changes?
Apply the above
Honestly, everyone’s journey is different, which means everyone is starting theirs somewhere different to mine. I made it up as I went along and soon learned that I would get a headache if I kept banging my head against the wall.
Everything new is all new. In my case with Ogilvy & Mather’s brief for me to make them digital - it was eye-wateringly new. To move from analogue to digital, I surrounded myself with people who did know.
I became a super-connector, an alchemist - if I didn’t know, I would define the outcome we needed and work with someone who did!
What has kept you motivated during big periods of change?
My family, my tribe
Looking back, I have done everything because of my kids and immediate family. They've given me the hope to continue, and that goes beyond anything else.
To keep me and my family safe and secure, I work. I’ve always loved working with teams and tribes I’ve formed or built.
Each day is about staying connected, staying relevant, putting out my thoughts and developing my position on the things that inspire and motivate me.
Good friends motivated me with lessons that came from a good place but may have been difficult to listen to.
My kids motivated me to create Rough Diamond.
My journey motivates me to give back in the fields of Educational transformation and the less well-represented.
I’m motivated by diversity and creativity.
I’m motivated to remove utter stupidity and inequity - inept business processes - wrongly promoted leaders ruining their workforce - business models over-index profitability in favour of humanity.
I’m motivated to get shit done.