Watch Me Bloom: Sue Benson
Sue owns and runs The Behaviour Agency, a creative company that uses the sciences of happiness to develop exciting futures for brands.
She works with some of the North West’s most innovative brands including Autotrader, Co-op, Well Pharmacy and Housing Units and along with her fab team delivers a range of projects from all things brand to customer experience to future forecasting.
Based on a growing body of evidence she believes that happiness drives growth so the purpose of the business is built around having a positive impact on the happiness of the people who work in the business, the clients they work with and the customers they serve.
What big lessons have you learnt over your career so far?
1. Trust your gut. Call it emotional intelligence, female intuition or just plain gut instinct. I’ve learned that if I don’t follow it, I'll regret it. It often leads to having to make bigger or braver decisions but generally if I follow it I’ll be ok..
2. Surround yourself with great people, but not just great people, great people who make you happy. I have worked with many great people but they don’t always make me happy. They can be tricky characters to navigate, mood hoovers or don’t share the same value set, there's tons of reasons. And whilst they may be outstanding professionals, if every night you get home and moan it's not a great fit. It probably isn’t for them either.
That’s not to say I hire lookalikes I really dont - I want to be challenged and inspired but by people that put a smile on my face.
3. Be constantly curious. I suspect it’s because I’m easily bored and distracted but I love discovering new things. Things that help my business move forward, my clients business move forward and me move forward.
It’s probably what drove my reason to evolve the agency, first to a behavioural science led business and currently shifting towards a greater focus on the sciences of happiness and their impact on consumer behaviour and brands.
If you had to make a big change, what helped you through the process?
The peri-menopause era.
My big change literally happened at the start of my change. Hideous, useless words in many ways but they do sum up a period of your life when things fundamentally shift. Not quite overnight but looking back it felt like I went from a 48 year old woman in control to a 48 year old woman racked with anxiety and over the next 3 years gradually losing my confidence. Not the greatest place to be when you're an MD.
As a business we still did some amazing things in that period - but I definitely feel like we could have done a whole lot more.
I’m 52 now and finally feel like I’m back in control, mostly more confident but with menopause legacy of not being able to remeber anything! Hopefully that will improve - let’s hope so for everyone who works with me who used to rely on my elephant-sized memory.
What would you recommend to anyone feeling like they are in a similar boat?
Trust your instinct that something has shifted.
Surround yourself with great people who can support you.
Be curious about this stage of your life and explore new ways of expressing yourself.
And one more - talk openly about it. My colleagues are a whole lot more prepared for the years to come in their lives, that’s for sure.
How you made the change?
So my change wasn't an overnight one, I was quite rubbish for a while and now I’m so much better. (Still peri-menopausal which means I’ve got a few more years of the slog to go).
And apart from the wonders of HRT the one thing I did that has been transformative is to employ a brilliant executive coach - Mark Harland. He made me focus on my values, purpose and what makes me really happy. It’s given me the focus and direction to do even greater things in my career. Bring it on.