Make Space for Growth Podcast

Sara Vicente Barreto

The Make Space for Growth Podcast is a space to talk about growth - in business, at home and with the family, or in your community. The show is hosted by Sara Vicente Barreto, a corporate strategist, problem solver, social entrepreneur, writer and mum of 2. Sara is passionate for growth and has created the Make Space for Growth community, bringing her authentic experience across areas of life. In Season 1 "Finding Growth in a Crisis", Sara brings us the stories of women leaders through the Coronavirus crisis. Crisis can create excellent opportunities for cleansing and de-cluttering. They create turmoil that can make space for growth in new areas of life and business. This series of Fireside Chats will demonstrate how.

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Never waste a good crisis with Inês Santos Silva
02-08-2022
Never waste a good crisis with Inês Santos Silva
With a love for learning since early age, I have a feeling Inês will be learning for many years to come. She is passionate about innovation, and is not scared about solving a challenge. You just have to look at her resume to see this. I lost count of the number of roles and ventures in her LinkedIn profile. A fast-starter Ines assessed start-ups needed support way before it was cool to talk about accelerator programs. So she designed one. And expanded it to multiple cities. She determined there was a need for social ventures long before social impact was a concept. So she dedicated her efforts to Social Value Generator. She found she was often the only woman attending Tech events, so she decided to create a network for Women in Tech. She assessed that only a small percentage of businesses' procurement goes into woman-owned businesses - so she created a database of women-owned businesses that large corporations can use, so there is no longer the excuse that "they can't find them". What's next? Time for space Inês is taking time to define her next steps. She is not in a rush and is, as expected, putting a lot of time into learning. She knows it will involve AI, Web 3 and all the new developments in this area, but she has not defined yet where next she will put her energy. She has been brave to really take a step back and create this space for thought. In her daily life, she has also become better at incorporating moments of space into her life, especially as the pandemic thought us that there is so much we can do remotely. Looking back Inês feels the things she has done are mostly connected and the reason they seem so many are because she started early. But more importantly, she reminds us that there are a lot of ideas she had that never had the light of day. She was willing to try a few ideas that were not fully formed (like the first accelerator week for Start-up Pirates). The first step is the one that makes things happen: "It is much easier to move something that is already moving" Old piece of advice The other reflection Ines brings us is one someone shared with her early in her career. As she met someone with a very different lifestyle more than 10 years ago (a famous digital nomad), she questioned his choices to understand what drove him. The answer was simple "What is the worst that can happen?" When thinking about it like this, we are often reminded we can probably live with the outcome. Never waste a good crisis As for many of her ventures, Inês was early for the pandemic. She got supplies early in February and buckled up. As she did so, she focused on this quote by Churchill to ensure she would not go crazy during these times. She focused on working hard on her company in consulting at the time. One of the things that Inês definitely put to good use, was the time to start eating healthy and take better care of herself. Final thoughts? The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the 2nd best time is today! To remember Quote: Never waste a good crisis (Winston Churchill)Word of the Year: ExperimentationBook: Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius (and Ines Goodreads list here)Find Ines hereSee more about Season 3 here Podcast edited by Alice Stansfield
Never waste a good crisis with Inês Santos Silva
02-08-2022
Never waste a good crisis with Inês Santos Silva
With a love for learning since early age, I have a feeling Inês will be learning for many years to come. She is passionate about innovation, and is not scared about solving a challenge. You just have to look at her resume to see this. I lost count of the number of roles and ventures in her LinkedIn profile. A fast-starter Ines assessed start-ups needed support way before it was cool to talk about accelerator programs. So she designed one. And expanded it to multiple cities. She determined there was a need for social ventures long before social impact was a concept. So she dedicated her efforts to Social Value Generator. She found she was often the only woman attending Tech events, so she decided to create a network for Women in Tech. She assessed that only a small percentage of businesses' procurement goes into woman-owned businesses - so she created a database of women-owned businesses that large corporations can use, so there is no longer the excuse that "they can't find them". What's next? Time for space Inês is taking time to define her next steps. She is not in a rush and is, as expected, putting a lot of time into learning. She knows it will involve AI, Web 3 and all the new developments in this area, but she has not defined yet where next she will put her energy. She has been brave to really take a step back and create this space for thought. In her daily life, she has also become better at incorporating moments of space into her life, especially as the pandemic thought us that there is so much we can do remotely. Looking back Inês feels the things she has done are mostly connected and the reason they seem so many are because she started early. But more importantly, she reminds us that there are a lot of ideas she had that never had the light of day. She was willing to try a few ideas that were not fully formed (like the first accelerator week for Start-up Pirates). The first step is the one that makes things happen: "It is much easier to move something that is already moving" Old piece of advice The other reflection Ines brings us is one someone shared with her early in her career. As she met someone with a very different lifestyle more than 10 years ago (a famous digital nomad), she questioned his choices to understand what drove him. The answer was simple "What is the worst that can happen?" When thinking about it like this, we are often reminded we can probably live with the outcome. Never waste a good crisis As for many of her ventures, Inês was early for the pandemic. She got supplies early in February and buckled up. As she did so, she focused on this quote by Churchill to ensure she would not go crazy during these times. She focused on working hard on her company in consulting at the time. One of the things that Inês definitely put to good use, was the time to start eating healthy and take better care of herself. Final thoughts? The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the 2nd best time is today! To remember Quote: Never waste a good crisis (Winston Churchill)Word of the Year: ExperimentationBook: Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius (and Ines Goodreads list here)Find Ines hereSee more about Season 3 here Podcast edited by Alice Stansfield
Creating Space - Launching Season 3
04-07-2022
Creating Space - Launching Season 3
Today, I am bringing you the launch of Season 3 - Creating Space. In order to tell you more about the upcoming season, I feel I need to go back in time and explain my concept of word of the year. Because Space is my word of the year. For the last 3 years, I have been defining myself a word of the year. Why a word of the year? I already have goals, values, and even a vision board. I found a word goes beyond and through all that. A word gives me a true north. Believe In 2020, my word of the year was BELIEVE. And that belief helped me hold it together - do you remember the year of Covid? I acted through the year (or most of it) with a belief in myself that I did not think was possible. One I had not lived before. Believing in myself in a way that was sometimes blinding but also re-energising. It made me float through ideas, see the positive in all the crazy times, find new avenues, unleash dreams. When was the last time you believed that your dreams would be possible? That YOU are possible? Somehow, along the way, my beliefs have been shaken. I fought hard to dig the word back out into my life towards the year-end. And I did not let go of it. In all honesty, I almost thought of keeping it for 2021.  Fearless But I took the next step on the belief highway. Believing can only lead to one thing - no fear. As I reflected on how I looked forward to 2021, I landed on a theme of courage. One that stemmed from a newly built belief in the possibilities. And one that I felt I needed to feel stronger and stand up again. After the year of Covid, where we recognisably lived with more fear for life than in many of the past years - even if not ours, for those of our loved ones, I recognised I can't be bold or brave if I have fear. So the word was FEARLESS. And that was no doubt a driving north through the year. In moments of doubt, hesitation, and fear where a choice was required. I carried on. Space And now SPACE. I took longer than usual to land on my word of the year for 2022. As I reflected, I started seeing a word come up often in my gratitudes. Space. The small bits of space I had felt rejuvenating, if not a lot of them. So I decided to dedicate this year, and this season of the podcast, to the ability to find, create and enjoy space in our lives. Space is not a single event in time, it is something you continuously need to have. So as we go through these series, I will speak to our guests about their path, their business, their careers. But also about how they find space. Space to explore, think, feel and be. Join me, for this journey, to find out how. It is time to create space.
A Journey back through the Season
26-01-2022
A Journey back through the Season
For the Season Finale, I went around the world and down into my memory to pick the highlights of this season. What I learnt, what I discovered, what I was impressed about. There is no bittersweet taste in getting to the end of a season. In fact, it is exciting to look back and remember all the amazing women that crossed my path. After the hard to forget year of 2020, my goal was to bring to light in 2021, the stories of what are now almost 2 years of this pandemic, but more importantly, how each of us is looking to lift ourselves up, look forward and face life stronger and together. As for me, 2021 was a year of multiple wins and also some bumps on road for women around the world. What have I learnt in this journey? Yael Melamed Yael helped me open up the season by talking to us about the importance of letting go of control. It is hard to envisage life without control. Control of schedules, conversations, moments, words. In fact, Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks argues that all that we fill our lives with is precisely because we fear death. In 2020, in one way or another, we learnt (mostly the hard way) that in fact, we have very little control. And, in 2021, we probably didn't go with Yael's suggestion of letting go (or Frozen's suggestion for that matter). We went with another slogan instead and sought to take back control. How did that work out for you? Francesca Geens I had been following Francesca for a while. In fact, we had been users of her amazing "Happy Self" gratitude journal for kids. Little Girl C has benefited greatly from it and even Baby S has his own. Given my great passion for the practice of gratitude, meeting Francesca for the podcast in early 2021, as I braced myself for what I hoped was the end of the pandemic, was just great. Francesca started studying the science of happiness the more she heard about people, especially children being depressed. And if you are thinking this is just a pandemic fashion, let me stop you there. Francesca launched her business in 2018. Did you know that scientists have actually been able to measure the impact of a gratitude practice in our brain? Amy Williams Amy was a perfect guest to follow my goal of women empowerment, as the platform she has created "Fem Foundry", is dedicated precisely to this. Amy was a fighter of the pandemic. She launched a platform dedicated to all parts of being a woman, whatever that definition means to people. In fact, she Is focused on avoiding labels and reducing women to a single role. Amy thought she always had great resilience but she admitted that this brought her resilience to a whole other level. Amy found higher barriers, higher hurdles and more shut doors. Catarina Gorgulho Catarina had been wanting to be an entrepreneur for a while, to have something hers, that she could look and feel and, ideally, that would be aligned with her passion for wellness. Funny enough, compared to other entrepreneurs I have met, the product came last. And it was as simple as Lupin Beans. Catarina. Pedro and Alice have really worked on bringing a new face to Lupin Beans through Tarwi. As they set up a business through the pandemic, I was curious to know how to launch a dream like this during a time like this! With a good knowledge of social media, they launched with the people. This proximity of brands and people brought about by lockdown was already known to me by prior episodes of the podcast. But the result here was extraordinary. They were stocked out whenever they were back in stock! Jessica Postiglione Jessica and I went to school together in the US. She is now on her second start-up past corporate life and we had a conversation about the journey. A hot topic is always about the move from corporate life into entrepreneurship. She reminds us that there is never a right time. After her first start-up came soul-searching and just then the pandemic hit. As she tried to keep herself mentally and physically fit, her company was born. And if you think she was just in ideation mode through the pandemic, not quite! In fact, I will never forget she actually had her first factory tour over facetime. There was no stopping her determination. Kirsten Robinson Kerstin decided to leave the corporate finance life to create her business. As Catarina, she had a few ideas but not THE idea. She ended up making juice. They tried flavours, put them in cafes and hung around to see what people thought. A bit of stalking arguably, however humble in approach. Step by step, they were ready to expand. And as the pandemic hit, the multi-channel approach protected them from the hit (or part of it) and their customer appeal led them to close an oversubscribed round of crowdfunding. Jenna Stein Jenna founded Berlin Clothing Swap out of her own need to get clothes in an affordable and sustainable way. As we moved to a more personal conversation, there were quite a few bits that stuck with me. As we debated life past pandemic. Jenna did reiterate how important it was to learn that it is OK to say no. There will always be another party. Khyati Sundaram Khyati was yet another financier Fellow that left into the unknown and without a clear path ahead, For the podcast, we focused on her start-up number 2, as she realised her resume did not fit after leaving start-up number 1. It is no surprise she joined Applied, focused on removing bias from the recruitment process. The focus is on skills alone. To this day Khyati has given me what I still think is one of my favourite quotes. Be as Water. Joana Dias da Cunha Joana runs the impact business Fair Bazaar, aligned with her mission to educate and inspire. Again, I found an amazing woman that decided not to stay still in the face of a problem. In her case, It was a movie that woke her up to the damage of fast fashion. Running the company has been a multi-stage adventure and one that is still very much moving. The pandemic forced store shutdowns, but also created the opportunity for her to grow her online business, launch Fair News and grow her education practice. Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao Malee is Africa’s First global Luxury fragrance and body care brand. Zeze describes herself as multi-hyphenated. To this podcast, I had not realized the presence of multiple hyphens in my life. But the way that Zeze described it was what grabbed my attention. In a time when I was truly thinking how I needed to drop hyphens, she called it limitless. As I close. l think I want to stick to ZEZE's advice to all Of us. Be bold, what is the worse that can happen? I am grateful for this journey and grateful for the women that made it what it became. For the ability to find growth, for the ability to lift themselves up, for their authenticity and willingness to share, Produced by Alice Stansfield
Be Bold with Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao
14-12-2021
Be Bold with Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao
Zeze grew up with a love of play and a love of teaching. She became an entrepreneur early in her life and has evolved into a "multi-hyphenated" self as an entrepreneur, beauty and cosmetics industry expert, luxury brand consultant, influential speaker, podcast host, freelance columnist and social media personality. Her company, Malee, is Africa’s 1st global luxury fragrance and body care brand. Zeze tells the story of how she has grown with her company through the ups and downs of running a business and life all in one. A non-considered start Zeze started her entrepreneurship career more than 10 years ago shortly after finishing school. It all looks well thought of and planned out, but in fact, it was a product of factors and not very considered. Zeze did know she would eventually follow her passions and dreams in entrepreneurship but expected she would do that much later in her career. Don't worry, she did have a business plan, but the truth is that she was not yet 100% sure she was going to do this at the time she launched. That showed as she took a day job in the meantime and did not really believe when she got a call from CNN to talk about Malee. When she considered her options, someone gave her the advice she remembers today "What is the worst that can happen?" Losing the passion Zeze started with her vision for the business but ended up deviating from it, going into retail, investing in manufacturing and working 7 days a week. At that point, she no longer woke up loving her business. And as the joy started to go down, she also started making less money. As she had external consultants come in and look into her business, they helped her see the difficulty in scaling the operations and also the impact of any moments she was not there on the bottom line. At that point, she recognised she was working on it, but dying slowly, and without any joy. It is interesting Zeze brought this up because people assume entrepreneurs always have a passion for their business. But a lot of times, passion can fade. And what do you do then? "This isn't life" Taking the helm back Zeze focused on what she needed from the business to be able to continue to be at the helm of the ship.  So that is how the business evolved, with this mix of personal and professional experiences. And from the realizations that come with running a business for 12 years. Not only do you change as a person, the business changes but even the world you are in changes. Retail is today totally different from what it was 5 years ago, and even from what it was 18 months ago. With a business that was 80% based on the hospitality industry, Malee took a huge impact when the pandemic hit and a lot of questions had to be asked. How to pandemic proof the business? The first adjustment that Zeze had to go through was to accept there was no work. There was no business to sell. This is when having a decade behind and being quite frugal has really helped her endure this period. At the same time, Zeze dedicated this downtime to sit down with the team and re-organize while getting operationally fit to be able to stretch the margins post the pandemic. So, for the first 6 months, all was cool and there was no panic. But as the pandemic stretched out and post a lot of cuts in expenditure and personnel, there was a point Zeze was indeed ready to panic. Looking forward All in all, the business survived the pandemic and has also taken this chance to change their relationship with their customers and diversify away from B2B. It is not the first time we hear on the podcast how the pandemic was such a crucial moment for brands to relate to their customers. Back to the original business, Zeze is now also more focused on a broader lifestyle brand and is venturing into apparel. She has also become much bolder with the expansion, so has started pushing the business outside its comfort zone. Being Bold One of my favourites was to find out how Zeze described herself as a leader. She realized how bold she had been already in her 12-year business. Malee was the first female black-owned brand to launch in Harvey Nichols (even before Rihanna) - and extremely successful. She was able to grow a luxury brand out of Africa into the "first world" where there are so many options already and being able to stand next to the best in the game. It reinforces that no dream is too big. "No one puts Baby in a corner Dirty Dancing The secret of expanding time I get this question a lot - how do I do all the things that I do. And Zeze is just like that. She has the mindset of being "limitless" in all the things she is working on. She loves the pace and the diversity. And despite the apparent lack of connectivity, they do all come together in an incremental way. Gone are the days where she felt confined to being Malee all day and every day. As the business is no longer a baby that needs her every second, she is finding value in all the things that make her "multi-hyphenated". I think I like her explanation! The only problem I had with this podcast is that I could have gone on for hours listening to Zeze's story. She was an open-sharer and I feel like I learnt a fair amount and just kept absorbing her great stories. What was your biggest take? Zeze's Short List 2021 Advice: I wish I had enjoyed more2021 Lesson: We are stronger than we thinkBook for 2022: Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath and The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read, Philippa PerryWord for 2022: Be Bold, what is the worst that can happen? Connect with us Meet Zeze on Linkedin and meet Malee. You can also follow her on InstagramJoin our Make Space for Growth communityFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter Produced by Alice Stansfield
Educating and Inspiring with Joana Dias da Cunha
07-10-2021
Educating and Inspiring with Joana Dias da Cunha
As I record my first podcast after my big move, I am a bit nervous. Is the sound ok, is the light ok, is the background decent? And then I start chatting with Joana. Once you get into the chat, it is just a chat between two passionate people. Joana is a sustainability advocate who has created a business around her passion. Fair Bazaar and more recently Fair News are her ways of changing the world of fast fashion one bit at a time. Into a world that we want to live in. The Journey Joana always dipped in and out of entrepreneurship. She started off as an entrepreneur straight after Uni, but then decided to spend a few years in the corporate world and then working with start-ups through the arms of Rocket Internet. In 2015, she started seeing the world differently. As she watched the movie "True Costs", she felt like she could no longer go on the same way. It is interesting, so many of us watch movies and think things need to change, it can't go on like that. And then some people do something about it. That is what Joana did - as she immediately started changing her fashion choices, she realized how difficult it was to do so and created a business that allowed sustainable brands to prosper. Fair Bazaar was born. A multi-stage adventure After the conception stage, Joana launched a physical presence in Lisbon and later an online shop. Hearing this today feels weird because we have just been through Covid-19 and the surge in online shopping. But at the time, that seemed to make sense. She provided a marketplace for brands and that was at the core of her mission. However, the pandemic brought her business model under pressure. As she closed down her shops, her online business was insufficient to maintain the business. As an optimist, Joana turned to the other 2 pillars she had for the brand - education and inspiration. Amidst the pandemic, she started Fair News, a digital magazine dedicated to sustainable fashion and lifestyle. And she grew her education practice, venturing into B2B with masterclasses and workshops. Had the pandemic not hit, she may not have taken the brand there yet. Hard to guess now. Challenges of Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurship comes associated with the word uncertainty. We have heard that before from other guests at the podcast. So the pandemic added another layer to it, requiring what every entrepreneur has to live and breathe - adapting. Joana has had to make difficult choices during the last 18 months - that included firing people, closing shops. These are the dreaded decisions everyone launching and growing a business hopes they can avoid. And in fact, sometimes, that is the end of it. But Joana faced it as another moment where the business had to adapt and find another way. And she did so through a lens of opportunity, finding new ways to work and grow. A different life Living in Lisbon at the time the lockdown hit, Joana escaped the city for lockdown and adopted a new form of living, more communal. The importance of being with family in a time like this not only provided her with the practical support that an entrepreneur trying to hold a business together while having a small child at home needs to have, but also gave her the extra mental support these difficult times required. To help, she doubled down on her discipline of having a running, yoga and meditation practice. Even though she did not develop any new habits (I am still fascinated by my colleague who started a philosophy club), she certainly ensured these key habits of self-care were part of her life. Looking forward, Joana maintains her optimistic stance. She sees a world of opportunity out there, as there is still so much to do in order to slow down fashion and reduce the costs it has in people's livelihoods and our planet. I hope she continues to promote, educate, and inspire. Joana's List Advice: Importance of diversifying - would have gone to online earlierLesson: Need to adaptBook: Search Inside YourselfWord: New Opportunities Connect with us Meet Joana on LinkedIn and meet Fair Bazaar or follow them on InstagramJoin our Make Space for Growth free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter And by the way. Rate us on your favourite podcast app! This podcast is produced by Alice Stansfield
Be as water with Khyati Sundaram
24-08-2021
Be as water with Khyati Sundaram
As I listen to the podcast I recorded with Khyati, I immediately get transported back to those last days in London before my big move. Khyati is an energetic inspiring woman, committed to changing what she sees wrong and going through the challenges life throws at her. Khyati is the CEO of Applied, after having founded (and closed) her own start-up Fosho post her Corporate Finance life. Leaving Corporate Life One day, Khyati looked around and found out she was not finding a path ahead in Investment Banking. Thinking about the future, she realized those 4-walls did not bear her dreams.  As a reflective and impatient person, she believes she jumps into things before she is even ready. So when she left, she did not know exactly what she was going to do. "Ideas are a dime a dozen" After 2 years back to school she tried different ideas, put some through incubators, passed her ideas through people on the street and really went on an immersive experience. She ended up creating Fosho, an AI-based, machine-learning platform for sustainable supply chains. But it was too early, and after initial traction, the company did not scale. Back to the recruitment market After Fosho, Khyati went through an inflection point as she looked to go back to the market. She had decided not to go to big corporate, but she also did not have any other ideas to get started. When she started applying for jobs, it was devastating. Khyati estimates she must have applied for more than 200 jobs. As she spent hours working on her CV and cover letter she got told (when she got an answer): "You didn't fit" This message kept getting repeated back to her. And that is when Khyati realized that the recruitment market was broken. It was surprising, but also heart-breaking. Unfortunately, Khyati's story is not unique. Finding Applied This experience defined her journey in finding a company that would value her skills and the things that really matter on the job. She joined to run product and after a year became the CEO of the company. If you were wondering what company hired her on the basis of skills? Applied is an end-to-end hiring platform that uses 50 years of research about hiring, evidence-based information rather than proxies. Applied provides a better structure for decision making and has had so far over 350 thousand applications in their platform. The company tests exclusively on skills and have built a unique database that is de-biased. How? The candidate receives a questionnaire rather than sending in their resume. And the outcomes are anonymised and randomised in multiple ways to ensure there are no flawed signals in the process and to avoid drawing any inferences about the candidate - you can only focus on skills. Can you see how I could go on talking about this company for hours? CEO into the Pandemic Khyati became the CEO of Applied a month before the pandemic hit. And what was her first job? To close a fundraise. She barely remembers that first month of Covid-19 as she was so absorbed in ensuring the company had enough money. After the close, she was shocked about how the business was getting hit and losing customers. They took a bet that hiring would normalize but imagined it would take at least 18 months. As such, they went into a cash conservation strategy, most unusual after closing a fundraising round. It worked out and the company became self-sustainable during that time and is now ready to invest as recruitment has re-opened. Life in the Pandemic Khyati was in London for lockdown and that was a difficult time. I was impressed to find out that she replaced her commute time with meditation time, rather than just working more, as many of the women I interviewed or encountered (self-included). During the times at home, (other than her family) she missed her gym and the routine it gave her. She worked out new routines into her day to help her with it. Whilst the pandemic brought a lot of loneliness, it also allowed her to go on a personal journey which included more meditation and long walks to give her more grounding. She hopes to keep that in a post-pandemic environment. One of the tools she used to help her keep going with her exercise and self-care was an accountability buddy, which ensured she would not back out of it on the harder days. The part she could not manage as well was dealing with the distance from family, despite all the virtual encounters. Travel is the only solution! As we finished and I thought I had so much out of the podcast, Khyati hit me with a quote that I seem to forget often (as she does). Be as water. After this amazing story, there was no better title for the podcast. Khyati's List 2020 Advice: Be as Water2020 Challenge: Distance from family2020 Lesson: There are things you can't control2021 Book: Managing Yourself, HBR and Invisible Woman2021 Word: Energizing Connect with us Meet Khyati on Linkedin and meet AppliedJoin our Make Space for Growth free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter
It's ok to say No with Jenna Stein
21-07-2021
It's ok to say No with Jenna Stein
As I get ready to launch this podcast, I am trying to take a deep breath. As multiple parts of the podcast got cut, I try and not to get frustrated about some amazing bits of conversation we lost. We all had a fair amount of unpredictable events in the last year or two. So I will add this one to the list and stay grateful for all that Jenna shared with us, her experience of moving countries, founding a movement, seeing it halt and having the energy to do it all again. Let's hear about Berlin Clothing Swap. Moving continents Jenna moved to Berlin in 2013 after a few visits to the city. She found Berlin offered so many possibilities and opportunities and, like me, she originally moved for a year! Well, for her it has been 8 years but she is still passionate about the city. When she first arrived, she did not know many people or had much money to spend. As her parents instilled circular fashion concepts into her through her childhood, she decided the same was needed in Berlin. With that, she created the Berlin Clothing Swap - an opportunity for people to swap clothes (and meet friends).  So how did she go from an idea to the first event? The first Berlin Clothing Swap "event" Jenna admits she had a hard time calling it an event when only one person showed up. Looking back, she knows what went wrong - no advertising, no signs. Luckily, that one person that showed up allowed her to realize she was onto something but had to put a different effort into it. For a while, she struggled with the direction she should take - what format, what model, what rules. It was not until 3 years later that she put together another event (courtesy of a broken foot). The pause in her life allowed her to really put time into it, study social media and really think through the different dimensions that would make Berlin Clothing Swap successful.  And BCS started to grow. Hit by the pandemic As Jenna told me about the clothes people can try at events and swap between them, I could not help but think of what a distant reality that was.  Large events, people swapping clothes, I don't even know where to start. Jenna was planning a swap event at the time the pandemic hit but had to cancel. To keep the movement going, she created a Facebook group where people could swap directly in terms mutually agreeable. That way, they could keep it going, even if they did not get a chance to try it on in advance. She was not afraid of being disintermediated because, in the end, she is very passionate about the circular fashion cycle continuing. Founder's Syndrome One of the greatest challenges Jenna faced as an entrepreneur was to delegate. She was used to managing everything on her own, and as Berlin Clothing Swap grew she had to give some out. She started with social media management and always has volunteers for her events. She also had to find additional founding members to register as a non-profit, and that has also caused some worries. "This is my baby and the idea that someone can come and take it away from me at some point is difficult" Letting go to grow is definitely something I have reflected on before. At the same time, it comes with the added responsibility that no matter who helps you, the responsibility is all on you if something fails. Looking forward Jenna is excited about the re-opening. As she is planning a new event for this Summer she has many plans looking forward. She wants to have smaller events, thematic or by size and really go after what people are asking for. In an ideal world, Jenna would like to even convert this passion into her full-time occupation. She is happy she did not do that pre-pandemic though! And if you hear her talk, you can see Jenna has multiple dreams and is open to multiple possibilities. I can't wait to see what is on the cards. Lockdown in Berlin Jenna was on holiday when the pandemic hit. On her return to Berlin, she found that working for home actually worked out for her. The pause in life helped her take stock and actually invest more in her work and achieve an even better performance. At home, she kept painting by numbers, started yoga and even received a care package from her parents with different games. Jenna missed out on meeting friends, putting on some make-up, going out! "I missed life!" But like me, she also found the introvert in her that enjoyed spending time with her partner, watch movies, take walks with friends in a more personal 1-on-1 experience. She also found that there was power in the ability to cancel plans and say no in the moments where she needed to take care of herself. Genuine emotions Jenna was very open about what her difficult points were through this pandemic. She has not seen her family in a long time (though she now has flights booked) and that has made her extremely sad. In the low moments, cycling has been a great way to manage her emotions and make her feel better. But she also admits to indulging in reality tv to just have a good laugh. That is allowed too! What will the new normal be? As the re-opening is here, Jenna is finding herself exhausted from all the events. She hopes to be able to find more balance in the future and really embrace the fact that she won't be able to be there for every party and will listen to her body more "There will be other parties, there will be other birthdays, there will be other dinners. It's ok to say no" That is a key learning she is bringing into her life from this pandemic. One that I found myself struggling with as well. Jenna's List 2020 Advice: Not to have any expectations, that way you won't be disappointed2020 Challenge: It felt like my life has been on pause2020 Lesson: Patience and empathyBook for 2021: Fashionopolis and Daisy Jones and the SixWord for 2021: Tolerance Connect with us Meet Jenna on Linkedin and visit Berlin Clothing Swap on FacebookJoin our Make Space for Growth free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter Produced by Alice Stansfield
Taking it step by step with Kerstin Robinson
22-06-2021
Taking it step by step with Kerstin Robinson
Meet Kerstin Robinson, Co-founder of Nix&Kix as we talk about the business, pandemic and how to look at the future.  Coming from Finance 10 years ago, she did not know much about consumer products, even less about juice. But hard work and resourcefulness were the skills she needed. And Nix&Kix is here to banish boredom and put some healthy excitement back into soft drinks. The start of a venture When Kerstin first thought of leaving corporate life, she did not necessarily have a grand idea. And as she found out Julie was also after a change, they decided to investigate further. As they did, they found a gap in the market for soft drinks, and a lack of healthy and interesting alternatives, especially when compared to the US market. They had their target so they started making juice. They started in their kitchen and went to farmers' markets to find out what flavours people wanted. As they nailed a few flavours, they wanted to try how a product would do on a shelf so they approached a few café owners and convince them to put it on the shelf. Sometimes, they stayed behind and went up to customers who were choosing to ask them about it. Whilst some customers were scared with their approach, it gave them huge information. Growing step by step From a kitchen in the back of a salad shop in London, they were then ready to expand. They were present in coffee shops and lunchtime places and were a hit. And then the Fall came. That is when they were hit by the surprise that, in the Winter, coffee shops did not see a point in stocking them - who would want cold drinks? They then tried pubs to find out the bartender would never spend any time explaining a non-alcoholic drink to the buyer - soda was always going to be the quick recommendation. They realised they had to go to retail and get known first so that the customers would actually ask for them. That is when they got into the large retail chains and, till today, is their biggest channel. Hit by a pandemic Thanks to the multi-channel strategy, the shutdown of the restaurants and pubs was compensated by the retail strength, especially online. They added their own online channel and did a rebrand throughout the year. They also managed to continue launches - like Nandos - even if in the beginning they did not get the most out of it. The pandemic also brought a new dynamic they had not considered - the importance of convenience stores, which they had not ventured into before. So they went into it and now hired someone fully dedicated to it. To add to all the changes, they also shut down their office. Whilst that seems an obvious one (Adriana did that too!), that allowed the team to move out of London and, more importantly, to access resources outside London or even the UK. Breaking through the pandemic In one of the last episodes, I talked to Amy about how difficult it was to fundraise as i) an entrepreneur, ii) a woman entrepreneur, iii) a woman entrepreneur through the pandemic. Kerstin did all that with Nix and Kix and just closed an over-subscribed round of crowdfunding. They decided to go this route (as did Emily) because it felt a great way to also invest in their network expansion post their rebrand. It was "easy" to make a video and put it on the platform to tell their story to more people who could become ambassadors to the business. Let's face it, if you invest in a drinks brand, what else are you going to drink? Looking forward The opportunity for Nix and Kix is now to spread the word. In fact, one of Kirsten's frustrations is to get people to hear about them and try the product. In fact, many people when they react: "Amazing, why have I not heard about this before". When 99% of the population has probably not heard about you, it gives you a chance to really grow with a quality product. Still learning how to manage Kirsten shared some very difficult moments from the pandemic and her life. One of the strategies she found to deal with the mental strain was her dog. She welcomed a new dog into the family in October. That has ensured there are regular biological breaks happening, which really force you out of your workspace. I was definitely not taking my daily allowance of "hygiene walks" on the first lockdown, but, by the Fall, I was definitely seeing mood changes in the weeks that I worked fully from home and did not set my foot out of the house. Recognising the need to get space, even if on a small street, has been one of my learnings Before we go… 2020 Advice:  Would have gotten a flat outside London2020 Lesson: Even in the worst times, there are still opportunities2020 Challenge: Understand "what are we going to do"Word for 2021: Looking forward
Enjoying the Journey with Jessica Postiglione
17-05-2021
Enjoying the Journey with Jessica Postiglione
I used to go to school with Jessica. At Harvard, we met often between parties, travels and class breaks. But this time, we met to talk about life and business. Jessica is the Founder and CEO of Bonny, the only deliciously clean and sustainably packaged fibre supplements brand on the market. On her second start-up, Jessica has many learning points to share with us on her journey leaving corporate life and setting up 2 start-ups. Moments of change Jessica gets asked about her move out of corporate life a lot - people thinking about jumping out, people on the fence, everyone wanting to know what the right time is to make the move. For her, she was working already within the industry, so that allowed her to meet lots of entrepreneurs. In some way, being close to this world helped her lose the fear, even if she also had lots of questions. She reminds us: "There is never a right time to start a business" Jessica started to look for her first business while still at her prior job and came across an opportunity to set up something already backed by VC money, a luxury not many entrepreneurs have. That was Olika, where she spent 4 years as CEO of Olika, a design-forward brand reinventing hand-sanitiser. But they were ahead of the pandemic and Jessica exited in 2019. In business, timing is everything. Soul Searching meets pandemic "Entrepreneurship is an all-encompassing brain activity". When leaving, Jessica wanted to take time off.  She was soul searching and doing freelance consulting work - but when the pandemic hit she found herself unemployed and jobs dried up. She went through a period of learning and started attending all possible webinars, ensuring she kept her knowledge fresh. At the same time, she started working on her health and nutrition. She had exercised all her life but not really thought about her food or combined the 2. In fact, as she says, "she would exercise to eat". As she was tracking her calories and fibre intake, she realized it was super important but also VERY hard to get enough fibre. That's when the entrepreneur hat came back in. And Bonny was created. Launching Bonny during a pandemic Jessica had her product idea, it was time to get it off the ground. She reached out to manufacturers and had to launch the business in a whole different way. She had a factory tour over Facetime and all contacts had to be virtual. The physicality was a big difference, especially when people are also taking a bet on you as a new product business. Packaging was another challenge. Jessica was committed to fully sustainable packaging - plastic-free. But when the labels and packaging got put together, the labelling would not stick!! That is what you get by not being able to test and play with the paper in advance. Who would have thought something would not stick! Entrepreneur moments. First vs. second business There were more differences the second time around - and not all pandemic related. When launching Bonny, Jessica had then a track record as an entrepreneur, and people responded easier to her emails and calls. After all, she had launched a business and achieved traction before. That was key to get credibility with manufacturers in a period where many people were trying to get e-commerce businesses going.  Another key change was that Jessica chose not to go multi-channel on Bonny. For her first brand, she was everywhere from Target to Moms and Pops shops. However, for this product, Jessica decided to focus exclusively on the e-commerce channel, selling direct and making her website the best it can be. Whilst she knows she will go multi-channel in the future, right now she wants to control the story and keep people engaged at trybonny.com. Entrepreneur wisdom "Patient is a well-learnt virtue" When we talked about advice to entrepreneurs, Jessica was quick to react! She wishes she had known how long things can take, usually, beyond the worse expectations. Through this process, she constantly reminded herself that this journey was a marathon, not a sprint. She brought me back to Pridhee's episode, telling me how it was so important to just celebrate the small wins! This has definitely been a constant with the entrepreneurs I met. Whatever the wins mean to you, you need to celebrate those small moments because the speed of want is faster in entrepreneurship and can be even harder to come by. "It is serious but not that serious" That is Jessica's other piece of advice. Make sure you enjoy what you are doing because, at the end of the day, it is a journey and an experience. So it is important to try and enjoy and also have fun while you are on it. Life through covid Jessica stayed in New York through the pandemic and can attest to the fact that NY apartments are not geared to lockdown. It was through these times that she started devoting time to her health and fitness, and to taking care of herself. She focused on using time as wisely as possible, she engaged in lots of learning and she also focused on herself. It was important to recognise that time is precious and this period of life was about enduring time in a different way. As part of her journey, Jessica also started meditating, which helped ground her and centre herself. And naturally, nutrition played a huge role in this (and led her to create Bonny). A central part of her journey through Covid-19 was friends and family. It is important to have "a bench circle" of people with whom you can be your real self. These will also be the same people that will give you a safe space to communicate the good, not so good, and the bad days. Verbalizing is an important part of this. When Jessica realized the lockdown was not going to be 2 weeks but rather 12 to 18 months, there were no doubt some tough times. And in those times, it was ok to be able to say: "I am having a rough day today" Looking forward A post-pandemic environment opens up a lot of opportunities for Bonny. In her prior brand, Jessica had attended trade shows and had customers test the product. Now, all she has are virtual reviews. Taste is very subjective, so she is looking forward to getting out there and getting real-life customer feedback and sampling the product so she can continue to create and enhance flavours. Oh, and naturally she is very keen to meet her suppliers and to have moments of personal connection with her team, that she has built entirely remotely. As a hope or prediction, she expects the focus on health and nutrition to continue so she will be keen to continue to be part of this movement and get the word out! Before we go... Advice: Don't sweat it, pick something you like.2020 Challenge: Being unemployed during the pandemic. And she knows her 4-walls a little too well.2020 Lesson: It's time, use it as wisely as you can.2021 Book: Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes, Richard A. Clarke2021 Word: Hope Connect with us Meet Jessica on Linkedin Get Bonny (US only) and follow them on InstagramJoin our free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter Produced by Alice Stansfield
A Passion for Wellness with Catarina Gorgulho
30-03-2021
A Passion for Wellness with Catarina Gorgulho
She had an itch. She wanted to create something "hers". Something that was tangible and ideally, aligned with her passion - wellness and nutrition. Unlike many other entrepreneurs, she did not have the idea and then decided to create a business. In fact, she turned the creative process upside down. She found her industry, then her partners and only after her product.  So far, the launch was a success. Come and meet Catarina Gorgulho with me, to talk about food that makes you feel good, and so much more. A Passion for Wellness Catarina was long passionate about wellness. Whilst she does not want to create stereotypes, she does fit the profile with healthy routines and early morning workouts. I did not dare to share my flaky yoga practice of late, that I keep solely with the purpose of maintaining this habit, at no real immediate pleasure but recognisable long term benefits. But back to her! When she was faced with a complicated pregnancy, Catarina had to stay home earlier than expected and took a pause in her career before her maternity leave even began. She made the choice of taking this moment as a blessing, an opportunity to find herself. She took her certification as a PT then. "She did what?" You, with an incredulous face Yes, I had that question too. In fact, she did the second part of her already started PT course, which was about books, muscles and movement. But it is still ironic that she finished it then! During her leave, Catarina decided to test out what it was to be a PT and encountered a problem in the industry. Spoiler alert: you won't be surprised. Most people wanted to lose weight, and there was no balance with what really made them feel good. She decided this was not the place for her and went back to Finance. Makes sense right? From Finance to Tarwi and Lupin Beans As she went back, she knew she had to leave. The wellness industry was booming and she was now more passionate than ever. That is when the pieces of the puzzle started aligning. She met her friend Alice in Portugal, a trained nutritionist but more widely known as a digital influencer. She yearned to create her own brand in the food and wellness space. The chemistry started. Back in London, she met her other friend Pedro, who happened to have a deep personal and professional interest in the same space. So they brainstormed about what the right product would be. And then they found what was always right there - Lupin Beans (tremoço in Portugal). A bean mostly known in some European countries because it goes along well with beer, and served for free in cafes everywhere. How could this small snack be an amazing source of protein, calorie friendly, packed with fibre AND good to the earth? Just like a magic bean. And then there was Covid… Catarina jumped ship in January 2020, ready to be in business by the late Summer. What she did not count on was the small detail of a global pandemic. Even so, the stars continued to align. She still managed to go to a trade fair where she identified all her supply chain suppliers before everything went on lockdown. And even though some may not have found them credible to start with, they did find their way to establishing production. No doubt a few months later than planned, but still very much within the goal of launching. On that, we get some advice from Catarina: "I have goals, but I don't build up expectations" Whilst the pandemic delayed the business, the family life had a new shape as well. Catarina enjoyed the silence it brought to her (I do admit there was never any silence in my house during lockdown). They also found ways to be stronger together as a family. Confined to a space that fulfilled all purposes - home, office, gym and playground - they worked as a team and came out stronger on the other side. The epic launch In late January, Tarwi ventured into the world with a campaign made for people, by people. They asked their growing audience to share how food affected them positively in 2020. After all, this was the most important thing for the team. That food had a positive impact on you. The campaign was a hit and the brand went from zero to 20 thousand in weeks. In fact, they are getting close to 30 thousand Instagram fans despite all the limitations they are facing. And if you think these are just fans and not buyers, think again. They have been stocked out twice even if they were not able to do the UK launch as planned given Brexit restrictions. But the team did not throw in the towel in the face of more challenges. The UK market and other products with Lupin Beans are around the corner. I still need to get my hands on some. When I did my first ever (yes ever) functional nutrition appointment recently, I was told I had to have protein in every meal, even if I wanted to avoid animal protein. They gave me a long list of foods - Lupin beans did not feature there, I need to send them a sample! What's next in the cards Catarina is passionate about nutrition. Tarwi has made it its purpose to normalise access to healthier foods by creating high-quality products that are full of natural flavour, convenient and easy to understand. They are just getting started in this revolution. A revolution with a purpose. Because at the core, they are authentically human. Before we go… 2020 Advice:  Trust yourself2020 Lesson: Letting go of expectations2020 Challenge: Facing my fears and my insecuritiesBook for 2021: Daring Greatly, Brene Brown. The Infinite Game, Simon SinekWord for 2021: Be Brave Connect with us Meet Catarina on Linkedin and follow Tarwi on InstagramJoin our Make Space for Growth free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter Produced by Alice Stansfield
Empowering Women with Amy Williams
16-03-2021
Empowering Women with Amy Williams
I met Amy a few months back via a common friend. John thought we would like to meet each other and find common interests. He did not explain much. But he was not wrong. Amy has launched a business dedicated to women empowerment - Fem-Foundry. I am passionate about women empowerment. It seemed like a good fit. So today, I decided to bring Amy to the podcast to bring light to our common passion. Why do we need Fem-Foundry? First, it may help you to know what it is. Fem-Foundry is a digital media platform exclusively dedicated to women. A space for women to be without fear of judgement, a platform for women to be what they wanted to be, to connect and collaborate, to express themselves freely, to learn and develop. The platform is not about competing with each other, but rather about collaborating. It is a space for every woman, whether you are 25 or 65. Women can choose their topics and they come from around the globe. One can find the more practical money courses or the more new-age spectrum on "how to manifest". Putting women in a box One of the things Amy really wanted to avoid was the tendency we have to put women in a box. The mother. The working-mum. The career trailblazer. The entrepreneur. The wife. The daughter. Fem-Foundry avoids bucketing women and gives them a space where they can choose what to be. One day you may go into a career "room", another day into a wellness one, or parenting, or money issues. You are not defined by any of them. Releasing right? So maybe there are very ambitious career-driven people on the platform, but there are also those that don't want to pursue it. And this is a place for both. "I personally think putting women in boxes is reductive and I think it stifles progress towards a more equal society" Amy Williams Building Role Models "74% of women globally don't feel like they have a positive female role model" Whilst there are a lot of mentoring programs, people are not always comfortable asking "silly questions". So Amy wanted to have leaders that people could easily reach out to. They are called the Foundry Leaders. Leaders may be smaller or larger influencers, and many you will know because they are someone influential in a specific community, not because they have millions of Instagram followers. They each matter according to interest areas, have a story behind them and are within arm's reach for people to ask their questions and connect to. Role models are a key problem for women advancement, so I am curious to see how it develops as a key part of the platform. Not on my watch As we discussed the women stats that have assaulted us during this pandemic, Amy mentioned she read about how the pandemic may have pushed women back by 20 years. Her immediate reaction was "not on my watch". That is why Fem-Foundry's timing is now. Whilst we thought we had done great advances in the opportunities that women were getting, the pandemic has brought a harsh reality forward. Women are dropping the workforce more rapidly. Many of them had more precarious jobs that did not hold "working from home". Others had to revert to be carers as the other part was often making more money. Many side-entrepreneurs had to leave their businesses behind to care for the children under home-schooling. The effects are still being felt. Fix the crown "Be the woman that fixes the other women's crown, without telling the world it was crooked" It is great to talk about women platforms, but sometimes, we must admit women are not the nicest to each other. So I am curious about how Fem-Foundry can establish a different culture. Amy is very focused on this fundamental concept of working together and being better together. It tries to teach women about the importance of operating in this way across any vertical. About how adjusting someone else's crown we eventually get a boost to ourselves. Having done this podcast featuring women leaders around the world, that is definitely something that I am trying to do. And I have certainly been learning from each woman that I have "visited" on this journey. Launching in the middle of the "waves" Amy launched the beta version of this new business in the second week of March 2020 as Female Tribes. Talk about timing! Naturally, the investment money that was on the way never made it there. It all got very challenging. However, the pandemic brought to light the importance of having a platform like this. "I have always been resilient, but this has really tested my resilient in every possible way" Amy Williams As they re-launched as Fem-Foundry in August, they benefited from everyone being online, but no-one was really into an app that promised to improve their lives. There was no time for that! Finally, this changed in December and since then the platform has been achieving solid organic growth. According to Amy, it is like a light was switched on! A country girl in the city For the first lockdown, Amy was in London and did struggle to find space. However, the lockdown allowed her to have no FOMO as she just worked through and put in the hours to launch her business. She has now moved to the countryside and space has boosted her creativity and severely helped her mental health. First thing in the morning she now gets the dogs out and does a morning meditation. Morning daily habits have been key to help lift her up. And we found out we both accepted to now like Yoga... Amy had her share of highs and lows in 2020. Trying to fundraise for a business during a global pandemic, when you so deeply believe in what you are doing can really feel disheartening. And as the platform starts to get traction, now the days have more highs as people join the platform and the conversations get more engaging. Not, it's onwards and upwards to lift up women. Better together. Before we go… 2020 Advice: Don't be impatient. Be easier on yourself!2020 Lesson: To be grateful2020 Challenge: Being a female trying to raise in a global pandemic. And trying to launch a business.Word for 2021: Optimistic Connect with us Meet Amy on Linkedin and follow Fem-Foundry on InstagramJoin the Fem-Foundry platformJoin our Make Space for Growth free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter Produced by Alice Stansfield Disclosure: I am now an angel investor in Fem-Foundry
Practising Gratitude with Francesca Geens
01-03-2021
Practising Gratitude with Francesca Geens
I have long wanted to interview Francesca Geens. She was one of the first women I reached out to during the first season. However, there was a lot going on in the Happy Self Journal world and it was not until I exchanged emails with Francesca about her newest journal edition for 3-6 years old, that we used the opportunity to schedule a date. It was hard to stop our chat, even after we stopped recording! What she is doing for gratitude and children is just the type of thing I love! Gratitude Yes, this will be yet another article talking A LOT about gratitude and the importance it has in our lives. I have shared a lot before about my gratitude practice and how I started it 3 years ago. It has certainly helped my perspective and reminds me of all the small things that can exist, even on a bad day. As to Francesca, her trigger was all the stories she was hearing in the press about children being depressed. She became very interested in the science of happiness and how simple habits can have a meaningful impact on our wellbeing. In 2017, she started working on the concept and launched the Happy Self Journal in 2018. Her passion project is now her full-time business and she is selling in more than 150 countries. "Just a few minutes of reflection a day give children the space to think about their emotions, be grateful for the positives in their lives and develop a positive attitude" The Science of Gratitude If we practice gratitude, scientists are able to measure the impact on our happiness after 1 week, 1 month, 3 months or even 6 months. It actually reinforces the positive pathways in our system. It is such a simple thing with such a great impact. More importantly, Francesca is taking gratitude to another level, she is taking is to children. With a journal, the kids get a structure to have a safe, normal space to share things that are usually not easy to talk about. Francesca is also getting a lot of feedback that the kids are sleeping better and communicating better. As an added benefit, the parents are also feeling better, as many of them are doing the journals with the children and end up reflecting on their own 3 things for the day or on the quote that Francesca adds to every page. Ours today was: "Your world is as big as you make it" Georgia Douglas Johnson I have started Little Girl C on the Happy Self Junior Journal 3 years ago, and whilst we don't always keep up every day, the first year has definitely changed our family a fair amount. That is how we found out about bullying, that is how we can get her to express some of the anxiety when she struggles, or how we get her to have a moment of reflection and wind down before going to bed. It works for us. And now, Baby S is a fan as well and is almost through his first journal. He told me he would keep it until he was 100 years old today. Ramping up through the pandemic "This has been a crazy year!" Right? I am certain we all agree with Francesca on this. In the beginning, they did not even know if they could continue shipping, or if their warehouses would stay open, topped with the chaos in the postal system. At the same time, at the start of the first lockdown, anxiety levels were very high and the uncertainty was really stressing kids, so the orders were also dramatically increasing. In 2020, the team launched a lot of new products. Whilst they had products planned for the year, the combination of having nowhere else to go and the immense need that they observed, made them accelerate some of their plans. They launched a teen edition, a continuation edition and did the work to the newest My First Journal (officially launched this week). One thing that had not been planned at all was to apply to Innovate Finance UK, which allowed them to distribute thousands of journals to children on free school meals, children that were least likely to get hold of their journal. This was one of the highs of the pandemic, which allowed them to do good with their business in an extra way. For Francesca and her team, to get the funding and deliver the journals on a very tight timeline was a reason for great pride. Are people more grateful now? Before the pandemic, a lot of parents assumed they did not need such a tool. Their life was fine, their kids were happy. Why would they need a tool to work on their happiness? However, once the pandemic hit us, there was no escaping. The background or financial situation did not matter. Everyone got hit in some way. The pandemic reminded us that life has ups and downs (and will continue to do so) and that there are tools we can use to deal with it in a better way. The pandemic was such a huge event that it made people sit back and realize the magnitude of the problem. And find ways to address it. Chickens for Lockdown I know - chickens! I have been wondering about the chickens on Francesca's Instagram story. The chickens were meant to be an Easter Project, but as lockdown started, the family anticipated it, as suddenly everyone wanted chickens and wanted to be self-sufficient. So they got 3 chickens that really created a different routine and small joys and it was a perfect distraction for them. At the same time, the family tried to slow down, have lots of walks and taken one day at a time, enjoying the small things. Francesca tried to practise what she preaches and gratitude played a part. The family keeps their gratitude journals, they share their top 3 things at dinner, they have a gratitude jar (which I am yet to get), try to get themselves outdoors and get enough daylight. It is about the micro-moments and how they end up really add up. Big changes don't always work, small micro changes do (have you heard me say this before). Sometimes we try and over-engineer too much and simple things may sort it out. "It's ok to sit and do nothing" The gratitude jar If you are not into a daily gratitude practice but want to try some of its benefits, maybe the gratitude jar is for you. All you need is a glass jar, pen and paper. So after a great day, write down a memory of that day and go round the table for everyone to do it. The best of it? To open it at the end of the year to remember what the year has brought you. This is next on my list. Looking forward When we can go to concerts, restaurants and parties, will we still be worried about being grateful? Hopefully, yes. Many of us found an increased ability to connect to us, to our children, to our families. Together with Francesca, I hope we can find some lasting change in this and can take as positive from this situation. In her business, Francesca also sees new opportunities and new markets. The company is only 2 years old and has already gone through so much growth. But the last year it has certainly gotten the confidence to really speak up about their product and what they have to offer. I can't wait to see what else they will bring! Before we go… 2020 Advice: Go back to the simple things and find ways to switch off (and get more chickens, or something silly that gives you joy)2020 Lesson: Step back and realise what you can go through staying positive2020 Challenge: Wi-fi (they are very rural and have no mobile reception!)Book for 2021: Mindset, Carol DweckWord for 2021: Growth Connect with us Meet Francesca on Linkedin and follow her on InstagramGet your Happy Self JournalJoin our free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter
Letting go of control with Yael Melamed
16-02-2021
Letting go of control with Yael Melamed
I met Yael virtually 6 months ago in the middle of Season 1. We soon decided we would make our conversation different, so agreed to launch Season 2 together. Yael grew up loving deep conversations and today, she finds herself right in the middle of those as a therapist and as a leadership coach. I was thrilled to have my own deep conversation with her, with a special focus on letting go of control. Ironic, for my perfectionist self! The moment of challenge Yael used to be on the traditional business path. One day, as she walked on the HBS campus and got a serious cancer diagnosis, Yael felt sad as she visualized her obituary. She saw a list of accomplishments but it was not animated by her legacy. This was a moment that forever changed her course. It made her question the unchallenged traditional path she found herself on. She gave herself space to find out what she wanted her life to be. And if you would have told her 10 years ago she would be a life coach and a therapist, she would not have believed you. "I bring a little bit of coaching to therapy and a little bit of therapy into coaching" Living through 2020 The pandemic was overall positive for Yael. She recognises she is part of a privileged lucky group (as I am). She managed to be home and enjoyed more time with her daughter and realised the small moments she was missing out on. On the low side, Yael struggled with screen time as she was suddenly confronted with hours in front of a screen seeing patients instead of the usual personal interactions she was used to.  At the same time, and in an odd way, Yael felt this pandemic was part of her journey. She dedicated her time to being there for people. Whilst the beginning had a bit of a pause in therapy and coaching, it then evolved to an explosion. She is now incredibly busy on both sides of her business. The deep work she does with clients has given her patients a toolbox to deal with the loss of control and resilience, feeling grounded and coping skills. But no matter what, she did observe a rollercoaster of emotions, particularly as the pandemic just dragged for so long. Human connection is everything A key thing that really made a difference for Yael was the human connection (or the lack thereof). After a shocking first Passover in 2020, Yael is now bracing for the second round of celebrations via zoom. She recognises we have all learnt to appreciate these a bit more. For her, this has made her very aware of the small moments and grateful for the small opportunities, like talking to another mother at the school gate. "We can have a lot of things melt away, but we really do need human connection." Looking for the silver lining One of the things Yael practices is to write your process. Life does give us ups and downs and Yael sits with people in their movement, in their flow, helping them if they are stuck. One of the small tools that can help to troubleshoot is gratitude, but remember, you have to mean it! Another method Yael uses a lot is the silver lining method. The problem with it is that you can't tell people to look at the positive side. They will probably punch you in the face. However, if you work with them so they are able to conclude this on their own, it can be a very powerful way to turnaround a low moment. "While we can't control what happens to us in life, we can control our responses" Viktor Frankl Looking forward now As part of the podcast, I wanted to know how can we look forward and lift ourselves up. Yael comes with a solution that we will not all like. I for one, am big on control. But Yael's recommendation is precisely that one as she reminds me: "When men plans, god laughs" Yael's is a believer we have to let go and accept we have no control. She gives us the analogy of how she had to accept Northern California's weather and its constant shifts from sunny to rainy. It forced her to no longer focus on what it would be and letting herself live in it. Whilst it is a fun life example, it is a great way to illustrate the point. In fact, the pain in times like these comes often from the expectation of what will happen. And it is precisely at this time that we are shown we are not in control, no matter how much we try. Yael recommends us to be present, release the expectations and "roll with it". This is an important tool. With it, finding joy is key. There have been many things in this pandemic that lifted people up and brought creativity into people's lives. And we need to continue pushing to find these things. Will this stay? That is the big question I have. Will this change in attitude persist? Yael could not help me answer this question but does have the deep hope that we have now integrated some of these learnings into our lives. Just as the great acts of kindness that were observed over the year of 2020. She is really rooting for us to retain a bit of these lessons. However, a lot will depend on the experience people had. You are more likely to keep some of your new habits if you had an easier 2020 than if you haven't. Even though you likely need them more if you had a rough time. As for Yael, this pandemic has brought her more into the macro world - she started doing writing, created a grief group, joined the board of a mental health start-up. As mental health grows up as a conversation, there is an opportunity to be more outside the office and engage more, on a more permanent basis. Soul-searching During Season 1, there were many examples of women I interviewed that told me they were re-evaluating priorities, checking their values, shifting gears on how they wanted to focus their lives in the future. Yael agrees that she is seeing the soul searching everywhere. Sometimes it is only pain that will humble us to do that. People are caring more and realising that you can't separate wellbeing and work. People are people and we are all looking to be integrated.  Yael has seen humanity coming into businesses in a way that was not there before. At the same time, businesses are also having to think about diversity, inclusion and even the future of work. I guess businesses are doing some soul-searching themselves! Before we go… 2020 Lesson: I am not in control2020 Challenge: Sleep deprivationAdvice for 2021: you can't avoid pain, but you can avoid sufferingBook for 2021: For small creatures such as we: Rituals for finding meaning in our unlikely world - Sacha SaganThe word for 2021: Love
Thinking through the Season - Finding Growth in a Crisis
21-12-2020
Thinking through the Season - Finding Growth in a Crisis
For Season 1, I have asked amazing women leaders around the world to join me in a fireside chat about how they have dealt with lockdown and the covid-19 crisis. We spent some time learning about their businesses and inevitably talk about how they have coped (or not) with this crisis - both in business and in their homes. For the last episode, I chose the main topics that emerged. On balance, the stories of the 10 women I interviewed in the last 6 months are stories of hope and light. Whilst crisis can be really tough, they are also a time where our inner strengths are revealed, our core values are exposed and re-affirmed, and our life goes through changes that were bound to happen for a long time. So let's go back in time! The start of the podcast I have been on a journey.  And what a journey it has been. I still remember the day the idea came to me. What if? I shooed it away as if it was a disease. Well, I could not possibly have any time to launch a podcast. I am too afraid of launching a podcast. And I don't know how to do a podcast. Who would possibly want to talk to me. Who would possibly want to listen.  That day, the idea hung over me as a cloud, and I think it must have been visible. I remember at some point Hubby B looked at me with an inquisitive look and said "what are you thinking". I said "nothing". One of those women nothing that has all but nothing on it. I resisted to telling him because my hope was that it would go away. As usual, I was not successful keeping something away from him, and when I told him I was thinking of launching a podcast talking to women about how we could find positive sides to this crisis, his response was clear. Sounds great, just do it. I was puzzled. In fact, I was hoping he would call me to my senses and remind me of all the commitments I already have. He didn't. And so I boarded this virtual journey and never looked back. So what did women tell me during this journey? The Finale I had a hard time picking the main themes. Each time I listened to the podcasts again I felt like adding more. Today, I want to talk about how women reinvented themselves, how they made the best of this time, how they led their businesses through growth and also how they stayed authentic and connected with themselves. This does not do full justice to all that we have talked about, but I will leave it to your curiosity to find a few more. Reinventing themselves When I first started finding out about the businesses each women led, I knew each of them was bound to have found challenges as the pandemic hit. This was not an easy time. All businesses coming to the podcast were, in one way or another affected by the pandemic. Retail shops, food, design businesses, publishing companies, online platforms, data companies, coaching. Some may have benefited from the pandemic, but overall, almost all had to reinvent themselves. Filipa was forced to close the Wink shops early on and put everyone on furlough. She put contracts on hold and suspended rent. She felt responsible not only for her team but also for her franchisees, who turned to her for direction. Moreover, she knew that she had to reinvent the practices very quickly so she would be ready to re-open. The management team spend the time figuring out how the new normal in beauty services would be. Whilst she really struggled in the beginning of the pandemic (and some tears were involved), she snapped herself out of it and found a strength she did not know she had. As for Martina, adapting is in her nature. While she was lucky she had just received the stock from China for her main product - the MUtable - she was left without the ability to develop a new product she was launching - the MUwall. The usual process would involve sending her designers to China where they would work very hands on with the production company. As that was no longer possible, she had to find new alternatives. At the same time, her customers were desperate looking for advice on how to entertain their children. No wonder! The company quickly started curating and later developing content. In the end, she believes she had more resilience than most, as creating a start-up requires you to just have lots of resilience. Adriana did not waste any time taking bold steps in her business. As some of her clients in the retail and transport sector in Brazil started cancelling contracts, she was quick to renegotiate extensions or suspensions instead. She sent her team home early and a few weeks into lock down, she just cancelled their own rent and now runs a fully virtual team. In a time where companies needed to be even more in touch with their customers, VAIPE took a key role in allowing them to communicate and survey them, especially in the area of mental health. Adriana created a new product, free for clients or non clients, and with that, managed to continue to keep the momentum of her company. By September, she was already pretty much where she always thought she would be, despite Covid. If there is someone that lived through reinventing practices was Dr. Kristina Brovig. As a doctor, she had to find systems to be closer to her patients without being able to see them in such a difficult time. She had check-ins every few hours, patients coughing to a recording and anything that a simple phone could provide. With technology, she managed to follow 30-40 patients at each time. Looking forward, she can't imagine that things won't change. Tele-medicine has opened up opportunities for more efficiency and limiting people's exposure. She has the hope that practices will evolve to make more use of tele-medicine as a complementary way to see people and do investigative medicine. Living Growth Crisis can indeed make space for growth. Whilst many suffered, some products did go through exponential demand, though some not without changes for the new environment. People wanted to give more and they did so online, people needed more ways to connect (especially in old age) and they did so online. People spent more time at home, so they wanted baking products, books, content and advice. They also had more time to connect with themselves. As Emily had just launched Grapevine and was trying to grapple with the change the pandemic imposed, suddenly her business started to grow exponentially. With Covid, there was a lot of social need and people were looking at ways to give back and help. In addition, the giving circles were no longer able to meet in person and needed virtual ways to come together. Whilst they were overwhelmed with all the work, they also felt compelled to do everything that they could, as they were not only supporting their customers, but also their communities at large. The business evolved to support customers with more than their payments to also helping giving circles hosting events and taking decisions virtually in this new environment. For Constanze, she took a bold step early to stock up on ingredients ahead of lockdown in Germany. She stocked the raw materials anywhere that she could and then managed the company through huge growth from a remote location in the Black Forest, and away from her factory. Customers were home and Glutenfreie's baking mixture was at peak demand. On top of it, she landed a key agreement with the largest organic products brand in Germany. As she described it, it was a true explosion. She has gone from a team of 3 to a team of 10, expanded the kitchen-factory and the storage capacity. Making the best of the time This was a time for growth, a time for reinventing yourself. No matter what, the women I interviewed took bold steps but they also sought to make the best of this time. 2020 may have brought them tough times, but they will also leave it with good memories. For them, and those around them. In Singapore, Pridhee found that they had huge demand for the books when lockdown kicked in, but no way to provide these books. So they pivoted to providing audio files or a video session to give a resource to parents who were (desperately) looking to get their hands on the books. When books finally went back to the essential good category, then they could fulfil all demand. At the same time, her customers were more engaged then ever. So they reversed the process and started asking their customers what they wanted and to share their content. With that, the company is now looking for new launches. From difficulties, came opportunities. And Pridhee has given her advice to us "Just do it". She concentrated on celebrating the small wins she achieved. She opened a bottle of champagne to celebrate . Meredith launched a business that could not have been more attractive during this time. It is a platform dedicated to people 60 and better and to provide them with alternatives to living their homes where they are still in a very active stage of their lives. She did not know there was a pandemic that would require the elderly to really stay home during the coming months when she launched in early 2020. Talk about timing! During the pandemic, members wrote to Meredith describing this platform as a "lifeline". People have found community and sanity in a very insane time. There was always a great need for them to do what they do, but in the age of covid, the need became ever so much larger. It was not about whether people wanted to stay home, but rather they had to stay home. This compelled Meredith to work even harder, having launched the platform only 3 months before lockdown kicked in. Living in her childhood home, she made the best of her 7-days a week start-up working style and sought to build memories for her. Being true to ourselves This time did not come without its challenges. Be it putting employees on furlough or dealing with exponential growth, becoming an overnight teacher or having no product to sell, having cancelled contracts or having no time to sleep, these women have been leaders through this crisis. Leaders in the way they deal with their businesses, their homes and themselves. One thing that struck me in all my chats was the honesty and authenticity people brought into the conversation. From Episode 1 to Episode 10 , there was something to be said about the way each woman opened up and shared their struggles, their tips and shortcuts, their advice to themselves if they got to do it all over again. I am a big believer in authenticity. Whilst it is often seen as weak or vulnerable, I see it more as being self-aware and truthful about it. And as a host, it was key for me to bring real stories to the world. Stories of growth in the face of adversity, but stories that recognised adversity as a key part of the change. Not all painted in roses. In my conversation with Christine, she stated how she was, as a coach, seeing seeing burnout and stress as more common topics in the corporates she was talking to. Helping employees manage their mental health is no longer a nice to have for companies. She also found that this was a time for reflection for people who were taking time to dive into themselves and really figuring out what they wanted to do. As a coach, helping people do that "click" is the magical moment that drives her. Whilst she felt like she was already at a slow pace, which helped her deal with this lockdown, she struggled with the lack of social interaction. This is when she found out she was an extrovert. Unlike me, I found out the introvert in me! The final episode brought me to Arese in Nigeria. She brought us her story of how she struggled with her mindset through the early times of the pandemic, struggling with weight gain, lack of focus and lots of anxiety about the future. She questioned how she lived her life and debated with her fears in the face of a pandemic. However, after lots of mindset work, she pulled it through, started boxing, lost the extra weight and enjoyed her times with her daughter, getting to know her better and even rapping together. By the Fall, she had launched a 13 episode TV series based on her book, as part of her quest to change the face of African Millenial Women Literacy. She stayed true to her mission, and to herself. The Wrap Up It is a wrap up. Thank you for being part of Season 1 of the Make Space for Growth podcast. It has been such a great experience to put this together for you and importantly, to all the women that agreed to be part of this journey. Share this episode, binge listen and let me know what you have enjoyed the most. The 10 Words to Describe Lockdown Challenging - FilipaTiring - MartinaPresent (and Slow) - ChristineExhausting (and Enlightening) - KristinaGrow Grow Grow - PridheeTumultuous (but also educational, inspiring, challenging) - EmilyCorona Holiday - ConstanzeStamina - MeredithBest time of my life - AdrianaManic - Arese
Thriving through high highs and low lows with Arese Ugwu
16-11-2020
Thriving through high highs and low lows with Arese Ugwu
Travelling to Nigeria on a curfew night, I met another impressive woman CEO. Each story I find, I want to do just one more! Arese grew up wanting to be a lawyer because "she talked a lot and argued a lot". However, when she went to do her IB, she became fascinated by business and economics. Arese is the founder of the Smart Money Africa platform. She breaks down financial jargon for the African Millennial Woman - through her book, podcast, speaking, coaching and, more recently through her TV Series. After working in Finance, Arese decided to make financial literacy her mission, as she was herself going through her own financial struggles. A Chanel Bag vs. a Stock Portfolio Sex and the City meets financial literacy. That is how I would describe Smart Money Woman book. I could not stop reading it and went through it in 2 days. But how was it for Arese to go from financial services to write a book? "I would never thought I would be an author. I thought it was something it was above me" Arese Ugwu When Arese started going through her own strategies to fix her finances, she decided to write about it. Her first article was called "A Chanel Bag vs. a Stock Portfolio". "I am a proud advocate of living the good life and I don’t believe in shaming people for liking the things that make them happy but there’s also no point in accumulating designer bags with no assets to match my spending. It’s not about living like a hermit but about striking a balance, knowing the difference between what you want versus what you can afford over a period of time." Arese Ugwu, A Chanel Bag vs. a Stock Portfolio She kept the article for a few months and it was not until she showed it to a friend that he did not wait for her and sent it on for publication. After the much success of her articles, another friend planted a seed in her mind about writing a book. She thought a lot about it but she wanted a book she would like to read. Arese likes chic-lits or business books. So the idea was to marry both. As a reader, I think she nailed it. Fighting procrastination I had to ask Arese if she had tips for those (like me) that dream of writing a book. Arese had to decide the times of the day that were best for writing. She committed to sitting in front of the computer until she had 2000 words, no matter what. Some days she stared at the computer and others she went well over. But the commitment was key to fight procrastination. If she accomplished it, she would give herself treats, which included sushi or chocolate cake. As I get ready to hit newsletter #100 this coming Saturday, I know commitment is bigger than creativity. The other way to move the book forward was to "process" her ideas with her friends. According to her, they suffer a lot during her creative process as she calls up to ensure a conversation she is writing is real. But Arese does so much more than writing! Now on TV! Yes, the book is now a TV series in Nigeria. This is one of the accomplishments that Arese is most proud of, partly because it was so difficult to do. A few years ago this was an idea, and now there is a 13 episode TV series. From the original idea, Arese did a lot of research about what it would cost and how to launch it. It was hard to assess the return-on-investment on this type of project and the dynamics to make it profitable. With the support of product placement sponsors, they decided to launch. As they wrapped up the series the pandemic kicked in. After working so hard on it there was a huge uncertainty but they had to pause the launch.  It was not until months later that the project became a reality. But it still did! The start of the pandemic Arese did her book launch on March 13th and suddenly realized the event she had done amidst everything was going on with Covid-19 elsewhere. She got into panic mode and took her daughter off school before the government actually declared lockdown. She also copied the hoarding and food shopping that had happened in Europe. Which means she had a few days before everyone else did the same! The pandemic was tough on Arese to start with. She struggled with mental health. At first, she was very concerned about health but quickly went into deeper questions about life, her plan B and a reflection on how she lived her life. She put a lot of weight on, and the frustration was high. But as she worked through her mind she took control back of her life and started focused on the things she was grateful for. This turnaround was key to keep going. The business through the pandemic The business impact was mixed. The series had stopped as the pandemic hit and no-one knew how things would develop. On the other hand, coaching picked up as people were more focused on managing their finances and building for their long term financial goals. As to the publishing side, as Arese self-publishes, that side also suffered a but as distributing in Nigeria can be very challenging.  Overall, she finds the impact leans to the positive end. The pandemic thought her to be grateful and to continue refining the ways in which she serves her clients. One of the key pieces of advice she helped people see-through? As we were lockdown at home, many people felt like they would be saving money but indeed that was not the case. There was more food spending, part of it in the form of superfluous hoarding. She helped her clients see through these behaviours. What changes now? Working from home was not new to Arese. With her team, she had always worked remotely with part of them. What was new was working remotely with corporates and sponsors, who favoured in-person meetings, and ideally lots of meetings. This remote working has released a huge amount of time. So she found the team worked smoothly through the pandemic, despite the uncertainty, and was really able to pull together in such a hard time. A look into the future Arese continues to see opportunity in the future. She believes content is king (I hope so) and, if we do it right, content for Africa especially is going to be huge going forward. As such, it is important to find ways to produce more quality content and more platforms that can help it scale. "It can be the new oil of Africa", Arese claims. Another area, even if away from her, where she expects to see growth is e-commerce. The area is experiencing huge growth in Africa. People did buy online but there was a lot of distrust and now there was no option. So she finds a lot of opportunities will show up in that space. Learnings and Reflections Living with her daughter, there were many new things they started doing together, including rap. Arese always had a close relationship with her daughter but realized there were things she did not know about her. One of these was a hobby she picked up more during the pandemic. She wants to be a rapper so she sat down, wrote the songs, recorded them and tuned them during the pandemic. And she forced her mum to have dance parties! Looking back, Arese would wish she would have calmed down, stopped freaking out so much and just lean into the process, recognising this was but a season. She had to work on her mind to distinguish what was an opinion and what was a fact. She meditated 20 minutes a day. She also allowed her feelings to be present but looked into them without fear. She thrived through the high highs and the low lows. Arese's Lockdown List Lockdown Book: Career GirlsLockdown Sport: BoxingLockdown Technology: Zoom1 Lesson from Lockdown: Gratitude1 Word to Describe Lockdown: Manic Connect with us Check out Arese's LinkedIn profile, follow her on InstagramVisit the Smart Money Africa platformJoin our free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter
Creating Change with Adriana Barbosa
19-10-2020
Creating Change with Adriana Barbosa
I finally made it to Brazil for Episode 9 of the podcast. In my journey around the world to bring to life stories of brilliant women CEOs, I have been now to 4 continents. I don't expect to stop here. Coming from the farm to the big city to be a businesswoman was her childhood plan, and Adriana has certainly executed on it. She is now on her third entrepreneurial venture. Adriana is the CEO and founder of VAIPE, a company supporting companies' relationships with their employees through data. In a time where the future of work is today, understanding and connecting with your employees has never been so important and VAIPE was there to support them. Adriana and VAIPE embrace change. No more offices Adriana was "lucky" to have a few health companies in her customer portfolio. As such, she got early wind of what was about to come. Her customers told her not to expect to be back on-premises for at least a year. Not wanting to leave an empty office for that long, Adriana decided to shut down the offices and move everyone to permanently work from home. The team already had several best practices in terms of remote working, as it was not unusual for either of the 12 members of the team to take days to work from home. As such, the adaptation was smooth and it provided the company with a much-needed cash relief on their rent. "Only 8% of employees want to have the same schedule as they did pre-Covid19" Survey Results Quarentena VAIPE When the early signs of shut down hit, VAIPE's business was materially affected. This was more marked with customers in the mobility and retail space that were really struggling. While renegotiating contracts and avoiding cancellations, VAIPE also went on the offensive. They took the bold step to launch an initiative to support their customers and non-customers through this time. Through data gathering and networking groups, they were there for their customers when every HR manager was trying to figure out what do to. What did they create? The first thing to understand was how the employees perceived the company's response to Covid-19;They gathered data on how people were managing work from home and their levels of productivity;Thirdly, one of my favourites, they had weekly surveys to measure mental health, with a focus on anxiety and stress. They could go as far as point the teams or groups of employees that were struggling the most. Oh, and did I mention they did this for free? A pool of opportunity As of September, Adriana was happy to report she was just about hitting her targets from the beginning of the year. Whilst the revenue was markedly down in the first month, the company adapted to develop additional products and ways to support their customers while maintaining employee engagement. A culture of bootstrapping and smart contract renegotiations prevented VAIPE from doing any lay-offs. In fact, looking forward, Adriana sees a huge opportunity in bringing into her company truly the best talent available. For the first time since she started the company, she started hiring irrespective of location and has already hired the first person outside S. Paulo. Creating change Personally, Adriana used this time to her advantage. As she ate most often at home she could avoid the usual office take-out and establish healthier eating habits. Without the need to commute every day she started sleeping more. She also had a daily exercise routine, as, she claims, she is "not a nice person" if she does not exercise. A key step in this healthier lifestyle was to quit smoking. Adriana is in her final stage of this process and happy that she has engaged in this tough change from heavy smoker to non-smoker. And finally, as a believer in a life of lifetime learning, she also enrolled herself in data science classes. I am not sure I know many people that have engaged in so much change and personal growth through these times! Everything is going to be ok Looking back, the company performed well, stayed close to customers and is financially stable. If there is one thing Adriana wished she had done differently would be to be less anxious about the whole outcome. Adriana's Lockdown List Book: How to take smart notesSport: RunningTechnology: Whereby, Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, WhatsApp Video, any video app!Lesson: I don't need a lot to liveWord: Best time of my life Connect with us Check out Adriana's LinkedIn profileVisit VAIPE (PT) and also on LinkedinJoin our free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter
Be the best of yourself with Meredith Oppenheim
22-09-2020
Be the best of yourself with Meredith Oppenheim
For Episode 8, I travelled back to the US to meet Meredith Oppenheim. In January, Meredith created the Vitality Society, dedicated to people 60 and better. Little did she know how her business was to become truly vital to this age group. It is no wonder her business beat all expectations only a few months into launch.  I was psyched to get to know more about the business and, in fact, I even asked my mum to join the platform as an investigator! a Be the Best of Yourself The Vitality Society is a community for people 60 and better. Meredith spent 30 years dedicated to the wellbeing of older people as she "wanted her grandparents to live forever". As an industry, she realized that so few older people wanted to leave their homes. Mostly, they wanted to remain well, independent, but home. As such, she unbundled the experience from the senior housing into an online offering. This includes a community and content in the area of fitness, wellness and enrichment. The platform is based on 8 principles, and the first one is BE, which is what most motivates people - to be the best versions of themselves, having positivity and purpose in their lives. Vitality helps people become the best version of themselves by tapping into their vitality, creativity and curiosity. A busy generation There are members that take 1 class a week and come for that class religiously. But there are also members on the opposite extreme who come every day. The reliability of the platform provides members with the comfort and planning of how they will fit the platform into their own lives, under their own terms. Zoom has also added to their flexibility and removed a lot of the judgment off the table. This is a busy generation. Many of the members had careers and a desire to be active. The Vitality Society focuses on giving people a time and a place to retreat and treat themselves. The time was never more urgent There was always a need for Meredith to create this business. She knew people wanted to stay home and stay healthy. However, with Covid-19, the need was greater than ever and the pressure of speed was there. The worry of how to get people into the platform quickly vanished and the platform reached 1000 members in May, only a few months after launch. Whilst the competition was everywhere before, with dinner clubs, fitness clubs and different wellness classes, the offline option was no longer available when lockdown kicked in. Fighting isolation "I do not know what I would have done without Vitality Society in my life during this crisis" Vitality Society Member At this vital time, they have invested in being very reliable as a platform. Most members know Meredith and her concierge. I was impressed with the story of one of her members, who used to attend every single class. The day she did not attend Meredith reached out, only to find out she was in hospital. However, she happily reported that she had been given the green light to continue with her classes. The following days, she joined every class from the hospital. And they celebrated together when she went back home. Her mental wellness was just as important as her physical wellness. While doing fitness, the platform adds years to peoples' lives. But by doing enrichment, people add years to their own lives. Looking forward Meredith is not short of ideas. They are adding birthday parties on the platform, where the members can bring their friends along. In terms of content, Mental Health is an area that is unanimously important for its members, so the platform is developing an offering in this space. Beauty is inevitably growing as well, especially as people were limited by what they could get outside the home during the lockdown period. Meredith believes they can be, not only the creators of content but also curators of products and services for their members through partnerships. What about when the world is no longer Covid-19? Hard to figure out, right? The #1 area that members are excited about is to go on a vacation and travel together. At some point, Meredith expects she will be able to create a retreat. Creating local chapters in the different communities where membership gets critical mass can also create huge potential for the business, both online and offline. And who knows, perhaps in the future, to think of a new sort of senior housing as the definition of home changed after this crisis? Living a dream For lockdown, Meredith moved to her parents' house, in the place where she grew up. Her own daughter is now having the privilege of living with the grandparents. All over the place, inter-generational living went back into fashion. And I must say I think Meredith was slightly jealous of her daughter having this unique opportunity. In a time where Meredith was working non-stop 7 days a week, the support from the broader family was essential. Stay Sane Despite some ups and downs, Meredith tried to focus on staying sane and safe. With the support of the family, Meredith was able to push through growing her business. We talked Mental Health, as we always do in the podcast, and Meredith feels art plays a critical part in the mental sanity of the members. Creativity is key in fostering this balance, whether people are more or less artistic. People staying physically well and feeling strong has also certainly helped with their mental health. Many members saw this crisis as an opportunity rather than a crisis. Many came for physiotherapy and ended up staying for more. I think they would like this podcast! Meredith's Lockdown List Book: From the Desk of Zoe WashingtonSport: SwimmingTechnology: Her LaptopLesson: Strive for excellence, not perfectionWord: Stamina Connect with us Check out Meredith's LinkedIn profileVisit The Vitality Society and follow them on Instagram, Twitter or FacebookJoin our free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter
Going with your Gut with Constanze Walcher
07-09-2020
Going with your Gut with Constanze Walcher
Each time I doubt, I meet another amazing woman running a growing business. And then I can't help it but bring another podcast to life. I continue my trip around the world and this time I reached Germany to speak to Constanze Walcher. Her business Glutenfreie Heimat exploded not because of Covid-19, but despite Covid-19, showing the resilience of some trends to the pandemic, such as gluten-free. Taste without limits Constanze is the founder and CEO of Glutenfreie Heimat, a company that produces and sells organic gluten-free baking mixtures and baked goods. It all started because Constanze had to eat Gluten-free and her mum did not find tasty alternatives for her. After experimenting for 12 years, she developed a great recipe, leading Constanze to start her business. I first met Constanze in London in my Charity's Gala Event. She was working at Burberry and for years, we did not connect again. When I found out about the business she had created, I knew I had to bring it to light in the podcast. Stirring in the bowl Constanze started Glutenfreie Heimat in 2017. She started with a second kitchen in her home and since then has learnt a lot. Including that glass jars are not the best way to ship baking mixture to people (despite being cute). The company has developed different products, including bread, bread rolls, pancakes, pizza, and flour mix. They sell mostly online with little advertising. The product was so good it grew by word of mouth. The gluten free market is expected to grow at 11% a year in the next 5 years, with Germany being the leading market, followed by the UK and Italy. The growth is driven by customers that have medical conditions but also those that prefer a healthier lifestyle. Mordor Research The Black Forest Lockdown As of March, the team was Constanze, her "right hand" (working part-time) and a student.  When Constanze heard the first news of the pandemic, together with her husband she decided to stock up on raw materials. It was worth the early move as March was their strongest month in sales. Still, the yeast (one of the famous products and google searches of this pandemic) ran down until the very last day when they were finally able to order again. Talk about just in time operations! As they were preparing to go skiing, they stopped instead at her Mum's house in the Black Forest. As it turned out, they did not go back to Berlin until much later so the turmoil period was managed fully remotely. Whilst her "right hand" was very limited being at home alone with her 2 children, Constanze benefited from having a student with lots of free time that spent her day mixing and packaging. Chased to grow Until recently, Glutenfreie Heimat was selling mostly online, but recently, a major distributor sought their products on behalf of AlNatura, the largest organic brand in Germany. Overnight, Constanze had to seek new premises to increase production and is now interviewing every day as the company is rapidly expanding. With unemployment rising and students out of school, this turned out easier than expected (even if time-consuming). There is no remote working in production, so whilst the country stays away from another lockdown, Constanze will keep pushing for growth. Looking for more Constanze is not stopping here. She is expanding products and channels. As she studies a move to frozen products, an entire set of opportunities arises. There is a market of people that don't have the ability, time, or willingness to bake and prefer the frozen products. But more than that, restaurants and hotels want this product as well, and that changes the scale of the business entirely from B2C to B2B. The Home Office In the Black Forest, Constanze was somehow able to convince her children that sometimes it was work time and that was important that they remain quiet. I am still not clear on how she achieved it and I am still suspicious if they developed mischievous activities while Constanze was working in the "boathouse". I admit my kids were relatively ok if I told them 27 times in advance that Mummy was hosting a zoom call with 300 people and therefore nobody was allowed into the living room under no circumstances. But in all other Zooms, it was a free for all on whether they would show or not. In fact, as they started recognising some people they made a point of coming to say hi. As to recording of this podcast, it was always after hours! Corona-holiday During this time, Constanze mostly concentrated on being a mother above everything and that turned out an amazing experience. One of the effects on her and the children was that everyone became calmer. (no mother comes to the podcast without talking about calm or patience…) They grew closer as a family without running around all the time. It was, as she describes, the longest holiday ever. Constanze's Lockdown List Book: The Old House (German children book)Sport: SwimmingTechnology: PhoneLesson: Remember not to scream, and keep calmWord: Corona holiday Connect with us Check out Constanze's LinkedIn profileVisit Glutenfreie Heimat (yes, English version available) and follow them on Instagram or FacebookJoin our free community online and on FacebookFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter
Taking a deep breath with Emily Rasmussen
25-08-2020
Taking a deep breath with Emily Rasmussen
Sometimes, you can feel stuck. Like me, right now, trying to make justice to yet another amazing woman making a difference in the world. Giving Circles. Covid-19. $1.5 MM in donations. Going West. Yet again impostor syndrome wants to kick in. Will I make it? Will I give up this time around? I drag my feet around my puzzle, I question whether it is too late to do something good today. And then I stand up and remember Emily's words. Take a deep breath. Surely words will come easy when you speak passionately. And indeed they do. Giving Circles made simple My guest for episode 6 is very close to my heart, even though we have never met before. Emily Rasmussen is the founder and CEO of Grapevine, a group giving platform that helps groups of friends, families, alumni, and more to create Giving Circles. A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy where groups of individuals donate their own money or time to a pooled fund, decide together where to give these away to charity or community projects and, in doing so, seek to increase their awareness of and engagement in the issues covered by the charity or community project. Wikipedia I could not be more excited at the prospect of the Giving Circles concept being widely spread. After all, at the charity, we are always looking for the donor who is willing to endorse us and indeed create the scale effect that you get with a Giving Circle. Maybe one-day Grapevine will expand here! For now, it is yet another business that brings us a story of growth during Covid-19. Bringing Giving Circles Online Grapevine launched in March and since then they have managed to move $1.5 MM to non-profits, growing their MoM donations at 67% since then. These are not small numbers. Grapevine lives off "tips" from the donours, who can choose what to give on checkout, based (I guess) on their satisfaction with the service they are getting with Grapevine. And through the crisis, donours have indeed found benefit in using Grapevine. Emily always believed there would be a transition from offline to online Giving Circles. As a long-standing concept, founders had often resistance in changing the format of how they met or how they pooled their donations. It was working in many ways to achieve the impact they wanted in the communities. But along came Covid-19 and with it a huge social need. Members of giving circles around the US wanted to step up to this need. However, without the usual means of pooling resources and meeting in-person, they had to move online. Grapevine quickly expanded its offering to help members set up zoom meetings and organise virtual events. They also created mechanisms to allow people to donate out of their usual giving schedule and added the ability to invite friends outside a circle to donate. The troubling times It was not all roses, so to speak. In fact, as the crisis hit, Emily was faced with the round of financing the company was doing frozen as investors stayed on the sidelines to see how things developed. At the same time, the volume of work went crazy for the team of 6, working by then between the East and West Coast as well as Argentina. The team made use of virtual stand-ups to stay connected (even though they mostly did not stand) and Emily believes they got much better at using slack. Finally, she feels like they also grew more flexible in their working practices, knowing people were home all with different circumstances. There are things they will keep when all this is over, whatever over means at this point. Growth on the Horizon At the same time, growing their community at such a fast pace also allowed them to choose a new path of growth - reaching out to this same community to support their equity crowdfunding. The pressure to grow is significant as the need for charity funding is unabated. Emily wants to follow along what Grapevine donours are asking. They want to service existing Giving Circles but also help the creation of brand new Giving Circles that did not exist offline before. So they are offering a piece of the equity action in return for a small investment from the community. It reminds me of Martina in Episode 2 - never stop adapting she said! Changing life Emily also took the bold decision to listen to her mum and move back home to North California to avoid spending the lockdown period in New York. She moved for a few weeks and has now been there for five months. She was lucky to have her own space and keep with her intense hours of work and for now, she can only found positives in the move. The downside will be when she moves out most likely. I think my Mum will relate to that next week when we board that flight back. At home, Emily could dedicate more time to cooking with her Mum and have meals together, making sure she actually had time for a short break away from work. She started doing more walks and even tried walking meetings as a way to stay active whilst coping with the demands of her business. We both agreed running meetings were a step too further from where our fitness levels were. Managing Challenges Looking back, the biggest challenge for Emily was to deal with the unknown. It is hard to plan or respond if you don't know what is happening next. Emily brings us a few good tips on keeping her sanity through the crisis times. Firstly, she kept up with her morning journaling practice, which she highly recommends. Also, getting out of the unstoppable NY life, Emily also found that time moved at a more contained pace. Time did not fly. Reflecting on the last 5 months, her advice to self would be to take a deep breath and surround herself with people that can help her see the forest from the trees and where they are in the bigger picture. She feels like they were in such crisis mode that this was not always possible. With my charity hat on, I am delighted at how Grapevine found ways to allow charities to continue sourcing financing to the immense need they had on the ground. With my business hat on, I am excited to see how a business could grow out of proportion as a side-effect of this crisis. And me, I just loved meeting yet another amazing woman doing business that is truly changing the world. Emily's Lockdown List Book: Angle of Repose, Wallace StegnerSport: HikingTechnology: ZoomLesson: The Value of ConnectionWord: Tumultuous (but also educational, inspiring, challenging) Connect with us Check out Emily's LinkedIn profile and Grapevine Linkedin PageVisit Grapevine and follow them on Twitter, Instagram or FacebookAnd participate in their equity crowdfunding!!Join our online community for our weekly tips and useful templatesJoin our FREE Facebook communityFollow me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter