Tesse Leads is a safe, sensitive and supportive place and space to share, hear and tell your stories and experiences.

You will hear from top experts and thought leaders strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas as well as how you can create and shape opportunities.

Sarah Giles’ Delicate Balancing Act

During the pandemic Sarah Giles plucked up courage and quit her job. Why?  She wanted to follow her passion. She also wanted to face her fears and. most of all stop worrying about judgment from people . “Clarity around my values, beliefs and purpose helps me stay on track.  Launching “It starts with me” was a strange experience for me, I found it hard to be excited, having not done promotions before…   I stepped out of my comfort zone and I’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way”. 

Tesse Leads - Sarah Giles Project No 2 - Final Version

Paula: [00:00:00] Welcome to "TesseLeads" with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula

Okonneh. "TesseLeads" is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share here and

tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders,

strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of

challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, as well as how you can create and share opportunities.

Our guest today is Sarah Giles and we will be talking about "my delicate, balancing act".

Sarah Giles is a confidence and mindset coach for quietly ambitious women with purpose.

She provides women with the tools to help make some positive changes to enhance the

health and wellbeing. Sarah is passionate about coaching others to build the confidence and

resilience so that they can be their best self and step into their potential. Sarah has a

background in HR spanning over 16 years and has operated in a variety of roles leading up to

head of HR director level. Wow! Sarah I told you, you look like you're 10 you're 20. Okay 16

years! Oh my word. Well welcome to "TesseLeads".

Sarah: [00:01:39] Thank you, thank you for having me.

Tesse: [00:01:41] Yeah. Sarah I'm really delighted to meet you again. I heard so much about

you and I also heard about your book as well, your chapter, and it's just well done. As Paula

has said, you've achieved so much. And I love the fact that your title was "stepping out of

the shadows". And I was struck by a paragraph in your book, which said "after a 15 year plus

career in HR I quit", in the lockdown yes I resigned from my head of HR position back in April

and left in June. Some might say that was mad during the pandemic. Quite often we get so

caught up in our busy lives that we play it safe and stick with what we know. It was finally

time for me to step out of my comfort zone" wow. So that leads me to my first question.

And I'd love you to share what being a mother is like for you? How do you tackle the constant

juggling of motherhood, your career and everything else?

Sarah: [00:02:54] It's certainly a challenge, for sure many women will relate to. I think trying

to balance a busy career with young children, my children-were young while I was still

working. And I was traveling in the early days as well in my career. And I was just running,

now I look back I don't know how I did some of it. But the point is we just get through it. But

I think there comes a point where we're just so busy running on autopilot all the time. And

we look like from the outside, I probably looked like I had it all together, but inside I didn't. I

was running from meetings to meetings having to worry about leaving on time to pick the

girls up from nursery. And I think, for me it's just we have to try not to put too much

pressure on ourselves. I think as women we've got to obviously be a good mom, we've got to

be good in our jobs or whatever we're doing. We've got a home to look after, partners,

whatever. And there's a lot of pressure that goes with that. And I think that the thing that

really helps is trying to set these clear boundaries, which is something, I'm going to be

completely honest I'm still working on. I think we're always having to adapt and tweak things

as we go, as we change things. But I think it's really, you're setting those clear boundaries so

that you feel that you've got that time where you can be mum and have that time with your

children. When you're at work, you've got your work head on and you've got that time for

you as well. It's really important to have time for yourself. Cause we're so busy looking after

other people that stuff the thing that we lose. We put our own self-care off and just that

time to be ourselves.

Paula: [00:04:54] I listened to that and I can relate fully to that. The juggle oh my gosh. I told

a friend of mine Sarah, your kids get older the problems change, you're still their mother.

You may not be going from dance to football, but you're juggling other things. So that was

good to hear you say that. But what really stood out for me was that you quit during the

pandemic. Oh my word, that is brave Sarah, I'm going to ask how have you rediscovered

yourself now that you've quit? And what have you found helpful?

Sarah: [00:05:33] I started training as a coach whilst I was still in my role because it was

something. I've obviously worked in HR for a long time. So been always doing coaching and

mentoring, but I wanted to do some proper coach training, so I'd already started that. And I

hadn't been happy if I was honest for probably a couple of years. Just felt like I was just the

same old thing rushing around nothing was ever changing. Although I'd worked so hard to

get to a point in my career where I thought I'd finally think, wow I've achieved great things.

And I got to some levels and then thought well, actually I'm not doing the part of the roles

that I love anymore. I'm just not feeling fulfilled anymore. Spending my days in meetings and

looking at spreadsheets. And it wasn't really what my true passions were. So when we first

went into the first look down, I was homeschooling busy role, my husband was obviously

working as well and it was just chaos. And it was just the catalyst for change to me. I just

thought life is too short,; now is the time that I need to follow my passion, do something

that I really feel fulfilled in. Before I'd previously put off making this decision, but as soon as

lockdown hit, I just thought this is the time,this is the time. And that's really where my

journey, I think cause I call it a journey because it just keeps evolving because I've discovered

so much about myself since leaving my career. I think you almost work out once she leaves

that title. Who am I now? Who am I?

Paula: [00:07:18] Yeah, I've been hearing a lot of that from different people, who am I? The

pandemic hit everybody had to regroup. And now that we have the other, I want to say the

other end of the pandemic, where we've gotten vaccines and people are emerging. It's like

am I emerging, you know?

Sarah: [00:07:37] Yeah exactly. Who is the person I want to be now?

Paula: [00:07:41] Yes I love that. So Tesse?

Tesse: [00:07:45] Yeah, I really am struck of what you're saying about who am I emerging?

So Sarah not putting you on the spot, but I am trickily curious about who are you?

Sarah: [00:07:58] That's a good question. I think what I've noticed is since leaving my career,

I've learnt so much about myself. A lot of that is through my own coaching journey. But lots

of it is come through my business journey as well. Because as a business that you are your

brand and having to show up as the real you can be scary sharing stories on a podcast. I

think it's things that I might not have ever done before. So for me, who am I? I feel like I'm

constantly evolving because I think as soon as you get to a place where you think that's the

person I want to be, we're always growing amazing. So I think you then move into a different

zone of where am I working towards now? Who is that person? And for me, it's been that I

had the confidence to leave my career behind. It's not easy to do that. I'm really work out

who I was, and having that courage and being brave to follow my passion.

Tesse: [00:09:09] Following your passion that's beautiful. The question that comes to my

mind is about you, you know. You said, who am I? And it's, how are you investing in you?

You've taken this big leap into the unknown. You're following your passions, you have these

lovely children, you are a business owner. That's must be pretty scary. So how are you

investing in you?

Sarah: [00:09:36] I talk a lot around values and beliefs and all purpose, because I think when

you're very clear on that it really helps you stay on track. I talk a lot about boundaries as well,

because especially when you come into the business world, perhaps we leave our careers

behind because you think you want more time with family and children. And then you start

in business and you're suddenly thinking I'm working even more hours now than I was

before. So it's just continually not now, but at the start it's that roller coasters of just almost

you've changed identity again. It's kind of working through that now. Who am I as a business

owner? And how do I stay true to myself, my values? If my values is all around my family and

that balance, then what do I need to make sure that my goal was all to make that happen.

Because I think we can easily get sidetracked by what others are doing and thinking that

that's what we have to do to be successful. But actually success is whatever you want it to

be. Sorry, I've probably completely gone off- piste with the question.

Tesse: [00:10:51] Absolutely not. I mean what you said is beautiful and elegantly put about

success is whatever you want it to be. Success is whatever you make it. Success is your

purpose that you're working towards. And I noticed in your book again, you give a quote

which you loved, and this is one from Helen Mirren, where you said, "look fear straight in its

ugly face and barge forward".

Sarah: [00:11:19] And the reason I love that quote. It's because I think that we have so many

fears worrying about judgment from others. Lots of it is if I use the example of the book

chapter, the book collaboration that I was part of. I would have never necessarily had the

courage to do anything like that before. And I remember the week that we were launching

this book and everyone else that had been part of the collaboration was so excited about it.

And you know, it was all over social media. And inside I just felt, I couldn't understand it

cause I wasn't feeling that excited. And it was because I'm not used to that promotion and

doing all of that. So I've learned a lot of lessons along the way, myself there.

Tesse: [00:12:08] Paula over to you. I think yeah, you can resonate with it.

Paula: [00:12:12] Yes. "Looking fear and its ugly face and barging forward". I love that, that is

bold, that is confident, that is speaking with authority. I like that because the acronym that I

heard recently, that fear is false evidence appearing real just seems so real. Look at the false

evidence appearing real and barge forward. Great.

Sarah: [00:12:38] I always think, take action when you normally wouldn't. Because I've had

so many occasions where I've procrastinated, been overthinking. And then you'd sometimes

don't take action because you've talked yourself out of it. Whereas if you just do it, even if

it's that small step again, you're on the way. And you'll look back in six months time and

think, wow I've actually achieved quite a few things there.

Tesse: [00:13:06] Yeah, it's kind of at the back of what Paula is saying about false evidence

appearing real. There's the other thing, which is F.A.I.L an acronym, which is First Attempt In

Learning. And I think that whole experimentation and stepping out and knowing that if we

don't make it the way we want to, we've learned one way not to do it.

Sarah: [00:13:27] Yeah, it's all about the learning key for me. I have been a bit of a

perfectionist before, so that would hold me back as well. Because I think I can't do it because

it's not perfect, but there's no such thing as perfect. So I think if anyone's ever worrying

about time for everything to be perfect, you just need to get to a point of where it's

acceptable for you. That you're comfortable for that thing to go out or get done. Cause

that's what's really helped me now.

Tesse: [00:13:56] Wow, wow. And for people listening in, what would you like them to take

away from hearing your story? It is a lovely story. Lots of parents out there during this

pandemic and post pandemic could be juggling the way that your juggling. What would your

encouragement be to them?

Sarah: [00:14:14] Don't put too much pressure on yourself is a big one because we do

naturally. And just try and take some time for you and do something that you enjoy. Do

something if it's daily that's brilliant, but even weekly. Do something I will say to people

because it will light you up. It lights that spark inside you. I think we easily just get lost

amongst helping others. And this is why I talk a lot around wellbeing because it's our

wellbeing but it gets neglected, then it gets into that negative spiral doesn't it?

Paula: [00:14:50] Yes it does. There's so many things I can think of, off the top of my head

that I was so afraid to do. One was public speaking, and so doing the podcast helped me.

Now as you know I do four. But yeah, that's procrastination. Oh my gosh, you just give up

and say, I'm not going to do it sometimes. And then the time when you do do it you're like, it

was so easy what was I thinking?

Sarah: [00:15:19] Yeah, and also a big thing is don't forget to celebrate your achievements

because again, all those little steps things that you might not think of that big it's a massive

achievement, and sometimes we forget that.

Paula: [00:15:33] Yes, that's so true. So Sandra we've really enjoyed talking with you. One

thing I wanted to do is apart from our listeners, where else can people find you online?

You're on that podcast for sure, but where else?

Sarah: [00:15:48] Well, I'm probably everywhere, on my website is probably the easiest

place to direct people to cause then my links to social media in there. So my websites


Paula: [00:16:05] So you're on Facebook, you're on LinkedIn, you're on Instagram. That's

cool, that's cool.

Sarah: [00:16:13] Loving to learn the tech.

Paula: [00:16:16] I understand.

Tesse: [00:16:19] You know Paula, I think that am curious to know the answer to one of our

favorite questions. Which is Sarah's emoji that connects with her. It's just because of all she's

been saying, I'm thinking okay, what emoji would adopt or use? What's your favorite emoji?

Sarah: [00:16:38] My favorite, actually the ones I probably use the most is there's a little

leaf, like leaves for growth. That's my kind of thing. Or I use a star they tend to be mine.

Tesse: [00:16:49] I thought so. Curious you have that playful you know, collective style and

then belief for the growth face.

Sarah: [00:17:00] Yeah.

Paula: [00:17:01] The star an exploding star you know. Growth, new birth outbursts.

Sarah: [00:17:08] Yeah.

Paula: [00:17:09] I love that.

Tesse: [00:17:10] You've been a great guest. I just love your quiet confidence, and I love your

encouragement to step out of the darkness and into the light. Thank you.

Sarah: [00:17:20] Thank you.

Paula: [00:17:21] Thank you, Sarah. It's always so great talking with you.

Sarah: [00:17:25] Thank you for having me.

Paula: [00:17:27] So we are wrapping up here and to our listeners, we want you to know

that your precious stories and lives matter. Others are supportive, encouraged, and nurtured

when they know that they are never alone. So for our listeners, we encourage you to head

over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere else that you may listen to

podcasts and please click subscribe. And if you have found "TesseLeads" helpful, please let

us know in your review. If you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover,

please send us a note. And if you'd like to be a guest on "TesseLeads", head over to

"www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads" to apply!

Tesse – Changing The World With Wellness

We all want to change the world with wellness, but it helps to remember that “Resilience helps us to stay grounded no matter what happens to us”- Resmaa Menakem ‘ My Grandmother’s Hands.’

We close our expectation gaps by actually acknowledging each other, acknowledging ourselves.  We acknowledge what we do well and learn what we do not do so well.   Rather than see failure as something that is bad, we see failure as something that helps us to do even better. In fact, some people say of failure that its first attempt in learning.  Agility is using this time as experimental space to fail forward, to succeed more, and to sustain success through purpose, intention, commitment, and impact.


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host, Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh. Today, we are doing a special type of recording. It’s special in that we don’t have a guest the table has been turned. I am interviewing Tesse on wellness and resilience, a personal journey. We doing this from a different point of view because Tesse started a wellness and resilience group some time back. And today was a day which she wanted to talk and educate, audience a little bit more about this. So Tesse this sounds strange, but welcome to your own show. 

00:00:42 Tesse:  Thank you, Paula. I’m one that likes distributed leadership so it’s our show. I couldn’t do it without you thank you so much. 

00:00:51 Paula:  All right. So as I said, we are going to be talking about wellness and resilience, Tesse’s personal journey. And my question for you today is, since you set off on your resilience and wellbeing, leadership initiative, what has been your experience?

00:01:11Tesse:  Well I’m going to roll back. My passion for resilience and wellbeing started about five, six years ago. And I thought it would be really good thing to look at what made people, governing bodies, executive teams and senior leadership teams. Well, you know how could they be functional? How could the relationships be healthy? And I did a lot of research, I worked with organizations and I worked with myself to explore the reality of this. And I got locked down in Lagos during the beginning of COVID. I went out there for nine days and it turned out that I was there for three months. And it was while I was there that I decided that I was going to set up a virtual network called “the wellbeing and resilience leadership initiative”. And my thoughts were that if I got interest from about 50 people or organizations, that was good enough. But then that interest went up to thousands. And then I found that I was accepting an avalanche of invitations, and these invitations through LinkedIn came mainly from coaches and mentors and psychologists and psychiatrists and counselors. All the individuals or the groupings that deal with human skill, people say soft skills, but I call them human skills because it’s about human beings. And I was invited to my first mindfulness conference, which I accepted it was virtual so I could go. And it’s taken off from there, it’s just created a whole ecosystem for me. Which showed that, that intuition that there was a need for exploring wellness and wellbeing, and also looking at resilience and their kind of scope of leadership. It became very clear that there is a need for that, and other people were doing that. So for me, I felt that I found my tribe. I didn’t realize that I have been looking for this tribe all along and there that tribe was and is. So I’m a happy camper in that tribe actually. 

00:03:42 Paula: That’s so good to know. So talking about your tribe, what have you found particularly helpful about your tribe? 

00:03:51 Tesse:  That’s a fantastic question, Paula. That’s why I admire, you asked great questions and more. I love the thing about belonging, affiliation, being part of a community. Being part of the consciousness that not only are we worth something, not only are we valuing ourselves and being valued by others, but there’s a whole network, a whole movement of people that bring us together. And more recently, I came across a lovely resource, which is called the “Unlonely Planet”. And the writer of this resource introduces the reader to the concept of congregation. Now you think that congregation is just about churches, no is not just about churches. Yes it is church, but actually she was taken into consciousness that so many people in our planet are lonely, so many people in our planet are anxious. A lot of people are suffering depression. And her thinking very much was let’s create something that is different, that people can meet each other where they’re at and form communities together. So if there’s one thing that has emerged from the wellbeing and the leadership initiative for me. It is that community matters, community helps, community is health. So it really is not going to it’s in that common sense, that people would need each other. But sometimes we ask ourselves, do we have anything to offer? And the answer is yes we do, in community we can build each other up, in community we can listen to our stories, in community we can actually ask for help or support or resource when we need it. So community matters.

00:06:03Paula:  I love that answer, community matters. And as we talk more about that, especially as we are. I don’t even know whether to say we at the end of the pandemic. Well, most of us have had our vaccines, I have had my two doses. And you mentioned to me before we got on, this, that you’ve had your two doses.

00:06:23 Tesse:  Yeah

00:06:23Paula:  And so as you talk about community mattering, I know that this also brings us back to a special topic of wellbeing and resilience. Because doing the past one year plus the lock down  started in the states in March of 2020. And it started when in your, probably about the same time in England. But wellbeing and resilience has been particularly important during this pandemic. And so how have you seen that coming to play? Can you give us a little bit more details and how it’s coming to play? Because I know there’s been loss. Loss sometimes physical, when I say physical, human beings loosing their lives, but in other ways there’s also means loss of certainty. We’ve always lived in an uncertain world, but this seemed even more pronounced. There’s been the loss of freedom in a way, because we were under lockdown for a long period of time. Can you talk a little bit about that and how it comes into play with wellbeing and resilience? 

00:07:27 Tesse:  Oh that’s really a good question. Loss, grief, loss of the pleasures that we’re used to, loss of hugs, loss of closeness to people physical closeness to people. These are things that impacted us during lockdown. Yes the UK were easing out of it with a basic set of vaccination program. But it’s going to take a long time to actually begin to feel comfortable with being physically close to other people. People are anxious and there’s a lot of fear around and actually getting the confidence to not be afraid is going to be a big thing. There’s a professor that you and I talked to called professor Binna Kandola, OBE, and he has been doing a lot of application of what he’s calling the capsule environment. Which was mainly known to space travel or places like the big brother house, where people don’t have the level of interactions that they normally would. And so that is a loss of interactions the way we know it. That being said, what took its place was virtual interactions. So. The rise of virtual networks and the whole thing about connecting through podcasts, which is what we are doing, the rise and success of Clubhouse and others. Ways of communicating with people other than being physical is one, but the other thing is the big thing that we all started working from home. And so we had the blurring of lines between professional and personal. We have working at home, and actually, where was the difference between the dining table, which at one minute was a table for food and the next minute became the place where we put our laptops and started to work. And the whole thing about virtual backgrounds and what those are, I have to say  that has been my highlight of the working from home thing. I’m always looking at other people’s virtual backgrounds I have to confess, I love when children come in and sit and demand that they want to do poo or something like that, which they have done. I love when you know, we see taps and places and we see dogs and we see people strolling in thankfully usually clothed. But that thing has to me brought a sense of humanity and that human feel, that we were those people who had these things going on before. But what we are now doing in this environment is that we’re seeing that, and that speaks to vulnerability and that speaks to authenticity. There is nothing there that wasn’t there before, it’s just that people didn’t see it. And I think that what I experienced as somebody who’s a leadership strategist, is that experience is softness in people is softness in teams, is softness in organizations and I’m hoping that we don’t lose that. I saw more empathy and more compassion coming through, and I hope that we won’t lose that either. I feel that there’s been so much positivity in that, but allied  to that have been in level of anxiety as well. And I know that in the United States, as well as in the UK we have people who are on furlough. And some people were still working virtually and stuff like that. And the impact of furlough is going to be felt for quite a long time. So the looking at things around anxiety, looking at issues of depression, which the “World Health Organization” has told us that this is going to be the next pandemic, anxiety and depression and loneliness, mental health. This is going to be the place. So what I think was that these things that were happening in the pandemic, will continue after pandemic – post pandemic. But I think that we have an opportunity to choose to work through how they can be platforms for hope to move forward to a future that we choose and we can craft, and to put in place in our environments, cultures that are anti loneliness, anti depression, anti the loss of hope. That we actually build those environments intentionally and mindfully. And that rather than be things that will break us down, we actually use them as platforms to stand on and build ourselves up. So that I and you become we and us, and we continue to have even more of an impact because we do together more than what we would have done alone. I come back to that thing about what I said before about the “Unlonely planet” that we begin to be those people who build congregations that matter but have meaning and that book, which the author have to give her a shout Julianne Richardson wrote. She never knew that it would be such a great seller, but I think it became a best seller because it led to other ways of people building communities and strengthening things that meet ups and strengthening other kind of platform that Clubhouse and so on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, whatever all these platforms became stronger because people want to be in community. 

00:13:25 Paula:  People do want to be in community and something you just said that jumped out at me was that, so we can change our communication from I and you to we and us.

00:13:43 Tesse:  You know we are together doing more than what we would have done alone. And I think if your people talk about building back better building back better. But I think that building back better will not mean the same thing if it’s done without “we” together in community, in our “we-ness,” actually creating an infrastructure where “we” matter to ourselves and we matter to each other.

00:14:13 Paula: So that’s another one. And for us, it was “community matters” and now “we matter”. We matter to ourselves and we matter to others. 

00:14:22 Tesse:  Absolutely. 

00:14:24 Paula:  I love it. So we’re going to wrap this up and I would like to hear from you any key messages that you’d like to share with our listeners. 

00:14:37 Tesse: Yeah, a number of things, you know I just don’t do one or two have to be greedy and do a few more. The first thing I would say and this is something that MIND, the organization that deals with mental health keeps reminding us. That is okay not to be okay. I mean the mental health work which has been absolutely supportive of people as individuals and collectively, encourages us to look for help, to seek help, to ask help when we need it and to reach out. But I also think that there’s something for us as individuals looking out for other people. And if people feel disconnected in some way, disengaged in some way, you know looking for meaning or purpose that people are able to notice that and reach out. There has been an increase in mental health first aid and first aiders. And I think that’s important that people know how to support others and how to encourage others to seek professional help if they need to. But I’m also looking at it on a broader theme because what the network I have founded does is look at the area of wellness and wellbeing. And that extends not just to mental health extends to things like financial wellbeing, it extends to things like emotional wellbeing and spiritual wellbeing. It just means that we need to be intentional about us as whole people taking care of ourselves and taking care of others. It means that we are empathetic, that we are compassionate, that we are hopeful and that we are embracing and inclusive of others other than ourselves. And it starts first with us, but it reaches out to others and it reaches out to the wider global society. To do that we start with ourselves first and we reach out and we embrace others. That has been one point, so I know I’ve cheated and loaded that one into that wellness and so on. So I smile Paula, I got away with that. But there’s another thing about structure, and I think that the bit about structure is that. I never really used to be one of these people that was big on structure anybody who knows me will say I was like half 1000 flowers and let them bloom as is, that was my thing. But actually I’ve changed that. I believe that structure is important in order to form a container that we put things in. And so what that means is even if we’re working at home, we actually have a structure of how we do things when we do it, we build in breaks, we build in rests, we build in times to play. We focus on our work and by doing that, we actually are able to do things that, because the structure is there, it guides us and guards us and steers us towards something that matters. And the other thing I would say is celebration acknowledgement and affirmation. By this I mean that we close our expectation gaps by actually acknowledging each other, acknowledging ourselves, acknowledging what we do well and what we do not so well, but rather than see failure as something that is bad we see failure as something that helps us to do even better. In fact some people say of failure that its first attempt in learning and we actually use this time as experimental space to fail forward, to succeed more, and to sustain success through purpose , intention, commitment, and impact. So that would be some of the things I would say that have emerged for me as I’ve thought of this journey intently about wellbeing, resilience, and leadership. 

00:18:34 Paula:  Thank you, Tesse. So we close with those four things, you stressed on purpose, intent, commitment, and impact.

00:18:45Tesse: Absolutely.

00:18:47Paula: They matter. Just as you said, community matters, instead of talking about you and me we talk about “we”. So we matter interestingly you and me becomes “us”, which is also “we”, so you can’t say us matters, but we matter. 

00:19:08 Tesse: You can always create another term, “us matters” why not dear? why not?

00:19:15 Paula:  Why not? Yeah there’s so many new words now, who would have thought. Yeah, would have thought that zoom would be an adjective. Is it a noun now, are you going to zoom with me?

00:19:27 Tesse:  zoom with me, zoom with us, “us and us”

00:19:31 Paula: We start somewhere, we start somewhere. So with that I want to tell our listeners again, thank you so much for listening to “TesseLeads”. We as you see, we matter because I have turned the table and today I spoke with none other than the main host of “TesseLeads”. We want you to know that your precious stories and your lives matter. We want you to share your stories with us. And we also want to say that not only are your stories important, but everything about you supported, encouraged and nurtured. Because we want you to know that you’re never alone. So please head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere else where you may listen to a podcast and please click subscribe. If you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know in your review. And if you have any questions or topics that you would like us to cover send us a note, or more importantly, if you’d like to be a guest on our show “TesseLeads”. Please head over to www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads to apply. Thank you again our wonderful listeners. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. 

00:20:57 Tesse: Thank you Paula, you’re a star. 

00:20:59 Paula:  Thank you Tesse, you’re the star. 

00:21:02 Tesse:  We are stars together. Us, we not I, we.

00:21:08Paula: That’s true, that’s true.

Bonnie Marcus – Not Done Yet!

Bonnie  Marcus author of Not Done Yet recalls  her first big job, “I had no qualifications what so ever for that job. I was barely managing my own check book, let alone running a business with 30 doctors. I somehow did really well in the interview convincing them that I was the right person; or let me say that I was smart enough to learn. And they hired me. And a year and a half I ran a eleven centers. Up and down the East coast in the U S for that company. And that was the beginning of my business career. So I often say I’ve always learned business on the job. And I had mastered how to show up confidently and own the value that I could bring. Not faking it by the way, because I couldn’t”



Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to “TesseLeads” with your host, Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh. “TesseLeads” Is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share hear and tell your stories and your experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders, strategies, tips, and techniques that they found useful in navigating a diverse career of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, as well as how you can create and shape opportunities. Our guest today is Bonnie Marcus, and we will be talking about the book. “Not done yet” A Bonnie Marcus story. Bonnie is an award-winning entrepreneur, forbes contributing writer and executive coach. She assists professional women to successfully navigate the workplace and position and promote themselves to advance their careers. She has over 20 years of sales and management experience. And her extensive business background includes being the C E O of a service master company and the VP of sales of a medical staffing l network, as well as two other national companies in the healthcare software industries. She has held executive positions in stock of companies and fortune 500 companies. I could go on and on about Bonnie. Bonnie Marcus, please tell us about yourself and again, welcome to “TesseLeads”. 

Bonnie: 00:01:34 Thanks for having me. 

Paula: 00:01:37 Tesse over to you.

Tesse: 00:01:39 Wonderful. Bonnie, I’m a fan of yours and I followed your work for many years. And you know, I just get into that feeling of the passion you have and women earning a recognition that they deserve. I love your books, I love your talks, I’m really big on that. So “Not done yet”, you know it resonates with me because what I pick up is your take on how women can enhance their own value and have experiences and wisdom that they can see whether adding value. But I’m curious, this is why I like that story. I’m curious to know what led you down this path of inspiration and encouragement?

Bonnie: 00:02:21 As you mentioned in the introduction, I was in the corporate arena for over 20 years. I worked my way up from an entry level position to the C-suite. And I was very fortunate to have a lot of great doors open for me and, and opportunities. I never turned them down,you know, I was always ready to show up and take a leap and take a risk and not necessarily telling myself I couldn’t do a particular job. And that would hold me back from putting my name out there. But one of the things that really bothered me throughout my career. Was seeing so many talented, ambitious women being passed over. And Tesse, the reason wasn’t necessarily, well it didn’t have anything to do with their performance. It didn’t have anything to do with the effort they were putting in because they’re working hard, but they weren’t getting that recognition. And I just wanted to make it my mission and my passion to help women advance, to help women learn how to own their talent, own their value, and learn how to advocate for themselves in an authentic way. Because that comes from really understanding the value you bring. And understanding how you can use that value to help others in the workplace reach their objectives. To help your business your organization reach their goals, because of the value you can bring. It’s really important for me to help women in this way. Not that we don’t have the talent or we don’t have the ambition, you know. All these years you hear about. Well, there isn’t a pipeline of women; there aren’t qualified women and yes there are. No you can’t give me the excuse that women aren’t in more leadership positions or on boards because there aren’t qualified women. So my goal is to help women position themselves for success. Know how to advocate for themselves and own their value. 

Tesse: 00:04:53 Wow. Advocate for success, own their value. This is key it’s golden. Paula you had a question for Bonnie. Didn’t you? 

Paula: 00:05:04 Yeah, “TesseLeads”, as you heard from our intro is about sharing, it’s about caring and about hearing each other’s stories and experiences. And your message is about confidence, your message is about reclaiming power. This is a universal message. So can you delve in a little bit more so that our listeners can gain from like your own personal story. I know you said you started from entry level and worked yourself up. But I know there’s a lot more.

Bonnie: 00:05:32 Oh yeah, there’s a lot more. I started my career as a kindergarten teacher. I’ve got a master’s degree in education and I was teaching kindergarten and dance at a private school. And I got a divorce and my kids were six and eight at the time. And I just couldn’t make ends meet being a teacher. Now that’s a whole separate topic of discussion about how we undervalue teachers, but we’re not going to go there now. I just want to make that point that teaching wasn’t going to pay the bills. So I looked for a nine to five job. I saw a job in the paper for medical secretary and I had called up and they said, come on in for an interview. And they told me I couldn’t have the job because I was overqualified. I had a master’s degree, they thought, Oh we’re going to teach you this job, and then you’re going to leave. And I was, please give me the job. I practically begged them, you know. I just want a nine to five job. I’ve got two young children, I’m recently divorced. They didn’t buy it, they turned me down. But two weeks later I got a call from them. And this was a large medical practice. And the HR department called me and they said we are starting a new joint venture with a healthcare management company and about 30 docs to open up a cardiac rehab center. And the management company is coming next week. And they’re interested in interviewing people to run the center. Would you be interested? Now here’s what I was talking about earlier. I said yeah. And I went in, I had no qualifications what so ever for that job. I was barely managing my own checkbook, let alone running a business with 30 docs. I somehow did really well in the interview convincing them that I was the right person; or let me say that I was smart enough to learn. And they hired me. And a year and a half I ran a eleven centers. Up and down the East coast in the U S for that company. And that was the beginning of my business career. So I often say I’ve always learned business on the job. I have never said no to opportunities that I thought were a good opportunities for me to pursue. And I had mastered how to show up confidently and own the value that I could bring. Not faking it by the way, because I couldn’t I just, you know. So people will say to me wow you know, you made it to the C-suite. You must have an MBA. You must’ve gone to business school or whatever. No, every job that I’ve had in my career so far. I have learned on the job

Paula: 00:08:45 So you brought your authentic self into every job. That’s what I’m hearing. 

Bonnie: 00:08:50 So that’s my story. I left the corporate world in 2007. Started my own business as a coach, with that mission to help women position themselves for success. I wrote my first book in 2015. “The politics of promotion”. How high achieving women get ahead and stay ahead. And this last book, which is not my last book, but my most recent book. “Not done yet”. How women over 50 regained their confidence and claim workplace power. Is simply unindentive. You know, it just continues the story of how women need to position themselves to stay at the top of their game. Yeah I’m thinking about another book now. And perhaps in the” Not done yet” series. And I’m by no means done. 

Tesse: 00:09:44 By no means done. I love it, I love it. Every time I meet you Bonnie, I experience someone who’s very humble, very confident, very competent and very compassionate. It’s just the combination. And, and I feel reassured anytime I encounter you. Whether it’s email or you know, whether it’s through you know, digital or whatever. I just feel that sense of your authenticity and your vulnerability. So in closing this off, I wonder if you have any words about how people like me, like Paula, like others listening in. Can write a new empowering story.

Bonnie: 00:10:27 Well, the first part of it is to write the current story that you tell yourself. And you then can say, does that support you or sabotage you? And if it’s not an empowering story. Then you need to recognize the power, that negative story has on your life and career and write a new story. One that supports whatever your goals are in, in life and in business.

Paula: 00:10:56 That sums it up. Oh gosh, I love that. Start with your current story wow. You are doing what you have said to do. The current or the aspiring. 

Tesse: 00:11:07 Yeah, thank you Bonnie. You’ve been, I mean I get emotional. Emotional, in a good way because I, I hear, I hear what you’re saying. And I know that no matter where we are in our life, we can always do that. Check in itself. Check in with the narrative, check in with the action, checkin with the mindset. And tell ourselves the story. I can tell myself a story that empowers me and that builds me up, so that I can better build other people up and serve the world better. Paula you thoughts? 

Paula: 00:11:42 I’m just so impressed by Bonnie’s story. She didn’t take no for an answer. She was overqualified in one sense, and they didn’t take her in that interview. But the one that she wasn’t really qualified for qualified in the sense that she didn’t know what it entails. She went in full force and her authentic self showed up. And a year later she was managing 11 companies nationwide. That’s so impressive. I love that story, I love it, I love it. Just before we wrap up, I realize that we didn’t ask you this early on. Where can we find you online? 

Bonnie: 00:12:15 Well my website  is “BonnieMarcusleadership.com”. You can listen to my podcast every Tuesday. “Bad ass women at any age”. Many inspiring stories of women who are sharing their stories about how they arrived, where they are today.  And that’s on Apple and wherever you listen to your podcasts. My books, both “The politics of promotion” and the current one. “Not done yet”. Are available on Amazon, Barnes and noble, wherever you buy your books. Independent bookstores you can support. And yeah, I think that’s, that’s it. 

Paula: 00:12:55 So to our precious listeners, your stories matter your lives matter. Please share them with us. Please also know that others are supported, encouraged, and nurtured when they know that they’re never alone. So for listeners, please make sure you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to podcasts. And please click subscribe. If you find “TesseLeads” helpful, please let us know in your review. And if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, send us a note. Last but not least. If you’d like to be a guest on our show,”TesseLeads”. Head over to “Tesseakpeki.com/tessieleads” to apply. Thank you again Bonnie.

Tesse: 00:13:45 Thank you, thank you Bonnie. Thank you so much. we’ll be in touch.

Paula: 00:13:49 Thank you 

Bonnie: 00:13:49 Thank you so much. We’ll be in touch. 

Paula: 00:13:52 Thank you to all our listeners. You make doing this just the best thing ever.

Steve Morris – People’s Precious Lives Matter

“People’s Precious Lives Matter” says Steve Morris, Vicar of St Cuthbert’s, North Wembley

“I made a decision when I became a Vicar that I actually would not cover up the fact that I’ve had problems in the past, sometimes with depression and anxiety, I just wasn’t. I was going to be honest about it, cause I didn’t want people thinking that I was some kind of superhero and I found it one of the most useful parts of my ministry is just to say, if you’re feeling bad, talk to me about it, tell me what’s happening says the gifted Steve Morris.”   His sharing with TesseLeads takes us through the highs and lows of life, his father, his wife and himself.   Yet these struggles have served to strengthen his resolve and to cast a light on what really matters to him.

Steve is also  the author of “Our Precious Lives “



Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to TesseLeads with your hosts Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula Okoneh. Tesse Leads is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share, hear and tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders, strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating their diverse range of challenges and difficulties and dilemmas, as well as how you can create and shape your opportunities. Our guest today is Steve Morris and we will be talking about precious lives. Steve is a vicar at St. Cuthbert’s Northwest London, before that he ran a brand agency and was a writer. Woo, woo. He became a Christian in his forties, went to Oxford and studied science, suffering and faith. Wow, and he was  ordained into the church of England. His book, “Our Precious Lives” is published by Authentic. Steve loves hearing people’s stories and everyday courage of keeping on. One thing that I didn’t know, and many of you may not know is that Steve is also a music journalist, he ran a small record label and he met his wife, Christine, when they were in school together. Well apart from having two beautiful daughters, Steve and Christine, his wife, and two friends formed a band at UEA Norridge, called red Arbus and red harvest song world one, listen, charted on college radio in the U S. Steve you are amazing.

Steve: 00:01:56 I didn’t even recongnize myself,very good.Thank you, lovely

Paula: 00:02:04 There is something Steve about this record, I got a surprise for myself. Can you hear this? Oh, my word. This is amazing.

Steve: 00:02:18 It is a beautiful sound

Paula: 00:02:20 We have never had. Wow. All right I’m going to stop here because the whole podcast may be taken up with just listening to all of your releases. “The world will listen” right? 

Steve: 00:02:32 I hope so one day.

Tesse: 00:02:36 I love it. I totally love this song, I actually tapped my fingers to “The world will listen”. 

Steve: 00:02:43 Yeah, it was a great time. We went to Paris to film the video there and, we didn’t realize you’re meant to have a permit to film. We spent three days being chased around Paris by the police.

Paula: 00:02:57 Oh, you’re serious

Steve: 00:02:58 Yeah

Paula: 00:02:59 Well yes, that is in your bio, why don’t you tell us a bit more? I know It didn’t say everything because I was so blown away by, wow. Somebody who had a release in the U S. So tell us more about you, Steve. What did I leave out? 

Steve: 00:03:12 Oh, I think you’ve got most of the stuff there. I mean, yeah, I suppose thing that I always think shaped me most is that I was born in Northholt which is a kind of, you know, is right on the end of London. And there’s nothing there, you know, it’s, you know, when we always say Norwich, but everyone else gets all the other stuff we’re just left, you know? So I grew up in a place that was neglected really, and was on the edge of things. I’ve always had that kind of restlessness, you know, wanting to be somewhere where things are more interesting. I’m like a lot of people, I think from the outer suburbs. That’s still in there, I’ve still got that. And, you know, when I left Norwich , I said, I’m never coming back to, but now I love Norwich. So I’m grateful for, and also it’s the greatest. Honestly I call myself Lord Morris of Norwich. I mean, honestly I say it is the as a sense of the universe and I’m sticking with that, you know. So I love Northup, my mom still lives there, so, I’ve gone full circle. So I think that played a really big part for me in my life. Just where I grow up, where I came from 

Paula: 00:04:10 That’s what makes you who you are, right?. 

Steve: 00:04:13 Yep, that’s right, definitely. I went to a comprehensive school and not just throughout my life that I was almost the only comprehensive school child in almost everything I ever did. I was at a university, I was the only person who hadn’t been privately or grammar, school educated, and in the whole of my course. When I worked in advertising, I was again, the only person that had gone to a  comprehensive, as far as I could tell. In the church of England, we’re a rare breed. We really are. So I’ve just known this, I’ve always in a way had that. And I’ve noticed that really, they all run though. 

Paula: 00:04:45 Fantastic. So are there any lessons you learned while growing up that you want to share with us? 

Steve: 00:04:51 Yeah, I think, I think we always had, as a family work hard, work hard, protect each other. So that was the thing, you know, family stick up for each other, that was the thing. And don’t expect anyone to ever give you anything. You got to earn everything yourself, you’ve got to make everything yourself, no one will ever do you a favor, whatever you do, you get through your own hard work. And that has broadly been true, I think that is true. And I think the other thing I learned when I was growing up is, you know, how tough life had been for my parents and my grandparents. My dad left school at 14, he couldn’t read or write, and he had an appalling childhood that was absolutely, devastatingly bad. And yet, and yet, you know what? He never laid a hand on us, he worked hard his whole life didn’t cheat on my mum. For all of the faults we all have. I think that’s an achievement in itself. I really do 

Tesse: 00:05:42 Wow, that’s so fascinating, Steve. And as I say, I learned about you every day, it’s just so many layers and each layer is very interesting and you know, I love music, and I know from reading about you, that your band played in some of the roughest pubs in London. You know, and you describe as being very character building. And I was so interested when I read that you used to support a “Hells angel band”, which was quite scary. And you also tended to play in good old Irish venues in North London. I grew up in Ireland, so I love Irish venues I think there’s such a hoot. But really this whole thing about the challenges, cause I’m reading about you and I hear what you do and they have lots of highs, but also I get a sense of quite a number of lows. So I’d really be curious to you to share a bit more of the challenges that you’ve faced and how you overcame some of these difficulties?

Steve: 00:06:37 I think, well, the first one, I mean, there was always challenges when growing up. Just before I went to the university, Christine and I met, I knew immediately I met Christine, who’s my wife, now, that was the only person I ever wanted and that’s still the case. And so I really didn’t want to go to university, I was just so scared, really. That was a really difficult time, and the first term, I mean, I knew I’d never give up, but you know, I was hanging on, you know, the handson my fingertips being at university. The thing that really got me, that was when I left university. Because, I built all my hopes on staying there, I wanted to be an academic, I wanted to study books for the rest of my life, and my teachers said to me, Steve, you know, you’re never going to be an academic you’re going to be a journalist. I was heartbroken, and I think for the first year, I mean, I never really wanted to work for a living, I’ll share that with you. I was much happier, not sitting all day in that office really. I was just in autumn morning I was really low, I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed, I felt that all the things I’d wanted to happen. Weren’t going to, and I was terribly sad about that, it took me years to get over that kind of, sense of loss and looking back on it, it does, it sounds a bit flimsy, but to me I’m an all or nothing person, you know, and absolutely I put everything into everything and, I had all my hopes pinned on staying, studying books. So ,when that crumbled and then when the band fell apart so badly for us, I think it took a long time to kind of be anything like normal again, really. 

Tesse: 00:08:09 And some of the things you, you mentioned to me in the past of being your dad and your dad’s health, what went on there? 

Steve: 00:08:16 He had problems with his nerves really, most of the time after he was growing up. And I suppose we knew that as his family, you know, so it’s difficult when you live with people who, are having a hard time, really. But he got motor neurons. And so, that was very hard to see because my dear old dad, you know, he’s a big, tough, old fellow really. He’d been a debt collector in the East end of London.   He would  sort anything out, you know, he was going to go and sort it out. And then to see what motor neuron does, it just made me realize no one is tough enough on their own absolutely, in the end, whatever it is, something will get you, and you will never be tough enough on your own to win that battle. No, the, the intriguing thing there was, you know, we became reconciled my dad and I, and he became a Christian. And I remember him saying to me, right at the end there, you know, I’ve had a fantastic lifestyle go and enjoy your life. And I was astounded I thought he would have said, I’ve had a rotten old life, you know, grew up in poverty, grandfather used to beat me, you know, this comes blah, blah, blah, whatever it was. But no, no, and when I read the bit of the Bible where it says about defeating the world, that’s what I think defeating the world is. Against all available evidence, my dad could say I had a really good life. Yeah, that’s amazing, it’s is really, really something. So I suppose in a way, the wonderful thing, you know, my father thanked me, you know, right at the end of his life, he said, thank you, you’ve made my life. And so I’ve never had to feel guilty. I occasionally think, I wish I’d been nicer to him, but that was his gift to me, his gift to me was, go and enjoy your life. Yeah. I think that’s something which I always, you know, I treasure really, I hope I can do it for my own children. I really do.

Tesse: 00:09:59 Yeah, thanks for sharing that, Steve, did I read somewhere that your father was in the army as well? 

Steve: 00:10:04 Yeah, he was in the army. He had a really difficult time because his friend, they signed up together and his friend was, was killed. It it was in service actually it wasn’t the war, it was in service and his friend was murdered by terrorists. I’m not going to call them terrorist because they murdered my dad’s friend, you know? Other people might call them freedom fighters. And my dad saw it and you know, he left the army soon after it just affected his mental wellbeing, that kind of thing. But he loved being in the army, you know, we would March around the front room, the military bands playing on the stereo, you get the flag out and wave it around, and you know, he absolutely loved the army, because it got him out of the East end, got him out of the east end of London got him put him around the world. It, it, he met my mum because my mum was a pen friend, you know? So the army had a lot of friends, family friends, old soldiers,old paratroopers and I loved them every single one of them is dead now, everyone’s died now. I used to love as a boy sitting there and hearing, you know, on my mom’s side, they were all paratroopers as well, talking about their, their exploits. So I suppose in a way, you know, I was never going to go in the army myself, that was never going to be me, but I admired them, I did. I still do. 

Paula: 00:11:24 Wow. You, love stories, I can see that. Yeah, that’s kind of dictates, I guess what you’re doing because your book “Precious Lives” have so many heroes in it. Obviously your dad, your mom, both sides of the family, they were your heroes. Right? And so coming back to your book, Can you pick two heroes in that, that impressed you? 

Steve: 00:11:48 Yeah, thank you. I mean, what the idea was was that there’s a kind of heroism in everyday life and that we often don’t acknowledge it. And in that heroism, God’s in that heroism, the incarnation God lived an ordinary life. Jesus had a completely ordinary life, until he was 30, it worked in his mum and dad’s business. They employed people, he would have mucked around with the kids on the, in the area. And so as part of that formation of a person that ordinary life is really important. And so I think that the ordinary life honors God, and I think ordinary people are saints, in the way that the big saints are. There’s a kind of, something very Holy about ordinary life lived well. Those are the people that really, I write about someone called looky, looky Fitzpatrick, and, he was really my friend. He took me under his wing, a big, really big kind of Irish fella, would bear hug me most days. I’ve come to my victory Ridge, sit down and pray with me. And he came through, you know, horrific upbringing, and at one point he was a banned knuckle fighter for money too drunk, drinking. Goodness knows, and his life was turned around by becoming a Christian. But it was just that this is the thing was just, he was just so wise. I’ve just been thinking about the limits of intelligence, the limits of intellectualism, how far it gets you really? Because, looking, I don’t think he even even got a GCSE, but you know, he was the wisest person I ever met and I think that’s something I want to reclaim, I want to reclaim the kind of wisdom. The kudos, the prestige of working class people who are frequently looked down upon because they haven’t done what other people have done. So Lukey is in there, and the other person I think is, is Steven  Chamberlain he is another friend of mine. He now runs a soup kitchen, but he, he was maitre D at the Gavroche, and he was earning such a fortune. I knew Lady Di and everything else. And then one day went to the London lighthouse that was   the early days of HIV AIDS. And he suddenly was so convicted by seeing people, and he looked down at his very expensive Gucci shoes and just the I can’t account go on a truck, his job in training to be an AIDS counselor   flew to San Francisco, visited AIDS patients in the hospital where no one else would go cause they were, they were too scared and then he’s come back and he now most gorgeous thing, you know, so I suppose those two people, and then there’s loads of others, but those two kind of particularly, you know, unlikely heroes, I suppose. That’s what I described them. 

Tesse: 00:14:25 Wow. I’m privileged to have met both of these people you talk about, and I feel very inspired by both of them, but there’s somebody else who inspires me, and that is your gorgeous, lovely, gentle and kind wife, Christine, I know, having met you and Christine about her story, would you like to share a bit of her story? Because I knew she had a pretty rough time with her health and, but you will tell that story better than I. 

Steve: 00:14:53 Oh, thank you Yeah. So Christine and I, we’ve just always been such tremendous friends, you know, that’s the thing I think we, we, that’s the thing that’s, that’s there, is just that we admire each other and we like each other, which is really helpful. But, that was probably something like 14 or 15 years ago. I knew she was getting ill, but I could’nt kind of stop her, you know, she was training for the London marathon and I could see, I could see there was something really seriously wrong and I knew it, but it was a life’s ambition to run the marathon. And at, 16 miles, she collapsed, and, it was just this wretched thing of if only things had been different. She wanted to stop after four miles, I was meant to be there to wave at her, then she would have stopped, but she missed me. She hadn’t got her phone, she was running, so she didn’t wanna let the children down so they could see her, you know, all that stuff. And then, so we had a, she had a  jewel tear, which is basically a tear in your brain. And, what happens is. It’s like I’m in a pressurized system, pop a nail   into it, you get it, all those kinds of pressure drops out of it. And that’s what happened to her brain, you know? And so for a year she had to lay down. That wasn’t the worst of it, the worst of it was that she was in hospital, she had a procedure on her brain, we took her home. She nearly died on the streets in Ealing. The ambulance wouldn’t pick her up. I mean, it was just, the authorities were just conspiring to try and kill my wife. I felt like it, at the time that was. You know, in Star Wars, the force gets kind of disturbed, that was what happened in my life in our family, cause Christine was really indestructible. And, yeah, she’s a great deal better now, but you know, it was, it was a, a massive thing. I mean, in a way, a lot of things came out of that. Our business, it was really the beginning of the end for that, I think because we’d worked together, we were a great team member, when one of us wasn’t able to do it, it just, you just couldn’t really hang together. Christine is brilliant, right? She just gets on with life. But if I were to be honest, it’s left me with this kind of sense of peril that I’ve never really. I’ve never shaken, I’ve never quite got rid of it. It’s somewhere in the back of my mind is the feeling that one day it’s all going to go wrong again, you know? And, um, I kind of live with that now. That’s where I’m at really. 

Tesse: 00:17:22 Yeah, Steve, thanks for sharing that because you know, when I encounter you and we have our chats and I listen to what you do, you come across as being a really like solid rock, you know, just dependable, just so there. Has It always been that case? Did you have your lows and, you know, anxiety, depression, any of those things? And if you do, what have you found helps you to get back to, to kind of be resilient, to be strong? 

Steve: 00:17:47 Thank you, for all people who suffer from anxiety and depression, we’ve become very good actors. We’re really good at, as a defense mechanism of presenting a face, a persona. And I come to think that I probably inherited it, you know, from my dad. I think these things are sometimes  partly nature and partly nurture. So yeah, I mean, that’s something I’ve just, I’ve lived with really, since I was a teenager. And most of the time I function many all the time I function well. I’ve never, never taken the time or anything, but there are good times and there are less good times. And for me, the only thing that works is talking, that’s it, if I’m, if I’m in a bad place, I just, you to just talk about it, that’s it, talk to Christine. I generally feel much better than I’ve done that. I’m glad that we’re much more honest these days about mental health, I really am because it was a taboo subject. And I made a decision when I became a Vicar that I actually would not cover up the fact that I’ve had problems in the past, sometimes with depression and anxiety, I just wasn’t. I was going to be honest about it, cause I didn’t want people thinking that I was some kind of superhero and I found it one of the most useful parts of my ministry is just to say, if you’re feeling bad, talk to me about it, tell me what’s happening. I cannot make anyone feel better, but I can pray for them and I can listen. Those two things are our lifesavers.

Paula: 00:19:09 Yes, indeed they are. Having listened to you talk about what happened with Christine your wife, and talking about your mental health and how you serve the people now, you know, you’ve let people know that you’re vulnerable, that you have suffered some of the things that they think like Tesse just said, you’d look like a pillar of strength when she looks at you. She almost feels like, Tesse correct me if I’m wrong, you almost feel as if there’s nothing that jolts you. But having heard this, and I’m just meeting you for the first time, I know that you’re  a human being, and even though you’re a pastor at church, you have feelings and you’ve gone through trials. So I’m wondering in this pandemic, if you’re finding out, you know, that people are coming to you, what are you using to encourage people at this time?

Steve: 00:19:59 Oh, thank you. I think this pandemic has been very interesting in a way, because it’s, it’s brought us as a church so much closer, very strange, we can’t meet and yet we’re closer and closer because we’ve done a little phoning of each other, we do a bit of zooming and I think we’ve been able to share that we’re all to varying degrees no one has found it easier. And I think in a sense that oddly encouraging is a lot of the older folk that went through the war have said to me, things like this is worse than the war. I mean, if they can say that, then it means that, you know, it’s okay that this is difficult for people. I, I think that  we haven’t really been in church for a year. I haven’t done all the normal things of church and a lot of those are very fiddly and that’s not my strengths really. And so going back to a kind of complexity is something that I find a little bit daunting. I speak to some of my friends last time, the thought of going back to the full church experience, getting everything together, music, this, this, this, and everything else. You know, i just, I think it was going to be a bit of a shock to the system when we get to do it really. But to answer your question, I think that, you know, I’ve just been here. I think that being present is the thing that’s important. I think at the beginning, you’ve got lots of churches who are very well resourced, brilliant on the technical side. And it became clear to me that I could get to a certain level of technical I’ve got a lot better, but that wasn’t where we were itching as a church it was simply just to talk to each other and to see each other on zoom. And I think that’s been, it’s kind of analog ministry, some of it, and I think it’s really strong.

Tesse: 00:21:27 That’s fascinating, because what I’m hearing is that even though the pandemic has been very difficult for a lot of us, including yourself, it’s also brought people together and help people to prioritize what is really important in life and to take care of each other. As we kind of wrap up a conversation.  I’d like to hear a few more of your triumphs, you know, the things that you’re proud about, you know, and when I read about you, I was really chuffed to hear about the fact that you worked with the great Pete Shelley and Adrian Bolan, I was also by proxy taking your, your past glory by the fact that a red harvest single was playlisted on radio one and MTV, I thought yay! And what other triumphs do you have? What else? You mentioned your dad and what your dad said to you, and that’s very moving. Are there any other ones that you’d like to share? 

Steve: 00:22:20 I mean, I’m not very good on the triumph things, i got  this funny thing where, when something is finished, it’s finished and I just barely ever think about it again. I can hardly remember it strange, isn’t it? I just, I think it’s because I did a job. I was a credit director of the agency as well, and the, and the job was to generate ideas. and the only way, I can do that is `having an empty mind. Now, it there’s an interesting  toss up between a kind of Christian says, you’ll say, fill your mind up with God and let the ideas…. But in advertising, you’re going to have a completely empty space up there and let the ideas come. So that’s really where I’m at. So I don’t remember things. I think the thing that I’m most miss really, the thing that I really enjoyed was the initial couple of years when by pure chance, really our single got played on the radio. And I’ve met my hero, who was Adrian Borland and Adrian was in a bank or the sound for me that the greatest eighties band that there was. And I just really looked up to Adrian, I genuinely did. And that period was so, so exciting I mean, I just, it was all I ever wanted was to make records and to, and I met so many extraordinary people in the music business. I actually, I just made contact with my old friend who runs, ran the music label, my publisher after Oh, you know, 20 years. And we had such a lovely talk, you know, and I suddenly realized speaking to him about the business, you know, I, sometimes I was better than that than I’m not being a victim. I knew so much about it, it was as though the years of just constant tainted. I was back there with Dave, with the label and. I’m really  competent at this, you know, I’m really, I know about this and that’s one of the things about coming late to a career. You know, I’m never going to learn enough at a time I’ve got left because I’ve come late to all of this, I haven’t grown up in church, I haven’t, it’s all, to me everything’s new. I’m not adult fish swimming around, or it was always that again, it’s that again? It’s all new. And so I suppose that was one of the things that I really thought was something I was proud of because I love making music and I love playing live. I look back now at those dodgy old venues and I think, well, I’d experienced is that most people haven’t had. And at the time I didn’t value them, but I think my daughter now has been more, she was back home, was she was living up in North London and we’ve walked past some of those old pubs that we used to play in. And then there will be gastro pubs and bistros and what have you honestly. Oh dear, dear. you turn up, and all the windows are smashed. There’s the bouncer, and then there’s, there’s a guy who owns it with his Alsatian on the door. Oh, happy happy happy times. There was one game we used to play. I love this guy. He was an irish guy really good friends with him and we do the gig and if you’ve got 50 people, you’ve got 50 pounds, that was the thing, and every time we finished the gig, It sent me down to see him, Sean. So I go down there, knock on the door, tell me hello Steve how you doing. Sean, had two the biggest Alsatians you’ve ever seen that sat next to him.

And he said, how much you think you got in this tournament? So I was over 50. I sort of counted. It’s 49 you’ve just got the 49 again. And honestly we play there about 15 times . I never got a single penny out of Sean. I’d love to meet him one day, i want to talk to him Tesse, thank you for reminding me of it they were some really, really, really brilliant times really. 

Tesse: 00:25:48 Paula Paula, over to you, I can see Steve becoming this dancing singer, you know, kind of, I can see you doing amazing things still. There’s still a long way to go, but I pass over to you Paula. 

Paula: 00:26:02 So as we chuckling here over your memories, Something you said just now was that, you know, you kind of came late to the game, but what I hear as I’m listening to you is that even though you may have come late to the game, you came with experience that can never be matched. You came with knowledge that people can draw on. As you walk down some streets in North London, and you remember how you played gigs, all those things are relevant today. I mean, we are on a podcast, some of the things that you did while playing music can be brought into a podcast, so many things, I mean, no one knowledge is ever wasted. That’s really what I wanted to say. As we are wrapping up. Oh wow, quick, 25 minutes into this already. I wanted to say, what else can you share with our listeners? You’ve taken us down memory lane, you’ve brought us back to something you said about when you worked in a creative agency, you had to have an empty mind, but now as a Christian, you fill your mind up with the words of God, you know, and that’s what gives us life and hope. What else can you tell us? 

Steve: 00:27:06 And what I’d say is if you’re doing something, if you’re wanting to find out about the faith. There’s lots of good news stuff written, but CS Lewis used to say, read three old books and one new one. And I think there’s a lot of truth in that because I I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reading CS Lewis, GK Tresteton  and you know, it is astounding what they wrote it isn’t just good, it is wise, it’s funny, oh, my word. And so I suppose, I mean, I think that probably applies to any area, there is an interesting point here. I write for, an organization called the center for ethics markets and entrepreneurship it’s a think tank based on Oxford. And one of the things I’ve been doing is looking at management theorists from the ages, rereading their books, and just had a really funny thing is when you read that stuff, it doesn’t last. It’s incredibly dated. I have not found one ages management group that has got anything in it to say to me. Now that’s a really interesting thing isn’t it. There’s something about where wisdom really comes from at the time, you know, Charles Handy, you might remember him or John Harvey Jones, Tom Peters, all those kinds of people. We quoted them as though they were God himself, but you read them again and these small minded people trying to kind of scramble around in the dark. And that has been a most interesting kind of thing for me I mean, some of them, I can’t even read you I can’t bring myself to read more than a chapter that just whizzed over the, over the room and into the, into the bin, you know? So I suppose that’s just something I’d say. I mean, I think that’s, there’s a lot of wisdom to be had out there, we are overwhelmed with it . I’m becoming more and more enamored with going back to the old stuff

Tesse: 00:28:46 That’s beautiful because what I’ve been hearing you say is importance of wisdom and lived experience the suffering and the hardships,give  wisdom as well. But also I’m getting a sense from you about the place of love and care in spite of race, in spite of age, whatever we bring with us as our unique points to value those things and that never ages and, and that makes a lot of difference. And the thing I’m also hearing is your take on reconciliation and healing and bringing communities together, bring in broken families together, building communities, building back, better, building back strong in spite of the hardships. Are there any thoughts you have that you can say to people listening in about pandemic post pandemic to give them a sense of hope? Given these hard times that globally, we are all facing. 

Steve: 00:29:46 Yeah. I mean, I think the one thing is we’re never going to take life for granted again, I just, I cannot imagine ever, I mean, I used to take life so blindly and I thought we go out for a meal and I thought I’m bored here bored. I’d do anything to go out for a nice breakfast somewhere. You know, I was usually, it was obscene in the way I took these things for granted, really. So I think that that’s something I’m definitely going to be just the simple pleasures in life and being with the people that I love, you know, these kinds of things. I don’t think this generation will ever lose that I’m really, really don’t. It’s a bit like the war generation ended up not being warmongers, you know? One of the things about parliament was that while we had people who’d gone through the second world war, it was very unlikely we’d ever have another war because they’d fortunate, today’s politicians have never, fortunately. Can I I’ve never done it. They’re more likely to war mongers because I don’t know what it’s like. And I think that this January we’ve gone through this and I think we’ll carry it right through the rest of our, rather than the rest of our lives. I just hope we have a society that values the people who do the things that people survive and keep us going. But there’s nothing wrong with money when we’re making money, nothing wrong with making lots of money. Because you need to make money to pay tax, and when you pay tax, you can have National Health Service. There’s not that there’s nothing wrong about entrepreneurship or money or anything, but if we’re not going to pay people, lots of money, they’re doing a kind of altruistic job. Like the National Health Service we need to look after them and we need to honor them, and I think that’s very important. 

Paula: 00:31:19 Well said, Steve, what better closing was, do we need then that you need to take care of those who take care of you, I love it. So we going to wrap-up now to our precious listeners and our precious audience, we want you to know on TesseLeads, your stories matter and your lives matter. We encourage you to share them with us and know that you are supported, you are encouraged a new and nurtured, when you know that you’re never alone. So for our listeners, we ask that you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere where you listen to podcasts and please click subscribe. If you have found TesseLeads helpful, please let us know in your review. If you have any questions or topics you’d like us to cover, send us a note. And of course, if you’d like to be a guest on our show, “TesseLeads”, please head over to “www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads” to apply. Thank you all this has been amazing, I really, really enjoyed being hosts on “TesseLeads”, and I’ve really enjoyed talking with you, Steve, take care.

Steve: 00:32:38 You’re very welcome, I’m really, really grateful and I just think this is the most brilliant kind of innovational thing you are doing and God’s speed to you dear friends. I really hope it does, I know it’s going to make some real difference. So thank you. 

Tesse: 00:32:51 Steve you’re amazing.

Presence Plumb – When It’s Ok Not To Be Ok


Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to TesseLeads with  your host Tesse Akpeki and cohost Paula Okonneh. TesseLeads is a safe, sensitive, and supportive place and space to share, hear, and tell your stories and your experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders, strategies, tips and techniques that they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas, as well as how you our listeners can create and shape opportunities. Today, our guest is Presence Plum, and we will be talking with her about “When it’s okay not to be okay”. Vulnerability is strength. I’ll tell you a little bit more about presence. Presence is 20 years old. She’s an economics students, she’s a coach, she’s a podcaster and she overcame anorexia and depression from alopecia, and that made her develop an interest in understanding the mind and habits of top performers. She started her podcast, it starts with action. When she discovered that the only way she could get to where she was, was by taking action, when she didn’t feel ready. She has a curiosity on why and what she could do to help others take bold action. And that became the mission of her podcast. So today she’s going to tell us a bit about that, but I want everyone to know that she’s studying and working on other projects with the aim to become a better human being for herself and for others. Presence, we’re so happy to have you here with us.

Presence: 00:02:00 Thank you so much for having me, Paula and Tesse

Tesse: 00:02:03 am so delighted to have you on the show, and Paula and I couldn’t wait to hear what you have to say. You know, you mentioned to me that you had overcome anorexia and depression, and you’d also overcome alopecia and you’re happy with who you are right now. But I’m curious as I’m sure Paula and our listeners are to hear more about your journey to what I would term victory.

Presence: 00:02:29 Let’s do a journey. So I guess it started from when I was. So I was born in the UK and then it was nine years old, I moved to Hong Kong to study. That was when there was a massive culture shock, I didn’t know the language, everything was super different. I didn’t expect to stay there for seven years, so I just like went there planning to come back. Okay. Ends up being seven years. So yeah, I started, like completely going to chinese school, and I realized that, yeah, I was kind of different, even though I’m half Asian, I was different, I didn’t know the language and i didn’t know how the school system works. And I guess when, you know, when you’re very young,  bullying is quite common then. So I was bullied a lot for mainly having really bad grades, literally just. Every time I would, have an exam, people would see what score I got. And then on the way, home in the bus, people would start talking, it would be a main discussion. And so that continued for a few years, and that was when I started to become more self-conscious about grades and stuff, and just didn’t feel confident. And then it got to the point where like, ah, I know I just, I really need to change or do you want to do something about it. So I realized I’m just going to stick my head in the book and just care about nothing. I became really focused on like studying in school and that’s all I cared about, only exams. And so then I improved over time, I got to the best in the year, but that kind of, even though it it’s like, Oh, that’s amazing, you did so well in school, I was still super self-conscious and I changed high school. And then I started being bullied for how I looked, because I wouldn’t say I was fat at all, but they said I was so yeah. I was bullied for how I looked to mainly, and because I was so obsessed about wanting to fit in you know, I thought that getting the best grades, no one would bully me again, but i was wrong. And then when I got the good grades, people stopped bullying me for my, like my grades. So I thought, okay, so that must be a need to change something about myself to stop being bullied again. So I thought I need to lose some weight, have no clue what it meant to be losing weight, so I just Googled go on a diet for one week Apple diet, when, when i went in a diet and then that spiraled into six years of anorexia. And then I just became, I don’t even remember how I was, I don’t know how I did it, but just didn’t eat for a few years. And then it got to a point I was 14, It was at one week before our school ceremony and I had this goal, I wanted to get this, School trophy thing. It was like kind of my target, and then I knew I was going to get it, but then when we, before the ceremony I was sent hospital because I was too weak. And so yeah, I was in hospital and then they sent it via mail to me, and then I was just, I just remember the scene I was in bed, being super weak and looking at my heart rate, It was just really low. The doctor was saying that if I don’t do anything, then I’m going to die if I don’t choose to change. And that my goal was to do really well in school and to look my best so that I would fit in, but then I realized I don’t actually have any friends, I did. I worked so hard for everything, and then now I’m here, literally dying, I got what I want, but actually I also didn’t get one because no one actually likes me. That really kind of made me wake up to the fact that, chasing everything like chasing success kind of led down to just nothing really. I was killing myself for all of this, that didn’t mean anything. That’s when I realized  staying three months in hospital, I learned a lot because I wasn’t allowed to do any schoolwork. I was actually forced to eat, and then I was separated from the family as well. But basically three months of, Looking and observing my environment, different children coming in, going out. The girl next to me who was paralyzed for life, it made me realize just how lucky I am to be alive, and I realized how I was in control of the whole time, you know, it was because of my actions that led to me being in hospital, and therefore I had the choice to recover. And that’s when I realized, like, I wanna do something about it, and so I dunno, I’m just mind blanking.

Paula: 00:06:43 You are saying the right thing.

Tesse: 00:06:46 You’re doing great. You’re doing great, and you’re just telling this story and that’s a story that is, is really impacting on me, I’m looking at Paula’s impact on her, impact on our listeners that you are saying it as it was for you. That journey that you, you made and, and what I’m hearing is your, you know, being a young person and the pressures that were on you and how you decided to live, because that’s what I’m hearing, how you decided you made a conscious decision, not today. And in addition, you made another conscious decision to live. Those are two different things and you’re very, you’re very brave.

Presence: 00:07:32 But I guess like the reality was, even though I said that I wanted to recover, it actually still took me another  another,  four nearly four years to actually finally take the leap and fully recover. Because even though I wanted to recover when you’re like really, really anorexic it’s all in the mind, it’s like, you want to do it, but it’s just so hard to change. And I just, I hated myself so much, like I just, there’s a point where I got to this stage, because of me, cause I know that I did this to myself and so I ended up hating myself even more, but then I wasn’t allowed to go out. I lived the hospital’s really far away from home, no one visited me, but my family and mainly my mom. And then I distinctly remember that I was not allowed to eat anything outside of hospital. But I was finally given the permission to eat with my mom, and she made me this quinoa like beef, really healthy beef stir fry, because I’ve never eaten anything with her or like a food for like years. And finally I had that move her and we were both sitting there and like eating and just like crying. That was kind of the, the moment where I realized that I, I know I want to recover, but I just can’t do it for myself. But like that meal, I realized that, actually, you know, recovering is not just for me. I’ve, because of like what I’ve done to myself I’ve made, and I’d been lying about as well, like lying about the meals I’ve eaten and everything. And so with my mum, and that moment is just when I realized that I need to recover for myself, but for her, because I really hated myself, I didn’t think that I deserve to really recover at alll. If it was one, one thing that got me to take the first step that was, yeah, that was my mom. So yeah, that’s kind of how it got the ball rolling. And there was a lot of ups and downs, and then three months on, I was supposed to stay in hospital longer, but I just couldn’t take it. So I kind of also wanted to like sign the papers and promised her that yeah, I would recover by myself thinking that will be easy.  And then we decided to move back to the UK. And then, try to do it myself, it was like, I did really well, and then I went all back down, it says, Oh, up, up, and down, up and down. And then something happened when I came to the UK and changed school, thinking that i am going  leave this anorexic identity behind, restart my life, no one knows me, I can just like, forget about anorexia, never say it again, never say I had it. That was kind of going well, but then in one month I lost all my hair out of the blue, and they realized that scored alopecia and as someone who was already  self conscious trying to gain some weight, then losing all my hair, I was just like, ah, yeah. It was like the hardest time putting off losing all my hair was what really got me to realize that I need to do something to recover from anorexia. Because like for my weight, I can control it, I could consciously control how I looked and stuff, but for alopecia, I had no control over it, I had like, you know, just suddenly my hair decided to just go, I just couldn’t control it. And I was crying every single day from morning to night, it was so hard to go to school for like the rest of the two years. Because like, imagine just waking up and then you look down on your pillow, a bunch of hair you walk around,   and then you sleep and it continues, and then to the  point where you literally just like, yeah, i’m just  going to shave my hair off and then wear a wig and then you wear a wig, and then you realize that people noticed, obviously it was, it was funnily enough, it happened over summers break but then I went to school with a new wig and I didn’t want to be bullied for a third thing. But yeah, people did see it and I did it hear stuff behind my back and stuff. So I just was again, very depressed, but then it got to a point where I just like, I feel the same as if i  had anorexia, and, is this the same as just living like, this feels like this doesn’t feel like I’m living at all and then I reflected back on my time at hospital and realized that just how lucky I am to be where I am, and that this time I decided that I kind of need to do something, something, but maybe it’s not about controlling the outsiders, it’s about controlling the inside, that my mind.

And that’s when I started to delve into podcasts and interviews and books about personal development and self love, and started to change how I talk to myself, and really just start to not think about what other people think of me, but more so how I think about myself, because I really did not like who I was. And I realized that was a problem, that was the main problem. It was not about anything else, it was just about how I see myself, not how other people see me. So yeah, I just went on to use a bunch of different methods like affirmations and just having conversations with myself. And then slowly but surely I felt comfortable, with everything and started to enjoy life a bit more. But then it wasn’t until lock down came, and I decided to share my journey on a podcast episode that I realized sharing my biggest insecurities was what led to the best relationships and was what led to my tribe. I think the main thing that I realized is that it’s not my problem, that people don’t like me, it’s just. I’m not with the right people. I’m not with my tribe. And once I found that I realized I can just be myself, like I can, I have different colored wigs, and I just wear it when I want to, with my friends and they were chill about it. And it’s just amazing when you find the right people who love you for who you are, and it’s not about changing who you are. You don’t need to be with the wrong type of people, you don’t need to change who you are. You just need to change the group of people, people you hang out with. So that’s kind of what I realized and what really changed, everything for me. And now I just hope that I can use my story, but also talk to other people who are going through something similar or something different, but just have a healthy relationship with themselves and realize that no life there’s so much more to life.

Like I feel I’ve wasted so much of my time worrying about how I looked worry about everything, but now that I’ve overcome that, I just realized there’s so much stuff to learn in life that is, way more worth my time and focus. Because when you have anorexia nothing, everything is just food, the mind is just consumed by food or like, am I, and I don’t look like this. It’s just, you just don’t have enough time or space in your brain to think about the different topics I want to learn about and I want to learn about in economics right now, and i was really interested in psychology. There’s just so much in life that’s so exciting. But it’s not until you allow yourself to have the space in your brain and mental focus that you can really focus on the exciting stuff

Tesse: 00:14:37 That is so touching. I’m having tears in my eyes, but then I hear the pain and I, I, I hear your determination, but also what I hear is your self-awareness of what you needed to do as a result of what was happening to you and the things that you can control and those that you couldn’t control. And, and that’s just so exemplary of a, of a journey of a victorious woman. Thank you for sharing. Paula?  Thank you

Paula: 00:15:15 I’ve Been quiet because I’ve had tears in my eyes too. Presence I had wanted to ask you, what would you say to young people on a similar journey? But I think you’ve said it all. You’ve mentioned that, you know, change of mindset, change of friends change.

Presence: 00:15:37 I think that’s the key

Paula: 00:15:38 Yeah

Presence: 00:15:39 It’s really like, yeah. If someone out there someone young or old is going through something I’m really really focused on the environment. I think if you can’t cause. It’s it’s sometimes really hard to you can’t change your mind. Like it takes time to change your mindset, but if you don’t change your environment as soon as possible, then it’s often a lot harder. So definitely I think like just seeing the other people around you and are they serving you in a way that’s getting you to where you want to be in terms of energy wise? Or are they really negative all the time? I surrounded myself with friends who just complained every single day or would point out their own flaws. And now my group of friends are just way more like, not self-absorbed, but they’re way more happy with who they are and then we will come confident, and they’re all exploring life and not afraid of failure. So like see life as a game, just, yeah, just the environment is just so important. I never really thought about back then, but what I realized is just key now. I think.

Paula: 00:16:49 You have struck gold. I think you have hit the nail on the head, which is, you realize now that this is what you have to do. And is that something that you would advise like parents? I know you’ve talked about people your age, who are probably going through similar things to you. What about parents here in this? I’m a parent and I’m listening to that. I listened to what you said intently because, yeah, my children may be older than you, but there’s always something that I can gain. And so I would love for you to just give a word to parents of children going through difficult circumstances. If you were a parent, what would you have done? What would you do? I should say.

Presence: 00:17:41 I think. If your children are young, then I definitely think it’s about feeding them with the right information in their minds, feeding them positive, words of encouragement, being there for them, and just like telling them and showing them that they can be whoever they want to be, as opposed to limit their goals. That if someone with their child says, Oh, I want to be an astronaut one day, then just go and like, say, Oh yeah, you can’t do that, only certain people can do that. That really affects someone over time. But I think thinking about, for me, like if my mom wasn’t there for me, when I was in hospital every single day, she would travel at two hours up to work to come to see me. And if she wasn’t there for me, then I genuinely don’t think it would be here today.

So I think definitely if you know that your child or someone’s going through something, then the easiest thing that I think you can do that,not everyone really does all the time, it’s just be there for them and just really show that you are there for them. I think that’s the simplest thing that really makes the big difference. Yeah, it’s, it’s funny that I don’t really think about that much, but, I think definitely if she wasn’t there for me when I really needed her, I didn’t have any friends at that time. My mom is divorced, so I only have her. So if she wasn’t there for me, then I wouldn’t be here today. So I think like some thing just like showing that you’re there for your child or kid when they’re going through something, it’s just, it’s the simplest, but also most important thing, I think, because oftentimes we go through our days and we work to rarely spending time. But just making sure that you check in with them.

I don’t know, I guess teenagers, I used to not really care, I mean, you know, my mom will come in and say, I don’t really want to talk to you. I would just really busy with work, but still I think just, just really checking in. Cause sometimes we don’t really like to say things to our parents, unless where we trust them, like we would trust them to be comfortable with them. And so I think like being consistent with showing up every day for them shows that you care and when they know that you care, then they’re more likely to, if not. Yeah, I don’t know if that helps.

Tesse: 00:20:07 Yeah. It, it really does help. And, I can see my, my co-host Paula is very touched by this, you know, she’s a mom, she has two lovely children, and then mum, the mother’s heart, there’s nothing like a mother’s heart, and if father can also have a mother’s heart. And what I’m hearing from you is the place of trust, but also the place for abiding, just staying away, being conscious of. Being present with, and that that’s so powerful. And, I’m thinking about, you know, we’ve talked about parents  possible sponsoring. But these days, a lot of people in organizations in university and so on, they get mentors or get coaches. What would you be saying to a culture, a mentor listening in? What would you be saying to them about some of these kind of presencing? Examples that you’re sharing with us today.

Presence: 00:21:06 I think for me, people, coaches who have changed my life are those who, really help you gain clarity over who you are. Like those who’ve really helped me change my life and who I know like change other people’s lives are those who focus on helping like anyone from the young person, but helping the mentee or coachee, helping them really realize the truth I think. Oftentimes we either avoid the truth ourselves or avoid what you want to hear, but I think the best mentors, the best coaches are those who are straightforward and tell you what you need to hear as opposed to what you want to hear. And sometimes it can be hard and harsh, but I think those mentors who are really real and honest and tell you the truth, are those who really change people’s lives.

Tesse: 00:22:06 That’s beautiful. That’s beautiful. Paula thoughts

Paula: 00:22:12 I have been tearing up here, tears streaming down my face. So that’s why I’m quiet, but my thoughts is. Presence, I love your name, I think it encompasses everything. My thoughts that your name says it. You have to be here, you are present, you have to be present. I heard what you said about your mom, and I could relate to that 100%. I’m happy you said your story because I know a lot of young people and even their parents are going to listen to this and it’s going to make a world of difference to young people, knowing that their lives matter, that they being around means a lot to their parents and to so many other people that sometimes they don’t even realize are there, as you said, rightfully change of mine, brought a change of attitude, brought a change of friends, and that made a world of difference. And so many young people need to know that, that if you’re not in the right crowd, that doesn’t mean there isn’t another crowd for you, not a set of people who won’t celebrate you. Because, we all bring something unique to this world and no one can do it like you.

Presence: 00:23:19 Pick your friends carefully for most, like I said, I just wanted to fit in. That’s all I cared about is I fit in with a group of people, I don’t mind if it’s the wrong group, I just want to fit in, but now I’m like, I don’t want to fit in I just want to make sure that I pick, I like, I pick the right people for me. I don’t need to fit in, they need to fit in with like my values, why I think it’s important. So it’s like kind of changing the perspective, realizing your worth. I guess, that you get to choose your friends. It’s not about like wanting your friends to like you, if you don’t have friends then especially to not have friends than to have the wrong friends.

Paula: 00:23:57 You are right. Oh, my word, you just said something that I think we need to wrap up with, which is your friends don’t have to choose you, you choose your friends,  you make a difference it’s better you don’t have friends than to have the wrong friends. I think that’s a key note to anybody, whether you’re 10, whether you’re 20, 30, 40, sometimes, I mean, age is just the number. So thank you so much Presence for sharing that beautiful nugget, that makes a difference because now, as you said, you don’t want to be here some years ago, and now you realize that there is something about you being present. You’ve got some things to do in the world and no one else can do just like you can.

Tesse: 00:24:42 Presence your you’re just fantastic.

Presence: 00:24:45 Thanks for having me.

Paula: 00:24:47 Absolutely. So I’m going to wrap up with these words that pertain to you, Presence. Your precious stories and your life matter on ” TesseLeads” we asked you to share them with us. Because many are supported, encouraged, and nurtured when they know that they’re never alone, like Presence said, she knew she wasn’t alone because her mom came even if it took two hours each way her mom was there. Ladies you have been amazing. For our listeners, make sure please that you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere you listen to your podcasts. And please subscribe to “TesseLeads”. If anything that you found today resonated with you, please let us know in your review. And if you have a question or topic you’d love for us to talk about, send us a note. We’d love for you to be a guest. Finally, head over to “www.tesseakpeki.com/Tessie leads”. To apply and become a guest that can help change the world, one story at a time.

David Taylor-Klaus – The Magic of Thinking and Transformation

Lisa Richards – Resilience Finding Hope


for Lisa Richards

00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to TesseLeads, with your host Tesse Akpeki and co-host Paula   Okonneh, where we share with you top leadership and management strategies.

Tesse Leads is a safe, sensitive and supportive place and space to share, hear and tell your stories and experiences. You will hear from top experts and thought leaders strategies, tips and techniques they have found useful in navigating a diverse range of challenges, difficulties, dilemmas as well as how you can create and shape opportunities.

Our guest today is Lisa Richards. And we will be talking about resilience. As a grief specialist, Lisa enables businesspeople to thrive rather than just survive and be weighed down by the pain of loss, following any life change. Welcome Lisa. We are very happy to have you on the show. 

Lisa: Thank you very much, Paula. And thank you very much Tesse, for inviting me to be on the show. It’s lovely to be here. 

Tesse: Thank you, Lisa and welcome. 00:01:00 It’s lovely to have you. And you know, there’s never been a   time like now to talk about resilience. Is there, I’d like to ask you the first question. What does resilience mean to you? 

Lisa: Thanks. Tesse for asking resilience means so many things, but essentially it means overcoming a big challenge.

Whatever that challenge might be. And it might be a very small thing, but it might be a very, very large thing. A life change that happens to you as it happened to me at several points of my life. And that is why really, I do what I do today. It’s. The reason why I do it and my life’s purpose, if you like, that’s what I, I believe now through the journey that I’ve made and the fact that I can stand in dark places with people and hold their hands.

And 00:02:00 if necessary, walk with them on their journey for just a little while, while they overcome whatever challenges they face in their life. 

Paula: So, is this something that you can teach people or do you think people are born with it? Lisa, as in resilience? 

Lisa: I think both actually I think you can teach resilience and I think you are born with it. I think your parents, if your parents are particularly resilient, I believe that you probably are too. The issue is really when you are confronted with a particular challenge, how you deal with it. And in my case, that fateful day where I got up one day and decided I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it to the end of the day.

And you, you sit there and you think, wow, 00:03:00 What am I going to do? Am I going to end this pain that I’m obviously suffering? Or am I going to try and live and push through it? And the reason I kind of got there was because several years earlier, my mom had tried to enter her own life. And that’s why I kind of got to that stage myself.

Except in contrast to her, I decided to live. And that is really where my journey started in terms of resilience and building that resilience, building that confidence over many years, to the point where I actually found what I was looking for. It took me a long time. But when I did it gave me so much in terms of letting my guilt that had built up and the weight of distress and emotion that I had inside. 00:04:00 And I let it go and suddenly let in an amazing life that was obviously waiting there for me. And I just hadn’t realized. And in learning the process that helped me let this go. It also gave me some tools. So yes, I believe very firmly that you can teach resilience.

The issue is how open you are really to dealing with that. Sometimes you have no choice. Sometimes you are put in a situation where you are tested and that survival fight or flight kicks in that is a learning process, but you can teach skills over and above that. I believe so. It’s both really. Thank you, Paula.

Tesse: I was very touched Lisa, when you shared your story with me, um, and I’m sure it would resonate with a lot of people. Um, it speaks to personal resilience, you know, in that moment when you chose to live, what was really going 00:05:00 through your mind? What was it that propelled you to choose that, yes. I want to be here. I want to be with people. I want to continue my life. What was it that went through your mind then? 

Lisa: The day it happened Tesse, I just really, over the last week, I’d come back from a big trip away. I’d been around the world. I had had a wonderful time. But what I hadn’t realized was I was trying to escape the feelings that I had.

And I went around the world and I got to Australia and I remember picking the phone up to my dad and talking to him down the phone. And suddenly this little light bulb went off in my head. I said to myself, Oh, wow. Actually, I can’t escape this it’s inside. It doesn’t matter where I go. I will not be able to hide from this.

So really when I came back from that amazing trip away, I gave way under the 00:06:00 weight of all this grief. And that was when I woke up one day. And really there was just this black feeling I felt in emotional distress. I felt in pain. I was pacing up and down the house. When I should have been getting ready for work and not really understanding why I just couldn’t do that.

I cried, I wailed, I screamed, I, I didn’t really know what to do. And in desperation I did the only thing that I could do, which was I picked up the phone and I found the one person who I trusted the most in the world who was my father. And. It was the thing I didn’t want to do because I thought, Oh my goodness, why would I put my dad in this situation again? 

When several years earlier he had been faced with my mom trying to take her own life. And I thought I 00:07:00 can’t do that to him. But then I thought, I just want to see what his reaction will be. I just need somebody to talk to. And he was amazing. He stayed so calm, even though I guess he was wondering what to say to me, because he was an hour away.

He couldn’t turn up on the doorstep and he was amazing. He listened, he gave me a simple plan and he said, when you’ve done the simple plan, come back, phone me, let me know you’re okay. And in that moment, he had to let me go. He had to trust me that I would do it. And I did, and I phoned back, but the moment of that pain had passed, you know, where the fog descends, and you don’t know what to do.

Suddenly you have a plan, you go and do it. And that was really the first step to the rest of my journey. 

Paula: Would you mind sharing with us? I mean, this is very 00:08:00 painful, I’m sure, as you recall it, but because you’re here, there’s hope. So. Would you mind sharing with our listeners what that plan was that your dad told you? You said it was a simple plan. 

Lisa: It was a very, very simple plan. It literally Paula, it was ring your GP (your doctor). Get in to see your doctor. Do not take no for an answer. Say it’s an emergency if they won’t listen. Speak to your doctor, see what she can do for you and take whatever she will offer and then come back and speak to me, nothing complicated.

Just one thing that I had to concentrate on. And I think that’s probably the key at that point; listening, understanding, and actually just empathizing and say, I understand your upset. This is what you need to do. Because I was confused. 

Paula: That’s 00:09:00 very powerful. And I know it will resonate with a lot of people who need to hear that.

Lisa: Thank you. 

Tesse: I was just saying, like you said of that, I’m really struck by Lisa’s story, a very human story. And you know, you said that at that point in time, when you had the choice to make, and your dad gave you that simple plan and you, you took that advice and you followed it, and he also gave you something about having an accountability partner in a way, which was going back to him, someone who love and trust and what came into my mind was.

What gave you the clarity, you know? Cause you see, you’re confused. What brought clarity to you as a result of going through this journey that continues to help you to travel on in life? 

Lisa: okay, this, this is the resilience part because that day was the worst day of my life. I was 27. I had a mom who had 00:10:00 essentially left me several years earlier. The slight twist to this was my mom didn’t die. She was still alive, except she wasn’t the same mom that I knew and loved. She died that day and she was replaced by somebody who looked like her, but it wasn’t her. So sadly, she damaged her brain and she had to be looked after for the rest of her life.

And she died in 2011. And it brought it all back, sadly. And it’s interesting that even though it happened in the 1980s, that thing where people say time heals, wounds, it didn’t for me. I don’t believe that it does. Because when, when she physically died in 2011, it was a grieving process. Then for the mom I had lost all over again. And in 00:11:00 that moment, when I got up and realized what was happening, the comparison was, forgive me, your listeners listening to this. If I couldn’t do it properly, this is what happens. So I don’t want to go there because my mom gave her power away on that day. And I don’t believe she would have wanted to do that.

And I didn’t want to give my power away. Because the moment you do that, you lose control. You lose your sense of you, your sense of everything that you know. And I didn’t want that. That was the comparison. I had something to compare it to, and I didn’t want that. So I almost did the complete opposite. I said to my doctor, I don’t care what you give me, but please give me something.

I’d rather do talking therapies than 00:12:00 antidepressants because antidepressants just mask the problem. And she said to me, That is fine. We may have to wait for a while because this was in the 1980s when there was very little support. I mean, people think there’s little support now. There was no support then. And then yes, we were lucky.

I was assigned to psychotherapist in that time. And I worked with psychotherapist who put me back together so that I could function. And for all intents and purposes, I looked the same. I just, inside. I wasn’t healed. And that is the difference. So outwardly you can look as though you’re okay, but this thing about you really don’t know what’s going on behind somebody’s smile or somebody’s eyes.

Usually, you can tell with their body language, but that only happens when you know somebody or you notice their body language, and it’s not congruent with what they’re saying. 

Paula: I agree 00:13:00 100%. And because we’re talking to listeners, you’ve told us on that particular day, how your dad helped. Do you have any additional tools that you can share with our listeners that they can use? You know? 

Lisa: Absolutely. And this is the thing, I think everything that you go through in life, especially when you’re feeling low and you’re feeling that you. You have to dig deep. Brandy Brown says about digging deep and really sucking up the difficulty or the challenge. Everything that you do in that respect teaches you something.

And by learning those things, you learn to look after yourself., you find out who you can trust. You can find a safe space. If you can’t initially. Try as much as you can say, right, I’m going to do that today. Don’t 00:14:00 beat yourself up if you don’t do it, but that’s kind of your plan. And I didn’t know how I was going to heal myself, but I set out on this journey and I promised myself at that point in time, if I ever got to that point where I felt whole again, that I could enjoy life and I could have fun again, I would help other people. And that’s kind of what I do. But in terms of the tools that we have, it can be as simple as breathing, breathing, deeply, breathing in a very mindful way. And when I say mindful, I don’t mean mindful of thoughts. The idea is to try and empty your mind of thoughts, let them come and go.

And I know there’s a lot of people who do teach mindfulness these days. So breath work, I think is very important because the more you can breathe, really breathe and fill your lungs. So 00:15:00 and really do it in a considered way. There are lots of breathing exercises. I do something called square breathing, which is breathing in for four or six. So breathing in. So I’ll do, I’ll do it. Then you hold it for six. You let it out for six and you, you pause for six. So it’s, it’s almost, you kind of go round and you mindfully do this.

So that’s one little exercise, things like laughing. Laughter is such an amazing gift that we are all given as children. And we take it for granted as children. Now I know when you’re feeling low, that may be, there is not a lot to be happy about or feel light about, but I went to a laughter workshop recently where the guy said, even if you don’t feel like laughing, 00:16:00 if you make yourself smile, you start to release those chemicals, those endorphins.

And for me, the laughter workshop was great because it simply was people laughing and because they laugh so much, you laughed more. The sound of laughter is infectious. It really is a good stress buster. So I think that’s another tool that is very underrated and can help us all. Walking to get out in the fresh air, releasing those endorphins, that kind of thing.

I’m trying to give you tools that are at anybody’s disposal, really, because I think we’re so busy looking externally for tools to help us. And yet actually we have resources in ourselves for free to access anytime we choose. And that’s really, really important. There’s another nice 00:17:00 exercise that I’ve come across recently, which is five, four, three, two, one.

It’s a mindful exercise. So if you’re feeling a little bit frazzled, if you can just sit there and think of five things that you can see. Literally in front of you. So you kind of see them and you name them, you know, Oh, I can see a tree or I can see a bird or I can… so five things that you can see. Four things that you can touch.

So, what can you touch? How does it feel? How does it look? Does it look rough? Does it look smooth? Because touch is a very underrated sense too. I think hogs, I know the COVID thing. It’s not really hugging, but even anything that you could do, we do virtual hugs sometimes on calls like this and just touching yourself and saying I’m okay. I’m okay. So that’s something good to remember as well. 

The 00:18:00 third thing. So, so seeing touching, basically you go down five, four, three, two, one. One is probably something that you taste. How does it taste? How does it feel your new, your mouth? Smell’s the third one? What can you smell? I have essential oils. I don’t know whether people have sort of come across those where lemon is a citrus flavor.

If I smell a lemon, it wakes me up and those smells, you could have that from coffee. You can have that from smelling a flower. You know, all of these senses that we, we rely on our visual sense, but actually we have all of these five senses and those are really, really important. So if we can use those as well in a mindful way, I think that’s great.

But what I like at the moment is the power posing. So there’s a Ted talk by a lady called Amy Cuddy, and you can probably see that and you stand, you make yourself big, you build yourself up and 00:19:00 by doing that, you give yourself confidence. And that’s what it’s all about is building your confidence to say I am okay.

I, am, enough. There’s a guy called Dr. David Hamilton and he says there are four stages to this sort of confidence and resilience thing. So when you’re feeling down, I’m not enough. Oh no, I’ve had enough. And I’m going to do something about it. I am enough. And then the fourth stage, when you really move on, is I just, am. You become that confidence, you exude that confidence, that positivity.

And that’s really, really amazing when that happens, because you start to engage people in a way that you haven’t before. Sorry. That was a very roundabout way. 

Paula: I love it, Lisa. I really do. I think these are real life things. These are simple things that people 00:20:00 can do without having to have another step outside of themselves.

You know, I mean, citrus is easy, enough. Tasting is easy enough. Touching is easy enough to know what I mean? These are really things that people sometimes need to hear at that time when they’re finished so down. 

Lisa: Those are the things. And I’ve got another nice little one. If, uh, if you kind of put it’s a touch one. If you put your two fingers, um, your sort of index finger and your middle finger on your forehead, yeah. Just above your eyes and you do a figure of eight. So you do this and you count as you do it. And it’s an infinity thing. So you count each one. So one, two, three and you do 20. And when you finished, you feel a lot calmer. Don’t ask me how to explain it. It’s something to do with neuroscience. I was shown it on a zoom call, but it works.

And that’s amazing. So you have all of these tools at your disposal. We just don’t 00:21:00 think about them in that context. 

Paula: This is absolutely amazing. How are you now? 

Lisa: I’m very relaxed because I’m talking to some lovely, lovely ladies. And I’m laughing too. It’s fun. And that’s the thing. If, if you, if you can find something fun, it just.

Yes releases those endorphins makes you feel better, makes you want to laugh and smile. It all builds. And that’s the important thing. And yes, we can all eat properly, rest properly, all the kinds of things that we’re told that we should do. Sometimes we don’t, we just don’t do them. We work too hard, but it’s all about balance and keeping that balance.

If we can. 

Paula: Love. It you’ve been an inspiration to me because I say to my children, I tell myself about to every day. Look forward to something simple. It may be like when I wake up in the morning, maybe something as simple as, Oh, I have some grapes downstairs. 00:22:00 I love grapes. I’m going to go eat him. 

Lisa: Yeah.

Paula: Simple. 


Lisa: And the joy of just eating and feeling that taste sensation in your mouth and thinking, Oh God, this is wonderful. I don’t drink alcohol or smoke. The taste of food now, because I don’t have caffeine or the alcohol in my, in my system, the taste of food is just so much more, so I want to slow down.

And I think when we slow down, we start to appreciate actually I’m okay. Things are okay, we just get overwhelmed or we get too busy and then we start to fall over. 

Tesse: Lisa, what you are saying has touched both of us. And I’m sure people who are listening that will touch them as well. And this question is really about who do you admire when it comes to personal resilience?

Lisa: Wow, that’s a great question. I admire lots of people. The person I admire probably most recently is 00:23:00 a lady called Angela Marta. She is somebody who. I saw it on a television program about four or five years ago, she was an art director. She worked in a gallery and they approached her o make this program.

And at first you thought it was about her work in the gallery and what she did for a living. It turns out that they wanted her to talk about and go on a sort of personal journey to share this personal journey about. Her husband who unfortunately had taken his own life and how that had felt full her and her family.

And she went and met families around the country to talk about how they felt when it happened to them, because it’s a lot more common than I think people realize. And in that program while it’s, it was a very hard watch,  something resonated so strongly with me because it was the first time I’d 00:24:00 heard somebody say publicly, how they felt on camera, about somebody close to them, taking their own life. 

And nobody had kind of spoken to me in that context, not my dad, not my brother. And I’d hidden it from the world for so long. And I thought, wow, finally, somebody understands. Somebody out there. Because your own grief isolates you so much and you protect yourself so much.

You cannot see beyond that sometimes. And this lady has done amazing things with her work. Recently, she’s been an advisor on a, they call it soaps. So like any standards here Holly Oaks, and it’s for young people, it’s for teenagers. They watch this soap every week. It’s a storyline about somebody taking their own life and the impact that has, and they tried to do it 00:25:00 in a very sympathetic way to obviously educate young people on how this might feel for others. 

And I thought that was a most amazing thing. It was sensitively done. It was trying to do it in an educational way, in a very soft way, but in a way that kids would digest without even realizing. And I think that’s really education about what grief is. What grief isn’t. And how we can overcome those situations is so, so important. So important. In fact, that I’ve started speaking back to younger children, you know, children in schools, because I think it’s really important that they get the message that taking your own life isn’t the way.

Actually, moving through and yes, it’s hard. I don’t pretend it’s anything 00:26:00 else, but when you come through it and you look back and you think, wow, I did that. I’m okay. I can do this. And that’s what resilience is all about. That self-belief that confidence that you can get through it. And when you look back, you think, yep, I can do this.

And that is something that then if you live through your worst day, nothing will ever be that scary again, I’ll just share with you. I go cold water swimming these days. And people say to me, Oh God, that, you know, that’s so brave. It’s just cold water. It’s water that is cold. It is a shock when you get in.

But actually, it’s just like swimming only colder. And my perception of that has been turned around so much that I now just get in. I don’t think about it. I know it’s going to be 00:27:00 cold. I push through that. But the benefits of doing are phenomenal. That’s why I do it. And that it’s, that hope the hope of a better tomorrow and being able to connect, you know. I never thought that my journey would bring me to sit here and talk about resilience with you. And that’s amazing. I am so thrilled and delighted to be able to share these things with you today. So thank you for inviting me.

Tesse:  Lisa thank you so much. I mean, again, it’s so touching and, you know, you’ve talked about what resilience is a lot of people and are reading books about what resilience is. But one thing that I see that is not in these books is what resilience is not. So, so are you able to say a few words about what resilience is not? 

Lisa: Gosh, to me. Sitting there and waiting for somebody to come and say view isn’t 00:28:00 resilience to me, it’s having the courage to step outside your comfort zone. The work that I do, we ask people to trust in the process. We are, we create them a safe space. And they have to want to be there. They have to want to commit to moving forward. We’re not going to cure them. We don’t know how they feel, but the process is really bespoke to them. So we give them the tools that they need to have their own journey.

And basically, I walk with them. And they, each week we build through that. So we take one topic, we look at it, they do some additional reading in the interim. Then we look at it for the following week and it literally is one hour, a week, seven weeks that the thing 00:29:00 is, do not sit there and wallow. It’s fine to wallow to begin with.

You know, when it happens, there’s shock. There’s numbness. There is disbelief that it’s happened to you? The thing I would say to anybody is yes, wallow for a while, but then actually start to look to see, to get yourself out of it. Because nobody else is going to, sadly, people are busy people, even your loved ones can only help you so much. You have to want to do it. 

Paula: Incredible advice. You have to want to do it. It has to come from within you. No one can make you do what you don’t want. Once you make up your mind. This is it. There’s no going back. The world takes on a new dimension because then there’s hope. It’s something to look forward to.

Lisa: Absolutely. And you’re right, Paul, it just those little things every day. One of the things that somebody told, taught me. I’ve learned 00:30:00 lots of things along the way, but I’ve done neuro linguistic programming, a sort of crash course. And the lady said, the one thing that I took away from that is notice what you notice. Because little things, when you start to notice and you start to put those things together, then you can actually weave yourself a plan.

You can build yourself a network, a support network, whether it’s tools like I’ve shared with you or people that you trust and are your go-to people, because I understand you and Tesse are each other’s go to people sometimes when you have a particular issue. It’s all about building your support network to build yourself up.

And then for me, I think I’ve got the support network I need. Now I’m ready to look to other people and say, would you like to come with me and share in this journey or learn some of the 00:31:00 tools that I’ve learned? Because I think they can really help you. Not saying you have to learn this, but I have this range of tools. If you’d like to see some, pick some, take them away, play with them if they work for you. Great. If not, we can find some other tools 

Paula: That’s given them hope.  

Lisa: Absolutely. 

Paula: That’s what a lot of people need…hope.

Lisa: Absolutely they do. And I learned a really nice thing from somebody the other day about fail. What the definition of FAIL is First Attempt In Learning.

Every time you try something, and you don’t get the expected outcome, that’s not to say you won’t achieve it. You just have to find an alternative way and you will achieve it. And that’s building resilience. You know, inventors in the world didn’t give up at the first attempt, they went around, they saw an alternative, you and they took it and eventually they got to where they wanted to 00:32:00 be.

And we all know those kinds of people like Einstein and the Wright brothers. They had a lot of failures on the way, but on the way, they learned a lot.

Paula: This has been incredibly helpful. It’s been a learning experience for, I know me possibly 

Lisa: Thank you

for Tesse 

and I know the listeners, I have definitely got some things out of this.

I hope so. I’m so grateful that you asked me it’s been lovely to speak to you both. And I love doing things like this that are fun. Thank you for making it fun for me. 

Paula: The pleasure is ours. But, talking about fun, we always try and end our program or our podcast with some fun touch questions, we call them. 

Lisa: Okay.

Paula: One of them is what’s your favorite emoji? 

Lisa: Oh, I like the 00:33:00 emoji that kind of pulls its tongue out and has one eye, sort of like this. That is a bit kind of zany. I don’t use it very often, but that’s my favorite. Although. The one I use for sort of my sign off on all social media is, is a heart almost. It’s kind of got like a little plaster on it, but I’m a heart with ears.

And it’s important that I listen and really understand what people are saying. That’s my job to understand, listen, no judgment, no expectation. People need to be heard and respected. And not criticized or made to feel small. The journey is about them. I walk with them and that’s really important. 

Tesse: I really love that. I mean, recently I’ve been in a lot of walks. Lisa and you’ve put those walks in contents. I’ve been on an empathy, walk, a, been 00:34:00 on a grief walk.

Lisa: Ok, 

Tesse: I’ve been on a compassionate walk. And the, that’s why my favorite thing at the moment is I will walk with you. Because on those walks people walk with me. And I can’t tell you the extent of the healing that I’m experienced. And then it’s just kind of expanded my, not just my worldview, but it’s expanded my capacity to notice what I notice.

Lisa: Yeah. Because you will notice things and maybe you will kind of tuck them away until you need to. And then, wow. It’s almost like the little light bulb goes on. So, so yeah, I think it’s a very powerful thing. It’s very simple, but very powerful. 

Paula: Notice what you notice. I love it. I love, and that’s going to be my new phrase in this house.

Notice what, you notice, 


Lisa: Let me know how you get on with it, Paula.

Paula: I love it. 

Lisa: Fantastic. 

Yeah. So, 00:35:00 after this incredible talk. Lisa, you talked about social media. Where can our listeners find you online or even offline? 

I am Online. I am on social media. I do a little bit of Twitter, but I don’t do a lot. My main platform is LinkedIn. So you can find me on LinkedIn as The Heart With Ears.

You can find me on Facebook as The Heart With Ears. And I do have a website which is a hosted website and it’s through grief UK. I’m sure Tesse, you’ll probably give the links out at the end of the show or what have you. But yeah, so I have a website, I have email. I have phone, you know, you can find me,. You can Zoom call me.

I’m very happy to talk to, to really, if people are in need, that’s why I’m here. 

Paula: Awesome. Awesome. So, um, we are coming to the end of this incredible 00:36:00 moment with Lisa and I know that this has been. Well, there’s been a journey. It’s also been a, a learning time for me. Um, I felt your pain. I felt your compassion.

I felt. Um, your genuine care for others who are hurting like you. Um, you’ve told us where you can be found online. And sometimes it’s just hearing that one voice like your dad did for you. You, the ability to call somebody who put confidence in you because he trusted you, just, hearing that he had confidence in you to do the next, I mean, to do the right thing, kind of pushed you along, from what I gathered.

Lisa: Yes, his belief that I would do as he asked and that mutual trust that we had just tipped the balance really. I mean, sadly, he’s no longer with me, but he is with me in spirit. You 00:37:00 know, the fact that I’m actually sitting in a, in a workspace that was inspired and kind of paid for by some of the money that he left me.

And it’s almost I’m carrying on that work to make a difference. You know, that is his gift to me to allow me to help other people. He was, he was a teacher himself. He taught painting. He was very engaging, and I learned a lot from him. So, if I can pass on things to other people, then I’m delighted. 

Paula: Amazing. So do you have any closing thoughts? You’ve said so much, and we’ve gotten so much nuggets from you. Is there anything left?

Lisa: I’m trying to think now. We touched on dancing. I love to dance. I love music. Music is, is a great one for lifting the spirits because of the vibration of the music, the beat. And just last night, my husband and 00:38:00 I were dancing in the kitchen to Bruce Springsteen.

So I’ll leave you with that thought. And we were so lost in the moment. It was just. Fab. My 12-year-old kind of came and looked. He was standing in the doorway and sort of, Oh my goodness, what are you doing? 

It does’nt matter. Uh, you know, it’s, it’s, we have that childlike quality. We’re not childish. We, we have that childlike curiosity and we just want to enjoy life. And having been through such adversity that is fantastic, that I can now enjoy life to the full. And try and do anything that I want to, and I can put my mind to, and you can too.

Tesse: You know, it reminds me of something, a sign I saw in Bass Station when I was going away for a little break. And it says a 20-minute conversation with someone I’d never met, lifted a fog. 00:39:00 And it was signed by a guy called Steve. And everything you said is about hope. It’s about optimism. It’s about believing that you can do it and having people to. come alongside that. Now Paula has asked, you know, any last thoughts. But I still have one last question.

Lisa: Ok, ok.

Tesse: For our listeners.  Is there any gift or anything that people listening in can be given by you that would be useful for them? 

Lisa: There are things that I do every day and one of them is positive affirmation and yes, you can use somebody else’s to get you started.

But when you kind of carry on doing it, you start to realize it needs to be for you. So there are things like I used to say, and I still do all of life, comes to me with ease, joy, and glory, which is something that I was taught by Access Consciousness. And if you want to kind of look that up, 00:40:00 there are an amazing set of tools there.

All of life comes to me with ease, joy, and glory. So I used to say that to myself every morning, as many times as possible as many times as I could remember through the day and end on that positive thought as well. The more you can think positive, you will be positive. And the more you think low and depressive thoughts. That’s where you be.

You know, your whole being follows your thought pattern. So the more you can fill your mind with positive things, laughing, dancing, something that raises you up. And it doesn’t have to be, as we said, it can be something within you. It could be it matter what it is. If it raises you up, you’re in a much better place.

It’s hope it’s. It’s great. Oh, I tell you, what I will say is for many years, my mantra was: “What doesn’t kill you 00:41:00 makes you stronger.”  So I’ll leave you with that. 

Paula: So I’m going to wrap up, well, this podcast, make sure you head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, or anywhere else, where you listen to podcasts.

And click subscribe. If you like what you’ve heard, please write us a raving review. If you have questions or topics you would love us to cover related to leadership and governance on TesseTalks, send us a note. Remember it can be personal as well as professional. And if you want to be a guest on TesseTalks, head over to tessy@paki.com/TesseTalks,

to apply. 

Thank you to our wonderful listeners. And of course, a big thank you to Lisa Richards for all that she has taught us today and shared with us today. Thank you, Lisa. 

00:42:00 Lisa: Thank you. Thank you, Paula. Thank you, Tesse. And thank you listeners for having me on the show today. I’ve enjoyed it so much and I hope I’ve given you some hope and things to take away. So thank you.

Why TesseLeads


for TesseLeads Launches

Paula: 00:00:00 Hi everyone, today I am with Tesse Akpeki, Tesse , and I co-host TesseTalks and now we decided to launch another podcast called Tesse Leads and Tesse, you came up with this idea. So today, as we launched Tesse Leads , I’m going to throw that question on her and say, Tesse what were you thinking about when you decided that we should have something in addition to TesseTalks  was so why TesseLeads in other wordsa?

Tesse: 00:00:34 Yeah. Thank you very much, Paula, first and foremost, I want to say a big thank you for the way that people have supported TesseTalks  and continue to support TesseTalks when we launched TesseTalks. I actually thought, you know, if we get like 50 people who tune in to the launch and listen, that was enough for me because it’s not about numbers, it’s about what it could do.

And we ended up having almost 3000 views of the launch and people tuning in and I was blown away by that. And the comments and the way it is. And so I want to thank people who listen in, who tune in, who tell their friends. Now quite a bit has happened since then. It’s more to do with how our lives can change and how we need to find a place to tell our stories, how we need to listen to the experiences of other people and know that we’re not alone.

How we need to navigate a world which keeps on changing sometimes at pace and how we need to be able to explore our opportunities and create different things, but also to encounter and live alongside our adversities and things that don’t go right. Places where we fail ,places, where we struggle and life is both the things that work for us and it’s also the things that don’t work for us.

It’s about our gains as well as our losses and TesseLeads  is about that place of telling our stories, of sharing our stories. Of hearing about the experiences of others, of sharing our own experiences. And it’s meant to be that place where we can create and shape our opportunities as well as to be supported at times when we need it most.

And my thinking behind this was that that space that we create is an authentic place to be vulnerable and creative place to think and a soft place to fall. Does  any of that make sense to you, Paula? Or is it just something that you think? Actually, I need to ask more questions and explore a bit more.

Paula: 00:03:37 It makes sense. It makes sense in that you’re talking about life, you’re talking about which being a place, which is different from TesseTalks. And I’m sorry, I’m making reference to the that, the host and the cohost are exactly the same two people. But what you’re essentially saying is that TesseLeads is a place for stories, stories about life and how raw life is.

And caring how people got over these things that happen. Some planned and some not planned and some random and some not random, but they happened. So this is supposed to be, uh, Safe place for leaders, influencers people wherever you may be to come and tell your story because it’s real. That’s my understanding.

Tesse: 00:04:38 Absolutely. I’m glad that that’s your understanding, cause that’s my understanding as well. And you would say why TesseLeads? And I say, because. I have to lead myself first, before I can think of leading others. In many ways I can role model what leadership means to me and live as authentically and vulnerably as I can.

And until I do that work from the place of reality and from the place of vulnerability, I will be really fake in kind of leading other people I’ve got to lead myself first. And I think if being in the, um, environment, which is professional, personal leadership has taught me anything. It’s that the only person who I can change is myself and the only place where authentic leadership can come from this from me and over the years, what I’ve learned is that my progression.

And my growth is from the inside out, rather from the outside in and yet over the years often when I’ve looked at indicators for success, I have to confess that my indicators have usually been extrinsic. So outside of me, rather than inside of me and what I’m learning now every day, is that the measures and indicators for success of testing need to be for insights.

And that intrinsic thing is still important because that’s what makes me real. And then I can have external measures, but that would not be what defines me. And so testing leads is about creating that same space with you my wonderful cohost for other people, as well as for ourselves.

Paula: 00:06:32 I think that says it all.

So what would we say people are going to get out of this?

Tesse: 00:06:38 Well, this is a really good question about what people get out of it. And I hope that they do, and they make it other things and let us know as well. But as I had this kind of thought around testing leads, I had a conversation with my brother, Anthony Paul Akpeki, and Anthony said to me, sister Tess, because that’s what he calls me.

He said,” No matter how bad our experiences are no matter how painful they are, there are people who have been through worse and we can benefit by hearing those experiences that other people have. And even if it’s not worse, it’s could be similar or the same. And we know that we’re not alone because nobody has been through that before.

And he said “sister tests. I think we should create a place for people to tell their story, to tell their stories about their precious lives, to tell their stories that will help them to feel supported and encouraged and nurtured, to tell their precious stories in a way that they will feel that they’re never alone because he says whatever happens.

Tesse: 00:07:53 No matter what we’re going through. They’re never known whether the things that we’re celebrating or whether the things that we are mourning or whether the things that we’re gaining or whether the things that we’re losing, we are never alone. And that was what Anthony said to me. What I didn’t realize at the time was that was going to be my last conversation with my brother and my brother, Tony was killed tragically in a hit and run accident four days after that conversation.

And what I benefited from listening to Tony’s very wise words was his encouragement and his supportive voice that nobody is ever alone and tanning our precious stories and sharing our own experiences are ways that we can support ourselves and the ways that we can support others.

So I hope that by tuning into TesseLeads, that people will be able to feel the support of others. And they’ll be able to support themselves as they give themselves the place where adversity  can become gifts and where they can feel happy in what they are gaining. Through things that are working for them and where they can feel that they have a purpose and a meaning.

Their purpose matters. We all have a purpose. And when we realized that many times it gives meaning to our stories and our meaning to things that have happened in our lives. Because sometimes it’s nothing else, but other ban make others understand that they’re not alone.

And Paula might have gone through this test. He might have gone through this, but through that, they have grown they’ve matured and they can help. And so I guess that wraps up our launch TesseLeads in which we are able to share with you, our amazing listeners, why we are doing this, how it came about, and we encourage you to listen in to the wonderful people that we are going to be bringing on, to share their stories the good times and not so good times and the bad times.

Because that’s life and that’s what happens to each and every one of us. So with that, I am going to close out to our amazing listeners. We want you to know that your precious lives and your precious stories matter. Please share them with us so that you can feel supported and so that others are supported as well as encouraged and nurtured and never feel alone.

Please make sure you head over to Apple podcast, Google podcast, Spotify, or anywhere where you listen to podcasts. And please click subscribe. If you find testing leads helpful. Please let us that is Tessie and Paula know about this and your reviews. If you have any questions or topics you would like us to cover, please send us a note.

And if you would like to be a guest on our show, TesseLeads. Please head over to www.tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads to apply.