Why Relationships Matter

Desiree Anderson - Why Relationships Matter

Relationships matter to Desire Anderson because as a young recruit Desiree was exposed to fantastic pieces of work where she helped with diversity and equity programmes and leadership development.  She was inspired by Nelson Mandela who having been released took the whole quality of forgiveness, collaboration and diversity to a different level.  She mirrored this devotion by implementing practices not only in society as a whole, but in organisations. . 

Forging new relationships and connections with people became part of her DNA, and part of her superpower.  She possessed a strong set of habits that worked for her.   However, with years of extreme hard work, Desiree did not focus on herself.  She was excellent at caring for other people, helping them shine and putting those people first.  She didn’t always look after myself and put herself first. It came as no surprise that she had to go through the experience of burnout and utter exhaustion.

So began her personal journey to positive health, mental health,  having healthy boundaries and self-compassion towards herself. .  She is now much more efficient and better at what she does. She is more real and recognizes and embraces her own unique flaws.

In the deepest, toughest moment came the recognition  of her purpose.  Her main one was connection with people

“I brought that superpower of mine to bear in that situation and that to me was almost a high as well because what I realized is that one of the things that means something to me is loyalty and even if something is tough “

Desiree Anderson

Desiree loves learning and learning about different facets.  She is determined to keep knowing and growing with focus on self fulfilment and enrichment.  

Listening to Desiree we were struck to realise that the best relationship we can have is with ourselves. Self knowledge,  self awareness  and self compassion helps us to join with others and work together with them as a force for good. 


00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “Tesseleads” with your host, Tesse Apeki and co-host, Paula Okonneh. “Tesseleads” is a safe, sensitive and supportive place and space where you can share, where you will hear and you can tell your stories and experiences. You will also hear how top executives and thought leaders are creating opportunities, navigating the first range of challenges and confronting their dilemmas while shaping their futures. Today, our guest is Desiree Anderson. Desiree is a qualified executive coach and mentor. She worked in corporate as a successful HR consultant before qualifying as an executive coach at the university of Bristol and setting up crest, coaching and HR in 2020. She helps others find their purpose in life find their purpose in work and specializes in business relationships and burnout. Having herself experience a variety of corporate environments both in the UK and abroad and haven’t experienced burnout, she is passionate about helping customers ride the crest of working life and reaching the unique potential with wellbeing and happiness. She helps clients through one-on-one coaching, through workshops as well as group coaching sessions and her clients are entrepreneurs, business leaders and their teams as well as those in career transition. Desiree lives in Guilford and spends time with her family walking in the forest, near her home, doing yoga and immersing herself in her passion of life long learning and we will be talking about why relationships matter through her personal lens. Welcome, Desiree to “Tesseleads” thank you.
00:02:22 Tesse: Welcome Desiree, yeah, and this is the time when you, we want to hear all the highs and the lows of your personal story that’s why it’s relationships and your personal take on it so I’m going to just jump in right now because I’m curious, you know, I’m hearing from your bio being read that you experienced burnout yourself, you experienced stress tell us what was that journey like?
00:02:48 Desiree: Yes, so my personal journey of burnout was because for a lifetime in my career, no, for the 25 years I’ve been in the Korean, I focused on getting ahead I’m a lifelong learners so I’ve got multiple qualifications but I never really even though I was in the field of human resources, I never really focused on myself I’m very much a person who’s very caring of others and I put those people first and I also love to help others shine and so what I’ve found as the years passed is that I became almost like an instrument for the company because I was quite good with connecting with others, mainly because when I was a kid, we moved around a lot my dad was in retail and so I constantly had to finish the school yeah, join a new school and make new relationships, I think forging new relationships and connections with people became part of my DNA, which was a good thing and I reckon it’s part of my superpower but in, so doing, I didn’t always look after myself and put myself first and so I had to go through the experience of burnout which came about when I was looking after very, very huge international project and as a consultant, I think my boss recognized that I was obviously talented and just started piling more and more work on me probably three or four people’s work and because I’m so diligent and loyal, I didn’t want to, now I would say straight folk, I can’t do that let’s get in more resources, this is what I would recommend but at the time I simply saw myself as a worker doing a job and that I had to fulfill that at all costs only to find that I got more and more exhausted being in the top corporate office at 9, 10, 11 o’clock at night and being back there at 7:00 AM because this huge project was merger and required a monumentous Herculean effort, which I got right but at my own cost of massive burnout and ill health as a result of that burnout and so I speak as an advocate of self-compassion and also mental health in the sense that I’ve been there, I understand the pressures in the workplace and how people feel that they have to perform and that they don’t really feel that they can put themselves first and I say to everybody, I’ve experienced that let’s help you with some practical strategies, which I then had to through my personal journey and other that formula on the road back to positive health, mental health and actually having healthy boundaries and self compassion towards myself and I reckon now I’m much more efficient and better at what I do because I’m more real and I recognize my own unique flaws and I embrace them and I’m quite happy about, so, yes, I think that is a journey that I can help people on very well because i’ve been there.
00:06:06 Tesse: So at what point did you think I’m burnt out? When was it that the light bulb went on and you said, I’m not functioning well, I’m not here. Was there a particular moment in time that something happened that triggered your acknowledgement of work? What was happening with you or to you?
00:06:24 Desiree: I think it was that moment when the cleaning company came in to the corporate office and there were about two and a half thousand people that worked in this office and I reckon I was probably the only one left there and it there was various deadlines that I felt at the time I had to meet and I remember standing on a London train platform It was quite dark but waiting for a train to come because they were more irregular at that time at night and thinking, how do I get back to my home, which was an hour and a half away and then still back at certain time although I did work flexible hours still, I had to appear in the office by a certain window I think it was about 9, 10 and I was just thinking wow, I’m not going to have much sleep and so I had to almost get to that point of just feeling utterly exhausted where it was either I say something and I stopped that or I plunged myself into really bad situation that I wouldn’t be able to come back from.
00:07:27 Tesse: I hear what you say because it seems that that was that kind of a recap moment, kind of like dark lit at night, dreading what’s next? How am I going to get rest? How am I going to go home? But I’m going to segue a bit back because you reached the top of your game in a conglomerate you know, very senior position. How did your career move in that direction? What were the steps that took you to that place where you were so senior in the role that you had.
00:07:56 Desiree: Yeah, so as you can probably hear, I started off my career in South Africa and there, I got some excellent experience because when I first studied in HR and in the first few years of my work in human resources, we had a huge transformation in South Africa with Mandela having been released and him taking the whole quality of forgiveness and collaboration and diversity and implementing that not only in society but within organizations so as quite a young recruit, new recruit, I was exposed to a fantastic piece of work where I helped with diversity and equity programs and leadership development within the organization and I think that really helped cut my experience at the coalface real life experience and I also helped in one of my first jobs as a welfare officer so I used to go and listen to people’s problems which seemed so unreal now because if I look back what experience that I have in comparison to what the people I was dealing with but I was the person that they came to listen to and so I developed those communication skills and as I said Tesse, from my childhood and then I worked for a number of different industries within South Africa, investment banking and retail working across the country into quite a senior divisional HR role where I firstly, had a team of people trainers and the HR specialists reporting to me and then I moved over to the UK about 22 years ago and then started as an HR professional and again, retail and then manufacturing which gave me such brilliant experience because of course I dealt with unions and dealt with slowdowns and strikes. I had to deal with relapsed strikes so I had to really understand how to get through to people even in a very high conflict environment and so I wasn’t one of these sort of people that were just in an office, in an ivory tower, I’ve always been somebody who’s been outfit, earning my skills, having to help people connect with their workplaces and get better about their relationships so that they could move on especially when we had such a high volatile situation in the manufacturing and that’s why often number of years experience in a variety of organizations having been and in digital, having been in manufacturing, banking, all these different retail sectors, I felt that it was a good idea to become a consultant and I’ve always felt that one of the things I could do best was become part of a culture, I’ve always felt become part of the culture then you can influence from within and that is how I managed to get myself into different environments and in, so doing pivot myself, not too much just through title but seniority, earnings, and responsibilities within my consultancy role which is something now that I’ve opened my own business for a couple of years now. It’s fantastic because I can deal with people anywhere, everywhere, and relate to what they’re going through.
00:11:09 Desiree: Wow, become part of the culture, paula, you’ve been silent. I’m sharing Desiree with you right now.
00:11:18 Paula: I’m silent because I’m listening and some of the things she said, like, because her family moved so much when she was young she put herself on the back burner and try to fit in, in other words, instead of putting herself forward. I can relate to that because I have lived in five countries and I knew what it was to you know, get to a new country and have to adjust and try and understand the culture, et cetera and I was mesmerized by how you have been able to do that from a professional standpoint but I was wondering what has been your highs and your lows in life in general? I mean, this is more about your personal story, as I said, I’m mesmerized, I’m bowled over, I’m intrigued by everything you’ve said I’m also interested in your personal side too, your highs and your lows.
00:12:05 Desiree: Yes, I think lows definitely were in my first few years in HR seeing such an amazing transformation but also having to deal with people’s real lives and suffering and how to then help them be included in the work place but in a way that wasn’t just a token aspect. That was really heart-wrenching as a person who not really understood it much as a kid but then all of a sudden was a professional in the workplace and it had to really come to grips with a massive change in society. So I’d say that was a low but also a very big learning and a big opportunity and then taking the decision to come and live in the UK at the time, it felt so adventurous, felt such a exciting thing to do but having to say goodbye to all of my family and then seeing my mother just crying and saying but when am I going to see you and getting on that plane and arriving, yeah and I know that my grandfather came from here and I almost felt that I was the first one to come back because they were involved in the south African diamond mines and he was a lawyer so that’s how this family sort of got to live in South Africa so I did feel it was part of my legacy to come back but starting from scratch and then I had to restudy because I got an honors degree at the university of Cape town in HR but I was told that because I didn’t have the employment lawyer experience I had to re-study so I’ve been, read through my studies again and got a master’s in HR so that was a thing but what was so interesting for me and one of my biggest lows but also became a high was I remember walking around this retail outfit that I was in for about seven years and in South Africa it’s quite professional in HR and it’s still quite hierarchical but in the UK I felt that I had to become more of myself and I remember walking around and one of the people’s will say to me, connect with me as an individual. No, I don’t want to know that you’ve got this office upstairs, how are you? What are your hobbies? Tell me a bit about yourself and so I became a real, I think at that moment I opened up and yeah, Paula so in terms of my highs and lows, my highs were definitely studying again being able to get into some really good companies, being able to connect with people in those companies and forge ahead, the lows in my personal life were losing two very, very close friends of mine, one of which I was with when they died so their family couldn’t be with them for various reasons and they then asked me to be with my friend and it was quite incredible because I’ve been as friends, HR manager and here I was with this individual and I realized in that moment, that part of my purpose is connection with people so in that deepest moment, of that toughest moment, I brought that superpower of mine to bear in that situation and that to me was almost a high as well because what I realized is that one of the things that means something to me is loyalty and even if something is tough, same as in the workplace, I’ll get in there because it’s not always about choosing the easy path this is about learning about yourself those things that really trigger you, that those things have really mean something to you working through those no matter how hard they are and coming up the other side so years later, you know, I do see my family I haven’t seen them now some of my close family for two-and-a-half years because obviously I can’t travel there so that’s a personal challenge but what it has taught me living in the UK and, and working with such a lot of companies around the world and at one stage, I also worked for an American company from the UK and traveled over to the US is just that we roll same really in the workplaces and it is about connecting our values, connecting our purpose, basic respect and giving people meaningful jobs so that would be my take on my ups and downs.
00:16:33 Tesse: Wow, I relate to your story and as I listened to you Desiree, I’m wondering, you know, from that moment on the platform, when it was quite a personal thing for you, how you managed to chunk it up and now have this chanel this bigger upscale direction to helping burnout and stress and others because that’s a more kind of others’ perspective. How did you move in this chunking up? What was that experience like?
00:17:06 Desiree: Yes, so in terms of opening my own business and deciding what area to focus on, I think what I wanted to do is not just open another business but actually have a way of helping people with the things that people don’t want to talk about those things that sometimes we don’t want to admit to ourselves but those are the things that really limit us in our lives and cause things like self-sabotage burnout but not only that to satisfaction and unhappiness and people could go through their whole life and never really reach their full potential and so I realized that I had a gift in a way of compassion, real compassion and that I could use that together with the skills that I’ve heard in multiple industries and the qualifications that I’ve got to really give people not only that compassionate listening ear and be a different sort of an HR person with a coaching to nurture them in an environment but to discuss and help them with strategies for those tasks things because life and business is tuff and it’s no use cotton willing ourselves because when you go out there, sometimes you have to make those tough decisions.
00:18:18 Tesse: I really, really like that and one of the reasons why I liked that is that you’ve alluded to the tension between being caring, be compassionate, holding people with that kind of love and care and also holding people to account so it’s what Dr. Nate regale would call Compassion’s accountability and that is such a rich concept, particularly for now where we are now in this emergence of what’s happening now, Paula, what thoughts are coming to you?
00:18:54 Paula: As I told you, I’m just bowled over this may tell ,to her your gift, as you said, has come into play in your work life helping people cope with themselves with real compassion that’s you, I was going to ask you, even though it’s a gift then you have applied it to the workplace. How have you used that same thing to get a better relationship with yourself? That’s one part of the question and how would you encourage other people to have that same relationship in their own way with themselves? So that’s not what the first one.
00:19:33 Desiree: Yes, so I think it’s a lifelong journey, isn’t it? I’m a working progress and every time I feel that I’ve learned more about myself and that there’s no way to go I then realize how much I still have but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to congratulate myself or for myself, for the things, the simple things in life that bring joy so I think how I’ve ,to answered your question about how I’ve gone on that journey for myself is to accept myself for myself not trying to be good at everything but actually be able to admit when I need help has been a big thing so not to put such a big expectation on myself always because that can lead to burnout and mental health issues, if we feel we have to be all things to everybody so these days, if I feel myself getting stressed about not knowing something like a while back, it was, I needed to install MailChimp, for instance, I’m just thinking of an example and I was like, I don’t know how to do that, you know what I’m going to get help and I think this is the same as leaders in organizations and in your personal life is you’ve got such a rich myriad of people around you with different skills and talents, tap into that and in so doing to help others feel good because people like to help each other. I think also having a healthy set of habits that work for me, I’m not a big gym person but I do find I get very energized by nature. Just simple walks in nature for me work so what I’d say to anybody is find what works for you. I also find my lifelong learning now is no longer about imposter, which I think at one stage it definitely was, it was, I was never good enough, you know, I had to keep knowing and growing, I’ve got degrees as long as my arm and longer but now these days I do it for self-fulfillment and enrichment because I just love learning I’m learning about all different facets, not just HR but actually about myself, about perhaps things travel, et cetera, that I wouldn’t afford narrowly learned but I allow myself to open my mind up so that I become more of a rounded person and I think forcefully in terms of my own discovery about my myself is just learning to have that voice in my head which almost sometimes seems to me, cause I went to boarding school and we had these very strict matrons at boarding school and they would monitor our every move and we had to study all the time and we had to wake up at a certain time and I sometimes find I’m that person so I talk to myself sometimes like that person and I’m like, no, Desiree, have the kinder self-compassionate person inside and recognize how you actually talk to yourself and that goes for leaders as well so that’s me personally, I find, if I’m a little bit more self-compassionate it helps me grounded.
00:22:34 Tesse: I’m really listening in and I’m feeling, oh my God, I’m just welling up in a good way cause last year I was, I went to a webinar and it was run by young persons, it was actually organized by gap I had all these young people there and this young person was saying ,ask yourself the question, when you hear the voice in your head, would you talk to your friend like that? Would you talk to your sister like that, but you cannot talk to your friend like that or your sister or your brother like that, why are you talking to yourself? I got think about it mate think about it and I thought from the mouth of bibs comes wisdom and it’s kind of like, oops and there was, anti-testing like, you know, in this gap workshop thinking, oh, I know that I talked to myself critically, I have to show myself more self-compassion you know and you’ve really touched something there Paula, what do you think about that? I mean, maybe you haven’t talked to yourself in a way that is not, you know, off.
00:23:37 Paula: But you know what both of you saying it’s so true, you know trash talk and somebody used to call it, you know, garbage thoughts in your head, you know oh, we could have done better but I like what both of you said Desiree about, you know, self-compassion, don’t over extend yourself or you know, don’t beat yourself up ,you’re human and but tesse said what she learned from that workshop. Would you speak to your brother like that? Would you speak to your friend like that? Then why speak to yourself like that? You know yeah, self love that’s, that’s something that we all need to remember at all times and we never really learned, you know, I mean, we never there, we have to remind ourselves daily but I’m looking at the time and I know all good things have to come to an end and I was wondering, is this anything else you want to talk about, any other nuggets that you can share with our listeners Desiree?
00:24:36 Desiree: Yes, I think firstly, just to say,life is a journey and no matter what age we are, whatever gender we are, we may think slightly differently because of our experiences but if we analyze, even if we did it, put it on a graph or in terms of the journal and we’ve thought about our life experiences and our timelines and did a bit of a graphic impression really of how our lives have been over a particular period of time. What were the key pivotal points? What were the themes in our life and our journey and how did we feel at those moments? And see if you can identify any patterns in your life, any ways that you’ve become stuck, any, any records that keep repeating themselves, the things that bring you joy and the things that don’t and that’s the first step I think, however you do that, as I said it in the form of a journal or a graph and then once you start analyzing that you can say to yourself, okay, I now know the patterns I can start to work on certain aspects of those in my life and then I think you always need to think about the avatar of confidence so when was it time that you were confident and really think back on when was the time you really felt fulfilled in your life picture that I’m a great believer in visualization and manifestation so really, really hone in on that time, that feeling and if you are that CEO that’s in a boardroom or if you are that youngster that really is worried about the job interview or somebody who leads a team, who’s just so overwhelmed by the way things are turning out in organizations now and the changes think about and keep plugging back to times and feelings of when you were confident and in that way it helps you brain out of their sight and also unfreezes this limiting beliefs so it is a constant journey but I encourage you to try practical strategies to try and shift your mindset at these difficult times.
00:26:50 Tesse: That is so excellent. I went to a workshop yesterday run by Bina Sharma. She’s the precedent of the vertical development age academy and one of the things, I took away, many things, but one of the things I took away which feeds into what you have shared is that we all go through different stages of development and a lot of attention is paid to like technical skills but there’s a thing about our human skills and our human journeys and experiences and she raised a question that we could use for reflection which is, how am I different today in me being and what I’m doing from how I was 10 years ago or 20 years ago or 5 years ago and to celebrate the difference and actually to feed into that love and self compassion and it plays for celebration and I’d never thought of it in that way like sometimes we’re beating ourselves up about all this is what that kind of advancement of ourselves in that not just learning way but in that kind of isolate break me and it, without ego, you call it echo, eco, you know, and actually I celebrate my mates and people so I celebrate you Desiree, I celebrate Paula because you’re all part of that development of Tesse in a way that I can add value or have purpose or meaning in the world does that resonate at all?
00:28:20 Desiree: Absolutely, I think it is all about focusing on our learnings and that it is a journey and then connecting with our purpose and making a difference and everybody creates a slight reckoning and in, so doing will create that wave of compassion, change and control development that’s so needed both on a personal level and in the business world.
00:28:48 Tesse: Paula, hi
00:28:49 Paula: yes
00:28:50 Tesse: I’m not moved.
00:28:52 Paula: I love this about life patterns and looking back to the times in your life when things were going right and replicating them and so we won’t keep all of this to ourselves, we’ve told our less than they’ve heard you rather but where can they find you online if they want to know more about you?
00:29:13 Desiree: Yeah, so my company is crest ,coaching and HR because as you heard at the beginning, I offer one to one week coaching and facilitation and consultant in HR as well and so you could head over to crest coaching and hr.com and if you’d like to download a free ebook, you’re very welcome to as well and that’s called burnout too brilliance, it does contain some of the exercises I’ve spoken about yet tonight but more in depth to help those people that like to have practical exercises to really get stuck into some self-reflection and it’s something for everybody so the analytical people, the visual people and the people that like to actually have a tangible resource, I’m hoping that it will help and then I’m Desiree Anderson on LinkedIn so please connect with me I’d love to speak to you further and reach out if you need me.
00:30:08 Paula: Thank you so much Desiree and now to our listeners, we want you to know that just as you heard from Desiree, your precious stories and your lives matter, please share them with us like she has. We encourage people to talk about their stories so that they can feel supported, encouraged and nutured when they listen to “Tesseleads” and please head over to apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify or anywhere else you listen to podcasts and click subscribe. If you find “Tesseleads” helpful, please let us know in your reviews 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 “Tesseleads” head over to tesseakpeki.com/tesseleads to apply. Desiree, Thank you again for being a guest on “Tesseleads” .
00:31:15 Desiree: Pleasure
00:31:16 Tesse: yeah, you’ve actually just done all the soothing, no stress in my heart right now, no stress.
00:31:22 Desiree: I see that, I’m so pleased.