A journey is more than just A to Z; every part is connected.
Have you watched, noticed, tripped up and learned for years about what makes people successful at engaging with people at work? I know I have and – often by my own mistakes along the way – I’ve also learned what really gets up most people’s noses and slows you right down. And I mean right down.
My own corporate career journey has had twists and turns, bumps in the road and fast-lane style successes all in equal measures. And it still does!
Lily Tomlin the Hollywood actress said “The road to success is always under construction”. I truly believe that too. It’s always possible to change direction or tweak it at least and find so much opens up for you. You have to stay open to it though. That’s the key.
Starting Way Forward Solutions Ltd really began with a crappy conversation – one of those ones you have in your head. You have a crappy conversation in your head and boom, your results and responses reflect that sort of conversation. So how I got to where I am today came from a crappy conversation with my Boss at the time. A conversation which proved to be the catalyst for me to step off the corporate ladder, take a HUGE leap of faith and grow my own multiple-6 figure businesses by helping other professional women, just like me and just like you, to get ahead in their careers. If I can short-circuit some of the twists and turns for you with my own lessons, that’s a bonus too.
From Crappy Conversation to Catalyst
With my own corporate career of global insurance broking at Willis spanning more than 25 years, I got to a point where I know a lot of my clients find themselves. Stuck. Stuck, frustrated, confused, undervalued and fed up. Feeling like you’ve hit a wall and not sure which way to turn.
Back then, I realised what had got me where I was wasn’t going to get me to where I wanted to go. The salary, the car, a flat in London with a big mortgage, a relationship that looked OK from the outside, but wasn’t really a fit for me anymore. Just like my career.
It all looked dynamic and glitzy – travelling business class around the world, working and negotiating business in Paris, smart, expensive holidays, nice things and I suddenly thought “hang on where am I going with all this?” I was 37 and I could see looming ahead of me the day when I would be sitting in that same seat, at my desk with a balloon hanging off the back of my chair saying ‘Happy 40th Birthday’. “No – can’t do it” was all I could say to myself. Maybe you can relate to this too?
The whole way of working my way up to Director-level having started as a Secretary was all about making strong connections quickly, about helping people to help me with what I wanted, enabling people to do things for me in a way that meant they wanted to as opposed to me telling them to. It’s a gift to know how to do this but back then, I just thought “it’s what I do”. I didn’t value it, you see.
People would often tell me I had a friendly and yet authoritative air about me. In fact, when I was promoted to Director a number of people said “Oh Kay, I thought you already were a Director”. There was a clue in there for me about how I carry myself, put myself across, connect with people and still have their respect. There are key influential ways of doing that and that’s what I am so crystal clear about now – that’s a big piece of what I share with my clients and audiences. I just didn’t know about it so clearly back then.
The skills I knew I had were about crafting powerful presentations, sales letters, broking to underwriters (which is selling by another name) all using words, energy, give-and-take and all this combined with my passion for connecting with people and building relationships.
Then came the catalyst. I could feel my energy and drive was slowly being sucked out of me. I just didn’t know what I was going to do about it. I was bored, frustrated and stuck. I don’t know about you but when I get bored and frustrated, I become disruptive and, well, stroppy. Not really very smart or strategic to stay like that for long.
So what I did next was the real learning and it was a “last” for me. With no plan, no questions in mind, no offer, no positioning or owning the real value of what I was doing, I went to see my Boss and all I had prepared to say was “I want out, I’ve had enough” on the tip of my tongue.
A Big Mistake and a Lesson Learned
So I walked in to his office and I flopped in front of him and said “I can’t do this anymore. I’m stuck and bored. I’ve done one renewal season too many. I don’t know what I want to do – I just can’t see my way out of it” and stopped. He looked at me and here’s the BIG lesson – he said something along the lines of “You’re going to have to help me out Kay, because if you don’t know what you want to do, how am I supposed to know what you want to do?”
I had a kind of petulant, despairing attitude, which made me look and sound like an amateur, certainly not a professional business woman. I knew better but hey, that’s what I did. Never again. I handed over all my power in that moment. With the best will in the world, the only career prospects and next moves he was really interested in were his own, not mine.
Now I’d have a very different type of conversation. Now I’d have a conversation which opened more doors to other opportunities. Better opportunities. Now I show ambitious career women how to do exactly that so they’re valued and heard.
- How to position yourself, your skills, your passion and the value you offer (very different from just ‘what I do’)
- How to be seen, heard, noticed, promoted and rewarded as you inspire your colleagues, your clients and your customers << hint. That’s where all the rewards are to be found – salary increases, bonuses, interesting projects, promotions, opportunities. You need to be on the radar!
- How to skillfully position your experience, what it is you want as well as what the other person or people want –
- and then sprinkle in compelling, sparkly words and influential, persuasive language and phrases which hook – and keep – attention. It’s the difference that makes the difference.
(Oh – and the Bonus to all this – what I share works just as well at home with other halves and family and friends. Get your point across and be heard at home too.)
As I said, that crappy conversation led to my resignation from my corporate career and was the first step towards starting up the first of my own businesses Way Forward Solutions Ltd.
What Happened Next and Why
Combining over 25 years of corporate experience with hundreds of hours of client case studies and thousands of £££/$$$ of investment in continual studies and training I now love what I do and a big part of that is because I know I’ve learned I’m really good at it! When you love what you do it doesn’t really feel like work in the traditional sense.
I’ve lost count of how many of my clients quickly become promoted, attract new opportunities and go for them and get appointed, who receive bonuses and pay increases during and after our work together. It’s like I’m a secret power supply, one I know I wish I’d had myself during my own corporate career.
What I show women is often described as ‘Jedi’ because the power is in the subtlety and the effect it has. It’s less about telling people what you want to say and much more about working out what people need to hear from you – BIG difference! So now I work with ambitious professional women, worldwide, showing them the steps, the ways, the words – both to use and to avoid – to express themselves and in a style comfortable for them – these ways which persuade, compel and influence people into action.
And here’s the thing. I actually show women how to show up and sparkle. Not just the words but the actual way you present yourself – including the ‘bling’ and how you use it to boost your confidence and credibility. Personal energy, dynamism, staying feminine AND being authoritative at the same time.
Are these on your ‘To Do’ List? These are some of the exact sorts of outcomes women come to me for when we start our work together.
For example, do you want to:
- Be seen and noticed (for the right reasons) and add some true, personalised colour and sparkle to what you say and what you wear too?
- Assert yourself and be heard (because you’ll discover how to capture attention, keep it and really ‘land’ your message)?
- Get appointed and promoted (because you’ll understand how to position your skills and own your value and go for what you’re worth)?
- Be rewarded fairly (because you’ll become an influential, valuable asset to your company and clients and you’ll make it easy to see)?
- Say what needs to be said — even if it’s difficult (especially if it’s difficult) so you don’t get thrown by everyday issues as they come up?
- Connect with people easily and effortlessly and build relationships — even if you’re shy or feel horrified at the idea of ’networking’ (then know how to disconnect and move on when you’re ready)?
Drawing on the experience of working for and with people who have had great influence on me, some for the good – some not good at all but I take the lessons and share them – I’ve distinguished the pieces which really work and WHY they work (and the ones which, quite frankly, really piss people off). Yup, I did say that, in writing and on my website. They do though and they make things all the more difficult for you if you’re doing them.
I developed a 7-step LINKING-your-Thinking™ system which is woven throughout everything I do for my clients.
“When are you going to write this stuff down Kay?”
Clients, friends, family have all said to me for years “when are you going to write a book Kay?” and “when are you going to write some of this stuff down?” or “you should write a book you know”. Hmmm. So, I dared myself and did. I wrote “The A to Z of Being Understood”.
I’ve made it easy for you to take on and learn the secrets, tools and strategies I’ve been showing my clients for years and I’ve written them in a way that makes them simple to use straight away by mapping out the key steps, from A to Z. The principles and the steps to you becoming a more savvy, influential communicator will be a game-changer for you – I want you to have these clearly-marked short-cuts and not go ‘the long way around’ like so many professionals do.
From an idea I had flying on a plane to a published book in less than 6 months, my style in “The A to Z of Being Understood” has been described as “fierce and inspirational”. I write very much like I’m speaking to you and the book is intended to inspire you and pave the way for you to be heard, to get your point across quickly, effectively and persuasively.
Stop having “crappy” conversations and start having conversations which count and get you valued and heard. It’s one of the most frustrating things to feel like you’re ‘on mute’ or being ‘tuned out’. Become a persuasive, assertive and influential business woman (assertive, never bossy) and then notice your confidence grow, your income grow and start to attract opportunities to you like a magnet. By the way, if not now, when?
What about private, downtime?
Married for 12 years to Snowy who I describe as ‘my invisible handrail and life-long case study’, we live with our 3 rescue hounds in the countryside. We still live close enough to London for when we want to have a bit of ‘bright lights, big City’.
We enjoy hanging out together whilst trudging, whatever the weather, with our 3 rescue hounds – Bolly, Pharaoh and DeeDee – and we both love waterskiing too, fast and furious (although in warmer waters than we have here in England, when we can!)
One of the quotes which drives me and shapes my business and life is this one by a true misunderstood maverick, Oscar Wilde.