“We gain confidence by doing things. And that’s how we change our comfort zone - by stepping out of it.”
“I have my health and I have friends - some of whom have been very ill. That’s a big driver for me...to be in charge of my own destiny, doing work that I’ve chosen to do.”
Overview of earlier career
My background is in business project management and I worked at Microsoft for a large part of my career. I looked after teams in various parts of Asia and South America so did a lot of travel which I loved – such a great way to see the world!
The trigger for change?
After the kids came along I couldn’t do the travel, so I resigned and secured a job locally 2 days a week.
There was lots of change around this time. Becoming a mum had a huge impact on me and my own mum passed away in an accident when I was pregnant.
I had also hit my 40’s and felt this loss of identity and loss of confidence. I started to question what I wanted out of life too! Was I doing what I wanted to do? Had I achieved what I had set out to achieve etc?
I’d always been interested in women’s confidence and thought I’d write a book about it - so I did. And sent it to a publisher. They really liked the content but told me I needed a platform before they would consider publishing it.
I began to talk to lots of different women and realised lack of confidence affects so many of us. And I really wanted to do something about it!
Another trigger for change was the prospect of regret, later on in life. There were still so many things that I wanted to do and wanted to make sure that I actually did them!
These were all the drivers for me in setting up Woman Ready.
Working 2 days a week has given me the time to work on my other job - the platform I created (womanready) on the other days of the week and also be around for the kids.
I spent a little time each day in the beginning learning what I needed to know: How to set up a website, how to do social media, how to get a little PR...everything. I also trained and qualified as a coach through The Coaching Academy.
My end goal is to create a hugely successful platform and publish my book. In the meantime, I’m building Woman Ready and focussing on my coaching business. Our mission is to help women to recognise their potential, embrace who they are (as they are) and believe in themselves more.
What Lou learned
Don’t give up the day job!
That’s my biggest learning. Setting up Woman Ready has taken a lot of time and effort and initially you make little or no money.
I was in a position where I had to change jobs however if this hadn’t been the case, I would have tried to juggle my ‘paid work’ with my new business for longer.
Work-life balance is hard when you are juggling family, a job and a business.
When it’s your own business, it can become all-consuming. I could work 24hrs a day. I try to work in 30minute windows with regular stops. I then stop to pick up the kids from school and try to spend some quality time with them (but do sneak on my phone a bit!). It's a tough one to juggle!
Perfectionism is crippling
Luckily, I get better at not focussing on perfectionism the busier I get!
You need to be authentic. If I make a mistake - I just own up, say sorry and move on.
Nothing happens overnight.
Don’t get down-hearted when you’ve posted your first tweet and no one notices. It’ll happen but recognise that it just takes time and persistence.
Putting yourself out there is bloody hard but necessary.
In our heads, everything is worse thant it is in reality. I recently did my first panel discussion and of course I was nervous. But once I got going it was fine. I even enjoyed it!
It’s hard to have a career confidence and children.
Years ago before the kids arrived, I had a great job, travelled the world, led meetings, gave presentations and got really confident doing all of that. When I stopped doing those things, I lost confidence. My comfort zone shrank - temporarily.
Your comfort zone shrinks and enlarges all the time.
You can learn how to do anything, if you want to.
Before I created Woman Ready, I was not a techie and had no idea how to design a website. I didn’t know a thing about PR, had never written a blog post or published anything but now I work on all those things all the time. We gain confidence by doing things. And that’s how we change our comfort zone - by stepping out of it.
How it feels on the days Lou knows she has made the right decision?
Some days you have to just trust your own feelings. Some days, I just go with what I feel and do what feels right. That’s confidence and I’m getting more of it each day. Sadly, as women, I think we often look too much for approval from others.
I just have to keep telling myself that I’ve got forty eight years of life experience and twenty-five years of work experience!
I have my health and I have friends - some of whom have been very ill. That’s a big driver for me...to be in charge of my own destiny, doing work that I’ve chosen to do.
If someone had told me it would take me 4 years to get to where I am, would I do it all again?
Mmm, I don’t know. I’ve very stubborn (my husband calls me pig-headed!) but I’m still totally passionate about helping other women feel as confident as they possibly can.
Find out more about Lou