The Wise Why

Episode #34

Episode #034

#34 Caroline O’Connor – I was a Rock for my Children

by | 14 Oct,2022

About This Episode

Caroline O’Connor is down to earth and was a great support to me over what was a horrid weekend. There are not enough words to describe how grateful I am to her and some of my other friends for their recent support.

I first met Caroline a year ago at a business networking event and, I was instantly drawn to her frank honesty and hearty laugh. Caroline is described as a trustworthy professional who is sociable, enthusiastic, resourceful, practical, creative, and driven, and the list goes on.

Caroline applies each of these attributes in all her business relationships, as at the end of the day it’s all about people and that is essential to how Caroline works. With 3 decades of experience in sales and marketing Caroline thrives on unlocking value and maximising performance through strategic planning, relationships and partnerships that improve sales and marketing capabilities.

Fourth Born is Caroline marketing consultancy that provides a practical no nonsense approach to supporting SME business owners with getting their sales and marketing strategies implemented. Caroline has a background working in radio for Jack FM, as commercial manager for Phyllis Court in Henley and is currently partnership manager at Oxford City Football Club.

Episode #34 : Full Transcription

In this episode Caroline talks about the reality of losing her husband and switching her priorities to her children. Caroline is an inspiration and one of the strongest women I know.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Hello, and welcome to the Wise. Why Caroline is here. Finally, here after the weeks of drama that I seem to be, uh, having, and I’m thinking getting a pass for A&E. So, I think I’ve got my own parking space now. So, thank you. Caroline joining me this morning. Uh, I’m at Caroline about a year ago. And, um, first time I met her, her energy, Sean, and her honesty was just well, it was refreshing. And I have never been more blessed to have been in that room at that moment in time. So, anyway, The Wise Why not about me. It is about my guest. Caroline, please take the floor.

Caroline O’Connor: Good morning, and thank you, Kirsty. Um, and you made quite the impression on your first appearance at that meeting as well. So, it was lovely to meet you, too. And we’ve bumped into each other so often since. Where would you like me to start?

Kirsty van den Bulk: Well, actually, the thing about the Wise Wife is about you. It’s about you’ve got the most incredible career, but you’ve also overcome and achieved so much, uh, in your life. You know, your children, the way you’ve bought them up, the inspiration you are. So, honestly, um, I think let’s start at, uh, where your career came from and just so we can get people warmed up and listening, but also about how you have really faced that mental health week. So, we may as well just deal with it. And how you have overcome some of the most horrific things in life and things that I can’t imagine how you’ve dealt with it. So, the floor is yours.

Caroline O’Connor: Okay. So, 25 years in hospitality. Um, wanted to be a chef because food seems to be at, uh, the baseline for everything. For me, we celebrate with it, we commiserate with it. Um, but I knew as a female, it was going to be a challenge to get into being an executive chef. It was going to be a hard journey. So, I went front of house, thoroughly enjoyed it, because people I’ve worked out, I’m good with people. Um, if people are in my world and I’m creating environments where they enjoy, um, they succeed. That’s my why, that’s what gives me my buzz. Um, but hospitality is hard. Hours are long. And I decided, after having my third child, Jake, that I would have a bit of a career change and moved over into radio. Loved radio. It’s a brilliant environment to be in, um, wonderful product. And that started a career journey into marketing. Um, and that really got I got the bug for marketing. Worked for a full-service marketing agency, started working with SMEs. Um, then my sins went back into hospitality, um, but in a marketing role, thoroughly, um, enjoyed that. Decided that involving myself in big projects and business turnarounds really did give me my kick. I like to get up every day and have a win end every day with I achieved something and, um, the bigger the project, the bigger the challenge, the bigger the excitement and the enjoyment when it was delivered. And I may I have to deliver things. If I set a target, I have to get it done. So, um, it’s the driver. I’ve done some really big projects and then, um, came back into radio after lockdown. Um, I don’t know whether I had a little wiggy, $0.06, because I resigned from hospitality literally five days before Pandemic hit. And we got locked down and came back into, um, the world of radio and marketing and then earlier on this year, decided to finally go out on my own and, um, launch forthborn and do it for myself instead of doing it for everybody else. Um, and touch with I think there’s some wood in here somewhere. Um, it’s going really, really well. Um, I think when you talk about overcoming adversity and the challenges of life and certainly mental health week this week, yes, I lost my husband ten years ago. Um, I was living the dream. I had the gorgeous husband, my soul mate, three beautiful children, a house, two cars on the driveway, a holiday abroad every year, working a job because I was the career girl. He supported me, driving my career. Um, and overnight it changed with him getting ill and, um, being terminally ill and losing him in 13 weeks. So, it was a very quick and traumatic journey. Um, it changes your whole perception of life and the world and people because, ah, you see very different behaviors in people, um, when you have somebody who’s terminally ill in your life. Um, but for me, I have to take something from every journey that we’re on. Um, and we are very lucky to have phenomenal family and friends around us and we were very, very lucky that we had, ah, Sobel and seesaw to hospice and local charity supporting us. Um, and it was a turning point and I’m not very good at asking for help and, um, at that point in my life, I didn’t have a choice, I had to ask for help. And I’m so glad I did because without both of those and our friends being involved, myself and the kids wouldn’t be where we are today. Um, and ten years on, because I cannot believe that it’s ten years already, um, I have three thriving children who are fiercely independent, practical, energized, loving life. George’s one point, my husband’s one point was, please do not let my death affect their dreams. Because he lost his dad when he was 17 and it had quite a major impact on his life. And he just said, please do not let this moment of me going impact their dreams. And here, right now, it’s not because they are well rounded young adults living their lives. One’s moved out already, one wants to move to Brighton, the other one’s just battling as GCSE. But we are a team. And that’s, I think, where our strengths come from. Uh, that journey and the advice and the support we were given created that team environment. And now it’s the four of us and we get on with it and we pick each other up and we both see each other when we need to. Um, but they’re my driver of if they can do it, my God, can I do it? So, I get up every day and I go to work and I’m still a career girl and I still want to achieve, and I still want to be present, and I want to own my grief because it’s a journey. It doesn’t ever go away. I, uh, can be great one day and then the anniversaries come and knock you off your feet and you feel like you’re right back there in the moment again. And then you have to go out the next day and you go back to it, and you put the face on, and you go back out in the world, and you go, I’m here for a reason. I’m doing this for a reason, and I have value to add, so get on and do it. So that’s where I’m at, and that’s why I do and probably why I work so hard and why I play so hard. Um, and I live life for the moment. Because ten years ago, I was very happy. And the plan was that we always joked we would be in our 80s, we’d be in rocking chairs somewhere, poking each other with our walking sticks because we were just going to grow old together. And actually, that’s not a given. And now I know that, uh, I’m not waiting. I live for the moment; I live in the moment. And I want to achieve it all now and experiencing it all now, because actually, the journey is not a given. So, I can be probably a bit intense. Some people probably go, oh, my God, she’s a bit but I don’t judge anybody for judging me that way, because if they haven’t been on that journey, they wouldn’t know. And, um, I think probably when we caught up before, I explained the difference between being quite judgmental as a young adult of people kind of me going, oh, look at me, I’m achieving. If you work hard, then you get the success and you get to do all the enjoyment stuff. But not everybody’s journey is the same. And I can remember stood at Tesco’s probably about four or five years ago now, and there was this poor lady having an absolute meltdown at the tail. And people around that were queuing, we’ve been really judgmental of what you’re doing. I’ll get that sorted. Or why are you behaving that way? And my response was so different of, I have no idea what’s going on in your world right now, but for you to behaving like that towards another human being and in public, something is probably not right. And rather than tossing and going oh, you’re causing a fuss and all, you’re holding up the line. Just went over and went, is there anything we can help with? Just you’re clearly in distress. It’s not the person behind the tools full, it’s probably wise not to be shouting at them but can we help you in any way? And that’s probably the biggest turning point for me because actually they judge anymore, they look at every situation and just go the behavior is a bit off, it’s probably something going on behind the scenes that you’re not aware of. So just give them some space or give them a hand even see if you can help in some way.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I love that. And as we’ve talked off air, ah, you know some of my journey and it’s not always been pretty and you know, what you see on social media isn’t always what’s actually going on underneath the surface. And um, what happened with me was I went the other way with the drama, the trauma that I went through its 20 years ago now, but that, uh, trauma made me too self-reliant. So, what happened two weeks ago where I actually had to ask for help and you were part of that support network, that was a real turning point for me actually having to say help. I had to get somebody to take my child to school and pick my child up and I had to do a sleepover, her first ever sleepover. And actually, having that support network was incredible. And I have been that woman what people see how nice as you made up her talent as she said but I have been that woman in Tesco’s. I have been that person who has absolutely fallen two pieces and just couldn’t cope anymore. And that resilience I learned from being that woman in Tesco’s. Hopefully it wasn’t me at that point, but you never know.

Caroline O’Connor: And I have to say I’ve been that woman in Tesco’s as well. Just being so consumed and grief takes you in the, uh, early days and for no reason at all, just tears would come and just be inconsolable. And I’ve been that person trying to pay just trying to pay for my shopping to get out of the shop because I could feel myself going and not getting out of the shop in time and just walking in public with tear streaming down your face and people, they’re looking at you going, what the hell is going on? Is she mad? But sometimes you can’t help it. I’m glad you reached out for help, because, um, we can become very self-reliant. And I still know it is one of my I can go too far with trying to be self-reliant and independent. And I do it as the whole, I’ve got this. And then I go, uh, actually, no, don’t quite have this. But I do have that trusted network now, there, and also, they know the signs. I have people saying to me, oh, Caroline, your social media’s gone really quiet. Everything okay? Yeah, it’s fine.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Talk to you about that. What was amazing was I just put one line up to cancel postpone the show. The amount of people we’re lucky we are in the same area, which is beautiful. You are two villages away from me and we have a network of, and this is the power of networking. Let’s look at this for a second. Um, I met you at a networking event. Since then, I’ve gone to other networking events. You’re now heading up a networking group. And networking, um, is not just about trying to promote your business, it’s about support. And I can name I’m seeing Sarah Salty on, um, Thursday this week. Dr. Jenny Gordon, who’s been on the show, reached out, and between the three, there are obviously my friends and the mums at school. But between all of you, I was immediately supported and held when I needed to be. And it’s not something that people talk about in networking. They’re always talking about going to networking and getting business, but it’s not about that. Isn’t it?

Caroline O’Connor: No, not at all. I actually think that, uh, if you get networking right, you build yourself a force of support. Um, and I’ve been networking 20 plus years, and I would say the support that I see within that room in certain groups I’m in the support massively outweighs the business that’s generated, because actually, that comes naturally from the support you have. But when you have, whether it’s technical advice or emotional support, if you build the strength of relationship, it carries you so much further, uh, and longer. Uh, so that’s the building block for me. Get the relationships right, get the support network right, and you’ll thrive. So, it’s about being within a group where that support comes naturally, and that’s about bringing the right people together that have a similar value as in their ethos to approach to life and business. Because its people buy people first. At the end of the day, not everybody naturally is designed to get on with each other but connect yourself with people where you do have similar values and similar ethos and genuine. I think the people are authentic and genuine. Um, and therefore it all comes naturally. Um, and yeah, that’s where the real value is. Because actually, once you’ve got that, they organically go and find business for you and the referrals happen so much more naturally. They’re not forced it’s because it’s coming from a really genuine place. They know you as a person and they genuinely want to support you as a person in life and, um, business. In a particular one that we’re talking about, which is open doors. I’ve been in it for eight years and in four different groups, and there are people that, uh I know I can literally pick the phone up to if it is hitting the wall, I know I’ve got a plethora of people that I can just go help. Whether it’s legal, whether it’s accounting, whether it’s investments, whether it’s just can you just I’ve got an It problem, damn it. Can you help me out? Whatever it might be, I’ve done it before. My car broke down, it was like, there’s somebody in the network I know.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Yeah.

Caroline O’Connor: And actually, from a networking group that, uh, I was in in Henley. The guy that still maintains my car for me, he doesn’t cover this area, but he will come out and he mates and services my car. When I had a puncture, uh, again, end of the phone call going, who do I call? And he’s just like, this person. The number comes and I haven’t seen him for probably three years, but he turns out when I ring him, he turns up and he just helped me out. I like to collect lovely people and just keep them very close. Um, and that works for me, anyway.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Brilliant. So yesterday this is interesting because I’ve been out for sure for a long time, but I never reached I’ve only been in business on my own. So, I was in business as an actor for years, promoting self-promotion. Then I went into the corporate world. And then suddenly, two years ago, or three years ago, but really two years ago, I found myself in this new world of being a business owner and lonely. So, um, I want to touch on loneliness in a minute. Um, but yesterday, my whole network joined up because I joined the Tech Pixie’s with Joy Foster. Um, now, I should have been I wanted to come to the event that you ran yesterday, and I’d like to touch on that because it’s really important. But I couldn’t be there because actually, I was coaching for Joy as a Tech Pixie. So, it’s just how this whole networking really joined up. And I just love that. Can you talk a little bit about your event yesterday? And then we’ll touch on loneliness.

Caroline O’Connor: Yeah, sure. So, yesterday’s event came about, um, and funnily enough, it all comes through partnerships. So, I was working with Jack as their group marketing manager, and we went into partnership with Oxford City Football Club. Move on a year, I have opened fourth born. So then have ended up actually having Oxford City as my client, doing strategy work for them and looking at the partnerships. I’ve come on board as their partnership manager. So, uh, as part of that project, I wanted to bring some events to the club, um, and some value to our business club because we were building again, they’re like-minded supporters of the club, but they also need a wider business connection. So, we brought the business club together, and we wanted to put on an event with a keynote speaker, uh, that deals with practical business stuff. We’re all facing some challenges. We’re facing challenges as individuals with the cost of living and everything else that’s going on. But in business and in that lonely environment, a business of sometimes just hearing it from somebody else and knowing that you’re not in it on your own, you just may need one word of inspiration. Um, and I had met Joy. Um, I had gone to Howard’s Women in Business Networking event and seen Joy speak, um, completely inspired by chatting to her. Joy had been in touch with Jack recently, so I took the opportunity to say, you know what, Joy, it’s been lovely talking to you. You brought back all of that feeling that I had when I walked out of the room when I heard you speaking. I’m doing this speaker event. How about you and Tim come and do a talk for me at Oxford City? And she was like, yeah, and we’re in football now as well. So, there were so many crossovers. So that’s how it all came about. And that was just through different conversations and again, that bumping into each other, talking to each other, knowing contacts, we had relevant contacts. Um, so, yeah, we had a wonderful lunch yesterday. Um, and Selfie from Jack hosted it for me. So, I just bought in all of my different contacts, reached, um, out to my networks, who with a wonderful Oxford community that came and supported and gave us the numbers. And, um, Tim and Joy were an absolute joy so inspirational, and I have to say, my one takeaway. And it’s so simple. There are just sometimes little things, and they spoke about a lot of things yesterday. It should have been a 40-minute talk. They spoke for an hour and 20. It just went on because people were enjoying it, which is always a great sign for a speaker event. Um, Joy talked about, um, bamboo and that you get an inch in the first year, you’ll get an inch in the second year, you’ll get an inch in the third year and in the fourth. And then in the fifth year, we’re going 19 feet. And it was just one of those little moments where you just go, I’m a new business owner and I know I’m going to be looking for grades and I’m m going to have years where I’ll probably stand still. But actually, that’s something I know I’m going to fall back on and go, the foundations have to be right, and if I only get an inch for four years, but come year five, I’m going to fly. Okay. I’m all right with that journey because it’s a journey. And, um, it was just little things. And hearing him talk about actually the reality behind being an Olympic gold medalist and that it’s not all glamorous and it comes down to hard grit and, uh, toughing it out sometimes when you’ve got injuries and the different dynamics of the team that really make it work. We wanted it to be sports related. It’s a football club and its community minded, but I really wanted it to have tangible links to business. And the correlation between sports and business is phenomenal. Um, and the other takeaway from team yesterday was every business should have a sports person in it or have come from sports. So, if you’re thinking about your kids and getting them into sport, it’s such a good training ground for business because actually it gives you such skills for it. Um, and I’m glad because I was really sporty and I was in loads of teams, hockey teams, netball teams, swimming teams, everything as a kid. So, I kind of gave thanks. Mom and dad didn’t realize what you were doing at the time, making me do all of it. I was in the sports thing every single day of the week. Didn’t really get the relevance then. Absolutely reaping the benefits now. So, thanks for having me, dad. I did. Watching.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I’m going to admit that if it’s not a sport and you’ve got a dance child, then definitely dance, because it’s the same principle. She, um, says, sitting here waiting for yeah, you should see me walking right now. Gosh, I look beautiful because I was a dancer. And that dancing and how Adam Cooper is still going, go out there, Adam. I’m so impressed. I, um, trained with Adam, but dancing, um, training where you learn to be in the chord ballet, you learn to dance the same, you learn to pull. And I was in the chorus of 42nd street and we learned to tap together at the same time on the same beat, and we had to be together. And if somebody fell, you picked them up and you moved them on. So, I always say that performance, absolutely. It gives you a foundation for business and teamwork that is second to none. It really is. It’s powerful.

Caroline O’Connor: My dancer is never on the stage, but I did ballroom dancing. It’s great for posture that you can still pick up later when you haven’t done it for a few years.Kirsty van den Bulk: There was a point where I danced on tables, but it certainly wasn’t. And, um, unfortunately, I want to say I danced on tables when I was slightly inebriated, but I wasn’t. I was sober and I danced on a table in the Port of Leaf at the bar, the Port of Leith in Edinburgh, stone cold sober.

Caroline O’Connor: Wow. Did you get on video or was that dancing at the time?

Kirsty van den Bulk: No, just remind me when we go out for a drink. I will behave myself.

Caroline O’Connor: You may have any holding bag for me. Just saying for going, uh, your encouragement.

Kirsty van den Bulk: We have to get Sarah on there as well. Um, I want to ask you who’s inspired you? I know your family, but I would like to know who has inspired you along your way?

Caroline O’Connor: Oh, gosh. Lots of people. Um, the one that instantly comes to mind. There are two people. Um, one is, um Lauren. He was my manager when I was at Phillis court. I joined and he had just moved over from France. His English was very broken, and he didn’t my first real proper job interview. And at the end of the interview he said, I don’t want to offer you that waitress job. And I was like, oh, what? And he went, I can see more in you. I want to offer you a general, um, assistance job. It’s sort of a management program. I want to bring you in. I can see a lot of potential in you. And I worked for him for twelve years. Um, and he was my mentor, my inspiration. His values and his respect and his genuine ability to see something in people has inspired me to be that manager. Now, not everybody liked him because he was tough, he had rules and he had high expectations, but gosh, did he drive you? Um, and we’re still in touch today. And we’ve ended up, the kids have all grown up together. I know his children and he know mine. And we went to France for uh, a colleague’s wedding a couple of years ago. But he’s one of those characters in life that you just kind of go, everybody should have a Lauren in their life because he’s amazing. The other person is a lady called Karen. She owned the design agency that I joined. And um, I think probably because I saw the best human attributes in a person because I worked for her when I had George’s diagnosis and I lost him, and she just took all the stress away in the chaos that was happening on the day that we were told that was it, he was within days. Um, and then gave me the ability to step back from work. I went part time. I gave up the commission, I gave up the car, I gave up. And she was like, but I don’t want to lose you out of the business, I want to keep supporting you. Go parttime, just do what you can. And then a year later we had a chat and went, where are you now? How do you feel? Do you want to build back up? And I did. Um, and I think if I hadn’t had that in my life at the time, things would be very different because actually you have to take the compassion and humility of other people. And she was just amazing. She literally had my sister-in-law who couldn’t get on a plane. She just paid for her flight and got her over and we sorted it out when the life insurance came in. The people that genuinely would just go, I’ll just do that for you. And I’m like, I’m just an employee for you. But for her, more than an employee, she wanted to do the right thing as a human being and again. They have a beautiful family and she’s somebody that I know that will just catch up. That one of those people that you may not see for a while and when you do, you just pick up where you left off. So, um, big inspiring kind of celebrities and stuff. I don’t know, it’s probably quite topical because I’m not really impressed by celebrity. I kinda go, that’s good for you, but gosh, it comes with such compromise. Um, I read and follow a number of influences, but I wouldn’t say that they inspire me every day. I kind of watch with interest because I’m intrigued by them. Maybe not inspired by them, but definitely intrigued by them. The person that I think because she’s been stable and it’s very topical if there is ever a person that would inspire you and I think my family values are the same because she reminds me of my NAN and granddad. And I was very close to my NAN and granddad would be the Queen. Somebody who has that force of commitment and ah, absolutely lives, and breathes by it. Um, is that stable that’s always been there. Um, and I know that I’ve been brought up with very, very similar values from both sets of grandparents and I was very lucky that I’m in my forty s and I only lost my grandparents in my 40s. So, to have grandparents that old, I mean, my great aunt was 101 so I think I’m going to be around for a while. Um, my NAN was 96, so yeah, I’ve got some innings to go yet. Um, but they were hard and fast, and they were good financial planners. They were hard workers. They were self-educated, um, self-driven, but just and kind. And good cooks. All of them great cooks because it comes back to food at the end of the day. So, um, yeah, probably the Queen would be my we’ve got a pedestal moment.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Yeah. No, I love that because I, um, don’t think we realize and it is tough, I don’t think we realize what the value was that she gave to us. The women, that backbone that she gave us. I don’t think we realized until she passed, and we all went, oh, uh, everything that she stood for, the way she really was inspirational on so many levels. And I had an employee when I was going through my rough time 20 years ago who did something similar to me. Uh, big picture. And um, I have to say thank you because I wouldn’t be here. They were prepared to slide me and pay for me, um, and put me up in a hotel if I needed it. Uh, instead I went somewhere else, which I won’t. It’s personal, but yeah. Um, they were there, and they held me, and they kept me going and they kept me employed even when I was turning up and um, crying. I remember the day that I realized. That I had to make this big decision and I went to work, and I stood selling confused. I saw ten, I saw ten in PC World. And the manager in PC World with Clear Sanction on my face, I think I had the sympathy vote. And it’s dolphin in PC World. And the PC World manager, Dickson’s Paris, the manager said, I think it’s now time to go home and you need to sort your life out. But I had to talk about the computers, but that employer stood by me, and it was very, very powerful and thank you. Big picture. So don’t share that very often. Um, this is where you get to turn the questions and turn the table on me. I do want to ask you about your AHA moments. I’m going to leave that to the end. Um, so you get to turn the questions on me.

Caroline O’Connor: Cool. Um, so you’re still really fresh into your business journey and we have talked about loneliness. We sort of touched on loneliness a little bit and I’m probably experiencing the same things. I’m only seven months in. Um, how do you deal with being a business owner and keeping yourself out of that lonely environment? Because you talk about support and stuff and I uh, know that you’ve got connections and you work with lots of different people. But is there a strategy to it or a structure to it or does it naturally?

Kirsty van den Bulk: No. So, two years on and I will say two years on. So, um, if you’d ask me this question two years ago, I would have said I’ve got my head down and I’m just busy and I was busy building the brand. Two years on, I now have a lovely work life balance. I will have to work at weekends because I’m at school. Mom trying to run a business. So, there is points where I work at weekends. But what I do now do two years on is apart from I’ve got everything scheduled and it’s rolling forward, um, I really schedule family time and I prioritize family time at the weekend over everything else. And there was on Wednesday when I picked my daughter up, I could have come upstairs, and I could have sat the PC. But I took the decision that actually no, I’m going to be downstairs, I’m going to be with my family. And if I must work, I’ll work later. So, realizing that I needed my family to alleviate that loneliness and it wasn’t loneliness as a business owner that I was experienced. It was experiencing that fact that I’m stuck in a room looking at a PC and actually I needed to get out of my business head and go back into being part of the family. So, two years ago, head down working, my husband said to me, what are you working for? And it is back to Joy’s Bamboo. I’m working for an inch. And this year, funnily enough So I’ve just done my tax for last year and from the first year I’m pretty impressed. The next year I know there’ll be a bamboo, it’s going to be an inch and actually I think I’m going to get about an inch and a half a year after that, which is quite exciting. But it is about now knowing that I need my daughter and I need my husband and I need that to keep me on my business track because I need to get out of my business head.

Caroline O’Connor: Yes, it can become all confusing, for sure it does.

Kirsty van den Bulk: So hopefully that was kind of where I’m at now. But I want to hear about your AHA no it’s because catering to marketing, marketing, networking, networking, to running your own business is a big brave old move to walk away from Jack and launch forth born. So, I want to hear about your AHA moments along the way. And that’s what we’re finished.

Caroline O’Connor: And two AHA moments really, one, not surprisingly, was losing my husband and having to become a single parent and complete financial responsibility for household children, everything. Um and for a long, long time, I had thought employee employment was safe. Employment meant that there was a wage at the end of the month, didn’t have to worry about it, and I could focus on doing all of the lovely bits that I really liked doing and didn’t have to worry about any of the business bits that I don’t quite find so enjoyable. Um, and there was a moment in January, uh, at the end of February where I was made redundant. First time in a 40 plus year career. Well, not quite, um, 30 plus year career. And it was a real moment of the only person that I can completely rely on to ensure financial security for me, and my family is me. And I have to be in control of it, I have to drive it, I can grow it, and I want to now do it on my own terms. Um, not by anybody else’s rules. I want to do; I want to choose who I work with and how I work with them. I want to walk away with that moment of my m why? For my business is I want to add value to somebody else’s business. I’ve got to the point in life where I’ve got enough experience behind me. It’s right for some, it won’t be right for others, but I choose to work with the people that get me. I had some flatline ideas when I launched the business of, I’ll put a rocket up your ass and I will get shit done. Um, wouldn’t allow either of them, um, with my design agency that just kind of curved me back into um, something that’s PC enough. I can put on everything and not have any challenges anywhere. But the people that I meet know who I am and how I am. Um, I love the fact that they go, actually, I need some of these boots on my arse. You are the right person. So, I choose to work with people like that because when I do and I get, uh, whether accountability I’m going to make, I won’t go into something unless I’m going to make it happen. So, we’re not going to set this journey and then not make it happen. And so therefore, there’ll be some challenges along the way. Are you up for that? And I won’t enter it unless they go, yeah, disclaimer, I’m up for it. Kick my ass. It’s fine. We have a laugh about it. You have lots of whine about it as well. But they’re the people that I want to work with. Um, there’s a new business that I recently just started working with and their little moment, which brings me back to my, AHA, moment, is, my God, why didn’t we think of that? Like, so simple. Why didn’t we think of it? And it’s like, because you’re so close to your business and I can bring perspective with experience and therefore we can get that journey moving and we can work smarter rather than harder. And I get to own, um, that value and say that’s paying my bills at home because I go to work every day and I make a difference. And that’s the feel-good factor for me. My moment is had to be financially independent, didn’t have a choice about it. And then from a work perspective, the business was the only way that I was going to absolutely ensure that it’s completely under my control. And don’t get me wrong, first thing I did was get myself a very good accountant, then got myself and It support because um, not very good at It and tech, um, and yet has just surrounded myself with support partners that keep propping me up. So, I keep moving forward in my journey, but completely back to my network and the relationships that, um, I now rely on, um, to keep this working.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I genuinely love it. And I knew that would be a lovely way to end. We’re not getting for some reason, I’m not getting the, uh, comments here, so there will be some comments on LinkedIn, I think. I’m only getting a few through, but we’ve got one from Caroline. I think something’s gone on the stream, but uh, we’ve got one from Paula which says, I completely resonate with you, Caroline, and I know why. And I’ll explain off screen why that would resonate, importantly with Paula. She’s an amazing lady. So, thank you for joining us this morning, Paula. Thank you, Caroline. I really appreciate that.Caroline O’Connor: It’s been fun, as I knew it would be.

In this episode:

00:01 Kirsty introduces Caroline O’Connor
00:07 Talks about the weeks of drama Kirsty has gone through
00:43 Caroline says hello and talks about first impressions
01:07 Children are inspiration
01:39 Working Life
03:45 Starting up own business Forthborn
04:04 Coping with Losing my husband in 13 weeks
08:00 Not judging others
10:01 Kirsty talks about friendship and loving support
11:55 social media can be supportive
16:30 Joy Foster
19:39 Bamboo and Business
21:34 Discipline of Sports and dance training
22:51 Dancing on the bar in the Port of Leith
23:21 Who’s inspired you
27:18 Grandparents
30:23 Question to Kirsty – Keeping yourself out of that lonely business owner
32:04 What are you working towards
37:46 Close

Connect with Caroline

Linkedin.com/in/carolineoconnor2/
Email Caroline

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