The Wise Why

Episode #39

Episode #039

#39 Lindsay McLoughlin -Business Networking, and Personal Growth

by | 25 Nov,2022

About This Episode

Lindsay like me was a mature student at university, whilst studying for her business studies degree, Lindsay’s mother was diagnosed and later passed away from cancer.

Lindsay’s Mother and Father ran a Sports distribution business and Lindsay felt the right thing to do was to leave university, help her father by joining the family business taking on the roles her mother managed before her death.

This was not playing to Lindsay’s strengths and loves of communication and marketing, Lindsay was now dealing with all the administrative tasks, was the company secretary and was responsible for finance and payroll.

One of the products the family distributed was rollerblades and Lindsay found she was drawn to the creative side of the business by marketing and implementing promotional activities around rollerblades.

When her father retired Lindsay moved to Exdexcel reporting into the CEO as the diary coordinator on a six-month contract, as they got to know each other, The CEO offered Lindsay the opportunity to create and build a new team focusing on marketing and growing the Edexcel brand. Lindsay thrived in this environment, using all the skills she had gained working for the family business as well as enjoying managing a team.

This was where Lindsay discovered her love of networking; through her role and life experience Lindsay knew that knowing key people across huge organisations was key to developing good working relationships built on knowledge, understanding and respect as her experience grew, she developed her internal networking skills.

Then the family arrived and like many parents, Lindsay life changed, and she launched a childminding service which helped and supported her to meet new people and build friendships after the family moved to Henley from London.

When youngest of her three daughters started school, Lindsay found she had more time and she pivoted again, creating a proofreading/blogging/copywriting business. During the initial set up years another business owner suggested she should start networking, hating the idea she attended her first Athene meeting. Finding likeminded women and enjoying herself she joined the same day and has been a member for over 13 years, taking over the franchise for Maidenhead and Marlow and expanded into SW Oxfordshire in 2020.

Episode #39 : Full Transcription

During this episode I get to surprise Lindsay as she had no idea, I had purchased my roller skates for Starlight Express skate school form her family sporting goods shop.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Hello, and welcome to the Wise Wire. This morning I am joined by the amazing, wonderful, energetic Lindsey McLaughlin, who I met at a, uh, woman in business networking event run by Howard Feather. So, you can start to see there is theme going on with of people who come with the wise. Why is it because it’s people that I have spotted and just gone, wow, this is that’s a life force? And as usual, the show is not about me, it is about my guest. So straight over to Lindsay. Please introduce yourself to the audience.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: How nice to be described as a life force. Um, how very sweet of you. Um, so my name is Lindsay Mcloughlin. Um, I run Athena network territories. I have two franchises. One in Maidenhead and Marlowe and one in southwest Oxfordshire. So, I, um, have six groups, and its women only networking, which is all about training, support and collaboration. And I just love it. It’s what gets me up every morning.
Kirsty van den Bulk: It must be super busy because it’s six. Did you just say six groups?
Lindsay Mcloughlin: I run six groups.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Six groups, all women. So how many women are in the network?
Lindsay Mcloughlin: Across the whole network, there’s 150 groups across the network, and, um, each group has varying sizes, but we’ve got about 1300 members. And because we’re online now, the networking reach is so much further. So, uh, as a member, you become a member of your own group, say it could be Abington or Oxford or whatever it is. And so, you have a localness to it, and so you’re able to meet people in the local area, but you can travel without traveling to any other group across the network to expand your reach. So, the opportunities are endless. Really?

Kirsty van den Bulk: That’s incredible. But you didn’t start off networking, did you? You’ve got an amazing story, which I didn’t know about until you sent your bio three. And the first question I want to ask you is, uh, where was your parents business based?

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Uh, okay, so my parents had a business, which was my grandparent’s business, then my parents’ business, and it was selling ice hockey and ice skates and rollerblades. And it was based in Kingston, and it was always in my family background, and it was always around the family table, and it was always sort of discussed. I sort of grew up with it, really. Um, so I grew up in a business conversation environment. And, um, so what happened was, um, the sad part, this is the sad part. I’m went to university in my late 20th and my mother was very ill with cancer, so she sadly passed away, uh, while I was at university. And I had always intended to go into the family business, to learn from my father and learn from my mother. And sadly, my mother passed away. Um, and this was decision time for me. So, she died on the Thursday. I left college on the Friday, and I took over her role on the Friday. So, on the Monday, um, on the immediate Monday after that, um, nobody was pressing me to do this, but it felt like the right and the honorable thing to do. So, I left my degree halfway and then took over my mother’s role, which wasn’t easy.

Kirsty van den Bulk: So, I’ve got a lovely story that you don’t know about. You really don’t know this. So, when did the business when did the business close? Because I’ve got something really exciting to share here.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Oh, um, gosh. Now you’re asking. Um, I would say, oh, gosh, now I must think. I really do have to think, um.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: That’s extraordinary. Did you meet me? Because I do remember to skate speak going into Starlight Express. I remember that promotion.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Yes, I met you. I think you fitted my shoes. So, I held onto that nugget until this moment because I wanted to double check before I shared it. But it was at your shop. So, if I give them to you, that before we went live, that we wouldn’t get that lovely oh, my goodness moment. But, yes, I was one of your customers, and I loved your shop. And my boots are, uh, still got the black, um, because I had to the Starlight boots had to not leave a mark, if you remember, and the toe stopper and I wanted to have my own boots, I didn’t want to go to the brown boots, which all the Starlight had. I wanted my white ones, which I’m about with my daughter spray paint. And I’m teaching my daughter to roller skate. So yeah.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Wow. What an awesome surprise to have. Thank you. I remember the event. I remember going to the show. I’m so sorry I don’t remember you personally.
Kirsty van den Bulk: I was just one of the many. So, what people don’t realize about Stylist Express, which you had to go with, um, Arlene Phillips. Uh, this will be an interesting one. So, Arlene Phillips had skate school, um, and very different people coached it. And a lot of my friends I never got in. A lot of my friends did. So, you will have supplied boots to a lot of people that I trained with when I was training at Arts Ed. So yeah, I just thought that was a really lovely moment. Brilliant. That you wouldn’t expect. So, did you grow up in Kingston?

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Yes, I grew up, um, around Asia, around Kingston, and was away at boarding schools and things like that. And then my parents moved into London. And then, um, my mother passed away. And then I worked with my father selling, um, ice skates and rollerblades and so on and so forth. And the role that I had, I wasn’t very well suited to. So, my mother was the um bookkeeper company secretary payroll. She did all the books and did all the numbers, and, um, I just simply thought I could sort of follow her footsteps. And it wasn’t my natural place. And even at university, when I was doing sort of the finance side of my business studies degree, uh, it was harder for me to kind of get my head around than, say, the marketing side of things or the personnel side of things or the people’s side of things. Um it wasn’t easy for me to do this um because I wasn’t doing what came naturally. Everything was just a little bit uphill for me because I just couldn’t do it. I mean I did it but I didn’t find it easy. On the other hand, with the arrival of rollerblades and roller skates and so on m I got involved in that and I ran various promotional events and street hockey uh, events in Brighton and the closure and stuff. So, I found out I really like the marketing side of the business and uh the people side of the business and the communication side of the business, so I learnt a lot there. Um and working as a double act with my father was a good thing. Um he was a very powerful exuberant character. He’s passed away now but he was a very um not violent, no vibrant character. Yeah, I heard that, and I was sort of the person behind the scenes of helping his exuberance I suppose. And we made a super seen for about ten years and then the business finished and then it was what do I do now?

Kirsty van den Bulk: So how did you evolve? Because I’m not even going to try and say the company that you moved to with the CEO who saw your potential, which I think is interesting because a lot of the time you go in, you’re trying to fit somebody into a role that this person actually and I wondered who this the CEO was. Because this person saw your potential and helped and supported you to grow, which is pretty much what the Athlete Network do. But it’s interesting to understand that nurture that you got from this person yes.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: It was Edexcel, which is an awarding body, um, you’ll see their names around sort of GCSEs and qualifications. So, um I didn’t know what to be. So, the business was finished, my father had retired, and I didn’t know what to be or what to present myself as because I um, knew some marketing, I knew how to run a business and um, I had some reasonably good admin skills, but I didn’t know the what in terms what I wanted to present myself as. So, um, I was offered a contract by at. Excellent. So, it was six months to work with the CEO at that time. Her name was tina, and it was diary management. A fulltime six-month role running her diary. And that was all it was. Diaries and meetings, diaries and meetings and taxis, and making sure she got to the right place at the right time with the right papers on the right meeting with the right people. And I loved it. It was like setting up a crossword and everybody knew everything at the right time, in the right places, and I loved it. I loved the sort of movement of people side of it. Um, I think she thought I was doing a good job. So, at some stage at the end of the six-month contract, she sat down, we sort of went, who are you? What’s your story? Um, so I told her the story about the wholesale business and the skating and um, rollerblading and the events and my father and all of that and so she said, so you’ve got a sort of business head, um, and you like marketing. We need somebody to develop a team in the business side of Excel. And what they were doing was they were creating a team for the business side of qualifications. So, it was NVQ’s to businesses, so for instance, hairdressers might need NVQs for their staff and it was sort of marketing and selling the idea to BTECs and things like that. So, there was no team, there was no department, there was nothing, that was just the plan. And so, she said, I just wonder whether you wanted to do that and set up a team and write. Um so I did. Um, and that actually was the moment where I sort of learnt my first networking skills, but I didn’t know there were networking skills until later on when I look back. But it was setting up a brand-new team to market towards the business side of qualifications.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Isn’t it interesting? And I do find it interesting, the word networking, so I’ve talked about this before, the word networking doesn’t mean going and meeting people. To me it means your infrastructure for your office. Oh, my goodness, it’s your Ethernet cable, it’s your managed switch, it’s your core network. So, I really struggled when I first heard the word that you were about business networking, because what went through my head was the internet. So, I would much prefer it to be communication skills. And that is ultimately, and I’m not pushing you down the rabbit hole here, but I’m interested to know, because the Athena network because of the skills you’ve got. Is it Edexcel?

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Edexcel?

Kirsty van den Bulk: Edexcel ask a Dyslexic to say a word you can’t even see it. It’s like, um but it’s interesting, that combination, because we now talk about networking as what it is. But in the old days, we used to call it meetings and connections. But that is the foundation of what you do at senior, isn’t it?

Lindsay Mcloughlin: It is. And so, if I just sort of take you back and fill the gap that happened at Excel, it is creating relationships before you need them. That’s what networking is. And what I did at Excel was I was suddenly given this task of creating a whole new team of people in this awesome sized building in London, which was different to where I’d been for with a small business. This was a huge organization with hundreds of people and large departments. And I remember thinking, if I need to create this team, I need to know people in the building. And I decided to make a friend in every single department across that whole building. Um, and that was my first strategy, because I thought, if I need printing, I need a friend in the printing department. If I need marketing, I need someone in the marketing. But the problem with payroll and so on and so on and so on. So, over the first three months, I walked the building, um, and made a friend in every department. So, I invited one person for lunch every single day, um, so that I had relationships in place before I needed them. So that was a networking strategy, but I didn’t know I was doing it. So, roll on into my world of Athena. And that’s what I say to people. What you’re doing is you’re making relationships before you need them. So that let’s say you’re running a business, and I was listening to your podcast with Susanna last week, uh, and you were saying it’s time to perhaps sort of work with a VA or something. So now you might well know virtual assistants, and you’re probably a little bit in your head to go, I’m not ready to have a conversation. But you’ve grown the relationships before you need them, and that’s what networking is.

Kirsty van den Bulk: It’s interesting, because I don’t think you can escalate or grow a business without those relationships. And I, uh, was talking to somebody last night, and we were talking about the, uh, actual we were talking about how I got to where I am now. And she said, you’ve got there really quickly. And, um, I embraced networking quite quickly. And whilst I couldn’t afford a lot of networking, and one of the things a lot of new business owners will say is, I don’t have time. And I’m going to say, you have to make the time. Now, I’m not as you know, I’m not a member of the Athena network, uh, because ultimately, it’s time at the moment. But it’s that thing of you have to go out there, you have to find the people that are going to be your tribe, and all these people you might not be in the same network with, but they are very much the people that would catch you and hold you. And a lot of people also think, I had this, uh, when I go networking, I want to sell. And it’s like I’ve never sold a networking event. And I’d love you to explain a bit more on that, because a lot of people, especially new startups, think when you go networking, you’ve got to pitch, and you’ve got to sell.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Mhm it absolutely isn’t that. And I think, um, if you give off a vibe of selling, people go the other way. I didn’t know this when I first started networking. So, if I introduced you to the story about when I was first introduced to networking, I had created so I’d left Edexcel and roll on, roll out a bit of time and I now had a proofreading blogging and copywriting business and I created a website and I created a website and somebody I knew said, we’ll go networking. No, don’t do that. The website, it’ll bring me to all these people. Um, so if you want to go networking however, honestly, I didn’t. I went pretty much kicking and screaming. I thought networking was, um, well, I had all these fears and which, um, I’m sure everybody does before they go to a networking event, because you have this idea that you create yourself, that everybody in there is so successful and smooth and capable and you’re not. And that’s what I was thinking. So, I took a deep breath and I walked in because it was offline I went in those days. I walked in and, um, just fell in love with the people and the vibe and what they were doing. I joined that day. For me, it was going to be a meeting, and so I went, and I stayed. But one thing I learned quite early on was that what I was doing when I was making a really big mistake and I was starting to say things like, do you have marketing materials? Do you have anybody check them over? Um, and what I was doing was actually sending people the other way and it wasn’t helpful. And it took me two or three months for this penny to drop. That actually it’s not about steering the conversation back to your business and how you can help it’s actually, what can I do for you, how can I help you? And the more you put into the giving and the helping, the more you help the networking soup, and you create a really strong networking reputation and networking persona and then you’re the one people refer to when they have an opportunity for you. So that’s what it is. It’s about giving, it’s about helping, it’s about feeding the soup. Really?

Kirsty van den Bulk: I love that. I, uh, really do. So, I want to touch because we skipped quite a bit. You moved from Kingston or London to, um, Henley, and you set up a child-minding business. Now that is also building a network.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: It was. So, you’re absolutely right. So, um, finished at Excel, then moved to Henley with my family. Um, and we had one child, one daughter and a baby on the way, and then a third baby came along later. So, three girls. Um, so I had three children under four at one point. And, um sorry. Um, we’d moved to Henley and I had been working in London, but hadn’t created a network yet in Henley because the kids were too young for school, they were in nursery and I was working in London. So finished with London and now is in Henley. And what to do, um, how to actually earn a little bit of money to continue contributing to the house and have a structure. I like routine. I sort of like knowing what’s happening each day. So, I set up a childminding business to give me routine so that I knew which child was coming on which day and who liked the ducks and which one liked painting. Uh, but also, I met lots of parents, I met lots of people. I went to lots of baby groups and things like that. So, I created an internal Athena. Not Athena, come to later. An internal Henley network, which still serves me.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Actually, it’s really important because I’m at that my daughter’s in primary, and we talked quite a lot on the show about the mum’s network and how important it is and how it will carry you through. So, I’m at the primary age, but you’re at the going to university and people fleeing the nest, and I’m sure your mum’s network are there for you right now.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Absolutely. And I’ve created some amazing friends over the year in Henley. Absolutely. Uh, times. Moving on. So, my three girls are one’s at University of Newcastle and, uh, she’s sort of settling in, as far as I can see it’s. Party, party, party, then a lecture, then party, party, I think up there. And it’s a long way away, 200 miles, so that’s taking some adjusting. And then my next daughter, Laura, is about to do A levels next summer. And so, we’re looking at what she’s going to do. She wants to do physiotherapy, so I know nothing about physiotherapy. Um, so it’s a bit of a learning curve for us all as we sort of get to grips with that. Uh, I mean, Wendy was doing economics, which is a sort of subject you can understand within our backgrounds, I suppose. Then, um, physiotherapy for Laura, and then Anna’s just about to go and do her A level, so she must change school. So, it’s actually all change in our family at the moment as they all move to their next stages, and my husband’s retiring as well, so everything’s on the move. But.

Kirsty van den Bulk: You’re great with change and, um, it’s very brave to give up life in London. Was it London you left? Yeah. So, it’s really brave to give up London life and move to Henley. That must have taken apart from you not having the friendships and that network, there’s a big change in pace of life as well that people don’t necessarily know until you’ve done it. Because, you know, when I was in London, I walked everywhere. I didn’t think about it. I would walk from where I was living to the center of town. I was in and out, it was busy. And then I moved out to a rural Oxfordshire and got completely confronted with no, um, streetlights. And I’d grown up in suburbia, as in just outside Epsom. And so, this was all very different. It must have been different for you as well.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: It was. But you know something, with having had, um, a baby in London and working in London, you’re not using London properly anyway. You tend to sort of be going straight to work and doing your doing, and then you’re far more focused on your hours at the office because you’ve got to get back to the nursery by 06:00 to pick the baby up and things like that. And then you’ve seen the baby put in the lady back and on you go again for the next day. And then that’s how it sort of rolled, really. So, your source of how I looked at it was, or how we looked at it, was you’re not really using London properly anyway. So then when we moved to Henley, it’s a different lifestyle there because you tend to make friends and people, you know, through the various routes, and you go out in town, you’re going to know people, you go to your restaurant, you’re going to know people. I found that a really big change, and I didn’t know what to do. When you went out for dinner, uh, with the friend that you’ve chosen to go out for dinner with, or your husband’s, and there’d be a friend sitting somewhere, two or three tables down, do you invite and see join you at the table? Or do you just acknowledge and smile and say, it took me a while to learn the rules on that one because they’re actually on their private evening out as well, whereas my London self-thought crikey, what’s the rules here?

Kirsty van den Bulk: I love that. I genuinely love that, because I can remember, um, um, unfortunately, um, friendships passed. It’s gone now. But I remember a friend of mine saying to me when we go out, they were very London centric. When we go out, you’re always saying hello to other people, you’re not focusing on me. And I’d be like, but they live in the village, and we’ve got things to talk about because our kids are at school because I’d got into that country set, and there is, I do feel like, the country wife. Um, I got into that country set where that’s what you did. You went, hello, how you doing? How the kids? You have a great conversation, then you go to your table. But that was considered incredibly rude by my London friends. So, it’s an interesting moment, uh, to bring up. So, as we talk about friendships, there must be people who have absolutely inspired.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: You along the way, friendships wise, and people just people wise. I think I get a lot of inspiration within the next network, um, businesswise. What gets me up in terms of sort of Athena, is people coming into the network and they know they’ve got to do it. And they were a bit like me when I first started. And you sort of hear them listening to you and going, okay, I’ll try that. Lindsay says, this is going to work. And then you watch them grow, and then you watch this brand-new confidence come. So that inspires me just the sort of growth of women in business, just stepping out of themselves and trying something new in a sort of safe environment. In terms of inspiration, I always looked to Jacqueline, who created the network, she’s on fire. She’s, uh, 18 years later, she’s leading us all and training us and giving us new ideas as to what we can do for our members and how we can serve them. Um, then for inspiration above that, you could look at Mayor Angelou and one line that she has, which I always try and get right when I repeat it, which is, people will hear what you say, hear what you say. It’s actually how you feel. Uh, I always get it slightly wrong as I try and test myself every time to remember it, but it’s about looking and talking and how you feel. And that’s a statement that I try and live by all the way through my networking and groups that I lead.
Kirsty van den Bulk: It’s really important. I always say this. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. Because how you say it was driven by what you feel. And so, you can have a sense of that. I love you. It’s such a simple one, and I love you. It can be beautiful, or it can be the most painful, hurting, most destructive word sentence in the world. And it’s powerful in so many ways. And so how you say it, how you feel when you say it, is really key. I’m going to look that quote up and ask for this, put it into the comments, because it would be really good, because I know people want to look at that. Um, so we’ve talked about your life. We’ve talked about where you’ve come from and how you’ve ended up in Henley. Uh, if you had one thing, a magic wand moment. I’ve never asked this question. I very rarely ask it. If you had a magic wand moment, what would you do with it? I know, good question.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: It’s a great question. I think right now, for me, in my family world, we’re going through transitions. So, um, my husband’s retiring, I’m looking to sell my Maidenhead and Marlowe franchise to give myself some more home and work, balance life, more time with the family. But then the family is fleeing, so they’re all going into university life, and I am really looking forward to being a part of that change and going to wherever it is they are, to do whatever you see them in their places and spend more time with my husband. So, at the moment, as I speak to you today, we are having a lot of family conversations internally about, uh, the retirement, about the potential sale of the other region, and about what ice is going to look like, my husband and me, when we have this more time with each other. Because I say to my marriage, due for life, but not for lunch. That’s an internal conversation at the moment. And then the three kids. So, if I had a magic wand, I quite like to jump about six or eight months to this new life I’m going to have, and the more exercise time I’m going to have, the swimming time, the time with the dog, the lunch on the days I want to have lunch with my husband. So, I think I’d go for that. Because at the moment, I feel there’s a lot of conversations to be done, a lot of exploration to be done, a lot of conversations feel to be had before everything settles into the new what it’s going to be.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I love that. I really do. So, Athena was originally face to face. Now it’s online. That must take in some adjusting to. And obviously we’ve all been affected by the pandemic, so I’m just wondering what that adjustment period was like.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Okay, so, yes, we at Athena, like everybody else, saw the threat, perhaps coming over the hill, that, you know, there was going to be a lockdown. Um um, but Athena, what we did was we planned for it. So, there are 30, approximately regional threats. There are 30 people like me running regions around the country. We met every single day of Zoom for ten days ahead of the lockdown, going, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? Holy Manchester the answer was go online. Because what we were thinking of was our members of women, and they are at various ages and stages of their lives. Some were at home, and they were going to have their husbands at home and they were going to have kids to look after and kids to homeschool. There are going to be people who are single and at home and be isolated. What we said was we must stop to prevent the isolation. So, we. Put on extra events. We have virtual huddles, um, where women could just call in, cry, and go, oh my goodness, I can’t do this, or I’m on my own, or I’m worried about my mother, or I can’t go to the nursing home. So, we ran those and then we also said to our members, you’re still a member of Maidenhead or Abigail, whatever it was. You can now travel and visit any group anywhere at no extra cost, based on one single membership. So that was extraordinary. Um, it saved a lot of people. Members still say to me, now, if you hadn’t done that, I’d have been broken. It, um, looked after a lot of women. It gave them contact with women who are likeminded, who cared? But what also happened was that businesses and women served each other in different ways. We had speakers, I mean, I’ve had speakers from Nottingham, Bournemouth’s and so on contribute to my meetings, which just would never have been possible. Offline. So, the transition was overnight, but what we did was within Athena, still sticking with how we managed it as regional directors. We had Zoom meetings for the whole three months, every single morning throughout, just to keep look after each other, because we all had our own issues to think about, but also how we could look after animals m more. What could we do? So, we had virtual cream teas. We sent victorious sponge messages to recipes to people and Tom’s Come with fancy hats, and we had an online tea with hundreds of people. And then we’ve had online festival with hundreds of people across the world. And you could set an incredible vibe online. And so, I’ve fallen in love with it. I fall in love with the opportunities, but I haven’t forgotten how nice it is to meet Offline as well. So, the transition is to an online network with Offline networking at the discretion of the regional director. So, I get my members together every quarter or so. Offline. That’s what happened. And it was amazing.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I genuinely love that. I love the way you talk about women supporting each other and refilling your cup because it’s very easy, particularly when you’re in that kind of leadership role that you’ve given out and you’ve given up and you’re giving up, but nobody’s refilling your cup. So, it’s lovely to know that you have that incredible support through the whole of the network. It’s powerful. So, you’ve had a lot of changes in your life, and I love the way that you’ve adapted and bought those changes in, um, AHA moments. I love this question. There must have been a few AHA moments.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: I think my AHA moment was this was the day that I took over the Maiden Head and Marlowe region. So, I’d been inside Athena for years and I’d been built by Athena. That’s how I describe it in that everything that’s grown and changed in me since I walked into Athena has been because of an Athena woman somewhere doing something. And, um, the maidenhead and Marlow regional director previous to me announced in a meeting that she wanted to sell her region. And I went, oh, my God, I want it. And I didn’t hear myself say it until it was said. And people in the room went, oh my goodness, you’d make a great regional manager. And, um, I went, oh, my God, I want it. Everything wobbled inside me. So, I spoke to her, and I said, what do I have to do to do this? And, um, three months later, I was a regional director. So that to me, was an AHA moment. I had found for me what I needed to do. And I fit, um, remember those days I was trying to do my mother’s job. I didn’t fit. I fit this. I get this. I um, love this. And I have loved it since that day. I said I wanted it when I didn’t even know I did. Um, that was my AHA moment. And I’ve loved every minute.

Kirsty van den Bulk: And that shines from you. That is one of the things when I walked into women’s networking room, I mean, I didn’t sit on your table, but I sat on the table. There was this shining energy coming from why I call you a life force, because you really are. And anyone I speak to goes, oh, yes, she’s amazing. And of course, I know, interesting enough, tying back to one of my earlier wise wives, because I had Ivan Prichard on the show, and she knows you. And Yvonne also has a lovely, shining, honest energy. She was vulnerable on the show. And it’s just beautiful. And I love that honesty, I really do. And I really have thoroughly enjoyed you sharing your honesty and your vulnerability this morning. So, I hold that and say thank you. On that note, you get to ask me a question now. I don’t know what it’s going to be.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Okay, uh, I’ll ask you a question. What I’d like to know is you work on your own. What was your first step into networking like for you when you started your business, and someone said you needed to go networking? How did you feel?

Kirsty van den Bulk: Interesting, because, um, uh, everyone knows I was an actor. So acting is when you go to theater, you’re networking, it’s very different. You’re getting drunk a lot. Um, it’s a very different style of networking. You’re going partying and you’re going out at 09:00 at night and coming back at six in the morning. So slightly different way of networking. Um, it didn’t stop the nerves. So the first time, and I’ve talked about this with Sharon, um, on the Sharon Smith’s wife, why? When I walked into the women business networking event, it was uncomfortable, uh, because suddenly I wasn’t going as Kirsty Elkin, uh, the actor, and I wasn’t going as Ah, my corporate head. I was walking in as me and I hadn’t quite found let’s be brutal, I hadn’t quite found my business model. The pandemic had changed what I wanted to do. So, I had gone down a route that actually have said, my tagline worked. It stopped people on the tracks. But I didn’t want to pitch. And I found out I didn’t quite fit. Uh, I didn’t fit. It was just that people kept talking about the 62nd or 32nd pitch and I kept going. But you don’t pitch. Why are you pitching? Why are you pitching? So, I had to learn that terminology, I think, is the biggest thing. They say pitch. And I’m like, yeah, not going to pitch, I’m going to serve. I don’t do pitch, don’t do elevator pitch. So, I think it was about sort of settling in, um, the kind of person I am. This platform is my networking, inviting people onto the show, listening to their life story. And, um, that’s actually how I’ve built probably my network office through the whys? Why? Because I get to hear your stories and I get to know about you. And then when I see you in the street, I can coach you. Go, I love your story. We have a house, and we know each other. Uh, interesting. I did try business, um, or business coaches. Uh, as a former, networking didn’t work for me. Um, what I found was I want to flit in, and I want to flit out. That’s the kind of person I am. Um, I’m a people watcher, um, and I have people watch.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: So, what you’ve done is that’s very interesting. You’ve found your way. That suits you. And I think, you know, as I think we agree, networking brings so much, it brings so many opportunities, and you need to find what suits you, where your tribes are and where you’re able to fly and be comfortable at the same time. And, um, absolutely this, what you’re doing here is super powerful and very much enjoyable. So, keep going.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Well, you get a copy of this. So, this is what people don’t probably realize about the wise. Why, when I get the time, because they really do need to get a VA when, um, I get the time. And actually, I’m meeting in about an hour and a half, uh, with somebody. So, when I get the time, then I share this with you, and you get a copy, and you get to go and do what you want. I honestly cut me out of it. People always ask when I say this, I go, uh, yeah, go use your editing software, turn it into a portrait and cut me out and go fly with it. Because I love the show. I love these conversations. They’re very, very precious. And what I love about the Wi-Fi is it’s really honest. So, thank you for your honesty today. Thank you for giving your time up. And I hold your story dearly in my heart.

Lindsay Mcloughlin: Thank you so much. And thank you for sharing about that Rollerblade story at the front. So, uh, there’s a surprise. So, thank you for holding. It’s been a joy.

Kirsty van den Bulk: No problem.

In this episode:

0:00 Hello
00:31Lindsay says hello
02:28 Mothers Death
03:42 Something Exciting to share
06:31 Joining the family business
08:38 Life after the family business
10:20 Building a new team taught me to Network
13:18 Making relationships
15:22 First Networking
17:23 Child-minding in Henley
18:41 Mum’s network
20:14 Deciding to move out of London
21:38 The change from City Life to Country life
23:07 Friendships and networking
25:40 Magic Wand
27:11 Athena and adapting to Covid
31:20 Aha Moments and Athena Networking
32:51 Thank you for sharing your honesty
33:36 My life as an actor
34:05 Kirsty and Networking
37:06 Closing

Connect with Lindsay:
The Athena Network

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