The Wise Why

Episode #49

Episode #049

#49 Maurice McCartney – How to be a Good Leader

by | 3 Mar,2023

About This Episode

In this episode of The Wise Why Podcast, Maurice McCartney shares his inspiring business journey, growing up in Ireland during the 70s, and how his childhood and children have been a mirror through his life. As the founder of Learn Love Look Ahead, Maurice is passionate about helping future generations of entrepreneurs unlock their leadership potential and find opportunities to achieve together and work smarter.

At Fresh Management Solutions, Maurice and his team provide leadership development services to businesses, social enterprises, charities, and support agencies. Their philosophy is simple: good leaders are curious, positive, and forward-looking, always learning, loving, and looking ahead.

As the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Oxford’s Careers Service, Maurice delivers leadership and employability skills programs to around 800 students and researchers each year. He is also a director of a cooperative bakehouse promoting local food and a trustee of two charities, one in the environment sector and the other supporting people with disabilities in their community.

Join Kirsty van den Bulk and Maurice McCartney for an engaging conversation about leadership, entrepreneurship, and the power of surrounding yourself with good people. Learn valuable insights and strategies to help you unlock your leadership potential and achieve your goals.

Episode #49 : Full Transcription

During this episode, Maurice talks about his background and his passion for sharing idea on why his age group has a responsibility to support and empower younger generations.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Hello and welcome to the wise Y. This morning I am joined by an incredible man who makes me laugh. And uh, we were just laughing off at uh, Morris McCartney from Fresh Management and he is the founder of Fresh Management and also he has this incredible learning. Now, I’m going to get this wrong, I know I am. Learn love. Look ahead. Did I get that right Scott? Awesome. I’m going to let you explain more about it because obviously it’s your baby and I will not do it justice. So over to you Morris.

Maurice McCartney: Yes, hello there. Hello everyone. My name is Maurice McCartney, founder of Fresh Management Solutions. Um, we’re a small consulting and learning provider. Um, our whole work is about practical advice and learning to help people succeed. So, everything we do is practical. Both in the consultancy work but also the uh, programs that we run. Uh, Learn Love, Look Ahead is our uh, portfolio of leadership development programs. And um, I can tell you more about it later, but we’re very excited about since launching it about 18 months ago, we’re out there talking to people and get some really good feedback.

Kirsty van den Bulk: How did you found fresh? That’s the question. Fresh management solutions. Where did it come from and what drove you to uh, set it all up?

Maurice McCartney: Okay, well I’ll go right back to the very beginning. So, I was brought up on the Irish border, on the southern side of the border family farm. Um, my parents land was part of the border and um, that was an interesting place in the 70s. Um, not always pleasant. Um, so two things I think have helped formed who I am and the way I work from that one is um, you learn a lot about the world and how people work and how tribes form when you’re in a conflict area. Um, and I think about kids in Ukraine and other parts of the world at the moment who are going through much more traumatic experiences. But there’s a lot to learn about life and people from those experiences. That’s the first thing. Second thing is coming up on a family farm, you’re very independent, you get great responsibility very early on in life. And of course you’ve this wonderful experience of being at the center of a business. So having sort of started from there, my family moved to Scotland when I was a kid, did an economics degree at the University of Glasgow and then moved into different uh, roles from a graduate program writer to sort senior leadership roles in the food industry. Um, got to a point in my career where I’d worked in lots of different roles, everything from marketing to operations, to logistics to policy. And I realized that actually this is a great experience curve, but also skill set to work in consultancy. And the idea of going back to working in a small business again after many years in corporate life, doing my own thing. And using all that experience to help others was really exciting, and it was a great career move.

Kirsty van den Bulk: That’s brilliant. And I love the fact that, you know, there’s that, uh, right at the very beginning, you’ve got all that influence from your childhood, and we don’t really talk about how your childhood really does shape who you are. Ah, I wouldn’t do what I do now if I hadn’t been an actor as a child. I wouldn’t help people feel confident if I hadn’t trained and used all of the skills that I learned. And I just found it fascinating that you started growing up in a small business, you’ve moved around the country, and now you’re back after going through the corporate world doing lots of different things love, affection, and policy. And here you are running your own business, but you weren’t just suddenly 20. And a lot of people I know there are entrepreneurs out there who are in their, wow, I wish I had been one. But that life experience that you bring with you is just phenomenal.

Maurice McCartney: Yes, it is. And I’m a big believer that, um, my generation has a responsibility to learn from the generation above, but also support the generation below. And that’s my mission. That’s everything that drives me at the moment. How can I share the ideas I’ve discovered and learn from others? How can I share those with other people coming through. It’s really interesting you talk about childhood. I’m a parent, so my wife and I have two kids. When, um, my son was very young, like every good parent, he got told to teach them your home telephone number. They ever get lost in the supermarket if they know your home telephone number. You’ll do it. So, I’m standing in the kitchen teaching my son our telephone number, and we live in Gloucestershire, so it’s an 1452 code. And I’m teaching him this. And he looks at me and said, Daddy, that’s not an O, it’s a zero. And I sort of stood back and thought, there’s a mathematician, there this very young child. He’s already getting a grasp of numbers. He’s seeing logic and things that don’t fit, and he’s curious, and he’s prepared to sort of raise the question. Well, 18 years on, that young man will graduate with a math’s and, um, computer science degree from Manchester and will start working at an engineering company in September. So, it is really interesting how these very early signs and signals carry through and develop over life.

Kirsty van den Bulk: It’s, uh, brilliant. Sorry, I just got completely lost there thinking about my own little one and thinking about how she is absolutely certain she’s going to be a teacher. And she’s been like that since she started reception. So, yeah, childhood is so important. So, you’ve done all this wonderful stuff, but who is it that comes to you? I know I know about the university work, but I’m wondering if you can explain to the listeners who comes to you and who works with you.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah, we’ve a little bit more background about me. So, as well as working in this business, it’s the day job, but I’m also involved in a number of social enterprises and charities. So, I’m a trustee of a disability charity in the Welsh valleys. Disability can do. We support people in the community who have disabilities. I’m also, um, chairman of a wood recycling social enterprise and charity in Abingdon and Oxfordshire. We recycle wood and with all those activities, we create employment learning opportunities, help people get closer to work. And uh, I’ve also been a school governor, and I think in those roles, although I was volunteering given a long time, I’ve learned a lot too, about governance and about what’s missing for some of those organizations. And, um, that prompted us to look at that marketplace. So, in our consulting work, quite a bit of it over the years has been supporting social enterprises, people who have got wonderful ideas to have impact in their communities, but they need the money and the activities to make that all happen. So, we can bring some of our business experience and our charity and social experience into that. That can be super. So, in the consultancy side, a lot of it is charities and social enterprises, businesses as well, on the learning side of what we do, and we talked about learn, love, look ahead. Um, I’ll give you an easy way to remember that in a moment. Christie um, but that’s all about helping people who are earlier in their career develop their leadership skills. And if you don’t mind, I’ll explain to you a little bit about the gap we spotted. So, there’s lots of really good high quality leadership development, uh, programs and courses for people who are middle of their career and above. Um, it could be business schools at Oxford. Elsewhere there’s lots of providers providing good high quality, um, leadership development work. But it’s pitched at leadership level. It tends to be, um, quite corporate in style, even in the way it’s marketing, the way it’s delivered. Um, tends to use jargon. And what we spotted is that, leadership isn’t something that you suddenly open the door to, and you start doing it. It’s something everyone is doing right from the very beginning in the formative years. So, what we want to do is to, is to support young people and help them realize that they’re leading already. So, if you’ve organized a friendship trip to Ibiza or to Glastonbury, or you’ve, um, dealt with some really challenging problem in a family, lots of young people have, um, the skills you’ve used. The negotiation, the communication, the creativity, the planning, those skills are the fundamentals of good leadership. So, what we try to do is to awaken that sort of knowledge in somebody’s mind and then add to the skills they’ve got. And um, we deal directly with young people who work in businesses. I say young up to sort of mid thirty s, I suppose, as our ideal learner. We work with others as well. Um, and we also work with a couple of universities, university of Oxford, where I’m entrepreneur and residents of the career service. I see about 800 young ah people every year. And also, at Harper University and College in Gloucestershire. We love working with those two organizations. So, the joy of my work is I’m meeting this next generation, coming through, hopefully adding some value and sparking interest in working differently and growing.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I love it. And I’m just about to finish a contract with a company that was really actually, I’ve been doing something similar. So, it’s like, oh, I do that. So, I’m going to enjoy this moment for a minute because I’ve been helping a small company, and I won’t say who they are because I haven’t got their permission, but I’ve been helping them to, uh the exit plan. For the father and bringing up the skills of the new person who’s in them remember sitting in a coffee shop saying to him, you have all these leadership skills. You’re already doing it. Um, at the time, I don’t think we’ve met. And I will be sending out details to them about learn, love, and look ahead. Look ahead. It’s just me, it’s Friday morning. But, um, I will be sending them details because I love the fact that you’re going to continue to develop the skills that we all have. And I talk about it all the time because it’s not just young entrepreneurs, but also women who have stopped working. And we’re returning to work, and we really feel like we have no skills. We’ve had time with the children and yet we’ve been managing the finances. We’ve been doing the food shop, we’ve been running our children to gymnastics or to swimming or to ballet or to beavers, or whatever we’ve got to do. And we are not Moscow multi twitching.

Maurice McCartney: Yes.

Kirsty van den Bulk: And yet we feel that sometimes we don’t have those skills.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah, well, it’s a much easier conversation with somebody if you help them understand that they’re already on the train. And what we’re doing is just adding to it and building upon it. And it’s a joyful thing. I’m working with people who are very similar situation in family businesses and they’re looking to take it over. Um, a little bit about learning of look ahead. Um, my mission is to help you remember it. Christie um, that came out of a realization a few years ago and some of this was about lockdown. I think a lot of us started to sit back and reflect on the work we do and how we do it in the future. And I’ve been thinking about leadership, um, for a little while and came to the realization that the really good leaders and the good leadership experiences I had, those individuals were curious they were positive, and they were forward looking. And I looked at every instance of everything I’d liked and admired, and those three things kept coming up curious, positive, and forward looking. And I captured those and learn love, look ahead. So, what do I mean by that? Curious? It’s about learning from everything we do, the stuff we get wrong as well as the stuff we get right. Love is about seeing the positives in the people, but also in the situation. Yes, there’s always negative stuff, but letting that negative stuff go and seeing the positives, because you can do something with those, but you won’t be able to do anything with it until you see what they look like. So that’s about having a positive love frame of mind. And then look ahead is constantly being forward looking. Yes. Past, uh, the past informs how we think and, um, can shape the decisions we make. But, what’s really important is the future. And then the magic thing Kirsty learn love, look ahead was if you take the word lead le A D, and pull it apart, you’ve got learn, love, look ahead. So, anyway, that’s something for another day.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you. Because I don’t know if you know about, um, Dyslexic, and if the words are, uh, similar in shape, that’s where I struggle. And so, I was struggling. And anyone who’s Dyslexic out there, I’m sure you would appreciate this. Uh, I read Shapes, I don’t read words. And so sometimes when I’m trying to remember something, and it becomes quite difficult if it’s all similar. Uh, so learn, love, look ahead they all start with the L, and that’s why I was struggling. So, I really appreciate it because I’m not going to not forget learn love your head. But it was as simple as I couldn’t see it. I have the same problem with, um, one of my best friend’s names. And I’m going to say it, and it’s going to be incorrect because I’ve known her since I was probably 16, but I’ve known of her since I was 14 and still to this day, at the age of nearly 52, cannot say her name. So, her name is Sayera. But I must really think about it because of how it’s spelled. And it’s interesting. One, I’ve got a speech impediment, but two, uh, it is actually genuinely the shape of it. I struggle, so thank you. And I’m sure loads of Dyslexics out there right now are saying thank you.

Maurice McCartney: And that’s a really interesting insight for us. And it’s the joy of having conversations with big bull Kirsty, that you always learn something. So that’s a really interesting point for me to take away and just think, how can we make it easier for people to engage in what we do? Um, one interesting point. Yeah.

Kirsty van den Bulk: Thank you. So, along the way, you have met lots and lots of people. So is there anyone that really jumps out. Who is totally inspired you?

Maurice McCartney: Oh, interesting. Um, um, lots of people talk, particularly around leadership. They talk about the heroes and like Churchill, like Mandela, um, I’ve never met any of these people, of course. Um, I think, like a lot of people, your parents inspire you. Um, I’ve also been blessed with really good bosses over the years, people who trusted me to do things and, um, give me the space to do it. One of the things I learned from them was surround yourself with really good people and then let them do their stuff. Um, and it was interesting observing others. Um, but within with within sort of friendships, I’ve got friends who I truly admire. I love them as friends, but I just they wow me with the things they are capable of doing. And one of the reasons maybe that is because I know there’s lots of things, I’m not very good at. So, when you see people doing stuff that you’re not good at, it’s always great. Um, I’m trying to think of a specific individual. This is a name that maybe men don’t often talk about, but I love David Beckham. I think he’s an amazing guy. I love it that he’s family orientated. I love it that he’s successful. I love it that he stands in the queue, ah, ah at Westminster, when the Queen is lying in state, um, yeah, there’s things that we wish he didn’t do, and maybe that will always be the case with anyone, but it’s wonderful to see people succeed on their talents. And this was a man who was just truly gifted at what he did, and a nice guy as well. How cool is that?

Kirsty van den Bulk: I know. And it’s interesting when I ask the question, who inspired you? Because I know that a woman who I’ve talked about before, Lorna, I wouldn’t be able to do exactly what I do today on this podcast without Lorna McGrath. She took the time to help me shape the words. After the operation I had at four and a half, she took the time to invest in me. She saw something in me, and she nurtured, uh, it. And along with my mum, who was there absolutely every single day, taking to me, to all those dance classes and supporting me to learn to speak. Because this is the thing, people don’t necessarily realize that I couldn’t speak properly until I was five and a half. So, I don’t talk about it very often, but I was born in a hole at the base of nasal pharaohs. And so, again, it’s that childhood thing. It’s that learning the nurture, uh, you know, I became an actor because of that care and that nurture. Uh, and it’s just interesting, the through thought about talent. And would I go and stand in the Queen’s to go into the Queen’s, um, body? Possibly, but not with a six-year-old. So, I probably have stayed at home at the moment. Maybe I’d had children when I was younger, but yeah, David Beckham is an inspiration. He’s absolutely great choice. But it’s always an interesting question.

Maurice McCartney: So why yeah, well, I’ll add a few more names to it. I love language and I love the way we use language. Irish people love the English language. It’s, um, one of the reasons we use it so much. Um, when people craft words and phrases that really bring things into sharp focus, I just think it’s wonderful. So, we talked earlier about children and how children are read in those formative years. Hillary Clinton wrote a book, It Takes a Village, and Hillary’s book is about the title comes from an, uh, African thing about it’s the whole village that raises a child. And her book is about policy in America and how we need more social support and communities should be looking to raise the next generation. And in each of the chapters, at the front of each of the chapters, there’s a code and there’s a nice one. I can’t remember who it’s from, but it says that you learn the rope of life by untying its knots. And, uh, that was an AHA moment for me because when I read that so what it’s saying to us is that there will be knots in life. And I’ve untied a load of knots. And you’ve described some of the knots you’ve dealt with Christie, and, um, survived and used to drive you forward. Well that’s life. There will always be knots in those life. And we the key thing is that is that we learn bid that every time we work our way through these knots, let’s make sure we get something from it because there’s always going to be more knots down the road.

Kirsty van den Bulk: What a brilliant analogy to share. Honestly, you’re blowing my mind this morning. I love it. I’m going to go to the comments because we’ve had a lot of comments come in, which is lovely. So good morning, all. Um, and our childhood shapes us far more than we realize. And I’m always interested in foreign languages. And, uh, later I said, at learning languages at school, it’s interesting that if you start languages at such a young age, it really makes a difference. Um, Haley’s joined us, said, love it, love it, love it. Morris little people become their own version leaders. High five to you. Um, and then Joanne Baker has agreed, so I’m not sure which point that was on. So maybe she can clarify it later. Um, and then so wonderful that you’re helping the next generation. They all need support, and you learn the ropes of life by untying the knots. That’s very profound. I love it. You’ve absolutely blown my mind. So, who’s helped and supported you along the way?

Maurice McCartney: Everyone, I guess. Um, I’ll get more specific. Um, I learn a lot from my kids. Um, now, um, about how their generation works and how they think, and they ground me. Um, I learn a lot from Claire, my wife, as well, from extended family. I’m blessed with a really rich group of friends, a lot of whom we will work together. And these are people I trust with everything. Um, and, uh, I won’t mention James. They’ll get embarrassed. But it just comes back to this point about surrounding yourself with good people. Um, so I think as individuals, it links back to the rope of life thing. Use your relationships around you to strengthen who you are, but also as part of that, you’re giving back to others.

Kirsty van den Bulk: It’s really true. Um, I now surround myself, and the network I have around me is so solid. We can really rely on each other when something goes wrong. And we talk about those knots that you talked about earlier. We had a couple of knots last year that were really difficult to deal with. And it was the network of friends that I have, uh, that buoyed me, that carried me, that supported me. Some of them have been on the show and as a thank you, because without that support, that inspiration as well, there’s points where I do feel like, oh, what am I doing? And yet they’re there, uh, when I have that imposter syndrome. And I think, why am I doing this? Uh, I’m at my desk, they’re there holding me. They’re catching me. If I’m caught up in traffic, they’re there collecting my children. The support network of friends is so important, and it’s what carries us through.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah, I think so. I’m big on reflection. I can tell you are as well, too, Cassie. And lots of people are. I think if you take that reflection idea a little bit further, I think what my friends and people I work with, the boss, as I mentioned earlier, each of those is holding a mirror up for me. And, um, they’re helping me see myself and how I work. And, uh, I mentioned my son earlier. We have a daughter as well. So, my daughter, uh, is really good at that, too. She will tell it straight. And she’s 18 now. Uh, and when she was very little, I would just like I do in work, I was, you know, try and separate personality from behavior. You know, we could change somebody’s behavior, but change your personalities is much more challenging. And I would translate that into home. So, if I was asking my daughter to do something which was very young, she said, Daddy, you’re an idiot. And I would sit it down and say, no, daddy’s not an idiot. But sometimes daddy does idiotic things. And I might have just done an idiotic thing. And I always remember she got a bit older. She got very frustrated with me repeating this again and again. I said, Daddy, you’ve said it before, and I get it, but you’re still an idiot. And uh, that was just great for me because it just reminds you again, she’s holding a mirror up to me that you don’t need to repeat everything all the time. People will get the simple ideas you’re trying to help them with.

Kirsty van den Bulk: But I love that because uh, generation thing. So, my daughter doesn’t like certain words and you know, she’s six, nearly seven. So, she starts we’re starting to get to that point of bad words and, and I do mean the bad words, but actually she thinks silly, idiot, stupid of bad words. And I’m really proud of her for it. Um, so she heard the word idiot and uh, said recently and she went, you can’t use that word, it’s a bad word. It’s worse than a swear word. But actually, when you think about it I’m not going to swear on air, but when you think about it, a swear word, I mean in some cultures, um, a swear word is actually a term for endearment, which always gets me. But swear words are they that bad? Where if you’re calling somebody an idiot, that really is quite horrific thing to do. And I said something in the car yesterday, she went, Mummy, that was nasty. And I was like, but she’s right. So that mirror is held up to me all the time.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah. And it is interesting, sometimes when I talk to young people, I’ll uh, talk um, about some of the things we’re told as children that are not just, not true or just funny to reflect back on. And of course, you might remember this as well. Sticks and stones will uh, break your bones but words will not hurt you. Where on what planet was somebody who designed that as a phrase? My goodness. I spend most of my life helping supporting people where words have either contributed greatly or really hurt people. So, you know, words are really important.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I have a video on YouTube which starts with sticks and stones will Break My bones. And it’s about the power of words. And it’s interesting because there’s a poem that I grew up with, uh, by Steven Splendor, I think it is my parents kept me from children who were rough. Uh, I can’t remember the words, but it’s really powerful about words. It’s a great poem. So, I will try and find the words. Yeah, I’ll put it into the chat later because it is really quite empowering and it’s still something that I hold today, again with a song, uh, which is a Christian song and I’m not particularly Christian, but I’m not particularly not either. But um, there’s a song which is written by Graham Kendrick. And I talked about it before, about taking it’s called spec. Spec in your brother’s eye. And it’s about taking the spec out of your brother’s eye to see the log in your own. And m it’s really interesting because it is about that mirror and what we see and the judgment. So, words and judging others is so easy, and yet if we stop and think and start with ourselves, it makes a huge difference. I don’t know what you think.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah. No, I completely agree. And I look back at parents and teachers and everything who would use that phrase, words that cannot hurt you. With me, we should be telling people that words can hurt you, but more importantly, your words can hurt other people. But I think we’re better at this stuff. Now, um, the other one that always makes me smile is when I was a kid, people would say a problem shared is a problem halved. I don’t know about you, Kirsty. I’ve been sharing problems with 35 years. They’re still just as big as they were after sharing them as they were before. But of course, what we do is we still got the same size problem, but we probably get more solutions. So, if the math is important, the problem is the same size, maybe we double the solution so we get to the SM end result. But some of these things are really what we thought as wisdom, merely as young people. Some of these things are really important. It’s important we get them right.

Kirsty van den Bulk: There are points where I will come up with an old wife’s tale. So, I know my daughter, I take to other children to school. And so, 110, two of them are one seven and one six, nearly, uh, seven. And honestly, they pull me up on, um, so many things. So, what exactly does that mean? Well, it’s an old wife’s tale, but what does it mean? Okay, I’ve now got to explain that on the school run, um, and we’re stuck in traffic. It makes you think. And it does make and some of the videos I’ve got on YouTube have been inspired by the conversations I’ve had in the car in the morning.

Maurice McCartney: Oh, how funny. This is my last example. But the other one that always makes me smile is when people say, oh, it’s the least I could do. And as if you’d make a list of all the things that might be useful and then pick the one that was least useful. It’s just bizarre, isn’t it? But we’ve got to smile about these. But I raise these things because it just brings us back to how we communicate. We’re group animals. We heard we work in teams. And the only way teams will ever work is if we can find ways to communicate between us as individuals. So, the way we communicate is really important. And that’s not just about the words. It’s about the body language. It’s about the tone. We talked about the word idiot earlier. You can say that word in two completely different ways. And one is affectionate, and the other is nasty. And, um, we’ve touched on that. But that’s why we always come back to how we communicate in the things you say. And do it’s so important.

Kirsty van den Bulk: So, this is where you get to turn a question onto me. I get to worry a little bit because I never know what’s coming. Uh, yes, you get to send a question to me, and I get to do my best, because you’ve been in the hot seat, and I think it’s only fair you’ve been in the hot seat for 28 minutes, so at nearly 29, it’s only fair to send something back my way and see if I can answer it. Yeah.

Maurice McCartney: I mean, you’ve described this amazing, life challenging things you were dealing with as a young child and, of course, the support around you. You talked about being an actor. You’ve talked about the work you’ve done since as you reflect back in life, if I lent you my magic wand, what would you change? And I want the magic wand back, by the way, but what would you change?

Kirsty van den Bulk: So, this is a really good question, and the reason it’s a good question is because I wouldn’t change anything. I really wouldn’t. Everything that I have gone through, every knot that I have untied, every knot that I’ve retired, every time I have climbed and scaled a wall or abseiled down, it because of all the twists and turns that life has thrown at me have made me who I am. Um, I have days where I sit there and I have to take a thinking day. I had a thinking day on Tuesday where I just reflected and just chilled out and just thought that’s a day of drinking tea for me and not doing anything because sometimes, I need to just file stuff away and make it bearable. Because there is a lot of heartbreak and I’m not going to sit there and say there isn’t. There’s a lot of heartbreak that has gone on in my life. But every day, I get to wake up and I see my husband and I see my daughter, and I must pinch myself that I am, um, as lucky and blessed as I really am. Um, I do a podcast every Friday morning during Tampa. I run a business that is growing, and it’s growing at the pace that I want it to grow at. I’m on target for everything that I put in place three years ago when I decided to launch a business. So, everything is moving exactly at this moment in time, as I planned. And I’m sitting here going, I’m not quite sure how this has happened. I’m sitting on my surfboard, and I’m going to ride this way. I’m going up that escalator or traveling along the travelers, whichever one you want to use. And I am just grateful. So, so grateful, because it’s more than I expected. And I’m just grateful every single day because the stuff that the hurt is what makes me who I am. I might be a bit too blunt sometimes. Please tell me if I am, but um, ultimately, I stand by my word and I love what I do.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah. And it’s really important. And life isn’t a dress rehearsal. And every Friday morning, there’s another Friday morning gone. So, I love your approach, I love that positivity, and it’s great that you love what you do. Um, it’s also really important, I think, for people to recognize just where they are. I don’t know if you’ve probably been the same, but I’ve had a very wiggly career path. Wiggly career paths are great. Um, but sometimes the challenge is when do you move into something new or move out of something new? And it sounds like you feel really comfortable that you’ve moved into something new three years ago and you’re peddling away on this bicycle or surfboard and enjoying it.

Kirsty van den Bulk: I really am. Catherine, I was going to try and say a name now. Catherine Warlord talked about wonky careers. I think wonky careers or wiggly careers are important. When I look back at myself at 19, graduating with my diploma, my CDET in musical theater from Arts Ed, um, I certainly didn’t envisage that in my fifty s, I would be running a company called Kvdb. I had no concept. My plan at 19 was to go into the West End, do musicals, um, and then get a nice couple of roles on TV, get married at some point, have children, continue acting. That was the path that I thought I was going to have at 19. But life didn’t go that way, the knots didn’t go that way, and the knots that I did tie and untie, so, no joke. I tied knots in my point shoes and hung them up and put them as far away as I possibly could. Um, because I suddenly realized that 21, 22, I didn’t want to dance anymore. I just didn’t want to do it. I had no passion for it, but I had a passion for acting. So, I continued on acting to my 30s, um, mid 30s. Then a big knot came along, and that not completely made my life go in a completely different direction. And then I bumped around, and I will say I bumped around. I bumped and found about ten jobs at the same time. Um, so wiggly careers. And then I went back to university at 37. And it’s that huge moment, that big knot in my mid thirty s, it was more than a knot. It was more like when you get a piece of necklace or a jewelry that you really can’t undo, and actually the only thing you can do is throw it away or break it. Well, it was one of those moments like chewing gum in the hair. Um, and that completely changed my life and changed my career path. I ended up in business and I’m here where I am. So, Wonky, wiggly, whatever we want to call them, careers are really important. And when I talk to my clients from their early twenty s. I say to them, you don’t know where you’re going to be when you’re in 50s.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah, I agree. One of the big questions is sometimes knowing when to get out. Um, do you know a band called the Foo Fighters?

Kirsty van den Bulk: I love the Foo Fighters.

Maurice McCartney: Yeah. Do you know their song, The Best of you? Um, it’s a great live track. So, the chorus line is, is someone getting the best, the best, the best, the best of you? That’s a great question, and I think we can bring that into our conversation about wiggly career paths and when to move on. Because if somebody isn’t getting the best of you, there’s things going on there that you might want to think about. So, is it that they’re not asking you to do enough or they’re not demanding it, so the work you’re in isn’t challenging enough for you? Or is it that for whatever reason, you’re not giving the best? So, is someone getting the best of you? No. But why might that be? And, um, that could be about your motivation. It could be about skills that we don’t have to do it. Or it could be that we’re just frustrated in a negative place. I just think that’s a great that line is a great way of sort of bringing focus to that question, is someone getting the best of you? If they’re not, it might be time to think about doing something different and bigger.

Kirsty van den Bulk: And that’s exactly why I do what I do now. Because I wasn’t giving the best of me, and they weren’t giving me the opportunity to give them the best of me. And that’s not their fault. It was just time for me to move on. And yeah, the best of you is good. That’s a great way to end. Thank you so much for your time. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to you this morning.

Maurice McCartney: Thank you, Kirsty. It’s been a real pleasure chatting.


In this episode:

00:06 Welcome to The Wise Why
00:37 Maurice McCartney’s life in Ireland and moving to Scotland
03:43 Supporting Young entrepreneurs
05:15 Inspiration from children
05:52 Business life and charity work
07:21 Leadership Skills for a younger generation
09:54 Exit strategy
10:32 Transferable skills
11:46 Curiosity
12:32 LEAD
14:13 Who Inspired you
18:09 Learn the rope of life
19:11 How childhood shapes us
22:00 Holding a mirror at you
22:18 Learned behavior
24:20 Sticks and stones will break your bones
27:53 How we communicate
29:07 Question to Kirsty
34:44 Getting the best from you and you give your best
35:58 End

Connect with Maurice:

Facebook: @learnlovelookahead
Instagram: @learnlovelookahead

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