The Wise Why

Episode #67

Episode #067

#Ep 67 | Mike Foster Radiating Confidence & Approachability

by | 13 Oct,2023

About This Episode

Mike Foster talks with Kirsty van den Bulk on Wise Why about Success, Failure, and how to Keep On Going. Mike is famously known in Oxfordshire as ‘The Entrepreneur’s Mentor’ and has knowledge and experience helping entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Mike believes in mentoring rather than coaching and acts as a sounding board for clients while using his personal experiences to fuel their strategies. He emphasises the importance of understanding one’s purpose and creating a tailored plan for success.

Mike started working at 15 to pursue his passion for business over academia. Hard work was embedded in his DNA. He worked in various roles at Barclays, but his destiny led him to entrepreneurship, where he found control over his career without being capped by corporate constraints. His insights revolve around navigating the crucial 3-5-year period when many businesses face challenges scaling up. He advises focusing on cash generation and investing wisely while considering automation or team expansion to increase capacity.

Mike discusses learning from highs and lows with six businesses under his belt. He stresses calculated risk-taking and avoiding unnecessary expenses that don’t offer returns. Chris relates these entrepreneurial lessons to her experiences in group training and expanding her base of trainers with commercial acumen.

They discussed overcoming imposter syndrome by adopting different “heads” or personas for various situations. Finally, they touched upon inspirations like family values of hard work and giving back, which have profoundly shaped them along their paths.

Key takeaways:

1. Tailor your mentoring approach using real-life examples.
2. Define your success based on personal purpose rather than external standards.
3. Manage growth strategically between years three to five.
4. Invest smartly – consider automation before hiring.
5. Embrace risks cautiously; always calculate potential ROI.
6. Learn from every high & low; each step can bring you closer towards your goals.
7. Overcome self-doubt by adapting different mindsets suited for specific tasks or challenges.
Stay tuned after an insightful session with actionable advice for any entrepreneur looking forward to sustainable growth!

Episode #67 : Full Transcription
Mike Foster
It’s quite cool.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Hello and welcome to The Wise Why. This morning I am joined by somebody who just well gets me, which I really like a business centre and an amazing, amazing man who I was a little bit intimidated by. Mike Foster. So Mike doesn’t know this, but I was petrified to go and speak to him. For a very long time. But then I did and I just found that he is s just, just incredible. And his insights and his mind is powerful. But as usual, the wise way is not about me. It is about my guest. So straight over to you. Mike, please introduce yourself.
Mike Foster
Wow, thanks Kirsty. It’s really, really kind and I I do worry about that sometimes in terms of that. I’ve had that phrase to me a couple of times that I’m intimidating for some people, so I might have to explore that with you a bit more. But yeah, Mike Foster, the Entrepreneurs Mentor, do as it says on the tin. And also on my waistcoat, the man behind the waistcoat predominantly helps people to. Develop their business, improve their business to grow scale. Their business and and it’s about achieving success as they define themselves, not by me, not by some book that they read. What is their purpose? What’s their why? What is it they’re trying to achieve and where they are now what the gap is and where they’re trying to achieve to and I look work with my clients to put that plan in place, but also to act as a sounding board. The reason why I position myself as a mentor rather than just a business coach and I do coach my clients. But I found in my own coaching experience in doing my market research that people got frustrated with coaching sometimes because you know, how would you do that? What do you think you should do? And. Have people got well? I don’t know the answer. The reason I’ve engaged you, etcetera. So I use my experience as you kindly said in the intro bio of this event, to say that you know, I use my experience, my expertise, my knowledge to give a case that it’s give an example and predominantly to fuel or spark my clients reaction to their own thoughts to then say OK, this is how I’m going to develop my business. This is how I’m going to take that one. Forward and you know that sounding board, that additional pair pair of eyes, that additional pair of ears is a place that I help my clients because often running a business is a very lonely place I’ve just built on that experience of being an old. I’m a business owner myself. If you like a few grey hairs have have taken me that way, but I’ve ran six of my own businesses and before that I was part of a startup which was sold Ledger, which broke away from South Oxford District Council and startup got into my blood when I was area manager for Barclays business startup team here in Oxfordshire.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Honestly, I now know exactly why. Funny enough to use the word why I found you slightly intimidating because we do we we have a crossover which I would never, never have really put that together. But more importantly, I must say that there’s a couple of people who say that I’m intimidating too. So I kind of like that.
OK.
And why I called this The Wise Why. Because everyone was talking about the ‘why’. And I find the why fascinating. Because it’s not just about why you do something, it’s about why somebody buys you. There’s so many reasons about the why. And yet why is the most insulting. You can never ask somebody. Cause think about the kids going. Why? Why? I wonder if. You could explore a little bit more about that.

Mike Foster
Well, I quite I quite often encourage my clients to go into child mode and keep asking themselves why to really drill down into their value, to drill down into how their marketing works, to drill down. Into. XYZ in terms of my why I think. It was quite an interesting journey for me. I think I left school when I could. At 15. I was actually working for Barclays 2 weeks before my 16th birthday because I wanted to get into business and I wanted to start earning money and every single one of my mates went off to the university. And it’s probably been an interesting journey for me since then in terms of, you know, them all going to university and me taking my path. Yeah, I I wanted to earn money. I wanted to earn money fairly quickly. I could see a salary that would be higher than what a lot of people in my age at that time were were earning. And I think that was. The result of. It’s washing. My parents worked really, really, really hard. You know, my dad used to get up really early to go off to. The British Leyland, as it was at that time my mum used to get up early and to go to City Motors as it was that time where the BMW garage now is and she. And him had a couple of other responsibilities as well that they, they managed. And so I admired that hard work and that’s always been part part of my makeup. I guess my DNA and. My way was predominantly at the start to to earn money and and contribute. Then I got into the business side of Barclays fairly quickly. Then all the sort of stuff like round cashiering and financial services etcetera got into the business side and then worked my way through from being a a business banker as we called them at the time. And then being a business manager and then. Looking after the local startup team in Oxfordshire and I think that’s where the the Why he really came forward for me then at that time when I realised I was in control, I was in control of my destiny. I was never going to be capped by a salary or controlled by a corporate if you like, because I wanted to get out. The corporate rat race and I did and started my own businesses. I did realise that you had to blend some of that. Corporate life back into your small business, you know that some of those great tools that you have. In corporate so. I I. Probably ended up with a bit more respect than I did on the day. That I left corporate if. You like, so that was, that was my why and my. Purpose was to earn money to be independent. And and to, you know, in effect not cap what my earnings would be and in effect have something that I could exit from in the future for some future wealth of myself.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I love it because and I really do, because I spent ten years in the corporate world and if it wasn’t for the corporate world, I wouldn’t be actually in a situation where I just checked my bank account and went ohh. I’m quite tough with. Yeah. And. And yeah, I’ve only be going, what, three years? So I’m still very much learning and I am and and this is something I I really say to people. I am now on a new business development course. You know, I’m sitting there going well. I’ve got three years now to get to five years and I wondered if you could share some wisdom there because. You. They they talk about if you get. Two years, then. That’s great. But most businesses fail, I believe, by Year 5. And I’m. I’m worried, you know, I’m. I’m cash. I’m. I’m in a good cash position, but it’s also that thing of how do I scale because that’s the big thing. And I wondered if you could give share some advice to somebody actually not not that much of free advice but share some advice at this point. Somebody who else might be in my position, who hasn’t recognised that they need to go on another course and and how you actually scale.

Mike Foster
Yeah, an interesting question. And I would add actually in terms of the corporate world gave you a fantastic foundation of training and I respect to barkers cause I I still refer to a lot of that now. I think in terms of scale, you’re at that interesting point for a. Lot of businesses in terms of. Come through the what I call the first brick wall, that sort of three, three-year period. What we tend to see before that in the start up mode is. A bit of kidding ourselves to start with, whereby how tough it is, but we haven’t really gone out and and worked on our business or marketed our business really well. We just think it’s going to happen for us and then things start to happen when we we get over that hump and we start to to realise a lot of businesses have a really nice period and instead of looking at their bank balance, smiling, looking at their bank balance thinking that’s a bit tight. But look, I’ve got a Mercedes on the driveway or I’ve moved house, or they’ve invested in some asset because they’ve rewarded themselves and don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe. I don’t think we shouldn’t reward ourselves, but I do think we have to be mindful of the longer term picture in terms of impacting cash. Someone asked me yesterday what’s the number one thing I need to think about and it’s about cash. It’s about cash generation. So what make? The money in your business, you know? And are you focusing on that? But how how do you spend that? Cash and how? Do you invest that cash and as soon as you see an expenditure in your business that’s not an expense, sorry, not an investment. You see it as a cost, then you need to consider. Removing that expense. Now in terms of that three to five year, you then get to that point whereby you get to a dynamic where you’re going. Now I’m really busy myself. I’m probably pushing to. Capacity as as I need to. So do I put my prices up to more revenue and and cap my time? If you like it as a service business which is. Predominantly what I. Work with or do I need to hire somebody or outsource or to make more to to take that forward and the 1st place to look at is automation? I’m going through a period at this moment in time looking at AI and automation tools to. Even reduce my time so I can improve my capacity, I’m looking at ways of. Trying to help more businesses so that I can do group stuff rather than want stuff to maximise my. Time. But then you get that point whereby you know I’ve seen a lot of businesses go forward and then come back a little bit, you know 3, three steps forward, one step back whereby they’ve hired some people and then they realise a little bit far down the line, they go well. All I’m doing is. Working. Really hard to pay their wages and. That’s a mindset shift that we have to to think about where that investment really is. The Seneca where if you hide those people, but you’re still at capacity, you know what was the real purpose of hiring those people? What is the purpose to really or the why as you like, really to free you up. But you didn’t allow yourself to be freed up. You just basically took some. Course. Benefit from your and then you just capture yourself again and Seneca will again. It’s a little bit more saying in my introduction and say OK, well, where do you want to be in three, 5-10 years time and that’s for a lot of small businesses that’s gonna waver a little bit, but it’s pretty pretty firm in terms of and I connect that to people’s wiring purpose and then we’re gonna bring that back to a line in the sand in a year’s time and say, OK well. If we’re going to go on a trajectory. Towards that three, 5-10 years, where do we need the business to be in a year’s time? Does that mean that myself as an individual, I’m only working at 50% of my capacity as in terms of fee? And then, for example, and then I’ve got a team around me that are delivering the cream of profits over their time to top up what I’m earning that allows me to focus on other things, which is about. Building that business. We will have that different reason why you know it maybe that you you love and I know you love what you do and you may love what you do. So therefore you want to be at capacity because you still want to work with clients. You still want to do what you do. But therefore you’ve got a team that’s just putting a little bit of extra cream on there. So I think it’s about investing on what you think is your right journey is about defining clearly what that journey is. You’re again the why as we talk about and I think it’s then yeah, when we make our profits at that bottom, you know, are we making enough profits? If not, then what do we need to do? We need to raise our prices, get more customers. Make our expenses more lean to give us that bigger pot at the bottom and then we’ve got that pot on the bottom. It’s OK. It’s now my choice. What I do with that. Do I go and buy that Mercedes or move her? Or, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Or do I reinvest in the business, if I’m going to invest in the business, where is the best place to that reinvestment to be? Is IT systems, processes, AI or is it on a team or is it on an outsourced resource etcetera, etcetera.

Kirsty van den Bulk
That’s brilliant advice, because I am reinvesting in the business and I will say to everybody, watch this space. Because I’m looking at what I can bring in and like you said, where I where I really excel is in Group training. You know, if I’ve got 8 or 20 people in a room now, I have some, I’ve I’ve expanded my client, my, my, my training base as well. So I bring in more trainers. But actually what I found was I need trainers with. Commercial, you know that that commercial background? Because as much as I do, public speaking and and we’ll just talk about this in the the studio as much as public speaking confidence on camera, I’m actually looking at that real nitty gritty business acumen. And what you’re saying. And if you it’s not about having the perfect voice for me now, there are people that coach that it’s not actually what they do. And I’m looking at creating you being the best you can be. So that was really great advice on that note. Because you’ve six businesses, I’m wondering of course there will have been moments where you’ve gone. Uh-huh. Ohh. Uh-huh. That was a brilliant idea. So I wonder if you could share any highs and lows that you’ve been through with the ahas?

Mike Foster
So one of my learns of having six businesses was that was probably too much. I had five businesses at once at one time and it was predominantly because it suited my character and that’s why mentoring suits my character. And I’ve now got a business that I’ve established looking at my why and purpose that suits me individually. So I get up every single morning with a different client. He’s got a different challenge, a different. Goal and an objective. Something that’s top of mind that they want to discuss from me and because of my broad knowledge, I can discuss most things with people so that ticks me. Historically, when I. First, set up a business was a bookkeeping and accounts business, and that was because of. My. Finance background. I loved that business, but I kept in the I think the entrepreneur in me kept seeing opportunities, so I set up a marketing company. I set up a training company. I set up a membership organisation. I eventually had an indoor soft play centre and they were just opportunities through my journey that I saw that I could. Too, and I think it was. I’m going to explore those opportunities. I’m going to make some money out of those opportunities and it suited me because one day I was doing somebody’s management accounts in the accounting business and then the next day I would jump over and I’d be doing a marketing training of some sort or delivering someones marketing or helping them put their strategy together. Next day I might be delivering some first aid training, for example. Then the next day I might be putting on the chipper suit at the Treehouse Play Centre in Didcot and. Be in the the mascot character. You know all those things and it just I just loved. It I was. Just buzzing, but what was my learned from or? My learns was from, you know, where was my focus now I eventually franchised and sold my account and bookkeeping business, but I think there’s still an opportunity for that business right now. So if I’d have kept it going, that was like, what, 10 years, you know, 2013. Actually, yeah. It’s Tom. Last year, 10 years ago. And if I kept that business, what would it be now, you know, would the value be higher? But it it was my, you know, don’t look back with the regret on that. So don’t spread yourself too thinly would be would be one advice from from from that side of it. I think the highs for me were that. Seeing the benefit of bringing great people around you so you hit the nail on the head in terms of you profiled and define who you want around you, not necessarily somebody that’s even that perfection that some business owners are looking for in their employee. I’m looking for the perfect employee. If they are, they’re going to be darn expensive. But also going to be. Potentially recruited by other people fairly quickly, so again. I will always love to invest in people. So can I take people on who have got the skill and the ability to work with me? First of all, I always say, can they follow my systems and processes? Have they got that mindset to follow my systems and processes? If they can do that to start with, then they have the permission to come in and with their own innovation and creativity. Improve my business because this is the way that we do things around here. This is over my years of experience. This is how I’ve learned how my business and my customers tell me this is the best way we do it. So why would we change anything right now? But actually once you’ve done? That and you follow in those systems and we’ve got some consistency. So we can all support each other and cover for each other for holiday sickness, etcetera. Then you’ll be able to help me improve this business. And I always found and one of my aha moments as well. So I never got disappointed about losing anybody. And I’ve got this conversation going on with a couple of clients at the moment. I’ve never was disappointed about losing. There was a moment because we all think that’s a rejection moment, but there was. I always felt that the next employee levelled at my business, took my business to another point because the first employee embraced my systems and process and took me there the next and changed my systems and processes. The next person came in, he bragged those systems and processes and took it there. So I was never disappointed from that side. So that was so another moment. And I think the the other.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Right.

Mike Foster
No.

Kirsty van den Bulk
No, no. I was just gonna say I love it because that’s exactly what I’m doing with my VA. So, Zoe, you know, now you know what? I’m doing with you. Anyway, back to you. Ohh my goodness. Zoe, you know, no.

Mike Foster
And I think the other thing in terms of my AHA moment is. My. My acceptance of. Risk. So being an ex banker. I still don’t have an overdraft. I still don’t have a loan. I have a mortgage, but I still don’t have debt because that was just in my mindset and I had to sort of like shift that risk, focus a little bit to be be able to take a little bit more risk. Not I’m not a huge risk taker. But I I do take more risk than I have did, but on the calculate the risk taker. So I work out if I’m going to spend a pound. What’s that gonna give me a return on investment. It comes back to something I said earlier. If I’ve got an expense in my accounts that I never see now as an investment and therefore returned in me more than the pound that I’ve invested, then I’m looking at ways to change that or even get rid of that. And we all get attracted to shiny things, don’t we? In terms of the next piece of software or whatever that may be, that’s costing us money, but are we actually returning that investment? And I think in terms of my, my learns, if you like, I think one of my other learns is and this is a a big journey that I’ve been on is. It’s a very common word to use, and I don’t necessarily like it, but it’s the the imposter syndrome or the monkey that’s the chimp paradox monkey that’s on our shoulder that’s talking to us and. Telling. Us, you know, and I’ve I’ve driven myself with that monkey. I guess in in times. But it’s also impacted me to say, look, you’re not doing as good a job as you could have done or your. Listening to what other people are doing in the marketplace. And. Why? Why people leverage into that that business rather than your own business. And when I sort of shut? That out and when I stopped, you know. Going on to my apps to look at the news and all that stuff, my mindset changed totally. It was I just was doing what I needed to do and I think again another learn is that. Yeah, there are people in the world that look. Out for you. For sure you know, but the only person that really looked out for you truly looked out for yourself. And if you don’t look after yourself and you keep your motivation pot high and you keep fueling this stress pot. Ultimately, something goes wrong, something overflows, and I’ve been there, you know, I’ve been to to near burnout and. All that sort of stuff.
Kirsty van den Bulk
And and thank you so much for sharing that there’s a lot of wisdom in there. And it it was interesting listening to what you’re saying, you know, that monkey that, that imposter syndrome. I’ve got a really. And I don’t know if it’s because I was an actor because I have to prepare. And and I find that a lot of things that people do, particularly the seven wives, they can all be related. Back to acting techniques. When people talk about in in, I think it’s in NLP where they talk about. For yourself? Well, that’s the Stanislavsky technique to to to, you know, connect with the terra firma and and, you know, be rooted in the spot and and own your space. And. And there’s a lot of terminology that really links actually between the acting technique and what we do in business. But when I was training as an actor, I thought I was a little bit stupid. Really brutally, brutally honest. Yeah, I I didn’t know at the time. I was dyslexic and scrapped it. That came along a lot later. But I thought you. A lot of people look at performance and go well because you can do it well. And again, I was particularly a dancer, singer, actor, because you can do it well, you probably don’t have, you know, you don’t go to university, you don’t have 12, and that has a kind of impact on on how you really feel. So when I came into the world of business, I used to use. All my acting skills to get me through the day we used to pull on. I’m playing a character and there is an element that when my imposter syndrome comes in and it comes in a lot, it really does and I have to go. No, that’s not the characters voice that I’m going to hear today.
Hmm.

Mike Foster
Yeah, I have something similar you you might not be old enough to remember I when I mentioned this. Now I I need. To think of a different phrase, but I mentioned.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Hang on on that one, Mike. I’m in my 50s. We’re probably really close in age.

Mike Foster
We probably we probably are then. So you probably remember words were damage then.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Of course I did.

Mike Foster
And yeah, so words were going to change his head for the different circumstances. And people say to me, how do you do, you know, your network and or your radio show or your mentoring etcetera. And and quite often a little bit like your reference to acting is? I put the different head on so if someone said to me the other day, you know, how do you go on the radio in in that moment every single week and I go well predominantly it’s because I put that head on. You know, I could have a really bad day up to that point, but I know I switched on at that moment when I used to host my networking event. It was about switching on at that moment and saying, OK, well, this is what.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Hey.

Mike Foster
I need to do this is how I need to. Perform this is how I need to act in the view of the people that will come into. The. Event and forget about myself for.

Kirsty van den Bulk
So I’m smiling all the way through this because I actually I’m going. We really need to go and get a glass of wine cause we are actually there’s there’s a lot of similarities here in the way that we we think and and we. Do cause you. Talk about that that multiple. Job situation. You know multiple businesses and whilst I didn’t do multiple businesses when I was performing as an actor. And hunting for that acting role. Not only was there an actor, I was an event manager. I was a sales trainer for Intel. I would work on the shop floor and hands of selfies and the makeup counters. There was other jobs that I would be doing so one minute I’d have my Nintendo head on. The next minute I’d have my swept straight cut head. On another day I’d be going and doing some kind of signed up to this gym. In fact, that’s how I met my husband and all of these things is exactly what you do. As an actor, so there’s a lot of similarities in the way, and of course, acting every audition, you’re changing your head. And of course I love wrestle Gummidge because he’s local to Oxfordshire.

Mike Foster
OK.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Yeah, we can’t, we can’t deny. That I think it was not was. It not written in Blueberry. I’ve got a funny feeling and I could be wrong, but a funny feeling was written in Blewbury and he’s inspired you. I’m really cause you’re such an A strong. I mean, the first time I met you was actually without you seeing me. And it was it was on a it was a was it chat room? One of those calls and you popped in at the last minute and then you disappeared. And that’s where I went all my goodness, because I couldn’t see you. I could just hear your voice. I could. I knew how powerful you were, and it was a I think I can never get the names right. It was Chris Jones. And was it press CI got the name right.

Mike Foster
OK. Yeah. Classy, classy.

Kirsty van den Bulk
So Cassie, yeah, so.

Mike Foster
Yep, Yep.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Who’s who’s inspired? You along the way?

Mike Foster
I think I touched on one which is I think obvious for me to mention is my parents in terms of their hard work and their hard work and their their giving to other people I think is in my DNA and I think that’s why you see me doing what I do for charities. What I do for helping other people in terms of the role I do now, but also the networking group. I think there’s certain influences in my early days in terms of, you know, the traditional influences, you know, the Alan Sugar, if you like, you know, when he when he ran The Apprentice and all that stuff and that was the early days. I did actually apply for The Apprentice and I got quite close to being on it. But that’s another story I did have.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Think we want. To hear a bit more about that.

Mike Foster
Actually, well, I I actually. Well, we all know it’s a TV show, don’t we? And I actually got through to some sort of final rounds in a hotel in London a couple of times. I have to go up for group sessions and in those group sessions. As we do when we watch the show, you go really did you? Are you really saying that? Are you really making that decision? For those were the people that ended up on the show because I think it’s a TV show. Not saying I. Should. Have been the show because of my. Business acumen or whatever. But you know what I’m saying. So I was interested. It was an interesting process and I’d, I’d love I. I keep thinking about doing a fundraiser in locally in Oxford about The Apprentice or something like that, but. That maybe another time, I think in terms of other people that inspired me, obviously parents, then you got people like sugar and Branson and all that sort of stuff. Certain sports stars. I don’t know why I don’t. I’m not a really emotional person. But when I see someone’s sports level go over that line for a gold medal, it’s just that brings a tear to my eye. So those sort of people inspire me. But I’ve had. I’ve had my own mentor from my day in Barclays, Carl, who was my area boss who was a business partner at one point at what time? And every so often we touch base. We have a conversation and he’s always been my guide. And like you, you said earlier that you get I get you for example Carl got me and Carl gave me so many opportunities in my corporate day. He gave me the opportunity to release myself from the corporate into my own businesses and it was has always been supportive. So you know I guess that’s why I come back to. Being a mentor and wanting to support others in terms of the way that Carl supported me in that traditional corporate mentor role, but then became my mentor life mentor. If you like, in helping make helping me initially make some big huge decision. I think as I go day-to-day now, it’s my clients, you know, I. Think. You know, I get. A lot of kind words for my clients about the way that I work with them and the way that I change their business, but I get inspired daily and motivated by them, by the changes that they make, because I don’t actually change their business. I have a conversation with them about giving them ideas to spark or fuel there, but they have to go and execute and it’s that moment whereby you see someone you all. Started working with say a year ago that wasn’t in execution mode. But now they’re executing, and when they’re executing, they’re seeing change, and when they see change, they’re fueling their motivation pot, not their stress pot. When their fueling their motivation pot, they can make things happen. And when they’re focused and they’re not being distracted by interruptions or other distractions, and they’re doing the things that I call your high power activities and seeing them move forward, that’s inspiring. And that makes me think about my own personal development in terms of, OK, well now I. I think a different way I need to think of different tools. I need to think of different ways of supporting this client and that’s about pushing me every day and I journal every single day. Believe it or not, I’ve got in my in my life and a number of different journals and I journal every single day. So what went well today? What could I have done better? And the third thing is how will I be a better human being tomorrow? And those three things I’ve captured for now, probably about 14 years, I think it is and I don’t necessarily reflect back on the books, but actually they sit there in my subconscious when I’ve journaled each day. So actually, these are the things I can do, and I’ve got a pile of notes over. Here, unfortunately the. Things I’ve got to to to do to keep taking myself forward in terms of my CPD. And then ultimately support and be inspired and motivated by my clients.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I love it. I celebrate everything and it’s it can be a simple thing. It could be an e-mail that I’ve I’ve sent and I know that I nailed it. It can be a graphic that I’ve designed that I really like. It can be my daughter getting gold. Yeah, she’s she’s tiny. She’s really, really tiny. She is. She is. She definitely gets me because she wants to be an Olympic gold medal gymnast. That is. That’s her dream. She’s seven years old and watching. Her drive I’m like. Well, that’s a mini me because I was pretty driven, but seeing that reflected is is kind of really powerful as well. We’ve had a couple of questions, which is lovely. So a couple of comments, good content and thought.

Mike Foster
I just. I just. I just had very quick. Let let me let me just add very quickly, going back to your three to five year journey that. You’re now now on. Celebration is such an important part of that journey because it’s going to get rougher. It’s going to get, we all know it isn’t on that trajectory that I talked about earlier. We know it’s an up and down and up and down journey. So I think in terms of making sure we celebrate on a daily basis of things that have gone well balances out the rubbish that comes on our journey.

Kirsty van den Bulk
And there is the you are. I’ve just spent and it’s it’s no one’s fault. But you know, chasing payments, that kind of the the the back end admin is something that really it it can walk me down. And last night I was sitting here thinking cause the I I wrote an e-mail.

Kirsty van den Bulk
To a really good. Guy who runs his own business, who I’m going to go and see and it’s taken. A couple of weeks to where to send the e-mail to arrange the time and the date, and I went my fingers. Just can’t type that quickly. You know, there is. There’s only so many hours in the day and there’s only so many. Things I can actually execute, and I think that was my biggest learning this year, was to stop trying to do every single thing and accept that some tasks will slip. Don’t let them slip too long, because then you’re getting into that really rude area that accept the fact that you’re not going to be able to do. Absolutely everything. So you can walk away at the end of the day and shut the office down because I didn’t and I burnt it. So, you know, Christmas last year I was definitely burnt out and it was. I hadn’t realised or recognised it in myself and it was because I was trying to execute every single, every. I mean saw that every single thing. But there’s only one set of hands, right?

Mike Foster
100%.

Kirsty van den Bulk
So.
And and and.

Mike Foster
I think, and I think when we, when we realise that there’s two things there in terms of what I what fueled my thought there is perfection we often aim for perfection as business owners, whether that’s we don’t launch the website till it’s perfect or whatever, we do have to be perfect. But actually you’re perfect. We’ll probably be if you took eight out of 10 of that would probably be. 100% for your clients expectations. And I think then in terms of the other thing is that permission and do we give ourselves permission not to do everything and and that’s a difficult thing to.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Yeah, and and it was, it was a, it was a. Tough pill. I think you saw the fallout, and so we’ve heard from Ben Good, Ben Thompson good content and thought as always, Mike and Kirsty, and then Haley, who actually I saw, which I haven’t been to really shout about, but actually got to see each other this week. I started at Barclays at 15 too. However, the machine room wasn’t for me. Luckily I found my way anyway. Great to meet you, Russell, and hear your story experiences. Say some nice comments.

Mike Foster
The machinery or whatever the machinery.

Kirsty van den Bulk
So this is where. Hayley’s amazing. Absolutely amazing. One of the strongest women I know. Really, really, really empowers others. Just just awesome. So this is where the tables turn have put you in a hot seat. You’ve shared your wisdom. And this is where I have no idea. And I always have a little bit of a nervous moment here, especially when it’s Someone Like You, where I go. Ohh, no. What? They’re gonna ask me. So it’s no time to time for you to turn the tables and ask me something.

Mike Foster
Well, I think the thing is, it’s curious with with me, Kirsty. Actually is. I love your creativity, you know. I think when we talk, you’ve always got an idea. I think how you used the words I gave you in my bio in a very creative way. So I’m I’m going to ask the question I think would be curious for the listeners in terms of what drives your creativity.

Kirsty van den Bulk
So I don’t know how not to be and I know that sounds a bit crazy, but I really don’t know how not to be a creative. In fact, I tried really hard in a previous role to go into that hard sale pounding the the the the road. That the creativity was dying, and if if I cut that off, it’s so part of me that if I cut it off, I suffer really badly. My whole family actually suffers. You know, I’ve been a performer since I’s eight years old. I start I I started in the drama in in theatre world when I was five and I don’t know how to switch off and if I do when I do switch it off. So I do know how to switch off when I do switch it off it’s it’s like something is dying. It’s like there’s. A patch of green. And because I’m neurodiverse, the way my brain fires is, and I know it’s it’s the neurodiversity and and. And you know, I’ve I’ve accepted this so my brain fires off in a different way. And I I explain this. As when I see the world is or my brain is, I’ve got a multitude of it’s synaptics, but I describe it as filing cabinets. So when something tells me they’ve got a problem, it’s like a Rolodex or the file. Files are flinging in. My head like you wouldn’t believe and I’m looking for the this. This connection, so it’s a synaptic and I’m I’m visualising different ideas and different pathways and it’s quite crazy and you wouldn’t wanna be in here. Trust me, you really wouldn’t. But it goes all over the place. And then I go right. This could potentially, but I’ve normally got 1-2 or three because I like to use choices because choices allow the person to have that thought, even even with when it comes to branding. It’s about what what’s right for you. But I’m working on a project at the moment that I’m doing for I’m actually doing. For free, because I think it’s important to give back and this, this, this organisation really needs help. They need to raise a huge amount of money and they haven’t got the money to pay somebody. And so the job’s not getting done so. I went you. Know what I can’t give you all my time, but I can give you some. So I’m going in to do some mentoring. I’m going to go in and. Hopefully revolutionise the website and really empower them to do and the big thing is I’m going to be empowering the future generations to take over and do so that there’s always that through forward. Going and and I can already see how I how I as the outsider in the audience shoes can see how I would want to use their website and the colours that would appeal to me. So I guess it comes back to that acting thing of I constantly put myself into the audience shoes to think how would. I how would I search for your product? How would I understand it and you know I work in the tech field, really technical stuff, but I turn it down and or engineering and I turn it. Quite, I really simplify it, so I guess it comes back down to that fact that I don’t know how not to be creative, but also the neurodiversity is actually a huge strength rather than a weakness, because I need that brain in the way of fire and finding out that 37 I was dyslexic rather than finding out at. Six or seven or eight allowed me to find a way to cope in this world, if that makes sense.

Mike Foster
Hmm. Interesting. There’s there’s many other questions. There’s many other questions.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I got this.

Mike Foster
You could build on that.

Kirsty van den Bulk
There are, there are and you know, I would love to keep talking, but I do promise it’s gonna be half an hour. But maybe this is your chance to for you to launch alive and then you can get. Me on and we can explore that.

Mike Foster
You as as I mentioned there might be that opportunity.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

Mike Foster
Hey, thank you, Kirsty. Thanks for asking me to join your show.

Kirsty van den Bulk
No problem.

00:15 Guest Introduction
02:30 Addressing Intimidation
04:45 Business Mentoring Approach
07:20 Mike’s Background
10:35 Scaling Businesses & Hurdles
13:50 Experiences Running Multiple Businesses
17:05 Personal Development & Mindset
20:30 Inspirations and Parallel
22:25 Influential Figures
22:40 Mentors And Guidance
27:55 Client Influence
29:50 Reflection And Growth
31:15 Celebration And Resilience
34:40 Managing Execution And Burnout
36:05 Accepting Imperfections
38:30 Creativity as a Core Aspect
40:45 Neurodiversity as a Strength
42:10 Giving Back and Empowering Others
44:35 Future Collaborations

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