The Wise Why

Episode #79

Episode #079

Ep 79 | Louise Demetriou Workplace Culture Has An Impact

by | 15 Mar,2024

About This Episode

Louise Demetriou joins Kirsty van den Bulk on The Wise Way to talk about how a workplace culture will make or break a company and her journey to understanding the importance of neural pathways and how they underpin successful leadership.

Louise Demetriou is a seasoned neuro-based executive coach and founder of Culture Code. During this episode, she shares her beliefs on leadership and the significance of creating workplace cultures that align with core values.

Louise shares with Kirsty her inspiring journey from her humble beginnings in Yorkshire to her profound exploration of human behaviours through sociology and, eventually, finding her calling in Human Resources. They discuss how Louise’s HR career began with a temporary role at Odeon Cinemas, which led her to senior positions where she was challenged to align with corporate values.

They also talk about the pivotal moment preceding the pandemic when burnout catalysed Louise’s decision to leave her corporate job, which led her to a journey of self-discovery during lockdown and her immersion into the world of neurocoaching through TechPixies.

Throughout the conversation, Louise demystifies neural pathways, childhood belief formation, and the profound impact of challenging subconscious thoughts on decision-making. She also explains the importance of fostering company culture, which extends beyond HR’s scope and echoes the behaviours of senior leadership.

Discover how Culture Code facilitates the establishment of robust cultural foundations while supporting burnt-out HR leaders through coaching. The episode concludes with a reflection on Louise’s poignant relocation from London to York during lockdown, driven by a pursuit of familial connections and newfound happiness amidst initial adversities.

They also discuss the significance of mentorship and cultivating support networks, which are essential for navigating professional growth and personal fulfilment. Kirsty and Louise’s conversation offers valuable insights into leadership, human behaviours, and workplace dynamics. It is an inspiring exploration of the profound impact of aligning work with core values.

Episode #78 : Full Transcription
Kirsty van den Bulk
Hello and welcome to The Wise Why this morning I am joined by the incredible patient kind Louise Dimitriou. I hope I got that correct and I apologise right now to Louise cause I may have the sneeze because the sun is out and I’ve. Got hay fever? But as usual, the show is not about me. It is about my guests. It’s straight up to the to the. Tell him to speak.

Louise Demetriou
This.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Morning straight over to Louise and please introduce yourself.

Louise Demetriou
Hi Kirsty. Thank you so much for having me on and I’m a neuro based executive coach for HR leaders and I’m also the founder of HR Consultancy called Culture Code and when I’m not working I live in York. We moved up from London about 18 months ago. I’ve got two lovely children in secondary. School and a husband and we love. We love life up north.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I can imagine your accent. Though your accent isn’t Southern, is it?

Louise Demetriou
No. I was originally from Yorkshire so it it feels like. I’ve moved back home, which is not like.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Awesome. Can. Can you talk a little bit about that move? It’s quite a big decision to one move South. So you know you’ve moved SI don’t know what you’ve done here and then you’ve moved back now. I’ve lived in Yorkshire. I lived in a little place called Gore and I loved. It. And I actually worked. In York, in boots selling Guinness says what? Including slender time, so I know where you are quite well. But if you could explain what what brought you down to London and then what took you back and the reasons why you went?

Louise Demetriou
Hmm, so I moved down for university. I studied sociology because I just at that age, I think when you’re 18, it’s very difficult to know what it is you wanna do as a career. I knew I loved people. I loved psychology. I loved. Learning about behaviours and why people do what they do. So I studied sociology in a London University and my intention was always to move back. Up and and then I got a job. I got a job after UNI in HR department for Odeon Cinemas and it was a temporary role. I’ve never heard of HR and I didn’t know what to. Expect it was a. Temp role I thought. Well, OK, let’s see how this goes and within. 3-3 months of joining that department. I loved it and they sponsored me to do the professional accreditation. So I did a masters and and finished that within two years whilst working and working my way up in the department and yeah, and that was the start of my HR career.

Kirsty van den Bulk
That that’s incredible. And of course, you’re still helping people to. I’ll come back to the the second part of that question in a minute. But there was. So you’re. Still, doing HR coaching consultancy today. What can you you explain what you do now? Because that three thread is incredible.

Louise Demetriou
Yeah. So I. As I said. I was thrown into. I don’t really. Know what? HI was I then started love and loved what I did. I love. Loved how I just loved being around people, being able to advise them and help them, and then I worked my way up in various different companies and and I ended up in a role where I was in a senior position and and I start questioning whether HR was really what I wanted to do. It became. Now looking back, I was. I can say I was at burnout stage. It was right before the pandemic. I was in an organisation where my values didn’t align with theirs. It was what I would call now toxic. It was quite toxic culture. And being in a very senior position in that organisation, in HR, HR is assumed to be the function that creates culture and it’s kind of HR’s job. So it’s HR’s job to create culture when actually in fact it is the senior leadership. Of those organisations that create the culture, by the way they behave and the way they live out the company values and I just found a real disconnect between my own personal values and those of. The senior leadership. And and then coupled and then that obviously created this environment where I was at near burnout. So I decided to to leave. I I took quite a big decision. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. But I knew I. Didn’t want to work there anymore and and I left and that was just before lockdown. I then had. A bit of breathing space and I was like, OK and now I want to run my own business, but I don’t know what I want to do. So I was able to use that time to homeschool the children and just take a breath. And it was during that time that I came across tech Pixies, which is where we met. And I thought, well, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn a different skill. And and just for anybody that doesn’t know what tech Pixies is, it’s a programme that helps women with social media skills and digital skills so that they can either return to work or set up a business after a career break. So I thought, well, I know I want to set up my own business. I’d love to do something different. I’ll join the programme and that’s what I did. And and then it was. During this programme. I absolutely loved it. I think you were on my cohort. I think we’re on the. Same cohort, yeah. And it was during that time that the founder, Joe Foster, introduced Nura coaching to the programme, and it was once a week where she would do a group coaching session. And she would introduce us to the concepts of neural coaching and it neural coaching is. Using. Or understanding how your brain is wired so it’s using. Those neural pathways in the brain understanding why you think the way you think getting to the root of your beliefs about things and then understanding how that can affect your decisions, your actions, and your results. So I like to sum it up as a deeper, more powerful coaching session where you get that permanent transformation. And I think that’s the key. So we were taken through elements of this. I absolutely loved it and I decided that I wanted to become accredited. And in your coaching myself. So I joined the same accreditation programme that Joe had gone through. I’m John’s recommendations and and that was a year. So I did that accreditation and and the whole time I was thinking I also need an income stream coming in. And I was still very disillusioned with HR. And I was like, I don’t want to do HR. I’m. I’m just over it. I’m. I’m really over. It fell out of love with it. And I’ll definitely lost the zest for for HR anyway after a few discussions with my husband, he was like. But you, you’re. Really good. You’re really good. It’s what you know. You’ve got 25 years experience in it. It’s a shame to kind of. Totally turn your back on it. So I decided I thought, OK, what can I do? I can bring elements of HR into my own business and and pharma consultancy using what I love and what I know and that’s what I did. So 18 months ago I formed my HR consultancy. And it’s primarily based on helping small to medium sized businesses that don’t tend to have HR function. I might have one person in. And and they want to really invest in their people and build out a proper HR function. And that’s what I do now. So I help it’s it’s predominantly tech and digital companies and I help them at those scaling stages where they don’t have all the infrastructures and processes and it’s around the culture pace. Because I think if you can help the senior leaders create culture right at the beginning of their business journey, how much easier is it gonna be for that then to just grow and flourish? And and it’s so much easier than when you get really big to try and. Infiltrate that culture in the organisation. So I just rebranded my company only last week and it’s now culture code which I’m really excited about. So that’s kind of that’s one of my businesses. And then I’m. I’m also a coach now for HR leaders.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I think that’s brilliant and you know, and and as you’re talking, I was thinking about some of the the companies I’ve worked with, you know, small companies that that haven’t got an HR function and then other companies that do have an HR function, but they’re so big and their culture as you’re describing can become very quick. Basically toxic because as they can be when you’re a big company, a disconnect and that disconnect can lead to lack of communication and you know, obviously that’s what I specialise in is that communication piece. But if communication is broken down, then you’ve got somebody who might be disgruntled but nobody knows they’re disgruntled and they’re sitting there and that one. Person can just boot and I. In the top. Toxic person. I’m not going to say I haven’t. Yeah, I’ve been. The person who. Was disillusioned by his working, and I’ve now learned and it’s really. I love the fact that we talked about how our brains function and understanding and owning it, because I’ve now learned that if I’m not happy because I would place a big decision at the moment and when those big decisions. And then if I do that, I’m going to be really difficult to live with with my. Family. And so understanding. My own brain has been a huge journey and I wonder if we. Can just talk a little bit more about. How the neurons in the brain work if you don’t? Mind, I know a little. Bit. Because I’ve sat through the baby brain video, which I find fascinating on YouTube, and I will put a link. In later but. If you talk about how you know the stages. Of the brain and how it all works. If you don’t. Mind.

Louise Demetriou
No, I’d love to. This is my. This is what I’m doing, so yes. Your brain is not, so the conscious element of your brain doesn’t start kicking in until you’re 7, so up until so, when you’re born up until the age of seven, everything that you see, observe, take in and told listen to go straight into your subconscious. And that’s absolutely. Key because you’re subconscious drives 90% of your decisions and your thoughts and your actions every single day. So what you’ve learned up until the age of 7. Is in there, but you’re totally unaware of it. And then from the age of seven, you’re conscious, thinking cognitive part of the brain starts developing, and that’s when you see 8 year olds, 9 year olds, 10 year olds, teenagers question and you know they. You can see them. Thundering and I’m not sure about that. When they used to just believe whatever they were told. So that’s really interesting. And what I find with my clients is they’ll say things to me and I will pick out. So for example, they might say, oh, I don’t know, I’m, I’m not experienced enough in that. And I don’t have enough qualifications to go and do that. And what we do is we dig in and we find out, OK, where’s that popped up for you in the past? And then we dig a bit deeper and it’s OK what? Were the thoughts around? That and what are your beliefs and beliefs are formed when your thoughts and your feelings are repeated over time. And beliefs are in use of conscious. So when you’ve got a thought about something and then that generates a feeling in so you have a thought 1st and then a feeling and that gets repeated and repeated and repeated, it becomes a belief. And what amazed me was I just, I remember just going through the last kind of 1020 years just thinking. All the chatter that goes on in my mind is just the way I am. It’s just that’s just the way it is. And I wasn’t unaware of it. I wasn’t. I wasn’t thinking about it. It was just there continuously. And through the work I’ve done personally and now the work I do with my clients, it’s it’s becoming aware the first step is becoming aware of what you’re saying to yourself. And then pulling those out and asking yourself, is that thought actually? Evidence to say that thought is true? Or is it? Has it stemmed from something or somebody in your past that said something to you and it’s gone straight into your subconscious so you’re totally unaware of it. So it’s pulling out what’s fact and what isn’t. And then. More often than not, it’s not true. And then it’s reframing that for into something that actually works for you. And it is such a powerful technique to use once you know how to do it.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I’m. I’m really pleased you said that. I’m very lucky that what you’re describing is very similar to actually how an actor prepares for a character. So he knows all analysis of where is the evidence of why I am saying this thing at this point. For this reason, what is the reaction I’m trying to get out of the other person by saying this line is it’s really interesting when you look at the subtext, you’re the wedding and act. Bissex subtext. Because we absolutely are looking at for that evidential, you know thread of where is my? What’s my motivation? What’s my thought? What’s my feeling? Why am I doing this particular act? Even an action sounds really ridiculous. So it’s been a really interesting journey because I when I went on the tech pictures call with joy. I was very lucky to get a hot seat. And by accident, I hasten to ask, and I don’t ever put myself forward. I know I’ve on a podcast. I know I’m out. You know, if I go to a group, I’m never the one that puts my hand up because I’ve still got things from my childhood that stops me stepping forward. Partly, I was born with a speech problem, so you can see there’s a lot of limiting belief and also with the Traxxas. Sometimes my words don’t fall, so I don’t want to put myself out there and be seen, but I. Almost all the hot seats by accident. I remember the next day. I felt like I’d been absolutely done. 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. I was exhausted. I was. Doing a lot. Of crying and huge amount of crying and. Then two days later I went. That’s it. And I turned my entire life around. The business started growing because it’s really powerful. What and how does this? How could how do you bring your coaching into what you do from an HR point of view? I’m just wondering about how the. How it links?

Louise Demetriou
So I and this is a recent I’ve had clients in the past of different kinds of clients, entrepreneurs, business leaders and then most recently I have been working with HR leaders and it was when I’ve been working with my last couple of clients. I thought hang on a minute and it’s almost like the penny had dropped. That this is the space for me, and I thought this is how I can really help. HR leaders. Overcome burnout, self doubt, and overwhelm and HR is a very difficult industry. It’s a very difficult space to be. You’re pulled in all different directions. You’ve got the business who you work with, your your business partnering, and you’re helping them to achieve their financial goals through their most important asset, their people. So you’ve got you’re working alongside them, but you’ve also got. The employees and team members who need your support. So how I used to feel as I’m bit I’m being pulled here in all directions. I’ve got to do what the business would like me to do and I’m there to support them. But I’ve also got to be. Supporting and and that well-being kind of peace around team members. So it’s a very, very difficult position and you know it I think especially since lockdown HR have had. A tough gig, a very tough gig. You know, there’s that whole remote working. They had to adjust to. They’ve now got businesses where, you know their leaders are saying you want everyone back in. The office. But yet. The team members are most productive at home, so it’s like how do we navigate all these challenges in the workplace at the moment? And there’s so many workplaces that are if we go back to what we were saying before, quite toxic. And employees, I think now, especially since lockdown are starting to realise that what’s the most important thing for them is not something is important and it always will be because it will. But it’s not the most important thing. It’s now about meaning, purpose. It’s about. Career progression and feeling like they’re achieving and growing in the role. So HR leaders have had to kind of take all this on board with the changing and dynamics of the workforce and what their motivations are now and just. And try and influence the business to understand this in order for them to grow. So my newer coach and getting back to your question and the way that helps is I help these leaders who feel totally burnt out and who feel anxious who feel. Overwhelmed with all these challenges they’ve got going on, I help them understand who they are as a person. What their purpose is, what their true values are, what their strengths are, what they love doing. Where they’re getting blocked. So what are these blockers in terms of their thoughts and their beliefs that are stopping them from actually achieving these visions? And this goal that they have? For themselves and then. Once we’ve got that, OK, how can we then move forward? So it’s it’s creating a path? For them to live an incredible life. And and that’s, that’s what I absolutely love doing. And I think with my background as well, I just, I totally understand them and I get their challenges.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I think that’s really important and that I think what you just said there that last bit, you really understand them. I think if I think back to my clients and the people I work with, you know they’re either engineering tech, they’ve got jargon language which they need to simplify and it’s that thing of I understand them. Because I’ve been a salesperson and that that connection. Is a really. Important thing as a small business owner is that that, that human connection and I. Think. Yeah, it’s a really interesting point you just said I’d like to, I’ll go back a little bit and understand because you know 18 months ago you moved up to York. So that’s quite a big decision.

Louise Demetriou
Well, yeah, it was a huge decision and. Our intention was never to live in London as long as we. Did. So we lived. There for 25 years. So I lived in London more than I did in Yorkshire. Our children were brought up there, so we had a fantastic community. I lived in Greenwich. I don’t know if you’re, you know, Greenwich, but it’s a fantastic place to live.

Kirsty van den Bulk
I was around the corner in Surrey Keynes. I know Greenwich really well.

Louise Demetriou
OK, excellent. And so it was very difficult to move away because the community there was so fantastic. And and then locked down here. So we were always thinking we’d like to move somewhere outside of London, locked down here. And then, like many people, we thought, OK, is this now the time to move and start a new life somewhere else? And and we just made that we, we’ve spent about six months having a look and seeing what areas we’d like to move to. And Cambridge was one of them. And then I saw we we love property development programmes, we love them and our dream is to actually build our own home at some point. And so I have all the self build magazines comes during lockdown, and it was in there. I was just looking through and I just saw this land for sale in York and it wasn’t for us, but it was York that stood out for me. And I just remember sending a photo of this to my husband at work. And I said, how about your? And he just said yes immediately. And also my mum lives nearby so she lives half an hour away, which is so lovely for us to be near here and I’ve got a sister that lives in Manchester, so it made sense that if we moved up there would be closer to family, which was it’s the most important thing to me. It’s it’s my top value so. I think that was the main driver. I’m not beautiful.

Kirsty van den Bulk
So. Yeah, I do. I absolutely loved it. You love York. And yeah, we’re we’re facing that kind of decision right now of do we stay, do we move, do we not move and then not change the business obviously. But there is that thing of like. I’m not very good at staying in the same place for very long, and if you look at how many times. I’ve moved here, sorry. Keys. I was there for about 5 years. Then then from. Surrey Keys, actually, funnily enough, I moved to to Yorkshire. I moved to Doncaster. And if you don’t have time, I moved to Google, I know. So I did the same thing I I literally, I remember and upping and going very, very quickly. And then from York from ended up down on the South Coast and on the South Coast and ended up in Scotland and it’s like so I moved around quite a lot and this is the longest I have been rooted anywhere and. I don’t, I don’t. Know if I could ever leave.

Kirsty van den Bulk
But a bit like you, it’s a bit of land. Came up and we could build. Because my husband’s a an engineer and his dream and I hold his dream, his dream is to create a family home, either on a piece of land or something that is falling to pieces. And he does it. He, like you, absolutely watches every property programme. Under the sun, you know and and I don’t mean in in the sun because he doesn’t watch ones abroad. It’s always in the UK and he’s very from the UK and I don’t think we could. Could move back to Holland, so it’s it’s interesting. It’s. Yeah. So we’ve talked about the tech pictures and how we met, which was really important. We’ve got obviously mutual friends that we work with and and collaborate with. They’re wondering, apart from we’ve talked about joy, who else has really inspired you on your journey to get you to where you are today?

Louise Demetriou
Ohh that’s a good question. There are two individuals who. On my coaching accreditation. It was a really small, intimate cohort. It was all online. And I was very surprised, I think, because when you’re coaching, it is such an intimate personal space, isn’t it? It’s a safe space. Well, you’d hope that that’s what’s created when you when you working with a coach. And so when I was doing the accreditation, there was a cohort of 10 of. Us. And it was all. Time, but there are, you know, you’re drawn to certain people, aren’t you? And there was 2 individuals who are particularly drawn to who had businesses already, and they wanted to bring coaching into their current businesses. And they were very successful businesses. And they have almost. I I class them as my mentors now. And since the programme, I mean the programme finished, it will be two years in July and since it’s finished, we’ve just formed a little group of three where we speak nearly every day. They’re based in the US. They came, I went to visit them for the first time in. Last November, which was amazing, we went to Florida and we all met together in person and then they came to York to visit me last. Cover and and yeah, I would say they’re my. They’ve really inspired me because I feel like they’re almost a step ahead because they’ve got their businesses have been running for quite a long time. And so I learned so much from them and it’s just it’s a lovely. It’s a lovely partnership. We’ve got a good support network and I think that’s the key, isn’t it, when you’re. When you’re looking to move, change, grow, it’s about having that support squad, whether it be Accountability, partners, mentors, friends, a coach, whoever it is, having somebody there who’s next to you. Every step of the way, I think that’s for me. That’s what’s that. What’s made the difference over the last couple of years?

Kirsty van den Bulk
That’s amazing. And talking about support squad, because that’s a great link into here cause hey, I could have written that we’ve had some support this morning. So Lisa has joined us. She’s also Pixie and and she’s from Skipton. I should have said that. So we’ll have to get you guys to communicate. And Haley who is. Yeah. Haley, I’ll give you a call. Probably. Later again, Haley is one of my biggest. Squads I would be lost without this woman. She keeps me on track and a bit like Kayla Hall keeps me on track, keeps me on track. So I have these women at Joe. I mean, well, they keep me on track and I need these. This this connection, especially the small business owner. So Haley says help us find a path to an incredible life. What a beautiful statement. So it’s a beautiful lot of community there and support on that note the tables get to get turned and you get through a question that you’ve been in a hot seat for 27 minutes. It’s been a fabulous conversation. You get to turn it around. Ohh, it didn’t. Sneeze either.

Louise Demetriou
Please casting us then. I would love to ask you. So you’ve mentioned your husband’s vision. What’s your vision?

Kirsty van den Bulk
So that’s really interesting. I have just so my visions just stopped, which sounds absolutely crazy. But something’s happened, which means I need to adjust some things with my family and my family has to be my priority. That doesn’t mean I’m changing anything, but my long term vision. Is to launch a social enterprise where people who are homeless, people who are rehabilitating people, who are escaping domestic violence. Have a safe place to come and it’s a farm and it’s really exciting and I really, really do want to. Do. This but life got in the way and it’s thrown a curveball. And so my vision at the moment is to get my daughter through school. And that might seem really helpful to anybody else, but that is the most important thing to me right now. So everything else got on hold? Yeah, and it sound. The business isn’t the whole, you know, life isn’t on hold, but the curveballs happened, and that curveball means everything else. My priority is to focus on my little one and make sure that she is. Safe. Secure and settled at school, and once I’ve done that, then I can go back to. Back to me. But right now my vision has had to go on hold, which I never thought I would do, but I think when you’ve got kids, you’ll do anything for them. And so really interesting question because you know, three or four weeks ago, I was given a completely different answer, but right now. I’m gonna hold my vision in a little bubble cause it’s there. It’s not going anywhere. It’s just suspended, like in the status field and start getting the status field or whatever. It’s it’s over there and. And I’m just gonna put all my focus. So that means everybody if I’ve not got back to you. I’m not being rude, just a little. Bit like focused. On. Well, that’s it. And just focusing on a little 7 year old who needs some TLC. So that’s where my vision is at the moment, if that. Makes any sense?

Louise Demetriou
And look that and it goes to show, doesn’t it? That code balls do happen. And life does throw you in a certain way, and it’s OK to just take a pause and focus on the priorities right now. I love that.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Yeah, I think it’s important. Sometimes we get caught up thinking, you know, there’s there’s that big question, is it, what is success to you? So success to me is seeing my daughter. At 1819 twenty years old eight. Solid, independent, strong, focused individual. I don’t mind what she does. I don’t care where she works. Yeah, I just solid, dependable focus. She. She’s safe. Then I can. I’ve done my job. That is my biggest thing is, is empowering my daughter. That’s why I launched the business. But yeah, it’s interesting. His life does throw massive curveballs, and they can come at such a pace that you just weren’t expecting it.

Louise Demetriou
I love that, though.

Kirsty van den Bulk
Thank you. I have thoroughly enjoyed talking to you. Make sure you put your links in the bottom and we can share them because you are incredible at what you’re doing. You’re coaching does change your entire life, so thank you for your time today. Much for your.

Louise Demetriou
Thank you so much, Kirsty. I’ve loved. It.

00:02 Welcome to The Wise Why
00:46 Louse introduction
01:13 Moving to London
02:15 University Days
03:39 Life in Human Resources
05:53 Techpixes
07:30 Supportive Husband
10:23 Work Place Communication
12:07 Brain Development Stages
15:13 Neurocoaching
17:55 Covid and HR
19:45 Connecting with Your Clients
21:33 Moving to Yorkshire
24:03 Inspiring People
26:40 Audience Support
27:35 Family First
30:49 Close

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