#8 Inspire Interview Series – REBECCA KING – Lawyer (Associate at one of the Biggest American Firms in London)

Sorry it’s been a little while since the last Inspire Interview… today’s is completely different to the careers we’ve spoken about before, which is why I love doing this series so much… there are so many amazing people doing cool jobs in all kinds of different industries, and talking to everyone about it is great just for me to be nosey, let alone share with you!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I know law is something I get asked about a lot – how do I fit fitness around life as a trainee, for example, so I thought I’d go right to the source and give you a fully qualified lawyer on how she balances all things work, life, workouts and play!

Today’s interview is with the kick ass Rebecca King, who I actually met through our mutual obsession with KOBOX. She very kindly answered some questions on life as a lawyer in one of the biggest US firms in London, and busts some myths about lawyer life, not least that you have to do law at uni  – she did THE COOLEST undergrad degree ever… so without further ado –

B: Can you tell us a little bit about the area of law you work in…

R: I work in Debt Capital Markets on bond issuances (for corporates, banks and sometimes sovereigns).

B: What made you become a lawyer? How did you get there – did you do undergrad law or convert later?

R: To be honest, I just thought I’d be quite good at it! I didn’t study it as an undergrad, as I wasn’t 100% decided and knew I had the option of converting later. I studied a subject I loved but doesn’t have much in the way of traditional job applications outside academia – Archaeology and Anthropology. I focused on Biological Anthropology, the study of how humans evolved – I even met Jane Goodall once when she gave us a primatology lecture. I also took papers in Ancient Egyptian Religion, which I’ve always been fascinated by, although I chose not to make Egyptology my main focus because I’ve never been great at languages. If you think French is hard – try hieroglyphics! (I did. I was crap.)

I combined that with some legal work experience and vacation schemes, and I was offered a training contract with my current firm just before I graduated from Cambridge – they then sponsored me through law school.

B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of RK?

R: As you know, hours and work can be so varied! Officially our working hours are 9.30 till 6 and recently my department has been relatively quiet so that’s been about when I get in and out. I’m about to head to lunch, and today so far I’ve sorted out some postclosing matters for a deal that closed last week, had a kick-off call for a pro-bono matter, reviewed and updated our internal memo on listing procedures for the London Stock Exchange and attended our department quarterly meeting. A pretty average morning!

B: What advice would you give someone looking to become a lawyer? Any advice you were given en route that was helpful?

R: I’d say that the subject of your undergraduate degree doesn’t really matter but your grades and outside interests really do. If you’re a non-law undergrad like I was, you’ll need to prove you’re serious about law even though you actively chose not to study it for your degree, which can be tricky! Definitely get involved with your university law society early on and attend recruitment fairs and law firm presentations, and apply for vacation schemes or open days as soon as you’re eligible – once you’ve attended one, it’s easier to tick that “genuinely interested” box and be accepted for more.

Also – and I think this is true of any industry, not just law – it’s infinitely better to just submit five job applications that you’ve really thought about and tailored to that particular firm than fire off fifty identical cover letters and CVs. Believe me, these firms receive thousands and thousands of identikit applications and anything they think you’ve copied and pasted will be promptly set aside.

B: What are the biggest misconceptions about being a lawyer that you think are out there? Any myths you want to bust (or confirm!)

R: That all lawyers go to court! My sister is at a different firm that specialises in arbitration, and goes all the time. I’ve never set foot in a courtroom outside of a school trip aged 15. I work on deals, not cases!

B: Best and worst bits of the job? Biggest challenges?

R: I work with some great people! Almost all the lawyers I’ve ever worked with have been really clever, fun and interesting people. There’s definitely a certain drive and perfectionism we all have in common but my department is a great place to be and I met some of my absolute best friends through work.

I think the biggest challenge for me personally is the variability of hours. As I’m in a transactional area, I can have two weeks of past-midnight finishes followed by two weeks where I barely bill any time at all. When your bonuses and performance reviews put a lot of emphasis on whether you hit an hours target, slow weeks can be really demoralising and on the flip side busy weeks can mean cancelling really important plans. People tend to be very understanding but ultimately the client calls the shots, and if there’s work to be done and no one else can do it, you just have to put plans aside.

B: I’ve found that people really stress about training contracts (and I know the numbers are tough!) but personally I found being a trainee waaaaay tougher than the application process… any thoughts on coping with the journey to working in law, since it can be super long, super competitive, and of course isn’t always peachy when you’re on a very late deal…?

R: Personally, it’s easy for me to finish a tough week and just flop on the sofa for six hours straight on Saturday and binge watch a show because I’m tired. If you’re like me – my advice is to try not to do that too often, as I’ll then get to Sunday evening and feel like the weekend was wasted. I always try and spend some time with friends, do a workout class, book an event or, if I am sitting in front of the TV, I’ll work on one of my costume projects at the same time – it’s a creative outlet and making something gives me a sense of achievement, even if I did it while watching Netflix! It’s different for everyone but basically my advice is – if you don’t have much time off, really make sure that the time you get to yourself you’re putting towards something or someone you love, rather than just spinning wheels waiting for the next work email to come in or Monday to start.

B: How do you relax and wind down outside of work, and look after yourself generally? Anything that particularly helps you stay balanced?

R: I have a lot of hobbies and interests, and making time for those is really important to me. I love reading – history, true crime (I stayed up till two last night reading the Ted Bundy biography “The Stranger Beside Me” and barely slept a wink!), trashy regency romance novels, fantasy and sci-fi. I’m also listening to podcasts at the moment on my commute – my favourites include “You Must Remember This” (on the forgotten scandals of Hollywood), “My Favourite Murder” and “The Soundtrack Show” (which analyses film soundtracks). TV-wise I love Westworld, Game of Thrones and anything David Attenborough.

I’m also a huge Star Wars geek and in the last couple of years have got into cosplay, so I love researching and making props and costumes in my spare time and attending comic conventions, and I even take lessons in lightsaber fighting! It’s basically a fusion of kung fu and tai chi, except instead of wooden practice swords we use plastic ones that light up. Other sports and activities I love are Kobox (obviously!), skiing, diving, yoga, pilates, hiking and golf. Some weeks I’m busier than others, but for me balance is when I’m happily busy at work but with time for my interests and seeing friends and family.

B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?

R: Best: people don’t dwell nearly as much on the criticism they give you as you do. I think particularly in law, we’re such perfectionists that any negative feedback can really knock us. Take it, learn from it and try and move on – because the chances are that the person who said it hasn’t thought about it since they did!

Worst: “You can’t wear dangly earrings to work!!” My mum was an incredibly badass accountant-turned-banker in the 80’s when the City really WAS a man’s world, and any sign of femininity was seen as distracting or a weakness – this classic quote was from my first day at work when I was going to wear drop earrings. I don’t think she realised when I started my TC in 2015 how much the world, and corporate dress code in particular, has changed from “her day”. The fact our firm has casual Fridays continues to amaze her, as does the fact I never wear suits (stretchy jersey dresses for the win!)

B: Do you feel like workouts impact how productive you are at work?

R: 100%. I always try to work out in the mornings. It wakes you up, it gets your metabolism going, it clears your head, and ultimately I think it’s great to start the day with a bit of me-time – whether it’s yoga, running or, in my case, punching the hell out of something heavy to some really loud music.

B: If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be and why?

I honestly don’t know! I always have loved writing and secretly wanted to be a novelist, but I realised early on I wasn’t suited temperament-wise to such a solitary and unpredictable job. I also occasionally daydream of being a guide at a safari camp! Spending all day in the bush and then the evening round the fire with a glass of Amarula listening to the sounds of the wild and chatting to guests from all over the world sounds pretty fun to me. Having said that, I’d probably make it about three weeks without internet access before hotfooting it back to London.

B: Any role models career-wise (whether in law or not)?

R: My mum! She was the first in her family to go to university and then trained as an accountant as one of five women in a class of over 100. She then went into banking and made way more money than my dad for the first 10-15 years of their marriage (which was very unusual then). She ended up giving up work completely to look after me and my sister about the time I started school, but my parents were married for 10 years before they had kids, so she fit in a pretty incredible career before deciding to make that change. People are always shocked to find out my parents’ house is in her name! She’s incredibly driven and hard-working and is an example I try (and fail, a lot of the time!) to live up to.

B: Fave restaurant in City – any great places to take clients you’d recommend people?

R: I go to the Ned a lot and really like their restaurants, but if I’m not eating there I’ll usually head back towards Chelsea to have dinner. Mossimann’s, which is a dining club set in a gorgeous converted church in Belgravia, is the ultimate favourite – unfortunately I can’t go without my dad, as he’s the member, but I always beg to go there on my birthday! I love Rabbit, on the King’s Road, which does incredible seasonal British food tapas-style, and nearly died of happiness when they opened a Sticks ‘n’ Sushi less than two minutes walk from me!

B: And finally, what does ‘success’ mean to you?

It’s kind of abstract but that little fist-pump moment you get when you’ve absolutely nailed something. Whether it’s at work or not, the aim for me is for life to have more fist-pump moments than “d’oh” or “loo cry” moments.

**Quickfire Round**

Fave KOBOX combo – I know you go a lot 😉

Uppercuts. When I hit the bag hard enough that it jumps up, it makes me feel like Captain Marvel.

Pancakes or full english?

Full English for sure, I’m a savoury girl!

Burpee or bear crawl?

Oh Christ. Is Miranda reading this? Bear crawl! Definitely bear crawl!

Nature or nurture?

You can’t ask a former anthropology student that question, she’ll spend three weeks agonizing and then give you a 12-page essay that doesn’t even answer it! Like any true-crime aficionado, I’d probably say mostly nurture. But as a cat owner, nature certainly can’t be discounted.

Martini or cosmopolitan?

Martini – I like a citrusy, dry one with a grapefruit twist. But I’d choose a good margarita over either!

Talent or hustle?

Hustle.

Fave latin phrase from law-school?

In vino veritas – definitely learned during law school, although not actually during lectures…

Chocolate or cheese?

CHEESE.

Louboutin or Jimmy Choo?

Louboutin, as long as I’m not walking far.

Fave legal drama?

Does Judge Judy count?! Funnily enough for a lawyer I’ve never watched Suits or The Good Wife or anything like that. But my mum always has Judge Judy on somewhere in our house so I have a soft spot for her.

You have to hug, marry and water-balloon 3 kobox instructors – which ones do you choose?! 

Marry Miranda, obviously. Hug Joe or Jesse. Water-balloon Jacob (This is 100% revenge and I reserve the right to revise this when he’s back on the timetable permanently!)

Fave movie?

Hot Fuzz!

It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you go for?

Christmas lunch followed by my mum’s EXTREMELY boozy raspberry trifle! With wine. Lots of wine.

Hope that was a useful insight into lawyer life – Bekky is definitely the coolest lawyer I know. Catch her at KOBOX in City most weekdays 😉

B xoxo

 

#7: Inspire Interview Series – MICHELLE KEILL, NOVELIST

I have LOVED working on the Inspire Interview Series this year (catch up with any you missed here!) and getting to chat to so many amazing people about the cool stuff they’ve done with their lives. To round off 2018, I wanted to share with you a really special one.

1409DC03-D1AD-4569-897C-F37D4E88C22ELast year I was quite stressed out and disillusioned and needed a break and some inspiration, so I disappeared off to Paris for a weekend as it’s my favourite city in the world. Outside the bookshop (my spiritual home!) Shakespeare and Company, I discovered a book on a bench that had been left as part of a BookFairy Drop (where people leave books all around major cities and towns for others to discover)… and I was hooked. That was how I first connected with Michelle – through her gorgeous, haunting novel The Four Women (available here), and its characters, and I suppose above all – Paris.

Michelle Keill is a beautiful writer and novelist, and has kindly taken the time to answer a few of my Inspire Interview questions… so here’s hoping this kickstarts your New Year with a little creativity.

Writers are some of my favourite people because I’m fascinated by what they create, I get so excited when I get to talk to them – so without further ado, let’s chat to Michelle about her awesome work!

B: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

M: I’m not sure it was something I wanted to ‘be’, but it’s something I’ve always done. One of my earliest memories is of sitting at the kitchen table in my parents’ house writing stories with a crayon (in those days I also illustrated – badly, but more competently than I would do now).

B: What is the best thing, and what is the most difficult thing about being a writer?

M: The best thing, apart from the excuse to drink tea to excess and buy lots of pretty notebooks, is the opportunity to take myself out of reality and create a new one. Also, the potential to provide an escape for people: hearing from readers who’ve connected with the book is wonderful. As for the most difficult thing, any form of creative expression makes you vulnerable, and that feeling is hard to get used to. I find writing the first draft is the easiest part of the process – from there it gets harder, with all the rewriting and editing.

B: Can you give a little teaser about your novel The Four Women for anyone who hasn’t read it?

M: The book is about a young woman living in Paris whose world is drastically transformed by four women who enter her life, seemingly from nowhere, and introduce her to a reclusive and enigmatic tutor whom, they promise, can teach her French. On meeting him, she discovers that although he is indeed as brilliant as they described, he may not have the best of intentions. It’s a love story, but a dark one, and explores the theme of how much of our lives is predetermined, and what is simply chance. If I could give my characters one piece of advice it would be to be careful what you wish for, and to follow your instincts and stay true to yourself. Advice I try to keep in mind myself, actually.

B: What are you currently working on at the moment?

M: A collection of short stories, which should be published in 2019. I also have a romantic comedy and another Paris novel in the works.

B: Any tips for aspiring writers?

M: Write what enthrals and engages you, rather than what is popular or selling well at the moment (unless that is what enthrals and engages you!). You’re in charge of what you put on the page, so be sure it’s a genre or story that you feel passionate about. And read a lot. But, mostly, just write. 

B: Can you describe a writing day in the life of Michelle Keill?

M: Despite not being a morning person, my best time to write is first thing, so I try to make an early start. Then I’ll keep going until about two in the afternoon, which is usually when I feel my creative energy fading. I might push on into the evening if I’m working on a key scene or if I’m really in flow, but I find my mind is clearer earlier in the day. I need to be free of distractions (i.e. no phone), but I need music on when I write, otherwise it’s not happening.

B: What has been the most challenging part of getting to where you are today?

M: I developed a serious illness in 2014, which struck without warning and came close to getting the better of me. I ended up having emergency surgery to save my lung, which was frightening. From there it was a long road back to health. I wrote ‘The Four Women’ as I was recovering: while my body was restoring itself, my creativity was resetting too. I look back and I’m amazed that something good came from such a harrowing experience.

B: What does 1) ‘happiness’ and 2) ‘success’ mean to you?

M: Happiness for me can be as simple as spending a rainy day indoors lying on the sofa with a book and a cuppa. Same for success: if one person reads my book and enjoys it, then I consider that a win.

B: Best life advice you’ve ever been given?

M: Treat other people as you’d want to be treated yourself. And, from my mum, always make sure you have a decent mascara.

B: Best career advice you’ve ever been given?

M: Treat everyone you encounter at work, no matter what their role, with equal courtesy. The person at the bottom today may be at the top tomorrow. I think that came from my mum too.

B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?

M: My friends inspire me with their kindness, loyalty, and courage. Also, if I’m in a tricky situation, I often think, ‘What would Michelle Obama do?’ That always gets me on the right track.

B: What does ‘balance’ mean to you?

M: It means leaving a bit of energy in the tank and not pushing too hard (I’m still learning how to do this!). It means pausing and not always rushing to the finish line. Sometimes you have to slow down in order to speed up.

B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?

M: To make a positive contribution to the world.

B: What inspires you to write?

M: People, faces, and places. Or sometimes just a line in a song. 

B: If you weren’t a writer, what would you be in another life?

M: Perhaps a doctor, if I could make the grade.

B: If you had to spend the rest of your life with one fictional character, who would it be?

M: Ross from ‘Friends’. He’s intelligent, sensitive, musical (!), and enjoys lounging around on sofas drinking hot beverages.

B: How do you take care of yourself and make sure you get the right ‘work life balance’, if there is such a thing?

M: Following my illness, I’ve learned to listen to my body (not quite sure I’ve mastered it yet). If you’re working too hard, or not getting enough sleep or eating properly, your body will usually drop a few subtle hints to let you know. I make sure I pay attention to those early warning signs, and try to take it a bit easier when I feel I need to.

Quickfire

Physical books or ebooks?

Physical, definitely. I love to see rows of bulging bookshelves.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner?

Dinner.

Forests or beaches?

Forests. Bonus points if there are squirrels.

Walking or running?

Walking.

Favourite place?

Paris, Washington D.C., and my bed.

Dancing or yoga?

Dancing.

Nature or nurture?

Nurture.

Talent or hustle?

Talent.

Chocolate or cheese?

Cheese. I’m all about the cheese.

Fave self-care ritual?

A hot bath, a book, and a cup of Earl Grey.

A good book or Netflix?

A good book, but I can’t pretend I could function without Netflix.

Fave quote:

Not a quote as such, but JFK’s ‘we choose to go the moon’ speech always gives me a boost when I’m feeling overwhelmed, incapable, or my courage is failing me.

Top 3 books?

Hard to choose just three, but …

1. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty

2. Misery by Stephen King

3. Tampa by Alyssa Nutting

Tea or coffee?

Tea, all day long. With plenty of milk.

Who would attend your dream dinner party (living or dead, fictional or real!)

Frank-N-Furter, Oprah Winfrey, Juliette Binoche, Romesh Ranganathan, Don Lemon, Charlie Brooker, Stephen Colbert, and Freddie Mercury (I’d have to invite my mum too if Freddie was there).

If you had a ‘death row dinner’ – a last meal that could be anything you want, favourites, whatever… what would it be?

Pizza, followed by homemade apple crumble (custard mandatory). All followed, of course, by a large cup of tea.

Thanks so much for sharing your insights Michelle, I am so excited to read more of your work as I still get shivers thinking about The Four Women!

Hope you all enjoyed hearing more about life as a novelist, and if you’d like to connect further, you can find Michelle on Goodreads here, Instagram here and Amazon here.

B xoxo

#6 Inspire Interview Series – ALICE MAY PURKISS – FREELANCE WRITER & COPPAFEEL TRUSTEE

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Alice May Purkiss, Photo credit: What’sOnDarlington.co.uk

I’m so grateful for some of the interviews I’ve been able to do as part of this Inspire Interview Series – it’s mind-blowing to see the range of different but reeeeeally cooool shizz people can do when they put their minds to it! If you missed any of the previous installments, they’re all collated here on my careers page, so go and check them out!

Today, though, we have an incredibly special Q&A with a phenomenal woman tackling, among other things, proving publishers wrong, writing books, kicking cancer’s ass – in other words, grit and life wisdom from a gorgeous girlboss warrior.

I think  ‘career inspo’ style pieces can end up being very glib, trite, very ‘yeah! postivity woo, follow your dreams!’ and I wanted to make sure I’m sharing real stories, real experiences with breadth and depth and struggle as well as glossy corporate fairytale stories, so today I think this much deeper, harder, more real interview than any featured so far in this series is the most important – it’s definitely affected me the most of the pieces so far, and I hope you all find what you need from it too ❤

Alice May Purkiss (author of Life, Lemons & Melons, out later this year)

While already battling depression, Alice was diagnosed with cancer. Ultimately, she kicked its ass and survived it, and continues to document her journey on social media (@Alicemaypurkiss) and she has written some incredible pieces on her experience and given a range of speeches and workshops. She is now a freelance writer, self-published author, trustee for Cancer Charity CoppaFeel and much, much more.

Upon being told by publishers that her social media following wasn’t big enough to publish her memoir about her experience of cancer, depression, and everything in between, Life, Lemons and Melons, Alice successfully crowdfunded the project, sourced illustrators and singlehandedly proved them wrong (click here to pre-order now!) She now works as a freelance writer and has written for Stylist, Metro, Red Online to name a few.

I wanted to share as much as possible of the insights from this awesome human with you, both life lessons, career and writing, because I think we all struggle with figuring out what we’re doing, where we’re going, career stuff… but this is a girl who did it / is doing it while simultaneously frying much, MUCH bigger fish… so without further ado, let’s go over to Alice.

The lesson is this: depression or no depression, PTSD or no PTSD, cancer or no cancer, any emotions you are feeling are valid. You’re feeling them for a reason. We’re all guilty of shutting ourselves down when we’re experiencing emotions that feel more intense than we’re used to. But they are part of the human experience. They are part of what it is that makes us a human. Without sorrow we cannot know joy. Without loss we cannot know gratitude. I know it sounds trite. I know it sounds a bit airy fairy, a bit wishy washy and probably a bit like I’ve read too many books on feelings but we are consistently told to keep our emotions in check because we are scared of how our feelings will be perceived. But if your emotions are on extra loud, for whatever reason, sit with them for a while. Don’t try to get rid of them. Recognise them. Learn from them. – Alice May Purkiss, Life, Lemons & Melons

B: Please could you give a little intro of your journey of the last few years for anyone who doesn’t know you from social media?

A: Writer. Avid eater of food. Northerner on loan to London. Feminist. Had a run in with breast cancer. Trustee for .

B: You’ve been through an incredibly difficult ordeal and what’s been amazing about following your journey is how you’ve managed to transform some of that into a force for good, with your advocating for women checking their breasts for lumps [#CheckYourChebs], writing your book Life, Lemons and Melons, speaking at various events and sharing your experiences… do you have any advice for people struggling with similar (or different but difficult) situations?

A: Life is tough. We are consistently thrown curve balls that keep us on our toes and these can have long lasting and far reaching effects. But there is nearly always some good to be found in the difficult situations, it’s just about switching your view up so you can see it. And it’s important to remember that while every day might not be good, better days will come. Like the sunrise and the sunset, time is constantly moving and the world is always changing, so you won’t feel like you do now forever.

B: This seems like a stupid question as it must change so much, but how has your journey with breast cancer and everything you have to deal with as a consequence changed you and your perspective on life, looking after yourself, and work?

A: I get asked a lot if being diagnosed with breast cancer has changed me – and the honest answer is I really don’t know. Some days I feel like the same person I was before I got sick, other times I feel like a completely different human. I’m a bit of a contradiction really because sometimes it makes me more cautions and other times it makes me more adventurous. I think the best way to describe it is I’m a bit like a twin of myself – with the same basic DNA (minus the cancery cells) but with tweaks to my personality and my outlook. I’ve always been “work to live” rather than “live to work” and this is SO MUCH WORSE now, which is a blessing in many ways but also means I need to give myself a kick up the arse a lot more than I used to. And in terms of looking after myself, this has become completely crucial to me. My body has been battered and bruised and my brain has taken it’s fair share of a battering too – so things like yoga and meditation have taken a bigger priority in my life than ever before.

B: Can you talk a little bit about your process and experience of writing your book Life, Lemons and Melons?

A: The process of writing Life, Lemons and melons has been a pretty long one. I started my “journey” towards publishing this book about 18 months ago, when I secured an agent and he began talking to publishers about my work. They felt that despite the fact that they loved my idea and my writing, I didn’t have a big enough social media following for them to take a punt on me. So I decided to stick it to the man and do it anyway. I launched a Kickstarter and raised £5000 in 30 days last October and since then I have been knee deep in the writing trenches, driven on by nought but my own perseverance and the 176 investors who chose to believe in me with their hard earned dollar. As the book combines a number of difficult topics, it’s taken me quite a lot of time to geth through the chapters, and it’s really important to me that I am looking after myself while writing, so I’ve taken my time and tried not to put too much pressure on myself to get it done. I also have to be in a very particular place mentally and emotionally to write it so I don’t make my way into a mental nosedive, so I have to be really careful. 

B: You moved from a marketing role to going freelance and writing your book – any tips for people looking to do the same?

A: Take your time – don’t rush. The move doesn’t need to happen immediately. Start putting some feelers out for freelance work before you take the plunge and leave your job. And don’t be scared of the peaks and troughs that come with being a freelancer – there are many and they never get easier but where there are troughs there are always peaks.

B: Can you describe a (working/writing) day in the life of Alice Purkiss?

A: God I’m so bad at sticking to a particular schedule so it varies massively from day to day. I still struggle with fatigue so I don’t usually rush out of bed – even if I’m awake (which I usually am) I don’t get up til about 8.30 or 9, then I’ll get my breakfast, have a wash and start my day at 10am, unless there’s anything in particular that needs to be done first thing (usually dealing with social media clients or responding to emails). Then I usually work for a few hours on whatever projects I have on, whether social media management, writing pieces I have been commissioned for, doing the copywriting work that pays the bills or banging out some words for the book. I usually work til around 2 or 3pm. But this can all change if I have an event to go to, or a meeting to attend, or if I want to go for a swim, to yoga or to another exercise class.

B: What has been the most challenging part of going freelance and working for yourself?

A: Being kind to myself when things are difficult financially. Freelancing is so variable – some months I have lots of work coming in, others I don’t. That’s just the way it is for most freelancers but I have a tendency to tell myself I’m not doing enough, not trying hard enough, should be doing more etc etc. So working on treating myself better and learning to relish the downtime has been a big learning curve.

B: You’ve been very open about your struggles with depression before and during your breast cancer, and the importance of mental health which is so inspiring and I’m sure has helped so many people. What would you say to someone who is suffering and needs help or advice?

A: It’s such a hard question because everyone is so different but I think my number one piece of advice is that the sun will come out again. Better days are coming. You will know lightness again. Just hang in there. Kind of reminds me of this section I wrote in the book:

“There is one key thing I have learnt over the last three years. I think this lesson has partially occurred as a result off my extensive CBT and counselling but partly just as a result of living through a trauma and probably as I approach 30 and develop a bit of hindsight on the life that has gone before me. The lesson is this: depression or no depression, PTSD or no PTSD, cancer or no cancer, any emotions you are feeling are valid. You’re feeling them for a reason. We’re all guilty of shutting ourselves down when we’re experiencing emotions that feel more intense than we’re used to. But they are part of the human experience. They are part of what it is that makes us a human. Without sorrow we cannot know joy. Without loss we cannot know gratitude. I know it sounds trite. I know it sounds a bit airy fairy, a bit wishy washy and probably a bit like I’ve read too many books on feelings but we are consistently told to keep our emotions in check because we are scared of how our feelings will be perceived. But if your emotions are on extra loud, for whatever reason, sit with them for a while. Don’t try to get rid of them. Recognise them. Learn from them. Don’t beat yourself up for not reacting the “right” way to something. There is no “right” way. Remind yourself you’re doing the best you can. And if the intense emotions you’re feeling are horrible or scary, find someone to sit with them with you, someone to hold your hand and remind you that everything’s going to be ok. I think every emotion comes to teach us something. We just have to be open to learning.”

B: What does 1) ‘happiness’ and 2) ‘success’ mean to you?

A: 1) Living well and making the most of the life I’ve been given and sharing it with people I love

2) Managing to do the above!

B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?

A: My life’s mission in a nutshell is to do my bit to help stamp out late detection of breast cancer by educating the masses on the signs and symptoms that you should be looking out for when you do your monthly check (that’s why I volunteer with CoppaFeel!). I want people who are struggling with their mental health to know that they are not alone – that they can talk when they are ready and things will get better. I want those people to know that the world is better with them in it. I want to tell stories and go on adventures, to laugh, to be happy and to be healthy for as long as possible

***Quickfire***

Swimming or running?
SWIMMING. Every time.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner?
Dinner (or tea as we call it in the North)

Forests or beaches?
Beaches near forests?!

Nature or nuture?
Nature

Talent or hustle?
Talent

Chocolate or cheese?
Chocolate

Fave self-care ritual?
Yoga

A good book or netflix?
Book

Fave quote:
“Let me live, love, and say it well in good sentences” The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Tea or coffee?
Neither. I am a traitor to my Yorkshire kin.

Avocado toast: ridiculous or delicious?

DELICIOUS

Who would attend your dream dinner party (living or dead, fictional or real!)
GOOD ONE. Erm. Margaret Atwood, Bryony Gordon, my Grandma, Zadie Smith, Jon Ronson and Adam Buxton.

The best meal in the world is…
My husband’s mum’s roast ham Sunday dinner with all the trimmings. It’s honestly the best ham I’ve ever tasted. But I also bloody love seafood so anything fishy works for me.

Thanks SO MUCH Alice for sharing all of this, and I can’t wait to read your book!

Check out Alice on social media via the below links, and please do spare a minute to browse the CoppaFeel website and don’t forget to not only #CheckYourChebs but remind all of the lovely ladies in your life to do the same (breast cancer signs and symptoms explained here).

Spend more time with Alice over on her website, instagram, twitter, and read more about Life, Lemons & Melons, out later this year here.

You can also PRE-ORDER her book, Life, Lemons & Melons now for just £10 – click here!

B xoxo

Boobs, cancer, questions, queries…?

If you have any questions or concerns, whether you want to donate or have worries about your own health… have a look at the CoppaFeel website and other relevant charities but please do not hesitate to book a boob check, and speak to a qualified health professional. Other resources include:

Signs & Symptoms of breast cancer – CoppaFeel

Cancer Research UK

Breast Cancer Now – resources

 

#5 Inspire Interview Series – MEL WELLS – AUTHOR, ACTRESS, SPEAKER (+ Health & Food Psychology Coach)

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Photo credit: melwells.com

Welcome back to another Inspire Interview – I’ve loved doing this series soooo much because I love hearing peoples’ stories and insights into the things that really matter – finding things you love doing, drive to work hard, career, balancing health and a personal life and everything between! If you missed the previous installments, you can catch up with the full list here!

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Photo credit: melwells.com

Today we have a very special ‘episode’ – and I say episode because rather than the usual written piece because I have something new for you all…!

Being on camera is not in my comfort zone really at all, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak with the incredible Mel Wells and this super driven woman is all about pushing past your comfort zone! You may know her face from Hollyoaks, or you may know her from her brilliant bestselling book The Goddess Revolution and inspiring instagram feed… Mel has also been featured in Forbes Under 30 and was voted No. 1 Young Female Entrepreneur to Watch in the UK by About Time Magazine.

Mel does truly amazing work empowering women to fight back against diet culture and regain their happiness and health – her brand new book Hungry For More encapsulates everything this Inspire Interview Series has been about so settle down with a cup of tea and prepare to be inspired…

Back in London having lived in Bali, and now with a second book to her name (pre-order Hungry For More now to win free access to a special Masterclass with Mel and a chance to be entered to win one of her retreats in Bali – see her website for details!), Mel and I talked about all the BIG stuff – finding your ‘calling’, how food and your habits and relationship around it are reflective of the wider picture of your life and whether or not you’re fulfiled.

Press play on the video now to hear Mel’s story and epic insights into work, life, balance, spirituality, healing eating disorders, figuring out what you want from life, meditation and tonnes more! Plus the usual quick-fire round at the very end of course!

The interview: Mel Wells on being Hungry for More!

Thanks so much for chatting with me Mel! We look forward to reading your book when it’s out on July 10th!

Where to find Mel

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Photo credit: melwells.com

You can find Mel on instagram here and her website here!

If you’d like to pre-order Hungry For Moreher new book, get over to Amazon baby!

She also has a youtube channel, and you can also check out more on her Goddess retreats (hello Bali!) here.

Want to shop her first book? Get a SIGNED COPY of The Goddess Revolution from her online shop. And if you don’t love a tank that reads ‘green juice now, champagne later’… I don’t even know where to start! 🙂

Thanks for watching and hope you enjoyed the unusual Inspire Interview format! ❤

B xoxo

#4 Inspire Interview Series – FLORA BEVERLEY – SCIENCE MEDIA & PR for Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists & FITNESS INFLUENCER

Welcome back to the fourth installment in the Inspire Interview Series! This installment has the longest title EVER but I didn’t want to short-sell the formidable multi-talent of today’s interviewee…!

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Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

It’s been so exciting to talk to a range of amazing people who are all doing incredible work in varied fields… and naturally a running theme through these interviews is also how they balance their drive to achieve with taking care of themselves physically and mentally. (If you’ve missed any, do check back on Kris Pace, KOBOX brand director, Venetia Falconer, TV Presenter, blogger & influencer and Leyla Cooper, Founder & CEO of Pretty Athletic).

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Photo credit: Flora Beverley – http://www.foodfitnessflora.blog

Today’s Q&A is a pretty cool one because I think it manages to COMPLETELY bust some myths about social media influencers not being smart, and ‘smart’ or academic people not being able to be social media savvy or sporty… plus I found out we shared some work icons which is always fun… so over to the lovely Flora Beverley! (Links to all of her social media channels are down below).

Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!
Flora Beverley, Science PR & Media at Royal College of Obstetricians, Fitness Blogger & Social Media Influencer

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Photo credit: Flora Beverley, Flora’s Twitter Profile

B: So people may recognise you from your instagram and know you as a fitness blogger – but please can you tell us a bit about your ‘day job’, it sounds like an amazing career that a lot of people don’t even know is out there!

F: I work in Science media at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, so I act as the go-between between scientists and the press. It’s our job to make sure journalists understand the science behind a health story and translate science stories into lay english. We also make sure important research makes its way to the press without being misinterpreted! I also co-run the college’s twitter account so we always have a good online presence.

B: How did you get into science media and discover this was what you wanted to do?

F: I always knew I wanted to do something sciencey that wasn’t just research, as I always loved the arts too. Research is a little dry for me, but science media means I’m always reading the latest research but get to use my creative writing skills to translate it into English. I also obviously love social media, so it’s nice to be able to use my hard-earned social media expertise to advise organisations where social media is not the primary focus but where it is still useful to have. I knew this was the sort of job I wanted from second year at uni, but I didn’t know it actually existed until I applied to and got my first job in science comms!

B: Is it ever a struggle to juggle a full time job with your blogging?

F: I absolutely did over the first 8 months or so. That’s why recently I’ve cut down to 25h a week rather than 35h. I found myself working 8am – 10pm 7 days a week without much rest, which burned me out pretty fast. You can love your jobs all you like, but everyone needs rest! At 25h a week I am able to do 1.5 days extra of blogging. I think I actually work harder on 25h per week and am more productive in both jobs, so it’s definitely a better balance of both. I now also schedule in social media-free days every other week or so, otherwise I’d go mad! It’s hard to take time off when you’re both self-employed and employed by an organisation. [You can also read Flora’s blog post here about staying healthy while working an office job].

B: Do you have any advice for people looking to work in a similar field?

F: I’ve actually written about it on my blog a little. It’s all about showing that you’re interested in science communications and know why it’s so important. A science degree and writing experience are both useful, as a lot of it is translating science jargon to plain English.

B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of Flora Beverley?!

F: I actually have an entire YouTube video on this! It’s my latest vid 🙂
Tends to go: 7am workout, 8:30am work, 4:30pm work ends, 5:30pm event of some variety. 10pm bed time!

B: What has been the most challenging part of getting to where you are now?

F: Keeping on the track of what I think is best for me. There is a lot of ‘advice’ coming from all directions – parents, friends, my agency – but I’ve found that sticking true to what I enjoy, more than anything, has kept me pretty happy!

B: What are your career goals for the next five years?

Whilst I think that doing pretty much everything I’ve enjoyed over the last few years has been wonderful, as I grow in all the fields I’m in, I think there’ll come a point when I have to decide what I want to specialise in. I’ve always been the sort of person who has managed to fit in literally everything I want to do, but I think there’s a point people reach where it’s in their best interest to cut loose various things so instead of doing 10 things not very well, you choose your favourite 3 and do them 110%. That’ll be a really difficult decision for me, but also I don’t think anything is final, and if it doesn’t work out I can always change my mind. That’s the only thing stopping me panic!

B: Any big misconceptions about the work you do, either your blogging and influencer work or your day job?

F: It’s funny actually – when I speak to older people, they seem way more interested in my work in science media. I think they think that I can’t be that clever if I’m a blogger. When I speak to my generation, everyone’s super interested in the work I do as a blogger, and saying I also work in science media seems to turn them off, like working 2 jobsmeans that I’m not good enough to work full time in social media. Maybe not misconceptions, but definitely preconceptions!

B: You’re always super active and super healthy – do you feel like this positively impacts your work?

F: Yes absolutely – when I lapse a little on the health or exercise front I feel my concentration and mood slipping. Exercise keeps me energetic and good food keeps me alert and happy.

B: What advice would you give to someone trying to figure out what they want to do?

F: Do what you love ALWAYS, but be sensible. Money is needed to survive, but if your way of money stops you doing what you love, try doing something else. No experience is a wasted experience – I worked in advertising, catering, in a museum, events and social media. All of them have helped me get to where I am today!

B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?

For sure, but I look forward to making plenty of mistakes in the future too. I think I’ve learned to always stay true to myself – even if something ends up being a mistake, if you know you did it for the right reasons, that’s not a problem!

B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?

F: Happiness and family. But I think the meaning can change over time. I think I’m successful now, but if I was in the same position in 8 years time, I would think of myself as unsuccessful – it’s a moving target!
B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?

F: Best: Don’t listen to what others want you to do. You do you. (I’m yet to fully live by this, but I’m moving in the right direction!)

Worst: Get a job that pays well. I’ve got a job that pays, but it hardly pays WELL comparatively. But I love it and I’m happy, and it’s enough for me to live. That’s all you need!

B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?
F: My friend had a job that she loved until a staffing change made her miserable. Instead of grinning and bearing it, she got up and left. I like to think that if I stopped enjoying what I did, I’d have the confidence to quit and move on. My boyfriend is a huge inspiration – he’s gone through 3 pretty drastic career changes (drummer to gardener to academic) and has never been happier. I think for me these two people are role models for me as I would never want to be someone stuck doing something I hate and hating on others for enjoying themselves.

B: Who are your fave work and fitness icons?

F: Emma Watson and some journalists, such as Stevie Martin, Dolly Alderton, Pandora Sykes etc – all role models in general!
Fitness icons – anyone who really has a passion and chases it. I like people who do a lot of things! Oenone Forbat, Gemita Samarra and Sophie Hellyer spring to mind!

B: Can you describe your weekly fitness routine? I just have to ask, because your abs though…!!!!

F: Also wrote a blog post on this! I tend to box, run and do HIIT around 5h a week. I don’t overdo it!
***Quickfire Round***

Fave workout?
Boxing! Or horse riding, if you count that 🙂

Nut butter or avocado?
Avo
Brian Cox or Richard Attenborough?
Brian Cox – unless you mean David Attenborough, in which case he always wins.
I did mean David Attenborough haha sorry, I think I had the Santa Claus actor on the brain as I only just learned they were related…?! Fail!

Massage or facial?
Massage

Nature or nurture?
Nurture

Talent or hustle?
Hustle

Chocolate or cheese?
Chocolate

You’re doing cardio: podcast or playlist?
Podcast

Chick flick or thriller?
Thriller

Best brunch spot in London?
The lighterman
It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make?
Pad Thai, G&T and cinnamon oatmeal cookies to finish

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Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Thanks so much for all your insights Flora! If you’re not already, follow her on instagram @foodfitnessflora, facebook here, check out her blog, her twitter, and youtube channel for more! She also has a Personal Q&A video live if there’s anything else you wanna know!

Doing these Q&As has been such a fun process for me as well as people reading and requesting interviews, as I get to learn about jobs I’d never even known about growing up!

Hope you’re all able to check back soon as we have more exciting jobs coming up… it literally makes me want to live several lifetimes so I can try everything!

Until next time…

B xoxo

#3 Inspire Interview Series – LEYLA COOPER – FOUNDER & CEO of PRETTY ATHLETIC

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Photo by Jess Watters on Pexels.com

Happy Friday everybody and thanks for joining for the third Q&A of our Inspire Interview Series! (If you’ve missed any, do check back on Kris Pace, KOBOX brand director, and Venetia Falconer, TV Presenter, blogger & influencer).

Today is a really exciting one because I know so many people dream of starting their own businesses, and even quitting their corporate jobs to pursue passion projects elsewhere…

Find out how the incredible Leyla Cooper, a former lawyer, now Founder & CEO of Pretty Athletic made the switch, and also her expert skincare tips! It’s a really great one because you can tell how much knowledge and hustle she’s poured in to make this wonderful brand a success.

I enjoyed working in law, but the prospect of running my own business and building a skincare brand from scratch was incredibly appealing. I am actually a very risk averse person, but I found myself spending evenings and weekends working on what would become Pretty Athletic and I loved it so much it didn’t feel like work. – Leyla Cooper, Founder & CEO of Pretty Athletic and former lawyer

If somehow you haven’t yet come across this increeeeedible skincare range, it’s a bespoke product line designed especially for active women, and it’s totally ethical (the products are super natural, not at all animal tested, and are registered with the Vegan Society). I came across it one day in Harper’s Bazaar, and fell head-over-heels in love! If you have yet to try their gorgeous products, be sure to visit their instagram, facebook and twitter to get the scoop. I honestly couldn’t recommend them enough, they’ve really transformed my skin.

So without further ado, let’s jump in with Leyla…

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Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

B: Can you tell us a little bit about your background, and how you came up with the idea for Pretty Athletic?

L: I’ve always enjoyed running and exercise. I used to work as a lawyer, and exercise was something I relied on to help deal with the stress of work and to keep my head clear. Like many busy women I would fit in a workout whenever I could, be it an early morning run or a lunchtime or evening gym session. One day I realised that my skin post-workout was a challenge and amongst all the many skincare products out there for various skin types and situations, I couldn’t find anything specifically designed for active women, be it for pre/post workout skin (i.e. hot, sweaty, stressed, skin) or to help protect and repair skin that is subject to environmental damage whilst exercising outdoors.

B: What made you decide to take the leap and start your own business? What was your working life like before and has it changed a lot? How did you find the transition from working in law?

L: I enjoyed working in law, but the prospect of running my own business and building a skincare brand from scratch was incredibly appealing. I am actually a very risk averse person, but I found myself spending evenings and weekends working on what would become Pretty Athletic and I loved it so much it didn’t feel like work. Then my husband injured his spine (he’s fine now thankfully) and it put things into perspective and I felt that life is short and I had to leave to do this thing that I was passionate about. As for my working life, I worked hard as a lawyer but I work harder now.

B: It’s funny because I really suffered with skin issues when I started training more and waited a long time for a brand targeted at women who workout so I was crazy excited when I discovered Pretty Athletic – but how did you navigate the gap between having an idea when you realised it was something people needed, and creating a product?

L: In a nutshell:  Market research, a fabulous team of cosmetic formulation chemists, hours of product and ingredient research, and lots and lots of testing.

B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life at Pretty Athletic HQ?

L: Sorry to be clichéd, but no one day is the same. Each day I deal with a variety of issues including social media, new product development, website tweaks and improvements, customer enquiries, brand collaborations, marketing, retailers, VAT/invoices/accounts, events, liaising with my business partner and our fabulous intern Laura, and the list goes on..

B: What has been the most challenging part of moving from law to running your own business?

L: The success or failure of the business falls on me- and that’s a lot of pressure.

B: Do you have a favourite Pretty Athletic product?

L: For the face, our Workout Glow as I use it to cleanse and hydrate pre and post workout, and anytime during the day when my skin need a refresh, and I also use it every evening to remove my eye makeup. For the body, our Hydration Kick body moisturiser as I don’t like traditional body moisturisers as I dislike how they feel on my skin, whereas this is a gel not a cream and so it just sinks in and is so refreshing, and also it smells amazing – like a spa.

B: What advice would you give to someone looking to take the leap and start their own business?

L: You have to absolutely love it, as you’ll work harder than you’ve ever done before.

B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so? 

L: I have made many mistakes, and each time I learn not to make those same mistakes again!

B: What are the best and worst bits of working for yourself?

L: The best is the flexibility; if  I want to go for a run at 3 in the afternoon to clear my head,  I can. The worst is that you take everything – such as any rejections – very personally.

B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?

L: Looking back and knowing I did my best.

B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?

L: I have never met her but I look up to and am inspired by Marcia Kilgore (founder of Bliss, Soap & Glory, and Beauty Pie) who despite having been incredibly successful never rests on her laurels and keeps building successful brands and coming up with innovative new ideas.

B: Can you describe your daily skincare regime? What are your top tips?

L: I keep it quite simple. In the morning I cleanse my face and apply moisturiser, plus SPF if the sun is out. Pre/post workout, and also at the end of the day I use our Workout Glow to cleanse and hydrate, and then before bed I alternate between a facial exfoliator and nourishing cleanser, I remove my eye makeup with our Workout Glow, and I then use a face oil. About half my skincare products are Pretty Athletic products or samples of new products from our cosmetic formulators that I am testing, and the other half are from other brands as I like to keep up to date with new products on the market. My top tip? Exercise – it’s amazing for your skin. (Just ensure you cleanse and hydrate after sweating!)

Quickfire

 Fave workout? Running

 Nut butter or avocado? Nut butter

 Massage or facial? Facial

Nature or nuture? Nurture

 Talent or hustle? Hustle

Chocolate or cheese? Chocolate

 You’re doing cardio: podcast or playlist? Playlist

 Moisturiser or face oil? Face oil

 You’re on a desert island and can only have 3 beauty products – what are they? Our Workout Glow, shampoo, and sunscreen.

 It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make? Chocolate.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

Thanks so much for your insights Leyla!

Find out more about the brand here, and have a browse of the Pretty Athletic blog here.

xoxo

#2 Inspire Interview Series – VENETIA FALCONER, TV PRESENTER, BLOGGER & more!

So last week in the first of our Inspire Interviews we heard from Kris Pace, the Branding Director of KOBOX. This week, we have a completely different inspiring story for you… and spoiler, she’s a total babe.

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Photo from venetiafalconer.com

Even if I have a tiny positive impact on just one person, I’m happy. Starting each day looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead is a pretty wonderful feeling, too.  – Venetia Falconer, TV Presenter, blogger, podcaster and influencer.

Not only does she create my all time fave podcast – Talking Tastebuds – and have the kind of voice I just want to listen to on a permanent audiobook, she’s a multi-talented(and titled!) career queen absolutely bossing the online content space while making waves and gently pushing positive change without preaching in her treatment of ethical eating and sustainable fashion. And that’s not to mention her impressive TV career and presenting chops… this week’s Q&A is with the smart and super-beautiful Venetia Falconer!

B: One thing I really love about the work you do is this amazing energy you bring to everything you do – I first saw you talk on The Future of Wellness Panel where you presented for YellowKite Books – you’re obviously multi-passionate and multi-talented – can you talk a little bit about your background and how you became a presenter, blogger, vlogger, podcaster and influencer…?!

V: Thank you so much! I worked my way up behind the camera as a producer at MTV learning how to write scripts, film, edit, work with presenters and hone my interview skills. A friend then put me forward for a presenting job at 4Music and I thought I may as well go for it and I got the gig! I spent 18 months hosting their daily live show which was the best training ground. I was then picked up by Tastemade and fell in love with the digital sphere, so launched my YouTube channel and then my podcast, Talking Tastebuds.

B: You’re also vegan, and make it seem so easy! How did you make the transition to fully fledged veganism?

V: I took my sweet time – 5 months to be exact! And that’s always my number one top tip, go easy on yourself and take your time. It’s a big change to your body (I was eating eggs, dairy or meat with every meal), so it was necessary for me to ease my way into it.

B: Do you ever struggle to balance career and wellness? Any top tips for keeping that balance?

V: Of course. I meditate daily and try to take regular digital detoxes. Friends are my favourite remedy and a huge part of my life, so I’ll spend as much time as possible hanging out with those who lift my soul!

B: What are you most proud of in your career so far?

V: My podcast. It’s really exceeded all of my expectations.

B: What made you decide to launch ‘Talking Tastebuds’? (I’m literally addicted!) Any highlights and/or struggles?

V: I’m so pleased to hear that! I was taking some time out in Sri Lanka and the idea literally came to me (another reason why time-off is so important if you’re a creative).

Highlights have been hanging out with my heroes! Going to interview the Happy Pear in their hometown was particularly spectacular. Struggles are trying not to overthink about where to take it next…

B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life of Venetia Falconer?

This is hard as it varies so much day-to-day. I like to wake up at 6am so I have time to meditate and do yoga or a TRX class at Equilibrium, before launching into emails and editing. Then I’m often rushing around London to meetings, events, shoots and interviews.

It’s important to me to have a good work/life balance, so I aim to have my laptop closed by 7pm before enjoying dinner with a friend.

B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?

V: That you can never take a short-cut. You want to be able to do each and every part of your job as well as your boss can. And not to rush. The journey is the most enjoyable part!

B: You’ve been very open about anxiety and the importance of mental health which is so inspiring and has helped a lot of people. What would you say to someone who is suffering and needs help or advice?

V: You are not alone. Talk to someone. Don’t suffer in silence. And if you’re stuck in an Instagram vortex of self comparison, please switch off your phone.

B: What does ‘success’ mean to you?

V: Even if I have a tiny positive impact on just one person, I’m happy. Starting each day looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead is a pretty wonderful feeling, too.  

B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?

V: Best: “It’s ok to say no”.
Worst: “Being vegan will make you less employable”. SEE YA.

B: What’s your life’s mission in a nutshell?

V: To spread a positive message around mental and physical well-being. And to encourage others not to mess with the animals and the planet… 🙂

**Quickfire Round**

Yoga or HIIT?

YOGA

Eggs or oats?

OATS every damn day

Pirates or Vampires?

PIRATES

Bali or Bora Bora?

BALI

Bikini or one piece?

BIKINI

Nature or nurture?

NATURE

Talent or hustle?

BOTH.

[vegan] chocolate or cheese?

CHOCOLATE

You’re doing cardio: podcast or playlist?

PLAYLIST – my own on spotify 😉

A good book or netflix?

Netflix

Fave quote:

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

It’s your last EVER day of your life. What do you do for the day?

Spend it on the coast surrounded by all of my favourite humans. There would be glorious sunshine and lots of incredible music. We’d dance a lot and have long rambling conversations about life. There would be exceptional coffee and food. I would be wearing an incredible boho-dress, but no shoes (minor but important detail).

And I have to ask your infamous podcast question – please can you share your ‘death row dinner’ (the last ever meal you’re going to have!):

This changes every single day. Currently it’s papaya drenched in fresh lime juice. Shared on a beach with David Attenborough, watching the sunrise.

I literally find Venetia’s podcast the most uplifting thing in the world and it’s so interesting and educational too – if you haven’t already gotten yourself hooked on Talking Tastebuds, get your fix here.

You can also catch Venetia on her websiteyoutube channel, instagram, facebook and twitter.

B xoxo

#1 Inspire Interview Series – KRIS PACE, BRAND DIRECTOR of KOBOX

Welcome to the first in this series of Inspire Interviews! These will be permanently available on the careers section of this site, which I’m currently expanding so keep your eyes peeled…

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It’s no secret how much I love KOBOX and their awesome Brand Director, Kris Pace  has generously agreed to answer some questions for us today on all things work, fitness, boxing, branding and a cheeky quickfire round!

It’s always really interesting to go behind the scenes of our favourite brands and companies, as I think so many people aspire to work for places they can be proud of doing what they love.

Don’t get yourself into a position where you’re representing someone or something you don’t care about, because anyone you meet will see right through it. Genuine passion goes so far in this world, and if you’re proud of and fervid about who or what you’re representing, you won’t go far wrong. If you don’t believe in what you’re showcasing to the world, you don’t deserve to be doing it. – Kris Pace, KOBOX Brand Director.

Kris, as mentioned above, is KOBOX’s Brand Director, and formerly worked for Men’s Health. In addition to being a boxing badass (check out his instagram here) he’s doing an incredible work for a boutique fitness concept that has shaken London up a storm, with celebrity fans including supermodel Jourdan Dunn, singers Cheryl Cole and Ellie Goulding, Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts, Made in Chelsea stars JP, Jess Woodley Oliver Proudlock and more.

We touch on this in the interview, but KOBOX really does change lives, and so it’s no wonder the ‘fight club meets nightclub’ has been a roaring success. While KOBOX’s brand is amazing, clearly part of what makes it so incredible is it’s so much MORE than a brand, there’s a real sense of this KOBOX community that they’ve built, and as Kris says below there’s a sense of pride in everyone working there in getting to contribute to something bigger… so let’s dig in to chatting with Kris and find out his secrets to work success, how he ended up this amazing role, and his sport and fitness approach… Plus find out which KOBOX instructors he’d rather hug, marry and waterballoon…!

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B: Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to be Kobox’s Brand Director – did you always know this was the kind of work you wanted to do?

K: I met Shane and Ian Streetz when I worked for Men’s Health magazine. The team there wanted to do a 12-week body transformation, through boxing, for a feature. Whilst working there, we’d all heard a lot of good stuff about KOBOX, so we went down to see what it was like, and we knew instantly it was the right place to host the transformation…

Once the feature had finished, I’d loved being there so much that I kept going back, both to train and to socialise. The business was growing rapidly, and the Brand Director role was formed about 6 months later. I jumped at the chance, and the rest is history…

B: Can you describe a (working) day in the life for you at Kobox HQ?

K: Everything and anything can happen in typical day at KOBOX. There are so many variables at a boxing club, you simply have to be on top of everything. My day can vary from cleaning the office and serving protein shakes to conceiving and executing authentic online content or meeting people to further expand one of many sides of the business. But, for definite, the main stream of consciousness for every single employee at KOBOX, daily, is to make sure we’re giving people the best 50 minutes of their day when they come in to take a class.

B: Have you always been passionate about fitness?

K: Sport, all my life. Fitness, all my adult life. I think naturally I like to try new things, and test myself in new waters. I’ve body-built, gone super heavy but then also gone super slim for a triathlon, then tried my hand at boxing… it’s important to see what you’re made of.

B: What advice would you give to someone looking to go into branding/marketing roles?

K: Don’t get yourself into a position where you’re representing someone or something you don’t care about, because anyone you meet will see right through it. Genuine passion goes so far in this world, and if you’re proud of and fervid about who or what you’re representing, you won’t go far wrong. If you don’t believe in what you’re showcasing to the world, you don’t deserve to be doing it.

B: Have you made any mistakes along the way to where you are today and what have you learned from them, if so?

K: Of course, many. I learn something every single day, and I’d never want that to change.

Whether it’s something that has differed from your expectations; something you attested to but it turned out otherwise; or even if it’s something that you’re proved right on, you learn every time. You can’t predict the future, but you can take note and not make the same mistake twice.  

B: What are the best and worst bits of your job? Any top challenges and/or achievements?

K: Genuinely, there are too many best bits to choose from. I get to walk into KOBOX every day, which is a place I fell in love with before I worked there. But to name a few? The team, the ambition, the classes themselves and the difference they make to people’s lives – which is extraordinary, and I feel privileged to be a part of that.

Worse bit? Sloane Square’s on the District Line, which is, without doubt, the most lamentable tube line ever made. Ever. I never moan about it, though. Ask anyone…

B: Do you do KOBOX workouts yourself or do you like to mix up your regime? Any favourite ways to train?

K: If I’m honest, I wish I had more time to do class. It’s tricky for me to pick a class time and stick to it, as my day can change at the drop of a hat. But I love Core Day!

Away from class, I like to lift weights, but with a circuit/HIIT element to it… I’ve started to round up the trainers to participate, which helps with the old wilting willpower!

B: Best and worst career advice you’ve ever been given?

K: Best: Trust your gut.

Worst: Tailor yourself to the role.

B: Do you have a role model or mentor you look to for career inspiration?

K: I wouldn’t say one in particular. A lot of people are full of hot air, but there are also people who talk a lot of sense. Pick attentively what ‘words of wisdom’ you take with you.

B: Who are your fave fitness icons?

K: Eric ‘The King’ Cantona. My all-time sporting hero, but not necessarily a fitness icon. It’s hard to look past Rich Froning in that sense – what he’s achieved is incredible. I think he now defines modern-day fitness.  

B: And finally, what does ‘success’ mean to you?

K: Retiring when I’m 35.

Joke. Building something that will outlast you.

B: Bonus question: which Kobox instructor would you least like to get in a ring with and why?!

Any of them, they’d all batter me in the ring.

**Quickfire Round**

Fave combo on the heavy bags:

2. 2. 2. 2. 2. 2…

Eggs or oats?

Oats.

Burpee or bear crawl?

Neither, they’re both grim.

Nature or nurture?

Nurture. It’s the only thing we have control over.

Talent or hustle?

Hustle.

The best KOBOX shake on the menu?

Peanut Uppercut. Or the Suckerpunch (just because I named it).

Chocolate or cheese?

Chocolate.

Boxing or MMA?

Boxing.

You have to hug, marry and water-balloon 3 kobox instructors – which ones do you choose?! 😉

Hug: Ollie. Who doesn’t want to cuddle the #BrownBear?

Marry: Maciela. She’s just awesome.

Water-Balloon: Ian Streetz. He wins at everything and I’ve had enough of it.

Fave movie:

Rockstar.

It’s your last EVER meal of your life. What do you order/make?

A proper, old-school Indian. Not one of these fancy new ones.

Thanks so much Kris for answering all of these questions and sharing your work and fitness insights! You can find Kris on instagram here, and all things KOBOX here. Keep an eye out for the next Inspire Interview coming soon!

B xox

Brand New Inspire Interview Series – launching on Friday!

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I am really excited to be launching an interview series with some incredible people. Whether your dream job involves burpees and barbells, boardrooms or business-meetings (or none of the above!), I’ve chatted to some reeeeally cool people who graciously agreed to share their stories about what they do and how they got there.

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Coming your way in these Q&As will be:

  • Top tips from incredible entrepreneurs, industry shakers and influencers
  • Their stories, insights and career tips
  • How they balance wellness and work
  • Secrets to their success
  • & more!

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Why?

While this blog is very ‘health’, ‘fitness’ and ‘nutrition’ focussed (I mean, “gymliving” features in the name!), I’ve also always been honest that fitness isn’t my whole life – career is important to me and mine is actually in law rather than the fitness industry (I’m “legallygymliving”, after all!). And another part of this picture is that ever-elusive ‘balance’ – maintaining mental and physical health, and enjoying interests, family, friends and loved ones rather than being chained to the grindstone.

A huuuuuge part of my view of the world and the content I try to share with you all is finding a way to make health and wellness and working out fit around YOUR lives. And also sharing non-fitness related content that can inspire and enhance your career and all the other things that are important to you, because there’s more to living well than matcha lattes and working on our abs!

I’ve been interviewing some incredible people who are just so inspiring for all kinds of different reasons – some work in careers related in some way to fitness or wellness, others don’t – from influencers & entrepreneurs to lawyers & financiers, I wanted to share with you all some of the people who have been generous enough to let me interview them, and share their amazing insights and stories with you!

Whatever you want to work in, I think you can learn a lot from exploring new areas (my marketing, events and account management ‘first’ career taught me a lot, for example, and while I may not use it while I’m drafting legal docs day to day, you can chalk everything up to life experience and you’d be surprised when things pop up!) so hopefully even if there’s not someone I’ve interviewed who you want to exactly-to-the-letter model your path on, you’ll find some inspo and top tips to getting to where you want to be!

First up we have a fab interview from the insaaaaaaaaane Kris Pace, Brand Director at Kobox (& formerly of Men’s Health)! Watch this space… it will go live on Friday 🙂

B xoxo