Thursday, November 15, 2018


Where it started

Eleven years ago, I went on a bit of personal journey, at that time I was a good CEO of a good company. We did OK, we have good businesses. People liked my style as the CEO. I was pretty healthy as in I wasn’t suffering from any condition or illness at the time. I was just a bit lacklustre for my own liking, my battery was a bit flat. I knew I could do better. I didn’t really look after myself too much. One failed marriage behind me and one difficult business sale had both took their toll, but I was OK. I was OK enough to land the CEO role after all.

But then I turned 39, it dawned on me I would be 40 next year. That milestone, made me realise I needed to change my approach to life. After years of very little physical activity, I took up running, a year later I was starting the London Marathon, a year later I was doing my first triathlon. But it was more than just physical health, of course, I sorted out my nutrition, I drank less alcohol and I got more sleep, but it also catapulted me into looking at my mental and spiritual health too. I took the whole company on a journey around purpose and meaning. I read, lots. Especially in the areas of positive psychology, happiness and neuroscience. I started meditating, journaling, etc, all the things you’ve read about on Medium as being good for your wellbeing. I took a coaching qualification. And boy did I feel alive. I felt (and still do feel) sensational. Everyone in my life, especially those at work noticed the difference. They commented on how much more energised I was, how I ran better meetings and how I got s##t done. The company’s performance went up too, across all the measures we created as part of our work around purpose. We had happier teams, we had happier customers, we were making and bigger impact on the environment and of course the core businesses I ran were more profitable. I left that role at the height of the company’s performance, and we had just won a cabinet full of awards to boot. Now as much as my ego would like to take 100% of the credit for that success, that success was a team one. One in which all 250 of the team had played a part. But I couldn’t help thinking that my extra energy must have played its part?

The Next Chapter

It was a strange thing to do, to give up a very comfortable salary, the company car, etc etc, and go it alone, but I knew I just had to help others, who like me knew they could be better. So five years ago, I formed Yellow Brick Road Solutions, a name chosen to represent the journey we are all on. I started to and still do wear red shoes, being the Dorothy to guide you. I started with two main issues:

  1. I was fed up with sheep dip training. You know the stuff, I come in, I teach some stuff for two days, you’ve fixed, I leave, right? The problem is, not many people actually do anything about it. It’s even worse now with online training, with so many online courses not even getting finished.

  1. I wanted to focus on individuals needs around wellbeing looking at your whole health. As much as I have time and respect for my colleagues flying the flag, most corporates were only and are still only buying resilience or mental health training. No one seemed to be looking at all aspects of health. Not many had worked out the return on investment of a truly holistic approach.

Early Successes

We had some great early successes with our programmes, we really made a big difference in people’s lives. Because we combined great training with great coaching, measurement, accountability and lots and lots of discussions with peers, we changed core beliefs and behaviours for the long term. Having recently revisited some of our clients, some time after they completed the work, we were delighted to hear how they had all continued on their journeys.

But something was still missing?

With some great success and a programme that seemed to be getting the traction we still felt something wasn’t right. We did a lot of research and talked to lots of people. Interestingly as corporates are now starting to queue up to buy “Wellbeing” we realised that was the word that was holding us back. Yes, L&D, HR and the CEO will probably be talking about it, and how to get the team to have more of it and increase productivity and reduce presenteeism etc etc. But is it really the right term to make you excited about working on yourself. Do you really want us or your employer telling you, you need to sort your wellbeing out? We know from our conversations, most of us don’t.

Wellbeing Definition:
“ the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy”

Of course, wellbeing is a completely neutral term, but in our experience, that’s not how most people perceive it. It can put you on the defensive, it puts you off. Indeed, I just Googled the word and the whole first page was occupied by the public sector and charity organisations who help people who need help with stress, anxiety or in some sort of mental health crisis. Now we’re deeply proud to be in the same space as these vital services, that society is in much need of. But when it comes to you leaning in, you have to be really ready or sometimes desperate to lean into this. We do hope that the stigma around mental health in the workplace and generally in society is overcome and applaud the great work being done. We just think and have been collecting evidence that you are going to lean in much quicker to a more positive trigger.

Energy, Energy, Energy

The word that seemed to resonate most of all with everyone we spoke to was energy. People were much happier to admit to wanting to have more energy than to improve their wellbeing. We tested it more. We liked it more. Our clients liked it more. This goes all the way back to my own journey, it’s what people said when they noticed I show up differently.

Energy Definition:
“the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.”

So whilst our founding principles remain true, around allowing and assisting people to become their best, to achieve their best in all aspects of life, our language is now all about energy optimisation. When we ask anyone would you like a more energy and less stress, we’ve yet to come across anyone, particularly those in business who have aspirations, who’s said no.

Our Mission now is to energise 10 million people.

We’d love to hear what your thoughts are on Energy V Wellbeing. How would you respond to the two questions:

Do you want to improve your wellbeing?

Do you want to get more energy?

Thanks for taking the time to read.

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Thursday, November 15, 2018




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