Come and join www.moretolifethanshoes.com We're a new type of women's network for those who want to make a change: career-switchers, business-starters, skill-seekers; we get together to share ideas, secrets and success.It's girl power, all grown up. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, motivation, information, or just want to make some friends – join us and make it happen!
"It's girl power, all grown up!" The moretolifethanshoes team tell us how they're trying to help women everywhere to help themselves.
Come and join www.moretolifethanshoes.com We're a new type of women's network for those who want to make a change: career-switchers, business-starters, skill-seekers; we get together to share ideas, secrets and success.
It's girl power, all grown up. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, motivation, information, or just want to make some friends – join us and make it happen!
I am the co-founder of www.moretolifethanshoes.com. We're a new type of women's network for those who want to make a change: career-switchers, business-starters, skill-seekers. We get together to share ideas, secrets and success. It's girl power, all grown up.
I am also co-author of More To Life Than Shoes: How to Kick Start Your Career and Change Your Life.
And I am mum to feisty toddler Jacob, 3, who does his best to challenge my time management, patience and negotiation skills on a daily basis.
I started out as the world’s worst trainee accountant and got through jobs as fast as new shoes (quicker in some cases!).
You could say I've had a rather scattergun approach to work. The longest I've stuck at anything is about 2 years, and yes, this slightly 'fluid' approach to work was my choice; I've never actually been sacked.
As university drew to a close I felt pressured to get a job and seem respectable. I went to a party where all my school friends were droning on about their new jobs and rather than be true to myself I caved and started applying for sensible jobs.
Looking back it's pretty funny that I managed to blag my way into accountancy, seeing as I'm crap with detail and get bored easily!
It was a miserable time. I sought solace in coloured pens, which I used to brighten up my work, in the windowless mirk of Wolverhampton City Council. Desperate times. I remember finally mustering up the courage to quit: I told my boss, "it's not you, it's me. I hate it here. I have to leave!" And burst into tears. Stylish.
Don't worry, over the years I got a lot better at moving on. My favourite method being the blaze of glory when you get escorted off the premises in case you're about to reveal top secrets. Hilarious!
I jumped into marketing and then product development in the health and beauty industy. On paper these jobs should have been great, but the reality was often bleak. There was so much data entry in one job I think I actually started to contemplate chucking myself or my computer out the window. And promotions were really unlikely as budgets were threadbare.
As I moved around, I was gathering skills and experience which were really valuable, as well as making brilliant friends who made work more fun. I was getting to know myself too; what I liked and was good at, as well as what bored me to tears.
Finally, I managed to talk and network my way into a world famous innovation consultancy, helping big companies to have ideas. It was perfect. They embraced my eccentricities and I learned so so much, and it built my confidence up no end. It was amazing to finally find somewhere I was appreciated.
Working at What If was brilliant. The people were amazingly intelligent and the work was fun and challenging too. But I knew eventually I'd like to do my own thing.
One night my friend Emily and I were in the pub discussing our futures. As the drinks flowed, we decided that if we were going to make a change and start a business or change career, we'd need a shed load of inspiration and support, but we weren't sure where we'd get it.
So that night we decided to set off on a mission to find the country’s coolest women (from neuroscientists to novelists, biologists to builders, and entrepreneurs to engineers), corner them and pump them for advice to find out exactly how they made their dreams come true.
We began working on our book in our spare time and launched our website www.moretolifethanshoes.com. It felt great to have a side project.
After a couple of years at "What If", I decided it was time to go. The chaos was getting to me and suddenly beanbags, free cake and fruit didn't feel like a fair swap for all that stress.
I decided to see if I could turn More To Life Than Shoes into something massive. So I quit. A week later, whilst I was working my notice, I discovered I was pregnant.
Before I quit my job, I had reduced my hours to 4 days a week to give me more time to get things done. It was a great way of keeping everything going and it didn't make a massive difference to my wages because I had just received a pay rise.
When I left, I made sure I had some freelance work to keep me in shoes and food but once I discovered I was pregnant things changed. In a way being a new mum took the pressure off me to suddenly make millions. Phew!
The worst things:
The best things:
When I found out I was pregnant, just as I'd decided to focus on the book and the business, I did freak out - how on earth would I manage to write a book, run a business and look after a baby? My mum gave me a metaphorical slap round the face and told me to get a grip: "If you want to make it happen you will." Thanks mum!
Founder of Lastminute.com, Martha Lane Fox has been one of the most inspirational women we've interviewed. We were asking her advice and told her that we'd spoken to a few contacts about our project and she laughed, and said that a few isn't good enough. You have to keep on banging on - it's the difference between those who make it and those who don't.
We've received loads and loads of brilliant advice - but you'll have to read our book to find out more!
The reason we decided to write our book in the first place was because there wasn't much inspiration, support or advice out there that we could relate to. Boring business sites or networks weren't really our thing.
Hopefully, having cornered over 100 women and pumped them for advice, we've created a book packed with smart and sensible advice from remarkable women that will give you the confidence and inspiration to finally take action and start reaching for your dreams.
Women such as: Martha Lane Fox, founder of lastminute.com; Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark; Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale; pottery designer Emma Bridgewater; Camila Batmanghelidjh, founder of Kids Company; young inventor Emily Cummins; novelist Hilary Mantel; Director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti; the UK’S first female fighter jet pilot Jo Salter; Baroness Susan Greenfield; Kanya King, founder of the MOBO Awards; Baroness Betty Boothroyd and more.
Listening to the stories of these women we noticed an exciting pattern, a way of living and tackling the world that produces results. Each chapter contains a collection of these inspiring stories, followed by a summary of the wise and accessible advice offered. There are also ‘Top Tips’ from experts – how to find your passion/think innovatively/shift career/dress with confidence/ask for a pay rise/write a CV/get organised etc – and ‘Try This’ suggestions to enable readers to take action immediately. Finally there is a ‘Toolkit’ of practical and inspiring resources.
When you're changing your life you need all the inspiration and support you can get!
So, in addition to writing the book we decided to set up More To Life Than Shoes - a women's network that would help bring women together to share ideas, skills, secrets and success.
Jacking in your job, escaping the city and going it alone can be lonely without a bunch of girls around you who get what you're going through. There are now MTLTS groups across the country and a thriving MTLTS social networking site.
And the great news is, it works! Members are getting published, starting businesses, switching career, going on big adventures and generally changing their lives. It's fab.
It's lucky we couldn't find the help we needed really, or we would never have written a book, or started More To Life Than Shoes!