Career Development · Personal Development

Whose Version of Success are you Living?


Living a life aligned to our values and feeling good should not be the end result. I hear people say: “I’ll be happy… when I get promoted… when I have bought a house… when I have £10,000 in the bank” all the time. Yet in reality, when we actually come to achieve things like this it only gives us temporary happiness and it is usually a product of years of hard work, sacrificing time for money. This is because this is what society told us success looked like and so we ignore the niggle in our stomach and the doubt in our minds and we work flat out to get these things because success and happiness lies at the finish line right? WRONG.

Peta Kelly hits the nail on the head when she says: “Societies current model of success means we have to earn our basic right to feel good.” So we burn out to make ourselves feel like we are working hard enough. Overworking makes us feel accomplished enough and then we feel good about that. People stop travelling, stop pursuing their hobbies and passions so they can get a “proper job,” get a mortgage and buy a house to feel accomplished which then will make them feel good. We restrict our diet and eat healthily 5 days a week so we can cheat and binge on the weekend and feel good.

SUCCESS 2.0 IS FEELING GOOD AND SUCCESSFUL RIGHT NOW. We can live our version of success starting today. Make feeling good your number 1 priority, use this as the framework to give you clarity and help you make decisions.

In it’s simplest form success can mean just feeling damn good about your life, that you are living super aligned to your values, passions and purpose and that you are prioritising yourself. Success 2.0 is not a ladder or a pyramid, it is a circle and it represents your evolving fulfilment and happiness.

The High Flying Women Success-Circle embodies this so we can create a new breed of leader. Leaders to show the world how good life is supposed to be, not how hard we can work and how much we can sacrifice to get there. Todays true leaders are redefining success, evolving past business models and creating conscious companies that look after it’s people, society and the planet – not destroying them. Leaders who are pushing the boundaries on human potential, working smarter not harder and breaking through the barriers and glass ceilings put in our way from the old ways of living and doing business.

Change starts with every individual who cares enough to commit to it.  It all starts with us – to make changes out there in the world in pursuit of a thriving society we must also pursue our own version of thriving so we have the energy to be the leaders we want to be. Because when we feel good, our energy levels are higher and we become the best version of ourselves. When we are the best version of ourselves we become unstoppable, we become change-makers living free, courageously leading, creatively earning and consciously impacting.

Early-May I attended a Women in Law and Business event and I got chatting to a woman who was a very experienced lawyer. Half way through our conversation she stopped me to ask me how old I was, so I told her. She looked at me, smiled and then said” “Wow, I actually now feel really hopeful for the future of our society that there are leaders like you coming up in the world.” HOW FRIGGIN AWESOME IS THAT!

I hope you can see that you should make time for High Flying Women if you do want success on your terms and an empowered life. I am on a real mission to change the way our society views success so that we can all live the best lives we can. I am looking for people to join me on this mission… Let it be you!


Events · News

Finding Ways for Women to Have it All

Announcing High Flying Women’s plans for 2018

After spending 2017 focusing on ‘work-life balance’ and debating what it means and what it looks like for different people, I have come to the easy conclusion that the term is failing us as women.

The reason I believe work-life balance does not work for us is because it separates work into a whole different category to the rest of our lives, which assumes that our professional endeavours should be held accountable for consuming our “life” (which includes family and personal goals and interests). This belief then leads us to blame our work and careers whenever we feel like we haven’t got something quite right in our life outside of work which is a crucial blocker for women who tend to strive for perfection, so in the end we reach a point where we feel something has got to give.

Instead of feeling totally out of control and overwhelmed by the many plates we feel like we must spin, I think we should keep it simple and focus on what we can control now, our day to day choices.

If there is a balance to consider, then I like to look at John Coleman’s framework (contributor to the Forbes leadership forum).

Where, ‘work’ reflects responsibilities in all areas of our lives such as doing the food shop, dusting and tidying, the school run, tough conversations with employees, sitting through budget meetings etc. They’re not necessarily fun, but they are the responsibilities we must all assume as adults, parents and workers. However, they provide fulfilment because they have purpose. They keep our loved ones alive, they keep our businesses alive, they are the responsibilities and obligations that get us out of bed everyday.

On the other hand if we said that ‘life’ then reflects the things we really want to do that give us joy for example, going to the pub with friends, taking the kids to Alton Towers, going on holiday with husbands and wives, and also the elements of work we love such as coming up with innovative solutions to client problems, leading workshops or mentoring. These clearly provide fulfilment because they energise us and give us joy.

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Therefore, if you spend too much time doing work elements i.e. your life feels like you’re mostly doing things you must do rather than want to do, perhaps your team at work is underperforming so you are spending a lot of time having tough conversations and working under pressure and then you go home and have to deal with a pile of washing, hoovering, tidying – then you are experiencing ‘Drudgery.’

On the other side of the coin, turning your back on responsibilities and purpose whilst indulging in only what you want to do, being completely selfish without making any sacrifices whatsoever – you will be leaning closer to ‘superficiality.’

No purpose and no joy quite simply leads to misery.

Therefore, ideally we put ourselves in the best position possible to flourish and feel the fulfilment that results from both purpose and joy. A balance of purposeful and joyful commitments which we control. So let’s really keep it simple. Really, the key is just a case of understanding that when you say yes to things on a day to day basis you are saying no to something else and vice versa. For example, by saying yes to staying late to help your colleague finish a project, you may be saying no to having dinner with your partner, which is absolutely your choice and it is as simple as that.

Only we know what matters to us, what gives us purpose and what gives us joy, therefore it is up to us to define that and allocate our time accordingly. Commit to yourself and those around you through taking the time to develop your skills, your character and enrich your life with friends, family, relationships, hobbies and career goals.

Shifting the question from “do I have a work-life balance?” i.e. do I spend enough time at home in comparison to work? Ask yourself “What does fulfilment look like to me? What drives me and gives me that purpose to push on? and what really makes me happy both at work and at home? But also what means more to me? So that I can make certain choices with clarity and not feel torn.

Therefore, I encourage everyone to forget “work-life balance” and instead we should all strive for fulfilment because when we feel that, we will feel like women who HAVE IT ALL. And we’ll never have to ponder over whether we have a work-life balance ever again.

And our ‘ALL’ is defined by us. So this will be our theme for 2018 – TO HAVE IT ALL. Whether this be: career, family, health, relationships, financial freedom, control, fulfilment and happiness. Pick what resonates with you and add in whatever you damn well please to this list. Aim high and most of all, ignore what everyone is saying you should want and instead, strive for the things that YOU want. Find your ‘ALL’ and ‘HAVE IT’ too.

Your ‘ALL’ will be the definition of success to you. However, really we are all striving for the same goal, fulfilment made up of purpose and joy.

Fundamentally, this way of thinking puts ‘work-life balance’ to shame because it allows us to get in touch with our core being. It clarifies what our passions and purposes are which will keep us focused on our long term goal of HAVING IT ALL, even when times get tough. It gives us the stamina to keep going and commit day in and day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years and working hard to make that future a reality, understanding that the choices we make every single day matter. This character trait is what Angela Lee Duckworth describes as the key to success – Grit. Grit is you making a commitment to yourself because you believe you deserve to HAVE IT ALL. I certainly recommend listening to Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED talk on Grit.

So, part of High Flying Women’s 2018 mission will be to help you first of all define what your ALL looks like, help you understand why you want those things and then how to take the steps which will allow you to achieve your ALL. You will then know with clarity what your passion and purpose is and therefore, fire up the ‘Grit’ inside you that will keep you on the path to achieving your ALL longterm. Members of High Flying Women will be able to explore this at monthly intimate round table events where one or two experienced women / women who are leaders will be present to share their experiences. There will also be coaches present to really help you uncover what your ALL is and how to get it.

The other part will be engaging with the business community on a larger scale around elements of how women can have it all with quarterly events. For instance the first one, taking place on 31st January will be around the realities of leadership for women, led by Fiona McKay. Fiona is an expert in what it means to be a leader in the corporate world. Not only does Fiona personally coach a number of global CEOs but she also teaches people how to become leaders. Using her expertise, Fiona will be sharing some of the experiences of the leaders she coaches, whether they have been able to find their “ALL” and “HAVE IT TOO,” as well as what it’s really like for a woman to be a leader in the modern world of work and how to prepare for that path. If you’re not sure being a leader in the corporate world is for you then coming to this session could help you figure it out. The interactive part of the session will be focused on feedback – why it is essential for leadership success, how to ask for more feedback, how to recognise when you are not getting useful feedback and there will also be the opportunity to practice Fiona’s teachings in the workshop.

If you would like to become a member and therefore be able to take part in our monthly round table discussions, then make sure you attend January’s ‘The Realities of Leadership for Women’ event to become admitted into the membership. To receive an invite to this event, either contact me via Linkedin or subscribe on the website:


Stories to tell – Women who Pioneer

We had a great time at the summer social, it was so lovely to be able to catch up and meet new members too.

I hope that you enjoyed the evening, we definitely enjoyed being at The Botanist and getting our hair done, posing in the Magic Mirror and having a good ole hand massage.

If you want to get in touch with any of our collaborators from the event see our new page (ooh fancy) on the website – Business Collaborations. If your business would like to feature on it, of course, please do get in touch – we would love to have sponsors for our events.

It’s so encouraging to see that High Flying Women just keeps growing, with every event showing new faces and new stories to hear. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with some of our new members and hearing about how they got to the places they are now. Hearing the different paths that women take into their careers is really encouraging; there are those that launched their career straight away, and others choosing to enter into it later on after being stay at home mums. The great thing about the network is that we get to meet other women who do things in different ways – it’s a beautiful thing.

Hearing each other’s stories and how we get to where we are in life is so important. It helps you to understand a person and why they act or think a certain way, allows you to connect with them on a deeper level, learn different ways of doing things (and challenge you in that) and encourages us when you hear the trials that people have overcome, as well as being able to share in some of the difficulties.

On that note, a friend of mine (who I look up to in her passion for Equality) has recently started posting about Women who Pioneer on her social media, and I am loving it.

Hannah wanted to challenge herself and anyone else to educate themselves better on influential and inspirational women who we should aspire to be like more.

Hannah’s challenge to herself was this:

‘Which women do I look up to / aspire to be like? Not sure. Which women in history jump out at me? Not many. History was written by men, and women were written out. Now I’ve even written them out myself. Fortunately, I’ve found lots of strong women in my own life who inspire me and challenge me and make me proud to be a gal. But beyond that circle, I’m just not sure who I’m looking to.

My challenge to myself (and to you, perhaps) is to find the women and put them back where they belong: throughout history and influencing culture. l’ve kinda made it my aim to try and champion them and elevate them (and that includes the gals in my life!!). What do you think? Who should I learn about?’

So I thought why not share Hannah’s instagram captions – check it out yourself here @hannahkmilne – and the women she has been raving about with you. 

Women who Pioneer

First up, it’s got to be of course:

1. Rosa Parkes – ‘The Mother of the modern day civil rights movement’

‘ Her refusal to surrender her seat to a white male passenger on a Montgomery, AL, bus on December 1955, triggered a wave of protest and bus boycotts that reverberated through the United States. A year later, the US Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation was unconstitutional.

”Rosa Parks sat down because she had reached a point where it was essential to embrace her true vocation – not as someone who would reshape our society but as someone who would live out her full self in the work. She decided, “I will no longer act on the outside in a way that contradicts the the truth that I hold deeply on the inside. I will no longer act as if I were less than the whole person I know myself inwardly to be.” – Parker Palmer ‘

2. Octavia Hill – Co-Founder of The National Trust

‘ This woman is lesser known, but a pioneer nonetheless. She’s not only of great trivial importance (I’m sure she’ll be the answer to an obscure pub quiz question at some point) but she is also a woman after my own heart when it comes to the great outdoors.

Octavia Hill co-founded the National Trust in 1895, with the vision to get people in the city out to the country. She was compelled by the belief that good environments make better people. In addition to founding the Trust, she was one of the greatest social entrepreneurs in British history.

‘There are indeed many good things in life which may be unequally apportioned and no such serious loss arise; but the need of quiet, the need of air, and I believe the sight of the sky and of things growing, seem human needs, common to all men.’ ‘

3. Mary Seacole – Nurse and Heroine of the Crimean War

‘ Seacole was a pioneering nurse and heroine of the Crimean War, who as a woman of mixed race overcame a double prejudice.

In 1854, Seacole travelled to England, and approached the War Office, asking to be sent as an army nurse to the Crimea where there was known to be poor medical facilities for wounded soldiers. She was refused. Was it possible, she asked herself, ‘that American prejudices against colour had taken root here? Did these ladies shrink from accepting my aid because my blood flowed beneath a somewhat duskier skin than theirs?’. In her disappointment, Mary cried in the street.

Seacole funded her own trip to the Crimea where she established the British Hotel near Balaclava to provide ‘a mess-table and comfortable quarters for sick and convalescent officers’. She also visited the battlefield, sometimes under fire, to nurse the wounded, and became known as ‘Mother Seacole’. Her reputation rivalled that of Florence Nightingale. She was posthumously awarded the Jamaican Order of Merit in 1991. In 2004 she was voted the greatest black Briton.’ 

4. Alice Guy-Blanche – First Female Filmmaker

‘ Alice Guy Blaché, the world’s first female filmmaker, was one of the key figures in the development of narrative film. She was one of the first to shoot on location and to sync picture and sound; and she pioneered essential techniques including double exposure and fade-outs. Whilst pregnant with her second child, she was the first – and so far the only – woman to own and run her own studio plant (The Solax Studio in Fort Lee, NJ, 1910-1914).

From 1896 to 1920 she directed hundreds of short films (including over 100 synchronised sound films and twenty-two feature films), and produced hundreds more. She promoted strong female leads and a couple of her films had strong feminist themes, including her 1906 comedy, ‘The Consequences of Feminism’, which showed the traditional gender roles reversed.

“There is nothing connected with the staging of a motion picture that a woman cannot do as easily as a man, and there is no reason why she cannot completely master every technicality of the art.” ‘

5. Chimanda Ngozi Adichie – Nigerian Writer

Chimanda is a Nigerian writer, who writes short stories, novels and non-fiction. Her short book ‘We should all be feminists’ has some pretty good quotes in it. Here’s the ones Hannah picked out, aftering reading the whole book out loud to her husband in a coffee shop (#empowered #preachit).

“I have chosen to no longer be apologetic for my femaleness and my femininity. And I want to be respected in all of my femaleness because I deserve to be.”

“The problem with gender is that it prescribes how we should be rather than recognizing how we are. Imagine how much happier we would be, how much freer to be our true individual selves, if we didn’t have the weight of gender expectations.”

“Some people ask: “Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?” Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women.”

6. Billy Jean King – Tennis Player

‘ ‘In 1973, Bobby Riggs, once number one male tennis player, took on Margaret Court, the number one women’s player at the time. He beat her in straight sets, 6-2, 6-1, in what later became known as the Mother’s Day Massacre. The second-wave of the feminist movement was brewing in the US, and the public defeat gave chauvinists the fodder to ridicule women.

Billy Jean King began playing tennis at eleven, and by seventeen she was playing internationally. When rejected from a professional tennis organisation comprised of male players, King and eight other female players started a women’s tour, despite being told by the US Lawn Tennis Association that they would be suspended from other competitions, including Wimbledon and the US Open. The tour was a success and women continued playing professionally and formed their own professional body, the Women’s Tennis Association.

In the early 1970s, King campaigned for the legislation that would become Title IX, which outlawed sexual discrimination in the provision of federal assistance for educational programmes – meaning women athletes in the US began receiving college scholarships alongside their male peers. This saw a 662 per cent increase i the number of female college athletes.

Then in 1973 came the Battle of the Sexes. Bobby Riggs and Billy Jean King played in front of a worldwide TV audience of 100 million. After a faltering start, King beat Riggs in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 and went down in sporting history as one of the most significant athletes of the century. ‘

7. Junko Tabei – First woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest

‘ ‘In 1975, Junko Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. In doing so, she defied all those who had suggested that women and weakness were synonymous, and the biological determinism used to bar women from public life.

Born in 1939 in a small town in northern Japan, Tabei climbed her first two peaks aged ten. She joined a number of climbing clubs in the early 1960s, but was met with opposition from men who refused to climb with her. In 1969, she set up Japan’s first climbing club from women. The group of fifteen women, including a teacher, a computer programmer and a youth counsellor took on Everest in 1975, much to the disdain of many companies who refused to sponsor the women, as it ‘is impossible for women to climb Everest.’

As they began their attempt, the newspapers mocked them, using pictures of the women applying lip balm, saying ‘even in the mountain, they don’t skip the make up.’ However, after avalanches and perilous ridges, at 12.35pm on 16 May 1975, Tabei reached the summit.

‘When I reached the summit, rather than simply feeling the joy of conquering the mountain, I felt that at last I did not have to take another single step.’ ‘

8. Valentina Tereshkova – Cosmonaut

‘ ‘On 12 April 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first person to journey into outer space. Tereshkova, a worker in a textile factory, gathered around the radio with colleagues to listen to this historic moment. She later spoke of that moment, saying, ‘I started to feel some nervousness, some shy thoughts… and then I decided. I’ll be an astronaut.’ Soon after, she wrote to the Soviet authorities, volunteering to go into space.

The odds were stacked against her. The first astronauts in the Soviet Union and the US were members of the military, Tereshkova was a civilian. Perhaps most obviously, she was a woman. There were genuine questions as to whether a woman’s body and mind could withstand space. However, with so much at stake in the space race, Lieutenant General Kamarin wrote in his journal, ‘under no circumstances should an American become the first woman in space – this would be an insult of Soviet women.’

In June 1963, aged just 26 years old, Tereshkova became the first woman in outer space. She spent two days, 22 hours and 50 minutes in space – more time than all US astronauts put together. She also achieved the other essential aim of her mission: to prove women could survive in space.

‘In entrusting a 26 year old girl with a cosmonaut mission, the Soviet Union has given its women unmistakable proof that it believes them to possess [prestige and honour]. The flight of Valentina Tereshkova is, consequently, symbolic of the emancipation of the Communist woman. It symbolises to Russian women that they actively share (not passively bask, like American women) in the glory of conquering space.’ – Clare Booth Luce, Life magazine. ‘ 

And of course

9. Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook

‘ Sheryl Sandberg is the chief operating officer at Facebook and an incredible leader. In this book, she examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. It’s immensely challenging as a woman and as a leader and as an ally in the workplace. How are my deeply rooted subconscious biases about gender and my own potential limiting others? I’d love to share some stats that shocked and challenged me. I’m curious as to how they make you feel? If these things aggravate you in some way or make you uncomfortable, sit with it for a bit and examine why.

‘Knowing things could be worse should not stop us from trying to make them better. The blunt truth is that men still run the world. This means when it comes to making the decisions that most affect us all women’s voices are not heard equal. Of the 195 independent countries in the world, only 17 are led by women. A meagre 5 perfect of the S&P 500 CEOs are women. In the UK, women hold only 21 percent of senior executive positions.’

‘A 2011 McKinsey report noted that men are promoted based on potential, while women are promoted based on achievement.’

‘An internal report at Hewlett-Packard revealed that women only apply for open jobs if they think they meet 100 percent of the criteria listed. Men apply if they think they met 60 percent.’

‘Millennial women are less likely than their male peers to characterise themselves as “leaders”, “visionaries”, “self-confident”, and “willing to take risks.” ‘ 


So, there’s just a few women who we can learn from and be inspired by and I hope that it encourages you. I love Hannah’s desire to challenge herself, and learn from other women. 

I guess that’s what High Flying Women is trying to do – to be able to inspire, encourage and learn from each other, and see change. It’s great to be able to be a part of something that allows us to surround ourselves with so many wonderful women who each have a story of their own.

To see who’s next on the list and keep updated on the women Hannah finds follow her Instagram here: @Hannahkmilne or search her Instagram hashtag #WomenWhoPioneer

I love it and hope you do too.

Have a great week.

Olivia xo

summer social

Career Development · Personal Development

5 Ways to Make the Most of a Mentorship

MENTORINGFollowing on from the Pro Manchester ‘benefits of mentoring’ event I spoke at a couple of weeks ago, I have been thinking a lot about the benefits of being in a mentor relationship and how I can help those in High Flying Women feel the true value of it. So first I want to debunk some of the myths of mentoring and then ways in which you can reap the rewards.

Debunking the Myths – Common misunderstandings:

“A mentor should be older than me” – Actually age is irrelevant. What you should really care about are the experiences, training and opportunities that person has taken advantage of. The best people to learn from are those who put themselves out of their comfort zones regularly, invest in their skills and development regularly and those who have experienced things that you want to aim for. Success is absolutely not a measure of age, it is a measure of drive, resilience and self awareness and these can be achieved at any age.
“As a mentor I’m expected to give awaymy time and knowledge for free” – If you see it this way then you aren’t fully opening yourself up to the opportunity mentoring can give you. Mentorship is not a one way relationship. Your mentee has valuable insight, skills and experience that you can use (see the above point). Yes you are asked to give time and knowledge to your mentee, but it also presents the opportunity to get the same in return. Remember they are the managers and leaders of the future and the fresher out of training / university they are, the fresher their knowledge on the most recent studies and uses of technology applicable to your business.
“A mentorship is a massive commitment for both the mentor and mentee” – The commitment is as big or little as you want it to be. Similarly, it can be as formal or as informal as you want it to be. I would always recommend that the person who you are embarking on a mentorship with is someone you genuinely enjoy spending time with, otherwise of course it will feel like work. For me it works well to think of my mentor / mentee as a friend that I can help support and learn from and therefore they are no more a commitment than spending time with my other friends.
“Working with one person at a time seems very inefficient and can’t make much of a difference.” – This just isn’t true because as individuals, we all go through life influencing the thousands of people we meet and spend time with along the way. So if you impact the behaviour of one person, who knows the potential of your true reach.

5 Ways to make the most of a Mentorship:

  1. Identify the boundaries of the mentorship. You may not be comfortable talking about personal problems in the sessions and so by making this clear at the start, you can streamline the relationship by focusing on career, or even specific aspects of career (see number 2). You may also want to discuss how often you meet / speak and make it clear who the onus is on to schedule and prepare for the meetings. At the same time you must let certain barriers drop, trust is essential to a successful mentorship. You must trust that the other person knows what they are talking about and if you doubt them then the relationship is a none-starter.
  2. Identify what skills or knowledge you would like to add to your toolkit. A mentorship should be a strategic relationship for both people involved. Each should have an idea of what they want to learn from the other in order to make the most of the time you are spending together.
  3. Be open to finding yourself more than one mentor. I believe the reason a lot of people never ask anyone to be their mentor is because they are looking for someone to fit the whole package of what they are looking for. Finding your ‘soul mate’ mentor is therefore highly unlikely which is why having several mentors, each which satisfy a different skill or criteria, is definitely the best way to go. Also don’t be afraid to experiment with people from different industries, with different interests of different ages. At the end of the day, you don’t know what you don’t know and therefore you may not have yet discovered the thing you go on to be the most passionate about. Keeping an open mind can never be a bad thing.
  4.  Communicate your learning style. We all have different preferences for how we like to learn so make sure your mentor / mentee knows what yours is, otherwise you won’t get the full value out of the relationship. For instance, if you don’t like being told what to do, having a mentor who never asks for your opinion will not work for you and you will likely not absorb anything they are saying.
  5. Don’t make it such a big deal. Another reason I believe people don’t seek out mentors / mentees is because the power dynamics of the assumed relationship freak people out. For the mentee they are worried of being judged, rejected and told they are asking silly questions. For the mentor they are worried about the commitment and the added responsibility. Formal mentorship is only one option. Many prefer an informal mentorship. In fact, many of us will already have people in our life who we go to for advice when a challenge arises. This person has our trust and will always make time for us, so if that is the case, you don’t have to put a label on it, you don’t have to tell them you think they are your mentor or mentee. But if you do have these relationships already in play, I would just make sure I am regularly scheduling time with them and that I am not just going to them with challenges but also trying to build a specific skill or absorb the knowledge they have in a particular area.
Career Development · Personal Development

7 Levels Deeper – Identifying your Purpose

Marissa + Jonathan (2)

Last weeks International Womens Day was truly inspirational. I loved seeing all the messages of appreciation on social media, within businesses and at the many events that took place.

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to press for progress. Last week I told you specifically what pressing for progress looks like for me (you can see the full blog below!) but now I want to ask you that same question. What does pressing for progress look like for you and are you ready to start?

Progress in any context is not easily achieved and we will likely encounter quite a lot of self doubt and fear along the way.  I can’t help but think how terrified Emmeline and her fellow suffragettes must have been at times, yet they kept pushing. Why? Because they knew their purpose in this world, they had an extremely clear vision as to what success looked like for them and they went after it with all the fire in their bellies. They persevered through atrocities, were extremely resilient, were brave beyond belief and as a result, completely changed the world for their children and their children’s children. Suffragette March, London 1911

I personally am so grateful for their bravery and intend to do my best to continue this mission of freeing humanity from themselves – in my case, it is freeing humanity of their fears, their limiting beliefs and all the things that are stopping you from living your ideal, blue sky life.

So I want you to think about this. What is going to fire you up so you can wholeheartedly press for progress in your own life, in spite of your fears?

Practice This…

There are always going to be things in life that scare us and if there aren’t, then we are not pushing ourselves enough. Progress exists outside of our comfort zone, not within it, so we have to learn how to push through the fear to greatness on the other side.

The answer lies in your purpose. Discovering your true purpose will light your fire and then aligning your whole life so that it leads towards this purpose will add fuel to your fire and really give you all the empowerment you need to feel the fear and do it anyway.

One of the techniques I like to use to find someones true purpose is called 7 levels deep (Dean Graziosi) and it is quite simple. Just ask yourself why 7 times. Here’s an example of when I first did the exercise:

1. Why do I seek out personal development?

Because I want to learn about the tools and techniques in which I can better my life

2. Why do I want to better my life?

Because I feel like I’m not living my life to the fullest right now.

3. Why do I want to live my life to the fullest?

Because it scares me that time is just ticking by and I don’t want to miss out on living to my full potential.

4. Why do I want to live to my full potential?

Because I feel like there is something in me which can make a difference.

5. Why do I want to make a difference?

Because I want to make my family proud and establish a legacy for my children.

6. Why do I want to establish a legacy?

Because it’s very important to me that I can show my kids what’s possible, that they can achieve anything they want to if they believe they can.

7. Why is it important that my children believe anything is possible?

Because I don’t want my kids to feel like I did for such a long time – powerless. I want to show them what living a free life looks like. But also, I don’t want to go backwards to this feeling. I want a life where I can choose when I work, how I work and with whom I work so not only can I spend as much time with my family and friends as I want to, but also so that I am setting an example for my children – that they know they always have a choice. They are not powerless.

In my experience, you will likely start by answering the questions with answers that come from your head and it is around the 4th why that you start getting to the good stuff – the stuff that fuels you.

It is also likely that your purpose will evolve over time as you become more and more self aware so I would recommend doing this exercise every 3 months. When you’re doing this exercise for the first time ask yourself why you subscribe to High Flying Women as the first question – then go from there!

If you have any questions about this please feel free to reach out at

Career Development · Personal Development

20 questions with Fiona McKay

Role models help us overcome our fears because they show us it is possible. So the next woman featuring in our ’20 questions for a High Flying Woman is Fiona McKay.

Fiona is the Managing Director of Lightbulb Leadership solutions and the Founder of a bespoke consultancy and coaching service for CEOs.

She was also the keynote speaker at our January event ‘The Realities of Leadership for Women’ and she was bloody brilliant! So if you’re curious to hear more, watch this interview.

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Career Development · Personal Development

Tips for taking more Time for Yourself

Gratitude (4)

I’ve been having a lot of conversations about time recently – more specifically that we don’t have enough of it to spend on ourselves for hobbies, development and just enjoying life.  Often when I ask someone how they are, I get the response “fine, just busy” and I’ve found myself saying it now too! Really what I think we are doing is saying the most polite version of “Ok – but I’m quite stressed right now spinning all these plates.”

So I just wanted to make sure that we all take a minute to appreciate the value of our time.

After all, we only get one life, so actually our time is super precious. Therefore make sure you are spending it doing the things that give you purpose and joy. This isn’t me saying you should strive for everything at once, the real skill of managing your time is prioritisation, but make sure a bit of your time every day is being spent on YOU because you are what matters most.

All we are looking for are small pockets throughout the day where we can free up 10-15 minutes for something that frees our mind from the stress of the day and that brings us joy:

What –

Ideally you need to be doing activities that make the most of the time you set aside and therefore it’s best to select activities where you have to concentrate on something, because if your mind starts to wonder, you will inevitably start focusing on the stresses you are trying to have time away from.

These activities could include reading, listening to podcasts, exercise, yoga, puzzles, cooking, playing an instrument, being creative etc. They are the activities you do where time flies and you feel in a ‘flow’.

Not all of these will have the same effects on everyone for example some people find running works for them and they can purely focus on the feelings in their legs and the music they are listening to, whereas for other people running encourages them to get lost in thought and so it is not a tool for switching off. Find what works for you.

When –

Could you get up 15 minutes earlier? Could you pair it up with another activity such as eating breakfast/lunch or the commute? Could you ditch another less productive part of your day and replace it?

Pick a time you think is doable for you and try and stick to it for 30 days. In theory once you practice something for 30 days it becomes a habit and therefore second nature for you to continue with.

How –

Re-evaluate the things you routinely say yes to and start saying no to some of them.

Prioritise 2 or 3 elements of your life right now e.g. career, relationship, family, social life, finances etc. Trying to maintain perfection in every area will just leave you exhausted.

Ask for support from your partner, family, colleagues and boss and look at what you can delegate or make a team effort.

Why –

Remember that your time is the most valuable thing you have, so don’t give it freely and make sure you appreciate your own worth as per the quote: “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. ”– M. Scott Peck.

Your time should be your own and busy should be a choice. If we don’t feel like we can sometimes put ourselves first we will grow to resent the people around us and regret missed opportunities to learn new skills, develop ourselves and just enjoy life in general.

It may seem counter-intuitive to add in time for yourself to an already busy schedule, but I can tell you that taking small amounts of time to enjoy yourself and calm yourself does in fact allow you to handle busy better and makes you more productive in less time. So make sure you start implementing ‘ME-time’ into your day-to-day routine.

Career Development · Personal Development

20 Questions with Christine Barker

We are launching a new blog series: 20 questions with a High Flying Woman. So kicking Screen Shot 2018-02-14 at 17.44.01off the blog we thought it apt to celebrate a woman who has now been practising as a solicitor for 40 years.

Christine Barker is the Managing Partner of Laytons’ Manchester office and practices matrimonial law. Hailed by Chambers & Partners and Legal 500 as “the best financial relief lawyer in Manchester.” Her expertise is matrimonial finance involving high-net-worth individuals, with complex business assets, pensions, trust and tax issues.

1. Where is your happy place?

The Lone Star in Barbados, it is on the most beautiful beach I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.

2. What is your favourite thing about yourself?

My strength and resilience. I am proud to say I have come out fighting from some of life’s most brutal blows in my 60 (something!) years.

3. What is your least favourite thing about yourself?

My weight!

4. What is the hardest lesson to learn?

Having to let go of something or someone that means a lot to you.  And, delegation!

5. Best way to de-stress?

Without any hesitation, a pamper day at the spa.

6. 3 things you are currently grateful for?

  1. My best friend and husband of 39 years
  2. My son, James.
  3. My incredible family team here at Laytons LLP

7. Do you have any non-negotiable morning rituals / routines?

Coffee and makeup.

8. In a fire, what object would you first save from the house?

My Cockapoo, Alfie!

9. Best career advice you ever received?

If you ever make a mistake – and we are all human, after all – come clean immediately; 99% of the time, things can be fixed. It is when you try to cover things up or bury your head in the sand that things can spiral into the irreparable and/or cause real damage. 

10. If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

My sense of humour.

11. How would your friends describe you in three words?

Apparently (so I am told!); loyal, funny and glamorous!

12. What book do you most recommend to others?

I just love Gone with the Wind. Although, I did once read War and Peace on holiday and finishing that is certainly granting of a sense of achievement, if you need one!

13. What is your 12 month goal?

To continue to grow the recently expanded family department both here in Manchester and nationally.

14. What is your 5 year goal?

To retire! Although, I simply cannot imagine not practicing anymore so I think realistically it is to incorporate a succession plan where I can wind down and do some consultancy work, passing down my family law team to the safest and most capable of hands.

15. Who inspires you?

My friend, Brenda! Others will know her as Lady Baroness Hale of Richmond, the first female President of the Supreme Court.

16. If you didn’t do you current job, what would you like to do instead?

I would be a historian; I love history.

17. What is your greatest achievement?

Reaching a whopping 40 years (I cannot believe it has been that long!) of practicing law, growing a nationally recognized team of brilliant family lawyers from scratch and attaining my own Top Tier status as a leading practitioner in my field.

18. What is your greatest failure?

My Mathematics O level at secondary school. I got a grade 5 (which is not good!). I have never forgotten that!

19. What is the secret to success?

Hard work, tenacity and having good people around and with you.

20. If you could give one piece of advice to all future female leaders what would it be?

Believe in yourself and that you are good enough.


*To make sure you see the next in the series be sure to follow our blog!

Career Development · Personal Development

Why you should apply even if you think you won’t win

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Just before Christmas I won the most promising young person in Manchester award at the Manchester Young Talent Awards. It was a night I’ll never forget (despite the efforts of the wine!).

However, when I think back to the application bit, I nearly didn’t apply at all. In fact I actually missed the first deadline because I ummed and ahhed over it so long. Luckily JCI extended the deadline, but even then when I eventually did submit my application – on the day of the extended deadline I might add, something went wrong with the online submission. Yet, I got lucky a second time. JCI could have quite easily just discounted me, but they didn’t. One of the directors (Vicky Biggs – you’re a star!) reached out to me and asked for the word document version of my application so she could submit it on my behalf… fast-forwarding to them announcing my name on the night and I can’t help but appreciate just how lucky I am that it all worked out, but also how silly I was to leave it so late.

The truth is, it took me so long to apply because I didn’t believe at all that I was going to win. I had previously applied for 2 awards and didn’t even make the shortlist. But it did get me thinking about the women who are not putting themselves forward for awards, for promotions, for exciting opportunities at work or in life because they don’t believe they have a chance at achieving them – and I was definitely one of them! Let’s be honest, the only reason I won my award was because JCI literally held my hand through the whole process!

Self doubt, lack of confidence, lack of resilience, fear of failure, fear of rejection – however we label it, at the end of the day it all stems from negative beliefs, the mindset that we aren’t deserving of success. But here’s why I think you should feel the fear and do it anyway…

When I got rejected the first two times I applied for awards, it wasn’t ideal and it made me feel crappy, but do you know what, I got over it in a day. Plus, if it wasn’t for me telling you this story, no one would have know I’d applied and failed.

However when I actually won, the euphoria and feeling of success I felt lasted for weeks, in fact, thinking about it now the memory brings up the exact same feelings. I’m pretty sure that whenever I need to feel confident, I can dig up this memory and feel amazing on cue.

Don’t get me wrong, the external gratification was great, but actually its nowhere near to the feeling of my internal gratification.

I remember even writing the application how great I felt because I was literally listing all of my small successes that I never stopped to appreciate at the time because they were small, however when I put all these small successes together, all of a sudden I did feel worthy to win. I had worked hard to achieve every little one of these small victories and I regretted not celebrating them at the time – if I had, there is no question I would not have felt any of the self doubt that hit me in waves throughout the year.

I have since done research into this and celebrating the small things is key to self esteem boosting, developing resilience, achieving a positive mindset and embracing the fear of failure more as an opportunity for learning. The whole process has given me a new found appreciation for myself and what I am capable of. At the end of the day it’s something that I will always have. From now on, no matter what failures I experience and mistakes I make, I will always have the memory that I achieved something great – the trophy is just a bonus!

If we actually take the time to celebrate our small successes as and when they happen, we can wave bye-bye to Imposter Syndrome – I have no doubt.

So ladies I implore you… feel the fear and do it anyway. Even if you really don’t think you will win / get the job / be chosen for the opportunity, take advantage of the opportunity to celebrate your successes, big or small, plus practice makes perfect! Put yourself out there – what’s the worst that could happen?


Is the secret to work life balance integration, efficiency and discipline?

Lisa RaynesHow do you know when you have a good work life balance? Is it about time or is it about happiness and wellbeing? Can you have one without the other?

With the millennial workforce coming through, work life balance is on everyones lips, but what does it actually mean and how can we achieve it?

I think it starts by not seeing work as one entity and your life as another. If you do see these things as separate it’s probably because you are not enjoying one of the two. If you loved your job and you had a personal life that was filled with happiness you would not be stressing about work life balance, because your work and your personal life both can bring you joy and therefore are integrated and aligned to your dreams, goals and values.

There aren’t many people out there who openly say they have achieved their perfect work life balance, so when I came across somebody who said they had, I wanted to talk to them and have them talk to High Flying Women.

Lisa Raynes in an architect and lifestyle business owner. Not only does she practice what she preaches, but she also sells it too, as a franchise to other architects who want to work to live not live to work.

Lisa realised she had to do something different, after having her children she knew the corporate world wasn’t where she belonged and she knew that she couldn’t march to their drum.

So she developed a business model that allowed her to integrate and align her work with her family life, with efficiency and organisational discipline being key to her success.

Lisa came and spoke to High Flying Women on the 12th of September, these were her top tips for achieving your optimal work life balance:

  1. Don’t work with people who don’t treat you right.
  2. Don’t worry about asking for professional advice to solve a problem.
  3. Plan and establish a daily routine and don’t get distracted.
  4. Know your daily goals, weekly goals, monthly goals and yearly goals.
  5. When you make a mistake, find the lesson and incorporate it into your daily routine so you know you will never make it again.
  6. Communicate with the right people i.e. the people whose decisions impact you.
  7. If someone won’t be flexible to incorporate your life i.e. they want to meet in the evenings or weekends, you don’t have to do it and you don’t have to work with them.
  8. Know your processes and have the discipline not to stray from them.
  9. Work out how best to show your value to your clients in the most efficient way and incorporate that into your process. Don’t worry if no one else does it that way, be free to innovate your processes so that it suits you better.
  10. Outsource whatever time consuming processes you can i.e. admin, social media activity etc. and this includes your home chores too i.e. laundry, cleaning, cooking etc.
  11. Utilise the latest technologies which can save you time e.g. Schedule Once is a booking tool which saves emailing back and forth; Zapier links your apps, online profiles so that emails and newsletter posts for example can be automatically triggered when someone new is added to your database
  12. Measure your time and calculate the return on your time investment – Lisa uses big yearly planners and places coloured dots on the calendar for different activities e.g. yellow for enquiries, green for meetings, red for paid appointments etc. then work out how much money you generated from that effort. From this data, work out what you need to do more of and what you need to do less of.
  13. Evaluate how you have spent your time monthly using a pie chart (where each segment is a different element of your life which takes up time e.g. work, time with the family, time with friends, gym, hobbies etc. and make a conscious effort to adjust it if you are not happy.
  14. Don’t schedule time for yourself last… do it first.