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

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.

Google Engineer’s Anti-Diversity letter goes viral

googleThe manifesto written by an anonymous Google software engineer gives us a real insight into the culture of silicon valley.

Probably the reason the letter has gone viral is because people will either strongly agree or strongly disagree with it.

The guy even said in reply to the public response that he has “gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change.”

Although there are 10 whole pages to get my teeth into, I can’t help but want to start with this comment – the reason most people don’t have the courage to say racist and sexist comments is because, funnily enough, they are racist and sexist and have no place in the work environment. THIS DOES NOT NEED TO CHANGE. If he is receiving messages of gratitude from fellow Google employees, then that just speaks volumes for the culture of silicon valley – the fact that some rich white men now feel silenced because Google don’t actively encourage sexist and racist comments, poor you mister software engineer!

The fact that other Google employees are contacting him to agree with him has clearly added fuel to his fire. It is so horrendous to think that minority employees have read this letter and will no doubt be feeling eyes on their backs. It’s no wonder a female employee tweeted this: “The author is now in contact with me explaining why he received *supportive* response… If HR does nothing in this case, I will consider leaving this company for real for the first time in five years.”

He argues for much of the letter that the gender gap exists within the tech industry, not because of discrimination, but because of biological differences between men and women. In response to this another Google employee said that “I feel like there’s a lot of pushback from white dudes who genuinely feel like diversity is lowering the bar.”

Mister anonymous software engineer also expresses that Google should not offer development programmes for underrepresented racial or gender minorities

It is unfortunetely a common reaction for white men not to understand why there are minority and women-only development programmes – it is a reaction I have experienced many times myself in response to High Flying Women. I have heard white men say that they feel discriminated against forbeing excluded, when really they need to consider that society as a whole has always favoured them, businesses are designed for them, advertising is aimed at them, the world is run by them. So they really can’t get their heads around the fact that something has been created not for them. They struggle to understand that minorities and women need a safe, supportive environment in order to develop the skills and confidence they need in order to change the status quo – because make no mistake, we are fighting an uphill battle and we need that development and support to make real change happen. Plus, sadly at the end of the day, few white men are taking action. Of course if you ask a lot of men they will say they believe in equality – but how many men are actually doing anything about it? How many diversity and inclusion seminars have you been to where there have only been 1 or 2 men in the room?

Poor mister anonymous software developer actually believes it is more important to make conservatives feel all rosy than improving gender and ethnic diversity. In fact as a conservative white male, he does believe that he is the one being discriminated against and “silenced by the dominant ideology.”

He says that left wing ideologies tend “to deny science concerning biological differences between people (e.g., IQ[8] and sex differences)” as if people are born with an IQ of 170? I’m afraid his clear misunderstanding of social sciences does not justify ethnic and gender discrimination. As if he can genuinely believe that women and ethnic minorities are born less intelligent than men! Men having easier access to education and pathways into leadership clearly has nothing to do with it in his eyes – oh so it must be that women and ethnic minorities just aren’t genetically and biologically wired to work in todays business culture (big eye roll!).

He believes he is the discriminated one in spite of the ongoing dispute between Google and the department of Labour over “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” The department of Labour have “compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters.”

The new VP of Diversity, Integrity and Governance at Google, Danielle Brown, has since released a statement saying that she believed the anonymous letter to “advance incorrect assumptions about gender” – understatement of the century! She says “Changing a culture is hard, and it’s often uncomfortable. But I firmly believe Google is doing the right thing, and that’s why I took this job.

At the end of the day he is clearly a very hypocritical individual. He accuses women and ethnic minorities of playing the victim when that is exactly what he is doing. He says he feels his voice is being overshadowed by women and ethnic minorities when in many states in the US and in many countries around the world, women and ethnic minorities still are suffering horrendous atrocitiesin silence.

I’ll say it again – poor mister anonymous software developer.

Here’s the link to the full letter

Events · News

Digging Deeper into the Root of Imposter Syndrome…


Early this month, the Manchester Evening News Business Week released the article “Impostor Syndrome in the workplace and how to beat it,” which was inspired by June’s High Flying Women event, as summed up by Vice President of High Flying Women Olivia Betts in our previous blog.

The event was led by the wonderful Amanda Brown of the Leading Ladies Company. As a highly experienced confidence coach, Amanda talked us through tactics to battle imposter syndrome and self doubt.

What I like about Amanda is that she makes a promise at the beginning of every workshop – she promises that everyone in attendance will leave feeling better and more confident than when they came in. She delivers this promise every time, firstly because she understands that actually confidence is an illusion and secondly because, she can teach techniques there and then that can help make people feel “confident.”

The reason confidence is an illusion is because actually, when you’re not feeling confident it’s because you are actually feeling self-doubt. So really confidence is what is left behind when you remove self doubt – confidence is essentially an absence of feeling.

Studies have shown that people who appear “confident,” also appear more intelligent, more attractive and more trustworthy, which makes complete sense when you think about it. No one would go into a meeting with a client and admit that actually they are not sure whether they are experienced enough or qualified enough to do a certain piece of work. Your employer would certainly not take to kindly to this. You would go into the meeting saying that you are completely qualified and experienced enough to take on the work and even more than that, you’d say that you are going to do it well. If you didn’t say these things, the client would go else where because as soon as you project self-doubt, they will feel it radiating off you and they will doubt you too.

This is when things get real deep – I’ve been thinking about this a lot since the workshop…

A lot of people experience self-doubt and what we call “Imposter Syndrome” at some point in their lives and careers. The feeling that you are a fraud and that it is only a matter of time before someone catches you out. Self-doubt is quite often linked to our insecurities, therefore for different people, different things will trigger this self doubt.

Understanding this trigger is only half the battle. We also need to understand what is going to pull us out of the self-doubt pit.

So many times I’ve been told that I will be more successful and progress more in my career when I put myself outside of my comfort zone – and I totally agree with this, because what makes us shine are often the things we do that are different, and being different is not comfortable. If you think about it, at school, at university, when we are trained by the businesses that employ us – we are all taught the same thing and we are tested on the same things. Therefore, to be special and to come up with ground-breaking ideas that will lead to promotions and opportunities we must step outside of the norm.

So no wonder we feel vulnerable and like we are frauds.

I also think that’s why a lot of people are afraid to be themselves at work because they worry people may see their flaws, without realising that everyone else is so focused on their own flaws they’re unlikely to have any time left to focus on yours. So as a result, people form this professional bubble around themselves – a wall to keep everyone at work and everyone in their professional circles at arms length.

This professional bubble is us pretending to be the ideal employee. In our heads the ideal employee is someone who can be relied upon anytime and anywhere, someone who is 100% focused on work and someone who does not bring their personal baggage into work… However this is flawed, and according to research conducted by MMU, what contributes to women dropping out of the workforce and why more men are reaching leadership roles than women. At the end of they day male bodies don’t have to cope with the demands of pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause – all of which place serious stress on women physically and mentally and all of which are taboo subjects in the workplace, leading to a lot of suffering and a lot of silence. As a result, for a lot of women being the ideal employee becomes unsustainable leading to the following statistics (as presented by MMU):

  • 11% of women felt so poorly treated they were forced to leave their job
  • 20% of women experienced harassment or negative comments
  • 51% of women who returned to work flexibly suffered negative consequences

Despite 8/10 businesses saying they want to help women return to the workforce following maternity leave, something is clearly falling flat.

Not only is business culture more suited to men physically, behaviourally, women have been taught that in order to progress in business, they have to act like men and mimic male personality traits – adding another layer to the professional bubble which prevents women being themselves. Yet, we now can prove that having equal numbers of women on boards enable businesses to make better decisions and lead to better negotiations – this isn’t happening because those women are acting like men, it’s happening because women are bringing their own set of skills and views to the table.

It is even now obvious that men are feeling the pressure to act like the stereotypical man and convey the ideal worker image as described above – as reflected in the troubling mental health statistics which show that mental health problems for men are only increasing.

Which begs the question – would we all feel less like Imposters if we actually felt comfortable enough to be ourselves in the workplace?

Click here to read the MEN’s article, where Amanda Brown provides tips on how to combat Imposter Syndrome.


Workshop 2 – Confidence and Imposter Syndrome

As you may know a couple of weeks ago we had our 2nd workshop event, which went down a treat. It was fantastic to have 50 women attend – this is double the number of attendees than at our first workshop event.

We had the privilege to hear from Life Coach, Business Leader and High Flying Woman Amanda Brown on how we can build our confidence and bounce back when things don’t go quite to plan and knock us a little or when we suffer from Imposter Syndrome.


Many of the women in the room said that they suffered from feeling like an imposter in their own jobs or other aspects of their lives at one point or another (see our feature in the Manchester Evening News). It’s sad that it’s such a common thing for us to feel inadequate, in a world that tells us that we always need something else to be better, to improve our lives, sometimes it can be hard to remember that we are in fact enough.


What was so great about Amanda was that she shared her vulnerability with us too; being confident isn’t about having everything perfectly together all the time. It’s about recognising our talents, our achievements and trigger points of what might make us feel inadequate, anxious and be able to change our perspective, and not be knocked so much. It’s about resilience.

I think to be truly confident is to be happy within our own skin. This means being authentic and being ourselves in whatever setting. That doesn’t mean that formalities and social graces go out the window, but that we remain ourselves in all the hats we wear, giving us integrity and authenticity. 

Amanda is an excellent communicator and has something about her that I think we all need to display more of – authenticity.

That’s what we are aiming for in High Flying Women. It’s a place for women to help each other and collaborate, developing our careers and doing this through forming genuine relationships with each other, being able to learn from our different experiences.

If you want to be part of a network of real women, trying to tackle real problems and forming real relationships, High Flying Women would love to have you.


Olivia x


Amanda Brown is the founder and CEO of the Leading Ladies Company. She holds seminars, programmes and one-to-one coaching on improving the confidence of women. You can find out more about what The Leading Ladies Company does here –





What Women Want…

what women want

When I set up High Flying Women, I did it with the vision that it would help women maximise their careers and get to the top.

Whilst breaking the glass ceiling is still high on my agenda, since beginning the network and actually talking to the members, I have come to realise that there has to be more to it than that.

At the end of the day, not everyone is thinking “By the time I’m 32 I want to be a director.” It’s fine if you are – but it’s also fine if you’re not.

It was then that I realised, that I had been assuming professional success is what everyone wants, when in reality, life just isn’t that simple.

So then I started asking myself, “So what is it that women is business want? – And just as important – What is it that they do not want?”

I found myself turning to Google and reading blogs and interviews which unsurprisingly didn’t give me the answers that I was looking for – and then the lightbulb went on.

I had my answer – it was so simple I had to laugh out loud.

If I want to know what it is that business women want – all I have to do is ask.

So with that in mind, I have created this survey. I haven’t beaten around the bush. I am asking the big questions because I realised, that if High Flying Women is going to succeed in it’s mission to lift women higher, I have to know what women really want and what they really do not want.

As High Flying Women is all about collaboration, I ask you to collaborate with me now. I created High Flying Women for you, so therefore I need to know what it is that you really want from life and from your careers. So please do fill in this survey as honestly as you can. Your results will remain anonymous and I will share the results with you in a couple of weeks time.

Help High Flying Women and Take the Survey Here





High Flying Women has been Published! – Thank you to Jemma Goldstone

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High Flying Women has been featured in this months edition of the Messenger, a publication which is produced by the Manchester Law Society.

Within High Flying Women, we encourage our members to ‘Pay it Forward’ and give as much as they take. One of our members, Jemma Goldstone, demonstrated this perfectly by putting us in touch with the editor of the Messenger which enabled us to release this feature and expand our reach.

As High Flying Women does it’s best to support women in their careers and help women build their network, it was a real testament to the High Flying Women ethos that Jemma took it upon herself to help boost the network in return.

If you want to check the article out follow this link – we are on page 11.


Jemma Goldstone – Jemma is a qualified socilictor and Business Development Associate for Lawshare, a legal case referral scheme which operates out of JMW.

Jemma joined High Flying Women at the beginning of June.

See her on Linkedin.