It’s been a while here on the blog. Clearly I’ve been breaking my own rules on regular posting. Given I have issues not following rules, this came weirdly easy.
The big August reset
This month is a juicy deep dive into August resets. One of my favourite months – golden, syrupy and slow as a sunset cocktail – it’s when we set ourselves up for back-to-school-ness, fresh starts and bigger dreams.
Like so much this year, all bets are off on summer breaks. But, as evidence and discourse shows, taking that time to pause, reflect and recalibrate is essential. For our businesses as much as our mental health.
Hitting Out of the Office needs to be a strategy, whether it’s from the beach or back garden.
5 ways to hit pause this summer
Full disclosure: I’m a recovering sunbed email addict. A few days into my break I’m swimming in my inbox, have been known to pitch journalists poolside and plan a content strategy from a beach bar. Work in progress, right?
I checked in with seven brilliant thought leaders – CEOs, CMOs and powerhouse founders – to share how they’re navigating the summer reset this year. Grab yourself a coffee,in the sun and enjoy:
Break up with busy
Leadership coach Rebecca Morley works with high growth and scaling founders. She says re-evaluating our relationship with “busy” is the first step to slowing down.
“I feel like we have a rare opportunity for a complete reset as things start to move forward. I decided to tackle one of the biggest areas first by taking a long hard look at all of the things that make me feel busy. I’ve realised you feel especially busy when there’s an ongoing list of big things you never get to.”
“To that end, I’ve carved out one whole day a week to work on my business rather than in it, allocated fixed coaching sessions each week rather than trying to squeeze people in all over the place and made a ‘long grass’ list of things that I’ve allocated time for over the next six months. I’m feeling excited and in control for the first time in ages!”
Keji Mustapha is Head of Network & Brand at Connect Ventures. She shares Rebecca’s thoughtful approach to diary management and creating white space.
“In terms of recharging and creating thinking time, I’m doing two key things. The first thing is that I’m not scheduling any (non-essential) meetings this month. This is huge for me given that a large part of my role involves meetings. But to be able to set myself and my team up properly for the rest of the year, I need to take the month to reflect and plan, properly close off projects, and get ready to kick off new projects.”
“The second thing I’m doing is taking a “think week”, inspired by Bill Gates. I usually only do it once a year at the end of the year but I thought I’d try two this year. It’s a week where I go off by myself (I’ve rented a lodge by the sea in Kent), no wi-fi, no notifications or distractions. I use the time to properly disconnect, reflect and just breathe! It’s also often when I get my big (and best) ideas.”
“Think weeks” are about to become my new favourite thing. Ever.
Make recharging part of your culture
Vivi Friedgut, CEO and founder at award-winning edtech startup, Blackbullion, is looking at how she encourages self-care with her team.
“Boy, has it ever been an interesting few months. But with CV-19 probably lasting another 6-9 months, the adrenaline is starting to bleed away. Well-being and self-care are bubbling to the surface.”
“While I’ll be taking off a few days here and there, I am “forcing” my team to take time off to recharge and rejuvenate before the new academic year kicks off. This isn’t just about doing the right thing for the team – but about the whole company. Burnout, especially at a time like this, is a real concern and releasing the stress valve, even if just at home pottering in the garden is critical!”
The team piece plays out for Richard Williams, Head of Marketing at global recruitment business, Austin Fraser/Vita, too.
“Personally, it’s been a long few months! My team has spent the entirety of lockdown working on our new global website. We’re taking the next couple of weeks to spend time together as a leadership team, reassess where we’re at, ensure we’re all aligned.”
“Once the website’s live, I’ll be enjoying a few weeks off to recharge the batteries. We head into August with a renewed optimism and an extremely stable foundation. We rode the storm well, looked out for each other and made decisions to help us build momentum for the future.”
Be like an athlete – create rest days
“Don’t underestimate the toll that the first half of 2020 will have taken on your energy levels,” says Frankie Cotton, CEO, at Let’s Be Frank. Frankie delivers growth strategy and execution for emerging startups and challenger brands, so is close to this. “Those of us leading businesses will have likely spent the last six months in fight mode, hustling to survive. Rest is incredibly important to recalibrate, switch up habits and change our thought patterns. Without a doubt, the best strategic decisions I’ve always made have been during or after a decent break.”
“When I interviewed Billy Quinlan, founder of Ferly, for the Women On Top Podcast she said to me: “I’ve learned to treat entrepreneurship like an athlete treats their training plan. You have to build in rest. You cannot be the best without it.”
Time to tap into our inner athletes, team.
Take the opportunity to reflect
Creative consultant, coach & storyteller, Ian Sanders, has built a career getting people energised about work. He concurs. “Over the last few months most of us have been working harder than ever. That’s why it’s really important to carve out time this August for what I’m calling ‘reflection and renewal.’”
“We have an opportunity. To reflect on where we’re at, what we’ve learned and how things have changed in these new times we find ourselves in. What changes will emerge from all this? How will our business be transformed? What’s the next chapter in our story?”
“And we can only get clarity if we switch OFF. That’s why this month I’m making more of an effort to get unplugged. To step away, to get some rest, but also to take the time – on a deckchair in my garden or down on the beach – to think about my own reflection and renewal.”
The reconnection thread is shared by Hilary Salzman, founder at 22 Stories, helping brilliant businesses tell their story.
“For me, summer means time to reconnect with my own creativity. In 2019, I took August off to craft my own brand story and get everything ready for the launch of 22 stories. It was invaluable. I had space to think creatively, free of distractions and guilt. My business was definitely better off for it. So, I promised myself the freedom to do it every year. After all, what better reward is there, as a business owner, than the flexibility to work your socks off for 11 months and then give yourself time out to breath and grow?!”
Trust that small steps lead to big wins
Hawaii-based (!) writer, consultant, and entrepreneur, Alexandra Franzen echoes this intuitive approach. As someone who teaches creative businesses how to market without social media, she knows a thing or two about resets.
“Honestly, what I’d recommend is to truly ask your heart + gut – they will not steer you wrong in terms of truly doing what’s needed for renewal. To move forward for the rest of the year, I’m truly just choosing one tiny step, doing that, and then choosing another. These tiny steps are piling up to be big wins.”
Remember: beach bars are a state of mind.
Thanks to my brilliant contributors and to you, excellent reader. Reset, renew, wherever you are and I’ll be back here in September.