Desiree Anderson on How To Bounce Back Stronger in Business
Desiree Anderson is the Founder and CEO of Crest Coaching & HR
Can you start by telling us a bit about your journey as an entrepreneur, focusing particularly on your experiences with setbacks and challenges? How has this shaped your understanding and mastery of resilience in business?
I decided to set up Crest Coaching & HR right before the pandemic. I had a history of working for leading international companies in HR. I witnessed many toxic cultures and people who were burnt out, going around in circles as if they were in a hamster wheel. I worked long hours and often felt as if I had to say 'yes' to all tasks for fear of losing my job or contract position. One night when I stood at a London station at 11pm knowing I had to commute back from the southeast at 6am the following morning, I realised that my people-pleasing and lack of self-care had led me to a point where I felt dissatisfied, worn out and undervalued. I also knew with certainty in that moment on the train station that I wanted to help others navigate their lives and careers in a more positive way using the lessons I'd learned.
In the world of entrepreneurship, failure is often seen as a stepping stone rather than a dead-end. How do you perceive failure, and can you share an instance where a failure led to an unexpected growth or success in your business?
As I've grown in my own self-awareness in my entrepreneurial and leadership journey, I've realised that failure is part of my success journey. What I mean by that is that with every success comes learning and review of what could have gone differently. I've often not met my goals in exactly the same way as originally planned, but the learning and the growth through the setback and hurdle has been phenomenal and kept me humble. I now find that learning from others and ensuring I give myself extra compassion when things don't go according to plan, is a vital part of my strategy.
After suffering burnout in the corporate contract world and deciding to set up a coaching business, I started to become more creative and get clear on my passion for helping people reach their true potential. When the pandemic happened three months into my new business starting I was fearful. However, I wanted to help leaders and created a Managing Remote Teams training program. I was visible on Social Media and soon I was invited on radio. Pivoting helped me grow in ways I wouldn't have previously imagined. My burnout gave me a new pathway to success. By doing thing like creating training programs and going on radio as well as writing articles I've grown in ways I wouldn't have previously thought possible.
What strategies have you employed to cultivate a culture of resilience within your organization? How have these strategies made your team more adaptable and innovative, especially during trying times?
In the past, I didn't realise how important my own mental health was to the success of my company. I now tune into myself daily, cultivating a set of habits that include meditation, EFT (tapping on Meridien points), setting core goals, exercise and regular breaks. I use visualisation to cultivate new neural pathways and I focus on less tasks but actioning them more effectively in order to make an impact. This strategy helps me with my energy and keeps me motivated and interested in what I'm doing. I also always make time for self-development. Listening to what my customers need and making them the centre of any coaching session helps me to really focus and listen to their needs so as to create products to help with their unique issues. Myself and the key people who help me in my business flourish partly because I encourage them to work in their own unique way and bring their diverse ideas to the table. What I've learnt most importantly is to create a culture whereby making mistakes and trying out new ways of doing things is part of our way of working. My customers are real people who want real solutions in order to live their best lives. That's why I strive to collaborate with them in a down to earth way that maintains flexibility at all times.
You've spoken about bouncing back from failure, but I'm curious to know if there is a methodology you follow to analyze what went wrong and how to correct it. Could you describe your process for assessing and learning from mistakes?
When undergoing my coaching training at Masters level, I learnt many learning models. The key aspect that struck me is to analyse my own behaviour in the moment and be very self-aware of the impact I have on others. For instance if I'm aware that I'm not listening appropriately to my client, I will ask open questions , summarise and paraphrase. At the end of all talks and sessions I always encourage feedback from my clients or team. Before embarking on a new project I build in time to remember lessons from the past as well as how other industry professionals are handling similar topics/projects. Striving for high standards whilst keeping a level of reality about realistic timescales and always keeping mental health in mind is part of my continuous methodology and business culture. Moving forward but keeping grounded in the present moment and being grateful for every lesson (good and bad) is part of my mantra!
Many entrepreneurs fear failure to the point that it paralyzes them. How do you balance taking calculated risks with the fear of failure? What advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs who struggle with this?
Fear of failure, comparison, fear of success, procrastination, people pleasing and many other fears such as Imposter Syndrome do still stop me in my tracks from time to time. I'm much more aware of the critical voice inside me that sometimes tries to keep me safe. I've worked hard on releasing the previous version of myself that perhaps made mistakes in the past or was frightened of moving forward. The best advice I can offer is that you become aware of your fears and accept that they are there to keep you in a safe sheltered state. Learning to reframe fears and reminding yourself of your talents and how you have progressed (even small steps), is a good starting point. We all have fears and everyone has to challenge themselves to overcome something (even if you aren't aware of what it is). Seek comfort in that fact and draw strength from your support system. Whilst fear may always be present, you can overcome it by stepping out of your comfort zone and congratulating yourself for being brave. Keep your 'why' and your vision of the future as your guiding beacon. This will spur you on even when things are tough for you.
Sometimes, resilience requires knowing when to pivot or even walk away from an idea. How do you recognize the difference between a challenge that requires persistence and a situation that necessitates a change in direction?
There have been many choices I've made both in my personal and professional life that have required me to walk a very hard path. Being loyal and aspiring has sometimes worked against me. These habits manifested into people-pleasing and sheer stubborness (even when it's often been obvious that there was more pain than gain). With wisdom and hindsight I can now own up to the times I should have allowed myself to change direction or not act at all rather than persist in situations that we not healthy or in alignment with my values and vision for my life. Being in HR for years, I was often required to assist with the dismissal process. I remember once having to walk a senior leader out of the building trying to deal with his worry about how he was going to tell his sick wife that he had just been told to leave. I really wrestled with my conscience in that moment , even though I was just doing my job. If a problem, person or situation is challenging but the values and overall reason for doing it is in alignment with my values and doing good, I will pursue it. I am able to persevere if I feel there is minimal risk of the situation affecting my mental and physical health negatively (or the health of others). A sense of fairness about how much budget to give to something and how much time it will take to be realistically achieved is a consideration I make prior to throwing myself into achieving it. Sometimes my pride still stands in the way of changing direction if things aren't working out well; however, I'm learning more and more to put my ego aside and find solutions and pathways that are more effortless. Changing direction is something that I now encourage in myself and others if it is a better, more agile and creative solution. At the end of the day, its the qualitative outcome and the enjoyment of the journey that counts!
The global economic landscape is always changing, and recent years have seen some extraordinary disruptions. How have you adapted your business to overcome unexpected global challenges? What were the key factors in your successful navigation of these waters?
The global landscape is resulting in AI, rapid technology advancements, multigenerational workforces, increased competition, on demand services, political interference, increased social media and interruptions and more demand for improved leadership whilst focusing on mental health. These are just some of the issues I've been aware of and had to confront in recent years. I've embraced technology and tried to integrate multiple platforms as seamlessly as possible (for instance mailing list, funnel project platforms etcetera). I've learned to balance online meetings with face to face contact. This is especially important for building relationships and business connections. I'm having to be really honest with myself about the areas of my own knowledge that need improvement (for instance understanding the role of AI and Virtual Reality and its pros and cons for learning and leadership). I think a thirst for knowledge, a healthy amount of time spent in nature and helping others to overcome fear through providing a listening ear as well as providing pragmatic collaborative solutions for my clients, is definitely part of my resilience toolkit for the future.
Resilience in the face of failure is often linked to personal growth as well. How have your business experiences shaped you personally? Can you share a moment where your professional resilience translated into a personal transformation?
In my life I've had many ups and downs including a difficult childhood and relationship breakdown. I believe that my business experiences of being involved with toxic cultures, seeing how my own physical and mental health (and that of others suffer in those environments) have transformed me into a more compassionate leader who is less judgemental of others. Being a business owner means I've had to become better at managing budgets which helps in both my professional and personal life. Realising that I can't do it alone in business has helped me expand my connections, reach out to others for help and also in turn mentor other business owners. All of these experiences have enriched me as a human being and made me much more humble and realistic about what is important in my life. During the pandemic I found that by appearing on radio, coaching others in a voluntary capacity and facing my own fears of failure, I've become much more down to earth and understanding of the fears other people face (and how to support them at difficult times). The pandemic was also particularly tough for my partner and I as we lost a close friend who sadly took their life. I became a mental health first aider as a result of this experience and now help others both personally and professionally. Since the pandemic I've also been in two book collaborations in which I described my own life experiences and recently published a solo book called "Your Voyage to Success". Becoming a bestselling author has helped me intertwine my personal and business lessons and hopefully my transformation can be transformative for others.
Your insights on resilience have been incredibly enlightening. For our audience who might want to learn more about you, your business, or perhaps even reach out for mentoring or collaboration, where can they find more information or get in touch with you?
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