Richie Perera is the CEO of Mental Health and Life
What's your industry?
Education and Training
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
I am formerly the CEO of the London Makeup School and the London Hair Academy.
A company I created from scratch, into two of the most well-recognised beauty training brands in the industry, with over 50 staff, spanning several departments, with a turnover of £2 million a year. The academy was the highest-rated and reviewed training academy on Google in the world.
In 2019 I was diagnosed with mixed depression and anxiety disorder which hit me like a train and almost took my life. I was unable to work for almost 18 months, just putting an email together was a huge struggle.
During the latter stages of my recovery I founded Mental Health and Life. An organisation that delivers Mental Health First Aid Courses alongside HR Consultancy, Race Equity and Suicide Intervention courses to individuals, organisations, and businesses UK-wide.
My organisation is built on the basic fact that, no matter who you are, and what you do. If you don't know how to take care of your mental health and wellbeing, you can end up in deep trouble. Mental Health and life was set up to prevent anyone else having to go through what I went through. It was set up to ultimately save lives and make people become literate on the difference between living, and living happy healthy and well. There's a massive difference between the two.
This journey and learning was what inspired me to write my book, Managing People in the New Normal - Principles Based on Mental Health and Wellbeing
What does an average day look like for you?
My day to day is spent education and consulting organisations on the benefits of a healthy, happy, well managed and mentally literate workforce. A combination which has an incredible positive impact on workplace culture, recruitment, retention, productivity and profit. I help organisations to realise that wellbeing is historically the most overlooked yet most lucrative asset of an organisation. I help organisations to understand through mental health first aid training and consultancy, that a flourishing organisation, can only be had via happy, flourishing people!
How do you balance the needs of your business with the needs of your personal life?
I simply practice what I preach!
Through mental health first aid training we highlight the reason behind why it is important to have a healthy work life balance. How important it is to take your breaks and lunch properly and get up on your feet regularly throughout day. When it comes to annual leave, how a person must fully disengage from work and that includes after working hours on a day to day basis.
Sleep, diet, exercise and digitally detoxing I have labelled the Holy Quarternity of mental health. Get these four right and you have a solid foundation for health as a whole.
I always remind people that 100% of what they need to do for their health and wellbeing is in their hands and actions. That they are the CEO of their life, so always make the correct decision for themselves.
I balance the needs of my business and the needs of my personal life with wellbeing at the heart of every decision and I urge others to do the same!
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
If you think competition is healthy, try collaboration!
There is a, African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”
This is very much the same in business, except that you will go faster together in business as well!
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
Moving form a sector that gave me lifestyle of a multimillionaire, with two world renowned brands to my name comes with a certain kudos and respect in the business world, but ultimately it becomes what you are, rather than who you are.
Following my heart and my calling has its ups and downs. Its been a huge pay-cut and lifestyle change trying to establish myself again as a major player in a new sector has been overwhelming and daunting. As with everything, nothing comes easy, and with business, persistence always prevails.
Everyone gets to a point in life where it's not just about the money.
That feeling you get, the satisfaction of your work, far outshines any money you may have been paid for doing something you do not enjoy. Trust me on this, I have been very rich and very unhappy!
Follow the passion, follow the calling, not the money, and you will not work another day in your life!
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
My MBA, my mental health first aid instructor training ,my Suicide First Aid training, books such as the 5am Club, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, writing my own book and podcasts such as Dairy of a CEO have all contributed to my success.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a successful business owner or executive to have?
The charisma and skill set to successfully manage and influence people is the most important quality that a business owner or executive can possess.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out as a business owner?
For the first three years, sacrifice everything for the business and expect nothing back in return. Show up and work hard every single day, take responsibility for everything and eventually your business will give you the life you dreamt about!
What are the top three things you think are essential for business success?
Do you think someone can be a great business owner without having many years of experience first?
Yes, if you have a natural knack with people, can influence and understand them and are convivial, you will be great business owner from day one.
In general, do you think the world is producing better business owners in 2023 than it was fifty years ago?
I think generally, progressive business leaders are evolving into becoming better business owners. Other's are stuck in a rut and have become out of touch dinosaurs unwilling to unlearn and relearn for the new normal.