Rose Radford is the creator of The Millionaire Girl Next Door ©, Business Consultant, Author & Speaker
Could you please share a bit about yourself, your background, and the journey that has led you to become an entrepreneur? What makes your perspective unique on the subject of leadership and navigating uncertainty?
My career in coaching and consulting businesses started at age 19 where I used to cycle across my university town to support a small shop owner in reducing her costs and drumming up footfall. It was a weird thing for a broke university student to do for free, but it lit me up and I loved seeing the impact I had. Fast forward a few years and I landed a graduate consulting job at McKinsey & Co. as the only undergraduate female from my university (at least, I couldn’t find anyone else like me at the company!) I spent the typical two years in strategy consulting where I worked on a huge variety of projects to help senior leaders solve their most difficult strategic problems. The long hours and lifestyle wasn’t for me though and I left at the age of 25 after burning out, which led me to starting out on my own as an online entrepreneur. The first two years of the new business were tough, but I finally cracked it in 2020 and rapidly scaled to 7 figures after that. I suppose you could say I was an “overnight success” after years of trial and error. My perspective on leadership is unique because I’ve been in the role of supporting other businesses for over a decade now, and almost all my clients have been older than me. It just goes to show that age doesn’t always matter.
You and your business have presumably faced some interesting challenges and changes over the years. Can you describe a key moment when you felt uncertainty was at its peak?
When I came under fire online by a large figure with over 100,000 followers and was effectively “cancelled” before cancel culture was a thing, I wanted to throw the entire business away and hide. I was being accused of something I hadn’t done, but of course you doubt yourself and your own judgement in those moments. I was waking up to new troll comments on my social media and lies being spread about me. This online bullying was one of the best things that ever happened to me and my business though, because instead of running away I came back stronger than ever before, by doing the healing work to avoid being triggered and to lead from the front in a more powerful way in the future. I learned how to handle a really emotionally difficult situation after that experience and also learned that things are never as bad as they may initially feel.
From your experience, what are the core principles or values that guide a leader during uncertain times?
We don’t have different guiding values in uncertain times to our overall business values and I believe having that consistency helps to steady the ship. As a company, we lean into Excellence, Learning & Mastery (of skill sets), Personal Responsibility, Connection & Innovation. When an unexpected problem arises, I tend to focus on learning what we need to do to move through it and avoid similar situations in the future. We’ve always relied on innovation to teach the latest insights to clients, as well as respond to market changes. Many small business owner leaders don’t stop to identify and describe their core company values. Likely because it can feel like a theoretical exercise that doesn’t mean much, but your values become critical in times of uncertainty.
How do you cultivate a culture of resilience and adaptability within your team? Can you share a practical example where this culture made a significant difference?
I encourage the team to try new things, to experiment and bring ideas to the table, which means they feel safer to fail or get things “wrong”. This also makes our team more resilient when things do go wrong, because they know I’m not going to be mad about it. They know they’re safe to make mistakes. What’s not okay is not learning from those mistakes and cleaning things up so we can avoid repeating them. I once made a HUGE mistake early in my career and instead of receiving a serious telling off from my boss and boss’s boss as expected, I was met with their radical responsibility for not guiding me more effectively. That was a turning point for me in my own leadership style which I’ve taken into the running of my team today. When I take radical responsibility for things, I model this to my team who then also feel compelled to take the bull by the horns, as well as own up when they screw up, because they know they’re safe to do that.
Many aspiring leaders struggle with the fear of failure, especially when the path ahead is unclear. What strategies or mental frameworks have you developed to overcome this fear and embrace uncertainty as an opportunity?
I have literally failed my way to success and wouldn’t be where I am today without all the failures because they’ve taught me so much. I couldn’t have developed deeper mastery without failing and I certainly wouldn’t be as valuable to my clients if I hadn’t failed as it means that I can teach about that experience. Your ego won’t like it at the time, and you’ll probably want to hide the fact that you failed, but the people “ahead” of you will never judge you for failing; they’ll always celebrate the fact that you gave it a shot, and will most likely want to help you get going again, because they were in your shoes at some point. Failure stories are always the best and most interesting anyway!
In your opinion, what are the most common mistakes leaders make during uncertain times? Can you offer a real-life example where recognizing and avoiding such a mistake led to success?
One of the most common mistakes I see leaders make in times of uncertainty is making it about THEM and taking things personally, rather than externalising their focus and looking to see what their team and customers may need. When the pandemic hit in 2020, uncertainty was through the roof. At the time I was part of a mastermind group where additional support calls were held to ensure people felt held and cared for. In other masterminds, it was business as usual, which left you feeling gaslit or as though the leader wasn’t truly aware of what was going on.
Looking towards the future, how do you plan to continue evolving your leadership style to meet new uncertainties and challenges? What advice would you give to others looking to do the same?
I’m very conscious of who I surround myself with as it has such a direct impact on who I am as a leader, how I think and how my network evolves. I’ve spent over $250,000 on personal and professional development over the last five years and have reaped massive rewards for that. It’s put me in rooms with amazing leaders who are many, many steps ahead of me. Having invested a lot in professional development already, my focus now is more on learning from my peers both in and outside of my industry.
You've clearly demonstrated a willingness to learn and grow through experience. Are there any books, mentors, or resources that have particularly influenced your leadership style? How would you recommend others to approach their leadership development journey?
It’s increasingly clear to me that I’m a product of my parents: I have my Mum’s silly sense of humour and sharpness of mind, as well as Dad’s willingness to pick up the phone to make things happen while dealing with the more difficult stuff head on. It’s cliched but true, that we almost always take directly after our parents (or sometimes consciously choose to do the exact opposite of them in some cases if we believe the alternative is better). I’ve also invested in numerous mentors over the years because I love accessing the way they think about the world; it allows you to identify your blind spots faster by getting an insight into someone else’s mental model for leadership and success. One of my earliest mentors always led with generosity, which has had a huge impact on who I am today.