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Ruth Kudzi : Must-Have Skills for Entrepreneurs in 2024

Ruth Kudzi is a Psychologist, Neuroscience Expert, Master Coach and the author of global best-selling book ‘How to Feel Better’ - She is also the Founder of Optimus Coach Academy, which is one of the world's leading coach training providers specialising in using Psychology alongside coaching. Today, they share their tips on the must-have skills for entrepreneurs in 2024.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and what got you into entrepreneurship?

I always had a passion to learn. Having spent 30 years continuously learning, studying Psychology and Neuroscience since 1994, I have just gained my chartered status as a

Psychologist and Coaching Psychologist.

My passion lies in sharing with more people the science behind how our brains work and how we can control this with our mindset, to create alternate realities for ourselves. Keen to help others understand the principles of neuroplasticity along with the power of growth mindset, my goal is for more of us to be less stressed, happier, achieving more of our goals, in a more joyful way - be that personal, business or career.

I stand for joy, happiness, success, wellbeing and impact and I am here to show people that where they are in life now, isn’t where they have to stay, having myself navigated an array

of personal challenges, which have seen me need to tap into reprogramming my thoughts and mindset to avoid her spiralling into black holes.

Growing up around alcoholism and suffering with my own dependencies, to being diagnosed with PTSD following a tragic accident, to having to reset my own life after feeling suffocated by a career in education, before becoming an entrepreneur.

I am an ex-deputy headteacher, and my entrepreneurial journey has seen me build a 7 figure business, which my husband now also works within. Training thousands of people across 30 different countries through our coaching Academy, Optimus, I am impacting the industry positively.

My journey into the realm of coaching and personal development began over a decade ago. My relentless pursuit of knowledge and commitment to excellence have earned me recognition as one of the UK’s top Master Certified Coaches, independently verified by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and in demand as a guest speaker for UCL, Birkbeck, Goldsmiths and Natwest as well as being a regular speaker for the ICF in India, Israel, Iran, SE Asia and Bulgaria.

Sharing my knowledge more widely, globally, is also a commitment of mine. I am already a chart topping podcast host and best selling author, with my most recent best-selling ‘How to Feel Better’, being praised by industry leaders such as Shaa Wasmund MBE who said it offers “practical, actionable and down to earth advice for a happier life”.

What are the top three skills you think are crucial for entrepreneurs today?

Confidence to Start and Resilience to Keep Going - At the beginning or when we have a new idea or offer we just need to get going. Just start. Who knows where your desires and actions will take you? For me, the sky's the limit. Then we need the resilience to keep going.

One of the key indicators of success is resilience. The people I meet in my business are talented, smart and have great business ideas, however only a fraction of them will be as successful as they desire. The one characteristic that those who are successful share is resilience, they keep going, keep learning and keep taking action even when they feel like hiding under the duvet. How do I know? because I have been one of them my whole life and in business this quality has stood me in good stead. I have always picked myself up and dusted myself down and kept going. Writing it down sounds easy. It hasn't always been, there have been tears, scrolling through social media thinking “Why do they have it sorted when I don't”, I have judged myself harshly. BUT, whether due to stubbornness in the fact that I love what I do and I know I help people, I have kept going.

Focus, Organisation and Planning - Having a clear understanding and organised schedule for your day can provide you with a sense of control, reduce stress, and allow you to make the most of your time, without too much procrastination. This also means you can plan for breaks too - integrating brief breaks into your daily routine is advantageous and necessary for overall health and efficiency. Our brains are not naturally wired for continuous, uninterrupted work. Regular breaks can positively impact your mental state, enhancing your ability to focus and maximising your potential. Taking short breaks throughout the day, whether a quick stroll, a gentle stretch, or a healthy snack, can help prevent burnout, alleviate stress, and improve the quality of your work. By recognising the importance of these interludes and consciously incorporating them into your daily schedule, you will experience increased energy, improved focus, and a greater ability to approach tasks with renewed enthusiasm.

Practicing Gratitude - It is vital to remember that success is an individual experience, especially when starting out. And, when we continuously compare ourselves to others, it is generally destructive to our wellbeing. Practicing gratitude is a basic success habit that works in tandem with another positive practice - journaling. Journaling may appear intimidating at first, but it can actually be straightforward, and an ordinary notepad will do. Begin your day with a clear objective, and at the end of the day, take a moment to reflect on three things for which you are grateful. Accept simplicity as a fundamental component of your daily routine and make it a non-negotiable priority. You'll start to notice the impact of these practices after several weeks. Incorporating journaling and gratitude practice into your daily routine is simple, allowing you to focus on your goals while rewiring your brain's neural networks.

How do you think the role of technology has impacted these skills in recent years?

When it comes to confidence to start and the resilience to keep going, sometimes technology, in particular social media, can have a negative impact on this. In today's fast-paced world, it's not uncommon to envy others' success. Seeing carefully chosen success stories on social media can sometimes leave us feeling inadequate. But we can’t compare our reality to somebody else’s highlights reel - it does nothing good for our confidence or resilience. It is vital to remember that success is an individual experience - and, when we continuously compare ourselves to others, it is generally destructive to our wellbeing.

When it comes to organisation, planning and focus - there’s so many tools out there that entrepreneurs can use that suit our individual needs. I have ADHD so can get easily overwhelmed and love having Asana, which means I can check in on my team and ensure we’re on track.

As a Psychology and Neuroscience expert, I know that feeling better is an inside job and in order for us to unlock our success, we need to focus on ourselves and embed everyday habits that help us live a happier life. Again, technological advances help us access podcasts, audiobooks, apps such as; Headspace, Calm… that can help with our wellbeing and wellness.

There’s so much technology out there to help with all of the above.

Could you share a story with us about how you used some of these skills to overcome a challenge in your journey?

I had been coaching for years prior to starting up my business and had measurable results in the teams I managed so I knew I was good at it. Plus I knew it was all I wanted to do. This gave me the confidence to start Optimus. I didn't (and still don't) have a Plan B. This is my career for life.

That can be scary, and anxiety inducing. Of course, I still have moments when I think “am I good enough?” and “what if I fail?” but these are much less frequent. The difference is when these feelings come up now I have enough reserves to move forward. Often I meet others, in particular women, and they are critical of others who are more successful “I have had more experience than her” or “she isn't even qualified – how can she call herself a coach”. My response is always the same, it doesn't matter if you are smarter or see yourself as better than someone else unless you are taking action you won't ever be as successful.

Carol Dweck talks about developing a growth mindset and her teaching is widespread in schools, but how does this translate to reality? A growth mindset is the same as resilience – it is understanding that you can get better, that if at first you don't get to where you want to be, keep going.

One of my clients recently said to me, I don't lack confidence because I know I can learn to do all of the things I want to do to be successful. I know from this sentence she will get to exactly where she wants to be.

In your opinion, how important is it for entrepreneurs to adapt to changing trends and what do you see as the biggest trend in 2024?

I think adaptation is crucial for entrepreneurs. But jumping on all new trends isn't always necessary.

For me, it’s important we all set aside time to reflect. To think. To reconsider. To reevaluate. To reimagine. Did you know that it is possible to flip your thinking and retrain your brain? Learning how to rethink and unlearn is a skill, and in the rapidly changing world we live in, it’s important that we are able to make the unconscious - conscious. It’s crucial that we take time to reflect, explore and become aware of our thought processes, limiting beliefs, inner voice and the narratives we often believe.

One of my favourite books is by Wharton's top-rated professor and #1 bestselling author, Adam Grant; ‘Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don't Know’ - this book was listed as a Times Self-Help Book of the Year! Adam helps the reader to discover the critical art of adapting and rethinking and explores how questioning your opinions can position you for excellence at work and wisdom in life.

When it comes to trends, the coaching industry continues to boom, coaching is a safe space for you to really dig deep, reflect and get to the root of why we believe what we do, why it is so important to us, and why we are sometimes so steadfast to hold on to those ideas and beliefs…

The increase in demand for coaching is fabulous as more and more people become more connected to the personal development world. I feel we will see a more whole person approach to coaching.

As the traditional boundaries between work and personal life continue to become increasingly blurred, especially in the entrepreneurial space, many of us are seeking ways to integrate personal and professional responsibilities while maintaining a sense of balance and fulfilment.

People are placing greater importance on finding purpose and meaning in their lives. So, therefore a whole-person approach to coaching allows individuals to explore and align their personal values with their professional goals, leading to a more fulfilling, happy and purpose-driven life.

What's one common mistake you often see new entrepreneurs make, and how can they avoid it?

Busy-ness, doing more and more and more. When we’re too busy ‘doing the doing’, we get stressed, our cortisol levels leap up and we find it difficult to make decisions. This isn’t productive. It’s ok to take breaks.

I’m very aware of how my stress levels impact my ability to think and make decisions. And how it can affect the way I interact with others. My goal is always to continually develop and model good stress behaviours. To do this, I let people know it’s OK to take a break, nurture their brains and spend time offline. Most of the time, I think I model these behaviours well. But I’m not perfect… If I notice that my diary is getting full. I take a step back and asked myself: ‘what are my priorities?’ and ‘how could I be more effective here?’ The answer? Stepping away from my business in the short term, so I have capacity to lead and manage effectively. Simplification reduces stress!

How do you keep learning and growing as an entrepreneur?

I feel continuous learning and development is vital for all of us.

I have spent nearly 30 years continuously learning, studying Psychology and Neuroscience.

Leaders need to keep learning and growing in this ever evolving world. I often like to say that; ‘I am a self-aware leader who is a dedicated continuous work in progress!’ - For me, it should never be “I’ve made it, so, job done!” A leader is never complete, as leadership is a skill to be continually nurtured and I believe good leadership always starts with and comes back to us! I believe that ultimately good leadership starts with self-leadership. We can’t lead others unless we can lead ourselves. Recognising our strengths and developing our weaker areas.

For me learning and growing doesn’t just come from professional development, courses and training… it also comes from reflecting and taking time out to look back as well as forward.

Finally, what advice would you give to someone just starting their entrepreneurial journey in 2024?

Don’t forget the basics. Remember, true success starts from within, and don’t forget or neglect you in the process.

Get enough sleep - More than anything else, the quality and quantity of sleep we get significantly impacts our mental abilities, such as our ability to think, make decisions, and problem-solve. When we're sleep-deprived, our stress levels tend to rise, leading to a vicious cycle that negatively impacts performance. It should come as no surprise that sleep holds such a profound impact on our lives. When we grapple with stress or health issues, our sleep quality tends to bear the brunt of these challenges, creating a cycle of disruption that influences our daily lives.

Find pleasure in small things - Finding time for yourself can be challenging as a business founder, amidst work and home life demands. However, it is crucial to prioritise taking a daily break from the natural stresses that life presents. Connecting with nature can help you improve your overall wellbeing. Simply getting outside for 20 to 30 minutes every day, preferably in green places, can significantly impact your cognitive and physical health. You don't have to be an athlete to impact your thoughts and feelings; a leisurely walk finding pleasure in what you see, smell, hear… is enough. Spending time outside freshens your mind, reduces stress, and improves your mood, making it a simple tool for improving your overall quality of life. By incorporating these simple behaviours into your daily routine, you can start on a path to a happier and less stressful life.

Structure your day and take regular breaks - Integrating brief breaks into your daily routine is advantageous and necessary for overall health and efficiency. Our brains are not naturally wired for continuous, uninterrupted work.

By embracing the significance of sleep, small pleasures, a well-structured day, and regular breaks, you can embark on a path to success and wellbeing. It's time to prioritise your inner journey, and in doing so, you'll discover that success, in its truest form, is already within reach.


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