This is the seventh post in the Be Your Own Best Blog’s Inspirational Women series. This series highlights exceptional women across a diverse spectrum of occupations and industries, and allows them to share some of their insights with an equally diverse audience.
Meet Grace Marshall
Head Coach, Chief Encourager, Author and Productivity Ninja
Educated with a degree in International Management and Modern Languages, I was prepped and primed to climb the corporate ladder. I worked in marketing. I was good. I worked hard. And I was a quick learner. But at the end of the day, I wasn’t passionate about advertising numbers and response rates. Numbers just don’t excite me. People do.
The irony of course is that since setting up my own coaching business in 2008, I am immersed in marketing on a daily basis, but my approach is all about people, communication and relationships – not numbers!
As a qualified coach, NLP practitioner, author and Productivity Ninja, I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I give people new ways of working and thinking about their work, to replace stress, overwhelm, fatigue and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction – from startup founders to corporate managers, artists to engineers, students and CEOs.
My first book ’21 Ways to Manage the Stuff that Sucks Up Your Time’ topped the Amazon UK bestselling ranks for Time Management, Business Management and Small Business Entrepreneurship. My second book, ‘How to be Really Productive: Achieving clarity and getting results in a world where work never ends’ is published by Pearson, and has been described as ‘a breath of fresh air’ and ‘a very “real world” approach to productivity.’
How would you define a “successful” career and what needs to happen for more women to achieve that level of success?
What a great question! Career success is work that calls the best out of you and honors what matters most to you – and that’s why we all have to define success on our own terms.
For me I usually know I’m on the right track when there’s a sense of adventure – being excited and terrified at the same time – growth – calling me to develop and stretch outside my comfort zone – and satisfaction – doing work that does me good as well as the good I am doing.
I’m a big believer in working hard but I also believe that sacrificing what matters in the hope that it will pay off in the future is a gamble and even if it pays off, often a pyrrhic victory.
So Ii think it’s important to define success in action as well as outcomes and goals. For example, if I want to build my business, gain more clients, speak on more high profile platforms, success in action means sowing seeds, developing relationships and building my reputation by giving my best to the clients I have today. In other words, success isn’t about what I’ll have when I get there, it’s about I have today and what I’m doing with it.
What is your proudest career accomplishment and why?
My books. I wrote my first book in 2012, “21 Ways to Manage the Stuff that Sucks Up Your Time” and despite being a newcomer with a small niche publisher, it launched to No.1 in several bestselling categories on amazon.co.uk. Being invited by a big publisher to write my second book “How to be Really Productive” was a big achievement too, and seeing it in the business charts in airports in 2015 was definitely a highlight! There were so many reasons I could have used to discount myself – the fact that I’m naturally disorganized for one! But I decided that as long as my writing helped someone, I would keep on doing it. That’s my proudest accomplishment – refusing to let imposter syndrome stop me.
Please describe a challenging problem that you had to overcome in your career and the steps you took to do so.
Starting my business was challenging. I was emerging from what I now affectionately call “my mid-life crisis in my mid-twenties” and recovering from the initial shock of parenting. I started my business very much from scratch in a new profession and a new town, with a young family in tow. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that as a strategy but it was what I had at the time!
It sounds like a big leap when you look at it like that, but ultimately big transformations come from taking baby steps. The steps I took in the day to day were small, daily decisions and actions – some worked out better than others, some went round in circles, but being willing to keep learning and keep improvising (i.e. make it up as you go along) and to get up more times than you fall down – probably sums it up!
If you could be mentored by anyone, who would it be and why?
Brene Brown is one of my all-time favorites to learn from – as a storyteller, communicator, thought-leader, people-researcher, and all round great human being. I love her down to earth style, her absolute integrity and her knack of speaking uncommon sense. I’d love to learn from her how she handles being human on a big platform, how she works out her professional, family and personal life, as well as her experience and insights into honing your message and speaking your truth.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Don’t let what makes sense on paper overrule what makes sense in your heart. Have the courage to take your own path – and if you go the wrong way, you always have the right to change your mind.
What words do you live by?
I adopted this in my early days of parenting, from someone much wiser than me. It speaks to the recovering perfectionist in me: to be good enough, most of the time, with intermittent lapses into hopelessness and brilliance.
If you would like to suggest an inspirational woman for consideration, please e-mail Lisa Mueller at firstname.lastname@example.org.