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Ep 71 – Why It’s Never Too Late to Make Real Progress in Your Life

How would your friends and family react if you told them you were going to give up your well paid corporate job, at the age of 48, in the middle of a global pandemic, to start a company, without any experience of running a business?

Well for my guest today, Katy Walton, the director of the training and coaching company MAKE REAL PROGRESS, that’s exactly what she did – and yes, most people thought she’d gone stark raving mad.

But despite everything, she’s now built a successful and highly respected business delivering creative leadership and talent development solutions and supporting HR and L&D folks to Make Real Progress in their lives and careers through her Facebook Community The Progress Club.

You can find out more about the work Katy does by visiting MAKE REAL PROGRESS or if you’re in the HR/L&D world why not become a part of her Facebook community at THE PROGRESS CLUB and if you’re ready to get Fired Up, here’s the link to sign up to Katy’s FIRED UP FRIDAY online summit.


Bev and Katy Podcast

So, hi Katy do you know what, it’s funny, it’s been a while since I recorded a podcast with somebody that I feel like I just know so well, so this is just going to feel like you and I having a little conversation, I’ve already done an introduction, so people know who you are, the formal bit.

Okay. The informal, Katy, I’m just wondering how informal to go. So my background is learning and development through and through, but it really started 26 years ago now, when I was working abroad in France for a holiday company called Eurocamp, and I’d been a holiday rep for years, and then I’d managed teams of holiday reps out there.

Tell me a little bit about the informal Katy. Tell me bit about your background.

I was headhunted to work in the training centre in Paris for Eurocamp and it was such an amazing experience. I got to work with a bunch of, I think there was about 9 or 10 of us altogether, trainers.

And we had 180 holiday reps coming every three days into the centre and it was just such an amazing experience. So I got to really come on, if you imagine 180 people every three days

And how old were you then?


Gosh, that’s young isn’t it, when I think about what I was like at 23, I I don’t think I’d have been confident enough to be leading and teaching teams like that. That’s great.

Well I wasn’t underneath the surface. Here’s the funny thing, you know, we’ll probably get to talk a little bit more about self-confidence and doubt and everything else, but I, I felt confident leading teams at that age.

When I reflect back, I think it was more because I knew less and I had less fear So I just did what came naturally and instinctively and it worked really well. What I’ve found is, over the years, the more I know about management and leadership, the more I started over thinking some things.  I think there’s some benefit really in youth and naivety.

I met my husband when I was in Paris, he’s English, but we met out in Paris and we spent a couple of years working out in Paris side by side, and I decided to, I think it was along the lines of, I decided not to live out of a rucksack anymore. I wanted to settle down and to put roots down.

So I moved back to the UK and I started working for Alton Towers actually in their training department, moving from one leisure organization to another. The focus there was learning and development again, through and through specifically helping leaders and managers to lead well.

So it’s in your blood, isn’t it?  This whole sort of development and helping people to grow and be the best they can be at what they’re doing. It’s almost like it runs through your veins.

Yeah. Do you know what?  I’ve often thought that as well. And there’s been certain times, because I moved from Alton towers to another company then onto Nationwide building society, where I spent most of my career, and I’d often sit and reflect. I had some brilliant career and development conversations with my managers. And they’d often say to me, is it time to look differently? Is it time to look outside of learning and development or outside of HR?

And I never wanted to. I’ve absolutely always had such a passion for learning myself and for helping support others’ development. And I remember sitting and thinking, when I stop learning ,when I stop being interested by it. when I stop being passionate about it, that’s the time to do something different and I just never have.

And they can come in formal and informal ways. For me, you’ve definitely been one of those sort of informal mentors. And it’s been a bit of a, almost like a two way swap, a bit like a swap shop. We’ve kind of worked with each other haven’t we, but it’s been such a joy to watch you move away from the corporate world and into your business and how that’s developed and grown.

And that’s interesting. It sounds really exciting, actually. It sounds like there’s a bit of a party animal in the informal Katy that just loves to tie in Alton towers and Eurocamps. Maybe I can see where the attraction was.

So we actually met a couple of years ago while you were still working, before you’d started your business. And really what I want to talk about today is this whole idea of being able to continue to make real progress in your life.

And there is a play on words there, which won’t be lost on you, but we will get to it in a second or two. 

I’ve watched you move from employee to business owner to developing your own learning and development company and the learning, just your own learning, that I’ve kind of been a part of that, and it’s, it’s been a real privilege to kind of grow in our businesses at the same time. And I have to say. I think mentorship is so important in any role in life.

Talk to me a little bit about Make Real Progress, what it is, where the idea came from. And the transition, I guess, what made you want to leave that corporate world that you obviously loved and enjoyed to take that big leap that kind of step out on your own.

Where did that come from?

Okay. So if I take you back, first of all, to when I was at Nationwide, it was such a huge chunk of my career. 17 years spent there and I transitioned there from delivering training to becoming more of a consultant and business partner where I would work with directors, typically helping them to understand some of the performance gaps and the challenges in their business and use development in a different way.

So helping people to stretch their career paths, helping people to think about their performance challenges, helping them to think about developing the talent in their teams as well. And I started to get really, really fascinated in the psychology behind performance and behaviour. And at that time Nationwide very generously funded my training to become an exec coach.

I was then working with more senior leaders in the organization and the more I worked with them and the more that I understood that a lot of the challenges that the leaders were facing were around their own mindset and their own confidence levels, the more I realized that that was holding a lot of people back, the more I started to think about some simple creative ways that I could help people to move forward and make real progress both in that their day jobs and in their own mindset and their confidence.

And so I started thinking about how I could then support people to make real progress myself. At that point, I wasn’t necessarily looking to set up my own business, but I’d started to sow the seeds that just started growing and growing and growing.

And from Nationwide, I moved to a company who were more local to me.

As much as I loved working at Nationwide, I live near Peterborough. Their head office is in Swindon and I was spending so much time on the road, away from home. So there was a real pull for me, first of all, to be closer to home, to be closer to my family.

Then when I moved over to Peterborough, I suddenly realized that there wasn’t really a local community nearby.

Years before I’d volunteered for the CIPD (charted Institute of personnel and development). And I volunteered to help run local events. After I’d moved away the other volunteers had stopped as well or needed to be drawn away for different reasons. So there was no local HR or learning and development forum or group or opportunity for people to connect.

So I kind of tied two ideas together. One was the fact that if I wanted to set up my business in future, I needed to know people who were local. And the second was, I had an abject terror of networking. I hated the word network. I hated the thought of networking and it filled me with horror. So I thought, one of the ways that I could get over that is to take a bit of control by setting up a networking group and cause, you know, it’s easy, if you’re setting up a networking group, people know who you are and people will come to you.

And I found that so much more comfortable. So I worked with a woman I know who you know well, Nicki Mawby, and we co-founded our first HR networking group, HR connect over coffee. And that’s where I got to know you.

And then what happened? So you’re still working at this point. I know that’s where you were running HR connect out of the organization that you were working for,. What pushed the button?

Ah, okay. So what pushed the button for me to set up my own business was really a strong desire to take control and to have autonomy and freedom to do the things that I wanted to do.

I like to think I’m pretty creative in the way that I run my development workshops and programs for people. And basically, I waned to do what gave me real energy and joy and what had happened in my last role is that I’d had another promotion. and I was spending my time formulating the strategy and doing strategic workforce planning and things that are very important to the business, but they weren’t things that gave me joy and passion and energy.

So what I really wanted to do, that seed that had planted when I was at Nationwide, then grew and grew and I thought, you know, I could set up my own development and coaching business and I could do things my way and focus on things that gave me energy and passion and joy. So that’s really where it started and it was roundabout the start of lockdown when things started to move quite quickly.

And of course, when we went into that first period of lockdown, it gave lots of people lots of opportunity to stop and reflect and think about “what do I really want, what do I really want from life? What do I really want from my career?” And for me, that was the real turning point.

Yeah, I love the word turning point.

Of course you and I worked together last year on a program called turning point, which was very much about midlife women reaching a turning point in their life. It’s interesting that you’ve, you’ve segued beautifully into my next question, which is, in the world that I’m in, I talk a lot about menopause, that midlife transition.

How much do you think of that transition for you was about reaching a turning point, that mid-life turning point? Do you think your menopause transition had anything to do with that decision making or had you not made that connection? Do you still not make that connection?

I hadn’t made that connection at the time.

In retrospect, there may be something about the fact that, you know, with the perimenopause that I was experiencing there may well have been a connection, but I certainly didn’t make it at that time. All I knew was that I wasn’t feeling as fulfilled as I could be, and I just wanted to make a change.

I suppose if we’re talking about a midlife transition, there was part of me that was thinking, how many more years have I got in the workplace? How many more years will I be relevant? And if I don’t do it now, will it be too late? If I leave it another 8, 9, 10 years, for example,

It’s an interesting word relevant. Talk to me about that.

Over that first lockdown, I also grew out the dye in my hair and I’ve been really dark for a number of years. And I think there was probably something about confidence and letting my hair dye grow out and a shift in my identity thinking if I’m perceived as being older, will that be a benefit or will people gravitate more toward people who are younger and I suppose in my mind, stereotypically more, more energetic.

I don’t know, but here’s the interesting thing, Bev I spent years and I mean literally years when I was younger, looking at a colleague of mine. I won’t name her just in case, but looking at a colleague of mine. And I remember so clearly she looked like she had everything under control.

She felt so warm and wise, and I thought, you know, I can’t wait until I have that much maturity and age and experience behind me because I knew that inside, I thought I’d have more gravitas. So isn’t it quite interesting. I hadn’t made this connection before really. But thinking back when I was younger, I’d wanted that maturity.

And then as I was becoming more mature, I was thinking am I still going to be relevant. That’s quite interesting.

Yeah. It is a weird juxtaposition isn’t it.I, I think certainly found that the year or two before I resigned and started my business, there was definitely an identity crisis going on.

It’s funny that you don’t always see these things until you look back in retrospect, I definitely had an identity thing going on. So let’s talk about the actual transition, cause it’s quite a brave move to make. Do you mind me asking how old you were when you made the jump?

I’m trying to remember how old I was. 48.

Okay. Yeah. So I was 52 you were 48, so it’s quite a courageous move. Isn’t it. To make a big life change. At any time in your life, to be honest at any time. So what were the challenges? What did you find difficult?

There were a couple of really practical challenges.

Number one, my husband is self-employed as well. So I think I told myself a story for a few years about the fact that it would be too difficult to manage having two sets of unpredictable income.

Our children are still living at home with us and I had to have an income. There was no two ways about it.

So I couldn’t afford for a business not to work. that was kind of my first challenge, deeply practical. The second was well, I suppose if I can just go back to the start of COVID when I’d first started setting up my business, I’d reduced my working days down to four in my previous role.

I’d been very open about the fact that I was starting up my own business. And my first focus was actually working as an associate for other people. And that had been my intent for a good couple of years, to work as an associate and grow my experience that way.  It felt like a nice little stepping stone into self-employment.

However, what had actually happened during COVID is all of the associate work that I had in the diary, which was all face-to-face, it all cancelled out one after the other. And a lot of people I was working as an associate for had made the decision that they wanted to remain face-to-face, they didn’t want to transition into training virtually.

So it felt like I had a decision to make. If I go ahead and I set up my own business and I start, I’m going to have to generate my own business. I’m going to have to build a business rather than act as an associate, because otherwise I don’t have control about whether work comes my way. So it did feel like quite a big leap to make, going from I’m leaving work to become self-employed to I’m leaving work to set up my own development and coaching business.

So I had to make that shift quicker than I originally planned. And that scared me witless Bev, if I’m honest. And I know you probably know a lot of it because we had a lot of conversations. You were brilliant at the time.

When we were talking about informal mentorship, you are just absolutely up there for me as one of the most helpful people that I’ve ever had the pleasure to know and work alongside. Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your mentorship.

Thank you. That, that means such a lot. So, so there were practical difficulties? Actually, that was one area that wasn’t such a big challenge for me because my husband was in the air force we had an income from his pension as he left the air force. So actually I didn’t have that financial pressure, but it’s interesting so for me, what it meant was I don’t think I had that feeling of pressure , what is it they say, it’s under pressure that diamonds a formed isn’t it. And I don’t think I had that pressure. So it’s taken me longer to build my business out, but I can see that, you know that drive to pay the mortgage, you know, the kids have still got to have food on the table and shoes on their feet… sounds like a Dickensian novel. Doesn’t it? So that pressure, how did you put that pressure into energy, I guess, to drive you forward?

Okay, well, it’s, you know, actually, again, looking back that pressure was quite helpful because I knew that I had to make it work.

And so I was keen to explore every single opportunity I could. To make sure it worked. And yeah, it led me to have lots of conversations with lots of people to figure out as quickly as possible the things that I needed to know that I didn’t know. So things like how to build out a website, . How to do my finances and some of the really deeply practical things that you have to do when you’re setting up a business.

One of the things that scared me witless was things like tech and It support because although I’m fairly tech savvy, I’d always relied in the corporate world on IT support. I knew that I could always pick up the phone. I mean, normally they’d tell me to turn it on and off again, and that would fix it, but there was always somebody there to help.

And I think that was one of the most frightening things for me. Upfront thinking, can I do it all on my own? Can I figure it out? Am I able to do all of this? So that was another challenge and barrier that I had to overcome. And I quickly realized, no, I can’t do it all on my own, but what I can do is connect in with people who are friends who can support.

I found that it was a balance at the beginning between wanting to learn, because I do think you have to kind of understand it, even if you don’t necessarily need to know all the nuts and bolts of how these things work.

If you’re going to be getting somebody else to come in and help you with it, you need to have an understanding of the art of the possible. Otherwise you’re likely to be asking for the impossible. Or, it would be very easy, wouldn’t it to be taken advantage of, if you haven’t got a clue about, you know, you’re paying somebody by the hour, you want to know roughly how long that task is going to take them. So you don’t get duped .

So you had the tech struggles. you had the financial struggles or financial worries, I guess, concerns. What other sort of challenges did you have?

Well, I think one of the big ones is trying to match up is what I want to offer out to what people actually want and need.

So there was so much before I left, and when I first started out, that was in research phase, talking to so many people to find out who are the people who I want to help, are the people who want help the people who I want to help and do the people want what I want to offer.

I had so many conversations. My diary was filled with conversations, virtual coffees mainly, with people to pick their brains, to find out information. I also spent a lot of time volunteering, offering out my help and support in a variety of different networks because well, two fold,

First, I’d always liked to share, help, support and share information with others. And two, it really helped me to understand the market and understand what it was that people were struggling with, what they were finding difficult and challenging. And then I could then match that up with my energy and my passion and what I wanted to deliver..

Brilliant. Now you said earlier that you hate networking. I know that for both you and I, one of our first clients was actually people we’d worked for before.  How important do you think it is to tap into your existing network? And, if I use exploit, I don’t mean in a negative way, but in the truest form, exploit that resource that we’ve got, how important do you think that is? And is it something that we should pursue?

I think first and foremost relationships are king and anybody who’s thinking about setting up a business, just think relationship first, before anything else, that was always been my ethos. And it’s always served me well, when I think relationship first,

What it means is picking up the phone to have a chat with somebody to find out, genuinely, how are they doing  and what’s going on for them at the moment? And if there’s a need that arises and emerges from that conversation. Brilliant.

So the way that I’ve leveraged my network, I suppose, has been through maintaining genuine relationships with them.

And for me, that’s fundamental. I don’t appreciate nor ever have appreciated in the past, cold selling, hard selling or anything like that. And that’s how I feel going forward. I want to build relationships with people, connect with people, see how I can help and support them.

So we’ve talked a lot about the practical elements of getting settled into this new, new identity as business owner.  And I was going to be a bit facetious there and I hope it lands well. How do you feel about becoming this sort of business mogul that you’re turning into.

Ha, actually it took a long time for me to even talk about myself as being self-employed. And then when I became a limited company, trying to call myself director for the first time.

I know. Did you want to laugh? As you said it, I used to find myself wanting to giggle because it felt so far from me.

So let’s talk about what’s going on inside the head then, because we’ve talked about the practical stuff. What about the mindset stuff?

What did you have to work through? Not least of which calling yourself director, what else did you have to go through?

I think you were spot on when you were talking about courage earlier, because it’s not about having the confidence to do it because you can only have the confidence in something that you’ve already done and experienced and you know that you’ve got confidence going forward.

It takes courage to leap out into the unknown. So for me, it was about making sure that, I suppose the practicalities did come into play, because I wanted to make sure that I felt safe enough to say, right, I’ve got four months’ grace before I’d need to have some income. So I set myself goals and targets of what I would need to do, how many people I might need to speak to, what products I might need to develop and everything else so that I could be pretty sure that I would meet my target at the end of four months.

But the confidence, I suppose, the confidence wasn’t an issue per se, because. I’m so used to speaking with people, I’m so used to doing the development and doing the coaching and delivering it. I don’t have any qualms in that sense. It was more “Should I stay, should I go” and having to really think through what are the consequences and the benefits of staying in a corporate role?

Because it’s safe?  Not what I want to do versus what are the potential payoffs? So I had to really do an awful lot of convincing myself that I wouldn’t let down my family, that I wouldn’t let myself down. And yeah, I guess it was that more than anything else.

So a lot of self-coaching going on a lot of, sort of, a lot of self coaching and being coached by other people alongside.

And it does make a difference doesn’t it, having somebody there to almost act as a cheerleader? I think for me, that’s something that’s been so important, surrounding yourself with people that actually want to see you succeed because quite a few people I think, fall into the trap of mixing with people who haven’t got your ambition, or haven’t got your vision and we put a lot of store in the voices of people that we care about when.

They’re not always the best people to drive us forward though, are they?

Absolutely because they might have concerns for you for whatever reason, that are perhaps a bit misplaced at times. I cannot tell you how many people reacted in the same way when I said to them, I know it’s during COVID and during lockdown and lots of people are feeling really uncertain, but I’m actually leaving a safe, well-paid corporate role to set up my own business. And without hesitation, every single person looked shocked and horrified and went blimey you’re brave, which really felt like they were saying, are you crazy? You’re doing it now right now in the middle of a pandemic??

So it didn’t feel like an awful lot of people were really rushing out with the support to say, yes, absolutely. It’s the right time. It’s the right place. You can absolutely do this, but I think it was genuinely coming from a place of people not wanting to see me hurt or fail or whatever.

Yeah, just when you say it out loud, I’m just going to give up this really good career that I’ve got to potentially not make any money in an area I’m not really certain about. I mean, you, you obviously were certain about your trade, there’s no doubt about that.

But actually, one of the things I really learned very early on was that being good at what you sell is not good enough, now you’ve got to be able to sell it, but actually selling it, marketing it, getting out there and meeting the people, doing the groundwork, building the audience. That’s the bit I didn’t know, that that’s the bit I had to learn really, really quick.

And it is quite a steep learning curve. Isn’t it? There’s so much that’s done for you in the corporate world that you don’t realize, you know, and yes, there was all of that. There was the, the creativity element. So I am naturally creative, but translating that into how do I want my brand to look and feel?

And what does good look like when I’m putting something together? What does great look like? How, how do I engage with people. How do I bring people into my world? How do I raise their awareness about what I offer? And that’s all on top of the other things that we’ve talked about, the, you know, the finances and everything else.

And how do you take all this new tech, which I’ve never experienced before? Because in the corporate world, I was really quite limited . How’d you learn all of these new systems. How do you work out how they integrate, how do you work out what to leverage and then how do you form your strategy as a business owner?

It’s not enough just to go out there and think, well, I’m going to have a few conversations with someone and deliver some training. You have to then start thinking a year, three years, five years ahead. And I had people asking me. What’s your exit plan? What’s your end goal? And I was thinking, I haven’t even, yeah, I haven’t thought beyond my first year and in all honesty, my only goal for that first year was to replace my salary and that felt like such a stretch goal for me.

I didn’t want to think about anything else about, you know, the why’s and wherefores and how I would do it. So I gave myself that first year to really play and experiment and find out what I really enjoyed, what people wanted with the aim of replacing my salary in the year.

I think you and I both did a similar thing. We kind of threw the net quite wide from the start I don’t know how much of that for me was I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do, or I was just a bit like you ,kind of a broad creative mind. I think I couldn’t see what it needed to look like. So I was trying everything. And that in itself was quite problematic.

It was a double-edged sword actually, because what it did, it exposed me to lots of different opportunities, new ideas, but at the same time, it meant that I was not focused on any one thing. If you were to give somebody else, some advice, maybe if they were looking to start their own businesses as a midlife woman, would you condone doing the same sort of thing, spreading the net wide and seeing what catches or would you come at it more from a right, ok I’m only going to focus on these one or two things and I’m going to work hard at them. Which way would you go?

That is such a good question.

And I don’t even know what I would do if I did it again, because I see real pros and cons for either.

So the massive pro that I see when you’re specializing is that very quickly, you become known as the expert in your field. So people seek you out. You become the person that in other conversations, people say, oh, right, okay, menopause awareness, you need to speak to Bev, for example.

You become known for that niche and that gives you a golden opportunity to be able to really focus on your messaging and everything else.

However, that said, if you don’t know what that one thing is, if you’re not crystal clear on that one thing it really pays to kind of test things out and experiment.

There’ve been a couple of things that I thought this is going to be a no brainer. This is going to fly off the shelf and it didn’t have the success levels that I thought it might do. So I’m really pleased I tried out a lot of different things, cause that gave me some real clarity and insight into what I think people do want and need going forward.

I mean, I could be wrong, but you’re absolutely right. It does present a challenge because if you’re looking at offering out three or four things people may not want to work with you as much because they may not perceive you as an expert in such a way. And it becomes very difficult to clearly articulate to people this is what I do

And possibly more importantly, this is who I do it for. I think that’s sometimes a bit of the puzzle that’s lost as well. I think there’s also a danger that if we pigeonhole ourselves into, into too narrow a bracket to begin with, first of all, can we really be absolutely clear that we’re offering something that other people want. 

And I think that I’ve certainly been fixated on this in the past where I’ve had a great idea, great product idea, or service idea. But I actually haven’t tested the market. So it’s great in my head but I haven’t got a clue if anybody actually wants it or not. And the other thing that I fell into and I don’t know if you relate to this, I guess you’ve got that push or pull. I was pushing stuff that other people may not want, but also I was being pulled towards directions, probably being led by the money if I’m honest, that I’ve actually fundamentally just not enjoyed doing it. Then I’ve looked at what I’m doing and thought, do you know what, why am I doing this?  I don’t enjoy it. This is not what I went into business to do. Why am I doing this? I dunno if you, can you relate to that?

Absolutely, I think that certainly is something that I’ve experienced over the last year. You know, I talked to about energy and passion and joy. There’s definitely some things that haven’t given me so much energy, passion, and joy, but again, it’s been a brilliant learning experience because now I know what I’m passionate about and what I would like to work on and who I would like to work with. It’s much easier now to say no, it was really hard at the beginning.

Like you said, there’s a fear fear factor. So going back to the fact that I needed to get some money and some income in, I was saying yes to things because it was a paying job. And I think I had in my mind, if you’re self-employed, if you have your own business, you have to take on anything that you’re offering.

Because that’s how you’re going to be successful. And actually what I found is that it would take me three times as long to complete a piece of work, whether that was the design or admin for it or whatever, it would take me three times as long for the thing that I wasn’t really fully on board with, because I didn’t want to do it.

So I was kind of forcing myself to do it and I thought this isn’t why I’ve gone into business. And surely it makes much more sense to focus on the areas that I know that I can deliver. I really want to deliver well.

And you do it very well.

Thank you

Now, then. The Progress Club.


Talk to me about The Progress Club.

I’m a part of it so I don’t want to, you know, I don’t want to steal your thunder by telling people what it is. I’d like your take on what The Progress Club is. And also what The Progress Club Plus is all about please.

Okay. So I’ve mentioned to you about the fact that I used to volunteer for the CIPD to run events.

And then I set up an HR connect over coffee networking group, as well. During lockdown, I realized that the HR connect networking group was face-to-face and it was quite local to Peterborough and Cambridge area. What I really wanted to do was to help people connect virtual. And I saw a real opportunity.

There’s plenty of networking groups online for HR professionals, and there’s a couple of really good ones for learning and development professionals as well.

But what I saw a a real opportunity was for people who were either in HR roles or moving into L and D roles to help them really think about how they can develop themselves to develop others.

And that’s what The Progress Club is all about. So primarily for HR and L and D folk, but it’s all about developing them to develop others.

So some of it is really practical things. Like how to put a decent PowerPoint deck together. Or some of it may be on confidence, mindset. Some of it might be really practical around how to run a really good challenging conversation session.

The idea behind The Progress Club first and foremost is, it’s a community and it’s over on Facebook. And the idea is that people can connect and talk and ask questions and help and support each other out. And I’ve been building that for about a year and a half. And I think there’s around 1300 people in the community at the moment.

And in all honesty, I love running it. It’s one of the things that really gives me joy because I’ve certainly benefited myself from other people’s ideas and input and everything else. But I also, as I mentioned earlier, I love sharing my experience. I’ve benefited massively over my career from the learning and development that was invested in me.

Not everybody has that opportunity. So I want to make sure that we’re helping people who have got to develop others as part of their role, helping support them so they can do it to the best of their ability.

Brilliant. And it is a great community. I’m a part of The Progress Club and it’s just the most generous community.

You know, everybody is so willing to share and give and very, it’s a very respectful, I think that that’s probably one word I would use for, it’s a very respectful community, but you’re taking it a step further forward. Aren’t you? With the Progress Club Plus, which is a paid membership. What is the difference and what are the benefits of being a member of the paid community.

Well, first and foremost, people who are already members of the progress club were connecting with me and messaging me to say, how can I work with you on a one-to-one basis? But a lot of what they were asking for was quite similar in nature. And actually for some people, they couldn’t necessarily afford to have an external trainer come in and deliver.

They just needed some help and support to to be able to design and deliver things themselves. So The Progress Club Plus is a deeper dive. So. In The Progress Club I’m sharing ideas and hints and tips and so on. And in The Progress Club Plus I’m going to be running monthly workshops for people on monthly theme topics.

So the first one we’ve got is influence and impact. And the second one we’ve got is coaching. So yeah, I’ll be running monthly workshops, there’s going to be guest experts coming in, doing sessions. And the sessions are going to be a mix. Things that I think would be really interesting based on people I’ve heard speak, and also things that they really need right now that maybe I don’t have a specialism in.

And in addition to that, we’re going to have fortnightly collaboration sessions that I’m quite excited about because they’re going to take various different forms.  One fortnight the session maybe on group coaching or hot seat coaching. So really helping somebody to move forward on something that they’re stuck on.

Another one might be a coworking session where we set our intentions at the beginning of an hour, and we work in silence together, but know that each other’s there and then come back together to really help get a sense of community,  And other sessions maybe idea generations or hackathons or creativity sessions.

So. Lots of opportunity, really, to be shaped by the founder members who join us.

And that launches when?

Launch is the 21st of January. Doors are opening on the 21st of January, only open for 10 days until the 31st of January for this time round. And the membership itself starts on the 1st of February.

Fantastic. Well, I’ll get the links from you to register.  Is there a wait list?

Yeah, there is a wait list and there’s quite a number of people on the waiting list at the moment. And then from the 21st of January, I will be flinging the doors open with some great bonuses as well.

So if people know that they really want to join, if they sign up in the first 24 hours or 48 hours, they’ll get additional bonuses as well.

Brilliant. And actually people can come along and get a taste for you and how you deliver and some of the experts that you might bring in,at an event that you’ve got later this month as well haven’t the?  Talk to me about Fired Up Friday.

Oh, okay. So fired up Friday. This came about in October, as we were just heading into the winter and I was thinking ahead to January and how I often get to January and it’s such a long and gloomy month.

So I wanted to give a day of focus and inspiration.

I’ve gathered together 12 different people, all talking broadly on the topic of development in very, very different ways. It’s a free online session.

People can register and sign up to either one session, two sessions, or all of the sessions, all 12.

Give us a flavour of some of the guests.

Okay. So I’ve got some people who are working in house. There’s a guy called Dan Bass. He’s second up. He was a senior leader in the last organization that I worked for and I loved working with Dan on projects. He was brilliant. Sharing his views, sharing his perspective, being incredibly supportive and really focused on the development of his team.

So he’s going to be coming along, sharing some stories about how you can help as a leader, develop a culture of learning outside of HR.

Then I’ve got the brilliant Dr. Andy cope. Who’s coming along. He’s phenomenal. I’ve seen him speak a number of times. I had the pleasure of sharing a stage with him as well.

He’s going to be talking about the art of being brilliant. So his company’s all about how you can be your brilliant best self. He will bring a huge ray of sunshine. And let me pick out also Cat Hase who’s going to be in the afternoon. She’s going to be talking about bringing creativity and fun into your learning  helping you become more innovative, more creative in your approach

It just sounds fab. I’m gutted that I can’t join you, but I will be sunning myself in, Mallorca, unfortunately. Well, assuming I can get the flight out there. You couldn’t make it up, but the apartment we were meant to be staying in had a rockfall and a big boulder burst through the wall of the apartment. So we’ve got to get a different accommodation. And then of course, with the whole COVID thing, they’ve changed our flights. Arghh.  It will happen. It will happen, but it does mean that I won’t be able to get Fired Up Friday. However, I will put the link to register to in here too.

Thank you. Well, I’m really, really pleased because I think ultimately all of the speakers want to give something back to people, they all recognize what it’s like in January. And they’ve all just got that personal dose of brilliance that they’re going to be bringing.

And it’s quite a challenge that I’ve set for people. They’ve got just 20 minutes. So each speaker is going to be joining on the hour or on the half hour between 10:00 AM and 4:00 PM.

And they’re going to have basically just 20 minutes to get us fired up and ready to grow.

No, I love that. Whenever I get asked to do a short talk, I find it so much harder to prepare for than a longer one, because you know, you’ve got a short amount of time. You’re going to make every word count.

I just know it will be absolutely fantastic. Katy, just before we sign off, what I would really love you to do is give me three bits of advice, I guess your three top tips for any woman wanting to move out of corporate and into the self-employed world. From your perspective, I know you don’t profess to be a business coach, so I’m not asking you to do that, but just your personal top three tips from your own experience, what would they be?

Okay, well, number one, without question build you network.  It doesn’t have to be networking, but connect with people, talk to people, build relationships, and build genuine relationships with people. Not because you want to be able to pick their brains on an ongoing basis, but because you’re genuinely interested in them.

So build your network is number one. Number two. Is thinking about the opportunities that are available to you. It’s entirely likely if you’re a midlife woman that you’ve got a stack of experience behind you. So what you’ve done in your corporate career, you’ve had a corporate career up until now. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the thing that you use going forward.

I just think we’ve got so much experience that we can bring to the table. And when we start looking for those opportunities, you’ll find that there’s more than you ever thought.

And the third one is build your courage muscles. So it’s likely that you are going to be feeling a little bit nervous, apprehensive beforehand, but find small things that challenge you and take small steps, build your courage muscles over time.

You don’t have to think, right I’m stopping right now. I’m making a leap. But you can challenge yourself in small ways. For example, it could be, if you were setting up a development business, it could be to become a speaker at a number of different places that fill you with nerves and apprehension, but do something to build your courage muscles, because the more proof and evidence that you’ve got that you can do it and you can succeed the more likely you are to feel confident in your abilities going forward.

Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. We need to get together for coffee again soon.

Absolutely we do.

When I get back from holiday. Thank you so much for your time. Good luck with fired-up Friday. I know it will be absolutely brilliant.

I would definitely encourage anybody to go and join The Progress Club if you’re in the L and D or HR world and good luck with The Progress Club Plus I know it will be amazing. Thanks very much, Katy.

Thanks for having me and see you soon.

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