At the end of July we hosted the second instalment of The Work/Life Talk Show, back after three months due to popular demand! This time it was held at our office on the top floor event space complete with roof terrace. Unfortunately, even though it was the end of July, we didn’t get to enjoy a lovely summer’s evening, instead we had a slightly duller, drizzlier affair outside.
HOWEVER, back inside, the evening was anything but dull and the only drizzle came from some spillages of delicious gin cocktails, lovingly made by newcomers Fells Bespoke Bartending, who served three delicious and custom-made cocktails with garnishes to die for!
As you have all probably guessed from our previous events, we like to support local indie food and drink heroes so this was no different. As well as delectable, designer cocktails from the team at Fells we also had some outrageously tasty vegetarian curry from local foodie Manjit’s Kitchen, serving her famous samosas with Masala Dhal and rice. YUMMY!
Eat, drink, work, network, repeat
We had an hour of eating, drinking and networking before the main event. Suitably stuffed, Dan took to the stage at 6.30pm (North Brewing Co beer in hand, of course) and the main event began. Graham Norton-style, we had some comfy sofas on the stage and a group of keen, interesting and interested audience members. Once again, we had an amazing line-up of Leeds-based guests too who did not disappoint; Jonathan Straight, founder of Straight plc and now a self-titled “plural Non-Exec”, Minoti Parikh from This Pampered Life and Sat Mann, co-founder of The Yorkshire Maffia and now the founder of his new venture Lean Lunch, the deliveroo of healthy food to offices!
We had pre-warned our guests that this wasn’t just another “so tell us about your business and how you became successful” interview. We wanted to ask them questions others haven’t to see what really happened and how they had made themselves and their respective businesses a success, and how they managed their downtime effectively. With our own Dan Akers acting as compère, the guests were in good hands and the stage was set for a truly interesting evening. First up was Jonathan Straight.
And so it begins…
Leeds-born Jonathan is an award-winning entrepreneur and creative who is well known around Leeds. Since moving on from the company he ran for 21 years, Jonathan has been involved with a number of charities including his own philanthropic vehicle The Straight Charitable Trust and has also invested in several startups. With many Instagram accounts for both his vast collection of spectacles and also his stunning photographic work, he also is a regular on the speaker circuit and we were very lucky indeed to have him at our talk show.
So what was his advice on the work/life balance? On the evening, Jonathan explained his regret in not taking the time to personally enjoy the success of his business in the past and advised other startups to take a step back and enjoy the achievement whilst it’s there. He also told us all about his current, must-read book, ‘Tools of Titans’ by Tim Ferriss which he advocated that everyone should go and buy (UPDATE: Simon did and has no regrets!).
Our next guest, Minoti Parikh, is an accomplished public speaker, corporate trainer and entrepreneur and has worked with more than 150 Multinationals, SMEs and Public sector companies, globally. Three years ago, Minoti decided to leave behind a very successful career as a Master of Ceremonies and TV Presenter in India to get married and relocate to Leeds. Taking her expertise in the events and experience industry to the next level, she has successfully launched a bespoke experience company with the backing of The Princes’ Trust. This Pampered Life designs and delivers personalised experience days and events across Yorkshire.
Like Jonathan, Minoti discussed the importance of taking time out to do the things you enjoy whilst running your own business, to give yourself time to take a step back and breathe for a minute. In Minoti’s case, she likes to take a dance class every week or take some time to read on an evening. Minoti’s advice for startups? Don’t take all the advice that is thrown at you! Instead, contact the right people and trust your own decisions.
At that point, Dan invited Sat onto the sofa and our trio was complete. After 11 years running and growing a successful technology recruitment business, Sat exited in May 2016 to try something new…and so leanlunch.co.uk was born! The business proposition is built around wellness, sustainability and convenience. Sat also sits on the board at Leeds Mind, an independent mental health charity which he is passionate about supporting, so he seemed like the perfect fit for our Work/Life talk show!
Sat has discovered that running his own business has had a real positive effect on his personal life, he feels the stress he previously had from his career has gone and when he does come across stress, he has learnt to cope with it in a much calmer way. He enjoys working alongside his wife where they can sit down and talk about work at the end of the day, whereas before starting up his business, he shut off from discussing work because he was so mentally exhausted with it by the time he got home.
The work/life tools
The audience was engaged all the way through and the atmosphere felt positive and supportive. At the end, a Q&A followed with questions from our engaged audience. A big topic was books! We’ve mentioned one above, but the other notable mention must go to the Blinkist app – a platform that provides a synopsis of over 2,200 books for you to read or listen to prior to purchasing the book. We like that!
The night ended as it had begun – people drinking, eating, networking and chatting away about their work/life balance struggles or triumphs. The speakers had a queue of people wanting to connect with them! We will be booking in another one in the coming weeks – keep your eyes peeled or sign up to our fortnightly emails for further info. You can sign up for these here!
Open call for speakers!
Do you know somebody who’d be an interesting guest for us to interview about their work/life balance? Would they let us pry into their personal life and be willing to share their real experiences to a group of supportive and engaged people? If so, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and nominate them! Even if you don’t know them, who would YOU like to hear from? Let us know and we’ll approach them – we’re good at that. See you at the next one!