Leading from the Middle - Julie Perkins transcript
9:47PM Apr 21, 2023
This is Kenny. Welcome back to another edition of the leading from the middle podcast. This is a podcast for middle managers who want to develop themselves develop their teams and improve their results. I've been so blessed to have these amazing amazing guests. Join me to be able to help you to help you the audience out there, middle managers out there, entrepreneurs out there to just seek more when it comes to leadership and hearing advice from people that have done it. I had another person today she was a she is the founder of wise minds is Julie Perkins. She's also a cancer survivor and an author and Julie talked about purpose leg growth, how to keep good ideas alive. How do you align your organization or your store just right and she gave a lot of tips and advice for leaders today as well as one of those obstacles still in 2023 that phase female entrepreneurs you don't want to miss a second of this. Let's get at it.
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Hey there, everybody. Welcome back to another edition of the leading from the middle podcast. And I have to tell you when it comes to just developing yourself developing your teams, improving your results. It is so great to hear from someone that is doing that. And they are so gracious to offer their advice to help you do that. And I know you're going to be inspired by her story today. So without further ado, I want to introduce and welcome to the show the founder at wise minds. Julie Perkins is with us today. Julie, it is so great to have you on. I want to also say Julie is a very recent cancer survivor, as well as an author. And Julie, welcome. It's so great to have you.
Well, a massive thank you for having me, Kenny and I am really looking forward to hopefully talking about some of the stories that can inspire. Yeah, yeah. Leaders, especially the time especially in that critical role of the middle managers and leaders. Yeah, for sure. Thank you.
That is so awesome. Thank you so much. And that, you know, I want to start there, because you have an amazing backstory of really helping out your parents and then taking over and then coming up with these great ideas. I want to give you play a time and space and tell that so tell us a little bit of your backstory to what led you to what you're doing today.
Yeah, well, I come from quite a so highly paced entrepreneurial family. And I think that gives you a very early insight into what it's like to be running a team, because you're growing up. And there's always people around. There is always the mixture of people coming into the house or parties. But it gives you the communication hearing about what it's like to run a business from a very early age. You know, the highs and the lows, but everyone sort of doesn't tend to come into the house, moaning about a bad boss or anything like that. So you get a very positive viewpoint of what it's like to run, run a business. And I think that gave me this incredible view of, of business life or my life. And then I took that and took the brand Specsavers and I opened it up in Northern Europe, namely starting in the Netherlands. And I think I had this incredible journey of 20 years. And there's very few people I think can say I won't change anything about my work life at all. But I'd like to say that I am one.
Wow, that is awesome. I love that. I love that. And so how young were you when you realize that? You know, this was something you wanted wanted to do that you wanted to be an entrepreneur you wanted to go into business? Well,
I think I joined the family business, straight off to university at 2122. And then I moved to the Netherlands in my late 20s to open up the brand over here after experiencing that so very young, but actually my entrepreneurial spirit started when actually I was I was a child. I used to run these little street parties and raise money for the RSPCA. So I was a kind of fundraiser at sort of six and seven in my own little unique way. And I would I would dutifully take my build 10 pounds, raise them to the R ASPCA, which is obviously for animals, I'm not sure what it's called in America, but and donate the money that I'd raised. So it was early age, I always had that. That sales spirit and you know, raising money funds
a lot there. I think it's ASPCA here in the United States. But I think you're right. Yeah. What what would be one or two lessons? You I'm sure you learned a lot one or two lessons that you might have learned from your parents that you still find yourself doing today?
Yeah, well, directly from my parents. I mean, they were gatherers, gatherers of people. And, you know, I think it's only fair that I choose one from each of them. Just to be both sides. Yeah, I think I think my father always taught me how to choose who you work with. And when he was first opening up the business, I said, How did you choose the suppliers and the alliances with it to work with in making sure you were surrounded by the right people. And he would always go in to suppliers and interview them himself. And he obviously looked around the manufacturing plants or whatever that supply was. But he said, I always asked to see the successor, who was coming up as the leader, which I always thought was very interesting, he said, because I have Specsavers, my company is for the long term. So I want to work with people that have that same viewpoint as me. And I think it taught me that when you're recruiting or finding partners, alliances, or your direct team is always interview on the values and the way of thinking and how you connect on that. But the of course, you've got to know they've got the skill in that as well. But that was always interested in he opened up partnership and alliances like that, and always worked on a very equal playing field, based on value on values. And that's such an interesting way, especially in today's world, where everybody is seeking to find their fulfillment, through life through work through every aspect of what they do. You know, COVID was a time of reflection, for many, much more than normal. And I think people are asking more often, where they work. And I think it's such a beautiful way of recruiting to make sure that you can dance well together on values and feel fulfilled. That was a massive lesson from my father. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, we're talking back in the early 80s, when he first started that business. And I think that was very important. And my mother really reflect that as well. She, she reflected, always surround people, by surround yourself so by people that can do the work better than you. And she always taught me to always do what you love and love what you do. And recruit, constantly, always be asking yourself, are you sort of in what you do? And surround yourself by the people who can take on what you've had to do in the early stages, I mean, entrepreneurs, though, they've got to be everything to everybody. Yeah, always take that self forward. And those two lessons, very people orientated and of course, growing in an entrepreneurial family, you know, initial stage taught me that family style leadership, that unity, which came from both of them. And I think there's really the important lessons, really, that I took with me, not only in opiate Specsavers, but also into wise minds. Yeah.
Wow, both your parents well ahead of their time. Those are things that I don't remember being talked about back when I remember just going into the workforce in the early 80s. And, and then so awesome that you pick that up and you carry it on, and probably making it a heck of a lot even better. I want to grab from you now some advice on some things that that you do today. But first, I want to give you a few few minutes, however long it doesn't matter. To tell us what is wise mines do?
Well, wise mines is a company that I formed that supports female entrepreneurs to grow their business. So they've got a business that's viable. And And what often happens is you become stuck. I mean, it sounds such a miserable start to a story. So I apologize slightly for that when you become stuck, you're a bit frustrated, and it starts to chug. So you've had this incredible start, but you start to chug, and quite often these businesses go into early maturity and ended up closing or somebody said, Why do I suddenly hate the business that I used to love? And I started this company because it's so easily solved. And from my experiences with Specsavers, you know, you kind of learn that you are unique, everyone gets that, but the way companies grow is not. And I learned that really by opening the brand in the Netherlands, and surrounding myself like my mother did, by people who just knew far more than me. And the story was, you know, it was 3am in the morning, and we were chugging in Specsavers. And I said, the next day, you know my hand to the after being there at 3am in the morning going, what more can I do, and I was at by saying, You need to understand how to grow the business by making your son self redundant continually. And I thought to myself, well, that's, you know, brave people, but, but what they mean is just make yourself redundant, put yourself back in, make yourself redundant, put yourself back in. And this is what I do with the entrepreneurs I work with, because you're only frustrated with your business, because you're holding on still to what served you up until that point. And I sort of coach them, they're on a program to understand how to release yourself, it's not easy to just go, Okay, I'll delegate everything, there's a process for doing it. And putting yourself back on the next wave. It leaves space for the people you work with, to uplift themselves. And it keeps the entrepreneur always focuses focused on what they need to do. And that was wise minds. And that's what I do I keep great ideas alive. Because, you know, people get rejected, and I don't want them to be, you know, from investors and stuff, I still think, come back, realizing, and then go back in. And that's what I did.
I love that. And so I want to jump into all of that now. And I'm so glad you're doing what you're doing. And it's still needed. And we'll get into that in a few minutes. But I want to jump to the good keeping good ideas alive. Because as I saw that, I started to reflect on myself and how many ideas I used to have at work, and we would start it, and then something else would come up. And then we have remembered that idea we had six months ago, we never. So tell us a little bit about that. How do leaders how do entrepreneurs keep good ideas alive? What are some things that you recommend?
Well, I mean, naturally, when I have to go to how we do wise mines, I think it's very important to keep to the vision. And the purpose, which everyone says okay, that's basic, that's obvious. But as companies grow and move on, you know, what you celebrate, in a company is more important than you think. And at the beginning, when you're first sort of opening up, or you first got a new project, you know, shiny things, shiny things. You're, you're already excited about it, and you're celebrating together and you're in a huddle. But as a company matures, what what are you celebrating, and quite often as you go from this forming stage into a more mature stage, you're celebrating sales performance, and it becomes very performance orientated. And the purpose and the vision that you started off with, perhaps plays second best, or third best. And what you celebrate is sales. And you start to get a misaligned function of the team or what you're doing it for in terms of the vision and the change that you want to make. So purpose led organizations. And oh COVID was a huge thing forever declaring though purpose led and everything but true purpose led companies is about the alignment between the change you want to make the team their alignment to it, but also the customer is a huge part of that as well as the way that you work. So what we try and do is to align all of those aspects and and always start with what you celebrate the Unity what you're trying to change, because that really brings people together. I had this joke at Specsavers and I worked there when we were first it was really rapid opening. And we all used to you know celebrate record weeks and you know, get very excited about that. And we had a standing joke marketing would advertise with Shana. Oh, it was me and training. No, it was me and all this stuff. And we had this sort of collective force. But really the message was coming across was how do people connect to what we celebrate? And it was, it wasn't unified. So basically, we stopped celebrating sales, for example, and redefine what the measure of the change was that we wanted to make And then we unified over 1000 people to be feeling good about that. And then understanding what is our contribution as individuals towards that. And that's the beginning of creating alignment towards purpose LED. And that's how we keep good ideas alive, keeping people on what the idea was. It's not here, it's not close by it's, it's the vision of change, what's the what's the change that that idea makes? And, and that that can create what you celebrate really unifies, right? Find situations. Sales is an outcome of it, not a leader of it. And I think that is a way that I support entrepreneurs, to keep their ideas alive to understand what that idea does. What change does it make? Why does it make people people's lives better?
Yeah, I love that. And there's so much you said there, which was fantastic. And it makes so much sense that we always celebrate sales, and but what about the support people that aren't selling, you know, and just align everybody with with one goal in mind, and just keeping changing it up? And you answer a lot what I was going to ask there, because you answered, we talked a very much about purpose, like growth, and keeping those ideas alive. And talk a little bit about the alignment, though, of an organization and why that is so important.
I think, you know, going back to how you set up, he summarized my very long sentences, sorry, but you beautifully did it, you know, in terms of alignment has to include everybody. And you get an incredible support team, that play a very critical role in the success of every company. So when you're doing sales, it's it's easier for advertising or marketing or product, to be able to translate what their contribution was towards that. But there is a whole team onto it. So when you look about the change, and we, we changed our performance from sales, what we celebrated from sales into the number of customers that were likely to come back in two years time, because that's such a futuristic one, we wanted to make such an impact on them. But that includes everybody, the person who wants us the phone service, the suppliers of product, and that unification was incredibly important. And that's that, that that aspect of of purpose led, because it's unifying. And and it's, you don't want to make it, you know, too abstract. But people have something we used to put it in the center of all our meetings, used to begin every meeting with why we're doing this, what's the performance? How does everyone come through, because one of the greatest misalignments for middle management to manage is, you know, functional alignment, you know, advertising marketing product, and sales teams. And we had stores in that. And I always tell the story, when we would do this incredible son campaign. And we've worked with this great advert, we have this surge of sales, but the product was too low, there's the stores didn't know. And when you're trying to review a promotion, or a sales promotion, you can get conflict very easily. But when we actually started looking at purpose lead, and creating a measure of that alignment, you've got, you're all looking at each other, ready to go. Or if you're if you're looking outwards, to see how everybody has contributed towards it. It's a lot less confrontational. We invented something called the Powerball we actually nicknamed it the Blaine ball, because it's a beautiful way of seeing where the blocks are without looking at each other. So it's like a third party, and we can all look upon something else when it's not looking at itself. It's natural. Right?
Love that. Wow, wow. I'm so well laid out. And so well thought out and very practical for for leaders out there everything you're talking about. Julie, was there a turning point at wise mines that you said, You know what? I think I got something here and I think we're right in sync with each other. And could you maybe talk about what that turning point was?
Yeah, I think with Weiss was when you're starting in any company. You do it because it's something you're passionate about. And deep down. It's that passion is quite undefined. And I think my turning point when I realized that was mines, you know, had a prospect to go forward and it was something interesting that could support our purpose of supporting female entrepreneurs. I think that turning point was when we realized How much effect we could have with the entrepreneur from a very early stage. And it came from just small switches. And, you know, those small things was about getting the the entrepreneur to understand their vision and purpose to begin with, and how to drive from that, and how to learn to let go. So we had a very, very simple process very early on. And I think with the entrepreneurs, I think the initial ones was during COVID. And of course, we're all in our houses in COVID. So I thought, well, what can my contribution be? What can I do, I can't go out. And so I just put a message out saying, and it will want any help for free to save your business or to help with your business. And I had about five or six come back. And in COVID, you have to be very instant. So I trialed these processes on it, and got, you know, good traction on it. And that's really was the beginning of that. So I think this definitely aligned. Definitely aligned to to entrepreneurial spirit. Yeah, the success very quickly, very instant. Yeah. And
that must be such an amazing feeling when you know, you've helped another business grow and the things you're doing. Gosh, I hate that is 2023. And I got to ask you about this. But you have such a great targeted mission statement there that you're helping female entrepreneurs. So I'd love to hear what what in your opinion, Julie are the top one, two or three obstacles that are facing female entrepreneurs today?
Yeah, I think the those top obstacles, I'm going to look at it from the female entrepreneur side, yes. Because my natural progression would be going investment, etcetera. I think there's many people that talk about that. But what I tend to do at wise mines, is I look at it from the female entrepreneurs journey. And the very first one is many of the products and services that we choose to, to to start up a business for, we're very passionate about a lot of health products, a lot of wellbeing products, a lot of products that really will benefit community coming forward. And the communication of that, or the way that we get that going has a lot of a longer runway. And one of the things that I want to try and do with that longer runway is to shorten it. And I want to encourage the entrepreneur, to take a slightly more risk earlier on. What we try and do is wait right to the end, it's just long, and by the time we get to that and get on to the next growth phase. There's a sort of this very long, so I try and shorten it and try and encourage a small investment, or a taking on a team earlier than what they would do normally. So that's a really, really important one. And once they can understand who they are as the leader, and to have confidence in that, that that happens a lot quicker. So what we do to help with that, is we get the female entrepreneur to really understand who they are. And to understand with their values, how to translate themselves into their company without being in it. Leaving space. Oh, massively important.
Wow. Okay, that is awesome. What else? What else is facing female entrepreneurs today? What well, some other obstacles and that's great. I love that we're especially of shortening the runway. I love that word picture. Yeah.
I think the one that I work with most is the blockage of building their businesses around them. Oh, very much so. And I think they're many traits, leadership traits in life. There's feminine traits, there's masculine traits, just the females have tend to have more feminine traits. Although my mom dad died, but you know, but they tend to have more feminine traits. So what we try and do is understand that and when they understand who they are, they can play the whole keyboard, which gives them confidence to take that journey. And we begin to let go of what does not serve them. Because we hold on to things and services, people and the ways of doing things which may not serve our growth. So that's the very first thing that we do is to understand who they are, and to try and look at their business and to discard what doesn't serve to really shake that tree so that they're leaner. I was compare it to Mount Everest, they get stuck on camp for because they're so burdened by what doesn't serve them They haven't got the lightness to Summit. So we discard bit, Barry Kondo, thank you for your service and get rid of it all. So they've got a leaner business to be able to grow with. And I think that is a burden is building businesses around folding on. And what we do is work with them to let go. So we've got that that space, that they can actually lead their business and not be squashed in it, and build it around them. And that's when entrepreneurs start to feel trapped. That's when they start to feel it. And the nice thing is, I did it, I did it spective I held on, so I could talk to them about what it's like to let go. Because it's not like delegate lead delegate. It's not that it's about understanding how you fit in what your role is, and being having confidence in that team of shared values to be able to let go to incredibly important things again, alignment.
Yeah, I love that. And, and we think about those things that burden leaders down male and female, and I know what's going on from a female perspective, but there's there's probably a lot more that at burden female leaders down as well. This has been amazing. So I've got to now get your advice on leaders just in general today, Julie, what would you say would be two or three non negotiable skills that leaders really need to have today in 2023?
Well, I have to start with to lead with vision and purpose. Yeah, you have to be inspirational, I think so much about the leaders of today have moved forward, the importance of being the coach the uplifter of others. And, and if you've got that sort of sharing feminine trait, to bring others with you and not have to take the lead and be the one that's heard. And to ensure that you celebrate other people being hard, it's the it's the lead, it really has to be the lead. Nowadays, it's not he who has the greatest results, as we have to celebrate as in companies, those that can coach others to be uplifted. Further, that has to be literally number one, or else leading Yeah, leading with value of values and purpose, I will say to the entrepreneurs, and I didn't do it so much in my time. So this is what I mean by constantly learning is they will say, I don't think I'm going to be a good leader of people. And I said, if you could understand yourself, then you can understand your influence on others. And it's the beginning of leadership. And I think we sometimes skip that bit out. We go on these leadership courses and learn what is a good leader. But it's so much stronger. If you do it from the base of your value statements. Yes, you know, who you are. Leadership isn't about cookie cutter people. But if not nowadays, it's about understanding yourself to understand others, that would be a really important one for me. Oh, wow,
that is, and I love you, you know that that's a little bit of emotional intelligence, right, being able to really the impact that you can have the influence you can have on others, and a lot of leaders miss that, you know, just a, this is my style. And you you adopted me, you know, I love that you put it that way. What would be another one that that you feel like, Hey, is just a non negotiable that that leaders have to have today?
Yeah, it has to go towards the coaching. I mean, it really does. I think the leaders have functions in this plate. They're like the backbone of the business. And you have to constantly be looking for your successes. And that ability to coach and encourage others has got to be there. I mean, I know back in the early days, it was always my oh my gosh, they're amazing at their job, they got the skill, and those were the people being promoted. But today without doubt, you know, if you're a leader with a coaching qualification, or a love of it, or to uplift others, it's very, very important, always have a successor there, because that means that you can lead on I mean, I know I coach entrepreneurs now. But it's the same process, take yourself off your current way to be able to put yourself onto a future one, because that keeps you inspired. It leaves space for those great people in your team, to be able to come forward and to live their best lives. You know, add a little subtotal to that. If we there's so much pressure to be able to make sure the well being of people nowadays, and I think that beautiful way of coaching but to have the conversation about well being, you know, in a in a business way, where it's like, let's talk about your values, what's important to you, and how can what we do in this company. Support how you think and see where do you find yourself connecting to, because that gives people that beautiful fulfillment and that connection And I think that's one stage as a starting point, to how we bring in wellbeing into organizations and companies, for the people in a way that is comfortable. For the leaders of the future, of course, we're interested in people's well being, but it's a beautiful way of starting about how we can support their values to make them live their best life.
I love it. I love it. And I was smiling a lot there, as you were saying all that not only because I think it was brilliant. But you brought your mom and dad back into the conversation, which was great. And so the influence they had on you, you can just pretty much you're now translating it into 2023, which is, which is fantastic. Julie, this has been amazing, you are just this tremendous leader with this great energy. But you have got just some great, great advice on the stops and starts and, and unpacking things. I just I love every second of it. I'd love to give you some time now to talk about where people can get your book, and how can people get in touch with you?
Yeah, well, with wise minds, of course website, and our social media channels are on LinkedIn that we try and offer, I always part of my vision and values of living is that I never want a female entrepreneur to ever feel they're not supported any way. So there's stacks of free stuff you can get from us a growth evaluation, which lets you look at how ready you are for growing. And even if you don't run your own business, and you're in terms of middle management, your team is a business, you are the leader of the business in that way. So you can fill out the questionnaire and just look at your team as that leader really gives some positive insight, completely free for you to understand how aligned are we? What is that? That's on our website? LinkedIn course, and Instagram. And, you know, I did write a book, which goes with my introduction course to purpose led growth. And but you could also find this on our website, called the wise way. Yeah,
awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Folks, please take advantage. Oh, my goodness, just in this half hour or so you you've learned so much. I've learned so much as well. And, Julie, I want to really thank you for coming on and spending some time I know how busy you are. But this was amazing, amazing advice, continued success. And I just hope that you have a flood of people that are knocking on your door so that they can take advantage of all of your just tremendous advice. That is so great for 2023. So thank you again for coming on.
Thank you, Kenny very much for having me. It's been a really enjoyable, upbeat conversation.
Absolutely. Well, we'll leave it there, folks. This has been Kenny and Julie. This has been the leading fundamental podcast and talk to you real soon.