I used to work with Cate when I was at Mindshare, the media agency. She was the life and soul of the proverbial media party and seemed to love her job. A couple of years later, and she’d quit it all to start her own business, PUSH mind and body, specialising in more holistic boot camps and overall wellness schemes and positioning itself as the UK’s first ‘re-boot camp’, and she couldn’t be happier.
I went on one of her week retreats, and can attest to how life-changing they can be. Described by Huffington Post as a ‘boot camp like no other’ and with Vogue stating that ‘the hardest bit about PUSH is having to go back to real life’ it seems that others agree. I caught up with her to find out what had changed, and how she’s found the journey of going out on her own and using her skills in a totally different way.
Tell us about what you’re doing now and your journey along the way?
One thing I would say is that I wouldn’t class myself as a traditional ‘master of many’, in that I’m hoping I won’t have to juggle too many things at once – but I guess I do fit the definition in that I have taken transferable skills and applied them to lots of new areas.
In terms of the change itself, I think that everyone who works in media probably dreams of what that second career might be, but it seems like a pipe dream, and you don’t necessarily have a clear idea of what it is or how you’ll get there. You go through a process of thinking ‘what am I going to do’ that will be more fulfilling.
When I was going through that (Jan 2014), I attended a boot camp. I’d always known that my life was better when health was a focus and in doing that boot-camp I realised I absolutely loved it, but also that they could go much further than they did. There was an opportunity to delve deeper and make people feel better in so many different ways, looking on the inside as well as the outside.
I started looking at the idea and refined it over a period of time and then launched it. I think I went into starting a new business a bit blindly – and to be honest, thank god I did, because if I’d realised it was going to be this hard at times, I may not have done it!
We now have three different touch-points for PUSH. The main one is the residential retreat. People who want to get away and have a time out to focus on them and focus on what it is they want, and what will make them happy. They learn a lot of tools to help them get there, whether it’s exercise, clean eating, coaching or mindfulness.
The second part is one-day fitness events where we focus on exercise, and then bring guest speaker experts together, so people can learn from them. It’s a one-day version of the retreat essentially. These take place at Hoxton Holborn and also Soho Farmhouse.
The final part is corporate wellness. It’s a slightly different tack – we’re focusing on busy people and reaching them in the workplace to help them live their lives just that little bit better. It’s the same coaches from our other events, but we develop a bespoke solution within a broader 4-step process. Firstly we undertake a ‘happiness audit’ – a strong understanding of their company, the challenges they face and their culture. From this we co-create a plan with their internal teams to meet their objectives and ultimately make the employees happier. Then we develop the plan and execute it. The really important challenge, particularly in the creative industry, is making sure that people will do it – when we do a lot of this work in the creative industry. People say they want this stuff, but then when it comes down to it only two people turn up - when they have the choice of going to a mindfulness session or getting 20 emails done, we all know which we end up choosing!
We’ve learnt so many lessons along the way about the execution of it. One of the most influential things is if you have a CEO who genuinely walks the talk. He / she shows that they’ve seen the power of mindfulness, their colleagues see the difference in them, it cascades down and then people see their colleagues doing it – and that’s really powerful. All of a sudden you see a real change in the culture. The other element is thinking about what the best medium of communicating with people is. How do we take the message into people’s world, rather than expecting them to come to us – e.g. don’t create another information portal for people to go to, take it into their world and make it easy.
The final part is measuring it all, ensuring you see where there has been impact and constantly evolving it and making it better.
At the heart of all of this, and what I think we’ve got really right is our audience. I’ve been incredibly focused on creating it for people like me, or in a similar situation – busy professionals who are up against it all the time, living a life of credit and debit and trying to keep some balance within it. Trying to be healthy and attempting to work out what will make them happy.
What made you take the leap to do things differently?
My mum was diagnosed with cancer and that was my final kick into starting something I actually loved. However, the over-riding factor, and one which has contributed to how I’ve tried to create the business, is that I’d felt for so long that, whilst I’d always loved my job, loved working in the world of media, I’d really felt like I was burning out. If I’m really honest I’d felt like I’d just been existing for the last year, and I hated that. To all intense and purposes my life was fine, but actually I was unhappy in lots of different ways. I wanted to get to the next ‘stage’ of my life, but I was actually held back by what I was doing.
Life is so much calmer, healthier and happier now and so many things have come into my life that I’d wanted for so long, and the one thing I’d had to change was getting rid of my old career. When you’re working in a 9-5 job, or an 8-10 job for many of us, structures like your job and your friends within it can somehow keep you in that space. Your pipe dreams of doing something different feel crazy and a million miles away, and you need some kind of crisis to make you change and get off that train onto a different track. Without getting too fluffy about it, I would have continued along that path of simply existing and I think it was the universe’s way of forcing a change.
How long did it take you to feel like you’d made progress in your new venture?
I think it was the end of the first retreat, when someone turned round and said that we’d changed her life. That to me was like ‘wow, we’re on to a real winner here’. I think initially you get really over-excited about the smallest thing. When you get your first piece of PR in a tiny blog, you think ‘this is it!’
Then sadly you become a little deadened to that. You become more realistic about it all. But then randomly today I had a meeting with my PR person, and she told me that a celebrity who is coming to our retreat in November loves what we’re doing and wants to work with us in the future. I’d had quite a hard week, and then something like that just makes you recognise that it’s going in the right direction.
How often did you feel like ‘it’ wasn’t going to work?
Daily! I’m not sure that I’ve ever felt that it genuinely wasn’t going to work at all, but the big thing for me is that nobody really prepares you for the highs and the lows of running your own business.
The highs are the highest thing you’ll ever experience – you are walking on air, you’re proud of yourself, you’re so excited and happy – it’s amazing. But the lows are crippling. A lot of what drives them is someone letting you down, or if you’re operating independently financially that can be really stressful. When you’re in a full-time role you have that contingency, and when that is taken away, it’s scary!
When the finances are down to you, you start to assess success by how the business is doing monetarily. Arguably we’re doing well as a business – but what I need it to do financially on a personal basis is really quite different from the success it’s delivering. Someone said to me that in those moments where you’re stressed, “You have to keep your head out of the weeds” – you have to not let yourself get bogged down with it and it’s so true.
One of the biggest learning’s for me has been that it’s ok to fail at things and to not get things right, as long as you keep learning from them. You learn to rely on your resources things and people that you know, and brining them into the business in different ways. My transferable skills have been really useful.
What do you find difficult about your job / managing multiple jobs?
Finding time for all of the different parts of the business is hard, in two ways in particular - working on your own and working at home. In some ways it’s brilliant. A lot of days I start at 7 and I fit work around my life – if I want to get my hair done, or go to the gym I can work that into my day. That’s great, but I do miss having a team around me, and I miss the atmosphere of being in an office. I don’t miss the commute at all though!
The other aspect is never switching off. It’s easy to pick up my laptop wherever I am, but I also love what I do and I see the good it’s doing me by focusing on it.
What do you do to spur yourself on when you get the fear?
I think it’s trying to be mindful and remain in the moment. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more in tune with the universe (which is cheesy I know!). I feel like this is what I was meant to do, and I’m very conscious of that and therefore I believe everything will come right. I try not to catastrophise something, to have a word with myself and be mindful and say – “this is in my head – the reality is that right now, everything is alright”. You learn to deal with what you know and stay in the moment.
The other thing is my amazing network of friends and family who listen to me when I’m at that low ebb, and the combination of those two things has been amazing.
What or who do you find intimidating?
Having to have difficult conversations – running a business has taught me to be a lot more straightforward with people, not to sugar coat things. If you sugar coat things it makes it much harder in the long run.
Whilst I’ve had a team of people before, you’re one step removed, as it’s not your company. When it’s your own team you learn so much and have to deal with different things. I’ve had to formalise contracts recently with my team, and it does mean that you have to have slightly more difficult conversations, but you have to do it and take the emotion out of it.
What makes you feel good / powerful?
When people tell you that they believe in what you’re doing. Like today – hearing that that celebrity loves what we’re doing is amazing. People ‘getting’ it – you have moments where you think ‘am I getting this right’ but when people tell you they think it’s brilliant, that’s amazing.
What’s the best compliment you’ve been given?
‘You’ve changed my life’. No question.
What drives you, your legacy, or enjoying the moment?
I have definitely realised that money isn’t my driving factor. What really drives me is the knowledge that I can make people’s lives better by doing this. Seeing the impact that we’ve had in people’s lives already is huge. That’s what drives me.
Where would you like the business to get to?
I’d love to have my own retreats so that we can create a space for individuals and corporates to come and have time out from their busy lives, in the UK and in other countries too. Personally I’m also going to be training in mindfulness and the thought that we can spread that much more within retreats is really powerful for me.
How do you start your day?
I try to always go to the gym - it wakes me up and gets me in the zone. Then I’m either at home getting through various projects, or I’m out and about for 2-3 days a week in town with full days of meetings. I love coming home and cooking and making dinner and chilling out and really trying to shut down (normally with a glass of wine!).
How do you organise yourself? Any useful tips?
I’ve realised that you need to focus your time. You’re either in town for a whole day or you’re not, rather than try and spread yourself too thin. And then love the time you’re spending either way – either when you’re doing meetings, or whether you’re focused on work.
Making sure you give yourself breaks throughout the day, but don’t get distracted is really important. If you really need to be focused on a big project, try and get out of the house. Even if you just go and work somewhere else locally, it can really help you focus, rather than being at home and switching the TV on. Finally, make sure you give yourself time to switch off altogether.
Where do you most like working?
I really like working at the Hoxton Holborn Hotel – it’s a brilliant place for working. I’ve met people from there who’ve subsequently have introduced me to others and helped me build up a network, I love all of the team who work there too, (obviously we do our days there) – it’s been brilliant for me.
What’s the biggest thing that your new way of working has changed about your life?
It’s changed my life irrevocably in the last 12 months. It’s calmer, kinder and happier in every single way.
To find out more about Cate’s retreats, one-off days and corporate wellness schemes, go to http://www.pushmindandbody.com or follow them on Twitter at https://twitter.com/PUSHMindandBody, on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PUSHMindandBody or Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/PUSHMindandBody/