The gangs we belong to

The gangs we belong to

It’s taken me all day to feel up to writing this blog. And even now I still feel a little afraid to write it.

Last night after a long day with a 121 client, and then supporting 100+ entrepreneurs on my latest online challenge “A grand in your hand” I got my little one off to bed, had some dinner and thought “Right, time for a movie”

I’m not a big TV watcher, but on days like yesterday…my brain can’t cope with much else, so I settled down for a bit of switching off time.

I decided however to watch the new Netflixs series Top Boy, not really thinking much about my decision…just knowing I enjoyed (if that’s the right word) the first series and knowing that some of it had been filmed in Stratford where I live it would be interesting viewing.

One episode in and I was hooked.

And then I found myself at 2.45am still watching episodes but knowing I needed to go to bed, as I had a busy day today too. (I finished off the last few today while working)

So why did I stay up, why was it such compelling watching?

Now if you haven’t seen it, long story short it’s a story about gangs of drug dealers (young and violent drug dealers) in East London, and the knock on effect of their choices to the surrounding community.

Epic viewing.

Brilliant cast, brilliant writing, brilliant cinematography.

In fact great social commentary.

But sad as hell that a series like this would even need to be made.

Cos here’s the thing.

Sadly, I recognised so much of what was going on in those storylines, through my experiences of growing up in Forest Gate, the blokes I used to knock about with, the homes I’d chill out in, the streets I literally walked down with my mates…and the impact this life has had on my family…many of whom still live on those same streets depicted in this series.

I felt weird, but I couldn’t help but make connections between the work I do with Tribe Building in business…knowing that the two are polar worlds apart…but yet the similarities kept presenting themselves.

I felt a weird sense of unease, watching this for entertainment, knowing that this is real life for so many people. The poverty, the lack of choice, the unfairness, the horror.

I know this because I spent years working with young people from housing estates, I know this because I often have to walk around the taped off areas of my neighbourhood, and listen to the police helicopter above.

I might spend some of my time these days in luxury retreats and at gala dinners with interesting, wealthy folk…but I also spend an equal amount of time stepping over junkies, and keeping my wits about me while walking into my block at night.

On Saturday after being at a speakers event in Marble Arch I came out of the tube station and got into a small altercation with a young boy, who decided it was OK to touch me, in a weird dance that had me thinking something else was going on, but I didn’t want to accuse him…because I didn’t want to be that person.

You see when you grow up in an area like I did, and have had the experiences that I have, you see things other people, people newer to this area don’t see…choose not to see maybe.

But this is not what this post is about.

This post is about human behaviour, and how while watching that series I almost had an out of body experience, knowing that my early experiences have shaped my view on the world in a way I’d never really contemplated, and my ability to see people for who they are….who they really are.

In the video I made earlier this year, that was shot in and around many of the locations used for the Netflixs series, I say,

“People are people no matter on which platform they stand”

And so watching the storylines unfold on the TV I realise just how similar we all are, even if we don’t want to admit it. Even if what we see in other people is unpalatable and so far removed from our own lived experience.

We might not be selling drugs and handling guns, or using violence to get power and respect. But we do surround ourselves with folks who help us feel safe and connected, and sometimes behave in ways that are all about what we can get. We just choose different types of weapons, and hang out in different neighbourhoods to reach “Top Boy” status.

It’s hard to describe the reaction I had to the show…how I don’t want to minimise, or glamourise that lifestyle…from up here in my ivory tower, but I also can’t ignore the way it’s made me feel.

I think the thing that struck me is how you can be part of multiple worlds, without every paying reference to them…without understanding the impact of living that life has had on your future ones.

You know when I was 16 me and my mates were interviewed on the Esther Ransom show, in an episode about gang culture…we were not in a gang, we were in a dance crew…and that dance crew kept us safe, it kept us away from a lot of the shit that was going down in our area.

However, you are never truly safe, you can’t keep yourself protected from everything that goes on. About a year after that, a guy I was seeing was shot dead…and then I went off to university…and never really dealt with that trauma.

We go through life aligning ourself to people we are drawn to, people who are like us, or people we would like to be like…call them a gang, call them a community, call them a peer group.

I think I have spent my life building and nurturing communities because I learned so early just how critical they are to our survival. Whether it was the dance group I formed out of university when I felt weird moving into the art world alone, or the community of runners I formed because I was lonely being the only fat runner at races (or at least that’s how it felt)

All of us want to feel like we belong, we want to be around people where we can feel safe, where we can be our self.

There is no real call to action in this post, only to watch the series and make of it what you will. It’s tough watching…but trust me it is an even tougher experience living that life…whether you are active in it or just spectating.

Apologies if I offend anyone through this post.

I really hope at some point in my life I feel more informed and empowered to help in some way improve the lived experience of so many of the young people I see in my neighbourhood.

Tribe Building Lessons from my recent trip to Frankfurt

Tribe Building Lessons from my recent trip to Frankfurt

Don’t know about you, but I find it can be really overwhelming coming home from a conference with a notebook full of actions, heaps of people to connect with, and a billion thoughts on how to improve your business/life/whatever else the conference might be about.

Of course I do take notes and have little tick boxes next to things which need to be actioned, but the thing which I have found to be most beneficial is to set one clear objective off the back of a big event.

So just like I ask my clients, I ask myself…

What is your BIG FAT STUPID GOAL moving forward?

I remember a few years ago, probably around 2017 sitting in the closing session of the Professional Speakers Association Conference held in Nottingham and writing as my BFSG.

“I want to become an international keynote speaker”


I’d said it.

And then the following day, I kid you not I saw a friend of mine posting about a gig in Cape Town that was looking for speakers and I applied.

5 months later I was heading on a plane to deliver a talk called “Big Fat Stupid Goals” to an audience of speakers at the annual convention of the Proffesional Speakers Association of Southern Africa.

Intentions are EVERYTHING, as is taking inspired action, and getting out of your own way. Because for sure I had little voices in my head saying “You’re not ready yet” “there are bigger and better speakers than you” “you have a young child, how you gonna make this work”


I sit here in 2019 with a range of international speaking gigs now behind me, a network of friends and advocates across the globe, and an action plan for how to grow my brand as a speaker even more as we head towards a brand new decade.

I have just got back from the German Speaking Associations annual conference where I gave a keynote, “Leading from behind” which I think is safe to say was a resounding success.

And as I try and get myself back into work here in the UK, I wanted to share some observations, some lessons. Not really about me as a speaker, or even about that conference (Which was a bloody good one I can tell ya) but more from my area of expertise.

Tribe Building.

The process we undertake to attract the right people into our business world to support the growth and ultimate success and impact…because sorry to break it to you folks but Tribe Building is NOT just social media marketing.


So here are my top 7 lessons from the weekend.

Lesson One – Join an association where your people hang out

I joined the PSA in 2014 when my life was an absolute shit show, I’d been unemployed for a while, had a young baby, a failing relationship, and a business I was struggling to get off the ground.

When I went to my first conference I was of course a little overwhelmed by the level of success of the speakers, but I also knew I had found my people…I knew by surrounding myself with these folks I would uplevel. I would find the practical and emotional support I needed to grow as a speaker.

Now this doesn’t need to be a speaking association for you, but for goodness sake find some groups of people who are doing what you are doing and stick close to them. Business is lonely…we can not reach the levels of success we are looking for on our own.

Bonus tip…if you have aspirations to be global, make sure the groups you join have a global mindset too. I love that the PSA has such close links with the equivalent associations in 15 other countries.

Lesson Two – Find yourself some advocates

In a meet the experts session on Saturday my friend and mentor Alan Stevens (40+ years in the speaker game I might add) said “find yourself 20 advocates and nurture them. Let them know what you do, what you need, and how you can help them.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Referrals are key in business, and we tend to refer people we know, like and trust on a personal level. So go for dinner, book tickets for the theatre, socialise.

But also keep them abreast of new avenues of work so they can be up to date with how best to serve you…and remember this is a two way thing, make sure you are referring good people in your network too.

Lesson Three – Don’t be a Diva

You might think that the speakers are the stars of the show at these conferences. NOPE. I tell you who are. The staff who work all year round to make it happen. The people who quietly sign you in, and issue you with everything you need, and deal with issues on the day.

What they don’t need is a speaker making demands, not showing up on time for sound checks. Being a dick basically.

These folks can often be bookers and referrers too, so don’t be remembered as difficult or up your own arse (thats a UK term by the way). Be helpful, respectful, and take time to say thank you.

I made some wonderful friendships with the sound guys, interpreters etc

Lesson Four – Don’t make assumptions about who might be in your tribe

In the early days of my fitness business I used to think that my advocates and fans were all middle aged, overweight women, who wanted to run…turns out a heap of blokes kinda appreciate what I do too.

I had a lovely chat with my interpreter, turns out he loves parkrun in Germany. I gave him a copy of a poem I was performing in my talk so he could prep…he said he really appreciated that as it made his life easier.

He also gave me some beautiful feedback after my talk, which actually made me cry a little (but don’t tell him that ha ha)

Lesson 5 – Create an inner circle of Tribe Members

I can’t tell you how important it is to have folks you can be 100% honest with in business. Yes, you have your wider tribe for support…but having a handful of go to people for when the shit hits the fan is critical.

I’m not going to lie, on Friday night I had a bit of a meltdown.

I was second guessing myself, imagining that none of my jokes would work, feeling like I was an absolute fraud. My friend and mastermind buddie Julie Holmes wasn’t having any of it though, she gave me a firm talking to, and then helped me get clear on my goals and make a few tweaks to my talk.

She also helped on the day with practical things like getting some B roll footage and recording my entrance. You don’t have to do it all yourself at this big scary important events in your life.

I also had a lot of support virtually, people offering to give me a pep talk…and generally wishing me well. This stuff really does help.

Lesson 6 – Follow Up

You know what it’s like, you have a fab time at an event, you meet some wonderful people, you make a shit ton of promises to stay in touch, and then you go home and get consumed in your own stuff.

Don’t be that person.

Make a list of people by priority…starting with event hosts, fellow speakers, and event crew. Then the folks you felt super connected to who you promised to follow up with, and then (and I think this is a really important part) is follow up where possible with people you didn’t get a chance to connect with fully, folks who perhaps said something kind on social media, or a speaker that you heard good things about their session, but sadly missed it.

Lesson 7 – Have fun

People often think that doing business or being a speaker overseas is glamorous. It isn’t always. It often involves lots of travel, long days, little sleep and a heap of logistics.

Find ways to let your hair down.

Book an extra day or two if possible and take up any offers of local people to show you around. A highlight of my trip to Cape Town was one of the delegates Huni offering to take me to a women’s project in a local township, and inviting me back to her home for dinner.

I am a very sociable person, and the Gala Dinners and discos are just all part and parcel of the event for me…I think a lot of relationships are forged around the bar (or the occasional bottle of good whisky) and even if you are not a big drinker, there’s still a lot to be said for joining in with the party at the end of an event.

I hope these thoughts are helpful.

I have come away from the conference with a heap of ideas for new programmes I am going to create, a new webinar I want to deliver called “Lessons from a master Tribe Builder” and I am also going to get my finger out and get round to getting a new showreel done, now I have some great footage.

If you are a speaker or an aspiring speaker and would like to find out more about the PSA check out this link, I tend to go to the London Meetings, and you can also find me at the annual conference most years too.

Happy to have a chat to anyone thinking about joining.

If you’d like to know more about how I help entrepreneurs embed Tribe Building into their businesses, check this out, we start on the 30th September and places are limited.

Finally a massive thank you to The German Speaking Association, and especially the chair and host Ilja Grzeskowitz for inviting me, and doing such a great job all weekend.

3 proactive ways to overcome money shame in your business

3 proactive ways to overcome money shame in your business

So you have a business.

You have products and services that help people do something? Anything from file their taxes, to sorting out their health, find the right lipstick shade to never having to create another social media meme again.

The type of business you run is neither here nor there.

Because you still feel ikky talking about money…right?

You don’t want to put your prices on your website, you undercharge, you are afraid to be visible online, (especially anywhere your friends or family might see you) and you procrastinate on launching new things?


Money Shame!!!

It’s that feeling in the gut of your stomach that screams

“You greedy cow”

“Money won’t make you happy you know?”

“Nobody is going to like you if you are TOO succesful”

“Nobody likes a showoff”

“I’m gonna look desperate”

It’s the thing that keeps you playing small in your business, that holds you back from scaling up, that keeps you in your comfort zone.

Trust me I’ve been there.

In the words of my friend Brene Brown (did I ever tell you about the time she tweeted me the night before my last marathon??? #truestory)

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change”

I used to feel it so deeply (probably my working class roots to blame) and so I have been doing a whole lot of work on money mindset over the past 5 years with the ever so brilliant Denise Duffield Thomas…I was just sick of carrying that unnecessary load, business is hard enough without having that to deal with too.

And trust me shame can go two ways, it can be shame around not making the kind of money that other people do in their business “poor tramp shame”, and also making a lot more “rich bitch shame”. The thing is ultimately we are the only ones who can rid ourself of our shame….then it’s up to other people what they do in their judgement of us.

As I always say,

“Shame is something other people feel on my behalf…I’m good”

So the question is how do you overcome years of programming…cos this stuff starts early. Here are 3 practical, proactive ways you can declutter the shame every day in your business.

Set Clear Money Goals (and review them regularly)

If you are not clear on how much money you want to make in your business and why, how can you expect people to believe in you as a business owner. This is not about how much you think you can make given your sector, skill level, age, gender…or any other bullshit excuse you want to use….it’s I repeat, about how much you want to make and WHY.

The WHY is the important thing here, it’s the bit you have complete control over. It’s where you get to decide what you do with that income. If designer bags and expensive holidays are your thing great. If giving half your wealth away to good causes is instead super. Got a fuck off student loan to pay back…hey I see you. No judgement. Find the thing which lights you up and really zone into the change that additional resources could make in your life.

Your money goals dictate the scope and scale of your business…a personal trainer who wants to make £3K per month functions in a completely different way to one who wants to make £30K per month…and YES both are totally possible.

Communicate your WHY

I don’t need to know what you are going to spend your money on, but I do want to understand your values and the things which drive you. Its how we connect to businesses ultimately, it’s about brand value. It’s why socially driven businesses have a competitive advantage in many cases, because they attract like-minded consumers.

I want to know what your future world looks like, what world problem you are solving through your work, what impact you want to make…AND I want to know who’s coming on that journey with you (cos I’m nosey like that).

When I understand the end game for a business owner or brand, and I know I am contributing towards it, I feel part of their journey, and I get to celebrate when they celebrate… it’s exciting.

I remember when my business coach bought her new forever house, there was a part of me that was like “yay…0.0000000002% of my money helped her do that for her and her family” and that felt good.

Get used to celebrating your money wins

I have been tracking my income and my value in (freebies etc) for the past 4 years, and you can bet you I celebrate when I smash my income targets. I can remember the first £300 I made in my business from the first weekend sales of my first ebook….I brought new knickers yay!!

I can remember selling out 500 t-shirts, and reinvesting some of that money back in new stock….and the rest in a short family holiday.

And you can bet you when I had my first £15,000 month last May…I was sure to share that news with my mastermind buddies, business friends and anyone else that was remotely interested…because I refused to feel ashamed of that success.


Business is quite simply just an exchange of value.

I give you something you want or need, and in return you give me what we both agree it is worth…if we both walk away happy, its a win win…shit even the taxman wins right?

While you hold onto shame around making money you do yourself a disservice, and your customers, the economy more generally, and the evolution of this world.

Staying poor, and economically trapped helps nobody.

Trust me I know…I’ve been there and have no desire to go back.

So be brave, be bold…deal with that money shame, get out there and sell the true value of your products and services, and let’s do some good in this world with our wealth…or buy more shoes…shoes are always a brilliant second option.

If you would like to learn more about how I overcome money shame and take inspired action to inject cash into my business, join my FREE 10 day money challenge which starts on the 13th September.

Whether you’d like to make your first £1000 or make £10K in 10 days it doesn’t matter, I am going to show you the tried and tested system I have used over and over again to grow my successful coaching businesses.

Sign up here

Oh…and while I have your attention. I dare you to copy and paste this post, and share it on your social media feeds. Use it as an opportunity to share some of your own thoughts around money mindset….feel free to use the hashtag #iblamejulie and I will come and have a look at what you are up to.

Do you celebrate the investments you make in you?

Do you celebrate the investments you make in you?

A few years ago when I was struggling to grow my fitness business, working all the hours, fighting to monetise my successful blog…oh AND juggling being a single parent, I can remember thinking…

Will I ever get a summer holiday again?

I can remember journaling, and writing about my future ideal life (does anyone else do that?), I remember writing that August would be the month I took off each year to spend time with my daughter Rose and not because I had to, but because I wanted to.

But how on earth could I do that?

Well, I can proudly say that 2019 has been the first year that I can gladly say I have been able to do it, and it feels great heading into September knowing that I have had an actual break…and my business hasn’t folded while I was gone.

Because despite taking almost 7 weeks off work, and taking two vacations I have had my most profitable August in the future of my business and attracted new work, new opportunities, new clients.

This is because I have backed myself in bigger ways than ever over the past 18 months…and you could do this too with some simple tweaks to your mindset and the way you plan your business.

This all started last May when I decided to invest in myself in a way that I had never done before…oh and if you are one of those people who get nervous about other people talking explicitly about money LOOK AWAY NOW!!!

It started with a trip to San Diego to a conference hosted by transformational Life Coach Lisa Nichols, despite me bagging myself a free ticket to the conference the trip cost around £1200 in total…not an insignificant amount of money at that point.

I left that event completely inspired.

Ready to invest in myself further.

In fact, I had signed up to attend Lisa’s annual breakthrough retreat in Mexico…a retreat that would cost me around £7000 to attend….which at the time I had no idea how I would cover the cost.

But here’s the thing.

I know that’s a shit heap of money. But signing on the dotted line for that investment helped me to uplevel my business and my belief in myself in a way I had never done before.

That investment triggered a string of events which changed the infrastructure and direction of my business FOREVER.

I launched a completely new programme which brought in close to £20,000 of new revenue.

It gave me the confidence to start offering 121 life coaching…adding a further £10,000 of revenue

It gave me data, stories and other useful material to be used in my Tedx and accompanying book Living a Bigger Life.

It triggered me wanting to gain a more formal qualification in Life Coaching…so that was another £5000 investment in my learning and development.

This was a double-pronged approach, surround myself with the best of the best in my field (as I learn through seeing other people do what I want to do), and invest in my skills at the same time (as I also love to learn in a classroom setting too)

I tallied up last week that I have probably spent close to £50,000 on learning and self-development over the past 5 years.

Probably close to £100,000 in my lifetime…what with my degree and my masters…and I will probably go on to spend the same again in the next 5 years too.


Don’t I know enough already?


Because I want to continue growing and learning both as a coach and as a human, I want to accelerate my learning going both deep and wide, I want to be the best that I can be both for me and my clients, and sure you can learn through lived experience and low-cost investments like books, youtube videos and free events.

But for me, I choose to celebrate the investments I make in myself because I think they act as a reminder of how worthy I am of backing myself, as a reminder of the good I do in the world with my programmes.

I’ve noticed that for some people there is some weird kind of shame around buying courses and programmes, investing in coaches…with people not wanting to admit that they signed up for another “thing”

Yes there are sharks out there, yes there are courses that don’t deliver, conferences that are all hype with barely any real return on investment but I think those stories are mainly shared by people who don’t want to do the work, who are out there looking for the evidence of that. Because for the rest of us out there deep in the work we find that when we uplevel our skills and growth, it increases our capacity to support and serve our clients.

Look, we get to choose how we spend our hard-earned cash…some people like Prada handbags…others like spending a week with new people in a glorious setting working on our self-limiting beliefs…get over it.

So the next time you sign up to a programme, or take on a coach take some time to celebrate, take some time to journal about how excited you are to welcome in the new you, acknowledge the fact you are backing yourself.

Because if you don’t back yourself and your future, how can you expect others to?

Starting on the 13th September I am running a FREE 10 day challenge called “A Grand in Your Hand” which shares the specific process I use to inject cash into my business, often when there is an investment I want to make.

Sign up here

If you are interested in some of the lessons I got from my recent week in Mexico with Lisa Nichols, head over to my YouTube channel where you will find my daily (blurry eyed) video logs and a recent 1 hour webinar I recorded on the topic.

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