It’s Monday again and it’s time to start the week with a good energy!
Monday Productive is a weekly interview format, featuring peak-performers from my network, who share 5 ideas on how to boost your productivity and stay at the top of your game.
Today’s guest is Samantha Yarwood. For the past 15+ years Samantha has been working internationally in the Americas and EMEA (Europe the Middle East and Africa) in marketing & communications with a focus on building the brand, creating community, and inspiring through innovation with Starbucks/Nestle. Samantha is currently doing a Masters of Change at INSEAD in France, and recently left the corporate world to start consulting. She believes that every individual and organization already have what they need to live their best lives, do their best work, and be creative innovators. Her mission is to give people and organizations what they need to unleash their inner master; the tools, guides and insights to boost the way they live their lives, innovate and create.
1. Sam, you have such a colorful background and a driven, passionate personality. What made you quit your corporate job and embark on a new purpose-driven quest? And what does it take for someone to actually find that purpose?
▶ Great question! When I look back on my career and the various roles I have had, I would say there is one common theme. I have always been focused on solving problems creatively with limited resources. I am a natural innovator who loves a good challenge and believes there is always a way to make things happen. I am super curious, love to learn and am constantly asking questions. Naturally, as an intrapreneur I started to ask myself the question of what could I do better, and what is it I really want to do with the rest of my life? For years I dreamt of different business ideas and taking the learnings I had to apply to my own thing.
3 years ago when I returned to Canada I consciously decided to take a role that I would enjoy, but that wasn’t all consuming and would free up some time. I wanted to use the extra time I had to go on what I call a “wild safari” or act like an explorer. The intent was to explore as many different ideas and things I loved to see what might stick, in hopes I could figure out what my next step would be. I also used the principles of Ikigai and thought about what I was passionate about, what I was good at, what the world needed more of and lastly what I could make money at.
I’ve spent years thinking about that one word that gets me out of bed in the morning and why I do the things I do. After a lot of exploration and asking myself questions, I am clear on my purpose, my reason for being, and how I want to share my gifts with the world. Starting my own business and being involved with startups that have a positive impact on the world was a natural fit.
I wish there was a simple answer, or a silver bullet as they say but it takes time to self explore, to test your hypothesis and confirm the right path forward. A constant work in progress.
2. You are doing so many different things: innovation, change management, consultancy, speaking, MC-in, singing… to name a few. How do you decide where to focus and what to spend your time on? Can you share your system for goal-setting and day-to-day planning with us?
▶ Albert Einstein was quoted as saying “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.” That quote resonates with me as I am also curious, I want to experience and learn a little bit of everything in life. That can be quite challenging though to find the right balance, and honestly that is something I struggle with. That being said, there are two ways I decided where to focus my energy:
- Anything I do must support my purpose in life and ladder up to my life goals.
- I follow my passion and my curiosity. If it gets me excited, I jump in and just say yes!
As you can imagine, when you get up in the morning wanting to follow your passion, have one hell of a good time, and change the world, it can make planning my time quite challenging. A few years ago a friend/colleague of mine and I were discussing the upcoming strat planning sessions for work. At that moment I realized every year I would go through the same process for the organization, pull together a 3-5 strategic plan, then work on and Annual Operating Plan that supported our long term objectives. I thought, “Why don’t I do that for myself?” Every since then, every year I go through my own “life planning process” and revise it during the year as needed. Once I have identified the long term goals I work back and set annual goals. I then break those down by quarter, month, and week. Things change along the way, but it gives me a plan.
Recently I have started working for two startups. I am splitting my time between the two businesses plus doing workshops and speaking internationally on the side. I have had to rethink how I structure my time and block time in my calendar for everything I need to get done. Every Monday morning, the first thing I do is review the week ahead and make sure the “big rocks” (or big to dos) are covered. I also plan time at the beginning and end of the day for “grenades” and catching up on email.
3. Do you ever feel down, low or not-good-enough? What do you do to bounce back to a higher, more productive state? Do you think we should love ourselves more and give ourselves more credit and self-compassion?
▶ All the time! Well maybe not all the time, but it definitely happens. In fact I recently went through a bit of a slump. Being an entrepreneur is hard. I could probably write a book on this topic, but let me cover three areas – personal depression, finding the right work groove, and exploring my insecurities.
I suffer from and have suffered from extreme depression. In fact, it has been so bad that I was in a really dark place and did contemplate how much easier it would be for me and others, if I wasn’t alive. I call that the black hole. Coming out of that, I promised myself I would never feel that way again, and I would do everything I could to create a life I loved living and would never want to end. That’s what fuels me, it’s what propels me to create my best life and explore. Knowing what you want to run towards is just as important as knowing what you want to run away from.
I mentioned, that I was recently in a slump. A few months into trying my own thing I wasn’t getting the traction I was wanting, especially financially. I didn’t know if I could make this work. I was finding it hard to get out of bed, and I didn’t feel motivated. I heard the words of my friend “Be it until you are it”. I decided to look at what are those things I need to thrive? I used a trick my friend Megan taught me called SPIRE. What is it you need Spiritually, Physically, Intellectually, Relationally and Emotionally? I took time to think about when I have been fulfilled in each of these areas and what I need to integrate into my life to have my needs met daily. Still working on it, but these past few weeks after motivating myself for a month or so I have been on fire! I want to also mention, starting every day with a meditation makes a world of difference.
Your last question, around loving ourselves more and showing compassion, yes we need a lot more of that in our lives. I have spent years working on myself, trying to understand what motivates me and what is happening “underneath the surface”. What I have come to realize and appreciate the beauty in our imperfection. No one is perfect, in fact we all have our challenges and issues, but if we didn’t have those we wouldn’t be who we are. I try to apply my curiosity to all of me and explore myself and my thoughts with kindness. I also try to look at things and identify what is true, versus a story I tell myself. We are all good story tellers and there is no one we like to tell stories to more than ourselves. When I can identify a story I want to change, I use a process call immunity to change to do some small experiments to prove myself right or wrong and change the wiring in my brain. I also like to try reframing exercises to see things through a different perspective. I am the most creative project I will ever undertake, and I am starting to believe and see more and more each and every day that I am worthy of love, I am smart, and I have talents that are unique and I want to share with the world.
4. Achievement vs Fulfilment? Is it possible to have both? How does one find their own balance, their own “sweet spot” of living a meaningful and productive life?
▶ Of course! They both play a role for different reasons, and they are both play a different level of importance for different people. I think it is important to identify what is important to you and what you want more of in your life. There is no right or wrong answer, it is individual. I spent years working hard and achieving “success”. I was driven by enjoying my work and doing a good job. It felt good to be recognized and to continue on a journey of growth, but at some point, that was no longer enough. What I realized in that moment is my values were no longer aligned with the work that I was doing. I don’t think it is about one or the other, but rather looking at your core values and bringing those into your life – into the work you do, into your relationships, and into how you show up as a person.
5. In the last 24 months – what habit or belief have you acquired, that helps you to be a more effective professional today?
▶ A belief in myself. I see myself for who I am, what I am capable of, and what I want to offer the world. This is just the beginning, my best is yet to come…..
[BONUS] Name one to three books that helped you to become a better leader?
If you have any questions to Samantha, please leave your comment below!
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