What’s the key to being happier in your career and life? What choices and tradeoffs must you be willing to be make to achieve this happiness? In this episode of Career Relaunch, Samantha Clarke, a former digital manager turned happiness consultant, shares her thoughts on how you can become happier with your work and explains why refuelling yourself is so critical before you can serve others. During today’s Mental Fuel® segment, I’ll talk about how I deal with the pressure I put on myself.
Key Career Insights
- You have to be willing to let go of some things in order to make room for happiness.
- Chasing an “overextended” version of yourself will only lead to burnout and an inability to give all you can to the work you care about most.
- Happiness is about making sure you carve out enough time for those things that refuel you.
Tweetables to Share
Samantha mentioned a few strategic questions to ask yourself to keep yourself happy:
- What do you need to put down or make peace with?
- Allow yourself to be open to receiving?
- What you can do to make space for self-care?
- What support system do you need to keep going?
- How can you keep challenging yourself, to destroy & rebuild
- Samantha has hosted classes at The School of Life, a global organisation dedicated to developing emotional intelligence. We apply psychology, philosophy, and culture to
- Read more about Samantha’s Guardian Masterclass on how to build a portfolio career
During this episode’s Mental Fuel segment, I talked about the importance of not overextending yourself. Consider whether or not the goals you’re pursuing are coming at the cost of your own happiness. My challenge to you is get very clear on what the metric of “success” that allows you to work in a way that’s sustainable and enjoyable. What exact level of income, title, lifestyle, work-life balance, or time with people you love do you need to feel happy? Try to give yourself permission to be okay with not necessarily achieving everything, but rather, enough to make you happy in those areas of your life that matter most.
About Samantha Clarke, Happiness Consultant & Founder
Samantha Clarke’s mission is to help companies and individuals by giving advice on the small things they can do to make a big difference to their happiness. She delivers this work via a portfolio career as a Happiness consultant, podcaster, speaker and online trainer/educator at The Growth & Happiness School, which aims to distill over decade of work experience, research & learning, instructing on personal & professional happiness, development & technology, into signature training programmes and courses. The school’s goal is to help individuals discover, understand and implement tried & tested growth and happiness strategies that work for business and life.
- Her most recent course Be Happy First helps those in client facing industries, coaches/consultants, carers and health & wellness professionals identify how to fill up their happiness tanks so that they can continue to serve others without burning out.
- Her podcast series Conversations with Samantha& – sees Samantha geek out with philosophers, technologists, heads of people & talent, start up founders and communication experts on the impact of technology on our happiness in work, life and our cities.
- You can find her spreading her wisdom on happiness at work, technology, new-age HR/ people operations, portfolio careers, confidence and leadership in Psychologies, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Guardian Small Business Network, BBC 1Xtra, Evening Standard and City AM.
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Episode Interview Transcript
Teaser (first ~15s): I think sometimes a lot of us are always maybe being a little bit too perfectionist, and sometimes, we might have to be making peace with, ‘Actually, I’ve delivered it in this way, and I’m happy with it,’ and not keep chasing a really overt standard version of ourselves.
Joseph: Samantha, thank you so much for joining me here on Career Relaunch. I’m really excited to talk to you.
Samantha: I’m really excited to be here. Thanks for having me.
Joseph: Can we start by just having you tell us what you’re focused on right now in your career and your life?
Samantha: Right now, I am part focused on growing my online school, the Growth & Happiness School, which is really about identifying and helping people to become happier in their work and doing that through training programs, and one, to enable people become happiness consultants, and another one is really around being happy first in your work or how we show up and deliver your work.
I’m also really loving the work that I’m doing with a client, Dishoom. They’re a restaurant company, and I’ve been doing a lot of strategic development on the staff there in terms of their leadership and helping them to kind of evolve and be able to grow as the company scales very quickly and opens different restaurants across the UK.
Joseph: I’ve been there myself. I got some really good food. That’s very cool that you’re working with them. You identify yourself, Samantha, as a happiness consultant. I know that’s just one of the many titles that you’ve got because you do have a portfolio career, and you’re involved with a lot. Can you just explain exactly what a happiness consultant does?
Samantha: A happiness consultant, for me, I operate under the umbrella of creating happiness at work. I help individuals and companies make work happiness a priority. From a company perspective, I work with startup founders, heads of people in talent, general HR, to really help them scope out how to create environments that nurture support and develop their employees and take them to the next level. I also help them identify how to navigate the impact of technology in the workplace.
For individuals, I’m a lecturer at the School of Life, and I run Guardian Master Classes. For me, my aim is to really help individuals figure how they want to show up and think about their own work happiness as an individual because I strongly believe that whilst I can help the companies really create better environments, I think an individual has the drive, and they should see it as their goal to really find ways of making themselves happy at work.
I run workshops around how to create a portfolio career, how to be more confident, how to communicate better and build better work relationships. That’s essentially what I do in terms of happiness and work.
Joseph: I’d love to come back to that because I know that you’ve got a lot of really interesting insights on how to fill your happiness tank and the impact that technology has on people’s happiness. I’d love to loop back to that topic because I know you’ve got some interesting insights there, but I was wondering if we could first go back, Samantha, and talk about what you were doing before you were focused on helping people become happier in the workplace and talk about your time in agency account management. Then we can move forward from there. Can you just explain to me what you were up to before you were a happiness consultant?
Samantha: It’s been a very interesting journey getting to this state of bliss in my own work happiness. I started out many moons ago as an account manager at a digital ad agency. I really enjoyed the branding and strategic thinking, but I felt like I was just a bit of a go-between, between the client and the creative. I just didn’t feel very purposeful in my work. I also really didn’t feel really in-tune with what I was selling. It was promoting a lot of sugary cereal brands and diet bars. I just felt like every day, everything felt very meaningless.
To kind of offset how I was feeling in my day job and how demotivated I felt, I spent my evenings retraining in footwear and fashion and the industry of design. I really thought that I was going to move into a career in making shoes. I started working in the factories on the weekends, and then I produce my first semi-bespoke footwear line. I loved it, but we went into recession.
The backers that I had found to really help scale my business were suddenly very cool about the idea of launching a footwear label in the recession, and so I started just helping people who had been made redundant or were kind of thinking about taking the leap to work for themselves, to look at how to personally brand them.
The issue was that as we were doing that and we’re having a lot of fun doing a mixture of styling and doing a mixture of confidence building. They were just complaining about work all the time. I was listening to all these people, and I finally felt like I found my place in the world in terms what I’m supposed to do for work.
Joseph: It sounds like what you’re describing is this sort of natural evolution from what you used to be doing to what you’re doing now, which is something you really love. Were there any particularly challenging moments as you were on your journey toward becoming an independent consultant that come to mind?
Samantha: First and foremost, I think it’s having the confidence to go out on your own. I think I had the ideas, and I was really relatable and approachable to people.
I didn’t come from a very entrepreneurial family. My parents were very much like, ‘You should get a job,’ and, ‘Really? Why aren’t you saving for your pension?’ and all of this kind of stuff. I really was carried away with the whole idea of figuring out how to be your own boss, how to create something from nothing, but there are a lot of challenges along the way there in terms of maintaining momentum, thinking about how you market and sell yourself and how you pitch in ideas and things like that. For me, it was that kind of figuring out how I pull it all together when I didn’t have any reference points.
Joseph: I know what you mean. I’ve been on that journey myself, and I know one of the complicated aspect, especially when you’re creating your own thing, is just trying to figure out how to package it all up and to also be learning as much as you can on the side. How did you balance all of that, investing in yourself versus trying to build your business? Because I don’t know about you, but I notice that there’s just not enough hours in the day to fill all that in. Also, it can be really exhausting to do that. How did you manage that all for yourself?
Samantha: I have some positive and negative times around that. Personally, I have sickle cell, which is like a blood disorder that can give you really painful attack sometimes. There was a period—I think it’s probably 2012—I was really sick. I basically had quite a lot of time with my hands because I was just in bed. That’s when I did a lot of my learning, and I studied a lot of online courses. When I was kind of back up to speed and able to get running again, that’s kind of how I managed to put the stuff in action.
For me personally, I’m also very wary about how I manage my energy and my health whilst I’m kind of trying to work and deliver really good training programs or consultancy and also still be up-to-date. Now, I find that I really structure my calendar, and I batch out time for strategy and visualizing and learning. The same way that I’ve been thinking about how you automate your money when you’re working for yourself, I’ve been looking at how to operate the same framework to learning and to having the discipline around that too.
I think that’s part and parcel of why I was very keen to put together the thoughts and the processes behind how you’d be happy first. That’s key when you are a consultant: to really batch out your time accordingly and think about what’s going to be right for your personal development, what’s right for your business development, and what’s right just generally for how you want to live your life and the people that are around you as well, so you’re getting structured time for all and just being disciplined about it.
Joseph: Let’s talk a little bit about your insights as a happiness consultant and this concept of energy. One of the things, Samantha, that you talk about is the importance of filling your happiness tank so that you can serve others without burning out, which I think is what you’re just referring to. We normally talk about people burning out doing work they dislike. What have you noticed about burnout amongst people who are actually doing work they love?
Samantha: That’s the biggest one because there’s a lot of coaches, there’s a lot of consultants, there’s a lot of yogis. When you’re so passionate about what it is that you want to give to the world, I think it’s really crucial for individuals to think, ‘How am I refueling myself in a way that I am still giving really nourishing and useful insights and my skills to my clients?’
The first one is really looking at, what do you need to put down? What are the things that you need to maybe let go of, give up, make peace with? I think sometimes a lot of us in service or delivering skills, we’re always maybe being a little bit too perfectionist, and sometimes, we might have to be making peace with, ‘Actually, I’ve delivered it in this way, and I’m happy with it,’ and not keep chasing a really overt standard version of ourselves. I think there’s something around how we can be a little bit more vulnerable. I think sometimes, when you are working as a consultant or a coach or whatever, we love to give, but understanding how you can be open enough to receiving as well is really beneficial.
It’s really thinking about what you can do to make space for certain things in your calendar. We’ve already touched on how do we make space to learn, how do we do all of that, but there’s also the self-care. What is the time that you need to dedicate to make sure that you switch off and that you don’t have all this tech time or that you’ve got a wind-up routine in the morning and a wind-down one in the evening?
The other area is thinking about your support system. I think it’s really important if you are in a job where you’re delivering to somebody else every day who is there to give you the support you need. What are the foundations that you need? Maybe it’s friends and family. Maybe it’s an external coach. Maybe it’s being able to talk to somebody about whatever is going on in your business so that you’re not bustling it up.
Then I think it’s important to keep challenging yourself. I always say, what can you destroy and rebuild to keep innovative and to keep growing? I think if you can really work through all of those key phases and identify what’s working, what isn’t working, and maybe do that as a reflection exercise maybe one a month of maybe once a quarter to think about it, you’ll start to see some differences in yourself and you’ll start to see what you need to change and what habits you need to break.
Joseph: Has there been a particular change that you have made in your own life, Samantha, that you have found has made the biggest difference to your own happiness?
Samantha: I’m listening to my gut a lot more and being very intuitive about what feels right. I think maybe when you’re starting off and you’re trying to work for yourself, you take on a lot of things that don’t energetically feel right. I think there’s something really valuable about trusting your gut. That has made me a lot happier in terms of knowing when to say no to certain projects, when certain collaborations don’t feel right, and just letting go of it. I think that’s one of the areas where I’m comfortable in making peace with certain projects that I don’t get involved in because I just know it’s not right for me. It’s either not right for me from a health perspective or it’s just not right in terms of where I want to go this quarter in my work.
I think another thing that I find really useful for my own personal happiness is really showing appreciation and being really grateful for the clients that I work with on a daily basis and being honest with the fact that, yes, some of it is definitely good work that I’m delivering, but it’s also a choice that people are making to spend time in your presence and to give you money, and I’m grateful for that.
Joseph: Those are some really good tips. I know that early on, when I started my own consultancy, it definitely took me a while to learn that lesson that you’re talking about where you just say no to things, especially during those times when you know it’s not right, because I think there can be a tendency to just try to say yes to everything.
You had alluded to technology earlier, Samantha, when you’re talking about those different steps of how to refuel yourself. How does technology affect people’s happiness and what you’ve observed in your own work?
Samantha: When we look at technology, it’s so intuitive and useful to how we work. At the same time, we have to think, is it serving me or am I serving it? In the workplace, I see a lot of distraction. People are just feeling really like they’re on the email treadmill. I think in terms of social media, when we think about it from a life perspective, there’s a lot of media that people are consuming that perhaps isn’t right for their psyche or in terms of how they want to spend their time. I feel like we’re just constantly at the behest of the technology itself, be it your phone or be it the apps.
A lot of these products have real addictive cycles, and it’s up to us to start to be mindful of our habits and when we feel vulnerable and triggered to use technology and what we might need to do to remove or to pay attention to those triggers to make some changes.
Monitoring. I think a lot of people don’t really know how much time they are spending on technology if it just checking emails or their phone or if it’s social media platforms. I think the more that we can be conversant on how we’re using our time across different platforms, the better and quicker you’ll be to make the right changes.
Joseph: That’s great advice. I definitely have noticed myself, especially in the era of Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, I almost feel this urge and pressure to check it, like that addictive nature that you’re talking about. I definitely notice that I am having those sorts of urges as much as I hate to admit it. Thanks for sharing some of those tips on how to manage that.
I would love to wrap up, Samantha, by talking a little bit more about the Growth & Happiness School that you just launched. Can you just tell me a little bit more about the school’s goals and a few of the topics that you cover?
Samantha: As a consultant, I’ve really been intrigued by how I can put myself in a place of positivity to be able to give it to others. I’ve always known for myself individually that you can’t serve from an empty well. I find a lot of managers, founders, yogis, wellness professionals, coaches, consultants, they don’t always take the time to fill up their own tank. Like when we go on planes, and they always say, ‘Put your seatbelt on first before your kids,’ or whatever, I think it’s really true.
That course is what will be going live in 2018 to really give people the foundations of ‘How can I put myself in a place of real positivity and strength and growth and happiness so that I can continue to flourish and pass the baton onto others?’
Joseph: If people want to learn more about your work, Samantha, or if they want to learn more about your Growth & Happiness School, where can they go?
Samantha: My personal website is www.SamanthaAnd.co. The Growth & Happiness School is just GrowthandHappiness.co.
Joseph: Great, thank you so much Samantha. We’ll include all those links in the show notes. I just appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to tell us a little bit more about your life as a happiness consultant, the importance of making sure you’re taking care of yourself, and also how you manage your own happiness in the workplace. Best of luck with your work and with your new school.
Samantha: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me. It’s been great.