Welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by http://gtex.org.uk/,
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Today I have the pleasure to Interview Dr Yvette Ankrah
Dr. Yvette Ankrah MBE is a transformational business coach, consultant, and recovering overachiever! Yvette supports women to create profitable, sustainable businesses without them becoming overwhelmed, stressed and burnt out.
She does this by working with women on their inner journey and empowering them to create plans that support their personal and business wellbeing.
She was awarded an MBE in 2017 for her work with women in business and has a Ph.D. in sociology.
In this episode, we talk about
- Understand the importance of self care
- Know the components of the Self-Care Plan
- Know how to create your own Self-Care Plan
Connect with Dr Yvette Ankrah
Website – www.yvetteankrah.com
Facebook – www.facebook.com/yvetteankrahcoach
LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/yvetteankrah
Twitter – www.twitter.com/YvetteAnkrah
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– Welcome to another episode of Explode, Your Expert Biz Show. Today, we are with Yvette Ankrah. How are you doing, Yvette?
– I’m good, hello.
– Great to have you here. Bright-red t-shirt, jumper.
– Little red number.
– Little red, we like that, very punchy. I think it’s perfect for your personality, having a couple of conversations with you. So, we’re not here to talk about your red clothing. We are here to talk about how we can take better care of ourself as entrepreneurs. So, before we get into the nitty gritty, tell us a bit more about yourself and how you ended up doing what you do now.
– Okay, so, I might start with my full title. So, I’m Dr. Yvette Ankrah MBE and the reason I say that is not because I’m not proud of my accolades or boasting, I love my accolades. But, it’s because I am a recovering overachiever. I have done so much, did too much always, and that has been my way of being and the problem with that is that it led to me having really ill health. So, from that experience, I now am very passionate about making sure people avoid burnout, being overwhelmed, chronic stress, particularly entrepreneurs. And, I’m someone that’s always done multiple things, so I’ve always had a job, side hustle, a business, multiple, throughout my entire career. And, that is now the group of people I love working with. So, people that got multiple businesses who are driven, ambitious, successful, that are now very tired and burnt out and fed up because that’s my journey. I ended up getting very, very ill. I was diagnosed with a condition called fibromyalgia and I was still doing all these amazing things, but doing it at 20% of my capacity because I was dragging myself along whilst achieving those things. So, people sometimes see the title and think, wow, but it’s like yeah, that’s great, but it came at a cost. So, now, I change how I approach things. I did a lot of work on me and bring that to my coaching and transformational work that I do with clients.
– Before getting into coaching for transformational work, what kind of jobs were you doing or what kind of businesses did you have? What was your background?
– Okay, so, I initially trained as a journalist and way back a long time ago, I was writing for magazines when I was 16, I was interviewing authors and music artists ’cause I did a lot of work in the arts. And then, I moved into press and PR work and marketing and into business development, so I kind of segued that way. So, lots of transferable skills and I was working with education and tech companies. Lot’s of different sizes of organisations. And then, when I had my son, I started focusing on women because I’d moved out of London, I had a completely new demographic around me, and found there was this amazing group of women, but they had no one to support them with their businesses. So, a lot of the business infrastructure wasn’t available, so I was doing business consulting with that group. And then, from there, I moved into the coaching. And then, from that, I’ve evolved into the transformational work.
– Thank you for sharing. Now, this is a bit personal. You can tell me if you want to answer or not.
– You said that you were going 100 miles an hour and that 100 miles an hour came at a cost.
– What was the biggest thing that you had to give up because of that going 100 miles an hour and not being well at the end?
– I had to postpone my PhD several times, which is why, eventually I did it, but it took me 10 years because when I got ill, I had to relearn certain things. So, reading, for example.
– What, so you couldn’t read anymore?
– I couldn’t process information. So, I would look at a page of writing and I’d have to read it six or seven times. It wouldn’t go in. I couldn’t get the information in. So, from working at such a high level, I lost the capacity to do that and I had to relearn how to learn.
– How did it affect you?
– Oh, it was immense. It affected my confidence, everything. My relationship with my child, I couldn’t play with my son because I couldn’t physically do it. I couldn’t carry him for long, I couldn’t go out and run around with him. So, it had an impact on every single part of my life. At its worse, that was at its worst, I would forget people’s names. My family members, I couldn’t remember their names. So, yeah, massive, massive impacts.
– So, what made you not give up in that moment? Is it the easy choice, when you’re in that kind of situation, is to say, you know what? I’m done. Because I can imagine it can be a huge loss of confidence. Now, you are there doing 100 things and be super achiever, be the best at everything you do. And then, suddenly, it’s like, I cannot remember names anymore. So, it’s a huge gap. So, what made you go on?
– I think there’s always been a part of me that is driven and for a long time, I was fighting this. I was like, well, I am not gonna allow this to get the better of me. And, that actually didn’t help. What helped was when I said, okay, this is here for a reason, so what’s the reason? And, started changing my approach to my management of what was going on and why I was in that space and starting to accept responsibility for some of the behaviours that led me to that space. And, that was the game-changer and the shift. And, also, I got to a point where I said, I’m tired of being ill, I can’t do this anymore. I do not wanna be ill anymore, so what do I need to do to not be ill anymore? And, that was huge and it was pretty deep and yeah. I had to go down to slowly crawl up. And, now, I’m completely pain-free. I don’t have any symptoms. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. And, I can play with my son, so my son’s really happy.
– So, let’s now look at, well, first of all, congratulations. I know, having conversations with you, that’s definitely not been an easy journey and definitely it transpires here in this interview. What was the PhD on, what is the doctorate you got?
– So, sociology, so I research race, class, belonging, and identity and identity’s themes that come up a lot in my coaching work as well as this. So, who are you? How are you? How do you show up? And so, it’s identity, so I particularly was looking at middle class identity for second generation ginians. So, it’s how they show their identity, can they show their identities? The mix of race, class, belonging, being British, growing up here, all of those things.
– That’s fascinating, that’s absolutely fascinating. I’ve had many conversation around this, in particular because by playing basketball, literally, all my friends, they are either African, Caribbean. And, a lot of them, they are second generation and were talking about, “I don’t really know where I fit in.” ‘Cause my parents still maybe don’t speak, like they would still speak their native language and they maybe just not speaking that well, but they have a perfect fluent English accent and no one see them as English, so I can see their confusion. I really interested in cultures. That’s also one of the reasons why I moved away from Italy. It was, unfortunately, still is a very racist country and they are afraid of what’s different and I couldn’t stand that, so when I arrived in London, I was like, oh my God, all the world is here.
– Yeah, basically. I miss London sometimes ’cause I’m not in London anymore. But, yeah, I grew up in London, that was my hometown. That’s where my whole journey began.
– So, now we digress, in terms of cultural stuff. Let’s go back talking about the stress. I love when you defined yourself as a recovering overachiever. I think I’m going to call this podcast episode The Recovering Overachiever. That’s gonna be the title. I made the executive decision right now. It’s such a good title. So, how can people like yourself, like myself, super overachiever, want to be the best at everything they do, they cannot stand still for a moment, otherwise I feel all itchy right now. So, how can we create a bit more balance in our life. I know you have a very interesting framework around that.
– Yeah, so, I talk about self-care planning. So, as an entrepreneur, you’re gonna be looking at your marketing plan, your business plan. You might be even going into the KPIs or what’s my key performance indicators? What am I doing that’s gonna show this? And your goals. But, around that, many people do no have a self-care plan. And, even the term self-care sometimes makes people think about retreats and breathing on a mountain somewhere and saying ohm. Now, self-care is about daily practises and habits that you create to look after yourself, mind, body, and soul. And, it’s lovely if you can sit cross-legged on that mountain, but, hey, real life happens around you every day, so you need to be able to function without the mountain. Still touch the mountain, but you need to be able to function without it. So, it looks at, I’m just doing a little wheel in my mind, six areas. So, you’ve got work and in the case of an entrepreneur, but your business. And, within that, there may be relationships that you have even if you don’t day-to-day colleagues, but you work by yourself, there’s people that you interact with. So, it could be suppliers, things like that. So, if day-to-day is a positive, that’s great. If they’re not, you may need to look at how you address those relationships. Or, even your environment, as I’m not showing you my desk at the moment, which has been tidied. And, the posters on the wall that you’ve got around you. So, looking at all different aspects of how you work, where you work, what you’re doing within your work. So, often we don’t invest in our own personal development after we’ve set up our businesses. Keeping up your skills, growing yourself, all of those things are part of that strand. The other way would be the physical. I know you play basketball, you like to do energetic things. For years, I didn’t and couldn’t exercise. So, it could be the big exercise, making sure you go to your matches. Or, it could be just having a walk every day just to get out there and be outside. Then, also, the emotional. Who do you speak to? Who do you connect with? How do you discuss emotions? And, there’s nothing wrong with emotions and being and experience those emotions is good, but it’s when you sit and dwell in any emotion, which it becomes a problem. So, it’s how do you manage that? Then, there’s relationships. There’s all these people that you love in your life and you probably don’t see them very often. If you think about friends, when was the last time you just had sat down and had a coffee with a friend? Those things are really important. And, when you have those and you talked about balance. When you’re seeing those people, it’s being present for those people. It’s not thinking, oh, I’ve got to do this, I’ve gotta be there. So, whatever you’re doing, be present for it. That way, you don’t feel the guilt, you don’t feel the stress because you’re saying, I’m choosing to be here in this moment for these people, for this thing that I’m doing. And, the last one is spiritual. Now, if you have a faith, it’s how you engage in it. If you don’t have a faith, that’s fine, but it’s understanding there’s something more than you and you maybe want to connect with that. It could be giving back, so working within the community, doing things for other people. That’s all about nourishing the spirit. So, that’s what the self-care plan does, the areas that you covered. You kind of look at what’s going on in your life, look at what areas you want to develop, and then start doing small things on a daily basis to maintain those things. And, that helps build resilience, keeps you balanced, it helps you with your physicality, and you’ll find that you will actually change how you behave. It’ll create new habits, new ways of being.
– Oh, wow, absolutely love it. I love also well-structured it is. So, let’s dive deeper into the business side of it, of the self-care plan. A lot of people, they’ll be like, okay, I’ve got so many demands and maybe I’m just working on my own, or maybe I have a small team and I’ve got all these things going on and it feels that all the pressure is on me right now. So, you mentioned a few things, so I want to go deeper on the business part of the self-care plan. How can we create an environment that is actually nurturing instead of destructive in a business?
– So, in terms of how you work with people?
– Give me a bit of everything here. Like, within the business, what are some of the strategies that we can specifically put in place to create a self-care plan on the business side?
– Well, all of this will connect to business because it’s about you and how you show up in those spaces. So, for example, if it’s about boundary management, so you may have colleagues or people that text you or email you all the time and you feel that you’ve just got all the time. It’s time to put some boundaries in. It could be physical boundaries in terms of you switch off your email at a certain time. I know that might be hard for you. But, you actually say, “I actually will work between these times.” And, have set times. And then, you can flex that on occasion, but you give yourself the permission to say, “On these days, I will only answer emails “between these hours.”
– Yeah? Switching off distractions, all the things that beeped and annoy you through your day on your computer, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet, get rid of them. Switch them off. Have periods of focus, that can help you as well. So, if you’re working on something and you say, “I really need to get this done,” let people know that, book that timeout as if it was a client and focus on it. Switching off the phone. Those things help you feel more in control, less overwhelmed, and also tell people that you’re not available right now. And, it’s okay.
– I’m curious now because, for some people, it becomes easier saying, okay, these are my boundaries. But, then for some people that are more like people-pleasers like I was before and I need still to catch myself because I can be a huge people-pleaser. What are some of the strategies or something to say that could actually get someone just to think, I know I need to put it, but not doing it, but actually to get out there and say, these are my boundaries?
– Okay, so, if you say yes, what is the consequence of you saying yes? So, if you say yes to something, it obviously means that you maybe have to say no to something else. So, what’s important to you? So, start looking at your goals, your values, and how things align to what you really want because otherwise, you’re doing everything out there and then you’re not feeling happy within yourself. And, that’s one of the things, looking at what you really want and starting from in here.
– Yeah, start from the inside and then put down those boundaries. I love what you mentioned about the notifications.
– That’s a practical steps.
– Well, they are really important. I’ve been living a notification-free life for the past three and a half years. The only notification I have on my phone are phone calls, so then I can see whatever. My wife is definitely not really happy, but she knows we have a structure. So, if someone needs something urgent from me, they call me three times.
– There you go.
– Because the first two times they call me, unless it’s a scheduled call, I don’t pick up the phone. And, that’s something that, it helped massively in terms of running my business and be more productive and not being interrupted by random calls. And, if someone needs really something, they can send a text and I’ll get back to them when I want or they can send a voicemail and then I will get back to them. So, that’s brilliant, brilliant strategy. I want to talk about dealing with toxic people when they are really ingrained in your life because sometimes you might have some toxic people that is easy to get rid of. It’s like, I don’t want you in my life anymore, goodbye. But, sometimes, you have toxic people, they can be family members or they can be people that are really in your inner circle where it’s going to be very difficult to say goodbye. Do you have any suggestion or any recommendation in this kind of situation?
– Well, with those kind of things, it’s about perspective. So, what is it about that person that irritates you? You may find it’s something that’s about you, rather than them. Sometimes there’s an emotion that’s triggered by whatever they said, but it’s not about them because they may have no awareness that you feel that way. You’ve created a feeling based on them. So, maybe think, what is it about that person, what they said, or how they said it that makes me feel this way? Because very few people are actually being intentionally malicious. It’s usually how you receive that body language and shift and you’re feeling something, you’re engaged in something and sometimes it’s to do with other things, but it’s bringing up that emotion. And, if that’s something that’s constantly there with that person, there’s something going on here that you might wanna look at.
– So, that’s one and what if actually that person is actually, I don’t want that person in my life? I’ve done this, so, first of all, do the exploration and explore what’s triggering that because absolutely, everything you experience is not anyone else’s fault. They’re just doing them.
– And you are responding to whatever they did or whatever they said to you. Then, let’s say you explore that and you say, okay, one scenario is something I want to address, so I’m just going to have a conversation and work on that deeper with someone. On the other side, I can say, actually, no, I don’t want this person in my life.
– So, what is the purpose that they serve in your life?
– Ooh, that’s deep again. Tell me more.
– So, they’re in your world for a reason. What is it that they’re there for? Do they help you achieve something? Is there a higher purpose, is there a connection? Otherwise, then why are you having a conversation with them?
– That’s a very good point. So, I was thinking about, okay, so this person is in your life for a reason. That’s why he’s in your life.
– Then, what’s the purpose of this person being in your life? So, everyone who’s listening right now, if you think about all the people that you have, some people that might be, you’ll hangout, and you have a great relationship other than, hmm. Think about what purpose are they serving right now?
– I love that. I love that. So, I want to go now and talk about a bit more in terms of yourself ’cause I’m sure that some people can pick up some ideas on how do you create your self-care plan? So, what are some of the things that you put in place in your life? And, of course, everyone is different, so, please guys, take this as, this is Yvette’s word. But, I want to know Yvette’s word.
– So, I am not sporty, shall we say, so I had to create a way of exercising. So, I now bring in exercise three times a week. 30 minutes, three times a week. It’s not a lot, but it’s what I need to maintain my wellbeing. And, when I don’t do that, I notice it. Things ache and I’m cranky. So, 30 minutes across my week is not hard. Now, this little thing here, water jug, right? This one is a bit faded now, but it had little lines that say how much water I have not drunk. It’s a really simple and cheap way of getting me to drink more water because once you’re hydrated, your brain’s happier, your body’s happier, you work better. And, I realised I was drinking very little water over the course of the day. So, I think this cost me about five pounds from a high street store. It’s really simple. One of the things that I–
– What’s your minimum amount of water you set yourself to drink a day? Do you have any?
– I just try to get through this. Get through one of these. I don’t set minimums or maximums, so if I get through one of those, I’m happy.
– Good, good.
– Anything else is a plus. But, one of the things I do practise and I would advocate anybody practises, is gratitude. So, I was doing it on and off for a long time and then I made a commitment. I made a decision to commit to a daily gratitude practise. And, what that actually does is it actually helps you reframe your brain. After 21 days, your brain operates differently when you start being grateful. And, it may sound bizarre, but there is actually lots of clinical studies that prove the effect of this. So, it’s really good at building resilience. It’s really good at helping you with anxiety, depression, any of those kind of things with your mind. And, I say if you’re in a space where you’re not very happy, don’t start with things about you. Start with things around you. So, for example, it’s not blue today, but blue skies, a brilliant day. It’s not raining. Quite frankly, that’s great. And, even if it’s raining, so actually I say, well, that’s good ’cause it means that the plants get water and we have food to eat. So, finding three things every day to be grateful for and doing it every single day. And then, you find when a situation happens, you don’t react necessarily in the same way you did. It won’t be, oh, woe is me or God, this stuff always happens. Actually, maybe this happened for a reason or I’m really grateful this happened today, rather than tomorrow because it would’ve meant X. So, it does change how you perceive things, how you think about things, and how you react to things. So, if there’s one practise I would say that everyone try for a minimum of 21 days, it would be the practise of gratitude.
– Oh, that’s brilliant, that’s absolutely huge. And, in particular, when you have those situations where you feel that, why me? We all have those days, like, why me? Why everything is happening to me? That is a huge, huge, very powerful exercise. To kind of come out from victim-mode and see.
– Yes, you get your power back and–
– Yeah, this is not the only thing that is happening right now. You put things in perspective. Sometimes, when we have negative things happening, it feels like that’s the only thing that is happening and we feel throughout all the other things that we have or that are good in our lives or resources that we have. So, absolutely very, very powerful. Okay, so, we are towards the end right now. This is the part where we ask about what is called lifting the veil where we ask about something that may be a book or an app or a tool or a habit that is worth sharing, that everyone should do in their life in your opinion. Or, they should read. What’s that for you?
– Okay, tell me why.
– It is meditation. It’s such a game-changer and, again, I do a variety of meditations. I do walking meditation. I do guided meditations. I just do some breathing sometimes because, especially if you’ve got a busy day, just setting yourself up with just taking some breaths and just focusing on what you want to get out of that day, how you’re gonna be. You’ll be amazed how you don’t feel stressed out, how you flow through the day, how things just work. I call them green-light days, where everything just goes lovely. It works beautifully. But, when you start getting stressed out and hung up on your little world, they become red-light days, you catch your coat on the door handle, the light’s red, you’re late for the beat because your whole being is that energy mode. And, I find meditation also helps you keep a nice beautiful energy going. And, yeah, I don’t always do stills, but sometimes just walking and the walking meditation’s a great one. It’s just being aware of your body. Just feeling your feet on the floor, feeling each step, feeling the muscles that make you move. Just focusing on moving. And, that’s a great one.
– Very, very, very powerful meditation. For everyone else also may be watching, maybe you’re having a Fitbit or something similar. Yeah, I got.
– It’s my Bellabeat.
– I got Fitbit. By the way, Fitbit is not sponsoring this show, so disclaimer.
– Yeah, neither is Bellabeat.
– So, be sure to send us some money for the mention. I’ll make sure I reach out to them and say, hey, we mentioned you. Send me some money. But, there is a feature where it actually guides your breathing. So, it gives you a little vibration when you should breathe in, a little vibration when you’re breathing out. And, I found that, in particular, or I’m walking or I’m commuting and I’m going somewhere in the tube and I got just five minutes or two minutes, then even just having the vibration guiding me to breathe in and breathe out, it makes me more focused and helps me instead of wandering around. So, there are a lot of different tools and no excuses not to do your meditation. Otherwise, tap, tap.
– That’s why I love my tool. Because it has guided meditations on there as well and breathing. And, as you said, it only takes a few minutes. It doesn’t have to be a big chunk of your day. And, that’s why I love the idea of a lot of the self-care planning. There’s some things that are very short and very easy to fit around what you do already.
– Absolutely loved it. That was a great interview, Yvette. Thank you very much for joining today. For everyone that wants to reach out to you and say, I need Yvette in my life, where can people stalk you or find out more about you?
– I’m all over social media, so you can find me on Instagram, I’m sorry. Yvette Ankrah is on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. And, on Facebook, it’s Yvette Ankrah coach. But, you can find me in all of those platforms. I have a website, which is yvetteankrah.com, makes life simple. So, you can reach out to me on that.
– Fantastic, so all the links are going to be in show notes, so make sure you scroll down and connect with Yvette. Yvette, thank you very much for being with us today. It’s been a absolute pleasure.
– Thank you for having me.
– It’s been an absolute pleasure. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for watching if you’re watching. Thank you for listening if you’re listening on the show. If you haven’t subscribed yet to the podcast, what are you waiting for? Subscribe right now, click that subscribe button, so you don’t miss any other incredible episode. And, until next time, remember that together, we grow exponentially, ciao.