Last month I launched a new series onto the blog - Flourishing Entrepreneurs.
The series will introduce you to incredible women who have started their own businesses. I'll talk with them about how they got started, what jobs they were doing in a past life, what the voice inside their head tells them and dig into the resources and tips they can offer you on your entrepreneurial journey.
I'm thrilled today to introduce my Flourishing Entrepreneur #4 Kerry Lyons, an illustrator and designer turned life-planner creator, coach and all-round 'sort your life out' guru.
This written interview was followed up with an Instagram Live chat - a video version is at the bottom of this blog post for you to enjoy.
Who are you, what is your business and what job title do you have?
My name’s Kerry Lyons, I’m the creator of The Imperfect Life®. I’m definitely a believer in the multi-hyphen method because I see myself as The Imperfection Coach, a designer, a blogger and a hands-on mama! All the things! :D
What were you told about work growing up?
I think it was definitely instilled in me from a very young age to work hard and try my best at absolutely everything, and to not be satisfied with doing a half-arsed job (which I can see now would’ve certainly exacerbated any perfectionist tendencies I had!).
But I also think that working hard and taking real enjoyment out of accomplishing something I’m proud of is a natural instinct within me too. I don’t think it’s something you can force on someone.
In terms of career advice, I remember my university design tutor saying to me to ‘Do what you love and the money will follow’. While that can clearly be taken out of context (i.e, spending your days loving eating jam doughnuts will not a healthy bank account – or waistline), when applied authentically in a professional sense, I think it’s a really powerful belief to follow.
I started out as a graphic designer and illustrator back in 2002 straight out of graduating from university (after realising at 14 that that’s what I wanted to do), so I’ve been in that industry now for 16 years – cripes!
How has your mindset changed around work since then?
I think I started out just so eager to please with an insane thirst to progress up the career ladder as quickly as I could.
I remember in the second agency I worked in, my Senior Designer resigned not longer after I started (I was 23 at the time) and I didn’t think twice about knocking on the MD’s door asking for a 3-month Senior Designer trial to prove I could do the job. Cute right? I was so naive but so ambitious...oh and I freaking got it btw ;) I like to think my naivety has subsided over the years, but my ambition is still as rife as ever.
It was only a couple of years after this though that I had depression and went through a humdinger of a quarter-life crisis. At the time it was obviously extremely traumatic (and it also came alongside three deaths very close to my heart), but looking back I’m so grateful that I experienced it, all of it, because it 100% shaped who I am. Plus, the beauty of my business now is that it utilises so many strengths that I’ve both honed and discovered throughout my life, especially from this point forward.
My business is a brand that’s hellbent on helping you thrive through your 20s and 30s, not just survive them! It’s tools, it’s courses, it’s a blog and it’s a community and it’s all designed to help you find your happy.
How do you prioritise your health as a busy entrepreneur?
Erm, pass! ;) I won’t lie, I’ve been brutal at prioritising myself and my health for many many years.
However, I did start the year with a word – ‘Self’. And with that I made a promise to invest a lot more of my energy into taking care of myself this year; physically and mentally. I make sure I walk once a day, even if just around the block while chomping on an apple and I have a standing desk to help my circulation. #musttryharder :)
How is your relationship with food? How does food feature in your life and what does it mean to you?
I do love food, and I love eating out – especially at places like Kanteen where I know I’m chowing down on fresh, whole food, but I’ve a lot of work to do when it comes to home cooking!
I try to just eat as balanced as I can to be honest, throughout the week there’s a whole lotta salad, and on a Friday night there’s a whole lotta chips, ketchup and chocolate!
What is your favourite meal, something you would recommend others learn to cook or prepare?
I do a mean homemade, veggie spaghetti bolognese! It’s a family favourite. It’s bursting with chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, chillies, Quorn mince, oregano, paprika, ginger and black pepper. Gorgeous soft wholewheat spaghetti or spiralised courgette, then a few thin slices of parmesan to finish. Delizioso!
The voice in your head - we’ve all got one! What negative thing does it say to you most often?
There’s a few! But ‘who do you think you are’ is probably the most prolific.
I’ve actually spent six months with a coach this year (part of this year’s ‘self’ promise to investing in myself), and it’s been insanely powerful in helping me move past my inner critic’s lil’ jibes. I don’t know that anyone truly ‘overcomes’ their inner critic, we can only get better at choosing to listen to her or not.
So yep, that’s basically what I do – every time I hear her spiteful little tone trying to hold me back, I make a conscious decision to tune into my inner coach instead and replace that dig with something encouraging instead. And yes, with persistence and practice, it really is that simple!
Self-care. What does it mean to you and what self-care practises do you have to look after yourself as a busy entrepreneur?
After my experience with depression and my quarter-life crisis, I’m thankfully acutely in-tune with my instincts. So when I know I’m pushing myself too hard or feel stressed or weighed down by pressure, I’ve learnt to pause.
Sometimes it’s a dance-break (yes!) to help me stop taking things too seriously, sometimes it’s a walk in the open air, sometimes it’s journalling to pour it all out, sometimes it’s making an effort to catch up with friends. But yep, that’s what self-care means to me – listening to my instincts and acting on them.
What one book, video or podcast would you recommend to entrepreneurs?
It’s been a good few years since I read it, but Start by Job Acuff is a freaking great book. Anyone thinking of starting a business, a passion project or a side hustle – read it!
What one tip, quote or resource would you share with other entrepreneurs to help them on their journey?
Find your happy.
It means so so much to me that it’s the whole ethos behind The Imperfect Life® too – feck anyone else’s version of happiness, relentlessly and unapologetically pursue your own.
Missed the live chat? Catch up on the conversation I had with Kerry here: