“We’re living through unprecedented times and it is impossible to ‘do it all’.”

Lockdown 3 is the endurance test none of us wanted and definitely not the start to 2021 any of us had been hoping for. Our current situation during the coronavirus pandemic has left many of us worrying about any number of things – from adjusting to new ways of running businesses to homeschooling responsibilities and health anxiety about the virus itself. It’s no wonder many of us are feeling a little more stressed and anxious than usual, and are also struggling to find the motivation to keep pushing through!

With this in mind, we interviewed eight Teesside business leaders to ask for their top tips and favourite quotes to help keep you going through the third lockdown.

Dean Benson | CEO | Visualsoft

My favourite quote which reflects where I think we are now is from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: “In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.” It’s so true, especially for retailers. If anyone needs help with exploring where the opportunity might exist, ask them to get in touch with ourselves – we can help, I’m sure.

Top tip:
Find your happy place. That might be walking, running, reading… Whatever brings you a bit of joy, use the opportunity we have right now to break the day up. We’re all in this together and all have good and bad days. If anyone is struggling at all, get in touch and let’s chat.

Jess Tucker | MD | Social Allies

My favourite quote is: “A beautiful day starts with a beautiful mindset.”

Top tips:

  1. Set goals, no matter how big or small they may be.
  2. Treat the day as if you’re at work and create a work environment – make space for a work set up, have an actual dinner break, go for a walk, talk to colleagues over the phone or Zoom, break up the day into segments. Having that work/life separation, especially when WFH, is a huge help to maintaining a bit of normality.
  3. Communication is key. Check in on your staff or colleagues, even if they just want a ‘chat’ as opposed to work talk. It goes a long way.

Tom Atha | Director | Atha Developments

I have a few quotes I really like, however one I say all the time (mainly to my partner Sophie haha) is: “Diamonds can only be formed under pressure.”
I guess in these times this is uplifting because what it is saying is that, even if we have what feel like the pressures of the world on our shoulders, if we keep going and moving forward with hope and optimism we will be coming out of this for the better (a nice shiny diamond).

Top tips:

  1. Take advantage of your new surroundings. You are in a position where you can put some background music on (your own choice), maybe make that special cup of tea you can only get at home and yes now you can finally wear those comfy baggy trousers to your office (dining table). Just turn it into an advantage however you can. That should help you stay positive.
  2. Get fresh air on some nice contemplation walks or sits in the garden.
  3. Lastly I would say create a routine, this will help your mind stay sharp and focused. A loss of routine can have some negative mental side effects.

Karla Edwards | Principal | The Protection Parent

My favourite quote is: “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward.”
So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great.

Top tips:

  1. Challenge yourself to achieve something within the next six weeks, such as read a book.
  2. Grab hold of what you can control and make sure you deliver on it, such as walking 10,000 steps a day, eating clean and so on.
  3. Be consistent – being consistent even with small things will lead to greater achievements.

Max Freer | Strategic & Creative Director | OOK

I don’t live by any one stand-out quote, I view everything as a Frame of Mind. I believe everything originates in the mind so protecting your mind is crucial. It can frame a good day and a bad day. There is a phrase my dad used and I think that’s where I get my view from. He would say: “If it don’t mind, it don’t matter.”
I’ve practiced yoga and Buddhism for over fifteen years. I am not a Buddhist, I use the principals as a framework for how I live and operate. Those who know and work with me would say I rarely get flustered, am pretty calm and always bring clarity to a situation.

Top tips:

  1. Manage tech and it will benefit your behaviour. Remove work emails from your phone. It’s been five years since I did that and I’ve never gone back. Clients, friends and family know I am strict with managing interruption. It’s rude to pick up your phone when you are in the presence of another person.
  2. Walking clears the mind as does Forest Bathing, a Japanese practice which is a process of relaxation, known in Japan as shinrin yoku. It’s a simple method of being calm and quiet amongst the trees. Observing nature around you whilst breathing deeply can help both adults and children de-stress and boost health and wellbeing in a natural way. Imagine if our towns and high streets had more green space.
  3. Reading is so soothing. I’m into science, health, psychology and business. There’s always something new to uncover. It feeds my imagination and educates me at the same time, so win win.

Anthony Kirwan | Director | Inspection & Maintenance Services

My favourite quote is: “Every problem is a gift – without problems we would not grow.”

Top tops:

  1. Plan the night before.
  2. Ensure your day is made up of realistic work tasks, exercise and family time.
  3. Ensure to have regular time-outs to keep on top of those daily chores and reducing that overwhelmed state.

Marie Ranson | Director & Co-founder | Key Wellbeing

We love the quote: “Fit your own oxygen mask first.”
This highlights that in order to support others, we must first ensure that we take care of ourselves. Whether we are trying to be a strong leader, parent, friend or colleague, it’s important that we know it’s okay to make ourselves a priority, as in doing so, we can provide strength, support and stability to others.

Top tips:

  1. Establish a routine, ensuring that we are making time for ourselves every day. Whether that is to move, read or listen to music. Having a routine provides us with stability in uncertain times and gives us the feeling of being in control.
  2. Set realistic expectations for yourself. We’re living through unprecedented times and it is impossible to ‘do it all’. Whilst running 10km, losing 10kilos and learning Mandarin over Lockdown 3 might SOUND like a good idea, it’s important that we don’t add extra pressure on ourselves right now. Setting small, achievable goals – such as a daily 15-minute walk – is much more realistic and gives us a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
  3. Prioritise connection. Although we may not be able to physically meet our friends, family and co-workers, it’s important that we focus on the basic human need of ‘connection’. Recognising this, great people leaders are focusing on making time for 1:1s and team check-ins (online or in-person), helping employees to feel seen, heard and supported.

Jessie Joe Jacobs

My favourite quote is: “Whatever doesn’t break you, makes you stronger. “

As a founder of a number of social enterprises I know what it takes to start something, to put your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into something and how it feels to face big mountains and hurdles. I always saw opportunities and problems as something to learn and grow from.

So my advice is this:

  1. Look at challenges as an opportunity to grow, develop and learn. Crisis isn’t easy but some of our best ideas and best developments can occur during these times.
  2. Hold on to your values and motivations. Those early motivations drove you to begin, let it be your strength to succeed.
  3. It’s always about ‘we’ and never ‘I’. Keep your allies close, keep your team united, great leaders recognise the greatest goals can only be achieved by a collective effort.

We are going to have a lot of strong people at the end of this crisis and I believe a stronger business community. So keep going. We can do this! Let’s keep supporting each other and standing together.

Do you have a lockdown story you would like to share about your business? We’d love to chat. Please contact us on the details below:

Email: sophia@thepetiteagency.co.uk
Call: 07772695544

Sophia Gowland | Business Editor for The Tees & Owner at The Petite Agency.


Do you have a story, something to say or an idea for what we should cover on The Tees Online? Contact us at hello@thetees.online.