6/12/13

Interview with Beth Nicholls of Do What You Love

Who is this woman that has been to every continent on earth, hosted her own talk show in Japan, been chased off the Great Wall of China by rock-wielding bandits, and now is the star producer of Do What You Love, which produces ground-breaking e-courses as well publishing the hugely popular MOYO Magazine? I am proud to be collaborating with Beth on our e-course Make Art That Sells and the Global Talent Search. I was eager to know more, so I asked Beth all the questions I was dying to ask this outstanding woman.

BETH KEMPTON (nee NICHOLLS) (Founder) is an award-winning entrepreneur with a strong sense of social responsibility, who has worked alongside some of the world’s most well-known brands and has been instrumental in raising over $10 million for charity.

Beth founded Do What You Love, to give creative women the tools and inspiration to do what they love for life. This includes groundbreaking retreats and e-courses that have been described as ‘life-changing’, ‘awe-inspiring’ and ‘transformational’. In 2010 she was selected by Marie Claire Magazine as one of the UK’s 16 most exciting young female entrepreneurs. Recently Beth was chosen as a finalist for the Digital Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2012, in the Education Entrepreneur category, in recognition of Do What You Love’s pioneering online courses, and in 2013 was awarded a place as one of the ‘Top 42 under 42? entrepreneurs in Yorkshire.

Beth drinks tea with milk every morning, and often dreams of chocolate. She got married in April 2013 and now goes by the name of Beth Kempton. Find out more here.

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Lilla: Beth, we spent an incredible week together working intensely on our project and making complex videos. You fascinate me! You are such a powerhouse. So wise about art and business and new technology and marketing and fashion and being a top e-course producer. And all in a cool way, so gracious and easy. I’m turning the tables and interviewing YOU! I am very curious about you.

When we were filming my course, I witnessed your high standards like when you had me re-do a take. But you didn’t obsess and you knew when it was a take, and moved on. How do you manage such high standards without being a perfectionist? You move on quickly. Can you speak to that.


Beth: Filming with you was so much fun Lilla! I think quality is crucial for so many reasons – because the people who take the course deserve (and increasingly demand) it, because we have reputations to uphold, and because I believe that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing properly. Having said that, I am someone who likes being very organized, and I was conscious that we had a huge amount to get through in the time we had. So I think it is a combination of not settling for something I not be proud to have my name on, but also realizing that if you don’t finish, no one is going to get any benefit at all. As Steve Jobs said, ”Real artists ship” – it is so important to FINISH things!

Lilla: You are very positive. I never heard you complain, or have an unkind word. Or, (unlike me) curse! Do you stay conscious of being positive? I find that the most successful entrepreneurs are optimists. Can you speak to that? Is that your experience?

Beth: Not so long ago my younger brother said to me “You are so ridiculously positive. You do realize it’s not normal, don’t you?” Well who wants to be normal? Seriously though, it is true that my automatic reaction to something bad happening is “Well at least… didn’t happen” – I do tend to look on the bright side. I think I have always been positive and upbeat, seeking out opportunities and trying to see the silver lining in things that go wrong.

I think you have to be an optimist in business – so much of it involves taking a blind leap, and if you sat there weighing up every risk you would never move forward. I would call myself a calculated risk taker – I think things through, and then make a decision and go for it. If you can except that some things will work, some things won’t, and whatever happens you know more than you knew yesterday, then you will make progress.

Lilla: When I asked you what you love best about your work, it always went right to your love of helping people and watching them blossom. You don’t focus on your own success or your drive (which you have aplenty!). Can you speak to that?

Beth: There are a lot of ways to measure success, but when I think about what really makes me happy in my work, it is all about impact, not financials. Of course selling more means that you are reaching more people, and the potential impact is larger, not to mention that you then have more freedom to invest in developing new opportunities, but for me it does always come down to the difference we can make in people’s lives. Seeing other people thrive spurs me on. Every one of us has the chance to be an inspiration to others in one form or another. There is no better feeling when someone tells you that you have helped them find their path and live the life they used to dream about.

Lilla: How did you know e-courses would be huge? You got in early, strong, and top-notch. Do you have a sixth sense of cultural trend? Why e-courses? Did you fall in love with the idea? How much was the fact that they can be very lucrative enter into it? Since money is a huge part of business, did that factor into your decision to go full steam ahead with e-courses, and now e-magazines?

Beth: Three years ago I did not even know what a blog was. The online world was very new to me, but as soon as I discovered my first online course I was hooked. It screamed potential to me.

As an example The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design actually came out of me wanting to do a part time course in the subject at university but realizing that it cost thousands, required me to be in once place at a fixed time, was a very long time commitment, and did not include much real life business context. The course I have created with Rachael Taylor is the antithesis of all those things – it is much more reasonably priced, accessible from anywhere in the world at a time to suit you, packed with industry insight and real business advice, and is split into three modules so you can fit it around a busy lifestyle.

From there we developed a portfolio of other courses which allow the teachers to reach a much wider audience than they could in person, and allows very inspiring connections between class participants.

It is true that e-courses can be very lucrative, but it is important that they are of excellent quality, and that you don’t underestimate just how much work is involved (thousands of hours!) – as you will know from developing Make Art That Sells!

Lilla: Sometimes it takes months for career twists and turns to reveal their spiritual or bigger purpose. How have you dealt with career disappointments? Do you find that they are always for the better? Or do you just make the best of things?

Beth: Before working in the creative world I was in the sports industry – male dominated, full of egos and a very different atmosphere all together. I worked on England’s bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup – a major global sports event that we would have used to benefit children all over the world. I was very passionate about the event, and our plans for the event to leave a global legacy were described by FIFA as outstanding. I had worked on sports event bids before and without doubt England’s bid was the strongest I had ever seen.

But then the time came to vote on who would host the event, and we absolutely bombed, only getting two votes and going out in the first round. Amid cries of bribery and corruption, and rumours that the people voting had not even read our bid book, I was disgusted, deflated, and determined to change from working with huge organisations to working with individuals, who have the power to make significant changes in their own lives.

And that is when Do What You Love was born – out of the ashes of my biggest ever career disappointment. There is a lesson in everything.

Lilla: Both you and I believe that the secret of life is organization. Why do you believe that? Is anyone successful without being organized? Do you have your fave organizational tip to share?

Beth: I do think organization is key – and if you aren’t an organized person, then you need someone to help you be organized. There are a limited number of hours in the day, and being organized allows you to make the most of what you have, and make more time for doing the things you love. My top tips would be:

– make useful lists (break them up by project, work backwards from the due date, prioritise)

– assign a time to get something done (or it won’t get done)

– say no to things that don’t help you get closer to where you want to be, or that don’t light you up

– file things where you can find them

– understand what time of day you have your best energy, and build your day around that

Lilla: What’s next for you?

Beth: Well, I have just got married, and I am preparing to move house this summer, so lots of fun on the home front!

In terms of business, we have some exciting new courses coming out later this year, along with a relaunch of our website in June, and some big top secret things planned for 2014.

I am a paper obsessive so longer term I hope to also set up my own stationery label as a side business – might need your help then Lilla!

Links:

Website: http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com (please note there is no www.)

Blog: http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/blog

Facebook: http:// https://www.facebook.com/DoWhatYouLoveXx
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/DoWhatYouLoveXx

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