What I Learned From A Shit Business Meeting



So something happened to me the other day that sent me on a roller coaster of emotions. Feelings of inadequacy, shame and embarrassment all balled together in what culminated at the end of the day in me feeling like a big idiot for even letting that sort of shit get to me.

But let’s back track.

I’ve talked a lot about why I started this magazine. If you haven’t heard my story before, it is summed up beautifully and pictorially in our first print zine (a shameless plug I know). It’s been a tonne of hard work but I love it. And despite the occasional breakdown I am, for the most part, really happy.

That being said, things are tough right now. I work a full time job and one casual job (a girls got to pay off her mortgage and the six layby’s she’s currently got on the go), in addition to keeping the delightful ship that is Leiden afloat. At the moment we are so busy I am struggling to keep it together let alone put all my plans for the future into practice.

So, in need of some advice on moving forward and building upon what we do here, I made a meeting to consult with someone more experienced than I. I walked to that meeting with my hot chocolate in hand, my Burberry trench billowing out behind me, and my independent business lady face on, all geared up to take this magazine to the next level.

This is not what happened. I left this meeting feeling belittled, inadequate and like I should give up on my dream. I certainly didn’t feel empowered to go forth and create magic. I will confess that I got emotional during the meeting, which was incredibly embarrassing. But hey, according to a personality quiz I took the other day, I am a highly complex and emotionally unstable person, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised I got a little defensive and let out a tear or two.

After feeling very sorry for myself for a couple of hours, I decided to turn my frown upside down and consult with my friend who also happens to be an executive coach, Kim Vella, and she helped me put things in perspective.

It’s not important whom this particular meeting was with because lets face it: we are all going to have uncomfortable meetings of some description at some point or other. I’m a big believer in learning something from every shitty situation as well as sharing what I learn with others. So, here goes:


Lesson One – Believe in Your Self

 Nike says it best. Just do it. We all have feelings of self-doubt and insecurity from time to time, for me it’s almost every day. But it’s important to stop struggling with these feelings. Accept them and instead imagine what it would be like to believe in yourself. Can you picture it? What are you saying when you believe in yourself, what are you hearing, what are you seeing? What is now possible as a result of your self-belief? Once you get yourself back on track, you can go back to kicking butt (but more on that later).

Another thing I like to do after suffering a set back, is look back on everything I have already achieved. Too often we can get caught up in the here and now and forget to reflect on what we have done and how we got there. Once you have remembered all the adversity you have already overcome, it is easier to believe that you can overcome whatever you are facing now.


Lesson Two – Even Dick Heads Have Good Ideas

Yes, they can. I believe that arbitrary, mean criticism only tells you about the person giving the feedback, not the recipient. That doesn’t stop it being hurtful, but it’s important to keep in mind as it keeps you from going too far down the path of feeling like a victim. Once you have noticed the spirit in which the feedback was given, learn how to distinguish the good ideas from the not so good and run with them. Find the gifts in the feedback and make them yours. It took me a couple of days to calm down, and start to appreciate that some of the suggestions the person I met with the other day gave had some merit, so make sure to give yourself space to reevaluate what happened.


Lesson Three – Go Out There and Kick Butt

After being compassionate to yourself, nurturing your self-belief and reflecting on what you can take away from your ordeal, it’s time to get back out there and kick butt. Let this momentary hiccup light a fire under your arse so you can show the naysayers what you are made of. Make a plan, break it down into manageable chunks, go forth and be brilliant.


Lesson Four – Don’t Go It Alone (You Don’t Need To)

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. This is something I have always struggled with but am working to get better at. Look to the people you trust and who are willing to help and work with you to support your growth and development. As well as my family and long suffering boyfriend, I’ve got my Leiden tribe — a group of fabulous contributors and developers who are working together to build something bigger than each of us through the magazine. I also have Kim Vella, my Executive Coach, who not only helps me when I have a little breakdown such as after this meeting, but has also created the Positive Plenary, a group that I am a part of. It’s a space where like-minded women who are building platforms for change can develop ourselves, make an impact and play a bigger part in what matters to us.

Tap into your support network to help you through the tough times. But remember: give as good as you get and support those who support you.

Emma Batchelor

Emma Batchelor

As well as a near obsessive interest in fashion, Emma is a former scientist, occasional contemporary dancer, avid reader and self-confessed cat lady (she has three). Emma lived in Leiden in the Netherlands as a baby and Leiden ought to have been her middle name had her mother thought of it at the time and not chosen Louise instead.

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