Regular readers know how I love to share the stories of inspirational women. Today I share my interview with Roz Thornton, Founding Partner of Roots.
Tell us a little about your childhood and teenager years
I was born in the UK in the mid 70’s when things allegedly felt pretty bleak. My Dad, who was a ‘jobbing musician’, had been impacted by the effects of the three-day week and decided to look for work outside of the UK. He was attracted to Holland due to its culture of liberalism and tolerance and he was fortunate to land a permanent job there as a recording engineer. We lived in Holland for six years before moving back to the UK because my Mum had become desperately homesick.
The transition to life back in the UK was strange. It didn’t feel as child friendly as Holland and I found it difficult to fit in at first. English was my second language then and I had a heavy accent which amused people. I didn’t like standing out, so I quickly learnt how to speak English and sound the same as everyone else. The desire to blend in didn’t last though and I became a bit of a rebel when I hit secondary school. My family life was far from great and I sought solace in the company of other misfits, rebels and lost souls. By the time I was 14 I had given birth to my first child, Sadie, which also marked a turning point in my life. I became determined to make something of myself and, with the support of my Mum, I was able to complete my GCSE’s and finally go to university.
What was your first job/career? What did you learn from this?
It was during my time at university that I set up my first business. I had an absolute passion for dance music (which has endured) and I got a job promoting dance events. This led to me setting up my own promotion company, organising my own events to great success!
I learnt the basic mechanics of running my own business and, more importantly, I learnt that it’s possible to create a business associated with something you love. I also saw that relationships are at the heart of every successful business – people buy into people first and foremost. I also developed the art of juggling motherhood and work; although I still haven’t quite nailed it…
What led to you setting up your business?
This time around, having had my second child (Elsie) 25 years after my first, it was primarily because I wanted more flexibility and freedom to manage my own time. I want to choose when I work and when I don’t, so that I can be present for Elsie. I feel that I wasn’t present enough for Sadie and it is my one and only regret in life. I also saw an opportunity to do what I was doing for someone else in a much better way and, by partnering with my best friend of 38 years, we could offer a superior service together.
What are your products and/or services?
We are consultants and coaches, specialising in Leadership Development and Organisational Health. We work closely with CEO’s/business owners and their leadership teams. This involves taking them through a process that enables them to create a culture of engaged, resilient teams with shared vision, values and purpose; who trust one another, collaborate, challenge and hold each other accountable. This is what can be defined as Organisational Health. Not only do healthy organisations realise tangible performance gains in as little as 6 to 12 months, but they deliver roughly three times more return to shareholders. This holds true for companies regardless of their sector, region or context (e.g. from turnarounds to good-to-great initiatives).
What makes your business special?
We’re proud to have developed a simple yet highly effective process. But what makes us special in our field is that we are ‘high-touch’. We invest in building strong relationships with our clients and only ever work with a handful of businesses at any given time to ensure that we give them our absolute focus and attention.
What tip would you give to someone who wants to set up a business but lacks self-belief?
I would say the same thing as I say to my daughters: ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. Feeling fearful is natural, but you need to see it for what it is – false evidence that appears real. If you face into it and work hard every day to overcome it, you will.
How do you ensure you look after yourself properly? What do you do for self-care?
This is an area that needs attention! First and foremost, I try to get to bed early. I spent 5 years severely sleep-deprived after having Elsie, which took its toll on me, so I do what I can to make sure I get enough sleep. I also practice gratitude and intentional living. This involves writing down each morning how I want to feel, who I want to be, what I’m prepared to give and what I’d like to receive that day. Then I write a list of everything for which I’m grateful. I also get out walking for 30 mins with my dog after the school run and I do at least one yoga class every week. Oh, and I try not to drink too much wine!
Who supported you as you set up your business?
My husband supported me. He encouraged me to go for it and covered my half of the bills for the first few months. He had to use the gratuity he received when he retired from the Marines, so it was a huge gesture from him, for which I’m very grateful.
What things would you like to see change about the position of women in society?
Despite the massive changes we’ve seen for the better, women still carry most of the load in my opinion. We’ve gone from being the primary care givers as wives, mothers and nest-makers to adding work into the mix. Many women work full time; in many cases out of necessity. We’ve taken on more responsibility, yet the ‘work’ is still not being evenly distributed amongst men and women. I would like to see more men getting involved in the day-to-day running of the house and family and all that it entails…
If you could recommend ONE book to women what would it be and why?
I’m reading (for the second time) Super Attractor by Gabby Bernstein. I really believe that what you put out you get back and I love the way Gabby translates these spiritual principles into something we can all understand and implement into our own lives.
If you could recommend ONE website (to women, what would it be and why?
If you want to expand your mind and nourish your soul this is where you should go!