Mary Portas: How To Stop Living A Life That Isn't True To You | E85 | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Mary Portas: How To Stop Living A Life That Isn't True To You | E85".
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I like a really good life and I have a very good life. I knew I was a bit different as well though. You felt different. I did feel different. I was doing TV shows, radio shows, I had my own collection, I had the business. Oh God, how shit is that life? And I lost me in that. There wasn't times where it wasn't fantastic. There was, but where was I? I didn't stop to breathe. We really fucked this planet for you guys. We were blind, we were blind consumers living a life while we slowly killed the planet and our wellbeing. So it has to be you guys that go now. My mother died when I was very suddenly in Caffellitis when I was 16 and she was the center of the world. And I had to grow up very quickly and all that misbehavior went into sort of responsibility. This is really painful. Yet somehow I wasn't able to express it. - Mary Portis, you may know her from the high street. You may know her from business or you may know her from her books. But the experience I had with her today is honestly incredible. She is hilarious. She is smart. She's witty and she is willing to be honest at all costs. And that really speaks to one of the central principles she'll talk about today, which is this idea of the importance of being true to yourself. She's made the mistake that 99% of people that are listening to this are going to make, are currently making or are in the process of overcoming, which is living a life that isn't true to who you actually are. And today she's also gonna tell you about an idea that will be fairly radical to some people, especially people who are building and have built big businesses, which is based on her new book, Rebuild, How to Thrive in the new kindness economy. She has achieved things that most people in business would never even dream of. She's been a media star. She's been a political figure at times. And through it all, through the hardest of times, through grief, through trauma, through broken marriages, through public scrutiny in the press, she has emerged as an incredibly outspoken, honest, humble, intellectually challenging and stimulating, humorous, inspiration, leader, entrepreneur, and public figure. I laughed, I realized, and I was deeply inspired. And you will be too. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett, and this is the Diaries CEO. I hope nobody's listening. But if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Mary, you're a very stand-up person with a very stand-up personality, and you've managed to achieve some pretty remarkable things in your life. And from a place of curiosity, that always makes me wonder what it is that made you different. And I like to always start with people's childhoods and their upbringings, because I tend to believe that that's the most influential part of their life, typically. So is there anything from your younger years that you think has been defining in the person you went on to become? - Well, of course, I think that the probably is the case.
Personal Experiences And Advice
Your early years (03:24)
I was one of five kids, but I was the fourth out of five. And we were, my parents were Irish, had come over in the late '50s from Ireland. My father was a Protestant, my mother was a Catholic. So, you know, from Belfast from the north of it. So this wasn't, you know, they, this was a time when that wasn't looked on to happily. So they came over and chose Watford to live in. - Interesting. - It could have been Dagnum, but they chose Watford. Those were the two options and kind of Brad George, Michael, Elton John. So we're kind of, and a good football team. But I think, I think looking back on my childhood, my elder siblings, we often talk about this, we're very, very close to sort of a two year, one year gap between us all. And I was the fourth, and I remember vividly thinking, I'm not the eldest, I'm not the youngest, I'm not the first girl, and I didn't feel particularly special. And, so I was very naughty as a child, you know, just spent a lot of time up to pranks and trying to find my voice, I think, really. Very loving household. My father was very high, highly strong, hardworking. And my mother was poetical, musical, and was pushed us academically, put us all through the grammar school system. I remember my sister coming home school and saying, I'm number two in the class, I looked at the register, and my mother said, and who was number one. She was, so I think that gives you a sort of taste of what life is like. But we were very close, but my mother died when I was very suddenly in Kefelitis when I was 16. And she was the center of the world. And just by the place where I was in the family, my elder siblings, my elder brother, Michael, was at university, and my sister was just about to go and work, go training at UCH. And my other brother was hairdressing, and so I ended up looking after being the one at home and looking after my younger brother. And I had to grow up very quickly, and all that misbehavior went into sort of responsibility. That's what I think happened anyway. I mean, and I just took on the role of the, I wouldn't say parent, because I was not very good at that at all, but the one who managed stuff at home. And even when my elder siblings then came back, and to this day, it's Mary's house that we meet at. - Really? - Yeah. - Really interesting, because I'm the youngest of four, and I feel like I took on that role, where I feel like I had, because my parents were absent, by the time I was 10. - Why were they absent? - My mum just decided that, I think she decided that she'd raised all of the kids already. You know, like, it's almost like, "Oh, I've done my work as a parent. All my brothers and sisters rolled to me." So she would then just sleep at her shop, because she was getting burgled a lot at her shop, getting lots of like racial attacks on her shop. So she would literally go and sleep in the back room after, after work, wake up, work, go sleep in the back room, but she had a 10 year old at home. - Yeah. - And so I just learned this huge, I had this huge void of independence. I became super naughty, breaking into my school. - Yeah. - All sorts of stuff. - I set fire to mine. - That was by action. I thought I could do a little bonfire onto the wooden steps, but yeah. Oh my God, the nuns, I was run, I looked after my nuns, they, desperate. - You're passing of your parents at a young age. How does that impact you? - Well, mine sort of went from this terrible traumatic, my mother was the central figure. This sort of fiery red head who just was the backbone, and I don't look back in hindsight and go, "Oh, amazing." But she was. I was just about baked. Just about baked. I'd had enough of love and time from her at 16. I think my younger brother Lawrence at 14, that was terribly difficult. So you at 10, I'm with you, I can feel that. That's a very lonely place for a young boy. But my father remarried within a year. I used to come home from school and he'd be crying, you know? And I was actually then finding Lawrence and I were managing his grief with these young kids really, you know? And he remarried very quickly and then he died of a heart attack nine months after getting married. But in doing so, left the family home to the new wife of nine months. So we were all out on our own really after that. And now I think I looked back now, I looked back now, and I didn't look back for a long while, didn't look back at all. But I looked back now and I see that I was in grief for about four years. I mean, I used to walk to school crying and then just go on the bus and smile. It's grief, but I don't, you know, somehow I suppressed that and put it into a life that I never dreamt I'd have, that's for sure, from that. - Did you ever get help with that grief? - Never. I remember the headmistress saying, you know, if you ever want to come and talk and the headmistress was an aunt called Sister St. James, he was, you know, this wonderful, actually I really, really liked her. She was pretty scary by most standards, but I really liked her. But that was it. I wasn't going to sit in the headmistress's office and have a soul, especially with a nun, and have to beat my chest and say about 10 Hail Marys. So I didn't know, I don't think any of us did. This was the late '70s. I didn't remember, it's funny, like last night, I got a little late year old and he's into Elvis Presley for whatever. And I went on some YouTube and we were dancing to Elvis Presley, he was trying to do the little movement. So I said, he said, Elvis died, didn't he, Mumma? In 1977, I said, yes, the year my mum died. So my mum died in the July, Elvis in the August. And I remember everybody grieving Elvis and I was going, no. And I couldn't get on this. I was like, what? And everyone's like, Elvis has died. The headline's interesting, and now my mum's died. This is really painful. Yet somehow I wasn't able to express that. The grief for those four years, how did that impact you thereafter? And also not processing that grief. Well, I think I had a lot of anger. Yeah. I mean, my temper was very quick. I don't know if that may, I've done a lot of work on it. It's called meditation. Really? Yeah, and also being able to become to a place of acceptance and having techniques on. But I think I had a lot of anger. I mean, my father was, you know, was very quick tempered. But then with five kids running around, screaming the house, I think I would have been. So I think that was there. And I don't know. I just, I think what I did was I just kept going blindly. I mean, I didn't have any any goal or any vision. It wasn't like, oh, I'm going to show them. I just kept going. And I think what I did was ignored the deep sensitivity, the deep me. I think I ignored that. So I believed I was this naughty, going fast, quick tempered individual. I'm not. I'm really soft. I wasn't that. But I didn't know that for a long, long time. Was that sort of exterior, the slightly tougher exterior, some form of emotional reaction or defense from something? Do you think? Because if that wasn't who you were, I'm wondering where that must have came from. Well, I think it was a part of my personality and my behaviour. But I think I, I believed that that was me. And I believed that that was going to be part of my success, you know, being quick-witted, you know, fiery, doing things fast, which has been a part of my work. But I think I didn't ever discover the deeper sensitivities. And there were times when I felt vulnerable, and there's times I felt lost, and I wanted to be understood, and it was like, oh, it's Mary. And you'd go, well, no, because everybody judged on that. When we leave, and I think the persona that I had on TV with the orange bob was that, and people would edit me to that. And I would often think, but I spent so much time behind the scenes sitting with those shopkeepers holding their hands or talking to them. Nobody wanted to see that. They wanted to go, and actually, yeah, deeply there was another part of me that wasn't expressed. You talk about this stepmother? I wouldn't even call her that. Really? What did you call her? The woman I felt, the married. I mean, I, again, I think about that. And I'm talking with my children on this. And when I had to write my memoir, you had to go back on this. And I just cannot understand anybody not looking after children who are grieving for their parents. I can't imagine, you know, being with anybody or me marrying anybody. I mean, I was married a second time to a woman. And she took all my children. I can't imagine anybody doing what she did. I just, it doesn't fathom in my head. Here's a woman who had a child, the same age as my uncle brother, who left us homeless. Well, my father left her our family home. We were 19 and 16. We had no home. We had no way to live. And she didn't let you live there? Oh, she sold it. She took it. Nine months of being married to my father after 25 years of marriage in a family home, that he built. Are you still resentful about that? No. No. Were you at the time? No. That's an asking. I don't feel resent. I don't know. No, all we wanted was for Dad to be buried with Mum. Because, you know, we were brought up Catholics and when Mum died and she was a deep Catholic, we booked the plot so that Dad, you have the plot so he can be buried on the same ground and she didn't want that. So we had to bring the family priest and go and see her. And we got that in the end. I know I didn't ever, ever feel a daughter of resentment. Do you carry those feelings? Resentment, regret, riches. I just genuinely don't regret the thing. My life's been extraordinary. Extraordinary amounts of pain, extraordinary heights. And it's been colourful in one that I would never have predicted.
Your most painful moments (14:26)
When you think about the pain, think of the moments of the greatest pain in your life. What are those moments? Undoubtedly, my mother died. That, that, that, um, where you wake up and it's, it's like something's on your chest. That was, and I remember it was sunny, sunny, hot. I, I didn't like the summer for years. It was July, hot July, the late 70s, that summer when it was boiling hot. And I just associated that and I still love when it became autumnal cold. You could go indoors and hide. It felt like a security to me. I never really was out playing tennis and happy and summer. And you just, this heavy black, pain deep inside you. Um, and both separations I've been, you know, in two big relationships I've been married. And that, that, when you split up a family and I'm a family person when you have to sit and go, OK, how do I do this? How do I do this? How do I sit with you, my children and say, this is all I've got. This is moving on that. Those I actually remember. You know, lying awake three nights on their own, not sleeping a dot and getting up with the must be so much adrenaline in my body. I mean, I don't know. I lost about a stone in weight and I'm pretty slim. But I remember putting my trousers on the drop below my hips. I'm like, Oh my God, that sort of stress and pain, but you have to keep going because you are responsible for these children. That's what I wanted to ask you about is having been through so much stress and pain, which is just this unavoidable part of the human experience. You can't avoid it, right? Yeah. If you try and avoid it, you probably end up with more. Wumi talks about the bruises, the poet, Sufi pergroming, the bruises and how we land from those bruises. Tell me about that. Well, he's just one of my great. I've discovered him a 13th century Sufi mystic. And he talks about the bruises that we hit and how they repair, but that's how we grow. What have you, what have you learned about how to cope with unexpected bullshit and pain that life throws at you? Because, you know, you never see it coming. I mean, a lot of people have had it over the last 12 months, right? The last 18 months with the pandemic couldn't have seen that coming. Lots of people's businesses just smashed to pieces. They've lost loved ones. How does one cope with that kind of like grief, whether it's a professional grief or, you know, the grief of a lost loved one or the grief of a lost relationship? Is there anything you've learned over the course of your life where you think that's probably the best or only approach? Other is the wonderful line of this too. Shall pass, and it does. For me, I have found great, great resolve from some of the great teachings and the philosophers who I have read for a long time now, probably about 15, 20 years. And even if we look at the basis of most religion, which is a patriarchy and has been completely screwed and bastardized by most men, but actually, if you look at the truth at the heart of it, it's much the same thing that we all have to follow. And you have to just connect deeply with your inner, whatever you call it, whether it's your spirit, whether it's your soul, whether it's your as opressess, my inner frequency, you know, in that get shoved or you're not aligned, that's when you start to behave and you follow whatever's happened to you rather than actually connecting truly back with your strength, your resource. So that for me has been, and I've tried to guide my children on that and actually found that that has been, I wish someone had done that a little bit more. It was shrouded in religion when I was a kid in the Catholic faith, which I just could not connect with at all. You know, my mother literally, you know, going to confession, used to go into a church and see these 80 year old women beating their chest and say, dear God, you know, I've seen, do you think, well, she done, you know, this is crazy. This isn't, this isn't life. What the plump or over on kneeling down beating, I just, that's not what the world's about. You know, that's what I've discovered is if you try and get back to your essence, and know and try an align and connect with some deeper strength, whether it's through meditation or whether it's just pause and breathe, it will come through. And it does. I mean, that's not to say we should, we have to go through grief. We have to go through mourning. We have to let that go through our bodies. Leaving it in your bodies is the worst thing you can possibly do. And I've done that over the years and I have my back put out. I've been laid low because it's in there. So I've, I've learned to do that. I had, you know, at first when COVID hit, it was shocking for me. I mean, all my clients in my business, which has been my back then for 21 years, just closed down and nobody said, are you guys okay? They just stopped work. I had 50 people who wrote what the actual fuck is happening here. And I'm talking to my kids about being connected to your source. And I'm like, Jesus wept. I've got to pay for all this. And I don't know where I'm going to do this. And I'm just looking down the barrel at 60 and I suddenly went into that complete there. I was like, you need to pull this back. I was actually pretty, I felt I was a little bit ashamed that I wasn't better, if I'm honest. I was such a shock, such a shock. And I've written about it in the first chapter of my book. Because I want it was so shocking. And it was like, were they were falling down like dominoes, the clients? And we were like, what we thought as a business was just going, eh. And it just slowly but surely I kept on connecting back to that sense of me, that deep truth that the world will look after you. There was a great interview I heard and I can't remember who it was. And I can't remember, I'd like to think, but I remember he was a philosopher. And he said, we're talking about money. And he said, think of a time when you've never had enough. Can't think of a time when I've never had enough money. I've had very little money, but I've lived. And I remember just holding onto that. When when is the world never ever truly looked after you? And if you can realign back into that sense of connecting and not go for the short term, whether it's, you know, following a route that you're you're trying to short term fix it through stress or through that anxiety, you connect back to that true source, it always works. You said during the pandemic, you've you felt it almost as if you were saying you felt shame that you weren't good enough. I wanted to get a more detail on what you mean by that. No, what I meant was the work that I'd done on myself. And on knowing that, you know, this two shall pass, connect back. You will be all right. The world will look after you. I didn't. It took about a month. And then I was like, OK, and I had all the kids under one of those homes calling happening. I was on, you know, phone every single morning with the CEO of my business. We were on FaceTime. It was, you know, we were on Zoom calls, hideous. It was like all the time it was this world that you'd been thrown into. Well, I thought, all right, you know, approaching 60. He's up now, portest, you know, you don't need to be doing as much. Everything just fell apart. Bam, like that. Like that. So my God, what has happened here? So I was a bit disappointed that I wasn't more, you know, on baby. Really? Yeah. So you I was like sort of done a lot of work myself, but I got it back. I got it back, she says. Talk to me about. So I want the detail as to because I I read that you'd said you felt like you were spiraling out of control a little bit when the pandemic first struck. And I think a lot of people can relate to that, that sense of panic, total uncertainty. And I mean, we had all of our like high street clients completely just cancel all work, not even because they were they'd gone bankrupt, but because they just didn't have certainty themselves. So they just stopped. It was either like totally stopped or paused or we don't know what's happening here, right? So if I and you you have in your agency, you have pretty much all high street players, right? So I can't imagine. And so I want to know when you say you're spiraling, what does that mean? Well, for example, one of my clients was a big piece of business that were doing the outside the world. I mentioned it was a million and a half pounds, but I'm close, dumb. So that stopped. You know what? What I meant by that was I've never in 21 years ever had anything where I thought financially, I've made myself so financially secure over those years. I've never had anything that thought that might go. I've never I've never wanted huge amounts. I like a really good life and I have a very good life, but I've never wanted, you know, the big amounts of all this thought, you know, this is this is really good. And so I've never I've always shared the pie as it were. You know, I like a big slice of the cake, but I also I like sharing it out. So I was never I've got to have got to never that. I'm like a lovely life. And and so suddenly this was like that might not be the case. And you have a young lad you've got to put through school. You might be working till your 70 whatever to get this back up. I don't want to do that. You know, so it was going against my my flow and my energy as well, you know, that I wanted to go off and do other things. And I was ready to go and do the the things that one should be doing at 60 plus when you've had a very big career and doing stuff that I suddenly going, oh, God, I've got to get this back on. And so I just didn't like the way that that frightened me. It did frighten me. You know, there was sleepless nights. But then suddenly this place of acceptance came and you realize there was magical times where I thought I am in lockdown with all three of my kids. You know, one of which had left home, one who was doing a master's and one who was eight. This isn't going to happen again, you know, and there was times where they were just out in the grass playing rounds us together. That's that's the magic, you know, that's the magic for that little man there with his big brother and sister. There are times we just would sit up on the place near us in Swift's Hill and just look at flowers and draw flowers. I thought, this isn't going to come again like this. And so I was able to sort of slowly but surely build back. And things got better and there's a huge debate now about what the new normal will look like, especially as it relates to working and remote working.
Remote working (25:30)
And I wanted to get your stance on this whole remote working debate. I'll give you my opinion first because my opinion tends to be quite controversial. I tend to think people have overestimated the remote working thing. And I say this because I believe that the office is one of the last sort of institutions of like community and human connection. Dating's gone socializing Facebook, social media, dating. We now have all these dating apps and it's felt like in my life, especially as like a 25, 26 year old, whatever, that going to the office was actually one of the places I actually got to meet people in my life and connect and form communities and go to a football team as an adult. And if that all moves to zoom now, like every other part of my life is dictated by a glass illuminated screen. I worry and we have had people sat in the chair from mental health psychologists and all sorts and the consistent theme for them has been, if you can give someone community and connection in their life, then they do better. They are healthier. And I felt like the office, especially, I don't know you've got an amazing office. I've read about it. And I've read about the atmosphere there and how impressive that is. And we also went to great lengths. It's when I was reading about your office, it felt a lot like mine. We've it's not hierarchical. You wouldn't know who was in charge. People are themselves. It's very flexible and open. We don't have these rigid archaic systems in place. And so it was a really enjoyable place to be. And I would hate for that places like that to be to disappear. I think the old office has to change and die and be reinvented. But I wanted to get your take on that. I think you said it. I think, you know, I think I think there's a lot of businesses jumping on the bandwagon thinking, how can we, you know, save money on rent? Yes. And not looking at the mental health wellbeing. I've seen this. I vote my offices. We open them up as soon as we could. We have two days where we say we want everybody in because we believe that is everything you've talked about. And I know even when I go in and I will see them all and we will have a laugh and we'll talk about stuff that's not even in the work world, but those nuggets, there's little messages, those little nuances that happen. A what makes us human. It's ridiculous to think with it. I heard Google aren't opening theirs up for another year. And you think, what the actual stop this? Have they actually asked their people? I have a young daughter who's been working at home consistently since she went out to the world of work and it is not good for her mental wellbeing. And I have watched my children get up at eight AM and go straight on Zoom. That was where's the travel time? Were you listened to a podcast or you listened to a piece of music or you read something or you bump into someone on the street and say morning, she found she'd coffee. Yeah, I was like, where's that gone out of our lives? We take this away and we take what it is to be human. If you when I did my high street report, I talked about exactly what you're talking about. We lose this. We lose what Jane Jacobs who wrote the death of the American city back in the 60s, well, before I talked about this, she talked about those little things where you bump into someone on the street and you say morning, are you getting a newspaper? And you say, can you daughter babysit tonight? She said, these little things are trivial, but the sum isn't trivial at all. It is a social infrastructure, a web of security that makes us human. The office is the same. The office is the same. Now I started in my office was saying, you got a baby, you can bring it in. Bring dogs in. The end of this was like 10 years ago. Well, you know, we need to ease up and realize that we need more of this in our lives. I've had to sublet parts in my office because we had too much space, but we bloody went out and sublet and fought because we wanted to keep it because I knew that this was deeply important, especially to your generation. And, you know, I know those people and my kids have seen it. They said the sort of 40 plus is, yeah, it's nice having some time. I understand that you can pick up the kid. You can, of course, but let's get that balance. Let's get that balance. And you're right. The more we close down, the more we squeeze our little souls because those small, trivial things are what make up our lives. I know that. So I would be so pro it. And I really think this needs to be the things that are part of our society, which are deeply important that do need bloody government intervention. I know Tories don't want to intervene and it's a free market and all that crap. Transport's one, our high streets are one, our national health services, another and the way we work and connect, I think, is another. So I would be putting this on the agenda. I heard on one of those, what is it, called question times, which I can't get an answer going. I think, oh dear God. And I was listening to it. I was there. Nobody was all these sort of aging politicians who weren't running businesses who didn't see the impact of not of getting together. It's vital. Please, please, anyone listening. And if you're listening and you're a millennial or a gen Z and you don't think you've got any power, pull together, get your pounds and put pressure at the top. And also open back up. I think that clip will go viral on LinkedIn. So that's great. I think you're going to have a lot of people with that one. My LinkedIn is very highly engaged. So I think that will bang. But now I, you know, I think that I'm more at ease because I think in the professional world, it's going to become a battle of employees choosing where they want to spend their time and where they want to work. And so my objective here isn't to. So what I, what I tend, what I feel like I saw was these kind of fragile, dare I call them leaders and business, doing all this kind of virtue signaling on social media and online going, Oh, we're going to let our employees decide. And if they want to work, and I, I've said publicly, like you, as a leader, you have to have a backbone and your company culture should be reverse engineered from the mission. So, you know, if you're, if you're, I don't know, building cars, then you, you need your people at the factory, but also work should be, it should offer more than just pay. And if it is to offer more than pay, something meaningful, it would be community connection and these things. So my stance as an employer is I'm going to create the environment, which offers you more community than you're going to get anywhere else. Good pay, more, more flexibility around things that matter in your life, kids, et cetera. And I think I'll be able to hire all your staff that you have working from a Zoom screen at home. And I think eventually you'll figure that out and you'll go back. But yeah. And that's my car. Yeah. That's what I think I think it's a competition of like, you know what I mean? With you. You know, it's, it's, look, you, you, as I say, you're younger. I remember when I wrote work like a woman, I was like looking at this and thinking, who, who created the codes? Who wrote this shit? How do we want to work? I want people in my business to have a voice that feel I will sit with a 23 year old and I know we'll sit and have a great conversation as much as I'm with the 45 year old just running the business. I, we've actually put that with these two days when the chief execs in, we want everyone in because this is the time when we learn. This is the time we laugh. And we really do laugh. I mean, I'm the biggest joke of the biggest kid in the office of mine. And my daughter's been coming in so she can get some, just some interaction. She works in food policy because I'm in completely different. And she goes, mom, you're the biggest kid. I said, I know I need people around me. I need it. And I love to laugh. And it's just fantastic when you're in an office and you hear that. And it's not difficult. This stuff, you know, it's all about when you feel as confident as you do, you're able to give up that control. Yeah, that's what you're giving up and saying, you know what? I'm, I'm no who I am. And I want you who works with me to know who you are. And so let's give up that control. That doesn't mean that I'm going to have any lazy bath coming in and, you know, sauntering and whenever they want and taking. No, you know, I talk about the kind of this economy. The kind of this economy is doing what's humanely right. It's not taking the piss. So you have very strong ethos and ethics and guidelines of what you believe your business is and where you want to go. But let everybody be themselves within that. And part of that is connection. I mean, it's fine for me sitting in my North London, you know, home working, or I'm in the cotswalls. What about the ones who I've seen them on Zoom in their bedroom, sharing a flat? You're waking in there and you're doing Zoom. And if any owner of a business or organization isn't understanding that shame on you. And think about it, they're then probably picking up a phone to do their dating. Then when they're hungry, they pick up the phone and open new breeds and deliver in order their food. And it's conceivable that this generation and I actually wrote about it. My book, I show how we're getting more and more stagnant as the years go on because we're optimizing for productivity and financial gain as opposed to a human connection. We're actually optimizing everything in our power to sacrifice human connection and socializing and even things like exercise and movement for increased productivity. And I think it's time to, you know, do I think the government would be effective in intervening? I mean, I was going to say, I don't know what they were doing. They didn't get to come from them. They had some like loneliness. I think Theresa May appointed the first ever loneliness czar for the UK. Who was that? Jesus. I don't know. But I don't know. There'd be no kind on your door there. Distopion, like image of this, like these like tanneries in the streets, but like fucking talk to each other. Like, do you know what I mean? No, I just feel like I'm a chat. I think it's going to come. That's why my book, I think it's going to come from business and think it's going to come from people like us changing that 100% agree. I think I'm going to come from politics. I think once we get past this work work virtue signaling thing, which leaders are doing now, we're like, well, just let our employees do whatever they want. And they can just be all at home, whatever. I think then you'll have the second wave of that, which is, which is reality. You need to talk about it on your show. You need to talk about this when you're doing business. You need to get this out there. You need to be a voice for that because, you know, it's only by sharing our voices and having an opinion, doesn't matter who knocks us or who comes back, that you go, no, this feels right. This feels right. This is deeply important, deeply important to the next generation. You know, we've really fucked this planet for you guys, you know, my generation. I've, you know, we, the generation before me, the baby boomers, they know that. So we have to, we have to hold on to something deeply precious here. And there is a movement and understanding that's greater and deeper. We were blind. We were blind consumers. We thought that having it all was having more stuff and living in life while we slowly killed the planet and our wellbeing. So it has to be you guys that go, no, if we get one thing out of this, that's going to be there. That we're going to change all those ridiculous ideas that my generation and the baby boomers brought into. Quick one. I'm trying to get in good shape for some as I imagine a lot of people are. And just in time for some, I, you all have released what I consider to be one of the most important best products they've ever released. 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Losing myself in the madness (37:15)
We thought that was it, which leads me into something else I want to talk to you about. I read you'd said that you were in the public eye. You're making more money than ever and it was extraordinarily exciting. But at the age of 48, you found yourself crying almost every day. It was probably physically exhausted. I just didn't get that joy. You know, I just was on this. I was doing TV shows, radio shows, I had my own collection, I had the business. I had two kids. It was it was crazy. And I was the nature. I was the cent. It wasn't like, you know, I had some husband who was breaking. It was me, you know, and I thought, yeah. But I and the more that comes, you'll know this. The more it comes, the more it comes, the more it comes. Comes, keeps coming, keep coming, keep coming. You've got to do this, go to the. And there were parts that that was just, you know, incredible. I looked back and it walked some great years, but I was exhausted. And you're not allowed to say that, actually, I'm thinking about that. At that time, there would be those, you know, women on the front of the Sunday Times magazine like that. We can't show our post, but it'll be like that. You can have it all. They got eight kids and they would get up and they would be doing, you know, yoga at 6am and then having a global call with China or whatever. Then, you know, they'd be bringing the top in the kids off at school while chatting to God, those whoever sorting out the day. And you just thought, oh, God, how shit is that life? Where are you? Where are you? And I lost me in that. There wasn't times where it wasn't fantastic. There was. But where was I? I didn't stop to breathe. I didn't stop to truly connect. Truly connect with me. And I remember I went away to some very expensive spa place where it was all on Shanty and downward dogs and eating stuff. And everyone's all this. You know, you go where rich people are because you got money and you go and you discover you. And I remember sitting in this yoga session and I just was crying. And I was like, oh, please stop, please stop, Mary, please stop. And there was all these sort of women in their lulu lemon. And I was going just crying. And I thought and I went in to. There was this wonderful Indian guru who used to sit in this little room. He should go and meet and chat with. And I remember going in to see him and he didn't say a word. And I just crying and I didn't want to speak with him. But I wanted to go to the bookshelf that was behind him because I knew there was some books there. And I picked up Eckhart Tolley's new earth. And I just took it and as I left, he went, that's the right one. And I went back to my room and I read it and I read it on the beach day. So I was like, oh, my God, I've got the world wrong. I've just completely got this wrong. And that was the start of my journey. I took one of the young men. I'm still getting still partly hybriding that life. I'm never going to sit in an ashram. But I discovered how to connect back truly with me and stop loading this stuff in your life, Mary. And saying no. Two questions there, which is regarding this book, this Eckhart Tolley book that you talk about. A new earth. What was it? What was the key lessons that imparted on you about life and how are you living? I was living totally outwardly to my eager and my persona. Mary Portus, Mary with Bob, Mary, the businesswoman, Mary, the mother. I was not connecting truly with who my spirit, my soul. So everything was done to feed that and you believe that that is you. You believe that that is your personality. You believe all of that. You thought you'd become a bit of a caricature? Oh, for sure. But I also milked that. That was very profitable. But you know, I knew it was brand Mary, the red bob, the rings. You know, I've always loved fashion. I've always loved. But it was very much, you know, a signature. So and yeah, of course, I mean, I've advised businesses, global on brands. I was, I suppose, a brand my own self. And I just didn't want to be that anymore. Philosophy is very clear on this idea of like abandoning your true self and the consequences of that. You're ego. You're out at ego. Yeah. Yeah. And it seems like such a clearly. We're losing game. And I think people listening to this are probably have to be well, you are some stage in the process. You either you're probably you're either at the start and you've not yet tried to abandon yourself because you think that, you know, because the outside world has convinced you and incentivized you to do so, especially social media, they'll have you trying to abandon yourself and become the Kardashians, whatever, whatever, or you are in the process of abandoning yourself or trying to and you're feeling the sense of despair and probably lack of orientation that comes with that or you've come out the other end, which it kind of sounds like you've, you've got to where you've realized that you try to abandon yourself. And the only true answer is to be yourself because everything else is despair. You either succeed in abandoning yourself as this one, I think is called Stodard, this Swedish philosopher used to say, if you succeed in abandoning yourself, then you end up in despair. If you fail in abandoning yourself, then you end up in despair. So the only true, true path to joy is to accept who you are. Yes. I think, you know, the thing is, it's, you know, it's knowing what the truth is. It doesn't mean that we're not going to have this. We are truly connecting on a truth here. I don't think we're, you know, performing, but part of it is performative because we are doing a job that's going to be this podcast. But it's being on the path. Some people never even know that path there. You know, most people don't. And that, you know, I remember when I first discovered it and people don't, you know, don't talk about that because you might sound a bit odd on, you know, spirituality, don't talk about that. And you're like, and I didn't for a long while, you know, I even was chatting to great producer at the BBC saying, why isn't there a show on something like this? On the BBC and like, no, don't mention spirituality in the BBC at the moment. And like, what? This, this needs to get out there. And it's not hokey pokey stuff. This is our truth. And I think what I've tried to do is to allow the people who work with me. Express that and know about it. And we share it. We share it in the business. And it just opens this whole thing up. And there are times when you have to be, as I say, performative and be, I'm Mary Portas, you know, going out, I'm working, I'm writing a piece that I'm doing. Of course, but I'm rooted in who I am deeply. And I think it isn't whether whatever we call it, whether it's spirituality, whether it's our soul, whether it's our spirit, whether it's our truth, whether it's our vibration, whether it's our, you know, whatever our vortex or our frequency is open, says, whatever, getting back to that. You know, I remember I was listening to the lovely Irish, Irish poet. And I think of this, certainly, when I think about it and they'll all come to me after I've done this. But anyway, I remember him talking about when he used to give the last rights, he used to be in Ireland and he'd go to give the last rights to whoever was dying and he'd go in and he'd see these little pinched faces that had lived a life that wasn't in line with their true self because they couldn't, they had no choice. And he just said it used to make him feel so, so sad. And then he would give them the last rights and he would literally see the pain on their faces, their skin just unstressed and ungrinical because they were able just to be. And that is the greatest gift I think we can give to anything and to our kids, you know, I mean, I put them through a great academic system because I could. But I always said, you choose, I remember my daughter coming to me when she just finished Oxford, she got into Oxford and she was like, I was deeply proud. And she finished at a green, she said, Mum, I know everyone's going to expect me to go in and make a lot of money. I don't want to do that. I said, why explain that to me? Like, you know, I'm really going to judge you on that. And she wanted to do something that just connected, not with what, but with where her truth was. And that's the only thing I think we need to try and find in life. Now, your truth probably was that, you know, you wanted to get to that place where you were able to say, I did this because that's the truth that was important to you because everyone else is telling you can't do something. You're not sitting in this system. I was much the same. Much the same. I met some old school friends and they were like, whoa, you know, my life. Because I was just always the one in trouble or I remember getting 17% in physics and thinking, I don't give a shit. I don't give a shit. And then suddenly, God, I was like 17. I never thought embarrassed. I was just like, I knew I was a bit different as well, though, you know, you felt different. I felt different. I felt different, but I wanted to be like the middle class girls that were living in Chorley Wood and I came from the working class. So it was the kids from Oxford that got into the grammar school that were the sort that parents didn't have the money was to get the bus out and then the middle class from Chorley Wood and all those areas, their parents just dropped off and then they'd get to the sixth of the drive in themselves. I was like, Oh, my God, I want to be this. And then I went, nah. No, I don't want to be that life. Oh, my life. I want my life. Brony Ware talks about the same thing. She interviewed people on their palliative patients. I think it's called on the does it Brony Ware. She was an Australian palliative nurse. I don't know if that's the right word. And she interviewed people on their death bed and asked them one question, which was what's your biggest regret as they were dying? Wow. And she released the blog and it the number one regret of the dying. And she writes it in her blog was quote, not living a life true to myself. Oh, man. I remember watching the film of Alan Turing and it just actually heartbreaking. And he was a gay man who could not live his life. And I just thought that has got to be. I think that sort of the 50s and 60s was worse than any time. You know, that American dream of the housewife and being that the two kids and living the American dream and actually you had to suppress your sexuality, your frequency, your truth, your love, your ability to soar. Isn't that just the worst? Torture. Torture. Torture. Daily hourly. Yeah. Yeah. Subconscious torture almost. Yeah. And still going on in Hollywood. Yeah. You married a man.
Labelling your sexuality (48:22)
I did marry a man. Then a woman. Then a married woman. And I'm with the woman. No. Well, I never it's interesting. I don't. I don't know whether female sexuality is particularly different from male sexuality, but I've been in love with too many in my life and I've been in love with two women. I've never sort of I never as a child thought, well, I'm a good, I'm a lesbian and fancy, Linda Evangelist. I've got to do something about it. And I had relationships with women. I had relationships with men and it just didn't ever bother me. But once I had fallen in love with the woman, I remember, you know, saying to my sister, she was like, which one or less? And I said, well, I don't know why I'm doing to put a label to it. And the interesting thing is when I did and married a male, that all the prides and the, you know, they all grab hold of you and put lesbian. I'm OK. Well, I got to do this for the sake of all of you and be a voice, which I wanted to be. But you kind of also go, now you're also labeling me. Yeah. It was a really to put. I also don't want to let you downsto more. And I will do the opening speech at Pride because I know you need women. And I've just had another one that came through on, you know, LGBT, Virgin, Radio Mary, would you go and do? But I don't want to be also categorized in that way because I'm not. It's a form of prison as well, though, isn't it? Well, it is. But I also don't want to not be a voice because I think it's important for, you know, when I did meet male, there was no women in the public. I, besides Sanjitoxic, who were in same-sex relationships. And I remember this by children having to, you know, when they went to school, there was no books on it. I mean, I'm talking, what are we, Mila's now 26. So I'm talking, you know, he was nine. They're important. So I thought I had to do that. And I did it. And I don't mind doing it. But, you know, there is a fluidity to it. Labels, good and bad. Yeah. Those kind of labels, those like socially categorizing labels where they put you in the label because they, maybe want to understand you, but because they want you to like lead the charge of a movement. I get that obviously young black. Yeah. Yeah. You know, guys, there's not actually many of us up here in the young black male category. So you kind of go, well, I've got to do that. I like represent that. And I'm only actually half black. I'm as black as I am white because my dad's white, my mum's black. And I'm like, I will represent the black, you know, like, stand behind me. And then you feel, okay, yeah, you say, yeah, as you say, yeah, I, you know, there's probably a net positive impact of me doing that for society. So I'll take on that responsibility. But don't I go back to where I know who I am. So right. What is the matter? Yeah. Right. Yeah. What you like and say what you like because I know intuition.
Listing to your intuition (51:05)
Hmm. I've heard you talk about a lot. You'd said previously that the biggest mistakes in your life had come from not listening to intuition. Hmm. What comes to mind when I say that which mistakes? I think, you know, I think on, though, when I'm needed to have got out of, you know, relationships and kept telling me something and kept telling me and you're like, Oh, no, no, I've suppressed that. I've suppressed it in times where I've, you know, it's all in business. I don't particularly like this person. And yet the pay me a lot. I've suppressed that and it always ends up always. You know, you feel it, you feel it. And ideas sometimes, you know, they just come. If you're really, really feeling free and in tune, they just come and they're wonderful. It's been my, it's been my, I'm sure it's been my, you know, ability to sort of feel something deeply. No, that's right. And you can get people that can analyze for data behind it logic. And I've listened to them in the past and I've let things go. Not regret, but oh, that, you know, even, you know, now I've always thought I've always wanted to do and it's just trying to get an idea, you know, totally sustainable secondhand recycled vintage. Take a whole space like a massive melt that's closed down and create tomorrow's where you everything is about, you know, recycled, upcycled vintage remake. And I've got to get on and do that. But it's too big. If I could, no, no, no, I'm not sure how that could work. How do you know? But I just know it will, you know? And so I have to follow the instinct on doing that. But I think just just sometimes it's just it's the small things as well. It's just the small things where you feel it's come from there and you push it down because you put too much logic and reason behind it. And I think in business, we need to let that open up so much more. Certainly in my area of business, I reckon we ended up with such so many crap businesses because logic data and systems overtook instinct, creativity and innovation. And we need to bring that back. And interesting, are you talking about high streets? What has come back is people understanding the importance of connection and community through high streets. And we will see that coming back. And, you know, I had the Labour Party getting touched and being saying they wanted to re, you know, look at what we were doing on the high street report 10 years ago. Because when I did it 10 years ago, they didn't understand that it was all about bottom line, all about bottom line. What's your view on the younger, younger generation coming up?
Advice for the younger generation (53:48)
You know, there's a lot of, I think we talked off microphone about some of the themes coming out of this Instagram generation. Like, you know, it's like really binary cliches, like find your passion. There's this idea that like working hard is now toxic. And just generally what you, what's your, what's your, if you were to impart advice or you were to give a perspective on this kind of like Instagram generation who and their perspective of the working world, what advice would you have for them? I think, you know, there's the good and the bad and the ugly, isn't there? I mean, I think it's, I think it's a really tough world to be in, that you are always on. That's a very tough place to be. And I purposely, you know, don't do as much even though I should be, you know, because I just say I only want to do something when I really have something to say. And I know it drives some of my agents around the bend. As in social media. Yeah. And I think it's deeply difficult. I think we've got two strands coming through. I think we, it's used as an incredible place for voice and change to happen. And I think the gen Zs are going to be probably the best generation that we've seen in a very, very, very long time. And the more I read about them, the more my, I have a social anthropology unit in my agency, the more we research this, the more I utterly love them. And I'm more, I want them to make this world better. And I think they will. And new young millennials. Absolutely. I think, and I think there's a lot that comes out of it. That's fantastic. The other part of it is, oh boy, I would love to change what are now used as icons and role models, especially around beauty, fashion and young women. It is just too much to live up to. And I find it that I find just terribly stressful for individuals and the way that they've been sold, how they need to look, how they need to behave, how their body needs to be, what their beauty regime should be. It's, it's ridiculously tough. And I, you know, I live in a society where I'm seeing a young generation that are pushing against that, but there's an awful lot of young women, particularly, and then out there who, how they are looked and how they're perceived and what their life is like. And 40 plus is, I look at some people on Facebook and I think, really, you still doing this shit, you need to go out there and show what new shoes you've bought or what you had for brunch and where you at. Really? Really? Isn't it a bit of a pyramid scheme and not a pyramid scheme, maybe like a network marketing scheme in some respects or some kind of network effects, because what's happening is you, let's say you've got, I don't know, the Kardashians at the top, then you've got people blow them looking up at the Kardashians and thinking, fuck, do you know what? I need to get a fake bomb and I need to change this and I need to change this and I need to post when I'm wearing my Chanel bikini on the side of that boat. So they follow suit, which then cascades downwards and everyone's just trying to this what I'm talking about, the pressure. I'd love the Kardashians to turn around and say, let's not buy any more stuff and that's recycled, wouldn't it be brilliant? Imagine what that would do for consumerism. That's what made the most impact they could have in the world is if they just cut out the fake Korean, lived more ethically, but they just they're pinned back by the financial incentive. But I, you know, when I was doing my research, my book, I'm looking at the spend on the pressure on young people who follow the Kardashians to get the new this, the new that it's insane. It's insane because I used to look back and think, well, you know, my mother couldn't afford stuff. So we just we just put up with it, but we weren't sold the marketing dream. We weren't sold this shit. And this has gone so deeply into society so deeply that we do need people to get you the go, this is just crap. Standing up and saying this is crap. And anyone comes on track and is then trying to sell that crap. It's almost like the way I see it is like social media in this, that the world, the Kardashians, it's like they're holding a bit of your self esteem hostage. And the ransom of the apparent ransom is you've got to go get that bag too or whatever. And then when you pay the ransom, you get the bag. You don't get your self esteem back and it just increases the ransom just increases. Now they're like, no, you've got to get an even better bag. And it's just endless, like exactly what I wrote about. I was part of it. When I was creative director at Harvey Nick, I was I sold the stuff to people. In case. Bloody brilliant look. I'm going to make this sexy. And and it was it's not just similar. Now it's just got faster and faster and faster and faster and faster. And it is totally all based on I'm not good enough. I'm not good enough. We have to convince them that there's something they don't have but need. We really need this revolution. There is part that are doing it. But there's a whole part of society that are still buying into this. This lack of self esteem and we as marketers have been selling that for years. I've definitely been selling that. Yeah, I've I. At my previous business, yeah. Mayor Culper. Quick one. As you guys might know, if you've been paying close attention, I'm in the process of starting a brand new business. And when you're starting a business, there are a million things to do from branding to websites to all sorts, right? Logos, videos, promotions, all of this stuff. And so it's incredibly hard to do all of these things when you were a one man or woman band. And that is where Fiverr.com comes in and solves a huge problem for me. If you've never used the website before, it is the best place to find freelance support across multiple services in the most cost effective and reviewed and rated way. And I use it in every sort of facet of my professional life, including for this podcast sometimes and including in my businesses. And as I start my new business, which I'm going to tell you about soon, I started to rely on it once again. So go to Fiverr.com/CEO and check out how amazing Fiverr.com is. You said, you know, it was something that I thought maybe I was the only person in the world that also felt, which was before we started recording, you said that you don't get excited about things.
So you don’t get excited either? (59:43)
Yeah. I mean, I have great things in my diary or someone said, oh, you're excited. You're doing that tomorrow. I just think, no, I just don't get excited. And you said you don't either. I don't know. Well, I, so I didn't actually say anything, but then my, my camera guy here, Jack, that's worked with me for some time says Steve voice says that. And it's because there's people say to me, Oh my God, you're doing this next week. Well, you're going on holiday or going to this place. Are you speaking into buy? Are you excited? And when they hit me with the question, I go, no, no, I've never sat with anyone and work. That's your talk. That's true. And I'm it. But it doesn't stop me really enjoying like experiences and there and there and now I don't put it up there. Maybe that's the thing for me. I thought and I might be wrong, but maybe we're going to work it through now. I thought my lack of excitement was a defense mechanism because I also need to defend against going down when bad things happen. So I think over time, I've just developed this character trait where I'm just here in the moment focused on what I have to do right now. And I'm trying to be stable and calm. So I don't swing upwards with great news. I don't swing downwards too heavily with bad news. And that also means I don't swing too far into the future or swing too far into the past. And it's a really good. Maybe that's it. Maybe that's it. Because my friends get excited about small things and big things. Well, I've got dinner. I've got dinner. Got that table at Brack and you're like, great. But it doesn't excite me. Yeah. I don't know. The maybe that is maybe that is a subliminal thing that we've both done. I I hadn't talked about that, but I felt I even had it like my my my partner said, because I was like, Oh, you've got that. Aren't you excited? And I said, no, and I actually have to tell you, I don't get excited. But you like us going into therapy. Yeah. I have to sit you down and tell you I don't get it. That doesn't mean I don't feel joy. Yes. That doesn't mean I don't feel complete, but I don't get excited. Oh, maybe someone's going to listen to this. Some really incredible psychoanalysts and they're going to go, we'll go and then we'll work this out and tell you why. It is really interesting because you as I think it's so important for you to for you to say what you've said there, which is you still enjoy yourself when you're there and doing these things, but it's the like future anticipation and just. And I think that must come from living, having lived a very intense life where the most important thing in your world is being in the present right now and fixing the thing right in front of you. Yes. And you've probably not had a ton of time to sit, but then also also I have to say the privilege of having had so many great experiences. Yes. You know, so there's not really a restaurant you've not been to that's been a mate, you know, like you've been to amazing restaurants, you've been to amazing places, you've done achieved amazing things. So you're sort of like threshold of what might, but it doesn't seem that anything excites me. Do you know, I remember, you said something and I remember. Just I think it's been what you talk about, totally connected. I remember a true surge of joy coming through my body. When I was walking to a supermarket, it's nothing to do with the supermarket, but I have my baby daughter in front of me and I have my husband with me with my little son and I was totally in a place of joy in a supermarket. But there was something about this place of these two beautiful kids I had, love. It's just, and I remember this surge coming and I'm like, I feel really happy. And I've had other times like that. They've not been sitting in Cannes at a restaurant. They've been really fundamental, simple, simple, simple places where I felt that surge of joy, okay, where you feel you're an elect, I can feel it now, right? Where you can put it and you can feel your energy going through your body, which is beautiful. And I would rather have that than this excitement. If I told you that later today, you were going to walk down the street and feel that same surge of joy that you got from the supermarket, would you be excited? No. If I told you now that when you walk out this this door, you're going to, as you walk out down the street, I promise you, you're going to feel that surge of joy. Would you be excited to? No, but I feel that warmth and that energy going through my body that thinks, yes, I want to be in that place, but it's not excitement. And because what I was trying to figure out there is if excitement to us, I was trying to figure out if we, the reason why we didn't get excited is because we've realized that true joy doesn't come from the restaurant or from the holiday or from the going and doing the TV thing, whatever. It's actually really the joy comes from something that's actually very hard to predict. It's like those really meaningful moments. And so when someone says, aren't you excited to go to do that experience on TV, you think, well, that's not joy. And in fact, joy will come in those really random moments. Random. Yeah. I sat in the garden with my sister last week and my sister, I love my sister. She's just one of the great people I know. She was always quiet as a kid and she was let me be. Like she was three years older, but she was always like, you know, when she was 18 and I was 15, she'd take me out to the club. It's like, no one does it. You know, like she was like, come on. And I just sat with her. And it was just a moment we were just sitting together. We weren't speaking. And it was just that moment where that connected. You can see it in your face when you describe these moments. Yeah. Face lights up. Yeah. That's joy. That's what that's why when you talk about the office and we talk about the high street, it's the trivial, what we think of trivial. That's what makes the world. That's what makes life. That's what fuels us. After in the hallways and those little jokes and catching up on what happened on the weekend and stuff, please. Totally. Or let me try and wash the dog in the garden the other way. I, my partner nearly was waiting us up laughing because I couldn't get the dog. I said, bam, I was just going everywhere. And it was just that moment of madness and joy. But the little dog running around the garden, it was just those things. But also maybe we don't resonate. I was just thinking then with the word excitement, because think about what that word means when I think of the word excitement, I think that's not a state that I live my life in. Never. So when someone said, are you excited? I think, well, am I? No, no, never. So maybe there's a better question, which is, are you looking forward to the experience or are you, I don't know, maybe there's a better question. But I don't do that either. Yeah, looking forward isn't because you're not looking forward. No, you know, I'm happy you're doing it. I don't know. There's an answer. Maybe we're deeply evolved. We don't know. Yeah, we're just like, deeply depressing. We don't know. Your mission now in life seems to be focused a lot on them, as you say, like making businesses kinder.
Making businesses kinder (01:06:37)
And it seems to be much more philanthropic than it's ever been before. Why? Why does that matter? I don't know. Just came to me. It's one of those things that came to me. Certain points, certain time. Well, I, I, I, about five, 10, I can't remember years where they go, but about seven years ago, I looked at my business and saw. I know it, no, no longer than that. It was eight years ago and I, my little baby son was born. And this beautiful little man came into the world and on, he was born on the Monday and on the Saturday, my 18 year old son was going out into the world to university. And I mean, obviously this, you can imagine the emotions that are going through my body. There's this young man that's come into this world and this young man is going out to this world. And it was just visceral. And I, I do cry when I'm feeling, you know, happy or sad or listen to great music. I can't, it clears me, especially if it's Nick Cave. And I kept on crying and just this movement. And I remember sitting with Milo, who was going off to do the very bright land. He was going off to do philosophy and economics. And we were just chatting on the bed. I remember clearing his bedroom. There's a little cricket back there and I don't get emotional because I remember going off to find the cricket. And I remember also being really fucked off because all the sports shops as close and they become J.B. sports, J.B. sports, you know, like, no, that's not a sports shop. I want to go to a sports shop where someone says, I'll give you the cricket back and knows about sport. But I found one in, in, in Sherbin, where a friend lived, I found, and I was looking at the cricket back and thinking all the memories, you know, it's just that lovely and pecking his stuff. And I'm just looking at his little hand sitting next to me on the bed, all big hands. Stuvers, what do you think you'll probably do? He goes, well, I don't know, because I'm doing economics goes and I suppose I'll end up going into finance and sitting. I was like, I just remember this, like this deep. And I remember sitting there and thinking, that's not your frequency. That's not you. I mean, you're, you're, you're go-guessing your, but you've grown up with me. And you're going to have to change you to go into that world. And I looked at the little, Horatio, the baby thinking, this is, this is what we all do. We all bloody have to change. And I thought, actually, I've, I've done this. I've, I've, I've changed. I became, you know, when I was on the board of Harvard, and of course, the business woman, when it was Mary, Queen of Shops, when it was Mary, whatever, on the TV, I was that, what the hell am I doing? Am I still doing this? And so I went on that journey then. And I, that's when I decided to change the whole way that I ran the business. And I wrote work like a woman on that, realizing that actually what I had suppressed was my deep sensitivity. And I called it my feminine instinct because I do believe the power of the feminine has been suppressed over millennia. There's no two ways about it. There's no two ways about it. We have created a male dominated alpha energy in the world because we killed, and we threw, threw the church millions of women who were the sages who were, we've suppressed femininity. And that power is the power that's going to take us through into the next part of the world. And I started looking at this and I started, I never saw myself as a feminist because I, you know, look at me, I looked at my life. Why do I need to be that? You know, and I started to go, what are we doing with our children through work that we, this young man has to suppress his creativity, his sensitivity to go and be a bastard, basically, because they get to the top. This was at the time of, you know, money, power, fame. Those are the ones, you're Trump, you feel it, green? You know, loads of them, like, yeah, mocking night, them, they're brilliant. Yeah, sir, this. And I started to go on that journey then. So that's exactly when it was, it was eight years ago, nearly nine. And I wrote the book, created a new culture in my business, opened up, started to talk about stuff that made me feel vulnerable, started to bring in this more compassionate way of working and actually connect with what would have been seen as soft skills or HR department. Actually, I believed we're going to be the new power skills. Love, kindness. Actually, no, because before, you know, 12 years ago, if someone wasn't working, I'd be like, oh, done. Out. You know, boom, on to the next thing, you're not good enough. How do you do that? What's going on in that person's life? I remember discovering one of our great creators, suffering depression. He'd actually told someone else. No wonder he's like that. I've never looked at that before. OK, how do we work with this? So I started on that journey then. And then I realized that, you know, over the years, that even the planet that we were killing was all part of this, the way that we suppressed ourselves in search of more. We've just killed the planet. We've killed our well-being. And I just kept on going on the journey. And then I did a TED talk on it. And they asked me to do a TED talk. And I thought, well, I'm going to talk on it. Just kept them coming up this theme. So I talked on when I called it, we need the kindness economy. We need an economy that isn't about growth, that isn't about money at any cost, that just doesn't measure linear. How do we create well-being? It's not that I'm anti-capitalism. I like money. How do we create a world to that? And I started to go on it and then COVID hit, bam. And it was there at Kem going, this is what you're meant to be doing, Mary. And I'm looking at how to get back to make them same money as I did before. And all the one I'm chasing that, my God, my business is going there. And this voice is going just where you meant to be. And then one day I woke up and I rang my chief executive. And I said, I think this is where we need to go. And she's amazing. And I'm also thinking, well, she's 40 something with two kids. And she's, you know, in this business with me, it's all right, me going. This is amazing coming. But I think we should go this route and we talked about it and talked about it. And just and the more I talked, the more it opened up and my head of strategy and my answer, probably saying we were like, yes, actually, we need to be advising business on being better, better to people and better to the planet. And that's how it will start it. And that's my journey now. That is it. Am I excited about it? No. Do I get up and think that it's deeply in there with me and I just have to follow it now. And that's what I have explained it. I know you have you. It was really powerful. And I think it perfectly ties into all the prior themes of listening to intuition. And I think that's super, super powerful. I have two more questions for you. One of them relates to what you've just said there, which is in a very practical sense, what does that mean for a business to become more kind? You talked about people and planet, but in terms of like the boardroom pay, you know, all of that, all of it.
What does it mean for businesses to be kinder? (01:13:54)
It's actually looking and going. We we know that Simon Cinek wrote the great books on, you know, why rather than just how it's looking at what your business is here for. What is your philosophy and your purpose? It's really understanding that and connecting it deeply to you on a human level, first of all. And you know, you've got a lot of work and it's been going on and we had our purposes to make the world better. No, you know, what is your true purpose as a business? And now once you start to work on that and yourself, and I've done it through the book, you then create the environment through your people, through how you pay them, through how you inspire them, through how you connect to your customers, through the truth of how you manufacture, how you create, how you collaborate. You create a different way of being a business that's not siloed, it's not individualistic. You move from me to we to everything that you do. You are thinking that bit wider than yourself. It's like being a mother or a parent in any sense. Undoubtedly, I would always put them first. Always, not even always. So you think about that in your business, doesn't stop me being me, doesn't stop me developing, doesn't stop me opening up, doesn't stop me growing, doesn't stop. But I am being a responsible connected, kind individual. We need to do this with the world. And the reason I put people, planet, profit in their order is the planet's going to go on without us. We'll fuck it and we'll die quite simply. And it'll regenerate. It's done that, as we know, I say it whatever. But we can make that change happen. We can do it by being more humane, by being kinder, and by creating commerce that feeds and gives social progress as well as financial progress. And it's possible. It's totally possible. You know that. Now, obviously, if some people go, it's all right, that the most sitting from their money doing that. Yeah, I've made money. Yeah, but I'm doing it. And there's people who are doing it who haven't. And those are the ones I take the hat off to. Those are the ones. And if I can just put a bit of volume on it, then I will, because I've got a bit of a big mail. And I actually, you know, what's one of the people I'd made the most? The one guy in particular called Naval, he always talks about how if you want to start taking on some of these worlds, the world's big problems, like the environment, etc. What you have to do is you have to make sure people aren't worrying about feeding their kids, first and foremost, because I don't begrudge or blame anyone that can't feed their kids. That isn't thinking about saving the environment, you know what I mean? Because I would be. Of course. You know, so there's a bit of sort of fundamental social work that needs to be done for us to get to a place where. Well, I mean, we can look at that in terms, but it's again, what was valued? My mother had very little money, but she fed us and she didn't make us obese by buying shit food. That's too cheap. Same with fashion. And people got, oh, yeah, but that fashion is democratic. Everybody can afford it. You stand at some of those shops. Everyone's coming out with three carrier bags of shit that's going to go into landfill. Or we don't mark it the hell out of it via that. And we tell the truth that buying something that lasts and recycles and up cycles and that you share is actually where the new sexy is. Yes, that's the word, you know, it's really important. That is important. I call it status status symbols we've moved to. Now we're into status sentience. How do we create a world where we understand that being sentient and connecting with experience and life and being generous in the world is more important than symbols. Big move, massive move. And we need to look at the brands. We need to look at power in business. And that's where I'm starting. I wrote down earlier because you said the word and it's been something I've been very curious about the word of meditation.
What role is that played in your life and why did you embark on that? Practice. Because it steals my mind and your mind is the biggest tool you have that can just fuck you over terribly or it can really ignite you. Amen. Tell me about the upside of meditation as you've seen it. Well, I started by doing little podcasts to listen to someone tell me how to do it because I was a bit hopeless and me sitting still. Ain't great. And it's just I do each morning with it. I need to 10 minutes and then I'll try and do it at the end of the evening and I steal my mind and I just connect. And I feel my energy going to my body and I clear and any time. A little thing comes in that says I go thought and then I laugh at it. I don't get annoyed. I just got and I laugh at the me that's the thought that just tells you all this shit. And then I just open up my energy as much as possible. And then during the day where I find myself where I might be going out of sync. I just have to sing that just is pause and I pause and then I relax and I could be sitting in a meeting like this and where I might be wanting to talk more. I just stop and let it come back in. And it's just helped me hugely closing the tabs. That's a really good visual closing all those tabs down, but just. They're not great.
Relationship Struggles Due To Business
Have you struggled with relationships because of business? (01:19:52)
Lastly, love relationships, something I think very, you know, career driven professionals like you often tend to struggle with for various for a variety of reasons. Have you struggled with relationships, love holding together relationships, investing in them? I don't think I have. I mean, I don't think it looks particularly great that I've got to fail marriages. But actually they live. There were some brilliant years. I knew they were long and they created beautiful things. So I don't see them as failure. I genuinely don't see them as failure. It's a part of my life. And I I've changed. I am not the same person that I was when I met or and I'm on a very different part of my journey. And that happens. And I think we can just get so hung up on that. You know, I've had incredible I've had long relationships. Now, I've never really struggled with relationships. I don't think. No, I've had a pretty decent long ones. I was on my own the last, which has been the first time in ages. That was really unique for me. You know, what was this? Just recently, you know, I split up with my wife Melanie back in three years ago. And I was, you know, three years on my own. Still single now? No, but I'm not going to tell you who it will be a nice headline. Who are you with? I'm fair to them. You know, no one in the public. I and order what they want. We want to be thrown into it. But you found that's super. Yes. Very exciting. That's very nice. Joy. So lovely. But but but came in a I think I manifested it as well. Yeah. I just thought, Oh, God, I'm ready. Because I'm I genuinely feel I sort of opened up my we spend so much time feeding energies that just are not worth it. They just have to keep pushing up. In that three years, what did you what was what did you tell yourself? Because a lot of people when they when the garage is empty, they just want to fill it with anything. Do you know what I mean? Because that makes them feel they feel complete or you know, when there's someone there, they feel like they need someone just to fill the garage. But what did you do for those three years to patients, I guess? Or you need to talk about manifesting? Probably one of the most toughest three years of my life. And three years I I grieved first of all, a lot of your marriage. Yeah. You grieve. And I said, you have to grieve. And COVID hit, not easy. I had to go on your own and all. Yeah, you're on. Yeah. Yeah. And you have your kids and you're resettling where you live. So you're everything changed. Everything. So my business changed. My marriage ended. Well, I lived changed. So it was a huge amount of change. And actually the last thing I was able to do was bring anyone into that. I had to be with me. And it was it was very, very painful, very painful. And I think it's only in the last six to ten months I've come through it. Amazing. Well, listen, Mary, you've been just the best guest ever. I'm just so hilarious and intelligent and honest, which is amazing. I need to be more hilarious. I was just thinking, you know, thinking, I need to be more funny. Am I funny? You are funny. Yeah. And I start to see how I'm going. You're funny through being honest. This is the thing. You're just honest and a lot of people, they skirt around what they truly think because they're trying to find the correct politically correct words or phrases. And you don't seem to give a fuck, which I think makes for great listening. You're already there. Well, yeah, I am. But maybe you're more descriptive, so it's even more hilarious. But I, you know, yeah, just thank you so much. It's my pleasure. And thank you for rescheting me. I know I'm a bit of a nightmare. You were worth it. You were definitely worth it. You take my darling. I really appreciate it. Love and love for all you do. Thank you. Please shine your light in the world it's needed. I mean it. I'll do my very best. I'll watch you.