Elaine Powell is an award-winning professional Speaker, Peak Performance & Public Speaking Coach. She founded SWC Training & Consultancy five years ago. The company is dedicated to equipping individuals and organisations with the mindset to perform at their best and unleash their greatness through public speaking, leadership and peak performance. This is facilitated through seminars, workshops and 1:1 coaching.
She has trained over 25,000 people, run over 600 workshops in the art of peak performance and public speaking, delivered over 50 talks, curated a TEDx event for three years and is a Cherie Blair Foundation Mentor.
What drove you to start your own business?
I had been delivering public speaking coaching for a charity for several years as an associate trainer and had been winning a lot of Toastmaster competitions. As my profile was being raised people began to ask me to speak at their events. From that individuals would then approach and ask me to coach them on being an effective speaker. After a few years of coaching, I decided to set up a company that also goes into organisations to deliver presentation skills and to equip them with the confidence to know that they are great speakers if they let go of any disempowering conversation inside their head.
I was spending so much time working with individuals on their internal mindset prior to speaking on stage, that the coaching naturally veered into what was stopping them from performing effectively in their life. (How we are performing in one area is indicative of how we are performing in other areas). So now I also coach people on how to achieve results in whatever they are doing; an important project, their business, speaking or creating financial freedom, usually over the duration of a year. Anything to do with the mindset and I achieve results.
What drives me and still does is how fulfilling it is to equip people with the mindset that they can do anything they put their minds to, that they are the creators of their life, that they are more powerful beyond belief and I just help to shine a light on that fact.
What was your career path prior to starting your business?
I left a highly lucrative career in law because, at that time, I wanted to make a difference in young people’s lives. I wanted them to make better-informed decisions about their lives and to understand themselves more fully. I chose a career working with the most challenging young offenders in the country. These young people were sentenced for crimes such as sexual assaults, robbery, and murder. Working closely with the psychologists and psychiatric team using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, we made profound and lasting impacts on the young peoples’ lives. This is where my love for understanding what makes us human and the impact of internal and external communication has on not only ourselves but on the lives of others.
After working seven years in that industry, I decided I wanted to work for myself and so went out searching for something that I was passionate about. I tried property, direct sales, marketing and then I found public speaking, and the rest is history as they say.
Tell us about the business planning stage (for example: did you write a business plan? did you contact any business support agencies)?
I completed a seven-week course with Olmec where I learned about a business plan, setting up an organisation, teamwork, which really helped. I have never fully finished a business plan although I have started several.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I believe that having a coach not only helps you to get where you are going much quicker but also saves you wasted effort and money. So my coach and I have planned 50 years in the future, with the question “what legacy do I want to leave?”Something like that enables us to think beyond ourselves and current circumstances. To think “how can I impact others, when I am gone.” Then I plan backwards as a guide but it is adaptable to change and circumstances.
My weekly coaching sessions, help me keep on track with any milestones, goals, markers I have set for myself to achieve. Having someone you are accountable to, can give you a kick up the backside, help keep you on track and delve into why you may be stopped at different points in your life.
Can you describe a typical working day?
My days are very varied as there are multiple things I deliver:
– speaking engagements
– 1:1 coaching
– MC and hosting events and award ceremonies
I deliver a variety of workshops: pitching, presentation skills, business storytelling and leadership mindset. When I have a one or two-day workshop, I arrive at least an hour earlier so that I can set up and then receive the participants at the allotted start time. I usually have 10-15 attendees. We run through the objectives of the day and then we start the session with warm-up exercises.
I bring a lot of high energy and interaction to my sessions, which is infectious. This means the attendees have a lot of fun, learn the relevant skills and discover new things about themselves, without feeling like it is hard work. I love these days, as it is always rewarding to see people develop and discover their potential right in front of your eyes.
On days when I don’t have workshops, I will have a few 1:1 coaching sessions. I only take on 15 new clients a year, so that I can dedicate myself fully to them reaching their goals and objectives. I do a combination of admin, read emails, speak to prospective or current clients. I also prepare for any forthcoming workshops, hosting, speaking engagements or 1:1 coaching sessions coming up.
My work day usually finishes around 8pm. Although as I work for myself, sometimes I work until midnight. My coach has set me a target to only work two nights a week. A work in progress… Lol.
What has been the most amazing day of your entrepreneurial life so far?
Every session with clients is memorable especially when you see people evolve before your eyes. One that stands out was a 1:1 client who had to deliver a 20-minute opening speech at a conference in front of a 1,000 people. She was so scared during our first session, that she couldn’t stop crying. Over the next few weeks, we wrote an engaging speech, worked on her internal fears and nerves. On the day she delivered a passionate, confident and eloquent speech which received a standing ovation. Amazing!
What has been your scariest moment?
I am not sure I have had the scariest moment but when I am due to deliver a talk or a workshop that hasn’t been delivered before, I am very anxious and apprehensive as I, of course, want it to be exceptional.
To combat this I practice as much as possible, talk the workshop or presentation through with someone and visualize every part of it before I deliver it. Then I will have a ‘clearing’ call with somebody prior to the delivery of the said event and then off I go.
How do you work on making your business grow?
There are three main things that help me to grow my business:
I have spent years being trained and being coaching on mastery over my internal dialogue, as our thoughts will dictate every action and result we have in life. This has led me to have a real sense of deep happiness and inner peace, no matter the circumstance or what is happening in my life externally.
Having a coach, who keeps me on track, someone who I am accountable to.
Knowing that it can’t be done by myself. Building a support network, a team, a community is vital if you want to grow.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
I love that I set the pace. I say, what, when, how and why. I am in control. It also means that due to the nature of my work, I can schedule things so that I can go to LA for a few months to have a change of environment, which I do several times a year.
What are the challenges of working for yourself and how do you tackle them?
One of the main challenges is if I don’t work, then I don’t get paid. Therefore, I am creating programmes that other people can deliver and online courses that means that in the future this won’t be a challenge. There will always be challenges in business and this I believe helps us to grow and develop. I like this quote says “don’t ask me for less problems, ask for more tools to deal with the problems.”
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration as a business owner?
I think Richard Branson is a great role model as well as Oprah Winfrey. Oprah came from humble beginnings and was courageous to try new things when people said it wasn’t possible. I think listening to yourself is the best guide in life.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your business? And who was it from?
Always take 100% responsibility for everything in your life. This isn’t necessarily true but it has me always seeing myself as the source of the problem and therefore I can always seek out the solution, rather than blaming others and then feeling helpless to change the outcome.
“The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you can change anything in your life.”
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other business owners?
www.elainepowell.com (well I had to mention that one)
www.landmarkworldwide.com (the best personal and professional development ever)
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It has you see that every result in your life comes out of the thinking that created the actions, that created that result. So be mindful of your thoughts.
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
I love to travel. I try to go to at least three-four new countries a year. I love meeting the people who reside there, experiencing and understanding their culture and then roaming and exploring the beautiful landscapes.
I see life as full of adventure, discovery, and miracles. We only have one life to live, so what enables me to relax is knowing that I empower people to “live the life they love and love the life they live.”
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