This month’s Inspiring Parent, Judith Plastow, is a great example of how you can build on your existing interests, experience, contacts and skills and expand your capabilities into a new sector.
Judith found that her day job, the world of advertising and consumer behaviour, lead to her wonder not only why do people buy, but why do people make the choices they do in life? This has led her to start the Co-Thinking Company.

Over to you Judith!

I began my career in Advertising as I thought it would be fun (it was) and because I was interested in consumer behaviour. Who was it exactly that we needed to engage (what did they like, what motivated them?) and what was going to be the best way to reach out and talk to them?

However, over time I became more curious about the behaviour of the people I worked with – especially as I became more senior with management responsibilities. How can I get x to be really excited about heading up this project when it’s going to be a real challenge?
What’s the best way to get team y and team z to work together when they always seem to be competing with each other?
Why is A so hard on herself when she does such a brilliant job?
What exactly is it about B that makes them such a great manager and how can I be more like them?
I worked in a number of different companies and I was fascinated to see how some teams just seemed to ‘work’ and some didn’t – when it wasn’t really a case of ability or a lack of experience getting in the way.

CoThinking Company Judith Plastow
This has ultimately led to me creating the Co-Thinking Co. I work with managers and their teams in Talent Development. I focus particularly on psychological performance blocks – what’s getting in the way of success when it all the right ingredients are there? As our workplaces become more demanding and stressful these blocks are becoming more prevalent. In my experience, most training and development initiatives don’t really deal with them and so they keep reoccurring and can be really quite damaging.

What was the trigger to make a change?
A combination of things: I’d finished my training, I’d been trialling the concept and knew it worked; I wanted to work more flexibly to create more time for myself and for my children. The final push came from an opportunity to take redundancy. Definitely scary – but making the leap with a pay-off felt too good to turn down.


What skills / experience/training have you had?
I’m qualified as a Psycho-therapist. In addition, I have an MA in Psycho-Analytic theory and am a registered member of the BACP (counselling professional body). I worked in advertising and media for twenty years as a Senior Manager.

What existing skills have you used from your old career/ business to now?
Sales, marketing, presentation and communication skills all get used!. As I work with companies and organisations, I frequently talk with senior managers and HR departments about my work and have to explain its benefit in terms of business impact. My own experiences in my previous career is critical to this. It also informs my client work as it means I have greater empathy and a good understanding of workplace dynamics.

What has been a challenge? How have you overcome it?
There are lots of hurdles to overcome and unfortunately, they keep coming!! The most difficult I think is having to sell myself and what I do rather than being part of a big company and what it does with a big brand name behind it. It sometimes feels very exposing. To promote and get the work I have to put myself out there and be pushier than I’d like! I keep telling myself its ok as that’s what’s needed to get the clients, after all that’s why I’m doing this. Working with them is a real privilege. Being able to support people in making a change (both in their professional and personal life) is incredibly rewarding. I keep reminding myself of that when I feel tested.

CoThinking Company


What has surprised you?
The biggest surprise is the extent of the support that I have received (friends, colleagues, friends of friends etc). It’s been really great to get back in contact with people I’ve worked with previously (including some from a good few years back and some that I have met quite fleetingly) and I have been genuinely touched by the amount of time, advice, feedback, help and good will that’s been gifted to me. It’s been invaluable and I’m really grateful for it!

What advice would you give to a parent in the same position?
Whenever I have a moment of doubt my husband says to me:
1. Do you believe people need what you are offering?
2. Do you believe what you do works?
3. Do you think you are particularly good at doing it?
If you answer yes to these three questions then you should stick at it!

What great advice, I know whenever I get my next self-confidence wobble I will be asking myself those three questions! What about you, what answers will those questions offer?.
Head over to The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox and share!

If you, or someone you know, would like to be featured as part of my Inspiring Parents series then please fill in the link.

Read the previous ones here

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