It has been a privilege to welcome Michelle Rees as guest speaker for the SmarTalks Show! If you have not listened to the Podcast, you can do so here.
Michelle is a force of nature. Not only she has a Corporate job as Head of Events for EMEA, but also writes a blog on her career, manages Eventprofslive, a networking group for corporate events managers, goes to the gym, and hosts “In conversation with Eventprofs”, a podcast with some of the biggest event professionals.
All of this by starting the day at 5 am!
I asked Michelle her secret and she let me know that it is all about winning the morning. If you conquer your morning, you can win the whole day.
“High victory is made in those early morning hours when no one is watching and while everyone else is sleeping.” - Robin Sharma
I could not accomplish all the wonderful things you have just mentioned without getting up early. It does not have to be 5 am. It might be 6 am, sometimes even 7 am, but if you start working at 9 am and you wake up at 6 am you have got three full hours before the rest of the world to get a handle on your day, your side hustles, your washing.
Do you struggle in the evening if you are at an event or you are watching a good movie?
A lot of people might think that as an event professional I am always out late; this may happen from time to time, however once I see the venue and I network I ask myself “Is staying here a little longer serving my long term personal and professional development?”. Very often I will call the night early and the following day I get to wake up and do many things that add value to my life.
You have to hold yourself accountable to what you want to achieve in life; if you want to work on a side hustle, on a podcast, you have got to give something up and this means, sometimes, to turn down an offer to stay out a little bit later.
Michelle follows a very simple and powerful morning strategy. She calls it the 6 Fs
That’s the no-brainer. When she was 16 years old, Michelle used to work at a gym, and still nowadays doing something physical sets her up for the rest of her day.
“I am quite obsessed by the Peloton App”, said Michelle. “Smashing the day is easier after you smash a workout!”
Going to the gym is incredibly beneficial for mental health. Getting up might be hard but then I know I will feel much better and more productive. I never regret a work out. Even some fresh air, stretching, yoga or Pilates is important because then you will be sitting at your desk for the whole day.
How many people have a stack of bills - credit card, utilities - pension, they need to sort out? Everyone hates paying bills, rolling the pension, etc. but if you wake up at 5 am you actually have the time to get them resolved!
The most important thing. Each morning Michelle thinks about what she can do to support her family.
Friends need to know that they are an important part of our lives. Michelle has a list of all the people she has not spoken with for some time. She lived in London, Dubai and Australia and some friends have been a huge part of her life; she sends them a simple WhatsApp or email, something that will make them smile.
Michelle loves reading and learning. Every day she tries to make time to read a book. She has also attended the most various courses during lockdown, from digital marketing to life coaching. They do not come at a great expense, and you get so much out of them!
Finally, having fun. Life is short and we need to find the fun where we can. Morning, lunch time, evening, whenever. Fun could be cooking, playing a song, etc!
To keep herself disciplined and motivated, Michelle keeps a post it next to her bed to remind herself of what she wants to do and why.
“I also have a picture of myself as a small child; I look at it and think ‘What kind of person did small Michelle want to become? What does big Michelle look like to small Michelle?’ and then I try to do things that would make little Michelle proud”.
Michelle is not only a great professional, but also a LOT of fun. Sometimes, when we grow up, we kind of forget the fun part. But Michelle seems to combine both fun and work. I asked her to let me more about her outlook in life.
I come from a place of “Life is short”. I appreciate every single day and moment. Every day we have is a gift. Yes, I am a Senior Leader in my organization, I manage a team, I have a huge chunk of work to get done, but at the end of the day I want to make my life happy, enjoy what I do, and brighten other people’s day.
Sometimes, people might have a tendency to take things really personally and be ill as a result of that. At the end of the day, it is just work, anything can be fixed; if you make a mistake, God forbid, it can be fixed. As long as you have not done anyone serious harm, hurt someone’s feelings, or made a catastrophic business decision, everything can be fixed.
You can clearly see why I was excited to have Michelle on the podcast; her positivity is contagious!
Michelle was telling me, right before starting the podcast, that her team was shortlisted for "Events & Operations Team of The Year". I asked her if she could elaborate a bit on her Leadership style!
I manage a team of seven and every day I ask myself “How would I liked to be managed? What would I need from my Leader to feel supported, secure and motivated? What level of empathy would I want my Leader to apply with me?”.
When she approaches her team, Michelle thinks about their careers and what she can do to equip them and make them successful.
I also try to think about the different personalities in my team and what is the most effective way to deliver guidance and information in a way that will resonate with them and will make them feel supported.
As a Leader, my job is to lead, support, motivate and develop my team first and foremost; I take this responsibility very seriously. Think about this: I am responsible for moulding seven careers, my team will always remember me as their manager and so I want them to enjoy the work, I want them to contribute to the business and just be happy with what they are doing. If someone said “I really dislike this task”, if it is possible I will work to support them.
It’s a privilege to manage people, not everyone has this opportunity, and this is why you should give it 100%.
When I asked Michelle if she had recommendations on learning resources, she said she loves self-help books and motivational books such as “Can’t hurt me” by David Goggins. Reading offers you learning that will serve you and support you for the rest of your life.
Michelle also listens to Podcasts and MasterClass. The latter is a great resource that offers online classes created for professionals of all skill levels.
The bottom line is that we always need to be learning and if we tie it back to getting up earlier we have got the headspace and morning motivation to incorporate learning elements into our day.
Wrapping up the Episode with morning routines, I asked Michelle what tips she can share with us to ensure we keep being disciplined and motivated?
I would advocate missing a day if you are not feeling it. You know when sometimes people go on a diet and the day before the binge eat, or half-way through the diet they eat burgers and then regret it? You have to give yourself a break and apply a 80-20 rule.
A morning routine is like a diet. It can happen that you binge 16 pizzas. But you should think that you can have a glimpse and then you keep going with your routine.
Give yourself 1-2 days when you are not strict with your morning routine and you wake up at 8 am. You will notice the difference. You will see that you have not had the time for yourself, the household chores are yet to be taken care of, you will feel out of sync with your other activities and this will remind you of why you were waking up earlier in the first place.
Overall, do not put too much pressure on yourself. You do not need to go all in, do it for yourself, be kind to yourself. Keep in mind the “why” of your efforts to make a change, and never get discouraged. Remember what you are achieving, and use your pride in your accomplishments as a fuel to keep going.
“All change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end.”
I would like to point out something for all the readers. Great leaders simplify. And you see how much Michelle has simplified the routine for us. You wake up, you check the 6 Fs and you are ready to tackle the day! Make it easy on yourself!
That’s what we have got for this Article; if you liked it, please share it with someone who is trying to implement a morning routine, the only way we grow and impact more people is if you guys share it so I greatly greatly appreciate all of you who will do it.
Make your life a masterpiece, see you next week, I appreciate you and I hope you have an amazing day.