With my final day at work speeding toward me, I’m definitely in need of some inspiration and tough talking right now as my anxiety of what’s to come comes a-creeping. 

Fortunately for me, I have a very inspirational family member whose recent visit from LA to speak at The Crystal Lecture at the University of Wolverhampton was perfectly timed, giving me just the pick me up I needed. 

I’ve been in awe of Val pretty much since the day I met her.  Her zest for life and determination is just so energising.  She’s a no-excuses, go-getting, book-writing, Crossfitting mother of 3 who moved to the other side of the world with her husband over 10 years ago to work at Xbox in Seattle, followed by Amazon Fashion before moving to LA where she now runs her own leadership consultancy business working with VPs at companies such as Starbucks, Microsoft & DreamWorks, to name just a few. 

She planned a wedding in 7 weeks, wrote a book in 4 months* and gave birth to twin girls when her first born was a month off turning 2 #superwoman! 

So I think it’s fair to say she has her shizzle together.  I therefore asked her to impart her pearls of wisdom with me and thought it’d be rude of me not to share – find below her 5 top tips for being a Ninja JFDI-er 🙂


1. Be Thoughtfully Ruthless

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This means being really intentional with where you spend your energy and time. I find that there is too much thinking and not enough action. As Robbie Williams says “I’m contemplating thinking about thinking, it’s overrated…(so get another drink in!)”. 

The time spent on debating a small decision doesn’t always correlate with the difference it makes in your life. I know as I have done it!  I’ve spent hours debating which of fifty kettles to buy, or which flight to catch, or deciding which restaurant to meet at. Unfortunately, it sucks time and energy from the important aspects you need to be focusing on like doing what you love with those you love, considering what you want your life to be like in the future and how can you rapidly get there.

2. Decisions, Decisions

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Decisions can always be undone.  If you work at Amazon, Jeff Bezos encourages two-way-door decisions to make sure leaders make rapid progress. Most decisions can be undone, you can go back through the door you just went through.

When we were living in England, Microsoft offered me a job in either Seattle or Silicon Valley.  We chose Seattle because it was where the company HQ was based and there would be many future opportunities – if it was really that terrible we could always move home! At precisely the time we were quietly considering the offer, it seemed everyone around us was telling us stories of what might have been – “remember the time we got offered that opportunity in Australia and we turned it down?” “Perhaps we should have taken that assignment in Chicago” – and we just kept hearing regret about inaction not action. Which convinced us we were making the right decision.

3. The Triple A of Learning

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Having watched the most successful, mediocre, and absolutely terrible leaders and entrepreneurs, I’ve been able to decide what makes the most successful live happier lives and become successful on their own terms. Those who follow the Triple A of Learning – who ask, accept, and apply advice – stand out.

When I knew I was going to quit my corporate life and start my own consulting business I looked around me and realized there wasn’t anyone I personally knew who I wanted to be so I found myself a mentor and a new community of authors, speakers, and global consultants who I could aspire to become.  My business advisor, Alan Weiss, has written 65 books and I’m always asking him questions like “How can I write a number of books?” or “how can I have speaking as a major revenue and marketing machine for me,” and most importantly “how do I make sure I am not the worst boss I have ever had?!”

I also have an inner circle of advisors who know me and my business inside out. We meet three times a year around the world and talk at least twice a month. Sometimes it takes others to extract from you facts that you hide, the facts that maybe you don’t realize the importance of.  We were creating my bio and one of my inner circle was interviewing me and asking me what results I get with my clients. I mentioned that the stock price rose 37% after working with me and she nearly fell of her chair and screamed “Val!  You have to get that as a testimonial and use it for marketing!!”.  It often takes someone else seeing your results and impact to shine a spotlight on them. I do that for the executives I work with all the time. Helping them become brilliant at demonstrating their brilliance, but it helps me when I do that for myself too. When my husband, Andy, got offered a job at Disney Studios in LA, I had only just launched my consulting business five months prior, so I asked who else had successfully moved cities with their consulting business and followed their lessons and things to avoid.

4. Get Your Fear Into Perspective

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There are few fears we face in our life that truly warrant it.  My fear at the top of a double diamond black ski run is different to my fear of writing on a new topic I never have spoken about before and wondering how people will react. 

I recently wrote about being a woman executive and I deleted it over and over again until my mentor told me to just submit it to the Los Angeles Business Journal, which resulted in it being published and a new weekly column.

Real fear is when I was working in Rackhams department store in 1993 when there was an attacker on the shop floor literally cutting the throats of my co-workers. Real fear is being put on bed rest for 16weeks when pregnant with twins with an 18month old running around.

I don’t talk about those fears because they are insignificant compared to the tragedies and difficulties others have faced. But they put into perspective the fears that consume people’s decisions to quit a job, try something new, move to a new city or country, or to just say what you really think.

5. Let it all go now

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Think of an important decision or event. A big presentation, meeting new people, sharing a new idea. Do you overly worry before, during or after the event? Prepare too much? Worry while there if you are saying and doing the right things? Afterwards do you kick yourself for not responding a certain way or overly fret about that look someone gave you or why people didn’t say thank you?  The pre-worry, parallel-worry, and post-worry can comatose you. You just have to let it all go.  I am not everyone’s cup of tea and that is just fine by me. After five years having my own consulting and speaking business I have learned that the more I share with the world who I am, what impact I have on companies and leaders, the more I attract my favourite kind of clients. The same applies with my friends. Fear comes from excessively worrying about what you are about to do, are doing or did do when you just have to listen to Elsa and Let It Go!


If Val’s advice above has tickled your taste buds, then there’s more where that came from in her book, Thoughtfully Ruthless, which you can purchase by clicking here* – I’d highly recommend.  The Power of No chapter is a particular favourite of mine.  Or you can simply read a sample chapter by clicking  here.

*This post contains affiliate links which are indicated by an asterisk (*). You don’t pay any more from clicking on that link but I might earn a few pennies if you do 🙂