Stay Curious and Keep Learning: The world is constantly changing, and there’s always something new to learn. When I first started, I thought I knew it all. But then I attended a workshop on a topic I thought I was an expert in, and it opened my eyes to so many new ideas and techniques.
As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rachel Withers.
Rachel Withers is a business strategist, serial entrepreneur, and public speaker. Applying this experience, she is the founder of a successful fitness concept, successful property company, and founder and CEO The Growth Mindset Hub and Business Growth Hub. And runs hers digital marketing agency Squad Media.
Rachel is an Amazon #1 bestselling author, with books Become a FITPreneur, and has co-authored with the legendary Jack Canfield with the best seller Success. Her books are written to inspire readers to achieve their goals.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path (Student Accommodation and Wellness)?
Thank you, you’re most welcome! I must say, my journey to the Student Accommodation and Wellness sector is indeed a bit of a unique one.
You see, I started out as a ballet dancer — yes, you heard it right. Twirling, pirouetting, the whole nine yards. But after hanging up my pointe shoes, I found myself transitioning into our family business. It was a whirlwind period, to say the least, and in the midst of all the chaos, I realised I was neglecting my own personal wellbeing.
That’s when I decided to take a step back and return to my roots. I dusted off my old ballet shoes and started dancing again, not for an audience this time, but for myself. It was during this journey back to fitness that I had a lightbulb moment. Wellness isn’t just about being physically fit, it’s a holistic approach that includes taking care of your mental health and overall wellbeing.
So, inspired by this newfound understanding, I delved into self-development studies and eventually became a qualified life coach. And let me tell you, it’s been an incredible ride! I even got the chance to co-author books with some pretty big names like Jack Canfield and Brian Tracy. These experiences only reinforced my belief in the power of creating spaces that encourage personal growth and learning.
And that’s what I bring to the table in the student accommodation sector. I’m passionate about making sure our residents feel at home, and that they have a space where they can grow, learn, and thrive. But it’s not just about the students. I believe in nurturing a culture of wellness within our team too, because they are the backbone of our business. Their wellbeing is just as important as that of the students we serve. So, it’s all about striking the right balance, and ensuring that everyone feels supported and valued.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Oh, do I have a story for you! It’s one of those tales that starts as a disaster but ends up showing the true spirit of our team at Venite.
So, it was a week before move-in day for the students and we were all buzzing with excitement. We had meticulously planned every detail to ensure that the students would have a seamless transition into their new homes. But just as we thought everything was under control, we received a call from the cleaning company. They’d had an issue and couldn’t make it to clean the building.
You could probably imagine the panic that set in. The students were due to arrive within a week and we had quite a few apartments still to clean. But instead of folding under pressure, something truly incredible happened.
Our entire team — from the office staff to the maintenance crew — rolled up their sleeves and jumped into action. We divided the tasks, got the necessary supplies, and started cleaning. Our IT guy was mopping floors, the HR manager was dusting furniture, and I found myself scrubbing bathrooms.
It was intense, exhausting, but there was this amazing sense of camaraderie. We were all working together, not as different departments, but as one united team with a common goal. And you know what? We did it. We had that entire building spotless just in time for the first students to arrive.
Even now, whenever we face a challenge at Venite, we remember that day and it gives us the confidence to know that we can handle anything that comes our way.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh, I’ve got a good one for you! I’ve definitely had my share of learning moments. But there’s one in particular that still makes me chuckle when I think about it.
We were preparing for a large training presentation. I was in charge of the PowerPoint slides and I’d spent hours making sure every slide was perfect. The day of the presentation arrived and I was feeling pretty confident.
As we began, I clicked the button to move to the first slide…and up popped a picture of my dog wearing a party hat. I’d been working on a slideshow for my son’s birthday party the week before and somehow, that image had found its way into our professional presentation!
There was a moment of stunned silence and then the room erupted in laughter. I was mortified but managed to laugh along and quickly switched to the correct slide. In the end, the investors thought it was hilarious and it actually helped to break the ice.
But the lesson I learned was invaluable: double-check, triple-check, and then check again! Whether it’s a presentation, an email, or a proposal, always take the extra time to review your work. Not only to avoid unexpected surprises but also to ensure that everything you put out represents the quality and professionalism of your work.
And the second lesson? Always keep your sense of humour. Mistakes will happen, it’s how you handle them that counts. That incident with the dog photo could have been a disaster, but by laughing at myself and moving on, it turned into a funny story and a memorable moment. So, don’t take yourself too seriously; we’re all human and sometimes, our dogs in party hats just want to be part of the action too!
Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?
Absolutely, making a positive impact in the world is just as important to us as the day-to-day operations of our business. We believe in doing good and giving back, and we’re really excited about some initiatives we’re working on to make that happen.
Right now, we’re setting up a charity — yes, our very own charity! — which will give both our residents and employees the chance to contribute to social and environmental causes that matter to them. We’re planning a series of events and talks to help everyone in our community get involved and feel empowered to make a difference. It’s all about bringing people together, raising awareness about important issues, and helping each other to help others.
But that’s not all. We also sponsor a podcast called ‘Campus Chronicles’. This isn’t your average podcast, it’s a treasure trove of guidance and support for students. We bring in leaders, influencers, and thinkers from all sorts of fields to share their wisdom and experiences. The idea is to complement academic learning with insights from those who’ve been there, done that. We want to help students grow not just acadically, but personally and professionally too.
These initiatives are our way of creating a ripple effect of positive change, both within our community and beyond. As we continue to grow and evolve as a company, we’re committed to making a real social impact and promoting sustainability. Because at the end of the day, we believe business should be about more than just profit; it’s about making the world a better place.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Oh, let me tell you about Bob Proctor. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s a big deal in the personal development world and his teachings have had a profound impact on both my personal journey and the ethos of our organisation.
Bob believes that our subconscious mind holds the keys to our lives. It’s like the control centre, guiding our actions and decisions based on the ideas it’s been fed. According to Bob, we can change our lives by reprogramming our subconscious minds. We can shift our paradigms — those mental frameworks that shape how we see the world — and in turn, change the course of our lives.
As someone who has had the privilege of learning from Bob, I’ve tried to bring these principles into our organization. We started thinking about how to provide real value to our residents, how to make a positive social impact, how to nurture a sense of community, and how to foster personal growth and development.
Let me give you an example. We had a resident who stayed with us, I won’t share names who was really struggling with self-doubt and negativity. When we started incorporating Bob’s teachings into our work, they attended one of our talks about the power of the subconscious mind. Something clicked for them that day and they began consciously feeding his mind positive affirmations and visualizing success.
And you know what? It worked. They transformed right before our eyes, confidence blossomed, and they became an active participant in our community initiatives. Their transformation was so inspiring, it created a ripple effect of positivity and growth among the other residents.
By weaving Bob Proctor’s teachings into the fabric of our organisation, we’ve managed to create a nurturing environment that supports personal development while still delivering value to our investors and residents. It’s a win-win, and it just goes to show how powerful the subconscious mind can be!
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to really get to the heart of societal issues. And I’m convinced it’s going to take a holistic approach — one that involves everyone from our neighbours to our politicians. Let me share a few ideas on how we can all pitch in:
- Boosting Awareness and Education: Let’s start with our community and society. One big thing they can do is help people understand why holistic well-being is so important. Imagine local workshops or town hall meetings where we talk about everything from physical health to mental wellness, social connections, and personal growth. It’s about helping people see the benefits of a balanced lifestyle.
- Changing the Rules: This is where our politicians come in. They have a unique power to shape societal norms through laws and policies. They can advocate for things that promote holistic well-being. Think laws that encourage a healthy work-life balance, provide mental health support in schools/Universities and workplaces, or even ones that ensure access to green spaces and recreational facilities.
- Building a Supportive Community: This one’s super important. A supportive community can make a world of difference in promoting holistic well-being. We can create spaces that encourage social interaction, provide resources for physical activities, and foster an environment where everyone supports each other. We could even start local initiatives like community gardens, fitness clubs, or mental health support groups.
So, if we all band together — the community, society, and politicians — I truly believe we can make a huge difference. We can tackle these issues at their roots and make holistic well-being a priority for everyone.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
So, when I think about “Leadership”, I see it as the ability to inspire and guide others towards achieving a common goal. It’s not just about being the boss and calling the shots, but about encouraging teamwork, fostering a positive environment, and bringing out the best in people.
Let’s say you’re coaching a local youth football team. Leadership doesn’t mean you’re the best player on the field. It means you’re the one who can recognise each player’s strengths, help them improve their weaknesses, and bring them together as a cohesive unit. It’s about making sure everyone feels valued and motivated to give their best for the team. That, in my eyes, is what true leadership looks like.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Oh, I love this question! If only we could all start with a little bit of hindsight, right? But let’s see, here are my top five:
- Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes: When I first started, I was so worried about messing up that it sometimes held me back from trying new things. But mistakes are how we learn and grow. Remember the time I botched a presentation because I misunderstood the brief? It was embarrassing, sure, but it taught me the importance of asking for clarity when unsure.
- Say Yes to Opportunities: Early on, I often hesitated to take on new projects or tasks because I wasn’t sure if I could handle them. But every opportunity is a chance to learn something new. Like when I was asked to lead a project way outside my comfort zone, it was daunting but ended up being one of the most rewarding experiences of my career.
- Networking is Key: I used to think that hard work alone would get me where I wanted to go. But building relationships is just as crucial. That time I struck up a conversation with someone at a conference? Turned out they were looking for a collaborator on a project that was a perfect fit for my skills.
- Work-Life Balance is Crucial: In the beginning, I was all about the hustle, often at the expense of my personal life. But burnout is real, and it’s important to make time for rest and hobbies. Remember when I worked through weekends for a month and then fell ill? That was a wake-up call.
- Stay Curious and Keep Learning: The world is constantly changing, and there’s always something new to learn. When I first started, I thought I knew it all. But then I attended a workshop on a topic I thought I was an expert in, and it opened my eyes to so many new ideas and techniques.
So, those are my top five. I’ve learned a lot from these experiences, and while the journey would have been smoother if someone had told me these things, I wouldn’t trade those learning moments for anything!
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Well, that’s quite a thought-provoking question! If I could inspire a movement, it would definitely revolve around fostering genuine human connections and empathy. In our tech-driven world, we often find ourselves more connected to our devices than to each other. So, I’d love to spark a movement that encourages us to put down our phones and truly engage with one another.
Imagine a world where we prioritise face-to-face interactions, shared experiences, and deep conversations. A world where we take the time to understand and respect each other’s passions, differences, and personal boundaries. I think this would not only enrich our own lives but also create more supportive, empathetic communities.
For instance, we could organise community events like “Unplugged Weekends” where everyone is encouraged to spend time away from their screens. These could involve group activities like outdoor adventures, art classes, or storytelling sessions — anything that fosters shared experiences and deeper connections.
I believe such a movement could bring immense good to society. By connecting more deeply with those around us, we can better understand their perspectives, learn from their experiences, and work together to create a more understanding and inclusive world. And who knows, this idea might just trigger a ripple effect of positive change!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Absolutely, there’s a wonderful quote by Stephen Covey. It really resonates with me and aligns perfectly with the ethos of fostering collaboration and unity.
‘Together, you and I are much more powerful than either of us could ever be alone.’ Stephen Covey truly nailed it with this one. It perfectly encapsulates the spirit of unity and collaboration.
This holds significant relevance, especially within the framework of our family-run business.
In a family business, every member brings their unique skills, perspectives, and experiences to the table. Perhaps one individual excels in strategic planning while another shines in customer relations or innovative problem-solving. When these individuals work independently, their impact, while significant, has its limits.
However, when they unite their talents and resources, they amplify their potential exponentially. They can achieve outcomes that would be impossible on an individual level. This is the essence of Covey’s wisdom — the power of collaboration and unity.
This ethos of togetherness not only drives business success but also contributes to the creation of supportive and thriving communities. It underscores the idea that by working together, we can foster environments that encourage individual growth, collective wellbeing, and meaningful change. Thus, this quote isn’t merely a life lesson — it’s a guiding principle for building a more prosperous and harmonious world.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Ah, what an intriguing question! It would be fascinating to arrange a meeting with Eckhart Tolle. His profound insights on mindfulness and living in the moment have influenced millions around the world.
Isn’t it interesting how Eckhart Tolle’s teachings really hit home for so many of us? He talks about this idea of being fully present, of really immersing ourselves in the here and now rather than getting caught up in past memories or future worries. It sounds simple, but in reality, isn’t it a struggle we all face in this world that’s just buzzing with distractions?
Discussing how to find peace in the now, even amidst the chaos of modern life. That would be a conversation worth having! So, @EckhartTolle, how about it? Would you fancy a chat about the power of now? 🙂
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Oh, absolutely! If anyone out there is interested in keeping up with my work, I’d be thrilled. You can find me on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachellwithers. Feel free to connect with me there, I regularly share updates and insights about my ongoing projects.
Also, you can check out our company’s website, Venite.com. It’s a great resource for more in-depth information about what we do and the projects we’re currently working on. So, don’t hesitate to reach out or follow along, I love to engage with people who share similar interests. Looking forward to connecting with you!
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success in your great work!
Here’s to more positive impact in the future. Thank you so much!
Social Impact Heroes: Why & How Rachel Withers of Venite Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.