A Conversation with Mim Bartlett, of Mim Bartlett Consulting – Podcast Episode 13

Mim Bartlett, Managing Director of Mim Bartlett Consulting is a qualified psychotherapist, lawyer, facilitator, executive coach and key-note speaker with over 22 years’ experience delivering career development, leadership and resilience coaching to the business community.

In this podcast Sally Nicholes of Nicholes Family Lawyers speaks with Mim about Mim’s consulting business and executive leadership program ChangeUp.

They talk about juggling careers and motherhood (both before and during the current pandemic), about Mim’s passion for Meditation and how it has helped Mim on her journey. We hope you enjoy this inspiring conversation with Mim Bartlett.

 

Sally Nicholes:

Welcome everyone to the Nicholes Family Lawyers’ podcast. I am Sally Nicholes, Managing Partner at Nicholes Family Lawyers. Joining me for today’s podcast is Mim Bartlett, Managing Director of Mim Bartlett Consulting. Mim is a qualified psychotherapist, facilitator, executive coach, and keynote speaker with over twenty-two years’ experience delivering career development, leadership and resilience programs, and coaching to the business community. Thank you so much for joining me, Mim. It is great to have you on our podcast. So Mim, how are you?

Mim Bartlett:

Hi Sal, it is fantastic to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Sally:

Well, it is my pleasure. And Mim, I should have added, you are also a lawyer to that comprehensive Curriculum Vitae I just read out before. During this amazing time, how has life actually changed for you during this pandemic?

Mim:

I do think it is important to say at the outset that Mike, my partner, and I both still have a job, which we are enormously grateful for, and I think makes a real difference. I absolutely miss my life face-to-face, seeing my clients, my friends, traveling for work, just having a bigger life. I feel that it is a much more constricted, a little bit more of a groundhog-smaller life, and I miss that.

But one of the silver linings has been so much more beautiful family time. Two out of our three boys have been studying in Europe, and they were forced to come home. They were not particularly happy about it. But now they are here, I think they are fine. But it is just so lovely having all five of us together because that was not going to happen for a long time. And so that has been really special.

On the work front, I have resisted for such a long time handling my work virtually and running it with technology. So taking my leadership programs and putting them online, and scaling them that way. What has been good about COVID is it forced me to do it in a really quick period of time, and whilst it was very challenging, and I was really out of my comfort zone.

And I still do prefer face-to-face. But it has been remarkable how good Zoom has been in particular because my work is very experiential. With my background as a psychotherapist, I like to do a lot of deeper process work, and having a breakout room has been just wonderful, and the feedback has been really strong.

So clients, particularly in COVID times, have wanted us to continue working with their executives to make sure that they have an outlet where they can process and share in a really safe psychological space, and still work on their leadership in these times. So I am really grateful for that.

And there are two not-for-profits that I am really involved with, and it has been wonderful seeing them adapt so quickly and also go online, and I thought I might share what they are because some of your listeners might find that they are a really good resource.

So one of them is Mentor Walks. I do not know if you know that. I am the head of Melbourne. It is a national not-for-profit and it connects senior female leaders across lots of different industries with professional women for a one hour walk around the Tan in Melbourne. But it is run nationally once a month, and we pair one mentor with one to three mentees each time.

And the mentees pay twenty-five dollars and put on the website the area that they would like support in, and we match them up based on their backgrounds. And so for the hour you are learning, and supporting, and guiding, and doing a little group coaching session while you get exercise.

Sally:

So you are moving? That is great.

Mim:

You are moving. It is so beautiful, and the mentees… Well, they learn from the mentors, we learn from the mentees, and the mentees often create beautiful friendships that they continue on afterwards. And even if you come once a year, because it is every month, or every time, we will match the mentees with a new mentor each time. So they are getting access to really fabulous women they might not otherwise have access to and just learning, growing so much.

And that has been taken online, and so we are running that beginning next Friday in Melbourne, and tomorrow in Sydney West, kicking it off virtually using Zoom in breakout rooms. So we are going to have two mentees to one mentor and a breakout room. So we trialled it in double last week because we also run it regionally in Australia with fantastic feedback.

So that is just another resource for any of your women, professional women that are listening, that want to continue networking, expanding their community, and learning and growing and connecting. And obviously, everything is confidential that takes place in the walk.

Sally:

Oh, how fantastic. That is absolutely fabulous, and can they actually — if they are Zooming — can they actually be walking at the same time, do you think?

Mim:

That is a good point! That is a really good point. Oh, you know what, the only requirement that we have is that you have to sit next to a pot plant or something green. And we had people walking up in green shirts, which is gorgeous. But, I have not thought about that as to actually “could you be walking.” I do not think I would do it as a mentor in case the reception was bad and a truck went past and I could not hear, but it is a very good question.

Sally:

You never know. That would be stage two. And what is the second Not For Profit?

Mim:

The second one is called SheEO. Have you heard of that?

Sally:

Yes.

Mim:

Okay. Well, I might just say what it is. It is a community of women who come together globally. But in Australia, I think there are about a hundred of us, and we contribute a thousand dollars as an act of radical generosity, which is pulled together and loaned out to five female-led ventures who are selected by us, whose business, like their product or service, is making a difference to the world.

And the reason it was set up is because less than two-point-five percent of venture capital funding goes to females, which is just the most shocking statistic. So this incredible woman in Canada, Vicki Saunders, set up SheEO to help change that statistic, and it is just a beautiful community. We come together and really support each other, as well as the five ventures.

And the way this has gone online is now each week, you can jump on a call with eighty activators, there have been about eighty each call, and we are connecting with them, and share what we are doing, and see how we can support each other, and we can ask for help from each other, and there are start-ups to people in government, to people in big corporates. It is a very diverse, motivating, and generous community.

Sally:

How wonderful, and in terms of what is happening in responding to COVID-19, that would just be incredibly vital and quite inspirational. Have you found that everyone has rallied together and helped each other out?

Mim:

Absolutely. So they practice what they call “#radicalgenerosity” every time we come together, and there are a couple of events that you self-organize each year in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, et cetera. There is a part of the meeting, and also online, where you actually have a period of time where people stand up and say, “This is my ask,” and you give your ask and then people will just put up their hand and say yep, love to help you with that, yep, come and see me after, et cetera.

Or you can just stand up and say, “This is my give. I am really skilled in HR and leadership development and I would love to offer my skills free if anyone needs anything or I am really good at building websites, please shout out to me if you want to hand”.  So it is beautiful, Sal, it is really special.

Sally:

And very unique.  Incredible. So tell us about Mim Bartlett Consulting and ChangeUp because I know it very well, but I think for people listening, particularly those who want empowerment leadership changing or leadership training, tell them about it.

Mim:

So I set it up five years ago. I have been in consulting, working in career development, in the career resilience space for about fifteen years, and I felt there was a real need in the market around working with people. But my passion and focus are particularly when I do work with men, around supporting them in their development as a leader holistically.

So I was not just interested in who people were in their professional life. I wanted to really explore who they were, and their family, within their friendship groups, and in their community, as well as who they were professionally because we know people are flourishing outside of work. It is a given that they bring all that energy, productivity and joy to work.

So I went to corporates unapologetically talking about holistically working with people. Also I felt that well-being really needed to sit at the heart of ChangeUp. So with the focus on mental, emotional and physical health because if you do not have a strong foundation of that then you cannot really be your best as a leader. It is like you have got to fill up your own psyche before you help others.

So that I really love working in this way because I get to work with people as a whole person, and with my psychotherapeutic background, I really like to work very deeply. So I guess that is a couple of things that people say with what distinguishes it from other work they have done. That when it is holistic in method, we work really deeply so we do not just stay at the superficial level.

There is a lot of deep sharing, incredible connections and growth, within the community. Most of my work is with corporates, but I run some public programs where I work with a mixture of corporates, amazing people like you, entrepreneurs, and CEOs of not-for-profits because I like it. It is one way I can give back to that for-purpose world, and then the richness that they bring to the group is really beautiful.

And we have had so many great friendships, and partnerships, and collaborations that have come out of ChangeUp. And I think yours is a lovely example of one where you did some collaboration with a small business in fashion, and you are able to combine fashion and not-for-profit.

Sally:

Absolutely, and that was with my buddy. You buddied me up with Elvie and Leo, and that was just a fantastic result, yes, we partnered with them with good intent for work, and it was just incredible but very dynamic. But you were able to actually match the personality so well within that. So that was just, again, incredible philanthropic fore-thought.

Elvie and Leo, as soon as they were workshopping the launch of their business as part of ChangeUp, I suggested that they actually partner with Fitted for Work, and it was just such a beautiful connection.

And I think that what I loved also about ChangeUp, obviously, is that your model was based on a hard-earned method of coming from a very positive place because I know in the old antiquated way of leadership change training that I did as a lawyer often, and particularly when I became a partner, often you had to look at your strengths and weaknesses. Whereas all of your training is looking from a very positive construct and you said that was some particular method that you…?

Mim:

Yeah. That is right, Sal. And you are right. There is certainly negativity bias in ourselves, and in our culture, and very much so in organizational life. And I really love the work of positive psychology, which is about building on your strengths because we know that when you…

I give this analogy of a boat and I say that if there is a hole in the boat, the hole represents your weaknesses, and it is important that you spend time patching up your weaknesses so the boat does not sink and you do not flail and drown in your life. So yes, you need to spend enough time just working on your weaknesses so that you stay afloat.

But if you spend all your time or most of your time doing that, you will only drown, you will not move forward, and the way we all move forward and really flourish and thrive in our life is playing to our strengths. The sails on the boat represent our strength. So when we are really playing to our strengths, the sails billow out and that is what drives us forward.

So when we are thinking about the proportion of time to be spent on weaknesses and playing to our strengths, there is Alex Lindley, who is one of the key movers and shakers of positive psychology. That is his analogy, and people really find that visual representation very helpful.

Sally:

Fantastic, and I think that this is a time to rethink about it. That we all need to really play on our strengths. I wondered, from your own perspective, where we, as women, in particular, we are juggling issues such as motherhood and working, and COVID, and how are you finding that with your juggle, being a parent and juggling your business?

You said you have had the lovely issue of having all the kids at home to be thrilled about. What are your strategies or what would you like to convey to the parents who are juggling children at home at the moment, particularly tertiary students studying. How is that challenge going?

Mim:

I just want to say I take my hat off and am hugely admiring of anyone with younger kids and primary school-age kids. To be doing that as well as working is an unbelievable feat, and it must be exhausting. So I have to say thankfully, I am not in that area because my youngest boy is in Year 12  and he was obviously really disappointed.

He said, “Mum, my older friends and my brother’s friends say it is one of the best years of your life and certainly the best of your school life. And now it is all gone. We have got all the study but none of the fun stuff. No way teens kissing girls, playing footy, watching footy.”

So yeah, he is one of my boysy-boys. So he is disappointed about that, but he is quite independent. So it has not been really an issue that I have had to motivate him or stand over him. So that has been really good. And in the time of COVID, his main request for me was not to travel too much for work because he wanted me around particularly to make sure there is lots of food. He said you are good on the EQ, dad is good on the IQ, so can you be around for the food and the EQ, and so actually now —

And look, I have made sure that we are — So, Nick and Rich are home from Europe and they are studying really hard too. But, I do not want to fall back into any outdated gender roles. So I have been quite clear on making sure we are fairly sharing the cooking and the laundry, so that has always been quite important for me.

Sally:

I think you will be very proud of me because we have discovered something called HelloFresh, and I have got the eight-year-old and twelve-year-old sharing the cooking.

Mim:

Sal, that is fabulous! So do they share— or, they take turns?

Sally:

They take turns. They could not co-operate together…

Mim:

Yeah, that is hard to do.

Sally:

… Beyond a challenge, but I actually take it in turns. How is that?

Mim:

That is so good, Sal. And you make a big deal of it because of positive reinforcement

Sally:

The younger one has actually got the Master Chef marks out, and wants to be judged, and is quite a character about it in the end, and makes us all sniff the aroma, and is quite dramatic about it.

Mim:

Oh my God.

Sally:

And wants us all to taste, look at the colour, the emphasis — he has not actually watched Master Chef, so I do not know where the ideas are coming from. But he is very competitive about it and is very upset if the marks are not actually top-notch. But I think again, there are some positives about all of this and I am very excited that they are boys, and they are actually involved in the cooking, contributing that way, which would never have happened if we were not actually stuck at home.

Mim:

So that has been a great benefit. How many days are you doing it? Because if there is HelloFresh, it might explain it.

Sally:

This is all during the week. This is weekdays.

Mim:

Oh, good, so four-five nights.

Sally:

Yes, so taking turns which is really important, I think. If we were all rushing and keeping that incredible timetable and that rat race that we were all in before this happened, and the boys had so many sporting commitments, that just by chance I do not even think we would be eating together, so that is really positive.

Mim:

It is really beautiful. So there’s one of my friends who is on my personal board as my wise elder. She is a Gestalt therapist, and she is just a beautiful mom. I learn a lot from her. She always says that she wants her kids to — she happens to have four boys — to leave home all being able to cook at least five recipes.

And I can work out with one of the twins, my twin boys Rich but not with Nick, so I am kind of working on it with Tom. So this is a good opportunity.

Sally:

Absolutely. Particularly, yes, cooking is not necessarily my forte.

Mim:

Mine neither.

Sally:

This is HelloFresh’s forte. So, as we explained to — do have anything to add to that Flynn or you are just smiling away there. Are you a good chef?

Flynn:

Yeah, I mean look, honestly, that is exactly what my family did. We were like, “Oh, what do we have for dinner?!?” And it is just chaos. I will tell you what, it is chaos. However, we got HelloFresh and it comes in the small box. It has got this box. You open it up and there are four packets. And it goes: here are the instructions. Oh my goodness. It has pictures. This is fantastic! Twenty minutes down, dinner is done.

Sally:

That is how you got a girlfriend, Flynn?

Flynn:

Shh! Shh, Do not give away my tactics.

Do not give away my tactics.

Sally:

Out of isolation and off with the headphones there.

Flynn:

Now they all know I listen.

Sally:

Absolutely. So, on a curious note, with people’s mental health, we have talked a lot about this during the podcast, and are really stretched by this unusual circumstance and particularly self-isolation. There are so many silver linings, which is what I was so grateful to talk to you about, about being at home with our families, and in particular when we are lucky to maintain our jobs.

But not all of us are that lucky. There are some super hardships. Are there strategies, you being a psychotherapist, that you could actually give to people, and I mean meditation, for example, something that you are very —

Mim:

Yeah.

Sally:

A strong influence for you?

Mim:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, why don’t we start with meditation.  So meditation and mindfulness are so much more mainstream and accessible now, which is really wonderful because when it was sitting in the hippie kind of space, people were not as interested in trying it out, but it is just so helpful.

I got into it when I was pretty young, about sixteen. My parents introduced me to it, and I have tried all different types, whether they are at saying a mantra, which is a word that you repeat over and over, or whether it is simply focusing on your breath, or whether it is listening to someone else guide me through a meditation.

What I have come to these days is that a guided meditation works really well for me, and I think it does not matter what time of the day you do it. Even ten minutes can have an enormous impact, and there are so many great apps there. There are paid apps, but there are also free apps. So Insight Timer is a great free app that I use, and you can do it for five to ten minutes, ten to fifteen, et cetera, as long as you want.

And I love it because there are ones for sleeping better, for anxiety, confidence, self-compassion. It is a great thing to do with your kids. I did it when my boys were young, and I would put it on just before they went to bed, and I would lie down with them as well. And so it was something that we could do together, which is really bonding, and it was introducing a really important skill early on to them.

And I find that, for a couple of reasons, particularly helpful. One is if I am tired, it really energizes and gives me energy. Two, if I am feeling flushed or troubled it gives me perspective. So I find that really helpful. And Doctor Richard Davidson, who is a professor of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in America, he found — and many people have studied what happens to the prefrontal lobes of people’s brains who meditate regularly, but the couple of things that he found that I think are really important to talk about, that not everybody knows, is about meditation.

One of the benefits is that it reduces fear. So we are living in a very fearful time right now. People often fear that we do not get COVID ourselves or our loved ones, but also fear job insecurity, income insecurity, and perhaps relationships that have been at work in your home. So it reduces fear and it also increases your response flexibility, and what that means is your capacity to pause before you respond in a situation.

So if you are quick to anger or irritability, then just practising ten minutes a day, and even five if you cannot do ten, means you may just have that moment where you can collect yourself before you respond in a way that you in hindsight would prefer not to have done.

I am not saying this is a Panacea for everything.   I think it is really good — sorry, the one other thing I would say is that self-compassion meditation is something in particular I really like, and it has become very popular, and there is research behind it too. A lot of women I work with in coaching have strong inner critics, and as do I. By practising self-compassion meditation, it helps soften our inner critic and increase our self-compassion. So that is a really beautiful one too.

Sally:

Yeah. I think that negative narrative is something that a lot of high-checking people, a lot of people have that they really do not need particularly at this time. That would be a wonderful technique, for people to actually draw into.

Mim:

Yeah, with so much negativity. But the other thing I think of is journaling, and this is just simply writing down your thoughts or how you feel, is enormously helpful. One, it gets the thoughts out of our heads so we do not ruminate and obsess over the same things. It is in a way vomiting it out, and then we feel better because we have put it on paper. The second thing a lot of people, including myself, find helpful is that when you write things out you often get a lot more clarity.

So journaling is a great tool. Once again, you can do it for a couple of minutes or longer, and you do not have to do it every day, and you do not even have to go back and read over. I do not read over what I journal. Mainly, I just write it out to get it off my chest, and if I have got a difficult conversation coming up with someone, I like to write it out and get ready clear then put the journal away. And then I do not have to kind of be thinking about what am I going to say? How am I going to phrase it? It is there ready for that conversation.

So finally there are some great online courses around personal development, self-development, reflecting on where you are now, purpose, strengths, values, a lot of people are putting those online now for free. And so if you are in a situation where you do have some time, and a lot of people are and a lot of people are not, then it is a good opportunity to make the most of this time.

Sally:

Also I think something that you have always taught us that you put in high regard is exercise, is making sure you have some form of exercise for your mental health.

Absolutely. It is just so important and we are spending so much more time on screens. We have to get out and get fresh air, and vitamin D, and also just clear our mind and take a break from whoever we live with.

Mim:

I am finding that I am getting up early at six or six-thirty for walks so that I can — I really like seeing in the morning, when the sun comes up, and it just gives me time to just collect my thoughts because I am not used to being around my family, and just anyone, for so much. And so I really need that. It has been really good.

Sally:

As much as you dearly love them.

Mim:

I do. I dearly love them. And then, once again, there are so many free workouts on YouTube that you do not have to pay money for that are just fabulous. Five, ten, twenty minutes, thirty minutes, and then you can have a variety because it is good for our bodies to try different things. And you can do them with the kids. It is great.

Sally:

I think that all you have talked about too, that of getting groups together is so important. It is one of the things that I think we are hoping to talk to the CEO of PANDA about:  the fact that Mothers’ Groups, for example, have been disbanded.

But now, hopefully, that you will be getting some virtual groups together to try and replace what you have done with your group, with the walking group. It is so important to get your family of choice together if you can.

Mim:

Absolutely, Sal. That is so wonderful to hear about PANDA. That is really important because it is isolating, especially if you are a mum – or a dad – and then you are with your kids a lot, and if you do not have as much inter-connection with the outside world, it can be quite monotonous.

Sally:

Absolutely. It has just been absolutely fantastic to talk to you and we are so grateful. Is there anything else that you would like to leave anyone with who may be listening? We know that a lot of people listening will be people who are in distress and self-isolation, and so it will be quite integrational and practical for them as well. Is there anything else that you would like to comment on?

Mim:

Well, I will write up as soon as possible on a podcast. I would love to share some of those kinds of resources I mentioned. I will put that if that is okay, and also just to say to give ourselves a break. We are all doing the best we can. If we are not particularly productive, it is okay. This is hard times and just do what you can.

Sally:

Oh, it is fantastic. We spoke actually with Vince Papaleo about talking to children, and he did make the comment that we are actually all parents, we are not teachers, and to be very kind to each other and things like that. And I think that is really important and to have that sense of community, and I think giving back to and being kind to others, is really important.

I did actually read something your son might have written, and then I thought, “The apple does not fall far from the tree,” about your younger son, about the sense of community, but it is important about being kind.

Mim:

Oh, thanks, Sal. That is very gentle. And I love what you said about giving back because when we give back, we get a dopamine hit and then we forget about our own stuff that is going on. Plus someone else benefits, so it is so good. I love that. And you are beautiful at that.

Sally:

Well, I think it is really important. And what we will do is we will ensure, for the listeners, that we will actually include the links that you have given us, the active links for exercise, but also for meditation, and also to those incredible not-for-profits. They sound fantastic. And also to ChangeUp

But thank you so much again for your time. Thank you Flynn for editing, and sorry to put you on the hot spot there Flynn.

Flynn:

No worries.

Sally:

It was lovely talking to you.

Mim:

Yes, you too. Thank you so much, and thanks Flynn for the background work.

 

Useful Links:

Mimm Bartlett Consulting: mimbartlettconsulting.com.au/

 

Disclaimer: Nicholes Family Lawyers intends the information provided in this podcast as general information only, please contact Nicholes Family lawyers if you require specific information and advise in relation to any family law matter.

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