Mother-of-two Linzi Boyd is the founder of both Surgery Group and celebrity agency Midas, and author of Brand Famous. She talks priorities, being true to yourself, and dropping the balls once in a while…

You have fingers in many pies – talk us through what you do and how you got to where you are…
I left school at 15, somehow knowing that a formal education wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I always had inner drive and determination, even at such a young age and believed that I could be the next Oprah Winfrey – there had to be another way. At 18, I opened my first premium clothes shop in Leeds bringing brands like Replay and Diesel to the North, and by the age of 24 had sold my second business to global shoe brand Caterpillar. At 25, I transferred everything I’d learnt from running a retail store and buying in Milan and Paris, to setting up a footwear brand called Stride, which went on to be distributed in eight countries. I then knew I wanted to build brands and so set up Surgery Group as an influence agency providing brands with a story and a message. Today we’re renowned for launching brands to market and helping to transform labels such as Pringle, Wrangler, Lacoste and Ellesse.

Fast forward 15 years and I now run two other companies as well: The School of Brand Fame, and celebrity agency Midas. I’ve also been made a partner at ‘Shirlaws’, a global company that helps people grow, fund and exit their businesses.

You also have two young kids. How do you balance being a mum and a business superwoman?
The honest truth: there is always a juggle. My two highest values are to be free to follow my own drive and ambition as a woman, and to be able to spend quality time with my family so that I see my children grow and play a huge role in their daily lives. I always say that my biggest challenge is the daily juggle.  When I speak with other successful women on this topic they all say “…of course we drop the ball either at home or at work!” The thing I live by is to pay attention each day to what is important for today and the week/month ahead. I have things that are at the top of my list – school plays, sports days, parents evening, birthdays… I structure my week so I have fridays off with my daughter and we take long holidays (renamed #brainholidays) with the kids throughout the year. At the same time prioritising various work and projects already scheduled while being open to allow the mad creative side of me to explore new opportunities.

How does you partner fit into it all?
Both my husband and I are entrepreneurs so if either one has a great opportunity for work, we support each other as a family to be able to go and maximise that. That can take us off for a few days or two weeks depending on the job. If one goes, the other holds the fort. The key to this is letting the kids be a part of it all. To show them what we do at work. Our greatest intention is that the kids come first and they also realise that mummy and daddy work because we love to do what we do and not because we have to. That way they know work can be fun and come from a place of love, passion and true purpose.

What’s the biggest challenge?
This may sounds crazy but being true to myself. I never realised when I was single how much time I had on my hands. Now I realise only too well how much every moment counts, or I can find myself in a space of being overwhelmed with work, and juggling too much. I believe we know when we are in balance and when we are out. I now must feel truly passionate about any project I take on and have to believe it has legs. I’m experience -rich which enables me to act swiftly and quickly with decisions, yet I’m also time-poor and so moments spent on any project now mean so much more than they once did. If I’m using my time foolishly I end up becoming frustrated.

Have you ever thought ‘I can’t do this anymore’ – and how do you overcome that feeling?
Yes, indeed, and aren’t those the moments when we have our biggest shifts?! I have worked since the age of 16 and I have had serious periods in my life when I have said “I can’t do this any more!” When this happens I know the only thing to do to survive the thought is to honour myself and listen to my inner voice. Usually when this feeling comes out something seriously needs to change, and it always does. I allow myself time and space to reflect, in the past I have gone away for a month and spent it in Peru in the jungle or when I had my daughter (child number two) I simply knew that I had to shift what I was doing in order to accommodate two children. If you are open to change but are unsure how to work with it, then I am a big believer that people and opportunities have a funny way of presenting themselves.

Do you ever notice the presence of the “glass ceiling” as a working mum?
I have always run and owned my own businesses, which has provided me with enormous freedom for growth so the glass ceiling has not been apparent. I’ve worked with many dads who have young children and understand just as well the juggle with family and work-drive and commitment to growth and success in their career. I am fortunate enough to see first-hand that women and men are coming together in the workplace and in the home and can offer huge mutual support in both areas. I am also more than aware that this is not the case for many large organisations, but what if we could turn the minority businesses that are performing in this way into the majority? I wonder if the work/life mix with men and women at the helm would be more in balance and create a happier, healthier place?

What’s your greatest tip to women trying to succeed in business?
Keep going! Shift things, change things, move things around, even start the project again and use the teachings that arise from any perceived failure. Stay true to your DNA, your passion, your message, your voice and be clear on what you want to be known for and how you want to leave people feeling. If you stay true to this then no matter how many times people tell you that can’t and won’t or “it will never work”, you will know, deep in your heart, that you can and will get there.

Should women expect to have it all?
What is having it all? Everybody’s version of that is different – expectations breed more expectation, and expectations can lead to disappointment. Live in the now, be present in your current situation, react to your daily needs and dreams, strive to achieve your goals and what’s meant for you will not pass you by.

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