Our CEO, Sarah-Jane Benham, or SJ, as we know here, recently joined Elevate Mentoring on their podcast. As part of the programme, SJ was asked to write a letter to her former self...
Part 2 of this blog post will be in the form of the podcast transcript.
Dear SJ from 2002
By 18 you have successfully navigated your way through boarding school since the age of 7. You were always very aware that you have been given an incredible opportunity and you did everything you could to make it count.
You learnt very quickly to be independent. Your experience at school is nothing but positive and supportive but to thrive in that environment you have to build resilience and you very quickly learn how to read a room.
You put yourself forward for everything. You turn surviving into thriving.
You want to be there, of course. But to be separated from your parents is not the norm and your school life Monday to Friday is a world away from your weekends helping your family run a pub. You learn to adapt. Resilience, positivity, relationship building and independence become a key bedrock for later life.
You don’t know it yet but looking back you realise a lot of your behaviour and drive comes from wanting to prove to yourself and others that you deserve this chance.
On the weekends you live above your family pub. This is where you first learn the art of serving others and creating experiences. You see your Dad play the part of landlord holding court in his 3 piece suit and pocket watch offering a warm Irish welcome. You admire how he finds common ground with all walks of life. He’s a social chameleon and made every patron feel special. Mum is the hardest working person you know with the highest of standards. Both teach you the importance of relationship building and hard graft. You begin to understand that people do business with people. Another key theme in your future life.
You say yes to every opportunity without hesitation. You find yourself in the most bizarre situations; sailing a tall ship to France and being selected for a 6 week school exchange trip to Vancouver.
You are great at putting yourself out of your comfort zone and this is where the growth comes. Try to maintain that confidence as you get older. Tap into that ‘anything is possible’ frequency and it will serve you well.
You have just become head girl, the ultimate goal you set out to achieve at that time. It feels good. You get that hard to describe buzz when you achieve your goal that’s really rather addictive. It reinforces your beliefs and you aim higher.
You didn't know what you wanted to do at 18 so you picked the thing that gave you the most joy. It’s also the thing that stretches you the most. You go to drama school and discover immersive theatre. Little do you know that this becomes the foundation of your long term career in Brand Experience.
You love a challenge, which is just as well really, as in 20 years time you will need all that grit, resilience and positivity to successfully navigate yourself, your family, your team and business through a global pandemic and beyond.
Be kind to yourself - you’ve got this!
SJ - from 2023