Inspirational Woman: Sarah Powell | Heat radio presenter, blogger

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Sarah Powell, heat radio presenter and blogger- What university taught meI got my first job in radio and thought “I’ll do this for as long as I can and then get a proper job” so everything that’s happened has been a constant surprise to me. I do make a lot of lists so that makes me feel like I’m sitting and planning things but so much of my job is uncertain there’s no way of having a firm idea. I don’t really have a plan for tonight’s dinner let alone 5 years.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

When you work for yourself I think it’s easy to feel like things aren’t happening fast enough. I’ll have a quiet week of going to work and doing the washing then suddenly a phone call can come in and change everything. The moment I start to complain things are slowing down that’s when they usually ramp up again so it’s good to remember you are making progress even if it doesn’t feel like it.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move into a leadership position for the first time?

Well I only have to clothe and feed and manage myself so I’m not the best person to tell you but when you are self employed you have to look to yourself for everything. You have to critique, support and lead yourself; you basically have to write your own appraisals. Sometimes when you’re tired or had a tough day it’s difficult not to be too hard on yourself. It’s best to be kind, eat custard and go to bed in those moments. Wake up the next day and remind yourself you’re well good.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

I often can’t choose between puddings so I’m not the best person to ask but I think you’ve got to go with who you like as you’re going to have to see them every day.

How do you manage your own boss?

I sort of am my own boss so knowing when it’s ok to put the laptop down and watch Corrie is important. I have a job though where you do need people to give you a chance and have faith in you so I feel very lucky to have had those kinds of people to work for. I know it’s said a lot but honesty is the best, if you need support or a chat make sure you ask for it.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I’m a swine for the snooze button, I have to set my alarm for at least 45 minutes before I actually get up. I used to immediately go on social media but I read somewhere that that’s not good as it bombards your mind so I’m trying not to do it so much. I need to get an old school radio alarm and leave my phone somewhere else. At night I write a list, I’ve got about five nicely designed To Do pads so I’ll fill that in, wash my face and get into bed and try and stay off asos.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

I know this may sound ridiculous but be nice to everyone. RuPaul preaches this a lot and it’s so important. If you’re good to people, people will be good to you. People will remember you’re the one who offered them a tea or remembered they had been on holiday. I have held doors in the lift for people who turned out to be ITV producers. You don’t know who anyone is or where they’re going so be nice to everyone you meet. I do sound like RuPaul.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I have had so many mentors and people who have given me amazing advice, my acceptance speech would take two hours. I met my agent Sam because I asked her to give me feedback on my show. That was 10 years ago and I still ask her for feedback now. Last summer I did the Blogcademy weekend which taught me everything from how to brand myself to curating Instagram. If you don’t know something buy a new notebook, go on a course, or just ask.

I have always said cups of tea are the way to get on. Go for cups of tea with people you admire. Ask questions, ask for mentors, get advice and build relationships, that way the next time they need someone like you, you’re the first person they’ll think of. Write to people, I promise most people will say yes to tea (throw in flapjack as well)

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbie networker?

I do think networking is important but people talk a lot about “the hussle” to network and get on which scares me. If it scares you too here’s some good places to start…

1. Get their name. It’s amazing how easy this is, the person you want to speak to is usually online or ring the company and ask for their email. Speak to them personally and ask for advice.

2. Have a cup of tea and ask about them, everyone loves talking about themselves.

3. I read this brilliant thing the other day about small talk with new people. It said don’t feel like you’ve got to say something really interesting to start off, most people will be thrilled you said anything at all to get things started so don’t worry about mentioning the weather to start off.

What does the future hold for you?

I love my heat radio show so I want to continue to find amazing things to play at my 5 o’clock disco. I have a podcast with my brilliant friend Jules and we have started creating YouTube videos so we want to do more, possibly from a narrow boat. Further than that I hope to one day own a peacock and sell the rights to a film of my life to Mary Berry.

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