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Sue Parker From Corporate Burnout To Lifestyle Entrepreneur

On today’s episode of the Engaging Marketeer, I am interviewing Sue Parker, host of the podcast ‘The Lifestyle Entrepreneur’. Sue has an incredible story where she went from corporate burnout through to lifestyle entrepreneur and helping other people set up their passive income businesses. It’s a great story and she’s brutally honest with everything, so I’m really looking forward to this one.

Check out the full episode here on our YouTube. Here are some of the highlights:

Darren: You’ve worked in a very, very corporate world, and I believe and it’s something that you escaped from to become the Lifestyle Entrepreneur. What sort of corporate world was that and how did you get into it?

Sue: So I was what’s described as a ‘woman in tech’ in the corporate world. I guess I fell into it because I was good at IT at school, I was good at business studies and I was taught to get a good job. I remember all the way through school and college it was ‘there’s going to be good jobs in computing, you really want to stay with your computer Sue’, and it just it just became that’s what I should do. I was a tech teacher at one point, then I got fed up of working in a school and I went on to be a web developer. I then decided I didn’t want to do coding, so I found that I really loved working with clients and I was a business analyst, and then a project manager. Then, the next thing you do is you get a leadership title, which for a woman in a white male corporate is actually really hard.

I’m able to look back at that time and think part of that came from me, it was my fault because I had this ridiculous expectation and I put this on me and part of it was the job. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced burnout, but it manifests itself in quite a physical way – you don’t realise that it feels like a heart attack and since then I’ve heard other people say this. You have heart palpitations, you have difficulty breathing, you have insomnia, your head is just swirling and whirling, you know. When I reached that breaking point, something just made me snap, you can’t articulate what’s happening because it’s so physical. But this is just stress causing a physical thing, it’s really difficult to explain, it almost feels like you’re a victim pathetic, you’re just being weak.

Darren: How long did this this feeling last that you were having?

Sue: I was probably off work for about six months, in total. The build up to that night when that’s how it felt, it was little things like constant headaches, stress, irritability, just feeling lethargic, unable to sleep insomnia. I’d have this never-ending to-do list that just kept growing and feeling more and more overwhelming. It must have been three months build up before that point happened, but after that I actually just had this feeling of just wanting to surrender and give in. I cried a lot, I couldn’t face anybody, I couldn’t talk to anybody, I couldn’t even walk the dog. It taught me a very valuable lesson about putting work ahead of my health and wellness, my family, my relationships. It broke a lot of it down. Like I say, it took me years before I was back feeling like a human and feeling like I could take on new things.

Darren: I personally don’t know if I’ve ever experienced anything like that, I’m guessing I haven’t, but when you had that that feeling, how quickly did you identify what it was and what was going through your mind when it happened?

Sue: In that week that last week before hit that brick wall and couldn’t take it anymore, I knew what was going on but I did I didn’t want to admit defeat. I didn’t want to go to my boss and say ‘hey, actually I’m really struggling with this job’ or ‘I need you to take some stuff off me’. The crazy thing is if I’d have gone to them I probably could have said you know what I’m not going to do these things right now because I’ve got enough on my plate, they probably would have said that’s fine. I think there’s probably a lot there to do with my relationship with failure.

Darren: There doesn’t seem to be anybody in schools helping with entrepreneurship, helping with business. We don’t learn how we can raise finance and start a business, we don’t learn how we can manage and motivate teams, it’s all about putting people in a job, do your 9-5, get your money, grow old. Never try anything, you’ll never be a failure.

Sue: It’s systematic. I mean it’s sad, because we’re in an entrepreneurial age now and actually since the since the pandemic, we know that there’s going to be less and less requirement for people to work within companies because they want to keep lean, they want skeleton staff and outsourcing is a lot more popular.

Darren: As you say you were a woman in tech, which itself is quite unusual. While it’s improved in recent years, there still seems to be an underlying condescension towards women in tech. Have you seen anything like that in the industry that you’ve been in?

Sue: The thing that I think is most prevalent, and I do believe this is still the case, women suffer a lot of imposter syndrome. We inadvertently believe that we must be wrong, you know more than us and we don’t have as much confidence in what we know, we’re a lot more guarded. As a result, you get in a situation where you would immediately feel inferior and like you can’t speak up you couldn’t ask any questions, you were the stupid one in the corner, and you just wanted to leave as quickly as possible. I’ve seen a lot of women do that, they hover around the back, they stay out the out of the limelight because of the overwhelming imposter syndrome.

Darren: When you left the corporate world you said you went and you did a lot of speaking for women in tech…

Sue: I started talking at the Women in Tech global conference, I did three years of talking of speaking there, I spoke at various male and female meetups about equality and diversity, the benefits of habit of inviting women into your team and also speaking to women to try and build their confidence help them and to see them see that imposter syndrome is there.

Darren: You now help people as the ‘Lifestyle Entrepreneur’. What does lifestyle entrepreneur mean to you and what does it mean to the people that you help?

Sue: It’s all about creating a business that works for the life you want to live. So for me, it was very much about getting that freedom and that balance of time where I could earn more money than the glass ceiling I was bumping my head. Freedom in terms of flexibility of location and choosing the hours of when I want to work, dictating when I want to work. It’s a business that works around my family. I’ve had to scale down as I’ve had kids, so my aspirations are slightly different to people who want to be a millionaire or gazillionaire. It’s about somebody who’s trying to create that level of freedom, that’s what it’s all about.

Darren: How are you working with people at the moment? What are you doing to get clients and what are you doing for them?

Sue: I do a lot of networking, we’ve now launched the Lifestyle Entrepreneur podcast, and that’s a new way of getting leads into the business. We work one-to-one with a client exchanging time for money. We show them they need to invest in some sort of tool to allow them to scale, to do more.

The best way to follow Sue’s progress is through her Lifestyle Entrepreneur podcast. She can also be found across social media, on LinkedIn, if anybody wants to get in touch with her. Huge thanks to Sue for coming on the podcast, her open honesty was absolutely refreshing to hear.

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