Ally Owen - The NABS Podcast
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How to be ADHD and working-class in adland, with Ally Owen

Hosted by Louise Scodie

Ally Owen is the rapid-fire and inspirational founder of Brixton Finishing School, the free course that develops underrepresented talent for adland. Ally uses her own experiences of being an ADHD, working-class, single mum in adland to help elevate others and create a more inclusive industry.

Louise Scodie – NABS 00:00
Welcome to the NABS Podcast. NABS is the support organisation for those working in advertising, marketing and media. I’m your host Louise Scodie. Each week I’ll be chatting with someone from our industry to find out how they support themselves and those around them through challenging times as well as day to day and it’s all to help you support your own mental wellness. I can’t wait to start chatting.

Louise Scodie – NABS 00:24
This week. Our guest is Ally Owen. Ally founded Brixton Finishing School, the award winning accelerator that finds trains and places underrepresented talent in roles. Recognising the impact that COVID-19 had on young people’s futures. Ally also launched the game-changing ADcademy programme, which gives more than 2500 students a year across the UK a fair chance to succeed. 2021 also saw the launch of ADventure, which aims to introduce our industry to 1000s of diverse 14 to 18 year olds, as well Visible Start for women over 45 Ally has a host of accolades including Changemaker 2023, MEFA diversity awards, and BIMA 2020 champion for change. And others, too numerous to mention. Welcome Ally to the NABS podcast. How are you today?

Ally Owen 01:21
Do you know what I’m good today? Okay, Fair to middling, which is quite a British thing to say.

Louise Scodie – NABS 01:27
Yeah, it is. Hopefully that’s classic British understatement we’re actually doing fantastically well. But you’re just saying, Yeah, fine, whatever. I mean, your accolades, what we owe and think about the fact that there’s loads of them, but you have done so much to widen representation in our industry, and your work just carries on and on. It’s so impressive. How do you find the time and the energy to do this much, or

Ally Owen 01:51
I wish there was, I think I’m probably not normal. We’ll get on to how not normal I am. So the time I basically I’m very passionate about what I do. And what I do doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a natural extension of myself. So it’s just kind of like a constant unfolding of stuff that just needs to happen. I kind of can see I’ve got a vision in my head for a much more equitable industry where there’s accessible pathways for all. And obviously, then that talent also gets the top as well. It’s not enough to get people in. And then every action I do kind of falls out of that. I would say on the time thing I have I have experienced burnout. I have had counselling on workaholicism. Well, I would say that is work in progress on better. Yeah, not overdoing it. Which sounds counterintuitive when there’s so much to be done.

Louise Scodie – NABS 02:52
What does that workaholism look like for you?

Ally Owen 02:55
Oh, we’re such a weird word, isn’t it? For me, I used to work seven days a week. So but that was partly because when I set Brixton up, it was just me. And it was a very successful strategy in the first year or so to keep us going. Because actually, the one variable that I could afford was me. Obviously, however, you become, it becomes quite a safe place if you’re always striving at work. Because it’s worked when the business was smaller. And I think when obviously, our impact scaled up and the team scaled up, I was slow to flex my strategy, because I was clining to safety. You know, I was highly anxious, you know, there’s no, I founded the company, on some remortgages and a credit card. So it’s not as if we were cash rich at any point. And actually, like a lot of founders, I went on that journey were probably long after I could have stopped doing as much my fear of failure, slowed me down from changing my strategy. So yeah, but now pleased to know listeners, I’m down to a reasonable working week. But that took about two years.

Louise Scodie – NABS 04:11
Definitely a work in progress. Why does my idea of your reasonable working week still look like quite a lot?

Ally Owen 04:20
Well, as I sort of say, I’m, you know, it’s a work in progress, but I’ve got so much better. I don’t have as much anxiety around not working as I used to, which is really counterintuitive, but I think now a lot of people, especially maybe founders, or you know, people that are launching new things are really passionate about the job can probably understand that sentiment. It definitely can be quite damaging to your health.

Louise Scodie – NABS 04:49
Or speaking about mental wellness challenges. Can you tell us about a mental wellness challenge that you faced outside of that, and that’s particularly in your identity as someone living with neurodiversity.

Ally Owen 05:01
Yeah, so yeah, so I am ADHD. I’m probably autistic as well. But to do that test, it’s another 600 quid, and I haven’t got that kind of money. But I have been diagnosed with ADHD. Which I think at my age so big reveal listeners, you can’t see our beautiful faces. I am a woman in my early 50s. Shock horror, they, they exist within industry. Oh my god. So definitely, I’d managed my unknown neurodiversity, though I did feel was different, quite successfully, ie, probably not that successfully in other people’s eyes. But I got through it when I was younger. But certainly from the age of 45, around the time I launched Brixton, and recently in the last couple of years, the crossover between the that the impact of menopause. And having ADHD is actually when you do a Venn diagram, when those two things crossover. It’s just a chasm of pain in the middle, because the oestrogen that has been propping up, your ability to manage your ADHD is obviously compromised. So if I put it, yeah, so it becomes a whole, it becomes like an Olympic sport and endurance sport, life for a couple of years. Luckily, I’m, you know, I’ve got support, and I got a diagnosis. And obviously, I’ve become a lot better advocating for myself within the NHS. So I have got a series of treatments at the moment, which are helping hold me together.

Louise Scodie – NABS 06:46
That’s a real double whammy of having to advocate for yourself, because the path to getting support with menopause in the NHS, sadly, is not straightforward for a lot of women, and it’s very, very difficult to get an ADHD diagnosis on the NHS, because so many people are going for it. And that area is under resourced.

Ally Owen 07:05
So if I start on the ADHD, I was on the list for three years, and it was having a really big impact on my life, constant waves of burnouts. You know, I went from somebody who could cope with noisy rooms with lots of noise to somebody who was literally just raw, if that makes sense. Apparently, if you’re neurodiverse, but you’ve got ASD, you’ve taken about 4000 I think it’s like 40,000 more things a day, just in your awareness, you’re kind of overloading the input streams to your brain. So I was having to have, you know, a lot of let me just go and sit in a quiet dark room while I recover from that exchange, or that, you know, event, even now, if I go to a conference, I know I need an at home, on my own day, the next day. In terms of the menopause, again, I say this is what I’ve got the journey to me discovering that took years you know, is great, we’ve got to the end of it. But I wish I’d known say a couple of years ago, that all these interacting symptoms and experiences, were actually not me sort of losing my ability to function. There was actually a kind of medical and, and the way I made reason for it, and it was perfectly treatable and manageable. Giving the right support. Yeah.

Louise Scodie – NABS 08:40
So you look back on your time in your earlier career, and think if only I had had the diagnosis then and had whatever treatments you have now that your path would have been different, maybe better.

Ally Owen 08:52
I think I would have had a lot less stress. I was. So background wise, I’m gonna say at the time, I was non traditional. So I am a socially mobile woman, I was a single parent that is quite unusual at that point within a lot of the areas of industry, and definitely not what I now understand to be, you know, ADHD, and potentially ASD meant I had a very different understanding the world and interactions and also just how things worked. And you know, coming from a socially mobile background into the industry, you’ve got to learn this foreign language about how offices operate. It took me ages to work out how the humans operate. And I would say, sometimes, you know, because it’s, sometimes I’m hyper good at spotting things. Some things like people go, Oh my God, you’re so intuitive. And other times I’m completely and utterly unable to see the obvious. It just depends on the thing, but somebody will go oh, that person wasn’t that nice to you? And I’d be like one, right? Yeah, so it’s really interesting. Whereas, yeah, some things were greater and other things. I’m not as well, I was gonna say, I was gonna politely say I’m not as skilled. I just don’t have Scooby Doo. Probably in 52 am I ever going to have a Scooby Doo. Luckily, I have a great team around me who can spot things for me.

Louise Scodie – NABS 10:26
They can have the Scoobies for you. Can I Oh, yeah. Treatment you’re getting for ADHD, you’d happy to talk about that?

Ally Owen 10:33
Yeah, so I am just about to go on the meds, which is exciting. No idea what type because there’s eight different types. But they’ve got an 80% success rate. Why do I know this? Well, I’m the kind of nerd that goes to lectures on things. Which is really good. So I’ve waited ages, it was quite a long road will obviously waited on the NHS list for three years then found a not for profit that I qualified for, that did the ADHD for only 600 pounds, which I know is a lot of money. But when you look at what other people charge is not. And now I’m going into titration, which is starting the meds and we’ll do that for six months. And then my medication will be handed back to the NHS. So it’s kind of like a financial shock, shock shock for me. But I’m hoping that that will create, you know, multiple, or shut down the multiple programmes running in my brain. But some of them. Yeah, but outside of that, I’ve got incredibly good day to day routines that really support me in achieving, you know, all the stuff we do. Because I tend to do a lot of stuff

Louise Scodie – NABS 11:47
You have to have a lot of structure don’t need to be able to operate.

Ally Owen 11:51
I’ve run it. Yeah, I have. Luckily for me, I don’t know whether it’s a slightly more ADHD, ADHD, I have like a really strict routine in the day that I love. And it’s essentially probably the same routine, a three year old toddler would have

Louise Scodie – NABS 12:06
Are their snacks?

Ally Owen 12:08
this snacks. And occasionally I hate to admit, industry, and afternoon nap as well, if needed, which actually is just me rebooting my brain after a busy morning. So I’ll go and just shut my eyes and a dark room for an hour. And that will be enough to kind of clear the decks for the afternoon, though today I didn’t have a nap. So let’s see how I unravel!

Louise Scodie – NABS 12:31
I feel a little bit bad now that I’ve gotten to your nap time.

Ally Owen 12:36
Can you imagine basically interest because I get up really early. So I’m like, I’m I always thought I was a night owl turns out that was just me being a young person in London. But yeah, I’m a naturally half, five, six o’clock, early bird. And I’m at my best between about seven and 11 on the kind of tricky tasks where my brain is fresh. And I know I’d mentioned inputs earlier than I do sort of view it like I’ve got a cup, every input, I get like a conversation, a task puts some substance in that cup, some liquid, and there comes a point where that cup just can’t take any more. And it starts pouring over the top. And obviously I start then trying to mop it up. And yeah, that’s all, it’s all quite chaotic. So now I’ve learnt to do a timeout on myself. When I get the signs that we’ve reached too much.

Louise Scodie – NABS 13:31
I think there are lessons here for people in the community who are not living with a neuro diversity because you’ve got to know how you operate. And you have to know how to talk yourself up. And that is intrinsic to mental wellness. And the other thing that I’m hearing that NABS this year, in particular, we’re really drilling down on management, and helping managers to help them be able to thrive, that came out of our all is community consultation, that there’s this gap that needs to be filled with management, where they’re getting training on stuff, like how to give an appraisal, but not the stuff that we really need or that mental wellness support. So what I’m also hearing is that if you’re a manager, and you have someone on your team saying, I’m going to have to just shut my eyes for half an hour or just go for a walk or just do something, whatever it is to fill up my cup, and if that means I’m working till eight o’clock, that I’m working in my rhythm, then your manager should say, Okay, you need to do what you need to do that works for you, but also works for the business and come to some kind of agreement where that person is not just completely ignoring their needs and suffering as a result.

Ally Owen 14:36
Yeah, I mean, I’m very, very blessed that obviously Brixton is my thing. So I’d been given the opportunity to find my rhythm. Obviously, when I was in corporate meetings, I look back and got some of the stuff I used to do if I was trapped in a meeting about 4pm completely burnt out. You’d literally just, you could feel the energy building up. It was a very unplug excellent place to be. And so now and again, you know, I do obviously accept to have a massive position of privilege where I get to kind of decide my day. Because it’s my risk, but definitely within my team. Currently, we’ve got quite, you know, team we’ve got at the moment. Yeah, I do encourage people to work in a rhythm, I would start with a position of trust on that person working in a rhythm. And actually, if they turn out not to actually be able to stick to that level of trust that is, is something that I’ve always hoped that you start out the same. And because I think I am, especially at this point in my existence, at the outer edges of as strong as this neurodiversity can be. And it does make me really sensitive, but I’m also really conscious as well, because I am neurodiverse I don’t necessarily empathetically understand how to support a neurotypical interesting point. And I think, yeah, because in terms of knowing I know the manual, for my, what I’ve learned my operating manual to get the best out of me. But obviously, I have no understanding of a neurotypical person’s experience. And certainly, it’s always a little mystery to me, when I occasionally I’ll do a little faux pas, or, like, I’m quite task focused. And they’ll obviously, sorry, neurotypicals, they always want a bow round, you’ve got to kind of like, sort of put loads of biscuits around it, essentially, that makes sense if the task is something you don’t want to eat, surrounded by biscuits. Yeah, so I’ve not been as good as that. And sometimes things that I never would consider a challenge or problem turn out to be something that a neurotypical word, and actually, just being really aware of my blind spots. That is such a big learning curve for me all the time. Because, you know, hey, it’s the first time I’ve got to this age with this, it’s not as if I’ve done this age with this before. So in the business shape as it is, so it’s definitely always be trying to be within business parameters, as open as I can to adapting and accommodating the many ways that people can show up.

Louise Scodie – NABS 17:24
That’s really fascinating. It comes down to having a culture where you can communicate openly with your teams and understand how you work so that whether you’re on the side of biscuits or no biscuits, you can meet somewhere in the middle, and get to where you need to be. Now, you hold a special place in my heart, as far as industry people go, because when I started at navs years ago, you were the first industry spokesperson that I spoke to. It was at a speed mentoring event. Now, she used to do a lot of speed mentoring, we’re thinking of bringing them back. You heard it here first. And out of everyone there. I mean, everyone was very nice. But you were the person who took time to as you sit with me, and you spoke to me, and you just gave me a life story. And you talk to me about the challenges that you had growing up in the industry as a single parent as someone who was socially mobile, and how, because you were a working class woman who was also a mom, you were getting passed over for promotion after promotion, even though you’re outselling everybody else and doing an amazing job, which I it’s really sticks with me. And I thought that’s so desperately unfair. And it’s amazing that you’re now using all of that experience to make sure that doesn’t happen to other people. But even though that was quite some time ago, there are still people who are facing that kind of challenge and discrimination. So how, if at all, do you think we as an industry have moved on what remains to be done? And if you were you now starting Would you still be being positive motion and facing challenges because of your background?

Ally Owen 18:57
From a class perspective marketing weeks latest pay gap survey showed that in in marketing roles, there’s a 15.9%, socially mobile pay gap to the same role. That’s huge. Let’s not forget the ethnicity pay gap is 8.4%. So definitely when you intersect on class and race, we are still seeing under service to that that particular talent pool by employers. I do so when we spoke was definitely a couple of years ago, I know that representation of women has improved in the industry. I know what obviously doing some work around tackling, you know, with the wonderful work methodology also lots of other people, including ourselves, you know, trying to change from a kind of race and class point of view the makeup the industry. Do I think there’s work to be done completely. Why? Well, social mobility is at its worst in this country for 50 years, according to the institute Fiscal Studies. is it’s never been harder to be somebody who has less advantage, right? Yeah, that’s all it is. We know that we need talent to come in. But when we look at how that talent tries to get into our industry, we do a talent survey every year. And one in four of our students can’t afford to go to university at 18. This isn’t a conversation about taking the Maintenance Loan, which I think you know, all the tutorial on it say they have to be bringing money in to help support their families. Yeah. So it’s, it’s, you know, you know, this myth of the meritocracy is gone. A lot of places want degrees still, or a lot of places, you know, there’s still a bit of a ball a certain type. That’s what I’m going to put it but I think that class is still one of the great determinate eaters in this industry of success. Obviously, clearly, we’ve got a shedload work to still do around race. Yasmina Raydan did a wonderful piece in Campaign a couple of weeks ago, on whether, you know, you know, the people of colour across Adland felt as if Adand kept on service to those pledges they made back in 2020. And I think, you know, I may be split on mercy. I can’t, I’m speaking for myself here. But the idea of the feeling I got when I read the piece was, yeah, there’s been bits but not enough. And I definitely feel in our brixon Fishing School world, we’ve got like, look, we’ve got over 50 amazing partners, always looking for more Louie’s always more. But there’s definitely been in the last 18 months or rollback in certain areas of the industry on affirmative action. So firstly, equity inclusion programmes, whether that’s class, whether it’s race, whether that’s ability, whether that’s neurodiversity, whether that’s parents or even age as well, let’s not forget, you know, we may have started working in one bit of the industry, but any lack of equity is a concern of mine, especially now I’m over 50, of course, yeah, there you go. Sorry, I’ve completely lost my thread. But essentially, I think there’s a lot of goodwill in our industry, we need to convert that goodwill, which we have through a lot of amazing partners into sustained future proofed measured action.

Louise Scodie – NABS 22:28
So what’s one example? I mean, there’s loads of actions that can be taken. But what’s the practical takeaway that you could give people now to try and increase the quality in their teams?

Ally Owen 22:43
I think there’s been a bit of a roll back into companies thinking they can run their own D&I schemes without any D&I experts. So, you know, whether you speak to Creative Equals whether you speak to Create Not Hate whether you speak to WIC, whether you speak to Lydia Amoah at the Black Pound Report, whether you speak to Brixton Finishing School, please stick with third party experts who can work with you because I think there’s a bit of a Oh, no, no, we’ve let go of our D&I person because now D&I is everybody’s issue. But it’s always been everybody’s issue. But the fact is, unless somebody’s actually doing that job day to day, the things the shareholders want are going to take precedence. And I’m yet to see the VC venture capitalists put D&I at the top of his bit of paper, by the way, it’s most likely to be a him or not, there are one or two female VC’d

Louise Scodie – NABS 23:41
Yeah, we would mention the inclusive leader training offered by NABS at this point as well, where we help managers to think about how they can create more inclusive atmosphere. So people come to work feeling that they can be more of themselves. And it’s safe to discuss any mental wellness challenges or any other challenges they’ve got going on for them. So that you can have a broader range of people and experience within teams.

Ally Owen 24:05
I think that’s yeah, I heartily endorse NABS is inclusive leadership training. There you go. I think, Simone, my head of Partnerships has been on it. What else was I gonna say, on this one? Yeah, I just think lean in, I don’t think there’s and also accepting that all aspects of ESG are essentially the same side of a coin. You can’t talk about sustainability without talking about the types of communities that are affected by sustainability. And the types of communities that are affected by sustainability. Also the same communities that are least likely to get access to work, you know, it’s all part of the same thing. So I think that as a kind of industry, we shouldn’t be going for whose flavour of the month to help. It should be. Let’s just sort this out. Oh, great example. Is your TimeTo work with NABS.

Louise Scodie – NABS 24:56
Yes, that’s our campaign to stamp out sexual harassment in the advertising industry that we run with a number of partners, and that’s been going since 2018.

Ally Owen 25:07
The figures on that year on year I mean, this way, I obviously was at the sharp end of this when I was a young girls in an industry, where literally it was three women on a floor of 60 men, and it was open season on those three women. And what I thought was wonderful was at the last All In update, I went to the figures of people who’d experienced sexual harassment had dropped dramatically had gone from 10% to 1%, in about two years, sort of I misquote in the stats, but I remember actually thinking, that is amazing, that shows how behaviours can change. And I think that’s it, sometimes we can get a bit like, what can I do? Actually, there’s brilliant examples of stuff where a whole industry has changed within somebody’s lifetime. And I’d love that to be the same on inclusion and representation. Absolutely.

Louise Scodie – NABS 26:03
And you know, the campaign doesn’t stop until you’re at naught percent. So the work goes on. Yeah. And your work is going on as well. I mean, how has the Brixton finishing school evolved since you set it up working seven days a week and what’s the current focus?

Ally Owen 26:19
So it started as a in my kitchen with 24 18 to 25 year olds from Central London from multicultural and working class backgrounds. Now we’re a national family of programmes all of which are dedicated to creating work ready talent through one of our accessible free pathways in so we’ve gone from like London only to bigger London stuff to a free national school called the ADcademy so whether you’re in Fife or Huddersfield or St Ives, you know, places with location opportunity poverty, you can still upskill online, you can come to virtual weeks, and yeah, join the industry. My most big exciting thing is ADventure. And it’s been exciting, it’s flavour of the week this week. ADventure is our school’s Outreach Programme. It was an idea that Yasmine earlier came up with intention to on and we put into action. And we’ve done it with very little funding, some wonderful funders lent in this year, that was fandom news works, and DCM, but more importantly, to deliver the marketing skills trust have just given us the funding for a head of adventure, which is going to revolutionise our schools outreach. So bear in mind with very little funding, we signed up 153 schools and visited 35,000 14 to 19 year olds to tell them about careers in this industry. I’m excited to see what we can do with an actual person.

Louise Scodie – NABS 27:51
That’s really exciting. Yeah, I mean, I guess there’s a lot of communities where advertising isn’t encouraged as a career, or it’s because there’s no one else working in advertising as a role model, then it’s not something that we think of.

Ally Owen 28:05
Yeah, I mean, especially if you’re from say, communities that via value really high education outcomes, then you know, if you’re say from an African background, they’ll go investment banker, surgeon, you know, at the worst, you’ll be an accountant. Yeah. So so unless you have role models within that community showing that actually, with being something in our industry is a, you know, a is profession be going to earn some decent money. Yeah. And it’s probably going to suit you a bit more than, say, another profession because you’re like, more like this industry. You know, the way you think, then it’s really, really tricky. I mean, even where I live the estate I live on in Dalston. It’s really hard. And I’m obviously doing this job. I live in here, one of my neighbor’s kids, he did really well, at Screen Academy, like a specialist sixth form. But when he was 18, he thought the right route to get into production was speak to an accountant see apprenticeship. And I said, Why have you done that? That’s not production. He went, but production houses have accountants. I said, What do you want to be accountant? And he was like, No, I don’t, I don’t want to be an accountant at all. But I couldn’t think of another way of getting into a production house. And you just realise how confusing and opaque and and just hard to understand to a normal person outside our industry, the kind of way the system the ecosystem works. So yeah, for me, it’s like we are really bad on awareness. So that’s why adventure is so important. And we really need to close the the oh my god, I can’t remember the word now. It’s not accessibility. It’s the one in the middle where you believe you can do something attain attainable. That’s it. There you go. Little menopausal pause on the brain there. Yeah. So you look at our offices. Most of our offices from the outside looked like hotels. And when you look at like a, you know, a trendy creative office like, oh my god, it’s actually so it’s a bit too much. Sometimes they why would they want me? I am just average human. But actually all those offices are just made up of just other lovely little humans. But we just need to break down those walls. Yeah.

Louise Scodie – NABS 30:22
Yeah, absolutely. How does the advertising and marketing community lift you up?

Ally Owen 30:28
Oh, well, I would not be sat here today chatting to you lovely Louise, if people hadn’t lifted me up. So bear in mind, I started this in my kitchen, there’s no way I would have survived without all the wonderful supporters and mentors and advocates that have helped us over the years and our wonderful partners. I think one of my special talents, apart from being quite unusual, is is is attracting people who want to help want to support me, and us being a bit of a crew. So like, I’m like a mafia, but a mafia that does a nice mafia. A really nice mafia. And I definitely wouldn’t have got, you know, I wouldn’t have been able to keep going if I hadn’t had people who were willing to deal, you know, to be there and deal with some of my lower points when I was really burnt out. I mean, I remember when I was really ADHD, a lovely, one of my colleagues actually just said, what I just come and sit next to you today as an accountability. That’s amazing. I was like, I know. So we just, you just came to see me, we sat as soon as I had somebody sat next to me because start on the task. This is a classic ADHD thing where we can find, if we don’t think there’s a lot of dopamine in a task. We’ll wait a bit to do it until it becomes really anxious making. And then we just need somebody to sit next nearest which actually in old offices, where you have colleagues, that kind of happened that yeah, it didn’t it virtually had happens a bit less. So I’ve got amazing trustees and amazing board. So if anything, I’m the product of a village of industry people. Yeah, I’m like, yeah, he’s all sponsored Brixton. And it just makes it really joyful and hopeful, though, obviously, like everybody, we still have the odd dark day. But nothing can WhatsApp text with a maybe a panda falling off something.

Louise Scodie – NABS 32:26
Comedy is always going to help.

Ally Owen 32:30
Please send me comedy, animal memes.

Louise Scodie – NABS 32:33
Your inbox is gonna be full. You know, it’s similar to what I remember you telling me about, we had that first chat, because you were a single parent, and you were in this industry working? Whatever hours you were having to work because it was how it was then probably is for a lot of people now. And you said you just relied on the friends that you had and other moms neighbours on the estate and they will just look after your kid for you when needs be. And it was that sense of being able to succeed because you had this collective around you.

Ally Owen 33:02
I would say yeah, I mean, this is not a solo effort in any way. And sometimes I find it quite awkward when people list my accolades, because none of that’s possible without the collective around you is actually like a group. I work much better within a kind of collegiate structure, where I’ve got lots of people around me that are kind of going in the same direction. I’m like a minnow in a shoal. Basically, just going through a little ocean, trying to find the destination.

Louise Scodie – NABS 33:33
So that means that comedy memes about minnows will be especially appreciated.

Ally Owen 33:38
Or Labradors. I hate to say it, just Labrador.

Louise Scodie – NABS 33:41
You’re gonna get the whole zoo coming to you. And we have reached the last question which is just gone so quickly, which is not surprising in a way because you are so rapid fire, but also quite sad, because I’ve really enjoyed talking to you. What’s the best lesson that you’ve learned about how to support yourself?

Ally Owen 34:01
Not to be perfect. I used to have ridiculously high standards of myself. And I used to have a lot of shame. And I was convinced I was a failure when I didn’t reach one of these ridiculously high standards. That makes sense. I think this is quite true for a lot of neurodiverse people. What I am now is a work in progress. Who can say sorry, when they’ve done something, you know, when they haven’t done think, right? Not only say sorry, but make up for it. No act in a different way and take the lesson. And there’s no shame in making mistakes. That’s part of actually becoming a much better leader. If I hadn’t made all the mistakes I’ve made, I wouldn’t have learned all the lessons I’ve made. And I’m sure you know, the universe has got a shedload more lessons to give me there is no doubt about that. But you know, one would hope that every iteration of a mistake every time it’s a little improvement, or if I don’t listen to the lesson I’ll get the lesson again and but more painfully normally. And that will more than maybe enough to nudge me on to the right parts

Louise Scodie – NABS 35:06
That is really inspiring. Even when you have reached the pinnacle of your career or your you’re at the top, there are still mistakes to be made. There’s still self awareness to be worked on. And there are still minnows to compare yourself to. You are so much more than a minnow ally. It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you. Where can people find out more about the Brixton finishing school and all of the great work that you’re doing?

Ally Owen 35:34
Well, obviously we’re on LinkedIn if you search Brixton finishing school or you link it with me that would be great. We also have a wonderful websites which details how you could partner with us, which is But just drop me a DM and I’ll link you up with one of the teams. Yeah, but yeah, we’d love to get more people on board. Yeah, Louise, thanks so much for your time today.

Louise Scodie – NABS 35:57
You are so welcome. And we’ll put those links in the show notes as well. So people can get to you. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much. Whether you go off and have a walk, do some more work or have a nap afterwards. I wish you a beautiful afternoon.

Ally Owen 36:09
I may have a little sit outside have a cup of tea. There you go!


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