Women Inspiring Women – Smash Your Ceiling
The principle behind Koru Kids is straightforward: two local families and one nanny are matched. So children are looked after together while allowing parents to save 1/3rd on the cost of a nanny, plus the nannies get paid 25% more, and it’s great fun for the kids. Meanwhile, Koru Kids does all the paperwork (contracts, payroll, payments, pension) via its platform. Koru Kids also has an after-school service for older children, and for this service, it recruits and trains its nannies in-house.
Originally from New Zealand, Rachel Carrell came to England in 2002 to study for her master’s degree, stayed for a doctorate, and never left. Rachel worked as a management consultant and then became CEO of an online doctor business, which I built to 1.3 million patients. Following the birth of her baby, she realised that her true passion was to work on improving childcare and went to found Koru Kids. In 2014 she was named a World Economic Forum’ Young Global Leader’, pretty impressive, non?
This interview, continuing #TheWomanAlchemist #SmashThatCeiling #womeninspiringwomen series giving an insight into successful female leaders/role model and their mindset, is an extract from the book available now.
INTERVIEW WITH RACHEL CARRELL
1. When you were a child what was your dream job and why?
I read a lot and often lived in a dream world as a child. But, more than anything, I wanted to be a writer. I still might become one in my retirement. (Or get good at the patisserie, that’s my backup plan.)
2. Can you tell me when you started to consider yourself successful?
I don’t yet. Every time I achieve a goal, I invent a new one. I celebrate stuff for about half a second. I think this is perhaps not ideal! I’m a pretty restless soul.
3. I’m sure you have faced adversity like every business/business person: how do you motivate yourself and force yourself through the worst times?
I don’t sweat the small stuff—and almost everything is small stuff. It helps a lot to frame things as learning experiences. For example, the best reaction to a disaster is, ‘How fascinating!’ What can we learn from this, what can we do differently in the future? If you have this mindset, you can cope with many things.
However, there are some life events that you can’t treat this way. Some things are just awful, and there’s no bright side to be found. I’ve been fortunate so far in this regard, but I know true tragedy comes to us all eventually.
4. What are the best things about your job?
It’s been such a joy to recruit a team from scratch. I love them. They’re so dedicated, so talented, and work so hard because they believe in the mission so much. In previous roles, I’ve never had the opportunity to handpick every single person for the team, and it’s been a massive privilege to do so this time.
It’s also really great building a service that makes families happy every day. We get fantastic feedback about our nannies and our nanny shares. Even if it all fell down tomorrow, we would have done some great work on the way.
Aside from that, I love any parts of the job which are creative and involve building things, whether that’s a brand, a website, a process, or a team. I’m a builder by nature.
SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES
5. As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues”: what are your daily/weekly habits?
I always carry a post-it note with my top 3 priorities. I rewrite it frequently and try to be very purposeful with my time, avoid distractions, and make sure I’m always working on the most important things for the business.
Also, I think quite a lot about my energy and how it changes throughout the day. Mornings are best for things that require hard thinking or don’t want to do. Evenings are best for tasks that I find fun (like editing a blog post) or repetitive things that I don’t need to think hard about. I eat a lot of protein to keep my sugar levels stable throughout the day and I know that if I find myself becoming easily distracted, it’s probably because I am dehydrated.
6. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
I see women voluntarily taking a step back in their career while they have small children but then struggling to get back into the workforce afterwards. Often they were earning more than their male partners, but then the tables turn, and while the men power forward, the woman’s earnings are stagnant.
That means that when someone in the family needs to flex to cope with the family’s everyday needs, it ‘just makes sense’ that it’s the woman. So gradually, bit by bit, the woman loses her ability to play a leadership role in the workforce. That’s fine if she’s chosen that path with her eyes open, but often the women I know didn’t choose it.
For me, part of the solution to this is to have men take more of a role in early childhood in the first place. Longer paternity leaves would help. I think this is slowly changing – I have a few male friends who’ve taken long breaks of 6 months or more to look after their kids. There’s a long way to go, though.
WOMEN INSPIRING WOMEN
7. What women inspire you and why?
I have a friend who is the single mum of 4 kids, the youngest of which has Down Syndrome. She’s got a few problematic people and situations in her past, but she’s one of the most positive, practical, upbeat people I know. Her resilience is incredible. I remember when she just had her fourth baby and was trying to lose a lot of weight, walking absolutely miles every day and taking salad with her to mummy meetups. Can’t have been easy when we were all eating cake! But she has this strength of character and determination, which I find incredibly inspiring. She’s also highly principled, extremely hardworking, and generous.
8. What advice would you give to your 16year old self?
Learn to code. Don’t give up on computer science. Keep studying linguistics. Buy Apple stock.
9. Your instant mindfulness fix…
Anything that makes you focus on the present moment works for me as an instant mindfulness fix. It can be as simple as noticing that there’s a breeze on your skin, or that the metal leg of the chair is cold on your leg. Focusing for a second on how your body is experiencing the world releases a tiny burst of joy.
10. And finally, something frivolous: the best thing about being a woman…
I’m pregnant right now and the feeling of my baby kicking me is the most beautiful thing in the world, my little butterfly secret. Although there are many tricky bits of being pregnant, there are some utterly beautiful parts.
Top Takeaways from Rachel Carrell
- Don’t sweat the small stuff – frame mistakes as learning experiences.
- Carry a post-it note with your top 3 priorities for the day – keep focused and avoid to distractions.
- Fit your activities around your productivity map.
- Focus on the present – enjoy.
- Look after yourself.