“Stay stubborn and know your value” – Claire Curzon #TheWomanAlchemist 
Claire Curzon
Published on March 19, 2018
published on March 19, 2018

Women Inspiring Women – Smash Your Ceiling


“Stay stubborn and know your value” – words of wisdom from Claire Curzon, particularly appropriate following #InternationalWomensDay #PressForProgress pledge. TheWomanAlchemist #SmashThatCeiling  #womeninspiringwomen interview series gives an insight into successful female leaders/role model and their mindset – continuing the marketing march mood after Elena Kale & Cheryl Luzet.




Claire Curzon is the Managing Director of Brighter Directions, a multi-award-winning marketing agency with clients ranging from innovative SME’s through to global corporations, specialising in marketing plans & product launch campaigns, PR & media comms, social media management. And so on.

Claire Curzon is also CEO/Board Member of Employability Derbyshire, a charity program to develop the workforce of tomorrow throughout the region. She also sits on the regional LEP board for Employability across Derby and Derbyshire via SEB, run by the regional LEP.

This interview is an extract from the book “STOP IT! It is all in your head” available now.




1. When you were a child, what was your dream job and why?

Journalist – actually, more specifically, I wanted to be a News Presenter on BBC news. I loved how glamorous the job looked, and after completing an exercise in school, I acted as a ‘journalist’ on a project. And I loved that they sourced information, researched, evidenced and presented that information back. The whole project had me hooked from the word go. Plus… I saw they always had a cuppa on the desk, and I’m an avid tea drinker!




2. Can you tell me when you started to consider yourself successful?

Wow, this is a tricky one. I guess success is measured differently by different people. Still, being 100% honest with myself, it was probably more so within the last year of operating my agency, which has been going for twelve years!

During my corporate career in media, I was lucky that my hard work was recognised with advancements, and I was always delighted with my roles and teams. Still, ultimately I always wanted more – which I guess you can consider success. Looking back now, I always had in my mind I wanted to run my own business, but it wasn’t as clear or focused as it is now.

Thinking about when I thought I was most successful, it probably wasn’t entirely until a few years ago, when I took the time to self-reflect on my experiences and achievements – looked around my office, looked at our client boards and thought, ‘this is it, I have what I’ve always wanted.




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?

Dealing with complex and unethical clients is the hardest for me. I’m a natural people person, I love people and love seeing others happy and fulfilled, so when we have clients (in the past!) that perhaps don’t share my mentality, I find it incredibly hard to deal with and turn into ‘business’ mode from the ‘relationship’ mode I hold naturally.

I keep myself motivated by passion – I’m full of it, and so is my fantastic team. We all mirror each other’s wins and losses, and for that, I think that we all team-motivate as a matter of course. Plus, we all genuinely care about what we do and our client’s success. Of course, some days are more complicated than others. This is especially in PR, where we have what’s called ‘no days’ when nothing ever comes to fruition, but they are just hours and days in what is a life cycle, so we try and keep positive and bounce off each other with new ideas and concepts we can try, or laugh it off. Laughter is the best medicine… or vodka sometimes helps too! (I am not advocating drinking in the workplace, but after your time is your own)

Family is also critical to success and motivation. You need that cushion outside of work, as much as you do in it!




4. What are the best things about your job?

Again people. People are what make the world go around, not money or things.I work with a fantastic group of people I have hand-selected for their work ethic, skill, and abilities and, I think I have the absolute best in the world. They are to me anyway. Every moment in life, good or bad, comes down to people – one of our sayings in the office. We try to ensure that our life ethic is reflected in our work and bring some brightness’ or sunshine to others, clients, partners, colleagues, or suppliers as much as we can!




5. As Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues”: what are your daily/weekly habits?

I was recently referred to as ‘an incredibly passionate resolution provider’ after explaining to someone our methodology. At first, I wasn’t impressed by the statement, but on reflection found I agreed. We are a marketing agency; that’s what we do. But ultimately, it’s about us not taking no for an answer and constantly coming up with creative ideas and tactics to generate the best results for our clients. Our habit is one of resilience and stubbornness.

A massive part of my/ our success is our ethics and environment. We don’t have substantial posh offices with high-tech furniture and toys. But we have a comfortable, friendly, bright (orange, obviously!) and open environment where our team thrives together. You’ll often hear shouting across our open-plan office banter, ideas, and collaborations between departments. There is no need for flashy things to make an office innovative; you need the right people.




Having thought about my daily habits, here are things I do every day without fail… some may be irrelevant, but feel free to ignore and take what you wish!

Read the news – find out what’s happening in the world (or your industry). What’s new, what’s changing, what’s being forecast? Then, how can you use that information in your work development or your clients?

Eat. Sometimes I can go the day without eating because I’m so busy, and a perfectionist hates leaving uncompleted tasks. But I always eat breakfast. Then, usually visit my mum and have it with her after dropping the kids off at the school club.

Talk/ Share.




We have a strict unsaid process in our business when quoting for new client proposals. I create all new proposals for the company, but I have a specific order that I follow, which is always the same. First, conduct initial research and speak to the client to find objectives and needs. More research. Then the most crucial part – we hold an internal team meeting (which constitutes everyone turning around my desk – never in our conference room) where I give them all the brief and ask ‘what would you all do?’ Everyone has the opportunity to contribute, comment and share ideas from the newbie junior to me – everyone has valid opinions and ideas. That’s something I learned a long time ago, that it’s not always the top honcho that has the best ideas. Sometimes it’s the ones you least expect, so give them a voice.

Manage distractions. I have a diary, and I could not live without it. All critical tasks are pre-scheduled in there without fail (this is EVERYTHING I must do), from calls, appointments, workload tasks to getting my nails done or leaving on time. It accounts for my every move almost in seconds! Everything else goes on a to-do list, which is completed when I have time…

Switch off. At the end of the day (or sometimes evening), when I leave the office, that’s it.  Unless something dramatic happens and I need to act, I am finished for the day – or week if it’s a holiday. So my mobile is off, and my time is mine to switch off and spend quality time with family and friends.

Always carry paper and a pen. The best ideas come to you when you least expect them, so be prepared for those moments.




6. What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

Self-belief and perceptions.

I can only speak for my own experience. Although I was lucky that media is a hugely male-dominated environment, we had plenty of senior females to pave the way for the future. For example, one of my first immediate line managers was a very strong and talented female. I was a sponge around her, always admiring her positivity, strength, and presence around our male-focused boardroom meetings. She was one of my first role models and, later, my advocate in the company’s success. Yet, there is still a significant gap between women doing great work and women at the top, as well as the perceptions in organisations (of all sizes) that women need to believe in themselves much more….

I read recently that women and men are different when referencing abilities. For example, in a test project, equal skilled men and women were quizzed about their progress. They were given a sheet of paper with all their skills listed and asked to tick the skills they needed to develop more to be comfortable going for the next level (promotion)…. Women said they needed 100% – to essentially be perfect at the skills required before they would even think about progressing. How many did men say? 35%!

We all know that most women are perfectionists, especially those at the top, but what this ‘test’ said to me is that women need to have more self-belief and faith in their own ability to be excellent and then have the confidence to put themselves forward for progression or that campaign they’d love!

More so, women need to acknowledge (loudly) when you are great at something …. And ‘go for it’ if you already think you can, you most certainly can, because we are naturally reserved creatures who plan for the worst!




7. What women inspire you and why?

All women. I think that all women are beautiful, talented, and inspirational.

I’m very much an advocate of women everywhere and believe we should support and drive each other to build each other and the next generation and economies to come.

Strong women who are still women are the most inspirational to me, and by that, what I mean is successful and commercial, running and managing great businesses. But, still, those that can also be strong in themselves as a woman know their strengths and see that we, as women, don’t have to compete with men. They have their place too. And women are here to offer something different to men, things they can’t do, building on our strengths, not replicating them in mannerisms, design, and stature because we shouldn’t need to. Women are different for a reason.

8. What advice would you give to your 16year old self?

Stay stubborn.

When I was younger, I was always called stubborn and bossy. It hasn’t changed as I’ve gotten older, but I have become more comfortable and even proud of those aspects of my character. Stubborn equals my passion and my perfectionist nature that gets things done. And bossiness equals my ability to manage multidiscipline projects and campaigns, see things through to the end, and ensure that things are done correctly and well. I know my worth and the value that I bring to the table.




9. Your instant mindfulness fix…

A chat with the team, friend, or family member – or ‘blowout’ as I call it!

Often when stress is high, all you need is some fresh air or a new approach/ So, I walk away from my desk, take my cuppa outside and calm down. If that fails, I have a rant in the office or vent to the team, and they quickly put me straight back into solution mode. Give yourself 10 seconds, then move on!

10. And finally, something frivolous: the best thing about being a woman…

Everything – what isn’t there to love?

We are strong in business, at home, and in ourselves.

Top Takeaways from Claire Curzon

  • Take time to reflect on your experiences and achievement – you have done more than you think.
  • Stay stubborn and know your value.
  • Acknowledge out loud what you are great at and “go for it.”
  • Women don’t have to compete with men; they offer something different, build on that.
  • When things get tough, take time out and calm down.


Laura Mariani

Laura Mariani

Best Selling Author, Speaker, Change & Transformation Expert


Hi there, I hope you enjoyed this post. Please do provide me with feedback.

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Laura xxx

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