Organisational Psychology graduate Lawrence Francis has not only committed to living a healthy and motivated life himself, he has now made it his business to help you live one too. Read his story to find out how…
Can you tell me about your time at City? What happened after you graduated?
Graduating in May 2008 with a Masters Degree in Organisational Psychology, my experience during and after the course was probably not typical of my fellow graduates.
I studied the course part-time over two years, working four days per week at a Psychology consultancy in London, with one day at City. Having already secured a position before starting the course meant I was able to start applying my learning in real-life situations. This was a challenge as many times, the ‘best practice’ I learned at City was quite different from what the client or the practicalities dictated.
The degree itself was well structured, with lots of content and assignments that challenged me. One of the things that attracted me to the course in the first place was the breadth of topics. I graduated with the sense that I could bring value to an organisation in a range of situations.
One of the other benefits of studying the course part-time was that my course overlapped with two cohorts from the full-time Masters, giving me a network of ex-course mates twice the size it otherwise would have been.
All things considered, I would recommend studying the course part-time, however, if you are working at the same time in a related field, I would recommend only working three days per week.
How did your business come about?
I run my own consultancy, Lawrence Francis, offering wellbeing programs for individuals and organisations with a psychological basis. My vision is to help people who want to change find the key to unlock their ‘well’ of motivation. My mission is to create and nurture a community of like-minded, high performing professionals, using the pillars of exceptional motivation and health to create the change they want to see in the world. I believe that making real change takes time, and requires daily action, attention and energy. I believe the best way to maintain this long-term effort is to be motivated and healthy throughout.
The idea for my business came about when I lived in Dubai. While from the outside I was living a perfect life, the reality was very different. My health and motivation suffered as I was not living in tune with my values, resulting in a range of issues, including weight gain, insomnia and mood swings. I was fortunate to come across the techniques I now use with my clients, which I have developed into a system that helps people sustain change in the long term.
What has been the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was trying to find my niche in the market and effectively marketing my services to them. It really is true that “if you market to everyone, you end up marketing to no one”. Nor is it simply a matter of creating the ‘avatar’ of who you want to work with and understanding their needs. As a business owner, you also need to be really clear on at least three other factors, knowing exactly where you want to live, your vision for the future of your company and the unique value that your solution offers.
In my opinion, investment in marketing to drive traffic to your website will not succeed until these fundamentals are in place. Creating a vision for your company 10 years down the line is particularly difficult to do when you have just started. However, I would encourage any new business owner to be brave and do just that, always remembering you can change it if it doesn’t fit.
What has been the most rewarding experience?
I retrained as a Psychologist to be close to the change that I was responsible for. Receiving emails and text messages from clients telling me about the difference I have made in their lives is the best part.
I would also add that being a business owner gives you more choice and control over your lifestyle. I am currently living in Madrid, completing the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs Program. This is a work-exchange between new business owners and more experienced ones, from different EU countries. I chose Madrid as I already have a high level of Spanish and can see myself living here for the foreseeable future. The company I am working with is a communications agency, who have helped me to refresh my brand and prepare a corporate presentation I feel confident sharing with new clients. In addition, working in a Spanish company is giving me a deeper insight into local culture, which in turn gives me more confidence as I settle in my adopted country.
Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?
I think that Psychology graduates have a lot of choices and I would recommend that you keep an open mind about what to do next. Many Psychologists are employed in academia or industry, but most Business Psychologists are self-employed. While it may seem like a lonely path, I would recommend self-employment if you have an unexplored wish to work for yourself. Remember, you can always re-enter the job market one or two years later if it doesn’t suit you.
I would also recommend living abroad for at least a few years. The experience will take you outside of your comfort zone and make you a more resilient person. Being an English speaker is a powerful commodity, valued worldwide, and allows you to work in many interesting places. If you are planning to live in a non-English speaking country I would strongly learning the language to at least an intermediate level and using this to engage with the local culture. This will shine through in your confidence and set you apart.
To read more about Lawrence’s work, including his blog, please check out: www.lawrencefrancis.co.uk