By @. Interview with Geetu Bharwaney Author of
#EmotionalResilience, Experienced in #EmotionalIntelligence, Executive #Coaching, #Training, #Leadership, Director, Ei World –http://www.eiworld.org. We recently reviewed her book here.
Your background briefly?
I am an entrepreneur, a coach, a leadership development specialist with an interest and specialism in the emotion aspects of developing high performance in a job, in teams and in life.
I am an advisor to leaders, chief executives and senior managers who want to make a step change in their life. This week I am receiving an honorary Doctor in Science (DSc) from Aston University, which I am very proud about.
It comes after many years of hard work focused on helping people to understand the power of emotion for their success and performance in life.
You are interviewing me at a time when I feel that we are now starting the next wave of work. Discussion has now moved into how do we help people to survive let alone thrive in their lives……
How did this lead you into what you do now?
I trained in international business, health psychology, counselling, human resources and a variety of emotional intelligence frameworks and tools.
My first job after leaving university was with a bank, I didn’t appreciate that my boss used to send me emails, when he was situated one metre away. The bank was way ahead on what we now refer to as Instant Messaging (this was in the early 90’s). I left this prestigious graduate training scheme to work for a small training company as a temp. I wanted to do real work!
While working for that training company, I was given the opportunity to learn through doing and to be trusted to do client work with major UK and international clients at a very young age.
My employer sponsored me to up-skill myself in counselling, human resources and technical skills. I used to deliver training for large clients both in the UK and elsewhere. I learned a great deal in a short space of time and was thrown in at the deep end.
Looking back it was a big turning point. I was very young and after working my socks off, I had learned how to be confident and how to organise myself. The company used Xerox Desktop Publishers and I learned about typefaces and design of documents at a very early age, this helped me a great deal in my career and was a great gift. (I applied this knowledge in the steer I gave my publisher about how I wanted my book to look!).
I left this employer very unexpectedly when bailiffs arrived in my office one day and removed my desk. I was forced to think through what I really wanted to do.
The rest is history! I have been self-employed since then and that was 27 years ago. That’s when I launched my first business – it was very tough in the early days.
Since then, I have realised that I have learned more through my challenges rather than my successes, constantly trying to work out how to be healthy and balanced and performing well at work and in my business at the same time.
Client’s challenges are very significant, how to be healthy and balanced yet at the same time to do their best work and to lead teams to great successes.
I am proud to have worked with some of the world’s best companies and to help them to be the best version of themselves. It has been fun, rewarding and there is never a dull day.
Since writing the book is there anything you’d change / focus more or less on?
I am proud of the book and the way that it is structured. The book is designed to provide wisdom and input no matter which page you open the book at? It’s the type of book I have always been looking for but not often found!
Before my Dad died in 2015, he was constantly asking me to write down the things that had helped clients to make big changes in the way they worked and led teams. This book is a response to that.
Sadly my Dad was unwell in 2014 with a major stroke. I had a call from the Daily Telegraph asking for a view on the topic Emotional Resilience. I gave them two lines and asked them to spell my name correctly. My publisher contacted me on the back of that article.
In the last phase of my Dad’s life, I wrote and recorded each chapter of the book. I shared the recording with my Dad and all he could do was to nod his head or wag a finger in disapproval. I wanted him to hear the book and to feel proud that I had finally done the work.
The book was published three days before he died, he was very proud to hold the book (the book has a lovely watermarked cover as you know).
If there is anything I want to change, it is to keep writing and adding to this framework on Emotional Resilience so it can help people to really understand themselves.
Overall would you say simply working with other people in an office environment can be fundamentally challenging?
Working in an office requires a more direct focus on handling yourself and your emotional responses to things. When working remotely, it is easier to handle these things as colleagues don’t see all your reactions.
Having said that, working in an office can be much more challenging for someone who finds it hard to focus when others are around them. Working with others and sharing an office certainly requires more self-control and more empathy.
I actually think that with all the distractions we already have with technology etc, that working in an office is more challenging than ever before unless you have your own space in an office, you are constantly bombarded with distractions.
I have never been a great believer in the open plan office environment. Space for collaboration YES (tables and meeting space to interact), but I would always personally prefer my own working space with no distractions.
As you gathered from our review, we did pose the question of looking into the future and wondering how remote working might offer some advantages in terms of mitigating some of the more mundane aspects of work -> reducing / avoiding the commute, watercooler politics etc? What are your thoughts on this?
I am unusual in that our company has operated remotely for 11 years now since 2005, way ahead of the trend to do this. This was prompted by a personal health challenge.
In 2005 at the age of 38, I was diagnosed with cancer and recommended to write a will and transition the company to a new owner. I didn’t take the advice!
At the time, I simply moved my business to working remotely. After the cancer treatment, I ran webinar training for the first time and really learned how to leverage technology to get my work done. This was a seminal development. We kept premises for a few more years but essentially everyone who works in our company works remotely.
I definitely think that it is the way of the future though it relies on you being much more efficient in doing your work and leveraging all the available tools like video conferencing Zoom etc and team collaboration tools like Slack etc. In my view, this relies on being able to distinguish technologies that can help from technologies that are a waste of time. There are so many productivity tools available, it is good to see that you provide input for others to help people navigate the endless stream of new technologies to consider!
Whilst I do think that we are increasingly measured on our digital footprint (and I feel that I am a few steps behind on this, myself), I think that creating materials, writing articles and putting our work out there is most important for professionals who want their work to be available to others long beyond their own working time.
Larger companies may be less interested in their staff working remotely, how do you think this may effect them versus more agile, smaller companies?
Ultimately I think the larger companies will have to change. I come across many large companies who don’t want their workforce to work from home. I sense this is missing a big opportunity and will need to shift eventually. The productivity gains from home working are significant. Imagine all that wasted time to travel into an office. My sense is that large companies are not yet fully leveraging the power of video tools, when they do, then home-working discussions will become more frequent as people realise that they can achieve higher productivity from a home-based workforce. This does come with the need though, to up-skill people in how to manage their emotions so that they can get their job done.
What do you think future working practices might look like?
I think teams will be virtual, with collaborative virtual spaces and infrequent in-person meetings. Everyone will be able to work not just in their homes but anywhere using macbooks. Work locations will be virtual, eventually we will do away with large buildings and replace them with small hubs for essential client meetings. All back office functions will be either home-based or situated in rural communities.
Are we close to a more remote working society? You mentioned you do it yourself, what do you find are the pros and cons?
We have offices in the City of London. I tend to travel into London 2 days a week and the other days I am either working from a local office or from home.
I find that the advantages (Pros) are efficiency – I can start work as soon as I want to work without having to get on a train, and I can juggle my other commitments around work. The disadvantages (Cons) are that I am not seeing people daily and not having people to bounce ideas off on a regular basis. This is what I miss from being more office-based more permanently.
We can be connected 24/7 how do you manage this challenge for work / life, online / offline balance?
I use the ‘do not disturb’ function on my phone after 7pm so emails don’t come in, I don’t plan meetings after 6pm no matter what time-zone my client is in, I try to be disciplined about the times that I am going to reply to emails rather than replying all the time. Each week I have a set of priorities and I try to stick with just doing those things and being realistic about what is achieveable. I am not always realistic about what can be achieved but this is the impact of my high ‘Empathy/Understanding/Caring’ versus Lower ‘Self-Control/Self-Worth’ and high ‘Mood’, always believing there is more time in the day than there is, and being hasty to say yes to things. This is a daily battle to work on this!
The book is quite meditative at times, is this intentional and something that you draw strength from?
I take this as a compliment! Thinking about it, the writing of this book was like one big long meditation, trying to empty my brain of every idea, method, tool, reflection that I had used in the past to help clients.
Having a serious personal practice of meditation is something I aspire to.
I would describe myself as spiritual though I don’t meditate daily. I have been deeply inspired by observing friends who meditate daily and the sheer serenity that they have. I also observed this in my Dad in his late years.
If my book is meditative, then hopefully it will help people to go within and understand themselves better, this is the impact I hope the book will have.
Is there anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked you?
Irish Tech News is a very interesting read. Thank you for connecting and would be very interested to stay in touch and have further dialogue. Great topics and thanks for the opportunity to have this reflection with you!
Geetu Bharwaney Is Managing Director of Ei World (www.eiworld.org), a coach to high achievers on how to be effective in work and life. She is author of ‘Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best’.
The book comes with free downloads and additional resources (listed below), so it provides a full approach for working to build your emotional resilience.
FREE e-chapter and video/audio intro to book available here.
Emotional Resilience: Know what it takes to be agile, adaptable and perform at your best
Written by Geetu Bharwaney, Author of Emotional Resilience (available in Audiobook and Paperback) and Managing Director of Ei World.
Links for purchasing book:
Download version via Audible:
Download version via Ei World Amazon Store (physical audio products):
Amazon link paperback: