Episode 12 - Clara Wilcox

Have you got permission to do that? Making Conversations about Returning to Work Count!

Clara Wilcox runs The Balance Collective, Specialising in Return to Work Coaching for Parents 

Making Conversations about Returning to Work Count!

Clara Wilcox return to work coaching for parents

This is a conversation that every Mum will resonate with, juggling home and work is not simply a balancing act but a superpower!

Clara recognized through her own personal journey that the right support for Mum’s returning to work was only available from the employer’s point of view. This causes a biased approach and is not always helpful in an emotive decision-making process.


As pivotal moments go, Clara reflects on the conversation that triggered new thinking around her reality and how that was impacting on her mental health. Listen in to hear how Clara reshaped the life that led to her regaining control for herself and her family…


Clara runs The Balance Collective, providing return to work coaching for parents, and also offers confidence and self-esteem coaching services.


Connect with Clara on LinkedIn.

Visit the Balance Collective Website.


Buy Clara’s book that raises funds for The Edward Trust here.

Listen to other episodes on your favourite platform…

Full Episode Transcript


Making Conversations Count – Episode Thirteen

January 14th 2021

Wendy Harris & Clara Wilcox



00:00:00: Introduction

00:01:53: The Balance Collective

00:02:38: Life transitions

00:04:32: Coaching

00:07:55: Flexibility, the fourth industrial revolution

00:10:27: A new conversation

00:12:21: Remote working

00:13:20: Childhood

00:14:54: DiSC Profile

00:16:20: Clara’s pivotal moment

00:19:34: “What Now?”, by Clara Wilcox

00:23:07: Give it to them straight

00:23:55: Uncomfortable conversations

00:26:32: The point of conversations

00:27:16: Final thoughts


Wendy Harris: Welcome to Making Conversations Count, the podcast where we invite business leaders to join us to share their pivotal moments.  In their stories, we can help aspiring entrepreneurs with their own journeys.  Today, I have got the very fantabulous, Clara Wilcox from the Balance Collective.

Clara Wilcox:  Hello, thank you for having me.

Wendy Harris: It feels like absolutely ages since we’ve had a proper catch up.  How have you been?

Clara Wilcox:  All right, and actually I think all right is good enough right now, when you think about the change curve and all those types of things.  I’m good, appreciating the small things in life, learning about what I can control and interestingly, being a lot more vulnerable about the fact that I’m not Teflon.

Wendy Harris: It’s a good lesson for us all to be enjoying the small things.  Clara, where did we meet, if you can remember; it was quite a few years ago now.

Clara Wilcox:  As you just reminded me, we actually met four years ago at a networking event, when I had not long sort of come out into the world as an entrepreneur, although my vivid memory of you was obviously after that meeting, because I don’t think we would have sort of been as in-depth conversation if we hadn’t already met before, was at another networking event; literally in a space of turning up to a group where the expectation is having permission to talk about who you are and what you do and having really good conversations.

As I say, I’m five years since I went 100% into self-employment this week, so you’ve pretty much been around the majority of my time in business, which actually makes me feel quite emotional saying it out loud.

Wendy Harris: It’s gone really quickly.

Clara Wilcox:  Yes.

Wendy Harris: Because I remember quite clearly the early days of the Balance Collective.  So, tell the listeners what is it you do now, because it’s changed dramatically.  I’m so proud of you.

Clara Wilcox:  Thank you.  So I help parents create a career to enjoy, not endure.  So, that is helping individuals, usually mums but not exclusively, re-profile who they want to be in their working life and looking at career confidence, work/life balance and bringing together everything; and that might be returning to work after parental leave, or a career break, or looking for the next career path.

I also work with organisations as well, so I work really closely with HR departments, people that have responsibility for staff wellbeing; and again, I’m part of the maternity package for a lot of organisations now.  So, when their staff are coming back, I do one-to-one coaching, but I do a lot of workshops as well around resilience, wellbeing, work/life balance.

Wendy Harris: Transitioning back into being a grown up.

Clara Wilcox:  I can’t promise that you’re a full grown-up even when you work with me; I can’t promise that.  Interestingly, I was talking to a client earlier today about my concept of personal branding, so the work I’ve always done — so my background is recruitment and not-for-profit project management with employability skills and training.  It’s always been about life transitions; that has been something that has always really fascinated me.

When you actually think about work, it’s such a massive part of what we do and who we are and how we show up in the world.  It’s treated sort of equally as being the most important thing in the world and the least important thing at exactly the same time.  I’ve always found it really interesting why people choose what they do, but getting people to understand the choices they have made around their values, around their personality profile, around what makes them happy basically.

I want people to be able to come home or shut their laptop at the moment at the end of the day and think, “I’ve had a really useful productive day”; because that’s how I’ve always felt about work, even when work’s been stressful and overwhelming.  I’ve always felt like I’m doing the right thing and I belong.  So, that’s what I want for the people that I work with.

Wendy Harris: Being valued as well, isn’t it?

Clara Wilcox:  Yes, but also being valued by the things that you value as well.  So quite often people will live their life success measures by the belief systems of other people, either be it family or cultural or organisation, but getting people just to feel a little bit more in control about what they do and how they spend their time and where they spend their energy.

Wendy Harris: Those conversations are going to dig quite deep, aren’t they, into mindset, into how they’ve been brought up, expectations.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah.

Wendy Harris: You know where I’m going with this.

Clara Wilcox:  Yes.

Wendy Harris: So, being able to hold those conversations is like being able to hold somebody’s hand isn’t it; and say, “Look, whether you feel uncomfortable or not, it’s okay, because we can find a solution”.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah, interestingly, sort of the conversation that’s been quite career changing for me, was exactly that.  It was a really uncomfortable conversation, a very vulnerable conversation that left me really, really exposed; but actually, I felt the power of conceding to what was going on, because somebody asked me the right question at the right time, which quite often is what coaching is.

There are a lot of people out there that sort of put a whole smoke and mirrors, but actually coaching is managing people through a supportive, reflective, non-judgmental conversation, at a point in their life when they’re willing and able to have it.  My role tends to switch between coach and mentor and consultant, depending on exactly what I’m doing; but in respect of if I move into mentor or consultant, it’s always that underpinning coaching conversation.

Most people I know, know the answers to what they want to do, but they’re waiting for permission to do it.

Wendy Harris: Yeah, so true.  Just wanting somebody to say — then affirmation as much as anything, isn’t it; that things are okay?  Work through what that will look like once you’ve made one step; what’s the step after that and the step after that?

Clara Wilcox:  Definitely, and it’s giving them permission to want different things, especially because, as I say, I work predominantly with parents.  What we wanted in our twenties is different to our thirties and our forties because of the life experiences that we have, and I’m sure you can imagine some of the conversations I’m having at the moment with a lot of return to work and career coaching clients, because of what they’ve learned about themselves through what we’re going through locally, regionally and globally as well.

There’s so much guilt hung up against that.  Perfect example is, “I’ve worked really hard.  I’ve got my degree, I’ve got this qualification, I’ve got this level of responsibility at work and I just don’t want to put my energy into it anymore and I feel like I’m letting myself down”; because we’re told, especially as women, that you need to have it all, you need to do it all and how dare you choose what you want because you need to have an example.

Actually, one of the things that I do for myself personally and for my clients is actually simplicity is also a goal; growth doesn’t have to be a goal.  Enhancement and developments doesn’t have to be a goal, it’s okay to want to roll things back, which again I think the current situation is making a lot of us have to do that and reprioritise.

Wendy Harris: 20 years ago, when I was heading up a department, we were looking for staff; it was an outbound call centre environment really.  My idea at the time was, “Let’s get mums, working mums, that want to do the school run that perhaps can’t go back into their ordinary job role”.  We had some people from legal, we had somebody who was a forklift driver; they were women that had got degrees or not, and it really didn’t matter, but the underpinning for them all was that they wanted to be there for their kids, but they still had bills to pay.

So, my approach to that was, “Look, ringing out, it’s not probably the job you want to do, but we can at least enjoy it and we can at least maybe earn a little bit of extra money”.  We had the best time and we had such fun every day.  We knew what was expected of us, we delivered on our targets, but the loyalty that we had was phenomenal because of what we were giving back.  You can go to the Christmas play, you can have the six weeks off.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah, I think there is an issue somewhat, which I think we’re still picking up on however, is this assumption that to get that flexibility there has to be a drop in pay or there has to be a drop in capabilities.  So that is very typical to, “Well, you want flexible working, you’re just going to have to take a pay cut”.

When actually, I think what we’ve shown now, out of the situation, is that you can be outcome focused, you can work flexibly, it’s not about being in work at a particular time.  It’s about utilising your skills and your experience and your approach to deliver the work you want to do, because we’re an industrialised society.  The fourth industrial revolution has been totally sped up because of what’s happened.

We have gone back to becoming a cottage industry where people are working at home because we have the technology to enable that to happen, but so many organisations are still stuck by like the factory settings with 9.00 am till 5.00 pm, everyone in the same place.

Wendy Harris: Yes, there needs to be more forward thinking from employers to be able to cater for staff and certainly from a female point of view, or what I wouldn’t want to see is historically where women have become disenchanted with what they’re doing.  The only choice they have then is to go and get married and have children, so that they can effectively run away from that situation and put themselves in to something else.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah, I think there needs to be such a big conversation around gender roles, because again I find it really interesting when I talk to people about what I do.  It was a client of mine actually and we were chatting about something.  He went, “I’ve got to pull myself up on something”.  I said, “What do you mean?”  He went, “It didn’t even cross my mind you work with dads”.  He’d realised his unconscious bias.

I work with parents, I don’t just work with mums and for people from a wellbeing perspective, stuff like flexible working has to stop being an operational childcare issue for mums, rather than a company culture.  A lot of people have caring responsibilities; it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re parents.

A lot of us are getting to an age now where we’re like the sandwich generation where we have children and aging parents, but actually the children are quite capable of looking after themselves, it’s the elderly parents.  Or we want to volunteer, or we have chronic health issues, which mean that you need to take yoga in the middle of the day to enable you to be able to sit down all day.


Whilst my niche is working with parents, because of how I want to develop and empower and enable people to feel like they don’t have to choose, there is a big issue around underemployment, especially when it comes to mums which, with respect, is exactly what you described, which is I’m a lawyer, but I’m having to do a call centre because I can’t get a flexible job in law.

Then you are left with this massive skill base, all this experience that is not getting used, but it has to be a really open conversation about how we’ve got the technology now to work flexibly, we’ve got the ability to be able to be output generative.  Like me, for example, I was joking earlier; sometimes the school run for me is 15 minutes when I’m walking and that’s a long school run for me.

Before I went self-employed I couldn’t do the school run because my commute into work was 40 minutes each way, or what I had to do was adapt my working hours to take a pay cut to enable me to do the school run.

Wendy Harris: Or you have parents that have nurseries right on top of work so that they can come straight out and be accessible to then still have to make the child do the commute.

Clara Wilcox:  Exactly.  Then you have issues around what if you are ill, and the child — there are whole other things that go on there.  The logistics are phenomenal.

A lot of organisations are shutting down centralised offices, places like Buffer have been totally remote for a long time, there are a lot of social enterprises that are totally remote.  Now, we’re in a position where, by being open minded about where you work and when you work, it actually brings a lot of talent base to the employer.

So, rather than saying, “Right, I need to find someone that can get to the office in 30 minutes”, what they’re saying is we need somebody that can deliver this thing and actually as long as they deliver it between these hours because we’re on like Greenwich Mean Time, they can be anywhere in the world, because for the last eight months we’ve all been having to communicate on Zoom.

So, it enables employers to have a wider talent base, but also enables the parents who want flexibility, who don’t want to be underemployed, that want to be able to do everything they need to do for themselves and their families; it can make it happen.  But like you say it starts with a conversation because a lot of people that I know will not even talk to their employer about flexible working, and flexible working doesn’t mean part-time; there is such a fallacy around that.

Wendy Harris: No, I think there has been a lot of employers, I know certainly there’s a client that I’ve been working with who has been pleasantly surprised that they’ve actually cut down on costs; they’re up on productivity; the staff in some respects are happier; still miss that social contact so they’re working a way around giving that social contact back to the team so that they feel like a team, even whilst they’re working independently.  I applaud that because it is doable.  I’ve been working remotely for 15 years.

Clara Wilcox:  Exactly.  When we’re able to leave the house quite comfortably, you can do co-working, you can have coffee meetings for organisations that want to have that feeling.  You can have a team meeting once a week where everybody comes in theoretically, if they’re in there.

Wendy Harris: I want it called the water cooler chat.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah.

Wendy Harris: I want it in my diary as, let’s just talk about what you were watching on the TV.

Clara Wilcox:  Exactly, so it’s all possible.  So, that in very massive nutshell is basically what I do.  It makes me laugh because my mum’s moving out — that doesn’t make me laugh that my mum’s moving out, but she’s found my old school reports and I was apparently a very unconfident unsure child, right up until like middle second school, “Clara is a worrier, she’s really anxious, she constantly needs reassurance”.

It’s interesting for me that I’ve come from a child that would constantly want to toe the line, which probably would have been classed as a sensitive anxious child if I was at school now, possibly seen as neurodivergent; but I’ve found something that really interests me and that’s just understanding why people do what they do, and I’ve niched it down into careers.  So, actually my career has been based on me talking and having conversations because I couldn’t do —

Wendy Harris: Yes and channelling that passion.

Clara Wilcox:  Exactly, I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t have conversations.  When I was in recruitment uncovering why people do what they do, not just taking it on surface level.  The same with the consultancy when I was a recruiter, because, yeah give me a job spec, but that doesn’t mean anything.  Obviously, it’s moved and evolved from quite a transaction to, “Why?  Why have you started that business and why do you employ the people you employ, and why do you work with the clients?  Why do you do that rather than this?”

Wendy Harris: That questioning behaviour though is what drills down to the right solution.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah, and it’s nice with the coaching because it’s the person who decides what the right solution is for them.  Even if they want me to give them suggestions I say, “These are some options, but what are you going to do?  How are you going to make it work?”

Wendy Harris: You have just reminded me of the very first DiSC profile I ever had done when I was in my very first job.  We are now talking 30-odd years ago, so I bet these profiles have come on in abundance.

Clara Wilcox:  They’re amazing.  I have just reintroduced DiSC back into my business for clients.

Wendy Harris: Have you?


Clara Wilcox:  I adore DiSC.

Wendy Harris: I just remember answering all these different questions, multiple choice.  It took a couple of weeks to get the results because, of course, you didn’t enter it all into a computer or anything like that then.  Right at the bottom of this report was the top 100 jobs that you would be best matched to do.  You’ll understand why it stuck in my mind and I wish I’d got a copy of it, because number 1 was entrepreneur, number 97 was telesales manager, which was the job I was doing.

Clara Wilcox:  Wow, says it all doesn’t it.  I adore DiSC.  So, what I used to do when I was in recruitment we used to hand score it, so people would fill it in, and then we tot it all up, draw the graph and read it off the graph.  The reports that I do now, people get like a 17-page report but I do still do a lot of the graph reading.  It’s just — I adore it.  Again, it’s another conversation starter.

Wendy Harris: Starts some very interesting conversations about why did you answer that, then?  What was the reasoning behind that?  Interesting.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah, how did you feel about this?

Wendy Harris: So, Clara, I ask every guest on the show to think about a pivotal moment, because I do think that from our experiences, what those conversations are and what followed can be really enlightening for listeners.  So, tell me, what have you got to share with us today?

Clara Wilcox:  Okay, so possible slight trigger warning, obviously you know; my journey into motherhood included one was quite a late loss, and I remember being sat with the grief counsellor at the time, at the hospital.  Whilst we were dealing with all of that on a personal level, on a professional level there was one of — I’ve lost count how many times it happened but a massive change going on; massive change process going on at the organisation that I was working at.

I remember sat there talking to her and saying, “If I lose my job, if I have to move into another department, they won’t know the Clara that was before this happened, they’d only know the Clara that is now, and I don’t know who this Clara is anymore and I don’t know how to get her back; and I’m worried I’m going to be like this for the rest of my life”.

Wendy Harris: This is because of the grief that you were going through.

Clara Wilcox:  Just the volume of grief and at the time, I wasn’t diagnosed with depression.  Not long after that I got the depression diagnosis.  So there was like massive mental health challenges going on.  Interesting for me, the pivotal aspect of that conversation wasn’t what she said back to me, it was just the fact I’d said it out loud.

So, I think quite often what happens is in life, that we live our life by other people’s expectations, we live our lives by the version of our life, either personal, professional or both that we thought we wanted, and we really resist the reality of how our life experiences totally change us.  We seem to accept that if good things happen, it’s going to develop our life and enhance our life, but almost try to reject the negative things, “Oh no, I’m going to let that bounce off me and I’m going to be really strong and not let it happen”, which was how I was sort of living my life.  I was trying to do all the normal coping mechanisms and they just weren’t working for me.

Actually, off the back off that came to conversations with close family members, in terms of saying, “I just don’t feel right.  I don’t feel okay”, and then further conversation which led to conversation with the doctor, which led to going to see a counsellor, which led to total re-evaluation of my life and finding strength because I had to rebuild myself.

I had to stop trying to be the person I was before this traumatic experience happened and decide how that life experience was going to be a catalyst for creating a life that I could control a little bit.  So, I decided what was priority for me now and focused a lot more on making sure that that was brought into my life and again that level of vulnerability and asking for help, which before that point was just not me.

Like I still struggle with it a little bit now but up until that point I would — default, “I’m fine.  I’m fine”.  “You okay?”  “Yeah, I’m fine.  Yeah, it’s all right, it’s hard but it’s fine”.

Wendy Harris: It’s all right being an independent woman to a point, isn’t it?

Clara Wilcox:  Yes.

Wendy Harris: We ought to tell the listeners that your book, What’s Next?

Clara Wilcox:  What Now?

Wendy Harris: What Now, sorry, yeah.  What Now?  You ought to do a What’s Next, then; that’s obviously a premonition.

Clara Wilcox:  Yes, well joking aside that is a working title of a future book, but anyway carry on.

Wendy Harris: There you go.

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah.

Wendy Harris: But I was fortunate enough to be one of the readers before that was published and it touched me on lots of levels.  It made me see a different version of the Clara that I knew.  It touched me from a personal experience that I’d never shared with anybody, that then encouraged me to share it.  So, the way that you are describing that conversation with the grief counsellor is almost like seeing a thread and it really just bugging you.

Clara Wilcox:  Yes.

Wendy Harris: Pulling on it and going —

Clara Wilcox:  Yeah.

Wendy Harris: That thread’s sort of just got bigger and wider and gone off in different directions for you to have the conversations that you’ve needed at the time that you needed them.

Clara Wilcox:  Definitely.

Wendy Harris: At your own pace.

Clara Wilcox:  Yes, for me as well it was because of the conversations that I had with therapists and the doctor and family members; even people after reading the book were like, “We knew at the time you weren’t okay”.  I was like, “Well, why didn’t you say anything?”  “Well, we did but you said you were okay”.  I was like, okay, well that’s a learning thing because okay is not a real thing; it’s just a throwaway comment that people have but it is this element of and I think I said in the book, I look back and I thought people didn’t notice, but they did, but I wasn’t listening.

Wendy Harris: There’s a certain amount of denial that it’s happening, because you do want it to be all okay because let’s face it, you were a working mum, have a husband who’s lovely, do you know what I mean?

Clara Wilcox:  Yes.

Wendy Harris: We’re not just Clara; we are that wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister.

Clara Wilcox:  Definitely.

Wendy Harris: The list goes on so in every situation that you were faced with where people could see that you were struggling you were just trying to put on the mask of whatever it was that you expected them to see.

Clara Wilcox:  Definitely.  It’s funny actually because I do remember at the time the office that I worked for we were at the end of a really long corridor.  I’ve always had the vision that I’d get to the double doors and I’d go —

Wendy Harris: Da da.

Clara Wilcox:  Obviously, it’s on a podcast so I was doing a big massive smile there, literally put the doors open to sort of act as if.  On the flip side as well I think it also useful to know that sometimes you can force your way through a situation where it’s useful, where that coping mechanism is useful.

Wendy Harris: Defensive.

Clara Wilcox:  Exactly.

Wendy Harris: You’re defending yourself, yes.

Clara Wilcox:  So, there’s been times where in work, I’ve been asked to do something and I think, “Oh my goodness me, that’s terrifying”, but I just say, “Yes”, and find my way round it.  So, I think this conversation was two things really.  It allowed me to be vulnerable and realise the world didn’t fall apart and people just stepped up and wanted to help, but it also made me realise that I’m a lot more resilient than I possibly ever thought I was, because of what had happened up to that point and how far it had gone before it got too far, if that makes sense.

I think as well it was an element of, something happened to us which was awful, but with help and with time and with the physical passage of time, life’s pretty good again.  But it’s changed my risk appetite.  I can say this without a doubt; if we hadn’t gone through what we’d gone through, I would not be running my own business now.

Wendy Harris: I was just going to say that it’s on account of your experiences that have led you on the journey that you’ve had.  The success that you have with your clients in terms of how they feel in turn is because they know you get it and they can trust that you get it.  I know that you are very good wordsmith in conversation and you’re very intuitive and astute with people, but if they need to hear something straight, you’ll give it them.

Clara Wilcox:  What I try to do now with my work is try to be the person that I needed then; somebody who was empathetic; who would have allowed me to work through this at the pace I needed to work through it; allow me to talk about things that were uncomfortable.

Actually off the back of this, my blog for this week is all about having uncomfortable conversations, rather than positive conversations.  You have to be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.  Quite often the thing that we’re carrying around us, whatever that thing may be, holds more power when you’re silent with it.

Actually, when you put it out aloud and share it with the world, then all of a sudden you can pick it apart and you can analyse it, and you can have some logic behind it.  And, you can either catastrophize it to make it — I was like, “If I lose my job, I’m never going to get another job, I don’t know who I am, no one’s going to want to employ me, I’m going to be an absolute mess”.  And she was like, “Okay, well what’s the reality?”  So then, the reality was, XYZ, redundancy, etc.

Wendy Harris: The reality if I don’t talk about it is that it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Clara Wilcox: Exactly.  And, up until that point, I’d had micro-adjustments to be vulnerable.  So, obviously work straightaway knew what was going on and I was very open about it.  I think I mentioned it in a book when I was leaving my last job, I found the email that I sent to everyone which was, “I’m not okay, I won’t be okay for a while, but I’ll talk about this; I want to talk about this.  You don’t have to talk about it with me, but if you want to, you can ask”.

So actually, this is where I struggled trying to find a conversation because actually, since the minute I found my voice as a teenager, my whole life has been based on having really uncomfortable, difficult conversations, and actually allowing other people to own that, I suppose.

Wendy Harris: Challenging the way of thinking is not a bad thing, because they’re probably questioning it themselves thinking, “Why am I doing this?” really, so it’s okay.

Clara Wilcox: Yeah.  I was the one at sixth form that would always push back on the teachers and, as a parent, had the conversations with my eldest about their school policy, about rolling up their skirts, and we have an agreement, because she refuses to not roll up her skirt, and she knows what the school uniform policy is.  But, she knows that if she gets pulled up on that, she’s got the right to ask the teacher what the issue is; and the only acceptable answer is, it goes against school policy. If it’s distracting, if it’s this, if it’s that, if it’s the other, that’s a problem.

So, I’ve built my life, actually on retrospect, like I say, on having quite challenging, uncomfortable conversations.  Sometimes I don’t like the answers to them.

Wendy Harris: But, we can’t be happy all the time, can we; and we can’t be pleasing all the time?

Clara Wilcox: Yeah.  I think the biggest lesson I learnt, from a personal development perspective, I remember I was doing one of the many leadership qualifications you get when you work at a university, and there’s a whole thing around conversations.  And there was a really — it stuck with me so much, which is that quite often, we think the point of a conversation is making the other person agree with you, and it’s not.  It’s about making sure you say what you want to say and they understand it.  I was like, “Oh, that’s just amazing!”  That’s how I try and live my life.

Wendy Harris: And I’m sure you do, and I know that your girls do too.

Clara Wilcox: Oh, yes!

Wendy Harris: That is something; that is your legacy right there.

Clara Wilcox: Yes, definitely.

Wendy Harris: Clara, I could talk to you for hours.  We do usually, but unfortunately I do need to wrap it up today.  I’m sure the listeners will have gotten an awful lot out of you sharing today.  Thank you so much.  If anybody wants to continue the conversation, of course they can buy your book and then now, they will have you in their head.  They will literally be reading it and they will hear your voice, which was how I read it!

Clara Wilcox: Yeah, my Brummie dulcet tones!

Wendy Harris: But, if they want to pick up the conversation with you, if there’s something that has touched them and they want to reach out, where can they find you?

Clara Wilcox: Well, I’m all over social media; so, Clara Wilcox on LinkedIn; they have the Balance Collective website, which is www.thebalancecollective.co.uk, where I publish a weekly blog and a monthly personal development book review; and on Facebook as well.  I think my handle now is Clara Wilcox BC, because we’ve done a recent change on that.  And the book, What Now?, I can never remember the subtitle, but it’s like, Mental Health, Life After Miscarriage and Rebuilding.

Wendy Harris: It’s supporting Edward’s Trust, isn’t it; so, it’s for charity.  I must, must say that it is all for the Edward’ Trust charity, which does a fabulous job, and I bet this year’s been tougher than ever for them.

Clara Wilcox: Yes.

Wendy Harris: So, Clara, thank you so much.  To our listeners, thank you so much for joining us today.  Don’t forget, we do reply to all of your comments.  Share and subscribe through your family and friends, www.makingconversationscount.studio/podcast.  Thanks so much for listening; until next time.



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paula senior YMCA

Episode 1 – Paula Senior

In our first episode, we speak to Paula Senior from the YMCA. Paula is a fund-raising officer and is currently preparing for the annual Sleepout to raise much needed funds for the night shelter, how covid has stretched them to the limits and how they have risen above the challenges faced by the homeless.

Nat schooler

Episode 2 – Nat Schooler

Can one conversation really influence where you are driven? Nat Schooler

Influence marketeer Nat Schooler joins Wendy as they chat about how important it is to produce strategic content online. Nat spends his time podcasting, writing, and driving across foreign continents for fun. However, their conversation quickly turns to the importance of building relationships with the people you want to work with. Nat places trust as the highest asset everyone should nurture.

Azam Mamujee M Cubed Tax specialist

Episode 3 – Azam Mamujee

In this episode, Wendy is joined by Managing Partner, Azam Mamujee a tax specialist with a voice of velvet.

Azam agrees that conversations count however he explains how numbers can tell a much more powerful story. He has a catchphrase “Give Azam the facts, I’ll save you the Tax”.

Jenny Procter Marketing for introverts bondfield

Episode 4 – Jenny Procter

Jenny Procter – Bondfield Marketing

Making Conversations about Marketing for Introverts Count

Let us introduce you to Jenny Procter, a marketing consultant and self-proclaimed introvert.

Jenny writes PR and communications for B2B clients and has her own podcast show, and she discusses issues around running her own business as an entrepreneur.

Andrew Deighton team coaching

Episode 5 – Andrew Deighton

Andrew Deighton – Team Coaching. Making Conversations about Teams Count. We are joined by Andrew Deighton today, who helps build and develop high-performing teams through strategy and processes in today’s remote working world.

Wendy has worked with Andrew in a second business through mentoring and knows firsthand how his advice relates to many aspects of running a business.

Nicky Pattinson sales expert public speaker

Episode 6 – Nicky Pattinson

Nicky Pattinson – Leading Sales Authority & Public Speaker. Making Conversations about Personality Count. Nicky Pattinson speaks the Truth in all she does! A northern lass who traded on the markets at the beginning of her career, similarly to your host. Now, Nicky has a best-selling book “Email: Don’t Get Deleted” and her own YouTube channel NICKYPTV.

Buckso Dhillon Wooley

Episode 7 – Buckso Dhillon-Wooley

Buckso Dhillon-Wooley – Actress, Speaker & Business Coach. Making Conversations about Self-Belief Count. A true diamond, Buckso is very much aligned with herself and the many facets of her own personality.
As an actor, speaker and coach her mission in life is to help people connect with their higher self.
Being aligned with yourself on a spiritual, physical and emotional level allows you to shine brighter in everything you touch.
Buckso Dillon-Whooley is a well known Actress, who has starred in Disney’s recent remake of Aladdin and is a long-standing actor on Coronation Street with appearances on many UK TV shows.

James Daniel Copywriter

Episode 8 – James Daniel

James Daniel – Copywriter
Making Conversations about Copywriting Count
Joining us in this episode is copywriter James Daniel.
He describes himself as ‘That old guy who writes copy – you know, the beardy one with glasses.’
We should point out there could be other old guys with beards and glasses out there!
It’s easy to like James’ style of writing because he’s a conversationalist who realizes that people don’t speak geek or tech.

Henny Maltby Digital marketing agency

Episode 9 – Henny Maltby

Henny Maltby – Digital Marketing Agency, Pink Elephant Media. Making Conversations about Digital Marketing Count. When the Pandemic hit in early 2020, Henny Maltby turned to her husband as they both realised their business was going to change forever. Offering online marketing to large corporate businesses who cut budgets left a hole to fill. By opening the conversation up with local businesses, it was obvious what the next chapter would be for them at Pink Elephant Media…

Kim Walsh Phillips

Episode 10 – Kim Walsh Phillips

Kim Walsh Phillips owns Powerful Professionals, a business that helps empower entrepreneurs to turn clicks into cash and identifying the superpowers in others so they can fly high. Kim is an expert in social selling strategy.

Amelia Thorpe Wellbeing coach

Episode 11 – Amelia Thorpe

Amelia Thorpe – Mental Health Wellbeing Coach. Making Conversations about Mental Wealth Count. Meet Amelia Thorpe, founder of Wellbeing 360, who talks to Wendy about how important it is to give equal priority to our mental and physical health. Listening to Amelia’s story will bring a beacon of hope that we can all take charge of our own conversations which will give us back the control that slips sometimes when times are tough. Amelia is a wellbeing counsellor.

John Attridge capacity business

Episode 12 – John Attridge

John Attridge – Guiding Businesses to Reach their Full Potential by Tapping into Spare Capacity

Making Conversations about Capacity Count. John Attridge, owner of BBX turns spare capacity into value for many businesses. When you listen to John you just know there is a bigger story to this guy as his accent gives it away!
John has successfully built a business network and community to help people fill spare capacity and exchange services. It is a brilliant concept and if you’ve not come across it before yet in touch with me and I’ll tell you more. Using the BBX community helped my own business through the lockdown and has provided such a lot of support and new relationships.

dr ivan misner bni networking

Episode 14 – Dr Ivan Misner

In this episode, Ivan and Wendy explore how conversation is the foundation of all growth and learning. How times have changed, looking back and also predicting our future generations experiences, yet communication will still be the underpin even it how that looks has changed.

Janine Coombes marketing coach

Episode 15 – Janine Coombes

Google has recognised this lady as the #1 marketing coach and her video series mixes humour with key messages, it is the lovely Janine Coombes. Janine is a marketing coach for personal brands.
In this episode, Janine and Wendy share how using the right language influences the conversations we have and how it affects our results.

Lizzie Butler presentations coach

Episode 16 – Lizzie Butler

Making conversations about presentations count! Delighted to introduce Lizzie Butler, owner of LB Communications, who met Wendy at a local online networking event and immediately hit it off. Lizzie helps you to grow your business through personal development training and how to achieve brilliant communication.

Jem hills inspirational speaker

Episode 17 – Jem Hills

Making conversations about Bullying count. Jem Hills is an inspirational speaker, trainer & performance coach.
Talking to Wendy in this episode is ex-marine Jem Hills who you might find it hard to believe was affected by bullying and a lack of confidence. As a release Jem discovered Northern dancing and practiced as a bedroom activity that later led to an accidental release of freestyle dancing at a competition. The dancing-built resilience and the foundations for the training to complete the Mud Run and onto his Elite Special Forces career.

Peter howard graphic design

Episode 18 – Peter Howard

Peter Howard runs a design studio that is ranked in the top 100 in the country and was responsible for the WAG brand. Having known Peter and his team for many years, Wendy has heard lots of his stories but knew there would be one she had not heard before.

Taz Thornton & Asha Clearwater business coaches

Episode 19 – Taz Thornton & Asha Clearwater

Making conversations about partnerships count. In a Making Conversations Count first, we are joined by two dynamic guests in this episode. Both Taz & Asha provide business coach services in different areas. Joining Wendy chatting about all the elements that make up a great debate. You are not going to want to miss the observations with Taz Thornton and Asha Clearwater around questioning, opinions, debate and discernment that makes for wonderful colourful conversations.

Vicki Carroll O'Neill

Episode 20 – Vicki Carroll (formerly O’Neill)

Vicki works with entrepreneurs, small business owners and executive leaders who are stuck in their business and need someone as a partner to coach them to their next level of success. Vicki offers growth marketing consultant advice, strategy plans & also organises in-house marketing teams.

heidi medina business coach

Episode 21 – Heidi Medina

This episode contains one of our most important conversations, so we’re definitely going to make it count!
Wendy Harris brings Heidi Medina into the conversation today, who opens up the conversation about abuse she has encountered.
She’s a Linkedin expert and business coach who is the exact opposite of the classic ‘my way or the highway’.
Whether you meet Heidi online or in person she is the same.

Niraj Kapur online sales coach

Episode 22 – Niraj Kapur

In this episode, Wendy is joined by Online Sales Coach Niraj Kapur from “Everybody works in Sales” a business that helps companies with their sales processes.

Steve Judge paralympian motivational speaking

Episode 23 – Steve Judge

A life-changing accident that almost claimed a life but actually birthed a mindset shift.  Making conversations about speaking count!

Imagine losing your limbs in an accident.

That’s a real human test.

Most people would fall into one of two camps.

Feel the loss, and struggle to overcome it, before essentially accepting your ‘job lot’ and just becoming a bit angry.

Many would. And they’d be forgiven.

Then there are others, who would not let it defeat them, or define them.

Steve Judge is definitely in the latter of the two camps.

Nikolas Venios the ideas agency

Episode 24 – Nik Venios

We reflect on how this business man helped his poorly mother solve a household challenge which led to a career of making conversations about ideas and innovation count. We will all eventually lose our parents. Sadly, it’s a part of life. Not many of us have to suffer that loss at the tender age of just six. We couldn’t think of a nicer guy to help us with our goal of making conversations about ideas count. Truly, if anyone can hold a conversation about ideas, it’s Nik Venios of the Ideas Agency. Did you know that NASA has a genius test? During this episode, you’ll find out all about this, and the fascinating stats surrounding it.

Jonny cooper hates marketing

Episode 25 – Jonny Cooper

Most business owners hate marketing. That’s probably because they don’t understand it. Someone who does get marketing is Jonny Cooper, and even he can’t stand it! In fact, he despises it so much, he built a business around it. Welcome to Jonny Hates Marketing! This week we’re making conversations about messaging count. Messaging is so important to get correct. Your entire marketing voice depends on it. That’s why you need to listen very carefully to Jonny Cooper.

Wendy Harris telephone trainer how to sell over the phone

Episode 26 – Wendy Harris

Wendy Harris is an expert telemarketer, who has years worth of experience in cold-calling and doing it right. Now a podcast host, Wendy shares her story and how she became an advocate for making conversations count!

Will Polston Make it happen

Episode 27 – Will Polston

Making conversations about wealth….and Clubhouse….count! Paying it forward. Acting from a position of generosity and giving within the law of reciprocity. We’re talking to Will Polston.

Ray Blakney Live Lingua

Episode 28 – Ray Blakney

Making conversations about language count… Ray Blakney is the CEO And founder of online language school Live Lingua. Can you speak another language other than your native tongue? Wendy admitted to the “Making Conversations Count” team that she doesn’t, and we can’t help but feel she’s definitely not alone.

Many Ward write my book cuddle monster

Episode 29 – Mandy Ward

Mandy Ward is a book mentor, helping people to write their own books under the company ‘Write my book’. Mandy is also an author herself, including the popular children’s book ‘The Cuddle Monster’.

Sarah Townsend copywriter survival skills for freelancers

Episode 30 – Sarah Townsend

Sarah Townsend is a freelance copywriter and best-selling author of the book ‘survival skills for freelancers’. In this episode, we discuss the importance of conversations in the freelance world, and how things can lead to many opportunities…

Paul Furlong visual branding advertiser videographer

Episode 31 – Paul Furlong

Paul Furlong is part of Opus Media, producing TV advertising, videos, and photographs for businesses. He knows a thing or two about visual branding, and is considered a advertising guru!

Hear what people are saying about the show

Informative, Charismatic and Meaningful Conversations

The perfect companion on a short drive.

As well as an insight into the human character, you’ll learn just as much on how to hack your day-to-day business operations.

In a State Agent via Apple Podcasts


Wendy expresses genuine curiosity about her guests. I felt like we were all sitting around the table for a warm cuppa getting to know each other.

She truly has a gift at listening to her guests and making each conversation count.

As a listener, I left each conversation feeling engaged and connected. I’m looking forward to joining Wendy every week to learn about the pivotal moment in her guests’ lives. Elizabeth Krajewski

Izzy2Wander via Apple Podcasts

Enlightening and fun

One of the most enlightening and fun podcasts out there. Wendy is an incredible host no matter who the guest and I am thoroughly enjoying this podcast. One you must put on your weekly listen list.

JayDa11236 via Apple Podcasts

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