Episode 15 - Janine CoombesAre you a feminist? Making Conversations about Branding Count!
Janine Coombes – Marketing Coach
Making Conversations about Branding Count!
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.
Janine reflects on a conversation that a teacher asked her class “Are you a Feminist?”. A question that has had a powerful effect on Janine’s values and how it informs decisions.
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Full Episode Transcript
Making Conversations Count – Episode Fifteen
January 28th 2021
Wendy Harris & Janine Coombes, Marketing Coach for personal brands
00:02:01: Have a conversation with yourself
00:03:44: Annoying your husband
00:04:46: Janine’s pivotal moment
00:06:23: Equality conversations
00:10:29: Looking at your own core values
00:11:32: Final thoughts
Wendy Harris: Welcome to Making Conversations Count, the Podcast that brings you business leaders and their stories, sharing pivotal moments that created turning points in their work and life. Today, I am joined by Google’s recognised as the Marketing Coach, the fandabulous Janine Coombes.
Janine Coombes: It’s me everyone.
Wendy Harris: I am so excited. She’s come as herself today, but if any of you have seen her on LinkedIn she does turn up as different people from time to time. I’m so pleased that you’ve accepted the invitation to join us on the podcast, Janine. Tell everybody what you do and how we first met.
Janine Coombes: Thank you for that intro. I’m so pleased to be here, thank you for having me, Wendy. I’m, as you said, a marketing coach. I like working with what I like to call joyfully ambitious business owners, so I want this feeling of positivity to permeate all of the work I do with clients and any marketing issues they want to work through, their business structure, that kind of thing I love; making things simpler.
Wendy Harris: The keep it simple rule.
Janine Coombes: Keep it simple. Cut out the nonsense and the jargon.
Wendy Harris: It’s about touching people and I think that’s what attracted us originally was, not just your creative imagination in the video series that you put out, where you are acting out different scenarios in marketing that affects us that we can all see happening, unfolding between our eyes and then we go, “Oh yeah, why did we do that?” It was brilliant, but you’ve got a very conversational style. You get to the point of things and I think that’s kind of a love of using words and conversation that we share.
Janine Coombes: Yeah, I love a nerdy word conversation and I like using unusual language. You’re right, I’ve specifically chosen a tone of voice that reflects how I sound normally, but like lots of slang. I like funny British slang, “All right, treacle”.
Wendy Harris: The reason that you kind of stand out is perhaps like anything in life, isn’t it, that you attract people like you. I saw you doing something that I just hadn’t got the time or the balls to do and I was applauding you going, “I’d love to have the time to do that; that is just awesome”. And, I could see that it was really getting some engagement but also that you were really enjoying doing it, because if that engagement was turning to something where you were opening up conversations for people and being able to help them, because you are showing up as honest and approachable, that’s the reason for doing anything, isn’t it?
Janine Coombes: Yeah, no, you’re right. It did open up loads of conversations and loads of different opportunities. I was able to, in some circumstances, deliver some quite hard truths but in a hopefully empathetic way; because I was acting out to — I was having a conversation with myself so it’s like, I can put myself in your shoes because probably I’ve been there and this is how I would have spoken back to myself.
In fact, I do that a lot with my husband. I have a go at him about something and then I answer as him, and then I have a little conversation with myself, which is really satisfying.
Wendy Harris: Do you know strangely, I know what you mean. I have conversations with my husband in my head, which means that I don’t end up having the conversation; and over 20 years, I’ve actually turned into him and he is now answering like I used to. So, we must be careful on those head conversations maybe.
Janine Coombes: Yeah, I actually do it out loud in front of my husband so he can witness how I think he would respond to my question.
Wendy Harris: How does he feel about that? Is it normally quite on the mark?
Janine Coombes: I think so. The thing is, I do it to annoy him, but actually I end up showing that I understand his point of view, which is shooting myself in the foot slightly. I always like putting on a silly voice. He sounds like Punch, you know, Punch and Judy. That’s how he sounds in my little scenarios.
Wendy Harris: I can almost feel a new video series emerging just from this one conversation where, instead of Janine talking to herself, her husband may just make a debut.
Janine Coombes: When I recorded the first series, he helped me do some of the recording. I could barely keep him off camera, he’s such an extrovert. But, “No, Rich, it’s just not as funny if you’re in it; it’s got to be me”.
Wendy Harris: Well, I’m glad he’s helped you do what you do so well. It’s that shared loved of conversation I think in work and everything else that made me go, “Janine there’s got to be a pivotal moment in your life”. I’m guessing that there’s more than one because most guests have said it’s difficult to think of one, but what are you going to share with us today?
Janine Coombes: One that really sticks out for me was when I was in secondary school. My history teacher, I had a conversation with him, room full of girls and he’d asked us whether we were feminists, who in the room was a feminist, and we all just shuffled awkwardly in our seats. How old must we have been; 14, 15? We didn’t really understand what feminism was and we were like, “Oh don’t know. I don’t know whether I dare admit to being a feminist”.
He said, “Well, you all should be because I am”, and we ended up having a conversation about what feminism means and why he considers himself a feminist. It was just a really powerful conversation to have with a man at that age when I hadn’t really got my head around equal opportunities or equality of any sort, to be honest with you. I hadn’t really worked through that in my mind. He ended up being very influential on me.
Wendy Harris: What was his view then on feminism that he was trying to convey to you girls?
Janine Coombes: We were just about to learn about the Votes for Women movement and the Suffragettes and that kind of thing, so that was the context. We were just about to cover that in history. And his view was simply that everyone should have equal rights and there’s just, you’re this person so you’re not quite as entitled or you’re that person; you’re slightly different so you don’t deserve this; it’s everybody’s equal. It’s just the most fundamental unarguable thing.
Wendy Harris: It’s a deep-seated value that is lost on a lot of people, isn’t it?
Janine Coombes: Do you think?
Wendy Harris: It’s got me thinking, actually, that it is a very powerful question to raise and a conversation that is still happening now. If you think, if it wasn’t feminism, it would be Black Lives Matter, or it would be over politics, or over who should and shouldn’t isolate with Covid. When you think about it, it is a base value, isn’t it, that regardless of age, colour, gender, sexual orientation, religious orientation, when you come to think of it, we should all be equal?
Janine Coombes: Yeah, it’s a simple concept. I think it’s harder in practice, because we have been programmed by our society and how we grew up in the society we grew up in and the media and what have you. I do think we’ve all got — every single of one of us have got prejudices in us. “I’ve been doing my reading”.
Wendy Harris: Doing your research, due diligence?
Janine Coombes: Yes, due diligence and I believe that we all have prejudices and if you want to be a good human being, you sort of recognise that. Recognising that does not make you a bad person, but it just means that you’ve got to be a bit more vigilant with how you treat people and just don’t take things for granted.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, I think influence from all sorts of areas of our life, whether it be your parents when you’re very, very young, like you’ve shared with your teacher has influenced you; and when you go into the workplace you’re expected to behave in a certain way, and that’s kind of inherited culture, isn’t it, that you’re expected to act in a different ways in different scenarios.
How did that teacher talking about feminism affect you going into your life and to the point where you could say, “Well, today, it’s made this difference”?
Janine Coombes: If I hadn’t have had this — knew that this conversation I was having with you was coming up, I wouldn’t have thought about it, but it was a really key moment and if he had said something derogatory about feminism or the feminists, that could have set me off on a completely different path.
He was just, you know, he just laid it down so simply, “This is what feminism is. Everybody should be feminist because all it means is equality for women and men”, and I think it sunk right in as a sort of foundational belief and value, and it did set the scene for the rest of my life and belief about what I could do in the world and what women should be allowed to do, and what their role is in society, and all of that.
Wendy Harris: Did it open up ideas and options that you perhaps had previously thought were closed to you because you were female?
Janine Coombes: No, I don’t think for me, because I was in an all girls’ school, so all girls were expected to do perhaps what weren’t traditionally considered female study subjects. So, I quite liked sciences and that kind of thing, and I did do sciences at A-levels. I didn’t do very well at them! I don’t think that was because I felt like that’s not a path I should have pursued. No, I just feel like it was a foundational kind of belief. I mean, who knows what influence he had on the decisions I’ve made in my life?
Wendy Harris: It’s certainly not stopped you from doing anything you’ve wanted to do?
Janine Coombes: No.
Wendy Harris: What an amazing, amazing teacher to have had. Maybe you’d have got a better result at A-level if you’d have taken history?!
Janine Coombes: Maybe! Yeah, science was very difficult and I didn’t put enough work in.
Wendy Harris: In retrospect, hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? If you could go back and change anything, there are probably lots of things; but then, that wouldn’t have led you to where you are now.
Janine Coombes: Exactly, and that’s lovely, isn’t it, when you can say, “Well, that, I probably didn’t do very well; and, that, I probably didn’t do very well. But, if I’d have changed it, I wouldn’t have ended up in the place I am with the people I’m with and with the kids that I’ve got, and what have you”.
Wendy Harris: What a powerful pivotal moment to have been questioned about feminism?
Janine Coombes: He did me a favour.
Wendy Harris: He really did. And I think, by you coming and sharing that today, Janine, you’re going to do lots of people a favour by making them think, “Actually, what are my values then? Do I look at things equally; do I have any discrimination against certain things? I’m sure we all do in a prejudice of some form. Where has that come from and how do I change that?
Janine Coombes: Especially if you’re running a business. It is a time to think about what your values are, because it goes through everything you do. It should inform your decisions; it should inform your brand, shouldn’t it; who you work with; how you expect them to treat you; how you’re going to treat them; what you help them with?
It informs everything and it’s tempting, when you’re setting up a business, to focus on all the little bitty bits that need to be done, your to-do lists and what have you. But actually, some time has to be taken out to decide what kind of person you are and why is that, and it can be quite a privilege to do that bit of work and put aside an hour or two to really think about what kind of person you are and what kind of person you want to be.
Wendy Harris: You’ve got me thinking. Janine, I’m so glad that I asked you come and share today, because I think it’s a really powerful story. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to come and join us. If anybody wants to pick up the conversation with you, where do they find you?
Janine Coombes: They will find me on LinkedIn with both feet.
Wendy Harris: And that’s Janine Coombes. We’ll put the link in the show notes for you, and your website if Janine Coombes, isn’t it, as well?
Janine Coombes: Yeah, janinecoombes.co.uk; that’s me. But, come on LinkedIn and connect.
Wendy Harris: Yes, pick up the conversation and see where it leads to. Can’t thank you enough, Janine. As ever, for the listeners, don’t forget we answer all of your comments. Please share this with your friends and family and don’t forget to subscribe on the following link: www.makingconversationscount.studio/podcast. Until next time, thanks so much for listening.
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