Almira Ross is an active member in our One of Many Voices community and is one of the Lead the Change members and has been nominated for her #LeadTheChange Project creating a Community Food Forest for her local women’s centre.
What do you do?
During the working day and week, my energy is focused on growing my business and moving forward with the Community Food Forest, the project I began as part of the Lead the Change programme.
My coaching and training business empowers women in business and technology – giving them the tools they need to create and run sustainable and thriving businesses with a higher purpose. Together, we are creating businesses that survive and thrive through several generations as it may take that long to realize the vision.
My days are devoted to one-on-one and group mentoring programmes, the preparation and delivery of training events, and the myriad other activities needed to get this out to the world. I’m currently searching for two part-timers to join the business and support me with marketing/sales and operations.
Each day I also devote some time to the Community Food Forest – mustering support for volunteer days at the allotment to get it ready for planting, raising money to buy the fruit trees and other things we’ll need there and getting my hands dirty in the soil.
Give us the big “why” you do what you do?
For many years I have been inspired to empower women through business and technology. Given my background (I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering and enjoyed a very successful career in the IT industry) I feel it’s really important that women embrace technology and use business as a vehicle for positive social or environmental change. Both the Food Forest and my training and coaching business are dedicated to this end.
I believe we women are the leaders of the 21st Century. It’s time to step up, come together in community get the resources and training we need to make the difference only we can make in the world.
Give us a daily routine of your normal day.
I’m up and out of bed at 6:15 am, into my gym kit and on to a Google+ hangout exercise class I run for a handful of women who, like me, want to keep fit. This 15 minute high intensity work out sets me up for the day. Then it’s back into bed with hot water and lemon and my morning pages. Writing these pages is a routine I began at least 15 years ago. It clears the air and the stink and allows me to get on with the day.
After a healthy breakfast, I’m into my office. In this first hour, I focus on the business. No phone calls, no emails, just the bigger picture for the business and what I’m committed to achieving. I’ll do some memory management to install my vision and my goals and take time to get really clear on my next steps in growing the business and put these into effect.
Then it’s into the tasks at hand. I loosely plan my week and month in advance, and get on with the most urgent and important things on the list. This may be designing and executing a marketing campaign, creating a webinar or seminar for delivery, getting on the phone to sell a seminar, or taking client mentoring calls. As far as possible, I block these activities off so that I have a full morning or afternoon on a specific task or related groups of tasks. Friday afternoon is my time for reflecting back on the week and checking all the numbers and metrics. Have we met our goals? What could we do better? Differently? Then I take that learning back into the week ahead.
Each day I set aside some time for the Food Forest. It may be a few calls, some social media posts, or an hour or two over lunch at the allotment. Lunch time is also chill out time for me – I’ll play my cello for half an hour and do a soduko puzzle to relax before going back into the fray.
What demands do you balance every day in conjunction with your work?
My husband, home, the food forest, the garden, my soft play and time with my daughter and friends are high on the list. I’m also doing the Wisdom Unlimited course this year, along with a few other business training programmes, so there is additional time – usually evenings and weekends when I get together with others on the course and play with the course material.
How do you feel about women’s “lot” these days?
There was a time when juggling was the order of my day. It’s not anymore. I find I have struck a really good balance between work and play – work is play for me — and between my commitments to my business and those of my home and family. It’s a godsend to have a cleaner. And I’m OK with a bit of dust these days.
How does femininity and Soft Power feature in your business/ career? What does it look like?
It’s hard for me to say. Since I left the corporate world 12 years ago, I left behind my aggressive, masculine drive, and for some years felt as if I lacked focus and direction. I knew I couldn’t go back to that old way of working because it destroyed my health and my soul. So I stopped pushing myself, took gentler care of myself and my loved ones, and relaxed a whole lot.
Now I feel really powerful and grounded. In fact, I make sure I do get grounded to Mother Earth each day by walking barefoot on the grass. I’m still playing – experimenting – with how to bring soft power into the business world in a way that is both creative, fulfilling and gets things done. Business does need some masculine energy, I feel. I don’t have to be the one to provide it.
What is the most common emotion you feel as a woman on a day-to day basis?
Playful and loving.
What’s the most common emotion you think the man that is closest to you feels each day?
My husband: Happy
Do you think you people around you understand who your authentically are?
Those closest to me do. I do find that those who don’t know me so well are surprised by some of my achievements, so I could blow my horn more loudly.
How important do you think vulnerability is in life and career?
Vulnerability is very important, because it is only then that we truly reveal ourselves. That’s when other people really get who we are. In business it’s the point at which a stranger gets to know, like and trust you.
Yes. I went swimming in the Med at Monte Carlo one morning, and got far out to sea, pulled off my bathing suit so I could swim naked. I love the feel of cool water flowing over my naked body. As I was thoroughly enjoying myself, I found I had company. Fortunately another woman, and I simply admitted to her that I had taken my suit off.
What do you do for SoftPlay? How do you look after yourself?
Soft play is the exception rather than the rule. I get around to it maybe twice a week. When I give myself soft play, I go to the woods at Old Redding – beautiful beech woods – and walk there for an hour or so. I play my cello and take part in a local string orchestra. Get my hands dirty in the garden, and occasionally I’ll take myself off to town for a trip to a gallery, museum or just a wander around the shops. And I love to dance! I’ll put music on and just let rip.
How do you juggle your relationship and business?
I don’t feel I juggle this. My husband comes home about 6:30pm and that’s my cue to stop for the day. I switch off the computer, greet him and move into home and lover mode. We always or almost always have a meal together in the evening, and talk through our days. Michael is very supportive of me, and will often lend his steel energy to temper my dynamo to keep what I plan and do real and achievable.
How do you think tapping into your femininity (playing to your strengths as a woman), would impact your relationships with men?
It makes them far more delicious, regardless of the connection. I really enjoy being all-woman with a man, and can sense he enjoys it too.
Do you exercise your #righttobesoft in your workplace? If so, how?
I work from home a lot of the time, so this probably applies more to women in the work place than to me.
What’s one “breakthrough” you have had in your life, that shifted the way you saw things – how did it impact those around you?
There are so many. I’ve devoted my adult life to clearing the crap and that has involved significant breakthroughs – and breakdowns – over the years. One very recent one has to do with the food forest. I was amazed at how easy it was to enroll people to help me with this. I was inspired; others were inspired and offering to help. It was so much easier than anything I’d been doing in my business, so my big breakthrough was to get out of my own way, and allow others to contribute. It’s made a huge difference to me, as someone who has always done it all by herself. And the people around me are stepping into their power and making a contribution. Now I ask them for a contribution – would never have done so before.
Who do you look up to as a woman?
My childhood heroines were Marie Curie, Coco Chanel and Georges Sand. Still admire them hugely. Defiant women pioneers who just got on with what mattered most to them, regardless.
Where do you look for hope?
I go into nature, get connected again.
What do you tell yourself when times are tough?
It will pass.
What’s the soundtrack of inspiration for you?
Bach’s suite #1 for solo cello.
Who have you listened to lately that motivated you to take action on something, anything? And why?
Roger Hamilton at Fast Forward Your Business spoke of the 10 waves that will impact businesses over the next 5 years. They were all technology-led, and I knew of every one of them. What I got was how I am the one to bring an understanding of these disruptive technologies to women in a way that enables us to use them to make the changes we want to see in the world. How I do that is something I’m looking at now in my ‘hour on the business’.
Who’s voice do you think we need to hear in the One of Many Community?
Ishreen Bradley is doing some amazing work empowering women.
You can get in touch with Almira here:
Twitter handle: @almiraross
Facebook page: Almira Ross