In conversation with… Lara Meyer

It’s always a pleasure to sit down with Lara. We’ve known each other for ages and I’ve watched in awe as she’s built a hugely successful coaching business from scratch.

If you’ve not met, Lara’s a highly skilled client-side researcher, consultant and project manager. What’s more, she’s an accomplished coach who works with leaders in the insights industry to help them and their teams fulfil their potential.

Lara has two missions:

  1. Spread knowledge of good mental fitness so that as many people in our industry can have a more positive working life, and to
  2. Close the gender gap faster because gender equality is the first step towards a more diverse & inclusive sector overall

You can check out her 1:1 coaching programmes, as well as learn about the corporate mental fitness training and motivational talks and workshops she offers here


What’s your first ever job?

So, my first ever job must have been when I was around 10. I was folding leaflets for my parents’ Estate Agency. Then I got promoted from that position and went on to leaflet delivery! I graduated to helping out with some admin work in their office at the weekends. This led to me working in the office and taking people to appointments. And that was a first job that extended for many, many years on and off.

I mostly loved working with my parents. Because I was able to have lots of responsibility. I’m talking now, like when I was about 16 and working in the office. People would come in, and I would talk to them and register them. I enjoyed the responsibility and the chance to learn more about the business than I would have somewhere else.

But the world of Estate Agency wasn’t for me long term. I’d become fascinated with my degree, which was psychology and I don’t think my parents would have wanted me to go into that business either.

Who would you most like to share a coffee with or go for a drink with?

I think I would most like to go for a coffee with a gentleman called Shirzad Chamine. He’s the founder of Positive Intelligence, which is the system that I use, and I use it with all of my coaching clients to help maintain good mental fitness.

He’s just an incredibly wise human being. When I was doing my coach training through the Positive Intelligence system, we got to have weekly one on ones with him. And people would throw out real curveball questions and you think, oh, God, he’s never going to have a good answer for this. Then he would just take a beat and then give you this, like incredible, well thought through powerful answer of how to deal with, incredibly difficult life situations. I have been a fan girl of his ever since. And yeah, I would just adore the opportunity to have a bit of one on one time.

What would you say has been the highlight of your career so far?

I think it’s kind of a recent one, it’s probably earning my Associate Certified Coach credential. Because for me, it was a real marker of my progress and my status as a coach. It was something that I decided to take on. There are so many different components you have to complete in order to earn and qualify. It was the first time I’d done something that wasn’t related to a job. It was completely self-driven. Getting there felt huge.

What inspired you to change the course of your career?

I think to me, it felt very natural. For two reasons. One, I think there is a huge overlap between research skills and coaching skills because, at the heart of both, it’s all about bringing curiosity and asking great questions.

I was also at a point in my life where I had an opportunity to just take some time and think about what I wanted to do. And as I’d kind of explored that with my own coach at the time, it just became a very natural next step for me in my career, and one that I find really helps me when working on research projects, as well.

Nature or nurture?

Well, it’s definitely both. I think there are aspects of who we are and how we show up in the world, how we tend to operate, that are ingrained from the minute that we are created.

But I do believe that the world and environment we’re in powerfully shapes the way we respond and the way that we react. So yeah, I definitely think it’s a bit of both.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard or been given?

There’s so much to choose from, but if I have to pick one. It’s a well know quote from Marie Forleo, which is “Everything is Figureoutable ”.

I like it because it addresses the fact that sometimes things feel hard and complicated in life and that is to be expected. And there are always going to be a huge number of possibilities for tackling whatever the situation is.

It’s a kind of short, snappy thing that I like to remember. If I’m feeling this is feeling too hard. It’s like “No”, everything is figureoutable. Try a different way.

What talent do you yearn for?

Oh, I would love to be able to sing. Oh, yeah, because I love singing, but I have the most horrendous singing voice.

What’s your favourite brand? And why?

Since I have been living in Bahrain, I’ve been really getting into more local brands.

It’s a sportswear brand called Tru Active. And I really love their yoga outfits. The company was founded by two sisters. They have created this sportswear brand with Arabic calligraphy printed onto it. It looks really cool. And the calligraphy itself is also done by their father, who is a calligraphy artist. I just I love that family dynamic. I love how cool it looks. Very comfortable to wear as well.

 What book would you recommend to others?

It’s right here on my bookshelf. I use it all the time when I’m working with women on their careers.

It’s by ‘How women rise by Sally Helgerson and Marshall Goldsmth.

In fact, it’s required reading for my coaching clients. It’s excellent.

The main takeaway for me was not always putting your job in front of your career. So often we can be focused on delivering on the day-to-day that we forget to lift our heads up and think about what you want the future of our careers to be.

What last impressed you at work?

I’ve recently joined the Independent Consultants Group. I have been so impressed by the support and sense of community from this network of independent researchers.

I wish I had known about them sooner. I feel like I spent the first couple of years consulting, just kind of regularly panicking about things like, “Oh my God, I’ve got this brief to write, and I actually don’t know how we’re going to answer it”. But the community is there to help. In the months since I joined, I’ve witnessed so much giving and support

What lesson was the hardest for you to learn?

I have really learned a lot from a dynamic that I spotted in myself, where I would run away from doing things like sales.

It’s taken me a long, long, long, long, long time to really learn that you can’t run away from things that you might not like. But the reality is that if I want to eat, I need to get comfortable doing it.

It was a tough one for me to learn because I’ve never really enjoyed selling. It’s always felt a bit icky. I’ve definitely taken some steps to remedy that now. But it’s, it’s been a long time coming.

Want do want to do when you retire?

When I retire, I would love to host retreats, where people can come and have  a very kind of relaxing, soothing, calming experience.

It would be like bringing together all of the things that I love, like a little bit of artistic activity, a little bit of yoga, stuff like that. I love planning, planning trips and nice experiences. And so, I think when I’m retired, I would have up the time to kind of curate those kinds of experiences.

What would you say you need to do to think you’ve arrived?

Right, I think that is such a hard, hard, hard question.

I don’t think there is ever going to be a thing or a moment where I will feel like I have arrived. Partly because you keep learning and growing as a person.

I think if there was one marker for me, it would be feeling just generally more content with myself, separated from any other sense of achievement.

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