One of the great things about founding Studio10 has been meeting some incredibly strong, successful and inspirational women, and this month is no different. Last week I had the opportunity to chat with my lovely friend Elke Edwards. Founder and Creative Director of Ivy House, performance coach, leadership expert, guest speaker and writer, Elke’s focus is on the development of emerging talent and future leaders. “Right now, rising through our schools and organisations, there is a wealth of talent, ideas and potential. People with big dreams, incredible drive, huge energy and a determination to find new and better ways of living,” she says. With this at the core of her ideology, Elke’s new book – Extraordinary: How to live a bigger, braver, more meaningful life – is about to be published. I caught up with Elke to find out more. 

First of all, congratulations on your new book! I know you’ve been planning to write this for a long time – can you tell us a little about it and what the reader can expect?

It’s a book for people who are ready to take control of their lives, but this time to do it right. It is broken down into seven parts – each one the piece of a jigsaw puzzle that makes up your life. Each of the seven skills is a game-changer, but if you put them all together the result is transformational.

Who is your main target audience – or is this a book for everyone?

It’s definitely not for everyone – just for those people who want to take control of their lives and are prepared to do something about it. I don’t care if they are 15 or 55, a student or a CEO, it’s for people who know there is something more meaningful, joyful and challenging out there for them – and they want to find it.

What was your motivation to write such a challenging book?

Two reasons. When I left my seemingly ‘perfect’ life in 2008 this was the book I wanted. I searched in vain and couldn’t find it anywhere. I needed a book that asked me all of the important questions. A book that would help me to find and get what I really wanted.

The second reason is that I am looking to change the world. I know that sound ridiculous, but I am. Through my work as an executive coach to some of the most senior leaders out there, I know that there exists a set of skills and knowledge that, when mastered, make a game-changing difference to how people’s lives turn out. However, it drove me mad that this kind of learning was only available to a tiny percentage of the highest paying executives. This book changes that.

A lot of your work at Ivy House focuses on the development of emerging young talent – do you think there’s truth in the criticism often levelled at today’s parents that we have over-parented to a point where this generation is unaccustomed to facing challenges on their own?  

Yes! Of this there is no doubt. Your children will not succeed because they managed to get a string of A* at school. They will succeed because they have found their passion and bring their whole energy to it, because they know how to build authentic relationships, take feedback, learn in an agile way, collaborate, take initiative and be courageous in building their personal brand. You can’t do this for them, but you can enable them. Sometimes this means letting them deal with their own mess.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Snog Jon Sargent when you had the chance! (In other words, you were always good enough.)

As founder of two immensely successful companies, what’s the hardest career challenge you’ve had to face?

Unforeseen disasters that wipe your order sheet clean in one fell swoop. 9/11 and COVID 19 – but through each of these disasters our businesses came out stronger. In my experience it is essential to assess the situation VERY quickly, to make all the necessary changes as soon as possible and empower your team to evolve the business in the way it needs to go.

As we continue to come up against gender inequalities – particularly in the workplace – what advice for resilience and confidence would you give to today’s midlife women?

Can I say read my book? People talk about losing confidence, but core confidence is impossible to lose. It’s there in us all the time – we were born with it pre-loaded – it’s just that sometimes we lose contact with it and we need to re-find that connection. Situational confidence on the other hand is created when we focus on learning the necessary skills. If you want to be better at networking, learn how to do it. If you want to be better at presenting, then practise. There are a whole load of skills that will help to build our confidence if we set about learning how to do them and practising.

Your proudest achievement?

Oh god, I am going to be really corny here and say our girls. We are a combined family with five girls aged between 16 – 20. Their lives haven’t been straight forward, but I think my husband Chris and I have created an environment where they learnt about them selves deeply, made conscious choices about who they want to become and turned out to be bloody great people. Each one totally individual and kind, interested, funny, joyful and excited about life. We did this while both working full time – so yes, I am pretty proud of that.

When you’re not working, how do you unwind?

Walking our dog Delilah – always listening to an audio book (they have changed my life!). Yoga, films, weekends away and, whenever I can, being in or next to the Mediterranean sea.

As founder of Studio10 I have to ask – what’s the top beauty ‘must have’ in your makeup bag?

Okay, I know this sounds like a set up but your double-sided lip liner – I think it is ingenious.

Desert island disc, book and luxury item?

Only Fools Fall in Love, sung by my daughter Emmi (she sang it at our wedding).

A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman – I will never have time to read this unless I’m on a desert island!

A stack of extra-large Moleskine notebooks with assorted pens and pencils so that I can draw and write.

And finally, your favourite quote?

“Enjoy this moment, this moment is your life.” Anon 

It reminds me that there is nowhere to go, nowhere to be, there is only this moment.

Extraordinary: How to lead a bigger, braver, more meaningful life – by Elke Edwards

It will be launched on Amazon on September 16th 2020, with a special launch over the Kindle version available for only 99p for September 16th and 17th only.

Studio10 are excited to offer six signed copies of Extraordinary: How to Lead a Bigger, Braver, More Meaningful Life. To be in with a chance of winning a copy head to the Studio10 Instagram HERE and comment on the post below, tagging a friend that you think would also like to win! 6 winners will be picked at random on 22nd September and contacted via Instagram. Good Luck!


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