A couple of weeks ago, my job as a freelance copywriter required me to get dressed and leave the house. I know. It shocked me too.
I’ve been writing with Bolt from the You for the last 18 months, so I was thrilled to be invited down to the big smoke to finally meet Lou, Jo and their team and see for myself that these were actual people and not just email addresses and an eclectic mix of lively southern accents.
I was apprehensive. I know how Lou and Jo work. What a huge bond they have. What amazing revelations they can bring out of people. What would I divulge? Was I going to go on a voyage of self-discovery? Would I cry and blame it all on my childhood? Come what may, I was certain I would return north with some new learning and at least a couple of good pub stories.
After hello hugs over earl grey and a quick icebreaker, it was down to business. The Thinking Circle. Now, as someone who tends to hide behind words, this kind of thing usually fills me with horror. Let me explain. You talk. Nobody is allowed to interrupt or add to the conversation. No acknowledgement. No interaction. No feedback. Not even a smile or a nod. You stop when you have completely run out of things to say, passing on the literal baton with ‘…and what do you think?’ signaling the turn of the next speaker.
Unnerving? That would be an understatement.
We were briefed earlier in the week with a couple of work related questions. As the group members took turns to speak, we gave our standard answers. The stuff we’d prepped. The stuff we thought everyone else wanted to hear. I rambled inanely and thought I’d just about got away with it. And then Lou told us we’d be going around again. What could I possibly say this time? I’d said everything, hadn’t I? My heart was racing. Think woman! And then I listened. I really listened.
As the group took their second turn, something amazing happened. Real emotion. Real feeling. Real answers. I was moved by the genuine outpouring of, well, truth. My turn came and I was no different. And yes, there were tears. By being true to ourselves and open about our vulnerabilities, we found real connection. We entered the circle as colleagues, we left it as friends.
What was this witchcraft? Kit Mills said:
“It feels like you’ve done a magic trick on us all, yet you told us exactly what you were going to do and how you were going to do it.”
Lou and Jo live and breathe what they do, role modeling their learning and engaging with their team, clients and each other in exactly the same way. They practice what they preach and don’t ask or expect anything more than what they are prepared to give themselves. Lou and Jo keep it real.
Bolt coach Lyndsey Oliver put it brilliantly when she said:
“What is always great for me to experience is that (Lou and Jo) totally and utterly walk their talk. Lots of people talk a great game and yet when it comes to the actual execution on the field of play, they do something different.
Jo & Lou totally live and breathe ‘the Bolt way’ and the people they bring in naturally do the same. They create a safe space and an amazing company culture where it is truly celebrated that you can be you and I can be me. You can speak your truth and I can speak mine. Difficult conversations are had and no offence is taken. In fact, it is welcomed. The tough conversations are always where real progress is made. Where the real you and the real me, show up.
It is totally naked (not literally!) vulnerability. It can be messy…
…And in the mess, the treasure is found.
This is how they shift company cultures and move mindsets.
The rest of the day was a wonderful demonstration on what a truly talented and unique team Lou and Jo have put together. I learned so much, from social media metrics to Heart Math. And amazingly, I learned quite a bit about myself. We all left for dinner feeling the Bolt love, excited about the future, motivated in our own self-development and proud to be part of something so special.
The day finished on a high at The School of Life with some truly inspirational advice from super hero speakers Jo Malone, Katie Piper, Heston Blumenthal, Martha Lane Fox and Richard Reed.
As I listened to their pearls of wisdom for living wisely and well, I couldn’t help wondering what they would have said, if Lou and Jo had been running the show.