Authentic — Be genuine. I have no hidden agenda. Believe in what you do and the value you can offer and others will be drawn to you.
As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marian Evans.
Marian Evans is a UK business coach and advisor for top-tier executives and leaders and her reviews frequently mention her first-class results. Business coach Marian Evans is sought after for her ability to unlock people’s A-game and to set themselves higher goals whilst giving them a clear roadmap on how to get there. She attracts top-tier executives and leaders as a highly qualified coach with accredited services renowned for her exceptional business acumen and high emotional quotient.
She wants to inspire executives to change the limits that they set themselves. She believes in creating opportunities for all. Marian is also reputable for championing Women in business and women on boards.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Marian Evans rocketed to the forefront of the business media not when she won businesswoman of the decade award but when she bought a 900-year-old Welsh castle and kept the purchase of her new property acquisition a secret in case people judged her.
Marian is known for her astute success in both property and finance, making shrewd business choices. Her husband Rob said : “Marian has this ability to assess risks and judge opportunities and consistently realise a profit.” This has become second nature to Marian who started out in property at 18 years old spurred on by her parent’s relentless work ethic and her father’s infectious ambition.
However the decision to buy Llansteffan Castle was not one made for financial reasons but came from the heart and takes us back to that Welsh word hiraeth; that longing and that desire for home.
You see Marian Evans is a farmer’s daughter and as is the case for many children was raised on farms and much of her childhood was spent working and supporting the family on the farm. A break consisted of playing at Llansteffan castle, climbing the towers and looking out to the green fields and the sea. Views that didn’t just look like freedom and joy but they felt this way too. Some of Marian’s happiest memories were spent at Llansteffan castle. Indeed years later whilst at university she would take romantic walks at the castle with her boyfriend Rob as a break from studying. In fact Rob actually got down on one knee and proposed to Marian at Llansteffan castle, to which she said yes.
The fact that Marian bought the Castle is a great example of her track record for achievement she exceeds expectations and does what she sets out to do, quietly, purposefully and politely.
Now Marian and Rob watch their children playing in the grounds of Llansteffan castle that is open to the public. They are excited to make it a more vibrant and magical part of the local community hosting events and also welcoming both tourists and weddings.
Marian Evans is a highly qualified and certified coach, she owns and runs Elevate BC Business Consultancy and has a team of associates to support everything from group facilitation, strategy days through to 1:1 coaching. People often seek to work with Marian personally because she is trusted, highly confidential and most importantly because she is credible “she has walked the walk” both in her career and with her business portfolio.
Marian enjoys meeting and working with new people, however she is often more comfortable behind the scenes. She is humble and steady. Marian is a self-confessed introvert,overcoming imposter syndrome as she finds herself reaching new levels of accomplishment. Marian is revered and renowned as a career coach for top level executives, political leaders, CEOs and those overseas that want support unlocking their ‘A game’ and realising their ambitions within the C-suite.
Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?
I’m not sure anyone is an authority on this but I’m happy to give you my take. I believe thought leadership is widely misunderstood as a pursuit of accumulating accolades, showboating and attracting external validation this is why lots of genuinely successful leaders with so many original and thought provoking change pieces to bring to the table, feel an internal conflict stepping into the arena to be a thought leader. It is sad that it often alienates the brightest, honest brains that are driven by integrity and ingenuity from sharing.
The essence of Thought Leadership is about having something fresh and often transformational to say and saying it in a way that is easily digestible for others. It isn’t about ego. Thought leaders often don’t feel a need to be visible and their pursuit in doing so is generally not to increase income but to increase impact and to help others. The purpose is to create opportunities, to spark positive change and to reach more people by using their platforms wisely. The purpose of being a thought leader is not to sell but to give value, consistently, by starting conversations that educate and that could lead to cultural and systematic change. The aim is to help people learn or challenge self-beliefs that no longer serve them.
Thought leaders are driven by purpose. I feel it’s my purpose to continue to remove limitations that I put on myself and to navigate my imposter syndrome whilst doing so. What I am discovering is that when others see me do this they realise that ‘if she can, then I can too’. I want to experience lots of what this world can offer and in order to explore the next stage in my professional life I have realised that I have to face my ultimate challenge. That is to be more visible and use my influential platforms to do more good and talk openly about the things I stand for.
Something that I find frustrating and difficult to understand is people not championing other people’s success. I see it daily and it’s a pet peeve of mine that there are people in this world that think by casting shade on others it makes them brighter. The more I have developed myself, the less offence I take but having suffered with impostor syndrome I know only too well the impact of self-doubt. When this is fuelled by others it takes real grit and determination to keep pushing forward, I am and always have been driven by other people’s success. I love seeing people win and I love helping them win. It gives me a buzz like no other.
It’s why I do the work that I do and it’s why my niche is in getting people to realise what is achievable if they remove the limits that they set themselves and trust their gut. When we think bigger we become limitless.
Most people only live using 25% capacity of the greatness in life that they could achieve because of fear. Fear of being visible, fear of being judged, fear of failure, fear that success isn’t for them that they are somehow not enough.
Let me tell you something, most people are too busy worrying about themselves to worry what you are doing. Those people that do judge others are often bored and unhappy, they reveal with each word exactly how they feel about themselves inside. Failure is not the opposite of success it is very much part of it and it is important that we do not fear it. We have all heard of the fail forward movement, Mark Zuckerberg says we should move fast and break things and I agree. We know perfection is the archenemy of success (just another form of self-sabotage).
I get things wrong all the time!
I just don’t let it hold me back. I believe in transparency and honesty, own the mess ups and use them as stepping-stones to leap forward to what’s next. We all learn and grow faster this way.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?
I have a background in financial services and I climbed the ranks to become both one of the industries youngest and only individuals to be both a Chartered Insurer and Chartered Broker. Before the age of 30, I was responsible for a book of business over £58million. It was particularly unusual for someone my age and female.
However, when you read my business profiles online you don’t always see the full picture or appreciate the difficulties not least in in overcoming imposter syndrome something I believe I always had. A feeling that I was not good enough it’s something I continue to work on.
There are lots of things that I could tell you about that has happened along the way. Some great experiences, some not so good. It’s how we deal with the ‘not so good’ which is where we learn most I think. I had to grow up fast.
Being asked to take the notes because I was the only female in the room was a regular occurrence. But being underestimated suited me just fine, it made the wins all the sweeter and I quickly made my mark by exceeding expectations, smashing targets and out-performing others.
The rollercoaster of success, balancing fierce ambition and drive alongside the sometimes almost paralyzing fear of impostor syndrome becomes a very addictive cocktail. Feel the fear and do it anyway delivers a sense of achievement like no other. This pattern made it almost impossible in later years to slow down or stop driving forward and wanting to challenge and test new heights and diversify. I guess this is how many ultra-athletes feel and world class sports people, it’s the same in business, from my experience.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer? Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this?
I strongly believe we should all do our best to help others and make a difference in whatever way we can. I feel a duty to show other people who are also dealing with imposter syndrome and not feeling good enough that they can do something about it and dare to go for the bigger, bolder, beautiful, happy life too.
No-one’s life is perfect, and there’s no such thing as always getting it right. You have to adjust, listen, learn, pivot but above all you have to learn to believe “Yes I can” I want to educate people to question what they know as the status quo. You find what works for you and with the right people around you and enough heart and grit anything can feel glorious for most of the time. I want to become a trusted source for information that doesn’t spout regurgitated content but that is committed to adding value to people’s lives. I want to give people valuable tips and tricks that I use to check in with myself and others and to stay on track. Both as a business-person but also as an individual and a mother.
I am happy to do some myth busting and straight talking providing it helps people. Why? Because success breeds success. Zig Ziglar was quoted in his New York Times obituary saying : “You can everything you want in life if you just help enough other people accomplish their dreams.”
We all want to live the best life possible and have our best day. I know what gives me and Rob and the kids the ‘best day’ so I know our non-negotiables. I share ways that work for me in the hope that these points could help others to have their best days as well and best days stack up to best lives. This doesn’t mean that at times things won’t be messy or hard or feel uphill, of course these challenges come they are part of the rhythm of life and challenges create excitement it’s something to overcome its how we know we are living not just existing.
I have always cared more about being a “good person” and relationships with people than anything else. I always want to do right by people and help people so I hope that this comes across on my social media. I’m new to Instagram so I’d be keen to hear what anyone reading this thinks or what they would like to hear more about.
Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?
I do believe there is something in the saying ‘amateurs compete and professionals create’.
If you focus your attention on creating, being proactive and progressive rather than the competition you make it very difficult for others to compete with you.
If you keep on maximizing your own performance and that of your team or business you will be surprised by the amazing opportunities you will create.
No one does what I do in the way I do it. I am unique. The truth is we are all unique if you can embrace what makes you different you will never have to compete.
A thought leader is, in my view another term for a credible and visible expert.
Becoming an expert in a field is no mean feat. It takes years of hard graft. Even now having qualified to the top of my profession I am constantly learning. Here’s the other thing to bare-in-mind you can have the highest IQ around and still not be considered an expert. Why? Because EQ is just as important if not more important. How do you relate and interact with others, how self-aware are you?
Add into that the need to be visible and we begin to see why the title of thought leader tends to be reserved for a small few. This is why, if you achieve this kudos it carries with it great opportunity. People want to hear what you have to say because;
a) You should know what you’re talking about
b) Your probably pretty good at getting your point across and have strong values
c) You don’t mind putting yourself out there
The area I find most challenging is c). I have always preferred to be sought out and recommended. It wasn’t until I was being increasingly asked to speak at events that I appreciated the best way to help more people was to let more people know what I do
Here’s some global superstars we know, have known and love.
- Karren Brady is the thought leader the personal brand and West Ham United are the commercial sports brand/ business
- Michelle Mone is the thought leader the personal brand and Ultimo is the brand/ business
- Arianna Huffington is the thought leader the personal brand and Huffington Post and Thrive Global are the media brands
- Gwyneth Paltrow is the thought leader the personal brand and Goop is the brand / business
- Richard Branson is the thought leader the personal brand and Virgin is the corporate brand and business empire
- Gary Vee is the thought leader the personal brand and Vayner Media is the business
- John Legere is the thought leader the personal brand and T-Mobile is the corporate brand
- The late great Steve Jobs was the thought leader the personal brand and Apple is the brand
- Elon Musk is the thought leader the personal brand and SpaceX is the business
Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.
- Authentic — Be genuine. I have no hidden agenda. Believe in what you do and the value you can offer and others will be drawn to you.
- Value based — If all you do is rooted in your values you will sleep easy. I know that everything I share and all that I strive for has good intentions. For me authenticity, integrity and value add are at the heart of everything I do.
- Consistent — It is not enough to dip your toe in the water. You have to jump in. You need to be tenacious and persistent. Grit and determination will take you far. In-fact it is often these characteristics which out way the value of IQ
- Action focused — Results matter — That doesn’t mean you can’t fail it means with every set back you share your learnings, you grown and you prosper.
- Understand your Unique Selling Points. What are your strengths? Do you put these to their best use?
I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?
I would probably agree with that! The term does make me cringe if I’m honest. However, I guess it does lend itself to describing those individuals who are prepared to share their expertise, ideas and energy with others. That isn’t a bad thing. On the contrary many of these individuals are game changers, influencers, who are helping shape society and drive progress. They come from all walks of life and in my experience, most don’t profess to knowing more or being better than anyone else, rather they are simply prepared to share their learning.
If you are classing yourself as a Thought Leader I think you need to ask yourselves these questions :
1. What niche of expertise am I sharing regularly that is giving people tools to better their lives / careers
2. How am I sharing valuable tips and tricks and takeaways in my content in a way that is easily digestible and easy to implement
3. What change am I championing?
4. How can I educate my audience on this change of learning or unlearning
5. Am I saying something that is original and refreshing
6. How am I backing up the information I’m sharing so that I am a trusted source
7. How am I showing examples of these tips, tricks, takeaways in my life or lives of those I work with or in wider society, relevant, recognizable positive role models
8. How is this fortifying my goals of the impact I want to leave in this world
What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?
1. Quality is not an act it’s a habit and to be at your best you need to prioritise your health, wellness and happiness.
2. Living is not working. Do what you love. I can’t emphasise this enough.
3. Boundaries maintain brilliance, if it is not a hell yes, it’s a hell no! — No is golden where there is obligation there is resentment. If people don’t know boundaries are there they will walk all over them, put your fences up and paint them so people can see.
4. Sleep smartly with quality REM sleep, wind down with a clever wind down routine
5. Have a dedicated rise routine that works for you.
6. Get outside. Fresh air is so important for well being
7. Move — Dance, walk, run, swim, climb — whatever movement works for you.
8. Connect — Whether you are an introvert or extrovert we all need human connection. Seek out those who fill you with energy and enthusiasm.
9. Gardening is very important to my wellbeing it reminds me to stop and smell the roses.
10. Cooking healthy meals and enjoying the kitchen and exploring new recipes matters to me. I am very conscious about what I eat. Having been diagnosed with an Autoimmune disease in my 20’s I have learnt to work with my body to understand what helps it work at its optimum. I don’t always get it right but it has been transformational in terms of my energy levels.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
To create a population of Zappers! (opposite to sappers who suck the energy from you). Zappers are the energy givers in my life, they champion others, they see the best in those around them and support their success and happiness. Be a zapper.
Effort should be rewarded, we need to get better at encouraging individuals to be courageous, to push outside their comfort zone to elevate their goals and to champion those around them to do the same.
Accept the things you cannot change and focus on what you can. It sounds simple but it has a huge impact.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“There are two types of people in this world sappers and zappers, be a zapper!”
Thought Leader creating Limitless Leaders
Founder Elevate BC
‘’Success is proportionate to contribution. If you want something you have to work for it yes, but learn to work smart’’.
We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Simon Sinek and Steve Bartlett. I am a great believer in connecting, learning, sharing. I also love good food so if I can mix the two I am there!
How can our readers follow you online?
Yes, I’d love you to connect with me on my Instagram and say how you found me. Here’s my Instagram link below :
If you would like to do business with me you can connect with me on LinkedIn here :
Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.