Campbell and Jane Macpherson: “Believe in yourself — and each other”

Believe in yourself — and each other. Jane developed a self-belief early on in her life, a determination to both achieve and be happy, and to believe that she is worthy of both. We also believe in one another; secure in the knowledge that we have each other’s backs. Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Believe in yourself— and each other. Jane developed a self-belief early on in her life, a determination to both achieve and be happy, and to believe that she is worthy of both. We also believe in one another; secure in the knowledge that we have each other’s backs.

Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?

In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.

As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Campbell and Jane Macpherson.

Campbell and Jane Macpherson are the authors of a new book: ‘You: Part Two — thriving in the second half of your life’ (Hachette 2021) They both began their Second Chapters in their forties, over a decade ago. Campbell is an international business adviser on leadership and change — and author of the UK’s 2018 Business Book of the Year. Jane is a fully-trained and highly experienced yoga teacher and yoga therapist. After thirty years of marriage, they realized that they both help very different clients in very similar ways. They now also work together enabling organizations to engage with their lucrative 50+ customers and energize their invaluable 50+ employees.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I, Campbell, was born in Melbourne, Australia, and grew up on the sub-tropical and aptly named Sunshine Coast. I accidentally joined the Royal Australian Air Force directly out of school where I still hold the record for being the worst pilot ever to make it through to jets.

Jane was born in Bristol, England, and grew up in leafy Surrey. Her father died suddenly when she was 13, an event which honed her determination to both achieve and find contentment in life.

We met in Sydney thirty years ago and moved to the UK in 1999.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

‘Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be.’ BKS Iyengar

The concept of accepting change with confidence is central to the work I do helping leaders to lead change and enable their employees to embrace change. It is the bedrock of my keynote speeches, workshops, webinars and online courses.

The ability accept change is called Santosa and is a central tenet of yoga practice and philosophy. Jane helps her one-on-one yoga therapy and private yoga clients to cope with and accept change and the topic is the ever-present, subtle subtext that runs through every one of her classes, workshops and retreats.

And your Second Chapter, your Part Two, will be all about change.

You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

‘Success’ is such an interesting word. Most men incorrectly define ‘success’ as work-related, whereas most women take a far more holistic approach. In the book, we conclude that success is not about the size of your office, the number of houses you own or the value of or your share portfolio. It isn’t about the much touted ‘bucket list’. It is about contentment. Genuine contentment is not smugness. It is about purpose. It is about helping others, and it is about relationships, starting with the relationship you have with yourself.

So, our top three qualities that help us to strive towards contentment?

  1. Never giving up. My work life has been a rollercoaster — full of successes and failures galore. The trick is to never give up; to never succumb to the false comfort of victimhood.
  2. Believe in yourself— and each other. Jane developed a self-belief early on in her life, a determination to both achieve and be happy, and to believe that she is worthy of both. We also believe in one another; secure in the knowledge that we have each other’s backs.
  3. Build resilience. Resilience is the ability to embrace change and seek out opportunities. It is the ability to accept reality as it is — not wasting time with those things we can do nothing about, but instead focusing our energies on those things we can actually change.

Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?

I have had several careers throughout the last forty years — from failed air force pilot to computer salesman, multimedia entrepreneur, change consultant, eBusiness head, marketing director, hr director, strategy director, … Most of my careers have been within financial services. I would say that my ‘Second Chapter’ started 11 years ago, aged 47, when I left my last full-time corporate gig as Strategy Director of the Emerging Markets Division of Zurich Life and struck out on my own as a business consultant, speaker and author.

Jane’s Second Chapter began 17 years ago, aged 40, when she retrained as a yoga teacher, and later a yoga therapist, after a successful career in marketing, brand strategy and sponsorship for a variety of international organizations including Ogilvy & Mather, Pepsi, Westpac Bank and Barclays. She was

the Head of Sponsorship and Donations for Westpac and won the rights to be the bank of the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

I started my change consultancy and speaking business ( and Jane became a yoga teacher and yoga therapist (

Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?

My trigger was being made redundant. Jane’s was when we moved out of London into the Cotswold countryside.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

Another great question. For me, it wasn’t a new skillset. It was re-channeling skills from my corporate life into a new direction. It was about dusting off certain skills that had been under-used, such as public speaking.

Jane launched herself into a completely new world. Over the years, she has unearthed a natural intuition and a strong sense of empathy; an ability to understand what is happening within her clients in the moment. She is also able to amend their yoga practice in an instant to produce the best results.

Our barriers? Self-doubt and negative thoughts. We humans have something like 80,000 thoughts a day and 80% of those are negative. The yogic practice of aparigraha (non-attachment), helps us to stand back and observe our negative thoughts without judgment, which is the first step to diminishing their power and breaking their hold on us.

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

My consultancy is going really well, thank you. It has taken me all over the world, including a three-year stint advising one of the Middle East’s largest Sovereign Wealth Funds on strategic change. I run Leading Change workshops and webinars for Henley Business School and clients worldwide, based on my first book, The Change Catalyst (Wiley 2017) which won the 2018 Business Book of the Year in the UK. I also run Embracing Change workshops and webinars for organizations to help their people to accept and embrace change, based on my second book, The Power to Change (Kogan Page 2020). You: Part Two is my third book. I think it is the best one.

Jane’s yoga business is also thriving. She runs yoga retreats in the UK, India and Europe and conducts face-to-face and online classes, one-on-one yoga therapy and private yoga sessions from her studio in Cheltenham, England, or wherever in the world that she, or her clients, happen to be at the time thanks to Zoom. As well as being co-author of You: Part Two, Jane also co-wrote the chapter ‘The Power of Yoga’ in The Power to Change (Kogan Page 2020).

Neither business has been plain sailing, nor have they been overnight successes. It takes time to build sustainable businesses. The good news is that older entrepreneurs are more likely to be successful, as we also discuss in the book.

Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

For me, that person is Jane. She is the one who believes in me when my self-belief may be wobbling. She is the one who brings me down to earth when required and boosts me up when that is needed too.

I am sure the feeling is reciprocated, but Jane also has another special person who helped her with her Second Chapter: a wonderful, and older, yoga teacher by the name of Ruth White, who trained with Iyengar himself. Through Ruth, Jane started to learn what yoga is and what it is not. Yoga is not about youth. It is not about image. It is not about posing. ‘Yoga’ means union: the joining together of mind and body. The postures help us become stronger, more flexible and help us release tension. When we connect with our physical bodies and our breathing, we find our busy, chattering minds fall quiet.

We feel calmer and present, less reactive, less judgmental. Ruth believed in Jane and set her on her way.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

One day, I was sitting at my home office desk, overlooking the English countryside, putting the finishing touches to a client proposal, when a strange email appeared in my in-tray. It was from a Jewish Headhunter in New York who had found me on LinkedIn and wanted to talk about a contract in Abu Dhabi. I thought it was a hoax or a wind-up from a friend. It was neither. I called the number he gave and after a long chat with the recruiter, I did precisely what he suggested — walked downstairs, asked Jane to take a seat and posed a simple little question, “What do you think about a three-year stint in the Middle East?”

Jane’s story is far more profound: “A brave young woman came to see her when a break-up had thrust her into a desperate bout of depression. She had stopped eating and started loathing herself. She especially hated to be on her own, especially at night, when there was nothing to fill her head but her negative thoughts. She would lie in bed, sleepless, picturing her ex out partying and perhaps even sleeping with other people. She began drinking to block out her constantly ruminating thoughts, and had fallen into a vortex of depression. We practised yogic breathing techniques which, enabled her to watch her thoughts and feelings from an anchored and present place. I gave her permission and the space to feel the way she was feeling. That it was okay to feel sad. That it was normal. It was okay to feel angry or jealous. And that none of these emotions were her. They were just emotions. After the ninety-minute session, she bounced into her home declaring, ‘I feel liberated!’ Her mother shed a tear at her next line: ‘And I’m starving!’”

Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?

Constantly. Doubts are ever-present every time you try something new — and we are constantly trying new things. There is a new twist to almost every workshop or speech I give, and every time Jane adds a class or a retreat venue, there will be doubts about whether she will be able to fill the spaces. She almost always does, but doubts exist nonetheless.

How do we overcome those limiting beliefs? We discuss it in the book. We remind ourselves as to why we are doing this new thing. Then, we remind ourselves of the strengths and skills we have in our inner core (or ‘strategic core’ as I say to organizations) that will give it every chance of success. We then put it in perspective to realize that it probably won’t be perfect first time and that is OK because we will learn from the experience. We are very lucky to have each other to help with this process.

In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?

That is such a good question! In the chapter about Changing Careers, we talk about how professional sports associations do precisely this for their members — helping them to not only plan their sporting career, but also to start planning their career after sport. And the first section of their Personal Development Plan is the creation of a support network — financial, skills development and emotional support.

We have established formal and informal mentoring and networks of like-minded people within our separate but complementary disciplines. I have a number of fellow leadership and change professionals to call upon when needed. Jane has a network of other medical practitioners — osteopaths, psychologists, psychotherapists and mentors to turn to for assistance with her yoga therapy work. On a practical level, we set up accounting, graphic design, web site development and technical support as we took the leap. On an emotional level, we are each other’s support system.

Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?

I hadn’t spoken in public for several years before the launch of my first book, The Change Catalyst. I used the public book launch event to also restart my consultancy after three years in the Middle East. When the time came, I was petrified. While a hundred or so friends, potential clients and influential acquaintances were milling around sipping champagne in one of the grandest reception rooms that London has to offer, I shut myself into a bathroom cubicle unable to remember a single word of my speech. How did I get out of my comfort zone? I gave myself a talking to; telling myself that I was going to be great and to enjoy whatever happens next. I then strode down the hall and into the room. The cameras started rolling and I gave one of the best speeches of my life. I simply gave myself no option.

Jane’s example, again, is far more profound. It was her first session as a professional yoga therapist — with a lady who was dying of cancer. Jane’s memory of traveling to the appointment wondering how on earth she was going to do it remains vivid to this day. How did she get out of her comfort zone? She reminded herself of her training, that she was very well-equipped to help her client, that she had all the skills she needed, and remembered that the most important skill in her armory was to listen. The session was about her client, not her. It was the first of many sessions with this brave lady.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why?

  1. Not everything you do will be successful — and that’s OK. When I rebooted my consultancy in 2017, one of the key target customer segments I had identified with confidence bombed completely, while other opportunities unexpectedly came good. Sometimes you never know.
  2. It’s OK to fail. It is often the best way to learn.
  3. No one expects you to have all the answers. Yes, they expect you to know why your organization exists, who it exists to serve and what it is seeking to achieve. They also expect you to engage with them to work out how to get there. The leaders I help who are brave enough to encourage their people to air their concerns and fears over any new change or strategy — are the ones who are the most successful.
  4. Culture is everything and it starts at the top. What sort of culture is your behavior creating?
  5. Leadership is about helping your people to want to change. Because all change is personal, and emotion is four times more powerful than logic when it comes to people and change.

You are a person of great 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?

We would start a movement that diminishes the hold that fear has on so many of us. Fear makes humans do some incredibly daft things. Fear makes us hate. It makes us elect some truly awful politicians. It makes us succumb to dictators. It makes us form tribal walls. It prevents us from respecting different cultures, beliefs and ways of life. It makes us distrust people who are not like us. It is a fundamental source of the vast inequality that exists in our nations and across the globe.

If we were to remove fear, we could change the world. If we didn’t fear our neighbors, we wouldn’t need to build walls to protect ourselves from them or armories to attack them with. If we didn’t fear being poor, we wouldn’t steal or trample over others to get ahead. If we didn’t fear failure, we would always succeed, no matter what the outcome. If we didn’t fear or devalue ourselves, we could be content.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂

We are going to cheat a little and go with one couple and one recent ex-couple:

Bill Gates is a fascinating man whom we admire greatly, not only for his incredible business success and establishing a company that has been the world’s best at adapting to changing times for more than four decades, but also because of his and Melinda’s amazing philanthropic work. People who are striving to rid the world of malaria and fight poverty, disease and inequity around the world would be incredible lunch partners.

And of course, Barack and Michelle Obama for the grace with which they strived to do the best job possible for their nation, for the world, for their daughters and for young women everywhere in the eight years they were in the White House.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

I can be found on LinkedIn. Jane can be found on Instagram. Don’t hesitate to reach out!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

    You might also like...


    Olivia Chessé On How To Leave a Lasting Legacy With a Successful & Effective Nonprofit Organization

    by Karen Mangia

    From Part Time Blog to Global Coaching Company

    by Louise George

    Riya Aarini: “Be authentic”

    by Pirie Jones Grossman
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.