Eloise Skinner: “I’ve worked with a lot of young professionals who seem to have it all”

I’ve worked with a lot of young professionals who seem to have it all — on the surface, their lives are full of achievement and success. But they often feel as if they’re missing ‘something’. As we’ve worked together over time, I’ve seen many of these individuals discover a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their […]

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.

I’ve worked with a lot of young professionals who seem to have it all — on the surface, their lives are full of achievement and success. But they often feel as if they’re missing ‘something’. As we’ve worked together over time, I’ve seen many of these individuals discover a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. It’s a privilege to see this process develop.


As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eloise Skinner

Eloise is an author, teacher, and the founder of two businesses: The Purpose Workshop (a purpose-led consultancy) and One Typical Day (an ed-tech start-up). Eloise was born in East London, studied at Cambridge and trained at Oxford. She practiced as a corporate lawyer, but — after some soul-searching, including a year in a monastic community! — Eloise followed her passion into other projects.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

I was born in East London, to a family of musicians and music teachers. I was very lucky to have creative, artistic parents who always encouraged me to chase my dreams!

Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

In terms of books, I love anything touching on existentialism: Camus, Kierkegaard, Frankl… I like books that deal with the biggest questions of life. Why are we here? And what should we do about it?

How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I think ‘making a difference’ happens when you identify a problem and deliberately take action to help. For example, seeing homelessness on the streets. Very few of us would pass by without being affected at all, but it takes an extra step — offering assistance, or donating to a homeless charity — to really make a difference.

Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

I’m the founder of a business called The Purpose Workshop. Our mission is to normalize ‘purpose-finding’ work — the work of figuring out what to do with your life — and to make it more accessible to everyone. We have a particular focus on making purpose-focused resources available to schools.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

I went through a long process of trying to find my own purpose. In the beginning, I followed a traditional career path because that’s what I thought it would take to feel ‘successful’. But those ideas of success never really lived up to expectations. It took a long time for me to realise that finding purpose in life is not necessarily simple, and it’s a totally unique journey for each one of us. In turn, my journey has inspired me to help others along the path towards their own sense of purpose.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

It was a mix of things, but the pandemic lockdown was certainly a trigger. It gave me (like many of us!) a sense of the fragility of our lives, and the importance of community. I felt like I wanted to focus my energy on building something to help others.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

I read a lot of books — in particular ‘Building A Successful Social Venture’ (Carlson & Koch), which was a good starting point. And I spoke to a lot of people who had taken similar steps into entrepreneurship. Building a network of supportive people around you is one of the most important steps you can take as you’re just starting out.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

We have a new book coming out in October! It’s a summary of our central teachings and philosophy, and I’m so excited to see it come into the world.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

There have been quite a few errors along the way, as part of the process of figuring it out. Our first branding work was done on a budget, and it was totally off — it was the opposite of what we wanted to convey! I went straight to a high-end professional after that…. sometimes you just have to invest in the extra quality!

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

Alison Jones, the founder of our publisher, was fundamental in helping us shape the vision for our work. Alison and I had conversations about ‘purpose workshops’ years before The Purpose Workshop came into existence!

Without saying specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I’ve worked with a lot of young professionals who seem to have it all — on the surface, their lives are full of achievement and success. But they often feel as if they’re missing ‘something’. As we’ve worked together over time, I’ve seen many of these individuals discover a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. It’s a privilege to see this process develop.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Absolutely. First, educators can start bringing an element of purpose into their teaching at an early stage, introducing students to the idea and importance of finding purpose. Second, employers can work to create an environment that prioritizes organizational purpose. And third, we can all learn to engage with eachother on these questions: to ask eachother about matters of meaning and purpose and passion; to refuse to settle for aimless lives; to stay curious about ourselves and our place in the world.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of the interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each).

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

If you have a drive to make the world a better place, then do whatever you can to hold on to it. This sense of drive will be your fuel as you make your contribution to the world. It’s the most valuable gift you’re likely to get.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Tony Wan — co-founder of education technology platform ‘EdSurge’. I think their coverage of ed-tech trends is so valuable, and such a force for positive change.

How can our readers follow you online?

My website: www.eloiseskinner.com, or my Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/eloiseallexia.

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

You might also like...

Community//

Eloise Skinner Of One Typical Day: “Know Yourself”

by Ben Ari
Community//

Eloise Skinner of The Purpose Workshop: “Perspective”

by Theresa Albert
Community//

Kristin LeeAnn On How We Need To Redefine Success

by Karen Mangia
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.