Lee Chambers MSc MBPsS is the Founder of Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing, Director of Wellbeing Lancashire, Lead Ambassador at Mindsight and Radio Presenter at Ribble FM
A diverse career built the foundations for Lee to launch Essentialise Workplace Wellbeing in 2019. He utilises his academic background in environmental psychology, sleep and nutrition; with roles in corporate finance, elite sports and local government.
After overcoming significant health challenges in recent years, Lee is passionate about data-driven, people-centric wellbeing cultures. He delivers wellbeing strategy and workshops across the UK and is continually looking to empower individuals to understand the transversal skills needed to thrive in an increasingly interconnected world.
In his role as Director of Wellbeing Lancashire Lee is determined to make wellbeing advancement that is measurable, sustainable and embedded as a priority for organisations in the region.
What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?
If you had asked me this as the young Lee Chambers, I would have told you someone that is very authoritative, confident and outgoing. Funnily enough, I don’t particularly embody any of these in the traditional sense. The traits that set me apart as a leader are the willingness to lead myself first. People follow the messenger before they follow the message, so I’m actively living the change that I want to make and helping others to start to lead themselves.
I ask powerful questions as I firmly believe that everyone has potential and most of the answers inside themselves. I take time to listen and understand everyone that I work with. Appreciation goes a long way. And I actively encourage and empower others to step into their potential, as personal growth and development should be there for everybody to take advantage of.
Finally, I have a level of credibility as I make sure that I communicate well, and do what I have said I will do. I have a level of charisma because when I’m talking to people, I’m there in the moment, not distracted or thinking about something else. I try to inspire hope in my team, that we can change the world with the work we are doing. And I bind this all together with one trait that sums up all that leadership is truly about; love for other humans.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I’ve always had rather a contrarian views on things, and this is no different. I feel a lot of people are out there looking for inspiration, watching other people complete amazing feats and facing challenges with grace. My inspiration has often come from myself by putting myself in challenging situations that are outside of my comfort zone.
There is something deeply inspiring about pushing beyond the limits and boundaries that you set for yourself, that society has set for you, and finding you can excel further than you ever expected, and just how adaptive and resilient you are as a human being. I think all too often we look outside ourselves for external inspiration when so much is already inside of us, waiting to be unlocked.
In reality, though, Lee Chambers is not the sole source of inspiration. My children have inspired me more than I can articulate. Their curiosity, tenacity and clarity is something to be admired, and I find myself regularly wondering just how much they make me become more self-aware so I can access my own inspiration. And the connection that I have with them is fuel for my own inspiration of my clients, who then fill me with optimism as I support them through their challenges and see them find their answers.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
It’s hard to define my most significant accomplishment because so much just feels like part of my journey. I have founded a seven-figure business, but that doesn’t feel like an accomplishment. Relearning to walk after the illness was an eleven-month battle, but I was determined and had a powerful why to keep me going and be consistent with my recovery.
I feel if you select your own accomplishments, it is easy to fall into your own blind spots. So I think that my biggest achievement is being nominated and recognised as an Entrepreneur of the Year by Lancashire Business View. Being selected when against thousands of amazing entrepreneurs is such a privilege, and I certainly feel proud of being in that position.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
Essentialise is built on the premise of doing an essential few things well, and you will be fulfilled and happy in a world full of noise. I believe it is a message that is well worth spreading, and I expect Essentialise to be an international movement focused on equality of opportunity, advancing health outcomes and helping humans move towards their potential and vision of success.
A big part of Essentialise is increasing the consciousness of leadership, and bringing more love and care into positions of influence. Delivering this to the next generation is pivotal to our purpose, and we see ourselves delivering Essentialise strategies and training within organisations and education.
As for Lee Chambers, I want to still be in good health, so important given the challenges I’ve been through. I want to be considered a thought leader in the area of employee wellbeing and the future of work environments, and be speaking about this while fusing the insights with my story across the globe.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
The proudest day in my professional life, well this is between two, with both happening a long time ago.
The first one was my first graduation, going back to university to finish my degree in International Business Psychology after having failed and been taken home after having significant mental health challenges. To come back and finish through adversity was really rewarding and proof that I could overcome the challenge. It has also become a blueprint for life, that you can fail, but if you accept what has happened and choose how to respond, you can take the driving seat back in life and decide where you want to go.
The second one was selling my first batch of games with PhenomGames. After being told I would struggle to execute the business is such a traditional market, I had delayed launching, but after being made redundant, I decided to take the courageous step forward and make it happen. Once again, having the bravery to go against advice and not conform has become somewhat of a mantra for me to live by. I put myself outside of my comfort zone and try new things without an overarching fear of failure. I get nervous, I get butterflies, but at the same time, I’m excited and know I’m moving forward on a journey of uncertain discovery, which is a massive part of being a happy human being.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
It’s not often a question asked, but it has always been something that has made me excited. I was the curious and disruptive child, who always wanted to know how things worked, why people did the things they do, and how could I navigate the world in my own way. And this had me thinking, people who run businesses are always creating new things that sometimes work and sometimes don’t. I saw it as a real-life science experiment, and that excited me.
Add to this my upbringing, my parents are both blue-collar workers and have always worked really hard to give me and my brothers the opportunities we have had. I remember being eight years old and walking to church, my mother now working three jobs to keep us in our home and food on the table. Seeing my parents work so hard for other people, for just enough to live, made me feel there must be a better way. My parents very much pushed me towards university so I could achieve a better standard of life for myself and my family.
On reflection, I was entrepreneurial lessons all throughout my childhood, from selling my mothers used items on the street corner with my friend, to pretending to be 18 so I could sell Amiga games by mail order through magazine advertising at 12. Even at school, I was buying candy in bulk and selling it at a markup to fellow students. The internet was very much in its infancy then, but now the barriers are much lower, and I suggest all young people play with ideas of business, as there are so many skills that are vital for a flourishing life that you can learn from being an entrepreneur.
How do you manage your time?
This is yet another question where I buck the trend and give an answer that people don’t expect. Yes, I have a diary and schedule my days, balancing my company, social enterprise, family and my hobbies. I also schedule self-care and rest periods. I work in time blocks with time to disconnect between them. And I have morning and evening routines that I try to stay consistent with.
But I don’t spend any time trying to manage my time. I actively attempt to manage two other things, that are things that I have more control over. I manage my energy, and I manage my attention. By managing my energy, I find I have the ability to keep going in a productive and meaningful way throughout the day. The ability to put my energy where I need it to be is important, and also knowing when to plug myself into recharge. By doing this, I never run low on battery to a point where I start switching off, not being present and making mistakes. Managing energy is as much about scheduling rest and disconnection, and if we manage time, we tend to deprioritise these.
Managing my attention is another vital skill that we should all cultivate. The attention economy is worth $7 trillion, so there is a lot of value is your attention waiting to be monetised. We live in a world of news and social media that is designed to suck you in and have you consume it. Apps are built to trigger our psychological hooks and keep us using them for as long as possible. Because of this, attention is very valuable, and if we can divert our attention into what is meaningful and progresses our agendas, ambitions and goals, we can save hours of screen time every week and build meaningful habits, relationships and use our attention to drive us to our destination of choice.
Don’t forget; the average western adult spends over 11 years of their life watching a screen. This equates to 4127 days of your life. What could you achieve in 11 years? What was your life like in 2009? Attention is so valuable, train it and use it wisely!
How do you prioritise your tasks?
As an entrepreneur, your to-do list can be as long as you want it to be. There are always more things you can do. But truth be told, there is only one thing you need to do right now, and only a few essential things you need to do well to be effective. That is the whole reasoning behind the Essentialise brand; do the few essential things well, and block out the majority of the noise of society. You can ask yourself the focusing question like I do every morning in my routine. It’s a simple question, “now what needs to be done?”.
I also where possible assign tasks a deadline. This gives a clear indication of when it needs to be completed, and this can help you refocus when you feel overwhelmed. I have a considerable list of things I do outside the business, such as my radio show, speaking in education, coaching disability sports and being Director of a non-profit. I’m very clear on how much I can give energy and attention wise, and this becomes my compass.
What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
The first thing I do is start my morning routine. I wash my face and drink a glass of filtered water. By igniting my senses and rehydrating after a nights sleep, I suddenly feel energised ready to spend some time internally inside myself, through either meditation or sitting in silent solitude.
The thing I would advise others not to do is to jump straight into other peoples worlds and agendas by looking at your phone. Whether it’s the news, social media or your emails, you start your day without any time for you, and straight away, you have lots of negative inputs and stimulation. This is going to set you up for a bad day without the clarity and focus you need to execute on your goals and have a masterpiece day.
What advice would you give your younger self about reducing stress?
This is a really good question. I have a naturally calm disposition and have always been rather laid back, but very intense when I decide to take action. Even today in a position of responsibility with a family, and business, a role on a board and a radio show, I still rarely find myself struggling with stress. I think a big part of this is managing my energy, being mindful with my attention and actively looking after myself so my hormonal and emotional regulation is more balanced.
The one bit of advice that stands out is that stress is perceptual. If you see it as a negative, it will impact your performance negativity. Every human being comes under stress; it’s a vital signal to act, focus and prioritise. But very rarely will die like our ancestors. If we see stress as a sign to move forward, a call to action, a boost, it makes us perform at a higher level with higher accuracy. Hence my corporate workshop, “How to turn stress into your own energy drink”. For someone like me, who doesn’t find himself chronically stresses, the advice is to see the stress as positive and use it to make meaningful progress.
Why is it important for businesses to have an online presence?
We live in an increasingly digital world. The year 2020 so far has shown just how important having hybrid ways of working is. And the way that consumers and clients search and interact with services and products is changing. Only ten years ago, the idea of an influencer was somewhere in the ether, but the number of touchpoints and the amount of research that happens before a purchase has significantly increased, especially with non time-limited and non-urgent products and services.
With this, and an increasingly global playing field, we have to look at where our potential customers will be. And this involves them also being able to find you and connect with the work you do and how you can help them. In the earlier days of the internet, you could leverage from the power of other websites, such as listing your items on Amazon Marketplace, building a brand on early social media, and uploading video content to Youtube. Those who have stayed consistent with that are now in a position of power and have a large digital presence. But those who stayed to one platform and didn’t build, well, any platform can ban you and kick you off. Therefore, it’s vital to build that social capital across the digital space.
Even local business can benefit from an online presence in today’s interconnected world. People use their phones to search when in unfamiliar areas. Footfall is lower, but targeted shopping by pre-qualifying on the internet is higher. You can attract superfans of your business online that then become free marketing as they shout about you. You can access customers who may not have found you or cannot physically get to you.
What is the key to managing multiple businesses at once?
There is no magic key, and everyone is different. My observations are to partition them where possible unless they work synergistically. So often, the messaging, the target and the process are different, so having their own separate channels tends to be effective.
It’s also vital that you don’t replicate success in one business expecting it to convert to another business. That success trap is the reason my video game box business failed, as I tried to implement what had already worked for PhenomGames when I actually needed a different strategy.
The biggest bit of advice here is to get people on board who are both a cultural and technical fit, and they will make it so much easier as they become an integral part of the business. Give them the handbook of how things run, and let them take the pen and make it work for them. This space and autonomy so often allows people to thrive and get the best out of themselves, and suddenly you have a number of people who are leading themselves and making your life much easier.