If you believe in what you are doing then you will be able to inspire others — I sat on the idea for After the Storm for a while, I mentioned it to a few people, but I was scared it would fail and although the people I had mentioned it to thought it was a good idea, I didn’t have the confidence to pursue it, as time progressed I got more confident with the idea and was able to attract a great team of people. Now I can talk with confidence and purpose and seem to attract exactly what we need at the time its needed.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Verity Hart.
Verity Hart is a Business Change Leader with 20 years experience advising, shaping and directing business transformation in ever changing environments. Life events coupled with the pandemic affected her deeply and as a result she has put her energies into building up a new business aimed at signposting those in need of professional help — be that bereavement support, alcohol addiction or anxieties relating to debt. She runs this new venture After the-Storm.co.uk from home in Shropshire, UK.
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?
On the whole I had a great childhood full of fun and laughter. I come from a loving, hardworking family with parents who sacrificed a lot to provide me and my sister with a great education. It was, however, coloured at times by my parents challenging relationship with alcohol, a difficult relationship with my sibling and her own struggles with addiction and my own challenging relationship with food and body image. Good and bad, all have lead me to this point.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It’s is so hard for me to chose just one! If you look at our After the Storm Instagram page, you will see the many quotes that resonant with me, but I guess the one most relevant to our conversation today is this quote by Haruki Murakami: ‘When you come out of the storm, you wont be the same person who walked in. That’s what this Storm’s all about.’
I’ve had a pretty turbulent few years that have definitely changed me as a person — losing both my parents in the space of 3 years, dealing with not only my grief but the grief of my family, working full time and also supporting a close family member through an addiction will do that to you. It is also the inspiration behind why our business is called After the Storm.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I have been listening to Sam Harris’ podcast Making Sense which has been so enlightening and inspirational. Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and philosopher and the podcast explores some of the most important questions about the human mind, society, and current events. It is also about the art of conversation, the art of disagreeing and understanding and about the importance of making connections. The podcast feels particularly important in the world we live in right now.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Yes of course; I am a self-employed Business Change specialist. I have mainly worked in large corporates, in a number of sectors, throughout my career, with the shift more recently being to retail — advising, shaping and directing business change and transformation. My passion is bringing people together, breaking down barriers and fostering collaboration, which means every new project I work on presents varying challenges and keeps things interesting. As the pandemic began I had 2 clients I was working with. One of them was a major UK supermarket and I was consulting on the refurbishment of one of their offices in London. As everyone got sent home to work a number of the challenges we were looking to solve through the project went away as I’m sure you can imagine. My remit very quickly slipped out of focus as they had to work very hard and to support vulnerable customers, switch to a much more online presence and still provide a good customer experience.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
I created Afterthe-Storm — an online platform to connect people going through personal challenge, change and growth to credible resources that can support them on their journey. We’re aiming the site at people that may need help because of bereavement, addiction, mental health and wellbeing, financial loss, relationship advice and youth support. My hope is that After the Storm becomes a vital source of help for those experiencing anxiety or distress. I’ve been there myself, and I know that when you’re in the thick of trauma, it’s really hard to know where to turn and what information you can trust on the internet
The impact of the pandemic on people’s mental health, relationships and finances is going to be catastrophic. After the Storm is my way of trying to help. Our vision is to become a social enterprise that helps to break down barriers that exist around asking for, and finding, the correct help when life doesn’t always go according to plan.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
Quite early into Lockdown my daughter got ill — it turned out to be a simple stomach bug, but because she had a temperature we had to self-isolate. Once we were ‘let out’ I went to the supermarket myself to do a weekly shop and had an overwhelming sense of anxiety and fear over being there. I came home and sat at my desk, so frustrated that I was working in an organisation that was on the front line of feeding our nation and that there was nothing I could actually do to support the efforts. As I reflected on my feelings, it hit me: if someone who was used to being out and about travelling all over the country could be rocked by this, how would more anxious, less confident people be feeling? In that moment my thinking turned to my family member who had been suffering from alcohol addiction and had just come out of detox — how many other aspects of people’s lives were going to impacted by the pandemic and how would they seek out the support needed from credible resources?
How are things going with this new initiative?
Good. It’s early days — we have invested in a really great website to enable us to provide that connection and we are calling for service providers to sign up and list with us. We’re investing in marketing and PR as I have so many ideas over how it can grow in the future and become a household name.
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?
This may sound cliché but it has to be my mother who was an amazingly strong person. I always thought I was more like my dad but since I had my own family, our relationship grew and we just got each other. She is where my drive and sense of worth comes from. Actually, it is her passing that has enabled this vision to become a reality — the financial outcome from my parents deaths has enabled me to create an ongoing legacy in After the Storm that will support people through the events they are experiencing and connect them to the resources to help them and for that I couldn’t be more grateful. It seems like a great way to pay it forward.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Well, that’s an interesting question. Aside from a number of karmic events, leading to connections and meeting great people to support this journey, I would say, I started After the Storm based on a gut assumption that my own experiences were not isolated and that there was a human need for connections and support. A gut feeling is not the most sound way to start a business! However, the journey of creating and evolving the business so far has just solidified and validated my assumption of that need. Every time I have needed something to support me on that journey, the right person, conversation or timing has presented itself — it’s been quite remarkable.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- ‘Remember, there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time’. Starting out can be daunting and sometimes things can seem impossible, too big and they can cause you to stall, we had a few false starts with After the-Storm, not really sure how to explain what we were doing, it was only by striping it back and remembering why we were doing it that I was able to cut through that noise and determine the best way forward.
- If you believe in what you are doing then you will be able to inspire others — I sat on the idea for After the Storm for a while, I mentioned it to a few people, but I was scared it would fail and although the people I had mentioned it to thought it was a good idea, I didn’t have the confidence to pursue it, as time progressed I got more confident with the idea and was able to attract a great team of people. Now I can talk with confidence and purpose and seem to attract exactly what we need at the time its needed.
- ‘It will be demoralizing at times but your team are key to getting you through’ — especially because the After the Storm Team are currently working to start the business along side our day jobs, there have been times when we haven’t been able to commit the time needed to get things completed, or some one will have put in tremendous effort and then daily responsibilities have taken priority and that has set back progress. That said there is always someone to pick up the mantle when that happens and keep us pushing forward as we believe in what we are doing so deeply.
- ‘Learn where to invest and when to stop’ — Professionally I have always tried to run my projects for clients like I am spending my own money so as not to be wasteful, this is really important to keep in mind with a personal business. Set a budget for investment and spend it wisely, if something isn’t working you need to be decisive and not throw good money after bad. The same can be said for time and effort.
- ‘Be comfortable to fail, but do it fast and go again’ — we don’t always get it right first time, my first ‘real’ conversation about After the Storm was somewhat of a car crash for me, I pitched my ideas and although they were received positively, I couldn’t answer a single question about the business or the way the technology would work. That was back in May. I went away, built my team, we worked through the kinks and commissioned the website. Last week I went back to that same person for a very different reason, I wanted him to contribute a blog for the site. This time I was able to answer all his questions and confident to ask him to write us a guest blog. In addition to this I asked if he would be my mentor going forward. To me that shows not only how much the concept has grown but how I have grown through the process.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Exercise is hugely important to me. I am a boxer turned coach having started coaching at my local boxing club which works closely with the community to help people reach their full potential. I also dance with a local dance school. Both these have continued over zoom through the hardest lockdown restrictions and are a fantastic release.
Finding ways to break the isolation of being at home since March has been challenging but I think my main tip is get up, get dressed and make an effort because then you feel better.
I saw this quote from the Mastery of self by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. recently which says it all for me: ‘Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction. Break the habit. Talk about our joys.’ This is so relevant at the moment — instead of focusing on what is missing, focus on what we have, like time to slow down, spend more time at home, and for me this time with my family. My children are growing up fast and that time has been a gift that very few generations have been afforded before us.
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?
After the Storm is that — to break down the stigma around finding the support you need and give a voice and platform to the issues we are facing in so many aspects of our lives. The pandemic has made this platform even more urgent — more so than ever we need to stop hiding and start talking. We need to be connected.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Well I’m currently reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography. What an incredibly lady. Michelle, lets get lunch!
How can our readers follow you online?
Our website is www.afterthe-storm.co.uk, we are on Instagram at afterthestormuk, facebook at afterthestormcouk and also on Linkedin at After the-Storm
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!