Spotlight on - Frankie Cotton
I’ve always been creative and I love solving problems in logical ways. Throw in commercial acumen and you find yourself in business strategy! No day in my career is typical! Everything is changing all the time. I might be running workshops with a client one day, then recording a podcast the next. There’s a lot of variety. There is no such thing as an easy ride, especially if you want to follow an unconventional path. Just know that you’re not alone and that the women you look up to have overcome many challenges too. I think the hardest challenge I had to overcome was other people’s expectations. Whether it’s your family or a boss, you can easily end up living to fulfil their idea of who you are. If that goes on for too long, one day you wake up and realise that you’re not living a life that is true to you. So you have to undo that conditioning, get back to basics and understand what it is that makes you come alive. That’s soul work.
I believe that diversity in leadership is the solution to many of the world’s challenges. So long as leaders think in the same way, the echo chamber remains and no significant change or progress is made. Women’s contribution is a big part of the change we need to see. Through my podcast Women On Top, I elevate women’s voices in the media, explore what contributes to the gender gap and share inspiring yet real stories of women’s careers and businesses. I love working on it.
I lost a couple of close family members when I was young and I think that makes you impatient – you realise that life is very short and can be taken away from you at any moment.
From the day I started my first company Let’s Be Frank in 2017, I have paid myself a regular salary and I’ve always made it work financially, even in the hardest times. I’ve bootstrapped, self-funded and worked hard to build a portfolio of businesses and brands that I’m proud of. Resilience is everything when you build a business from scratch. You will be tested repeatedly and you will want to give up because it feels impossible, but if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, it will work out eventually.
Can you share the best advice you've been given with us?
Double your price. I gave my first client (and former boss) a day rate for consulting and he told me to double it, so I did. And I haven’t looked back.
Can you talk about your key motivation?
I’m really motivated by solving problems and creating a better future – the gap between what I can visualise versus the reality of a current situation drives me bananas. But it’s what lights a fire inside me and gets me moving.
What advice do you have for those aiming for leadership positions?
Develop a sense of humour – you’ll need it to keep you sane! I take the issue of gender seriously, but not myself. That allows me to have open and light conversations in the workplace to influence change. Humour can really help to break down barriers and form positive relationships.
And remember, that most people can’t identify their own unconscious bias, so be kind and generous when you point it out. Make more friends and allies than enemies.
Can you talk to us about leadership?
Don’t worry about what other people are up to. Get quiet and listen to what’s in your heart. It will tell you everything you need to know, especially when you’re facing difficult decisions and trying circumstances.
The whole world can change in an instant, so be present and don’t overthink the future.