Lauren Kelly is the Founder and CEO of Fearless, a design agency that specialises in both recruitment and end to end design. Established in 2019, Fearless aims to find the best talent, design for innovation and drive industry movements for positive change.
In this edition of The Founder’s Brew, we caught up with Lauren and discussed the importance of investing in yourself as an entrepreneur, how she learned to leverage her ADHD as a leader as well as advice for aspirational founders.
To learn about Lauren’s journey as an entrepreneur, we asked her what she thinks she should spend more time doing. “There’s never enough time for a single mom with two businesses, but I think the thing for me is headspace.” Lauren explains how she’s started to embrace the fact that as her business grows and scales up or down, what is required for her as a CEO will constantly change and evolve. Practising mindfulness has helped her with this “one thing that really helps me, it's going to sound daft, is mindful colouring.”
Lauren elaborates on this concept, stating that the activity is both beneficial for her as a business owner as well as something that she can do to spend time with her daughter. “It's things like this that allow my brain to just wander, much like you would with meditation, and process the day”, explaining that you don’t need to fill every available minute of your life as a founder.
You feel a sense of pressure as an entrepreneur, as a CEO and even as a leader in general, that you have to fill every minute of your day and use every hour that you have and actually, the most productive thing that you can do is reduce your day so that you have time to be proactive and decide how you want to move forward.
When asked to share a piece of advice for an aspirational founder, Lauren reasons that entrepreneurs should invest in themselves. “Your success depends on your resilience and emotional capacity to bear the weight of a growing business and all of the curve balls that come with it.” Alongside making sure that you have the capacity to take care of a growing business, she expresses the need for having the right type of people around you, “you need some really smart people that are not afraid to tell you about yourself, to really push you and challenge you in your thinking.”
Lauren gives aspiring founders another piece of key advice, “what you think you're going to sell and what you're selling in the future will be radically different. If you are an entrepreneur that’s going to go the distance, you will pivot multiple times. So instead of getting attached to your idea and insisting that it has to work, get attached to your customers and what they need and how their needs evolve.” She elaborates that you need to be prepared for the fact that there are so many factors of business that you cannot control or de-risk, “focus on your ability to stay calm whilst having grenades thrown at you instead of having all the answers.”
Lauren expands further on her advice that entrepreneurs should invest in themselves by discussing how her pregnancy changed her outlook. “When I found out I was pregnant, I took it really seriously. I contacted a therapist, a business coach and a personal trainer and I said to all three of them that my business is going to blow up and it's going to be a lot but I also need to show up for this kid and be a really good mum, like the best I can be.” Lauren employed the help of these professionals to get her into the best mental and physical health that she could possibly be, to ensure that she would be best version of herself for both her team and her child. “My business coach has been incredible for me. She really helped me understand how to be a leader with ADHD, and not just how to be a leader, but also a woman. My therapist, again, was incredible. She helped me understand how I could increase my emotional capacity to continue to bear the weight of a growing business.”
Rounding up the interview, Lauren Kelly discusses how her ADHD has benefitted her life as a founder and CEO. “Getting my diagnosis and finally having the answers not only liberated me and enabled me to fully accept myself and gain a whole new level of self-awareness, it also taught me how to leverage it.” Lauren shares that having combined ADHD means that she has periods of hyperactivity or inattentiveness and learning the pattern of these episodes can help her move around tasks to leverage it.
There are still things that I struggle with because of my ADHD and people can sometimes misunderstand me or find me really intense, but there's also so many amazing things about it.
Lauren concludes that, following her diagnosis, she has learned to live with her ADHD to the best of her abilities “I'm now in a place where I accept the light and dark that comes with ADHD. I choose my frame of mind and how I leverage it and how I show up with it.”
Gain more insights from our popular Founders' Brew series, with interviews with entrepreneurs such as Clare Harris and Dominic Ponniah or read our latest events round-up with our network of founders to get a glimpse into the gatherings we’ve enjoyed.