Know Yourself. Having all the success in the world would never compensate for not truly getting to know yourself. This is probably the most important advice of all, and one that we often set aside in our pursuit of achievement.
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eloise Skinner.
Eloise is a founder, author, and teacher. She recently transitioned from corporate law to building her own ed-tech start-up, One Typical Day. Eloise’s work is driven by a desire to improve diversity and social mobility in the careers advice sector.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I started my career in corporate law — I studied Law at university and then practiced in the City of London. During that time, I mentored and supported thousands of students in their own journey into corporate careers. I could see there was a real demand for helpful, practical, accessible career information, and I wanted to start a business that transformed the industry.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
The careers advice sector is a sector ready for change. Existing resources are usually lengthy and in written format. Gen Z students, however, are digital-first consumers — mostly engaging with short, actionable, video content. One Typical Day is a blend of the old and the new: quality careers resources but in a relatable, accessible format.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
We certainly had some naming challenges starting out! One piece of advice to early-stage founders… make sure your name passes the internet test (in other words, Google your ideas extensively before settling on anything!).
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I’ve been working closely with the team at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School in the field of venture creation — their advice and guidance have been invaluable in developing my ideas. In particular, we’ve focused on forming a venture that has a strong organizational purpose and mission. This perspective has been fundamental to the way in which I’ve built the business.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
I come from a very traditional background (in-law), where change takes time and experience is built up over decades. I think that approach works well in an industry like law, which relies on history and precedent for authority. The legal sector is, of course, changing rapidly as a result of technology — but ‘disruption’ might be slower, or more considered.
In other areas, like ed-tech, there’s more space for rapid, transformational change. The industry should always be responsive to the needs, demands, and circumstances of today’s students, and so there’s room for disruption and continual evolution.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
First: Start With Why — a phrase from the classic book by Simon Sinek. This phrase (and the approach in the book) has encouraged me to focus on putting my core purpose at the heart of everything I do.
Second: Take Your Time. This was particularly meaningful advice as I moved from corporate law to the start-up environment. It can feel a little like you’re taking a step backward when you move from one industry to another, and it was so helpful to remember that everyone moves on their own timeline.
Finally: Know Yourself. Having all the success in the world would never compensate for not truly getting to know yourself. This is probably the most important advice of all, and one that we often set aside in our pursuit of achievement.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I have big ambitions for my current business, and I hope we can expand beyond students — to provide accessible, engaging career advice to anyone thinking about a change of path.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I love Viktor Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ — a beautiful tribute to hope and resilience. It reminds me of the value of our lives and our responsibility to live ‘fully’.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I love a quote by the poet Rilke, who wrote: ‘live the questions’. It reminds me to be comfortable in the discomfort of uncertainty, and not always seek the perfect answer. Sometimes the uncertainty is the very thing we need to take us into the next stage of growth!
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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d love for people to think ‘from the foundations’ first — about the meaning and purpose of their life, and about their own identity and sense of being in the world. I think this kind of purpose-orientated position could change the impact we all have, making our society a more meaningful place to build a life.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!