Episode 6

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Published on:

10th Aug 2023

Have Better & More Effective Conversational Skills

Thank you for joining us for another episode. This week, Sarah and Tazmin are going to be talking about how to have better conversations, including in the workplace and with friends and family.

About 'The SEO Mindset' Podcast

Build your inner confidence and thrive.

The SEO Mindset is a weekly podcast that will give you actionable tips, guidance and advice to help you not only build your inner confidence but to also thrive in your career.

Each week we will cover topics specific to careers in the SEO industry but also broader topics too including professional and personal development.

Your hosts are Life Coach Tazmin Suleman and SEO Manager Sarah McDowell, who between them have over 20 years of experience working in the industry.

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Transcript
Tazmin:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of the SEO Mindset podcast. You have both Sarah and myself today, my wonderful friend Sarah. And we're going to be talking about how to have great conversations. So and I chat all the time. Conversations are a big part of daily life, but sometimes they can get tricky and we just want to help everyone through it. So, before we get stuck in, quick reminder to our listeners about how they can support the podcast. So, if you've been enjoying them and want to support the work Sarah and I are doing, there are a couple of ways you can do it. One of the ways is to buy me a coffee. So there is a link in the show notes that you can click on and donate a one off donation. And another way is, again, in the show notes, there is another link about our newsletter. So if you want some more tips and advice like we give on the podcast, then please subscribe to the newsletter and that would be wonderful too. So, Sarah, how are you?

Sarah:

Howdy I'm very well. I'm very well. How about yourself?

Tazmin:

I'm very well. We are enjoying the rainy July.

Sarah:

Well, I mean, it is August.

Tazmin:

Oh, it is August. I forgot.

Sarah:

I mean, you blinked in July.

Tazmin:

Gone. We have visitors who live in Dubai and there is a three year old and a four year old. And initially they thought it was quite a novelty because they got to wear Wellington boots and splash in the puddles and be outside in August. They wouldn't be allowed outside for much of the day at all. But one of them said today, why does it always rain? Welcome to the welcome to the UK.

Sarah:

I feel that summer started strong. And it is funny, isn't it? Because us people from the UK, we do like talking about the weather, because it's a good talking point to us. But, yeah, it started off strong. We had some glorious sunshine, some lovely sunny weather, but recently there's just been like thunderstorms and rain, hasn't there? I'm meant to be training to walk a marathon in September. I didn't realize how hard walking a marathon is going to be at the time. I was like, you're not asking me to run?

Tazmin:

Yes.

Sarah:

So I'll do it. I can walk a marathon. Flipping hell, it's hard. I'm trying to squeeze in, like doing 14 miles, 18 miles takes time. But, yeah, I went to walk today, but the weather has just been so awful, I'm just like, what's the time.

Tazmin:

Are you looking at for walking the marathon?

Sarah:

I have no idea, because I ran 20 miles ages ago, years and years ago. But when I ran 20 miles, that took me about 3 hours. So a marathon is what, 2020 something, 23 point something? I don't know, something like that. So I reckon it's going to take a good 10 hours left.

Tazmin:

Wow, that's a long time. That's a long time. Eight, you're going to listen to something, you're going to have like an audiobook.

Sarah:

Or something, maybe the SEO Mindset podcast.

Tazmin:

Refresh your memory.

Sarah:

Anyway, what are we talking about?

Tazmin:

So we are talking about how to have better conversations, more effective conversations. And the reason I wanted to talk about this was having conversation is something my clients will talk to me a lot about, saying, got this tricky situation, don't know how to get through it. And the key is to have a chat. And it could be in your personal life, in your work life. But this week I was talking to one of my clients who is struggling with certain elements of her work. And one of the things her manager doesn't do is respect boundaries about lunchtime that's leading to her missing meals. The day just isn't easy. And it's not to say that it's a terrible job or a terrible manager. I think they are just very enthusiastic, forget that other people have are different to him. And how do you have that conversation? So I wanted to start with talking to you that if conversations are a part of life, I mean, we're having conversation now. Why are some more difficult than others? Do you think?

Sarah:

It's such a good question? Because having conversations is something that you just take for granted, that you can just do right because you have conversations in your life. But it's a really good thing to raise because there are times where you have to have tricky conversations and it's not like at school where you're taught how to deal with those situations. But yeah, it is definitely. A few years back, I would definitely avoid having these tricky situations, and I think I would have just to avoid it, just, I don't know, try to agree or not disagree or just be like, okay, yeah, I struggle with conflict and I still do to an extent today, but I'm getting better at it. But I suppose it's the feelings that you have, isn't it? Because it's having these conversations, even though we know they're important, we know we need to have them. So, for example, with your client sounds like they need to have a conversation with their boss and be like, look, you need to respect my boundaries, you need to respect my lunch. And it's one of those things that like, nine times out of ten, the conversation will probably go okay, do you know what I mean? But it's the thought of it and it's how you bring it up, how you deal with that awkwardness, what happens if the conversation doesn't go right. So, yeah, I think it's a tricky one, isn't it?

Tazmin:

These are really great points that you've raised. And after the break, I'll be giving you and the listeners, I think there's about seven or eight tips on how to make that less tricky. But it's interesting because one of my relatives manages a lot of people. And when I described this situation to them and said 20 minutes meetings are turning into 2 hours, he saw it quite differently. He said, well, that's not very effective, is it? Because really, a two hour meeting, how effective is that? So he said she should tell him it's not effective, it's not good for the bottom line. And he spun it around on make a business case for it, rather than getting, you need to respect my boundaries and mine. Not saying that shouldn't be part of the chat, but it's also recognizing that this isn't useful for anybody.

Sarah:

Yeah. And also if depending on who you're talking to, they're going to respond differently to different types of messaging. So for some people, so if you have a boss or anyone that you've got this tricky situation with, they might respond more to the empathy. Like, I need you to set my boundaries because this is happening. Whereas other people are more business minded, aren't they? So as soon as you're like, look, this meeting that could have been 20 minutes has turned into 2 hours. That 2 hours has taken away from me doing that bit of work. So, yeah, it is interesting.

Tazmin:

Some of the difficult conversations I've had have been talking to somebody about their performance. That was really tough. I think it was my first managerial position. I almost scripted the conversation, I was so worried. Another difficult one I found was, I guess, other ones that come to mind, like asking for a pay rise, that would be tricky. Or exit interviews even.

Sarah:

I'm just trying to think of yeah, I've had experience in all of those that you're saying another one is where you have to raise something that's gone wrong. Like maybe a project or a campaign hasn't gone quite to plan. And you need to explain why. Maybe you've made a mistake and you need to come clean about a mistake that you've made. Another thing as well, I found it really tricky because obviously when you're doing your monthly, weekly biweekly SEO reports, right, the company wants to know about traffic, how much website traffic, keywords, all of that stuff, click through rates. And I found it really hard when you've got bad news to relay to the company, like this month didn't go as well. So there's lots of examples when we have to have these tricky situations, tricky.

Tazmin:

Conversations and going on from that you were talking about, you get very emotional sometimes. We've waited too long to have that conversation 100% because we avoid them. Right?

Sarah:

Yeah.

Tazmin:

And in that time, we have been playing out these scenarios in our head, doing visualization all badly, thinking, oh, they're going to say this and that's going to happen and this is going to happen. And you can really work yourself up into a frenzy.

Sarah:

Yeah. You end up catastrophizing, don't you, in your head?

Tazmin:

And while you are catastrophizing, what you're not doing is saying, okay, even if it is a really dying news, you've got to give them if you nip it in the bud or at least say, this is what's happened, I don't actually have a solution for you right now, but I will give you one. Give me until this day. Because what that does is it maintains that trust that you have between each other. So they're at least going to respect the fact that, yes, they might not like the news, they might not like the way you've told them, but the fact that you've told them straight away, when they have calmed down, potentially, they are going to respect you more for being able to stand up and say, this has happened. I'll get back to you on Thursday with a solution.

Sarah:

Yeah. And it's much better you bringing forward that information rather than them finding out through other ways. Right. And then still got to have that conversation, but you're even more on a back foot because it'll be like, Why didn't you tell me?

Tazmin:

Yeah. Because I suppose we're thinking along the example you just gave about the SEO decline. But if even in other situations where there isn't that impact, you don't have to. So in a personal situation, if your partner has done something that's upset you and you want to have a conversation about it, you don't have to. You could push it under the carpet. They might not even know. But the longer you wait, the harder it is to have that.

Sarah:

Yes.

Tazmin:

But the emotional part as well. I read somewhere, and in fact, I'm seeing it more and more these days. People are recognizing the value of being able to manage your own emotions. And on this particular clip, it was talking about relationships. They were saying that if you're in a relationship with somebody who doesn't know how to control their emotions, be prepared for a roller coaster for life.

Sarah:

Yeah.

Tazmin:

And be prepared for potentially not. You not being allowed to be yourself. Because if you are yourself and they get triggered and blow up, then you're going to keep yourself small. You're going to not say what you want to say, and none of that is good for your mental or physical health. And that really made me think that's crazy.

Sarah:

Yeah, definitely.

Tazmin:

But I think off the back of that, even in a professional relationship, if you are managing a team or managing an organization, if you're in a leadership position, that skill of being able to manage your emotions is so important for the health and growth of your business.

Sarah:

Yeah. Because it fosters the culture and the atmosphere. Because if you can be in check with your emotions because I think this is something I've got a lot better at is something might seem the worst news or something that's diabolical in your mind that's happened, but I guarantee that if you take some time out and take a breather and just reflect, even if it's like a few hours or a few days or however much time you can, when you come back to it, it's not going to seem as bad as it did in the beginning, because you've had that time. And that's one of the biggest bits, is being in check with your emotions and finding a solution and how you can do it for yourself, isn't it?

Tazmin:

Yeah, absolutely. So I suppose the first half of this podcast is getting across that conversations are part of day to day life. We're never really taught how to have good conversations, and when we're in the face of having a tricky situation, a tricky conversation, even before we've had it, we're already going through the turmoil. What are they going to say? How am I going to tell them? What if? What if, what if? And those what ifs are usually the worst case scenario. However, these conversations about maintaining boundaries, pay rises, managing performance, they're all really important for your career growth. Having those conversations with your partner, for example, your children, really important for your life.

Sarah:

Best friends, sisters, siblings.

Tazmin:

Yeah, absolutely. And the better we can get at grabbing hold of them and having good conversations, the better, as we say for the SEO mindset. What is this podcast all about? We want people to thrive in their careers and have happier lives. Right?

Sarah:

100%. It's not just about optimizing your web.

Tazmin:

What do we your algorithm. It's not just about the algorithm. It's about life.

Sarah:

Yes. Your internal algorithm is just as important as Google's algorithm.

Tazmin:

More important. More important. Sorry.

Sarah:

More important. More important.

Tazmin:

So let's take a quick break and then when we come back, I've got some tips and maybe you've got some things that you can add to that. And let's just have a few ideas that can help you have a better conversation.

Sarah:

So this is a good chance to use this break to get a notebook or somewhere you can jot down all the wonderful strategies that Tazmin is going to share with us.

Tazmin:

Perfect. Thank you so much, Sarah. Right? Sarah. So I'm having a great time talking about this.

Sarah:

Do you know what? It's one of those things, and it's a lot of our topics that we talk about, isn't it? Where we take something that is kind of taken for granted or you don't really think too much about. But actually there's a lot to unpick and there's a lot to think about when you start talking about it.

Tazmin:

So what I want to do now is go through a few tips that hopefully can help people to have better conversations. And the first one is know what outcome you want. Be really clear, because sometimes, and this has happened to me, I've said, Right, I'm going to talk to whoever about this thing. And I've gone in and it's got really emotional. We're going to go on to that in a little bit, but it's flared up and at the end of the day I thought, what happened? Like nothing, I didn't get anything out of this and even if it doesn't flare up, they start talking and it's almost like I've lost my sense of direction. We've come to a conclusion and I come out and I'm thinking, hey, that's not what I wanted. So go in really clear about what outcome would you be looking for. Love it.

Sarah:

So sort of prepare yourself or have like a strategy or at least a plan.

Tazmin:

So if it is about pay rise, you go in and you've got all your evidence, at least know what range that you're looking for. Because they may say, okay, you can have an extra whatever and you got what you wanted. You've got your pay rise. But it's not actually what you wanted, because you may have wanted a 5% pay rise. Or talking about flexible working is another one. All sorts of things they may say yes, you can leave half an hour early but that's not what you wanted. You wanted to be able to go and pick up your kid from school which needs you to do an hour early. So go in with this is what I want and this is how I believe we can get there.

Sarah:

Nice.

Tazmin:

Next thing is pre book the chat. So don't just blurt it out. Arrange a day and time that works for both of you or if you have in a work scenario, have a one to one. If you've got regular one to ones, you can use that time but again, if it's a personal friend, best friend, partner, parent, just say there's something I want to chat to you about, when would be a good time?

Sarah:

Yes. And that is so important because especially with your personal relationships, because just because you're ready and in the mind space or the headspace to have that chat doesn't mean that your partner is ready to because maybe they've got some other stuff on their mind. Maybe there's something else that they're working on. Because I have found myself get annoyed in the past at that where you've kind of psyched yourself up because you're going to have this talk and then when you go to have that talk, you've not checked in with that other person. So it's not going to go well because they're not in the same headspace as you. So yeah, that is so important because it's not just you, there's another person in that and yeah, it is funny thinking back that why did I used to get annoyed at that? Because that's me being in the wrong there like expecting just because I'm ready, that other person that I'm about to have this conversation is ready. That's not how life works, is it?

Tazmin:

No and that's a great thing you just said. It's a two way thing. It's an interaction between two people, it's not a monologue. No, and another thing that can help is to give them a little bit of heads up on what the conversation is about. So in the example I gave about my client, it could be useful to say something like, I'd like to have a chat about the best way of us working together to maximize our effectiveness. So that manager knows that they want to have a chat. We've arranged it at this time. And that's a topic.

Sarah:

Yes. And also going back to the example with like a pay rise, for example, your line manager, your manager might not be able to make that decision. So they might have to do something beforehand. So they might have to talk to their boss, or they might have to raise it with other people. So that can help you, because if you come and you've not given that person the heads up, you're going to come out of that conversation deflated because you haven't felt like you've got what you came in for. And it's not just a pay rise. It could be anything. That person that you're talking to might not have the means to make it happen. So it's about giving them the opportunity to. Okay, so you want to talk about this, I need to go and talk to this person or I need to look into this myself, sort of thing.

Tazmin:

So true. Another good pointer is go into the session with the right energy. Now we're going to be talking about energy a bit more at day before Brighton SEO at our live podcast.

Sarah:

That is so slick. Taz.

Tazmin:

I'm getting good at this. Exciting about it.

Sarah:

Yeah. So obviously we did an episode on the SEO Mindset a couple of weeks ago where we announced that we're doing a live podcast. But yeah, that's exciting. So the day before, let me just wednesday 13th. Wednesday the 13th. Yes. So come enjoy. If you're in Brighton on Wednesday the 13th, come and join us. So the SEO Mindset have got a collab collaboration with Search for Canda. So our good friend Jack Chambers Ward will be doing a live podcast, and we'll be talking about managing your energy levels. So come and see us. It's free.

Tazmin:

And fun.

Sarah:

Free and fun. But we'll put a link in the show notes.

Tazmin:

Wonderful. So go in with the right energy. Don't go in defensive or in confrontational because you're both adults. So have an adult conversation and think, best case scenario. So in the pay rise, if you go in and say, do you know what? I need some more money and I deserve it, and the person who's doing the same job and you go in all guns blazing, that's not probably going to work out best for you. You may feel all those things go in. It's a conversation with two people and they're probably on your side. But if you go in thinking that they're the baddie or the enemy and you know what? Sometimes maybe they are. But just go in as an adult and maybe we'll do an episode on adult mode, child mode, parent mode, because that's something really useful to know.

Sarah:

100%. Yeah, I love that idea because there's also the other lights how you can go into protector mode and things like that, can't you?

Tazmin:

So, yeah, that's a great using a relationship example, the minute that you think that it's you against them, both of you have lost. But if you think you know what, the important thing is that the relationship should win, you're going to be having a conversation with a different energy.

Sarah:

Yeah, love it.

Tazmin:

So the next tip I've got is feel that you're allowed to talk, you're allowed to put your point of view, because this client I was talking about, she thought, is it okay for me to say this? Almost like, am I entitled? Yes, you are entitled. If you're feeling something, go in with confidence, with a sense of empowerment. My client was asking for a time to be respected. That's okay.

Sarah:

And actually, by having these conversations and sort of sticking up for yourself or like having opinion, you probably going to end up getting more respect from that person that you're talking to. So in this example, your boss, right? As soon as you sort of have respect for yourself and have these conversations and put these things in place, the more respect that you're going to get from other people as well.

Tazmin:

And what will add to that is if you can manage your emotions. So whatever you want to say, say it calmly. And if you feel that you're getting emotional, if you're feeling like, I'm getting a bit sweaty now, or I can feel like I'm going to lose my temper, take a moment, calm yourself. Because what you want is you want your words to be heard. The minute you start shouting, it's going to negate probably what you say, or.

Sarah:

Not necessarily shouting if you don't sound confident. So if you go quiet or nervous or you can't get your words out or anything like that, then the same thing is going to happen as well, isn't it?

Tazmin:

That said, I get quite emotional and in the past it's quite a while ago now, I knew that I would cry, but it was a manager I worked really well with and I remember saying to him, while I have this conversation, I may cry, but that's not the trigger for you to stop the conversation. I'm just going to say what I need to say, so ignore the tears. He is a good manager. But yes, again, breathe, sip of water, take a moment. You may need to leave the room for a little bit and come back. But again, maybe managing your emotions should be another episode because it's a skill and it takes time to learn and there are tips that we can share to help you. But if you can say what you need to say, calmly, with the right energy. Yes. You will come out with it feeling respect for yourself, if nothing else.

Sarah:

And there is going to be times where you slip up as well. We're all human, emotions happen. Emotions get the better of us. But just being aware and yeah, if a conversation doesn't go right the first time, maybe next time, you'll know, won't you? Or you can be like, yeah, I love that one.

Tazmin:

Regardless of how it goes, take the learnings from it. I love that.

Sarah:

Yeah.

Tazmin:

Another point is don't feel that you need to limit the conversation about what's not working. You can talk about the things that are working. So in this scenario that we are discussing, where she wants to talk about ways that they can work together effectively, she can say, you know what, when you do this, that's really great and I think this is working really well. However, this boundary of timing is something that we could get better at.

Sarah:

Are you familiar with the Darcy Bussel shit.

Tazmin:

Something? It's not my favorite way of describing it, but I think it's take a step back. It's not all bad, but have you heard? Yes, I have.

Sarah:

Yeah. I love that because there'll be like other Strictly fans, but she was written there's a dance competition Strictly. And whenever she gave feedback because she was one of the judges, she's like, I love her really high. She was one of the judges on the show and whenever she gave feedback, she always did like the shit sandwich analogy Tazmin, where it's like, this bit is good, and then followed up by this bit's, not so good, but then ends with, but this bit is good as well. So you kind of like, do the sandwich.

Tazmin:

But another way, I guess, of looking at it is if you want to get a better working relationship with your manager, what you don't want is for them to focus on the bit that's not working and then forget about the stuff that is. I don't know, I'm going to find another way of describing it. Not that sandwich nonsense. I'll do a post on it. I'll do a post on it. But look at the overall picture. I guess what I'm saying, and my last point is be prepared to listen to what they have to say to and take on their thoughts. And that might be another time where you have to manage your emotions because you don't know, maybe there's something that you're doing that they're thinking, oh, well, I didn't want to have this conversation, but if they're going to raise this, I've got something to say too.

Sarah:

Yeah.

Tazmin:

I don't suggest that's a good idea. If you are in a leadership position, take it on, take the feedback on, deliver it and then have book another conversation with them about the bit that you want.

Sarah:

Yeah. Otherwise it can feel a bit like tip for tap then, can't it?

Tazmin:

But it's not that it'll never happen. So if it was a best friend and they say, oh, yeah, but you know that thing that you do, could we also address that? And then you're just going to have to take it on the chin, I feel.

Sarah:

Love those tips.

Tazmin:

Great.

Sarah:

Yeah, definitely. Is that all of them?

Tazmin:

That's all the ones that I have listed for today. But if any of our listeners want to get in touch with us about whether any of those have resonated or if they want to add one of their own, you know where we are.

Sarah:

Yeah.

Tazmin:

Where can they find you?

Sarah:

Well, I was just going to say, can I add yeah, sure. I loved all of them and I felt that as you were reading them out, I was like, yeah, I'm going to do that. Yeah, great. Right in the log, in the brain, the one thing that I just want to quickly say is remember that there's some things that are going to be outside of your control. Okay? So you can only control what you can control. You can't control how someone else is going to act, what they're going to say, how they're going to respond. But remember, if you're in check with your emotions and you're calm, collective and you're in a good place, but the other person that you're talking to isn't, you can always take yourself away, right? So you can always leave, whether that is so if you're having a teams meeting, you can be like, do you know what? This is getting heated, or this is getting so and so, we need to stop and we need to leave. You can do that. You can also do it in person as well. If things start to feel uneasy or like, yeah, that person is getting they're not in control of their emotions, remember, you can always leave. You don't need to sit there and take it. That's the one thing that I would just like to add to that.

Tazmin:

I love that. Thank you very much for that, Sarah.

Sarah:

I really love this conversation. Thank you.

Tazmin:

Thank you. It is, however, sadly, time to wrap up.

Sarah:

It is. It is. And I feel like, not that I can ever envisage this happening, but if we ever have to have a tricky conversation, Tazmin, I feel like we'll be sorted.

Tazmin:

It's not to say we haven't had any I wouldn't say they were tricky conversations, but they're conversations. I think we're very mindful of each other. Know, what about this, what about that? I think we have very respectful, mature conversations because we're both adults.

Sarah:

We're both adults in the yeah.

Tazmin:

I learned so much from.

Sarah:

Anyway, right? So, yeah, you asked me where people can find we are the easiest way, really, is Twitter, even though Flipping Musk has called it X now. So that's a bit weird, isn't it? But if you search for the SEO mindset, we are on Twitter. But me. And Tazmin are everywhere. So just search Tazmin Sulleman in Google, Tazmin's website, LinkedIn. All of that stuff comes up if you search Sarah McDowell. I'll come up search the SEO mindset. We're very findable.

Tazmin:

We're very findable, very approachable, and we love it when you contact us.

Sarah:

Absolutely.

Tazmin:

So a final reminder before we do sign off that if you want to support the podcast, there is a buy me a coffee link in the show notes. And also it would be great if you subscribe to the newsletter that again, the link is in the show. So until next time, reminders.

Sarah:

Well, live podcast, if that sounds up your street. Basically, when me, Tazmin and Jack are recording a podcast, we'll be doing it in front of an audience, so you get to be part of the podcast. And there'll also be A-Q-A session as well, so you can ask us questions and get involved as well. So that sounds up your street. There'll be a link in the show notes for that.

Tazmin:

Wonderful. So until next time, it is Bye from Sarah.

Sarah:

And it's bye from Tazmin.

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About the Podcast

The SEO Mindset Podcast
Personal growth tips to help you to optimise your SEO career and not just the algorithms!
The SEO Mindset is a weekly podcast that gives you actionable, personal growth and development tips, guidance and advice, to help you to optimise your SEO career and not just the algorithms.

The podcast is dedicated to talking about important topics that aren't often spoken about in the industry such as imposter syndrome, burnout, anxiety, self awareness etc. Sarah and Tazmin, along with their special guests highlight important topics, share own experiences as well as giving actionable solutions. Basically we have open, honest and frank conversations to help others in the industry.

Each week we cover topics specific to careers in the SEO industry but also broader topics. We will help you to not only build your inner confidence but to also thrive in your career.

Your hosts are Mindset Coach Tazmin Suleman and SEO Manager Sarah McDowell, who between them have over 20 years experience working in the industry.
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About your hosts

Sarah McDowell

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I've been in Digital Marketing and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) for around 10 years, currently working as the SEO Manager at Captivate (part of Global), the world's only growth-orientated podcast host. I am a self-confessed SEO nerd (I find the industry fascinated and love learning how search engines like Google work) and a bit of a podcast addict (with this being the fourth podcast I have hosted). I am also a speaker and trainer. I hope you enjoy this podcast!

Tazmin Suleman

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I am a Life Coach, helping people grow and thrive, however my background has included careers in Development, Data Integrity and SEO. Through coaching, mentoring and teaching I help people build happier more fulfilling professional and personal lives by changing their mindset and habits. I teach courses on these topics and have incorporated a lot of the teachings in this podcast. I hope you find it useful.