Hackney Changemakers: Thea May

I saw Thea doing her thing at the Hackney Social Enterprise Conference and she comes strongly recommended by another local socent. Her theme resonates with me, because this year I feel we have had our cognitive dissonance brought into the spotlight. We know the system is broken, the planet is heating up and yet…

In this Covid window, we have a chance to reassess. Do we hang our authentic selves on the back of the office door every morning, or do we try and stay true to our beliefs? Maybe Thea can help…

Communication only occurs between two people connecting.

Anything else is just information-transfer and moth-noise.

My career as a speaking coach in business has placed me in every context from the Boardroom of large corporates to coaching members of a community garden. To be honest I love both settings equally. I relish the challenge of bringing realness and integrity into places where business as usual has made people become a little robotic and formulaic in order to “be professional”. I also love the less traditional-business vibe of grassroots projects, where hugs are a-plenty (at least back in the day, and hopefully will be again) and conversation flows easily. 

What we all have in common is a desire to connect with others. 

Almost a decade ago I began privately coaching one day a week in the Hackney workspace of a good friend and grass roots activist – Robin Grey. After a couple of years I took on my own space in the same building. The space is run by Hackney Cooperative Developments CIC, (HCD) who play a huge role in supporting and growing social enterprise in Hackney. 

Taking on a studio of my own was such a big and daunting move! Little did I know just how much this modest sunny coaching space situated on the south side of Gillet Square, Dalston, was going to settle me into the Hackney Social Enterprise scene and the wider community. 

During my time there I joined the Advisory Board (General Council) of HCD, and was lucky enough to be involved in the formation and celebration of the Social Enterprise manifesto For Hackney.  Witnessing a major London borough stake its flag in a commitment to Social Enterprise was so inspiring to me! It gave me a huge sense of hope and a desire to get stuck in! 

This is when I truly found my home in Social Enterprise and the wider positive impact business sector in the UK. At the heart of social enterprise is a deep care for those you are set up to support as a business. Speakers often have life experience connected to the purpose of their business, and that can make speaking about it more visceral, and often more challenging. 

This is where I come in. I am drawn into the complex and yet essential challenge of how we create and speak about business in a way that allows us to tell our own story, hold onto our integrity and give dignity to others. It’s an added bonus if we can also help heal our relationships with our environment.

I realised that I can not teach people to lie any more.

My line in the sand is clear. I cannot and will not no longer coach people to give charismatic talks that they don’t care about. That is how we got into this problem in the first place! Disconnect from self and others. Business detached from its social and environmental impact.

Whether in business or in life, everyone has a powerful and compelling story to tell. And it is best told through your natural speaking state. A speaking state of integrity and alignment with what matters to you.

I now run workshops and coaching programs for people running businesses that they deeply care about, whose purpose is to help create a more inclusive and sustainable world. I also coach people who want to connect more deeply with themselves and those around them.

Imagine if your voice never got blocked. That the freedom to speak your mind, express your ideas and share your feelings was as free as the birds in flight. Rising up from within you with ease, confidence and most importantly – integrity. That’s the communication culture I long for, and that is what I find in Social Enterprise. 

To find out more drop onto my events page here. You can also connect with me on linkedin here.”

Want to change the world? Or just make it a little bit better? Or just get to know Hackney better? Check out this tour.

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