Susanna Booth

susanna booth

It was super enjoyable speaking with you Susanna. You’re such an understated leader, humble and an incredible doer. As a trained journalist you’ve written many articles, published two books Sensationally Sugar Free and Gloriously Gluten Free and now a website which for the past 6 years you’ve been working on to provide practical information that covers all the main questions anyone could want to know about daily life in Britain, called A high achiever, keen learner and supportive team player we’re excited to see how your recently completed film course will transpire.


What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

The Usborne First Cookbook by Angela Wilkes. It’s the most fantastic starter book for learning how to cook and I grew up with it. I’ve cooked everything in it. I meet a lot of people from other countries and I gift it to them to learn British cooking.

Sticky Branding by Jeremy Miller and Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. Both books are about ideas and marketing and continue the idea of “stickiness” popularized by Malcolm Gladwell in The Tipping Point, seeking to explain what makes an idea or concept memorable or interesting.


What purchase of £100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? (Brand and model, where you found it?)

Some branded Super Hit bio pens. 50 pence each. Everyone is stealing them, they’re so nice.


How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favourite failure” of yours?

I wrote the manuscript for a recipe book and found an agent, but then couldn’t find a publisher. It spurred me to have a different approach so I tried to get a recipe published in a newspaper and ended up with a cookery column in The Guardian. From that I had 2 cookery books published. 


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it —metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

Seize the day.

You can waste a lot of time on choices that don’t really matter – so just make a decision and move on. 


What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

The film course I’ve just done, which was full time for a month.  Studying a subject as an adult and really improving my own knowledge was very interesting as was the opportunity to mix with new people. It’s completely different from what I’ve done before. It’s a very collaborative art form, it was fantastic being with lots of people working on the same project together. No one had an agenda. We all just wanted to do our best. For me this was way more fun than lying on the beach.


What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I like unblocking drains. It’s very satisfying. Part of me would like to tackle a fatberg!


In the last five years, what new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

I’m better at taking time doing things for me. Often I would say yes to everything and then I’d burn out. Now I say no and put my foot down.


What advice would you give to a smart, driven student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?”

Do what it is that you love, but be prepared to have it as a side project because sometimes doing it full-time can lose the fun.


What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

The assumption that things can be done without the help of other people. Even with lots of internal drive you’ll never get anywhere alone.. And be careful what you wish for.


What frustrates you the most about your industry and the way companies are run in it?

In journalism the wages are dropping and it is difficult to earn what I earned 20 years ago. It’s due to the move online, with less revenue from advertising. There are not many freelance jobs  now and lots of newspapers and magazines have closed. There’s less money in the industry.Lots of people are asked to write for free at the moment, but I believe this is a transition period. It will stabilise.


In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realisations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

I would previously worry about missing out on things but I realised I can’t do everything, I only have 24 hours in a day.


What does a balanced life look like to you? Has a work or a project you have been focused on caused you to neglect other areas of your life?

I don’t try to do everything equally. I tend to focus on certain things for a number of weeks and then move on. 


When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

Is anyone going to die? No. Okay what is the worst case scenario? Can I deal with it? Yes. Is it urgent? Does it need to be done now or can it wait until tomorrow? Having a nap also helps when my brain is overloaded. When I wake up I often have  the solution.


What does leadership mean to you?

Respect.  Someone who you like and believe in what they’re aiming for so you join them on their journey.


Which people have most inspired you in your life and why?

My Father did a lot in the community, he was really into civic life and volunteering. I really respect him for that. 

I admire people who run small businesses. They are the backbone of this country, employing people and turning ideas into reality.


What do the words principles and values mean to you?

Acting courteously, with empathy and consideration.


If you had a forum to speak to 50 leaders, what question would you pose to them, to get them thinking about and being better leaders?

Whatever plan you’re on now, have you thought through the consequences? Have you thought through the worse case scenario? Are you moving away from your values?


What one thing could you do that you aren’t doing now, that if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your personal life?  What one thing in your business or professional life would bring similar results?

I’d like to be more organised about my tax return.  Every year it’s painful. I hate doing it. 

I get worried about following things up. I don’t want to be pushy. Sometimes I can ask again and it’s okay. People are usually just busy.


Have you ever engaged with self-help, mentoring or coaching? If so, how?

I once went on a weekend coaching course which helped me get ideas off the ground. I can totally see the value in hiring a coach, leaning into their experience.  Their whole purpose is to help you come up with ideas and improvements. They have your best interests at heart. Surely, you’re going to get your money back.


Topic: 50 in 50