Stevie Kennedy

stevie kennedy

It was fascinating talking with Stevie Kennedy, someone we admire for her tenacity, ideas and can-do attitude towards business. Every time we meet she inspires us as she cuts through the day-to-day and focuses on what really drives business growth. Having started and run many businesses she has a particular aptitude for finding the right products, building the right teams and then marketing to give customers something they want. Recently completing her MBA she is chomping at the bit to start something new and make a positive impact.


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 Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I’ve read this book a few times and every time I read, I learn something new. The greatest inspiration I’ve taken from the book is the importance of moving out of my comfort zone on both a personal and professional level – every single day.

I’ve recently finished my MBA and two books that caught my attention were Subscribed

by Tien Tzuo, which is about turning your business into a subscription model and why this is the future.

The other is Consulting Skills for Social Researchers by Simon Haslam which introduced to me the importance of impression management.


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?)

La Sportiva Lycan II Trail Running Shoes. £87.95 I’m a cross-country runner and love my new trainers, especially as they are so good in bogs and puddles.


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

I’ve been working with a company for the last five years, on a 50/50 ownership where they have the resources and the reach so they have creative control. I felt like it hasn’t going anywhere and the business was stagnating. I’ve managed to negotiate a restructure and now have a window of opportunity to make it work, with complete control. I have lots of ideas and have a startup mentality now. We can be more agile. I’ve been doing stuff in the last two or three days that I wanted to do for the last two or three years.


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?

Don’t stand still, don’t get comfortable. Always look for new achievements and opportunities to develop and grow yourself.


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

My MBA at Durham University, which was two years part-time. Some areas in business I’m strong and others I’m weak. This MBA has taught me new skills to bridge that gap and I’m excited to set up a new health related business with this newfound knowledge.

How can I  lead effectively if I’m not developing myself? How can I gain respect and trust from my team if I’m not continuously improving personally & professionally? 


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

I’ve always got trays and trays of eggs in my house from the local farm. I like to give them to people to take home after they visit.


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

I’m very disciplined with my time. I’ve had to manage my time to do my MBA at the same time being a Mum, Wife, running my businesses and looking after my own health and fitness. The things I cut out in order to achieve my goals were social media messaging, sacrificing time with friends and I stopped watching TV.


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

Recognise what you’re good at and what you’re not good at & surround yourself with the necessary capabilities needed to drive a new venture forward.

Recognise the importance of networking, moving away from the familiarity of strong ties & recognising the strength of weak ties – talking to everybody & anybody to expand networks & create opportunities for growth.

Ignore anything that goes against your gut instinct.


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

If you want to grow, you don’t need investment.


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

For my new health related business it’s the quality of the products and the marketing pufery surrounding it. Some companies are selling nonsense. Generation Z want authentic products. They have different expectations. They want personalisation and nutrition is very important. 


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?

Look after your mind, body and soul. These are the core ingredients of how you can push forward in life. It’s also important to be passionate about your work and make sure your values are aligned since we spend so much of our lives working.


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

I put my (new) trainers on and go for a run. I feel free, with no boundaries. I love the fresh air and it releases my endorphins. It clears my head and expels my energy, calms me down and gives me a reset.


What does leadership mean to you?

Leading a team that are collectively enthused with the same values, motivation and purpose. Together creating a community inside and outside of work, These values and coherent vision create a happy company which in turn help create happy customers.

Communication is key. I recognise where I’ve gone wrong in the past. And it’s about me not communicating well enough. You do that, you’ll get loyalty and two-way open and honest communication amongst your team. You can achieve anything with the right team and environment.


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

A friend of mine has achieved a lot from nothing. She inspired me to take up academia in order to continue to grow and develop.


What do the words principles and values mean to you?

It’s really important to stick to my core principles and values. Health and social benefits are really important to me as is helping people.


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?

What social benefits do your business bring to the world?


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?

Now that I’ve completed my MBA I want to continue to learn, grow and develop, which will help me personally and professionally.


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

No I haven’t but I can really see the benefits for continued growth and success.

Topic: 50 in 50