Ep. 48 – Catarina King – Community & Culture
In episode 48, Catarina King, co-founder of Society1 Coworking in Preston shares thoughts on what it takes and means to create a good team culture that encourages community building and benefits customers too. Plus, great thoughts on how to leverage dead time in your day, accepting your limitations and embracing diversity.
Creating Cadence Podcast Transcript – Episode 48
I help high achievers stuck on the toxic treadmill of hustle culture and the hamster wheel of overwork, to transform how they approach life, work and business. So they can activate more of their potential and perform better in every part of their life. At a cadence that’s more suitable to them. Despite this fast paced world we live in.
So, this is episode 48, the fourth episode of season eight, published in September, 2023. I’m still in Greece at the moment as I record the intro for this episode.
I’ve been enjoying swimming in the sea, the warmer weather and the delicious, gorgeous, fresh produce available here. I’m also topping up my vitamin D and my family time before returning to the UK to embrace the autumn. As you can probably hear, I seem to be losing my voice. This comes from singing and dancing in a late night music club and then getting caught in the rain.
So bear with me on this rather gravelly sounding intro and outro.
Dancing till the early hours are things I don’t usually do anymore. But taking this time away from normal is an important part of how I also create cadence in my life as a whole.
The deliberate slowing down of time and changing of place and doing different things are necessary to help me create perspective and cope better with the times in the month and year when things speed up, to what can otherwise feel like breakneck speed.
It’s all about being more elastic so I can leverage the cadence effect in my life and work more often. And that includes making sure that we make time for fun.
Learning how to become more flexible in your approach can be hard to do on your own. And sometimes we need a bit of guidance.
So, coming in early 2024, I’m launching the first cohort of a brand new coaching and accountability program to help overworked solo entrepreneurs, founders, consultants, and freelancers, like you to transform the way that you work, with intentionally productive habits. This will help you to do more purposeful work and craft a more meaningful life.
So, if this sounds like something you’d be interested in, I’ll be sharing more info about this later in the season. And my Cadence newsletter subscribers will get first dibs.
So head to CreatingCadence.co/subscribe to join the cadence club. So you can be the first to hear about the special offers and early bird pricing.
This brings me back to the podcast. The theme this season is also connected to my new book, The Cadence Effect, and I’m interviewing people from my network on how they create cadence in their work and life. And how what they do helps others to achieve the same.
To recap, my first two interviews were with Trudi Roth and Danielle Hughes, two dynamic women from my American network. In today’s episode, we’re coming back to the UK. To chat with someone who over the past five years has been a mentor, cheerleader and collaborator, and who during the time we’ve known each other has now also become someone I value deeply as a friend.
Catarina King is one of the co-founders of Society1, a coworking space in the heart of Preston city centre, which is located in Lancashire, in Northwest England.
Catarina, Brendan and Chris opened Society1 seven years ago, and it’s a vibrant and creative space, perfect for local business owners, freelancers and solopreneurs.
Community sits at the heart of everything that Catarina and her co-founders do at Society1, and I can personally vouch for the fact that Catarina is passionate about people and community. She’s a born organizer, a lateral thinker and an excellent connector, with an astute business mind, to boot.
So, aside from her role in Society1, Catarina is also actively involved in a family hotel business, and she has two young children. According to Catarina, “life is full at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way”.
So onto the interview.
This is the second time on the show for Catarina. I first interviewed her during the pandemic as part of a series where I was chatting with people in my network about how the pandemic had forced them to change their working styles.
In this episode, Catarina shares thoughts on what it takes and means to create a good team culture that benefits customers, too.
Hint: it doesn’t get built in a day. It’s usually an organic process.
She also shares a great tip on how she uses dead time in her day to support her wellbeing better. It’s such a simple but powerful switch. And I know it will get you thinking about ways you can do the same.
I also share a few personal thoughts and takeaways from this conversation at the very end of the episode.
A quick note, before we start the conversation, we recorded this episode at Society1 earlier this month, so please bear that in mind, when you hear the occasional background noises like traffic sounds or people talking, these are a natural part of being in a coworking space. I am also recording this intro from a hotel room. But, the sound is generally good, and I think you’re going to get a lot out of this episode.
So if you’re ready. Let’s dive in.
So welcome back, Catarina. It’s lovely to have you on the show again.
[00:05:11] Thank you for having me. It’s lovely to be here.
[00:05:13] So to provide some context, this is the second time that you’re on the show. Previously was during the pandemic. And before we get talking specifically about your current context and the work that you’re involved in now, tell us a bit more about your background, because what you do now is not what you set out to do when you finished your studies.
Can you share a bit about your journey?
[00:05:31] Yeah, sure. I have a really varied background in the different types of work that I have done. I grew up in a hospitality. My mom and dad had restaurants. And, to be honest with you, that’s the, the thing that’s in my blood. I worked in the restaurants when I was younger, grew up, learned every sort of facet that was there from working front of house to chefing to all sorts.
So it’s the thing I think that really has made me who I am in the work I do. I went to university and studied business and German. My dad’s German, so that’s formed quite a big part of the things that I’ve done. I’ve traveled and worked in different countries, worked in Germany for a while, went to university in Germany, and then, after my studies I worked for BAE Systems because I just really felt like I wanted to break out from hospitality and work in a more corporate world.
I was always interested to see what the other version of life was like. So I did that. But to be honest, I think when you’ve grown up in a family that had worked for themselves and worked in an entrepreneurial way, I think it’s really hard to go into that corporate environment. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed my time there, but it just wasn’t quite for me.
So in my mid twenties, I just a little bit on a whim, left. I took a sabbatical. At first they gave me two years sabbatical, and I went to Chamonix, to go through a winter season to snowboard and live a different life. And I didn’t come back. I ended up living there for four years.
I set up my own business. I was a freelance chef in Chalets. I then met my now husband, Brendan, who’s my partner in my work now and we moved to Australia for a while, but then we came back to the UK and then set up Society1, which is where we are now. A coworking space in the center of Preston. So that’s a very, very quick, uh, summary of my, uh, journey, but, I think all of those things make me and Brendan and what we do now, who we are, and that background to what we do now is so, so important, I think.
[00:07:48] Absolutely. Well, thank you for sharing that. What an adventure.
So where do you find yourself in your life at the moment, and how is that impacting your wellbeing, creativity, and productivity?
What are the good things that you’re experiencing and what kinds of challenges are coming into being in your current context?
[00:08:05] Oh, that’s really interesting. So where I am now is that my kind of past world and current worlds have collided in the last few years really.
So when we came back to the Northwest, I started out helping my parents, my family, in a hotel business that they’ve had for many, many years.
When we came back, I got involved and really have remained there sort of ever since. The business itself has had its challenges. And we’ve worked really hard to sort things out there and it’s doing really well at the moment. In parallel to that though, we wanted to do something for ourselves when we moved back over from our travels and we decided to settle here in the UK.
And so we set up Society1, which is a coworking space. And, we have been here now for seven years. We love what we do here and I find it really interesting when I compare sort of the two, like I say, worlds that I work in. ’cause they’re so very, very different. At Society One, there’s this, we have this wonderful community of people, um, who are from Preston, Lancashire and beyond really.
And what I’ve found really interesting is so many people are really like-minded to the way we are and the way we work. I don’t know, maybe that just naturally comes through in what we do, I’m not, I’m not quite sure, um, it really is, it is really galvanizing for us as, as well, I think as other people that come.
And then in terms of the other part of my kind of current being is that we have a young family. So I have two sons that are at primary school and, they are doing really, really well. They love school and they have a massive social life as well, have a multitude of sports and activities and music that they do aside from school, which I love, which is really important for them.
So in terms of challenges, the, you know, balancing all those different hats is, it can, can be difficult ’cause each one of them is so different from the next. So, um, yeah, that’s, that’s where we are at the moment.
[00:10:16] Thanks for explaining. That is a lot to have on your plate. So because of that, you know, how do you, how do you support yourself when you find yourself in that environment?
Obviously you’ve got lots of different things going on. You might not have a lot of time to yourself in the day to look after your wellbeing and to make sure that you’re as focused and productive as you can be in the pockets of time that you have for work in between the things that you do with school and kids and so forth.
So talk us a little bit through your kind of typical morning or daily routine in terms of how you support yourself.
[00:10:47] Yeah, that’s really interesting. Um, it’s something that I’ve had to learn to be better at. I’ve had times where I haven’t been very good at doing that. I think from a background of hospitality, you get used to busy times and busy days, busy periods because that’s kind of just how it is. And I think growing up it was always a little bit of, you know, you just get on with it because you know, you have a busy week, a busy month because it’s in the middle of the season, or it’s Christmas, or, you know, there’s different things going on.
So I think that’s really deep rooted into me that, you know, sometimes you just have to get your head down and crack on. And I think for a little while, a few years ago that kind of took over my daily routines that, uh, it was just a case of doing, doing, doing, doing, doing all of the time. And I recognized it was actually sort of around pandemic, sort of lockdown time. So really that’s, that wasn’t sustainable.
So in the last two years, I think I’ve worked really hard on finding a better way to address my working life because I do a lot of different things and, and think about a lot of different, types of things in the course of one day. Um, so I have to be quite mindful and concentrated on the way I, I do things.
That said, I think I kind, I’ve come to the point that I don’t think so deeply on it day to day. I just naturally do it. So, for instance, so to answer your question, I think I try to be really present in the thing that I’m doing at that time.
So if I’m in the morning with the kids, getting them ready for school, I concentrate on getting that done because if I don’t, it doesn’t work for either of us. So if I’m already thinking, all right, when I get to the hotel, we’ve got, you know, I’ve got to do the wages, I’ve got, do the payroll, well then I can guarantee they won’t be eating their breakfast. They won’t be getting dressed.
So then everything takes longer, then I get frustrated and they get frustrated. So it’s little things like that that. Consciously leaving other things aside for the time when I’m doing a particular job. That is something that I’ve really try. I don’t always do it, but I try really hard.
Then I suppose the other things are like in terms of morning routines, I try to sort of get myself sorted and ready before I tackle the kids. So again, kind of blocking the things that I’m doing. And then I generally go to the hotel first thing in the morning and then just get the daily things going, the things that absolutely have to be done, get that going, and then that’s things off my mind.
And then it allows me time to maybe get into some work for Society1, if it’s around organizing events. But if I know the things that absolutely have to be done that day are done, then my mind is calm. I think, yeah, finding priorities is probably the biggest thing for me. Um, and then in terms of sort of the self-care side of things, which, like I said I’ve addressed over time ’cause I used to be awful at it, is I built in exercise into my day.
So I found this window of time, um, where I had this bit of, dead period of time in my day where I would leave work, I’d have to leave work early to get to school in time to get parking space, to get through the traffic, to pick up the kids, but then I’d find there was sometimes nearly half an hour where it was just time.
So I’d either end up doing emails or scrolling on social media or doing LinkedIn posts, things like that, which are all valid and made use the time wisely. But actually what I now do is I’ve joined the gym, which is around the corner from the school. So I actually can leave work at the same time, should say as I did before, park, go into the gym for half an hour, leave the car there, walk around the corner, get the children.
Solve the car parking issues, use the time wisely, come back. And then I feel like I’ve really achieved something in that half an hour.
So I do that sort of four or five times a week. And the difference it’s made to, to how I feel and I think how I work through the day is, is huge because I have that aim to get my work done in time to do it. When I go, I love it. And then when I’ve picked up the kids, it’s done. I’ve sort of achieved those big hits of the day so then I can concentrate properly on their needs at the end of the day. It’s been a bit of a magic ticket to be honest.
[00:15:48] I love that. Thanks so much for explaining. And that’s a really good point about finding pockets in your day where you are not necessarily utilizing them in a way that supports you and you know, adding in small habits that fit into that time.
I think it’s an excellent example that you’ve given. And obviously you’re reaping the benefits as well because you’re supporting your wellbeing, you’re feeling better, you’re getting fit, and you’re in a better mood when you pick your kids up ’cause you’re not super stressed ’cause you’ve just been to the gym.
[00:16:13] I think that’s it. Exactly, the way you put it is it, it doesn’t have to be a big thing and um, it almost sounds really kind of trivial in a way when you sort of explain it, but actually the, the impact that it can have is mega. It’s, it’s really good. So I’ve been doing that since November and it’s become such a habit now that I don’t, it’s not even something I have to concentrate on or think about.
And then that’s even more beautiful because then there’s no effort involved. You know, it’s becomes a bit of a positive addiction, let’s say.
[00:16:56] Fantastic. Fantastic. Thanks for sharing that with us. So let’s talk a little bit more about the work that you’re doing with Society1, the whole team who are on the ground at Society1, that’s you and Brendan and Kally, you all bring a special something to how you approach the running of the business and how you cultivate relationships with and support your members.
And I think that that approach has helped to build a really special culture here. It makes this place a place where people want to work, where people want to come, where people feel at home working. So talk us a little bit through whether or not that was intentional in terms of your approach and how that approach might apply in the context of creating cadence.
You know, how do you think what you do helps to support your members in their wellbeing and productivity?
[00:17:41] I think it’s really interesting how the community here has cultivated over the years. We didn’t set out with a major objective on, on that front. Um, which I think what I’ve realized now has turned into one of its successes. I think because everything’s grown very organically, I think relationships form in a better way.
And maybe because we weren’t a big corporate organization that came and opened up a space in Preston, we’re independent. We started out just us and we, we grew from scratch, from sort of that standing start, I think we’ve grown alongside everybody else.
So I think we’ve been able to be part, well, I like to think we’re part of the community as much as anybody else.
So I think it’s sharing that journey together is really important. And I’ve learned so much from everybody around me here, um, as much as anybody else. And I think maybe that helps. You know, we we’re open, we were happy to listen and, um, you know, share people’s stories and journeys together with them. So maybe that’s, you know, creates a good sort of template for the people around us. Or, or maybe because of that it attracts like-minded people who, who want to be part of that similar community.
And then I think, you know what’s interesting, Kally joined the team last summer and for us, that was a, a different dynamic because then we’ve, you know, now have a team within the community.
But, I know Kally is, you know, firmly part of that wider community as well. She’s has loads to offer from the things that she does in her own life, aside from what she does here at Society1 that she brings so much depth to what we do as well. So I think, yeah, I think just being really open and I think communication is massive.
I mean, together as a three, like you say, we’re all very different. We like different things. We have different talents and I think that one for me is the big key. And I think when we talk about finding cadence in our work and, and how we work, I think that’s something that’s really key.
I think recognizing that one, you can’t do everything and understanding what you’re good at and what you’re not good at is also really important to how you work. And when you’re not good at something, it’s okay and getting help from somebody else or bringing people in, whether it’s outsourcing or bringing people into your team to do something better than you is a really positive thing, it’s not negative.
You know, I’m not a great writer. I can do it if I absolutely have to. I don’t love the bits on social media. Again, I’ll do it if I absolutely have to, but Kally’s great at it and she’s doing a fantastic job, and that’s wonderful. She does it better than me, that’s the best thing you want, you know, I think it’s accepting that that doesn’t, it’s not negative. It’s great if you can have a team around you, like Brendan’s so technical, the things that he can do sort of with the systems. I couldn’t ever do any of that, and I think that’s okay.
It’s great. And you can put that jigsaw puzzle together and make it work, it’s something to be really celebrated.
[00:21:21] What I love about what you’ve suggested there is this idea of, you know, you’ve previously run family businesses and you’ve approached creating Society1 in the same way. It does feel like being part of a family, your team within the community as well as the community.
You know, we feel at home here because of the way that you approach things. And I think that point you’ve made about how we can be our own bottleneck in our business and create friction, if we don’t allocate tasks to people who have the strengths that we don’t, I think that’s really important.
Even if you work on your own, you know, you can collaborate with people, but it’s identifying and acknowledging that sometimes you’re the one who’s creating friction and preventing yourself from creating cadence in your life. So lovely point there. Thank you.
What I wanted to speak about as well is, you know, we’ve collaborated on several projects.
You were one of my beta readers of my book, or beta readers, depending on where you are in the world, where you’re listening to this and you’ve always been a keen supporter of my work, for which I’m super grateful. Now having witnessed this journey of mine unfolding you have a pretty good idea of what I mean by creating cadence and the importance of wellbeing in supporting productivity and so forth.
So, creating cadence means something different for everybody. How does that concept resonate with you?
[00:22:36] Sure. Yeah, for me, cadence means understanding that life isn’t linear. You know, no two days are the same, you know, I think we all need to understand that we have to be flexible and open and able to adapt because everybody’s needs and wants through the course of your working life is, is different.
It might be your personal needs, it might be someone else’s needs. It could just be your, your work schedule. Everything changes and a different day brings different priorities, and I think it’s a real conscious mindset to be open to change. And I think just that natural thing that life has an ebb and flow.
Sometimes work can be crazy and other times it isn’t. And if you can find some sort of rhythm in those things, then each one helps each other.
So like for me, I have periods of the year where, working in a seasonal hotel, life can be crazy. But I also know there’s months in the year where it’s not, so I can deal with those two months of head down and just deal with it for want of a better phrase because I know there’s a time coming that is calmer.
And so those short bursts of intensity don’t stress me out. So I think it’s just sometimes taking stock, taking a step back, looking at the bigger picture and just assessing a little bit more, you know, not getting stuck in the weeds of life.
[00:24:19] Very well put. Thank you.
So to end off, do you have any other words of advice or key learnings or suggestions that you want to share with listeners based on your life and work experience so far?
[00:24:30] I was thinking about this. So for me, I think. The biggest thing I’ve learned is don’t be afraid to talk to people. You know, so many people have so many shared experiences as you that you probably don’t realize, and listening to other people’s journeys and experiences brings so much value to what you do.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I work with family, um, so sometimes life is emotionally charged as well as as everything else in a working day. So it’s important to speak up. If you’re struggling, it’s okay to say, I am overwhelmed. Chances are someone will be able to help.
And then, a big one for me is, you know, be realistic about what you can achieve in a day, a week, or a month. Again, you know, different times you can do different volumes. I mean, what I would’ve achieved in a day of work eight years ago, is vastly different with what I can do in a day now when I have to consider school runs and, and different things. And I’ve had to reset my expectations of what’s okay.
And I no longer beat myself up if I don’t do as much as I used to used to do. And then my final thing was, like I was saying before, is we can’t all be good at everything. And the day you stop trying to be good at everything is when I think a bit of clarity comes in your work. And there’s specialists around, people who do things really, really well, if you need help, get help from them.
And it is just mind blowing when you see what you can do with a team of people around you who know what they’re doing.
[00:26:23] Excellent points. Thank you so much Cat.
So where can people find out more about you and Society1 online?
[00:26:32] Okay, Society1, you can find our website, society one. That’s with the number 1, society1.co.uk. We’re on Instagram, @coworksociety1, and on LinkedIn the same. And then me personally, I’m on LinkedIn, Catarina King.
[00:26:47] Fantastic. Catarina, thank you so much for your time. I truly appreciate being able to have this conversation with you.
[00:26:53] Thank you for having me. It’s been fantastic to chat.
[00:26:58] So before we end off, I wanted to share a couple of things that stood out for me from this great conversation with Catarina King.
We’re all generally accustomed to having busy periods in life, where we have to be “doing, doing, doing” for a set period of time, especially if you fulfill multiple different roles in your life and work, just like Catarina does. But as Catarina pointed out, during the pandemic, it became easy for that “doing, doing, doing” mode to become the default mode of not just our working life, but also every aspect of our daily life. But what happened as a result of the pandemic is that it became really hard to remember to switch off because we were in this new default setting.
And not switching off can have some incredibly detrimental effects, not just on ourselves, but on those around us too.
Being in reactive, juggling mode takes us away from being present in our days, and being present in the relationships which matter most. And Catarina cites an excellent example of how she’s made a point of trying to be more intentionally mindful when she’s with her children, so that she can give them her full attention, because otherwise the wheels fall off. And she’s also mindful of trying to focus on one task at a time, so she can complete that task more efficiently with a deeper level of attention.
I also love how Catarina has described finding a pocket of what she viewed as essentially dead time in her day, which she now devotes to self care in the form of exercise. This is time she would have previously used scrolling through social media or trying to squeeze in more work while she sat in the car waiting to pick up her kids from school.
And the knock on effects of making a small and simple change to the focus of her activities in that pocket of time have had far reaching positive effects for her in terms of her mental and physical wellbeing, her productivity, and her ability to improve her relationships.
As Catarina says, making this small behavior change a consistent activity over time means it’s now become a habit that doesn’t require effort for her to do. It has in fact become a positive addiction, something she really looks forward to doing.
So give some thought to potential moments in your day that might be used in a better way to support you better. A small pocket of time that you can co-opt to develop a new habit that makes you feel better about yourself.
It’s important to note this isn’t about utilizing every second of your day to be productive or do work tasks. It’s about being more mindful about how you use your time and more intentional in supporting yourself to be your best self more often. If you have a spare pocket of time, it might be better off used meditating, or going for a walk while listening to a podcast, or reading. Or simply staring out the window as your mind, percolates on problems you really need to solve, but very often don’t have sufficient space to do so adequately, because you may be scrolling, like the rest of us.
If you’ll remember from episode 45, which opened season eight. I spoke about creating place as being one of the three key factors in how we are able to leverage the cadence effect.
Society1 is one of the foundational places I was fortunate to have found in the early stages of returning to work after my epic experience with burnout. And I can honestly say that without this community, I probably would not be where I am today in terms of the success I’ve achieved so far.
I’ve been a member of Society1 coworking space since I began my business five years ago. It has served multiple functions for me. It is my registered business base, a place for me to work from when I’m not writing in my home office. And I also deliver workshops from here. Society1 also provides me with the opportunity to commune and connect with like-minded people who are all doing amazing things in their own right, too.
The space provides a place for organic business relationships to develop.
Coworking spaces can play a vital social and community role for people who work on their own, such as freelancers consultants, solo entrepreneurs, and other self-employed business owners. This is important because when you work on your own, it can be a lonely experience for various reasons. And that loneliness can put your mental health at risk.
Now I’ve written about entrepreneurial burnout in my book, The Cadence Effect, and loneliness is one of the big contributing factors to burnout for people working on their own. So if that topic is relevant to your situation, do you check out the book at TheCadenceEffect.com. You’ll find more on how you can change the way you work to reduce your risk of burnout and loneliness.
My last thought is around team building and strength of character. Catarina mentioned how everyone in the team at Society1 brings different strengths and talents to what they do. And it’s this diversity, which not only helps to create a cohesive team, but which also helps to support each community member who coworks at Society1 too.
And it’s important to remember that what creates our strength of character and the depth we bring to our work and our relationships, is about more than what we just do for work.
In the last episode I spoke about this idea of furnishing the different rooms of the house that makes up our identity. That’s not my idea, I was quoting someone else, but Catarina touched on this idea here in this episode, again, referencing the depth of knowledge and experience outside of our traditional work roles, which actually enhance who we are, and what we do, within our workspace.
So, as you can see, there’s a lot of super-helpful thoughts and ideas that came from this conversation with Catarina King.
And I’ll be back next week with another episode, but a few things before you go…
Coming in early 2024…
As I mentioned earlier, I’m launching a new coaching cohort to help overworked solo entrepreneurs, founders, consultants, and freelancers to transform the way that they work, with intentionally productive habits that help them to do more purposeful work and craft a more meaningful life. I’ll be announcing further details about this later in the season, and my cadence newsletter subscribers will get first dibs, so head to CreatingCadence.co/subscribe if you want to hear about it first.
You can find out more about my new book at TheCadenceEffect.com. If you’ve already purchased it and found it helpful, please leave a review because it helps the book to get found by those who need it.
Thanks again for listening. Until next time, keep moving forwards with courage, curiosity, and cadence.
Bye for now.
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