The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett

A few years ago I was a broke, university dropout, living in one of the worst parts of the country, alone, with nothing but a laptop & a dream. Fast forward a few years, I’m the 29 year old ex CEO of one of the UK’s fastest growing companies. That company is called Social Chain. My world is intense, sometimes crazy, always challenging and always unpredictable. This podcast is simple, every week I’m going to share insights with you from guests with different backgrounds, experiences and learnings. I want to give you a look into what it’s like behind the scenes, being an entrepreneur, the deep, dark thoughts that nobody else will share with you and anything else that’s playing on my mind. This is not scripted and I don't have questions I just see where the conversation takes me. This is the diary of a CEO, I’m Steven Bartlett. I hope nobody is listening, but if you are… keep this to yourself.

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E191: Gabby Logan Opens Up About Her Heartbreaking Past

October 30, 2022

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Description

Gabby Logan has been on our screens now for thirty years, bringing us the best of the world of sport at Sky Sports, ITV, and for the last nearly 20 years, at the BBC. Whether it’s the FIFA World Cup, the Rugby World Cup or the Olympics, Gabby is part of our memories of these moments.

But there’s a side to Gabby people don’t often see. After her brother suddenly died when she was a teenager, she became (in her words) ‘fearless’ in pursuit of what she wanted, knowing that nothing would ever hurt as much again.

But she was also wary of loving other people again, knowing what it was like to have those you love most taken away. It took her a long time and lot of introspection and learning to get to a place where she could open herself up emotionally to other people. But it’s when we look deep inside ourselves that it’s revealed who we really are, and what we really value.

Topics:

  • Early years

  • Did you parents teach you how to take care of yourself?

  • The phone call about your brother

  • What was life like after that moment?

  • Advice for someone going through something similar

  • How did your brothers passing change your perspective on life?

  • Your first step into broadcasting

  • Starting at sky

  • Advice for someone starting at the bottom of their career

  • Working in a male dominated industry

  • Sexism in the workplace

  • Your book and podcast

  • How true is the ‘midlife crisis?

  • Menopause

  • Finding out your husband had cancer

  • Your partner Kenny

  • Advice for maintaining a solid relationship

  • The last guest question

Gabby:

Twitter -https://bit.ly/3FrWn14

Instagram - https://bit.ly/3DK00OH

Gabby's book? https://amzn.to/3fkDcMe

The Dairy sign up link: bit.ly/3fUcF8q

Watch the episodes on Youtube: https://g2ul0.app.link/3kxINCANKsb

Follow us on Telegram: https://g2ul0.app.link/E5re0ADNKsb

Sponsors:

Mercedes-Benz - https://bit.ly/3yXTQI1

Huel - https://g2ul0.app.link/G4RjcdKNKsb

Transcript

You'd wake up just with those first thoughts of the day, we're just, oh God.

I did have a fear that I was gonna...

Gabi Lohgogh!

One of the most recognizable broadcasters.

She's become synonymous with the Olympics, football and rugby.

Oh, no!

I was a very male dominated environment.

And there certainly were people who exhibited kind of machismo.

And there were times where I felt like I was trying to conform.

But it didn't make me feel very good.

I wasn't happy.

My dad was assistant manager of Bradford City when the fire there took 56 lives and we were all there at the game that day.

Bodies are being dragged away from that standard.

It's the seminal day of my life really, because there is a before and there's an after.

And that day is that day that really defined so many things for me.

Can you still remember the you get a phone call from your mother about your brother?

It's a day that I have relived so many times in my mind.

I can't express how shocking that is because he was fine.

You know, in my mind immediately created a narrative that he had been run over or he had been in a car accident.

And then very quickly my mum started to tell me actually what had happened.

Without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett.

And this is the Diary of a CEO.

I hope nobody's listening.

But if you are, then please keep this yourself.

Gabby, to understand you and to understand the trajectory of your life and how you've ended up to be where you are today and the passions you pursued, the person you became, what do I need to understand about your earliest context?

I hope I've gone into that in my book and I've tried to understand that myself.

And one of the biggest compliments somebody has paid me who's read the book is somebody I work with really closely.

And she just said to me, I get so much about you from some of the stories you've told as a child even.

And we can all point to big incidents that happen in life.

But actually sometimes it's just the small things that create in your mind an urgency or they create a desire or a passion that still burns inside you and you wonder where it came from.

So I think you probably would need to understand a bit about the parenting that I received and the context of our family life and where we moved around and how our lives were predicated by my dad's job and what he did and the background that he had as well.

He was a professional football player?

He was a professional football player.

So that means potentially moving house, moving city at the drop of a hat, this was in the 70s and 80s, the days where you could be transferred midweek.

You know, it wasn't the transfer window that we have now.

So he would often up sticks and move on and then a few months later we'd follow.

What does that do to a child?

Never really asked somebody that question before when you're constantly moving around as a kid.

Is there in hindsight any sort of character change or psychological impact for better or for worse?

I think it has.

There's a double-edged sword to it.

My mum, and it depends, I guess, on the other person in the relationship, my mum has always been a very positive person.

So she looked at these things for us as adventures.

You know, she would say to me and my siblings, we're going to move to this place and it's going to be very exciting and you're going to go to a new school and it's a chance to meet new people.

And so her sense of adventure gave us a confidence and a sense that, you know, it was going to be OK.

So that was great.

But then what I realized writing the book was that it probably made me a bit flighty when it came to friends.

When I was younger and I looked back at it, I was writing about a really close friend I had when I was 13.

I've got no idea where she is now.

And I think because the next time I had to move on somewhere, and at that point I was actually staying within Leeds, but I probably was moving schools.

I got used to going, bye-bye, and kind of moving on to the next place. So I was probably experiencing a bit of self-preservation, you know, not wanting to get too close because we might be off soon.

So we'll have a good time for now.

Were you a confident person when you were, you know, let's say before your 18th birthday, would you describe yourself as a confident person, self-esteem?

Yeah, I would.

I think that is something as well that my husband, I talk about this a lot.

The greatest gift you can give children is self-esteem, I think.

And he left school without self-esteem because he was dyslexic and left without any qualifications.

And it is his big passion that kids should always have the star within them found before they leave school, whatever that is.

You know, somebody needs to tell you you are good at something before you're on your way.

And I feel like I was incredibly lucky because I left school with really good self-esteem.

And I had a childhood that was that gave me good self-esteem, you know, and I believed that I could achieve things and I could I could get on in life.

And I think a lot of that was my mum's positivity, certainly, but also my dad's example of really hard work and seeing him really graft and really believe that, you know, what you put in, you got out.

And I think that's really rewarding, you know, that is really that makes you feel so good when you work hard.

And that's the example that he set to us.

And I think that all creates a confidence because and I'm not I say confidence is not misplaced in the sense that you think everything you do is going to be brilliant because you really need to know that you're going to fail at things, obviously, and that things are going to go wrong and I could see that with with both of them.

But I think a belief that if it does go wrong, it's OK because you can move on.

So I feel one of the biggest blessings I had as a child was leaving school with confidence.

I was thinking then about you saying your dad had still hard work kind of into by example, I guess, because he was clearly someone that was incredibly focused and focused on his career.

It made me made me think about how we often don't get to learn how to take care of ourselves from our parents.

In terms of we learn how to to work hard and strive, but the sort of counterbalance to that would be learning how to slow down and learning how to make sure you're OK.

And I think specifically when I talk to people when they're on this show, when they talk about their fathers and their and the generations that have come before, there's often little understanding.

Of mental health or burnout or balance or all of these kinds of things.

Did you did you see the symptoms of that in your father?

Did you see a lack of sort of self preservation or self care?

Absolutely.

He he came from a generation of men.

He came from a first bloods go back.

He came from a really tough working class estate in Cardiff.

He was 15 years old when he was plucked out of that and given an opportunity to go to Leeds United and be a footballer.

Fifteen years old, he'd left his home and he was living in digs with a with a family who kind of put footballers up.

And he was, you know, that was a way out for him.

His dad had been a docker and he'd owned working men's clubs and when I say owned, he'd kind of run a working man's club.

His mom had four or five different jobs.

She was doing night shift cleaning and he had siblings who left school without qualifications and did working class.

They had blue collar jobs.

And so this was a big opportunity.

And this wasn't the day these weren't the days when the Premier League was in existence, but this was still a glamorous route, potentially, and also financially secure as secure as you can be, being a sports person way out of the life that he had.

And so that was an enormous responsibility, I think, for him.

And this was a very renowned, hard kind of team.

Leeds United was this team that these players were renowned to being very hard on the pitch.

They were, you know, kind of very brutal the way the style of play.

And he's in that environment as this little boy, you know, I look at my son now who's 17, and I think about what he would have been like at 15, moving a few hundred miles away from home.

And so already you're in, you know, at that age, you're having to build up defences.

And then he was, you know, told he wasn't good enough and had to keep working harder and eventually played there for 10 years and was an international captain for his country.

So he did achieve incredible things in his career, but never stopped.

You know, it was relentless.

Being a footballer is relentless.

Being a sports person is relentless.

You're never going to achieve perfection.

You're always looking for it.

So how do you feel satisfied?

You know, when do you actually sit down and go, that was really good.

And I suppose there was a sense of him always wanting, you know, keep going, keep going.

And then when you turn to management, which he did straight away without a break.

And then he went through huge, huge tragedy.

He was the assistant manager of Bradford City when the fire there took 56 lives and we were all there at the game that day.

And he went to almost every funeral in the space of six weeks after that.

You know, he did all of this and never sat down with anybody and took stock or had a counselor or took a break from, you know, from that relentlessness.

And so I think I understand him a lot better now through looking at his life through that prism, almost of seeing that.

And you understand, you know, I talk in the book about him drinking too much and using that to self-medicate through his life.

And to the point where it became, you know, it's been a problem and he's been hospitalized.

But of course, now, if he was that sports person now, there'd be a sports psychologist at the club.

You know, there'd be somebody saying, let's have a chat.

Let's talk about what's what's going on, why you're feeling these these levels of anxiety.

So it's it's definitely something that I'm much better at.

And but I think that's also a product of the age that we live in, that we're all so much more aware of the need to stop and the need to process.

When you when you look at his life, you've described a few of them there.

But what in hindsight now, what are the needs that you think were unmet in his life?

And I asked that question because I'm I'm wondering how one avoids such an outcome.

You talked about the importance of connection, not going home to a bunch of strangers, being closer to your family.

Are there any needs that you think when unmet that you are making sure that your son's life and your life are full of?

He was very my dad was always a very emotional person.

So I don't feel like he kept his emotions locked up.

You know, he would in front of us, he was he would cry, you know, he would watch something on TV, usually sport that would make him teary.

So it wasn't as if he was this hard person who didn't tell you he loved you.

He told us he loved us.

But I feel like as a professional in what in his job, I feel like it was it was probably very hard for him to show any weakness outside of the home and show any.

And when I say weakness, it's such a majority of term because actually it's not a weakness to say, I think I could be better if I just had this bit of time here or I could speak to somebody or I could communicate better about how I'm feeling about this.

And we are talking about a very different era.

And when it was that it's not manly, you know, it's not manly to behave in that way.

And we just wouldn't hear those terms now, even though some people still harbor those feelings, perhaps they wouldn't say that in public.

So I think if he had had and he did have the opportunity when my brother died and after Bradford to talk to people, but he resisted that, you know, he didn't want to sit down and speak to a counsellor.

And I think that was probably because of the historic kind of experiences that he'd had.

You know, it just wasn't something that he felt talking to people outside of the home.

He was not comfortable.

It's not easy to teach to your kids that idea of sort of expressing yourself and turning turning to others for support emotionally.

Is it something that you think about when you when you're raising your children?

Yeah, we talk about specifically we talk about it a lot.

And we hope we lead by example as parents.

But I'm more mindful of it with my son because of the male kind of resistance almost to to have that open dialogue.

But he is very much a kind of he lets where his heart and his sleeve likes to tell you stuff.

And I think that's probably because his dad is very much like that.

So he sees his father being like that and feels confident that he can he can do that.

And I think once you do that as a child and you realise the reception is good and you're not going to be judged or anybody think any less of you, you're more likely to come back and do it again.

So I think it is a lot about the home and, you know, having the example of somebody doing that in front of you is really powerful.

And you never with your kids, it's never a finished job where you feel like, oh, yeah, he's somebody.

But I really do feel like he knows he can talk to us about anything.

And he can talk to other people and he does, you know, bring his anxieties and troubles home.

I think the key thing I find as a parent that you have to remember, especially when they kind of turn 13 that age, sometimes those things to you seem quite trivial.

And you think, why are you rather about that?

And then you've got to remember what it's like to be 13 and 14 and how huge those things are and how big they were for you.

And not just go, that really doesn't matter.

And actually, it's really important that you don't minimise their issues and their problems.

It's OK for you because you've been through so many different things and you know it's going to be all right, but they don't know that right now.

So it's important, I think, to just always try and take yourself back to that teenager.

You've been through so many things and many of those things, I mean, so many of those things are in this book, the first half.

One of the most heart-wrenching stories you tell is when you are 19 years old and you get a phone call from your mother about your brother, Daniel.

Can you still remember that day clearly?

Oh, absolutely.

And when I wrote that chapter, which turned out to be the first chapter in the book because it was...

I wrote it because I wanted to practise writing to get myself into the rhythm of writing the book, not knowing where that chapter would be.

And when I wrote it, I realised it had to be the start of the book because it was the seminal day of my life, really, because there is a before and there's an after.

And that day is that day that really defined so many things for me.

And when I sat down to write, I took myself kind of right back into that day.

I could almost smell the air, you know, because it was a bank holiday Monday.

I was living in a small flat in Earlsfield in London and everybody's windows were open because it was a lovely day and people were barbecuing in their little gardens and I could smell the coals and I could feel the air coming through the windows almost.

And I was just taken right back into that moment.

The light, everything that came through the window.

When I sat on the bed, I can see the duvet cover.

You know, it really was...

It was very visceral when I was there writing, probably because it's a day that I have relived so many times in my mind.

Your mum calls you and says, from what I read in the book, she's very to the point about what's happened.

She says, Daniel is dead.

She called me and the phone rang and I sat on the bed and said hello in the kind of normal cheery way and she said, Daniel's dead.

And that was...

I can't express how shocking that is because he was fine, you know?

So there was nothing wrong with Daniel.

He wasn't ill, he'd never been ill, he'd never had anything wrong with him.

So it was so just mind-blowing to hear.

In my mind, immediately created a narrative that he had been run over or he had been in a car accident.

I decided quickly that he was in a car because he was 16 nearly.

He was 15 going on 16.

Maybe one of the older boys that he knew had just passed his test.

Maybe he'd been taken and I had him driving down this road that I knew in Leeds and this is where it happened.

And then very quickly my mum started to tell me actually what had happened.

That was not what happened at all.

He collapsed in the garden.

He was playing football with my dad and my little brother.

And my little brother was six, Jordan, and he'd just gone over to get a football and he collapsed and died.

And that was it.

That was as much as my mum knew at that point because by this point she'd been to hospital and she had already kind of got home, which sounds really bizarre saying that in 2022 because now we would have been on the phone the minute he collapsed.

You know, she would have rung me and said, but they didn't have mobile phones and if they had a mobile phone it was very basic.

I don't even know if they had a car phone.

And so the immediate thing was to get him to hospital and to get an ambulance.

And so to not include everybody in that process.

So I was in London, she was in Leeds and then they were at the hospital and then they came home and it was hours later that I found out, which again seems strange, you know, that I didn't know that this was all happening.

I wasn't being given a blow-by-blow account of what was happening.

So all I had was at that point her information, which was very scant that something had happened to his heart.

His heart had just stopped.

And the doctor who was at A&E or the emergency section of the hospital when they arrived happened to be the doctor who'd given birth to me, who'd helped my mum deliver me.

And he was the old, de-genetic doctor.

And so he'd known the family for a very long time.

It was a complete coincidence.

He was doing a shift on a bank holiday.

And he just walked out of theatre an hour after my brother had gone in and, you know, shook his head.

And it's that kind of nightmare, nightmare scenario for any family, any parent that, you know, they just didn't.

They believed he was going into hospital because he got heat stroke or something.

And they, you know, in their heads they created what was a hot day.

He must have been dehydrated.

They did not expect that as the outcome.

And my mum had phoned her mum who lived in Leeds.

And so a couple of the family members were at the hospital, which was also strange, you know, that they would be there.

And so it was a completely just, it sounded fanciful to me.

I couldn't get my head around the idea that this very fit young man would just collapse.

And I wanted, you know, I wanted to immediately wanted to know kind of more, but there was nothing.

I mean, that's a really frustrating and there was no internet to go and go, OK, what, how could, how can a young person die?

You know, how does this happen?

And we now know, of course, so much more about cardiac arrest in the young and there's a, you know, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is what he was diagnosed with.

And that means basically the heart just stops without warning.

And we've seen very famous incidents in football.

Christian Ericsson, Danish footballer at the last Euro's collapsed on the pitch.

And his life was saved because he was in the perfect place for that to happen.

There was medical resource around, you know, people knew what they were doing.

And Daniel was in the garden, you know, there was nothing there.

So he was he was never going to survive that.

But if you, you know, if you'd been somewhere where there was a defibrillator or he was in a hospital when it happened, you know, he may well have survived.

But at the time, obviously, we just couldn't get our heads around it.

I read in the book that the neighbor tried to resuscitate him.

So we had a neighbor who was a he'd worked on oil rigs offshore and he had paramedic qualifications.

He wasn't actually a paramedic, but he'd done some quality.

So my mum thought, oh, Morris next door, he'll know what to do.

And my mum was when she was telling me like later and then years later when we discussed it, she was she said she was so relaxed about it because because he wasn't to her.

He wasn't dead.

He just collapsed.

And, you know, nobody could think of him as being an unfit person.

So she wasn't relaxed in the sense she wasn't urgent, but she just thought Morris will sort this out.

You know, Morris came around and he couldn't get him back.

He couldn't get his heart going and but they still didn't use the word.

I don't think they said his heart stopped because nobody wants to say that to a parent.

So Morris obviously put him in the ambulance.

I think knowing that his heart stopped, but my parents didn't know his heart stopped.

They thought he was collapsed or he was in some kind of like, you know, heat induced coma or something had happened to him that that meant he just wasn't responsive.

I think that was a thing they thought he wasn't responsive as opposed to he was actually dead.

And then my dad said that my dad went with him in the ambulance and my dad said at one point the ambulance went around a bend really quickly and his arm flew out and landed in my dad's lap.

And my dad said that when the arm when his arm landed, that's when he knew he was dead because he said he just felt that there was no life.

There was nothing that showed any response.

So his hope was crushed.

You look at your life as before and after that moment.

What was life like after that moment?

The immediate aftermath, like the weeks after something that is a strange mix of activity and energy, you know, because you're organizing funerals.

People are kind of coming. Hundreds of people descending on the house constantly people coming in.

And actually there was a kind of an energy in the house that it just kept you just kept going and doing things.

My mom didn't. She very much stopped and she went into almost a kind of after the funeral.

She was almost catatonic and just kind of almost sat and did nothing for about a month.

But I think I was the eldest child.

My sister at the time was modeling in Japan.

She'd flown home for the funeral, but then went off quite quickly afterwards.

My dad decided to go on tour with Wales, who was managing.

So I decided my life in London was over and I was going to stay home and try and help.

And my mom had a fledgling property business, so I was kind of running around doing errands for her and trying to kind of like keep this energy going that we'd experienced during the week leading up to the funeral.

And then suddenly it all starts to quiet down and people stop coming around.

People stop bringing food around. People stop ringing to see if you're okay.

And then this kind of quietness descends on the house and the home and everybody in it.

And that's when you really start facing grief because grief didn't have room to come in in those first few weeks.

There was no space for it. It was all about energy and activity and trying to do your best for everybody.

And then the reality just on a daily basis of kind of, I mean, every day, even when the energy was there, you'd wake up just with those first thoughts of the day, we're just, oh God, you know, it really is, it's happened, it's real, it's not a dream.

And getting yourself mobilized. But then after the energy left, those, oh God, this is real, those feelings of just despair and kind of sadness, it just took longer to get yourself going. And you know, you do feel kind of just sometimes, or you did feel immobilized with that sadness.

And as a family, it just kind of pushes everybody off into kind of different corners, if you like, you know, it's like a sledgehammer coming down and just shattering something that had been a very tight unit.

So it then takes a long, long time, I think, for things to get back to any kind of normalcy or what you can now call your new normal.

Are there certain days or certain memories of when things were hardest for the family? Do you have like, I was speaking here yesterday to Whitney from who was the founder and CEO of Bumble, and she went through her own version of grief, sort of more, it's a professional grief that she refers to. And she says there's kind of, there was kind of a day, there was a day when I remember being the hardest day in that period, and that represented the bottom. And from there on, it was the kind of sort of the climb out of that moment. Was there a bottom moment for you? Was there a day where you think that was the hardest day of all?

I don't remember there being one day in particular, because even years afterwards, you know, a few years afterwards, I could find myself sobbing, you know, over something that had seen or I'd read, or when I started working in Telly, I remember I used to be obsessed when I started working in football with the dates of players' births, because they would be his age.

And I knew that he might be playing in that match, or he could have, you know, and so there would be something that would just kind of throw me, or I wasn't necessarily looking for it, but then it would just occur to me that they were the same age.

And you do that thing where you wonder, well, first of all, would he be playing in this match? What kind of play would he have been? I wonder if he'd have had a girlfriend by now.

I wonder if he'd have met somebody he wanted to marry. Now I wonder if he'd have children, you know, and you do that through the life of the person that, you know, is no longer with you, because you want to keep their memory alive, but also I think you wonder then if everything would have been different in the family, because ultimately my parents divorced and my dad was using alcohol to medicate himself.

And it's a lot to put on Daniel's shoulders, but you think, if he hadn't died, would we all still be together with the family unit have survived?

And so there are those days, you know, where just years later you could be flawed. So I don't think there was one day, but what happens is you start to notice, oh, a few weeks have gone by now and life's been quite good and I've been able to find joy in things.

And I've done something and not thought, but would it have been better if Daniel had been here? And you go through all those anniversaries, you know, so the first year of the first Christmas, the first birthdays, all of those things.

That's the, you know, getting through those anniversaries is always tough for anybody who loses any, anybody of significance in their lives.

But with him, it was things like the 16th birthday, the 18th birthday, the 20th, you know, there's all these big kind of landmark occasions.

And then you have your own children and you start to look at his life differently, because when my son got to 15 and was nearly 16, my kid's birthday is only a few days away from his birthday.

I realized when my son turned 16, I realized that I'd been worried about him not being 16 because Daniel never got there.

So, you know, I did have a fear that I was going to repeat history.

And we never taught how to grieve. Nobody ever teaches us that. And it's a shame because going through your life and not experiencing grief in some form is almost impossible to do that.

And I think sometimes I worry about grief.

Because you haven't had enough?

Because I haven't had enough. And I also have this sort of impending feeling that it's coming.

But when you look back at that moment post Daniel's passing, what do you think, what advice would you give to someone on how to properly grieve in hindsight with your wisdom now about that situation and how it transpired and how it stayed with you?

Is there anything you can say about how one grieves properly?

It's such a personal thing, grief, isn't it? Because it depends on your own relationship with death, you know, what you feel about mortality, how you feel about that person obviously is hugely significant.

Also, what they did in their life, you know, I find myself, I've had lots of relatives, I think four who've lived to be a hundred, four or five.

So I've been to funerals of people at 105 and that was a joyous life, you know, and that was a great celebration.

So I think it always depends on all those factors, those relationships.

I think the one thing that I would say from our experience with Daniel, which was a life cut very short and very sudden, I think it's, and it doesn't matter if it isn't sudden.

And I've wrestled with that as well. We all did about Daniel, like, would it have been better if we'd known?

What if he'd been ill and we had time to get our heads around it? Would it have made any difference?

There is no right or wrong way, you know, to lose a child. There is no easy way to lose a child.

But I think counselling and talking to people is really, really helpful.

For me, I found having somebody to process what was going on was really helpful.

And finding kindred spirits as well, you know, people who've been through similar experiences.

And you find them without wanting to sound kind of too kind of woo-woo spiritual.

But I think those people come into your life as well at the time that you need them.

And then you've got to be open to them being there.

But when I met my husband, that was something we immediately connected on because he lost a cousin who was like a brother to him, who was, he was in his 30s, but had two small children.

And my husband was only 19 when that happened. And that, you know, that was a tragic accident.

And again, and sudden death and that devastated his young world.

And I think if you have people in your world who, you know, you can talk to like that, I think it's really, really helpful.

When you were talking about the week after Daniel's passing and the energy in the house and how it almost hadn't set in because you had this almost distraction.

There was things to do. There was other things to keep the brain on.

So many of us, I mean, we distract ourselves after moments of trauma and grief in a number of different ways.

But distraction doesn't solve the problem, does it? It just kind of kicks the can down the road.

Yeah. And I think although I did experience after that immediate kind of rush of energy, there was a silence and a time for sadness to come in.

I did default back into that kind of frenetic energy when I went to university, which was only a few months later.

I became the queen of joining in, you know, so I would join every club that I could.

I was in the drama society, the union society.

I would, you know, can I join this netball team? Can I do this? Can I do that? Can I do that?

Can I've got my degree? I'm going to get a job. You know, I was working at weekends.

I filled every hour and I love being busy, but there was definitely a sense of running away from what was going on, I think, in the background of my life.

On top of that sort of, you know, workaholism.

How did Daniel's passing change your perspective of life generally?

And, you know, I'll be honest, when I read about the passing of Daniel, there was this real moment of pause when I was reading there alone.

There was this moment of pause at the prospect that he was half my age and he suddenly hit suddenly his heart stopped.

And it made me think, honestly, when I was reading it, it made my brain went, so anyone's heart can stop at any time. They can be perfectly healthy.

They can be an athlete and their heart can just stop at any time.

And you sit there like feeling my own heart and I'm wearing this band that I wear.

I've been wearing for the last couple of weeks.

Checking your heartbeat.

Keeps, tells me everything about my heart.

And this morning it's funny because it said my heart, my heart variability score is like way, way down.

Typically means you've been doing something stressful or exerting yourself too much.

And I, as I saw it was like there was like a five minute difference between this heart warning that's flashing on my band and reading that in the book.

Yeah.

How did, how did the fragility of life and your experience of the fragility of life change your perspective on life itself?

I think it's two things.

One, and it took me a while to correct this.

I, in my head thought, although I was busy getting, you know, getting busy and doing things and doing my degree and everything else.

There was part of me that thought, okay, now terrible things can happen at any time.

So my, so tomorrow another terrible thing could happen.

And I was almost waiting for that next thing because if, if he can die and he's that healthy looking and he'd never complained about any chest pains.

He was an athlete, like a proper athlete, you know, he just, he could run and run and run.

If he can die like that, well, terrible things can happen all the time.

But I didn't express this, but it was my kind of, there was a feeling inside me that that was possible.

So, so there was that, that part of the kind of the process, you know, was going on inside me, even though I was busy, I was expecting a terrible thing.

And I had this therapist a few years later who she just looked at me one day and she worked because I was obviously manifesting this or talking about it again.

And she said, your shit things happened.

And now then she, and that was such a powerful thing to say because although another shit thing can happen, of course, you know, it just, it stopped me.

It kind of really stopped me in my tracks and I thought, I've got to reframe this and stop thinking or stop believing that something else is coming down the tracks that I'm going to have to deal with.

And I'm not a natural warrior.

So to be in that kind of state, so it wasn't worry, you know, it wasn't me sitting there thinking, oh, I'm not going to cross the road because the car's going to come.

It wasn't about taking risks.

It was just a self-defense mechanism ready for it.

I'm ready for it.

Something's going to happen and I'm ready.

I can see, you know, and so it wasn't, I wanted to stop my life so I didn't, I didn't get hurt or, you know, people I loved didn't get hurt, but I wanted to be ready next time because I wasn't ready the last time.

What's this, what are the symptoms of that?

Of kind of expecting the worst?

A terrible thing to happen.

Yeah. What are the symptoms of in relationships?

I was not, not, not, not hanging at the time I was single and I was definitely not attracting the right people into my life, you know, and I was, I was not going out with people who were enhancing me as a person or my life because why would I want to have any kind of long term commitment with anybody who'd treat me well or be nice to me because I was, you know, I wasn't going to commit to something.

I may as well be with somebody who wasn't that nice to me, who didn't make me feel good about myself because, because it was all, it was all very, you know, transient. So I wasn't, I wasn't giving, I wasn't giving myself any kind of chance of that happening because of my kind of charging through, you know, and, and actually, okay, if you're horrible to me, that's fine. I've dealt with this, I can, you know, but that's not really good for your kind of deep self-esteem. You know, we talked about, you talked about how I had good self-esteem leaving, leaving school and feeling good about myself.

But that wasn't, that wasn't very productive in terms of, you know, good self-esteem. So I suppose that's, that's how it kind of manifested itself. And again, there's that commitment thing to, to, you know, to people and things.

And I suppose a feeling that I was losing empathy. And that's really important thing to, to, to hang on to. And, and while I wouldn't have expressed it as losing empathy at the time, it was losing patience, you know, kind of, that's, you know, that's so trivial, but it's not trivial to that person. And having an understanding of that is really important. And actually using what you've learned about loss and grief in a more positive way and not such a destructive way.

Age 19, Metro FM. That's your sort of first step into broadcasting.

Yeah. Very few people in this, in this world will ever reach the heights that you've reached in broadcasting, but so many of them would want to. I've met many, many young people that want to, to get to where you are in your career.

There's not a lot of seats at the table at the very top. So I'm trying to understand in hindsight, how you got to that table. And I know nobody ever likes asking me answering these questions, because at some point you're going to have to compliment yourself to some degree.

You're going to have to highlight something that's a good characteristic in yourself. And people don't, people feel uncomfortable with, with doing that for some reason, but.

Because we're not Americans.

Yeah. Yeah. Oh my God. Americans, if I ask them that question, not only do they, they tell me, but they, the story sounds amazing. It's so like chance and they're a hero in the story.

But when I approach people, they're like, well, you know, ask someone else.

Well, how often do you say the word? I was very lucky because I was very lucky and we shrouded in this, this luck, you know, luck happened to us. And, and there is always an element of timing with things, isn't there?

And I, I got my break at Metro through meeting a guy at a New Year's Eve party, the winter before I went to university.

And I said to him, I really want to work in broadcasting. And he ran a radio station. And he said, when you come to Durham, which was nine months later, make sure you come and see me.

And I'll give you some work experience. And I'd already done work experience on radio stations and newspapers.

So I thought of that. So I waited about 10 minutes after arriving in Durham. And I went to a phone box because we didn't have mobiles and filled it with my 10 pence pieces and had to wait for the receptionist to put me through.

And I remember standing in the rain in Durham, kind of waiting for him. And he said, oh, hello. Because he was quite surprised that first of all, I was calling before freshers week had even started.

But secondly, he was probably going, hang on a minute, where did I meet you? And he said, OK, come and see me next week or the week after and we'll have a chat about what it is you want to do.

And that was it. That was my kind of the person I could just cling on to and get into somewhere that was a professional outfit.

It wasn't student radio. This was a commercial radio station with real people living real lives, you know, and with mortgages.

So their work was important. And I got there and he gave me a chance. He trained me up for about four or five months.

And then by the Christmas of my first term, I got my first paid shift on the radio station. And that was the start.

Eventually you got the breakfast show, right?

When I graduated.

When you graduated soon. You must have been at Metro for what, three to four years by the time?

So I was three years. Yeah.

Three years.

Three years. Even at that early stage in your broadcasting career, what were you because we all know what we're good at often by like comparison of peers.

This is like where comparisons can sometimes be quite helpful.

Did you have an indication of what you were good at as a broadcaster versus your peers? What was your USP?

I wasn't necessarily comparing myself to anybody else.

But what I felt I was getting good at when I was doing the breakfast show was being responsive and being able to ad-lib situations and find the funny or funny.

Or find the quirk.

Because on a breakfast show, you're kind of riffing backwards and forwards with your co-host.

You're responding to the day's news. You're talking about things that are going on in people's lives.

And I realized that I could do that quite well without feeling self-conscious about what I was saying.

I was able to kind of match my co-host quite well on those things.

Who's had a lot more experience than me.

The other stuff, there's a lot of stuff that you can learn to be good at.

You can learn to read the news well, which I initially started out doing the news.

And you can learn to edit a story because I was technically having to do those kinds of things.

But I think that was something that was a little bit more ethereal and difficult to nebulous and difficult to kind of hone and train somebody to do.

So I felt like that was something that I wanted to expand on.

And that was something that I could certainly take forwards as a quality.

And it certainly is something that is good in live broadcasting to be able to think on your feet and be able to turn a story into something else.

And talk to somebody on the spot who's just walked on to set.

And fill five minutes of time. All those things that live broadcasting needs.

You know, those qualities that it needs.

You know, you're actually Skycall and you end up going to work for Sky Sports at 25 years old.

I was younger than that.

I would have, yeah, because that was a year after I joined Metro, which I would have been 22.

So I was 23 when I joined Sky Sports.

So my dream had been to work in London.

I wanted to leave the Northeast and find a job in London.

So when Sky Sports saw me doing touchline interviews at St James's Park, because by this point I got a Saturday job because the boss at the station could see I loved sport.

And he was like, why don't you do touchline interviews at St James's Park for us on a Saturday?

Then Sky had seen me on the touchline and decided that they needed more women in front of camera and asked me if I'd be interested in going down for a screen test.

So I had basically a month where my life just turned because I had this sliding doors moment where I made the call straight away.

As you've discovered with the call to Giles, I wasn't shy of picking up the phone and making the call.

I made the call the next morning to the person I'd been told to phone.

And then within a couple of days I was on a flight to London to go and see the boss at Sky and do the screen test.

And then within a few hours, I think, of getting home that night, I got a phone call asking me if I'd go and work there and negotiating a package to go and work there.

So it was a really, really exciting kind of period of my life that I hadn't really planned.

I didn't know how I was going to get to London.

I was looking for adverts in kind of broadcast and various places, you know, trying to find something that could get me there.

And I rang up an agency, a talent agency.

I looked at people whose careers I liked and thought, oh, I wonder who they're managed by.

I'll ring them.

And they were very sweet and said, oh, well, do come back to us when you've got some experience.

Because I had no experience.

I had this little TV job in the Northeast.

And I just didn't know how I was going to get there.

But I knew I had to for things to progress.

For anyone that's listening to this that has big dreams of, you know, going into certain industries, especially industries where there's seems to be quite at the very top, it seems to be quite a small table.

When you look back at your own journey and the decisions you made, the small things in hindsight, the moments of sort of serendipity.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to get somewhere high, where at the very top of that tree is quite a small table?

What are the things that you did right, maybe accidentally or intentionally?

I think what I did through university, and that could have been post university, I worked so hard to, I did shifts that were very unsociable.

I was doing three o'clock, four o'clock in the morning get ups to go and do new shifts.

And I did late night love shows.

I did all the kind of things that, you know, are the unglamorous end of that job because I was being offered the shifts and I took them.

And I had to juggle that with my law degree, but I innately felt that it was almost like I was doing an apprenticeship in what I wanted to do at the same time.

And as well as earning me, you know, some cash as a student is always handy, but I was getting this experience.

And the hours and hours and hours of doing that meant that when I did get the opportunity at Sky, and I felt confident about picking the phone up because I knew I'd had all these hours.

I wasn't just somebody who'd done a few shows and, you know, even if I'd just had the one year working there at post grad, I don't think I would have felt as confident.

But I knew I'd put those hours in and I felt I wasn't going to be, I mean, we've all got an element of imposter syndrome, but I didn't feel I was going to be out of place because I knew I'd had all that experience, those hours.

So I think you've got to put the groundwork in, you know, and not expect things to happen too quickly in the sense of, you know, don't overforce those things that you'll feel the time's right.

You know, you feel like, OK, I knew I was ready to move on around that time, but in that year of post working full time, it wasn't towards the end until towards the end that I really felt I was ready.

And I knew that all that stuff I was doing was really important in building, you know, the building blocks of your career.

So I think it's really important to put those foundations down and you'll always benefit from that.

You know, it's never a waste of time taking an opportunity from somebody saying yes to something.

I said yes to things. I talk about them in the book that I was nowhere near in that year that I was working in local radio.

I didn't know how to do it, but I said yes to stuff because I knew it was going to give me experience.

And then obviously when you find yourself somewhere like Sky, which is I was at the very much the bottom of the wrong, you know, the ladder and I was learning again.

I was starting to a new a whole new set of experiences.

Then you have to have that.

Hopefully I had a little bit of kind of humility and said, OK, I need to learn.

I don't know what I'm doing here.

And then people will you'll find people who will be your teacher in that environment.

So I think it's really important to I always say to my kids about, you know, it's expression.

Your mum would have said to you kind of like, you know, don't run before you can walk.

Right. And and it sounds really boring because everybody wants to run.

Everybody wants to get there quicker and and you can get there quickly, but you've just got to put some hours in first.

And I think you'll stay there longer.

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Your next period of life was at Sky, which was, as you write about it in the book, a very sort of male dominated ego, testicle environment.

How did that shape you? How did that impact you?

Walking into Sky, back in those days, I mean, everybody in football was a man, right?

You say in the book, I think you say 90% of the people behind the camera were men.

It was a very male dominated environment and it was obviously very early in the infancy of Sky.

Sky was only a few years old at that point, the Premier League was only a few years old.

So a lot of Sky's early recruits, if you like, were from Fleet Street, the hard-nosed journalists who kind of done, you know, pounded the shifts and gone kind of, you know, to all the matches over the years and again a very male dominated environment.

But it was tough and I've talked to a lot recently to people about the 90s, not to do in my book, but just about how it was, there was this thing happening in the 90s that you kind of went along with a bit and I don't really feel comfortable, I'm not a lad at it, you know, I'm not.

There was this lad at culture and there was a drinking culture and it was all about the music at the time and everything else and I think football was in this centre of all of this as well because of the newness of Sky and the newness of the Premier League and it would have been easy, I think, to lose yourself.

And there were times where I felt like I was trying to conform and, you know, be the person that, you know, was able to banter with the lads and have that kind of, you know, riffing and all of that, but it didn't make me feel very good, you know, I didn't really like that person.

So I wasn't completely at ease with myself, I would say, there.

You wrote in the book that you didn't like yourself very much during that period.

I didn't like myself very much, but I always seemed to forget that the next time I was drinking, the anger disappointment and self-doubt that such destructive behaviour brings was coming home to roost.

Yeah, I think I wasn't very healthy.

I'd gone from being somebody who had run half-marathons when I was in Newcastle, ate a really brilliant diet, to suddenly I was doing late shifts, eating badly, drinking more alcohol than I'd ever drunk when I was at university.

You know, I wasn't a massive drinker and suddenly it was a bar culture, you know, it was kind of after a shift to go for a drink, shifts would finish at ten, you shouldn't start drinking at ten, you know, it's not a good time of day to start drinking.

Weekends, I knew nobody when I first arrived in London, so it was, you know, what's everybody doing?

How do I get a social life? You know, where do I go?

So you'd be invited somewhere, that would involve being in a bar or being involved in a club.

And so I was slipping into kind of bad habits and I think there's part of me feeling like, oh, this is what it is to be an adult, you know, is this how I behave now?

And there was a good 18 months really where I was putting on weight, didn't feel good about myself at all, and then it becomes a self-filling prophecy almost, you know, and you kind of go, oh, well, I'll put on weight now, I may as well just carry on eating the Magnums, I may as well carry on eating the, you know, drinking the Chardonnay.

And I wasn't happy, you know, I didn't enjoy that, but it just, it kind of became a habit, I guess, you know.

Talk about the 90s and the 80s, it's quite hard for us, someone like myself to imagine the culture in an office and in a working environment at that time. When I was reading some of the quotes from the book about how you would walk through the office and someone would shout at you about which football player you've been sleeping with, or someone comes up to you in the office and makes a comment about your arse until you tell you that it's going to drop by the time you're 30.

Those things seem quite unthinkable in the modern life of the world.

I know, especially somebody of your age, and when I told my daughter who's 17, she just, you know, it defies belief for her.

And yet when I speak to people my age, they reminisce almost about, I spoke to an actress the other day who's same age as me and she was talking about things that people would say in auditions even, and you know.

And I think it's really positive that you think that is so unthinkable, you know, because that means things have changed.

And I think it's amazing actually, kind of, that for me it doesn't seem that long ago, but actually, you know, it's a few decades ago.

And society has changed. Our expectation of each other has changed.

Our expectation of how to be treated in the workplace has changed.

And that comes through representation as well, because those offices were very male dominated, and I think there were probably a lot of men in there that weren't comfortable with that, but they didn't feel they could speak up because of that culture that was there.

And that's not healthy for any business or any environment.

You know, I always quote, I made a documentary on women in football and a member Karen Brady saying to me that who's the CEO of West Ham and her saying to me, I never invest my own money in a company that doesn't have a woman on the board.

This was about 14 years ago, 13 years ago, I made this documentary.

And she said, not because I think that's going to, you know, that I'm trying to make a point, but I know that that board is going to be more representative in terms of how it views its business, how it views its future and its budgets and everything else that is plans for the business.

So I always remember that because when I look at that office, I think, well, how could this, how could that environment ever really have different voices and different opinions?

And because the big loud ones, the big loud kind of more misogynistic ones were dominating everybody else and people didn't feel they could speak up, you know, and didn't feel they could talk.

And it didn't look like society.

It didn't look like a football terrace or it didn't look like, or how we perceive a football terrace to look now, which is people from different ethnicities and people from different backgrounds and different sexual, sexual orientation and all those different things that that office didn't represent.

And that office was, as I say, not unusual.

That would have been across many industries, how things looked.

So I think it's really important that we have now more representation, diversity in everything that we do because of that.

But at the time, that was really normal.

So, you know, that wasn't, I didn't feel like I was in an unusual place.

I didn't feel like, oh, I wish I, I wish I went somewhere else where it was a bit, you know, people are a bit kinder.

Your podcast is called Midpoint.

Your book is called The First Half.

There's a theme going on.

Yeah.

What, why?

Midpoint came about as a lockdown project.

It's something I've been intending to do for ages and had the time and it felt like I was in the middle of my life and it happened while I was in a pandemic and it felt very much like, a time of introspection and, you know, asking yourself questions about what next, what does it mean to go through this period where a lot of people start to experience, you know, the midlife crisis.

A lot of people refer to which, you know, obviously in the sitcom, that's where the bloke gets, you know, some leather jeans and Harley Davidson and runs off into the sunset with somebody 25 years younger than him or, you know, or Shirley Valentine flies off to Greece and finds a lover, you know, so you get these kind of very caricatured ideas of what midlife is, but for most people, you know, they stay with their families and they, you know, they work through something that happens to them.

And what I discovered with women is menopause.

I didn't really know anything about it going into lockdown and then I learned a lot about it and then I was having one.

And that is a huge topic of conversation that, you know, rightly has grown and become something that people are more aware of.

But also, it's for me, it was more about the I started off wanting to talk to people who'd done something different in midlife.

So my first guest was John Bishop, who at 39 was selling pharmaceutical drugs and at 40 was a stand-up comedian, which was a massive career change.

And I liked the idea of doing something really different in the middle of your life and not feeling you have to keep going until the end with the thing that you've gone on, you know, the path to do.

It's obviously fanciful to say that anybody can change their trajectory in midlife because circumstances will dictate that you have to keep paying your mortgage or you have to keep, you know, food on the table.

So it's not possible just to stop and start something else.

But I do like the idea that you can, you can make a change because we're all going to work so much longer than our parents, you know, had to or our grandparents had to just the way society is going.

And you may as well do something that you really love and feel nourished by.

So midpoint came about really because of all those kind of things that I was thinking about.

It was a self-serving project, you know, it was like, I want to talk to people are doing interesting things.

And it's been really a joy to do, you know, and to kind of, you know what this environment's like, it's a brilliant way to have a conversation.

And you get to talk about things that you find interesting.

And then the person you're talking to sparks interest in you as well.

So I'm about a six series in so I'm nowhere near as prolific as you, Stephen.

But obviously it's it's a kind of side hustle.

Yeah, well, it started as a side hustle in my bedroom.

So it's crazy. It's crazy.

You know, now we've got all these cameras, which is mad.

Yeah.

On that point of the midlife crisis thing, is there any truth in that?

Are there regrets that show up in, you know, that you've seen from your conversations in midlife that were maybe not as obvious beforehand priorities change.

Values become clearer.

There is definitely something in it in the midlife change.

You know, I think the physical changes that all women go through, it shouldn't underestimate kind of how that can affect them and their families.

And and that's why a greater understanding of that is really important, especially, you know, women who've worked so hard in their careers and then, you know, the stories and the anecdotes you hear about women just pulling themselves away from it because of the physical effects of metaphors.

And I have a really high powered friend who's one of the top, she's one of the top hedge funders in the country, sits on the board of one of the biggest.

And she said to me, well, I'm going on testosterone because there's no way I'm working this hard and letting a bloke come and take my job.

So testosterone is one of the hormones that depletes in midlife for women.

So if you go on HRT, you could take progesterone, estrogen and testosterone.

People don't realize that women have testosterone, you know, and that they need it.

And I was laughing because she was like, as if I'm going to kind of give up this.

But actually a lot of women do give up that career because of the feelings that they have of anxiety and low self esteem and you get brain fog.

There's so many things physically that happen to women at that time.

So I think that has an impact, obviously, on on lives, but also.

And then what I realized when I started looking into it, how many relationships break up, but not because actually those two people don't love each other anymore, but because if the woman's going through all of that and the man's feeling kind of like, she doesn't love me anymore, what's going on?

You know, and they the relationship breaks down because of a lack of understanding and communication.

But also, I think because you've done the same thing, a lot of people have done the same thing for nearly 30 years, you know, if they've been on a traditional career trajectory and then they feel bored or they need something to kind of, you know, give them a kick.

And then there's the mortality question as well, because you suddenly look at your parents and a lot of people in that age, the parents are in their 70s or maybe 80s and and look like they're nearing the end of their lives.

And that makes you question the rest of your life.

So there are so many issues that come up and time to think as well, because your kids are getting to an age where they're not the same kind of demands on your time through them.

So they're flying, you know, they're doing their own thing.

So you have time to think and space to think.

So it is definitely it's a thing.

That's why I think think why I'm so intrigued by the topic is how do I design my life now at 30 to try and limit the effects of that mid midpoint confusion or dissatisfaction that people often experience and that you kind of accounted there.

One of the things that I suspect is going to help is for me to stay really in touch with the things that I enjoy doing that are no in no way pay me or provide for me professionally, just like DJing and So for your fulfillment, you know, in life is not just from the things that earn you cash, you know, and I think the older you get, you realize how important those other things are the hobbies, if that you know, if that is a hobby or if it's volunteering, you know, and I don't mean that just kind of working in a, you know, healthy ages shop but giving your talents to other people mentoring people.

And we do a lot of Kenny and I do a lot of stuff with various charities that we feel, you know, very passionate about or giving your time up to people.

I think those things are really important because as you become more financially secure is your time isn't it?

That's the most valuable, you know, kind of thing that you have and and if you can give your time to other people like that, it's very, very rewarding.

And and then you find, you know, kind of passion projects as well that things that you've felt in the past you haven't had time to commit to and I want to know Kenny, my husband is really into being outside, you know, he's he's loves making things like building things and doing things.

So he will literally be on a zoom doing his business call and then you realize he's got half an hour and he'll go out and you'll be on his tractor kind of raking something and building something.

And you know, that for him is how he is just loving his kind of midlife balance, you know, but he couldn't have done that 10 years ago when he was first really building his business.

He wouldn't have, you know, he just wouldn't have worked.

So I think you you get to a stage where you also give yourself that time to do those things and allow yourself, you know, and you'll be, you know, you'll have so many other interests, business interests and things that have along the way have, you know, kind of given you great satisfaction.

So I'm not worried about you having any kind of midlife crisis.

You said you discovered you had you're going through menopause at the age of 47.

Yeah, I realized I had perimenopausal symptoms because I didn't really know what it was.

I just felt this sense of like, oh, nothing feels as exciting anymore.

Nothing feels as joyous.

I'm not getting the same satisfaction out of stuff.

And that was so not me.

And then I did one of my podcasts.

I was with Mariela Frostrop and she started talking about the menopause.

She's a bit older than me.

And I said, Oh my God, these things, these things you talk of, I recognize them.

And afterwards she recommended, you know, I go speak to this doctor that she had seen.

And sure enough, I was bang in the middle of, you know, what was the physical, the physical manifestation.

Obviously, the menopause is eventually you stop menstruating.

But before then you have all these other things going on, low self-esteem, anxiety, brain fog, you know, and this is all to do with your hormones dropping off all the jobs that these hormones did before they no longer can do.

And that includes also your immune system going down.

And, you know, and this is in the middle of a pandemic.

So at that point, my immune system's low.

I don't want my immune system to be, you know, any weaker than anybody else's.

So it was a good time to find out and, you know, knowing that I could rebalance my hormones as well.

And I was so relieved when I did take HRT to feel myself again, because I had been feeling like, I remember one day having this absolute kind of family meeting, crisis meeting, calling everybody to the table saying, right, nobody around here is putting their weight and really reading the riot act to everybody.

And I was, and the point where I got to the depth, I thought, they're not taking me seriously.

So I said, if this carries on, I'm getting a flat in Beckinsfield, which is a little town near where we live.

And they all looked at me like I'd gone mad because this had come from nowhere.

And of course, the kids were like close to tears.

And I was like, because I'm not going to be, and I realized now I look back.

And I was just totally, you know, sad about kind of how I was feeling.

And I just didn't feel I was, you know, as I didn't have as much fight and tenacity and energy.

And, you know, and this was all menopausal symptoms, really.

I mean, now with the hindsight and the distances between it, you know, they laugh about that whole day.

That was the day where we realized mum was having a menopause.

But thank God I found out, right?

And I didn't actually go and look at renting a flat in Beckinsfield to serve them all right.

And, you know, it's a real perfect confluence when you have a woman in her late 40s and her kids are teenagers, because their hormones are going crazy in the other direction and they're going through puberty and everything's happening the other way, you know.

And so Kenny was very, really wanted to know what was going on with me.

So he'd listened to my podcasts and he'd learned so much about the menopause from the female guest, Davina McColl, who's, you know, doing so much great work in this space and she was talking about it.

And he came in one day and he sat down and he said to me, I've just listened.

I've been out on a dog walk and I've just listened to Davina and he said, OK, so if you start taking HRT and your hormones kind of start going back again, you know, what happens to me and my hormones dropping off a cliff?

How, you know, am I going to, I said, no, no, no, men are different.

And you kept going on about it.

I said, look, just go and do a well man test or something because you need to satisfy yourself that you're OK, you know.

And it was through doing this well man test that he found out he had prostate cancer.

So his kind of his motivation for doing it was to see if his testosterone was still kind of functioning at a high level.

And they said to him, listen, don't worry about your hormones. They're fine.

You've got to worry about your PSA to cut a long story short.

He ended up having his prostate removed and had prostate cancer.

So, yeah, we, we, in terms of a midlife, a midlife journey and a midlife experience, there was a lot, a lot going on there, obviously, with regard to my, my journey kind of bled into him finding out something that he otherwise wouldn't have known because unfortunately, prostate cancer is a cancer that you don't always get symptoms until it's too late.

And as his urologist said to him, if you had symptoms, we might be having a very different conversation.

Wow.

So I'm forever grateful that I started my podcast, I think, because he wouldn't have had, we wouldn't have had that conversation.

It's a really scary thing to think about in hindsight if those dots hadn't sort of connected.

Because like most blokes, this is the thing.

And this is why he did a, he did a podcast episode talking about it.

Like most blokes and especially one, he played international rugby, right?

You know, he played 70 times for his country.

He was used to giving his body a battering and giving his body, putting his body through it.

And so he's living with some of the ramifications of that.

You know, he has to really look after his back and his core.

He's very lucky he didn't really break too many bones, but you know, he knows he has to look after his body because he put it through a lot.

So when he does have aches and pains and things, he often, like a lot of men, just ignores them because he thinks that's part of, you know, what he'd done to himself before and that's part of, you know, his sporting life.

And this year he lost one of his very best friends who played for Scotland with, who'd done just that, who'd ignored a lot of those things, thinking it was old injuries.

And it turned out he had bowel cancer and he died.

And that was for him just, you know, a huge sense of gratitude that he had found out, but also a reason for him wanting to talk about it.

Because men can be really rubbish at that, you know, and it's something that I think we talked about.

Masculine kind of identity and earlier on about, you know, my dad, when he was younger and how he, the self preservation and wanting to, you know, keep things in, in public.

And actually that's a lot of that is, is men not always sharing those things.

So I'm not having those conversations candidly.

And when he did that on the on the podcast, the response from men has been amazing to him, you know, and I think it's partly because he's perceived to be somebody who is a tough rugby player.

So if he can talk about it, okay, I can go to the doctor and I can ask him a few questions.

Am I right in thinking prostate cancer is the cancer that takes the life of most men?

Yeah, 12,000 men a year.

Most it's the cancer, the biggest cancer killer of men.

He does that wellness, well man tests.

He eventually goes and has a test done for prostate cancer, I guess, and then he gets the verdict back.

You've been through grief before.

You've been through loss before.

In fact, we when we talked about, you know, your earlier years, you kind of had that sense of impending doom when he makes that phone call to you when you have that conversation with him.

What is that like what's going on in your head?

So he had a zoom set up with his urologist because it was the early part of this year when we were still not really, you know, there was that COVID surge and and he said, okay, don't come in.

I'll do a zoom with you and Gabby together.

And I had made an appointment or a meeting rather with a head of a production company I was going to be working with to come to the house 11.

So Kenny said he's calling at 10 30.

I said, yeah, great fine 10 30.

I was not expecting anything other than you're absolutely fine.

You know, I did not expect negative news didn't expect him to hear anything other than come back to me in a year.

We'll keep an eye on it, you know, and otherwise I wouldn't have made an appointment with somebody at 11 o'clock.

And when the his urologist told him, I think we both were just I think Kenny was more expecting it than me.

I very much was like, you're going to be absolutely fine.

You know, you look at your picture of health and you know, you're on your Watt bike pushing out massive Watts yesterday, you know, and you're great.

And we were shocked stunned because you then you don't know what that means, you know, how bad is it?

Where's it gone?

All those things.

And I think Kenny was really very sad, you know, he's just like a feel sadness and because he said I feel so well.

I feel sad inside me.

This is happening and I don't know about it.

And he was a very confusing and also it's very tied in with your masculinity and, you know, kind of the prostate.

And so he was he was really, really upset and as you can imagine, and I just thought right now, this is going to sort this is going to be absolutely fine.

And you know, what do we do?

You know, I kind of what are the answers here?

And his urologist was very, was brilliant, he's a brilliant communicator and told us what the options were.

And I said, we just got to get a plan.

You've got to get a plan together.

You need to know what you're doing and and then we'll be positive and we'll just kind of keep being positive about it.

And and that's what we did really, you know, once he got over the initial shock, we just really kind of focused on it as a project that we had to to deal with.

And it's a bloody awful operation.

You know, you get in basically six stab wounds in your torso and it is really invasive and it's a horrible thing to see him and the pain he was afterwards.

It's a horrible thing to go through.

But he's doing really, really well now.

And, you know, he's he just said to me last night, actually, when we were about to go to sleep, he said, we've done really well, haven't we?

Because he said, people keep saying to me, like, how are you?

Well, how's that?

You know, and he said, we've done well.

I said, we've done well, you know, because he's he's good.

The kids have been great throughout it.

We've been through, you know, something that kind of unifies you, I think, as a family, you know, can really solidify you as a family.

So we're very lucky.

He's your like, you know, throughout this conversation, I've really got a sense that this person is your rock.

Totally.

I was trying to think of a bigger superlative than rock.

But yeah, he is.

He's I remember once years ago doing a podcast called Walking the Dog with Emily Dean.

And at the end of it, she said to me, you've got Kenny Itis.

I said, sorry, she can't stop mentioning him.

And he's just great.

I'm very lucky.

I knew I wasn't going to lose him.

He's a great, he's a great man.

And I couldn't, I couldn't ever, I couldn't have wished for anybody to share my life with, you know, who's better.

I used to, you know, when I was having my kind of negative phase with men and I perhaps didn't think I deserved somebody like Kenny.

And I'm glad that I decided I did because, you know, time is everything, isn't it?

And when I met him, if I'd been that person before, I wouldn't have called him, you know, because he would have been too, too good for me, too nice for me.

And yeah, he's, he's been the most brilliant supporter.

He's so positive.

He's so encouraging and, you know, he just really believes in me and gives me such enormous strength and, you know, but he's also a vulnerable and sensitive person.

You know, he's, he's so, um, as a role model for our son, you know, I feel like I've got this great person who's alongside me.

What, what advice could you give me?

Because, you know, you've been in this relationship with Kenny.

I'm going to guess I'm going to say 22 years, 21, 23.

Yeah, 99. So yeah, coming up for 24 years.

24 years.

When we met, we met January 99.

If you were to give me a piece of advice on how my relationship could last for so long, what would that advice be?

I think it's, and we always, and we don't always, but we often will have those conversations with each other actually about why we are still going strong and what it is that, because we've been through like normal marriages, you know, we've been through rough patches and periods where you're kind of, you know, not, never before we got married, you know, it was, it was, but marriage and children and the commitments, they do test you and they do put you in positions where you feel uncomfortable.

And this is not kind of what I expected things to be and how, and I think the one thing is communication.

We always talk those things through.

Kenny is very much like you don't go to bed on a disagreement or an argument, you know, you sort, sort, sit down and discuss.

And that's metaphorically, you know, it doesn't have to be a bedtime, but you know, you don't just let something fester.

He always says that he nips it in the bud before it's a bud, you know, so if he can see some things, a problem and, but also it's okay to have disagreements, you know, we have robust disagreements about things.

We're not aligned on every single thing because that's not real either.

And I think it's important to know how to disagree.

My parents sometimes had really screaming rouse when I was little and that's really horrible to hear as a child because you don't want that, you know, and screaming rouse one thing, but actually being able to disagree is really important.

Having your shared kind of passions and goals in life and things you want to do together is also, but also having your differences and having your like, you know, his, his things that he likes to do separate to me is really important because you can't live in each other's pockets all the time.

So I suppose those things I'm saying to you through hindsight, looking back, I think, you know, I wouldn't have sat out at the beginning and said, okay, Kenny, these are the things that we have to, and I was talking to, we have to do, I was talking to somebody younger, a lot younger than the day about relationships and the kind of young people now and kind of how relationships, you know, start is so different and how relationships even come to be and expectations of relationships.

And the worry for me is that it's all about perfection and it's never going to be perfect, you know, there are always going to be things that go wrong, but I think if you're, if you're in tune and you're kind of aligned on, on the really important things, the values that you have, then you can overcome, you know, bumps in the road.

So, and also you've got to laugh, you know, having fun is really, really important. So yeah, I've always, I've always resisted talking too much about Kenny because I've always felt like I'm going to jinx it, you know, if I say something, but I feel now with nearly a quarter of a century gone, that we're okay, we're definitely not going to break up tomorrow.

No, yeah. So I used to, at the beginning, I always used to think I'm not going to talk about it because, you know, it's, it feels too good. I'm going to, you know, I'm going to make it go wrong if I talk about it.

So do you schedule Kenny time? I say this because I've been sort of dealing with this recently where I'm so busy with work and work is all scheduled.

The only thing that's not scheduled is time with my partner. So that can sometimes fall by the wayside.

So then you don't want it to feel too formulaic, do you?

Yeah, which is it scheduling.

Like what tab is she got? She read?

It's funny because I've sat here with someone who said, you should be scheduling that time. And then I can't, the prospect of going to my girlfriend, I've been like, let me put you into the schedule.

I think she would be very happy. So I wanted to figure out what you do to make sure, you know, you told me you're doing the World Cup.

You've got all of these incredible things coming up. How do you make sure? Is there a practical way you make sure your relationship doesn't fall by the wayside?

I think we always have, we're lucky because most mornings, you know, we're having breakfast together.

We're kind of aware of which other days are. We have, you know, dinners and things, schedules and we've got things we might do at the weekend.

I think there are weeks where we don't see a lot of each other, you know, if our schedules aren't really aligning and but we know it's okay because we'll pick up, you know, pick up some time at the weekend or something.

I think through our relationship early on, Kenny was away a lot with his rugby and he'd be travelling and then coming home.

And that was really hard when you had weeks away from each other.

But it did make, I think, you know, absence makes the heart go fonder and you really kind of want to be with that person.

You know you want to be with that person.

I wouldn't so much schedule it as just make sure that you've got something nice coming up or you've got something you're going to do together or, you know, you've got an afternoon.

Yesterday I took a break for about half an hour, was back to back recording podcasts and it was a gorgeous day and I knew he was outside.

He'd done something outside. So I just went out in the garden and just walked around with him for half an hour because I knew he wanted to show me things that he'd been doing and that made him feel good showing me these things.

So, and it made me feel good as well because I was getting a bit of vitamin D and I was kind of having a nice chat with him.

And I think spontaneity actually is really important in a relationship and not always, you know, planning, trying to be more spontaneous in your personal life to your business life.

You know, you've got to be on it. But I think, yeah, the spontaneity is quite good.

And he gets, you know, like he'll be like, oh, are you coming to that? You know, if he was doing something, a charity event or something or business or thing.

And I said, oh, I'm going to come along to that. You know, oh, great. It's great that you're there.

And I really love it when he says that because he wants me to be there, you know.

So I'll make the effort then to go along to something or, you know, maybe even I've even picked up golf again because he loves golf.

I think, right, we're heading into a period of our life. We're going to have more time. I can play golf again.

So I've started playing golf again.

Oh, wow. That's a teach me. We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest asks a question to the next guest.

They don't know who they're asking it for. They just write it in this book and I don't get to see the question until I open the book.

So the question that's been left for you, not knowing that it was for you is, oh, interesting.

What would you do if you absolutely weren't afraid?

If I had no fear, I would, when my kids have left home, I jump on a plane, I go and try and work in LA for a year.

I go and work in America. I always wanted to work in American TV.

So I would go, right, I'm going to go bang on the doors of execs and...

And if you could write the job role, what would the job role be in America?

It would be pretty much open win free. Yeah. I think that if I had no fear, that's what I do.

I could see you doing that. In fact, that's been rattling around in the back of my head for a long time.

When you said earlier that you wanted your own talk show, I was like, I could 100% see that.

You have all the attributes. Even in your writing, I see that.

I see the huge potential of great conversation that opens the vulnerability, the way that you make people feel calm.

And you create a bridge for them to be open to your elocution.

Is that the word? Your ability to articulate yourself in such a wonderful, apparently, way with such ease.

I could 100% see that.

Oh, wow. Thank you. I'm very excited to watch the show.

Thank you so much. When I grew up, I wanted to be Oprah.

As a kid, I wanted to be Oprah. And that was the person that I think that I thought, wow, that's amazing.

But then of course, you're in this country and you look around and you know, kind of who your role was.

I got to meet her once by accident.

We were in a lovely restaurant in London and she was dining a few tables away.

And I would never go up to somebody and do that thing.

And Kenny was going to me. We were with some other people who worked in Telly.

They were kind of execs and they, everybody knew she was there, you know.

And Kenny said, oh my God, he's my hero.

I said, I know, I know. And he's saying, are you going to, I said, no, of course I'm not.

And she just walked past the table and he just got hold of her hand and she looked down at him and he said, and she was so warm and he said, I'm so sorry. I know you're leaving, but he said, my wife absolutely adores you.

And she just got hold of my hand and she put it on her heart and she looked me in the eye and said, and I adore you.

And I was like, thank you.

She only got a clue who now we all were, but she was so warm and lovely.

And actually I said to Kenny afterwards, I hate you for doing that, but I love you for doing that.

Because I have like, I touched Oprah Winfrey's hand.

And yeah, so I think, you know, the way she's created her whole broadcasting empire as well is just amazing.

She's such an incredible role model and has a battle through.

You imagine being Oprah Winfrey at the beginning of her career, you know, kind of let alone, you know, she was an actress, but also what she'd gone through as a child and then to forge her way as a news broadcaster in that environment in America.

I think she is, yeah, she's such a, she's a good role model, I think.

Yeah, she's a role model to me too. She's a huge role model to me in so many ways.

Her grace, her class, her struggle, you know, all the things you've described there.

But so are you, you're a role model to me as well. And that became clearer and clearer throughout your book.

And, you know, I'm someone that's just stepped a foot into the TV world over the last like year or two with Dragon's Den.

But people like you that I've watched on my screen, your skill, there's a real skill to what you do.

And I don't think it's always appreciated to its full extent that the level of skill, the research, the diligence, the hard work, the, the talent to do what you do is really astounding.

Having been on camera a little bit, I really, really appreciate that.

And I really also appreciate you writing a book like this, because the vulnerability of this book is going to unlock a lot for a lot of people.

It's going to liberate them from a lot of their own concerns.

And really also, you know, I'm not someone that understands menopause, but it's important that I do.

And the lens that I read about menopause through isn't from an experience that I might have someday, but it's the women in my life that matter to me.

That's so important.

And having empathy for them.

And one of those is my mother and her own Johnny with that.

And it gave me a huge sense of empathy that I didn't have before, a huge understanding that I didn't have before from reading you talk about that in this book and so openly previously.

So thank you because this is a very important book that I think everybody should read regardless of their age, race or gender.

I think there's something really important there for everybody.

And thank you for coming here today and being so open and honest with me.

It's a huge honor to meet you.

It feels like a freak out a little bit when I see people that I've looked up to for so long on the TV screen.

Absolutely overwhelmed by everything you just said there.

So thank you so much because you are obviously just what you're doing at the age that you've done, you know, is phenomenal.

And to have that kind of wisdom to be able to read a book like mine, I feel like we're actually very different in lots of ways, but very similar in other ways.

And so that really means so much. Thank you. I really, really appreciate that. And best of luck with all the incredible things that you're doing too.

Thank you.