Michelle Minnikin is a Chartered Psychologist and Coach with 20+ years spent in organisational psychology, recruitment, coaching and personal development. As the Culture Captain (AKA Quartermaster) of Work Pirates, she’s on a mission to unf*ck work and loves helping aspiring Work Pirates re-write the rules and start their own mutinies. She’s also writing a book, Good Girl Deprogramming, to give women practical tools to understand the ways ‘society’ keep women and girls ‘behaving’ and to learn how to ‘misbehave’ – out Autumn 2022!
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
After leaving my last proper ‘corporate’ job in 2016, I decided to do what I’ve always wanted to and started my own business. I needed to forge my path – so I did what most psychologists do and started a proper professional (aka boring) psychology practice. I was getting clients – supporting them with selection and assessment during recruitment processes and leadership development, but I felt like a funny coloured peg in a strangely shaped hole.
Then I read a book that changed everything for me – Be More Pirate by Sam Conniff and things suddenly made sense. I realised I don’t have to have a boring psychology practice. I could create a business that was different, that was fun, and could challenge the way things have always been always done. The final piece of the puzzle came at age 40 when I got a diagnosis of ADHD.
Work Pirates is on a mission to unf*ck work. We support a community of work pirates who are doing things their way, and doing the right thing for their clients. And we help organisations put the people foundations in place so they can do the best for their crew!
How did the idea come to you for the company?
James Eves, my partner in life and business and I were chatting in the summer of 2020 about the fact the psychology practice was just not us, and once the decision was made that we needed something new, it took just 10 mins to come up with the name of Work Pirates. We were absolutely gobsmacked all the social media handles and domains were available. It was like Work Pirates was just waiting for us!
How did you achieve awareness?
We were already very well networked, and used that to our advantage – making friends is a key strength for both of us. We also have a brand that makes people stop and be intrigued to find out more. People either love us or hate us.
Partnerships are crucial too. We’ve engaged the services of a rather awesome marketing team that support us with getting the word out.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We’ve chosen not to go down the funding route. We’re bootstrapping this movement ourselves. We grow by growing our community.
What are the key successes?
- We’re working with some wonderful clients and have secured some sizable projects – for example, helping a firm of solicitors do the right thing for their employees
- Creating a support network has allowed us to progress faster than we would have done on our own.
- Growing a lovely community of work pirates who are collaborating to unf*ck work!
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
Working with your partner is always interesting…we’ve been very deliberate about assigning roles and responsibilities to ourselves, which are based around our strengths – rather fortunately James is a Gallup-certified strengths coach – so this was easy.
As a person with ADHD, I’ve had to learn to ask for help, so delegating, eliminating or automating the stuff I’m not good at has been critical.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Plans for now are to continue to grow the Work Pirates community and we’re soon to launch our podcast – Unf*cking Work.
I’m also currently writing my book – Good Girl Deprogramming – to help women stop behaving themselves!
Our future plans are to continue to collaborate with awesome people and finding new pirates to join our mission to unf*ck work and onward to world domination!
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Just start – it doesn’t have to be perfect; it’s ok to be messy and feel unsure; you don’t need any more qualifications!
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
- It might take a couple of iterations of starting a business to get it right – keep going.
- Focus on what you’re good at and do more of that stuff.
- Don’t take feedback (criticism) from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice.
Who are the five people who inspire you the most and why?
- Michelle Obama – despite so much hate directed at her, she refuses to stoop to their level – “They go low, you go high”
- Tara Mohr – her book ‘Playing Big’ has been life-changing for me, seeing how women play small and how we can play bigger in our lives. I’ve trained with her too!
- Meghan Markle – She does what she believes is good and right for her and her family – even though so many people don’t like it. At all.
- Sam Coniffe – author of ‘Be More Pirate’, who is also now a friend. The book and Sam have been inspirational in us starting Work Pirates.
- Jamie Klingler – from Reclaim our streets – she’s an accidental activist and is fighting for the eradication of violence against women and girls (at personal cost to her).
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
- Action breeds confidence
- Everything is figureoutable (Marie Forleo)
- Clear is kind, unclear is unkind (Brené Brown)
- You don’t need everyone to love you, just a few good people (Charity Barnum in the Greatest Showman)
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
- Website – https://www.workpirates.com/
- LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/mminnikin/ / https://www.linkedin.com/company/workpirates
- Twitter – @workpirates / @mminnikin
- Instagram – @workpirates / @michelleminnikin