Episode 019 Yemi Penn - Overcoming Challenges and Finding Rewards - NOT The Rob Bell Podcast | Limeworks

Episode 019 - Yemi Penn

Overcoming Challenges and Finding Rewards

How Yemi tackles huge challenges and continues to push forward.

Yemi Penn has a truly amazing story to tell. 

She's overcome adversity to become a self-made millionaire. Yemi is a Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager working on some of the biggest infrastructure projects you've ever seen. 

Ever moving forward, she's founded Penny Consulting, W Squared Coaching, written a book "Did You Get The Memo", owns an F45 Gym in the UK, launched her own podcast, and so much more. 

Find more about Yemi Penn:

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Please note, while an effort is made to provide an accurate transcription, errors and omissions may be present. No part of this transcription can be referenced or reproduced without permission.

Rob: So, Yemi Penn. Thank you so much for coming to chat today.

Yemi: My pleasure. Thank you for having me. Seriously, I'm on honoured.

Rob: It's amazing to have you here and you have quite an interesting story, and I don't really want to cover it myself because I think I wouldn't do it justice. Can you give us, say, the pre Australian history or like pre moving to Australia? History of Yemi Penn.

Yemi: Okay, let's see, I usually think I'm the queen of Summary's, so let's see if I can do this. So noting that I relocated to Australia six years ago prior to that. You know, my history was being born in the UK, but living a big part of my life in Nigeria, which is West Africa. So I have six siblings and we spent a big chunk of our life there getting to know the culture, being around a much wider family until things started to get difficult. In Nigeria, you know, you've got parts of the media that show, you know, the kind of negative side but it has the much that a lot of wealth. But then there was a period where it got really bad, and that was in the 90s. So in the 90s, myself, my siblings relocated back to the UK. My mom was a very smart woman, and every time she was pregnant, she would go to the UK and give birth to us. So we had that red passport and I'm so grateful to her for that.

Rob: That's very smart.

Yemi: And then I just continued as a, you know, having to try to get used to being in one part of the world which was in Africa. To them, being in the UK was a bit of a shock because I was trying to figure out, well, who am I, where do I fit in? You know, myself and siblings, we all responded differently, but just continued as is, I think it was until probably my early teenage years, I started to think, oh, there's got to be a bit more. And I would read things like rich, that poor, that I don't know where it came from, but I had a thirst for just wanting to know more. And then I remember my my dad was a lawyer, and there was something in the African culture that says one of his kids have to carry on in his business.

Rob: Interesting.

Yemi: And it turns out that I was the kid that was chosen to carry that on. So I studied that my A levels, which I think is the equivalent of HSC here. And I enjoyed it. But I was I was bored. I was bored at the thought of arguing consistently, even though I enjoyed parts of it. And I think there was an incident where I think my mom had bought an IKEA table and no one had put it together in the house. And this is where my own unconscious bias was, because I was sitting nicely, waiting for my brothers to do it. And I put it together in my mind just went. What does the symbol? What career is that? And it was engineering. And so I went on to study engineering. There were challenges without a shadow of a doubt and just the idea of being in a field where typically there were less women and definitely women of colour, I. There was something in that I wanted to just prove. And so I studied engineering, worked in the automotive, chemical and then rail industries. And then another inch came. I thought there has to be more to life than this. And that was when I had my daughter. So that was 13 years ago. And life would do its obligatory thing of throwing some curveballs. And I was became a single mum, then got married and relocated to Japan. So I lived in Okinawa for a little while.

Rob: Interesting.

Yemi: And then it was at that point I probably had my version of a crisis because that would have me go back to the UK and then relocate to Australia. And that's where I guess it brings me here now because my story kind of changes dramatically over the past four years. But yeah, that's probably the the best summary I could give.

Rob: That's pretty, pretty concise and it does. So that gets us to Australia. But before we quite get there, how how do you think the cumulative experience of Nigeria, U.K. and Japanese culture has contributed to the way that you see the world now?

Yemi: But such a fascinating story, no one has ever asked me that it's milled around in my head, that I've moved around a fair bit. I think what it's given me is it's allowed me to get rid of what I call blindspots, meaning that my version of reality isn't the only one. So I'll be honest with you, I definitely have always carried more bias than I do today. And I think that's because of my personal development. So living in Nigeria, you know, when when I was younger, we didn't really want for anything. You know, my dad was doing quite well until things got really bad in the 90s. So for me. And also remember that I was a majority. You know, I don't like the fact that we still have to talk about separation of gender and, you know, race and religion. But I was and I didn't I didn't know anything else. And then I moved to the U.K. and I became a stark minority. And there's some slight differences in how I'm responding to people or vice versa. And then Japan was it was almost like I'm using the right word utopia. It just it felt it felt like a completely different world. You know, I was married to a military, a U.S. military veteran. And so it was a very different world.

Yemi: I was in. So that was actually open. And what other things happen in the world that were outside of what I thought? Life was you know, I've written my book. Did you get the memo, which is about how life is meant to be lived and going to Japan, really opened a whole different world to me. And so I guess my interest for living in a different part of the world grew. And then I moved to Australia and it was like going back to the UK, but even maybe a couple of decades later, because I was then another stark minority. On top of that, there was no family. I was on my own. So that required my biggest piece of growth. It was the fact that I needed to decide after a year of being in Australia. Okay, so what are you gonna do, Yemi? There's something that's not working in the UK, so it didn't work in, you know, Japan. And I don't want to go back to Nigeria or Africa just yet. What can you do to make it work? And I made a shift, I think, about 18 months in, honestly, the best thing I've ever done. Like, literally. I'd have to say Australia has given me new life. I call it being born again in the non biblical sense.

Rob: That's amazing. That's really amazing. And so we will talk about your book in a little bit as well. That's I understand that you've worked on some really amazing engineering projects and you touch that that you got your bachelor masters of engineering,

Yemi: Bachelor.

Rob: Bachelor's

Yemi: Yeah.

Rob: Of engineering. And so when you came to Australia, did you what did you have something lined up to fall straight into?

Yemi: Yes, I did. So I look. I've been really blessed and fortunate because I was in Japan, then I went back to the U.K. for a short stint. And I think the infrastructure industry started to boom again and it probably has been for the past couple of years. And so, thankfully, with my degree, I was able to be sponsored over through a consultancy and was going to do a lot of work in the transport infrastructure. So it was under the mechanical engineering. I guess, guys that I came through and then just started working on managing mainly rail projects because I'm I'm a bit of a rail nerd. I love the railway. And so, yeah, that that was that was my entry into into Australia.

Rob: And I mean, you were working, at least for part of that period that we're talking about, for transport for New South Wales on some of the biggest infrastructure projects that probably anyone in New South Wales. And no doubt most people in Australia have heard of. What was it like being involved in some of these projects which have such a lasting impact on our culture?

Yemi: I think this is where I completely geek out as a nerd. So for me, it's phenomenal. I mean, I can't figure out whether I just like the new shiny project because I worked on Crossrail in the U.K. and a little bit of high speed rail, which were really big projects in terms of changing how we we commute and then working on some of the projects that I still currently am in New South Wales. I think sometimes I need to pinch myself because to be part of something that people will talk about in a century similar to the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House, you know, it's huge. And most of the time, we're building railway in an already existing community. And to how we do it is where I get really interested. How can we how can we build something that will change people's lives and let communities be part of it? I think that's what completely geeks me out. And then the technology I mean, we've got some of the most brilliant minds from all over the world who have come together to say, okay, how can we use technology to get us to places potentially faster and safer and having significantly less damage on our ecosystem. So it's it's it's probably without realising there probably something I may have put on a bucket list at some point, but.

Rob: That's

Yemi: Yeah.

Rob: That's cool.

Yemi: Yeah.

Rob: And you're right, we we talk about it for so long and even some of my family have stories around building the Harbour Bridge. And that's something. And you don't forget now that real people put their real hands on the formwork to make that happen.

Yemi: Exactly. I mean, look, sometimes I was I was in Italy or was and or Egypt, and I remember thinking there was no way humans did this. They must have had aliens or little, you know, I don't know magpie's or something. But you're right. We forget people were here before us doing the work. And, you know, it's it's a process. You know, you've got, you know, the engineers, designers, planners, architects, and then you've also got the workforce who are building the design, just the whole supply chain. It just it boggles my mind. And I'm not sure whether we as humans actually stop and celebrate how well they're actually how amazing we all are in actually making things happen.

Rob: Probably not regularly enough.

Yemi: We should, because we probably do a lot more than we already are.

Rob: Absolutely. And so some of these really gargantuan projects with billions, Hundreds of billions of dollars in spend take quite an extraordinary amount of project management and you have a master's in project management. How does the interplay between the engineering side and the project management give you a leg up in this kind of world?

Yemi: I love your questions. Oh, my God. I love it. Like, seriously. So I studied mechanical engineering and I did a Masters in Project and Enterprise, which is around the construction. And I always say theory is very different to reality. And even though my degrees prepared me for this. But when you're in the real world and you add elements of human intelligence, emotional intelligence is a completely different ballgame. So I, I read the book by Yuval Harari who wrote Homosapiens, and he had this statement that has stuck with me forever, which is we do not want to be in a situation where we have. Downgraded humans control in upgraded technology. And so for me, the difference between engineering and project management is that engineering is the individual who gets into the detail of how to design build something. This is in the space of infrastructure. And then for me, the project manager is the person who is working with that, you know, intelligence, that IQ. But they are bringing EQ emotion, intelligence to say we see you. We love this wonderful thing. How can we build this so that it is actually serves the purpose for humanity? And I'm not suggesting engineers don't have that, but it's a different part of the brain you use.

Yemi: You know, the work I've done over the past four, six years has been how can I use the other part, my dormant brain that wasn't engineering to actually make things happen? Because, you know, sure you know, New South Wales isn't sure of that. We've got projects that were planned to be built, but, you know, decades ago and it just got stopped. How can we how can we get smarter about choosing what we want to build and find and really efficient ways to build it? And that's what for me, project management does. So being being able to cross both boundaries has fulfilled me because a lot of people are in careers sometimes that it's not fulfilling. But I had to drive that. You know, you go and you have your development plan conversation with a manager and most at a time as your manager driving it. I really wanted to change that because I knew they'd get the best out of me if I could fuse both project management and my engineer together.

Rob: Sure. And so you sort of fast forward it a little bit there in terms of the work you're doing more recently.

Yemi: Yeah.

Rob: So that last four to six years. And I know you do some coaching and consulting around emotional intelligence and self-awareness that sort of thing. Is that sort of a third dimension to those two degrees that you've got?

Yemi: I think it is you know, my mum used to say, Yemi, you can't be a master. Was it master of all trades? Did the basic thing we become at,

Rob: Jack of all trades, master of none

Yemi: There you go. There you go. I managed to delete it from my brain. I don't even know what it means anymore.

Rob: Something more important in

Yemi: But I guess what she was saying is you have to focus on one thing. And these are kind of the myths that I'm trying to debunk because, you know, the world suggested there's a spectrum and they've decided that normal is within some of the boundaries. And if that's the case, I'm definitely sitting outside of the boundaries because I need lots of things to stimulate my mind. And sometimes I work better. So I start to think, well, Yemi, of these two different things, you've got the engineering like where's this coaching come in from? I'm what I found is that when I was managing projects, I tended to get really good feedback because I was very clear and I couldn't pick it up. Was it my technical ability or was it actually my ability to form relationships? Was it my ability to communicate clearly? Was it my ability to notes when I had messed up and apologize? So it was the human elements coupled with my engineering that got me to have successful outcomes. And I found myself getting really frustrated when I'll be working projects. And someone was trying to say something in a room with a senior executive, but they were too scared to say it. So for me, I started to focus. Well, if we could work on the human element, we might actually get superior outcomes with engineering and infrastructure. So for me, I see it used in really well. I mean, I've recently worked on kind of rebrand in my message because some people get confused as to why do they work and, you know, come up with this philosophy of engineering powerful people. And so I think it works really well on one's the in every industry, unless we are all gonna put our hands up and say artificial intelligence is going to drive humanity from here on in. We need to up level ourselves. And I think that's all about EQ.

Rob: And and I mean, we talk about how artificial intelligence and at the moment, yes, it's taking off, but it's still humans driving at first. And so it really going to go where we desire it goes.

Yemi: Absolutely.

Rob: And so we fast forward a little bit. Obviously, you started off Penny Consulting. And what was the pinnacle moment in that journey? No doubt you thought about it for a period of time. What was that? That's right. I'm going to do this now.

Yemi: It's probably three fold, but I might only share two of them. The first one was I was working in a consultancy that somebody else ran and I was happy. You know, I think I'd done a bit development at managed to get my salary up about 40 per cent. So I was like, yeah, you're doing good. Until I found that I was working on a project that was no longer, like, exciting me, I wasn't. You know, I spent seven years, more than 70 percent of my waking hours. I like what I'm working on to fulfill me. And I had asked to be put on a specific projects, a project that I knew I could add value and I just wanted to be part of. And I'd heard through the grapevine that they had that that the directors had decided not to put me on that project, even though there was every possibility because they needed me to be in another part of the business to make sure that their consultancy group and I have no qualms about that. The only issue I had is that they didn't consult me in that conversation. And freedom is one of my biggest values for very many obvious reasons. I like to have the choice. And I found that I couldn't in that. And so I started to have this crazy idea of, well, what if I could choose my own projects? And I started to speak to people.

Yemi: And in order to really have that, like, you know, really 90 percent freedom, I would need to go out on my own. And that was nuts because here I was, single parent in tens of thousands of debt. You know, that it on paper, it made no sense. And I look back at my history. A lot of things don't make sense on paper, but I was more focused on what the outcome was. And then I found out, how do I sell a company? Do I even have the right visa requirements? Does the client even know me or is it the company they know? And I went through all of that, but it was purely because I wanted the freedom to choose. I mean, if you are not enjoying what you're doing, you know, it is a shame. And I know sometimes we need to make it work because we've got responsibilities, then it is really difficult to understand why you'd wake up in the morning and go. And so for me, that was my push to like, okay, take the risk jump start up your own consultancy. And look, there were a number of steps in that. But fundamentally, I did that because I want to choice.

Rob: And you just mentioned something very interesting around the balance of responsibilities. And obviously you are a single mum at the time. How do you analyse that balance without striking too much of your own bias into what's required and what's desired?

Yemi: Another great question. I mean, this is where I then go into more of my transformation space and I wouldn't have noticed that at the time. But for me, it's about I had to relax my rules. I had to relax the rules I placed around myself because the rules suggest you need to be in a two parent home to be able to have access to give the responsibility. I mean, back in the day, I think it was you know, it was the man that was the main breadwinner and the woman would stay at home. I'd already kind of change that, not necessarily by choice, my circumstances. So that rule had already been broken just by circumstance. And so for me, I had to rebalance it and say, well, what do I want? Do I want to be able to afford to take my kids on holiday or to pay for this school trip? And I started to do the math and I'd even need to keep asking for more and more salary and just move in jobs even if it doesn't fulfill me. So for me, I had to go through. It was like it was almost like an internal audit of what it was I wanted. And so that was the balance. But I'll be honest with you there was risk. And, you know, I talk about it, I think, in a different name in my book of what does risk mean for me. I had to go to the extreme risk means I can't pay the rent. We can't live in this house. Have to go back to the UK. And it was worth the risk because what I was going to get was going to be so much more if I did get it. So I had to have that internal conversation, but that was the whole balancing act. And look, I relied on a few coaches here and there and people who I guess had done it. I think that's the other thing. People forget that people have been here before us and done the very things we want to do. And the ME, I have no problem asking.

Rob: And I think that's a really valuable asset as well. When you can recognise what you don't know, that an obviously going from working in a consultancy to having your own consultancy. There's a lot of unexpected aspects that come along that you hadn't even thought of. Is there some of those that stand out for you?

Yemi: Yeah. Oh, accounting. I mean, I'm an engineer. But for some reason, me and numbers just don't get on. And I think.

Rob: Numbers and accounting are different sort.

Yemi: They are different

Rob: Yeah.

Yemi: And they don't teach you this in school, and I wish somebody would say I'm here. Like even today thinking me, I mean, why don't you get there? So accounting was one. You know, I think when when you work for someone else or as an employee, there's very little you get to see as to what happens with all the numbers. That was the big thing for me. I mean, even today, I need I've just swapped and changed accountants because I actually now need to learn, you know, I'm wanting to build other business ventures. And at some point, if I haven't couple of companies and I don't know how the numbers are being worked, then I think more for me. So I need to get comfortable with it. So accounting was definitely one. I'll be honest. There's one which is actually a good thing is I didn't realize how much being your own champion and being comfortable with the service you offer is is actually a really good thing that that is the reason why you could partner up with people or start your own thing. So for me, the biggest opening was what I don't think they teach in this school. I don't think they're teaching the idea of either working for yourself or partner in or having a side hustle or side projects, because it actually appeared to be easier than I thought. Mentally, emotionally, I've had to do the work to just change the rules and the story I tell myself. But in reality, it's not as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Rob: Interesting.

Yemi: All right. Big words I've never said out loud. Might need to cut that out. But yeah, but I do. I do. I do believe it's not as hard as I thought it was going to be.

Rob: And when we think about learning new skills such as accounting coming as a bit of a shock. How do you sort of navigate learning enough around those types of things and not becoming your own bookkeeper when you shouldn't?

Yemi: Are they? I am not interested in becoming my own bookkeeper. I think it's finding the balance. You know, I do a lot of personal development work with Tony Robbins in particular, a number of other personal development people. And I did a program, I think it was a business mastery course last year in Vegas. And there was this really great guy. He was he had a chance. I love numbers and numbers, loved me. And he gave the explanation of, say, someone who's doing the scoring of cricket. And he has all these numbers that he has to understand the game. He doesn't need to be the player, but he needs to understand it to a level that he knows the numbers he needs to put on the board for the rest of people. And that's stuck with me is that I don't need to be an expert. I'd like to trust the person I bring on board and for them to hear what my dreams are, to grow my business and for them to explain the numbers. So I think for me the balance is what am I trying to do here? Where can I reserve that energy? I don't have a love for accounting. I have a love for creating platforms and guiding people to figure out their potential and solving problems. So that's where I need my energy to go. So I balance it by figuring out what am I trying to achieve. And at the moment, it's not to do accounting, but just the basics.

Rob: And I do know that you did a business mastery with Tony Robbins

Yemi: Oh,

Rob: Because you mentioned it in a podcast episode, which I've stalked, no doubt. And we will briefly mention your podcast.

Yemi: Well,

Rob: Did you get the memo?

Yemi: Yes.

Rob: Because I didn't

Yemi: He said it!

Rob: Love it. We' re allowed to say it. We might beep it. We'll see how we go.

Yemi: We'll see.

Rob: That's the the reason this stood out for me is someone from the outside looking in would see you as exceptionally successful, very, you know, very focused on your goals. How important does that professional development role play in the continued evolution of Yemi Penn?

Yemi: I think it's pivotal. You know, every now and again people look at me because there's usually another course or I've seen something. I'm currently considering doing a PHD, which is a whole different conversation.

Rob: Absolutely.

Yemi: And people just, you know, they're they're wondering why. But I think because I'm trying to validate my purpose on this earth in in the non in the most in the least pressure in way is I want to feel excited every morning. I mean, just drive in here. You should see me sing in my head off in the car. Like, I'm excited. This is the kind of stuff I want to do, which is to talk about the things that I guess not everyone gets to talk about or other people get to listen to. So for me, personal development is about growth, because if we're not growing, we're dying. And it gives a different dimension. I'm I'm not comfortable with this memo that we've been kind of told is the only way to live. I think for some people it would work. For me it didn't. And so for me, doing personal development is is key. Just because reality is not known by anybody. And so I want to make sure that I can find out as many different realities. And that involves speaking to different people, traveling to different parts of the world, learn in a different theory from different thought leaders. It's yeah, it's something I'll be doing, I think, until my last breath.

Rob: That's very cool. And I know you you talk a lot in what I understand around what you try and and how you educate other people is arounds, removing the blind spots. And you mentioned this before. Is is that part of that process with engaging people like Tony Robbins in order to sort of find those? Because we can't see them.

Yemi: Yeah, I mean, look at the blindspot thing has actually been my own thing, it means, for instance, that if there is someone who's different to me, I lean into their story, I lean into the way they do things. I don't need to agree. So this came about I think I did some work with UTS and us put it together. It was a goal, the goal, setting webinars, put it together. I did some research on liminal thinking and liminal means at the boundaries of threshold is literally the point between what you're comfortable with and what's different. And what people don't realize is that that different is usually something that can make you successful either materialistically or just personally. And for me, it was I've just gone blank on what your question was.

Rob: Blindspots and Tony Robbins.

Yemi: Yes. Okay. So the ME read in there on liminal thinking. Was it showed was it gave the story of the elephant and six blind men. Have you heard that story? Okay, that would be two to two minutes to go through. Apparently, there's this king and he's got an elephant and he calls for six blind men to go in, you know, figure out what this is. Can they figure out it's an elephant? One of the blind man's touch and the, you know, the foot of the elephant. He says this is a tree trunk. The other touch touching the tail. He says this is a rope. Someone such in the tusk is saying this is like a knife, really long knife, someone the ear and says, oh, this is a really big fan. And they all swear blind. Excuse the pun, but do this every time. They all literally swear blind that what they are touching is what this is. To the point that they would start hurting each other. And that story for me was so powerful because in their in their mind, that is it. But there's only really one person that had the whole view, or unless they moved further along the elephant, they'd find out those a little bit more. And so it was from Liminal thinking that I started to think, wow, just that simple story. There could be other things. And if I can get off my belief system, I might find something else out. And so that's that's probably been the biggest shift for me.

Rob: I don't want to derail where that story goes, but I just I have an interesting comparison. I'm really personally interested in machine learning and artificial intelligence and developing systems for those. And one of the interesting challenges that we have when we develop machine learning algorithms is that if you train a computer to look between or to classify an apple versus an orange, if you then show it a banana, it has no idea what that is. And that's the gap between machine learning and artificial intelligence is trained learning versus an unsupervised learning. And that's one of those big chasms of engineering challenges when it comes to artificial intelligence.

Yemi: I'm intrigued. I didn't even know you were going to be all over artificial intelligence.

Rob: I know and I do want to stay there either. That's not the point. It's not the Rob Bell podcast after all. So.

Yemi: Oh,

Rob: So. So let's get back on track. So you started Penny consulting in 2016, and then in 2017, you started W squared coaching. Can you give us a bit of a rundown of the differences and how that all came about?

Yemi: Now, this Tony is getting a lot of airplay here. So I was at a Tony Robbins event. And look, I'm part of his platinum group and so I've I've that they usually say surround yourself by the tribe in which you want to

Rob: Absolutely.

Yemi: Grow into. So it was my first ever event cause I've been very resistant to this guy, was too tall too American. And I went in there reluctantly and there was something that happened. I got asked a question and I got really emotional. The question was, what do I stand to lose if I do not go into my full potential? So I was enjoying everything. Penny consult and it was giving me more money than I ever thought I could ever bring in. And not that I wasn't satisfied, but I was still searching for more. And that's what personal development is, is how can I grow? But something still didn't feel right, and I think it was around relationships at the time. And so I went to this and when I got asked that question, I got really emotional because there's been a part of me that's wanted to talk about my personal life experiences. But for one reason or another, I didn't feel it was safe to do that. And so there was something about using my voice, but something kept on saying, well, who are you? Who am I to be there dreaming like literally, you know, my my ego. And this other voice was telling me, I don't even qualify for that.

Yemi: But when I got asked that question at the Tony Robbins event, I got really emotional because the images of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks came into my mind. And I know that people, you know, we talk about this, but this was really real for me. If they didn't do the work they did, I couldn't have even dared try to do a mechanical engineering degree. And so my thought was, well, why do I get to sit on the sidelines and wait for somebody else to solve things? And that was when I decided, okay. And, you know, W squared, there was an undertone of wanting to work with women. But being in engineering, I have the masculine and feminine energy in abundance. And so I decided, okay, I'm going to set it up and then I procrastinate for a year. But that was the intent. It was to at least to start using my voice, because I guess I just had this weird feeling that if I did, it might give other people permission to do the same in in a constructive way, because I think there's a way in how you do it.

Rob: Of course, and so is is W squared almost like the personal prequel version of, you know, these really huge projects that you're working on through the consulting business?

Yemi: No, I think it's it's the fusion of them together, and it's only recently I've because there was still some limiting beliefs I had. I still was. Haven't been. What's the imposter syndrome? Because in reality, W squared really could have just been Yemi Penn, which is who I am. But it's effectively, you know, fusing the emotion intelligence to the penny consulting. So I actually still do work with the same transport organization when it comes to, say, organizational change, cultural unconscious bias. So that's what W squared coaching does. But I, I guess I manage to tell myself the story that it needed to be separate from, say, Penny Consultant, because we go in there and we manage projects, but we manage it in a way that has all the values of W squared coaching underpinned.

Rob: Cause that's very interesting. And so obviously in twenty eighteen, you also started an F forty five in Brixton, U.K..

Yemi: Yes.

Rob: Can you tell us a bit about that? That must have come about from somewhere.

Yemi: It did, when it come back. I was at university in the UK and I used to carry a lot more weight. I usually tell people, you know, we're big boned family. Nothing wrong with that. By carried more weight than I needed to. And then I remember going to an aerobics class. And it was this guy from Jamaica. He'd have people with horns. It was like a carnival. But you are working out. And I'm like, what? You can have that much fun and work out. And I decided I wanted to become an aerobics instructor because I wanted to be the big boned woman girl who would stand in front and teach. And so I started teaching aerobics in university. I started doing it her Afro bass, which is Afro beats. And I remember them making the dream. I want to open a gym. And then I had my daughter and struggle to find a gym with a creche. And then my dream got bigger. But I wasn't. I was serious, but I couldn't see how that would happen. Then six years ago, I relocate to Australia and I just see this building at F45 and I don't know whether it's the colors. Maybe some psychologists got involved and I

Rob: Probably.

Yemi: Just. They did, right. I went in and it didn't have any mirrors. It didn't have much equipment. And then the music, because I'm governed by music. If you stop playing music, hear my right shoulder starts twitching is just in me. And I just loved everything. I loved it. For me, it was technology meets community. It was the TV screens and it was the community. They did this American thing of just high five. And at the end, which really you're thinking is a bit lame, but you're secretly thinking. Yes, please. High five me because I want you to see me. And I loved it. And I, I wanted to open when I found that was a franchise I wanted to open in in Australia. But the territories that were left. I had no idea where they were. And so I think it. Why don't I take one back to my hometown and a different continent. And by then I'd started my personal development because on paper, it's nuts. You live in Sydney, Yemi. Why? Trying to open one in London. But that was where I said. Okay. Well, why don't you use yourself as the guinea pig and see if you really can bend reality in your mind to open one remotely. And if you do, then you can go talk to other people. That's what I told myself. And it took it took it took two years, one year of self-doubt, imposter syndrome and another year of just sheer grit of like, I want to do this.

Rob: And no doubt there were some real challenges in starting up a new company in a continent that you weren't living in. What was some of those expect those expected and unexpected challenges?

Yemi: I guess the unexpected was how much money it was going to cost to actually build, like to do that and the build of the shell of where the studio was compared to Australia. You know, you never know how painful it is when, you know, the Australian dollar and pound don't match each other. I just wish the world would just have everybody at the same kind of rate. So that was unexpected because it was almost three times more. And I think that was. It was a different kind of business. The penny consulting, Penny Consulting didn't have the original overhead. But here I am. And minus hundreds of thousands and hoping that it can make money because that that really is is for me, what part of entrepreneurship is is hoping that what you want to get out will happen. And I guess once again, the unexpected was that people were cravenness. People were craving an environment where they had a community, you know. Was it someone said to me, F forty five, in my opinion, is not actually in the business fitness. It's in the business of relationships.

Rob: Absolutely.

Yemi: It's in the business of seeing people. And yes, along the way, there's physical progress. But more than anything. You know, I think I received an email three months in. Of someone thanking me for opening it because she's no longer on her anti-depressants and is just get in that, you know, that zest for life in these work. So I think I didn't realise that. And that's why I truly believe that most of our dreams, when we have a dream about doing something, it actually chooses us. We think we go out there and it's now left to us to figure out if we're going to make it happen. I mean, look, that was the big thing, but I was also surprised that I did it. I'm gonna be real. I remember thinking there's no way I'm gonna open these doors and self sabotage tried to get in the way, but it open. And I think it's just that we can literally do anything we put our mind to. And so to build a lot of good things, but also lot of challenges.

Rob: Then with that procrastinations side of of any big task like that, was there anything that you thought in your mind was a really huge hurdle? What actually turned out to be much simpler when you actually executed?

Yemi: Yeah, I feel like you're reading my mind that I put this out on the worldwide web somewhere. The biggest one for me and I think it's the first time I'm going to share because I want to do with as much respect as possible that the budget was almost three times more than what we had anticipated it would be. And I was contemplating having an investor, but it was getting too difficult. It was distracting me. So I had this gap of about the equivalent of one hundred and fifty thousand. And here I was thinking I spent so many hundreds of thousands. And you're telling me I'm not going to be able to open because of that. So it meant I had to continue progressing with the job, knowing that I was in minus one hundred and fifty K. And I remember working with a coach and we did some emotional freedom like technique, which is about tapping away some of the nervousness and anxiety. And literally, I was riddled with with anxiety, fear. I think I started to get stomach ulcers because I just assumed the worst that I wouldn't be able to open up and it'd be a loss.

Yemi: And everyone would think I was foolish and out of nowhere, whether it was meditation or the conversation. I actually thought, well, hold up Yemi. You can actually get the money to pay. It's just it's going to take longer. And all I needed to do was have a conversation with the builder and say, can I do this on a payment plan? And I'm sure not everybody wants to run a business like that. But the truth of the matter is, I just needed to have a conversation and be really honest with him. But when I compare the fear that was literally crippling me compared to the actual reality and the fact that there's actually kindness in humans, it just it it honestly blew my mind that I literally was about to fold up the whole business without even having a conversation. And that, for me still lingers in my mind. I always have respect for that man because he was he was so kind. But it also just makes me think all I needed to do was ask and be honest.

Rob: And I think there's a really interesting observation there in how transparency and accountability can really enable just about anything if we sort of take that leap. Is there any other moments like that that help back up that that thought pattern over your career?

Yemi: Well, look, I think I think there is sometimes to a fault, and I think this is where I start to talk about masculine and feminine energy, because if the world really has been built predominately to begin with, with the male energy and the input which I will forever be grateful for, you know, I will always represent men and women. I think there's more of a dominant energy that's used than I found that. When I when I don't go in bullish to either meetings or to request something from a client, I find that the output is a lot better for me. So I think my masculine energy allowed me to set up businesses because I was almost the fearless kinds of there's benefit in all of it. I was a bit fearless and so I would did it. There was still fear, but more fearless than I'd ever been. And then where I've had to use a lot of feminine energies around the emotion and actually saying, well, how can we both win? And for us to both win, it means I have to be open and vulnerable about my challenges and my fears, but also actually do it with confidence. And that has worked really well for, say, winning new contracts with either private or government clients is explaining to them, you don't need me on this job five days a week. Part of the benefit is that I get to do wonderful things like this and say, how about we focus on the output? So, you know, there are some businesses that wants to work on the model of, no, let's go in there and let's build for the five days. And I'm saying I can get you the output because for me, freedom's freedom's more important. And I actually tell them that when I bring them on the journey, I think they lean in a lot more. And as a result, there's trust and repeat business. So definitely it's worth me being transparent.

Rob: And so we sort of we've touched on a few things a few times today with masculine and feminine energy. And I know that's a very strong Tony Robbins concept, which

Yemi: You've been following it.

Rob: A little bit, I must have been. And I have done a U.P.W. experience as well.

Yemi: That's wonderful.

Rob: Probably a conversation for another time.

Yemi: Yeah.

Rob: But when it comes to engineering and and getting women and girls into engineering and those very traditionally male dominated fields, we've obviously seen some inroads over the last few years, certainly. But can we be doing more to encourage women to take up these aspects of work?

Yemi: I think first we have to acknowledge the great work we're doing. I mean, just you saying that and I know you have done work in the STEM space. Where do we need to keep doing what we're doing? But it's funny because as you were talking, I've done quite a bit of work with universities, but for girls and say year nine, 10 and 11. And what I found is that the feedback I got is that they connected with me because of the real story behind it. I think sometimes we're trying to sell it like we're just trying to sell a product as opposed to attach a bit of emotion to it. So I think how we try to engage them becomes important. You know, my daughter uses language like she's 13 and says I'm not good at math. And I remember was a gentleman. He worked in ANSTO Dornum. I remember his last name. And he he said what we need to work with is trying to guide them and change in the language. It's not that you don't like math. It might just be you need a bit more guidance. So and this is where, you know, the whole W squared coaching comes in is how we talk. The language we use could actually be the big change. And so the story I use a lot is if we don't have a diverse field and diverse culture, gender, you know, orientation, then it just means whatever is being built, artificial intelligence, for instance, I want all of that has been developed to be by a diverse group so that it serves the diverse world in which we live in.

Yemi: I think another thing that should be done is we need to start earlier. You know, I look at my son who's six years old, and I can already see bias in his language. Now, I know for a fact that's not coming from me. I think it's coming from what he watches on television. And I know television is changing a lot of what it is, but. Maybe if we had more input in to what's being shown in the programs that are coming on to really show this. I think we'd start to see a shift in their mind from the beginning that you can be anything, regardless of your gender, your race, your culture, and how we, the public, the people influence what's on TV is a different question. But I think that goes into their mind. And even though the schools are doing a lot of things. There's still work to be done. But from a young age, because what did they say up until the age of seven? That's when you can really start to mold how someone thinks anything past seven. You're almost trying to rebirth someone's mind.

Rob: Yeah, of course. And although we do still have this opportunity through to, say, Mid 20s when that maturity really sets in. And so it's never too late.

Yemi: True. I like that positivity.

Yemi: Yes.

Rob: It's good. It's good. So we're coming up on time, actually. But I would love to have a quick chat about your book that you've put out. Did you get the memo? Because I didn't. How did that come about on on the journey?

Yemi: I remember because I went to boarding school in Nigeria, and when I tell people that I have to make it very clear that it's not like this is Prince Charles or Prince William who've gone to boarding school, cause people usually associate boarding school with nice and fancy. This is the equivalent of being on a season of Survivor. But there's no camera crew to save your life.

Rob: No prize money

Yemi: For real no prize money. Prize money is survival. And I would come having relocated to the U.K. I'd come and I've had really good friend Alex and I would share stories with her and she'd be laughing my head off and say, Yem, you've got to write a book. I'd brush it off. But that's the power in words. She said that and that stayed with me until I moved here to Australia. I realised I want to write something that my kids can look back on in case for some reason I never get to the point of explaining all the things, because I think the more we share, the more people are armed with making their own decisions. So that was the real catalyst for wanting to write, cause I wanted them to hear the story. And then the next is when I had a coaching session and I was asking her because I what I was trying to convince myself that I had truly screwed up in life. You know, here I was, two kids, two different dads. It was never the were like literally it was not the way my life was meant to be. And so I was checking in with her saying, did you did you get the memo? Because I didn't. I didn't get the memo to those group, and that was it. And then the rest of the journey was write the book. And look, I want to mimic almost what Jack Canfield did with his books of Chicken Soup for the Soul, which is short stories. And so the dream is to create a platform that other people can tell their stories because then other generations can maybe read in its short point. And then but we leave, I guess, juicy guidelines for people to create their own memory, because that ultimately is where to get to. How can we create our own memory? Yes, within the confines of society. But I believe we can create our own.

Rob: And it's interesting. I know a little bit about Chicken Soup for the Soul as a as a book as well. And and more about their journey in trying to it's more of a journey of persistence. And I think most people don't realize it, whether they've read it or not, that they were turned away. And I'm gonna mess this up. But it was either hundreds or thousands of publishers and then it turned in. It's been it's been printed and released. Over a billion copies have sold. And like, this is just insane.

Yemi: It is. It is funny because I'm actually going to be interviewed by Jack Canfield later on this year, hopefully when everything is taken off.

Rob: Amazing.

Yemi: And I, I want to I mean, he shares that story, but that's the story he's been telling for decades now, because I think it still surprises him of the tenacity him and his team had and the amazing success, but also the hunger that the world needed. So, yeah, I'm yeah, I'm very, very impressed, you know, about that. Good work.

Rob: Obviously, you have that that persistence in that drive as well. How do you sort of keep that keep that energy going?

Yemi: I think it's the personal development I change. Not change by change the tribe in which I surround myself with, you know, sometimes I'm being really stretched and I figure out if it's in my comfort zone. So that's it. But then I'm also listening to, I guess, the voice. So I think if an idea comes up in your mind, even if it's I can't do that, let's say investigate. That's what is to me. You know, my mom said life was about, you know, struggling and persevere. And and I don't necessarily agree with that. I think that that is part of journey. It's actually been uncomfortable the minute you find yourself uncomfortable. No question. Is it a bit stagnant? Is there something else? Can I do a course? Can I read a different book? So for me, I listen to the natural signs that are being sent to me, and most of it is restlessness. But I have to be careful because sometimes I can do too many things. It's burning. So it's finding the balance. But I listen to every itch that I have. And I just make sure I ask myself, is it going towards that goal, that purpose? And if it's not, I let it go. And if it is like the Tasmanian devil moth.

Rob: And do you think everyone has their own balance of of where that does land obviously you're running, the three companies putting out a book, running a podcast, doing keynotes, all that sort of thing at once? Does everyone have to find their own comfort level?

Yemi: Oh, they do. It is. I mean, what do I say if I'm going to up in life? It has to be on my own terms. There's nothing more criminal when I know, you know, badly. Our kids have to listen to parents because we're trying to save them. But we also need to give them the bandwidth to figure out what their own lane is. People need to create their own. And that's why I'm so dedicated to people creating their own memo. Because we're all here for a different mission. And this is where I get into, you know, why all the way space or spiritual, we are all here for our own mission. And that's why we have. Yes. Go and get guidance. But eventually you will know what sits well with you. I think sometimes you just know you can get rid of that negative voice. You just know. But ultimately, everybody's here for there. I mean, if you weren't doing the work you're doing, I don't get the opportunity to have this amazing conversation. So I then champion you to do your dreams because selfishly also serves me so everyone needs to follow their own line.

Rob: And likewise, if people like you aren't doing what you do, then I've got nobody to talk to.

Yemi: Oh we all win.

Rob: So we are running out of time, but I've got a few quick questions that I'd love to ask, if you had to surmise all of your experience and impart one piece of wisdom on our listeners. What would that be?

Yemi: Be fearlessly authentic.

Rob: Fearlessly authentic love it

Yemi: Meaning be yourself. But, you know, do it anyway.

Rob: Amazing. And if you had to think retrospectively about maybe a misstep that you made and something that you learned that was exceptionally valuable, what would that be?

Yemi: Probably be the tens of thousands I lost trying to buy an investment property. And the lesson I learnt there is just because my personal financial circumstances changed, I still needed to change my money story. So remember, we stayed the people we ask. If you're a nice person before you had money, is there going to be nice? Your horrible person is still going to be horrible. My money story was still one of lack, one of not having. And as a result I made mistakes and sometimes still do so. I now work on the mindset I have around money.

Rob: Interesting. And if there was one person in the world that you haven't had a chance to sit down and have lunch with. What? Who would they be and what would you ask them?

Yemi: So cliche when I say. But honestly, that it would be Beyonce Knowles watching her story from the age of 15 to where she is her dad was a manager. We hear she fired her dad, did her own thing, didn't tell the media she was going to release an album and then did that chick. What what did you do? Can I have some of that? So it's not just about her music is actually her as a businesswoman.

Rob: And I think it's an unappreciated, underappreciated aspect of that industry

Yemi: Absolutely,

Rob: Is is the business on?

Yemi: Yes.

Rob: Certainly a lot of things we can learn. So Yemi Penn. Thank you so much for your time. Where can people find out more about you and maybe grab a copy of your book as well?

Yemi: Absolutely, so thank you very much for having me on. Honestly, I've loved every part of this. My Web site is easy. It's Yemipenn.com. So that's Y E M I P E N N dot com and my book is on Amazon. I think most of the Booktopia, it will be in bookstores soon. But currently everything is online, can get it on Kindle. That I'd love to connect and see if this actually resonated with anyone.

Rob: Absolutely. And the title again. Did you get the memo? Because I didn't.

Yemi: He said that 70 times, I love it

Rob: Amazing. Yemi Pen. Thank you so much for your

Yemi: Oh,

Rob: Time. It's been amazing.

Yemi: Thank you.

Rob: There you have it. I hope you really enjoyed this episode. And if you did, please like it, share it or leave us a review on your favorite platform. It helps us show more of this content to people just like you.

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