I’ve known entrepreneur Jane Kenyon for several years, including a spell in a Mastermind group she ran, so I was delighted to learn that she has a new book out.

DIVA WISDOM - Find Your Voice, Rock Your World and Pass It On! contains a very personal account of her own entrepreneurial journey, which saw her raised by a millionaire, entrepreneur father, kicked out of the family home at 16, and go from homelessness to a degree, three postgraduate diplomas and an MBA by the age of 28 - all through a lot of hard work and a heavy night-school attendance. “I definitely did it the hard way,” she laughs.

Diva Wisdom by Jane Kenyon

Sticking to what you know

After working in marketing and brand development, Jane’s first business was, naturally, a marketing consultancy. “I took some clients and my team with me and worked with training companies, helping them develop a marketing strategy and troubleshooting” she says. She did this for three years before the boredom kicked in, at which point sold the business to the team.

Jane began networking and coaching and troubleshooting, and soon realised she wanted to work with smaller companies: “I wanted more influence,” she says, “and began working with SMEs, helping them define whether they were in the right market or not and what their key issues were.”

Sisters in arms

In 2007 Jane founded Well Heeled Divas, an organisation dedicated to empowering and inspiring women. Through this she’s worked with thousands of women via workshops, programmes and events.

It was while working with all these “awesome women” that she got the idea for Girls Out Loud. Founded as a social enterprise in 2009, Girls Out Loud works to raise the aspirations of teenage girls in the UK through role models and workshops. “I started to get a bit antsy about what was happening with teenage girls and I was being asked by lots of women whether I could coach their daughters. I wanted a way of connecting the two brands and taking amazing women into the classroom.”

Girls Out Loud launched in 2010 after a pilot programme in Blackpool: “It’s all about showing girls that if they want to be a barrister they can be a barrister, or an engineer, or a DJ! But if you’ve never met one, how do you know it’s possible?”

Girls Out Loud’s Big Sister (voluntary) mentoring programme focuses on those girls neither at the top nor falling off the edge: “They sit in the middle and are a bit invisible. They may be looking for validation in all the wrong places. They are the future entrepreneurs and we should be looking after them.” The Stardom scheme (run by trained coaches) works with girls on the edge or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend some of the Girls Out Loud events and have seen first-hand the incredible, and much needed, inspiration they provide. If you’re reading this and thinking you or your company may be able to help, I’d urge you to get in touch. The impact you can have is immediate and tangible, and the rewards for everyone involved are huge.

Fall and rise

Jane KenyonJane’s journey here has seen her make and lose a lot of money. She freely admits she’s made some bad decisions. “I overrode my intuition about going into partnership with people I shouldn’t have gone into partnership with,” she says, “But you have to learn that way sometimes.” She laughs, “And not satisfied with doing it once I had to do it twice. Sadly, the second time involved walking away from a multi-million pound investment deal.”

These experiences position Jane to offer the perfect advice on entering a partnership. “Don’t do it!” she jokes, “Seriously, don’t rush it. You don’t necessarily have to know the person well but I do think you have to share the same values and the same vision for the business. And you have to have that conversation up front.” She adds that in any partnership you have to know what the end-game is (and have it in writing): “Even if at the beginning you feel you shouldn’t. It gets so complicated otherwise. You have to have some difficult conversations.” She learned this from buying her Well Heeled Divas partner out. “I wanted it to be all about self-development. She wanted it to be about wealth.”

Why not a charity?

Girls Out Loud is a social enterprise rather than a charity, because, says Jane, “I am an entrepreneur and I want the freedom to develop products that meet a market need when the market needs it. If I was a charity I would be answering to a board of trustees and I don’t want that. It would stifle what I want to do and how I want to do it. A CIC [community interest company] gives me that freedom.” Still, it remains “an organisation where the need is screaming but the funding and support is diabolical.” Jane adds, “If I was not 100% on purpose in it I would have walked away but we are now in our fifth year. The only thing that keeps you on your feet is passion.”


Favourite business book

“One book that I go back to time and time again is Think And Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It’s probably the foundation of the personal development movement. It’s a tough book to read, which is why I run groups on understanding it but it’s the book in terms of understanding the basics of focus and self-belief and taking massive action. I read it at least once a year.

A more recent book that taught me so much is Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception. It taught me I was an artist and I shouldn’t worry about people lifting work from my website and copying what I do or talking in the same language that I do. Nobody will do it the way I do it and I am creating art. It made me think about what I am doing very differently. Allowed me to stand out. As an entrepreneur this book speaks to me.”

Favourite Quote

“Don’t die with your music still in you” Wayne Dyer

Productivity hack

“I am a phenomenal list writer. I never go anywhere without a pen and paper. I am very productive in my time. If I am waiting for someone in a coffee shop I am writing a blog, planning what I am going to be Tweeting about. I am always writing. I don’t rely on my memory. I write everything down and I start every day with a list. I do have some disciplines and I have set things I do. So I won’t finish on Friday until I have done certain things. I don’t work Saturdays but I do work on a Sunday. I have learned to be more ruthless with my time. People will always want to monopolise my time and I have learned to say NO.


Buy on amazon: DIVA WISDOM - Find Your Voice, Rock Your World and Pass It On! 

Contact Jane

on twitter @divadomrocks

I really hope enjoyed the interview with Jane, whether you just read it here or listened to the whole thing on the podcast. If you have any thoughts or comments about this episode, please do share them with us on Twitter or Facebook – we’d love to hear from you!

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Thanks again to Jane for sharing her story with us.