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Alicia Mellish

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It may be tough to build a business from scratch; it's even tougher to walk away from it once it's thriving.

Alicia founded a PR agency, which she ran for some seven years and succeeded in turning into one of PR Week's Top 150 agencies. However, recognising that she had lost her love for the industry, Alicia made the hard decision to pass over the reins to someone else so that both she and the business could reach their full potential.

She is now building a portfolio career that combines freelance consultancy work (focusing on brand strategy and business growth) with retraining as an interior designer and launching a small company of her own.

Why do you do what you do?

Work has always been a key pillar in my life and something I look to for personal fulfilment. I’m constantly seeking out the next opportunity, be it for me or someone else. It’s innate within me. When an opportunity presents itself and (better still) converts, I get a real buzz. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

But, if the balance between that tenacity and my personal wellbeing gets out of kilter, it can also make me ill and put me back in bed. So I know that I need the flexibility to choose my working hours, and the freedom to choose the projects I take on.

I’m working towards a wider more diverse career to gain greater fulfilment from work, but also to carve out greater personal flexibility.

What do you think helps make you good at what you do?

Reading people - I think this is key to my success in the past (and success still to come); being able to identify individuals who are up for collaborating and having an instinct for those who are only out for personal gain. If you can read people, then you can read situations clearly and you know whether an opportunity is worth pursuing or swerving. If you gut tells you to swerve, then swerve fast. There is no shame in walking away from something that doesn’t feel right.

What book or resource have you found inspiring recently?

I recently read "Be More Pirate" by Sam Conniff Allende. It draws comparison between the strategy and innovation of swashbuckling pirates such as Blackbeard and the forward thinking rebels of commerce today (think Elon Musk). Bear with me, turns out we could learn a considerable amount from them. (The nautical theming particularly captured my attention)!

The book also talks about being a force for change; about rewriting the rules for a broken system and the power of joining forces with like-minded individuals to do that. If you think you have an idea, sound it out with as many people as possible. You will soon find out if it has legs or not and in the process you might just come across that person who can help make it happen!

What are your plans or ambitions for the next 6 months?

The next six months are going to be a rollercoaster ride. I will have finished the initial stage of my interior design training (it’s not all curtains and colour charts - technical plans and soil pipes are the current syllabus topics), and it will be crunch time for the brand that I am hoping to launch.

My key focus will be to stay measured and not become overwhelmed. Breaking tasks down, overcoming challenges one at a time and maintaining faith in myself will be key to getting where I want to be.

What's your morning routine?

Well I get up and get out the house quick smart in the mornings. I have an irrational fear that if I get too comfortable having a leisurely breakfast with the radio on and the papers in front of me, I’ll never want to leave. I usually spend the first part of the day going through emails and getting quick tasks out the way, and then plan the day and what I want to achieve in it. I’ve listened a lot to people recently who wax lyrical about getting up at 4am as it allows you to fit so much more into your day. My tenacious, slightly obsessive, self likes the idea of this; but I am nowhere near important enough to warrant this, just yet!

Coffee plays a BIG role, and (if I am honest with myself) so too does a warm pain au raisin!

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