Interview with high performance coach Abigail Ireland

Read how Abigail Ireland evolved her career from a background in banking through to entrepreneurship and finally high performance coaching.

What’s your career background?

I spent most of my career in banking – starting out in private equity and acquisition finance, then branching out into strategy and business management across corporate banking and wealth.

I’ve worked in the London and Sydney markets so it’s been an amazing experience full of opportunity and variety – not to mention the fact that I’ve met many brilliant, smart and inspiring people along the way.

Since leaving the corporate world, I’ve established businesses in the health and education fields on and offline. I run my core business as a high performance consultant – I work with executives and teams to enable them to optimise personal effectiveness and productivity in the workplace.

I offer workshops, coaching and in-house programme development to support organisations in achieving results with more focus, more energy and less stress. Taking into account business, mindset and wellbeing factors, I provide a holistic approach to the creation of high performing teams – covering all angles.

When did you get the idea for your business?

I am extremely passionate about business, entrepreneurship and bringing innovative ideas to life. From an early age, I always knew I wanted to run my own businesses.

My roles in the corporate world were very focused on how to operate a business effectively, optimise productivity, manage projects, develop strategies and set tangible goals / objectives.

Outside of that, I take my physical and mental wellbeing seriously – so much so that I qualified as a Master Personal Trainer with the Australian Institute of Fitness and am certified as a Pn1 Nutrition Coach and Pilates instructor.

I practise mindfulness daily and, after years of testing concepts on myself, I can confidently say that our performance at work is amplified and can be optimised by the way we treat our bodies and minds.

My interest and skills in business and wellness combined perfectly to shape my venture as a high performance consultant. In my work, I explore business productivity strategies alongside physiological and psychological factors that boost performance, focus, energy and concentration in and out of work. I love it.

How did you move from idea to actual business?

I’ve started up other businesses in the past so I was able to use this experience to get things moving relatively quickly. Also, I’m extremely passionate about the topics I cover so it felt natural to integrate the individual elements into a business offering.

I operate with high performance in mind and I am continually testing ideas and concepts on myself to stay at the forefront of what I do, so the business has evolved very naturally.

Given my strategy background, I spent a decent amount of time planning and mapping out the direction I wanted the business to take over time, what I stand for and so on. However, from past experience, I’ve learned that it’s just as important to start ‘doing’, see what sticks and what doesn’t work so well.

Things pop up in business that can shape your direction and alter your original plans. It’s important to be flexible and fluid in your approach.

What’s your USP?

My USP is the combination of skills, experience and qualifications that I bring to the table. I truly understand my clients as I have been in their shoes, having held high pressure roles in the corporate world.

I know it’s not always easy to apply the advice people give and so I offer practical, tried and tested solutions to my clients.  I’m constantly adding to my toolkit to develop unbiased, innovative solutions based on research and science. I focus on performance habits over trends.

I offer a unique, one-stop-shop proposition by combining my business expertise with my experience as a fitness and nutrition professional, enabling me to take a 360-degree approach to performance and productivity instead of focusing on just one half of the equation.

For example, I cover the whole spectrum from goal-setting, meeting effectiveness, teamwork and prioritisation through to procrastination, mindset and energy management.

Who’s your target audience?

I focus on business executives and teams, largely in financial and professional services. Essentially, my ideal clients are leaders who want todevelop high performing teams – because this ultimately drives higher business performance and results.

I enjoy working with teams who are willing to learn and open to new ways of thinking. It’s a shame when people aren’t interested in trying something new – either because they lack the patience, it doesn’t fit into a box they are familiar with or because it’s outside of their comfort zone.

How do you spread the word about what you do?

I spread the word about my work in a combination of ways – online and offline – for example, through speaking to people, hosting events, social media and publishing content.

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

My biggest obstacle is myself! We can be our own worst enemy when it comes to doing business. I am constantly reminding myself to be brave and push my boundaries every day.

Second to this, I’ve also had to accept that not everyone wantsto be at his or her best. Many people are perfectly happy going through life without challenging themselves, so I can’t relate to everyone. Instead, I have learned to focus on my work and attract clients who want to tap into their potential.

And your proudest moment so far?

I love what I do, so my proudest moment has to be making the decision to create a career that I don’t want to retire from. I’ve taken a lot of risks over years, faced a lot of fears and overcome many challenges –I still wake up each day feeling energised and inspired by my work.

Why is work so important to you?

Work is a significant part of my life so I want to enjoy every day. My work enhances my personal live and, likewise, implementing strategies in my personal life raises the quality of my work. Ongoing personal growth is important to me, as is being able to impact others in a positive way.

Who inspires you?

I get a lot of inspiration from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. They have incredibly powerful mindsets that propel them to excel in whatever they turn their attention to.

They are role models who prove that high performance involves hard work, focus, determination, resilience and a multi-faceted approach that includes taking excellent care of the body and mind.

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Be patient – businesses are like buildings and it takes time to build the foundations. A lot of hard work takes place behind the scenes and we tend to forget that the wins often come sometime after we sow the seeds.
  2. Get started – it’s good to have a vision and develop a strong strategy, but draw a line and start doing. You have to test and see what works in the real world. The best ideas on paper may not translate well in reality. The best way to learn is by rolling your sleeves up and getting stuck in.
  3. Understand your market – speak to people, tell them about your business, be receptive to feedback and take an objective view. We can be biased about the brilliance of our businesses but it’s important to refine your offering and messaging so your target audience can relate.

You can find out more about Abigail Ireland on her website.