Ashleigh King is the founder of Nurture Your Zest, a podcast which aims to raise aspirations, provide a sense of inclusion and build community. They do this by sharing stories of courage, creativity, curiosity, inspiration and zest that bring people together from all walks of life.
Ashleigh has interviewed some epic people who’s stories inspire but we wanted to switch the mic and put her in the spotlight. Here, we talk to her about her aspirations, plans for the future and more…
Tell us about the journey that lead you to where you are today…
It’s funny because, looking back, I suppose my story starts when I was around five years old and living in South Africa. I remember my brother and I would sell my scribbly-looking drawings to friends and family so we could buy sweets, and my Dad would tell us to stop because the lady that lived next door was too nice to say no.
By the time I was ten, I had my own newspaper. There wasn’t much investigative journalism in there; it had mainly cartoons and gossip! I’ll always be grateful for my Dad because he helped me with it and that taught me a lot of key skills at such a young age.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, and this kind of surfaced properly in March 2019 when I lost my job. I think most budding entrepreneurs have a moment when they think “ok, it’s time for me to go out on my own”, don’t they?
There are a few things you think about when you first start out: “What am I going to do? What skills do I have? Who is going to listen to me? What can I talk about? What can I do that’s going to make money? “
I identified my key skill as working with people. This became clear when all the projects I was invited to work on involved working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I was able to work with them to showcase their culture in a way that was authentic to them – in their own words and their own stories.
I discovered this is what lights me up as a person. I guess that’s why Days Like This Are Sweet and Nurture Your Zest are the next logical step in my journey. As I’ve grown as not just a person, but a business owner, I’ve been able to finesse start something of my own that showcases and nurtures that.
Why did you decide to launch a podcast?
Paul Lancaster, a mentor of mine, runs a fabulous event called Newcastle Startup Week. A podcast was recorded there by my now producer and sponsor, Tim Lozinski of TL Multimedia Ltd. That was my first time on a podcast, and I loved it!
Sitting and chatting took me back to when I was around seven in my school in South Africa, where I’d always get detention for chatting. My headteacher pretty forward-thinking, and so instead of having us write lines, anyone who got detention for chatting would attend something she called ‘The Chatterbox Club’. We spent the hour debating, learning communication skills and writing stories and practising how to present properly.
I originally wanted to call my podcast The Chatterbox Club, but it’s already an established name for many refugee groups and so I felt this important platform was not mine to take.
Because of my love for people and chatting, I decided I wanted to start my own podcast where I could bring together people from all walks of life and all backgrounds. Stories are what bring us together and they’re what help us to connect with each other. That idea was so exciting to me, and that’s how Nurture Your Zest started.
What have you learnt since launching this?
While I feature a lot of business leaders, I’ve learned that giving people a voice who usually wouldn’t get to go on podcasts or use this platform is more important to me than I first realised.
#NurtureYourZest helps people who are stuck no matter where they are in their life or what they’re doing. They’re sitting in an office at work bored out of their mind or looking at their Instagram feeling frustrated that they think everyone else is doing better than them. It’s about how through sharing stories of adversity and the prickly situations in life, we can develop strategies for resilience, using courage, creativity and curiosity.
I’ve always been passionate about people and have always wanted to learn about where they came from, but now I’ve learnt just how important to me this is and how important it is that people have their stories heard.
Tell us one of your favourite quotes…
I think it would have to be Ann English, from Create Intrigue who specialises in Visual Communications who said:
“Once you find your strengths and start using them, that’s when your life can change exponentially.”
This quote touched me because once I exclusively took on projects that matched my strengths, I saw my business grow in a way that matched by values, and things started to fall into place and felt less of a struggle.
You love learning about entrepreneurship and are always really honest about the rollercoaster life that brings, what do you do to stay focussed and motivated on your goals?
I’ve learned that who you surround yourself with is so important and having people that support and believe in you is priceless.
You have to find your tribe, and I’m lucky that where I live (Newcastle-upon-Tyne) has a huge ecosystem of start-ups. I’ve described it before as a hub of electricity, everyone is interconnected and gets energy from each other.
I love to be busy and I find so much happiness and fun in a bit of chaos. A business coach once told me that I have too many tabs open in my mind! During this discussion, I knew this arrangement would no longer work for me, as it was a personality clash, although it has been good to narrow my focus with other creatives who understand me better.
I’m naturally curious, so drawing inspiration from the courage, creativity and zest of the people I’ve met through networking in Newcastle keeps me motivated.
To date, what’s your biggest achievement?
My biggest achievement is a really personal victory, and it all comes down to knowing your worth and fighting for it.
I have PTSD, and to try and help people who might be in a similar situation, I’ve spoken openly about my ongoing relationship with that on the Staying Alive UK podcast with Michael De Groot.
I’ve been really well looked after by the staff at the NHS, but I had to fight for the support I needed.
At the end of a really painful two-year process of meetings after meetings waiting to see if I could get any support, I was told I wasn’t eligible for any help.
It was the first time that I can really think of where I fought for myself instead of others. I said to myself ‘No. I need this. This will save my life’, so I went out there and I got it.
I think this is important because in the start up community, it can be tough struggling with mental health, and talking about it is so important. I now volunteer my time at local colleges to inspire young people about starting a business despite any challenges they’ve gone through.
Looking back is there anything you would do differently?
I mentioned knowing your worth and fighting for it. A mistake I made early in my business was that I didn’t do this, and I undervalued myself financially.
As a quirky, free-spirited creative, I felt like finance was intimidating, and I didn’t think of things like needing to charge more for your services than when you’re working with the security of an organisation.
Benefits of working for an employer (such as pensions, sick pay and holidays) don’t exist when you’re out on your own.
You aren’t charging people for your time; people pay you for the years and money you have spent yourself on learning your skills through qualifications and further learning.
The best advice I can share is to not work for free. You might tell yourself that it will bring you exposure, but exposure doesn’t pay the rent.
It’s easy to become resentful if you are getting paid a lot less than people working in an organisation, so know your worth and charge for it.
Work with people that you value, and who value you. If it’s the not right fit, then it’s OK to terminate any agreement and work with someone else.
The only free work I do now is I gift my time once a year to work on projects that make me feel good and give back to community causes, I care about.
Our readers love to travel what destination is at the top of your bucket list?
Herb Kim, my very first podcast guest is a native New-Yorker who now lives in the UK. I’ve always wanted to go there! Secret confession, I’m a huge gossip girl fan, so I’d LOVE to see all of the fabulous places like Central Park. I am also a huge Anne Rice and Originals / Vampire Diaries fan so New Orleans, the home of jazz and vampire lore is high on my list also!
Your business requires you to be creative at all times what do you do when creativity is lacking?
Like many of my podcast guests, I value time in nature, this is the easiest way to find my creative flow. I love taking time for self-care so bubble baths, face masks and pretty nail polish.
I love old clothes and collect vintage tea sets. I always wonder, what stories have been shared over these teacups, and what secrets does this dress material hold? I find my inspiration by walking around vintage shops and art galleries on my own, taking in the gorgeous fabrics and paintings.
Who has been your favourite podcast guest to date?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I’ve interviewed so many incredible people. I would say Sarah Crimmens who has experienced a difficult and similar journey to me in terms of trauma and PTSD, and I found her courage to talk about what happened to her hugely inspiring.
Also John Cornilious who speaks about those days when you really can’t find your motivation, and gave me a new perspective about how lucky we are sometimes to be lazy. Many people all over the world do not have this advantage.
For anyone wanting to launch a podcast what top 5 tips would you give them?
Zest: Find a topic you care about:
Consider how long you want to be podcasting for? This passion may become tiring if you’re repeating similar conversations on a regular basis. Find a theme or a subject that ties with your unique gifts. For example, one of my top values is ‘Zest’ which is why I wanted to help people to find inspiration through courage, creativity, curiosity to help them find their zest.
Courage to be yourself!
Originality is important, there are so many podcasters out there. What I have discovered is everyone has their own story! Try not to focus on what competitors or others are doing and try to be yourself – people often really like the silly things you don’t like about yourself.
Ask people who inspire you to be a guest on your show.
The only way to grow is to surround yourself with people who inspire you.
Do your research before each guest! Prepare briefing notes, and agree these ahead of time. If the discussion changes direction, be ready to tease out the conversation. This curiosity will result in a better conversation and be more valuable for your listeners.
My mantra is: Ask questions, think, then ask some more.
Be Creative! How can you make each segment of your show the best it can be?
Consider from the beginning – how do you want it to look? Feel? What do you want people to associate with you and your podcast? The listener likes to know what to expect, so consider a standard format that you may like to use.
I knew from the beginning I wanted to ask my guests for their #OneWord to #NurtureYourZest. This has been strong part of growing our brand, and this is a feature of our show that we get really positive feedback about!