SupaReal do things a little differently.
That was my first impression when I met Liane and the rest of the team, and it’s persisted throughout our work with clients of all shapes and sizes. At the heart of the company is the ethos ‘Make it Meaningful’. This is more than a tagline. It’s an entire worldview that shapes every piece of work, every conversation and every decision.
Late last year those decisions led to the creation of SupaReality. A new venture that’s hard to put a label on, but which has a clear mission: “To find the light switch within us all.”
In part to satisfy my own curiosity about what to expect, I spoke to Liane about the journey she’s been on over the last few years. I wanted to know how her experiences have shaped her view of the world of work. And why SupaReality aims to help people understand who they are and the true potential they already have within.
You’ve described SupaReality as being on a mission to help people unlock their potential. Where did that ambition come from?
It began with my own personal journey. A series of events in a short space of time led to a real demise in my own health and wellbeing.
It was probably the most difficult few years of my life, both personally and professionally. And the impact of that stress was a dramatic drop in weight, not sleeping, my hair falling out and severe anxiety.
Some days I would be shaking so badly I couldn’t function!
When you are in that state and trying to run a business, you can’t think straight.
You can’t manage people.
You can’t motivate them.
I had to accept I was ill.
But I found that there just wasn’t much help out there. I had therapy, which helped me understand myself better and what was going on inside my head. I was on antidepressants, which helped to balance out my brain chemistry. But this wasn’t going to be enough.
So, I started exploring what I could do to help myself, using my in-built drive and curiosity to find a fix.
How could I overcome these debilitating challenges and find my mojo again?
And how could I ensure my business aligned with that?
I started exercising a lot more, dragging myself to the gym on a regular basis. If I was starting to feel anxious, movement and a good rush of endorphins would sort me out for the rest of the day. Eventually that led me to weight training.
Getting strong was so empowering, physically and mentally. It wasn’t long before I really started to see some huge benefits. My energy shot up, body fat went down, and I would feel so fired up after each session. It really boosted my outlook and how I dealt with the day ahead.
I also started to explore yoga more. I attended at least one yoga retreat each year, sometimes two. And with every trip I found myself rested at such a deep level. Even my speech and movement slowed down for a few weeks afterwards.
But honestly the biggest positive impact on my wellbeing was the development of a meditation practice. This came in stages, with some periods of consistent practice, and then gaps. When I stuck to it, I saw my outlook on life change completely.
In effect, my reality started to change for the better.
I’ve fallen so much in love with meditation now, I have trained to be a meditation coach. This came out of an acceptance that if you truly want to understand something, then learn how to teach it. So that’s what I did and it’s going to be a fundamental element of what SupaReality is all about.
With such a driven curiosity now firing on all cylinders, I started to watch, listen and read so much. The information I was devouring was like a high dose of good mental vitamins each time. I felt like I had opened a Pandora’s box of practices, techniques, insights and science that just isn’t talked about when it comes to the world of work.
And yet, it has so much relevance for most businesses.
And those are the concepts you want to explore through SupaReality?
Yes, I’ve seen the benefits for myself and I care very much about the health and wellbeing of my team. So SupaReality is a vehicle to communicate what I believe will help leaders if they want to improve the wellbeing, productivity and creativity of their teams.
It exists initially to share information from the field of personal development and spirituality - really important concepts that should also apply to the world of work.
Over the course of my career I have been responsible for teams of various sizes. I have seen and heard all kinds of things. And experienced first hand the impact stress and anxiety, triggered by work situations and culture, can have on people.
As the world of work is changing and the pace of that change is accelerating, we need to reconnect with our innate human faculties. These include imagination, intuition and will - fundamental elements that help businesses become better, as well as the people within them be their best.
So that’s where the interest comes from. I’m not on antidepressants anymore and I haven’t been to therapy for a long time - I’ve fixed myself and now I want to share this with the rest of the world. To do something meaningful.
Over time as we build an audience and a community of people who ‘get’ this, SupaReality will delve into all those subjects. We want to provide individuals, entrepreneurs and leaders with the tools, programmes and events that will ultimately help them develop better self-awareness, improved creativity and a clearer mind in their businesses.
So how can companies make that shift?
I think there are some smart companies that get it. It’s not an easy thing to change because the way we work is often so embedded. It’s often still based on practices from the industrial age, when people were treated like part of a machine and behaved like it.
The world has changed now - robots and artificial intelligence are doing the mundane tasks better than we ever could. That means our “humanness” is more important than ever. The really important aspects of our ability like creativity, curiosity and the capacity to learn and explore don’t come out unless you create a safe place in the work environment.
Our self identity has a huge role to play, because we all have an ego.
Sometimes we need it, sometimes it messes us up and makes us think we’re separate from everyone else. That can become a real problem in the workplace because it creates competition, judgement, people vying for control and needing validation. People associate their value with titles, positions and hierarchy. That competition doesn’t create a safe place.
Companies need to recognise this and think about how they can make a change culturally. Otherwise, I think they’ll find in time that they just aren’t going to perform and grow as much as they would like.
Any advice on where to start?
Well it needs to start with business leaders. They can lead by example, become more inward-directed themselves. And once they realise the benefits, they’ll want it for their companies and their teams.
There’s science behind this, an education process that needs to happen to help leaders understand it.
It’s a challenge that intrigues me because I’ve seen the benefits for myself - feeling amazing, feeling joy, feeling creative, curious and productive. If all businesses could tap into that within their employees, wow, what amazing things would happen.
I think everybody now has an idea of corporate wellbeing, but companies are still struggling with how to really ‘do’ it. A mental health first aider is great, but only if people feel safe enough to be open about their mental health. Gyms and yoga classes can encourage good physical exercise, but you can’t make people take advantage of them.
I really believe that true wellbeing comes from within.
So the challenge is for businesses to learn how to be the catalyst to help their people go inward and understand themselves. And then realise the huge potential they’ve already got. Maybe it’s about having a regular programme of coaching and tools, self-directed by the employee.
And of course it isn’t for everybody, some businesses won’t ever get this.
But I think work should be a place that fills us up, ignites us in some way. Not depletes us and takes everything it can from us, which sadly is often the case.
People want to know what the purpose of a business is. They want growth and development. To be coached in whatever way possible as part of their role. Someone coming in and doing a workshop on meditation once isn’t enough - it’s got to come from the top and be embedded in the culture.
You’ve touched on meditation a couple of times and it’s a subject you explored in a recent SupaReality podcast. Why shouldn’t people balk at the concept of it in the workplace?
The key thing about meditation is that it’s a practice, not something you can do once or twice and expect to see any benefit from. It’s like brushing your teeth or washing your face. See it as giving your mind a wash before you start the day - who wouldn’t want to do that?
Meditation has helped me become calmer, more considered and more resilient. I don’t get as stressed, and I’m definitely more creative.
SupaReal as an agency went through a really difficult time recently and I had to make some really tough decisions. Even though the things I had to do to overcome those problems weren’t easy, I felt relatively calm through all of it.
Meditation allowed me to relax and and have faith in my own ability, and now we’ve come through that period and my health didn’t suffer in the process.
Meditation is the key tool for developing self-awareness.
And when we become more self-aware we are more conscious of our thoughts, feelings and actions. And then we can start to change them for the better. We can become more connected, more collaborative. Maybe that means we can be more accepting of other people rather than constantly judging and comparing ourselves to them.
I wish I could come up with a way to embed all of that in the culture of a company, and I want to explore how we get there.
Is that a clue as to what’s next for SupaReality?
Well, we’re only just getting started, and we won’t be for everybody, but we want to build an audience that’s engaged with what we have to say. We have plans for events, online programmes and putting content out there that helps people see themselves and the world of work differently.
I don’t have all the answers, but I hope it piques people’s curiosity. I hope it opens up a new world of ideas and concepts people are not fully aware of and that they’ll want to share these things with friends, family and their teams.
At least start to ponder and explore.
To try to look at the world and their role within it differently.
So I want to do something meaningful, something that has a positive impact - even if it’s only on one person - and SupaReality is a really important part of that.
So I hope people will come to our events and take part in our programmes.
And ultimately I hope it’ll benefit you as much as possible as you start your own journey down this path.
And it seems like that’s the key really.
It’s a journey.
Trying to predict what SupaReality will be and where it will go sort of defeats the point.
For now, the website is a good place to start. As is the YouTube channel, where the first few podcast episodes will give you more insight into Liane’s journey and her thoughts. I recommend episode 2 in particular - if (like me) you’re sceptical about meditation, it might just give you a new perspective on the practice.
At the very least it’ll get you thinking, and there’s going to be a lot to think about on this journey.
After all, that’s what makes it meaningful.