Myself Included: Opinions – Take Them or Leave Them

Tiffany Trethowan is a stand-up comedian and host of Myself Included, a podcast all about challenging the status quo, and breaking through taboos with laughter and conversation. I first met Tiffany when she was working in the Marketing team of one of the clients I managed back in my agency days. We instantly connected, and have stayed in touch ever since.

Myself Included has got me through many, many gym sessions, and Tiffany kindly invited me onto the podcast to discuss all things careers. In this episode we also touch on being the youngest sibling, therapy and childhood trauma, and how we eat our tea.

Transcript

Tiffany Trethowan: Hello, I’m Tiffany Trethowan and this is the Myself Included podcast. The show about turning taboo topics into the bread and butter of our daily conversations.

We are back for season two and we have a lineup of guests who, like you and me, find ourselves relating to one another. Today’s conversation is with Kathryn Monkcom and we tackle the taboo around career change. And more importantly, what can feel like career shame if your career is less known and therefore less understood.

Kathryn is a digital marketer, careers coach, and all-round internet person. Like me, Kathryn is a third child who takes on life in an unconventional way. And we unpick the power, or should I say powerless, opinions of others, the importance of being your own advocate, manifestation, and how, when it comes to mental health, reaching out for help doesn’t always mean you receive the help that you need. I’ve been looking forward to this chat. Here we go.

Kathryn Monkcom: Hey, Tiffany.

Tiffany Trethowan: Hello. How are you?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, I’m good. Thank you. How are you doing?

Tiffany Trethowan: Good. Thank you. How’s your bank holiday weekend been?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah. Okay. We went up on Saturday to see some friends in Sheffield, so it feels like we’ve been quite busy. But yeah, today’s definitely a little bit more chilled.

Tiffany Trethowan: Good good. Well I’m excited to say you’re the first guest of season two. So thanks for joining me today. Are we ready to get stuck in?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Tiffany Trethowan: Awesome. Okay. Well as I say, the podcast is about turning taboo topics into the bread and butter of our daily conversations. Is there a certain taboo that you find we don’t tackle enough?

Kathryn Monkcom: I think definitely for me, it’s around career stuff and having that path forged out for you. So the thing of, you do well in school, so you can go to university, so you can get a good job. And what constitutes a good job as well, in inverted commas, kind of being like a corporate job or an office job for a big name brand. If you do go to university, then like getting onto graduate schemes at those brands that people know what they are.

Whereas for me, I’ve always kind of forged my own path. And when I try to explain to people, like family and stuff, what I do for a living, they’re never gonna understand what it is to be honest. So yeah, being able to do things a bit differently and for that to be your own version of success.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, because one of the things that caught my eye about you and your brand is where you say as the classic youngest sibling, I’ve always done things a little differently. So yeah, I, myself can relate to that. Yeah. Can you tell us what you mean by that? You just tapped into a little bit there, but…

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m the youngest of three children. And by quite a big gap. So my sister’s 10 years older than me and my brother’s 15 years older than me. And they both went to university. My brother is an engineer and that kind of follows through in my family. My dad was an engineer. And my sister works in a primary school. And again, that also runs in the family. My mum was a teacher, my grandad was a headmaster. Like my auntie was a teacher as well.

So it’s kind of those two career paths that people understand and that people can relate to and they go, “oh, so-and-so did that, that makes sense to me”. Whereas I worked in digital marketing for a really long time, a completely different path and something that my parents were a little bit, I guess, worried about.

It a hundred percent came from a place of love and a place of wanting to keep me safe. But it was something that they didn’t understand because it’s something that, I’m sure you can relate to this, like 20 years ago it wasn’t a thing or it was just becoming a thing. So yeah, doing things a bit differently can often make people worry like, is this going to be something that’s going to keep you safe? Are you going to be able to make money from this?

Tiffany Trethowan: You know, cause didn’t you also like move out like age 16 and turn down university and things like that?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, so I grew up in Cyprus. My parents still live out there. They retired out there. And when I was 16, I moved out and I moved back to the UK and I moved in with my older sister. And there were a whole host of reasons around that. Like, my mental health wasn’t great at the time. I was an angsty teenager. I wasn’t getting on with my parents.

But also the school I was at, there were only 30 people in my Year 11 year group. So when we went onto sixth form, like they were only going to be about 20 people in my year. So they weren’t going to run all the different courses. They were just going to run the ones that had enough people. So it really narrowed down the choice.

Also in Cyprus, even now, there’s not a huge amount of opportunities for young people because culturally everything is very family owned and passed down through the generations. So unless you know someone who can give you a part-time job in their shop or in their supermarket or whatever, then it’s really hard to get part-time jobs while you’re studying. But also like when you’re finished and you want to go into the world of work full time it’s really, really difficult.

And if people want to go to university, they often go abroad. Because there’s only one university in Cyprus. So, a lot of people go to Greece or if they’ve got connections elsewhere, like they’ll come back to the UK or they’ll go elsewhere in Europe.

So I moved out and I kind of told my parents that I was moving out and I kind of said, well you can’t stop me. So I’ve got enough money for a flight, you can either get on board with this or I’m going anyway. I think at the time that was a massive shock to the system for them. And like, they really didn’t want me to go, but I think they knew that like, if they didn’t support me, then I was going anyway. And then that would be a rift in that relationship. So they kind of got on board with it.

Yeah, so I did sixth form in the UK just outside of Milton Keynes and lived with my sister and she was super, super supportive. She kind of took on that role as my informal guardian, which I’m forever grateful for, because that was something that was thrust upon her and something that she never signed up for.

And yeah, at my sixth form, it was a grammar school, there was 200 people in my year. All but two people, one of them being me, went to university and we actually had a timetabled slot on our timetable for UCAS applications. So it was just a thing that everyone did. So I did apply for university. I had no idea what I wanted to do. So I just chose my favorite subject that I was studying, which was philosophy. And I ended up with a place at the University of Birmingham.

And it got to about March time in Year 13. And I just thought, what am I doing? Like I do not want to do this. I’m going to be absolutely miserable. So I canceled my UCAS application and then it was kind of a moment of, okay, what now? I have to find something else now. So I was like doing some research. I think I was looking on like the National Careers Service website. Absolutely love their website, it’s really, really good for researching different types of careers, and came across apprenticeships.

And I thought, actually, this could be something that could work. What can I do an apprenticeship in? Is there anything that actually interests me? And I realised I could do an apprenticeship in digital marketing. And while I’d been at sixth form, I’d been writing a blog. It was all about fashion and style. Not something I’m particularly interested in now, but apparently I was then. And I thought, actually, this is something that I could do. This is something that I’m really interested in.

So I looked at different options. I looked at the apprenticeship, I looked at going through clearing and finding a marketing course at uni. I thought about taking a year out and reapplying for uni to do a marketing course. And in the end I thought, actually, no, I don’t want to wait around. And actually an apprenticeship is probably going to be the best way for me to get into the industry and actually start doing something rather than just learning about it.

So I applied for a few different roles and I ended up getting a job at a local software company in Milton Keynes, somewhere that no one had heard of. But it was a really great role in that I was the first hire for the marketing team. And it meant that because of that, I could learn so quickly and have a go at so many different things without being pigeonholed into one role.

Tiffany Trethowan: Nice. Yeah. Okay. So when you said that about you know, friends and family that are probably never going to get it, but of course it does come from like love and protection like you say, is that tough? Cause I find that tough because as much as I accept that, obviously day-to-day conversations, like you say, it can be tough. Do you find that, or?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, it’s really hard. And I think it’s something that I’m much better at dealing with now. I think back when I first started, whether it was something to get used to or something to do with age and the way I was feeling at the time, I found it really, really tricky.

I think I’ve definitely had a mindset shift over the last few years of if someone that I really love and respects says “oh, you sure that’s a good idea?”, that’s not them telling me that I can’t do it. They don’t have that power to say that, it’s only me that can say what I can and can’t do and what I am going to do and what I’m not going to do. It’s kind of like people can give their opinions, but that’s all they are. You can take them or you can leave them and it doesn’t have to change the relationship that you have.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, no, I love that. And I think, I don’t know about you, but I think the more times you go against the status quo and you prove people wrong, the more they start to actually get that you, you know, you are wired a bit differently. You do know what you’re talking about, and there’s a reason for it. I think the more I’ve done sort of comedy and whatnot, people sort of don’t question me as much.

I think as well, like with the world we live in right now and unfortunately like the impact on A Levels and GCSEs and stuff with the pandemic, you know, it’s interesting, my other half’s sisters speaks to me about it every now and then. And I think parents like to obviously, give the good advice of say doing Business Studies or something like that. And that can be useful, but I think it’s about a balance of also picking the things that you enjoy and what you’re good at. Because if you just pick everything that’s like a language and Business Studies, et cetera, you know? Yeah. Like you said you’re going to be a bit miserable.

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah. And I honestly think like, when it goes back to like GCSEs and A Levels, you’re so young. There is no way you’re going to know what you want to do. And I don’t actually believe in knowing what you want to do. I think in your life, you’ll do a load of different things and they’ll all fulfill you in different ways. So I would a hundred percent just say, like pick what you enjoy, because otherwise you’re going to have a really rubbish time of it.

And just because you didn’t pick, I don’t know, French at GCSE, and then you decide that you want to go to university and you want to study French. It’s not the end of the world. You can find other ways. You can look at going to college and doing a course or whatever it is, like it’s never the end of the world.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. A hundred percent. So can you tell us a bit about what your life looked like before the pandemic? Sort of what you were doing, what was important to you?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, absolutely. So my life has almost completely changed since the start of the pandemic. When the pandemic kicked off, I was living with my sister in Milton Keynes. I had a really great job as an Account Manager at a digital marketing agency called Aira. And yeah, I was kind of just trundling along. I’d just met my now boyfriend. He was studying in Birmingham and so I was going up and down every weekend to see him. It was very new. It was very exciting. So yeah, that was kind of my life then.

And that’s completely changed. So, as I said, I was coming up to Birmingham most weekends to see Dan. Then obviously the pandemic hit, we couldn’t see each other. I was working from home and it got to about the end of May. And I was really miserable because I couldn’t see Dan. And I spoke to my boss at the time, Alex, and she was just like, you’re clearly not happy. Just like, go, go to Birmingham. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter. Like, because it’s that thing of when you’re in a pandemic, you can’t just go and see someone you have to decide, like, are we going to move in together or not? It’s kind of, there’s no in between.

So I kind of messaged Dan and I was like, I’m coming to Birmingham. He was at his parents’ in Manchester at the time. And I was like, I’m coming to Birmingham. If you want to come back and see if this will work, go for it. If you don’t, I won’t be offended. But rather than, cause we kept going back and forth and talking about it and I was like, okay, I’m just going to make the first move and see what happens.

And it ended up working out really, really well. So we’re in a shared house, but it was just us two here for the whole summer. It was really, really lovely. And yeah, I haven’t left since, this is where I am now.

So I think I got to about August time and I remember things were starting to open up and now looking back, I was quite foolish to think that that was going to be the end of it. But at the time it felt like things were going back to normal. And I had another chat with Alex, my boss, and I said like, look, long-term, could I live in Birmingham and still work at Aira?

And she was super supportive. She was like, absolutely. But as an Account Manager, you need to be able to go and see your clients. And most of them are going to be around the Milton Keynes area. So it’s probably going to end up as like three days working from home, two days traveling to client sites. So I thought about it, and I thought actually no, that’s, that’s not what I’m after. I don’t want to be driving up and down the M1 all the time.

So I handed in my notice at Aira which I remember at the time, again, a lot of people, including my parents were like, what are you doing? Like, this is like a great job. They had finally got on board with the idea that I could make money from digital marketing. And then I was like, nope I’m not doing that.

Also a really common misconception that I realised is that because I worked for a digital marketing agency, they thought it was like a temp agency. And I was just on a zero hours contract, like picking up various different hours. And I was like, no, that’s not what it is. And I’d finally like got people on board with this idea. And then I was like, yeah, I’m not doing that anymore.

I quit that job. I didn’t have another job to go to, but I knew that I wanted something around Birmingham. And I decided that I would quite like to teach apprentices, having done an apprenticeship myself I wanted to like give back to the cycle. So I started a course which was a Level 3 Certificate in Education and Training which basically qualifies you to teach post-16. And I got a job as a digital marketing, I think it was consultant, at a apprenticeship training provider in Birmingham.

So the idea was I’d do the digital marketing and then I’d slowly transition into teaching the apprentices as well. I only ended up staying there three months. It ended up not being a good fit. I think because they weren’t advertising the role, I’d just reached out and got in touch with various different companies that I’d want to work for, and they were like, we don’t have a role for you, but you seem great. So let’s make something for you.

And that ended up being the downfall. I think they didn’t need someone or they felt they didn’t need someone to do their digital marketing. So it was always an afterthought and it made it really difficult to get anything signed off and pushed through.

So I ended up leaving there and I went self-employed. And I think really I could’ve gone self-employed after I left Aira, but I just needed that final push. That final bit of confidence, I guess, that I could do it. Because for ages I’d been saying, oh yeah, one day I’d love to be self-employed. And it just never really happened. Nothing ever moved forward with it. And it is a, it’s a massive leap and it’s a massive leap of faith and having that belief in yourself. And it took that last job, that last three months, to give me the push I needed.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. Do you sort of, you know, they often say that kind of saying of like, if you, you know, whether you dream it or you think about it a lot, but there’s a reason for it, that you can achieve it, like do you believe in that? Or do you think it’s nonsense?

Kathryn Monkcom: A hundred percent. I think if you, yeah. Like, I’m a big believer in manifestation, but the way that I like to think about manifestation is that you can’t be like saying, I’ve mentioned to yourself, or whatever it is that you manifest and being like, oh yeah, I really want this amazing job in a bank. And then everyday you’re like, yeah, I’m gonna get a job in a bank. I’m gonna get you in a bank. And you walk past a bank and there’s a massive advert in the window with the perfect job for you and you go, oh, but I don’t need to go in and apply because I’m manifesting.

And it just doesn’t work like that. You have to have the self-belief, but you also have to put in the work. And I think the reason that manifestation works is because using affirmations and other tools gives you that confidence and that self belief that you can do those things. And because you believe in yourself, you’re more likely to apply. You’re more likely to reach out to people and you’re more likely to take those actions that will help you get to where you want to be.

Tiffany Trethowan: I really like that analogy. I find on dream boards are really good, cause sort of do it, it’s in the background and then you, like you say, subconsciously look and find opportunities. So they often work. So looking at what you do for a living now, which as you say, is a digital marketer, careers coach, and someone you describe as an all round internet person. So did you see yourself working in this field of work at all, say at school when you went to freelance? Or no?

Kathryn Monkcom: When I was at school, I guess like, yeah. So as you said, that half of my business is digital marketing and the other half is more coaching. And when I was at school, I didn’t know that either of those things existed. So it’s been a complete journey.

I mean, when I was very young, I wanted to be a teacher because that’s what my mum did. And then I wanted to be an actress. I went to youth theatre, like classes after school and stuff, and I did a load of acting at school. And then I remember right up until I was 16 I wanted to go into theatre. And then I realised how much resilience you needed to be rejected all the time. And I was like, no I can’t do it. I’ll just cry.

So then I started to think about other options. But yeah, I think where the coaching aspect came into play was once I started taking those leaps of turning down university in favour of an apprenticeship, moving out at 16, quitting my cushy agency job, moving across the country, going self-employed, I think a lot of people that maybe, I didn’t know that well, but like I knew from school or from other places in life were messaging me and saying, “how have you done this? Like, this is really cool. How can I do this too?”. And it was just a conversation that kept coming up naturally with the people in my life. It seemed like something that other people wanted to do but they couldn’t quite find how to do it.

So I was naturally giving a lot of advice. And I guess the way that that’s changed in the last few months is that I’ve started a course with the International Coaching Federation. And that teaches you that actually, as a coach, you shouldn’t be giving advice because everyone’s journey is individual. And everyone has to make their own decisions and choices. Just because I’ve done something doesn’t mean that’s going to be the right thing for someone else. So instead it’s helping people to find their own answers and their own path. And that’s something that I’m really passionate about.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, I think, I used to work for a business coaching franchise and I think the one word ‘why’ comes up quite a lot. So I had a thought of what you just said. It’s gone. It’ll come back to me. But do you think you would have taken that leap to freelance if the past year hadn’t kind of unfolded the way that it has to the pandemic?

Kathryn Monkcom: I think it would have taken me a lot longer. It was definitely like, I like to think of it as like push motivation and pull motivation, and it was definitely a push. There was a lot of crying involved. That was a lot of, yeah like, I’m having a terrible time. What can I do about it? And I think, yeah, I think it was always in the back of my mind and something that I would have done eventually. Like as I say, I’d always say to people, oh yeah, I’d love to work for myself one day, but it was always one day. And it was that push that gave me the urgency of like, I need to do this now. Otherwise I’m going to like, not be having a good time.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. And do you think with the pandemic, it made things more difficult or been beneficial or perhaps a mix of the two?

Kathryn Monkcom: I think it’s been easier. I think, so one thing that we noticed, even when I was working at Aira, is when the pandemic first hit in March all of our work was declining rapidly and it was really, really concerning. But by the time we got to about September, a lot of businesses had moved online. They’d realised that they have to move online and they realised that digital channels are super, super important.

And since then, right up until now I think, the digital marketing community has never been so busy. It’s absolutely crazy the amount of work that’s going around. Like every day I’m seeing on Twitter, people saying I’ve had this inquiry but I don’t have any capacity. Who can I forward this onto? Who can I refer this to? So I think that side of my business was fairly straightforward. And that’s why, when I went self-employed I decided to have two sides of my business.

And the way that they’re joined together is through my passion of helping people and businesses to grow. Digital marketing and coaching both do those things, but people knew me for digital marketing. I already had connections in the digital marketing industry and digital marketing was booming at the time. So it was super easy to say, so my first clients were Aira. Because I’d left, they didn’t have the cash to hire someone else because of the pandemic but they have this huge amount of work that I’d left behind.

So they were like, can you do some of this work? And we’ll pay you more because it’s as a consultant rather than someone employed. So they were my first client. My second client was the training provider in Birmingham that I’d worked for for those three months. So it was already people that I knew. I then built up from people that they knew and referrals, and then people that had seen me online and Instagram and stuff like that. So that side was, was quite easy to build them was helped by the pandemic.

I think something that helped both the digital marketing and the coaching is that people are less concerned about being face to face. I think, especially in digital, we’ve always done a lot of our stuff on video calls, but people would always want to see you face to face before they signed the contracts in that sales phase. And that’s something that people have just realized, like why? Like it’s just not necessary.

And so it means that I can work with people all across the country and across the world if I wanted to. So like coaching clients, I’ve got one client up in York, I’ve got one in Bristol. And then on the digital marketing side as well, like I work with an agency based in Peterborough and another one based in Bristol. We’ve got some people, they’re not my clients directly but I work with them on the same clients, and they’re based in South Africa. So it’s like, it means that people can connect with who this best for the job and who they really want to work with rather than who’s around the corner.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, because I’m sure what I’m about to say wasn’t as easy as I’m about to say it, but it seemed like when you launched, like you just had all your shit together. Like you had your brand, you had your proposition and yeah, you had the confidence. And I don’t mean this negatively, but I think when I see other coaches out there or you know, like you say digital marketing type, not influencers but you know what I mean, they’re kind of still nervous to go on video or, you know, they’re just testing the waters on their branding or they’re mixing up their, you know yeah proposition. That’s all fine, but it just seemed like you launched and then you just boomed, which is great. But do you think that was like the transitional skills or what do you think it was?

Kathryn Monkcom: So I think there’s definitely some Instagram versus reality in that, in that actually I went self-employed full time at the start of December. But I had been working on bits and pieces for myself since September. And I don’t think it was until January that I announced on Instagram and like saying that I had gone self-employed. So actually there’d been a lot of work behind the scenes up until that point. And it wasn’t until I was messaging a lovely lady Maret that I used to work with the Aira and just catching up and she was like, wait, what you’ve got, self-employed? Like, no one knows about this. You need to tell people.

Because I do think, especially if you’re going self-employed in an industry you’ve already worked in, just telling people, especially on LinkedIn, can bring in so much work because there’ll be people that have worked with you before that have gone “oh, she knows what she’s doing. I’ve got this thing. Or my friend has this thing that they need help with. I can connect the dots”. And people don’t always realise that you’re open to that kind of thing. So it’s important to tell people.

I mean like, even until. I think February, I redid it, my contracts. Before that I was like, right I know from being agency side that I need to have a contract. That’s important. So I was like, right what goes in a contract? I probably need to say how much I’m going to get paid, when I’m going to get paid, what is the work that I’m actually doing, and what happens if we don’t want to work together anymore? So I literally just sat down and wrote like a one page word document and it was awful. It was absolutely awful. I’m not even sure it would have been legally binding. But it was there and that was what was important.

 And yeah, in February I redid my contracts and even now my contracts are just from Rocket Lawyer, which is a free website that you can, you sign up for a free trial, download whatever templates you want. They’ve got like T’s and C’s, services agreements, all sorts of stuff. And then just cancel the trial. So I got my contracts for free, and I actually had a comment from one of my clients saying, cause I mentioned in passing that I’ve got a family member that’s a lawyer. And they were like, oh, that makes sense. Did they do your contracts for you? And I was like, no, no, no, I got them off the internet.

And I think that’s always been my instinct. I grew up in the Tumblr generation. I was all over Tumblr when I was about 14, 15, 16. And it’s always been my instinct to just Google something if I don’t know. And I noticed that actually, when I lived with my sister, our washing machine broke and her first instinct was to ring mum and go, oh, mum will know the answer. I’ll just ring mum. And my first instinct was to Google the make and model of the washing machine and see if I could find a YouTube video of how to do it.

So I think it’s definitely a generational thing in that aspect. But yeah, like when I had my Tumblr blog, I would search for HTML snippets so that I could add a little music player with Mayday Parade onto the bottom of my blog. And that’s how I got into coding. And that’s how I’ve now been able to build my own website for my self-employed stuff. So I guess like, like you say, the website and the branding and the colors make it look professional, but that’s just the front and there’s a lot of other stuff that goes on behind the scenes. And as long as you’re one step ahead of where you need to be then you can totally just fake it till you make.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. Yeah. And I’ll come onto that. Cause I know, what’s it called, burnout a little bit, cause I know you’ve mentioned that side as well. So it’s quite a nice leap between your corporate career and the career coaching is, as you say, you’ve worked in the sort of education field, is that type of work, super rewarding? It seems like you kind of knew that was your not niche, but yeah. Education side.

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah. It’s been incredible. I’ve been using my boyfriend Dan as my guinea pig client because he’s just about to graduate from university. And he has been doing an English and Drama degree. And when he started uni thought he wanted to go into acting. And over the last three years he’s realised actually that’s the last thing that he wants to do.

And he was kind of at a loose end of what to do, having that panic of I’m about to graduate. What the hell am I going to do? I need to find something quickly. We helped him to figure out that actually he wants to go into brewing and brewing beer and that’s something that he’s really, really passionate about. So I was like, right. Get yourself a home brewing kit, start doing some brewing. That’s the first thing, because no one has to give you permission to do this. Like, if you’ve got the ingredients, you can make beer. That’s the end of the story.

And then we reached out to a load of breweries locally saying like, would you take me as an intern? Like I just want to learn. I just need to be in that environment and learn how to brew on a commercial scale. He was able to research and find out what certifications people tend to have in that industry. How you get into it. He found a Facebook group for people that homebrew and he’s been loving, like interacting with people on there. There’s been a load of jobs posted on there that haven’t been advertised anywhere else. Because people, like breweries want people that love brewing already. And are part of that community.

So it’s been super, super rewarding to see him grow and just the change in how happy he is. Because I think before, I mean I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but I think he felt quite stuck. Of like, this is the path I’ve chosen now I’m stuck, there’s no way to change this. But actually there’s always time to change.

Tiffany Trethowan: I like that. So when you wake up in the morning, what gets you out of bed and pumped?

Kathryn Monkcom: I hate getting out of bed!

Tiffany Trethowan: Okay, what makes you tick?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah. It’s definitely helping people and getting that positive response. Yeah. Talking to people and helping them figure things out for themselves. And seeing that lift in emotion is definitely the most rewarding thing. So days when I have coaching calls, I’m always super excited for that.

 Days when, if I’m working on digital marketing stuff, sometimes that can take quite a while and it can feel like a bit of a slog behind the scenes, but the day you get to send everything over to your client and say, this is what I’ve done, or these are the results that we’ve had this month. That’s the really rewarding part.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. And do you find with clients, whether it be coaching or digital marketing, there’s certain trends they want to achieve or that they find difficult? Is there any patterns with, yeah who you work with?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, definitely. I think people have a lot of. I think as humans, we take on a lot of feelings and beliefs from our parents and the people that have brought us up. And we don’t realise how powerful those beliefs are until we start to unpick them. So someone will say, oh, I really want to do X, Y, Z, but I can’t. And it’s like you said, it’s that magic word ‘why’. Like, why can’t you do that? And they’re like, oh wait. Yeah, I can. It’s just all these beliefs that have been instilled in me.

And like we said before, it almost always comes from a position of love and care. Like, for a lot of us, our parents will have been in the same job since they started, since they were 18 or 21 or however old, right up until they retired. And if you didn’t like your job, that was normal and you’d use other things outside of work to make your life fulfilling. And the idea of just leaving because you weren’t happy with it was kind of alien.

So I think. I mean, I don’t know enough about economics but perhaps like at the time, like security was obviously super important. Whereas now I kind of see it as, I remember when I went self employed. I think, I don’t remember who it was, maybe it was my parents, said like well what are you going to do if business dries up? And I was like, well what are you going to do if you get made redundant tomorrow? Like, it doesn’t matter how secure, in inverted commas, your job is, there’s always a chance that that’s gonna be taken away. And actually, if you’re self-employed and you’ve got multiple different income streams then you’re probably more secure than someone that just has one job.

So, yeah, there’s a lot of really interesting stuff around that. And yeah, people feeling like their path has been mapped out for them because that’s what they’ve seen, their older siblings and their parents and friends and stuff go through time and time again, it’s the same path of do your A Levels, work hard at school, go to university, go on a graduate scheme and then work your way up. And it’s not until you start to question that, that people realise there’s a whole host of other options out there.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah because in terms of security, I’d always thought that the hospitality and retail were safe, it’s often what we all do for part-time jobs when we first start out and then sadly, and even entertainment, and people pay a lot of money to go to theatre et cetera, and they’re sadly the ones that have been hit the most. I mean, yeah, it’s tough. They’ve had to really adapt, haven’t they.

Kathryn Monkcom: One thing that I think is really helpful is something that my coach Kirsty Hulse said to me. And she said like, if I put a gun to your head and told you to give me a thousand pounds and you didn’t have a thousand pounds, you would find a way to get that money. Like hopefully not through illegal activities. But like, if you didn’t have any money and you had to make rent, you would find a way to get that money.

Whether that’s washing people’s cars for a tenner or going and getting a job at your local shop or selling your drawings on Etsy, like you would figure out a way to get that money and get that money fast. And it’s that realisation of actually I have everything that I need inside of me. I have that power. I don’t need anyone else to give me permission to do that thing that I want to do.

Tiffany Trethowan: Is that Kirsty the sort of comedian confidence coach? That’s awesome. I will quickly say here as well, I think it’s important to say this, that she’s your coach, is that right?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. So I still have a counselor and she has a counselor and I think a lot of people think that when you’re in the coaching or psychotherapy, have I said that right, sort of field that you don’t have any sort of development in yourself. And actually it’s quite common that you do in fact that.

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, it’s actually something that’s super important and it’s something that is. So as, once I become an ICF accredited coach, that’s something that’s under the code of ethics that you have to stick to is some sort of CPD and continuous professional development. Because you’ll find that for example, a client might come to you and say I’m really unhappy in, I don’t know, this relationship and I want to leave because my partner is doing X, Y, Z, and that could bring up a whole lot of emotions in you because you might have had a similar relationship in the past, or it might be the same with a job or with a house or whatever it is and it can really affect you.

And when you’re with your client, you have to be completely impartial and not show those emotions and not let that affect your line of questioning. And you can’t start to give advice, like you can’t say, oh well I had a similar situation and I stayed in my relationship. So you should just buck up your ideas and buckle in for the long haul. You can’t say that, you have to let them find their own way and that could bring up stuff in you. So it’s really important that you have some way, whether it’s a coach or a family member or a partner, or just someone that you can work that stuff out with.

And the second reason it’s really important is because as a professional coach, you should be observed a few times a year to make sure that your coaching is on top form. And there’s always going to be room for improvement and that’s something that is a really core belief in coaching is that we’re all on a journey and we’re all constantly improving.

So a lot of coaches will either record a session and send it off to someone else, like another coach that they know to have a look and give some feedback. And they’ll do that for each other. Or they’ll like, get someone else on the call and just get them on mute and camera off to just watch and just observe and make sure, kind of like you would as a teacher, you get observed every few months just to make sure that you’re on the right track. Cause as well, if you’re a self-employed coach and it’s just you, you don’t have that boss to do an appraisal for you. So you have to make sure that you’re doing that for yourself.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, that’s the thing isn’t it when you become self employed, is that it can get a little lonely, I think. And there’s no one to sort of bounce ideas off of sounding board. So yeah, it must be nice to have someone that you can turn to. So speaking of feedback, yeah. It’s kind of evident in the work that you do, that it actually works. Not in a patronising way, but yeah, you definitely post a lot of your sort of reviews and whatnot. So how has the feedback been for you?

Kathryn Monkcom: Incredible. It’s been so, so rewarding. I keep a folder on my laptop of screenshots of things people have said. Just because it’s really lovely to look back on. If you’re having a moment, like you say, like it can get really lonely. And if you’re having a moment of can I actually do this, like am I actually any good, it’s really helpful to go back and look through those comments.

There’s been people that have, similar to Dan, like completely changed what they thought it was that they wanted to do. And they’ve been able to go on and get their dream job or have the confidence to go out on their own or whatever it is. So it’s really, really rewarding to see that.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, that’s so cool. And I love that you have a baby photo on your contact page. I think I guess you would agree that people sort of buy into people don’t they.

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, definitely. That was something that I got from Fiona Thomas’ podcast. She has a photo, I think of her at uni with a cocktail in her hand. And it’s just like, it’s just a bit fun. And that’s something that I a hundred percent believe in is, like something I used to say when I was at Aira was no one ever died from bad marketing. Unless you are like marketing medicines, but like if I wanted to be like super worried and concerned about what I did, then I would have been a heart surgeon.

Like no one is gonna have a massive life impact from you not sending an email or from you not being on top form in one coaching session. Like obviously you always want to do your best, but it’s not the end of the world. And I want to work with people that kind of share in that belief. And are just like, we all want to make money. We all want to do a good job. We all want to improve our lives. But if you make a mistake, it’s cool, don’t worry about it.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, I think you can really. I mean I’ve not, I’ve got a bit of coaching, but I’ve had more therapy. But yeah, I think as well, sometimes people want like a big light bulb moment every session, or they want to be crying or happy every session, but they kind of vary.

And I think sometimes you can think, oh that was really overwhelming. Or there wasn’t a massive light bulb moment. But actually on reflection, I think people also forget that yeah, whether it’s coaching or anything else, you know even like a PT, that it’s going to happen overnight. And that, you know, you’ve got to see the results straight away, but it takes a lot of background work and time. So yeah.

Kathryn Monkcom: Something else that I’ve really loved with my clients is they’ve given really honest feedback. So when I finished working with someone, I send them a survey and it says like, what’s one thing that you enjoyed that I should keep doing. What’s one thing that I didn’t do, I should start doing. And what’s something that I did that I should stop doing.

And people have been so, so honest and even giving constructive criticism is always so helpful and it’s sometimes really hard to get when it’s just you and you’re self employed. So that’s been lovely.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, I think as well, I’ve done a lot of, like there’s a coach that taught the sort of podcast program I did to launch this. And I think sometimes it’s not whether you’re a good or a bad coach. It’s also just your learning style. So some people, I think, prefer thirty people on a zoom call. Some people like to pay more and get one-on-one. It’s not necessarily you as a person. It’s just how the person likes to work. And yeah, he did a feedback form as well so, it’s handy to feed that back.

Okay. And recently, kind of speaking about loneliness and whatnot. Yeah, you spoke about burnout on Instagram. Do you think as much as social media has its faults, it also gives people the space open up about what they find hard? And yeah, sort of tough?

Kathryn Monkcom: A hundred percent, I think that’s something that’s happening more and more. And I think that yeah, seeing other people saying, actually I’m not having a great time right now. You might not want to go into the details of it, but just putting your hands up and saying like, “I’m not great, but I’m going to be better, if you’re feeling like this too, it’s cool, we’re all in this together” is something that really helps people to feel a sense of connection, especially at the minute when we can’t see each other.

And it’s something, again something that Kirsty has been doing recently is trying to post selfies without putting filters on them, without really even posing for them. Like it’s almost like those ones that you take accidentally when you’re about to take a photo, and just posting it because like life’s too short to be serious all the time.

And I think over the next few months as well, because of the impact of the pandemic, we’ll start to see people using social media more in that way. Rather than a highlights real. Trying to break it down and show actually, this is what it’s like behind the scenes. And we can use it to connect with each other rather than to look at someone from afar and admire them.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. Or judge them sadly. But yeah, I couldn’t agree more. So as you talk about these things today, some may say these are quite bold moves and perhaps even hasty, but as you and other people on the podcast have said, these were in fact, you know, strategic decisions. What was the response from people when you decided to go against the status quo on some of things you said today?

Kathryn Monkcom: I think some people were definitely concerned. But I think, I think that always came from a place of love. It was never people being jealous or just being outright like you can’t do that. It was always like, are you going to be okay? Are you sure about this? Have you thought this through? And I think as humans we have developed to want to think every decision through, to the tiniest details.

And actually it’s been a process for me over the last five years or so. I’ve really reconnected with my gut because I’ve realised that actually every time I’ve made a big decision and I’ve gone with my gut and I’ve listened to my intuition, it’s paid off. And every time I’ve had that feeling and ignored it, it’s turned out for the worst. And I’ve then had to do all the work to undo that and go back to what I should have been doing in the first place.

So yeah, I think people have definitely had their concerns. But I think being able to say, if someone says, oh have you really thought through? Going no, I haven’t, but that’s what my gut’s saying and that’s usually right. So I’m just going to go with that anyway. It’s not really your problem to worry about, that’s my problem. If it messes up, it’s on me. Hands up. But it’s a risk that I’m willing to take.

So I think being able to hear people’s criticism or concerns as something that’s going on for them, and that’s their thoughts and feelings rather than having to bring that into your own feelings, is a skill that is really helpful and something that it does take practice. It’s definitely a skill. But it’s something that is so helpful in being able to listen to your own instincts.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. So relatable. So is there a particular taboo that you find tough? I know you mentioned you had some mental health difficulties before you moved over?

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah, definitely. I think something that really sticks out for me is when people say, if you’re struggling with your mental health, just reach out. Like, people will give you help. Because I did that so many times. And I totally appreciate how underfunded the NHS is in those areas. But it took me so long to get the help that I needed. I ended up going private for therapy for a little bit, and I’m so lucky that I was able to afford that.

And then about two and a half years ago, I had a relapse and it wasn’t until I was suicidal and in the doctor’s saying, I will not leave here until you give me some help, that I finally got the help from the adult mental health services team. I remember being in sixth form, really struggling with my mental health and I self-referred to CAMHS, which is child and adolescent mental health services.

And they said, oh, but you’re going to be 18 in six months. So by the time we get you through the waiting list, you’ll have turned 18 and then we can’t help you. And then you have to start the whole process again with adult mental health services. So can you just wait six months? And I was like, well no, not really. So that’s when I ended up going private.

Also like the mixed bag you can get with different doctors. So my doctor’s surgery at home at the time had like five or six doctors and you didn’t have a specific GP that you would see, it was just whoever was available unless you requested a specific one. And I had some doctors that would take it super seriously and try and help.

And I had one doctor that sticks out in my mind that said, this was the time when I was in there saying, I will not leave until you give me help because I don’t feel safe going home. And he said, have you tried going for a run? Have you tried exercising more? And I was like, are you kidding? And then he was saying, well why don’t you exercise? Cause I wasn’t really doing any exercise at that point. And I said, well I can’t afford a gym membership because at the time, I think I wasn’t earning very much. And he was like, why don’t you just go running outside? And I was like, because it’s winter. And I’m a woman and I work during the day. So by the time work is over, it’s dark and I’m not going out running on my own in the dark.

And he just could not understand it. He was like, that’s not an excuse. That’s just you giving yourself excuses. So not only could he not understand mental health, he also couldn’t understand feminism and like sexual violence against women. And I just said to him, I was like, I knew that that day I was like, I have to get some help today. I’d actually turned up at work in the car park at nine o’clock and I was like, I can’t go in. So I just turned around and drove myself to the doctors and it was like, I’m going to sit here now until I get some help.

So yeah, I said to him, I hear what you’re saying, but I want you to refer me. And I want someone from adult mental health services to assess me. And he was kind of like, oh okay then, fine. Because if you request it, they have to do it. Even if it’s not on their recommendation. So he like rang them up and was like, I’ve got this patient here. She wants a referral. I’m not recommending it, but I’ll leave it up to you to assess her.

Anyway, they gave me a separate room in the doctor’s surgery to wait for them to call me back because I said I wasn’t going home. And they called me back about half an hour later and they did the assessment and they were like, oh my goodness you need to come in today. Like now. Is there someone that can bring you down to Aylesbury to the adult mental health services unit. It was just crazy.

It was crazy how the different responses you can get from doctors are. So when people say oh just reach out and the help will be there, not always the case. And you have to be your own advocate at a time when that’s the last thing that you want to do, at a time when you feel like you don’t deserve help, that you’re absolutely worthless. You have to still fight for it. And it’s really, really hard.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. I’m actually so shocked. Albeit, I’m not in some ways because, similar to you, I reached out to a charity yeah, years ago, who my friend reached out to. So she lost her parent really young. I think they actually came to the house at the time it happened, you know, they kind of consulted in that way, really supportive. And then she worked with them later on in her life as well.

But similar to you, I spoke to them because I was like, I don’t know, not in Bedford, but not in this catchment, whatever it was. I think I was actually like meters out of whatever they were saying. I couldn’t get any help. I mean speak about digital marketing. So I was, and I work in marketing, targeted for my current therapist and she followed me and yeah, she was local, had all the accreditations.

And what I liked most is, like you say, I think she was slightly more expensive than the NHS but you know, which is fine and she was worth every penny, but it was also more that there was no wait. And there was no dingy building where everyone thinks you just lay on a table with a box of tissues. I kind of said this in Max’s episode but not very well, but she has like a hut in her garden. Loads of lovely, like Brené Brown, you know, pictures and plants and whatnot. And she’s my sort of age, similar sort of background and stuff. So yeah, couldn’t have, you know, got a better therapist. She’s like gold dust.

But yeah, I struggled to get the kind of, you know like you say, official NHS type support. But also when I went to the doctors and that and they mentioned say antidepressants and so on. Again, other friends had done that, but my God I got so much judgment on any sort of coping mechanism that I tried. So I agree with you, it’s not always the best getting to reach out because yeah, it just, it breaks you down. Like you say at the time that you need that least. Yeah, real tough.

And I think it’s so sort of, what’s the word, like everyone’s so ashamed, but you can go for so many reasons. It could be work stress. It could be trauma from your childhood. And people sort of like joke and oh no, they’re going to bring up this. And it’s like, well that was a traumatic experience though. Or work is every day, everyone sort of says like you said earlier, you hate your job but you’re at it five days a week, and you see those colleagues more than you do half of your friends.

So yeah, I don’t think talking is enough and I don’t think reaching out is enough. I think we need to assess how we do that. But yeah, what you just said, I’m actually shocked.

Kathryn Monkcom: The other thing that baffles me is the type of therapy I ended up having with psychodynamic therapy. Which looks at, so where CBT cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on your thoughts, thought processes and your actions like in the present day. Psychodynamic therapy actually goes back and looks at, okay. It believes that everything that is coming up for you now has roots in something that happened before you were two years old. And like, things that happened in very early childhood and how those like connections in your brain were formed and therefore the thought patterns that you have now. And that was really, really helpful for me. But on the NHS, I still believe this is the case, the only type of therapy you can get a CBT.

Tiffany Trethowan: Right. Interesting. Yeah. Cause I think they also say don’t they that like you, it takes you until I think you’re eight years old, that you can really develop who you are. And yeah, I couldn’t agree more with that as well, because this is just a random little example but like, you know if I’m just sitting here and somebody comes behind me and goes like bang or something like that or Tiff, that sort of thing, I will massively freak out.

And I think it’s because most of my childhood, I was always on the verge of fight or flight massively. And like a lot of the things people, not criticised but like acknowledged about me, like I’m overly sensitive and all of this kind of thing is cause I had to respond and see things I shouldn’t have seen. And I didn’t feel you know, safe, loved, whatever at the time. So yeah, it’s definitely embedded in my wiring.

Kathryn Monkcom: When you realised that, did that really, did make you go like, well it’s not a surprise is it? Like, no wonder I’m acting or feeling this way?

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah. I mean, I knew it was going to come up. I went for a few reasons, similar to you I sort of struggled with living at home and whatnot as well. And yeah, career. I went down a different path, felt a huge amount of judgment in that. But yeah, I knew she was going to bring up my dad. But yeah, what was the biggest thing for me is that I think our world is full of opportunity. Like we can Google everything, but I think is quite scary in the sense of like you said, our parents would have sort of settled down, had one career path, wouldn’t have gone on holiday, et cetera.

Whereas we’ve got Tinder, we’ve got traveling, we’ve got careers and that’s great but it’s quite scary. And I think where sort of that also taps on top of me is the fact that he did things that he, well, basically he was an alcoholic. And he adored us kids, so obviously I struggled to accept why would you keep drinking if you adore us? But obviously he’s addicted. So when you watch somebody do something they know that’s wrong, it just really showed to me, it does this day, that like the world’s a scary place.

Yeah for me, I went to school, I did my homework. I played by the rules. So when other people don’t, whether it’s driving on the road or whatever, it really triggers me. And I think it’s just because I’m fully aware of, even though people as an adult should know best, they don’t always do the best if that makes sense. So that was, everyone kind of thinks that probably, oh Tiff’s dad alcoholic, she probably talked about loads of like intense stuff, but sometimes it’s more just what you witnessed and what that means. And, did that make sense? Yeah, I find life a tad scary.

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah. And I think it takes a bucket load of self-compassion to be able to kind of carry on. Because like you say, like the world is a scary place. Like it’s mad that we go out and do stuff every day with the risks that are out there. And it takes a lot of self-compassion and also compassion for other people to realise actually, I can see that I’m doing something or someone else is doing something that I don’t agree with, but I can see where that’s coming from.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, I think the other thing people find quite tough is that I speak quite highly of him. And of course his alcoholic actions are bang out of order and I do not commend them at all. But obviously, he was addicted to something. So I obviously, and it sounds silly but like for me, love is priceless and yet idolised us, and you can’t buy that. So I obviously think highly of that side of things as well.

What else? I just had another good thought. But yeah, I think having a coach and a therapist and all those great things, or a PT, they’re all great things to have in your life. Yeah, just so shocked by what you went through.

Kathryn Monkcom: One of the things that we talked about a lot in therapy was when I was very young, my dad had cancer. So when I was two, and he had a relapse again when I was six. And luckily he survived both. But then when I was 14, my mum had a benign brain tumor. And again, she survived very luckily. But like that was when all my mental health stuff really kicked off. So not only being a teenager, like that’s a tough time anyway. But the parallels between what happened when I was tiny and I was making all those connections in my brain, it’s not a surprise at all what happened or what was going on for me.

So just being able to realise that didn’t fix everything, but it lifted a huge weight because it made me realise actually, of course I’m not going to be having the best time right now. It’s not surprising and I can have that self-compassion and comfort my inner child and understand a bit more where those thoughts and feelings are coming from.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yes. It’s strange you say that, cause I know a lot of people now around my age that have lost their parents. Even my mum says to me now, I can’t believe how many friends and family have lost their parents. And some of those to cancer. And it’s interesting, I lost my dad suddenly but then I think there’s pros and cons to watching them pass away, you know through things like cancer.

And like you say, I think people think. Again, the sort of really intense side of it. But at the end of the day, you bring it back to the roots of yeah, being a child. You know, even if say you’re 18 et cetera. Like you said earlier, like your sister, you turn to your parents, you turn to your head teacher. So if there’s a chance you could lose them, that sort of love, protection, safety, all that stuff we look for as a human being. And animals, they turn to their sort of you know, mum and dad et cetera, of course that’s going to have an impact. And then you worry about what else could be taken away or, you know so yeah. It’s funny, isn’t it? Because then people do, they sort of get so alarmed when you go to a counsellor, then you think well, I’ve been through some stuff.

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah. To be honest, I think everyone could benefit from seeing a therapist or a counsellor. It’s just that like at the moment, there’s not enough to go round.

Tiffany Trethowan: I know. Sometimes I recommend my therapist, I’m like, damn she’ll get more busy. She’s really busy anyway.

Kathryn Monkcom: Be like, if I recommend you to five people, can I book my next year’s worth of appointments in advance?

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, no, absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s really important to have one. And I think that as well, I don’t know about you, the biggest kind of reasoning for getting one is that you know, your friends, your family, other halves, they’re all biased to you. You know, subconsciously. This person is a complete external opinion. That’s the game changer. Because then, I started to believe some of the stuff people were saying to me like you know, you say I overthink or I shouldn’t change my career. And then when somebody else says you know, your gut, you’re like okay, I’m not going mad. Everything I sort of stand by and things that I’ve observed it often, yeah I’m not gonna lie.

I think I had a question, I had somebody say to me once, does the counsellor say that often you’re wrong basically? And I was like no, the latter. And it’s usually down to people that ask me that bloody question. So yeah, really interesting. Okay, well it’s funny that’s got like really intense, but we’ve come to the end of the conversation now.

You recently said that you’ve been listening to the podcast in your gym time. So you know what your next and last question is. When you eat your scone or scone, however you like to say it, do you eat to the Cornish way or the Devon way?

Kathryn Monkcom: I can’t remember, although I was literally listening to your podcast the other day, which is which, but I do the cream first and then the jam on top.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yes. You’re the Devon way, which is like me, despite my, Cornish name.

Kathryn Monkcom: And I can’t remember who it was that said this about why, but I completely agree that if you put the jam on first and then put the cream on, it or just mixes together and like, you get the wrong bit on the wrong knife. And then it’s really difficult. But if you spread the cream first and then you can dollop up the jam on top, then they don’t mix.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah, I think that was my cousin Danica, but there’s been more Devon than Cornish I have to say. I think I’ve had one or two Cornish so far, but yeah, I agree. I see it as like a butter, but they think that the cream acts as a base, which I kind of get. But no, I agree with you. It sort of swirls in, so nobody wants that. It’s like dinner isn’t it you know, not everybody wants their dinner sort of mixed together.

Kathryn Monkcom: Yeah I’m really fussy about that. When I was a kid I used to have to have like, if I had like chicken nuggets, chips and spaghetti, I had to have the spaghetti like, in a little bowl on the plate because I didn’t like them touching. I’m not that fussy now, but I still like will eat one bit of the meal at a time.

Tiffany Trethowan: Yeah see my sister, she like cuts it all up almost like you’re a baby, and then she mixes it all together. And quite often she won’t eat like a third of it and you think, oh I could have eaten that, but it’s just what she likes to do. Okay. Well, thank you very much for your time today. It’s been lovely speaking with you.

Kathryn Monkcom: It’s been an absolute pleasure.

Tiffany Trethowan: We’ll be going out with a bang.

What a joy speaking with Kathryn. She’s a breath of fresh air with a whole load of wisdom. Be sure to find Kathryn online. All the details will be in the episode notes.

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