My Working Day – Christine Kelly – Founder of Little Kickers

My Working Day
Christine Kelly

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals.  But, how do these business leaders go about their daily routine?

Business Leader spoke to Christine Kelly, Founder of Little Kickers – about her working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

My alarm is usually set for 7.10am although the lockdown has screwed up my routine somewhat so I’ve been having a few more lie-ins than usual.

What do you typically have for breakfast?

Yogurt and fresh fruit and a piece of pumpernickel bread with a couple of cups of coffee. My son is home from university for the summer and working at a local independent coffee shop so the standard of coffee in our house has stepped up a gear recently.

What’s the rest of your morning routine before you start work?

I take my dog (a black miniature dachshund called Ludwig) for a walk on the beach with my partner, Norbert.  It’s a lovely peaceful start to the day and we have a chance to chat about the day ahead.  I live just up the road from a big sandy beach and spend a lot of time walking with my dog – it really helps me to decompress and have ideas and plan. I then drink more coffee – I’m useless until I’ve had a couple of cups.

First thing you do at the start of work day?

Check my calendar for the day, have a look at Little Kickers posts from around the world on social media and then read through my emails – Little Kickers operates in 33 countries so there’s always something going on somewhere! I spend the first 30 mins or so catching up on what’s been happening while I have been asleep.  Most of my work calls take place in the morning so I’m usually pretty much back-to-back until about lunchtime.

How do you prioritise your work?

Little Kickers hired a CEO, Alan Kennedy, just over two years ago and he’s done a fantastic job of taking over the day-to-day running of the business.  I now focus on the culture, strategy and new initiatives which I enjoy far more and corresponds better with my skill-set.  Before Alan came on board I was managing the operation and trying to develop the businesses’ direction and strategy and it very full-on and quite stressful.

I’m quite a list-maker and always have a notebook with me where I jot down things I need to do, then I work my way through the list over the course of the day.

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

Little Kickers started using the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) methodology for running the business back in 2016.  EOS has provided a very structured approach to defining longer-term goals then working backwards so that every member of the team has a very defined set of actions they must complete every quarter, and they report back on their progress towards achieving these in a meeting which takes place at the same time and on the same day every week and according to a set format.

This approach has enabled us to improve communications – we all know exactly which member of the team is working on what and how they are progressing – and to ensure that the actions we’re all taking on an ongoing basis will enable us to achieve Little Kickers’ longer-term objectives. It has also dramatically reduced the amount of time we spend having “update/status” meetings.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

I go for a run a couple of times a week at lunchtime, but on the days when I’m not running, I usually eat lunch at my desk. If work is really busy I will continue working while I eat, but if it’s quieter I will usually read the news.

When does your working day finish?

Unless I have an evening call with an overseas franchisee, I usually finish around 4.30pm and take the dog out for a walk. I used to start working again once I had put the kids to bed, but I realised a few years ago that it’s hard to maintain the momentum long term if you’re spending all your time working. Little Kickers has been operating for 18 years now and I have become a lot more disciplined about carving out time to spend relaxing with my family and friends rather than working really long hours.

How do you prepare for your next day’s work?

I don’t spend much time planning for the next day – I just check my diary so I know what’s coming up, and make sure I have done any research or prep necessary for any of my upcoming meetings.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

I’d have to say Zoom. We’ve been using it for years at Little Kickers because we all work from home (even pre-COVID-19) and it’s invaluable for us as a communication tool.  I’ve also started using it more for social purposes since lockdown and have regular calls scheduled with friends and a family pub quiz with my parents in Spain and my brothers in Manchester and Istanbul every Sunday.

How do you switch off?

If I’m feeling stressed I like to go for a long run, bike ride or dog walk by the lake to clear my head. I also love to travel – having franchisees in so many locations gives me a great excuse to see the world and I love spending time with them learning about new cultures. I find flying pretty relaxing and some of my best ideas take shape when I’m forced to sit still for a few hours with no internet connection.

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Early in my career, I worked for Enron for four months just before the company filed for bankruptcy and I was not comfortable with some of the things I was asked to do. I called my Dad and he told me to follow my gut and that you need to be able to look at yourself in the mirror when you reach the end of your life and be proud of the decisions you have made and the actions you have taken. This advice has stayed with me and guided me through some of the harder decisions I have had to make.

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