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7 Questions with Samantha Newport
7 Questions with Samantha Newport
Name: Samantha Newport
Current title: Founder
Current organisation: The Room – Psy
I am the founder of ‘The Room – Psy’ (www.theroompsy.com), Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology (Hons), BPS member, and proud environmentalist. I have other experience and training in law, business, and social media. I initially set up The Room – Psy to compliment my training as I continued along the academic path towards becoming a psychiatrist. The aim was to provide information, incite debate and reduce stigma surrounding everything psychology and mental health. Since then, my professional aims and the purpose of the brand has changed and evolved to incorporate more information beyond mental distress and disorder, to cover wider and deeper topics concerning health, society, wider aspects of psychology and environmentalism. I am currently working to expand my team and the platform, as well as qualify as a Humanistic Psychotherapist so I can further help people with their mental health and life goals.
I felt very alienated from my surroundings growing up and dealt with some significant challenges, setbacks, and mental health issues. This led me to develop a great deal of resilience as well as some really important values, which I utilise in everything I do. I strongly believe that life shouldn't just be about turning a profit or how many credentials you've got next to your name, but to contribute something valuable to this planet whilst you're on it. I believe that we all have a duty to do more and be better, and that success and progress cannot happen without being mindful of this principle.
This principle is part of why I do what I do with The Room – Psy. I get a significant amount of happiness and satisfaction knowing that my fabulous Featured Writers and I, aren’t just putting out great and free content to inspire change and educate - but that our work really does help people with their struggles, identity and sense of belonging in this cluttered, ego-centric world that we share. I wanted to design an online space to give people the opportunity to share something valuable that they write/create and expand current literature, free from agenda or academic politics.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
For me, it has been having the confidence to put myself out there and turn my vision into something tangible. Living in an incredibly competitive society that encourages us to "prepare to compare", can make it difficult to take the plunge and put initiative into action. It's all too easy sometimes to lose our nerve and let insecurities drown out our rational minds. Learning to acknowledge and then park distracting thoughts has been key to me overcoming doubts and being an effective leader.
My philosophy, hilariously, comes from a Tweet I read when I was 17: “Be first, be smarter, or cheat”. This message really stayed with me, as to me it meant not letting anyone or anything get in your way - that there is ALWAYS a way around an obstacle and that hard work and an open critical mind, is what will ultimately get you to where you want to be. This, plus always striving to be a better, healthier, and more self-aware person than you were yesterday. By practising kindness, empathy, self-care, and always engaging in some kind of research, you will keep your mind, body and soul active and continuously progressing towards a more authentic and valuable you – and therefore your brand too!
What is meant to be yours can never be taken from you, you just may need to elevate yourself and prune a few mental (or physical) weeds in order to get there.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Throughout school and college, I was the self-proclaimed 'Queen of Re-takes'. I was never someone who was "naturally smart", I found I had to work far harder than others to achieve the same things. I failed my second year at college and had to stay on to do a third, so to retake my psychology A-Level and undertake an EPQ in Abnormal Psychology. It dawned on me that this was my very last chance to pass and that University may never happen for me. This terrified me as I had no 'Plan B' for my future. I had a vision and I wasn't going to let a series of 45-minute exams get in the way of that. So I figured, what else can I do to add value to myself as a candidate, if I can't get my grades up to scratch? And that's where my idea was born.
I set up a Twitter account dedicated to psychology and personality disorders and used this to share research, quotes, fun facts and to connect with other academics. I thought I'd see how many followers I could get and set up a pretty basic looking website. I figured that I'd use this as an extra tool to help me revise and perhaps enrich my CV. I really enjoyed that time, made some interesting connections and learnt a lot. I ended up getting the necessary grade in my A-Level to go to University, and also achieved the highest score in my EPQ that my college ever had on record. I was amazed and my confidence was boosted significantly.
Whilst at University, I kept @theroompsy Twitter going and expanded onto Instagram. I didn’t maintain the pages much as I was busy living my #FreshersLife. However, things took a turn and I soon found myself deep within the grips of depression, as many uni students do. I lost a significant amount of people in my life, became crippled by anxiety, and even contemplated taking my life. I really learnt that year what having poor mental health meant and what future clients of mine could be facing.
I ended up quitting uni and re-starting at another, closer to home. Too scared to ask for professional help, I took recovery into my own hands. It took a few years, but I did it and I was irreversibly changed - my personality and identity had completely and utterly shifted. As I healed and challenged my inner demons, I went through an intense process of self-reflection and shed multiple layers of myself. I started to become mindful of the type of content I was consuming and chose only to engage in activities, relationships, and literature that fed my soul, confidence, and creativity. I cut people out, I dyed my hair, I developed new habits; I gave up meat, smoking, Facebook, and the need to “keep up with the Jones’”. I became protective over my mind, peace, and space and started living more authentically. I was determined to find out who the real me was and what I could do with that.
When I graduated, I had a clearer vision of what I wanted to do with my life and decided to really turn my attention to what I had built so far with 'The Room – Psy'. I expanded my online presence, disabled my old, basic website and designed a new dynamic platform. I re-evaluated my brand and what I wanted it to represent, wrote out a clear mission statement, set a number of goals, designed a life path, and recruited a team of Featured Writers and Guest Writers to assist me. Whilst only running formally for just under two years, I have increased my follower base, connections, knowledge and skills significantly and have achieved some amazing things – such as assisting in suicide prevention, supporting critical activism movements, helping students and aspiring professionals, as well as interviewing TED Talk speaker and the first person to ever achieve a Doctorate in Positive Psychology, the brilliant Dr Orin C. Davis.
My story so far isn’t all about business plans and investments, but a journey of self-discovery, passion and personal growth, which I hope will inspire and encourage followers of the platform.
If I can contribute something useful, that encourages people not to give up, to ever work towards self-improvement, achievement and happiness, then that's all that matters to me. Having gone through overwhelming mental health problems and come out on the other side, I hope to be there for others in the future and help them heal and reach whatever goal they’re fighting for and do so from a real place of empathy and understanding. Therefore, next on my agenda is to fully qualify as a Humanistic Psychotherapist and expand the platform into making podcasts, hosting events and lectures, organising activism movements, charity promotions and beyond. Stay tuned.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Every year I invest in the ‘Law of Attraction Planner’, by Freedom Mastery. This intelligently designed planner uses psychological principles to train your mind towards wanting to do and achieve more through a reward system, along with structuring, analysing and reflecting upon behaviours, moods and thoughts.
This immensely thorough tool allows me to design goals and identify weaknesses/inhibitors in 8 key areas of my life: health, family, money, fun and recreation, career and business, relationships, personal growth, and spirituality. This enables me to focus, prioritise, and plan my entire life in a way that is immensely enjoyable and rewarding. By using the different sections in this planner I can seamlessly transition through different responsibilities and leisure activities without guilt, FOMO, or worrying about time constraints and whether something has been "done". I can identify gaps in my life and plan for what I need to, whilst making sure I maintain balance. Health is wealth, and success can only come after that.
Therefore, the structure of my workdays are ever-changing, depending on what new demands or challenges come up. However recently, my workdays consist of early rising, yoga, meditation, weight-lifting, followed by carefully plotted, strategic priorities to promote the growth of my brand and keep fresh content rolling, scheduled into half-hour to one-hour slots throughout the day.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
To be congruent and to do whatever you say you’re going to do. AKA: Consistency and reliability.
We may all have great intentions and noble targets that we set for ourselves, but this doesn’t mean much if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain. I’ve learnt to never tell someone a definitive date/time of when I will do something unless it is an absolute certainty that I will deliver.
It’s better to keep things vague for a little while than make promises and let people down. No one cares about your intentions, just the results.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
To be honest, none. I don't read those kinds of books. The books I read are written by YouTubers, reality stars, or other people I admire - personal accounts that relate to overcoming hardships and becoming better versions of themselves for a greater good and internal benefit. Otherwise, I read books and academic journals about psychology, disorder, society, psychocybernetics, powers of the universe, quantum physics and manifestation, and self-development.
The closest thing I have visually and/or mentally consumed that has impacted my leadership, have been reasonably average people. Most professionals or successful people would cite profound and iconic academics, CEO’s or philosophers as their influences/inspirations, whereas mine are those who are far more accessible and relatable, such as Stefani Germanotta, Jasmine Brown, Natalie Eva Marie, Natalie DiDonato, and Gabbie Hanna for their extreme resilience, relentless drive and amazing vision. People such as Hannah Howlett (High Carb Hannah) and Russel Brand for their inspiring journey into health, healing, and beyond. In addition to other outspoken individuals such as Brandi Glanville, Alicia Moore, Lyndsay Hamilton and Jenny Claffey.
These people, their messages and their work (along with many others), inspire and fuel the different and distinct aspects of my personality, encouraging me to be confident, reflective, kind, motivated, open-minded, to want better (not necessarily more), and to take no sh*t. I carry over these values and influences into everything I do, and this I feel, is what most profoundly impacts my leadership so far.
I think you can achieve more and speak to far more people by just being genuine, authentic, and congruent, along with a good and balanced work ethic.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
I build leadership capacity by focusing on how I think I make people feel. I ask myself questions such as: am I being too formal? Am I being professional enough? Am I approachable? Does my team feel comfortable and safe to come to me about any concerns, ideas, feedback or confusions? If not, why not - and how can I make this better?
By asking myself these kinds of questions and communicating with my team in a way that makes them feel valued, capable, and empowered, they have produced more and far greater pieces of research and online content over time. This has resulted in my Featured Writers wanting to get more involved with other projects, as well as suggest some of their own ideas and features themselves - all of which contributes to the growth and success of the platform.
For me, leadership isn't just about skills. We won't necessarily be able to attain "all the skills" - and the ones we do develop can become rusty over time. Therefore, whilst always working on ourselves and what we can offer, I believe in making relationships something solid and of quality. I always want my team to feel absolutely comfortable and confident when interacting with me, engaging with their work, and in just being themselves - as this is what leads to producing higher quality work, faster growth, and longer retention of your team (because happiness is important!). Being rigid, critical or resistant to change is the quickest way to make people feel bad and lose them - in an SME and in life.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
I've learnt that passion and interest don't mean much if you're not also continuously working on your practical and transferrable skills. In my role, as Founder of 'The Room – Psy', I am also the sole team leader, editor, HR person, PR Person, recruiter, advertiser, marketer, and social media manager – plus everything else. This means that my hands are spinning a lot of plates – all the time. This means that when curveballs are thrown at me, such as someone in my DM’s telling me they plan to take their life that evening, it can be very overwhelming.
As a psychology, health and well-being brand - with much of our traffic coming in through social media links - by nature, these kinds of messages can come in from time to time and need to be handled with care. Luckily, as someone trained and certified in suicide prevention, I'm equipped to de-escalate and alert and/or signpost to appropriate charities/services that could help and offer treatment. This can sometimes take quite a few hours, therefore as a leader of an SME, I learnt (in quite an extreme way), the importance of delegating and asking for help.
Needing to write to XYZ person, or finding out about synergies with ABC charity, isn’t feasible to fit into the last three hours of your day when you have got somebody in a critical state depending on you, and only you, right now. You can’t postpone, or “cancel” that kind of thing. These incidents taught me critical skills and the importance of appropriately managing workloads and trusting my team enough to delegate tasks to them, should I personally need to deal with something urgent and unexpected. Being rammed and overloaded, inhibits your ability to be an effective leader and could even have some unforeseen consequences. This made me realise as a leader, how important it is to be organised and flexible - as deadlines wait for no man, but if you’re urgently required to attend to something, it’s critical that you have capacity to act.
These occurrences further motivated me to continue working on my skills whilst running 'The Room – Psy'. Therefore I decided to undertake a Counselling Skills Level 2 Certificate, whilst I strive towards qualifying as a psychotherapist, so with enhanced listening and helping skills, I can be a more effective support should unexpected messages arrive in my inbox in the future.