Mike Ford
By Sophie Dervan

With a career spanning more than 20 years in the creative and events industry, Mike has owned, led, and built successful full service agencies in the UK and US.

He has, in the past few years, followed his passion in performance and wellbeing and is now the founder of Grateful Lemon, a consultancy helping leaders, their teams and their people to thrive and not just survive in an ever changing and complex world.

Mike has spent the last few years understanding the best in science , sport, performance and health. He has a fresh approach to helping people take ownership of their wellbeing and performance by mastering the dance between stress and recovery. So much more than wellbeing, Mike helps people and teams to build the foundations of sustainable performance

Q: You will be addressing the Fast Forward 15 graduation on Friday 30th June, what can we expect?

I am delighted and excited to be able to address this special audience, the current and future stars of the industry. My hope is that I can inspire each of you to embrace one or more of the super power habits that I know can not only transform your energy levels but can help to create a sustainable foundation to enable you to perform at your best consistently over the long term. All practical daily habits, backed by science and grounded in reality.

I’d also like to start a conversation among the audience to help transform the culture of the industry; which is all part of what I call the ‘Human Energy Revolution’.

Q: You talk a lot about the Human Energy Revolution, could you tell us a little more about what this is?

We are emerging from a model of life and work that is outdated, where everything assumes that life revolves around work. Productivity goals were aimed at minimising downtime and the core belief was he who worked longer and harder would win. That is what I call “hustle culture”. The Human Energy Revolution is about a new way of working that enables people to thrive and not just survive. It’s a new way that abolishes burnout and puts being human at its core.

I am now standing on a soapbox talking about there being another way, but in the past I was guilty of leading the hustle culture, and I did that for more than 20 years.

Our industry is renowned for its intensity, pressure to meet client deadlines, and often working ridiculous hours. For example, the creative team would say they did their best work at 3am. As a leader, I not only allowed it, but encouraged it. People think that the harder they work, the longer hours they work, they get a badge for it; when actually what we fail to do is master what I call, the dance between stress and recovery.

The Human Energy Revolution is helping people in the first instance to take responsibility for their own energy, and connecting the dots between their lifestyle and habits out of work and how that may impact a sustainable performance  at work. Then as leaders, it is important  to walk the talk and lead from the front with their teams. The transformations that I have witnessed in people and teams has been amazing to be part of. Energy truly is contagious.

What top tips would you give to a young event professional to maintain their energy levels in this high pressure, deadline-driven environment?

  1. Master the dance between stress and recovery. Understand the importance of recovery, reframe the meaning of stress, as not all stress is bad for you
  2. Take personal responsibility for your energy and wellbeing. The cavalry aren’t coming. No one will make the decision for you when it comes to your health and wellbeing. Be conscious about how you think, eat, move, and sleep.
  3. Make your health your number one priority on a list of one. Everything you are, everything you have (family, friends, dog, house, business, success), all of it rests on this tectonic plate, the foundation  called your health.
  4. Focus on your gut. A happy gut is a happy you. There is a huge amount of evidence linking good gut health with mood, skin, sleep, metabolism, digestion and energy.