9th April 2020

Culture / Outdoors / Penny Lee

Changing The Way We Do Business by Penny Lee

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Penny Lee has always been inspired by those doing things differently – something we have in common. She founded Walking, Whisky, Wellness through an eagerness to change the way we do business. She thought there must be another way, away from the boardroom meetings, stuffy offices and insufferable networking events. Penny knew that all her Good Ideas came from spending time outdoors. Walking, Whisky, Wellness was created as “a business conference in disguise”, where people meet in nature, walk and talk in small groups with the opportunity to make real connections and be inspired.

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the word.

John Le Carre

Walking Whisky Wellness was initially born from a personal ritual of taking myself off into the great outdoors and walking when I really needed to focus on an idea or a project and making future plans.

I started notably doing this when I was living and working in the centre of Amsterdam. To create some kind of ‘creative retreat’ for myself I would come back to the UK for a few days and stay in the countryside. I’d walk for six hours a day, find a pub to go to and sit by the fire, have a whisky and read, to get thoughts together and make plans. Going outside and moving makes you appreciate things more. It gives your ideas room to breathe and helps you to see things clearer.

Walking and Thinking
I have since discovered lots of scientific studies proving why walking is good for our creative thought processes. All the greats were in on it: Dickens, Byron, Wordsworth and most recently Steve Jobs. Fresh air in, fresh ideas out.

In the New Yorker, Ferris Jabr wrote ‘Why Walking Helps Us Think’:
The answer begins with changes to our chemistry. When we go for a walk, the heart pumps faster, circulating more blood and oxygen not just to the muscles but to all the organs—including the brain.

Because we don’t have to devote much conscious effort to the act of walking, our attention is free to wander—to overlay the world before us with a parade of images from the mind’s theatre. This is precisely the kind of mental state that studies have linked to innovative ideas and strokes of insight.”

Gathering and Connecting
I have always found networking daunting. It’s something I dread and get away from as quickly as possible. Although I love meeting new people and learning about how they do things differently, I noticed that I was tending towards being a social introvert* in a typical business environment. Large gatherings, conferences in stuffy halls are exhausting and often equally painful. I just felt there could be another way of doing this.

I began to have the idea of expanding what worked for me to incorporate others. More and more people started to respond to my personal retreats showing I was not alone in needing this space. Others were also searching for a more natural and gentle way of meeting people.

In October 2018 it developed into a weekend business conference. An intimate gathering at the base of the Cairngorms, Scotland, in a remarkable country house with the purpose to inspire, connect and refresh.

Do Your Business Outside
Spending time with those who dare to do differently makes us all more daring. Walking, Whisky, Wellness brings together industry experts and great creative minds for some truly beneficial walking, talking and sharing of ideas. All with the mission to do business differently. Why is serious business always deemed to be in offices and behind desks? Why do conferences have to be in conference halls with legendary bad food? Why do they have to be things we can’t wait to get away from? We prove that networking doesn’t have to be sufferable. By sharing good times, the connections we make are more worthy, deeper and lasting.

By keeping it small we give people the space to think and connect. It’s simple. Stripping back business to form real human connections. Fresh air, excellent food, really good drinks and interesting people doing interesting things. That’s it. Then the magic happens. To see it work this way has been a powerful reminder that we are all capable of creating change. And we are better together.

We gather to solve problems we cannot solve on our own.” – Priya Parker, author of ‘The Art of Gathering’.

The Business Landscape Continues to Change
People power businesses. How we behave and the decisions we make effect those around us. How we lead teams, treat colleagues, structure organisations and even look after our own wellbeing all create impact. By spending time and getting connected to others who are positively shaping work culture we make steps towards good changes.

Walking, Whisky, Wellness is taking a break in 2020. As a side project it takes a serious amount of time, care and preparation. I am taking a year to focus on my main branding business -The Brand Directoress- but Walking, Whisky, Wellness will be returning the following year to continue the important discussion of the future of work culture in interesting places.

*Introverts are in fact social people who value human connections, only with less need to
socialise than extroverts, and with different preferences for the circumstances of social
interaction. – Michael Schiller, founder of Social Introverts.

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Penny Lee has always been inspired by those doing things differently – something we have in common. She founded Walking, Whisky, Wellness through an eagerness to change the way we do business, reforming stuffy boardroom meetings to inspiring walks outside. Penny has also founded The Brand Directoress: brand strategy and design for women in business. Encouraging us to "go niche".

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