Family & Work Obelisk In Action

Obelisk launch new refresher courses

Reengaging talent which has been lost from the legal profession has long been top of the agenda for Obelisk Support. We have therefore created this Workshop, which is supported by the Women Lawyers Division of the Law Society in a unique partnership, in order to optimise the work readiness and confidence of our highly qualified and highly motivated talent pool.

Our Refresher Workshop will cover a range of topics hosted by guest speakers;

Dana Denis-Smith, founder and CEO of Obelisk Support, is an entrepreneur, former Linklaters lawyer and international journalist. She founded Obelisk to keep ex-City lawyers working flexibly, around their family or other personal commitments and to provide clients with an affordable and flexible quality legal support solution onshore. Dana is a multiple award winning business woman from “Best Strategic Leadership” Award at the Managing Partners Forum Awards for Management Excellence in 2014, to flexible work champion by the Timewise Foundation in their Power Part Time List of 50 leading business people in the UK. Obelisk was a Stand Out winner in the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards 2013. Dana was one of 10 European lawyers shortlisted in the Individual Legal Innovator category of the 2012 FT awards. In 2010 she was names as one of Management Today magazine’s “35 under 35” list of UK female high flyers. She is the founder of the First 100 Years project charting the journey of women in law over the last 100 years.

Rina Goldenberg Lynch, Founder and Managing Director of Voice At The Table offers 20 years of experience as a City lawyer and executive and brings with her the wealth of skills that a corporate career imparts.  In recent years, Rina has been working on diversity and inclusion matters, helping develop D&I strategy and initiatives.  Rina has also been coaching and mentoring women in the corporate, not-for-profit and entrepreneurial sectors with great success. She is an Accredited Associate Executive Coach, a qualified ILM Level 5 trainer, a speaker and innovator. 

Scott Jones is the founder of Footprint, the sustainable media and communications agency. He works with inspiring start-ups and some of the world’s largest brands telling business stories about innovation, sustainability and change. Footprint is a full service agency, from consultancy to production to activation – working across press, broadcast, video, print, social and live events. Before moving into media and communications five years ago, Scott was a Business journalist on national newspapers and a producer at the BBC – working in the Business and Consumer Unit making The Money Programme and Watchdog. 

Krisztina Ambrus decided to have a career change after working in luxury residential real estate in Central London. As fashion had always been her passion, starting a personal styling and image consultancy business seemed to be a straightforward choice. She trained at the London College of Fashion and her image consultancy training at First Impressions before setting up Imago Styling. 

Joanna Gaudoin is a personal and corporate image expert.  She helps Individual women and organisations work on their image and impact for professional success.  Experience and expertise will always be vital but how and what we communicate with others about ourselves and the perception they form of us are pivotal for success. These skills help us differentiate ourselves positively and build credibility for better professional relationships, whilst also enhancing our confidence.  Through her one-to-one programme with women and running corporate training, Joanna helps individuals work on their appearance, body language and communication to achieve their goals for their own career success and the success of their organisation. Prior to running her own company, Joanna worked in marketing and consultancy for almost ten years with blue-chip clients such as Mars, Diageo, Toshiba and SABMiller.

There will also be opportunities for returners to network with each other and the Obelisk Support team, as well as a drinks reception. We hope that it will be a fun and informing session – the focus will be on confidence, empowerment and bringing back to the surface the skills which our highly qualified Obelisk lawyers already possess.

Family & Work Trending

“Mums the Word”: 7 Reasons Why Women Stop Being Lawyers

This blog is a tribute – just not one to my mother, as you would expect on this Mother’s Day. It is a dedication from a mother to the hundreds of mother lawyers that I have come to know since I founded Obelisk Support in 2010 around a simple idea: to allow them to set the hours they work and in turn to empower them to continue their legal careers.

Law loses its female talent at the mid-level career point in huge numbers and often it is mothers that fall victim to the perception that they are inherently less committed and, in time, even less competent, as they choose to put their children first. I struggle to think of an example among my friends (I would be 7 years PQE now had I stayed to practice) who returned to find their job unchanged after having a child. Most commonly their job (if they had not been made redundant) would have been restructured to include less responsibility and less reward on their return from maternity leave.

But what are the real reasons women leave the law once they become mothers? I asked our Obelisk lawyer mums and these are the 7 reasons they identified:

1. Long commuting for work

Most of the mums that work with Obelisk have 2 or 3 children and they moved out of London. Many tried to commute into their old firms before eventually deciding to quit to focus on their families. “The long commute and really long hours in nursery were running all of us ragged and unhappy and something had to give. The main catalyst for leaving was when we moved house further out, and we didn’t think both of us commuting into London daily would really be viable.” (Emily, mum of 2).

2. Long working hours

“All-nighter” (working through the night without sleep) is a term that enters the legal vocabulary early in one’s career and sometimes it is a badge of honour to have “pulled” a few of those in a short space of time, especially in transactional departments. Spending the night in the office rather than at home with one’s children is an impossible choice for a parent to make voluntarily. The reward system in law firms, often structured around billable hours with annual minimum targets set between 1500-1800 hours, can easily run parents into the ground and more often than not pushes the mother out of the workplace. As Kate, mum of 2, puts it: “After heart breaking months of attempting to be superwoman, I quite simply decided to stop trying. As a family, we had to turn our lives upside down in order to enable me to give up work but once I did, I never looked back and I am so glad to have made the choice I did”.

3. Marriage

We have come some way from the days when women first entered the profession in the 1920s. For much of the early part of the 20th Century a woman working would reflect badly on her husband’s means to support a family, as Madeleine Heggs, probably England’s longest serving solicitor, recently said at the launch of First 100 Years ( Still to this day, however, marriage more often than not leads employers to think that it is only a matter of time before the woman leaves to start a family. Indeed, someone recently mentioned that a generous marriage gift from the employer was accompanied by a card suggesting she spent the cash on a cradle.

“By the age of 25 I was called to the Bar and started working as an in-house Human Rights advocate for mostly people who had fled their home country for fear of persecution. At this point something that I had always known at the back of my head but not yet introduced to my career-self was that I wanted to marry and settle down.” (Shazia, mum of 3)

4. Motherhood – the first years

The joy and delight of watching the children grow in the early years was identified unanimously as a key step in the decision to leave full time work. Annie (mum of 3): “I preferred the option of being at home when my children were small”; Lisa (mum of 1): ”I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her in her childhood, so as to be the person to whom she’d turn for comfort. I don’t want to feel like I am missing out on many of her first achievements”; Emily (mum of 2): “You can’t get those pre-school years back. One of my favourite secretaries from the law firm where I trained used to say to me, “If you ever have kids, make sure you’re not working when they’re small – you miss so much!” I must say, I didn’t really appreciate what she meant until I got there and had kids of my own but now I totally get it. Everyone is different and staying at home with the kids won’t necessarily suit everyone”.

5. Motherhood – the Employer’s choice

Redundancy as a result of becoming a mother and the loss of confidence as a result of this discrimination can hit women really hard. One of our lawyers, who wished to remain anonymous: “Whilst I was on maternity, a new head of legal was appointed. Then, also whilst I was on maternity leave, I was made redundant. I was disappointed by these events as I had thoroughly enjoyed working as an in-house counsel. I could not help but feel that there was some discrimination against me as I had become a mother with family responsibilities”.

6. Motherhood & work balance

It’s a very personal decision and I am striving to find the right balance between enjoying work as a transactional lawyer and devoting as much time as possible to my daughter. I think my needs and my daughter’s needs will change over time and working flexibly keeps me up to speed with the latest legal developments and will allow me to dip in and out of employment


I started to feel like the children always needed more of me than my work commitments would allow me to give. I made what now seems to me to be a brave and entirely positive decision to do one thing really well, rather than two things at less than the level of perfection I always set myself. I am so glad to have made the choice I did


I felt like I was missing out on my kids’ development and quite honestly, I was jealous of the nanny. Flexible working and choosing lifestyle over work suddenly makes so much sense.”


When I returned to law, after spending 5 happy, busy years raising my 3 children, my preference was to have a greater degree of control over my hours than I had while in private practice, while at the same time doing interesting and challenging work


7. The shift in priorities

Mothers often yield to the needs of those around them – from children to their extended families. It is certainly true that “your priorities shift after having kids and money isn’t everything” (Emily). Having a child with special needs, as Kate discovered, made her realise that “unknowingly coping” rather than putting the children first was the wrong way around and she quickly quit to do the mothering thing right. Shazia initially relocated to a non-English jurisdiction to follow the husband in his career move, only to then realise that was “career suicide” but after having her first child she too was “overwhelmed with responsibility, excitement and love for my daughter to the point that nothing else mattered.

One of our lawyers sums up the challenges for professional mums better than I could ever do. As a mother, much has to be considered – from the the expense of paying for childcare, to the practicalities of coordinating the diaries of family members, to the drop off or pick up as well as manage to work after being “on call” though the night. She said: “Despite legislation and social changes, women are still carer for children and look after the home. I feel that there is still a lot more work to be done by businesses to support mothers”.

Family & Work

Legal Insider interview Dana Denis-Smith

An Interview with… Dana Denis-Smith, founder & chief executive of ‘NewLaw’ contract lawyer supplier Obelisk Support.

In 2010, former journalist and Linklaters lawyer Dana Denis-Smith founded Obelisk Support which connects the pool of largely female ex-City legal talent to clients’ real needs for part-time and flexible resources.  Dana and the team have since won many awards, including in April being listed in The Times Top 50 Employers for Women 2015. Here Dana – one of the most forward thinking women in the business – talks to associate editor Caroline Hill about innovation, tech and what the legal market will look like in 10 years’ time.  How would you describe your business in 30 words?

“Obelisk Support’s aim is to make work work for our clients, our lawyers and their families whilst remaining a flexible, innovative and affordable provider of legal support to large corporates and law firms.”

Your growth rate is impressive, how many lawyers are working for Obelisk now?

“Our year-on-year growth remains strong – looking at 200% this year – after a couple of years at 400%. We have around 850 lawyers we can call on of which around 350 have a ‘green’ light and are available at any given time to ensure we remain highly responsive and able to build the best solution for clients.”

What appeals to clients most about your model?

“I think it is our ability to be creative with our legal solutions; we are highly versatile and fast; the other ingredients – great quality lawyers, flexibility, great management and great central team – they are a given and the foundation that enables us to push boundaries and lead the change.”

How is technology helping your business?

“Businesses like ours would not have been conceivable before the rise of faster speed internet and cloud technology; we believe in simplicity when it comes to implementing new technology – law is not an early adopter and therefore everything we have/ we are building has to account for the technical ability of its users and be very intuitive.”

What are the most interesting trends you are seeing in the legal profession?

“The overwhelming trend is really to look for and implement change; this is great as it makes the market a particularly interesting one to be in. I would say most of the innovation in the UK is in the space of operational efficiency, which is not surprising given the recent recession. There is a difference between the US and UK in the innovation we are seeing; the US is ahead in tech change as the size of the litigation market is huge there and making it more affordable through tech has led to some really interesting work – from case research to workflows and certainly the use of behavioural economics. Certainly I find the tech in US more interesting than over here.”

What innovation has particularly impressed you?

“Anything that involves predictive coding and constant machine learning I find really fascinating.”

What will the legal market look like in ten years’ time?

“I think it has to be the emergence of a ‘new’ lawyer – with a different set of skills and perhaps a more unified skills market between the various sides of the profession; the buying of legal services will change significantly and the lawyers of tomorrow will have to be able to interchange between being smart buyers and smart suppliers at various points in their careers. In a strange kind of way, the fact that there will be more automation in the lower level work will keep lawyers busy.”

If you could change one thing about the legal market, what would it be?

“I would change it so lawyers are trained to help them adapt to new tech and be more numerate.”

Family & Work Trending

Creativity to Productivity: how hobbies help at work

It’s no secret that having a creative outlet outside of work can make you happier and healthier. It helps relieve stress, provides social opportunities and takes your mind off the daily grind.

But having a hobby doesn’t just make you feel better; studies show it helps you cope better at work as well. Organisational psychologists have discovered that employees who are involved in creative activities outside of work experience 4 key benefits:

Mastery and control

Learning a new skill encourages a greater sense of mastery and control which leads to a better performance at work.

Creative problem solving

Although it might not directly relate to what you are doing at work, like all things, creativity takes practice. So if you practice being creative at home, studies show that you are more likely to be creative when performing in your work and to initiate a more imaginative way of problem-solving. In such a competitive working world, having the ability to think outside the box can be vital in helping you stand out from the crowd.

Effective recovery from work

Employees with after-hours hobbies are more effective in ‘recovering’ from a stressful working day. This is because they have a channel for self-expression and discovery. Creative activities allow us to mentally disengage from stressful work situations and this is vital in our recovery between work periods. Although you might go home for the night, if you don’t focus your mind on another activity, chances are you’re still mentally at the office and you’ll soon fatigue the systems you need to get your work done. This is especially true in an age of mobile phones and social media where our work can, quite literally, follow us home.

A better night’s sleep

Employees who engaged in creative activities reported less fatigue at the end of the evening and got a significantly better sleep than those who didn’t.

So with this in mind, perhaps now is the perfect time to spare some time for a creative endeavour. But which to choose?

  • Playing music boosts neuroplasticity
  • Chess improves strategic thinking
  • Knitting improves fine-motor skills
  • Reading slows cognitive decline

Whatever activity you choose, you are sure to be on your way to a happier and healthier way of life – which is good for you, your family and your work. As for me, I’ll be acting on this advice, literally. I’ve signed up for a screen-acting course as a way to explore my love of the performing arts and to gain some new life skills in the process. I might not make it to Hollywood, but at least I’ll get a good night’s sleep.

Family & Work

Confidence Boost from the Expert

How to Boost your Self Confidence in the Workplace.

Our former Chairwoman Helen Mahy shares her mantra on self confidence, setting out the five things to remember when you need to your confidence in your abilities a boost.

It is often said that women in business lack confidence. Indeed many studies show how good we are at underselling ourselves. I’m not sure about you but I have always had a bit of an issue with self-confidence. So how can women in business become more self confident?

If you look up the dictionary definition it is all a bit scary. “A feeling of assurance or certainty, especially in oneself or one’s capabilities. Belief in one’s ability to succeed”. Frankly I’ve never really been sure I was going to succeed. And I have always thought confident people to be rather arrogant.

Anyway, about 5 years ago I discovered a little book called “Buddhism Without Beliefs” by a former Buddhist monk called Stephen Batchelor. It’s all about the relevance of Buddhism to everyday living and in it there is a wonderful definition of self confidence which I have paraphrased below.

  1. Self confidence is not a form of arrogance
  2. It is trust in our ability to fulfill our potential
  3. It is the courage to face whatever life throws at us without losing equanimity
  4. It is the humility to treat every situation we encounter as one from which we can learn
  5. When I’m feeling less than self confident I repeat the above to myself and it does help.

Try it for yourself some day!

We titled this piece ‘Confidence Boost from the Expert’ in honour of Helen being awarded the CBE in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday list. Well done Helen from all the team at Obelisk.

Family & Work Trending

The Guilt Factor

On planning my return from maternity leave I recall saying to a coffee morning group of mums how excited I was at the prospect of returning to work. This was a few years back, but the response I received was interesting and, sadly, remains far too common. I could almost see them pulling their chairs away as they cast furtive glances around the coffee shop to see if anyone had overheard.

“You can think those things but you shouldn’t say them out aloud, it makes us come across as bad mums”, one Mum whispered. The rest nodded in agreement.

I have never felt guilty about being a working mum nor about having career aspirations. While I have respect for the women who choose to quit work for full-time motherhood, I fall into the 45% who are happy career mums. I share Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” point of view: I would rather spend most of my salary on childcare and remain in the work force than not.

This life choice has prompted many remarks: most enquiring how I was coping with the guilt; some trying to make me feel guilty.

“I may have quit my job but I am at least raising my children myself, and that is more rewarding than work itself”, is the mantra I hear the most.

Now my conscience is clear because besides enjoying my work life and my career, I also know that I am also providing a positive role model for my son. He sees me working and he knows it is important to me. He also knows that on weekends we have quality time and I make sure that we do special things together. Working does not mean I love him any less or am compromising his upbringing. The fact that I also have a career does not mean that I am not a hands on Mum — it may take a bit more organisation and planning but I  am focused on all aspects of his life.

Even if statistics reveal that working moms spend on average 81 minutes per day to childcare, here are some facts consider from a recent article in the Telegraph:

  1. Stay-at-home mothers did not spend more of their time directly caring for their children.
  2. The important thing is that some of the time is spent on activities that are child-led.
  3. Psychologists said it was more important how the time caring for children was used, and that less time than 81 minutes could be enough if it included fun activities which were sufficiently bonding.

We have all of our meals together on the weekend and make a big deal when it’s Friday! He also knows that I will do my best to come to the Christmas show and parent teacher meetings. But most important of all, he knows that he can count on me!

Family & Work

Should women have their cake and eat it?

There are few issues about the workplace that divide opinion as much as the professional women who seek to balance family and work but still advance their careers. Should mothers have their cake and eat it?

Looking around, I see few enduring obstacles that prevent the answer from being ‘yes’. At least for the foreseeable. As the CEO of a fast-growing company in the legal sector, the mother of a toddler, and a wife, I have my hands full – but I do have the luxury of being able to control my time. I might not have enough of it, but that isn’t gender-related, rather linked to the level of responsibility I chose to assume in my professional life by founding and running a business. Most employed mothers do not have this luxury. Instead, they are forced to choose between ‘family’ or ‘work’.

Here’s how the set-up currently works: there are two broad groups of mothers – stay-at-home mums and the mums in full-time work. The stay-at-home mums are equally busy with running their households and their children’s diaries, while the full-time working mums struggle to nurture a happy family whilst maintaining a separate professional identity.

But with advances in technology, there are plenty of means that could enable professional mothers to work smarter, so that they can remain engaged with the workplace without sacrificing family commitments or, indeed, the other way around. Women should no longer be faced with having to give up work, or compromise on family, but rather be helped to phase in and out of the workplace to fit the two neatly around each other.

More often than not, professional mothers become stay-at-home mums having tried to work around their families already and eventually given up. For many, as one of my colleagues put it, is ‘the classic compromise’ – as her family grew, she tried to work part-time until she gave up. She strived to be valued ‘without having to commit to more than I can realistically deliver’ whilst being a mum to her three children. Unlike those mums who remain employed or those opting straight away to stay at home, this group of mothers have seen the full spectrum of the challenges a mother faces to make work and life form a harmonious relationship.

I can, however, suggest that instead of listening only to the high powered ladies who seek equality at the top of their professions we listen more to the professional mothers who stay at home but who are trying to return to work on a different work/life bargain. A CEO role in a FTSE 100 business is not at the top of a list of achievements for most mothers, but earning to support their family is.

Listening to their stories, what emerges is that we should be concerned about the glass door which prevents women from returning on equal footing after taking a maternal career break. Once through the glass door, we can then shift our focus on removing the glass ceiling.

Family & Work

How to stop women leaving the law

Why is there such a vast disparity between the number of women who enter the legal sector and the percentage of women who rise to the top of the profession? This is no easy question, and I certainly cannot attempt to answer it easily or succinctly. I would say, however, that there is one large, contributing factor, which is becoming less and less of an ‘elephant in the room’, and one which increasingly the sector needs to tackle. Women in particular, but parents more generally, who wish to combine a legal career with other commitments, most notably having a family, have been leaving the profession when they finally give up in face of a constant struggle to balance work with life. The attrition rates speak for themselves – women have left, and continue to leave, the profession in droves. We now know why they are leaving and so the key question is how can we, as an industry, stem this flow?

In 2010 I went on a trip to India to research my next entrepreneurial move. Whilst there, I witnessed an outsourcing trend to offshore destinations which left me puzzled and frustrated given the amount of legal talent which lay dormant right here in the UK. This gave me a business idea, and thus Obelisk Support was born. I could see that we can offer a route back into the profession for exceptionally talented lawyers by allowing them to work flexibly. By tapping into this wasted talent pool, Obelisk Support could compete with offshore destinations on quality, flexibility, price and efficiency in its work with large multinational corporations and City law firms.

The last 4 years have not been an easy ride – and I did face something of an uphill battle in trying to convince clients that women could work flexibly, often remotely, without compromising on the quality of their delivery. But, the stories of our lawyers (80% of whom are female, many of them returning from a career break) who have succeeded in working flexibly around their family and other commitments is testament to the shifting attitudes of the legal industry (and, admittedly, four years of hard work from the Obelisk Support team).

Seeing the work coming through the pipeline and clients returning positive feedback on our lawyers’ work, some of which never thought they would earn again by doing legal work, fills me with great pride. And so it is that I measure our success by the success stories of our lawyers over the years. is best portrayed by the individual stories of the lawyers we have placed.

The stories are many and underpin just why we have become known as the legal business with a heart. Jane qualified at a top law firm, where she practiced for 13 years, before taking a 10 year career break whilst she started a family. After such a long break, re-entering the profession can be daunting. However, through Obelisk, Jane is now working for a large bank. She works remotely from home, for an average of 22.5 hours a week, all fitting around her other commitments.

Annie, who has a younger family, was able to work around her family commitments, working mostly from home and for around 5 hours a day. In Annie’s own words, working with Obelisk has benefitted her enormously ‘both personally and professionally’.

Karina moved to Chile, but was keen to stay in full-time work. We secured her a full-time placement supporting a large telecommunications company in Ireland, where she was able to work completely remotely from home.

We really do put the client and lawyer at the heart of our legal solutions, and this is demonstrated by the unique way in which we approach each client and consultant, taking into account the needs of both parties and tailoring an efficient solution. My vision when I started Obelisk Support was to enable women like Jane, Annie and Karina to do the work they love, without having to make impossible compromises. That they have been able to do so, whilst simultaneously delivering exemplary service to large multinationals and law firms, should demonstrate to the legal profession that flexibility can, and does, work.

Family & Work

Take a break from technology

Take a break. Seriously. It’s good for you. I don’t mean sitting at your computer typing emails through mouthfuls of salad. I’m talking about a proper break to stretch your legs and get away from your computer screen.

Although UK law requires that all employees take at least one uninterrupted 20 minute break per 6 hours of work, in many workplaces, there is a culture of eating lunch at your desk or skipping breaks altogether. Many employees feel they are losing time or will seem less committed by taking their whole lunch hour, but in reality, if you’re not taking a break, you’re probably not making the best use of your resources. So, whether you’re working from home or in a city office, what can improvements to your productivity can you trigger when you take the time to stop?

1. You get more done

The human brain wasn’t made for the intense, long haul concentration we expect of it during the course of a working day. All the decisions (big and small) we make fatigue our brain and decrease productivity. In fact, studies have shown that even a 5 minute break is enough to sustain concentration and increase productivity by an average of 13%. By not allowing your brain to take a break, you’re decreasing its capacity for creative thought processes and your work can suffer.

2. You’ll be healthier

Ever noticed how much better you feel after going for a quick walk? Taking time out to stretch your legs and get moving boosts circulation and increases oxygen flow which is a great energiser. Going for regular walks can help prevent dementia, osteoporosis and improves the body’s cardiovascular fitness. It’s also a great opportunity to explore your local area and discover new cafes and green spaces – as well as giving your Vitamin D levels a boost while you’re at it.

3. You’ll be happier

With the Spring weather coming out in force, there’s no better time to take advantage of London’s green spaces by spending your lunch time outdoors. People that regularly spend time outside report lower levels of stress, depression and anxiety. In fact, the endorphins produced from physical activity can be as effective as antidepressants in cases of mild to moderate depression.

4. You can practise mindfulness

There’s a lot to be said for putting down your phone/tablet/laptop and just ‘being’. Even focusing your attention only on eating your food instead of also tapping away on your phone can be hugely beneficial. Whilst multitasking can make you feel like you are hyper efficient, in reality, the human brain doesn’t cope very well with multiple tasks and struggles to switch between them. Singletaskers can actually switch from one task to the other better than multitaskers, and can also filter irrelevant information more effectively. So, use your break to focus on one thing only and you’ll be setting yourself up to be more productive when you’re back at work.

5. You’ll save your eyes

Remember the 20-20-20 rule. That is, every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. If you don’t, you’re in danger of getting Computer Eye Strain – something that 50 – 90% of office workers complain about. Symptoms include physical fatigue, decreased productivity, an increased numbers of errors, as well as eye twitching and red eyes. Getting outside on your break will also protect your eyes from the overly harsh lighting found in most offices. If you can take a break and get out of the office and away from the computer screen, you’ll be saving your eyes and improving your work.

So if you think you’re too busy to take a break, actually, maybe it’s time to think that you’re too busy NOT to.

Family & Work

What do you get out of bed for?

I’m sure a lot of us remember that famous (or maybe infamous) quote from 1980/90s super model Linda Evangelista, who professed that she “didn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 per day”. I’m not sure what your reaction is to that but at the time, as a young woman in my 20s, I remember thinking not only how lucky she was, but also how far removed she must be from what was the ‘real world’ for the vast majority of the population. Surely if she had a greater appreciation of ‘normal’ day-to-day life and the financial challenges most people face, she wouldn’t have been so crass as to publically voice her ‘reality’?

Most of us would argue that the words of a mercenary supermodel hold no resonance with those of us living in the real world. But, in reality, are we also guilty of having the same thought process when it comes to ourselves (albeit on a less grand scale)? Do you always set your ‘current market value’ based on what your peak earning power has been previously, at any point during your working life? If so, you could be missing out on potential opportunities to develop and grow now and, in effect, be creating a false economy by adversely impacting your future earning power as a result of looking at basic salary alone.

I’ve heard comments such as “I would feel undervalued”, “my self-esteem would suffer”, “I would feel like I’m going backwards” when someone is offered a position with a basic salary that is very competitive and attractive, but slightly below what they have previously been paid in the past.

But we all know that times have changed. The way people are working and what they consider important is also evolving rapidly. For example, in 2013 there were 367,000 more self-employed people than in 2008 proving that, with better technology, more and more people are working from home. And, in 2013 150,000 more people were secured on ‘zero hour’ contracts than in 2005 – another example that the workforce is shifting its collective expectations and embracing a more agile style of employment.

The reality is that, in this day and age, no one really expects to work for the same company until retirement. I think, now more than ever, it is imperative that the whole package is considered when choosing a job – including what working arrangements are available and how the opportunity fits with your own commitments and aspirations, along with what personal growth will be achieved to improve your own personal brand and marketability.

So, maybe now is the time to assess your own ‘reality’ and reconsider what you will get out of bed for.