Parent in business: Kay of Gritty People

Kay Woodburn, 37, from Cheshire, is the Founder of Gritty People, a business she created after realising the power of her resilience having lost a friend to suicide at a young age, having to grow up quickly beyond her years at 15 following difficult family circumstances and then leaving the family home at 16, overcoming domestic abuse by her boyfirend as a teen and becoming being wheelchair bound whilst studying her GCSEs.  Having battled Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and huge amounts of pressure, Kay has risen thanks to her resilience, grit and her commitment to getting the most out of life.

Name of Business:Gritty People– a people development consultancy specialising in leadership development and behavioural change.


Your name: Kay Woodburn 

Age: 37 

How did you get started?  

Throughout my life I have faced tragedy and trauma and have risen through it thanks to my resilience, grit and commitment to getting the most out of life.

When I was only 12 years old, I dreamt of becoming a solicitor, some said this was an ambitious goal for someone like me, but I was determined to succeed, however unexpectedly my plans were halted when I left home at 16, working 3 jobs whilst studying at college and night school and then becoming a teenage mum at 18. However, keen to rise to the occasion and not be a victim of my circumstances, I fully embraced this responsibility, buying my own house at 18 and marrying the father of my children when I was 21 – we will celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary this year!   

Upon becoming pregnant I decided to take a break from studying law and took an interim job at BT answering 999 calls. I worked for BT for 13 years, working up the career ladder to achieve the position of Head of Learning and People Strategy. However, after years of giving my all, in every sense of the word I hit full on burn out – emotional burnout, amplified by long hours and work related stress, but more related to the 360 degree stress that I had in my life. I realise now that I was doing everything for everyone else and always making myself come last. I was underweight, some commented that I even look malnourished, and was also overwhelmed by OCD and constant anxiety. 

I’d had enough – and believed there just HAD to be another way. I attended a networking conference and met Daryll Scott, an internationally renowned author on the subject of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I felt like he was talking directly to me.  I felt like he could see right through me, he could see through my tough exterior that had been built over the years. He could see me. Meeting Daryll changed my life. He was an NLP Master practitioner and I found him fascinating. I actually liked that he could see through my pretenses. 

Within a year of meeting Daryll, my husband and I had packed up our house, and family and in 2010 we moved to Cheshire for a new start. 

I left my corporate job at BT and started Gritty People, with Daryll training me to be an NLP practitioner. Through Gritty People I now help individuals at work, competitive athletes, and entrepreneurs master their mindsets to help them achieve things that they never dreamt were possible by empowering people to become the best possible version of themselves.  


What has worked well about your business? 

I am a woman on a mission to make The Gritty Mindset available to everyone, reaching out to other sufferers of stress and anxiety, who feel on a downward spiral, I am passionate about helping them see that the world needn’t feel like that, and that they can choose to take a different direction – my mantra in life is “there’s always another way let’s find it!” 

For the past 10 years, I have been supporting others to become the best version of themselves and a big part of this is working out their emotional triggers, as once these are identified I can start my work on reprogramming their mindset and inputting a new emotional response so they can be in the most resourceful state for any given situation. 

Over the years Gritty People has grown and grown and I have been fortunate to work with well-known clients such as; Allied Healthcare; Pets at home; Vets4Pets, Johnston Press PLC, alongside many celebrities, international athletes and entrepreneurs. 


How do you fit in work with the family? 

We have two children, my daughter Jade, is 19 and my son Cameron, is 14. We also have 2 labradoodles who are like children to the four of us!

My work is my passion and I love what I do but I also love spending time with my family it’s taken me time to work out how I can do both. Both my children are different stages in their life’s and it’s important to me to be available to them both. Creating the life, you really want doesn’t happen by accident

 – It means setting strong boundaries about how you spend your time and who you spend it with.

– It means being clear on why you do what you do and staying true to that through the decisions you make every day

– It means being comfortable and open to doing things differently and accepting some people won’t understand and that’s okay

What impact do you want to have? 

I want to make the Gritty Mindset accessible to everyone !

I am grateful for all my life experiences, because I choose to learn from them, they became my sword. My sword is my strength and my experiences sharpened it. My skills and experience allow me to help others do the same, I want to reach as many people as I can, so they can have access to the mindset I have come to have and experience the world through a new lens. It’s liberating, enjoyable and elevating. Find out more:  https://grittypeople.co.uk/ 

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