Eudora Pascall On How To Take Your Company From Good To Great

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
19 min readMay 29, 2022


Be clear on your purpose and direction, get your team onboard and don’t waste time and energy walking in circles.

As part of my series about the “How To Take Your Company From Good To Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eudora Pascall.

Eudora Pascall is a coach and facilitator to business leaders and an author writing on a more heartful approach to business. She has spent the last 20 years developing and growing the Heart in Business tools, techniques and methodology, influenced by teachings, study and experience across the world. Her purpose is that ‘I unknot knots to bring direction, flow and purpose to your life by uncovering your gold together.’ She passionately cares about helping people be the best of themselves.

Having studied at university in Britain, Germany and France, Eudora has several degrees, including a master’s in organizational and individual change, cultural behavior and economics. She is qualified professionally in transactional analysis as well as other individual psychological growth programs, including COR in the UK and the US. Eudora has a unique, global background in the private, public and NGO sectors in Britain, Germany and France.

Eudora lives between Germany and London with her partner and daughter. She enjoys swimming, knitting and discovering more about different cultures.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I’ve always been interested in business and how people behave and are treated in companies. I guess it’s because I watched my father start his own business when I was a young girl. He was forever telling me funny stories about the cultural business differences between Germany, Britain, France and Italy. I remember my father telling me how the Germans used to dread speaking to his Scottish colleague as they couldn’t understand a word of his accent. I went to an international Quaker boarding school and learnt about the traditional Quaker business approach that made Cadbury’s and Rowntree so successful and at the same time I had many friends from Asia whose parents had a different approach to business. It made me want to go out in the world and discover things for myself. My first step after leaving school was to spend 8 weeks in Hong Kong and China. I was fascinated by their approach to business and decided to study International Business, Economics and Languages and specialised in Asian economics. I went to university in three different countries and experienced how different the students’ approach was to learning.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

The toughest time in my life was when I became a single mother with an 18-month year old daughter. We moved over 5 times in the first year. I got no support from my ex-husband or my immediate family. Fortunately, my cousin and his wife were very supportive, and without them we would have ended up homeless or worse.

I managed to find a good nursery for my daughter and was holding down two jobs, one was linked to us having secure housing. I hadn’t realised previously how being in a vulnerable situation impacts absolutely everything. I was being bullied by my line managers in both jobs and knew I couldn’t make a fuss, or I’d lose our home.

Ironically. it was the anger that boiled up every time I interacted with my ex-husband that gave me the power and strength to climb out of the hole, I found myself in. I never considered giving up because I was in survival mode, trying to make sure my daughter was safe, warm and happy. The love I have for my daughter drives me forward and makes me a better person every day of my life.

I remember being exhausted all the time but also how I made sure my daughter and I had quality time together every day. I’d pick her up from nursery and take her swimming — giving her dinner on the way home. I decided messing around and playing games with her in the pool for 30 minutes was more important that sitting and having dinner together.

She still remembers the swims and we still mess around in the pool whenever we need to remember the important things in life. In fact, she asked if I could take her swimming after school today as she’s got a lot going on at the moment.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made was before I co-founded Heart in Business. It is perhaps a common mistake made by the young and idealistic: ‘I thought I could change the culture of an organisation from the bottom up and that the CEO would want to hear my ideas. I worked for a lot of different organisations in the public, private and charity sector in several different countries. I wanted to experience the differences, what worked and didn’t work in each setting. I remember working for a large charity in London and noticing that I wanted to change and improve the communication between departments. I wanted the charity to spend less time behind their computers and more time on the ground with the people they were supporting. I realised very quickly that change can only happen if the CEO is onboard, and I had failed to get them onboard. However, before I left, I did manage to create a change in approach, even if it was only for a day.

One of the most memorable days of my working life was 7 July 2005, the day of the London bombings. I was locking up my bike when I heard a loud pop. It was only when I heard the news and saw a lot of people standing near my office building, that I started to realise what was going on.

All the roads were blocked and there was no mobile phone signal. I didn’t realise at the time how close I had come to being caught up in the bus explosion. It was clear to me that I needed to persuade senior staff to stop working and open the building to the thousands of people who had become stranded. They were resistant at first, not wanting to step away from their computers and their to -do lists. But they were finally persuaded when they saw the hundreds of people stranded outside their building. We opened the doors, offered free tea and coffee to everyone as well as free use of our landlines so that people could contact their loved ones and tell them they were safe.

That day I really did feel like a superhero. The charity was able to jump into action and make a real difference to many people’s lives. I remember looking around at my colleagues and seeing the CEO manning the phones, the finance manager pouring tea and the head of communications handing out warm blankets. That day the charity remembered what their purpose was and chose to live it.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

What makes Heart in Business stand out is that we live our talk. We have hands on experience of what doesn’t work in business, and have used that experience to develop tools and principles that do work. We are not afraid to get our hands dirty and developed our approach through Thornton’s Budgens, the supermarket that my partner and co-author Andrew Thornton used to own. Here’s an example of an initiative our heart-based approach delivered.

In the spring of 2018, the Dutch chain Ekoplaza announced the world’s first plastic-free aisle, and quite rightly gained a lot of coverage for this great initiative. This came hot on the heels of David Attenborough’s Blue Planet 2 series, which beamed the plastic crisis into people’s living rooms. Suddenly, the crisis that campaigners had been trying to highlight for years went mainstream.

Thornton’s Budgens teamed up with A Plastic Planet (APP). And that July, Sian Sutherland, the co-founder came to the store and, together with a few of the team, we watched the film A Plastic Ocean. The part that struck me the most was the scene where they sent a remote unmanned submarine into the deepest, least-explored part of the ocean. The seabed was lined with single-use plastic drink bottles that had been thrown there by humans. Sian shared their mission — ‘To help people turn off the plastic tap’ — and the fact that most humans are now plastic addicts, without any awareness of how to go into recovery. For me and my colleagues, it was clear we had to do something because we could — it was our duty. With hindsight, I can see that everything we had done together at Thornton’s Budgens had been in preparation for this moment. It was also clear to me that we could not do this alone and would need support from APP, including a full-time person from their team based at the store. I knew that running the store was a full- time job and we had no spare resources — but that, partnered with an expert, we could make huge strides.

At the end of August, we gave the project the green light. We agreed that we’d launch the first (and second in the world) plastic- free aisle in the UK. We also agreed to develop the idea and introduce plastic-free zones across each of our categories rather than one single plastic-free aisle, as shoppers would find this easier to use than having all the plastic-free products together. Our goal was to launch 1,500 plastic-free products by 5 November which was ten weeks away!

Even with self-leadership, there are times when it’s appropriate for the owner to set the bar high — but the key people at Thornton’s Budgens were all on board too. Why 1,500? Well, Ekoplaza had launched with 750 and, with all their learnings and the progress APP had made in the months since their launch, why not go for double? And why 5 November? We felt that Guy Fawkes’ Day in the UK seemed a fitting launch day.

This project delivered impacts on so many levels:

  1. From a pure commercial point of view, we increased total store sales by 4% (ahead of the market) thanks to increased loyalty from existing customers and attracting new customers — in food retail, that’s a big increase. Customers said that while our bigger multiple competitors made lots of claims that they felt were ‘greenwash’, we were walking the talk, not just talking about it.
  2. The team were incredibly proud of what we achieved — a number said the launch day was the proudest day of their whole working lives. This pride produced an enormous energy.
  3. We were subsequently told by the CEOs of a number of major grocery chains that we had revolutionised the relationship between supermarkets and plastic worldwide.

We combined a clear purpose and authenticity to create magic!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

The simple answer: be clear on your purpose and direction, get your team onboard and don’t waste time and energy walking in circles.

We live in a world where there is unlimited choice and distraction, and it is far too easy to get caught up in the noise and lose sight of your purpose and direction. If you are clear on your purpose, then it is far easier to make effective decisions, even on the millions of small things that we need to decide every day. Being clear on your purpose also means taking care of yourself and those for whom you are responsible.

If you’re going to be an open-hearted authentic leader, you need to take care of yourself. As an adult, you’re 100 per cent responsible for yourself (and your children, if you have them), and if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will.

The idea of self-care was an eye-opener for many at Thornton’s Budgens. One team member, who was originally from a village in Bangladesh said. ‘I have learnt that self-care is essential. If I give myself permission to take time out for myself and have a rest, then it’s much easier for me to be present and be there for other people. Having a rest after work helps me approach my housework with a cool mindset.’

Notice how she says that when she takes care of herself, she can be more present, and being present is one of the key principles of being an authentic leader. There are four key areas of self-care — food and drink, sleep, physical exercise and mental wellbeing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Yes! My daughter. Even whilst being pregnant, it was clear to me that I wanted to become the best version of myself so that my daughter would be proud of me. And now that she’s a teenager with a lot to say about the world, I’m glad that I can look at myself in the mirror and say, ‘I did my best, I am doing my best.’ I would like to leave the planet better than I found it.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

Good companies are ones that survive, that produce ok results, year after year, and that have enough customers to keep going. They lack long term survival skills and will never thrive.

For me, great companies are ones that have a long-term clear purpose that unites their employees, their customers, their suppliers and their communities — and that is aware of its environmental responsibilities. With these stakeholders aligned, they will deliver results for the final stakeholder — the shareholder. When the entire focus in on the shareholder and their needs (profit), that’s when things start to go wrong.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.

I believe that the most important quality of a leader is authenticity — I define authentic leadership as: ‘Leaders who are genuine, self-aware, transparent and live out all parts of their lives with integrity.’ We can all choose to be leaders in our lives.

Being an authentic leader is hard and takes effort and courage. It also takes plenty of practice. It’s a life’s work — and I mean that in a positive sense, in that there are always new things to learn and areas to develop. An authentic leader models the ways of being that your organisation needs to have in place in order to deliver on its purpose. And with the right leadership, everyone in the organisation can be authentically themselves, leading to an ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’ culture.

Being a bit cheeky, I have 10 (not five) principles to become an authentic leader:

1. Be your purpose: To be a truly authentic leader, you need to be clear on your purpose — why you’re here, why you get up in the morning and what the whole point of your life is. And then live from that place.

2. Be in flow: This is defined as doing what you love and are really good at. Within Thornton’s Budgens, we focused on making sure most people in the organisation spent as much time as possible in flow. Happy people who are in flow will energise your business.

3. Be of integrity: I believe that you need to be in a state of integrity with yourself and others. That means being congruent with your values and beliefs, and it starts with being honest with yourself. In my case, it means being honest that I tend to want to please people. Being in integrity with others is crucial to so many aspects of business life and would have prevented some of the chronic business failings of recent times.

4. Be clear and consistent: about who you are and what you stand for. If you do this, people will know where they stand with you and be willing to follow you.

Andrew and I know that our personal clarity helped us to bring the Thornton’s Budgens team with me on an amazing journey. The clearer and more consistent I’ve become, the easier it has been to bring others with me. You also need to be clear in your communication — both in what you say and in what you leave unsaid. Be firm about what’s important to you. Having difficult conversations is one of the most challenging things in life. I know (from painful experience) that avoiding difficult conversations leads to resentment, which leaks out in passive-aggressive ways — and for me that’s the opposite of clear and clean communication. It’s hard to have those conversations but worth finding ways in which to do so.

5. Be organised: In today’s 24/7 e-world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and let some balls drop. Being in flow, clear on your purpose and able to have difficult conversations will help you set boundaries that will in turn help you to be more organised. If you’re unreliable and chaotic, it’s almost impossible to be an effective authentic leader.

6. Be appreciative: Appreciating people is one of the easiest ways to build relationships and help people feel valued. An authentic leader appreciates people every day and does it naturally, not just for gain. They do it on the basis that it’s the right thing to do.

7. Be humble: Humility is one of the most underrated leadership qualities. Too many leaders are too full of themselves — and that doesn’t encourage people to open up to you. Barack Obama is a great role model for humility. A BBC film crew followed him around during his last year in office, and as well as discussing his successes, he often talked about how things didn’t go to plan and how he might’ve done things differently — not something one could imagine his successor in the White House ever doing.

8. Be vulnerable: Having the ability to say ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’m scared or really in pain’ allows you to be honest and show your moral principles. For me, vulnerability creates trust and psychological safety. Combined with humility, people will want to be with you, share with you and trust you when you show your vulnerability. It’s the opposite of the stereotypical alpha male leader.

9. Be present: Being in the present moment means being fully with what’s happening right now — the opposite of which is being caught up in the past. How often do you find yourself in your mind, thinking about stuff that happened years ago or worrying about the future? Or in a conversation, planning what you’re going to say when the other person finishes speaking? Being fully present at all times is easy to say and really hard to do.

10. Be trusting: We added this principle after Andrew, my co-founder at Heart in Business, sold Thorton’s Budgens supermarket. In discussions with the team during his leaving process, the most significant aspect of the heart journey for them was the trust that they felt from me and the leadership team — trust that helped them to grow their confidence and truly be themselves, knowing it was safe to do so.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

Let me quote friend and colleague James Perry, Co-Chairman of COOK and a board member of B. Lab Global (the B. Corp Movement): ‘We are experiencing a collective awakening that business urgently needs to find its purpose. Profit maximising has failed us — leaving behind a devastated environment and grotesque inequality.’

A purpose-driven company culture is clear about its direction and actively makes sure everyone in the company is working in the same direction. Every individual has a heartfelt sense of ownership for the purpose. A purpose-drive culture operates even more effectively when the overall company’s purpose fits alongside the individual’s personal purpose. Truly embodying the company’s purpose makes day-to-day decision making easier, more effective and less energy and time consuming.

Every piece of evidence I have seen shows that purpose driven companies outperform those whose only real purpose is cash generation. Take Unilever for example, whose purpose is ‘to make sustainable living commonplace.’ There are brands within their portfolio that have a purpose (they call them sustainable living brands) and some that do not. In a study published in 2019 (available on Unilever’s website), they showed that the sustainable living brands grew 69 per cent faster than their other brands and accounted for 75 per cent of their growth. In fact, they’ve now committed to moving all their brands to being brands with purpose and selling those that cannot make that transition. Their CEO Alan Jope stated: ‘It’s not about putting purpose ahead of profits, it’s purpose that drives profit.’

Vittoria Varalli of Sobey’s (The Canadian Grocer) told me that they always looked at the long-term game and kept their focus on their purpose (‘We are a family nurturing families’). She describes it as ‘our North Star, our guiding light; it underlies the way we make decisions,’ and that, even in tough financial times, the family stood by the business. She made another valid point: ‘As we see more Gen Z people coming through organisations, it’s becoming a way that people decide where they are going to work — the Gen Z generation want to work for companies with a purpose that aren’t just out for profit.’

What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

Businesses that stall often do so through losing connection with their founding purpose. We worked with UK Speciality Food Wholesaler and B. Corp Cotswold Fayre. After 20 years of success and considerable growth they had stalled. When we worked with their management team, we helped them see that they had lost touch with the reasons their founder, Paul, had created the business. Their energy was restored when they connected back to the founding principles and the fully embraced the principles of Authentic Leadership discussed above. Over the next three years, their turnover doubled, and their profits increased fivefold.

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

Without wanting to be repetitive, it’s all about being clear about your purpose and being authentic. Right now, one of the biggest challenges business leaders face, is the ‘great resignation.’ Covid has helped people see that they are fed up with how they have been living their lives and want something different. They are fed up with the profit focused, stupidly busy and fear-based culture of many organisations and are quitting in droves. And, they are fed up with being told that they need to come back to the office full time — many of them don’t want to do that and will go elsewhere if you try and make them.

Yet when we speak to purpose focused organisations who genuinely care about their people and the planet, none of them are having issues with recruitment and retention. So, you need to listen to your people, get focused on your purpose and challenge yourself to be a more authentic leader.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

The development of culture, in my view, is the single most important aspect of running a great company and it’s the hardest to do. For example, at Thornton’s Budgens our purpose was “we are the community supermarket that really cares about people and planet.” With that purpose in place, we collectively developed a manifesto that outlined our ‘heartsets’ (what others might call values) and our habits — what we are going to do to deliver those heartsets on a day-to-day basis. Those habits have to be modelled by the leadership team, so that the rest of the organisation do so as well

As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

People buy from people they like and connect with. The more present salespeople can be with their customers, they more they will understand their needs and the higher conversion rate you’ll have. In fact, if you read through the list of the ten components of an authentic leader, you will see each of these will help improve your selling ability — if you combine that with a clear purpose that enough potential customers relate to, you’re in business!

Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

The key to trust and love is authenticity. The opposite of this is brands that make claims they don’t meet, and that make greenwashing statements about environmental commitments they don’t honour. Customers can see through this and won’t love and trust the brand.

Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

I would say its again all about authenticity and purpose. If you line these two up together, then you will have a whole organisation behind what you are doing, and you will deliver that Wow customer experience. At Thornton’s Budgens, people often said that they experienced something really special when they visited the store — a really positive energy that they loved and made them want to return. This came from a committed bunch of people authentically being themselves and aligned behind a clear purpose they believed in.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

I think one of the commonest mistakes is when a business is primarily set up to make money. A new business that doesn’t have a clear purpose beyond money making is always going to struggle to connect with customers — and without a clear connection with your customers, you will always fail.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

To appreciate people more. Instead of jumping to complain and share what isn’t working, that we take a deep breath and give those in our lives and strangers we encounter descriptive praise.

As I write the answer to your question, I am sitting opposite two strangers on a train to Bruxelles that complimented me on the colour of my face mask. They said the red gave the impression I was smiling and that even though their journey has been tricky with a lot of train cancellations, the bright mask cheered them up. Gosh! I was taken aback by the descriptive praise, and it certainly has made my day.

My invitation to everyone would be, ‘do you dare to take a moment to make someone’s day by giving them some descriptive praise?’

How can our readers further follow you online?

You can find out about our new book “Putting the heart back into Business” here and even download the first three chapters for free:

And that will also take you to the rest of our website.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!