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Lessons from a Thriving Power Couple, With Sian Young & Dr Lowellyne James of Sustainable Action & SDG Assessment App

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Love. We love each other and even though sometimes we hit some major stress walls when things are so fast and we are creating such a magnified global change. What helps us is always bring it back to the love, stop, hug, let the stress go and know we are in it for the long run!

As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sian Young & Dr Lowellyne James.

Sian Young is an International Speaker, TEDx Speaker and Co-Founded ©Center for Sustainable Action, co-creator the SDG — Assessment App and creator of ©SHaW Model for sustainable health & wellbeing both research driven tools for sustainable success in Life & Business.

Dr Lowellyne James is an academic, author and consultant with a vision to transform business culture towards building sustainably managed enterprises that create products and services without negative environmental impact e.g. greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), instilled with a social purpose and achieve profitability.

They believe in a world where businesses are sustainable and profitable where cooperation helps us excel in competition. Sian calls this the “interconnection” between planet and profit.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?

Sian Young: I took a long road to this career path but let me start in 2005 when I held hands with over 200,000 people in Edinburgh fighting for SDG number one and poverty. I marched in the streets and I tried so many different ways to create equality and environmental impact. Then I realized that marching and protesting wasn’t working and so my life took me on a long journey which you can find further details in my book Teenage Kicks available on Amazon. Long story short I became an entrepreneur and discovered the power of business to do great things and that’s what brought me to the career I have now as a sustainable life and business consultant.

Dr James: I’ve always had a love of science, in particular, organic chemistry and worked in a lab for an American company called Kraft Foods during that time the ISO 9001 standard had recently been published. My employer wanted to implement quality management systems as opposed to only batch testing, so I was assigned to lead the project.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?

(Dr James) What’s unique about us is that we actually have two wedding dates!

I was on vacation in Milan when I had to attend the registry in London for my wedding. My flight was cancelled I only just managed to get a last min flight that brought me from Milan straight to London, and then I had to take a taxi from the airport to the registry office. I showed up with my summer shorts on and my now wife Sian had to bring my suit and I changed in the men’s restroom and made it just in time, that was the official legal ceremony.

Secondly, we had a reception for friends and family where the our minister attended and we received the traditional Christian blessing and were married in our home in a sustainable wedding. So that is something that’s quite unique to our relationship that we have two Wedding Dates.

(Sian Young) For me the most interesting thing, since our marriage we have saved £21,000 in three years by having a sustainable wedding and living a sustainable life this has allowed us to invest in the R&D of our SGD assessment app.

Who knew you could save that much money living sustainably?

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

(SY + DrJ) If you’re asking about the funniest mistake that we’ve made as a married couple it was when we had our first outing with a new baby girl and we gathered up our baby girl and left the house ready to enjoy a beautiful day out. We sat in the car we realised we forgotten nappies and a change of clothes, all the kit that a baby needs really and we had to go back home and get it! It was so funny we both looked at each other and said rookies!

What we learnt from that it’s just to have compassion with each other and understanding and to take a nappy bag when we go with the baby.

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

(SY + DrJ) I think one of the reasons that we stand out as a company Is how the idea evolved in 1991 I dreamt of a centre where humans would learn to love themselves and the environment. I woke up and drew a picture of my vision. Unbeknown to me in another part of the world in 2012 Dr James had a dream of a center for Sustainable business and wrote a business plan for it.

We met in 2016 and within The first six months of our relationship we had written a business plan for what is now the cooperative ©Centre for sustainable action.

©Centre for Sustainable action is unique in the sense that it’s a cooperative as well as a business. Well, a company registered in the UK can have that dual structure, which is considered a consortia business model which gives us a different perspective as opposed to other businesses. Even though we we had a profit making entity, there is a direct social purpose in that we are were focused on small to medium sized businesses and helping these businesses become more sustainable and not only sustainable but also economically viable. So that’s what is really unique about our structure, not withstanding that we are using technology to achieve our objectives.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

(SY + DrJ)Well, we are working on the on an app. The app is currently a web based and Android app and is called ©SDG Assesment app. What the assessment does is that it provides a fun, low cost platform by which organisations could report sustainability and ESG performance particularly small businesses. So it’s designed for small businesses, with the intention to support the achievement of UN Sustainable Development Goals. The app is available for desktop/laptops and Android devices, but soon we’ll have it on Apple devices providing a simplified format by which small to medium sized businesses could report sustainability performance on an annual basis. User performance will be reviewed and improvement appropriate advice provided by our team of consultant.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

(Dr James) The focus should always be in the human side of the equation because human beings are the most important assets in any organisation. In order to retain and maintain that asset capability, it requires training, instruction supervision.

The greatest source of innovation, you could possibly get from your business is by investments in people.

(Sian Young) I would like to add to this to take care of your health, well-being and your family and put that as the new way of doing business because for you to lead you need to lead by doing. Teaching your team (employees) that it is ok for them to take care of their health in your business this will lead to greater retention and productivity.

How do you define “Leadership”?

(DrJames) Leader is any individual at any level of the organisation that is focused on continuous improvement. continuous improvement we define as recurrent activity to enhance performance. So leadership, basically, should be pointing individuals towards activities that enhance both personal and business performance.

(Sian Young) Again I must say that by leading with sustainable health and well-being at the core of leadership you will guide your community to take better care of themselves, each other and our planet so as a leader you have the power to create great change in this world. Remember to stay in a centered, humble and open place and by taking care of your wellness you can do this.

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 about that?

(Dr James) Of course, you know, having good parents is is critical to anyone’s personal development, but addition to good parents, there’s good mentors. My PhD professor George Stonehouse also was instrumental in me developing sustainability research, completing my PhD and going on to author two books on this subject. So it’s good to have both good parents and as well as very strong focused mentors.

(Sian Young) When I came to answer this question I searched through my life and so many great people who have helped me get to where I am today. I want to share one person out of the many with you today it is HRH Princess Royal because if I was not given a scholarship to my first course as a wind surfing instructor and rescue diver life may never have sent me on the journey towards entrepreneurship. My first business was set up with the tools that I learnt fro m this course and scholarship.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

(SY + DrJ) We pivoted ourselves during the pandemic, to create the ©Centre for Sustainable Action as we realised that the ©Centre for Sustainable Action could create massive change for people and the environment.

(Dr James) I have also had the great pleasure fo seeing many of my students achieve their career goals.

(Sian Young) I have supported thousands of women to greate sustainable health & wellbing in their lives and have felt amazing when I see the joy and confidence that is freely expressed in their lives after working together. I have also raised £10,000 with my first business and support a school build project in Tanzania with an amazing man called Pastor Frank.

(SY + DrJ)We are not stopping there, we are here to make this world a better place where equality and environmental stewardship are the new normal. No more need for International days of equality for anyone!

What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.

(Collaberative voice of SY + DrJ)

1: Love. We love each other and even though sometimes we hit some major stress walls when things are so fast and we are creating such a magnified global change. What helps us is always bring it back to the love, stop, hug, let the stress go and know we are in it for the long run!

2: Spiritual connection: We pray for each other, we both take the Sabbath off to give thanks for our blessings and we both have belief in a higher power?

3: Compassion and forgiveness: We are all learning One thing that I use in my relationship when things are stressful and Dr James may be doing something that I do not find entertaining or comfortable at all. I take a deep breath and in my head I say; I love you, I love you, I love you, where there is love there cannot be any anger and so then everything calms down in my mind and I bring in compassion because I see this man before me is just like me. The fact that we are always learning and we are always unlearning old patterns we have collected before we had even met, I then bring forgiveness into the moment and just as I said in tip number one bring it back to Love

4: Get Coaching and support: No man or woman is an island without the correct support team behind you as a leader or anyone who is aiming to be a leader you will not stay the course you need to constantly be developing. For instance I have a functional health coach a Chinese herbalist, a human Givens coach and business coaches and mentors on my team I also have a strong well-being and self care practise.That is how I am able to stay centred focused and achieve all my goals it also support the relationship because when something comes up in either me or Dr James that is an old pattern trying to fight for airtime because I’m well resourced as a human being I’m able to stay centred allowing me to support my partner to move through it and learn from it and as we said we have our faith as well.

5: Brake out a dance and take it back to love: You will notice here that I’ve taken it back to love again and a reason I do that it’s because we are all human beings living this experience and we must be compassionate towards each other and give each other space not to be perfect let’s say to be human. Dr James and I when we had a newborn baby and two businesses and a full time job to deal with came up with a little dance we would do every time we wanted to argue or all the stress was getting too much we would just break out into this little dance and we even made a little giff of it. That’s how we diffuse the situation, nothing is worth our relationship nothing is worth hurting each other or saying words that you may regret so in order to prevent that from happening we break out in dance and bring it back to Love.

You are people of great influence. If you could inspire 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. :-)

We have inspired that movement, the ©Centre for sustainable action is that movement “We believe in a world where businesses are sustainable and profitable where cooperation helps us excel in competition”

As every business owner is a human and has a family that they support and our environment needs a new way of doing business: FACTs

At ©Centre for sustainable action we know by changing the face of business into one that is equitable for our planet and us as humans we can change our world. By supporting and empowering the 98% of businesses that are small to medium, entrepreneurial run or micro businesses we indeed have created a movement that will bring about global change. Because we have built it using a co-operative (co-owned) business model the ownership of this change is powered by individuals cooperating because ©Cooperation makes business sustainable.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

(Dr James) ‘You reap what you sow’ or Karma because it is that tied to principle that you want to do good things and good deeds. So that comes back to you.

(Sian Young) “When the student is ready the teacher will come” I live by this quote because it has shown up in my life every time I need to learn a something to equip me with the tools for the next step the perfect teacher arrives in my life you just have to have your eyes open ready to receive.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

Akon!

(Sian Young) I know Akon does a lot of work around the world and many years ago when this journey started I knew I was going to open the centre and I used to listen to his music and Invision him opening the centre and having a celebration with us for the success of it.

I am openly inviting Akon to join us on 12th December 2022 at our Christmas fundraising Ball to celebrate with us, what we’ve achieved in nine months is phenomenal. I want to dance to Belly Dancer with him ;-)

How can our readers follow your work online?

Sian Young: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sianyoung/

Dr James: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lowellynejames/

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.

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