James Parnwell

James Parnwell

Starting from Zero

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Paul Donovan was working an impressive, well-paid job in a Fortune-500 pharmaceutical co, when he decided to leave it all behind. Starting out from ground zero, he became a solo consultant under the name The Change Company.

Now, 21 years later, he’s in high demand, consulting to high-flying, senior executives, helping them to clarify their vision, fix their culture, resolve conflict, and succeed in the corporate world.

But it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. In our interview, Paul opens up about some intensely personal moments – including the terror of losing all his clients on day one; and the corporate gig that turned into a train-wreck.

He also gives us a fascinating insight into what it’s like to sit in a room with executives at loggerheads, and guide them to a place of reconciliation. And you’ll catch some of Paul’s expertise, too, on handling conflict, and creating a more safe and honest workplace .

Key Moments in This Episode

03:17 – Leaving his well-paying job, Paul took a risk and went solo as a consultant. The day of his farewell, he found out that he’d just lost every single one of his startup clients…

05:52 – Paul describes a unique strategy he used in the early days of his business, to help himself feel positive when phoning prospective clients.

10:32 – 10 years into his business, Paul tried to grow a bigger team… and it didn’t go as planned.

15:28 – Anxiety and stress management … Paul shares the strategies he’s used to manage his anxiety levels.

22:45 – Paul shares about the time he spoke at an event and it turned into a train wreck – and how he used that experience to grow as a person, and as a business.

28:29 – A sneak peek inside a coaching session, where executives of a large firm are in intense conflict.

32:35 – The strategies Paul uses to help a group in conflict.

37:33 – Psychologically safe workplaces – what are they, and how do we create them?

41:36 – Paul leaves us with a great tip for starting a new business venture.

Paul Donovan’s Most Influential Books List 

  • Senior Leadership Teams – What it takes to make them great – Find it  
  • The Deep Democracy of Open Forums – Practical Steps to Conflict Prevention and ResolutionFind it
  • The Executive Guide to Facilitating Strategy – Find it 
  • An Everyone Culture – Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organisation – Find it
  • Building Conflict Competent Teams – Find it
  • Mastering Leadership – Find it 
  • Immunity to Change – How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organisation – Find it
  • Dialogue – And the art of thinking together – Find it
  • Simple Habits for Complex Times – Powerful practices for leaders – Find it

In our interview, Paul also mentioned…

  • Atomic Habits – by James Clear – Find it 
  • Anxiety – Expert Advice from a Neurotic Shrink Who’s Lived with Anxiety All His Life – by Dr Mark Cross – Find it

Learn More

James Parnwell
James Parnwell

James is the Managing Director and resident strategist at TheOnlineCo. He is clever and creative with a flair for making complex things sound simple. He has been in the marketing game for over 2 decades and has watched the landscape slowly shift. James has his finger on the pulse of every aspect within TheOnlineCo, meeting with all clients as well as every core team member and strategising a specific plan tailored to each client.

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