Corporate Career Change

Nina Grunfeld talks career change; From graphic design and writing books to CEO of Life Clubs

I was very underconfident for most of my life and, it was only when I studied coaching, that I became confident – in my late forties.

Who is Nina Grunfeld?

Nina Grunfeld is a British writer, journalist, public speaker and entrepreneur, Founder and CEO of Life Clubs and Life Clubs at Work.

Life Clubs are local clubs around the UK, hosting inspirational personal development workshops that anyone can attend. Life Clubs at Work is a people development consultancy which creates happy and productive businesses by making the individuals who work in them more aware of what they can achieve for themselves and each other.

Before Life Clubs, Nina had two different careers. At first she was as a graphic designer for record companies in LA, and she attempted to run her own graphic designing company with a friend, which sadly didn’t work out.

After that experience Nina Had her first “unintentional” career change. Making it sound relatively easy she said she published her first book “Spot Check”, a stain removal manual which sold widely, that was part of an art college project. For Nina publishing books became “ a little bit of an addiction”. She ended up writing more than ten non-fiction, ‘how-to’ books and creating a hit TV series in the ’90s, ‘Nanny Knows Best’ with her old nanny, with over 6 million viewers for a 6-week series on BBC1.

With the birth of her fourth child, Nina felt the need to turn her lifelong ‘hobby’ of helping individuals discover their purpose in life into a career, so she did change career again.

Since starting LifeClubs, Nina has written another four books, this time about coaching, including The Big Book of Me, The Big Book of Us and The LifeBook.

Today she is sharing her career(s) change story with The Career Changers.

Dreaming of becoming a policewoman during my childhood

What is your educational background?

I went to university to study typography and dropped out halfway through the four-year course. I ended up at art college (as it then was) graduating in graphics with a first.

How many languages do you speak?

I speak English and can understand German fairly well and fragments of French, Italian and Spanish. I love a good chat so I can pick languages up fairly quickly if I am in the country. Almost always the person I am talking to can tell I am English and starts talking to me in English, so I’ve hardly ever used my languages.

What difference has the knowledge of these languages made in your life? Did it have an impact on the way you think? 

My parents were German, and sometimes a German word comes to mind when there seems to be no useful equivalent in English – or at least it doesn’t feel as relevant.

Which job did you want to do when you were a child? Did you do it? 

I wanted to be a policewoman and throw men over my shoulder, but I never became one, nor did I throw any men over my shoulder. I loved drawing so probably my first career as a designer is the one you might have expected me to have if you’d known me as a child.

My first career change; From graphic designer to book author

You started your professional life as a graphic designer. How did that happen?

I’ve had two careers before starting LifeClubs, and I think they all come together in LifeClubs. My first career was as a graphic designer – I worked for record companies in LA in their art departments which was a really fun experience. On coming back to the UK, I started a graphics company with a friend from art college, which sadly didn’t work out. I’d created a book on stain removal for an art college project, so I started filling in the words and published my first book, which became a bit of an addiction. It was like Patrick Swayze in Point Break – you’re waiting for the next wave (or the next book to write).

I ended up writing more than ten non-fiction, ‘how-to’ books and creating a hit TV series in the ’90s, ‘Nanny Knows Best’ with my old nanny. She had over 6 million viewers for a 6-week series, but it was exhausting, so one series was enough. Since starting LifeClubs, I’ve written another four books, this time about coaching.

How was your life as an author? Do you have any curious anecdotes to tell? 

I loved writing and researching and being in charge of my time. The main con was being lonely – when my husband came back from work, he didn’t get a moment to relax. I would just pour out all my thoughts of the day.

What life and transferable skills have you learned from this job?

I learnt how to be pretty self-sufficient and how to write in a clear and methodical way.

My second career change; Founding Life Clubs and helping people to live a more rewarding life

How and when did you start thinking about changing career and specifically about creating Life Clubs?

When I had my fourth child, I felt I didn’t want to write any more books as they take up a lot of space in your mind. I wanted to give my children some more time. I’d always loved helping people think about what they wanted to do with their lives. With this in mind I started a very casual business called ‘Chestnuts’. I was advising friends and their friends on what they could do with their lives.

How did you transition from your career as an Author to Founder & CEO of Life Clubs? What or who has been your inspiration?

This probably seems a funny thing to say, but I think I’ve always been my own inspiration. I don’t really have heroes, and I don’t plan a lot. I just do what I enjoy, and if it isn’t working, I switch direction.

What is Life Clubs mission?

LifeClubs mission is to make people happier and more confident. I was very underconfident for most of my life and, it was only when I studied coaching, that I became confident – in my late forties. I could really have done with some LifeClubs to go to earlier than that.

Nina Grunfeld

What challenges did you have to overcome to start your new career as a Founder & CEO of Life Clubs or maybe is better to say life mission?

The challenges I had to overcome were all of my own making – I’d gone into a world where I knew no-one and had never worked before. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone, and yet I’d probably do it again. I wish I planned more, but I like the freedom of not doing that.

Listen to The Career Changers podcast episode with Nina Grunfeld, discussing “How to overcome the fear of change”

After my career change; A new life as a CEO of Life Clubs

What are the highlights and lowlights of your job?

My life contains the things I love – people, design, creating – I feel so lucky. The lowlights are relentless marketing and selling – the things I don’t like no matter how you reframe them.

What is your typical day?

Covid has changed things a lot. I used to have my team arrive at 9.00, now that is not happening anymore. I get ready for 9.30 am. My day consists of Zoom meetings, emailing to arrange future Zoom meetings, making films for social media, creating new products and looking after my team who, of course, look after me.     

Where do you see yourself in the future? What are you enjoying the most?

We’ve recently opened a LifeClubs shop. I’m hoping that in the future, I’ll be able to have a passive income and at the same time, help people. I’d love to write a few more books, create more workshops and help more people gain balance and happiness in their lives.

What is your favourite Life Clubs book and why?

My favourite LifeClubs book is The big book of me, probably because it was my first coaching book and because it’s a coaching workbook which is really useful. Of course my favourite book is really the book my friend Annie Lionnet and I have with publishers at the moment…

Which Life Clubs resources would you recommend to anyone that is going through a challenging time of transition into their life?

When I created LifeClubs I wanted it to be like WeightWatchers, only instead of thinking about how you can lose weight, you think about how you can make your life the way you want it. At the moment we have a monthly local club online which I would recommend. I’d suggest visiting our shop, and buying The big book of me or anything else that takes your fancy. If you’ve never had coaching, it’s a great time to treat yourself.

Watch The Career Changers video interview with Nina Grunfeld on YouTube

The impact of COVID19 on my business and helping other businesses to thrive

How can Life Clubs support businesses to support their employees during these challenging times?

At the moment we are hosting several well-being webinars aimed at different types of organisations. In this way, we are helping employees to deal better with stress during these challenging times and we also support managers by delivering coaching packages. We have also created a series of workshops for employees to run for their teams internally. It is called Connect, and is wonderful to link people over Zoom or Teams. It’s a bit deeper than a water cooler chat, so it really is bonding.

Why do you think is usually later in life that we find our life mission and changing becomes something inevitable?

I think we become more confident and start looking outwards as well as inwards. We also realise that life is passing us by and possibly become more empathetic and understanding of ourselves and others.

Has your career been impacted by the coronavirus…if yes…how?

Really as above, not having my team with me, doing everything online.

How did you overcome the challenges related to COVID19?

With all challenges you have to be flexible and think (and go for) a Plan B. What does the situation need? Where can you be of the biggest help? How can you let people know that that’s what you’re doing?

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Don’t feel under any pressure to do something you don’t want to do.

Need more inspiration? Read Nina Grunfeld guest post on How to overcome the fear of change.

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