Tel: 01749 349008
Karen evolved into training through business after working for ten years running call centres, sales and marketing teams and operational business units in the Professional Financial Services industry in London.
Karen is a training design guru and the foundation of Monkey Puzzle, using her business and human psychology expertise to create leading edge training programmes that deliver both the business needs and individual personal development that we all need. Karen mixes these skills with her compassion, energy, loyalty and strongly held desire to support people become the best they can be. Karen has a passion for getting things done, not simply talking about it and believes that when we focus on the health, personal growth and inner confidence of each and every one of us we create success, for the individual the people around them and the organisations they work for.
Karen has an MBA specialising in strategy, financial strategy and human development. She is a UKCP registered Psychotherapist (DipNLPt) and an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer. She is an NLPtCA recognised Supervisor and runs a supervision practice for Coaches and Therapists of any modality. She also has training in other psychological models, human development and social psychology which she uses in her training and coaching.
My story by Karen Meager
I was in my early thirties, working in a very well paid job in the city of London and I was having a ‘Is this what life’s really all about?’ moment. I didn’t really have anything to complain about, I worked for a great company who treated me well, my work was interesting and I had some good friends and family. To the outside world I had a great life... BUT I felt flat, I was more interested in people than I was in stocks and shares, I was still waiting for the knight in shining armour to sweep me off my feet and life had become a series of events to look forward to - the next holiday, the next party, the next weekend. Really?? I couldn’t believe that was what life was all about.
The company I worked for was good enough to sponsor me through an MBA. During the MBA we were doing the module on ‘Creativity and Innovation’ and on the residential weekend I had an NLP Trainer for a Tutor. Someone told me ‘Go to the NLP guy, he’s the least bonkers!’. Well that was good enough for me. I was hooked, I learnt how to tune into the creativity in peoples brains (without stupid icebreakers and silly games) by understanding how our minds work. It was fascinating and I came back and put my new learnings into practice with great results. I was running a call centre at the time and we used NLP to model staff who were 1) great at the job and 2) motivated and interested enough to stay in the role for a long time. It’s a well known problem in the call centre world; getting bright, good people is one thing but getting them to stay in the role is another. What we learnt was amazing and helped us to design recruitment and training that saved us a fortune as a business and increased morale.
I went onto to complete my NLP Practitioner and then NLP Master Practitioner before deciding I wanted to change my career. The changes I had experienced had been so beneficial and not scary or intimidating like I expected understanding myself and psychology would be. I decided to become a psychotherapist and help other people get the best from their lives and overcome their problems.
It was only when I did my NLP Trainers Training with Wyatt Woodsmall that I discovered how much I loved working with groups and training people. I had done training before but learning NLP helped me to understand the psychology of learning that I could apply to teaching anything (like pensions, which I did in my day job). As part of my psychotherapy training I also learnt about other psychologies like Transactional Analysis, CBT, Jungian approaches and Gestalt. What I discovered was that these psychologies did not differ widely in their theory, the difference was in the ‘how’ they approached change. So I now use whatever works best for who I’m working with.
I met John while I was assisting on his NLP Trainers Training and immediately knew we’d make a great working relationship, although maybe not in exactly the way I thought back then (as our delegates will know well!). We quickly learnt that our speciality is in applying theories and models for people in a practical way that they can use, we also believe passionately in people bringing more of themselves into their work and life, enabling them to be congruent and authentic - easier said than done - yes, possible and achievable - absolutely.
Monkey Puzzle has grown and grown since we started out in 2007 and we are enjoying the business and excited about the future. One of the biggest side benefits of running a company like this is that my personal development just keeps going, I’ll be listening to John teach something on a NLP Diploma and suddenly have a new take on it and how I could use it. Some of my friends still feign exasperation when I’m a bit down or worried about something - like somehow because I have all this knowledge I should be having a perfect and constantly happy life. Well here’s the newsflash - 1) life isn’t like that and 2) I’m not perfect. What I will say is that whilst life still has it’s lumps and bumps they affect me less and I move on from them much more quickly than I would have done before. I am more peaceful, happy and content in general and I just enjoy and appreciate life much much more. All this, I believe is worth the investment
Head of the Scottish end of Monkey Puzzle, John is a guiding light for individuals and organisations supporting them to grow and develop into who and what they want to be. John is one of the best business strategic thinkers we know, combining it with his love of people, uncanny perception and playful humour to help businesses and the people in them become the success they deserve.
Although we don’t hold it against him (much), John is CA qualified and has over 20 years in a variety of senior finance leadership roles including a Group FD role in Industry and a Partner for a Scottish Professional CA Practice.
In addition to his business qualifications, John is an INLPTA certified NLP Master Trainer, a Master Practitioner of NLP, Therapist and a Clinical Hypnotherapist.
My Story by John McLachlan
I'm not quite sure whether to say I am an accountant or I was an accountant. I am no longer a member of a professional body yet the skills and learning that I have from 20 plus years of working as an accountant have not disappeared. I've even grown to love them again - more of that in a minute.
I'm starting my story when I was at secondary school. I was lucky enough to be able to pass exams and when the time came to look forward and ask the "what do you want to do" question the obvious route was university. I had never given a career any consideration and was struggling enough with the concept of being a grown up (I don't think I'm there yet, thankfully). My helpful friends at the time said - "you're good with numbers so you should go to Uni and do accountancy" Void of any better idea I said "ok". 3 years later and the end of the course beckoned. With even less idea what I wanted to do I again listened to the advice of friends "Now you have the degree you should get a job with an accountancy firm and become a Chartered Accountant". I readily agreed, it saved me from thinking!
3 years later (are you seeing a pattern yet?) I had my CA qualification and, thoroughly bored with auditing, I readily agreed with another friend's idea that I should do the tax exams and become a tax expert. So got that, then led the tax team and, to cut a long and uneventful story short I found myself in my early 30s as the youngest partner in the accountancy firm. I HAD MADE IT..........
.........and I was miserable. What, eh, how did that happen?
It will not come as a surprise to learn that the pattern of listening to, and trying to please, others was not confined to my work life. It was a skill I was equally adept at using in my personal life with the idea that if I do what other people say and seek to please them, then that will make me happy. It worked as well in my personal life as it did in my career!
My real enjoyment through all that time had been people. Discussing ideas and visions with real people and helping with change. The clues had been there for a while as any of the various personality profiles I had completed had all said one thing - your not really the accounting type. Finally I listened - kind of.
After a few years as a Group FD at a Food Service business I finally took the plunge and went out on my own initially as an accountant for hire! Working for myself gave me the freedom to do my NLP training which had been suggested to me by another friend - still no original thoughts I hear you say, and you'd be right. It was the turning point, though.
I did all the NLP training from Practitioner through Master Practitioner and Trainers Training as well as qualifying as a Clinical Hypnotherapist and had finally found something that I was not only good at - it was something I loved. All that training allowed me to work through some of my own unhelpful thinking and habits I had picked up along the way and realise I had my own thoughts, dreams and goals. It also allowed me to get the skills and qualifications that I needed to work effectively with others.
Having met my business Partner Karen, at my Trainers Training we have been working in and growing Monkey Puzzle for the last 5 years. As you might imagine, starting a training and coaching business exactly as the recession hit has been challenging. The first thing that accountants in businesses cut is training after all! Challenging as it has been, we have managed to grow bit by bit each year and at the same time enjoy and get a lot of fun and inspiration from the work we have done and the people we have met.
Having also got over myself, I shudder at some of my old behaviour, I am now able to embrace the skills I learned through my life as an accountant and merge them with the other skills I now have. This has allowed Karen and I to re-engage with the business world with a fresh energy and a desire to help and support people and businesses maximise their potential and make the most of the great people they have.
The last few years have been about learning what we are best at and what we enjoy the most and focus our energy on that. I've also learned to have an opinion of my own about what I want to do and that has been both a revelation and a long time coming.
I've met many great people over the last few years, and am excited about the future. Many things that I used to think I couldn't do I have proved to myself that I can. I'm even a recording artiste having recorded 2 hypnosis CDs.
I wonder what's next?
Alison's ability to combine a her passion for people with a scientific approach to her training makes her a fabulous trainer and facilitator. Unflappable, empathetic, and focused, Alison will do whatever it takes to get her clients and delegates their outcomes. For her training and development has to have validity in research and provide tangible benefits for both the individual and the organisation. Alison believes that if we can support people to build up their emotional resilience they will be happier, deal with challenges easily and achieve more effective results. Alison is living proof that if we focus on our dreams, they are achievable. She now lives in France with her husband and son, Boris and travels throughout Europe for her work.
Alison's career includes working in the accountancy and pharmaceutical industry where she achieved her BSC (Hons) in Animal Science Care and Welfare. She is an NLP Master Practitioner and Therapist and is a member of and works to the code of ethics of the NLPtCA. She runs a private coaching and therapy practice in Kent. Alison became a certified INLPTA NLP Trainer in 2013.
My Story by Alison Hopkins
So what’s it all about I thought… I had been thinking this for some time. I didn’t even know what it was. I was at a turning point in my life. I felt that I had lost all sense of direction and was feeling lost and without purpose.
I was first introduced to NLP whilst studying for my degree, this aroused my curiosity and soon after I quickly realised that NLP could help me “get clarity” about some of the bigger issues I was facing in my life at that time. I signed up to the NLP diploma being held in Scotland by Monkey Puzzle. Here learned a great deal about myself, both on the course and through working with the other delegates. My journey of self-discovery had begun.
Most of the other people I met at Monkey Puzzle were in a similar place to me and hearing their stories and working with them taught us all a lot.
When I arrived in Scotland I felt like (metaphorically) I was carrying an overfull really heavy suitcase. By the time I finished my master practitioner my suitcase had been unpacked sorted out and neatly folded and repacked into a much smaller and lighter handbag.
Now I have completed trainers training and I have really grown as a person. I have a new career that fits with my life, I have moved house, I am married to a wonderful husband and have a beautiful son. I have also increased my self-confidence dramatically and am a lot more self-assured and in tune with myself.
The techniques you learn and the conversations you have really help you change. Looking back, I learned to make sense of who I am, why I am like I am, and that I am who I am because of my history and background and where I have come from. But I also learned, that you can choose who you want to be. This, for me, is the key to creating positive change.
NLP has taught me to be positive about whatever future I face – and as a consequence, I am more relaxed and in control of my own destiny. NLP has also helped me to achieve what I want in life. I learned to stop feeling guilty about change which would result in my own happiness. NLP has helped me understand what I want out of my personal relationships and what makes me happy; it has enhanced my own self-belief and allowed me to re-connect with my true self. I found myself saying I deserve to be happy! And I have learned that change has to come from within.
As Monkey Puzzle's Business Development Manager, Jennie is your first port of call for all open courses and corporate enquires. A bundle of fun who cares passionately about others, she also provides support to our existing delegates and clients and our regular clients know her as well as they do us.
Jennie is a qualified INLPTA NLP Trainer, Master Practitioner and Therapist. She is an expert in the practical application of NLP in both business and personal life. During the course of her training Jennie has adapted many aspects of her learning to her family life as well as her profession and is therefore extremely well positioned to assist you with any queries that you may have. Jennie’s also a busy Mum to her adorable son Sidney (we are very biased!) and she considers him a testament to how NLP has made a positive difference to her life.
Prior to her career in Training and Development, Jennie had 10 years experience in the entertainment industry assisting companies to expand their business with increasing Sales, PR and Marketing activities. Jennie is obsessed about good customer service and these values make her a great addition to the team.
My Story by Jennie Backshell
When I started my NLP training I was working as an Emerging Markets Manager for a large entertainment company. The job was stressful, involved lots of travel and needless to say it kept me very busy. I allowed it to distract from some of the important issues in my personal life. My husband and I had been trying for a baby for 7 years without any luck and I convinced myself that "it didn't matter, I'm happy being a career woman, I get to travel and I earn good money" plus a heap of other things to distract myself from my desire to be a mother.
My Practitioner course gave me permission to accept those feelings that I'd been suppressing and opened my eyes to some of the un-useful behaviour I'd been expressing. Shortly afterwards I was made redundant and it was a big wakeup call. I felt I'd lost my identity a little and was unsure what to do. Then I realised that this was an opportunity for me to change my life around and strive toward other goals. What did I really want? I loved the Practitioner course and thought that this was something I'd like to continue even though at the time I wasn't sure where it was leading.
I enrolled onto Master Practitioner with enthusiasm, unpacking lots of limiting beliefs and discovering that I actually had a talent for NLP. My confidence grew again; I experienced some wonderful moments with the other delegates and developed some great friendships too. During my integration weekend I had a massive breakthrough and I realised that I had the belief of "I'm a failure" so deeply rooted within me that it had become part of my identity. Was it any wonder that I felt I didn't deserve and wasn't worthy of becoming a parent when I thought I'd failed in so many other aspects of my life? With the help of my practitioner and some highly effective NLP techniques including parts integration & memory resolution, we worked through it and I graduated feeling like a new person with the world at my feet.
With my new found strength, determination and a huge wealth of NLP skills, I decided to address the subject of having a family with my husband again (this time without tears, tantrums and wasted energy). We rationally agreed on the routes we were willing to take together and set ourselves a time frame to achieve what we wanted. With our outcome clearly defined I felt so much more relaxed and happy. Surprise, surprise – I was pregnant within a few months!
My NLP training unpacked a lot of "stuff" I'd been carrying around for years and I believe that by clearing all that out, I cleansed my mind and ultimately my body followed. I think that by being kind to myself and, to use a popular phrase, "pulling my head of out the sand", I gave myself permission to move forward. I'm very grateful that I discovered NLP at that particular time in my life and I continue to use the techniques and skills I learnt on a daily basis with my little boy. It is helping me to nurture his learning and development in so many ways. But that's another chapter of the story in itself...
Yvonne has over twenty years experience managing busy offices and as a Personal Assistant. Having worked with top executives, engineers, office staff and sales teams, Yvonne has the ability to connect with people from different backgrounds and a variety of life and work experiences. Yvonne is the ‘glue’ of the Monkey Puzzle team, keeping us all in line, making sure we don’t spend too much (especially John) and very importantly keeps the office running while we’re all out and about. She’s a complete star and we couldn’t do without her.