Teresa Peters Interview, April 2021
If you believe, as some do, in the terrifying concept of us each living not one, but numerous lives in parallel, one of Teresa Peters’ incarnations is on stage right now, heroine of a parallel universe in which she is the greatest female singer the world has ever known.
In that world, she won X-Factor and never looked back. In this, she got halfway through her second audition rendition of You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman and walked off the set, having realised in a Eureka moment that her best life was waiting for her elsewhere.
Jane Pikett delves into the personal experiences which drive Teresa Peters, the internationally accredited executive and life coach for whom discovering everyone’s best life is all about unlocking a little va, va, voom…
Now an internationally accredited executive and life coach, she is acutely aware of the sliding door moments which change the direction of every life, including hers. Her gift to the world is in coaching others – individuals and teams, at work and in their personal lives – through those moments and times of challenge.
Her experience of running her own business enterprises, working in large corporate settings, and meeting adversity head-on inform her approach in guiding and inspiring others as they negotiate all that life throws at them, including adjusting to life in a pandemic.
“We are living in an extraordinary time just now; a time when many people are expected to re-form into work, family and social lives as lockdown is lifted again, or adjust to a life which looks very different to how it was a year ago,” she says. “We have a fantastic opportunity to build on human resilience as we re-form and re-connect. At the same time, as an executive coach, I see many individuals who are re-evaluating their professional lives, scaling up or down their corporate and business roles and achieving a new balance in what they do.”
She is busier than ever before, guiding clients for whom a year of lockdowns has prompted a re-evaluation of life and/or work, and helping to re-connect teams who haven’t worked physically together for a year and may never do so fully again.
“Guiding colleagues to reconnect after a year working remotely is a major issue right now,” she says. “And this is a great opportunity to help them to re-connect in their new circumstances – remotely, together, or a mixture of the two.
“I hope humankind will harness the positives we have gained from the pandemic. We are in transition right now and we can move on when we accept what we have to let go. We have to move forward in this new world, adapting and picking up on strengths we have all dug into, forming new habits to go forward.”
Her passion for personal and professional development, her fascination for what makes people tick, and her joy in seeing people make change for the better, all drive Teresa, whose own journey in personal development began in the mid-90s, when she undertook a degree in sports psychology and public media. From a family of specialists working in psychology, psychiatry and nursing, her degree lit a fire within her and thus began a lifelong passion for personal development and coaching.
Accredited at Senior Practitioner Level with the Global European Mentoring Coaching Council (EMCC), certified as a virtual team coach and delivering a range of psychometric profiling tools, she is also constantly striving for her own professional development in helping others live their best life. “After many years of study, I am able to adopt a fluid approach with my clients,” she says, “drawing from a range of proven methodologies in helping them to live their best life. A science and evidence-based approach works well for most people, and I move through different models to benefit each client. I’m passionate about people’s willingness to look at themselves in pursuit of being the best version of themselves personally and professionally.”
Everyone, she says, can benefit from coaching in theory, if they are willing and it is at the right time for them. She has her own coach – a vital part of her life, she says – and she is constantly engaged in her own continuing development. She is also naturally adaptable and optimistic, attributes which have served her well in a life with its share of challenges, which include growing with a mother who was schizophrenic and endured numerous stays in psychiatric care.
During those formative years growing up in Spennymoor, Co Durham, Teresa and her sister were cared for a good deal and supported by their grandmother, the memory (still alive) of whom remains a strength and stay now. Her mother, meanwhile, a prolific artist and poet, “was very different, very eccentric. But she taught me that it’s okay to be different and quirky. I was always in and out of mental hospitals visiting her. I’d get the bus and go and see her and sing with the other patients on the karaoke. I just wanted to make them happy. I can see now that being adaptable, seeing the positive in everything, has served me well.”
Her parents were divorced and she saw her father at weekends, when he would take her and her sister out in a friend’s Jaguar E-Type; a car Teresa loved and which is at the heart of her company brand now. “He was also an entrepreneur and from the age of seven I was taking business calls for him, so that definitely planted something of my own entrepreneurial spirit,” she says.
After graduating, she worked in media sales in London, pursuing a fast-paced, highly competitive career route. Divorced by her late-20s with a little boy, she headed back to the North East in the early-2000s, again to work in media and meeting and marrying her husband Duncan.
A turning point came in 2008, when Duncan was made redundant. “We had baby twins and a six-year-old, and we had to do something, so we set up Relish Publications [their successful recipe book business] in a recession. That was a huge turning point, and it was hard, but it was so exciting,” she says, with a huge smile on her face.
“It was massively risky, and I think most people would think we were mad, but we just cracked on. We’ve published 32 books over the years, working with some of the UK’s best chefs, including Jean-Christophe Novelli, and I still think that if we can do that, we can do anything. I actually thrive on challenges and adverse situations. I don’t know if I’d even say I found it stressful. I get very focused at times like that, and I have a real sense of purpose which drives me.”
Her own personality profiling reveals an optimistic motivator, an outgoing spirit with highly developed emotional intelligence and an innovator who loves to try new things. A natural problem-solver, she is an instinctive communicator and valuable brainstormer, gregarious, spontaneous and enormous fun to have around. Generous with praise, quick to smile and always on the lookout for positives, her natural empathy lies behind a natural talent for lightening others’ spirits. One signature strength report says of her: “You find ways to make everything more exciting and more vital. Somehow you can’t quite escape your conviction that it is good to be alive… Intuitively you are able to see the world through [others’] eyes and share their perspective.”
All of these attributes contribute to her excellence as a coach, and in 2015 she founded Accelerator Coaching. Its daffodil yellow branding is, like her, positive and instantly cheering, and I note that her office (we are speaking over Zoom) features a daffodil yellow wall and that she is wearing matching yellow nail polish. In other words, she is personally fully branded, and Accelerator is very much her baby.
Her stock in trade is solution-focused and positive psychology, strengths-based coaching; work that maximises people’s best elements and moves focus away from the negative. Her clients value her natural intuition, her solution-focused methodology, and her flexibility in approaches which include Zoom coaching, 1:1 work (when pandemic allows), short MOT sessions, and walks and talks.
Thriving as an executive, team and life coach, she is a mother to three teenagers and loves to run and cycle near her home in rural Northumberland, renowned among friends for her boundless enthusiasm and energy. Her passion lies in inspiring her clients to live their best life, to accept and understand their styles and strengths and enabling them to feel fulfilled to thrive at work and at home.
Her best decision in her own life, she says, was marrying Duncan. “He allows me to be my best self. He supported me on my coaching journey, he’s interested when I’m trying to learn and get my head around things, he puts things into perspective and he’s a good sounding board. We’ve run a business together, which has taught me a lot.”
Over the years, she says, she has progressed from being the bounciest, most enthusiastic girl in the office and learned to actively listen and step back. “I stop and reflect more. After marriage and kids you can lose that sense of self, and a lot of what I do is about how we don’t change that much fundamentally. I’m still my 21-year-old self, full of energy and positivity. I’m inspired by my circle of friends. I seem to naturally surround myself with people who are quite unique and driven in their own ways and that drives me. They are all exceptional.
“I love learning and am endlessly curious, and I have a real passion for enabling people to move forward.”
Her role model in life, she says, is Tina Turner, which brings us back to that X-Factor audition. “If I hadn’t married Dunc and decided on this course in my life, I may well have completed that audition and had a life on the stage,” she says, with a raucous, throaty laugh, “but I knew at that moment, on that day, it wasn’t right. Family came first and it was more important to me than going off to be a singer. Now, coaching is my life and my passion, and I hope to be doing it forever. One day, maybe Duncan and I will have a beach house and I will see my clients there. Living my best life while helping them to live theirs… that’s what it’s all about.”
Jane Pikett is a journalist and editor of magazines including The Northumbrian and Appetite. She is also a PR/social media and brand marketing specialist, and a specialist editor, copywriter, PR & marketeer in NLP and associated psychologies, working with world-leading figures including Dr. Richard Bandler and Owen Fitzpatrick.