Living the Cheapskate Life: personal development expert Alice ter Haar on career changes, WFH and the jewel in Acton's crown
Personal development expert Alice ter Haar is the founder of Badass Unicorn, a personal development consultancy that helps individuals to thrive through greater self-awareness.
What’s something amazing about Acton that only the locals know about?
The jewel in Acton’s crown (in my humble opinion) is Churchfield Road – it’s a quaint little local high street that makes you feel a bit like you’re in the countryside! There are lovely cafes, plus an organic fruit and veg shop and lots of brilliant restaurants. Acton is also home to a skatepark and climbing wall, which you probably wouldn’t know about unless you lived nearby.
Are there any local businesses you’d like to give a shout-out to?
My favourite restaurant is Fed & Watered – it’s run by an amazingly friendly human called Chris, and you can tell how much of himself he’s poured into it. The food is excellent – I highly recommend “the chip”, which is a cross between a chip, dauphinoise potato and hash brown… dreamy, right?
Another treasured spot, where you can find my partner and I most early Friday evenings, is The Station House. This place means a lot to our family… it was where my husband and I had our first date and our wedding reception. It’s got a huge, covered beer garden and does the best pizzas in West London.
What would your perfect no-spend London day involve?
Bikes and exploring! There’s so much beauty in London – from the architecture and sites, to the parks and the river. So, I’d hop on my bike or hire an electric scooter (although that’s not strictly no spend!)) and meander through the West End and the City, or pootle along the river for the day.
Did you discover any hidden gems in the capital during the lockdowns?
Richmond Park has always been a special place – as a born and bred Londoner, it was somewhere we spent a lot of time as kids, climbing trees, building dams and playing hide and seek in the ferns. We spent a lot of time there during the lockdowns – it helped ease that claustrophobic feeling by being in the wider expanses of the outdoors.
What made you decide to have a career change and set up Badass Unicorn?
Starting my own business was a very gradual process… the first catalyst was a leadership programme called The Marketing Academy, which inspired me about the magic of personal development. I found it so powerful, I wanted to share my learnings with others. So, I started blogging and speaking about it to anyone who would listen!
Gradually, this passion project grew into a side hustle as I organically “followed the scent” of my enthusiasm and started to do more and more of it.
There were two very difficult situations that really spurred me on on my journey – a demotion when working at Deliveroo, which forced me to see that I had been building a career in an area (marketing) that wasn’t aligned with my strengths for people development and facilitation.
And then, when faced with redundancy in the peak of the first Covid wave, I decided to “walk the plank” and see whether I could get this passion to pay the bills… which I’m pleased to say, I could! I still pinch myself that I get to do something I love so much for a living.
Do you have a top tip for someone who’s feeling like they’re in a career rut?
My advice would be to build your self-awareness - to understand why you’re feeling like this. One way to figure this out is to define your “career checklist” – this is your list of Career Must Haves and Career Must Nots. If you’re in a rut, the likelihood is that more of your Must Nots are playing out than your Must Haves. When you know what these things are and how they’re showing up, you can take action to readjust the balance.
This is one of the exercises that you do on my free course – Kickstart Your Personal Development – which you can register for here.
What are the best – and worst – things about working in London?
I work from home most of the time and the worst thing about it is feeling lonely… as a strong extrovert, I really miss being part of a team and those “water cooler” moments. I try to recreate that by having at least one social call per day with former colleagues or work buddies.
I often travel to central London when running workshops for clients, which feels quite novel these days! The best bit about it is getting to enjoy all the things the city has to offer in and around my work e.g. lunches in interesting spots, and dinners and drinks with friends afterwards.
If you could change one thing about the capital, what would it be?
Homelessness – I really struggle to see so many people living on the streets. I used to volunteer at a shelter and at Crisis at Christmas, which I loved, but I’ve struggled to make the time for this since having my daughter and running my own business. I have so much love and respect for those supporting people in this space. I feel guilty that I don’t do more.
I give quite a bit to charity, often stop to talk to those I meet on the streets and offer to buy them some food, and regularly get The Big Issue.
In three words, what makes somebody a Londoner?
Grit, open-minded and fun.
Alice's course was rated 9.3/10 by participants when she ran it in 2021 (and it received more than 1,000 registrations). Find out more about how you can kickstart your personal development and sign up here
Follow Badass Unicorn on Instagram here