BestSelf Co.’s founder Cathryn Lavery on launching Little Hero’s Journal

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.
BestSelf Co. is a little off-piste for us! For those that don’t know the company, what do you do?

BestSelf Co. is a purpose-driven company with a mission to connect and inspire people to think bigger, achieve more, and enjoy today. We create physical tools and digital downloads that empower people with their relationships, productivity, and goals. Everything we do is about encouraging people to become their ‘best self’ in all areas of their life – whatever their ‘best self’ means to them.

How did you come to be in that line of work? Why did you found the company?
We launched in 2015 with our first product – the Self Journal. This three-month journal was the first of its kind and was designed to help entrepreneurs and A-Types – like me back then – get more from their day so they could achieve big goals.

That was you, was it? Goal setting and ambitious?
Yes… Back then, I wanted to figure out and master the success secrets I saw other people benefiting from. I did a ton of research into success psychology and productivity theory. I read books, attended seminars, and took courses. In the course of my research I began to discover the common success threads and eventually distilled these down into a daily structure that anyone could use to get more done in less time, and achieve their goals.

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.

You did that first product launch on a fundraising site, did you not?

I did! The product was a runaway success on Kickstarter, funding in just 28 hours. We went on to raise over $322,000 against a target of $15,000. The Kickstarter success proved the product was something people wanted, and BestSelf Co. was born.

What did you learn from that experience?
From a personal perspective, I realised how much I loved distilling complex ideas into simple, everyday structures that anyone can follow for a more fulfilling life. BestSelf Co. offered the perfect framework for me to explore this skill further so I could use it to make a positive impact.

You recently launched a children’s product that caught our eye – Little Hero’s Journal. Tell us about that.
The Little Hero’s Journal is a three-month adventure for children aged eight to twelve. Each day, children are invited to take part in a quest that’s designed to boost confidence, elevate their sense of self, and cultivate a growth mindset. The daily pages of this kid’s journal are designed to support children to learn skills such as gratitude, reflection, and habit tracking – all essential skills that pave the way for success in life.

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.

What might parents hope their child could learn or gain from using Little Hero’s Journal?
The Little Hero’s Journal is all about children’s empowerment. It’s designed to be fun, while providing thought-provoking ways for children to expand their comfort zone, cultivate their self-confidence, and feel comfortable in who they really are.

Children in today’s world face new challenges. Growing up with social media and the way that COVID -19 has impacted education means it’s more important than ever that children are empowered to know themselves and believe in themselves. It’s our hope that families using the journal will see their children’s confidence grow – giving them the best possible start in life.

Well, in part that answers my next question… I was wondering why you’re venturing into the world of children’s productivity and self-improvement products? And why now?
Many BestSelf Co. customers come to us because they’ve hit a point in their life when they want more. They want more time, confidence, courage, purpose, creativity, commitment – you name it. They’ve reached a point in their lives when they want to achieve bigger goals and really create the fulfilment they desire. They’re just not sure how to do it and how to cultivate the commitment to cross the finish line.

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.

Are you of the view, then, that all people should have access to these skills when younger?
Very much so… Can you imagine what the world would be like if we were all taught these core-success skills as children? Can you imagine how different things would be if children were raised with an abundance of self-esteem, emotional intelligence, confidence, commitment, and the ability to figure out how to manage their time and get stuff done?

It sounds like it’s a hugely passionate project for you…
Absolutely. The Little Hero’s Journal teaches kids the things I wish I’d learned at school. It’s here to help children get an edge. If they can learn and master these types of skills now, they’ll be streets ahead when they hit adulthood. And really, the younger children start this ’life education’, the easier the learning curve. This education can also help children avoid some of the disempowering habits and stories we collect along the way…

As I say, I think personal development should be a mainstream skill that’s intentionally taught from a young age. With the Little Hero’s Journal, these skills are now accessible in a fun, adventurous way.

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.

Some products of this kind struggle, I think, to get the balance right between playing and developing. How difficult was that with this project?
First up, we understand the self-improvement market. Although this is a new sector in terms of age for us, we know the area. We also partnered with teachers and psychologists to help us develop the product. What’s more, lots of our customers have kids. In the past, we’ve had lots of people reach out and tell us how they’ve adapted our adult tools for their little ones.

Right. It’s not so much a new product or concept, it’s a new audience that you know would benefit?
Yes; creating a product for a younger age group felt like a natural extension of what we already do. It was important to us that the journal was engaging to look at and fun to use, though. We didn’t want it to feel like a school thing… It was important that it had that free-time, home-time vibe – hence the colours, characters, and themes. And while the journal inspires inner work, it doesn’t feel like work. Instead, it’s designed to be creative, adventurous, and challenging in a way that gets creativity and curiosity flowing.

And what was the biggest challenge with the product?
The biggest challenge was coming up with the characters featured in the journal. We needed to ensure they had a unisex appeal that the age group that the content was developed for would like. They needed to be cute, but not babyish. Fun, but not silly. The other challenge was ensuring there was sufficient variety with the daily pages and that the challenges had the right mix of fun and challenge.

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.
The variety needs to be there for youngsters?

Yes; unlike our adult journals that have repeating daily pages, we decided to make the Little Hero’s Journal have a different challenge each day – to ensure variety was right at the heart of this experience for kids. Early feedback from kids and parents suggests we got the balance between play and development just right… It’s something that would stretch a child’s comfort zone without overwhelming them.

Well, this sounds really interesting, Cathryn. I did mean to ask earlier – how important is creativity in what you do?
Creativity is very important to me and the team. It’s a skill that runs through everything I do. It’s how I create new products and how I’m able to spark innovation in the business. Creativity helps me come up with fresh ideas that might actually go somewhere – something that’s essential in business. These days, we need to be innovating constantly to stay ahead and remain relevant. You only have to look at the journal industry to see why this is true. When the Self Journal first came out, it was one of a kind. Now new three-month journals pop up every month!

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.
And to the same point, I guess, how do you stay creative?

For me, creativity is essentially problem-solving mixed with curiosity. It’s about stirring up variety by diving into different things… Whether that’s reading a book I wouldn’t normally pick up or going to a new part of town. When you take a step outside of the ordinary, you create new connections and dots to join up, meaning you increase your chances of uncovering that breakthrough idea that makes an impact.

Good answer; thank you. I like the analogy of connecting dots and I like those suggestions… I often go to a trade show that doesn’t particularly interest me, but reading a book that wouldn’t normally appeal… I must try that!
Yes! Because for me, it’s more about sparking a dynamic discovery process where I’m open to seeing where things lead. It’s leaving space for the unexpected. After all, if you’re always surrounded by the same stimuli, chances are you’ll continue thinking and creating things along similar trains of thought.

Great stuff. We’ll need to start wrapping this up, Cathryn, but just before we do let me ask you this… Have you any plans to develop this into a larger range? With licensing, perhaps? If so, what kind of partner would you be looking for?
We don’t have any plans for licensing, but we’re always open to ideas. I’m always interested in speaking with people in this field who have different skill sets from me – especially if it means getting this product into the hands of more children. We’re also expanding our range of products for children in-house. We have a growing series of digital downloads –some paid and some free. We’ve also just released a Win The Day pad for kids, designed to help children master the art of reflection and celebration of their successes of all sizes.

Cathryn Lavery, BestSelf Co.
Fantastic! Well, I’m really pleased we took the time to look into this with you… Thanks ever so much for fitting us in. Final question: what’s he most interesting thing in your office or on your desk?

The most interesting item on my desk is a lockbox for my phone that has a timed lock.

A lockbox, did you say?
Yes! If I get too distracted, I put my phone in the box and lock it. I can’t look at it again until the timer goes off. It’s great for enforcing moments of focus and productivity!

Oh, I see! A lockbox with a timer… I rather like that! Excellent! Alright – Cathryn I’ll leave it there but if people want to know more, where do they go?
Take a look at – thanks for that!

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