Real talk: not everyone jumps out of bed in the morning, pumped for work; who wouldn’t rather spend their week on the beach or hanging with mates? So, if you’re guilty of getting a case of the Monday blues, that’s totally cool. What’s not cool? Feeling sick to your stomach because someone in your office is making your life hell.
Around one in five people experience workplace bullying, and here at Urban List we’re just not ok with that. Which is why we decided to catch up with Sarah Frtiz, aka The Yes Queen, who ditched her 9 to 5 and started a crusade to end toxic behavior in the workplace. Here’s how she started her revolution of kindness and how you can get on board.
Prior to starting Yes Queen, what did you do for work?
I started as an advertising co-ordinator and ended my corporate career as Head of Agency Sales. I loved that no day was the same in Advertising—it was fast-paced and challenging in a very competitive market. I was incredibly passionate about what I did, up until the final hours inside corporate walls. I always honour my corporate years, if I didn’t cut my teeth and learn what I did, I wouldn’t be equipped to do what I do now.
Was there a particular moment that inspired Yes Queen or was it a build-up of events?
Towards the end of corporate life I was suffering burnout—this was both self-inflicted and a result of a toxic work environment. During this time I had a number of healings to cope, like meditating regularly and attending conscious events. The mix of these helped me ‘awaken’ my soul-purpose, which manifested in the Yes Queen project.
After witnessing and experiencing bad behaviour and toxic culture from a number of people and places, I felt inspired to create a platform to address workplace bullying but with a prevention approach. There were a lot of existing services for victims however I saw an opportunity to focus on self-development and soft skills, something I feel is lacking in the corporate world right now.
And what was your goal for Yes Queen?
I wanted to create a community where people felt safe, positive and included. From a business perspective our goal is to ask all leaders to take a zero-tolerance stance to workplace bullying. For a long time there has been a stigma around bullying which has made it difficult to both identify and report this behaviour. Our project takes it out of the company’s intranet or from point 40.7 of an employee contract and brings this global issue front and centre.
How did you initially get it off the ground?
Mike, my creative partner (in life and love!) and I combined our two skills to launch Yes Queen. I looked after the brand strategy and Mike took on the creative assets and the website. Before launching we garnered the support of 30 people in business to bring it to life. We had help with the photoshoot and copywriting; along with the help of experts in business, Psychology and HR who informed our website and business resources. Yes Queen has, and always will be built on passion and people power.
Was it scary making the leap from full time work to launching your own business?
We weren’t initially going to start our own business; I had quit my job to take time to nurture myself personally, with the thought of doing more study and potentially moving overseas. I started freelancing my skills and was really enjoying working for myself. When Mike found an article on ‘digital nomads’ we had a light bulb moment to combine our skills and start a remote creative agency. Yes Queen was born during the same period; we’ve been running both businesses side by side since late 2017.
Launching a business was exciting and f***ing scary! We both had to upskill in different areas and we both wear many hats to make our full-service agency work successfully. It takes a lot of grit, commitment and patience to start a business; we’ve been so lucky to have an incredibly supportive network and a roster of dream clients.
Running a not for profit has been a completely different experience, everything is anchored in the mission. From business decisions through to brand partnerships, we ask two important questions: “will this further our impact?” and “does it relate to Yes Queen?”.
What’s the biggest hurdle you had to overcome with Yes Queen?
Getting the not-for-profit status was our biggest hurdle and achievement. With no funds to pay for lawyers we used the help of free support services and the rest I did on my own. There were four stages, a ton of paperwork and I wrote a constitution document which now governs our company. We now have a board of directors who are each experts in their fields who will help with the evolution of our mission.
Despite the name, this is just as much about the fellas too right?
Yes 100%, we are for everyone. One of our core values is “Inclusivity—we believe in one energy, one race. Everyone has a seat at Yes Queen.” Given I am the founder, the brand name and some features are inherently very me, however our content, resources and mission have always been for everyone. As I came from a female led industry I have had a lot of female support, I would love any men, or any human who feels connected to this project to please join us.
What are some of your top tips for creating a happy and safe workplace?
In creating a safe workspace it’s important we see everyone as one, as an equal, as a human being with the same feelings and emotions as everyone else. We are all unique and wonderfully different but championing innate commonalities like kindness and respect should be mandatory. A happy workplace I believe starts with a people-first approach. If you lead with people’s passion and give them a clear purpose it creates a positive atmosphere. If you lead with profits and deadlines it can be demotivating and stressful. No one wants to feel like a cog in a wheel.
Finally, what advice would you give to others wanting to start their own business?
Be fearless in the pursuit of your soul purpose. This is usually an intersection of your passion and your skills. It sounds cliché but the saying “when you do what you love it isn’t work”, is very true. I sometimes work seven days a week and I never complain! If you’re not in a position to leave your full-time job, start your passion as a ‘side hustle’ and save a ‘fuck off’ fund. Once you’re ready to launch, surround yourself with people already doing it and learn from them.
Image Credit: The Yes Queen