How She Got There: Rachel Turner, the founder whisperer
Described by some as the “founder whisperer”, Rachel Turner is a coach and leadership advisor with over twenty years of experience supporting founders and leaders to achieve extraordinary things.
She is a co-founder of VC Talent Lab, which aims to put leadership talent development at the heart of the VC ecosystem. The VC Talent Lab team helps VC-backed companies optimise their performance and build thriving companies. They are also a trusted coaching partner to multiple global investment funds and work with founders from a wide range of sectors, from Series A investment through to IPO/exit.
We sat down with Rachel to hear more about her incredibly successful career, and to find out how she got there.
Early life and the climb to success
Born in Canada and raised in the UK, Rachel had planned to study History at LSE, but instead founded a company in the dance music industry while on her gap year. “I founded five companies before leaving the music industry at 26, to then go to university,” Rachel says. “I got a first in Applied Psychology from Sussex, then completed a two-year professional coach qualification.
“My first career was as a 'club promotions manager', convincing DJs to play records from an Italian record label called Flying Records. I went on to found a DJ management company, two record labels and a touring operation with my then partner the DJ Carl Cox.
“I loved, and still love, house music, but after seven years I found the industry lacking in depth and meaning. I was always interested in psychology and personal development, so it was an obvious path to follow when I left the music industry in 1996.”
While studying, Rachel signed up for a two-year coach training course that, along with her previous experience as a founder, provided the skills needed to start her own coaching practice in 2000. “I have always started businesses in the same way – have a clear vision and mission, build a network of influential and successful people in that space, master your craft and do a great job.”
Reflecting on the journey
Although the course to true success rarely runs smoothly, Rachel shares that her main challenges have stemmed from her own limitations. “Most challenges I think are internal rather than external: overcoming self-doubt, developing work discipline, managing your energy and mindset. My biggest challenge has been to manage my workaholic tendencies and the best thing I did to achieve career success was to give up drinking many years ago.
“If I could go back and tell my 10-year-old self one thing, it would be: Criticising yourself and trying to make everyone love you is going to make you really unhappy. Imagine you were your own best friend – how would you talk to her? How would you treat her? Now let's work out how to do that for yourself.”
Rachel recently released a book, The Founder’s Survival Guide, which is designed to help founders evolve their leadership style as they scale their businesses, to make sure the company not only survives but thrives as it grows.
She is also married to her childhood sweetheart and has a twenty-year-old son William. As a family, they split their time between their homes in the Sussex countryside and Soho.