Doing It My Way

Leadership can be lonely, scary, challenging, draining and even sad. It can also be joyous, exhilarating and exceptionally rewarding.

The Being Group’s Principal and Co-Founder, Kerry Neethling, shares the highs and lows, laughter and life learnings she’s experienced since launching the business almost seven years ago, and leading it to a place of success.

From little things

When I was sitting on my bed in pyjamas with a little notebook, drawing lots of circles, connecting this to that, thinking about launching BEING, I would never have thought what we have achieved was possible.

After years in the corporate world, I’d grown really tired of average and bad leadership. I’d had a range of leaders who were bullies, or weak, or who’d just checked out. Job after job, I just kept on coming up against that. I thought: “That’s just not cool, there must be a better way of doing it.”

The other big reason to launch BEING was I could see a need. My jobs in marketing were affected by not being able to find an agency that could do everything I needed. With every single product I launched, I had the issue of dealing with different web developers, copywriters, designers, videographers, creatives. I would have loved to have found them all in one place. So that’s what I wanted to build.

I also wanted BEING to be an amazing place where people could come and feel part of something, with soft-touch leadership that allowed people to blossom and grow. And, for clients, the dream was to create a service that was phenomenal, that would really benefit brands and genuinely give them what they needed for success.

I love the expansive feeling leading BEING brings. I’m free to dream stupidly big, for ourselves and the brands we work with.

Lead for people

A big part of my job is to be permanently interrupted and be absolutely fine with that. I would hate to be a person that people felt they couldn’t ask for the things they need to do their jobs well and be happy.

My leadership style is naturally soft and empathetic. I try to lead as a peer, not as someone who is above someone else, or even has control over someone else. I learned from my past experiences and wanted to be the opposite of that as a leader.

There’s nothing orchestrated about it. It’s how I raised my kids and how I am with my friends. It’s how I love to do life and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to be an authentic ‘me’ in a leadership role.

Happy birthday to you

We have over the top birthday celebrations, and lots of other fun social things at BEING, and I see them as extremely important. I want every single person who walks through that door in the morning to feel seen. I want to know they’re happy in their home life, to be aware of what they’re about to work on, and how they feel when they leave at the end of the day. We have 25 unique individuals here and the birthdays are a way to celebrate how special and different everybody is.

Everyone gets dressed up, there’s always a theme that’s about the person, and the presents are thoughtful and hand-picked. It’s become an important part of BEING culture.

Because I can be my true self here, I’m able to do birthdays how I’d do them for all my friends and family. It’s all about making memories.

Our celebrations show we’re different, and they’re a core part of who we are. They also send a message to clients (who see our madness on our socials) that we’re going to treat their brand in a special and unique way as well.

The perfect client

The ideal client is one that has a real and positive impact in the world. I’ll help anybody who’s helping somebody to have a better life. I would love for us to become more well-known as an agency working for social change.

I also love working with teams that are supportive of each other — kind, considerate and cohesive, a mirror of who we are.

Honest, open, clear communication is also important. We want our clients to understand we’re here to keep going until we get it right.

The surreal deal

I’m exceptionally proud of what we’ve achieved here. When I hear people talking about working at BEING and how much they love it, it feels completely surreal.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be such a shock that people like to have fun, be treated with respect and given the freedom to be themselves and do good work. It still baffles me it’s so rare.

To have created a place where people feel good makes me feel so fulfilled. I know it’s a huge privilege, and a huge responsibility.

Five ways to find the extraordinary

I think there are five key elements to building an extraordinary culture.

When someone joins the company, we make sure everything is prepared — laptops, email up and running, a well-chosen welcome gift, and a chance to meet the team properly. When someone arrives, we try to make them feel so special on that nervous first morning. We start as we mean to continue.

The everyday
We try to make every day exceptional and fun. That’s why, even if we’re madly busy, we’ll always make time do the birthdays, the music, the weird stuff we love to do. Of course, there’s a lot of hard work, but that needs to be balanced with moments of human connection, support and as many joyous moments as we can pack into a day.

The highs
It’s important the highs are shared, financially if we can, and by publicly acknowledging everyone who’s responsible. We always make sure we take a moment to look back at the great work we did and understand why that success happened.

The lows
If we’re being open and honest, that means we have to share the lows as well. The path to where we are now has been rocky, no doubt. I believe being honest about that builds trust and a sense we’re all in this together. It’s also so important to show people there’s always a silver lining.

The goodbye
This is a hard one. I find goodbye difficult because we become so close and I love all the Beings, as we call each other. We stay connected even after you leave. There’s a legacy that comes with having worked here — once a Being, always a Being! We still acknowledge your birthday and even have regular dinners. This is something I feel passionate about. I might have a cry when a resignation is announced, but ultimately we will always say: “We’re excited for you! How can we make this new stage in your career awesome for you?”

Beings just wanna have fun

Being playful is risky, because it’s about being vulnerable. So, if you want to dress up as Gandalf or Superman or a chocolate on someone’s birthday, go for it! In most organisations, if you’re silly, it’s not seen as taking chances, it’s like: “Oh for goodness’ sake grow up!”

Playfulness is not often seen as being brave, but here it is. There’s a level of bravery required to not lead a vanilla life. Very few people are able to step up and do life in a truly brave way.


We were brave to start BEING and we encourage the brands we work with to be brave. Being brave is very empowering but it’s also difficult and scary.

In the end, being impactful in life and business requires bravery.

Kerry Neethling would be a marriage celebrant, a professional party planner and run a not-for-profit charity helping people live better lives if she wasn’t busy leading The Being Group.

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