Sandra Sampson…… It all starts with you!

Sandra Sampson…… It all starts with you!

Written by Tracey Duke, Photography by Pip Andersen

Inspirational & emphatic, Sandra Sampson exudes a positivity & razor-like focus, unlike any other. There is simply no barrier, no obstacle that she believes cannot be overcome; a mere 20 minutes in her company will have you reaching for the stars and eating them for breakfast.

I caught up with one of the city’s most influential and respected coaches, at the Hotel Du Vin, and kicked troublesome worries into touch along the way. 


Sandra, if I were to write a list of the most influential women in Exeter today, your name would very definitely be with those at the top. From co-founding Sampson Hall and Motiv-8sw to the charity BEEP, one of the RWC2015 legacy projects, it feels as though you are central to the growth that many businesses and individuals within Exeter are currently having. I personally count you as having had a huge influence on my own personal journey in recent years. Let’s start with a look back at where things started for you.

My early days go right back to when I was two years old, when my parents moved myself and my three young sisters to a hotel in North Devon. It was an environment that focused on looking after and caring for other people.  

My parents had never run a business like that before; with four really young daughters it was a challenge, but growing up in that environment made me realise that other people are important; important both to the business and to our success and wellbeing. 

My early career was spent working in the veterinary world where I very quickly got involved in the training of the other nurses; helping them develop their careers was something I became very passionate about. 

So you found your purpose, your passion, from an early age. 

Yes, definitely; from really early on! It wasn’t until later on in life, when I look back, that I realised that the signs were there from very early on. Even when I left the veterinary nursing world and went to work at Bicton College, I was working with people, encouraging them to greater success. In my early 20’s I became the very first female Head of Department in the college; prior to that, it had all been men. 

I not only worked with motivated individuals who were on a career path to become qualified nurses, but also did a lot of work with young people who didn’t have any qualifications, helping them to find a passion and move forward successfully.  

I then had a family; three children. A little time after having my children, I setup my own business in wellbeing and fitness. My focus was on the female market & on helping ladies to take time out of their busy schedules to get fitter, more healthy and to think about themselves as an individual.

Because we don’t tend to do it.

No. We don’t. We think about our businesses, our careers, our jobs, our children, our partners, but what we’re all guilty of forgetting about is what it is that we want.

Very often we put ourselves at the back of the queue, forgetting about ourselves and instead focusing on those around us and on making them happy. I found though that in very short timescales, the women were making great gains in their lives, moving forward with positivity and confidence. That sort of forward-thinking attitude not only made them feel positive but spread out to those around them.

Absolutely! And so then how incredible that you met your husband & now business partner; Phil, who is so very much on the same page as you.

It was pure chance that we met. If we hadn’t met when we did, then three weeks later he would have been off to Newcastle and I’d have never met him; we do feel that we were very lucky to have met each other.  

In terms of being an absolutely amazingly positive, forward-looking, very generous individual, he’s had an enormous influence on my life.

You are both so incredibly positive and focused on growth, believing that the only thing stopping you from moving forward, is you yourself.

We’re constantly inspired by the number of people we work with, from different walks of life, who say ‘you made me stop, evaluate and understand that I do have something to give and I can do this’.

And so for us, whether that’s working with Beep, or with Motiv-8 or whether it’s working with Chief Execs or Business Owners, it’s the same; it doesn’t matter where you come from in life or where you’re at in this moment, everybody has got something very special inside them. You’re right, you just have to believe in yourself and step out of your own way

Everything you’re doing is creating a community and a support network. I personally have met so many incredible forward-thinking women through your courses; many of whom I’ve gone on to interview for Grow. 

I love the quote ‘Attitude is infectious. Is yours worth catching?’ I’m all for creating a positive attitude; a positive environment. We all love spending time with positive people. If you have to choose whom you want to spend your time with, someone who’s positive or someone who’s negative, who would you choose to go with? You’d always chose to go with the person who makes you feel happy and positive. 

But even if you are that kind of positive person, that’s not to say you’re not going to face your own challenges and days when you’re feeling vulnerable and a bit wobbly. 

People have lots going on. It’s so, so important to keep things in perspective and realise that you’re not the only person who’s dealing with all this stuff. Quite often we’ll look at other people, assume they’ve got it all together and feel as though we’ve not got it right. The thing to remember is that everyone has their challenges; everyone has their issues to overcome. It’s keeping that perspective and understanding that you’re not the only one going through stuff. Take it one day at a time. You might have to take a step back but don’t let that stop you. Pick yourself up, keep moving forward and maintain that overall goal of where you want to be. It’s when people don’t have a vision that they’ll struggle the most.

And there will be obstacles, but that’s absolutely fine; those obstacles are only going to make us stronger.

Yes and I think it’s people understanding that it’s fine to feel tired or a bit overwhelmed. Keep it in perspective and just keep working out where you are and where you’re trying to get to and then break that down into achievable steps. Then always maintain what it is you’re trying to work towards.

Start asking the simple questions. Why do I get up in the morning?  Why am I doing this? What’s it all for? That gets you thinking and to a place where you are able to think yes, I know why I’m doing this and I know where I’m going.  

We spend so long thinking about the things that have gone wrong and the things that are challenging us, but actually, we need to stop and think about the things that have gone right. Look back to see how far you’ve come. Praise yourself and the successes you’ve had. So many women, especially, spend so much time beating themselves up and feeling that they’re not good enough. What you need to do is ask yourself the question ‘When have I ever not been good enough?’ The answer is that you’ve always been good enough. So go for it!

That makes so much sense. I’ve been reading about the 5am Club recently. The idea is that on any given day, we are literally bombarded with information, tasks and to do lists and sometimes it’s hard to take that time out to work on our mindsets. But by getting up early, before the rest of the world gets going and taking an hour, it sets us on the right track. You divide the hour into three, so the first 20 minutes is spent doing some kind of exercise that builds up a sweat and gets things moving again, the second is about gratitude, thinking about the things that are going right and setting intentions for the day and then the third 20 is all about education, so reading or learning something new. By doing this, you’re giving your mindset the attention it needs to get you positively through the day. So instead of being reactive to situations, you’re in control. 

Anything that allows you to put yourself in a positive frame of mind so that you can then work on challenges or tasks, more effectively, is a good thing. If you’re in a negative frame of mind; not energised, not positive or enthusiastic and you are sent off to do a difficult task, you’d really struggle. It may still be challenging, but with that change of attitude, that change in behavior, we can all approach things in a better way.  We can look for solutions, not barriers. 

Start the day with a positive mindset, so whatever is thrown at you during the day, you’ll be in the right frame of mind to be able to deal with it. 

And remember that no matter what’s going on in the day, there’s always something to be grateful for. It’s so easy to get drawn into a downward spiral of limiting beliefs but you’re the one in control. Put the handbrake on. Stop. Think of ways of changing that mindset towards positivity and move forward in the way you know you can. 

Sandra thank you so much for those amazingly positive, inspiring words of wisdom.  I truly do believe that by investing in ourselves and in particular in our mindsets, we are all capable of incredible achievements.

Connect with and follow Sandra & her team on Twitter @SampsonHall @BEEP_UK or @Motiv8sw



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