Decisions: Zoe Jackson, Living the Dream

The founder of the performing arts company explains her best and worst decisions.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013


... Was to pick up the phone. That was it. After I graduated from the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, I had to have quite major surgery - so while all my friends were off auditioning for music videos and cruise ships, I sat at home and focused on planning Living the Dream, the performing arts company and dance school I have been running since I was 16. When I saw a television ad that included a flash mob at Liverpool Street station, I thought, I want to do that.

I picked up the phone to St Pancras International and got through to the right guy, who said absolutely, yeah. He even gave us money to do it. As a result, I've had opportunities to do everything from creating a flash mob for Bluestone and a holiday park in Wales to meeting Richard Branson and representing his Control Shift campaign alongside Vince Cable.

My teachers said I was bright enough to go to Cambridge, but I wanted to improve as a dancer and choreographer. This way, I can provide amazing opportunities for young people.


... Was to offer people opportunities when they weren't ready. As a 16-year-old running my first show, I was determined that it should be run by young people for young people, so I offered roles to my friends, who were all performers. Some people are ready to take on responsibilities and others aren't: some of them still work for me, but others just weren't ready.

I was also offered an opportunity earlier this year to be a presenter for a website and to set up a dance competition. We got our Living the Dream media company involved to film some amazing events. Sadly, though, it all went wrong and became very messy. It felt as though the company had taken advantage of me because I was so young.

Happily, though, I've taken the ideas we produced together, in terms of the dance competition and this online dance channel they wanted to produce, and I'm doing it myself - but 10 times better. And while they clearly thought I was naive, it has taught me that I'm not. People won't be able to take advantage of me again.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Reopening: Your duty is not to the economy, it’s to your staff

Managers are on shaky ground if they think they can decide for people what constitutes...

How COVID changes the world forever: A thought experiment

Silicon Valley ‘oracle’ Tim O’Reilly imagines how different sectors could emerge from the pandemic.

The CEO's guide to switching off

Too much hard work is counterproductive. Here four leaders share how they ease the pressure....

What Lego robots can teach us about motivating teams

People crave meaningful work, yet managers can so easily make it all seem futile.

What went wrong at Debenhams?

There are lessons in the high street store's sorry story.

How to find the right mentor or executive coach

One minute briefing: McDonald’s UK CEO Paul Pomroy.