Laura Henshaw On Navigating Leadership And Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions

When she’s not dialling into an interview with WH at 6pm, Laura Henshaw’s evening routine can go one of two ways. Most of the time, she aims to switch off from work two hours before bed, accompanied by a peppermint tea and a good fiction book.

The 30-year-old might also do a guided sleep meditation from health and fitness platform KIC – which she co-founded with best friend Stephanie Miller in 2016 and became CEO of in 2021 – if it’s been a hectic day. Then, there’s the other side of the pillow. The one in which you’ll find Laura scrolling TikTok, fielding the odd email and watching videos of golden retrievers (she and husband Dalton have two) in bed. “Dalton calls them ‘serotonin-boosting’ videos,” Laura says, laughing.

Sure, she knows the first approach is probably more conducive to a good night’s kip, but she’s also all about easing the self-pressure to do things perfectly all of the time. It’s an outlook that extends to her wellbeing approach as much as her work at the helm of KIC, which saw her named a finalist in 2022’s Women Leading Tech Awards. Besides, there’s always tomorrow for that novel on her bedside table. As we head into 2023, Laura Henshaw – also now a qualified PT – shares what she’s learned about the magic of movement, looking after her mental health, navigating leadership and rethinking New Year’s resolutions.


Play the Fitness Field

“My biggest [wellbeing] non-negotiable is moving my body, maybe about five times a week. Running, for me, is a form of meditation. If I have a stressful day ahead, a big meeting or something that I’m feeling a little anxious or uneasy about, I go for a run, listen to a podcast and I feel so much better when I come back. My mind is clearer, I can focus better and I have more energy when I’ve moved. I mix it up – doing some Pilates and strength training really helps to strengthen my glutes and core, so I don’t get injured from running. Most of my runs are outside, but I sometimes run on the treadmill. We’ve just launched our guided Treadmill Masterclasses on KIC, which I actually [coach] – they include interval training, sprinting and hills, and are developed with an incredible physio company from Melbourne. A lot of people say treadmill running is boring, so I wanted to make it interesting!”

Think ‘Reflection’ Over ‘Resolution’

“When it comes to resolutions and goal setting, I think what’s important is to give yourself space and permission to set them or not set them. If it doesn’t come naturally or feel comfortable, that’s OK and you can find another time to set them. Or maybe they don’t work for you, and that’s OK too. We don’t all have to work the same way and set the same goals at the same time of the year.

Up until 2020, I set goals every single year, but then 2020 and 2021 were hard for me mentally and I didn’t have that same clarity. I tried to force myself to [set goals] and it made me feel worse, because I couldn’t think of things and I just didn’t feel like I wanted to. [So now] I think more about reflection – I’ll reflect on the year… what I’ve learned and where I want to push and challenge myself in the [future]. For me, it’s getting away from my screen and doing more things that prevent me from burning out – more reading, more cooking, spending time with friends and family, and being present. So that my cup is full as opposed to trying to run on empty all the time. There’s also so much to learn in my role at KIC – the more I can learn, the better – so I’d love to continue developing my leadership.”


Put Yourself Back Out There

“[During the pandemic] I had days where I felt so sad, down and demotivated. I’m very anxious – which has been better actually since we’ve come out of [lockdowns] – and I put a lot of my value on how I make other people feel. So, I was putting pressure on myself to do that and I just felt like I was failing. That really affected my confidence.

What I’ve learned, with confidence especially, is to put myself back out there – to try something and realise that it’s fine and not let one experience define my future experience. We’ll maybe have one bad exam, one bad interview, one bad run… and we think, ‘I’m not going to try and get another job because I’m bad at interviews.’ But that’s not what it is – we can learn from it and go onto the next one. The past does not define what we are capable of and can do in the future. I had to push myself, but once I got back out there, it helped so much. Even now, it doesn’t mean my motivation and confidence don’t go down or I don’t have days where I feel sad. But there are less of them now, which is nice. I find personal connection energising, too, so being back in the office with our team and being able to go out for dinner on a Friday night and not do it on Zoom… I appreciate those things more now.”

Photography: Lauren Schulz. Styling: Abby Bennett. Hair: Meg Guthrie. Make-up: Meg Guthrie.

The February issue Women’s Health Australia featuring Laura Henshaw is on sale now. Subscribe so that you never miss an issue.

The February 2023 issue Women’s Health Australia featuring Laura Henshaw is on sale now.

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