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Johnian magazine issue 47, spring 2021

Eric Ho: career spotlight

Written by Eric Ho (1994)

2 min read

Founder of Bumblebee Wellbeing, Eric Ho (1994) summarises his career journey from corporate lawyer to Leadership Health Coach.

During my degree I developed an enduring curiosity for solving difficult problems that helped me turn myself from head of legal for a large FTSE 100 company into a Leadership Health Coach.

Following graduation, a career in the law was a natural choice for me: I had read law at St John’s, and I was influenced in part by the notion among first generation Singaporean Chinese immigrants to the UK that traditional careers in law and medicine equalled success.

I spent 10 years training as a corporate M&A lawyer at Linklaters, solving black letter legal problems on transactions that grabbed the financial headlines.

I suffered burnout early on in my legal career. The excitement of success I’d felt when I started working was waning, and my poor health and wellbeing was a problem that I knew I needed to fix. But, as with all change, it was difficult.

‘Be aware’ is the best tip I can share for helping my fellow Johnians focus on their self-care

In 2013 I signed up for ÖtillÖ, a swim-run race (65km running and 10km swimming) across the archipelago islands nestled in the Baltic Sea around Stockholm.

As part of the preparation, I read A Paleo Diet for Athletes by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel. The diet was wildly out of line with the conventional advice concerning food and athletic performance, so I stuck with my original plans: carb-loading with pasta and carrying my glucose gel packs for the 11-hour race.

After the race, I experimented with my health. First I tried paleo, then I discovered Functional Medicine and ancestral health – or ‘Functional Health’. This approach seeks to bring us into realignment with how we humans were designed to thrive, and to solve the root causes of disease rather than simply relieving symptoms.

Just like the humble bee, our human ancestors knew instinctively what to do to survive and live a balanced life. But we humans have become out of sync with how we were designed to live.

At work I started solving a different kind of problem: how could I work in a job I loved but be healthier and feel better doing it?

The demands of heading up a global legal team increased, but with my new focus on health my energy levels were high, my brain fog disappeared, I stopped succumbing to coughs and colds, and I was calm and focused. I also reversed my autoimmune condition (psoriasis) and eliminated my debilitating hayfever symptoms – all without a drug in sight.

I discovered that leadership can be effortless when health is the foundation for success. My accomplishments felt authentic and enjoyable again. Colleagues started asking about the changes they noticed in me, and I realised that helping others change was a new type of problem I enjoyed solving.

This led me to retrain as a Functional Health Coach, blending the psychology of coaching with the tenets of Functional Health. I then set up Bumblebee Wellbeing to help professionals treat wellbeing and work as equals.

‘Be aware’ is the best tip I can share for helping my fellow Johnians focus on their self-care. The specific method of checking-in with ourselves – whether that is a meditation practice, journaling in the morning or taking a walk outside in nature – is less important than the results.

When we give ourselves the space to pause, notice and reflect, we can see the real problem that lies in front of us. And once we truly see the problem, we can then decide what to do with it.

Read more about how Eric overcame burnout and replaced it with effortless leadership, including his use of the four ‘HERO’ traits that help individuals navigate challenging situations.

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After reading Law at St John’s, Eric trained for 10 years as a corporate M&A lawyer at Linklaters. After experiencing burnout he made his health a priority and retrained as a Leadership Health Coach.