Lesley Eccles is the Founder and CEO of Relish, the first-ever relationship training app making it easier to build happy, healthy, more connected relationships. A serial entrepreneur and startup advisor, Lesley was previously co-founder and former head of marketing at FanDuel, the fantasy sports company which she grew into a billion dollar company. In her spare time, Lesley mentors a number of female entrepreneurs via the AllRaise program, and serves as a board member of multiple charities in the UK.

Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path in the Health & Wellness space?

When I was really young, for some weird reason I really wanted to be a butcher! Now I look back and shudder, but then I was fascinated with meat — my mom used to buy extra ground beef just for me to play with. Yes, like I said, totally weird.

Then as I grew up I wanted to do something in the theater. I was way too sensible to think that trying to break into acting was a smart move, so I thought perhaps some kind of producer or director. Then as college was approaching, I considered joining the army (mainly because my dad — a true Scot — thought they might pay for me to go through college!).

In my 20s, working in marketing for a software consultancy, I had a quarter-life crisis where I wanted to be “a something” — like a policeman, a doctor, just a something. I was never really content. Finally I found startup life and realized that this was where I belonged.

Can you share five pieces of advice to help couples thrive?

1. Check in with each other: Keeping a constant dialogue between you is important to staying connected. No matter how busy your schedule is, there’s always enough time to touch base with each other. Something as simple as “I’m thinking about you,” or “How’s your day?” can go a long way.

2. Show radical empathy: When we cut each other some slack, for say, snapping after a long day or not remembering to pay the cable bill, it’s not just an act of kindness towards your partner. It’s a vote for the kind of relationship you want — so when the tables are turned, they’ll be inspired to return the favor.

3. Schedule sex: If your sex life keeps getting pushed down your list of priorities, don’t reach for lingerie or a book on Kama sutra… just mark it on your calendar. Bonus? It gives you both something to look forward to…

4. Be playful: One of most tragic things about adulthood is that you lose touch with your inner child. Find the balance. Have a tickle fight, get up for the sunrise, tell each other jokes, or plan a surprise, because we need to leave a little room for the unexpected.

5. Mirror each other: A great way to make your partner feel like you’re listening is to mirror them. After they finish talking, respond with: “Okay, so what I’m hearing you say is…” and summarize what they just told you. After you make sure you’re both on the same page, you can move forward from there.

Social media often only portrays the sunny side of relationships. Do you think more transparency about relationship challenges can help or harm? Can you explain?

When I first started researching Relish, I was horrified to discover that there are many people who have never seen what a healthy relationship looks like other than on social media. Everyone they know in their real life is unhappy in their relationship — and the tragic thing is that this passes on from generation to generation. So while they see celebrities and people on social media posting idyllic photos of their relationships, they don’t have anyone talking about the day-to-day minutia of what a healthy relationship looks in real life. Hearing friends or relatives saying toxic things about their relationships can be deeply damaging to your relationship — to a point where it normalizes yelling, eye-rolling, withholding sex etc. Knowing that a healthy relationship is not just possible, but also achievable is something that we are not taught in school and without those role models, we don’t know that. So I would say that more transparency about relationship challenges is definitely important — but only if it’s done with a growth mindset and in a way which is about helping and supporting each other to develop healthy relationship habits.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant to your life?

My mum was always an inspiration to me — pushing me to do more and be more, to learn more and achieve more. She taught me to work hard and be kind and she always told me when things were tough — “it’s character building”. And I miss her every single day. My mother-in-law, Dorothy Eccles, is probably the best MIL a girl could have. She’s a source of great strength to me — she lost her husband very suddenly when her four boys were very young and whenever I’m having a tough day, I think about her and what she’s taught me — that we must all try our hardest to simply *enjoy the moment* for we never know what’s right around the corner. With a venture-backed start-up and three children, balancing these two approaches is my daily challenge.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The thing I’m deeply passionate about is about treasuring your relationships, all of them. So my movement would be the idea of relationship wellness. If we were all more thoughtful and more intentional about all of our relationships, it would prevent a significant amount of suffering and unpleasantness in the world. If we were all to radiate joy and positivity with the people we interact with each day, the world would unquestionably be a better place. This goes far beyond the relationship with your significant other, it’s about the people in the world that you come in contact with each day. I shop in Trader Joes simply because the staff there always have a smile on their faces, they look you in the eye and they are entirely human. You walk away feeling special and read to smile to the next person you see. Compare that with the treatment you typically receive in an airport security line when the staff are usually unhappy to be there, fairly grouchy, and treat you like self-loading cargo. By the time you get to your gate, you just want to put your head down and ignore the world. In this age where we have a 24/7 stream of partisan in-fighting, bad behaviour, climate change and threat of viral epidemics, it’s time we all prioritized relationships above all else.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Download our app in the app store: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/relish-relationship-coach/id1436692125. Or follow along on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hellorelishrelationship/.