Becoming A Londoner

Posted on June 28, 2015


In April 2009 I came to London leaving behind a lovely house in Amsterdam and my own business which I had set up five year prior to my move. I was a career coach and a recruiter. I had a so called portfolio career with lots of training and one-to-one sessions, interesting assignments and was working with different nationalities. As for anyone who chooses to leave their old home country behind, this was all ‘gone’ because my British husband wanted to move back to London for work.

Speaking fluent English I thought it would be no problem to start my business again as soon after I landed in London. But how wrong I was! I arrived in the middle of the recession. I was busy with surviving and finding my way around London instead of setting up my business. We were lucky enough that we sold our house in Amsterdam, found a new place to live in London so finally I could start my new career.

It was a lonely journey at the start.

I knew nobody and I didn’t want to mingle with the Dutch since I wasn’t going to be an expat who would leave in a few years.  I was a strong networker and on LinkedIn since 2005. It was there where I found some interesting networking groups for business women but also some interesting Dutch groups. At the end of the day I couldn’t ignore my identity and I signed up for some networking lunches at the Dutch Centre in the City. I built some relations through my networking but it didn’t really help my business.

I had to rethink my strategy and – again- via LinkedIn – I came across a Dutch company, just setting up in London. It would mean going back to what I did six years ago (working with unemployed people) but I had no clients of my own and no real business network so, I swallowed my pride and applied for a regular job. It was hard work, long hours and demanding customers.

The job market was not doing well in 2010 with even a lot of higher educated people out of work. I worked for 1.5 year at that company and learned a lot but when they lost the contract due to a government change I realised I wanted to work independent again. I decided to focus on expat partners arriving in London without a career and having to start from scratch, just like I had. I could help them to build their network, advice on career changes and study opportunities.

And here I am today with another portfolio career.

Besides coaching expat partners I have made a move into education; something I was already thinking about back in Amsterdam and slowly realised in London. Via my training workshops for the Charity Focus I got into contact with a career coach at Imperial College Business School. Since two years I worked there as an Associate Career Coach; beside that I am working as a volunteer at MyBigCareer coaching disadvantaged children and am growing my expat partners coaching business. I am also working at the Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce; organising networking events for Dutch companies trading or investing in the UK. Looking back at the six years I’ve been living in London I can be proud of what I have achieved.

If you start from scratch in a new country it can take a while before you get any recognition. My personal experience is “what they don’t know they don’t buy”. If you are not from the UK as soon as you have some working experience here and preferably with a British company your ability will be trusted. Without building my online (LinkedIn) and offline network and without the help of friends it would have been a very difficult journey.

My personal and professional journey will continue. I want to do more in education and help more expat partners to create the life they are after here in London.


Nicolette Wykeman is the founder of Wykeman consulting, an expat career coaching company in London.

Are You Adjusting Or Compromising

Posted on June 21, 2015

authentic self

We had a great pleasure to have Dr Priya Virmani share her wisdom on how to live an authentic life in a recent DrivenWoman workshop. I wanted to share one of the core concepts discussed that evening – the difference between making an adjustment and fundamentally compromising the essence of who you are.

What is a difference between adjusting and compromising?

We adjust when we change our plans to accommodate those of others. For example, you agree to cook fish for dinner if your guests don’t eat red meat. You dress appropriately to a wedding even if you normally only love wearing jeans. You take your partner’s views into consideration when decorating the house. You take your family to Eurodisney even though you hate amusement parks. You give up some of your demands in a business negotiation situation to reach an agreement.

Adjusting is often temporary. Adjusting is part of good manners. Adjusting is basically necessary if you want to live and work with other people.

Compromising on the other hand is much more severe. If you compromise on your values life may start to shift to a wrong direction. If you keep compromising on who you are you feel stressed and out of place. You can even fall ill if the gap between your essence and the reality of every day created through compromises becomes too large.

Compromising happens when you give into your husbands constant negative critique on how you should dress, for instance. Personal fashion sense is one of the greatest ways of self expression. You compromise when you give up on your career plans because your parents don’t approve them. You are compromising when, in the office, you agree to a working style that is against your beliefs and values.

We compromise when we let other people deny the essence of us and make us feel devalued in our purpose.

Priya described how people close to her have struggled to understand her purpose and at times there’s been great pressure for her to compromise on her essence. She has remained strong and said that for instance, she would never date a guy who couldn’t understand her charitable work in India.

A general belief is that marriage is supposed to be a compromise. We are taught that if we don’t compromise in our relationship we can’t expect to be happy. I strongly disagree. I took that poor advice in my first marriage and felt I was constantly compromising my personality, values and even my talents. I believe one can live happily with a partner only when both parties respect what the other person is about, 100%. Adjusting is necessary but a marriage should never be based on anybody doing a compromise on their personality, values and their core essence.

Do you feel outside pressure to compromise on your purpose?

Try to stay still. Don’t panic. Close your eyes and search for your bright spot, remind yourself of a moment when you felt great, a moment when you expressed your persona and used your talents in a way that felt very natural to you. And you felt really good about it. Recharge yourself with this thought and then ask yourself, are you being expected to do something against your deepest beliefs or against your passion. If the answer is yes, wait. Don’t give in. Try to think adjustment (temporary, not compromising on who you are), not a compromise.

And then wait that the storm will pass. It always does. Stay true to your chosen course.

Have a great, authentic week!



Changing My Priorities

Posted on June 14, 2015

changing my priorities

For me everything always merges into one. I start the day thinking I have everything under control. But as the day goes on I am turning into a headless chicken. I need to set a schedule and stick to a ‘no means no’ policy (or perhaps a ‘Yes detox‘!).

After writing my previous blog post about loosing my sparkle and looking at my daughter and her determination to create her world, I have decided to zone in into my own world and take action in the childlike fashion that she has adopted. I have decide to apply the 7 stages to get my ‘mojo’ back, and really take action.

In DrivenWoman we take pride on breaking down our goals for the month and focusing on realistic tasks we can achieve and accomplish. In return this makes us accountable for our promises and our results. I am going to use the same method for my 7 stages and share them with you. They will be in no particular order, just my gut feeling will take me onto the next.

This month I am going to concentrate on Changing My Priorities. By this I want to look into my life with an honest heart and see what is weighing heavily on my persona, which in turn is stopping the real Jennifer from flourishing.

I have come up with three main pointers in my life: 1) My constant lower back pain, 2) My relationship and 3) Time – sleep

I have decided that it is no longer acceptable to me to just put up with these pain points as the norm.

I have a duty to me to take care of me. All three of the above are related in crazy but strange way as I am always in constant pain either physically or emotionally. I have somehow developed this armour of resilience, which I stride forward with, no matter what the circumstances are – I just roll with the punches. It can be pretty tiring and draining most of the time and I have created this on myself.

So lets start.

1. My lower back pain

I have had this increasing pain for more than 3 years and have just soldiered on accepting it as the norm, knowing that it effects my energy levels but still leaving it low on my priority list. I know that if I spend the right amount of time healing by back it would make a ridiculous difference to how I feel and the emotional fight with my inner self would be rejuvenated.

So finally I have started a ball roiling! I have had the MRI scan (no major damaged there) and I have invested in Strength Conditioning Coach to help strengthen my back. I am now looking for a specialist to correct my chair at work and my sitting position in my car. “Action Action Action”. All so easily doable, just needed to get sorted!

2. My relationship

Hmmm. Where do I even start..!

I feel I have become the man and woman in my life. Somewhere somehow after becoming a single mother I have created this bullet proof vest. Doing everything myself never asking for help, just widening my broad shoulders to take on more of what life throws at me. Commitment scares the life out of me, protecting myself from being hurt seems to have become my number one focus.

This is very sad and if I am perfectly honest it’s quite heart breaking too because the true me is a real romantic person who would like to be pampered and have someone to protect me and to be seen with. I met a lady in the hairdressers a few days back and she was a widow in her 70s and just fell in love again after the passing of her husband. Her words to me were “everyone deserts to feel love it’s why we are here”. Incredible statement.

I have now decided to lay my cards on the table and to be true to me about what is in my heart and if the person receiving it sees the importance in me then we are on! If not, the wheel will have to start rolling into a different direction. That’s fine as I know I will be ok as long as I stay true to me.

3. My Time

I know and I preach this to the world all the time… In order to be come more successful with yourself you have to be present in your work life and social life. Trying to please the Kingdom is a receipt for a disaster. I am the world’s worst person when it comes to tasks and I always make myself busy. I spend too long in areas for whatever reason, I do not know why. I think the word for that is procrastinating – ha ha.

I need to make myself more sophisticated in my timing so that I become more efficient and start valuing me more. In return I would stop robbing time from my sleeping hours and stop the vicious cycle repeating itself. The ‘no’ word will have to surface more often and I have to be very comfortable with that.

So these are my task ahead and I am so intent on sticking to my values  - as my daughter has relit that slow burning fire in me again – to zone into myself and trust who I am and what I want from the universe.

I am looking forward to this journey ☺



Being Your Authentic Self

Posted on June 7, 2015

little girl painting

The image of that morning is still so vivid.

It was an early morning in a posh part of the eastern Indian city of Kolkata. It had been raining. Flood waters had receded leaving behind muck dotted with green coconut shells and dead cockroaches. Their corpses lay belly up. A girl walking to school was counting reflections in the puddles. Of buildings. Of street lights. Of a moon she couldn’t find. The counting stopped when she saw street children eating out of a rubbish bag. Street dogs milled about. Their barks sounded more like long shrieks. The children, unperturbed kept emptying the rubbish bag rummaging for food. An older child gave a younger one something  discoloured. The little child chewed on it. Perhaps it was a vegetable peel or a scrap of paper.

The passerby was all of four years old. That night, still unsettled by the scene she witnessed in the morning, the little girl asked her parents and their visiting friends ‘why can’t these children sit on a table like you and me and eat?’

Over a decade later that ‘little girl’ moved to the UK and over two decades later she had completed her PhD and was living a fulfilling life in the UK. But she still remembered that morning so clearly.  The image from her four year old self and other similar images had become a reel of reminder in her mind; a reminder that she wanted to reach out to children in the country of her childhood  who were severely deprived. So while working in the UK she began conducting workshops with children in Kolkata’s notorious red light district on biannual trips to India. When she saw the positive difference her workshops were making to the lives of the children, she gave up her life in the UK and returned to India with a mission to reach out to more children faced with the scourge of deprivation and abuse.

That four year old girl who grew up to bid adieu a life she loved to answer a calling that she felt was truest to herself, was me.

In India, since my return, I have often faced ridiculing questions, covert and overt rejection and disapproval of the madness to my method. How could I possibly leave a life in the UK? And return to India? And that too not to take up a lucrative job but to dedicate myself to working with underserved children? How could I ‘waste’ my PhD doing such work? Have I gone mad? These are just some of the incessant questions I’m asked when people in India juxtapose my background with my calling.

But I know my efforts and my dedication have meaningfully transformed the lives of well over 200 children. Their children will not be in the situation I found them in. And that to me is what leaving footprints is all about.

It takes an insane amount of courage to continue doing the work I’m doing. But it is my story, a story that I reclaim, each day, for myself.

Each of us owes it to ourselves to reclaim our story for ourselves.

But why is ‘this reclaiming’ or, in other words, being our authentic self so vital? It is fundamentally important because it helps you get more of what you want in life. Being less authentic helps you get what others want of you in life.

Yet we often relegate being authentic to the back because the process of being authentic might mean that at times or at many a time you won’t be conforming to the status quo. Conforming is not just about the pressure to fit in on the outside – how you dress, walk, talk, eat, socialise but the most crushing pressure is felt when there is a need to conform from within when you are not entirely in agreement with, convinced by, or believe in, what you are conforming to. This creates stress and inhibitions. It lowers self esteem. It takes away from self confidence. It clouds your clarity; your sense of direction and purpose in life. 

When we try and identify with what we are not we create a fictional self.

This causes stress because there is a constant tension between who we are and who we are portraying ourselves to be. Whereas with being authentic, though you might challenge people around you, your life path becomes clearer.

The process will bring up challenges. But life is a bag of challenges anyways so why not make a conscious decision to take on those challenges that are truest to yourself because in taking on these challenges you gift yourself the greatest opportunities for self growth; for you to author your life instead of living a life that plays to the script of others for you. The journey is yours not of anyone else to live through you. So reclaim it to make it your fulfilling journey. And as Nietzsche said, if when you dance people think you are mad, it’s just that they can’t hear the music.

To learn transformative steps to ‘practice’ making your ‘self’ awareness a part of everyday life, come along to the DrivenWoman workshop. Be prepared to have fun!


This is a guest post from Dr Priya Virmani. She’s a Political and Economic Analyst who writes for The Guardian and The New Statesman. As a Social Entrepreneur she founded Paint Our World, a Charitable Trust that uses innovative psychological workshops as a tool to heal underserved children who have been through trauma like rape, child abuse and becoming orphaned.

5 Reasons Why You Should Write

Posted on May 31, 2015

writingWriting has been one of the most profound changes in my life. The idea of writing regularly brings with it a sense of commitment and discipline that has helped me to become much better in other areas in life.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of public writing for me has been to become less self conscious. I’ve lost a fear of failure, and constant self-criticism. I know I’m not the world’s greatest author but giving up perfectionism has lead me to become kinder towards myself and to others.

But the only way to achieve this is to put your work out there for others to see. It’s very liberating!

So why write? Here’s a couple of ideas how and why you should get started.

Write a blog

I started my first blog about four years ago. I didn’t quite know why I started, and what I wanted to write, but I had a feeling I had to explore something. It was party because I felt there was a lot I wanted to learn about interacting in the digital environment, but the deeper reasons were much more interesting.

My first blog was quite professional, I was trying to appear smart and make insightful comments about branding and the visual world (that was my profession). However, only starting this DrivenWoman -blog has helped me to explore more meaningful things, to really discover myself and hopefully help others.

Writing this blog helps me to reflect on my life and my choices. It also forces me to be present and focus – a very good exercise for anyone. You can’t just write a stream of consciousness (or you can but it’s not very good), you must think about what you write and pay attention to details and grammar. Writing also helps me to clarify my thinking and get new ideas. This blog has helped me to connect with others in a new level and even get new friends.

Write comments

If writing a blog is not your thing you should spend more time on writing comments to what other people write. It’s very easy to just skim the internet and not really pay attention to the pages you visit and blogs you scroll through. If you read something that touches you, write a comment about it and the effect will stay with you. You can deepen your understanding of the subject because you start interacting with it.

Commenting on blogs have many benefits. You can expand your network. People who write blogs appreciate comments more than you can imagine. Comments are pure gold in the digital universe. High quality comments are very valuable to the blog owner and you are likely to get rewarded by new Twitter followers or even new life time friends. On a more practical level you can drive traffic to your own project or website by commenting on relevant blogs and thus expand your network.

Write ‘Morning Pages’

Morning Pages are three pages of stream of consciousness writing done first thing in the morning. Morning Pages were recommended by a leadership coach who’s training I attended about 10 years ago. His reasoning was to “get all the noise out of your head first so you can get faster to the thoughts that matter”. We often wake up with lots on nonsense in our heads (at least I do!) and those thoughts lead to action. Nonsense thoughts lead to nonsense action and starting the day wrong, wasting time on non-important stuff. Morning Pages helps you to get clarity and focus.

Morning Pages should always be hand written. They are not proper writing, they are cleansing, so there’s no need to think about grammar or spelling. Just get it out. They are also private and you can actually simply throw them out as soon as you’ve written them. The act is more valuable than the end product.

Write notes

I’m a great fan of writing notes. I quite frankly don’t understand people who don’t carry a note pad around at all times. And my biggest crisis if I forget my notebook at home. Why? I suspect people who don’t carry note books don’t value their own thoughts and ideas enough to write them down. But everyone has great ideas and thoughts about things they are passionate about!

I write down my own ideas and thoughts, often blog post ideas, product ideas or the bigger dreams and visions for the business. I might be sitting on a train drafting a work plan or a to-do list for a particular project, or just writing down what I need to get done for my kids’ birthday. The temptation is of course just spend all the travel time on social media (and yes, it is a great time to check Twitter!), but it’s also great thinking time.

And when I meet people I always hear tips about books I should read, and inspiring people I should watch on TED or meet in person.

Writing everything down with a pen and paper carries a certain amount of weight to it, a real initiative that I’m going to do something about these ideas. When ever I put things into my iPhone (or laptop) I forget them and they simply disappear in the digital universe. And what’s more, it’s been proven that you get deeper understanding and remember handwritten notes better than if you use a digital device.

And when I’m attending a seminar I never take the printed summary of the presentations. I want to write down my own ideas and interpretations of what people have said. This way I own them.

Write down your goals

Research shows that those who write down their goals are many times more likely to actually achieve them than those who simply dream the dreams in their mind. Napoleon Hill writes how “a written statement of your desire communicates directly to your subconscious mind“. (See DrivenWoman reading list ‘Think And Grow Rich’.)

So by writing down what you want in life you engrave it in your subconscious mind. This has to be done repeatedly or your desires will simply be buried underneath everything else, but through writing you can basically influence your subconscious mind.

Why is this so important?  The subconscious drives to survive and thrive your every behavior. Subconscious mind gives directions to the conscious mind, and your behaviour, and is often fuelled by limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns. Writing is a great tool to re-wire the subconscious mind with more positive thoughts and instal a ‘can-do’ attitude.

I hope I have been able to inspire you to start writing if you don’t write yet regularly. And if you do, I’d love to hear your comments (oh yes, the comments!) on what benefits you have had from writing regularly.


There’s A Place For Us

Posted on May 24, 2015


We spend a lot of time around people and our relationship with them, don’t we? But consider this – as I have many times -  that maybe place has a persona, a soul, if you like whether it be village, town, county or country.

As a child I felt this very strongly and had strong likes and dislikes regardless of whether a place was pretty or safe or not. It was only two decades on in my later 20′s when I became a professional astrologer and started doing charts for countries as well as relocation charts for clients, that I developed a respect for places in a new and eye opening way. Helping people to look at their relationship with a new place was as fascinating as looking at the relationship between two people or a parent and child.

Why do we feel drawn to a place?

This is my experience.

Whether we live somewhere by choice, circumstance, childhood upbringing, work requirements, relationships – even if we are a refugee finding a new home – we find ourselves drawn to it, challenged by it or even dislike it. It’s a relationship!

I have been a traveller from an early age and finally, twenty three years ago, I chose a place I really call home, and feel an intimacy and heart connection with the town.  I am now 63.

I grew up in Quemerford near Calne, a very small village in Wiltshire, and at four I attended  a school with two classrooms. This suited me, I feel as I was shy, a slowish learner and late talker. I felt rooted there. Then, shock, horror, my dad was posted to Germany in 1956 to a northern city which had a lot of stone and grey exteriors. My school was massive and I screamed when I saw it. But I had to adapt.

Though feeling frozen inside the theme of ‘just getting on with it’ has accompanied me through life! My memories were of loud voices and a cold post war city. My sisters seemed fine with it. I went to six schools before eleven and learned to be flexible and accept lots of goodbyes in an era before Facebook and cell phones!  I associated places with separations and loss. For a kid three and a half years is a long time.

At ten we moved to Bath in Somerset. And  I lived there for 25 years. A beautiful city but it just goes to show that, like a person, a beautiful place doesn’t always magnetise or create intimacy. I often felt out of sync and alone. I couldn’t forge, though I tried, closeness with it.

Interestingly, in my teenage years, my longing for space, wild hills got me regularly hauled off willingly by my Dad to places like Dartmoor, North Wales etc. I was at home in emptier places where my inner life had space to feel free. I still return to them.

I used to ‘claim’ a place by bringing a stone or heather or the like back home and also burying  a stone in the ground for the earth to remember me. My parents must have thought I was a strange child. Some places fed me and some didn’t.

Then at 35, I moved to Southern California, for love (well probably lust!) I think I was unconsciously seeking a new place, with Sun rolled in. Cutting the story short, just as after two months I decided to leave, my partner had a major accident and became quadraplegic.

So there I was ‘stuck’ now in Irvine, a place of equidistant trees and very man made.

Jonathan was moved to a veterans hospital in Long Beach – hurrah, it turned out to be a place with a heart and combined realness and rolling hills. I fell in love with it! With Jonathan in rehab I was struggling to pay my rent and make a living – at that point having overstayed my visa…

What changed things I asked Long Beach to look after me, and viscerally I could feel its embrace. And in return I would help and bring myself to its people.  I found myself with intent making a contract with a place. I stayed safe and a great network of women developed. I hadn’t often enjoyed women’s groups before for different reasons.

I felt I had a relationship with the soul of the place. Wierd? Once upon a time I would have thought so. But not any more. This is why I wanted to share this story with innovative women like you.

Whenever I visit a new country or location and start the descent into an airport, I inwardly (not aloud!) have a chat with the spirit of the place as I would a person, and ask to set up a contract. The contract being to bring myself to its people and help, and receive assistance when needed, harmony with its people, good health, and, if working there, to be successful and have my financial needs and goals met. Somehow, it never fails. And, when I leave I thank it!

So where am I now? In 1991 I moved back to the UK, married at the age of 40 and, by choice, we moved to Guildford, Surrey. It’s home. It’s been challenging, with some tragic episodes, more endings than beginnings, but always providing fertile ground for me to grow and yet feel comfortable.  I have my beloved hills a stone’s throw away (and, yes, I have one or two stones in my home!) and the old town centre and London close by.

Above all, I feel intimacy yet the freedom to be myself. I don’t need to go elsewhere to find those things, traveller still though I am.

I believe there are reasons places draw and change us. Not just the obvious reasons we go there. We know when we come home to a person or place, and though with time we need new or additional relationships that match our growing potential, it is vital we resonate with places which ‘walk beside us’ and talk with us.

I say to myself, ‘Ysanne, with that kind of relationship how can you be lonely?’


This is a guest post from Ysanne Lewis, a timing consultant, astrologer, writer and lecturer.

Somewhere Along The Way I Lost My Sparkle

Posted on May 17, 2015

aiming high

This week I was blown away by my 13-year-old. She had set a big goal for this year and we are only in May and she has actually achieved it! Her goal was to be able to do the splits before the end of 2015.  She had set this goal last year and had been stretching every day.

My reaction was “Wow I am in a shock! I didn’t realise you were so determined.“ Her reply, “I was not going to take no for an answer and by the way did I not tell you I was great!” She reminded me so much of how I was as a child. If I wanted something I would move mountains to get to my goal and the more you said no the more I would push.

This got me wondering, what had happened over the years?

What takes away that fight, that belief, that incredible enchantment when we reach adulthood?

We could put it down to life circumstances and the pressure of providing for our families, constant rejection and the fear of losing it all.  Then we invent the ‘better be safe‘ box trying to lock the fear out. So it tightly shuts the lid on our hopes and dreams. We stop seeing what we thought was important to us. We start brushing it away as

“it’s nothing special”

“it’s not a problem”

“I can easily do without”

“maybe it wasn’t meant to be” and

“no big fuss”.

Does that ring a bell?

Why, I cry? When I look at myself I think I see a challenger. I have done pretty well so far. A single mother raising two girls and running a successful business, but is it all as it seems? Well its not, if I look deeply enough I discover that I have built that ‘better be safe‘ box. I fearfully hope it will keep me ticking over, cover all the bills and school fees. I have forgotten about me and the things that really matter. They may be small and insignificant to others, but they play a high priority in my heart. I would fight tooth and nail to make sure I can provide for my girls but would I fight tooth and nail for myself? It’s easier to back others but I need to back myself.

How can I regain that sparkle back into myself?

I was reading an interesting article in the Forbes magazine online. ‘7 Ways To Get Your Mojo Back‘ cleverly describes how we feel when we are super excited about something. Excitement makes us vocal and we want to tell the world. Then if we return to that stagnated stage nothing happens and then we just stop!

I’m going to put myself through those 7 stages.

1. Changing your views

I have become a real stay at home mother, too exhausted to have fun and always turning down invites. I really need to take this on board and at least enjoy getting dressed up and socialising. Instead of thinking I haven’t got the time. Or I have only myself to blame…

2. Changing our attitude

An interesting concept as I am always telling my athletes to change their thought pattern and trust the goals they have set and work towards them step by step. Although my goal is not work related maybe I should see myself as a business and think of ways of fine-tuning myself.

3. Changing your pattern

Work, after school actives, home, sleep – work, after school actives, home, sleep. A repeating pattern! You get the picture.  I think it’s about time I jazz it up a bit changing the routine slightly. Adding in small increments that are for me. Instead of going into the office straight away at 8.30am go to a coffee shop and have 30mins me time. Or explore what is around the girl’s activities and see if I can use that time wisely.

4. Changing your priorities

For me everything always merges into one. I start off thinking I have everything under control. But as the day goes on I am a headless chicken. I need to set a schedule and no means no!

5. Change your mentors

DrivenWoman groups are my mentors. It’s really refreshing and a good eye opener to put myself through the phases. Investing time listening to others that are growing and developing can only be a plus.

6. Changing your friends

Sounds drastic but I definitely believe that who you surround yourself with certainly have an effluence on your life. Understanding why people are in your life is important.

7. Changing your thoughts

That doubtful Thomas that jumps on your shoulder. The language we speak to ourselves will always have an on effect on our performance. Can I really commit to changing my thoughts and believe in a bigger dream? I don’t know but I’m surely going to work on it!

This point is the actual thought pattern that my daughter has right now. She has a true belief in herself. She understands, with excitement, just how persistence does pay off especially when she has the ability to change herself. An incredible life lesson that can only hope she keeps for life.

I believe that we should picture our goals like a giant puzzle. Each piece represents a goal that is set for us. Once you place each piece you then move on to the other. How they look and feel, the outcome of the picture will be down to the quality of you.

Feeling ten foot tall is an amazing feeling. And I’m determined to get that sparkle back!

Have you ever felt your sparkle is gone? Please comment and share your experience, I’d love to hear how you feel about this.


Find Your Fire

Posted on May 10, 2015


What separates winners and losers? What makes some women successful when women with the same skills can’t make it past the start line? It’s easy to look at successful people and think they got there because they are so smart and they know exactly what to do, they have the knowledge.

The truth is we all have access to relevant information. We can read books on how to be successful, we can learn how other women have built their lives from blogs. The internet is packed with information on the importance of health and exercise, and we all know we should be cutting down on sugar and refined carbs. We can read about the state of the economy and get stock tips on how to invest our money. We can inform ourselves about how to work efficiently or how to advance our career in the digital world. The list goes on and on.

So if success was based on knowledge we’d all be skinny multi-millionare super-women living happy and healthy lives in harmony with our surroundings.

Anyone can hand you a piece of paper with a recipe to success but that piece of knowledge may still be worth nothing to you.

Firstly, everyone’s definition of success is going to be completely different. And it should be. Are you looking for career success or do you define success based on the time you can spend with your family? Or perhaps you haven’t yet figured out what your success looks like?

The same way as everyone’s success looks different, so does everyone’s circumstances. There are people who are immensely successful who started with nothing and there are people with lots of money in the bank who still aren’t content with their lives. Beautiful people succeed but so do the ugly. The extroverts and the introvert. The intellectually gifted and those who’s only asset is hard work.

Success in life comes in all shapes and sizes.

So why do we still hang onto this notion that somewhere someone is hoarding the knowledge of how to get there. We go to networking meetings expecting other people give us the contacts that will make us succeed. Like someone is going to give us the key to everything we ever wanted!

Why should we even rely on the knowledge that has worked for someone else?

An example. A good friend of mine, Avril (founder of Feel Brave), mentors a group of startup women. She asked if I could tell her what would be a great source for social media marketing. Her mentees should put together a marketing plan. Sure, I can help, there are great sources out there and brilliant people to follow on Twitter. But this discussion made me realise that this piece of information is likely to be completely worthless for them. Yes, they will learn something about social media marketing, but unless they are committed to actually doing it and then fine tuning their approach once they learn what works for them, they are wasting their time.

Avril later interviewed me for her video series (part of her mentoring program). Watch the video where I explain the importance of attitude vs knowledge.

Business Of Brave

A second example.

At the Wealthy Woman Workshop last autumn our moderator Terhi focused on everyone’s attitude towards money. Our workshops are open to both members and non-members and it was interesting to see how differently the two groups experienced the session.

The non-members arrived to the session expecting Terhi to hand over the secret to wealth in those 3 hours. All they’d have to do was to take notes. It would be straight forward, here’s a woman who has done it so they’d just have to copy her steps. But that’s not what Terhi delivered and the non-members didn’t like what they heard.

The road was going to be long and rocky and they’d have to find their own answers.

What kind of workshop was this?! The group of women left disappointed.

The DrivenWoman members who attended the session, however, having worked with our methodology, they understood this workshop would be an opening shot to their journey to wealth. Terhi helped them to work on their attitude and commitment, and to make a firm decision to focus and learn how to improve their personal finances. They understood it was their own responsibility to find the right knowledge and to apply it to their own circumstances. They had to make it happen!

These women left excited and enthusiastic. And they wanted more. We ended up organising a second session and now the group is on their way, enjoying their journey to wealth. All the knowledge is out there, and they are now committed to finding out what investment types are best for them, and making the daily changes to save and invest.

What comes first – knowledge or attitude? And which one is more important?

If you expect success is based on knowledge you will always be missing the point. And you will always be disappointed and blaming others for not making it. What if Terhi had told people what to do and they wouldn’t have adapted the advice to their own life, it would have failed. They would have blamed her for their failure.

Attitude and commitment must come first.

Do you have the fire under your belly? Are you hungry to find the answers? Have you found your ‘mojo’? Are you determined to succeed?

Work on your attitude. Find your fire.

The rest will take care of itself.


PS. It’s easier to be in the zone, to find your fire, if you surround yourself with people who have the same desire to succeed, who are willing to share some of their experiences and attitude.

Get infected by motivation and join one of our Introduction evenings to see what DrivenWoman is all about. Next session is on 21. May 6:45 pm in Soho, London.


Take Small Steps To A Big Goal

Posted on May 3, 2015

small steps

Wednesday was a special day for me. I got to be my beauty therapist’s first private client. I met Michaela for the first time four years ago when I visited the day spa where she works. Immediately I noticed she was very passionate about her work and loved what she does. Over time we got to know each other a little better and she told me that one day she’d want to have her own spa.

Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months. Michaela started investigating what starting a business would actually mean. She visited retail units and discovered that the capital investment required would be out of her reach. She talked to potential investors and discovered that the spa wouldn’t really be hers if she’d have someone finance it for her.

Perhaps the dream was not possible! The initial disappointment was big. She had hoped there was a way to jump directly from a full-time job to running her own spa.

We all have big dreams. And most big dreams seem unreasonable to achieve, in a short term.

What keeps us from achieving them is our own refusal to travel the journey. We get frustrated because we can’t get what we want immediately. And if we make a start things don’t normally go the way we imagined. Everything is slow. Progress seems too insignificant. So we give up.

This week we celebrate DrivenWoman‘s 2nd birthday. Our first event took place in Hyde Park 8th of May 2013. That day we knew (vaguely) what we wanted to create but we had really no idea how to do it and what lied ahead. And we were massively ambitious. Surely everyone would get excited about what we were building and our concept would spread like a wildfire!

A year ago I was massively disappointed. I was frustrated that we weren’t able to grow our membership numbers the way we had envisioned in the beginning. Everything seemed to be coming too slow.

But rather than giving up we persevered. Rather than getting stressed out, we accepted the phase we were growing. Perhaps there was a lesson to be learned? Perhaps it was important for us to remain small at the start so that we could build a very solid foundation.

We are now one year wiser and I can clearly see that the phase we have been growing is the right speed. We are not meant to go light speed because we are creating a very passionate community, we are not selling vacuum cleaners!

We are building something remarkable. And often remarkable things take time.

We can now see the vision and the journey ahead of us. This makes me feel very confident. We have altered our perspective from where we are supposed to be, to what is the long term vision and what we want to build.

I have a firm belief in Michaela’s journey. After two years she abandoned her initial ‘big dream’ she has made remarkable progress. It may not seem like much, but giving up one day a week in the day job to start building a private client base is a key milestone. I was her first client, and I know there will be many more. And overtime she will build her business, she will save more money and eventually she will get there. I’ll make sure I’ll be there to celebrate she gets to her dream.

She will not get there because of some clever financing trick she might discover or being lucky, it will be because she has accepted the small steps she has to take every day to move forward. She has made a decision to put one foot in front of the other, build her dream brick by brick.

All DrivenWoman members are looking to achieve a more rewarding life. They are looking to become more successful both financially and emotionally. Watching their progress every month has taught me a lot. Here’s what everyone can learn from the most successful ones.

DrivenWoman’s guide to small steps:

1) The faster you accept your starting point, the faster you will get started on your path towards your goal. Many people never cross the ‘Start’ line because they refuse to be honest to themselves. (Read Jane’s guest post from last week, if you haven’t yet.)

2) Being attached to your goal and the final outcome can be poisonous. It breeds disappointment, frustration and stress, and can make you loose sight what is really important in life. Your unrealistic expectations can be the only reason you feel you have failed, when in reality you just haven’t been patient enough.

3) Always evaluate why your goal is so important to you. Is it because it’s something you love doing or something that has to be done to make the universe a better place? Or are you chasing other people’s appreciation and external status? If you evaluate what you are doing through the eyes of others (‘how does this look in my LinkedIn CV?’) and constantly feel you should be performing better in terms of external parameters you may not be doing what you really want.

4) Try to be attached to the progress (the small daily steps!) rather than to the outcome. This is the only way to accept the work and enjoy the journey! By attaching myself to the daily process I have been able to get rid of busyness and stress almost completely.

5) Everything takes much longer than you plan or wish for. Learn to work with the natural flow of what you are building. You can keep pushing but certain things can not be forced. Deepak Chopra suggests that by discovering the natural laws that govern all of creation, and by aligning with these laws, success comes easily and naturally.

6) Share your goals and progress. Surround yourself with like minded people who understand your ambitions and are ready to help. They will cheer you on when you loose hope and think carrying on is pointless. The members who show up to the meetings regularly seem more connected to their goals because they share them with the group every month.

7) Celebrate small victories along the way. Getting your first client may not yet earn you an industry award but it’s the most important step you ever take, so remember to appreciate it and be proud of what you have done. Getting excited about small progress increases motivation and boosts self esteem!

8) Help others. People who share their learning and disappointments with the group end up processing any obstacles faster, and thus move forward. Being able to help someone is very satisfying and makes you less self-centred. This in turn helps to reduce stress.

How do you keep yourself motivated towards big goals? Have you experienced disappointment and temptation to give up your dreams? How did you persevere?



To celebrate our 2nd birthday we are announcing a chance to win ONE YEAR FREE DRIVENWOMAN MEMBERSHIP!

Tell us why you should become a DrivenWoman member?

Our key principle is ‘proactivity’. We believe we can improve ourselves or find our passion by doing things, actively taking small steps and exploring. Explain what are the small steps you would be focusing on if you were to become a DrivenWoman member? What currently keeps you stationary and what would you like to achieve? Why you need a group of like minded women around you?

Send your reply (maximum length A4 ) to miisa (at) by Sunday 17th of May, midnight. If you are chosen we will welcome you to the next DrivenWoman Introduction session on Thursday 21st of May at 6:45 pm in Soho, London.


My DrivenWoman Journey

Posted on April 26, 2015

two benches 2

Ever since I can remember I’ve found it difficult to cope. An erratic childhood paved the way for some very wild teenage antics, which in turn fast-tracked me into at times chaotic adult living. Years of self-harm via the pharmaceutical route were coupled with a furious drink problem taking its toll in every aspect of my life. Realising this half way through my 30s I managed to kick the drugs and reduce the boozing to what I thought was an acceptable level. But I still didn’t feel like I was living my life. In fact, I knew I wasn’t.

And by the time I turned 40 I realised I’d failed and that the only person who was missing out, was me.

A few months on I learned about a brand new woman’s networking group – over a perfectly innocent coffee with a girlfriend. ‘A network to enable women to be the women they want to be.’ “Really?” It sounded exactly like what I needed!

I found out it was, right at the first ever ‘Driven Woman Introduction’ session. My new journey started that night in a stark white, no-frills meeting room above Ed’s Diner in Soho where this small group of women of varied backgrounds had gathered.

The format was well thought out and straight forward. Introduce yourself, say why you’re here and what you wanted to change, (this is where the rest of the group could give feedback). Followed by an exercise and a brief discussion. After that we were to write down ‘where we were at now’ and ‘where we wanted to be,’ both long and short-term. Lastly, we wrote down five easy tasks that would help us achieve our short-term goal. These tasks needed to be achievable and they were to be done by the next month’s meeting. We managed to get this all done in a little over two hours… not a bad way to spend your Monday night.

The months rolled by, I attended without fail and steadily worked the program. It was emotional, I was emotional. I swung from deliriously happy in one month to abject terror the following. I burst into tears once and the rest of the time rambled on heroically. All the time the group listened on and told me what they thought. They questioned my motives with care and consideration and in turn I questioned my beliefs. There was no sympathy, just good advice to enable me to do better. They handed me the tools, guided by the exercises we were doing, and I began to help myself. I was not allowed to procrastinate and any excuses I came up with were met with comments such as “if you want to do it you will, we’ve shown you the way, you cannot go wrong if you try”.

Everything happened rather quickly, and naturally. My ‘change’ became noticeable and people started commenting: “you’re so good at that” and “I wish I could do that”. I started to do things well, and I was getting things done. I was astounded. And best of all it was fun!

From early on, one of my ‘to do’ tasks that would allow me to reach my short-term goals had been to reduce my drinking. I’d been writing this down for eight months before I plucked up the courage to actually do something about it. Finally I did — and managed to slow right down from being drunk most days to a few glasses of wine a couple of times a week.*

This was ‘living my very own miracle’, we’re talking biblical proportions here.

So where am I now, two years into my own personal DrivenWoman program?

Well I’m sober for the first time in three decades. I’ve started kick boxing as I always wanted to do a martial art ever since I watched the ‘Monkey’. My business is gathering momentum, I’ve got repeat orders. I’ve started creative writing which had always been a secret passion. Finally, and this is the big one, I’m looking to find a long-term relationship with someone I truly love.** This would not have been possible before as I could never have shared the life I was leading with anyone!

If someone told me two years ago that I would become the person I am now, I would not have believed it. But here I am… so much can happen in two years!

I can’t imagine what the next five or ten years will hold in store. Anything seems possible with a little help from my DrivenWoman girlfriends!

~ Jane, a founding member of DrivenWoman, a women’s network that celebrates its 2nd birthday next month


*Giuliano Sacchi, who practices Japanese acupuncture has been my therapist for the last year.

** with the help from Julia Keller, Love Expert (also a DrivenWoman member)