A Voice To Be Heard

Posted on August 23, 2015

voice to be heard

I consider myself as an out going person who is quite vocal, but one of my biggest pet hates about myself is that I am a people pleaser and often tailor myself to suit everyone else’s needs, totally ignoring my own. I’ve touched this subject before when I wrote a post ‘You Don’t Have To Explain Yourself’  but I feel a need to revisit the importance of standing up for yourself.

I’m very assertive in many areas of my life so it feels like my biggest downfall I haven’t truly discovered my own voice yet. My kindness and my ability to stay still has been taken as a weakness and a vulnerability to others and they have uses it to their advantage. You could say that at the ripe old age of 50 years I should have had the wake up call already, yet I still stumble in this area. The backlash to my inverted kindness is that when I do decide to speak up I get shut down as the bad guy! I could point the blame to everyone else but if I am perfectly honest the fault lies in me.

The picture you paint is the picture everyone sees.

Gaining that well deserved self-respect, self-confidence and the sense of personal power has to come from within. I have to unlearn my old habits of pleasing. It is me who has to gain the confidence to stand up. It may not be easy and it will not happen overnight but the change has to happen.

One important part of self-regard is understanding that you have a voice and that you have a right to be heard especially when it involves the control over your own life.  When you speak up and stand up for yourself you put a stamp out to the world  saying that you are a significant person who’s ideas and words are worth of respect. Developing a strong sense of self-confidence is the first step.

The word assertiveness pops in to mind. The definition of assertiveness means someone who behaves confidently and is not frightened to say what they want or what they believe in. Doesn’t sound so difficult, but yet, why is it so damn hard for most of us?

Why does being assertive sometimes seem as though you are swallowing an apple as a whole?

In order for me to gain my self worth I will have to experience staying out of my comfort zone. Just stepping in and out will not be enough. I will have to experience discomfort for a prolonged period of time and not escape my own situations. I will have to convince others of change. I will have to endure and be aware of not flipping back by pleasing others. I can see it will be a struggle and I will have some casualties along the way, as happens with all the change in life. An easy excuse not to change anything! Well all individuals around me may not approve this change but as long as I’m not infringing on their rights they should not have a say on my matters.

I made myself a little check list for gaining my voice:

  1. Commit to situations assertively rather than passively
  2. Aim for open and honest communication without fear of judgement
  3. Listen actively and hear the truth
  4. Agree to disagree
  5. Make a decision to positively assert myself
  6. And most importantly avoid the guilt trips when agreements are not found

This is going to be one of my biggest challenges but I am adamant that I have to apply this to myself. I will not be able to free up emotional and physical space around me to breathe, to move to the direction I want and become the person I want to be unless I find my voice.

We all get to a point in our life when enough is enough. When the pain gets big enough we start to change. And the change can only start from within you. And in a true DrivenWoman manner – you are what you do, not what you say you do. It’s time to put plans into action!

I will become a voice to be heard.


How To Choose Between Money Or Values When You Are In Transition

Posted on August 16, 2015

money or values 2

“Should I take this short term job that pays really well but is not taking me towards my goals?”

That’s a big question and it comes up frequently at DrivenWoman member meetings. I wish there was one comprehensive, correct answer to this question! But like with any other big question about the direction of your life, nobody can tell you what to do. Neither can we. But we can ask a couple more questions which may help you to get to your own answer.

One member who works as a freelance writer recently asked if she should take a temporary job that will bring in money but is not taking her towards the kind of work she wants to be doing in the long run. She was wondering if she shouldn’t take the money but to stick to her plan, perhaps out of principle. But the money was tempting. It would allow her a bit more freedom and a longer holiday. All good and valuable points. And it wouldn’t be a permanent state of affairs.

Knowing your values and wanting to move towards your goals is paramount. But money is good too. We all must pay our bills.

Nothing stops you faster from pursuing your dreams than running out of money!

She wanted to take the money, and that was the right thing for her to do. It’s a good idea to start building a buffer of savings for the transition period. The day will come when you can start saying ‘no’ to the work that doesn’t completely align with your values and future goals.

To determine if you should pick the option that aligns with your values and takes you towards your goals or the option that provides short term cash flow, you can consider answering the following questions:

How long can you keep taking the money option and still look yourself in the mirror in the morning without feeling like a fake?

When you are starting your transition into new type of work, it’s perfectly ok to take short term projects that may not be perfectly aligned with your future goals. Everyone needs to keep their lights on! And getting into debt would only increase stress and could ultimately jeopardize your whole plan. But there’s only so long you can do that. It’s a good idea to write down a date when you want your whole (or most) of your income to come from the work you are passionate about.

Are you putting the extra money into a good use that ensures you can follow your dreams later?

If you blow the extra money as usual then there was really no point taking on work that did nothing for your soul, was there? When you are in transition and want to be earning your living from a new kind of work you must put aside both your time (doing the work you love on top of your usual work) and money allowing you transfer to your goals quickly.

Are you using the “financial security option” as an excuse from actually pursuing your dreams?

Earning your living from a new venture is always risky and it for sure takes everyone outside of their comfort zone. It is tempting to postpone starting and to default back to what you already know. But what we have today (money, friends, love..) is based on the choices we have made up to now. If you don’t start making different choices you can’t expect different results.

Would your new venture bring in more money?

Everything you do now prevents you from doing something else. And we can only do so much in a day. The universe is pretty demographic in that everyone has the same amount of hours in their day!

Everything you do today means other things you’d like to do will have to wait.

So if you wanted to write a book, build a business or become a public speaker, the short term jobs that are supposed to be paying the bills will simply push your future earning power further. If you think you are going to earn more as a public speaker then you should do everything you can to get to your goal as fast as possible. Get to that honey pot, don’t wait!

At the end, we all have to find our own answers. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for you. But one thing is for sure, we can’t get there unless we give up something familiar and take risks. And very often it means taking a pay cut and adjusting to a lower income level whilst in transition.

Have you faced a choice between taking the ‘money option’ or going full steam ahead pursuing your dreams? What did you do?


Is Refusal Holding You Back

Posted on August 9, 2015

ginger tea

“You can eat as much french fries as you like…” said my doctor six months ago after getting repeatedly frustrated with me and my laboratory results. He saw from my chart I had been eating the ‘bad fats’ again and the culprit was my weekly french fry habit. “You can eat as much fries as you like, but you must fry them yourself at home in extra virgin coconut butter!”

It was the promise of unlimited french fries that finally got me moving!

I had had health problems with my gut for a long time and had been seeing my doctor already for a year. I had always been eating really healthy (I thought) but stress and eating wrong fats hat badly damaged my gut (more about nutritional choices in another post) and I had to seek help. I’d already made significant changes cutting all grains and sugar, but changing the fats I was eating was proving more difficult.

He had been telling me to change my frying fats to coconut butter repeatedly for a year. I had ignored his advice, knowing this little change could dramatically improve my healing process. He’d told me that I wouldn’t even notice the difference in the taste of food but I was suspicious and had refused to even give it a try.

What would have been my total investment?

Tiana Coconut Butter costs £8.80 at Ocado, a 250g jar that actually lasts much longer than most fats as you don’t have to use so much. Trying it out on one dish takes perhaps 30 minutes off my life.

Not a big deal. Total investment for a trial and to check if my doctor was right about the taste would have been under £10 and less than one hour of my life!

But no. For the longest of time I refused to give it a go.

It took me repeated blood tests, complete frustration of my doctor and a promise of endless fries to finally try cooking with coconut butter. And guess what, my doctor was right. Coconut butter has no taste to the food!

It’s incredible how we humans keep refusing to do the things we know would be good for us or might even dramatically change our outcome.

I don’t even want to talk about emotionally difficult things here, like dealing with your mother relationship. Sure that is difficult and I understand why one wants to put it off for a lifetime. I’m talking about small little every day things that anyone can do with relative ease.

You know the book that’s on the DrivenWoman reading list and you already ordered it from Amazon and it’s now sitting at your bedside table.

Or the mediation app you wanted to upload.

Or the wardrobe that’s still awaiting for a spring clean.

Or the fresh ginger and lemon tea you should drink first thing every morning.


Change is difficult but when it comes to these small everyday fixes I’m amazed why we keep putting them off. It’s these small little things that can yield a great ROI in terms of health and happiness.

So are we afraid the cleaner body and how fantastic we might feel if we switch to that better diet? Or are we afraid of a wardrobe where we’d find clothes we actually want to use with ease? Probably not. It’s the big unknown the little changes might bring. The side effects are scary, not the act itself.

Better the devil you know!

Postponing and procrastinating on these small moves can feel ok for a while. So what if I don’t feel like reading that book this week. Starting next week will be just as fine!

But how long is ok? How long can things be put off until they really start to hurt? How long is ok to not fix things that would improve your happiness?

I no longer want to postpone anything. I can’t do everything at the same time, but I do know my priorities. So what’s the remedy?

My goal is to remove my feelings from the situation and move directly into taking action.

When I hear my inner voice whispering “Ah, I don’t feel like doing it right now, I’ll do it tomorrow…” I most likely don’t feel like going to the fridge, getting the ginger and peeling it, a tea bag would be much more convenient. I don’t feel like opening the book, as scrolling through my Facebook feed sounds like much more fun (even though I’ve already done it about a million times today) and I most definitely don’t feel like reaching for the coconut butter jar as the butter is already at the table and butter does taste wonderful doesn’t it!

I’m by-passing my lazier self, rudely cutting her out.

I gently remind myself why I have to do the little action at hand and just get it done.



And as I get into it my motivation to keep this new habit going grows. Do it first and get inspired with what you are doing later.


Changing My Mentors

Posted on August 2, 2015

women mentorsI’m continuing on my journey to rediscover my mojo. I’ve now learnt how to narrow down my steps, be more focused and have a closer view into what it is I’m trying to accomplish. Perhaps you can remember my last blog post, which was about changing my priorities and looking at the major areas in my life  that weighted on my persona.

My next step is to focus on the individuals and mentors that I have so candidly placed in my life without truly understanding why they were there and why have I given them the power to shape me. It’s too easy to let different characters push your life to various directions without you even noticing!

When I was younger I thought having as many friends around me as possible and sharing all of my inner thoughts and aspirations was a natural gift, and that the more people there was the merrier. But in my adult life it has became more of an hindrance than a positive tool. I found out that not everyone backed me the way I thought they would or even wanted to encourage me towards pursuing my dreams. I am not indicating that they did not care. It was that their ideas and goals where different from mine and their ability to see beyond the present was just where they were and that was fine for them but not for me.

Some may say I have achieved a lot. An Olympian, a Gladiator TV star , a business owner. But I want to maximise my potential and happiness in all areas and I should do so until I am 100 years old!

A quote from Alexander the Great.

“Surround yourself with people that are going to lift you higher.”

So with those words in my heart I have taken a massive step to categorise the people around me in accordance to where they fit in my life or whether or not they have any relevance at all. Sounds harsh, but why surround yourself with nip pickers who constantly find holes in your dreams and put a dark cloud over everything. Or force friends to listen to topics that they have no interest in what so ever.

1.  The Social group

My going out buddies, the ones I just want to have fun with. Creating  a lighthearted environment is important too. Chilling out and having a light kind of conversation. These moments are important and relaxing in everyones life.

2. The Mothering group

Weather I like it or loath it, it is what it is. I am a mother with two incredible daughters. They have  a wonderful network of friends and their parents. Understanding the dynamics of this category is important as the majority of the time I spend with this group will be based on the topic of children. So it’s important to understand its place and not to expect wrong things out of it. And not to over kill or spend all my time here.

3. The Essential people

These people are the power houses that float my boat and build the creativity drug that I crave for. Here I chose to spend as much time as possible but I have to make sure I have chosen the right people who can help me to shape my world. They are here because I want them in my life. They have something to give and hopefully I have something to give them in return. I have chosen key people  who will shape the way I think, the way I act, and the way I approach my  life goals.  They are high achievers and are ready to push all barriers.

Having a clearer understanding on how to categorise the individuals in my life has cut out so much wasted energy and time and has allowed me to feel more focused on what I want to accomplish. I’m going to treasure this and not expect all the input from wrong set of people but to focus on those who can contribute most and with whom I can build a mutually benefiting relationship.

I have always had a clear understanding that every great person who was or will become successful is down to the company he or she keeps. The right set of people will make a definite impact in our lives.

A successful network of driven people around you will always provide both inspiration and healthy competition towards achieving your life goals.

Who are your key people to push you forward in life?

Stay true to yourself and find your support.


Lucky To Grieve

Posted on July 26, 2015

woman grieve

Recently, life hit me hard in the area I least expected to be hit in. It happened, as it often does: just when my business as a Love Coach was starting to take off, my own personal life hit a serious snag.

My boyfriend of almost a year, with whom, until recently, we were talking marriage, and who had stopped drinking when we’d started dating because he’d realised that “it was not conducive to a family environment” fell off the wagon in a big way. Though I have a very forgiving nature and a true belief in people deserving second chances, I also have two daughters who I am raising with a certain high level of values. In addition, I have my own level of standards which, like I teach my clients, are ones that a woman must adhere to no matter how difficult (and it is very difficult at times).

In my family, alcohol is something that we use socially and very much in moderation. So I trusted my boyfriend’s word that he had his drinking under control and that he was in no way “an alcoholic”. In fact, for the majority of our relationship, I had no reason to doubt him. We were very much in love and the high from that, and from our passion together, and the living out our dream lives side by side was sufficient for us to not need any other high. We spoke of being together forever and of marriage in the good days, and we were flying.

But, as often happens, life hits snags. It is in how we handle those snags that the true character of a person emerges.

Around Valentine’s Day, while on a beautiful holiday for the week, we took a big, bold step together and both decided to give up our past career lives to begin anew with the dreams we’d spoken about at Christmas. He helped me to see my true calling and said that he would always support me (which he did both financially and mentally) in my start to becoming a Transformational Love Coach for women: “you have a true gift, honey” and I encouraged him in his pursuit of his dream of having his own business in financial regulation. Everything was on the road to success. Our dreams were big and our beliefs in each other even bigger.

But then, not everything works immediately. That is just life’s little way of making sure that we want it badly enough. My aims were more tangible: I wanted to help women to find the love life and life of their dreams. His were higher: he wanted to make millions. Everything was fine until the client that he had counted on – the one that would have guaranteed that lifestyle that we’d spoken of having together – didn’t come through at the last moment. That’s when disaster began to strike.

I felt instantly that pang of something wrong when I saw his face as he was telling me about it. I could feel some dark fear inside me told me that things would begin to slide downward from there. In fact, his ego was hurt, but I did all that I could to help it come back together and we seemed to thrive even after that first crisis. Seeing just how much I supported him, and the strength of our communication, reaffirmed everything that we were good to each other. We succeeded for a while, but other disasters would follow. With each one, his desire to drink would steer up a bit, though he was still able to keep it at bay. But his irritation and his doubt was growing. Perhaps he wasn’t handling it all as well as I thought he was. My business, meanwhile, was taking small steps forward. He’d been right all along: this was my calling.

And then the difficulties with my kids began, and my own doubt in him began to surface. Even though we were great when just the two of us, he was growing more irritable with my kids, and this was something that I couldn’t accept. And then there was that day – yes during the day – that he completely fell off the wagon; a proper fall and one I could not ignore or forgive or get over. It was the most difficult thing I’d done in a long time, but I had no choice than to say good-bye.

I couldn’t have a relationship with someone who was outside my level of standards, both for myself and for what I considered acceptable to be around my daughters.

And then I cried for real.

I had really loved this man and seriously considered having a future with him. He had been amazing in the good times: generous, supportive, a true gentleman – such men were not so easy to find – and let’s not even discuss the unbelievable chemistry and passion we had shared.

But would I take it back? Would I have changed time so that I hadn’t ever met him to have been able to avoid the pain of breaking up? Of course not!

The time we had together was beautiful; it was passionate; it was intense; it was filled with love that was real and deep. Does the fact that we didn’t end up lasting forever diminish at all everything we had together? It hurts to end it and it was incredibly difficult. You’d think that the fact that I chose to end our relationship would mean that it wouldn’t hurt that much; but it hurt just the same, even despite the fact that the separation made many of the cracks in our supposedly intact foundation become much more clear. The most unbelievable clarity often comes when one is separated from the object that has served to fog one’s vision.

The pain of an ending is sharp and so intensely real that it often serves to teach us the most significant lessons, if we are open to learn from the negative.

Only in the pit of darkness does the faint glimmer of light have so much significance.

I teach women to always look for that glimmer of hope to hold onto, and I held onto that glimmer for dear life. To love is beautiful – beautiful and human. To love fully and completely baring your heart: even awe inspiring. To love and lose is no less important than to love and keep forever; not if you love and feel for real. There are lessons to be learned in both, and one is no less valuable than another.

When I think of all of the people that I know and that I’ve met who avoid that unbelievable feeling of complete and total love because of the fear of the deep emotions that come with it – all because of their fear of the possibility of days, maybe even weeks, yes occasionally months, of tears that it can bring when it ends… God, if they only knew what they were missing, perhaps they would think differently…I would tell them if I could.

But the thing about describing love is that it’s like describing the feeling of sunshine on your face on that first true day of summer: you can only really understand it once you have felt it for yourself.


This is a personal guest post from Julia Keller. She is a Transformational Love Coach for Women and a DrivenWoman member. Find out more about how she works with clients on her website at www.juliakeller.co.uk

Time Management Is Not Important

Posted on July 19, 2015


Do you think you’d be getting faster to your goals if you managed your time better? Do you sometimes feel frustrated because you can’t fit everything you want to do in your day? I used to struggle with that, trying to figure out how to fit more into my day. I thought there’d be some magical method that if I discovered it, I’d be able to get much more done.

Sure, there’s a lot of tips on time management and how you can become more productive and organised, but fitting more into one’s day doesn’t mean you are becoming any more happier or more successful.

Everyone has 24 hours in a day, so that part if pretty democratic to us all. I used to believe I must cut down all ‘unnecessary’ activities such as walking in my garden and cutting flowers into a vase. Or preparing a proper breakfast. But all I got as a result was more stress and less happiness, and I wasn’t getting any closer to success either!

You can squeeze things out of your day and keep working on a lot of stuff, but unless the work you do is going to make difference (and get you to your goals) you might just as well be cutting flowers in the garden.

It’s not important to manage time. It’s important to manage work.

Let me explain. (Bare with me. The following math is simple yet important.)

Are you familiar with the Pareto principle, the 80/20 rule? This means that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Such as in business 80% of company profits will come from 20% of it’s clients. Or 80% of the world’s GDP is earned by 20% of its population. 

According to Perry Marshall everything in the universe follows the 80/20 principle. 20% of the roads carry 80% of traffic, or 20% of a tree’s branches contain 80% of its wood mass. Or even when he asked people in a seminar how many shoes everyone owned, 20% of people had 80% of the shoes owned in that room. (Most people had 3 to 10 pairs at home, some shoe fanatics had 500 pairs!)

He takes this principle even further explaining that the 20% is further divided into 80/20 and that 20% again into 80/20 and so on. Resulting that 50% of the effects come from approximately 1% of the causes.

When you apply this into your day you can see that ‘time management’ is pointless. Unless you are working on that most important 1% (or even that top 20% stuff), you can work your backside off and you are only going to get more exhausted and frustrated. And you will certainly have no time for cutting roses!

So how do I define the most important 1% (or even the 20%) then?

Most of us, if we’d just stop and allow ourselves time to think and write things down, we’d all know the answer deep down inside. I wrote earlier about the importance of separating your ‘thinking time’ from your ‘doing time’.

This is the problem, it’s much easier to be busy than to do work that matters. The latter involves stepping outside of your comfort zone, it’s the unpleasant stuff. You don’t want to make that phone call, ask for help or talk to strangers. It’s much nicer to take shortcuts, work on to-do-lists or do the work you already know well.

Brian Tracy tells us to ‘Eat That Frog‘ first thing in the morning. This means that you should identify the most unpleasant thing you have to do and get it out of the way first. The most unpleasant is usually also the most effective and the one that will make a difference. Once that junk of work is done you can be pretty relaxed for the rest of the day, there should be nothing on that day! And even if you didn’t finish your to-do-list, the most important thing has been done.

I try to adhere to these two principles in my work the best I can. I evaluate where I can get most leverage, where I can find the 20%, or perhaps the 1%, that will make the biggest difference in the long run, be it in business or in relationships or in health. It’s sometimes hard to identify these things as the parameters keep changing, but I always complete my priority task first thing in the morning and spend my time with the best people.

And most importantly, now I have time to enjoy my roses.


Are You Living Reactive Or Manifestive Lifestyle

Posted on July 12, 2015

manifestive lifestyle

Something buzzes at the table and you get a SMS message on your phone. Do you instantly drop everything and rush to see who it is? You are offered a new job with the competitor. Do you instantly get excited and see yourself signing on the dotted line? Sounds familiar doesn’t it. We easily get distracted and flattered by the attention shown to us.

But consider this. If you take up all the ‘opportunities’ life throws at you, you may not end up living your own life but a life dictated by others. You could be reacting to outside impulses rather than making sure all your daily choices are your own.

How do we ensure our decisions are based on what we want in life and our own goals?

When my kids started school two years ago I was instantly distracted by the activities all mothers were supposed to be doing at the school and with each other. There were cake mornings, PTA evenings and parents pub evenings. I felt I had to take part. But very soon I realised I had to pull myself out. Just because I’m a published cookbook author didn’t make me comfortable baking cakes for the school fair. It’s just not how I’ve been wired. So I’m sure I’ve ended up pissing some people off. I don’t really volunteer for anything anymore, but I try to do my fair share monetarily.

It’s very easy to get distracted by the daily demands other people place on us. It can come  in the form of flattering – “ah you are so good at this” – or guilt “how can you say no!“. When we don’t do what other people expect of us we sometimes end up hurting them and that feels bad. But unfortunately you can’t keep pleasing everyone if you want to live an authentic life.

Distractions come also in the form of obstacles and failure. When we hit a snag and the world says ‘no’, we easily end up giving up our dreams and reacting to the negativity around us.

And it’s not only our goals and dreams that are affected by being reactive. It’s also our health and relationships that are at risk. How many times you’ve entered a meeting room unnecessarily eating all the biscuits that were at the table even though you weren’t even hungry? Or entering a relationship because ‘it was there’ even though you knew from the start it was’t going to work?

You can think about these as positive and negative impulses thrown at you by the Universe.

It is up to you how you react to them. It’s unfortunately much easier to react than to take control and manifest your own way. You can’t be in control about everything that happens but you can decide how you react to life’s situations – the positive and the negative ones.

If you follow a reactive lifestyle you will:

- end up trying to please everyone around you (will this make you happy?)

- drop your own projects and goals to attend what other people ask you to do

- you will give up at the first obstacle (Last week I wrote about not giving up.)

- you may end up in a career or a relationship where you are not true to your authentic self

- you end up blaming circumstances around you for your situation

- goals feel impossible to reach

Following a manifestive lifestyle you will:

- make choices based on the vision you have set for your life

- learn to say ‘no’ politely but firmly (the ‘yes detox‘!)

- achieve your goals faster as you are able to focus on projects based on your own values

- feel motivated and excited to start your day every morning

- feel satisfied and happy in your journey even when obstacles emerge

Nobody’s life is just reactive or manifestive, it’s usually a mixture of both. I make a constant and conscious effort to live manifestive lifestyle and be aware of my reactive pitfalls. When you pay attention to this you can over time make a big shift.

What are your experiences of reactive and manifestive lifestyles? What has changed when you have chosen manifestive lifestyle over reactive?


Lessons Learned In An Empty Room

Posted on July 5, 2015

empty room

Let’s go back two years. It’s a rainy and dark late summer evening in Soho. We’ve founded DrivenWoman women’s network couple of months earlier and are sitting in a co-working space where we hold our meetings. We are about to start an Introduction evening and are expecting our participants to arrive. Those early days we used to offer tickets for free as we were testing our concept.

It’s 20 minutes past the start time, but no one has arrived. We sit there with Jennifer, anxiously waiting. Another 10 minutes passes and still nobody arrives. Slowly we realise that no one is going to show up that evening.

I never forget how I felt that night.

Of course I was disappointed. But more importantly I was hugely embarrassed. I was asking myself had I lost my mind. And why would they show up anyway…? Perhaps our idea of a proactive women’s group is completely stupid! Had we failed? And does anyone even care…?

The reasonable thing to do would have been to pack our things and go home. Make a cup of tea, watch a little bit of telly and go to bed. We could have concluded it was the greatest embarrassment of our lives and moved on. We could have taken it personally. We could have retreated to our comfort zone.

But we would have missed a great opportunity, a great opportunity to learn.

We decided to stay.

We sat in that empty room for the duration of our meeting and studied our feelings, we studied the pain we were feeling.

Why did we feel so embarrassed?

It felt as if someone was watching. Perhaps someone saw our failure. If only someone knew that nobody came. What would they say!

But we soon realised that no one could see us in that empty room. There was nobody else there, just me and Jennifer. Nobody knew of our momentary failure, it only existed in our heads. Our failure wasn’t a truth, it was only a feeling. If we could deal with the feeling we could learn a lot.

I’m very grateful we decided to stay in the empty room that night because we took out some great lessons about success and failure.

1) It’s likely there’s nothing wrong with your idea or you

The reason nobody showed up that night had nothing to do with our idea or us, personally. We simply hadn’t been around long enough to sow enough seeds. We also offered tickets for free and because the weather was pretty dreadful that night, people simply didn’t bother because there was no commitment.

2) The Universe is slow. You have to give it time to catch up with your plans.

Things take time. Things take much longer than you allow even in your worst case scenario plans. Luckily someone had told me that when you are building something, nothing happens in the first two years.

3) You must accept it’s difficult

Trying to get people to hear your story or buy your product is incredibly difficult. It feels bad when you have poured your heart and soul into a project and nobody shows up, but you simply have to accept it as part of the process.

4) Momentary failure is ok

Nobody can reach their goals without facing failure and feeling momentarily defeated. It’s part of the process. If you can’t accept that, you won’t succeed.

5) There’s a reason for a rejection

There’s a reason people don’t pay attention to your story and you are yet to discover it. Perhaps you haven’t packaged your product right. You haven’t made it relevant to your customers. Or you haven’t been consistent enough. Or you haven’t repeated your message enough. Or you don’t even know how to talk about it. There may be many reasons for feeling like you’ve failed. Your job is to find out what it is.

Facing rejection, an empty room, is very hard. I understand why people give up their projects and why they quit.

But they shouldn’t.

I’ve faced the feeling of an empty room many times since that rainy night in Soho. I’m now very grateful for that experience because I know what to do.

When you find yourself in an empty room feeling rejected try to do what we did that night. Stay in your pain. Just sit there and be quiet. If you can stay in the feeling of failure and rejection, if you can be still, all answers will be given to you.

But if you rush out of the room, if you seek comfort, you will miss out. You will never learn. You will return to your comfort zone, you will return to your familiar domain. It’s familiar and cosy for a reason – you already know everything. There’s nothing to learn.

You can only expand your experiences and knowledge in the area of pain. Be brave and fully feel it and you will come out stronger and wiser, knowing exactly what to do next.


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!