Think You're Too Small to Make a Big Difference? – You Haven't Spent the Night with a Mosquito…

OR: Life after Malaria

Mosquitoes have always had a crush on me. As a little girl, I often counted 15 mosquito bites a night while others were spared, and I spent many nights awake scratching the itchy bites. And in my adult life, when traveling to places with a large mosquito population, I am usually the first to be attacked. My blood must be extra-delicious… Glad the vampires have never found me!

But it doesn’t stop here. Two tiny mosquitoes changed my life in two instances.

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The first time about 8 years ago, when I still lived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After several weeks of feeling dizzy, nauseous and dehydrated, I finally decided to make my way to the hospital to get tested for dengue fever… and was admitted right away. The nurses had a hard time finding any blood in my veins to connect the dip bottle for intravenous hydration… I was that dehydrated. Good news is, after a few days I was feeling better and could return home.

The second time happened just recently: Two weeks after my return from Cameroon, I was starting to feel weak and like I was getting the flu. That was on a cold Sunday in NYC after a glorious night of kompa-dancing (when I usually feel energized and high-vibe). That Sunday, something clearly wasn’t right… On Monday, I went about my usual business as it was a busy week and my trip to Qatar was coming up, where I was booked to facilitate a 3-day Transformational Leadership Workshop for a group of women – big deal.

On Wednesday afternoon, I finally decided to take a cab to a medical center, and they immediately called an ambulance to take me to the ER. I was diagnosed with malaria but discharged at 3.30am with a prescription in hands as the doctors had managed to stabilize me. The next day, I picked up my malaria pills and took them as prescribed, but Friday came, and I was feeling so weak that I called 911. This time, they sent me from the ER directly to the ICU… I was completely dehydrated, and my blood pressure was as low as never before.

While I had inner certainty that I was going to make it out of there alive, I must admit it was a bit scary. Medically, I was on the edge. Another concern was of course: Would I get better on time to travel to Doha? I didn’t want to disappoint the organizers or training participants… This clearly wasn’t a good time to get sick (I know, I know, there’s never a good time). Eventually, the trip was postponed by a week due to my condition, but I didn’t know that while I was at the hospital.

But what also came with malaria was a huge spiritual journey. Malaria is about parasites, so I started asking myself some important questions, like:

  • What people and things are parasites in my life? Who and what do I need to get rid of?
  • What do I need to push off my plate to deepen my focus and to put time back onto my calendar for myself and my own needs?
  • Where does my Higher Self want me to play bigger in my life going forward?

In hindsight, and despite some challenging consequences, like catching up with business and not being able to dance in a while, this malaria incident was a gift: A huge opportunity to grow, increase my awareness, make some vital changes that weren’t a priority to me before… and the determination to learn my lessons in a less scary way, meaning that I’ll be more protective of my wellness and my boundaries and more mindful about what I invest my energy in.

Putting myself first, while serving my clients even better by doing so.

But back to the question: Do you still think you are too small to make a difference? – Think again!

 

 

 

 

On Camera in Cameroon... and learning some business lessons

I just got back from Cameroon, and oh my, what a trip! We went to host the Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in Africa Conference, which was a success and extensively commented on in the press, like in The Sun and the Cameroon Tribune:

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Here with my co-hosts Monica McCoy and Natalie Nkembuh (the main brain behind the conference), as well as STEM power house and speaker Sophie Ngassa:

 

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...but it was just a start...  Even before the conference, my up-until-then virtual friend and power journalist Amy Banda made sure I had my voice heard in her radio show. And from then on, there was no stopping me. So many more amazing things happened in those 12 days!

Just two days later, I found myself teaching a workshop to a room full of power ladies, at an event pulled together by Santher Mbacham and her Imagenation Team, where I was honored to share the stage with Gladys Viban and Leila Kigha, two top names in the Cameroonian speaker scene. Amy Banda joined us as well, and Clovis Delaure volunteered to film the event. I was humbled by Santher's determination to make this event happen within just 3 weeks, and everyone's enthusiasm. That's what I call business spirit! 
 

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Meetings after meetings were on my calendar: ministries, schools, consultants, press... And one morning, when a business friend picked me up in his car for a business meeting, we got stuck in the mud of what was supposed to be a street but got turned into a fruit market -- a colorful medley of fruits, motorbikes and carts all mixed together. I was already picturing myself stepping out into the clay in my high heels and pushing the car, when a smart guy looking to make some profit from the situation guided us backward through the masses of people and fruits, frantically gesticulating all the way. Incredibly enough, we made it out of the muddy grounds without having to leave the car (although with our windshield covered in brown molasses)... Believe it or not, the below was our view from the car (as long as the windshield was still clear), even if it may seem like there was no space for a car.
 

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Cameroonians are business people without excuses. They do business anywhere. They choose a spot and put up their shop, even in the middle of a street. Lesson learned: Don't let yourself be held back by seemingly impossible circumstances.

As part of my travel experience, I also learned to take and bargain fares for collective taxis in a city where I had no clue how to orient myself. Admittedly, I may have paid a bit more than the locals at times (I didn't even know in what direction I was going), but I got pretty good at making firm offers very soon. Great negotiation practice. And just when I was thinking, Cameroonians drive as if their vehicles were made of fabric, a car bumped into my taxi's non-existent rear bumper guard and five minutes later a motorbike rammed the left front part of our car. Although his car was actually made of metal, this didn't seem to disturb the driver; he was used to it and stayed calm... Another lesson I learned every day anew: stay calm and eat some fried plantains. 

Then, one morning the phone rang, and four hours later, I found myself on the CRTV Midi Life show with Myra Nangeh, who made me dance to traditional Cameroonian music with live musicians. So much fun (especially for the audience)!  

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We also recorded a few more TV and radio interviews with Amy Banda and Suzanne Belle Essengue... airing soon. 

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When I left NYC with three suitcases on March 24 (one for clothes, one for my books and one carry-on), I thought I'd come back with one of them empty after leaving my books in Cameroon... But to my surprise, it was filled with gifts from my new Cameroonian friends: dresses, shoes, a handbag, books, jewelry, fabric... Oh wow! If Cameroonians were to win an award, they'd surely win it for their hospitality and generosity.  

Apart from all these gifts, I also came back with a heart full of new friends, amazing memories and some future collaboration opportunities, feeling fulfilled and happy... and recharged for my activities here in New York and beyond.

Would you like to learn more about how to live a life of purpose, where you can be the leader you were born to be? Sign up for a complimentary call and let's chat!

I Dare You to Kick 2018 off like a Champion

What words do you want to say in December 2018 about the year that's about to end?

What are your plans for the coming year? What are the words you want to say on December 31, 2018? Maybe something along the lines:

  • I upgraded my own career and that of the people I touched.
  • I have created the success I want and I am bringing in the money I need to live my desired lifestyle, while making a major impact.
  • I am doing the work I love, while generating massive income.
 Image by Gerd Altmann

Image by Gerd Altmann

Want to play big in 2018? - Let's get started!
1. Ditch your New Year's resolutions
2. Write down your vision, make a plan, set specific goals
3. Elevate your energetic vibration

1. Ditch your New Year's resolutions

New Year's resolutions are usually some type of self-promises we haven't been able to keep in the past, like: "This year I'll quite smoking. This year I'll work out several days a week. This year I'll make more money.... blablabla..."

Be honest with yourself: How many of your New Year's resolutions have ever been effective? - If you're like most people, probably not that many. Chances are that you got more frustration than results. That's because most of these resolutions have too much resistance attached to them. Rather than excitement, they cause anxiety. They don't seem appealing to us and even less to our subconscious mind... because they are opposed to our past experiences or our real self-expectation. We have disappointed ourselves before by not keeping these promises. Why would we do better just because the year is 2018?

If your New Year's resolution don't feel good, ditch them! -- Here's a better way:

2. Write down your vision, make a plan, set specific goals

Take some time before January 1 to write down your 2018 vision (or review your existing vision) in as much detail as possible: Where do you live by December 31, 2018? How much money are you making? How? Who are you working with (colleagues, clients, partners,...)?

Based on your vision, make a plan: Define some concrete goals for 2018; then set dates for these goals. Now ask yourself: How do you get there? What action steps are required? What resources do you need (training, an investor, a loan, a specific device, a coach, etc.)? 

Then start taking action towards your 2018 plan on January 1. Yes, right after you roll out of bed after an enthusiastic New Year's celebration, take one specific action step towards the first goal on your plan! Acknowledge your first step and keep moving forward on your path to success. 

And if not all goes as planned...

3. Elevate your energetic vibration

Action alone often doesn't take us where we want to be. Have you ever felt like the harder you pushed, the more obstacles seemed to show up? That's usually a sign that some inner work must be done in parallel to all the action-taking.

Elevating our vibration requires some daily attention, as we are constantly affected by our "circumstances" and "negative experiences" as well as the emotions and energy waves of the world that surrounds us. Here are some simple ways to elevate your vibration:

  • Be grateful for what you have now and the amazing things you will have, including all opportunities for growth
  • Make peace with the past and release guilt, regret and resentment
  • Affirm that you are ready to let go of any self-imposed limitations, dis-empowering emotions and limiting subconscious beliefs that you may not be aware of; visualize them moving out of your energy even if you don't know their nature
  • Go inward and connect with your inner power, the power of your Higher Self, which is limitless. Feel the truth of the fact that you can create whatever you want.

 Then go forth into your 2018 and play to win!

No One Owns Your Career but You

When I ask women how they feel about their careers, I seldom hear an outright “awesome!” Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have used that word myself for my corporate career either. I had some amazing opportunities come my way. I loved working at The Boston Consulting Group, and I feel tremendously blessed to have “stumbled” into that firm fresh out of college. Working for BCG was one of the best choices I ever made. But in hindsight, there was always something missing. Not because of what I was offered, but because of what I didn’t ask for.

If you have ever felt this way, read on.

Here are three important facts I learned over the years:

1.       No one has as much interest in your career as you.

2.       Opportunities only show up when you are open to them.

3.       No one can read your mind.

 Photo by Igor Link

Photo by Igor Link

 

1.       No one has as much interest in your career as you.

You may have a well-meaning boss or a mentor but let’s face it: You are the one who benefits the most from your successful career and you are the one who has to live with your paycheck. All areas of your life are impacted by your career. Other people have their own lives and challenges. You are not at the center of attention of everyone else’s life.

Take ownership. Look at yourself: What do you bring to the table? Block out an hour this week to take stock of your brilliance, your “distinctive uniqueness.” No one has the exact same background as you. Write down all the amazing talents and skills you have. What experiences have helped you become the powerful woman you are? What’s your story? What have you accomplished so far (in any area of your life)? Make a list of your accomplishments and take a moment to acknowledge yourself for them.

2.       Opportunities only show up when you are open to them.

Don’t underestimate your own potential, or you may not even see your best opportunities. Your subconscious mind is an effective filter mechanism that suppresses your attention to everything that’s not within your perceived options for yourself. It takes it off your radar. So it’s well possible that you have been missing out on opportunities just because they “haven’t shown up for you,” although they actually have been there. Upgrade your self-belief. Take a moment to feel into your potential. Go back to your list of all the awesome things you have achieved to date. I’m sure it’s impressive. Based on these accomplishments, what else is possible for you? Remember, no one limits us but ourselves.

With that in mind, write down your vision of your dream career: Where do you work, what position are you in, who’s on your team? Who are your clients? Once you are clear on your vision, you’re in a good position to define what your next step towards this vision should be. What is that next level for you? What would be an immediate upgrade, however small (or big)?

Then look around with different eyes. It’s a bit like refreshing your browser: You will see that new search results will now pop up on your “screen.” Grab them! It’s time to make a move, today.

3.       No one can read your mind.

Once you have identified your next-level job or promotion options, go for them. No one can read your mind. It’s your role to ask for what you want.

Polish up your resume, speak to the relevant contacts in your organization, apply, even if you think you don’t have all the requirements. Remember that it’s impossible to have all the experience described in your next-level job posting; if you did, it would be same level or a step down.

If you think that you’re not qualified enough, not experienced enough, not prepared enough, that’s a lie. It’s easy to find a “not enough” when we look for an excuse. Trust that you can do it, and others will as well.

You may think there’s bias at your firm that could work against you. It may be subtle, it may even be obvious. My humble advice? For your purpose to get promoted, forget about bias. Jump right over it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Whatever works. The more attention you give any signs of bias, the more they will slow you down. And that’s the last thing you want, right?

Alternatively, you could always look outside and apply for a job in a more favorable culture. Just do something. Don’t get stuck. Take action. Speak up for yourself.

Now is the time to do the work you love, to make the money you want, to move up in your career. There is no better time.

No one owns your career but you. Take it to the level of your choice.

What's Your "WHAT IF?"

Have you had this thought lately: "OMG, another year is almost over and I'm still not where I want to be in my career?" Do you feel stuck with your success goal? If so, read on.

First things first: Did you write your goal down? If not, do it. Research shows that it's easier to achieve what we write down.

It makes sense: Written words can only come from a certain degree of clarity on what exactly it is that we want to achieve. Vague goals are not useful; they can even lead to overwhelm and frustration, and in extreme cases to discouragement and despair. Clear, concrete goals in writing give our mind something to work with, both on a conscious and a subconscious level. Clear goals in writing modify our subconscious filters. We can now see opportunities that we previously may have overlooked. Plus, seeing our goal on paper or on the computer screen also makes it more tangible and concrete, and therefore more viable and attainable. 

Writing our goal down is also a way of facing it. If you're like me, you have a thousand fantastic ideas all day long, big and small. Some become goals or even projects or plans in our minds. But then life happens,... and if we don't write them down, they disappear as fast as they came.

Once you have your goal in front of you, thoughts of doubt may be creeping in: "This seems hard. Maybe this goal is too big for me. I may not be experienced enough, skilled enough, prepared enough. What if I'm not ready? I don't think I have the resources to make this happen. I don't have the right connections. I can't do possibly do this..." Or you may just feel outright fear... fear of being vulnerable, fear of rejection, fear of being ridiculed, fear of failure,... You know what I'm talking about. We often cultivate negative fantasies about imaginary threats, and it's always easy to find a reason for not taking action when we look for an excuse to stay in our "discomfort zone." (I don't call it "comfort zone" because it's not really comfortable to stay stuck, is it?)

When you experience any of these self-imposed limitations, that's when you must turn your limiting thoughts and feelings around. It's easier than you think, with what I call "Empowering What if Questions." Let me give you a few examples:
What if I could achieve this goal with ease?
What if I had everything I need to attain this goal? 
What if I could ask for help?
What if I could find the people and resources I need?
What if I were more powerful than I think?
What if I were enough?

 Photo by John Hain

Photo by John Hain


Create your own Empowering What if Questions as you move through your day and observe how this changes your outlook and provides you with better choices. 

Maybe you have tried positive affirmations before, and they can work great if repeated consistently over a period of time. However, if they haven't worked for you, it could be because your subconscious programming is not aligned with your affirmation, and that's why the affirmation is rejected on a subconscious level. Positively framed questions often work better, as they open up possibilities, and our subconscious finds it easier to play with a possibility than a fact it has not experienced yet. That's why I love "Empowering What if Questions." Experiment with them and share with me how they change your perception of what's possible for you.

You have the power to change your attitude and create the reality you want to see for yourself. Your words shape the reality you perceive. Stop ruminating on worries and cultivating imaginary negative outcomes. Re-frame your thoughts, focus on positive What if questions and diminish your anxiety so you can show up powerfully at all times.

Sooo... What if you could create the success you want? 

 

What’s Right with You?

Have you ever felt like something’s wrong with you?

Innumerous times, we’ve been told or made believe that we are weird, we don’t fit in, and therefore, something’s obviously wrong with us. As kids, we are taught to leave our own ideas and fantasies behind and play the adults’ game instead… because they got it all figured out and we don’t. At school, if we looked different, we were bullied. It was like: “If you see a suspicious haircut or head cover or pimple, protect yourself and insult that kid…” In many of us, this deeply hurt our self-esteem and confidence, and some of us may have been traumatized. We felt rejected and this made us feel as if we’re somehow not worthy of love, acceptance or success.  

Early on in life we learned that it was safer to either blend in with the general trend or go unnoticed. We were taught to conform, and when we didn’t, we were reprimanded by our parents or teachers, or excluded by our schoolmates. Most of us were expected to be great at math, languages, science,… but not at putting together flashy outfits, displaying unique styles or having any preferences that were not “mainstream.” Many families still expect their children to be doctors, lawyers or bankers, or at least have a college degree in some subject that’s aligned with their idea of a decent profession. As if these were the only and best options to be successful, independent of their offspring’s individual talents and preferences…

Looking different, speaking differently, behaving in any way that was not “normal” was undesirable and resulted in rejection or even exclusion. It was an impediment rather than an advantage.

But here’s the thing: Do we seriously think that it’s an accident that every single one of the 7.6bn people on this planet has a different DNA? If we all were doctors and lawyers, we’d have no restaurants to go to, no food at the supermarkets and no heating in our homes (let alone apartments). So, I guess it makes sense that we were born with different gifts and personalities. And the fact that no one has the exact same talents as you is not an accident. It’s because the world needs exactly you and what you have to offer. It needs the best version of you, the best version of who you already are. It needs your authentic brilliance, your specific greatness. That’s what in my work, I call Distinctive Uniqueness.

 Photo by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke

Photo by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke

We have been told over and over we must work on our weaknesses (now disguised as “areas for improvement”), rather than focusing on building on our innate strengths and abilities. Admittedly, it makes sense to be aware of our lesser talents, areas we’re not naturally great at… so we know who we need to bring onto our team that can complement us in those areas. What we’re not supposed to be, is perfect.

I love generating content for workshops but am a useless graphic designer. Why would I want to spend precious time, money and energy to study graphic design and create my own flyers if there are people out there who are awesome designers and love doing it?

The same applies to corporate teams: Why would I as a Team Leader ask you to invest precious time and energy to become great at everything when I can bring others onto my team who are already great at it? Doesn’t it make more sense to let you do the work you are excellent at? And what if there’s even much more potential in this excellency? Potential you haven’t had a chance to show because we’ve been focusing so much on your “areas for improvement?”

So the question is not: “What’s wrong with me?” Instead, ask: “What’s right with me?”  How can you maximize your brilliance, your genius, your Distinctive Uniqueness to your own benefit and that of the entire team? What’s there that you haven’t uncovered yet? If you could contribute more to your own success and that of your team, what would it be?

Or if you are a business owner: What are your unique qualities? How can you turn them into an asset for your business? How can they help you stand out in a crowded market so you can cash in on them?

If you’d like to explore this for yourself but don’t know how, apply for a Discover Your Distinctive Uniqueness session. Go to the Coaching page and click on the Schedule a Consult button. For you to be considered, fill out all the fields, and I’ll contact you to confirm your session.

Step into your most powerful, authentic self!