We Can Change the World

Izabella, Ashsish, Stella and AnYes are four independent women from four different countries living in London. I met them at different times and circumstances but while building relationships and co-creating with each other I could see how much they have in common, and now they are friends. While reading their stories, you will see the values they share that contribute for a better world.

Photo Credit: Franco Cruzat

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Photo Credit: Franco Cruzat

Ashish Paul

I Find Happiness in Simple Things

Ashish describes herself as a BEing, a living BEing, a quantum BEing, a global BEing, a loving BEing. In addition to this, Ashish is a Healer (Vaidya) and a Mum. She would not like any more labels apart from these. Ashish is constantly becoming and un-becoming something. So, you could say she is a woman on the change that wants to see around her.

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Photo Credits: Franco Cruzat

The influence of your birthplace

I was born and brought up in a small town Jalandhar of Punjab in the North of India and moved to the UK in 1998. The language that I learnt and my way of living up until 1998 were heavily influenced by this place. I would say my world vision was too small. Since then I have had the privilege of visiting various places within the UK, Europe, Canada and USA. So the influence has reduced significantly over these years. However, I have to admit that certain ways of my thinking were because I came from a small town.

Memories from your childhood

I remember my childhood to be a happy one. I was a happy child and used to love going to school and did extremely well at my studies. I remember painting for hours, music lessons and other co-curricular activities that I used to be part of. I always wanted to be a grown up. I am eldest amongst my siblings, so always enjoyed being in the position of responsibility. I always loved freedom and independency. I used to clash with everyone about the social injustices that prevailed around me at that time. I was always ready to prove the other person wrong if there was something girls weren’t allowed to do.

What being a woman means to you

I have always related to myself as a living Being and not divided myself into genders. When I was younger I used to be reminded of being a girl/woman. My parents unsuccessfully restricted me from a few activities that I went and did deliberately. For me being a woman is just to be me. And I am loving, purpose driven, know my mind, and rebellious.

Your Business story

A large part of my Ayurvedic work is to enhance fertility with integrated medicine. I have been working as a Herbalist in the UK for over ten years and re-established my business in January 2015 with a new name called Ashishveda. Over the last 4 to 5 years I have been working with couples, especially women, to detoxify and enhance their fertility. I work with couples going through IVF (in Vitro Fertilization) and help them to use natural methods to reduce stress of fertility treatments and to get pregnant.

The most important thing in life to you

The most important thing for me has to be love and lovingness towards each other. It is the love that is generated from us and permeates everything around us.

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Photo credits: Rachel Armes

Your biggest fear

My biggest fear would be not to reach my potential of exploring myself as a quantum being, because I know we are limitless.

Your biggest achievement

I know I have huge untapped potential. According to me I have not even started yet. I would love to carry on doing small things in my own way with love.

What is happiness for you and where do you find it?

I find happiness in simple things. I find happiness in being useful to others.

Your biggest dream

I would love to have a healing space where I could live and work from. An Ayurvedic Centre with healing space, therapies rooms, organic vegetable patch, organic kitchen, yoga and meditation space, an area to teach Ayurveda and a retreat centre where people can come and stay.

How do you see yourself in 10 years time?

There is no certainty about anything in ten years time. It is too far ahead to plan.I love helping people with Ayurveda and that is what I envisage myself doing for the foreseeable future.

 

Izabella Niewiadomska

I am grateful, i CONQUERED my fears

Izabella is a woman, mother and wife. She is a Performance Nutrition and Wellness Coach, Herbalife member, speaker and entrepreneur. She often laughs, saying “I have the curiosity of a scientist, the spirit of an adventurer, a logical mind like a man and a heart full of passion”. Her signature is her smile and infectious energy. She loves contributing to people’s lives and her dramatic health and life challenges helped her to find solutions and learn valuable lessons, that now she shares to inspire people to transform themselves.

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Photo Credit: Franco Cruzat

The influence of your birthplace

It is not the place but the people and experiences that influenced me and shaped my character. Apart from my loving & caring parents, a big influence on me was my grandmother, Bunia. She was born a member of Polish nobility, not something you could boast about in a communist Poland. My other grandparents lost their lives before I was born. Bunia was the tower of strength. On her 8th wedding anniversary in 1941, gestapo came to the house and took her husband away to Auschwitz, where he was killed. Bunia never remarried and brought her 3 children up all by herself. She was a survivor and an incredible woman. Until the last day of her life, Bunia always looked immaculate and elegant. She lived a modest life but regular appointments to a hairdresser and beautician were considered as basic essentials for her.

She taught me how to love myself the way I am. Thanks to her I’ve learned that style, class and elegance is not about how much money you have, but the way you hold yourself, how you speak and most importantly, how you treat other people. Growing up around journalists and celebrities, triggered my fascination with people and taught me never to be intimidated or star-stricken by anyone. That has built my confidence as a person. It was very useful, especially when I started working in a male dominated environment, with people much older than me and with high positions in Polish society.

Having many interests & hobbies enabled me to learn valuable skills and helped me to develop my personality. I used to be regularly involved in organising cultural events, camps for young people aspiring to become journalists, an active leader in a Polish Youth Organisation, loved reading books, singing in a band, trekking mountains and having fun with friends. Everything I’ve learned and experienced while I was living in Poland, prepared me for building a foundation for my new life here in the UK, always to remember my roots, who I am and to appreciate my value as person.

Moving from one place to another

My life in Poland took a dramatic turn when I developed panic attacks through stress in my career and found myself temporarily paralysed in hospital several times with a loss of speech. Each time I thought I was dying! I was devastated and scared. Suddenly my great and happy life was not so great anymore. At the worst time I was afraid even to leave the house in case I got another attack out there being by myself. I couldn’t be in crowds or closed in places. I had to carry a bag full of medications with me everywhere so I could help myself before the ambulance arrived. I couldn’t fall asleep without the lights on or my mum holding my hand. I was an adult but felt completely vulnerable like a child. It was horrible, very embarrassing! I hated the fact I had no control over it & over my body. I didn’t like the side effects of medications I was on, so I started to search for alternative ways to help myself. I wanted to take control.

Losing my health put a different perspective on everything in my life. It was a blessing in disguise. The experience humbled me and helped me to develop humility and strength I never knew I had in me. It triggered my interest in herbs, nutrition, natural remedies, meditation & the power of the mind, the power of focus & healing ways of thinking. What I’ve learned to help myself later I was able to use to help other people. I realised my passion was to work with people and make a difference in their lives. I just had to find new ways of doing it, not as a journalist any more. I had no idea what to do, but knew that speaking languages could open up more doors.

In 1990 I booked a 3 month course in London to learn English. On the day my provisional visa arrived, I realised I was pregnant. It was a big dilemma – should I stay or should I go?I decided to go. Things got complicated later with my pregnancy, so my husband followed me and after my son was born here in London, we decided to stay in the UK. I had a gut feeling that something good would happen for us here. And it did. The beginning was tough. We left behind successful careers and a high status in Polish society and here it was just us, no friends or family around and no one cared how many qualifications we had from Polish universities. It was a huge lifestyle change, downgrading, downsizing…combination of many humbling & humiliating experiences. They did affect my confidence a bit. I was treated by some people like nobody, purely on the basis that I was a foreigner and spoke broken English. It took a lot of hard work, determination and a lot of mental strength to survive struggles and challenges on our journey to rebuild life in a new country. But I never complained. I accepted the challenges and understood that my initial simple jobs here were not defining me as a person. At that time they were for me the best jobs in the world, because they helped me to keep the roof over our heads and to put food on the table every day and they paid for our studies here. I knew the struggles would not last forever and the life would get better if I keep going.

Memories from your childhood!

Most of my childhood memories are happy ones. I was the only child and was spoiled by my family with an abundance of love and kindness. I remember Sunday dinners and the smells of my Mum’s delicious cooking. My amazing dog I received on my third birthday. Beautiful Polish mountain resorts, where we spent winter holidays every year. Warm summers at the Baltic Sea and at my aunt’s farm. I remember running around like a boy with my cousins, climbing trees, showing off with pride many scratches and bruises on my legs and arms. – I was born a city girl but I felt the happiest close to nature and animals.

There were few dramatic memories in my childhood too: I remember blood on my knees after a fall when I was running fast to hug my Mum, she was in the hospital after her first of the many (later to come) operations related to cancers and tumours.

I remember my stay in the hospital when I was diagnosed with kidney problems. And I vividly remember my school trip to Auschwitz at 11, where on one of the walls I saw a picture of my grandad who was killed there. It was incredibly moving and dramatic experience that has left a mark on me for life.

What being a woman means to you

Being a woman is to be the heart and soul of the family. The tower of strength and a peacemaker, able to smooth any arguments. A role model for my son and support for my husband. It is about being loving, understanding, caring and feminine. Able to express my sensitive and vulnerable side, while being a strong and independent career woman, driven by my dreams to inspire people and light up their hearts with love.

Your business story

I never thought I would have my own business but when in 1992 I heard of a health and nutrition company looking for bilingual people to help with their expansion, it felt like a sign. I went to an opportunity meeting and fell in love with the idea of having a business helping people with their health and wellbeing and building my own health and a better financial future for my family at the same time. This company sounded like a missing puzzle in my quest to find my new career, new mission in life and so I joined. I started with nothing (zero capital, no bank account, no car and no telephone) but quickly progressed and was soon leading presentations in front of a few hundred people. I spent hours preparing myself, learning new vocabulary quickly, trying to get as ready, as well prepared and as perfect as I could, to deliver the best for people in the audience. I wasn’t afraid of public speaking, thanks to my experiences in Poland, but presenting on the stage in a second language was another matter.

I was conscious of mistakes in my pronunciation and I desperately wanted to articulate well so people could understand me speaking, so they could like me and accept me like an equal, not a foreigner. It was the time in my life when I was trying to regain my confidence as a professional in a new environment, in a new country. I knew what I could do in Polish, the question was could I deliver the same high standard in English? It was a challenge and a test for my skills. My palms were sweaty before each presentation but I was able relax when I started to speak and be in the moment. I absolutely love inspiring people and helping them embrace a Healthy Active Lifestyle, raising awareness of how what we eat and how we think impacts our energy levels, overall wellbeing and performance in our personal and professional lives.

Joining Herbalife started me on a journey to become a leader, a speaker, an entrepreneur and the author of the upcoming book ‘Stop Dieting, Start Eating’. I love to see my clients getting results, transforming their lives; to see my team members growing in confidence, believing in themselves, achieving their goals.  I feel grateful I had the opportunity to learn directly from famous scientists, including a Nobel Laureate Dr Louis Ignarro and from great thinkers of our time, like Jim Rohn, Les Brown, Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins and many more.

The most important thing in life to you

To me it all comes down to personal development. This helps to me to be the greatest mum I can be, to live the truth and make a difference in people’s lives. It teaches me how to see the best in everyone, to express more love, kindness and gratitude in my life. It is about a constant and never ending improvement and about genuine love for people. The kind of love that doesn’t expect anything in return.

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Your biggest fear

I have struggled with many fears – fear of flying, lifts, spiders, crowds, fear of dying, not having enough money, etc. It took me a long time to realise, that fear will always be out there, lurking in the shadows of my mind, waiting for a sign of weakness, to take control of my thoughts, paralyse my actions and to create more fear, doubts and limitations. I’m deeply grateful I have found mentors, like Jim Rohn, Dr Wayne Dyer, Dr John Demartini, Wallace D. Wattles, who over the years, guided me and showed me ways how to control my mind and conquer my fears, one by one. It has been an incredibly humbling and liberating experience. The process wasn’t easy, but the more I studied personal development and human behaviour, the more I learned about myself and found new ways of thinking and reacting to things that happen to us all every day in life. Now I serve people with strategies I’ve learned and I can apply them anytime the fear knocks on my door again.

Your biggest achievement

The biggest achievement of my life is my son. I’m truly blessed with an amazing mother-son relationship I have with him. He is the love of my life. I’m grateful I conquered my fears, rebuilt my life in a new country and have a career that allows me to grow and do what I love the most. I had the privilege to work as the Nutrition Sponsor of two 65 Degrees North expeditions that successfully recorded the ‘World’s First Unsupported Crossing of the Greenland Ice Cap by an Amputee’ and completed the ‘Kili Challenge’. I started running at the age of 50 and went from an untrained runner to now running ultra-marathons helping raise funds for Blesma, The Limbless Veterans Charity. I’ve organized the Contribution Conference #CC16, a one day unique conference bringing to the stage Legendary Heroes alongside Experts and Entrepreneurs, with the aim to inspire and teach business strategies and raise funds for BLESMA, in the spirit of ‘Giving – Inspiring – Achieving’

What is happiness for you and where do you find it?

Happiness is a choice, a way of thinking and being. It comes from living my life with purpose, learning and enjoying things I love. It is being at peace with myself, being grateful for the past, for what I have and trusting the future. I find happiness in many simple things – when I give, help people and see their progress. I’m happy when I meditate, sing my favourite songs and when I feel the sensation of cold ice-cream melting in my mouth. I am happy when I look with pride at my son and when I lose myself looking into the eyes of the man I love.

The dream that you haven’t achieved yet

Despite my successes, I messed up a lot and haven’t achieved many of my dreams yet. I don’t regret anything and believe that my dreams will come true when the time is right. Plus I’m not a quitter and I’m sure I will achieve them one by one. I’m especially looking forward to climbing Kilimanjaro, exploring Argentina, Quatar, Thailand and many other fascinating countries.

In 10 years time

It is 2026 – I’m still doing what I love, making a difference in people’s lives, promoting total wellbeing and personal growth, helping people to solve their challenges. I’ve built wealth that enables me to support great causes and give back to communities and people I care about. I’m the coolest grandma on the block, loving, fit and healthy. I have a charisma of a woman who lived well and feel blessed to have the love of the man I love and adore.

I’m grateful for an inquisitive mind that helped me to develop a strong, independent and candid personality. I’m not afraid to express my emotions. I have the courage to be imperfect and the mistakes I make, and I do make many, I treat as great lessons helping me to grow and become better. When I mess things up, I never stop until I clear the air and find a happy solution. Working with people shaped my character. It brought more joy, humanity, compassion and understanding into my life. I realised I was too tough on myself and on people close to me, expecting perfection all the time. The truth is we need more love & kindness in the world. We all experience struggles, tough times and disappointments. We need someone to tell us it’s going to be ok, we need someone to support and believe in us more than we do believe in ourselves. I’m passionate about helping people. That’s why I absolutely love what I do and I’m grateful I can. 

Stella Fehmi

The biggest achievment is my daughter  

If were to describe Stella with five words it will definitely be: kind, tenacious, considerate, fun, positive. She is extremely driven, but also very laid back. With many different facets to her makeup; physically, emotionally and ethically, she likes being Stella Fehmi. She takes ownership of where she is today. Stella has been through many hardships and spent way too long on the emotional roller coaster ride of life but feels she has become more comfortable in her own skin and continues to learn and thrive in order to help others achieve what they want. She leads from her intuition these days, rather than a documented business plan.

 

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Photo Credit: Franco Cruzat

The influence of your birthplace

It’s not so much a case of where I was born, but how the different cultures in my upbringing have influenced me. My father is a typical (old school) Greek Cypriot, and my mother, who is English, is strong, independent and fiercely protective of my brother but a homemaker too. Her love and support made me who I am today. My father made me do many things, I didn’t want to do, like going to a Greek Orthodox School every Saturday. I had a difficult relationship with my father and this made me resent him for it. I look back at how aggrieved I felt when it came to my education; as a young woman in this highly regimented environment there was no chance of having a normal social life, and I feel I missed out on lots of things that are normal, healthy, and important for a young woman whilst growing up. Maybe I consider myself fortunate to be born here but you can be born anywhere and be successful. I believe it is more down to who you are and your mindset.

Both my younger brother and I were born in England but brought up as Greek Cypriots, along with my other half-siblings and I feel that the reasons I have strong ethnic beliefs is not just because of who I am culturally but because of the area I grew up in. From a very early age I was mixing and relishing the company of a diverse mixture of nationalities and just getting along with everyone, no questions asked. As I grew older I realised how this experience added huge value to my life and my understanding of people’s needs. I like mixing with other groups and cultures, they add spice and colour to my life (and I love the different styles of music and dance!).

Memories from your childhood!

With mixed emotions really. My childhood was difficult. A father’s role is important in shaping your future and as a role model. Through him I did not experience a normal upbringing. There was a great deal of unhappiness in my younger years. His views were very rigid and inflexible; I was not allowed to go out, I was not allowed to have friends, or even get my ears pierced. As a small child, life was normal but a child grows up and gets a voice, which is where the trouble began. I was never able to have a conversation with him, in fact, I have not spoken to him in 19 years. He has showed no interest in my life at all. All I wanted was his love and encouragement and for him to be proud of me. Instead, he stripped me of my confidence and self-esteem, being afraid to ask him for anything. I regained my confidence through exercise and the moment I was able to get a driving license – box ticked – I raced towards freedom. Once I left school and got a new job, it was the beginning of a new me. Despite my resentment towards him he actually gave me the determination and passion to succeed. Along with all that, he did make a good cup of Greek tea and a great kebab! In contrast, my mum is my rock. She was and still is a good, positive and loving figure in my life. She has encouraged me in so many ways, always inspiring me to pick myself up and get on with things. She was always there for me in the best way she could be, despite having my severely disabled younger brother to look after who occupied a great deal of her time. I learned so much from watching my mum with my younger brother that it influenced the way I brought up my daughter.

My younger brother obviously took up a lot of all our time but through him I have learned to put things into perspective. He lives a life of so little yet has so much love in him that is a magnet to others and through him we have met some incredible people who have helped him live life to the full. I have all the things my brother has not; I can see, I can walk, I can eat and I can speak. I don’t take this for granted and this has made me humble in all aspects of my life because he does not complain in a world where most of us do over the littlest things. I have learned so much from him; he is a fighter and has a wonderful zest for life. Just like in my adult life, my childhood was filled with many positives and negatives, which made me into the person I am today.

What being a woman means to you

To be a woman, is learning to become the best version of you. To really step into your feminine power and own your inner goddess. It’s a knowing, it’s deep inside and yet some of us are not awakened to it even now. You start to give a damn! More than having a big booty like Kim Kardashian! Putting your own looks together, being authentic and having a sense of purpose, is what being a woman is about. I genuinely want to create a life to help people and put back into the community by helping the next generation onwards and upwards. It’s about sharing wisdom with this next generation. It is important for women to continue to strive for their equal place in the world. Being a woman has many elements, from being a mother, daughter, friend and businesswoman we wear so many hats and try to excel at all. Being a woman is one of the most wonderful gifts we have been given. I feel empowered and I love it. I like to feel feminine. I like that some days we can feel we can take on the world but the next completely vulnerable. Taking care of my health including; clean eating, exercise and meditation are important to me. If people see me taking care of myself they know I will take care of them in business too.

Meditating also prepares my mind for the day ahead and I can feel the mental results immediately, being a woman is about being human, there is nothing wrong with shedding the odd tear or two, God knows I have done it enough. All the women around me or at least the women I look up to have a lot in common – they have successful careers, they may be married, they are mothers, and they are heavily involved in their communities. How do we do it? No one knows it is just ingrained in us. A lot about being a woman is about how much we rely on happiness to show us how we feel about ourselves and live our day to day lives. So I think you can see I quite enjoy being a woman and I love the woman I am becoming too.

Your business story

Ultimately I wanted the same as everyone else. I did all the right things; I thought was supposed to do. I went to school. I got the qualifications, worked hard, got on the corporate ladder but all I kept thinking was – and now what? I always felt like there should be something more and then one day something in me changed and I connected with myself in such a way that allowed me to see myself for the first time. I began to ask the questions, deliver the answers, learn, grow, and expanded my thinking, whilst challenging my beliefs and the way I looked at the world. I have always been ambitious and I realised that this was my time. So fate stepped in. I was made redundant from my 9-5 job (I was also a freelance fitness instructor so still would have an income wasn’t as risqué as it sounds!).

In a way I always had a taste for ‘doing it for myself’, and when made redundant it was the push I needed to embrace being my own boss. In 2010, I had the opportunity to purchase a franchise The Athena Network – City and West Essex Region so I went for it and I have never looked back. I love the ethos of Athena, their values are the same as mine and I am able to nurture, inspire and motivate other women in business bringing them together for mutual benefit and business synergy. Running your own business is tough and you continually learn to adapt, develop your own integrity, and maintain control of your own space. Being part of a network was the start of something bigger, the opportunities in networking has enabled a new business venture Businessworx. Businessworx is the ‘helping hand’ for small businesses who are ready to delegate and outsource some of their day to day work allowing them to concentrate on building up their businesses. Simply we supply all their staffing solutions, virtually. I feel my business story is still evolving and what was once my purpose is moving into other areas of equal importance to me. There are exciting times ahead but until then its business as usual. The secret of my success I believe is that my drive is still there. I want to achieve so much more for women, and men of course, in business, and I will continue to work towards that in one way or another – always.

The most important thing to you

Without a doubt my daughter. Always has and always will be. Through her I know what real love is and I have to strive to find the balance between being the perfect mum and the perfect career woman because work has always been important to me too. It was necessary for me to find a career, which I could fit around my daughter as I am a single parent, but now she is grown-up and at university our needs are different. I have more time to focus on other things which can take more precedence in my life now she doesn’t need me quite so much. Today, my daughter and I are happy and healthy and that is all I can ask for. That unconditional love you have for a child makes you want to do good in the world. Wanting to protect her and give her a loving and warm home was so important to me. I emphasise how critical a loving and supportive home is for one’s children and both professionally and personally I have done everything I could to provide this for her. Unfortunately people become single parents for many reasons: the loss of a partner, the breakdown of a relationship, whatever the circumstances, it’s a hard road to go down but I have never regretted my decision and it gave me the drive to succeed at work. Being a mother is the most important and most scary job I’ve ever had to do. Friendship is important to me too and I am now striving to spend more quality time with my family and friends. I have learnt a lot about myself through things that are important to me and I will continue to learn.

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Your biggest fear

Gulp, honestly, my biggest fear is sharing my story, the good the bad and the ugly. Will it change people’s perception of me? Feeling vulnerable through telling my story. I am a closed book normally and asking for help is another huge fear factor. I feel it’s a weakness but I’m learning that asking is actually a strength. I’m much better at promoting someone else than myself; I find it difficult to step into the limelight, though people think I am the limelight, as my job often requires me to be. I fear not reaching my true potential but in the words of Susan Jeffers “Feel the fear and do it anyway” so I do and so far so good.

Your biggest achievement

Without a shadow of doubt, my biggest achievement is my daughter. She has grown up to be a beautiful young lady inside and out, with a lovely disposition. She is polite, respectful and full of love. Workwise there have been many I am pleased to say. I led many big projects during my years in the corporate world. I have trained lots of people to reach their health and fitness goals: Given a presentation at an event and got over public speaking worries (see below!). And raised huge amounts of money for charities and have helped others to succeed, for example, by teaching them a new skill set etc.

Public speaking is my biggest achievement. My first speaking engagement was at The Business Show at Olympia. I was so nervous but I spoke and presented a talk about the Cloud and the landscape of business and how it is always changing. I got through it and I was so relieved, everyone clapped and even asked questions after so I must have been eloquent enough to get the message across. To think that one of my fears is public speaking, this is definitely a great achievement. May 2016 Marketing Expo at Excel together with Businessworx took on a whole street of exhibitors with a view to bringing things back to community and connecting with like-minded people in a buzzing environment which was a success. I recently took part in a Brexit debate held at a well-known Solicitors in London, Osbornes, speaking to MPs including Michelle Ovens MBE, EU for small businesses.

Through my Global Woman connections I have had many opportunities and achieved so much, including being a judge on the advisory board at the Migrant Woman Awards to an MC role at the first ever – Contribution Conference 2016.

Countless charity events have been at the forefront of my achievements and I always try to get involved personally too not just donate but try and help raise money with my business profile. Recent events include: March 2016 I walked over burning coals for Haven House children’s hospice, I am officially a firewalker! I was invited to the House of Commons with the Brainwave Charity. Other charities include: St Claire’s Hospice; St Francis Hospice; Children’s Heart Federation; Echo and Walk the Loop. I was featured in an article in the Migrant Woman publication back in 2014 and was honoured to have been asked to be part of it. I am proud of my heritage and it meant a lot to me. I have always been about the empowerment of women and I don’t want to lose sight of that, I feel I am achieving this through my role as figurehead of Businessworx and the Athena Network and of course through all the wonderful women I meet along the way.

What is happiness for you and where do you find it?

Happiness is contentment and peace, which I find through meditation and spending time with family and friends. It’s what makes me get out of bed in the mornings. Simple things make me happy, the luxury of time to spend in the garden with a good book, prepare and cook food, quality time spent with my daughter. Trips to the theatre or cinema or just listening and enjoying good music. Maybe a day at the spa with girlfriends which I never get the chance to do, that would make me happy and I have one in the pipeline! I have a soft spot for chocolate covered Brazil nuts too, I haven’t got a very sweet tooth but I love Brazil nuts they definitely are a temptation I can’t resist! I am content with my life and what I’ve achieved so far. There is only one life and I have lots left to do. I do want more time for myself so on the rare occasions that I get to step off the merry go round and just sit back and relax, I get to wind-down with a good book, and quiet, that’s all I need. Life can be so hectic and everyone is ‘busy-busy’ and sometimes we just need to be still and appreciate the moment which is exactly where I want to be.

What is a dream that you haven’t achieved yet?

I have yet to achieve the luxury of just having time to do the things I want to do, travel to the places around the world that are on my list to see. The dream of living in a peaceful world. The dream of seeing my daughter succeed in her life. I am embracing getting older and the wisdom it gives me so whilst I still have dreams it is so important to live for the now and appreciate what I already have; I guess I am pretty low maintenance really. Well, maybe not all the time! Everybody has a calling, and I am living my dream. I have had success in my life sure but now I know what I am meant to be doing. I am using this life that I have been given, that is my calling and my dream is to use my life to serve the world and the people in it. I’m vested in doing anything I can to help celebrate women, encourage them in business and promote equality in the workplace.

In 10 years time

A well respected (retired) successful businessperson. I plan a more simple life and the chance to reap what I have sown. I want to make a difference and help to stop the exploitation of this planet and the people on it. To make the world a more peaceful place to live in for generations to come and let the people in it be united in their goals and not fighting for recognition or greed. I would love to be a peacemaker. I am fascinated with the ancient history of Greece and I would love to finally retreat in to the shell of my inner goddess. To live in the sunshine; eat great food, write, read and live life to the full. The older I become things just seem simpler; I want to give love and make this world a happier place to live in. If I make one person smile today and raise another through inspiration and motivation, then I am doing what I am meant to be doing

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This quote by Maya Angelou has always resonated with me. Sometimes in life it is not all about what you say or do, it’s about the relationships you have with people and indeed the way you make them feel. Finally, through my role in Businessworx I would like to engage in strategic partnerships, perhaps as an Ambassador for women in business and I fully intend to use my experience to help companies I am involved in reaching global expansion by selling their services and products to international audiences.   Connecting them with the right contacts, understanding their dynamics, practices and models to deliver amazing results. For me personally, a fresh attempt at overseas growth is on the horizon too and this is where I see my future, I have a few opportunities in the pipeline and am just biding my time.

I am a doer and not afraid of hard work, I know I have to get up in the morning and put 2 feet out, one in front of the other, and keep going. Much like the saying says “get up get dressed and get out!” Like my mother I have a quiet steely determination but I have the Mediterranean ability to flare up and let someone know they’ve upset me too! Transformation is playing a big part in who I am right now and shaping me for my future. I am a giver to others but rarely to myself and I am trying to rectify that now which is harder than it seems.

 

I am learning to take compliments rather than deflect them, by simply replying ‘thank you’ is a first step. Spirituality has played a big part of my transformation and I make a point of being grateful for everything and everyone around me. This helps me to lift not only my spirits, but others I meet along the way and I like to be the one with the positive, good energy no matter what I face, defying the stereotype of women in business who are often labelled negatively for being powerful and strong.

I try to always see the good in people, I can procrastinate (a lot) but once I make a decision, right or wrong, I stick to it. I am known in my inner circles as something of a chameleon too, I adapt easily and make the best of a bad situation.

Being loyal, going the extra mile and being trustworthy are great traits to possess and I have used these assets in all my professional and personal relationships, motivating people to be their best is what I am good at and I get great satisfaction from helping others.

Nothing especially bothers me unless it is family related. People either like you, or they don’t. It is what it is! (Another, saying I repeat a lot). Life is very short I try to be the best I can be each day, and treat everyone as an equal. 

AnYes Van Rhijn

HAPPINESS is enjoying the journey 

From the angle of the usual labels: she the mother of two young adults. AnYes is divorced, the eldest of six, and a business owner. AnYes is a French citizen who has been strongly influenced by her Dutch roots. She has moved to London from France one year ago. “If we take a deeper look: I’ve had a lifetime pattern of sacrificing myself for others. I’ve now understood that all I was doing in fact was “buying” love and recognition:” AnYes says. Until recently she has also always done her best to be as invisible as possible by fear of being judged. She has now (almost) totally embraced her vulnerability and authenticity and stands for her values, firmly believing in the power of collaboration. AnYes is at her best when she can help others bloom and connect to who they truly are. She completely agrees with Brendon Burchard when he says that at the end of our life there are only three questions that need to be answered: Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?

 

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Photo Credit: Franco Cruzat

The influence of your birthplace

I was born in is France but my roots are Dutch. I have lived in both countries and both have shaped who I am. The cultures of these countries are very different. I can see clearly what part of me is French and what part is Dutch. As a professional person I’m very driven, structured, organised, results oriented, which is clearly the Dutch in me. It’s as a woman that I’m definitely very French. I hear it all the time: “You look so French”. It’s hard to define what that means, it’s that “French Je ne sais quoi” I guess!

Moving to another place

I left a toxic relationship that left me without any resources. I chose to see it as a unique opportunity to reconsider all my choices in life and business. I had always let others and circumstances define my life and I no longer wanted that. I needed to decide where to live next and chose to move to London. On 21 July 2015 I took a leap of faith and arrived at fifty-eight with two suitcases, no income, and eight-weeks worth of house-sitting. From there the ball started rolling and within six months I managed to be up and running again!

Memories from your childhood

I’m the eldest of six and I was taught from a very young age that I was responsible for my siblings. That has defined how I’ve always related to others… Always taking charge. I also grew up bilingual and bicultural and with two cultures that are so different I never felt completely Dutch nor completely French. That is probably the reason why I felt European before the European Union existed (back then all there was the Benelux).

What being a woman means to you

I have always been fascinated by women, I wouldn’t – not in my wildest dreams – want to be a man. Being a woman for me is daring in using the power of my so called soft skills to live my life to its fullest potential. It is about transmitting to my children and to those around me my values of Love, support, collaboration and freedom of choice. It is about taking charge of my own life, be daring and not letting anyone tell me that my dream is impossible.

Your business story

I worked in the corporate world for twenty-five years. When I reached forty I had that nagging feeling that there had to be more to life, but I had no idea what I wanted instead. I became a coach. Everyone was pushing me towards Executive Coaching because of my corporate background and experience. So that is what I did when I set up my business back in 2008. I developed my own holistic framework and started selling my programmes, all geared towards leadership development and change management. But I had that nagging feeling again… Once more, I couldn’t put a name on it. It took me a few more years to understand that it was my fear of financial insecurity that led me to work with corporate clients. I revisited my framework, replaced the career components with business elements. I’m now doing what I was really meant to do: help female entrepreneurs and small business owners create success (however they define it) but on their own terms. That is why my business is called Success On Your Own Terms.

The most important thing in life to you

When people operate from a place of fear, they protect themselves and the most common way to do so is to be aggressive towards others. I help women step into the driver’s seat of their lives so that they can own it. One of the key elements to achieve that is to identify the place of fear in our life and learn to use it as a fuel instead of letting it paralyse us. Women are raising the next generation, and if they transmit this idea to their children and using the ripple effect, we can make this world a better place.

Your biggest fear

I would say that my biggest fear is for my children to be in harm’s way. Being a firm believer in the law of attraction, I don’t want to attract that thought by considering it as something that could happen.

Your biggest achievement
My biggest achievement to date (other than my two amazing children that I’m so proud of, of course) is having reinvented my life at fifty-eight. I arrived homeless and penniless in the UK. I challenged the odds, I concentrated on what I had (yes, even when you have nothing left, you have a lot if you know where to look!), I thought out of the box and most of all I stepped beyond my fear and used it as a fuel instead of a hindrance.

 

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What is happiness for you and where do you find it?

Happiness is about enjoying the journey, not just focusing on the end destination. It is enjoying the little things as well as the big ones. It is about filling your days with gratitude and focusing on what works instead of what doesn’t. I also love the saying: it is not being happy that makes you smile it is smiling that makes you happy. It sums it up beautifully.

What is a dream that you haven’t achieved yet?

Create a certification programme for my framework. I want to teach it to other coaches and mentors so that it can benefit to more people with the power of the ripple effect.

In 10 years time

I see myself being still very active, spreading the word of Love all around me, being a role model for other women and inspiring them to go after their dreams. I also will be actively participating in co-creating a better world.

 

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