My Story*

Adversity | Love | Motherhood | Business | Mission

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A piece of ribbon that would change my life forever

Growing up, I had a happy childhood.  Loving parents, one sister, one brother, a Golden Labrador called Guy. 

Life all seemed fairly straight foward and 'normal' (whatever 'normal' was in my mind back in those days).

But life was about to dramaticlly change, forever...

If you had been with me on March 23rd 2003, sat next to me on a train returning home from London staring at a small piece of ribbon in my hand, and I’d told you what I knew about that piece of ribbon, it may well have changed your life forever too!

First come back in time with me, ten years earlier, where as a university student, I’d already met the first love of my life: Business!  University was a great time, I made some wonderful friends, but I was already very focused and ambitious:

I didn’t want to get married…

I didn’t want children…

I wanted a career!

I remember how convinced I was when I said to my closest university friends “Children, no way, there’s no way I can have the sort of career I want and have children.  I bet you dinner at the Ritz that I will never have children”. As a poor student that was the most extravagant thing I could imagine!

When we graduated, all my friends went travelling, not me, I launched my career!

A meteoric rise

I’d started work in Marketing, in a high-tech company based in Sophia Antipolis, France (often referred to as the ‘French Silicon Valley’). My career went from strength to strength: I did postgraduate business studies, I was frequently promoted, and led teams on high-profile, big budget projects. I was already very successful and moved into the world of Business Consulting!

I lost my university bet! Having met my husband, we’d started a family. When my daughter was born, I enjoyed my 6 months maternity leave, but I remember how ‘desperate’ I was to get back to work.

It wasn’t always easy.  Business consulting was a very male-dominated world to work in.  I was only 1 of a handful of women out of 150 consultants, and by my late 20’s I was managing men 20 years my senior. Awkward!  (They soon got used to me ha ha).

There were moments when this rate of progression and level of success felt quite scary, but my hard work and love for what I did paid off, literally…I had an army of people taking care of things for me (gardener, housekeeper…), I had become the main breadwinner of the family.  My career was really rewarding, I got a great sense of satisfaction from my work and I felt proud of my professional success.

Things were relatively easy in the beginning. With only one child I juggled everything without too many problems.  But as time passed, our family and careers grew and so too did the challenges.  My roles became more and more demanding, and with another child came increasing family demands.  I had more and more to do with seemingly less time to do it.  Luckily, my project management and organisational skills were my saving grace at that time.

By the time I turned thirty, to anyone looking in from the outside, I’d already cracked it…

I had the fantastic job title

The huge salary

The amazing lifestyle

I had it ALL!

But that was about to change…

It was the start of a normal working week for me, my alarm went off at the usual time and I went through my usual routine getting ready to leave for a day at the office.

As I walked out the door to leave for work, I turned around to see my beautiful 3-year-old daughter playing and laughing with my housekeeper.

I had all the success in the world, but she had time with my daughter.

It was in that moment, I realised…I was JEALOUS OF MY HOUSEKEEPER

The email that changed everything

The global consulting company I worked for, picked a handful of people to take part in a six-month ‘Peak Performance’ programme to be ‘fast-tracked’ within the organisation.  I remember how privileged I felt to be part of that group. As I read the email invitation, something told me deep down this was a huge opportunity that would change my life. How right I was!

The first weekend of the programme, I sat on the train travelling home from London, staring at a small piece of ribbon in my hand.  “This isn’t right” I thought to myself “Something has to change”. I was gripped by a sense of fear and guilt I had never known before.

I can still picture myself clutching that piece of golden ribbon. As a busy executive Mum, the ‘Ribbon of Life’ story, so simple yet immensely powerful, had touched me profoundly. 

That Golden Ribbon moment changed my life, and it's a simple yet powerful story I now share with others in highlighting the importance getting things right in your business, of finding your true purpose, the costs of remaining stuck in the status quo and above all, the importance of always pursuing your OWN definition of success. 

The ‘Peak Performance’ training was designed to fuel transformation and success within a male-dominated business paradigm. At the time, I didn’t realise I only held a small piece of the jigsaw in my hand.  After the training, shaken into action by the impact of the ‘Ribbon of Life’ metaphor, I did two things in the month that followed… one of which brought joy, while the other taught me my most important life lesson to date…the hard way!

The best and worst times

The first thing I decided, thankfully, was to have another child, something I really wanted deep down but had been putting off, fearing the impact on my career and my ability to cope.

However, I also made the decision to walk away from my corporate career and follow my husband in his dream of setting up his own gastronomic restaurant in a small village in the South of France.  Now you may be asking, what on earth could be so bad about that?  Following your husband’s dream, all being together as a family, starting your own family business in the South of France?  Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?

Although the restaurant was a huge success financially and we saw more of each other (as we lived above the restaurant), I can honestly say it was the worst time of my life.  For the first time ever I felt lost, trapped, and overwhelmed.

Wasn’t I at least seeing more of my children?  Yes, but therein laid the problem; ‘seeing’ my children, was not ‘being’ with my children, I was so frustrated, stressed and overwhelmed that when I did spend time with my children, I was far from being the best version of myself and actually had very little left to give them.

I’ve often reflected on this period, trying to figure out why it was such a difficult time for me.  I’d always worked, was used to working very hard while juggling everything.  I’d spent years working in restaurants as a student to finance my studies, so I knew the problem wasn’t the job itself.

After two years of pushing myself to continue down this path, I eventually burned out both emotionally and physically.  With all the alarm bells ringing, we sold the restaurant and my biggest life lesson had been well and truly learned…there was more to this success formula than I thought.

 

The lesson that changed my life forever

I gave myself a couple of years to recharge my batteries, I attempted to make up for ‘lost time’ with my children and returned to my own ‘path’ with a deepened passion for self-development and self-discovery, and to pin down this illusive formula for successful combining our professional fulfilment, motherhood and personal happiness we all seek as working and entrepreneurial mothers.

What I came to understand, is that my decision to leave my job and start up a business wasn’t a choice I made from a sense of passion or purpose, it was a ‘way out’ driven by fear, guilt and a sense of what I ought to be doing.

With a renewed understanding of the importance of pursuing my own dreams, purpose and passions, I spent the next 10 years living and working all over the world with my family; five countries over three continents, I was very successful, working in various senior management roles, running voluntary projects, and most importantly for me…starting and running my own businesses.  Always continuing to deepen my understanding and practice of the formula for achieving my own definition of success and balance.

In 2010, my world was shattered when I lost my husband of 17 years. At the age of 37, I returned to the UK with a single suitcase, two children, no credit history (having lived abroad since the age of 21), and nowhere to live. For the first six months the children and me slept on the floor of my grandmother’s front room. We were literally starting from scratch.

Having moved back to the UK after sixteen years spent abroad, I decided to train in personal transformation life coaching and small business coaching. After listening to one particular recording, I remember hearing the quote from the Dalai Lama at the Vancouver Peace Summit in 2009 as saying ‘The World will be saved by the Western Woman’, and I just knew what my next and most important job had to be.

The day Mpower was conceived

After a year of getting back on my feet and piecing together the lives of my children and myself I was ready to pursue what I knew was my true life purpose of using my own personal experience, business expertise and coaching skills to help other working and business Mums, and that’s when Mpower began.

As a business coach and mentor I loved working one-to-one with my clients and running various different workshops and events. As my community grew and I could see just how many mums were struggling to get their dream business out of their heads and into the world and get the results and the clients they deserved, I knew I needed to find a way to reach and help more women and make the support they needed as affordable and accessible as possible, and the seeds for Mpower were sown.

I had been running an event in central London which included a 'mini' masterminding session, and I could see the magic it was creating.  I was frustrated that all of the existing mastermind groups seemed to be so elitist and 'reserved' for those who had already been in business a certain amount of time or reached a certain level of success and could afford £5k, £10k, £50k+ for a year's membership. 

Being part of a mastermind group is one of THE most powerful ways to ensure success in business, and I knew I absolutely had to make masterminding accessible and affordable to women in the earlier stages of their business journey.  I also knew from my personal experience and from all of the women I had coached and mentored, that business success does not happen in isolation from the rest of your life.  I knew that the real power and magic of the mastermind groups I had started came from the 'holistic' nature of the groups.  Yes - these are business mastermind groups, but often in order to succeed in business we also need support to address and improve in other important areas of our life, for example: parenting, relationships, health, finances, confidence, mindset, friendships, self-care, etc.

Looking back, the first five years after my return to the UK continued to teach me some very powerful lessons; spending time as a single mother, parenting a special needs child, raising a blended family, escaping an emotionally abusive relationship to name but a few.

Truly understanding and mastering what it took to create true success, even when life is dealing you some major blows, which bring you to your knees, has enabled me to take control of my life through authentic choices and purposeful action aligned with my deepest values, and to prosper and be happy in the face of life’s ups and downs whilst being successful in business and raising truly amazing children. 

They say “life begins at forty”, and this was about to ring true for me, although my saying goes “Life begins at 42!”

As a result of what I have learned and lived over the years, combined with my formal training and qualifications in business, marketing, life coaching and project management, I founded unique programmes for women who want to create a successful business and have a great quality of life. 

Within two years of starting my coaching business:

  • I got my first VIP client before I’d even had time to launch my website
  • I have smashed all my financial goals
  • I’ve won multiple awards including “Most inspiring Coach/Mentor,” “New Business of the Year” and national finalist for “Best Supporting Business”
  • My work has been featured on international TV
  • My client books have been consistently full working exclusively with my ideal clients
  • I am regularly invited to give talks to amazing audiences (my most recent talk was to share my ingredients for success with 120 coaches and changemakers at a summit in London)
  • I was even invited to a “Women of The Year” luncheon in Sussex with Lady Camilla and Sir Winston Churchill’s granddaughter because of what I’ve achieved through my work

Last month (as I write this) I sent out invoices for £8k. 

Now this is not “build a 6 or 7 figure business overnight” hype, and perhaps £8k/month doesn’t sound like a lot of money to you…but for me it’s not really about the money…it’s more than that, money is just one part of my personal definition of success.  It’s actually more about HOW I was able to achieve, particularly given the circumstances:

The £8k invoices I sent out were only 3 clients
They were sent out just having taken 6 weeks complete holiday (which I do every year)
I only work 25-30 hours a week, being a single Mum this balance and flexibility is crucial
I had just been through THE most challenging and traumatic year of my personal life

I am often asked “How do you do it?” and asked to share the secrets of my success.  Which is exactly what I’ll do with you. Before I do, I need to let you into a few important secrets first:

Secret number one…

I’m, nothing special – REALLY REALLY... I’m nothing special (of course my Mum would totally disagree, but she is totally biased)…

I’m just me

I’m just a Mum

I was once a newbie to being in business for myself…just like you.

Secret number two…

Well actually it’s not a secret, because I’ve just touched on it in my story I’ve just shared with you…I’ve had it really tough!!!

It’s easy when we look at others to assume that they somehow have something we don’t, that they had it easier, a head start, more money, a lucky break, some unfair advantage/opportunity that we don’t have.

As I mentioned earlier, when I started my most recent business journey, I really was starting from SCRATCH!

I started my current business, not even from scratch, but from “Ground Zero,” a financial, logistical and emotional complete GROUND ZERO!

Today, not only does my business continue to go from strength to strength but my personal life does too:

  • I have two happy, confident and amazing children who are totally thriving and who blow my mind away daily with how truly awesome they are. 
  • I have met the love of my life, Graham Wilson.
  • I have gone from “the girl who couldn’t run to save her life” to being able to run 8.5 miles within 2 months, and entering a half-marathon in March 2016 (that’s 13 miles, yay).
  • I conquered a life-long fear of public speaking and within 12 months was invited to 10 professional speaking gigs, including a 40 minute talk to an audience of 120 at a London summit, and my now my aim is to do a TED Talk!

No matter how successful you may have been in your previous career, no matter how many business degrees you have or where you were educated, and no matter how talented, driven and smart you are, we all need the 10Ps to succeed and enjoy success!

Over the past 20+ years if there’s one thing that I’ve learnt it’s that anything is possible with the right support. Some people ask why do I work with mums in particular. Well, apart from the fact I understand the challenges, being a mum myself, I strongly believe that the rock and the glue of a family is often mum. If you empower mum, by default you help the next generation.

Mpower isn’t just a business to me. It’s a calling, my soul purpose. Its what my whole business journey has been about…gaining the business experience, know-how and life lessons to be able to empower and touch the lives of a million other women and help them transform their lives and that of their families in the most amazing way.

I look forward to working with you.

Love Nic xx

P.S. If you really knew me you’d know:

  • I can’t cook
  • I love twiglets and eating uncooked porridge oats
  • I found it hard to make friends growing up
  • I’ve had a phobia of public speaking my whole life (now cured)
  • I’d never been able to run more than 500m until the age of 42 when I trained for and completed my first half-marathon in under 2 hours 30 minutes (Yay!)
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