I was lucky enough to meet my dear friend Ingrid Lindberg when running corporate events. She has been the Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at a number of large international organisations, but more recently (apart from running her own customer experience consultancy - http://chiefcustomer.com), she has set up a group called Ta Tas at the Table. Ta Tas is a place for women to meet, share stories, and help each other progress in their chosen career.
Ingrid set this up because she was all too often the only woman on the Board of Directors (i.e. at the table), and she believes passionately in helping other women succeed. I think this is such a fabulous endeavour, so when she asked me to do an interview I was over the moon, and so very honoured that she thought my story could help other women progress.
Below is the interview, which I hope you enjoy. And please do check out the Ta Tas page, like it and share it with your network!
Interview with Ta Tas at the Table
"Meet Abi Manders. She is someone that I've met along my journey and she literally took a 180 degree career turn within the last couple of years. Enjoy her story and you can find her at Live Yama where she is a Holistic Health Coach (www.live-yama.com).
How did you determine your path?
My mum died when I was 18. She was (as far as I knew) very healthy, yet passed away within 18 months of being diagnosed with a brain tumour. It came as a such a shock to us all because she'd always looked after her health. She'd been a vegetarian nearly all her life, went to the gym and exercised regularly, and barely ever drank alcohol as she didn't need it to be the life and soul of the party. She just was! Her one nemesis however was diet coke.
Whilst the question of whether that could really have been the cause of her death had always played on my mind, it wasn't until I started training as a yoga teacher in 2013 that I discovered just how important nutrition was. Through a lot of trial and error, I discovered that I operated at my best when eating whole foods, i.e. foods that haven't been processed or refined, and are free from artificial substances.
Even though I saw my strength, stamina, focus and overall health improve, the thing I was most surprised by was the reduction in my stress levels when I ate what I call 'real' food. At the time I was working in a fast paced, high stress job, running large scale events all over the world. It was non stop, and because I was a perfectionist, I'd often let things get on top of me. But at some point I noticed that feeling wasn't there anymore, or at least when it reared its head I was able to acknowledge it and let it go. I no longer took the stress of the day home with me.
What I realised was that this wasn't just down to diet alone. Through my yoga training I was doing something I loved. It was nourishing my mind, my body and my soul. It was then that I realised being healthy isn't just about eating well, it's about finding happiness.
Soon after my training finished I became pregnant, and it felt like the natural next step for me to move into a career in nutrition. So, during my maternity leave I started studying with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and am delighted to say I qualify as a Holistic Health Coach this October! I never thought training as a yoga teacher would lead me to find a business opportunity that allowed me to spend more time with my family whilst doing something I love so much. Needless to say I’m very excited about what’s to come!
What's the biggest challenge you've faced as a woman in business?
I’d say not just as a woman, but as a young woman in business, being taken seriously by senior executives from some of the world’s largest blue chip organisations has been the biggest challenge I’ve faced.
How did you overcome it?
I knew my shit. I had to, otherwise there were no conversations to be had. And if I didn’t know my shit, I pretended I did!
The nature of my job prior to becoming a Health Coach meant that I had to engage very senior business people (often board members) in in-depth conversations about their roles on a daily basis. As incredibly busy people they didn’t have time for hesitations or uncertainty, understandably, and particularly not from a young woman! I made sure that if I ever got a whiff of "come on little girl, you’re playing with the big boys now”, that I gave as good as I got. I did a lot of role plays to make sure I knew exactly how I’d open each conversation, and how I’d manage any objections if they arose. I was always prepared with the next question, and always knew what I wanted from each call or meeting. This was very important as it allowed me to take control of the discussions and showed them I knew what I was talking about (even if I didn’t!).
If you could give advice to another woman who is charting her own course right now, what would it be?
As humans we’re hard wired to find happiness, but all too often we get side tracked and forget that. Take some time to remind yourself what it is that makes you tick, what it is that gets the fire going in your belly. Then ask yourself if your actions at home and at work are helping you reach that point. If they’re not, what can you do today to change that? Often it’s not big things but small changes we can make that will have really big impacts. Then ask yourself the same thing tomorrow, and the same the day after. Just remember to be kind to yourself along the way. These things don’t happen over night, and you will learn so much along the journey. Mistakes aren’t bad, they’re opportunities to learn and improve. Also, be grateful. I try to say thank you every day for three things in my life. Did you know people who are genuinely grateful for what they have and who they are are happier people? Happiness is contagious, just as negativity is, so surround yourself with positive, happy people who will inspire you and support you in becoming the great being that you already are."