Speaker, writer, consultant and mentor for women’s career fulfilment and success, entrepreneurship, career transitions, 50+ career rejuvenation and renewal. 25+ years’ experience internationally (media, entertainment, fitness, import-export, investment real estate). On the committee and one of the speakers at the Women’s Executive Forum in India next year, her specialist subject being ‘Creating a New Thought Leadership.’ Nominated for the ALL Singapore ‘Change Maker for Women 2016 Social Empowerment Award.’ Anna is passionate about mentoring women in finding clarity and fulfilment in their choices. She created and became CEO of her first company – in the entertainment industry – at age 32, later setting up and heading an investment real estate business. Midlife approaching and hungry for a dynamic change, she refocused her experience, founding WomenUP Ltd to help women shape their own future. Author of ‘Unstoppable Goddess: Every Women’s Guide to Freedom, Fulfilment and Success’, with two other books, “Entrepreneurial Goddess” and, ‘Glass Ceiling Grans – The Silver Goddess Experience’, out in 2017. Drawing on her previous experience in the fitness field and Ayurveda philosophy, Anna believes the whole mind-body experience forms an integral part of success. She is the creator of the 4-dimensional Life Design, Unstoppable Goddess Life and the SCOPE process for career fulfilment. In addition, next year there will also be quarterly 8-day mastermind retreats.
My current business, WomenUP Ltd, is fairly office orientated so I often work with people online – via phone or skype online programmes – interspersed with signature events, immersion workshops, training days/weeks and Mastermind & Retreats. WomenUP’s core business is focused on my vision of a 4-dimensional Life Design.
Success comes from freedom and fulfilment in life and particularly in career and business choices, BUT this is based on the essential integrating dimensions of Nutrition, Exercise, Mind and SCOPE (the process I created for career fulfilment and success). As in the Ayurvedic philosophy which started over 5000 years ago, we have to focus on the fuel (food) we consume and the exercise we do to have our body, and therefore our brain, working optimally. The balance between these and our mind – meaning mindset, peace of mind, serenity, positivity – are all equal parts together with SCOPE, the process which allows you to find who you are, your beliefs, your passions, your creativity, your ‘flow’ in achieving the greatest fulfilment – success – in life and optimising our choices and successes in our career and/or business. One of my ‘soapbox’ beliefs is that climbing to the top of the career ladder, being on the board etc isn’t necessarily the greatest vision of success as that is a traditionally ‘male’ idea of success. There is no reason why women (or men) should accept this as their vision of success, but they should define their own. This is why I created SCOPE, to define our own choices and create our own vision of success. My previous businesses were far more mobile. I was frequently stressed, under pressure, trying to meet impossible deadlines and generally being a mixture of headless chicken and workaholic – probably why I now appreciate so much NOT working ridiculous hours and enjoy taking lovely relaxing breaks, communing with nature – and walking the dog – in regularly scheduled breaks as part of my working day.
My first business, Ryan Management & Promotions, was an entertainment agency. I started that from scratch and built it up to having more than 200 bands on the books and almost 1000 venues. Apart from normal band bookings we organised tours, showcase events and encouraged budding musicians to go into the recording studios and aim for the stars! The hours were very irregular which was perfect for me with two very young children, so I could adjust my working day around them. There were a lot of visits to venues, organising events etc but it was great fun and I absolutely loved it! I am definitely a wannabe rock chick.
I also had a couple of other smaller business on the side at the same time as my main ones. One was a construction company, Equestrian Buildings, where I coordinated planning, design, construction stables and equestrian buildings – I have had horses and competed all my life so it was one of my passions.
The other, Activate, was a fitness and nutrition business where I created personalised nutrition and fitness programmes as well as giving group fitness, stretching and aerobics classes. The focus of this business was on healthier eating, weight loss, eating for energy and performance. Again it was one of my passions so I really enjoyed the time spent on it.
More recently, in 2011, the knowledge I gained from Activate, together with the experience from my coaching and the training, as well as demand from clients, evolved into Ageing Healthily, Happily and Youthfully (AHHY), now a strong and important part of WomenUP, (although for both women and men – lol) focusing on 50+ career fulfilment and business start-ups along with succeeding better with age; opening the doors to the benefits of ageing, both personally and professionally; the importance of health, fitness and nutrition in fulfilment and success which in turn gives dynamism, energy and vitality in our life and career whether as a ‘mature’ employee, entrepreneur or active retiree.
After Ryan Management & Promotions, my next main business was IPW/Castles in the Air which involved international investments and commercial real estate – the sales and negotiation of residential and commercial property: houses, buildings, commercial centres, equestrian centres, castles, hotels, tourist villages. Castles in the Air was specifically based around European Castles, Chateaux & Country Hotels, organising their renovation, conversion, upgrade and development. This was permanently on the go, travelling enormous distances with amazingly long hours but very interesting and rewarding.
In all, I have lived/worked in 7 countries (UK, Italy, USA, Canada, Bermuda, Spain, France) and set up businesses in 3 – UK, Spain, France. I am now considering having a dual base, UK, Ireland, to go with my dual nationality… also I feel the call of Bermuda again, particularly for my Mastermind Retreats – but that is next year… As you can see, I have been around!
ALC: With the experience of founding several businesses, and with evolving values, I now very rarely let myself be ruled by the clock or feel that I “should” do anything that makes me feel pressured or in a cage – however I do have a very positive and curious outlook on life and I love being active so even though I never use an alarm clock I normally wake naturally between 5.30 – 6.15am, depending on what time I have gone to sleep the night before, and whether I meditated before going to sleep… For me meditating makes for sleeping better and waking earlier feeling refreshed.As soon as I wake up I get up. I hate lying in bed. I go straight downstairs and take the dog for a walk, even if it is pitch black – I love nature and the sounds of animals, birds waking up. I also love getting a few photos of daybreak and the sun coming up. Then I come back and do half an hour’s yoga, after which I shower, have breakfast and go into the office. Usually I will be in my office by about 7.15, or latest 7.30am. For the last 20+ years I have had my offices in my house, I work better that way… It has often been an advantage for anyone working for/with me as I am always happy for them to use the kitchen, garden etc. When I lived in Spain I had a nice pool too so they could always ‘chill’ and swim as they wished. I start by checking my emails, briefly, in case of anything that needs doing immediately, otherwise I put them aside to deal with later in the day. Ideally, I like preparing and doing any main creative work early in the day when I feel ‘the flow’, followed by client appointments from mid-morning until late afternoon. Accounts and other ‘boring’ stuff I leave till much later. My day ends peacefully with another long walk, maybe an episode from whichever series I am currently crazy about – Outlander being a great favourite – some positive reading then 10-20 minutes meditating before going to sleep.
ALC: My main rituals are yoga every morning, meditating every evening, and the religiously scheduled walks in nature with the dogs during the day. I normally walk about 8km or more each day. I also follow many Ayurvedic principles regarding my body type regarding eating and mental serenity, healthy nutrition and exercise. I drink a lot of water and tea, don’t touch dairy or sugar and am mostly vegetarian/vegan. I find it really helps me stay full of energy, keep a positive mentality and feel good about life in general – as they say in France – La Vie est Belle!
ALC: If I think about the first business I started and the others along the way to the one I have now, I have gradually realised the importance of having a niche and not trying to be all things to everyone. I used to have far too wide a range and ended up running myself ragged whereas if I had been far more focused it would have been both more interesting and so much easier. Also, I think I tried too hard, I didn’t learn how to say no to unreasonable or ‘cheeky’ client requests, even though I could always be quite a dragon of a negotiator. WomenUP has evolved since its inception. At the beginning its main focus was on working with CEOs on corporate gender balance strategy consulting and with senior women executives to get them to the C-suite. Now that is still part of the business but only after fully focusing on and going through the SCOPE process and understanding the importance of the Unstoppable Goddess 4-dimensional Life Design. For me it is more important to really know what you want and be fulfilled and not just aim for ‘pigeon-holed’ ideas of success. We are all individuals and don’t have to be put into boxes!
ALC: Transitioning my marketing, and even my way of approaching people, from the mainly corporate consultant approach of working just with CEOs and Senior Execs. People just aren’t used to looking inwards at themselves and their passions and true wishes for their life. We are all so used to following the external view, and habits that we have acquired over several years, that we sometimes forget to really consider ourselves. Sometimes understanding the importance and focus of their career and business life with fulfilment as the centre of their objectives, and having them genuinely accept that fulfilment is the ultimate freedom and success, can be quite challenging as people almost feel guilty about doing something for themselves. What is so important for everyone, entrepreneur, CEO, manager, employee or freelancer is realising that we work so much better, more productively, and with far better results when we are doing something that fulfils us, that includes our real strengths and passions. This is particularly the case for entrepreneurs! Another challenge I have faced is the transition of having lived and worked predominantly in France in recent years, to becoming more ‘internationally’ established in several countries.
ALC: Innovation in my work is constantly offering new thought processes, new ways of being open-minded and positive, generating curiosity and movement. With my focus being on women, and particularly women developing themselves, there is a constant flow, constant movement so my ideas and ways of presenting things, of helping people move forwards needs to always be searching for additional ways of viewing and creating ideas and solutions. Added to that, I think great innovation can be had for everyone by taking our experience and regenerating it in a new and dynamic fashion. Lateral and creative thinking is very effective. Often viewing something totally outside our normal sphere, and seeing how our experience to date could be used to create a different type of solution, can bring exciting options and good results.
ALC: From experience and thinking what my children’s reaction would be to my ideas – lol. They are both very astute adults and don’t hesitate to bring me down to earth if I get a bit too flighty with my ideas. I have also developed a very good habit of scheduling into my calendar at least one ‘doable’ step each day or week, depending on size, towards my dream. If I can’t fit it into my calendar, and do it successfully, and to my desired standard, I know I have to realign my dreams into something more realistic.
ALC: I motivate myself. I believe in what I do, I am passionate about it, and I know how much happier we all are when we are healthy, fit, fulfilled and knowing who we are. You can see the difference in someone who is fulfilled doing what they really want and someone who isn’t just by the way they move and look, before they even open their mouth. You can also see it by the way their colleagues and family react around them. Take any group of people and almost always the one who is happy and fulfilled infuses the whole group with positivity and enthusiasm – they give out their own natural energy.
ALC: Definitely! At the beginning I wanted to be ‘the best’ without really knowing what ‘the best’ was, what it meant, what it stood for. It seemed to involve a lot of ‘external’ views on success and power. Now I still want to be the best, but the best I can be at being me, the most fulfilled and the most energised by having my passions and fulfilment as my way of life both personally and professionally. Success to me now is loving my life; loving, and being totally interested, in my work; and especially loving the positivity and energy that I can transmit to those around me.
ALC: First I think it very important to know yourself, know why you are running this business, wanting it for the right reasons – then having a deep belief and confidence in both yourself and the business you are creating. You need to set goals but also limits. You need to be flexible but also be prepared to redraw the goal posts if necessary. More than anything you have to keep going and keep positive even when you wake up at 4.00 AM thinking OMG what if I am wrong – If you have one of those nights, first thing in the morning go out for a long walk to clear you head, do some yoga and then take a deep breath and get stuck in. Also remember life is meant to be FUN! So treat yourself to quality downtime laughing with your oldest friends, doing crazy things and letting go!
ALC: There are two myths about entrepreneurs that I find particularly stupid…‘Entrepreneurs are high risk takers’ and ‘Entrepreneurs are born.’ I don’t agree with either. If anything, I would say entrepreneurs are low risk takers. Most entrepreneurs fully assess all risks before acting. They don’t have the luxury of a corporation with limitless funds behind them so they do their utmost to be sure their choice is the good one and going to give the best possible solution. Also, they normally are very lucid about the impact and options due to having to wear many hats and manage all sectors of their venture, giving them a wide vision and ability to factor in many eventualities. Entrepreneurs are born – poppycock! I would say rather circumstances, situations, desire, creativity and down to earth assessment help anyone become an entrepreneur. I would not have started my first business if I hadn’t decided that I didn’t want to follow normal office hours after the birth of my children. I had a number of friends who were musicians in bands constantly moaning about not being able to get enough gigs. It gave me an idea and I ran with it.