#VulneRevolution Interview Series – Ep. 11 – Samitaa Sekhon, Co-founder of NeekaCare

Thank you very much for being part of our VulneRevolution series!

We want to explore the topic of vulnerability openly and honestly. No judgement or innuendo should follow your feedback, therefore please do your best to answer the questions below honestly, as your help may mean the world to someone else.

If, at any given time, you may consider that you would like to withdraw yourself from this activity, please send us an email (anitei.andrada@gmail.com or lmccauley254@aol.com) within 2 days from the moment you provided the initial information.

As we would like to make sure the information reaches its purpose, you may consider the option of having images added to our story, as “a picture is worth a 1000 words”. However, if you would like to preserve your privacy and, upon your consent to do so, we can always make use of royalty free images on the internet.

Short Bio: Before answering the questions below, please take a moment to reflect upon the visibility you will have on the platform and if you would like us to use your true identity (preferably) or replace your name with initials or even a name at your convenience.


1. What is your interpretation of vulnerability?

Being able to tell the truth despite knowing you could be attacked, knowing that no one might choose to trust you, as that could put their position in harm. Being vulnerable, to me, could also mean sharing your emotional state with someone, where someone may end up judging you or even using it against you.

“In one word, vulnerability is a roller-coaster”

This is my first time talking about my vulnerability on a social media platform. Let’s see what happens…

2. Can you tell us about a time when you were vulnerable in the workplace?

The thing about me is, if something is not right, I have to say it. But over time, I have learnt to say it in a better way. I am more careful with my choice of words and people’s emotions and state of mind.

As Swami Vivekanada said: “Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true”.

3. What happened?

I won’t name which company, but let’s just say I was the “whistle blower” of a certain situation that was ongoing for quite a long period of time. No one was bringing it up, but it was effecting my portfolio due to someone else’s wrong doing. I would end up working thrice harder just to ensure I managed to mitigate the risk. I ended up being burnt out and hence chose to voice it out.

Unfortunately, at that time I did not realize I was just being a pawn; or perhaps a bait. At the same time, my mom’s health was going down hill. I didn’t want to be involved with the drama that was going on at the workplace and ended up taking a sabbatical leave. The mental and emotional pressure was just too high and I knew I had reached a dead end. The top management was not in favor of me, rather took sides with a person that they should least trust. Why they choose to trust him? I do not know. But it is sad when management does not investigate and picks sides, without knowing the whole truth.

4. Do you regret it?

I do not regret it, but I miss working or even being in that lifestyle, where I had the opportunity to meet world class opinion leaders, managing a large region and creating useful clinical content, so that the sales team could leverage on it.

“(…) set the game right from the beginning and you will be admired for being you”

But yes, this incident has made me a little paranoid about people. So yes, I am more careful now with whom I speak to. I do not allow myself to be burnt out. My health and wellbeing come first now, as only then I can contribute to any organization effectively.

5. Nowadays, do you consider that being true to yourself and others is a sign of weakness/ vulnerability or strength? And why?

I read this book, by Stephen Covey, where he said: “You choose the lens on how you would want to see others”. I think it takes a lot of courage to being true to yourself. It is quite easy to be pretentious but – overtime – people would be able to see it; and when they do, you will completely lose their trust.

But when you set the game right from the beginning, you will be admired for being you, for being able to be vulnerable, as it takes grit to do that. People may not tell you directly, but somehow the news will come to you. “The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows” (Buddha

6. How did your experience with vulnerability influence your current state of mind? Would you recommend others to talk about it?

You need to be prepared for backfire. Have a contingency plan or, at least, be emotionally strong to swallow things up if it goes wrong. I would say: follow your heart and do what is right for your soul!

“My health and wellbeing come first”

7. If you can sum up in 1 word how you feel about your experience with vulnerability what would it be?



Samitaa Sekhon can be reached via her LinkedIn profile.


You can contact/ follow Louise Mccauley and Andrada Anitei at any given moment, by following the links below:

Louise:      https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisecc/

Andrada: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrada-anitei/


* Photo credits are to be exclusively provided to the guest. Any unauthorized use may become object of copyright laws! *


Make sure you follow #VulneRevolution hashtag for weekly #PowerUp.

ValuableDiversity (Interview Series) – Ep. 15 – Community Matters (Fabio Marrama)

Introducing you to interesting people around the world

Meet Fabio Marrama

– Digital Marketer, Speaker, “Top 40 Under 40 Award” Winner (Hamilton, Canada) – 


We all speak, lately, about the importance of building communities and have witnessed the results of it, right? (I know I did and still do!) The benefits are irrefutable, aren’t they?

Yet, some people – like my guest today – step up by showing what one person can do; how they’re mindset can influence for the better, by just being themselves, outside the digital space.

Hats off for my interviewee, speaking the language of genuinity!



1. Hi, Fabio. Please be so kind as to introduce the readers to the man behind the professional.

I love marketing, leadership and people. I absolutely thrive on it! So, this naturally gravitates to my role as a Partnerships Manager for one of the largest Credit Unions in Canada. I am a proud husband and father of two beautiful little girls. I’m a business graduate of Niagara College and this leads me to the passion I still have for students and young professionals, in helping them level up their career game, to help them grow.

2. What brought you to LinkedIn, in the first place, And how did you come to offering consultancy in regards to this platform?

To be honest, I came to LinkedIn at the right time. I’ve been on the platform since 2012, but just used it to build an “on-line resume” presence. I never created content or engaged at all. That was until about November 2017.

“You need to have fun and be present – big time”

I had been seeing tons of content, created by people like Manu Goswami andMichaela Alexis. I thought it would be a great idea to share some of my own learnings and insights. I really created content to start as a way to build great relationships with others, network and open doors of opportunity, wherever it would lead. Never expected to build such a vibrant and amazing community!

From the consultancy standpoint, I’ve just had some wonderful people reaching out, in regards to helping them with their LinkedIn presence. It was easier to do since I’ve been able to share knowledge from my own experience.

3. Can you tell us a bit about the “Top 40 under 40 award”, mentioned on your profile?

I have a lot of people asking me about this… It’s nothing special, really! Every year there is a platform in the City of Hamilton (where I work) that takes nominations for top professionals. You have to be nominated by someone. I was fortunate and surprised to have been nominated in 2017. I really focused on providing as much value and over-delivering on the application process.

A couple months later, I found out that I was selected – from the hundreds of nominations – as one of the Top 40 professionals having an impact in the city, under the age of 40. It was awesome! I was, then, presented with the award at a celebration gala. It was definitely a cool moment in my career.

4. There’s something else that drew my attention, while checking your profile. And that is your principle “do more now”. Tell us about it, please. It may seem self-explanatory, but I want to know more.

For sure. Yes I am a big believer in doing more than expected – no matter what the task is. Back in college, I led a 80+ student group called Enactus, which is a student run international organization that runs projects in local and global communities, focused on entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability and financial literacy. I led a team that focused on entrepreneurship and we came 2nd in Ontario – back to back years – and top 10 in Canada, back to back as well. Building community projects while studying was a prime example of doing more than expecting.

“Put in the work, do more and do things that others are not willing to do (…) It just works!”

I didn’t have to do it; I wasn’t getting paid and could have spent my extra time lazing around, but I didn’t. It was that experience that got me a job literally right away out a school – and a pretty cool one! That experience taught we to keep delivering those same results; and I’ve aimed to do exactly that in my career. This is why that is a core value of mine.

5. And how does that influence students? I know you engaged in plenty of events on the matter.

Similar to what I said earlier, by doing more – you get more opportunities. You get out what you put in. Heading into my last year of college, I had no money left and I was not on financial assistance. I literally spent my whole summer applying to various scholarships and bursaries with the extracurricular work I was doing. That final year I had nearly 75% of my whole tuition paid off for by FREE MONEY, after winning multiple scholarships. Again, I realized that by applying yourself and putting in the work – it put me in a better situation. But how many people would be willing to give up their summer for that? Not many.

It’s not some high level strategy. Doing more just works – especially for students who lack experience! This attribute 1000% impacts your career if you apply it. It’s simple. And that’s my message to students: put in the work, do more and do things that others are not willing to do.

6. That sounds delightful. Now, tell us about the Forbes appearance, please. (I can’t help it!)

The mention was small, but it’s simple. Build relationships with people!

A few months back, I reached out to Jeremy Slate on LinkedIn. I just loved the value he was providing in his content and podcast. Over time, I was able to build a relationship with him and get to know him better, as well as provide value to his growing community. Organically, he had an opportunity to be featured in Forbes, which led to the shout out. The fact he thought of me in regards to LinkedIn, without asking, showed that by providing value and caring for other people it goes a long way. Be genuine, it may come back at you!

7. I remember seeing you in a morning radio show, with Kyle & Kyle. And I remember very well that one of the hosts said that you slightly changed their format. It’s a pretty funny story. Please share it with the readers.

Oh ,yes! I love “Coffee with Kyles”. Kyle Burt and Kyle Witham are outstanding guys! I believe it was early in their interview journey and they were still working on the flow and format. They asked who I’d like to meet, if they could bring them on the show and I asked: “Dead or alive?”.

“Work Hard, Stay Hungry, Be Humble”

That triggered a new format for their espresso shot to be a Double Espresso shotand name two people. It was quite funny!

8. OK, personal questions time – you posted a video, a few months back, with your 2 precious daughters (adorable!). The one you told me about in our chill off-line call… The question is: how did you come to the understanding that a mom needs her break, away from everything, every now and then?

I give my wife credit for so much, yet she deserves so much more. She sacrifices a ton to be home with our little ones ,so it was just a small way to say “I appreciate you and take some down time for yourself”. Every busy mom needs time to herself and time with adults!

9. Now, that makes a strong marriage! And I congratulate you for your mindset, fairly! But I’ll switch the focus a bit. How do you manage day to day challenges? What keeps you going, from a personal standpoint?

I’d have to say my faith keeps me going. It’s a strong foundation in my life, even in challenges and difficulties. Additionally, my family is also right up there. The support they provide is a huge way to overcome challenges. I don’t know what I’d do without them!

10. If your girls asked you to play “princesses” with them, would you accept (especially if you should be one of them, not the big bad wolf)? If yes, what’s the lesson you can learn from such a game?

100% I would play! In fact, I’ve probably done something similar. I love having fun with my kids and tapping into the imaginative games.

“Know your purpose, live it out and use it to serve”

The lesson would have to be that you need to have fun and be present – big time. You never want to look back in 20-30 years and say “I wish I actually played more of those games with my kids.”

11. And what are the greatest values you would advise everyone to take on?

Everyone has their own values in life. When it comes to my career – Work Hard, Stay Hungry, Be Humble.

12. Considering the question above, what would be the most valuable advice you would give your 16 years old daughters (besides the “never give up” obvious one)?

Know your purpose, live it out and use it to serve.

13. Picture yourself, for a moment, losing it all and being forced to take everything from scratch. What is the first thing you would do?

I would turn to the Book of Job, as a reminder, and give thanks. I’d also reach out for help, of course!

“Be genuine, it may come back at you!”

It’s in times like that when you need the support of loved ones, friends, family and community.

14. For the people going through (yet not limited to) a situation like the one described at #13, please share us with some of your wisdom. How would you help someone dealing with this, if they came asking for assistance? And a final word, please. ☺

Take it day by day and put one foot in front of the other. Setbacks and challenges will come. Find people who can help in lifting you up!


My thoughts, after such replies, are: Stand up, “do more”, live your dreams and remember to give back to society. Community does matter!

And remember to #stayFab! 🙂


*The photos used in this article were provided by the rightful owner, with clear consent. Using them without prior agreement, may become subject of the copyright law. All rights reserved to Fabio Marrama*


You can follow Fabio Marrama by visiting the below links:

LinkedIn profile page




Next week – 26.07.2018: Fadila Bouzahzah

ValuableDiversity (Interview Series) – Ep. 14 – A Brilliant Mind (Joy Abdullah)

Introducing you to interesting people around the world

Meet Joy Abdullah

– Marketing Director & Strategist (Putra Jaya, Malaysia) – 

Life is a roller-coaster and we barely find ourselves out, at times. We’re trapped in a choice, yet we wish we could do more for the loved ones.

My guest for today is a strong man, willing to do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. His energetic nature and background as marketing leader are 2 assets that will make him succeed.

However, he’s facing a tough situation – despite being open-minded – due to ageism. Yet, he’s got so much more to say… Let’s find out more from the below interview…


1. Good day, Joy. Please introduce yourself, for the people that never had a chance to get in touch with you.

I was born in UK, raised in India and I am now settled in Malaysia. Ethnically I am Indian. Since the very beginning of my life, environmental diversity has always been there. Over the course of my life I have lived across 3 countries, in 7 cities and 18 houses. I adapted, learned and assimilated different environments and their facilities and culture.

“Every action has an opposite and equal reaction

Lots of people ask me about my name – Joy Abdullah. That’s my brand. It comes from my birth name, aligns with my purpose and states who I am. It sends a message. A message of being different.

I’m grateful to my parents for providing this in-built diversity in me.

2. Our first off-line interaction was delightful. And, ever since, I noticed that you have a real passion for helping the others. Myself included. Please tell us: how did you come to this attitude?

Many moons ago, when the word “diversity” was not in the business lexicon and I was but a mere pup, I had the privilege of interacting with a very learned man. This man used to tutor my father on Arabic and Persian languages, as my father used to do translations as a hobby. My father – by profession – was a Chartered Accountant, by the way!

In my interactions with this learned gentleman, I was introduced to the concept (that I call) ‘check & balance’. It’s actually a simple concept of doing good and adding to your asset section of your life’s balance sheet; by doing bad you add to the liability section. At the end of our physical life, we’ll tend to see that our life has been based on the choices we have made in doing good or bad.

This made imminent sense to me! I absorbed it. Yet, I did not do anything with it for over a decade! But then later, a couple of incidents occurred, that made me realize that I wasn’t using the learning I had been exposed to…

That is when I began to reach out and help others, if I may say, selflessly. As a logic, it’s very simple: by helping others in any way that you can you add good wishes to your life’s asset section. By virtue of doing good time is not available to do bad and, thus, your liability section is very less. In the end, with a higher asset value, perhaps one just may be able to get the necessary pass to go to heaven.

3. I would love if everyone learned about your view on diversity, on a personal level, for several reasons. One of them is your multicultural way of living. Born in India, raised in UK and living in Malaysia, for more than a decade (17 years) . How did all this experience influence the man you are today?

I do beg your pardon if what I am going to say sounds like pontificating. Without this example, however, I cannot explain my view on diversity.

See the different colours of sand in the picture below. These are various types of sands, from all over the world. What do you see?

” To me, THAT is diversity!

All are sand and yet they look different! At our core we are all HUMAN BEINGS. We are created to be together (i.e. ‘it takes a village to raise a child’); we are created to help each other up through communication and supporting each other; we are created to live in the moment—“being”.

Just like the sands, at our core we are one and the same. We simply look different, act different, have different rituals and communication habits. Yet we are the same.

You asked me about my multi-cultural way of living and how it has influenced me… I am ethnically an Indian and technically British and yet a lot of British culture influences my outlook, personality and behavior. The stiff upper-lip, for example, “men are not given to displaying emotions”. On top of that layer, the fact that I was not born a Muslim. I accepted Islam, because it gave me answers to some really important life questions, much later in life. In fact ,as a Muslim, I am only 21 years old! And my family is a mixed-culture family!

In my view, DIVERSITY is an asset that God created for man to use and respect. It gives a different perspective of an issue to those who are open and willing to learn. This is what shapes me and my personality when I interact with anyone today. There are three things I say to myself – before I speak or interact – in person or on-line, with anyone:

  • Give the person a chance to share what is bothering him or her and see if it is within your given capabilities to help today;
  • If you are able to help, say that and help, without any expectation;
  • When someone is aggressive or vitriolic, let the person speak on and run out of steam. Do not react, respond or reply until you have had the chance to ponder over the details and separated the facts from the emotions.

4. I understand that it had a lot of advantages for you. However, do you see any disadvantage, when it comes to diversity?

Diversity had gotten a bad name today. The perception of diversity is now covered in “isms’—Racialism; Ageism; Communalism, etc. These have come about due to various social practices, over the decades, and normalization of doing wrong. We all know various examples that we can refer or state. Today we are trying to right the wrongs done 20 or 30 years ago. And society will take the similar amount of time to change. After all, every action has an opposite and equal reaction.

The one hope I have is with the increasing focus on technology and huge changes in business lifestyles will change. Perhaps, humans will have more time to do what we would call ‘non-work stuff’, in the coming years. That is when, perhaps, there will be increased tolerance arising from more intellectual debates and engagement for the betterment of human.

5. On the other hand, on a professional level, what were the benefits you discovered? What about the downsides. Are there any?

On a professional level having a diverse cultural background helped me to get job roles that required understanding different communities and groups and managing diverse teams effectively. But I have to say that this particular advantage seems to have lost its edge, in terms of being valuable in companies, in the past 7-8 years. Perhaps it has to do with the insularity that has increased in countries, in the same time.

I haven’t found any downside to diversity as yet.

6. The call we had covered a wide range of topics. And a very important one was ageism, which actually took us to the off-line connection, thanks to one of Norma Kraft’s posts. Please tell us how would you define ageism.

Ageism, as I had mentioned earlier, is part of the “isms’ syndrome”, as I call it. This has come about in the past decade. Specifically after 2008-09 global financial crisis. I’m not a cultural anthropologist, though I wish I was; but I believe that, if we look at the socio-economic scenario of the past 10 years, we will see some parallels with the period of the Great Depression prior to WWII. With economic scarcity come attached a lot of other scarcities! And in 2008-09, with financial markets tanking and unemployment increasing, this economic scarcity came into play and to some extent is still there.

” DIVERSITY is an asset that God created for man to use and respect”

Where it impacts and creates ageism is in businesses which only knew to shore up their profitability, through cost-saving measures and, thus, laying off people! And the people… They started laying off, retrenching or even terminating were those who were a high salary cost (i.e. high basic salary and high medical insurance – those above 50)!

Any form of discrimination, in any benefit to anyone of a certain age, is ageism to me. And by discrimination, I mean injustice.

7. From what I see, some people are still afraid of speaking up, though more and more team-up to make a change. Do you foresee any change, in regards to the above mentioned discrimination aspect, in the following 5 years?

The short answer is yes.

The speed at which technology is making business change is simply amazing. There’s enough stuff out there that will tell you that our innovation progress cycle has come down to something like weeks now! It used to be 50 years when I was a management trainee, 30 years ago. So that’s point one.

The second point is that people are extremely adaptive. After all, ‘survival of the fittest’ is – in a way – also hardwired in us and we’re at the top of the food chain. So, we are adapting technology to suit our consumption lifestyle and this is having a major impact on businesses.

Some businesses are able to view these two incoming major life changes. Others are running scared from their own shadows and are basically afraid to own up transparently and say they haven’t the foggiest idea of what to do.

But to answer your question… In another 3-5 years, we will see the emergence of jobs that would require a huge amount of soft skill expertise (i.e. direct verbal and written communication; one-on-one interaction for deals; managing team emotions; intellect content development in education etc). This requirement will not be fulfilled by the 25-35 age workforce and companies all over would be forced to bring back the 50+ or current baby boomers and Gen Y to cross-function, groom and prepare the workforce. Succession planning and a talent management would probably become two of the hottest jobs, next to tech coding and marketing. This will, then, put to rest the issue of ageism.

8. You are in a very sensitive situation now and I know how hard it is to find your place. Is there any message you would like to send to the readers? I think we’re all hanging onto hope…

I’m sure you have heard the quote: ‘Life gives the experience first and the lesson after’…

Well… I learned that, probably, a bit too late in life… But I learned it!

Everything that happens to us, in every moment of our lives, is an experience that has been given with one purpose and that purpose is learning. It is up to us, since we are blessed with the ability to choose, to read that situation or scenario as a ‘glass half-full or glass half empty’ and behave accordingly.

” Cherish every moment as a valued gift and always lend a hand, in any way, to a fellow man

What I mean is that life is not a straight line. There are ups and downs and, in those times, we have to remember that the up or down is a moment which will pass. If it’s happy times, we have to remember it will also go. If it’s hard times, we have to remember that too shall pass.

We need to hold onto two beliefs in our mind:

  • One there is a learning, in that moment, for us to be a better self and
  • Secondly, the moment is not a man-defined moment of time, but a heavenly one.

After working for 7 years at a stretch in a role, I finished my previous corporate role this January and – like everyone else – started looking for a new role. At the same time, I wanted to use my knowledge in developing business sustainability, through developing robust brand experiences with business who are interested in a dual function: managing to keep daily profitability going, whilst investing in activities that will bring financial growth.

So, during the job-search, I went about establishing my advisory business and getting it going. In both the areas it has been a tough going thus far, but I am confident that by persevering, speaking on brand experience value, providing content and value, and being patient, I will reap the rewards in time. Two motivators have kept me going: one is my belief that life experiences are meant to improve oneself; the second is the desire to give back to society, through the experience I have, in a way that I can add value.

9. If you could change 1 thing in this very moment, what would that be?

No scarcity of anything that people need to be comfortable. That is the one thing that I would change.

Instead of wealth being consolidated in the hands of few, all would be comfortable and have enough to meet their needs. Not rich, but comfortable.

This world has too much pain, created by man’s immature behavior in all ways; and the only way to set it right is to do the right thing, always. One person at a time.

10. And, if you were to have just 1 day left, what would be the craziest thing you would do? And what would be your message to the world?

I would spend that day, the entire 24 hours, with my family to create some memories of those 24 hours that will stay with them through their lives. At the end of the day, we actually live in our heads and our brain holds all our memories; and these provide us impetus.

My message to the world would be:

Live today, for today. Be present. Be engaged fully with the people that really matter: your spouse, partner, children, near and dear ones. Cherish every moment as a valued gift and always lend a hand, in any way, to a fellow man.


It’s a pity that such a brilliant mind has to face adversity, don’t you think?

Reach out to my guest. You may be surprised by the discussions you can have with him. 🙂

*The photos used in this article were provided by the rightful owner, with clear consent. Using them without prior agreement may become object of the copyright law. All rights reserved to Joy Abdullah*


Joy Abdullah can be reached via the following channels:

LinkedIn Page




Next week (19.07.2018)Fabio Marrama

Army boots

Bullets and army boots

All I remember is that it was me out there. All dressed up in military, from top to toes: casket, uniform and army boots. And a shotgun. It was as if I was the only enemy there, attacked from all sides. People and some sort of drones were shooting at me. I escaped that building, eventually, sliding on a stairs arm, till my feet touched the ground. And I started running, holding tight of my shotgun. It was night time, but I was reaching to the ocean in front of the building. The noises coming my way were unbearable. My ears hurt tremendously due to the sharp and heavy noises and my brain was on the verge of an explosion. I never thought I’d make another second.

But I made it. I reached the shore and then the water. Shallow water, so I had to carefully watch where I was diving. They were all around and they were still shooting at me. But I kept on diving and swimming, despite the heavy uniform. I had to. My life was at stake. So I would dive and swim, take a breath and dive and swim again. A long underwater run. I just couldn’t stop. I needed to reach the other side of the ocean, though bullets were pouring from above.

Exhausted, I finally reached the other shore. But I was still pushed to run. In my soaked clothes and army boots, I kept on running till I found a shelter. When I got in, all the lights were on. It was a daycare place for women only. I remember looking around me, until I saw a nurse. And then nausea took over me. My head was injured, so blood started bursting, as my body hit the floor. Last thing I know? I heard a nurse screaming for others to come help, as I needed urgent intervention. Then my power went off. Everything was covered in silence, as I fainted.

Yet, life goes on…

That was my last night’s dream. A dream I wanted to instantly write down, but I was too caught in the dream to wake up and reach my writing tool. But I’m lucky to remember my adventures in the fantasy world. Not many people do.

However, while writing it down, I am thinking about what could its significance be…

Could it be that my fears were the bullets and the uniform and army boots represent the obstacles I had to face to overcome the terror fears put me through?

Was it a flashback of my last years’ life, heavily captured in such a movie script?

Is my warrior mindset sending me another signal that I need to fight till the end, no matter what?

I never had an easy life. But I can’t complain. It built me into what I am today. Haven’t all those events happened, I would still be begging for mercy and let myself walked over, like a doormat full of dust.

But I rose and learned to speak my mind. I managed to stand tall and fight adversity. Some say I’m a superhero, but I say I’m a strong woman. I wear no badge, but I proudly wear the scars my experiences have left in my soul.

Though I can’t remember the outcome of my dream (was the surgery successful or was I just another loss?), I know exactly what the outcome of my life so far is. I’m only 33, but I’ve fought some heavy battles. And I know there are still others to follow. I’m in the middle of one. Yet I also know that I learned to come out a winner… and I will! Every single time!


I’m not reaching up to the first place. I don’t want it. I don’t NEED it. But I’m seeking for peace of mind. And I’m not preaching it in vain. There’s nothing more valuable than this. If I manage to meet my hero (me in a peaceful state of mind), then my real life story can have any kind of ending. I will still be happy! When my body will be weak and my last breath will be taken, I will walk towards the light with a smile on my face, knowing that the stars will warmly greet me and turn me into one of their own.

Until then, there’s a lot to do. And, alike my dream, my life will never cease to challenge me. But I will gladly hit the walls. Because, one day, they will all come tumbling down…



Image credits:

#ValuableDiversity (Interview Series) – ep. 13 – Beyond translated words

Introducing you to interesting people around the world

Meet Dominika Weston

Recruiter, Language and Diversity Enthusiast (Poland)

Translator or interpreter? Is there a difference?

Sure there is. But what if we found out what the exact differentiation is from a golden-hearted woman, who is an advocate for smiles and kindness in disguise?

Well, I just briefly described my guest for today. But I will let you know her better from the below interview.



1. Hi Dominika, please tell us a bit about yourself, for the people you never interacted with.

I was born and raised in Warsaw, Poland. This is also where I went to school and got my Master’s degree in Finance, with major in Risk Management. If I stayed in Poland and never moved to USA, I would have probably been working in a bank. I am so glad that life threw me on the other side of the globe, just for this reason. I love what I do for a living, as I work with people whom I learn from daily. I am an extrovert who thrives on challenges and I speak my mind.

” I am responsible for my emotions and have control over my reactions

When I think of my years back in Warsaw, I remember one particular thing: having such a hard time learning English in high school and barely passing my finals, in English specifically. Back then, I never thought this language would be actually used as primary one for me later in my life. What a coincidence! Well, life is certainly full of them… So many valuable lessons we receive in great abundance from the Universe… Each challenge we are put against, shapes us into who we become. I have so many I can think of, but the ones that are close to my heart are somewhat linguistically related and communication driven.

2. Let’s approach the interpreter position of yours. What was your greatest challenge ever. Can you frame it in a funny way?

Yes, I had several opportunities in the past that allowed me to work in a capacity of not only an interpreter, but also a translator. Anyone who knows a bit about the linguistic industry also knows the differences between these two professions and how challenging each one can be. Just because one can speak more than one language, does not automatically mean one can also interpret or translate. It takes practice, cognitive abilities and lots of learning. I could just close my eyes and talk to you about the languages, cultural aspects and communication between people for hours… But, unfortunately, we do not have so much time to cover it all.

I will share one thing, though, that I think is very important to know. For any of you who would like to know the differences between  the scope of work of a translator versus interpreter, here is the link to the article I wrote that explains it well:https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/so-you-think-need-translator-dominika-weston-mfin/

Going back to the profession itself… Well, I did some translations of the brochures for the Union meetings, years back. I was also fortunate enough to be trained through “Bridging the Gap” program for interpreters and several cultural sensitivity trainings, as well as communication seminars that were (and still are) a foundation for me, in the interactions with people on daily basis in the work I do. I could not and would not be effective in my work with Interpreters and Translators if I did not have such background. I am also myself an ESL (English as Second Language) speaker and this helps me with better approach on the global arena.

See, how far I drifted away from the question, you have asked? Let’s go back to the challenges. I can say, that they are presented to me every day. If it is not in the form of communication barrier – where you need to adjust your own communication style to match the audience that is so culturally different, then it is a challenge of removing your emotions from the work you do.

I will give you an example here: when you are interpreting as a professional for a family who is facing a loss of a loved one due to illness, such as cancer, for example, you really have to keep your composure as you are there to convey the message. It gets tough as situations like that are very emotional for any human being. You have to be accurate in your interpretation, you cannot cry and have to keep calm. You must fully adhere to the Code of Conduct for interpreters. That is a challenge you need to overcome inside your heart. Leaving emotions at the door is what interpreters have to do.

Andrada, I just thought… You asked for a funny story and I gave you a sad one instead. But I have a quick funny one to share as well from the booth interpreting: that moment when you simply forget to flip the switch when it is your turn to interpret and you have to then catch up with the rest.

3. That’s OK! Experiences are always good as lessons, regardless of their nature – sad or funny. But this takes me to something else. Please tell us how do you handle everyday challenges, in general. Do you smile at them? And how do you overcome your blue moments?

Challenges to me are like daily lessons that help us grow and shape us into becoming who we need to be. I embrace them now, but I used to get upset with many small things that were not the way I would imagine them to be. It took some true soul searching, self-assessment and certain circumstances that made me realize what is truly important and has value for me. I am responsible for my emotions and have control over my reactions, why not using it to my advantage?

” Leaving emotions at the door is what interpreters have to do

>I wake up every day and take time to thank for being given the ability to see the world for one more day. I learned from the past, I hope for the future, but I need to live in the present moment. I smile a lot as I know that smiles make people happy and smile is something I can generously offer to others. Smiles multiply instantly and cannot ever be taken away from anyone.

Blue moments? I like rain, as it is my best remedy to anything. And books! I love reading!

4. Let me ask you this: what was the most difficult situation you had to put up as parent?

I have to say I am lucky enough and I do not have many moments I can recall that would be concerning for me as a parent. I try to raise my children allowing them to make decisions and learn what this world is about.

One thing I can recall though is the day when we took a trip to Europe and one of my kids asked me why people were staring at them. That day, I had the longest conversation ever explaining why this world is not color blind and what is the best way to approach differences people may not be familiar with. I cried tears of sorrow that day…

5. In our call, we discussed about the adversities you and your family face everyday. What would you change, if you could?

I would like the world to actually become color blind. There is so much hate all over the world, with racism being in the background. I cannot comprehend to this day why people continue to define the value of a person by the color of their skin, culture or even religion?

Why people pass judgement about others they know nothing about? I would love to see equality! I hope my kids get to live in equality driven world, one day…

” Living life to the fullest means to cry, to laugh, to fail, to get bruised

If we put aside the differences among us and focus on the commonalities, there is much easier to communicate and find a common ground. Although we cannot eliminate hate among people, we can surely strive to limit its impact, especially on our children.

My message is: let’s try to love more without expecting anything in return, let’s be compassionate in our day to day interactions and more understanding of others. Let’s embrace differences around us and listen to understand, not to respond or defend.

6. Ok, so we’re talking about serious issues here. Tell us about the way you felt when you first landed in the USA.

That was a long time ago… Close to 17 or 18 years. I did not see any issues back then; it all looked like a dream come true to me. A new country, new culture to explore, so much diversity around, so many opportunities everywhere and many challenges to take upon. I was young, inexperienced and did not know any better. My American Dream I imagined back then turned out to be far from reality.

If I landed in USA now, with all knowledge and experience I have, I most likely would not decide to stay here and settle down. People ask me if I have regrets and I tell them that they are not regrets, but  experiences that shaped me into who I am now.

Our dreams can only take us as far as we are willing to stretch ourselves, I say. We need to learn how to  trust ourselves when it is time to jump.

7. In the means of diversity, what did that mean to you? And how do you feel about diversity, in general?

Diversity is a long journey and, like any journey I can think of, requires careful navigation system. Unfortunately, our navigation system requires adjustments as it does not work well.  Coming to USA and raising kids that are biracial made me realize how many people chose to wear masks around us… How often we preach about acceptance, but continue to point fingers at anything that is different or unknown to us. We are scared of the unknown. We do not face fears with courage.

What is essential in my eyes, is the empathy. We have to  start focusing more on self awareness and looking onto our souls. We have to learn how to be courageous, even if it means getting hurt. Living life to the fullest means to cry, to laugh, to fail, to get bruised. We just have to make sure we know the best healing process that works for us.

8. What is the most important advice you’re giving your kids? Is it related to previous question? Or is it something else?

I tell my kids to be kind to people and give second chances. I encourage them to  live every moment as we create memories every day in our lives and to express gratitude. We have each other and this makes us the richest human beings we can ever be! Love can conquer the world! I want my kids to laugh a lot, as laughter is the best remedy to anything.

9. Now, I think it’s time we broke the code and let people know about our future collaboration, shall we? Please tell everyone about our new, sensitive adventure, coming soon.

Sure, I will be honored to collaborate with you Andrada on this massive undertake! I remember when we first got on the call, months ago, and we talked about many challenges people go through when they adjust to a new place and face change. I understand it firsthand based on my life journey, moving from one continent to another and having to learn everything all over again.

” Our dreams can only take us as far as we are willing to stretch ourselves

An idea for the series that highlights the life of immigrants in USA is a brilliant undertake. We can shed some light on the challenges, reality they face, decisions they have to make and approach that works for many of them. Perhaps, this can help others to understand how traumatic and life-changing it is for families who leave their countries and all they have worked for to come to USA, based on variety of reasons.

10. I think this will be challenging, under all aspects. What would you like to tell the people that have just read #9?

To be open minded, refrain from any judgement and most of all to be kind. Each story is very different, very personal and has its own circumstances that dictate the actions. You may not even fully understand them unless you live it. Leaving what you love behind and moving elsewhere is the toughest decisions one has to  make in life.

” Smiles multiply instantly

I trust that learning about others created a bond and this world – with so much diversity around – needs more glue to hold it all together. We, people, are the glue and it is up to us how we make it as united as we can.

11. As a conclusion, please let us know: if you were all alone, wandering on a stormy sea, knowing that you could send a message in a bottle to your kids and loved ones, but had only one shot, what would that be?

Depending on whether I would  have one or more pieces of paper to write and fit in a bottle… I would love to describe to them my whole life journey, so they can better understand the choices I have made and the effect they had on them.

I would write a letter asking them to make memories that last a lifetime, to travel more – as foreign cultures make our lives richer and to always be kind to people, as kindness attracts a great amount of good energy.

” I would tell them that they are the air that I breathe, they are my world and I cannot  imagine life without them

I would finish the letter with a reminder of the importance of smiling at life, regardless of what it brings us, and acceptance to keep peace in their hearts.


After such answers, all that is left for me to tell you is to follow us in the upcoming period, to find out more about the project we’ll be co-hosting. We will definitely have a unique approach on the immigrants matter.

Oh, and befriend Dominika. You will simply love her!

*The photos used in this article were provided by the rightful owner, with clear consent. Using them without prior agreement, may become subject of the copyright law. All rights reserved to Dominika Weston*

Dominika Weston can be reached via her LinkedIn profile:

Next week (12.07.2018)Joy Abdullah

#VulneRevolution Interview Series – ep. 10 – Anton Chumak Andryakov, Identity coach

Understanding Vulnerability

A man with true grit takes a stop for today’s interview on the vulnerability topic. His answers are not quite easy to get digested, but I hope you will – objectively – enjoy his perspectives on the topic, as much as I did.


Thank you very much for being part of our #VulneRevolution series!

We want to explore the topic of vulnerability openly and honestly. No judgement or innuendo should follow your feedback, therefore please do your best to answer the questions below honestly, as your help may mean the world to someone else.

If, at any given time, you may consider that you would like to withdraw yourself from this activity, please send us an email (anitei.andrada@gmail.com orlmccauley254@aol.com) within 2 days from the moment you provided the initial information.

As we would like to make sure the information reaches its purpose, you may consider the option of having images added to our story, as “a picture is worth a 1000 words”. However, if you would like to preserve your privacy and, upon your consent to do so, we can always make use of royalty free images on the internet.

Short Bio: Before answering the questions below, please take a moment to reflect upon the visibility you will have on the platform and if you would like us to use your true identity (preferably) or replace your name with initials or even a name at your convenience.


1. What is your interpretation of vulnerability?

I think one of the greatest gifts you can bestow on a person is self-sustainment. As the saying goes “it is better to teach a man how to fish, than to give him a fish”. So, I believe it is better to help a person unlock their inner identity than to help them achieve a goal. Once a person can truly understand – and most importantly – accept who they are, any goal can be achieved. This is done from learning how to pull the answers from within.

Many people say that they know themselves, but I see very differently, with hundreds of clients that I have worked with. It is a situation of “you don’t know until you know”. It is hard to know where you are, without having any contrast. Therefore, the subject of vulnerability is so dear to me! Vulnerability is a common concept when it is spoken about from external perspective. People do not talk about vulnerability from internal perspective enough. So many people have been told how great they are from a young age, now they have a hard time facing that they may not be as great as mom and dad told them they were. This causes them to not be vulnerable with themselves and admit their shortcomings. Due to never admitting that, they struggle to move on and even reach the end of their life hiding behind the same false perception. To me, that is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make. By being vulnerable with ourselves first, we accept ourselves for who we are; and, from there, we can grow into what we want to be.

Vulnerability to me is both internal and external, as I mentioned earlier.

It must start inside by an understanding that our current shortcomings are not permanent and by admitting them to ourselves. By being vulnerable, we will be able to grow.

“One cannot change until he/ she admits there is a need for change”

External vulnerability is best received when it is done sparingly. Kind of like the story of a boy that cried “wolf”… If a person is always being vulnerable by disclosing every little thing they have done wrong or what is going on currently in their life, the impact of their words will start to lose its weight. On the opposite hand this is the reason why leaders do so well when they are vulnerable. They generally carry themselves with a lot of pride and are very self-dependent in their team’s eyes. When they get on stage and become vulnerable, it really resonates with the people around them.

When a person is vulnerable on the outside, yet they are not actually vulnerable on the inside, it is quickly seen as fake by people close to them and empaths. In my tough love perspective, vulnerability must come from the right intention or otherwise you are just whining. It must come from the intention of self-development, by being vulnerable with those around us or within ourselves to get help and grow. One can also have an intention to be vulnerable to share something to help others grow. If we look at the Results Pyramid, we understand that, in order to change a result in a person, we often must go all the way down to the experience that led to a certain belief… that led to a certain action… that led to the undesired result. However, it is hard to recreate the right experience sometimes, to change the chain. To do that, vulnerable stories as lessons do a great job to help people with recreating the experience.

2. Can you tell us about a time when you were vulnerable in the workplace?

I conduct team meetings a few times a week. Whether it is just with my managers or with the entire staff, I draw on my mistakes in life to help them understand why certain actions may not be to their advantage . The story that I come back to, most often, speaks about me losing employees. I was vulnerable to talk about the poor choices I made, back in March 2015, in regards to one of my teams. This caused 5 employees to quit, as they were not making enough money.

3. What happened?

I was working with a team that was in a recovery situation. What that means is they were losing every month and not even coming close to meeting their KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). It was not a bad team! It had gone through some tough times, that had created a lot of tension amongst them.

I knew that, for that team to win again, I had to help them come together as a unit first. I did not worry about driving top line revenue as much as I should have and spent most of my time on relationship development and morale boosting. When team members would miss goals, instead of coming down on them a bit and pushing them to work harder, I babied them and told them “It’s OK, you will make it next month”. I was afraid to lose them and make my turnover number look bad.

That is the truth. I was chasing a metric as a leader and I wanted to be liked. So, even though we started to hit our team goals, eventually, there were many team members that were missing the accountability needed to make it in a commissioned environment. By trying to be their best friend and not being a good mentor and leader to them, I did not give the proper support for them to make the money that would have kept them going. 4 out of the 5 people that quit that month broke down crying in my office when they announced me of their resignation.

“If it is done correctly, vulnerability is a true sign of strength and confidence”

What was the lesson here? In my opinion, keeping people accountable and not being afraid of being disliked (if the intentions are pure) is the right thing to.

4. Do you regret it?

If you are asking whether I regret being vulnerable with my team, I absolutely do not!

Once I became more vulnerable with my teams, I became more human to them. This humility allowed me to have stronger relationships, that led to much deeper levels of trust. Those levels of trust led to better operating speeds. Those better operating speeds led to double digit growth and that led to many promotions. If you want to make an impact, allow yourself to be vulnerable! In right dosages and at right times.

If you are asking me if I regret babying my team members – which caused me to lose 5 of them in a month – I do not. Simply because I live life with no regrets. I am very happy with where I am now and I do not regret anything from the past. Those mistakes may have not led me here, had they not happened. However, if I were to be faced with same situation (which I have), most probably I would do things slightly different.

5. Nowadays, do you consider that being true to yourself and others is a sign of weakness/ vulnerability or strength? And why?

As I mentioned before, it depends on what amount of it and for what intention. If it is done correctly, vulnerability is a true sign of strength and confidence. A person being able to openly admit faults and mistakes (facing the possibility of being ridiculed) is a strong person, in my mind. It also shows that they do not have a fixed mindset, that requires them to hide behind a fake persona. They know that, by admitting their mistakes and faults, they can grow.

6. How did your experience with vulnerability influence your current state of mind? Would you recommend others to talk about it?

I recommend that everyone thinks about timing when they are being vulnerable. Timing is everything in so many aspects of life! And vulnerability is no different. This is where emotional intelligence must be applied. How you go about being vulnerable matters as much as the act of being vulnerable itself. If a person has a high level of emotional intelligence, I recommend using vulnerability as a tool to lead and help others, including themselves.

“I believe it is better to help a person unlock their inner identity than to help them achieve a goal.”

If a person has a lower degree of emotional intelligence and self-awareness, I suggest they work on improving that, before becoming very vulnerable, on a regular basis.

7. If you can sum up in 1 word how you feel about your experience with vulnerability what would it be?

Liberating !


Anton Chumak Andryakov can be reached via his LinkedIn profile and website.

You can contact/ follow Louise Mccauley and Andrada Anitei at any given moment, by following the links below:

Louise:      https://www.linkedin.com/in/louisecc/


*The photos used in this article were provided by the rightful owner, with clear consent. Using them without prior agreement may be object of the copyright law. All rights reserved to Anton Chumak Andryakov*


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