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

#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:

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 ( 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:



*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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#ValuableDiversity (Interview Series) – ep. 12 – Sales and NLP, hand in hand

Introducing you to interesting people around the world


Meet Rana Kordahi

– Founder of Limitlessminds Corporate Training, Sales & Mindset trainer (Sydney, Australia) –

What could sales and NLP have in common? And why would we even be curious about it?

Well… I like to dig into the most interesting combinations and find out what’s the liaison building the bridge.

Therefore, my guest for today is answering a set of questions that reveal not only the connection I mentioned above, but an amazing soul, as well.

After reading her words, I’m sure you will be giving her standing ovations (add creativity and you’ll get my point). I know I did!


1. Hi Rana, please introduce yourself, in a few words, for the people that never had a chance to talk to you.

Sure, I’m from Sydney Australia and currently have a corporate training and coaching company called Limitlessminds. I personally specialize in sales, NLP and mindset training, but Limitlessminds does all sorts of corporate training.

My mission is to make people fall in love with sales and not fear it. Because I believe that once you can sell, you can sell anything. Whether it’s your idea, or even self into any job. I used to use my sales knowledge to get jobs I was under-qualified for and had a high success rate.

Besides my sales, mindset and business experience, I am originally a trained actor, writer and filmmaker and I once did have a dream of walking the red carpet. I have always suffered from the travel bug and I have to set myself lots of career and personal development goals to get rid of it.

2. We connected a while back and I’m really happy to have you as guest. Especially as you were so kind as to accept answering my questions with such short notice. Tell us, please, how do you see diversity? And how did it contribute to the one you are today?

Diversity, for me, is walking into an organization and not just seeing all the same types of people. For example: all young white men who graduated from Harvard working at Deloitte; I want to see old men and women, young inexperienced people, and disabled people… Different cultures, graduates and high school drop outs; single people, divorced mothers with kids, married folks… Depressed and happy people; skinny and overweight people… Those who share different opinions and beliefs!

” I’m a free spirit, who feels repressed if I don’t share my truth”

I don’t want to feel like I’m in a one-dimensional place that’s shallow and uninteresting. That’s why I love East London, in comparison to west London.

3. Talking about diversity, I was tremendously happy to acknowledge your collaboration with Michael Chapman, especially as you two never met in person. Please tell us about how did this all start.

True, I’ve never met Michael in person. We met on LinkedIn. We used to engage with each other’s content, but didn’t know each other well. Then we started chatting in messages and, one day, we thought we should jump on the phone and have a conversation, through Skype. On our second conversation, he was trying to sell his services to me; I then turned it around and convinced him to partner with me, on the “Selling for Non-Salespeople” on-line video program I wanted to create. He was sold and we ended up working around the clock collaborating, as well as getting that content on-line and selling the program.

With Michael, although I had never met him, I liked how he had the guts to pitch to me and was impressed with his sales leadership experience. I also checked out his LinkedIn recommendations and he had the best recommendations I had ever read! Sales people who he managed looked up to him and were writing about how he either changed or inspired their lives. I knew immediately that this was a man I wanted to befriend or work with.

4. OK, so sales course for non-sales people. I know I’m a fan of your video tips. However, please briefly tell us – in written – what is the feedback you received so far, from your attendees.

You see, I’ve been delivering the ‘Selling for Non-Salespeople’ content for 5 years. It’s through face to face training through my own company Limitlessminds, as well as when I worked with KPMG. For example, KPMG had lots of non-sales people (such as consultants to partners. who were technically brilliant, but had no idea how to go out there and negotiate or network. So, throughout the years, it has had outstanding reviews and results.

I’ve even delivered this course to deaf people, who had to sell in their roles. One deaf girl once walked up to me after the session and, with tears in her eyes, said how she doesn’t feel lost and nervous about selling anymore and how much she appreciated the session. For me that was a goosebumps moment where I knew that what I was doing served a good purpose!

The reason I wanted to take the course on-line was because I had clients who wanted accessibility and others who were more international.

5. And why should people join, from now on. Are there any future plans of expanding this course?

I believe everyone is a sales person, whether they like it or not. The course will not only help them sell their products or services, but selves. It will help ease their anxiety about selling and create an infinite amount of opportunities, whether career, relationships or wealth.

I personally believe that for an entrepreneur to be successful, they need to know how to sell. And for an organization to be successful, everyone there should learn sales, from the secretary to the CEO. In fact, we have lots of diversity on the Selling for non-Salespeople program and have several CEOs, secretaries and everyone in between.

As for future plans we will have to see, as we want to nurture this program first.

6. Let’s go a bit into personal development area, please. Tell us a bit about yourself as NLP coach. What is it and why did you choose this?

I leant about NLP from my job, when I used to sell timeshares. We were introduced to Tony Robbins in our sales training. Tony’s techniques are mostly NLP. So, because I was so impressed with these tools Tony was using and how they were changing lives, I wanted to learn them. So, I eventually took a NLP practitioner course, in London.

Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) is a personal and professional development method that deals with the way we think, behave, as well as how we view the world and our experiences.

“It [NLP] is basically a user manual for our minds.”

And with the NLP techniques, we can alter our perceptions, reality and moods.

How I use NLP in my training and coaching? Is mostly for mindset and self-belief. Unless you have the right mindset as a salesperson, then it doesn’t matter about what skills you have, you simply won’t succeed.

7. Allow me, please, to ask you a few more personal questions. I know you’re a vegan and the most convinced animal defender. What drove to this?

To be honest, I have never really cared about animals or considered them into the morale equation. But then, my best mate went vegan. He preached a lot and I hated it! It’s because I used to dislike vegans and thought they were self-righteous weirdos.

Then, one day, I finally agreed to watch the documentary he was begging me to watch, called Earthlings, on YouTube. It was then when I had a major paradigm shift. In this film I saw the most horrible things I had ever witnessed. I saw animals being tortured, while kicking and screaming. Crying out in pain and all were fighting for their last breath. Then soon, I learnt about something called Speciesism, which is similar to sexism and racism. Us humans are speciesists towards animals and use our power and dominion over them to enslave and use them in anyway we can.

I once heard this quote by William Ralph Inge: “We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form.” And I think this quote is sadly true…

For me, speaking out about animals is not just for the animal’s sake, but also for humans. I’ve had so many people reach out and tell me how their life and health has changed because of veganism. Advocating for Veganism is one of the easiest sales I ever had to make!

8. I love the fact that you are strong in position and I admire your power of speaking your mind. Especially as you know that people may not agree with you 😊 How did you get to this attitude?

It could be genetic, because many women in my family are like this. But what helped this attitude is probably because I’m a free spirit, who feels repressed if I don’t share my truth. My values are more about social justice, freedom and fairness, than profit and greed. But at the same time, it’s important to speak your truth, without making people feel attacked.

Over the years I have learnt that speaking my mind needs the right context. For example, you probably don’t see me speaking my mind on animal liberation often on LinkedIn, because for me it’s not the right context. Or, if I’m in a business meeting, I need to be tactful if I don’t agree with something.

9. You’re an awesome friend and I’m really honored to have crossed paths with you. The power in your words encourage me to never give up on who I really am. But tell me, when did you realize that what doesn’t align with your values needs to be let go of?

Thanks, and likewise! I can see that we are both very similar. I realized pretty early on when I used to hang out with certain people who used to be very different. For example, they would make fun of others and how they looked. Or spoke about reality TV shows and finding a rich boyfriend. These things didn’t really resonate with me and, so, I would either get into arguments with them, or have to move away from that environment.

It’s important that I surround myself with people who help me grow, learn and inspire me. And this doesn’t have to do with their status, wealth or a job. I can sometimes find more wisdom and inspiration in a conversation with a person who is in a mental hospital or a cleaner, than a person who is high up in society and seems to have it all together. This attitude is because of my mum, by the way! She’s instilled these values in me since I was a child. But she’s a gentle soul compared to me. I have never heard her speak ill of anyone in all my life! In fact, she’s a peacemaker who does not have one enemy.

10. Do you have a daily routine helping you maintain this healthy mindset? Can you share it with us?

I actually don’t, to be honest! Which I don’t advise. I will get into a strict routine, soon. My business is pretty intense, at the moment, and I travel a lot for it. So, I sometimes feel like I can lose control of the work and health balance. But I do notice that when I don’t do any form of exercise, yoga and eat junk, then I can get depressed.

” Peace can only start when we respect the most vulnerable!

So, for me the most important thing is to eat healthy and move, because this really affects my mind, health and my business. But if I had to say my most consistent routine ever, then it’s a coffee as soon as I wake up.

11. We talked about routine. But, as I’m very curious by default, I need to ask: what do you do what you get bored?

Since I was a child, I have never suffered from boredom or loneliness. I believe that boredom is sometimes a void we need to fill. I love my own company and that’s probably why I can stay single for long periods of time. Because it’s not an intrinsic need. I have a pretty vivid imagination and used to write lots of fiction. I also have pretty interesting conversations with myself.

12. Please tell us… What are the values you would never let go of, no matter what? And what is the greatest lesson you learned in the past years?

a) Animal liberation and speaking up for them. I believe that if we teach children to respect all animals then they will grow up to respect everyone. Peace can only start when we respect the most vulnerable.

b) Autonomy, because I’m a free spirit. I can’t be in a micro-management situation or in a controlling relationship.

c) Experience over material. I prefer to spend lots of money on life experiences, learning and traveling, rather than having the latest gadgets, cars or biggest house.

Something I’ve learnt in the last few years is that having money matters and changing my values around what it represents is vital. I’ve always been the ‘money is evil’ type of person and was always broke. So, it wasn’t until I changed my attitude towards it, that I was able to make money and realize that it can’t only help me, but my family, friends, others and social causes.

13. When did you understand the power of communication and relationship building? Is your sales area of expertise the first reason for your understanding?

Yes, it was definitely through my sales experience and training. It didn’t come naturally to me at all. I’ve always been good at connecting with people, but also was good at being pushy and assertive in asking for the sale. Which doesn’t always work.

“I can sometimes find more wisdom and inspiration in a conversation with a person who is in a mental hospital or a cleaner (…)”

At the same time, I’m not into small talk or huge networking events. But it wasn’t until I started my own business and really had to sell or starve that I had no choice but to understand the true value of relationships. And the more I give, build relationships and connect with people, the more I actually get back.

14. Though communication plays a great role into your personal and professional life, you cut it off sometimes. When is that?

I have no problem cutting off communication with bullies and those who don’t respect others! I’m pretty straightforward and what you see is what you get. But in saying that, I do go above and beyond for my clients and those I have worked for.

15. As a conclusion, I know that you always take a stand for your “tribe”, proving your loyalty with each step. Consequently, please let us know what would be your message for the people “messing around” with your close ones.

My message is a question:

Do you want to be the person who inspired and changed someone’s life, or made them cry and even contemplate suicide?

Every word, action and treatment we give someone either is contributing to a kinder or more toxic world.


I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I know that these answers blew my mind entirely. I tried to choose a favorite answer, yet I simply cannot! Even the conclusion is hard to get built, since I’m not sure what else I could add…

However, I’m telling you this:

If you feel uncomfortable about selling (alike myself) or if you need an objective, straightforward opinion, contact Rana. I know I will take her classes. I sooo need this!

*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 Rana Kordahi*

Rana Kordahi can be reached via the following channels:


Profile page:
Company page:


Next week (05.07.2018)Dominika Weston

#VulneRevolution Interview Series – ep. 09 – Christine Robinson, Project Management Team Leader

Understanding Vulnerability

Another powerful woman has joined the “tribe” to speak about vulnerability. Enjoy!


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 ( 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?

The willingness to put yourself in a position to be misunderstood, rejected or persecuted by those you are seeking to connect with relationally, whether on a personal or professional level. To be vulnerable is to peel back whatever protective measures you’ve applied to yourself and your life and be intimate in that exposure with someone who can make that sensitive moment unbearable or sublime. You place trust in their response, their own free will to choose you or not. In the revelation, you also choose to respect their reaction as their own and not demand the response you desire.

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

I enjoyed a great culture in my last position, that allowed me to be who I was in every sense. Also, it nurtured a safe environment where I could reveal my insecurities about project challenges, public speaking and conflict resolution, during some real tough times in my career with my manager.

3. What happened?

I was always heard and encouraged, provided sound advice whenever possible, and given a shoulder to lean on when I needed it, while given the respect of confidentiality in sharing sensitive subjects. I have been in very different cultures – through the years – that did not provide the same level of trust or follow through, so it was great.

” [Vulnerability] was a great catalyst for change in me “

4. Do you regret it?

Not at all! It was a great catalyst for change in me. as a professional who grew in confidence, was willing to take risks and make mistakes, knowing I had a team who had my back. You can’t put a price on that and how it affects your growth and your freedom to not just do your job but excel as a leader, as a person.

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

Definitely a sign of strength! Almost like a violent humility. In that, we are willing to open ourselves up to the potential negativity of others and have chosen not to judge them for their response, but to accept the choice of their free will, even as we seek to connect and reach understanding. It is one of the greatest expressions of intimacy, which is an odd thing to say we seek in the marketplace, but – nevertheless – an essential aspect of a connected culture.

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

It helped me understand just how important these cultural values are to me; to anyone who desires to not just initiate but also receive quality connectedness in all their relationships, while also determining which relationships are real enough to keep. I would highly recommend that people start opening up! If it’s a really hard thing, start with those closest to you, with whom you have created trust and safety. It becomes easier as you practice it.

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



Christine Robinson 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:



*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 Christine Robinson*


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A spotlight on a wordsmith (My Story)

(Interview taken by Karen van Hout, originally published on LinkedIn)


SHE is fun, strong, caring, curious, hardworking and loves to write. On regular basis she shines a light on other people. Like the wordsmith she is, she ties the answers together. Sketching a picture of the person she interviews. I think it’s highly time that someone shines a light on her.

Here is……………..Andrada Anitei!

Read, be amazed and if you have any writing to do, please contact her.


Andrada, as you write wonderful stories about other people, I think is time for a light to be placed over you. How does it feel to be in the spotlights yourself?

Weird… Definitely unusual! I’m the one asking the questions on a regular basis; so this is a new, challenging experience for me. Spotlights? Clearly not for me! I’m more of a backstage person.

A lot of people know you from your stories. Who is the person behind those stories?

Me. Just me. A regular person, from Romania. The ‘what you see is what you get’ kind of woman. I have 2 wonderful daughters, whom I hope to bring up in a simple, yet meaningful manner.

I value integrity, honesty and friendship, above all. I give people all my trust, but cut it on the way, if necessary. Once it reaches zero, I’m gone for good. No regrets, no turning back. I used to be naive (well, I still am, at times, as I’m a dreamer by default), but life taught me that cautiousness is needed. I still struggle with that.

I’m passionate about personal development and a mindfulness ‘adept’. I’m in love and I hope God will keep this going for the rest of my life, as I’ve had pretty rough experiences in the past.

I’m clearly being vulnerable, yet I’m not afraid of that, because my inner child envisions the magic people hide behind a mask. And, as I like to say…

People are beautiful, but they don’t know it yet!’

I take the chance of being judged for what I think (and I always speak my mind), yet – to be honest – I don’t really care. I’m being transparent and whoever judges me instead of making an effort to understand, is not ready for my truth.

I think courage defines me pretty well, accompanied by determination, solution-finding and passion. If you read between the lines, all my writing displays the unconventional.

On a professional level I’m a freelance writer, editor, web designer and video creator. I have built all my websites out of curiosity and drive for continuous improvement. I started with a Google website, switched to, wordpress (all free versions); and, in the last months, I managed to buy my own domain ( to host all my work. But, unfortunately, due to my Webhost, my online home is down for more than 2 weeks and I can’t seem to figure out a way to make them ‘revive’ it.

Andrada Anitei in Karen van Hout's interview


‘Trying to understand is way 

more valuable than judging’


What life lessons have you gained, that other people should know?

Wow! This is huge! Well, with all the openness, I’m telling you that part of my lessons can be found in one of Chinedu’s videos, where my voice is his friendly advisor. I highly recommend people to watch that video and listen carefully (find it here).

Besides the ones in the video, I learned that trying to understand is way more valuable than judging. When we judge, we allow ourselves to be weak and subjective. Whereas, when we take the outside information and run it through our personal thinking filter, chances are for us to be as objective as possible. We may realize that an idea, a word, a fact can always have more angles of perception than the common accepted one. I, for one, always try to analyze a happening from at least 2 (maybe even 3) perspectives, in order to get the big picture. I’m not saying that it will always be correct, but in 90% of the cases I’m right. As arrogant as that may sound, this is the truth, due to the fact that I listen to my inner voice.

That’s another valuable lesson I learned over the past year: to always let myself guided by (what I like to call) ‘the midget’. That little gears’ keeper is there for a reason and every time I listened to it, the outcome was even better than what I expected. On the other hand, whenever I ignored it, I had a lesson to learn.

One more thing… I was afraid of failure, for so many years. But I understood that the magic happens once you get out of your box (that is, leave your comfort zone) and start looking for the benefits the unknown may have in store for you.

As a motto, I will give you a phrase a very dear friend of mine told me, a few months back:

Dream of life. Then wake-up and live it!

Why do you do what you do?

Why? That’s a big question. But I love challenges. I like to say that if I had an easy life, I would have complicated it myself. 😃

Why? Let’s see. First of all, because I needed to break free from the conventional. I have a problem with following imposed rules, especially the ones that can’t provide me with a valid ground.

Second, because I love what I do. I love writing from the bottom of my heart, because it gives me the freedom I was always looking for. I believe that writing is like a well made clean up: once you take a thought and populate blank rows with it, you give yourself a chance to make more room in your mind, for other thoughts to come visit. If you ask me, a non-voiced thought remains in the back of our brains and will, eventually, harm us. Because it will not remain hidden forever. It will emerge, most probably in a critical period of our lives, taking the shape of a volcano. And what happens when a volcano erupts? It destroys everything in its way, most of the times.

I’ve experienced this many times, yet my father’s recent dementia episode (which, thank God, is under control now) made me realize the possible (dangerous) repercussions on one’s mind.

And 3rd on my ‘why list’ is because I want my kids to understand the benefits of thinking for themselves; the freedom of following their dream; the chances they give themselves, once they stop following the masses and rusty doctrines; and the uselessness of fearing what they don’t know.

Andrada Anitei's kids for Karen van Hout's interview


‘I want my kids to understand the benefits of 

thinking for themselves; the freedom of 

following their dream’

I noticed you are very keen on discovering who the other person is. Where does that come from?

I think my curiosity comes, first and foremost, from the chance I never got to be heard and understood.

Don’t get me wrong, I have wonderful parents, that did their best to give me everything they could. Yet, due to several circumstances (my mother’s illness even before I was born and my father’s obligation to be the sole pillar of the family) was traumatic, to some extent. Just a few days ago I realized this, due to a wonderful woman that connected with me offline. Rahila Khan is a magnificent human being, that instantly felt my need to cure my inner child. I’m still learning to do this, yet the call with her meant the world to me. I cried, I learned to hug myself and accept and release all the past hurt.

And so, I understood why I can’t see my value the way others do. My greatest dream was to become a singer. But no one had the time to listen… My article “When kids meet” explains everything, I guess…

To answer your question… Most of us have hard times and no one is there in the exact moment we need. So, I’ve come to genuinely be interested in what people keep locked. Not for sharing the information, because I believe privacy is sacred. But for a better personal understanding of where the person comes from.

You may be surprised, but people who others can’t stand, are beautiful to me. Maybe because I’m a weirdo myself? 😃

I’ve become addicted to human interaction, though I used to be an introvert. Paradox? Well, I’m full of those 😃 But I have an article pending on the topic. 😉

Curiosity drives evolution quote from Karen van Hout's interview

‘Curiosity drives evolution’

What makes you curious?

My strong belief that curiosity drives evolution. But, trust me, sometimes ‘ignorance is a bliss’ (in quotes because is not my saying, but I had to use it – the rightful owner knows themselves, but privacy comes first).

Also, I do believe that the more unrelated things you know, the better you can put the puzzle pieces together, in order to get the big picture of life. Yet, I’m not intrusive. If people want to talk to me, I will never force them to unveil something they don’t want. I presume this is directly linked to the respect I like to think I’m showing to everyone I come in contact with, even if this may not be returned. Nevertheless, if we do something just for the sake of it, always waiting for the coin to flip, we’d better stop and think again.

It’s an art to interpret people the way you do. How do you do that? What’s your magic trick?

Well, I’ll burst that bubble… I have no magic trick. Disappointed? Shouldn’t be. 😉 The only thing I do is to listen. Actively. That’s all. 😊

I’ve been told that talking to me is like seeing a good therapist. People tell me that I send a good vibe. And, as many of us know, vibe is energy. And energy gets transferred immediately, without asking for approval.

Do you know the ‘instant click’ kind of feeling? I think that’s what is all about. I can’t establish that kind of connection with everyone, obviously, but that’s fine. And I never force myself to. It needs to come natural.

The only thing that I’m looking for when talking to someone is sincerity. I offer it. And I hope I get it back.

What do you get out of writing personal stories of others?

Do we always need to gain something from what we do? But let me answer the question…

When writing the stories of others, the first thing I get is knowledge. Someone’s experience may prevent me from making a certain mistake, which I may have not even been aware of. I learn about situations I never witnessed or learn a different angle of approaching a problem I might have faced, but I couldn’t find a solution to fit my values to.

Writing people’s stories is thought provoking. And I love to be mentally challenged! This is, actually, the way that the person I’m in love with managed to get to me… 😊

Andrada & her kids for Karen van Hout's interview

What’s your own personal story?

Oh, my…. Where do I begin?

I was the kind of shy kid, who would never want to bother a fly (and I’m not friends with bugs!). I was never the one to be invited to high school parties or even get invited for a drink. Paradoxically, in my teenage years, I would be the one to ask for a date. I think I always had the courage buried deep within, yet I only became aware of it once I had to end my toxic marriage.

Yes, he was never ready, but I pushed it. I pushed the first date, I pushed him to get married and I pushed him to become a father. Doing a bit of introspection, I think it was because of my selfish desire to have a beautiful family.

Yet, that is due to the perception we’re being imprinted ever since we are born. We’re being taught what to think, what is ‘best’, what is ‘wrong’, how to analyze a situation from a perspective that does not belong to us. And, if we are not aware of the fact that we can think for ourselves, we tend to take everything for granted. We believe that a person should look for happiness outside, while it is always within. We’re being guided to follow the masses, even if what they say or do contradicts our values. We’re being forbidden to voice our minds. We’re being preached that vulnerability is weakness. We should surround ourselves with a high wall, while all we wish for is to tear them all down.

Want to know me even better? Even if my most appealing website is down, I’d rather guide you towards the old one, to an article called I am… Ask me…’ written last year (August 2017).

You are a marvellous writer. Do you write for others as well?

Thank you very much for the compliment! I am honored! 😊

Well…. Yes. I do write for others. But not for anyone. And not because I’m arrogant, but – as I said above – I need a connection to happen. If I can’t get that feeling of genuine collaboration, I turn it down. Someone told me that I choose my interviewees very well. Well, that’s the criterion. I need to FEEL.

My writing is not about the money, but about making me feel that I can add value to others. I want to showcase beauty, not answer volumes. I choose quality over quantity. Always!

My editing is not just for grammar and punctuation – it goes hand in hand with rephrasing, for a better understanding of the human touch.

My websites need to represent the person behind the business, not just answer the conformity rules of rigidity.

And my videos… well… they need to tell a story. Just like my writing does.

‘My writing is not about the money, but about making me feel that I can add value to others’

What can people reach out to you for?

Anyone who is genuinely interested in working with me needs to, first of all, acknowledge that I may not take their offer. I’ve had too many offers that under-valued my skills. Again, not from an arrogance standpoint, yet from the ‘I didn’t see that coming’ perspective.

As I mentioned, I still have hard times in realising my true value, yet I definitely know that I would never underestimate or overestimate myself, while remaining flexible and adjust as per my clients’ needs and situations.

What can people reach out to me for?

1. Telling me their stories, under any shape: ghost-writing, web copies, blog content writing and posting (the latter requires an additional pinch of trust), articles of any kind (but please, keep bugs preventing away!), interviews… My dream is to write for a magazine and I plan to start my own one, soon.

2. Editing services. I’m in love with arts, so my eye will always go for beauty. If I don’t like it, I won’t present it to the world. So, I can take a text and make it attractive. Rephrasing is what I love best about it.

3. Proofreading. I have a thing for errors… 😃

4. Books/ products/ services reviews. I’ll make sure the values of the company are outlined.

5. Web design. As I said, since I’ve built my own, I can work with WordPress, Blogspot, Google or GoDaddy. Of course, I know about others as well like Wix, Weebly, etc), but they did not fit my requirements (and I’m pretty picky when it comes to details and features). My technical background (for user testing, reporting or system implementation) would never me allow me to overlook important aspects.

6. Research or statistics.

7. Video creation or editing. I can do funny videos, professional videos… I love to make transcripts and insert captions and background music (which needs to, definitely, match the message).

8. Writing tips (besides the ones presented in my #10tips10dyas challenge, which spoke about interviewing only).

9. Any kind of collaboration that does not involve betraying my values (e.g.: please understand that my phone number is not for sale and neither is my image). I may not be Miss Universe, yet I’ve been sent many messages for non-orthodox proposals.

Andrada Anitei profile picture for Karen van Hout's interview

How can they reach you if they want to work with you?

There are 2 channels I want to use, for several reasons:

1. My e-mail address: (Please avoid spam and! Make a bit of an effort and send an individual message!)

2. My LinkedIn profile (

Last but not least: You just mentioned the ten tips challenge. I realized that you are good at teaching others. Are there plans for a sequel?

Ha! You caught me red-handed here. 😃 When I was young, I wanted to become a teacher (of course, later on, after I wanted to become a princess 😃).

On the other hand, people keep on telling me I should go for coaching. I’m pondering over this, for now. I think I might do that and I’m not sure what keeps me from it, in this moment (I can’t help myself to “speak” out loud…). Maybe because I didn’t see it as something I need to go for. I guess I have actually been doing it all my life, so to speak… People ask for my opinion in a natural way and in the same natural way I provide them with answers. We’ll see…

‘Smile! Have a break. Fool around. Never give up’

What should people know and is not mentioned here, yet? 

a) I love sarcasm (especially British humor, that most people avoid).

b) I have 3 books under the pen (a love story, a motivational stories book and a “how-to” book). Did I say 3? Let me add my biography… but that one will, probably, be completed before I take my last breath 😃

To be fair, one of them (the love story) is only waiting for a benevolent publicist or someone to help me self-publish. I tried that, but expenses prevented me from purchasing a simple plug-in for Kindle format editing. What else…

c) I love coffee and my time alone in the first hour of the morning (for your safety, stay away until I’m done sipping the last drip 😃).

d) I love analogies.

e) I want to move to Australia for the rest of my days.

f) Norma Kraft is my ‘on-line mommy’ and I’ll love and support her till I die! By the way, remember to support #AgeDoesNotDefineUs campaign she will be rolling out soon.

g) Plagiarism is theft!

h) Smile! You can heal a soul with it!

i) Have a break from the world from time to time. You’ll thank yourself, as you will manage to see the world through a different lens, when you come back.

j) Fool around! Life is not just for worries. Watch my latest #gratefulcookie video and I’m sure you’ll understand.

k) Excuses hold us back – due to fear (unreal), while reasons may be grounded in reality.

l) Never give up on values to attain balance! And never give up on balance to attain a status!

m) Eyes never lie. They are the shortest road to a soul.

n) Life is more than just a label. Get rid of it! Because perfection is a journey, not a “me first” competition.

o) Learn dancing in the rain and no storm will seem too strong. Learn playing with the rain drops and they will guide you towards the sun.

p) Enjoy the NOW! Nothing lasts forever.

q) Embrace whatever comes to you. This single thought (adopted as mindset on the 1st of January this year) changed my life. It’s been 6 months since I’ve adopted it, yet my life took loads of (beneficial) turns.

r) Believe in yourself!

s) Dream big and work for it!

t) Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself. So, be yourself; everybody else is taken!

u) People who judge are afraid of what you could actually accomplish. They secretly envy you for your power to stand tall for your values and beliefs. And for following your heart.

v) You can always make a habit out of anything. Know that choice is always in your hands. So, choose to make a habit out of rising after each fall! You will only grow stronger!

w) Everything happens for a reason, even if we may not understand it on the spot.

And, as a last message… I wish you this:

‘Let there be a thunder of happiness!’


Karen van Hout is the founder of OF WOOD and offers Systemic (Team)Coaching, Counselling & Training for Passionate Female Professionals in the Benelux.

She enables these high potential female professionals to take on or improve their (leadership)performance.

Are you looking for the person who can help you or your team member to: – take up the (leadership) role confidentially and position appropriately – understand and know how to counteract gender bias and stereotypes – understand team dynamics and how to respond to this – improve human relationships, joy and motivation at work, Feeling confident, acknowledged and contributing to a greater good?

Let’s talk. Contact Karen via email at: for a no obligation chat. She’d be happy to help you to improve your results.