Impact & Leadership Strategist. Social Psychologist. Adventurer. Entrepreneur. Avid Reader. Public Speaker. Mindset Coach. Dog Lover. Yogi. Mountain-Biker. Two-Parts Realist; One Part Incurable Utopian.
Living between cultures
Moving to a new country is daunting and considered one of the top 3 most stressful events in someone’s life. I was born in Poland and grew up in Germany as an immigrant and refugee. We lived in an immigration camp for 5 years. But I refused to call myself a refugee because I was ashamed that we didn’t fit in. I didn’t realize that my parents were actually part of a tiny elite group – 3% of the people in the world are brave enough to move to a new country. It took me years to fully appreciate their vision and courage to take a huge step into the unknown.
Written in retrospect, my story is the story of overcoming negative emotions, changing my mindset and stepping into my authentic power by letting go of the narratives people created for me.
My friends didn’t understand my life between two cultures. “You are not from here”, “This is not your mother tongue, so don’t put pressure on yourself”. I guess in their own weird way, they were trying to comfort me. But what I understood was: I can’t be as good as them because I didn’t belong. Teachers would summon my parents to school just to “warn” them that I probably wouldn’t finish high school and that going to university wasn’t a realistic option for me. As an immigrant, you don’t get all the benefits of the state. Counseling or career guidance was not accessible. Looking back, this is the reason why I did everything I could to stay independent.
The other side of compassion
As much as I appreciated the compassion and understanding. I know now that it wasn’t what I needed at the time. What I needed was someone to sit down with me and help me understand and give me guidance. It took me so long to fully understand my emotions and recognize that there was nothing wrong with me and that it had everything to do with people’s fixed mindset bound by their culture. The invisible impact of these experiences still fascinates me today.
Sometimes things seem so complicated that it’s easier to tell people not to worry. It’s much harder to explain. By helping people understand we open doors and create a feeling of abundance and opportunity.
It was only in South Africa that I realized I had the vision and my parents’ courage. I watched my parents hustle and develop a hustling spirit too. After all, I am part of an elite club of people brave enough to yearn for more out of the world. I have the skills and the power to influence the world I live in.
Building my cocoon!
Stepping into authenticity and power starts by embracing your emotions, developing a positive mindset, and creating a long-term strategy that keeps you motivated and on track to create the impact that you desire.
In my youth, social justice quickly became a part of my work. At 17, I was trained as a peer-to-peer mediator and facilitator by the Anne Frank Museum in Frankfurt. I worked with a reconciliation team, working with holocaust survivors, accompanying them on their journey through the past and through the difficult process of letting it go. I worked with teenagers in anti-racism work and even joined a labor union to support young people and their labor rights.
After a year in New York, I came home and started my first company at 20 to make some money to explore the world and its many cultures. I found myself working for big companies like Renault, VW, Lazard M&A, SEB Bank, Channel, as a strategist, researcher, and coach. But, it was now time to carve a path for my future. Although I encountered some amazing people along the way that impacted me significantly, I was armed with very little career guidance so, I followed my heart and entered the field of Sociology, Philosophy, and Art History.
Let change of perspective widen your horizon.
I had a big worldview. Knowing that a traditional career wasn’t the path for me. This mixed with the deep-seated feeling that there was more out there for me because I didn’t really belong at the end of the day, and I no longer wanted to. I embarked on a different kind of journey.
Towards the end of my Master’s degree, I was offered a scholarship to South Africa with the option of adding an Honors Degree in group Dynamics. It was an opportunity that changed my life, and allowed me to get clearer about my purpose.
The abbreviation on Kwame Nkrumah famous quote: “I wasn’t born in Africa, Africa was born in me” is what solved my identity crisis.
After 8 months in South Africa, where I experienced a personal awakening, I returned home and experienced a cultural shock. I knew I needed to go back to South Africa. So, I finished my Master’s thesis on the “Practice of Emotions”, not yet understanding why I chose this topic or how relevant it would be for my future career. I applied for a research position at a Merger & Acquisition bank to ensure that I could save enough money to move to South Africa and give myself enough time to figure out how I could make an impact in the world.
Connection, Growth, and Clarity!
As humans we want to belong, we want to contribute and we want to be accepted. As immigrants, we want to prove and show that we are as worthy as the rest. As female immigrants, we want to create impact and help. Being part of creating a world in which we can all thrive and be who we want to be without the need to understand where we come from.
One day, while contemplating on my experiences, it dawned on me; the more experience you go through in life, the more power you have to create change. You just have to be willing to claim it.
I knew I needed to change the world in order to heal people. Hence, I needed to change the structure and create strategies that allow people to be impactful. South Africa made me feel like I belonged. The cultural diversity, people from all over the world coming together in one place, most of us outsiders, different, thought leaders and provokers. This was when I understood that I could choose who I wanted to be.
The big moment
Once I gained clarity, everything happened simultaneously: I started working on my Ph.D. in Social Psychology and received a tremendous opportunity to teach at the Nelson Mandela University while working on my research on masculinity and emotions in high-security prison facilities. I also started two non-profits to work on projects that I believed in and continued running my own consulting company. Learning fast was the only option to become as impactful as possible.
Personally, I don’t believe that there is anything wrong with any one of us, so I never intended to become a therapist. But, the topic of emotions came as a brilliant research suggestion from my professor. Finally, the bridge between the social and the individual aspects of how our world works. They are what connects us, what connects our inner self with our outer world. Emotions are powerful, and if you understand your emotions instead of cultural emotions, you will be miles ahead of the game.
What is an Impact Consultant?
When I think of impact, I think of your ability to set your own rules. Even more so, step into your authentic self by overcoming fear and judgment. Starting by embracing your power by knowing that you control your thoughts and emotions – and with that your experiences, your reactions and actions. It also means that no-one can take away your power, because it lies within you.
Stepping into authenticity and power starts by embracing your emotions. It continues with developing a positive mindset and creating a long-term strategy. After all, that’s what keeps you motivated and on track to create the impact that you desire.
It is because of my personal history and the lesson’s I have learned that I structure my work around MINDSET, EMOTIONAL POWER and STRATEGY.
This is what I bring to personal sessions, as well as group settings and corporate offerings.
The question I am eager and ready to answer is not where are you from, but who do you want to be and what do you want to impact? That is when the real conversation begins!
The work of an impact consultant
As an impact consultant, I become your accountability partner, your strategist, and coach. Establishing a strategy and boundaries that will help you move the needle.
The holistic approach to success through mind, body & soul!