Welcome to episode #177 of Explode Your Expert Biz Show, brought to you by http://gtex.org.uk/,
I am your host, Simone Vincenzi, The Experts Strategist, and this is the podcast for experts who want to become the ultimate authority in their niche while making an impact in the world.
Today I have the pleasure to Interview our GTeX Lifetime Member Stella Maher
Teenage girls and young women face immense pressure to look ‘perfect’ and they’ve been feeling that pressure for quite a few decades. In the past, popular magazines on newsstands dictated the standards for how girls should look and what they should wear. Today that pressure has intensified, thanks to social media. Stella is an incredible youth confidence coach and campaigner against cancer.
In this live coaching session, we talk about
- Putting health above appearance.
- Accepting young women for who they are.
- Supporting young women to feel beautiful in their own skin no matter their shape or size.
Connect with Stella Maher
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Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another episode of Explode Your Expert Business Show. Today I’m here with the one and only Stella Maher. How are you doing, Stella?
– I’m fine, thank you, Simone. How are you?
– I am incredibly well. I’m really excited about this interview. We are going to talk about confidence, the amazing work that you do also for young women, which is very needed in society right now.
– Thank you.
– So I’m really happy to explore the work that you do and the impact that you make in young people’s life. But before I start and we talk about that, why don’t you give us a bit of background of how did you end up having this passion and doing what you do now?
– I think I’d like to start by telling you the story of Rachel. Rachel is a young woman, she’s 19 years old. She’s five foot four inches tall. She weighs 70 kilogrammes, and she has two sides. She has has an interior side and exterior side. Right, on the inside, Rachel is very self-assured, confident, and strong and beautiful. But the problem is that Rachel has no idea that she has these qualities. On the outside, Rachel feels very insecure. She struggles with low self-esteem. She struggles with lack of confidence brought on by peer pressure, by family pressure, by academic pressure, societal pressure. And you know the worst pressure of all? The pressure to look like Kim Kardashian and all the celebrities on Love Island.
– That’s her biggest pressure. So she’s constantly comparing herself with these celebrities because she’s constantly being bombarded on social media with images and pictures and messages about these supposedly perfect-looking celebrities, and she keeps comparing herself to them. And to make matters worse, one of her friends then tells her that she doesn’t have the bikini body, whatever that means. So as a result, Rachel is constantly stressing about her appearance. Last night, Rachel said goodnight to her parents and her kid brother. She walked up to her bedroom, she shut the door. She sat on her bed, and she rolled the sleeve, her left sleeve, and she started to cut up her arm with a razor. This is the third time that Rachel has self-harmed. And she’s not alone. There are thousands of young people out there who are going through exactly her experience. So my passion is to help young people like Rachel to discover that self-assured, strong, beautiful person hidden inside them and to help them to connect with that person. My passion is to help them, to help young people to take control of their lives before they sink into the depths of depression and have to resort to self-harming and to eating disorders. And this is why I do what I do. This is why I’m a confidence coach to young people.
– This is something I can relate to. I’ve done a lot of work with young people myself, and self-harm is one of the biggest things that is affecting young people today. And as you suggested and as you said, it’s because of this pressure, constant pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure that they have from the school, from the parents, from the media, from the magazines, from now the social media as well. I would love to know as well from you, what was your journey as a teenager? Were you born super confident, did you have to grow into it, what was your journey?
– Very, very far from it. In fact, as a teenager, I was bullied, and I was extremely shy, I had no confidence, I struggled with low self-esteem. I was bullied because I was very, well, for being skinny, and because I don’t believe that there is any ideal body shape. We’re all different, so it doesn’t matter whether you’re supposedly skinny or shapely or you’re like Kim Kardashian, you should be respected and loved for who you are. And so I struggled a great deal as a teenager, and that’s also why I decided to focus on coaching young people. Because back then, I wished I had somebody to help me, I wished I had somebody to hold my hand and to tell me that it was all right to look the way I did. I didn’t know that, and I thought it was wrong for me to look the way I did, and I stressed over it, and then I built this huge wall around me, and I was very much alone. So it was not a very pleasant time.
– And how did you come out of it?
– Well, I gradually started realising that I wanted more. I started out being a secretary, actually. I worked in admin, my background is actually in admin. I worked as on the PA, and I was busy organising other people’s lives, and when meanwhile, my own life was a mess. So that insecurity was always there. But gradually, I started to realise that I wanted more out of life. And so I started to develop a passion for self-development. And then I started finding out that the more I became aware of certain things, the more I wanted to help people to become the best that they could possibly be because I believed that in doing that, I would be helping myself as well. So in a way, becoming a coach actually saved me, let’s put it that way.
– What in particular did you use to help you? ‘Cause you said becoming a coach saved me. What did you use to change your life, what was the things that you did to have that, to be able to move forward in that way?
– Well, applying the principles I learned as a coach. It’s like, the good thing about a coach is that you’ve got to practise what you preach. You can’t tell your clients to do one thing and then do something different. You can’t tell them to be positive and then wallow in negativity yourself. So becoming a coach was also helping me to become all of those things I wanted to help my clients to become.
– And I’m curious about at what point did you realise that you wanted to become a coach?
– At what point you said, okay, this is the right path for me?
-That was about five years ago, actually, yeah. That’s when I realised I wanted to be, I attended a session by the body that I studied with. They had these taster sessions that they’d run in London. And I attended it, and that’s when I realised that that’s what I wanted to do. But even after that, I was still putting it off. It took something else to make me realise that I needed to really get going.
– And what was that something else? What was it for you?
– It took becoming ill with cancer for me to realise that I didn’t have, you know, that I could wake up and die the next day, and I didn’t have too much time to mess around, so that’s what pushed me.
– How did it affect you when, ’cause you know, getting diagnosed with cancer is not an easy news to take.
– And I had a lot of friends around me that every day almost I hear someone that I know which is diagnosed with cancer. And I’ve seen how a lot of them, they change, it becomes a turning point in their life. They make a lot of realisations.
– And other, they just get deep into depression.
– So what I’m curious to know, from your perspective, what was for you that made you go into, use it as a springboard rather than a weight under which you can suffocate?
– Well, it was a springboard for me because it gave me that realisation that I didn’t have too much time to mess around. I mean, cancer, it shows you that there are just, you can’t afford to wait and think I have all the time in the world, because when you’re told you have cancer, the last thing you have is all the time in the world. You could die, that became a reality for me that I could actually die, although luckily, I survived it. But the reality that I could die then was very, very real, and that’s what pushed me to go and get my qualification.
– Oh, it’s incredible to see how people like yourself then, first of all, well, congratulations, and I’m really happythat things turned out for the best.
– And we met each other.
– And in particular because of the fact that now this is part of your inspiration, this is part of your story, this is part of who you are. So based on the experience that you had with cancer, is there a message that you would like to give to our listeners right now that you learned from the experience?
– Well, what I learned from my experience with cancer is that life is for the living and that you should make the most of every opportunity that you have and appreciate the little things around you, appreciate your family, your friends, your relatives. And if there’s something that you’ve been putting off that you want to do, go for it. Don’t keep putting it off.
– And also to be a great example. So thank you very much for sharing.
– Thank you.
– I really appreciate it. So I want to talk about the work that you’re doing with young people now.
– Because it’s very relevant to also the work that we are doing as adults.
-It’s just some slightly different dynamics, but the skills and the tools are very similar.
– So what, if someone is a young person, let’s start from young people, and someone is a young person, and they want to build their confidence up, what are some of the steps that they can take to build their confidence as young people? And also, how can this be related to someone who’s actually starting a business or growing a business?
– Okay, the great thing about confidence, as I’ve come to realise, is that no one person is confident every single time, every single day. Not even experts. And as soon as I realised that, I told myself, you’ve got hope. And so the great thing about confidence is that anyone can acquire it, no matter how hopeless you are or how hopelessly you feel that you lack confidence. Because not even Tony Robbins is confident all the time. You are confident when you are in familiar surroundings and doing things that you’re familiar with and with people that you’re familiar with. And your confidence evaporates as soon as you find yourself things that are strange to you, things you’ve not tried before, things that, I’m sure you can relate to this as well, although you’re a very confident person.
– I do, I definitely can relate.
– Yes, and so that’s why I tell my clients that confidence is a skill that anybody can learn. It’s like building a muscle, it just takes practise and repetition. Anybody can be confident, no matter who they are.
– And do you find that there are, because you’re saying, what you said is that you become confident when you are doing something familiar. So if someone wants to become confident in one specific skill, is there a set of action that they can take to build that confidence or a strategy or a format that you would suggest them to follow?
– I was actually going to mention developing a new skill as one of the ways to build confidence. Because if there’s a skill that you’re trying to develop, then the best way to be confident in that skill is to find out everything there is to learn about that skill and keep learning it and keep practising it, and the more you do so, the more confident you become. It’s as simple as that.
– Yeah. I was thinking about when I did the stand-up comedy gig.
– A few months ago, or was last month, and even though public speaking and speaking in public, I’m very confident and do it every day. And unless it’s a really big gig, I don’t almost feel nervous anymore because of the amount of hours and amount of speaking gigs I’ve done.
– However, I did have to do my five minutes of stand-up comedy, oh, my God! I was nervous, I was scared!
– Because you’re not familiar with the bit, are you?
– Nope, not at all.
– Exactly. Yeah, but does that mean you didn’t get to learn and apply the skill? Maybe you’re still in that process, but you know, but that’s a skill that you’re working on at the moment, and the more you do it, the more confident you become. And I have to say that you were great, actually.
– Thank you.
– In your comedy gig.
– I appreciate it. I might be doing well, I might be doing well, and people kept laughing, so that was good.
– Yes, you did really well. It didn’t show that you were nervous.
– Oh, my God, I was so nervous, so, so nervous. And it’s really fascinating because in that case, in my opinion, all the nerves almost went away when I stepped on stage.
– So I was nervous before–
– But when I stepped on stage, because I feel it’s my element, then all the nerves went away, and I was just–
– And you were having fun.
– I was just having fun and talking and people were laughing, and I said, okay, this is good. And the more they were laughing, the more confidence I was getting, so I remembered at the end, my jokes were flowing much better than at the very beginning because at the beginning, I was still testing the ground and see how the audience was responding. And then all the audience, they were pretty drunk, so they would’ve laughed at anything.
-I was drunk.
-I said, okay, this a good gig, I can’t just play. I think it’s for people as you’re suggesting is also to understand that it takes time, and the more complex–
– The more complex the skill or the attitude that you want to build is, then the more time it takes and not to be, you know, get too much annoyed with themself if it takes years, because it might take a few years–
– Yes, it could take years.
– To become totally confident.
– Yes. After all, how long does it take to get a qualification? How long does it take to become a doctor or a lawyer? It takes years!
– So it’s the samefor building your confidence.
– And there are also some simple things you could do to develop your confidence, starting with staying away from negative people. That’s number one, because nothing deflates your confidence as much as hangin’ around people who are constantly putting you down. That’s number one.
– How do we get rid ofnegative people?
– You don’t necessarily, you know, get rid, as in, oops, I’m trying not to move too much, as in push them away. But you know, find a way, maybe it’s stop accepting invitations from them if they invite you out, you know, have a very good reason why you can’t go out, tell them very nicely that you’ve got other commitments. Honestly, there are some people who just, oh, my goodness, just drain the energy–
– And the life out of you with their outlook.
– I have been around some of them. You’re not one of them, by the way.
-I appreciate it, thank you very much.
– You’re the opposite.
– So now we talked about confidence, and we talked about staying away from negative people. And I think, guys, I mean, Stella’s worked a lot with teenagers, so for teenagers, it’s even–
– Thinking about their peers, the people they hang around with.
– And it’s very difficult for teenagers because I find that you know, they feel that they always have to say yes. I remember when I was a teenager–
– Yeah, me too.
– I was a massive people pleaser, because I wanted to be with the cool kids, and some of them, many of them, actually, their energy was very draining because I didn’t enjoy being there, but I wanted to be part of that group because that was the group of the cool kids and I wasn’t a cool kid. And I think it happens also for, in the entrepreneurial space. There are some people that will hang out in an environment as an entrepreneur just because they think they have to.
– Because of the business opportunities or the things they are going to learn or the connections that they’re going to make, but actually they don’t enjoy in being there. It’s an environment that is not conducive to them.
– So as an entrepreneur, as an expert, use the same advice, apply the same advice. Make the choice.
– And be very selective.
– Particularly for the young people, I would say, educate them, which is what I’m trying to do. When they, that’s why I’m trying to run programmes and workshops that will educate them to know how to relate to those people, you know, the negative people who are always putting them down and to know what to say to them and to also know how to filter out the things that they hear. Because what happens is when you take all these things in, you’re being told you’re fat, you’re ugly, your mates tell you that you have big ears, and they laugh at you, and you go home at night, and then you dwell on these negative things, and they fester in your head. And that’s where the problem starts. But if they learn how they can, how they can overcome, how they can dwell on more positive things and push the negative thoughts to the background you know, like just let them fade out.
– If they learn how to do that, then gradually they will acquire the skills to build on their confidence. And for the adults in business, I would say simply take the things you need out of the meetings and the conferences and simply, and just leave out, leave the negative ones that don’t serve you. Yeah, simply pick and choose, you know, like in a sweetshop, go and pick and choose the things that will serve you, the things that you love and the things that you benefit from, and leave those that won’t serve you.
– Yeah, absolutely.
– It takes practise, but.
– I completely agree with you, Stella. And right now, for the people that are starting a business or starting an expert business that are listening at the moment or people that are growing as well, knowing what you know now of the experience that you had in business so far, what is something that you know now that you wish you knew at the very beginning?
– Hmm, I suppose I wish I knew back then how to related to people, I wish I knew how to be firm and assertive, I wish I knew how to say no to people, I wish, yeah, I wish I knew how to be, how to be more firm, basically, yep, yep.
– And why is that important for a business owner?
– It’s very important because you cannot please everyone. You have to conserve your energy. Building a business is tough enough as it is. When you’re trying to be everything to everyone, it’s not going to work. You’ve got to, I mean, you’ve got to also know when being taken advantage of. Because I didn’t know this back then, it was very easy for people to take advantage of me. And like you, I was very much a people pleaser, and I wanted people to love me. But that didn’t serve me, I’ve come to realise that now. And I’m happy that I do now, but I wish I knew back then.
-Thank you for sharing. Now, last couple of questions before we’re apart, Stella. You are a GTeX Lifetime Member, and–
– And what is the reason that, what is the reason that made you join the Lifetime Membership, and what do you like about, what do you love about being part of the GTeX family?
– Well, when I got my coaching qualification, I knew I wanted to do something, I knew I wanted to build a coaching business, but I didn’t, I wasn’t sure how to start, and joining GTeX gave me that clarity and helped me to develop a structure and also to start to get ideas about my signature programme, which was really very, very helpful. And the great thing about GTeX is that they’re brilliant at supporting you and also providing you with the resources you need to build a professional business. So what I would say to anybody who is considering joining GTeX is that if you are starting up, or even if you’ve already built a successful business, but if you want that exposure and that recognition as an authority and an expert in your business, I highly recommend GTeX.
– Aw, I appreciate it, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen, if you’re listening right now, you want to apply to become a member, there is a link in the Show Notes. Just click the link and apply for a call, and we can see, explore ways in which we can work together and looking at different programmes that we have. Now, Stella, I have two more questions for you before we are apart, but the first question is, how can people get in touch with you if they want to be part of what you’re creating? Because I know there are a lot of people that are listening right now that are working with young people that are, that have the same passion as you where you can collaborate, create resources together, open each other doors and opportunities, so if someone wants to follow your work and get in contact with you, what are the best ways?
– The best way is to connect with me on Facebook and also to follow me on Twitter. My handle is @thelionesswithincoaching, @thelionesswithincoaching.
– So @thelionesswithincoaching on Twitter and Instagram?
– I’m sorry, that’s on Instagram, I meant.
– That’s on Instagram, okay.
– Instagram, yes.
– @thelionesswithincoaching on Instagram and also Stella Maher–
– Stella Maher on Facebook.
– On Facebook.
– You can find me on Facebook. Send me a message, and we can connect.
– That’s fantastic. So the other question, the last question I have, and I want to wrap up this episode in this way, because I know that working with young people is, getting in school in particular, is not easy because school, they don’t see this type of development as a priority for the young person, in particular public schools, but also a lot of private schools. They’re more about getting grade marks on English and math, but they forget a lot of time the personal development of the students, which in my opinion, is actually even more important–
– Than the grade of the math and English.
– Yes exactly.
– So if you could have a moment to send an appeal, to send a message to those schools, what would you say to them about the importance of the work that you do?
– What I would say to organisations like that is that when these issues that affect younger people are not tackled, it doesn’t only affect their self-confidence and their academic performance, it affects their mental health. It pushes them into depression, social isolation, self-harming, also sorts of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia and even body dysmorphic disorders. And it becomes more difficult to treat those conditions once they’re developed. I say prevention is better than cure. It’s better to nip those problems in the bud and have these young people educated on how to cope with societal pressures and acquire the skills to arm themselves with the skills that they need to cope with such pressures before it escalates to levels where they now need doctors to help them.
– Thank you for sharing, Stella. So anyone who is listening right now and works in the public sector or the private sector, in particular in the school and all sort of young people, remember what Stella said, prevention is better than cure.
– Because once they develop these issues, then the last thing you’re thinking about is the grade that they–
– Yeah, absolutely.
– Are going have in math or English. But it’s more, you’re going to be worried about saving their lives sometimes.
– So what if we can avoid that and prevent this to happen? So we can create a world with more conscious adults, because they are gonna become adults.
– Those young people one day.
– So they are the future.
– Stella, thank you, thank you very much for joining today. It’s been a pleasure to have you as a guest.
– Likewise, Simone, thank you very much for having me.
– And you are welcome, indeed. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for listening to another episode of Explode Your Expert Business Show. Today we didn’t talk much about business, but we talked about something which was, I think, is even more important, which is the development of our future generations. As someone who is like myself, worked for many years with young people and still working with young people, remember what Stella said, and if you are a parent as well, make sure that you put effort into developing your child’s and your young person’s social skills and personal development skills because they are going to be way more important than any of the grades they are going to get in math or English or geography and whatever. So remember, remember that. If you haven’t subscribed to the podcast, make sure that you subscribe right now and leave us a good review, a five-star review, so we can reach more people with the show. Thank you very much from Stella and myself, Simone Vincenzi. I’ll see you next episode! Ciao.
– Thank you, Simone, bye-bye!