Ania Jeffries: Be a Woman of Contribution not a Woman of Competition
By Gulia Lucci
Ania is an award-winning Coach (she runs her own coaching business), the Founder of ‘Women Work’, an international best-selling author of “The Pay it Forward Series, Notes to My Younger Self”, a licensed NLP Practitioner, Progression Mentor for the ‘Princes Trust’ and Event Organiser. She is also a Radio Broadcaster for the ‘London City YDN Business Show, Radio Feature Presenter for ‘UK Health Radio’. Her next upcoming book “Gain Confidence in 24 Hours, The Toolkit to Help You Grow” is to be released this autumn. She also recently became elected onto the ‘Association of Transformational Leaders’, Europe – leaders who come together to connect and collaborate for the world, to lead a movement of global change.
Ania’s vision is to build a global revolution of confident entrepreneurs who speak with powerful voices. She specialises in personal growth, confidence, empowerment and self-improvement. A mother of three and wife, she is totally dedicated to providing 10 million men and women with transformational, empowering media, coaching tools and strategies to use the power of their authentic voice with confidence.
How did you get where you are today, and who/what helped you along the way?
I have always been different and loved the fact. When I was growing up I attended English school during the week and Saturday Polish school/weekend activities. It gave me so much confidence. Being born in the UK to Polish Parents I realised how lucky I was to be bilingual, to have two sets of friends, to be constantly learning and experiencing many cultures and to have a strong work ethic instilled in me by my parents which embraces family and community. We call it in the inner circle. I also call it community and collaboration.
My greatest influencers are my family. They are my greatest supporters and critics too. I value all their advice and know it always comes with the best intention. I am very blessed to have a wonderful supportive husband, children and siblings who inspire me every day (I always thought it was the mother’s role to inspire their kids. My children teach me to be curious, to never be complacent, to constantly be more creative, be more open and think outside the box). My parents, especially my father, was a great driver in my life. He is sadly no longer with us. He was the kindest, gentlest, unassuming soul you would ever meet as well as being the world authority on spatial structures. I grew up in a house full of architects, designers and engineers from all over the world. We understood the power of networking and collaboration from an early age and it was so exciting to constantly meet new faces, hear different stories and achievements and to witness the hue dedication and commitment it took each and every one of these individuals to become successful. To live their dreams. My father spent several years in a German Concentration camp, whilst serving for the Polish Army and his languages served as his survival. He encouraged us all to think outside the box, to embrace every opportunity life threw at us and, as a result of his own experience, where languages saved his life, he ensured that we all speak several languages. He would always say “my past is not your future. Find your passion and live your life.” He spent his years being invisible in the camp – I often ask myself is that why I am so passionate about giving others a voice? And after his release he spent years building a successful consultancy and becoming a voice for others. My mother always tells us – and her words constantly ring in my ears – “Know that your voice counts and needs to be heard. Let no one take your power away from you”. And I say the same to my children.
(Photo credits: Debbie McCartney @ FocusOnDJM.com_)
What does being a successful woman mean to you?
Success has a different unique interpretation for everyone. What does it really mean for me? I don’t think I have ever dreamed of success. I have just worked hard for it, put my intentions out to the universe, believed in myself and surrounded myself with the right people who believe in me. And then I just pushed myself to achieve beyond my dreams. Visualisation is part of my daily life.
If you had asked me that question many years ago I would have said ‘money’. Mixing with high net worth individuals, working with clients who are financially free is a constant reminder that life is not always about money. You can be sat on top of a mountain of money and feel very alone and isolated. Money gives you freedom of choice. Success for me is about living life with passion and purpose. It’s about abundance – the abundance of friendships, family, collaborations, new experiences, travel, love, respect and inner true peace. I am happiest when I am surrounded by my family and friends celebrating life, enjoying good food and wine. I will always put family first above my business. And to be given the opportunity to coach clients, to get them to look inside of themselves, spiritually and emotionally, to support them to achieve their business, personal, financial goals is such a gift from God. I love working with each and every one of them. They remind me every day how beautiful life is for which I am hugely grateful.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I wear many hats. In addition to my radio broadcasting, I am also a Mentor for the ‘Princes Trust’. I run a Life Coaching business and have run two major events for women ‘Women Work’ over the last 2 years. Every project I am involved in, all that I do, whether it is radio broadcasting, coaching, mentoring, event organizing the main focus is about inspiring you to use your voice, to unleash your full potential. My son set up his first business when he was 14 years old and sold it when he was 16. He then set up a digital marketing agency ‘Influencer.uk’ in lower 6th at school, crowd funded and raised over £150k within 48 hours and recently raised just over £500k in his second round of crowd funding. He is 22, has a team of 13 and an office in London . My nephew runs the largest coffee website in the world ‘Perfectdailygrind.com.’ He is 25. One of my daughters in addition to working full time has also just set up a business. Our other daughter has also found her dream job – working in a family owned world renowned jewellery company which she absolutely adores. As she says, “Mum I have found my passion. I love my job. Not only do I get to work with ‘sparkles’ but I create magic for my clients”. As a mum and auntie, I realised very quickly, given the number of entrepreneurs in the family and stats for young adults setting up businesses in the future (I coach many of these) I needed to understand how business works or I would be excluded from the conversation. There are many mums who are unable to support their children in business or who are setting up their own businesses and have no idea how to get started or who to ask for help. My last 2 ‘Women Work’ events offered the tools and strategies for women to grow a better, brighter future not only for themselves but also for their community, families and businesses.
Another reason for running ‘Women Work’ was as a result of hearing about 7 individuals, business owners, professionals and undergraduates who had taken their life in a period of 11 months. I noticed that people were no longer reacting in shock but coming more from a space of acceptance – ‘that’s life now’ – which I cannot accept as a mother of 3 children. We all need inspiration, confidence and hope in order for our community to survive, and for our children to believe that there is a great future full of wonderful opportunities ahead of them. I, therefore, decided to run a workshop for 20 women in the area of self-belief and confidence and in just over 5 months the event snowballed into a day and evening event with a footfall of over 1300 women, 70 workshops and 52 speakers with a huge focus on mental health with fantastic support from the likes of Metro Bank, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, The Range, Town and Country Housing. I ran the event again in April this year – a one day event with 52 inspirational speakers and fantastic support from the community and businesses together with UK Health Radio and Business Radio. My plan is now to go global. To give women and men (moving forwards I believe that men have to be included in this conversation. It’s no longer just about us girls) a greater platform to speak their truth, to grow successful global businesses, to love who they are and in turn inspire their families, grow stronger collaborations and networks. I am rebranding in the summer, with the help of Sammy Blindell, CEO and Trailblazer of ‘How to Build a Brand’ at her June ‘Master Your Message Mastermind’ retreat in France and I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. I am also in the process of following her 21 day FB How to Build a Brand Challenge which I highly recommend you all follow.
How has your experience in running a business been different from what you expected?
Having entrepreneurs in the family has been a great insight into the complexities of running a business. However, when you run a business on your own it’s still a massive learning curve every day and it can be overwhelming at times. It is also not for everyone. So, support and asking for help is key to growing a successful business and you have to love it as you live and breathe it 24 hours.
My admiration for business owners has soared since I set up mine. I thought I understood what was involved in setting up a business and now as a business owner myself I fully appreciate the commitment, focus, huge sacrifice and the lonely journey it takes to be in business, to continue through all the hardships and ups and downs that are thrown your way every day. Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Anyone who tells you it is, is lying. It’s the hardest thing I have ever done, and self-belief and confidence is essential in keeping my vision moving forwards. Creating a positive mindset is key to the success of your business and your team. Each day is a new day and you just have to pick yourself up, reframe the mindset, become mentally tough and keep going. And surround yourself with the right people. Find people of collaboration and not of competition.
(Photo credits: Debbie McCartney @ FocusOnDJM.com_)
How do you stay connected in mind, body and spirit?
Our mind, body and soul are all connected. When one of these factors is off balance, our whole-body senses this on some level. To be in complete health and harmony, our being needs to be in balance. To help balance the mind I meditate, practice daily gratitude mantras morning and night, listen to motivational tapes and you tube videos. I am constantly hungry for learning. To help balance the body I walk the dog every day. I aim to go to the gym at least once a week which is good enough for me and I ensure that I do my 15,000 steps a day. I walk everywhere, breathe in nature. I try to eat healthily as much as I can. Not always possible given the fast pace of life but I do my best. To help balance the soul I allow my expression to flow freely whether it’s through my writing, organizing, brainstorming or reflecting. I love to put aside a few minutes a day (usually before I go to bed to reflect on the whole day; what has gone well, not so well, what I could do better, differently, how I can support others). I was recently appointed a Member of the ‘Association of Transformational Leaders’ – these global leaders have helped me to connect truly with myself and I believe that only now am I on my true spiritual journey, ready in my mission to help others live their life with purpose, to find their WHY.
I wore a mask for many years after my train crash – one of the reasons for there being such a huge focus on mental health at ‘Women Work’. Me deciding to co-author in the book the ‘Pay it Forward: Notes to my Younger Self’ was another opportunity to pay it forward, to show others that moments of huge adversity, of darkness can be changed into moments of great growth and light. Les Brown, one of the greatest motivational speakers of all times (I have followed him for years) asks the question “if you were to drop down dead today, what legacy would you leave behind in this world?” It’s questions like these that offer you great reflection about the meaning of your life, your purpose and what you want to leave behind in this world. It starts with you taking ownership of your life and becoming accountable to yourself and that comes with reflection.
The Female Entrepreneur Adventure Expedition (https://spark.adobe.com/video/59c19ec5-475c-40cd-bc2f-6fb6276f4c0d ) taking place in Malawi October this year is another example of me wanting women to recognize how important it is to spend time out of a work environment, away from the treadmill of daily life. This expedition allows you to not only build new connections and collaborations but also share your expertise with others (it’s tailormade to your interests). Importantly, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, offers the perfect opportunity and space within the beauty of Africa to reconnect with your inner self, to reflect, hit that pause button and focus on your future business, financial and personal goals.
What is your favorite quote to live by?
“There is a rainbow in every thunderstorm” Dr Manjit Kaur, another Global Woman Member uses this quote often and I love it!
What was the most valuable business advice you would give to women that want to have a career like you ?
Follow your intuition. It will always serve you best.
Seek advice from others more qualified than you. Find a mentor (several) and ask for help. They can share their experience and knowledge with you.
Choose your friends carefully – they are your inner circle of trust for you to share ideas with, build your vision. They will hold you accountable to your true self and your vision.
Learn to fail. You have to fail in order to grow, to achieve success. All successful business owners have failed somewhere along the way. They might just not admit it.
So much is expected of us as women – to be great mothers, daughters, wives, sisters etc. that its sometimes difficult to balance all. Accept that you can only do your best. You are not perfect and that’s OK. Your thoughts, emotions and feelings teach others how to create their own lives. Be the real change you want to see in others. Continue the legacy of paying it forward… to inspire, encourage, influence, support, build each other from the ground up. To be a woman of contribution and collaboration and not a woman of competition.
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