My latest ‘A Date With Ains’ interview guest is the gorgeous glowing light, Siobhan Barnes of The Neon Life Society.
Siobhan and I enjoyed a lovely and loooong (read, 3 hours!) afternoon tea at Cafe Causette at The Mandarin Oriental and as a fellow coach, we chatted endlessly about business, life in Hong Kong and the ups and downs of being pregnant and running a business.
I loved hearing what this local Hong Konger has in store for her business, pre and post baby number 3 and how she shifted her direction from being a high flyer at Goldman Sachs to following her heart to help women bring a deeper sense of meaning to their corporate careers.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I loved being a part of it! (This interview series is quickly becoming a highlight in my life and business!) A x
Tell us a little bit about yourself Siobhan. I know that you’re originally from Hong Kong but I’d also love to hear about your professional career and how your business got started?
Yes, I was born and raised in Hong Kong and love it here. My father is Irish and my mother is Chinese and I’m fortunate that they still live here. My brother is also in Hong Kong so it’s very much home. I’m grateful my kids get to hang out with their grandparents and uncle on the weekends.
I officially started my business two years ago. I support corporate women to figure out how to bring meaning and purpose to their careers. I’m really passionate about women embracing their natural brilliance and having the courage to follow a career or business path that aligns to their own personal goals and definitions of success.
I started my business based on my own personal struggles climbing the corporate ladder here in Hong Kong. Whilst I achieved a certain amount of material success, I sacrificed my health, social life and happiness to reach my goals – which actually didn’t really fulfill me.
It’s become my mission and purpose to help other women who were like me so that they can start living.
What does ‘clarity’ mean to you? When you’re lacking clarity in life or business, how do you get ‘unstuck’? What practices or strategies do you use?
Clarity means power. When you are clear on what you’re going for in life or business you have the energy and momentum to keep moving. There’s nothing worse than being in that limbo land of “should I, shouldn’t I?”
I remember being in that place for a really long time when I was working in corporate.
Somewhat counterintuitively I get unstuck by doing less. I meditate. Journal. Go for a walk without music. I get quiet.
I think the busyness and fast paced life of Hong Kong can keep you on go, go, go mode and that can be a way to avoid the pain of being stuck. I find that when you stop and get quiet you’ll start to really hear what your inner wise self is trying to tell you.
I’d love for you to share a time when your self-confidence has been at an all time low and what you did to pick yourself up and get back out there.
One of my lowest moments of self-confidence was when I was working in my corporate job.
I remember being in India on a business trip and finishing up a conference call at 6.30am in the morning. I was leading a big project and the call went terribly. As soon as I hung up I burst into tears.
Everything just felt wrong. I didn’t like myself anymore. I felt incompetent and inferior to my super smart colleagues. Because I didn’t feel good enough, I felt I had to compensate by working harder than everyone else.
I was struggling to keep my head afloat with my workload. I was working late nights, waking up early, not exercising or eating well. Essentially I was in survival mode.
After my chest-heaving, ugly cry session I went to the bathroom to pull myself together.
I saw my tired and haggard reflection in the mirror and just asked myself “Is this how I want to be spending the rest of my life?”
I had my wake-up call moment and decided a firm “No!”
I splashed my face with water pulled my hair back and made a commitment to myself that I was going to figure out how to be happy in a career I loved and that I wouldn’t put myself in this position again.
Ultimately, I picked myself up by making a decision to make a change and to do whatever it took to figure it out.
How do you stay connected to your purpose and your passion?
I have a daily practice of gratitude, keeping a journal and looking at my Pinterest board with my mission and purpose on it.
Who and/or what inspires you?
My kids are my main inspiration. Since becoming a mum, life took on a different meaning.
I want to be the best role model I can be. I want to be a living, breathing example of what I believe down to my core, which is that:
“You make the biggest contributions and are most happy and fulfilled, when you embrace who you really are and follow a path that feels right to you.”
I’m inspired to support women to find that path that feels right to them and have the confidence to step into the limelight being who they are.
I think that the more women who step up and believing in themselves, the more we’ll see conscious female leaders stepping up into positions of power.
Which can only bring about more positive changes in government, education, business and the environment. This is going to shape the future that my kids grow up in and I’m excited about that!
What’s next for you and your business?
I’m going on maternity leave very soon with the pending arrival of baby number 3.
As I’m not able to work privately with my clients, I’m very excited about a wonderful home study program I’ve created for women to start on their journey to figuring out their natural brilliance and what a meaningful life and career looks like to them.
It’s fun to get my teacher hat on and know that even whilst I’m off focusing on a newborn, I’m still able to support women to begin the process of uncovering how they can bring passion and purpose back into their lives. I’m grateful for technology to allow me to have a platform to continue doing my work!
What do you love about living in Hong Kong?
I love its contradictions.
East/West. City/Country. Commerce/Spirituality. Designer/Local Markets.
It truly is a melting pot and the diversity of the City keeps things very interesting.
My words of advice for young women about taking the leap and following their dreams would be….
If you believe that you can follow your dreams then you can make it happen.
It all starts with a decision followed by a commitment to figure it out no matter what. I wholeheartedly believe it!
And finally do you have a quote or a daily mantra you use to keep you feeling clear, confident and connected within your business and life?
I change things up from time to time but my current mantra as I’m in creation/get it done mode is:
I create from my deepest truth and align to my higher purpose.
So what do you think?
Can you relate to Siobhan’s comment about embracing and being your authentic self and taking the path that works best for you? I certainly can!
Share your thoughts in the comments section below….I’d love to hear from you!
Siobhan supports corporate women to re-align their careers and businesses to suit their unique personality, gifts and talents in a way that allows them to pursue the work they love, find value in the marketplace and feel that sense of fulfillment at the end of a long working day.
She left behind her own corporate career at Goldman Sachs to support other women in their quest to figure out their own body of work. You can find out more about Siobhan and The Neon Life Society.