Siobhan Barnes of The Neon Life Society
‘A Date With Ains’
This month’s ‘A Date With Ains’ guest is the beautiful and busy Siobhan Barnes of The Neon Life Society
With three young children and a coaching business to run, this Hong Kong girl is always on her toes! But Shiv switched her crazy corporate career to learn where she needs to pull back in her life and how to embrace her own unique seasons for success.
I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon in the Football Club’s ball pit with Shiv talking about babies, business and how to really savour it all. This is the second time I’ve interviewed my friend and coaching colleague and I can’t wait for you to learn her view on ‘balance,’ why we need to stay in our own lane when it comes to motherhood and business, plus the practical actions she takes when everything feels too much (including a Gong Bath!).
It’s always a joy to spend time with Shiv.
Let’s get into it Shiv! Where are you from/where did you grow up:
Hong Kong! My mum is Chinese and my dad is Irish.
How long have you been in HK:
Since I was born up until 18. I went to uni in the UK and did a gap year in Beijing but have been living back in Hong Kong since 2005.
How many kids do you have + ages:
I have 3 kids…aged 1, 3 and 5.
How long have you been in business :
Tell us about your path into entrepreneurship….
I started my business based on my own personal struggles climbing the corporate ladder here in Hong Kong.
I started my career in commercial and corporate real estate and was fortunate enough to achieve a lot of success in my twenties.
In my first job I went from an analyst to an associate director in 4 years. When I achieved my goal of getting “the title” at 26 years of age I wanted a new challenge.
I switched over to what I thought was my dream job which ultimately ended up being my last full time corporate job. A year into working at an American Investment Bank I realised I was in the wrong industry. During a business trip to India (the land of awakenings!) I had a mini meltdown in my hotel room. I realised that I’d been chasing the wrong goals all along – sacrificing the important things like my health, family and real desires to achieve outward success. It was then that I made a commitment to figure out how I could best be of service to the world and do something more meaningful.
I took a few twists and turns to figure out my path (and in all honesty, it’s still a journey and evolution) but fast forward to today I run a business helping other women who’ve lost themselves climbing the corporate ladder. I help them figure out how to bring genuine meaning and purpose to their life and careers and live a wholehearted life. It ain’t all about work!
My business initially started out as a traditional coaching practice but more recently I’ve been adding in some other cool tools like Rapid Transformational Therapy (a form of hypnotherapy) and soul readings to help women understand who they truly are and to remove the blocks that are holding them back from going after what they truly want.
How has being a mother benefited your business?
Being a mother has been such an amazing gift!
I’ve learned so many lessons with each of my children and constantly am learning to slow down, have patience and to surrender!
Having kids has made me a better coach. I get first hand experience on how our environment, people and belief systems that we grow up with impact who we are and the decisions we make. It’s been a beautiful symbiotic relationship because I think what I learn from coaching helps make me a better mum too.
The usual stressors of managing time and the ability to focus are there and still a challenge for me.
But in all honesty being in Hong Kong and having a great support network here has been such a huge blessing so I know that I’m luckier than most and can’t complain! It’s also forced me to get support early on because I know I want to have time with my kids and not just spend all my time working in my business.
Do you believe in balance? (The notion that we can have it all and balance business, family and our own life desires?)
Before I became a mum, I strived for balance.
What I’ve come to realise now is that trying to create perfect balance all the time can in fact be more stressful.
I don’t strive for balance anymore and instead roll with the seasons. When it’s spring in your life, it’s time to plant a seed and start testing out those ideas.
In the summer it’s time to let your hair down, play and rest.
In the autumn it’s time to reap the harvest of what you’ve sown.
In the winter it’s a great time to reflect and restore.
We all have different cycles and rhythms and what I’ve found is that when I honour what’s going on for me (rather than trying to keep up with others), that’s when I’m more at peace and less stressed about being further ahead than where I’m at.
We all have our own unique paths and journeys to undertake and staying in our own lane can be one of the most liberating things we can do for ourselves!
Do you ever have days where you feel that it’s just all too hard? I’d love to hear how you work through them!
Yes! I have more of those days when I’m not honouring the season in my life and still powering through (old habits die hard!)
When that happens for me I take a step back and get away from my desk. I spend time in nature. Go to a Gong Bath (my new favourite spot is Red Door Studio). Or simply hang out with a girlfriend and not talk about work.
I allow myself a bit of space to recalibrate and sit in the uncertainty and ‘stuckness.’ I think allowing yourself to be in that space and staring what’s going on square in the face is the best thing you can do…rather than trying to squelch that things aren’t working.
Awareness is always the first step!
What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day can get thrown out of whack when the kids don’t sleep through but generally:
I wake up at 6 and do a little pranayama breathing whilst I’m still in bed.
I’ll have breakfast with the kids and then get ready to take my two older kids to school.
When I’m back from the school run my youngest is normally napping so I’ll work in the morning. Before I do I meditate and journal and get into the zone.
I pick up my daughter from Kindy at 12noon and then have lunch together with my youngest.
The afternoon will either be spent on after school activities with the kids or I’ll have time to work.
The evening I usually like to work or brush up on my learning (I’m a true geek!)
Exercise wise I’m still trying to find my groove after the summer holidays. If I can I’ll exercise before the kids go to school, otherwise I squeeze it in when I can.
Any tips for overcoming or working with ‘mum guilt?’
It’s a toughie isn’t it? One way to get around it is to realise that you’re presence with what’s in front of you is the most important thing you can do to get out of the guilt.
If you’re with your kids, be with your kids and savour it.
If you’re out doing something without them and pampering yourself, savour it.
Just. Be. Present.
I’ve had the privilege of traveling internationally for my professional development courses and also had a girl’s trip to NYC 2 years ago with my best friends from high school. There was a lot of angst and guilt around leaving my kids but looking back I’m SO glad I took those trips.
I came back refreshed, energized and grateful for my family and I still smile when I think about the experiences I had.
Finish this sentence: everything changed for me when….
I surrendered the need to control everything.
My words of advice for women who are juggling motherhood and business would be….
Build a support network around you.
Both in your business and in your life. It takes a village.
The notion of having to do it all on your own is ridiculous. We place too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect wonder women.
Get help. Outsource.
You’re in it for the long haul and no one wants to work with a cranky tired woman and your children want a present mother. Seek support and enjoy the journey!
What’s next for you and your business? What are you working on?
Great question! My business is evolving in terms of how I’m supporting women. That’s going to unfold in the next 90 days which I’m really excited about. In the mean time I’m still coaching, blogging and writing.
Siobhan Barnes is a career strategist who passionately believes that you can build a meaningful career and life that you love. Siobhan supports 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 read more ‘A Date With Ains’ Interviews here!