Natalia Blagoeva | Member Spotlight
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Founder of Women Heart-to-Heart, Ex-C-level executive, today an Executive and a Systemic Life Coach, a Trusted Partner of Leaders and Changemakers through her consulting firm Eudaimonia Solutions and a Purpose-driven Founder.
Lives in Zurich, Switzerland which is the 6th city and 5th country she calls home.
Used to be owned by a dog and looks forward to experiencing that again.
Took her most life-changing decisions driven by intuition and against common rationale.
Used to believe (not anymore) that there are no gains without pains and the harder it gets, the harder you need to try. Today she knows that we need to trust the process and our intuition. Then things happen in what feels like an easy and magic way.
Used to believe (not anymore) that there is no need to have women-only activities and communities. In the last years, she sponsored and organized a lot of activities just like that ;)
Nature, as well as Visual Arts & Design, have a very special meaning and role in her life.
Natalia has been fortunate to live through interesting times. In the course of 25 years, she worked on the crossroad of Eastern and Western cultures, experienced the transition of several countries from a planned to a market economy and now Industry 4.0. In parallel, she has been through all types of organisational stages: several Startups, a Scaleup & Exit, and Corporate.
Yet, the most exciting and challenging has been her own personal transformation alongside her professional journey from a team member to an executive leader, entrepreneur and then an executive coach, a leadership consultant, a systemic life coach and a purpose-driven founder.
These experiences inspire her work today and the unique perspective she brings to leaders and changemakers. Natalia provokes them to imagine the more beautiful workplaces we all long for and nurtures their own transformation as they create them. To do that, she inspires new ways of looking at Work, Power, Office Politics, Draining Emotions, Conflict, Adversaries, Resistance to Change, Learning and Change in general.
Natalia is convinced that the world will be a better place if we change focus from “what we try to avoid” to “what we want to bring into reality”. She is also passionate about how technology augments opportunities and provokes us to expand our human capacities. She believes our future depends on how we lead, work and learn today, and that by learning to hold opposite perspectives, we find fresh solutions to our most tough challenges. She also understands the special role of women today at work in creating the beautiful workplaces we all long for.
When it comes to the role of women at work today, what inspires you and what keeps you up at night?
What I know for sure is that women have a special role today at work and in life.
What I also know for sure is that we can't fulfil our mission unless we are open to transform personally and collectively and support each other in doing that.
What keeps me up at night is seeing how many people are stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted of draining emotions at work, backstabbing, power games and office politics, and yet, consider them normal.
How could that be the norm?
What also keeps me up at night is seeing many women who — following the cliche that we need to be better than men to succeed — have become aggressive and cynical.
The MIT Center for Collective Intelligence has been investigating the factors that affect the collective intelligence of a group and they found that the “features of composition that lead to increased levels of collective intelligence in groups include criteria such as higher numbers of women in the group as well as increased diversity of the group”. And that’s awesome.
Yet, they don’t mean women pretending to be men. They mean women.
So, then the question is, how can we run prosperous organizations and at the same time support ourselves and each other in being true to ourselves?
I call that process “imagining the more beautiful workplaces we all long for”, and also, humanizing our workplaces. The times we live in right now are challenging us in unprecedented ways and I am hopeful that we will come out of wiser.
I know for sure that women have a special role in reestablishing balance, energy, love and humanity at work.
What’s your goal around that and why is it important to you? Why is that a priority for you?
First, my experience taught me the importance of having a clear intent and shifting focus from “what we are trying to avoid” to “what we want to bring into reality”.
Also, I’ve learnt that at the core of any change is our own transformation as people, our level of readiness to look at the world through new windows and to be open to new and especially to opposite perspectives.
A big role in that play the diverse communities we are part of, the role models we meet, the mentors we have, the journeys we take and the opportunities for reflection we encounter.
I created WomenH2H as a place where women master together how to bring back their zest, thrive on change, lead with grace and confidence and support each other in creating the more beautiful workplaces we all long for as we transform ourselves and live the life of our dreams.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve personally had as a woman at work? How did you try to overcome them?
I remember times when I was the only female Country Director in a world-leading global corporation. The only other women at our global conferences were from Marketing, HR or holding very junior positions.
That tells about the circumstances of my professional career and, yet, the biggest challenges I faced as a professional woman and a human being at work have been “me, myself and I”. The toughest times were when I was growing from a professional to a manager and a leader. When we start leading people, it's as if we are put on a stage and all aspects of our personality get exposed. Also, it's very different to be a high achiever and to achieve results through others.
Among my biggest challenges in these times were learning to question my own assumptions, becoming more aware of the world around me and within me, challenging my mental models, overcoming my deepest fears and my perfectionism, letting go of my insecurities and my thinking that I’m not good enough. Also, learning to withhold idealizations, to reframe draining emotions, to trust the process, not to take me and life too seriously, and learning how to form new habits.
The biggest transformations I have experienced in my life have been the result of exposure to diversity in all its forms: gender, origin, age, nationality, culture, formal authority, turmoil, crisis, etc.
What I know for sure is that we learn most from the people and circumstances that irritate us, push our buttons and provoke the strongest and unfamiliar emotions.
What I know for sure is that we make our biggest mistakes when we idealize people, models and ideas. Learning to hold opposite perspectives is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and each other.
I am introvert so I tried to overcome my problems by myself and with the help of books. There are a few authors whom I would be eternally grateful.
Learning to value introversion instead of being embarrassed by it, was a big part of gaining confidence and becoming true to myself.
I also had great mentors who would tell me the truth and both support me and challenge me along the way. I will be grateful to them for the rest of my life.
Who or what would have made it easier? What do you wish you would have done then?
I know today that my journey would have been more gracious and joyful if I had more female role models and diverse female mentors in my life. They would have supported me to find my own authentic voice faster and I would have been happier along the way. And I don’t mean role models on TV or on the Internet. I mean close to me in my life.
I was also not good at asking for help. On one side, I perceived asking for help as a weakness and on the other side, I could not formulate my challenges. I could see that I need to change something but it was difficult for me to understand the real nature of the problem. What did not make it easier was that I was going through challenges that my closest friends and relatives could not relate to. We also did not have professional coaches. That made the journey harder and more lonely.
What I know for sure is that when we go through life's challenges alone, we toughen up so much that we lose the joy as well.
Who do you follow on these subjects? Are there authors, influencers, leaders, sites, blogs you follow?
I am fascinated by many people, women and men. Here are a few voices that are especially dear to me these days: Adam Kahane, Anne Wilson Schaef, Brene Brown, Charles Eisenstein, Joseph Jaworski, Michael A. Singer, Oprah Winfrey and Russell Brand.
Do you participate in other women groups or communities? What have you seen work in such communities and what was missing for you?
I have participated in many activities and I have myself sponsored and organized events called Women's Leadership Labs. They have been amazing, yet, what was missing was the “just-in-time” aspect of being in our lives when we need them as opposed to one day a year. Also, I believe that local offline activities usually lack the diversity of perspectives which I consider key. And if they do, they are too expensive.
Why is it important for women to be surrounded by other women and what is the role we play in each other’s lives?
As I said above, we need women in our lives to support us in making our journey more gracious. That's not to say that we don't need men. Vice versa. The men in our lives are just as important. One does not exclude the other.
The roles we can play in each others' lives are to:
Share our pain.
Share our stories.
Support each other.
Challenge our assumptions.
Tell each other the truth.
Provoke each other.
Inspire each other.
How do you see your role in building this community? And is there anything else you want to add that you think would be helpful for us to know as we are building this community?
As the founder of WomenH2H, I see my role as an igniter, an inspirer and an enabler empowering women to step in and live their mission.
WomenH2H is a women empowerment organization, a global online community which will provide peer-to-peer support, women's leadership development programs, thought leadership and more.
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