Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Natalie Chan

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  Natalie Chan is one of them.

They inspire me to think beyond the ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Natalie is such an engaging woman. She made me realise that whilst our professional careers might seem quite unrelated (leadership coach vs financial advisor), our reasons for pursuing them were very similar: to empower women and help them get clearer on their goals… and how to reach them.

Natalie Chan – Strategic Advisor for Expats in China

Tell us a little about yourself…

Standing outside a prestigious private girls’ school in North Sydney (Australia) in my bright yellow uniform, I was greeted by every young soul who crossed. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would be a School Crossing Supervisor. That, was the beginning of my 6-month career break.

By profession, I was an Associate Advisor at an investment firm providing strategic and investment advice to High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth individuals in Australia. At that time, I was (and still am) happily married with a young family in a beautiful country. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Taking a pause on my career to reflect on what was important to me and was truly a turning point in my life. It allowed me to give time to myself and be true to who I was. Life is just too short.

How do you know Nicki?

In June 2018, a focus group for women called Her Century invited me to run a workshop to share my experience and a few tips to empower women in making better financial decisions. I delivered a session called ‘Women + Finance = Empowerment’ and Nicki, who at that time had set up & ran their mentoring programme, was one of the attendees.

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

Home is where your heart is. I am very fortunate to have my boys (my husband and our 4yo son) in China with me.

I am a mother; a wife; a financial planner; a strategic advisor; advocate for women empowerment; a business connector; a self-taught water colour painting artist; a speaker; a beer girl; an ex-spartan-er (6km race with 23 obstacles); an active volunteer; an advisory board member for a registered charity, Xiersen, in China; a mentor to young graduates; and a junior ceramic artist with a love for wheeling and pottery.

For the first time, I feel that I am at the right place at the right time. In a sense, I feel I belong.

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Spending over 13 years in the corporate world, I had opportunities to work with a variety of high-caliber professionals and executives. I have learnt to set a high standard for everything I do; to go above and beyond, even at times the outcome is not clear; treat people the way you want to be treated; be genuine and always be professional. I apply all of these to everything thing I do, from an elevator talk with a delivery guy to answering my son’s Why questions; as well as helping clients and their families to fulfil their aspirations.

Losing my father, my uncle and my grandfather in the same year made me realise that life is too short to not to follow my heart. I still remember having a great deal of support from my husband who helped care for our son at home by himself when our bub was only 2 months old. That allowed me to travel to the other side of the world to bond and grieve with my family. My husband is and has always been a few steps ahead of me. He sees through things from the surface and knows exactly what I need.

What I know now…

Everyone has a story worth listening to. Be curious and be present.

Surround yourself with people you love. Be loved, love back and have some fun.

Only when you are willing to give up what you have, will you then will be ready to receive what you desire. The moment I let go of what others and the world perceived of me, I started living my own life.

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

My darling husband; our little one and my mum for their unconditional love.

‘We don’t have to do this you know honey.’ – I recall from a conservation with my husband. He is a man with few words but he never fails to surprise me with his love and care for me and our family.

‘Why are you sad mummy?’ – my son once asked me when he saw me come home from work looking a bit down. That reminded me that it is ok to be vulnerable. I want my son to be able to recognize his emotions, good or bad. Be resilient – this is a skill that would stay with him lifelong. Being sad does not make us weak. Something that I still have to remind myself of to this day.

My mum for being the single mum all these years supporting me and my sister; being there in my life in her capacity. The “small” things she does in her way to take pressure off my day-to-day.

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

Share my experience, good and bad. To help others to see things that they may not see at times. To realise their full potential and bring awareness of what’s really important to them.

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

Start with Why

Tuesdays with Morrie

The monk who sold his Ferrari

What got you here won’t get you there

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

Be so good that they cannot ignore you!

What’s next for you on your journey?

A place with good beer, great wine and lots of love.

Six Questions To Create Your Best Year Yet

best year yet
Image courtesy of Nordwood Themes – Unsplash

A vision of your best year yet

So, we’re mid December. School is (almost) out for the holidays, my work schedule (almost) complete… and my mind has started wandering towards next year and what I’m wanting for it.

I’ve learnt to hold my wishes pretty lightly – I know how things can change. And yet I am also very aware of the power of intention.  How setting my mind to something and consciously writing down what I want to create is the first step in actually making it happen.

I do some version of this every year (last year’s story sits here) – and having just reviewed my handwritten ramblings from last year, I am amazed by how much I have achieved without considering any of them as specific ‘goals’ or ‘resolutions’… They were just what I set out as my intentions…

So here goes – my six questions to help you create your best year yet…

  1. What have your achievements been this year? Personally as well as professionally.
  2. How have you grown?
  3. What have you enjoyed most over the course of the year?
  4. Who did you become in 2018, to achieve, learn & grow so much?
  5. How would you like to deepen this learning & forward this action in 2019?
  6. Who will you need to become in 2019 to do that?

If you can give yourself the gift of half an hour, an hour…to sit and actually write down your answers to these questions, then I can guarantee that you will be on the way to creating your best year yet.

And if you’d like some company along the way…someone to help you keep developing these answers, challenge you to take the needed first steps, then get in touch with me

I have 3 & 6 month coaching packages available to help you take your vision and turn it into your reality. 

I know it’s possible because I’ve done it – and so have these people (& plenty of others too…)

Here’s to you making 2019 your BEST. YEAR. YET.

Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Monica Garcia Cabello

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  And Monica, who I met out here in Shanghai, is one of them.  She is an absolute joy – who has transformed my relationship with my skin!

These amazing individuals have inspired me to think beyond ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Monica Garcia Cabello – Korean Skincare Guru

Monica Garcia Cabello
Monica Garcia Cabello

Tell us a little about yourself…

Hi. I’m Monica, the founder of The K skin factor. I curate Korean skincare products and regimes.

I left my Madrid day job as a financial auditor in a big company to take a wild leap into the unknown Asian world. After living in Seoul for 2 years I decided to turn my passions into a business.

Monica Garcia Cabello

I’m passionate about helping other women to make it happen and find their skin voice. Because I know first-hand all of the huge and brilliant changes that being in control of your life and your skin can bring.

How do you know Nicki?

Our kids have been classmates at school since we moved to China. Besides just this, I always admire woman who are dedicated and work hard. Since the beginning I was sure that Nicki was more than simply an expat mum. Then Nicki became my client and I love to create a relationship with my buyers and clients, so here we are!

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

Well, the life I have created is just a record of thoughts, revelations and things that have happened to me in the past years. I have always been such an independent woman but I become a mother and a wife and these kind of things change your life forever.

As a financial auditor I have always had pursued the idea of perfection. With my family I realise that I needed to abandon this approach in order to bet for my biggest and wildest dreams.

As a woman we always have so much pressure about what we do and what we don’t. Sometimes choices are limited too. We can’t simply have all we want at the same time. It is not easy to live your best life and keep the balance. I think that’s the answer to most people’s problems : “you do what you have to do”.

I love my life now because I made my choice : I went abroad and made a living again. My family is not a chain for my personal goals but my inspiration. Curiosity is my motto and I had to slow down .

The thing I love most is the freedom to decide about my interests, my schedule and the correct timing .These things are essential to stop worrying about stupid stuff to simply enjoy life and family.

I specially like the idea of being my boss and challenge myself to develop my own ideas and projects.

Even though life gets crazy sometimes, that way is like I am able to enjoy the personal, family and professional side at the same time. Maintaining your career/academic and personal life can get pretty hectic sometimes. … Being able to work and engage with my family and social life at the same time is just priceless.

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Well, I was born in a really tiny village in the north of Spain right after the dictatorial times. All was about nature and mountains. My father run a hotel and some businesses inherited from his family. Since the beginning the idea of hard work and creating a legacy for others was very clear to me. I always worked with my family and didn’t have a conventional childhood at all. My father passed away when my youngest brother was only 8 years old so my mum took care of the business and the 4 kids since that.

Life was tough at that time but I also learnt that it’s not what you were born into it’s what you do what matters. I soon learnt what is important in life and what resilience means.

I was so lucky also. I worked at the hotel after school and during the weekends. That has been key on my life. It set me apart. I lived in an isolated mountain town, just 10 men remained. But at the same time I was exposed to many people, from different countries and cultural backgrounds. Countryside and city life all together.

I had the chance to find out what the world is really about, meet foreigners, ask questions and discover how curiosity moves and changes all our lives.

Since I was very young I started to travel and study abroad.  I was an Internationally minded person. These experiences were a valuable asset as they had strengthen my interpersonal skills and personal development. They were the seeds of what I am. I soon gained the courage to follow my dreams and leave the family path so I moved to Madrid.

I was determined to be myself.

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by a strong woman my mother, who made herself who she is.  I absolutely consider her among the best, most capable leader I’ve ever worked with. She’s still working with my sister in the family business, inspiring all of us, doing more everyday. She will never give up because she loves what she does.

And I’ve been so lucky to find a determined partner in crime too, to be loved and supported, making my life run smoothly these past years. I think it’s so important to love others and have common dreams .When you share your passions with the ones you love, they will help you to make it happen and you will enjoy the journey together.

My two little kids inspire and challenge me everyday.

My friends and the community I live in are so important too.  

I’m always looking for role models for the next phase, and powerful people who don’t worry about how the world perceive them are key to my future. Originals are everywhere!

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

I consider that we have the power to give energy, good vibes and courage to others by maintaining a positive behaviour, by giving example.

I try to help others to break through barriers and affirm their strengths.

I love to talk about grit and future plans with my friends too.

I work everyday to maintain integrity and honesty in what I do, and I only make choices that align to my own values and beliefs.

I grow my kids to make the world a bit better.

I try to inspire people to be authentic and I always say, well if you don’t like your life –  just switch it up!

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

I always have more than one book on my side table. I just grab one or other depending on my mood.

I recently finished The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell a novel about women who refuse to conform, about maternity and pursue.

I also loved Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a powerful story of race and identity that gives you a good idea about what being a foreigner means.

My book for the past break in Singapore has been Crazy rich Asians”. I like to read books based on places that I’m exploring.

I’m currently reading “The souls of China” by Ian Johnson, about the return of religion after Mao. There is always so much to know about this amazing country.

(All the books are available to purchase on Amazon through the links here)

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

There have been a few but I always try to listen to my inner voice first… I think the best way to listen and offer advice is just being vulnerable and transparent in a daily basis.

Some phrases that have helped me to affirm my strengths were : “Just keep going and do not worry too much “ and “ Speak up!”.

What’s next for you on your journey?

As an expat in China I’d very much prefer to immerse myself on the culture of the place and its people rather than just stay in the bubble. That is one of the main reasons I created the k skin factor, to help people appreciate the wonders of Asian beauty culture.

Now that the project is solid I’m considering new projects to build up more bridges to link East and West.

I love cooking and I’m fascinated about Asian food too so who knows what comes next! There’s a lot to look forward to.

Monica changed my approach to skincare with her knowledge & enthusiasm – she made it fun for me, so I’m a huge convert to The K Skin Factor…

Monica Garcia Cabello

For more info and to follow what The K Skin Factor is up to, click here


Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Christina McFadden

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  Christina McFadden is one of them.

They have inspired me to think beyond the ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Christina McFadden – Founder, Blue Door Partners

Christina McFadden
Christina McFadden

Tell us a little about yourself…

I am a Leadership Coach and Facilitator. I founded Blue Door Partners in 2016 – a professional development company for leaders – and all my dreams continue to come true – so much that I haven’t been able to dream fast enough.

I recently learned it’s ok that I don’t know my next big dream and it is expecting me either way – which was very relaxing to hear.

How do you know Nicki?

We both signed up for CTI’s Leadership training program. We friended each on Facebook before the program started and I thought (and still do) that Nicki was so bad ass living in Asia, from England and headed to Leadership.

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

I made a big jump 2 years ago and love that my days are filled with leadership and team coaching or designing and leading workshops. I am over the moon.

Plus I get to travel the world (my personal favorite hobby) and take my work with me or work from home with my 3 black cats.

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Being a millionaire on paper for a week back in 2000 as the first employee of – we made a directory (actual book) of urls. This was before there were any search engines.

I spent 12 years in Healthcare and worked my way up to COO. I kept getting fired or leaving after making big changes at a health centers.

I now know I am an agent of change and get bored once the heavy lifting is done. At the time I never thought I could leave a job after a year so I stayed even thought I was bored.

I was introduced to coaching, improv and acting 3 years ago, within 2 months of each other, and it changed the course of my life.

Now I get to coach leaders and run workshops with teams as my day job.

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

This is truly one of my biggest challenges, I crave mentorship and I continually outgrew these relationships quicker than I wanted to, until I found coaching.

CTI coaches inspire me everyday. CTI leaders warm my heart. I try to talk to 2 coach friends a week (at least) because every conversation helps me grow.

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

I share all my paperwork for coaching and I am always happy to have a call about coaching. I love hearing about other folks coaching journey and sharing tips with each other.

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

I am a hands on leader. I love to assist for CTI or watch videos. I do love books and I would rather be jumping into the work.

So take a look at this TED talk: The Little Risks You Can Take To Increase Your Luck

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

I asked my cousin if she regretted not having kids as I was considering skipping having kids. She said, I am pretty sure you regret it either way. From that moment on I felt so free and knew not having kids was going to be just fine.

What’s next for you on your journey?

As I said earlier – it’s waiting for me even though I don’t know what it is yet.

A Ted talk? More coaching, more workshops and more traveling….. more cats and more kisses from my husband of 18 years.

Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Jessica McClure

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  I’m very pleased to be able to say that Jessica McClure is one of them.

They have inspired me to think beyond the ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Jessica McClure – Leadership & Life Design Coach

Jessica McClure

Tell us a little about yourself…

I believe that when we are living our best life, there is no need for balance.  

Sometimes we focus on some things more than other — so let go of the guilt and the “shoulds” that don’t have meaning for you.  Instead take the time to make a priority of the things you “want” to include in your life — I think too often we go on autopilot and the days just pass. 

It takes effort to make yourself and your desires a priority, but in the end it’s worth it because you can create so much more in your life when you let in the unknown.  

I try and honor that with my own life and working with clients to incorporate that in their own lives, as a Life & Leadership Coach.

How do you know Nicki?

I met Nicki on a magical island (Lopez Island) just over 18 months ago, with 8 other women, where we slept, dreamed, ate, conspired, cried and grew together, both as humans and as leaders.  

(You can read a little about Nicki’s journey to & from Lopez island here)

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

I have created my own schedule that allows me to be with my family and also work one-on-one with people, to mirror back to them the life they want.  

I am drawn like a moth to a flame to connection, to community, to people and to conversations. This isn’t to say I don’t get nervous, don’t know what to say or love networking — it’s just that I have settled in to showing up and trusting that I will meet the people I am meant to meet or have the conversations that will have meaning for me.  

I believe that every interaction is a trading of energy — I’m supposed to learn something from you or you are supposed to learn something from me. If I come with that attitude, than an interaction is always meaningful, even when it isn’t apparent. You never know the impact or the random comment that might affect you — I still remember snippets from movies, conversations, listening to others, experiences, reading that have made a profound impact.  If I didn’t get out of my comfort zone and do things that were sometimes scary – I wouldn’t have had many of those experiences or growth for my own life.

So I guess what I love is that my life is not predictable.  I love that every interaction can change the course of my future.   

And what is predictable, is that my husband and kids can still make me laugh so hard that I have to run to the bathroom!

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Oh wow, such a great question.  …It’s interesting to notice dots in my past that would have taken my trajectory in a completely different direction… no right or wrong.  Just being aware that every decision does shift the future.

My chronological dots are:  

– working in a corporate world for many years and never feeling like my puzzle piece fit in with the others;

– watching a reality show years and years ago when a person had a life coach and I remember being so intrigued;

– a random night sitting in a hotel room with 10 other women and having one of them ask me if I took a class on how to “communicate”;  

– reading Sheryl Sandbergs Lean IN book — which I hated and made me want to tell others to Lean OUT (this one was a big dot);

– “praying” before bed one night asking for a sign as to what I should do for my career and my dream of three women – one collecting mushrooms, one teaching yoga and then me “to speak” – two days after this dream writing in my journal “teach others to find their dharma” and three days later in the aisle of Costco my husband telling me he thought I would be a good life coach (I hadn’t shared the dream or the journal entry with him);

– meeting a pivotal person that encouraged me to create Lean OUT – a group of 8 women – and oddly enough, my entry into Lean In Seattle;

– a vision in meditation of 3 women and me sitting in a circle, I saw a symbol – a star with 4 points and each woman was a point – connection, spirit, movement and grounding.  And seeing how this symbol with its meaning has shaped my own growth.

– And the constant standing up for myself, against society, my family, some friends (never my husband or good friends) about getting a “real job”.

Every time I had to defend my choice,

I became stronger in my choice and stance.

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

Countless supporters who have believed in me and lifted me up when I didn’t believe in myself.  

My husband — who has never questioned this path and what it entailed, specially when it financially didn’t make sense and it would have been easy for him to tell me to “go get a job”.  He gave me inspiration/belief when I doubted myself and the permission to be selfish in achieving my dreams – holding the confidence for me when I didn’t have it myself.

Inspiring coaches who are doing it – and who have had faith in me as well, to trust me with their clients.  

My clients who have made huge shifts in their lives and I get to witness them empowering themselves to go big.  

Random meetings that turned into new clients, workshops that I facilitated that helped my growth as well as the people who attended.  

Honestly, it always feels like the universe seems to support my growth, exactly with what and who I need at the time and with time my confidence in myself has grown and I’ve learned to be courageous in the face of fear.

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

I mentor in the year-up organization.  

I speak to everyone, not with the goal of “coaching” them, but to have a greater connection.  I am genuinely curious about people and about their trajectory.

By leading with my truth I hopefully inspire others to do the same.  

I write and I often hear that something I wrote was exactly what someone needed to hear — or that they read it and have an “and I think…..” which creates a bigger conversation.  

By putting myself out there – I think it shows people it’s not so scary to do it themself.

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

OOOH, that’s tough.  I have 10 books on the side of my bed right now…  

One that has made a big impact on me and has taught me how to talk to my “inner self” is Carolyn Myss, Sacred Contracts and everything Dr. Joe Dispenza (most recently Breaking the habit of being yourself) for understanding the science behind the brain.

But the book I recommend the most, and I think every person should read (especially women) is Women Who Run With The Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pikola Estes.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

There are not two people in this world who are the same.  Don’t look to others for your path — inspiration yes, but follow your own path – and delete anyone from your life who makes you feel less than (social media or in real life).  

And trust. Trust in the journey and that you are meant to be happy.

What’s next for you on your journey?

Continuing coaching one-on-one.  Facilitating more womens groups – a smaller lean out and currently creating a monthly cross-generational larger group format for women to learn from each other.  

Letting the universe surprise and delight me with more opportunities, people and undertakings – while I do the “work” on my side.

Connect with Jessica and find out more about how she can help you find clarity by visiting her website:

Create a life you love – Inspiring Stories: Steph Wong

I have the pleasure of knowing some amazing people. People who have done extraordinary things with their ‘ordinary’ lives.  Steph Wong is one of them.

They have inspired me to think beyond the ‘normal’ as to what’s possible for my life – and I hope that by getting them to tell their stories here, they might just inspire a few others of you too.

Steph Wong – Gluten Free Baker & Entrepreneur

Steph Wong
Steph Wong (bottom left) & the WHO’s team

Tell us a little about yourself…

When I was small, I had ideas of what I wanted to do when I grew up.   They weren’t always concrete jobs or professions, but there were requirements to the kind of future I wanted.

I grew up knowing that I wanted a job where I could travel the world, where I could become a mentor, and eventually become my own boss. Most importantly, I knew I wanted to do something that helped people or where I felt like I could make an impact.

So I went through a series of jobs during high school and college, learning what I could about the different fields that I was interested in. The list included everything from camp counselor & dentist assistant to magician’s assistant, muay thai instructor training and managing a handmade lampshade factory.  I then ‘settled down’ into a corporate role as a project manager and finally a production manager.

All of it seems so disconnected, but each job gave me insight to who I wanted to be, what kind of people I wanted to work with, how to work with and lead people, and how to manage tasks that seemed near impossible! [Thanks Imagination].

However, after a while, I got to feeling that I wasn’t being challenged enough.  I wasn’t learning anything new and the support that I needed to grow was not there.

Prior to this I had some health issues, and found out that I had celiac disease, which is what brought about the next big change in my life.

I had a hard time finding good food and snacks while being on the road, so I started to make my own. I shared it with friends, family and coworkers and they loved it. That’s when I realised that I could get back into doing something that made me happy.

I started WHOS Gluten Free in December of 2013.

I worked on the branding, the recipes and figuring out what people wanted by going to farmers markets and food festivals – all while working as a production manager. I slowly built up my business, funding it with my paychecks, but too scared to jump into it full-time. There was always that “what if it fails?”, or “what if I can’t pay my bills” in the back of my mind.

All of that changed though, when my mentor and ex colleague was diagnosed with ALS, which is a serious progressive neurodegenerative disease. It put things into perspective for me. This is a man, who worked hard and poured his life energy into his work, only to be let go and then diagnosed with this life altering disease. Did I want to end up in the same position as him? To put so much heart, soul & time into working towards an unknown future for somebody else’s company? The answer was an easy NO.

I spent some time planning my exit and gave my months notice. I have now been working at my bakery for 7 months. I have 3 employees, and have grown my accounts from 4 to 17.

Steph Wong

It’s still in its early stages, but I am proud of what I have accomplished so far. I feel like I don’t have a real job.  Not because I’m not taking this next stage seriously. But because I love what I’m doing.

I don’t dread waking up at ungodly hours to bake bagels or bread. I enjoy baking and cooking, even if I have to stand on my feet for 12 -15 hours straight. To me, its something that I want to do. So maybe the best type of job for anyone, is a job that doesn’t feel like a “job”.

How do you know Nicki?

I answered an add on Craigslist for a project assistant position at Imagination New York.

After meeting Nicki & the team, I was hired for the job.

We were like a mini family the first few years – working/traveling together across the US.

I learned a lot about myself from Nicki and she gave me more confidence – reminding me that I need to speak up for myself and be my own cheerleader.

Tell us a little about the life that you have created – and what you most love about it?

Most days I wake up early and walk the dog, then head to the bakery to make to-do lists for my bakers. Bake, make deliveries, talk to the neighbors, and build a community around the bakery.

Compared to what I was doing before, this all seems fun and easy.

I love coming to the bakery, knowing that we are helping people and making it easier for them to find delicious gluten-free snacks and healthy gluten-free food.

Steph Wong

It really makes my day when parents come in with their kids, who have serious sensitivities and allergies, and feel at ease. They don’t have to worry about cross contamination – or chemically processed foods and flavors, because it is so abundant in the GF products found in the super markets.

I am also consciously working on a better work life balance – which is a lot easier now that I have 1 job instead of 2 full-time jobs. I am still learning how to slow down with the workload and focus more on my mental and physical health without feeling guilty. I started a run group in my building complex, I am organizing a team of 12 for a 2 day relay race, training for a sprint triathlon & learning how to swim.

What are the defining moments in having created this life you love?

Looking back into the past I can see how the things I wanted for myself subconsciously guided my decisions in life.

Pivotal point 1 “Leaving the nest”. I moved away from my family, friends and everything I knew to start a new life. I wanted to see if it was something that I could do, if I could survive on my own.

Pivotal point 2 “Finding my career” By accepting the job as project assistant at Imagination, I hit my dream goal of traveling and seeing different parts of the country while working. I moved up the “ladder” and then changed career paths. I learned how to work with people, how to get people behind your idea and most importantly I learned more about myself through relationships I had with my colleagues and managers.

Pivotal point 3 “Lifestyle change” I had a lot of health issues and went to doctors for years, before figuring out that I had Celiac disease.

I changed the way I ate, went out less to avoid getting sick, and started a bakery.

I went to farmers markets every weekend that I was not traveling and met great people. Within 5 months of farmers markets, I opened a retail location with 2 other women business owners. We formed a co-op space, that brought the community together, with 3 completely different businesses.

I had the GF bakery, there was a specialty tea bar and bath and body workshop that focused on afrocentric products. I felt like we were making a statement and that it was the coolest thing to be a part of.

When we came into this part of town (Jersey City, NJ) – there was nothing like us.  Now it’s an up and coming area with several specialty bakeries and restaurants. I like to think we made the area more desirable. Then we were growing and needed a bigger kitchen space – so relocated to another part of Jersey City.


Pivotal point 4 “Dead end” I felt trapped at times and that whatever I did was not enough.

I believe as women we have to learn and accept the fact that


…maybe better for the job than the male counterparts that we get passed over for.

Once we believe in ourselves, then it gives us the power to fight against the micro- aggressions and stand up to it.

If we don’t believe in ourselves, we begin accepting what is handed to us without question. I know I let that happen for too long – by the time I realized my worth – I decided that it was time to start a new journey.

Pivotal point 5 “Creating the culture” Its like the saying goes, if you want something done right, do it yourself.

I’ve taken what I’ve learned in the past 10 years, to create a space where we feel empowered to do better everyday.

I teach my employees everything I know, answer all their questions about starting their own bakery.

I help other gluten-free bakers by renting my space out – giving them contacts and tips on wholesaling.

Some people tell me that I am helping the competition. But I don’t feel that, I feel like I’m helping someone live out their dream – and that is what matters at the end of the day.

How many people can say they helped or encouraged someone to do something great with their lives or that they helped them live out one less regret?

We are on the outskirts of Jersey City, far from the popular downtown area. These are the areas that I feel like need a space like ours, a safe space for kids to hang out after school. A place to get healthy food at affordable prices. A place to have donation based yoga classes, or educational classes on food and health. Theres a lot more about the disparity in my part of Jersey City and the downtown area…(but I think that would have to be another article.)

Who are your key supporters along this journey – and what have they given you?

My key supporters are my friends and family – they jumped in feet first with me.


Steph Wong

They stayed up late baking with me, woke up early to load up the car for the markets, then they stood out in the hot sun and pouring rain with me to sell my baked goods, without asking for anything in return.

Steph Wong

They believed enough in me, in my idea and my cause to sacrifice their nights and weekends to see my dreams come to fruition. They even packed up my apartment and my bakery when I was on the road for work, because our lease was up and we were moving to a new location. I don’t know what kind of friend would help you move, while you were out doing something else. I think I might just have some crazy best friends.

It also helps that my boyfriend believes in my work so much, that he pushed me to choose the path that I am on now.  Without the financial stability he helped to provide, I would have had a harder time transitioning from my “9-5” to living out my best life.

How do you now ‘pay-it-forwards’? What support and inspiration do you provide to others to enable them to create a life they love?

I rent out my kitchen to other small businesses who are just starting out or trying to figure out what their next stage is.

I have partnered with other women owned businesses.

We also hold community events in our space like, donation based yoga, since it is not easily available to everyone.

What’s your current favourite book recommendation?

Right now I’m reading Codex Alera, it’s a 6 part fantasy book. I like to read a ton of fiction, instead of watching tv, to escape.

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given?

I can’t narrow any one piece of advise or quote down, but I know that when I’m feeling a little less than enthusiastic about life, I can count on Walter Raymond.

Without realizing it – he regurgitates little simple truths, idioms and tons of wisdom. He helped me get through a lot of self-doubt without realizing it Here is the most recent excerpt from Walter.

“What I need and what you need is different.

The point is you don’t need much to be successful.

You find your core needs, and get them to serve you fully, what can’t you achieve?”


What’s next for you on your journey?

I started an app company with a group of friends back in December of 2017. I’m planning on putting more time into this, as it’s still in the content development stages. We hope to launch a prototype in January so we can start speaking to investors.

Once that gets under way, I plan on being part of the Forbes 40 under 40 list. Maybe for the bakery, maybe for this new app, maybe for something completely different.

All I know is I’ve got a few years left to make the list and a lot of work to do!

Connect with Steph Wong and Whos Gluten Free Bakery here:

Feeling inspired? Want to work out your first step to create a life you love?

Get in touch with Nicki and schedule your free introductory coaching session.

Create change

create change
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

So how does coaching create change?

Coaching does not have a formula.  Sometimes I wish it did, as it would make my job more straightforward.  But it doesn’t.  Coaching is inherently dynamic. It’s personal and unique.  And when done well… it creates a unique empowered relationship for change that can sometimes feel like ‘magic’… But there is more to it than fairy dust and a good sprinkling of luck…

So how can I make it more understandable? Less mythical?  More tangible and visibly ‘valuable’ to those who are interested but unclear about the practicalities?

I’ll try my best here.  As understanding how coaching could help to create change for you, is the best first step I can take to help spread the word about what is possible when you decide you’re ready to create a life you love.

What coaching is…

For the official ICF definition, and the detailed blurb about what coaching is (& isn’t) take a look here.

For my shorter (sweeter?) answer, read on…

Coaching is a deliberate, focused conversation designed to support the person being coached (the client) into clarifying choices and working out how to make real change.

Coaching offers a ‘recharging’ space, where the client gets to tap into a positive source of energy that is needed to get over the hurdles in their life, to create change.

It’s a safe AND courageous space, where the truth gets to be spoken (by both the coach & the client) and the client can breathe, experiment, dream & strategise without any limitations.

It’s a rare environment – and a truly supportive one.

It starts by working out where the client is. (You are here. Where is here??) And then works to design where they want to be – creating a compelling vision that pulls them along, past the barriers of lethargy and fear.

It requires commitment. On both sides of the relationship.

The client must commit to exploring, learning, taking risks, persevering even when difficult – investing time & energy to go beyond their comfort zone – to be able to truly create change.

And as the Coach, I have to commit too.

To my clients and their vision.

I have to commit to digging deep, to listening (to what is said… and what is not said), to inciting, to motivating, to challenging, to insisting.  Because I know that my client is not just here to create change.  I know that they are able to transform.

And my biggest joy comes in seeing the caterpillars turn into the beautiful butterflies they were always meant to become.

Ready to create change?

Interested in how you can create change for yourself?

Get in touch and we can schedule a free, introductory session so you can experience what coaching is like for yourself.