“How do you do it?”
It’s a question I’m asked all the time. With all I have on my plate — kids, family, running a big company, business travel — How do I stay positive? How do I look so put together?
My answer is simple. I do it naturally.
I haven’t always had the balance, alignment or sense of self that enables me to navigate my life not only with much more ease, but also with much more happiness. It’s been a journey.
Born and raised in France, my Italian parents were poor and illiterate. Just keeping a roof over the heads of four children was a daily struggle. I especially hated seeing my parents working so hard for so little.
But even at a young age, I learned one of the most important lessons of my life. While I wished I could help my family and those around me, there was honestly nothing I could do at that point in my life to change our situation. I realized then and there I needed to do whatever was necessary for me to succeed.
LESSON #1: BE SELFISH
When I say “be selfish,” I knew to succeed I had to work first on myself — study, finish school and get a good job. Given my impoverished childhood, I equated success with money, and to mean buying a car, a house and saving for retirement. I was motivated and determined to create my own fortune.
I excelled at school, especially in math and science, and with the aid of government scholarships, I completed both a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s in management engineering. I began working as a consultant implementing systems, applications and products (SAP), and then I bought a car.
Rapidly rising in the business software industry, I worked with companies worldwide and eventually moved to the U.S. in 2001 to manage SAP implementation projects. I launched my own company, Gravity Pro Consulting, in 2007. I had made it. I succeeded.
But that success didn’t come without a cost. I worked at a non-stop pace. Because, like many women, I felt I had to do it all. I took care of everyone — my husband, my kids, my family in France and my employees. I grew my business and was involved in the community. Even going to the gym was scheduled on my calendar as if it was a meeting.
About six years ago, my life started to change. The turbulent economy was impacting the technology software industry. My husband and I were going through a divorce. I found myself exhausted both physically and mentally.
The financial success I had achieved just didn’t seem important anymore. In fact, I realized the only achievement that was truly a part of me and driven by my inner fire versus my image of success was my children.
Around this same time, I also suffered a second serious head trauma in a decade. My whole life I was defined by my intellect. But this last head injury actually changed the way my brain worked. And believe it or not, that was a gift.
I had to switch from thinking with my brain to feeling with my heart. Instead of doing things I felt like I HAD to do, for the first time in my life, I began doing things because I WANTED to.
LESSON #2: LIVE LIFE CONSCIOUSLY
We all have a certain amount of time and energy, and we have to use them wisely. The key is to live life consciously. Focus on your own happiness and trust that you will achieve great things by doing what makes you happy. Having this type of faith in yourself actually puts you more in control of your destiny.
Now when I meet with a prospective client, if the relationship just doesn’t feel right, I don’t sign the deal. When I travel for work, it’s because I want to. And I’m traveling more for a different kind of work. What I call working on myself. I’ve started taking leisure trips that help me connect more spiritually to who I am and what I want to accomplish for myself and for others.
Being more introspective has certainly impacted the kind of work I do. Today, half of my work time is dedicated to mentoring and teaching other women and entrepreneurs by speaking at events, serving on boards and writing articles such as this. And, then there’s Le Caillou Blanc, a true project of my heart.
Le Caillou Blanc is a place where world leaders, visionaries and heads of industries can come together to create and manifest their vision of the future. Set in the majestic tranquility of Mont Blanc at the base of the French Alps, this worldclass retreat allows for brilliant minds to meet and create new ideas that can benefit the world, and think of a new way of leading politically, economically and humanely for this and the next generation of leaders.
Slowing down physically is temporary. But slowing down mentally is life-altering. I’ve been able to connect with myself, to be conscious of what I want to do to be happy, and to align my goals and actions with my values. I make the choices I believe in my heart and in my gut are right for me versus making choices based on what my brain is telling me I should do given society’s belief system.
So when people ask me how I do it, I tell them I make choices for me. I tell them I’ve learned to be conscious of what makes me happy, and I align my actions with what feels right to me. I tell them belief in self will make you richer than any amount of money can.