I met Elsa at the beginning of 2012, when we both started the RSM Full Time International MBA at the Erasmus University. I remember that from the very first days of studying together, she seemed very focused, dedicated and passionated about learning…which proved to be exactly the case.
Hearing about her new project and knowing her, I knew that I could learn a thing or two from her experience so I asked if she would spare half an hour for a Startup Maze interview.
In this interview you will find out how a young professional woman who has a full time job and is full time mom, managed to start a website about work-life balance. Talking about of “practicing what you preach” huh?
Hi Elsa, can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I’m a 30-year old multi-passionate professional woman. Nowadays, I like to describe myself as a blogger, life coach, health & fitness enthusiast, financial analyst at Shell and, most importantly: a new wife and mum.
I have a pretty varied background as well. I started off studying biological engineering, worked as a scientist for a couple of years then I moved to the banking industry, where I worked nearly four years in the City of London. Now I am here in the Netherlands, working for Shell. So I changed industries, countries and jobs and I have been doing several things over the last 10 years or so.
So what it your new project? Can you describe it in a few words?
Around this time last year, I was pregnant and I found out that I was expecting a little girl. This got me thinking about all the things I want to teach her. Above all, I wish her to grow into a healthy, balanced and happy woman.
Achieving this balance can be a challenge, especially for career-driven females working in fast-paced, male-dominated environments. I’ve experienced it first-hand while working in the City of London as a Financial Analyst.
At the time, seeking to improve my work & life balance, I started researching personal development, productivity techniques, fitness and general well-being. Eventually, I trained as a life coach (CCF-certified) and also as a Body Control Pilates teacher.
Over time, I’ve developed my own ways to manage my time, stress levels, health and relationships.
It’s these strategies and attitudes that I wish to teach my daughter. And frankly, I believe they can also benefit a much broader audience of women who wish to build more vibrant and fulfilling lives.
With some time on my hands during my pregnancy and maternity leave, I decided to start XanaLiving.com.
So this was an older idea/passion of yours and now you finally got the time to start working on it.
Yeah, I mean I have loads of passions, that is the good part. The problem is to focus on one.
Let’s say that the concept was not refined until quite recently and I still refine it as I go along, but I have always been interested in these things.
Even if I look at my professional career, apart from my current corporate job, everything I did was always related somehow to healthcare or well-being. Either I was doing research in laboratory to find tests that check the purity of vaccines or I was working with small RNAs which can be used to cure the auto immune diseases. In the City of London while working as an equity research analyst covering small and midcap companies, one of the industries I followed was that of health care services. And on top of that, I am very passionate about fitness. So yeah, there was always this healthcare/well-being theme going on.
Now the concept of the blog per se only came up last year.
What helped me pick this specific idea was going through Marie Forleo’s B-School. In the program, Marie talks about finding your “sweet spot” at the crossroads between your passions and what your audience needs.
Accordingly, I took an inventory of my personal interests, my professional certifications and experience. This gave me an array of potential projects.
I knew that I wanted to work on something related to well-being, something that I would like to pass on to my daughter. So the next step was to think about gaps in the market that would match my qualifications and personal story.
As I said before, something that I struggled with in the past was work & life balance as a professional woman. I would have welcomed some kind of coaching on the subject when I felt that my life was a mess. Although there are plenty of workshops and self-help books out there about career and time management, relationships, diet, exercise, spirituality, etc., I didn’t find ONE source that covered it all in an integrated and consistent way.
Hence, I my idea of filling that gap with XanaLiving.com!
So the blog is a way to share your knowledge with others. Is that correct?
Yeah, and actually it’s funny because I started doing more research about these things about 5 years ago. As soon as people noticed that I was doing a therapeutic massage course, training as a Pilates teacher and studying coaching, they started asking me questions about these things, and I really loved sharing those strategies with my friends and my family.
Also, at my previous employer, I was a mentor for a couple of junior analysts and I even started sharing the things I was learning with my mentees. Doing all that, I found that I really enjoy this side of things, mentoring and coaching.
So yes I do it for myself, but I am very happy to share it as well. And people say that the best way to learn something is to teach it, so for me it works both ways.
And how did you fund the project? Was it expensive to launch your own website?