It is with great excitement that I introduce the beautiful and inspiring Mel Larsen – business coach, painter and writer. This interview looks to sharing her journey and her passion in helping people create their best future. Our first workshop, on the 27th July 2018, will be brought to you by Mel.
Tell me about yourself
My passion in life is helping people to have a big vision that inspires them and supporting them in creating the steps and strategies in that coming true. I’m fascinated by the mind and how we make our goals come true.
I work as a coach and a marketing consultant. Both of those roles have taken me to work internationally. I get to combine everything I love which is vision, meeting different people, travelling and helping people to solve problems and be the contribution to the world they want to be.
I am also an artist. I paint for pleasure but having said that, I’ve realised that people like my paintings so it may become my third business!
What does female empowerment mean to you?
When you look at ancient history, I know in some societies, women were revered a lot more than they are now. It feels like now, that time is arising again across the world.
There are a lot more female prime ministers and presidents arising now, for example in Africa. Across Europe and the US, with the rise of campaigns such as #Metoo, women and men are beginning to question the status quo and look at how come things are this way. It means something really exciting to me. And something that’s been brewing. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I studied feminism. This just feels like a new wave and enrichment of thoughts that have been around for a long time but now feels like its beginning to blossom.
Put simply empowerment is equality, inclusion and diversity. What’s interesting at the moment is that female empowerment will mean much more women in leadership roles: high visibility leadership roles, in politics and in business.
Interestingly, no one really talks about how it’ll impact men and the roles they are “trapped” into. I see men suffer too, from not being able to be open and to cry, in the same way we have been told, as women, to suppress our power. I think once you change one part of the jigsaw, everything else will also change. I’m grateful that I’m seeing the changes that are about to happen. Its very exciting times.
What empowers you?
It a long list, which is really great, because if you asked me 20 or 30 years ago, I would have given you a list of what disempowers me. My family empower me. Secondly my friends who support me and stood by me through the years. My business buddies that I meet regularly, support me and encourage me to do more than I think I’m capable of. I feel very privileged to have them in my life.
The coaching world and when I first discovered personal development empower me. I was asked questions that opened my mind and I was challenged to do things that seemed scary. And I discovered I was capable of doing much more than I thought.
Fantastic leaders also really empower me and I think if I could just have one percent of their courage, and wisdom, I’ll be happy. People like Oprah Winfrey, Brene Brown, Lisa Nicholls and Elizabeth Gilbert inspire me. My mother inspired me also, and she’s a really savvy small-scale entrepreneur.
Have you experienced inequalities within the workplace?
I am mixed race. I grew up in the countryside and so my upbringing has been very ‘English countryside’. I experienced inequality and wasn’t equipped to deal with it then. Back in the late seventies, England was a very different place and there was a lot of overt racism. My worst experiences were at school when I didn’t have enough experience or education to understand why it was happening to me. I took it very personally. I didn’t realise that it was because of the fallout of centuries of political and economical ideology.
Within the workplace, I was fortunate enough to stumble upon personal development and the arts is a very welcoming field. There have been some experiences where I’ve encountered inequalities, racism and prejudice. Some of my consultancy work is about reducing this and I feel passionate about it. Inequality definitely exists but I try not let it stop me from reaching my goals.
How do you think we can increase the number of positive female role models?
By being one. As women we are trained to be led. If you look at the media, and unconsciously by our parents and people around us when we’re young, we are trained to be led. A lot of the training for women is for us to be attractive and nurturing but not to lead. I think someone famous said this but if you can’t find the leader you are looking for then its up to you to be the person to stand up and change things.
You are always way more capable then you think. I’ve founded 3 cultural festivals – an arts festival, a food festival and I’m currently the voluntary director of a peace festival. What I learnt from doing those things was that don’t wait to be asked to be the leader. If you see something that is missing, a gap or that you can make a difference, your job is to make it happen if you feel passionate about it. Or if you don’t feel like you’re a leader than support other women. Again as someone once said, at the very least, don’t get in the way!
You can be a leader in your community or family. There is always something you can do. You can set an example. Also be ready for uncomfortable feelings. We are still relatively new to being leaders in high or even low profile way, for some of us.
How can we decrease barriers to equality?
First of all awareness. People need to be aware that barriers exist. I often encounter people who think everything’s fine because they live inside privilege where they don’t need to encounter prejudice. That actually includes all of us in a greater or lesser degree but the important thing is to be aware of it and to start to dismantle those boundaries. That can entail sharing power and helping others.
What are your goals for the future?
I’m usually the one asking that question! My goals are to raise awareness of my coaching work. To continue to travel. To paint more.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take more time off. Don’t work so hard. Spending time with your friends and family are the golden memories you’ll remember as you get older. Believe in yourself more. Paint more. There’s also a magical thing called coaching. If you discover it sooner, it will impact your life in the most enormous way!
You can get your ticket to see the amazing Mel at our first worskhop – Envision your best future, via Eventbrite ; http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/envision-your-best-future-workshop-with-mel-larsen-tickets-46865956337