How did you end up doing what you’re doing?

I’m asked this question at least once a week and I’m always happy to answer it.

How did you end up doing what you’re doing?

I’m asked this question at least once a week and I’m always happy to answer it.
As the late Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford Address ‘you can only join the dots looking backwards,’ the ‘dots’ being the clues as to your calling or purpose in life. Looking back I can now see the clues, the signposts all pointing in the direction of Coaching, Training, Motivational Speaking and Writing, but I didn’t recognise them at the time. Today, what I do is an extension of who I am and everyday I’m grateful that I’ve been able to align my passions with my profession.

Here are my ‘dots,’ the story of how, and why, I do what I do.

When asked as a child ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I would always answer teacher. Now I’m not a teacher in a school, but as a motivational speaker, trainer and coach, I spend most of my time standing at the top of rooms sharing distinctions and insights and hopefully inspiring others to be the best they can be.

As a teenager people would often say that I was a great listener, had finely tuned empathy skills and on occasion they would even comment that I was ‘wise beyond my years,’ – some good raw material for being a life and business coach.

I started writing a diary in January 1986 and I’ve written a daily entry every day since! When I’ve an issue or a challenge I will ‘write it out,’ (and ‘right it out!’) I wrote my first book Graduate to Success in 2007 and several more have followed.

My first job, straight out of school was working in an Insurance Company. I enjoyed it for many years, picking up several qualifications along the way including an MBA. However, I had climbed a career ladder only to realise it was against the wrong building.

I turned thirty in 2000 (yes, I’m giving my age away) and I felt like something was missing from my life. I was a Customer Service Manager responsible for a department of 60 people, but I wasn’t happy. I had the trappings of success and achievement, but I wasn’t fulfilled. Some might call it a ‘third life crisis,’ now wearing my coaching hat I can see that my unexercised values (qualities that were important to me in life) were screaming for attention…

Read My Story

I made the brave decision to step out of the corporate world. Fortunately I had savings, so I went off travelling seeking answers and insights even though I didn’t know the questions. (My second book Soar – Powerful Questions that will Transform your Life’ is the book I wish I had access to at the time!)

In February 2001 I was in Manley Australia when I wandered into a book store (I can never pass a book store) and picked up the wonderful book ‘Be your own Life Coach’ by Fiona Harrold. I’d never heard the term ‘Life Coach’ before. It was exactly the right book at the right time. I bought a pen, sat in the park, began to read, underline and write in the margins. Not only did that book help me to put shape on the next chapter in my life, I now had the term to describe what I’d been doing instinctively for years. More ‘dots’ came into focus and I could see the pattern they’d been forming.


    • When I managed people it was never a chore for me to do performance appraisals or speak with staff about their career goals.
    • I wrote my own goals in the cover of my diary every New Year’s Day since 1986.
    • My MBA thesis was on the topic of motivation.
      For as long as I can remember I’ve ripped motivational and personal development articles from magazines. (The sort of articles I now write in my monthly columns in several magazines as well as in my own blog and ezine Next Steps, published every month since May 2004.)
    • Subsequently I’ve come to realise that the biggest clue to your calling or purpose in life is that stuff you do naturally because ‘that’s just you.’

When I returned to Ireland I did an 18 month stint as a Project Manager and I embarked on my first Business & Life Coach Training Diploma. (Several NLP and Leadership diplomas have followed.) I made the leap into the world of being a solopreneur in 2004 (though I don’t think that word existed then) and whilst there have been challenging times, including one hell of a recession, my business continues to expand and for that I’m grateful every day.

In many ways I retired at 30 (though in truth I never intend to retire.) As per those often uttered, but oh so true words of Confucius – ‘Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work another day in your life.’

10 things to know about me

I’m incessantly optimistic.

The glass isn’t just half full; I say the glass is always full, of oxygen if not water.

Like everyone I’m still learning and growing.

I can be a bit of a control freak but I continue to work on trusting and allowing. Technology frequently freaks me out.

Nature is my church.

I’m a spiritual seeker and have a strong belief in God/ Divine Wisdom. As it says in A Course in Miracles ‘All things are lessons God would have me learn.’

I’m happiest curled up with a great book.

 My favourite books and authors are too lengthy to name, but I’ve read these books at least three times – The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, The Shack by William P. Young, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and when I want to dream and escape – Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I’m an inspiration junkie.

I love that cocktail of enthusiasm, creativity and joy. I’m inspired by many things – travel, nature, great books, art, music, dancing, other people’s stories and journeys.

Every few years I get itchy feet..

..and the urge to travel to far flung destinations (sorry Mam!) I’ve been blessed to visit places such as Cambodia, South Africa and New Zealand. High on my bucket list are Bhutan, Japan and Botswana.

A good insight into my personality are the people I admire (those in the public eye anyway.)

  • Oprah Winfrey (Integrity, Generosity, Courage, Openness, Business acumen)
  • Nelson Mandela (Compassion, Resilience, Humanity)
  • Tom Ford (Perfectionism, Creativity, Vision)
  • Roger Federer (Excellence, Style, Ease)
  • Anna Wintour (Attention to detail, Hardworking, Directness)
  • Mary McAleese (Empathy, Communication Skills, Approachability)

I give 110% and I don’t do half measures.

 I learned a strong work ethic from my parents and I listened to the adage ‘if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right’ growing up. You, my clients are the reason why I can continue to do what I love. Equally, if I feel my services are not for you, I will say so. I’m obsessive about customer service, responding to emails and exceeding expectations.

I collect insightful and inspiring quotes. Here are some of my favourites that go to the heart of my worldview:

  • “The meaning of life is to find your gift; the purpose of life is to give it away.” – Joy J. Golliver.
  • “If everyone swept their own doorstep the whole world would be clean.” – Mother Teresa.
  • “True success is living life everyday on your own terms.” – Tony Robbins.

Family is important to me.

Work life balance is important to me. I manage my time well (I do run Time Management workshops after all.) I’m able to stretch for my goals and dreams because my family, and in particular my husband Brian are in my corner.

My work as a Motivational & Keynote Speaker

‘Inspirational,’ ‘Thought-Provoking,’ ‘Funny,’ ‘Real’ these are words I often hear from audiences after my talks. I always endeavour to find the right balance between sharing practical insights, tips and distinctions and audience engagement (‘enter-trainment!) It’s never ‘death by powerpoint’ at one of my talks!

My work as a Trainer

My training and up-skilling workshops in organisations are all about stimulating sustainable behavioural change. My focus is on working in partnership with companies to create tailored solutions that meet their needs. My Presentation Skills and Time Management programmes are always in demand, so too are workshops on modern topics such as Personal Branding, Authentic Leadership, Empowerment & Assertiveness and Team Cohesion.

My work as a Writer

I love to write, I always have. Equally it is something I will always do, because it’s how I gather my thoughts, how I work through issues and how I know what’s important to me. I’ve been writing my blog and monthly ezine ‘Next Steps’ since May 2004. I also write motivational columns for several magazines. And there’s been the small matter of six books and counting, including two highly praised novels!

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