It was a Wednesday morning when I was about to meet Charlotte for the first time. I tried to recall what I had heard about the Danish coach I was about to interview. Her name called my attention, when I overheard people in my network talking about her accomplishments. They spoke of a Danish Life Coach, that had helped clients overcome their depression by combining personal training and life coaching. She immediately sparked my curiosity. I could not wait to meet this woman who had lived and travelled around the world for over 25 years.
The door went open and there she stood, Charlotte. Fit and beautiful, in a long wavy, white dress. Her radiant smile filled the room and sparked further curiosity to find out all about her. She was happy to share her story with me. Charlotte told me about her professional passion as a life coach, the ups and downs of being a female entrepreneur and how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Could you tell us about yourself and the journey that brought you to Malaysia?
I was born in Denmark, but I have been living abroad for over 25 years. My journey started in Australia, when I was just 20 years old. I moved there with my partner, until his job took us elsewhere. We moved all over, from Thailand to Malaysia. Malaysia is our home now, where we have been living for the past 10 years. I consider myself very lucky to have lived in so many different parts of the world!
Despite our mobile lifestyle, my own professional identity has always been very important to me. I could never settle for just being a wife. Since 2005, I have been working and studying, and I received my certifications as a Master Life Performance Coach from Australia AIPT. Motivating and coaching other people has always been my passion. I worked as a personal trainer for 10 years and now I am the proud owner of my own business here in Malaysia, CLway2go!
What is the vision behind CLway2go?
My company is all about life and wellness coaching. The people I coach are from all walks of life and struggle with a range of issues. It is really great to coach other people and help them with a game plan. Aside from life coaching, I provide motivation speeches for the corporate world. My talks are about work-life balance, how to avoid stress, how to increase your selfesteem, how to live a healthy life without going to the gym and the power of saying ‘no’.
My company name, CLway2go, resembles the positive vibe that I am trying to carry out during my sessions. It is a positive reminder for me and my clients to just go for it!
How would you describe your experience of setting up and running a business in Malaysia?
When I started my business in Malaysia five years ago, many people did not know what life coaching was. I was excited to be a true entrepreneur in this field, but it also made the process more difficult. In Malaysia, everything just takes a little bit longer. Malaysia Boleh! But I believe that everyone can do it. If you love what you do and really want it, you will always find a way.
What does a typical day in your life look like?
My days are never the same, so I consider myself very lucky. Some days are all about life coaching sessions and other days are filled with motivational speeches. But it is never the same. I work with so many different people and different topics in life, which makes every day an interesting new opportunity to coach people. There are even days when I dedicate my entire afternoon to writing. I like to write about life topics online, to reach more people and give them a positive boost. Right now, I am in the process of working freelance for one of the private Hospitals in Kuala Lumpur as a wellness coach.
How do you manage to keep up a healthy work-life balance?
My entire life vision is about being in balance. My mindset is very holistic. I believe that it is important to stay fit and take good care of your body and mind. That means being aware of your diet - no late dinners - and exercising regularly. On an average day, I will always find one hour a day to work-out. That is part of who I am. In fact, it feels weird not to be active! I love running and I have run a lot of marathons around the world. Sometimes I think about work when I am running. Other times, I don’t think at all. It’s a good way to clear my mind and keep a healthy balance in my life.
I have been working and studying since 2005 and it never hindered me in being a wife or mother. I feel very lucky that I could be there a 100 percent when my kids were younger, but as they got older, we all went into new phases of our lives. In fact, I believe it made me an even stronger role model for my kids: running a family and starting a business at the same time.
How would you describe the impact of your experience as an expat on your journey as a business woman?
That is a tough question, because I have lived my entire adult life as an expat. But despite our mobile lifestyle, I have always followed my own path and ambitions. Working and starting a business really gives my life some kind of balance and helps me grow as a person. Sadly, I have seen many expat women that stopped growing because of the ‘sweet expat life’. In my coaching sessions, I meet a lot of these women. They feel lost in their new life abroad. I think it’s great when I can coach them to become more aware of themselves and help them with a game plan.
However, working as an expat woman has influenced my social life as well. To be honest, many women do not like me because I am working. They do not invite me for a lot of things and I am not socially involved with many women. Being a working expat has taught me to adapt to all kinds of situations and deal with a lot of opinions. It can be challenging, but it has also taught me to stay strong when I need to.
How do you think fellow expat women, who would like to set up a business, could relate to your experience?
I really hope the LinkMotility network and perhaps this interview, can help other upcoming female entrepreneurs to take the first step and start a business here in Malaysia. I believe everyone can do it, if they set their mind to it and love what they do.
What advice would you give them?
Do not give up when things are getting hard. I know how frustrating starting a business can be, just take a deep breath and try to stay positive. If you love what you do, you will find a way. Just set your mind to it. You can do it. If you can't find your way, I'll be happy to coach you.
How do you measure success?
We all measure success in many different ways and on many different levels. When setting goals in life or in business, it is important that we identify what success means to us. For me, success is being true to myself with everything I do in my life. I am far from perfect, but as long as I do my best with everything in life, I feel successful.
One of the modern day examples of a woman who can do it all and run the world is Beyoncé. She is really a great role model for women all ages. She is driven, talented, intelligent, focused and someone who keeps pushing herself harder. She manages to be a mother, wife and successful business woman. Beyoncé is truly running things on her own terms.
Since I have been living in this part of the world for so many years, I would like to mention Aung San Suu Kyi as well. She gained international fame and recognition when she campaigned for democracy in Burma. She was under house arrest for over 20 years, but never gave up her beliefs. Today she is known for her strength, dedication and her amazing willpower.
Last but not least, what’s the next step in your journey?
I am proud to be a part of the LinkMotility network. I hope to inspire other upcoming female entrepreneurs and reach women who are stuck in their new lives abroad. A lot of people don't know where to go when they need professional advice with some life issues. So I am always looking for new opportunities to reach more people. My goal is to be your life coach.