My name is Anna, I am from La Réunion, a small French island near Madagascar and I currently live in Paris. I have previously worked in Human Resources, Communications and Marketing, and earlier this year I started my consulting business in that same area of expertise. I help companies engage and connect better with their target audience, and I am working on bringing together a team of freelancers who collaborate on specific projects under the same umbrella. I love traveling, I try to work remotely as much as possible, I love discovering new coworking and coliving spaces everywhere I go, and I enjoy meeting with other freelancers and entrepreneurs from all over the world!
How do you define success?
That is a very interesting (and tricky) question.
The first word that comes to my mind when I think about success is accomplishment. Having achieved something, reached a target, or even just the general feeling of satisfaction when I take a step back, and when I put things into perspective. I honestly find it really hard to do so, and I should do it more often – just take a break and realize how far I’ve come. It’s so easy to let yourself feel overwhelmed by the everyday life, the small (or bigger!) frustrations, the daily hustle… I also think that I didn’t grow up in a society that particularly celebrated success. I’ve always had quite high levels of expectation towards my projects or actions, and it’s definitely not natural for me to look at my achievements and say, “well this has been a successful project, congratulations!” I always tend to focus on what went wrong, what I learned, what I should have done differently… I think we all do. And it’s taking the time to reflect and to celebrate our successes that often requires extra-effort.
I think my definition of success would also be reaching a certain balance. In order to be successful and to “feel successful”, you have to be true to yourself, you have to find meaning in what you do, you sort of need this “alignment” in your life… Does this make sense?!
What has your biggest success been to date?
I would say my biggest success so far has been to, within one year, launch my consulting business, secure 12 different clients from a wide range of companies without having to actively look for them, and reach my ambitious turnover target. I often forget how successful I have been for the past year. And even writing this feels a bit off, just because I owe it to a lot of different things, including my professional network (thanks to whom I have never been in an uncomfortable position where I had the urge to find new clients), my incredible group of friends and family members who support me all the way… And luck! Whether it was a bunch of coincidences or if I actually “provoked” it, I have to admit that I have been extremely lucky with how things turned out for my business.
What has been the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in order to achieve that success?
Well that’s an easy question: MYSELF! I’ve always had an enormous lack of self-confidence, even though from the outside it looks like I know what I’m doing and I have everything figured out. Well surprise surprise, I really don’t have a clue. I have always struggled with panic attacks due to anxiety, stomach and back pains, for as long as I can remember, mainly caused by the fact that I am scared about the future, about things I cannot control, about my insecurities… It is way easier to surrender to fear instead of welcoming things that happen to you with love (I think this sentence is straight from one of Gabby Bernstein’s books!). It couldn’t be more accurate to describe myself as far as I’m concerned.
How did you overcome it?
It certainly is still work in progress… But I would say that it really improved and got better when I found myself surrounded with like-minded, strong and fearless women entrepreneurs. That’s what I did last July when I joined the Digital Nomad Girls (DNG) community and decided to go on a retreat in Spain in September. I think this was probably the best decision I made over the past few years. Yes, years. I’m not kidding. When I reflect on what happened in 2016, I see it clearly: the first six months were pretty much all about doing client-work, trying to figure out what consulting really was, fighting against the biggest impostor syndrome I had ever experienced, and trying to get used the feeling of being and working alone 24/7, 7 days a week. That’s a lot to process.
And then the DNG retreat happened. And my world changed. Literally. I met this brilliant group of ambitious and hard-working women, who came from very diverse backgrounds but who shared the same goal: find purpose and be happy. The most powerful thing that happened during that retreat was the image of me that the community sent back my way. It probably does not make a lot of sense so let me explain: in our mastermind sessions, during our discussions, I realized that I was able to give valuable advice (even though I obviously felt like a fraud at first), to help someone build a more sustainable business model, to give feedback on a specific idea… and to inspire people. I had never seen that image of me. I had never really been in an environment where I felt like I truly had something to bring to the table. And that’s powerful. That’s really powerful.
The Digital Nomad Girls Community has helped, and is still helping me today, to have more confidence and trust in myself. And this definitely helps to achieve balance, to have this feeling of accomplishment and pride that characterizes success.
Do you think that personal and professional success are separate things?
Wow! I just realized I’ve just been talking about work this whole time! How interesting. It’s pretty significant though. Work has always been a huge part of my life (always have been the very dedicated type of student) but this year, with my company, it just became my entire life. I’m not saying that all I do is work (I even took a 3 week vacation in June! Woohoo!), and that I have no personal life… I do. I go out with my friends, I try to have a social life (I even sometimes stop working for like a whole weekend… whaaat?) But my brain, my mind, my thoughts are never on pause. I’m always thinking about tomorrow’s schedule, client meetings, things to cross off my to-do lists, emails to send, accounting stuff to do… Being a freelancer is not just about client work. It is so much more. It is running a company where you have to be CEO, COO, CMO etc etc. Which means that breaks are a luxury. You don’t necessarily have time for a personal life so you have to make time. And that’s much harder than just fill in your free time with hobbies & passion projects.
At the same time, whenever I neglect my personal growth, I truly feel unbalanced, because both spheres are linked together. You can’t, from my perspective, be completely successful in your professional life if your personal life is a mess. The other way is also true. Aiming for that balance, again! I truly believe it’s all part of some kind of virtuous cycle. Both spheres support each other.
What is your greatest ambition for the future?
My greatest ambition would be to never get tired of learning, and never ever stop growing.
What would your superpower be?
Ubiquity! It would allow me to be everywhere at once, and always be with my friends and family, whom I am always away from at some point. One day we’ll be able to! I am hopeful!