Suzanne Wylde is a coach, author, alternative therapist, stretching trainer and entrepreneur. She has studied in China, the US and the UK and has travelled around the world, learning about self development and wellness from different cultures. She enjoys coaching, particularly as a means of helping people to explore avenues for becoming more successful in the way that is meaningful to them. Her books teach people to do their own self-development work and to care for their minds and bodies in effective and self-compassionate ways.
Having initially been drawn to study Traditional Chinese medicine at university after doing Tai Chi as a teenager, Suzanne moved on to study a range of different modalities that have all helped her to develop a unique approach to wellbeing and self-development. Through exploring the concept of being a whole and healthy person, not only through the lens of different systems but also different philosophies, she feels she has gained a lot of insight and experience that sometimes pays off in surprising ways. She is currently coaching clients, teaching stretching online, studying Psychosynthesis Leadership Coaching and working on her first children’s picture book (a fun read about inclusivity and self-acceptance) as well as her first fiction novel (having had a great start by completing 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo). She enjoys supporting people as they unearth their unique gifts and make the world a more colorful and accepting place.
Where did the idea for Suzanne Wylde Coaching come from?
It was a very easy decision to become self-employed right from the start of my career because when I graduated from my degree in Traditional Chinese medicine there were hardly any jobs for us. My colleagues and I all started our own practices and many people I studied with are making great strides in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. I, however, do find it hard to just do one thing and I followed my intuition to study energy work, stretching, coaching and also to write books. My underlying drive is to try and help people to bring out their gifts and live a full and satisfying life. That has been my motivation through all the different modalities I have used, even as a writer. So my current coaching work is an evolution of that desire and an expression of all the experience I have gained so far.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are not so varied in terms of location right now, as I am working from home, but I do many different kinds of work in one day. For example, yesterday I had breakfast, read with a 4 year-old online for 30 mins (as part of a voluntary program), answered emails and worked on an illustration for my children’s book for an hour, gave a 1-hour coaching session and then had a lunch break. In the afternoon I responded to a couple of emails from journalists, worked on my fiction novel and then ended with 2-3 hours of work on my children’s book.
My days often include a variety of work like this, with varying proportions – sometimes I do a lot of coaching and on other days I write more. It is in my nature to enjoy variety, and I can still be productive as long as I immerse myself in the task at hand, rather than going back and forth between emails or research and the work I am doing. So I try to stick to dedicated blocks of specific types of work. In terms of writing the only way to be productive is to force yourself to do it, even when it’s hard or boring (although sometimes it is valuable to take a break or shake things up and come back to it). But at the end of the day, I have found that it is purely hours of focus that results in a finished book.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I have a lot of ideas! But it is the actualization, of course, that is the challenge and it has taken quite a while for me to learn the discipline that this requires. I think that a lot of people think: I am not good at this straight away, so it is not for me. It is tough to see a project all the way through, there’s a point around the middle and towards the end (often called the murky middle) where you just feel like there’s not much joy or excitement, only resistance and drudgery. That might come from red tape, or logistical challenges, or it might be difficulty recruiting your own excitement and willpower, or all of the above! It is only through finishing a project that you can learn how to finish projects.
Finishing things is a skill in of itself, so I would encourage anyone who finds themselves repeatedly abandoning goals at a certain point in the process – push through, you can do it! It is usually not better to start again, find a “better” project (which magically won’t have this horrible middle-end bit) or find something you are “better” at. If you are feeling bad at something that means you are pushing yourself to grow, if you are finding a project hard to actualize it might just mean that it is not “low-hanging fruit” and therefore actually worthwhile. Of course, there are exceptions. But in general I simply complete things by researching everything I need to, asking experts, listening to my own intuition and generally just “pushing through” until the end. And then it is extremely important to pause, feel the satisfaction and acknowledge your achievement before moving on to the next thing.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am very excited that people are opening up more, making communication more explicit, working through their emotions, fighting old prejudices and becoming more empathetic. I think a culture of self-awareness can only benefit business and politics in terms of creating a healthy and sustainable future.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Knowing how to spend my energy and attention in the places with the highest return is important. For example, as a writer – you have to write. Although paying attention to marketing, correspondence and other admin is important, the writing is always the most essential part. It is easy for me to get swept up in things I feel I “should” do, but before engaging in something that will take up a lot of time and energy, I often check in with my deeper intuition before I do, to make sure it is a valid choice for me.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be kinder to yourself. A lot of people will have a lot of opinions that they will happily share, based on very little information about who you actually are. However, wise and intelligent people are usually much slower to give their opinions and only do so when they think it is helpful to the other person. Try to let unhelpful opinions fall away like dead leaves and do not let them obscure your vision for your future.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think everyone is prejudiced, and the people who declare they are not tend have the greatest blind spots in this area. For example, people who tell me they do not see color worry me. I think it is human to have prejudices, we just have to be conscious of them and examine them every now and then to see if they are actually helpful (i.e. things fall when you drop them) or unhelpful (i.e. all women are bad drivers).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Be decent, keep your word and be true to yourself. I have met quite a few people who feel like they can get away with being less than straightforward in their personal and/or professional life and they believe that they can compartmentalize it or justify it somehow. However, on some level they always know they have done something that does not reflect their true values and this diminishes them. It also often creates an aura around them that makes people feel wary. In this age, which is hopefully about to become post-post-truth, I would protect the value of your word very diligently.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Be kind to people, understand that things take time and know where your responsibility lies. By creating connections based on truth and respect I have grown a sustainable business. I try to avoid rushing to complete projects before they are ready and I also try to accept responsibility for my own work, while understanding where other people’s responsibility lies. This sounds like many strategies, but it really comes down to keeping to a certain standard including good boundaries. If people know they can trust you, they will recommend you and come back in the future.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I cannot think of one massive failure, as when things go wrong I tend to think the situation was not quite right, or that there is something I need to learn. However, the failures that stick with me are when I did not really live up to my own values. For example, when I graduated I followed the advice to try and seem busy and successful, even though I was not, so I definitely lied about that. I regret it now and I sometimes feel conflicted about what to suggest to people who are new to their work. It is true that people may not value you or want to work with you as much when you are new, however instead of telling outright lies, I recommend building up as much of a portfolio, testimonials and other relevant experience as you can early on. This will give you the confidence to advertise your services and lots of great things to talk about with potential new clients. It will also provide key learnings for you and help you to build your confidence.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think an app which is like a dating app, but that actually connects different kinds of people like writers or gamers would be great. People who are naturally more introverted or have a solitary job really do enjoy connection, and now that’s a little harder to find as in-person gatherings like conventions and workshops are on hold.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently bought the rights back to my most recent book The Art of Coming Home (I don’t know if that counts as it was more than $100) and I am very excited about re-working it and putting it out in multiple countries and formats, so that it can help even more people.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I just use simple iCalendar to make a note of the work I need to do at different times, because on the days where I have to wear multiple hats it is really helpful to break my day into chunks.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love Little Women – it’s an oldie but goodie. It can be a little earnest at times, but the messages of hope, facing hardship, being good just for the sake of it, following your heart even if it goes against social norms and self-awakening are timeless. The author, Louisa May Alcott, was a very interesting person who grew up around some great thinkers including Emerson, Thoreau and Longfellow. Her family helped the Underground Railroad by sheltering a fugitive from slavery when she was a teenager, then as an adult she became an abolitionist and a feminist, worked as a nurse during the civil war and then worked as an author, which was still unusual for women at the time. So if she could do all that the end of the 19th century, I believe you can definitely be successful!
What is your favorite quote?
Anais Nin is an amazing writer and this quote of hers reminds me why it is important to keep growing and not to avoid change out of fear:
“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.”
• Be genuine, kind and dependable – a good reputation is more lasting and valuable than any other asset
• Finishing things is hard, it does not mean you are not good enough – it just means you are challenging yourself. Finish as many things as you can to become an expert at this, including what you need and how you need to be, in order to complete things.
• It is OK to be eclectic, it does not make you an irrational, irresponsible massive toddler. Find the connection and what each thing brings to your work, allow this insight to enable you to offer something unique.
• Creatives have to create. Even if you have to have a more “normal” 9-5, you need to find some form of expression for your spirit to stay bright.
• Pay attention to who you are paying attention to. Are you focusing on very critical people who clearly want to bring you down? They are a dime a dozen – think about who you respect and even want to be like, listen to them, value their opinions.
• Stay true to yourself as much as possible while meeting your material needs. You may be very successful right now, or the timing may not be right for your specialty to be in vogue, or in the public’s mind yet – either way, do the work you know is right for you and important.
• Whether you feel and seem successful or not, your value always remains the same.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.