New Year, New Learning Opportunities

Screen Shot 2018-01-08 at 20.22.06Happy New Year everyone!

I hope it will be a great one for you!

I have a little tip for you on how to make it even greater but first, allow me to share with you a little story of mine…

This year will mark the 10th anniversary of the day that I moved away for good from my home country, Poland, to live in Great Britain where I reside until this day.

Just over a month ago, I had a chance to reflect on this subject further. I was asked to deliver a presentation in front of an audience of around 100 people on the subject of learning and development. I thought that the most important points that I wanted to make in that presentation would be best illustrated if I shared my personal story.

Let’s start with the picture above. It shows me during my first two jobs in England. (great hair, I know! :P)

When I first came to this country during my gap year, my English was at a very low level.

I struggled to understand people.

They were saying things to me and I smiled. I smiled not because I didn’t know what to say to them but because I had no clue what they said!

For the first 4 months of my life in England (bear in mind that I landed in Yorkshire which also has one of the strongest accents!) I worked in a company that every month was receiving a delivery from China. A massive truck containing thousands of lovely soft toys packed in large boxes was arriving at our warehouse during the early morning hours. Our job was to unpack it, sort all the boxes out and then stack them into huge piles.

This was my first job.

I got paid a minimum wage for it, which, if I remember well, at that point was somewhere around £5.00 per hour. If someone said to me then that one day I would work as a trainer, delivering three-day-long courses in the English language all around the world, believe me, I would be pretty amazed to hear that!

However, one decision that I made during that time when I was working hard, lifting all those boxes day in and day out (some of them weighted 16, 20 or even 30kg!) was that I WOULD LEARN ENGLISH! I would do everything to make sure that the language was my tool that would allow me to progress to different job roles.

And this is exactly what I did.

You have no idea how proud I felt when I advanced from working in a warehouse to becoming a bartender! 🙂 I was proud because it meant a progression to me. My English was finally at a good enough level that I could use it at my workplace to communicate with people.

A few months later, I became a hotel receptionist. Sometime later I decided to apply for an admin assistant position and proudly joined the 9-5pm workforce in my first ever suit which was probably a bit too much for the place where I worked but I felt great! Then I became an admin manager and decided to enrol on a marketing course which almost cost me a nervous breakdown (one thing is to communicate in English, the other one is to try to write a 12,000 words assignment on a business related subject!).

However, the effort paid off and because I completed this marketing course I landed my first marketing position. And because I was learning more about marketing and its trends, I was able to slowly progress to become a more niche specialist by enrolling on a digital marketing position, establishing myself as a search engine advertising specialist and later on becoming a trainer on this subject. I did that simply because I loved sharing my knowledge with others (still do!) despite fighting with my huge fear of speaking in front of public.

Throughout my years of living in England I have had various jobs but there was one thing in common.

I was hungry for knowledge!

I was constantly searching for new opportunities to improve my skills, my expertise and to gather new information. Every single year I was making a plan on what were the next things for me to learn. What were the next things for me to focus on, to be able to use this knowledge as a sort of ‘jumping machine’ to the next level!

Whether it was English language, business, marketing, finance, management, working on my confidence, emotional intelligence, resilience, managing my fear or improving my communication and persuasion skills, I was learning all the time and I am still learning and this year will once again be about learning for me!

Because when you do that, when you make a decision to learn and when you decide to drive your focus into learning then some amazing things happen!

The confidence that comes from the fact that you know you can and you are in control of your own success, of your own bank of knowledge that no one will ever take away from you can be applied to any situation in your life!

That confidence that comes from dedicating yourself to learning is absolutely amazing!

My message to you today is what the life so far thought me – that committing yourself to learning will take you to places that you have never even dreamt off!

I had no idea that that’s where it would take me. I didn’t even dear to dream big!

Now I dare to dream big because I know that things like that are possible!

So for 2018, I wish you all plenty of exciting learning opportunities and the motivation and hunger to grab them like a lemon and squeeze the whole juice out to the last drop!

It will taste sweet, that I can guarantee you! 🙂



A woman delivering training in Dubai


Last month, I was given a very unique opportunity to deliver a 3-day-long training in Dubai. I have never been to this part of the world (apart from a very quick airport visit when changing the flights on my way to China) and, naturally, felt a bit nervous about the new experience.

Before the travel, I spent a bit of time asking some of my contacts from the training industry about their experience when teaching in the United Arab Emirates. I have also read a few articles online about the tips for solo travellers.

I have to say, the majority of the things I was told or read online turned out to be pretty negative especially towards women and this made me a bit anxious about the whole trip, especially that I was travelling on my own.

I cannot describe how surprised I was when, after my arrival, I very quickly realised that most of the things I heard or read about Dubai turned out to be completely different!

Here are some things that I was told versus what I learned:

  • ‘women find it difficult teaching or living in the United Arab Emirates’ – this could not be further away from the truth! The country, in fact, encourages and empowers women to take more challenges on board and public speaking, leadership and personal branding classes are widely popular and fairly cheap or completely free! To prove that, just check what this woman #ThinkNatalia and many others do in Dubai! In fact, UAE has a Gender Balance Council in Dubai which claims that: “As a part of our strategy, we aim to place the UAE as one of the countries at the forefront of women’s empowerment.”. Emirati women are employed in a vast range of sectors, although they do make up a tiny percentage of an expat-dominated workforce which includes many women.
  • ‘wear a scarf over your head’ – throughout my whole stay there I haven’t seen a single non-Emirati woman wearing anything resembling a hijab. Yes, it is advisable to be modest and cover your arms and knees to show the respect for the local traditions but no one expects or requires from non-local women to cover their heads! In fact, in the Dubai’s nightclubs that I had a chance to visit on the last night of my stay, I have seen girls wearing hardly anything- in some extreme cases even less than what I was used to seeing in the UK clubs.
  • ‘be aware that, when travelling on your own you might be looked down upon as going there for a different kind of business’ – now this was just shocking and couldn’t be further from the truth! Everyone treated me with respect, friendliness and kindness. Millions of women travel to Dubai for business every year and never experience any uncomfortable situations!
  • ‘you will be training mostly male Arabs’ – now my answer to this statement would be the following – yes this is possible but it depends on which industry you deliver the training for. I was teaching a subject related to international digital marketing and had only 3 attendees of Arabic nationality whereas the rest of the students were the expats from all over the world from India to Spain.
  • drinking alcohol is only allowed in the hotels’ – majority of bars, restaurants, hotels and clubs offer the alcohol. In fact, I haven’t seen a single one that didn’t.

This trip was very important for me for many reasons but mostly because it made me realise that sometimes, in order to broaden your horizons you have to experience something yourself rather than rely on what other people are saying/writing. Regardless how convincing it is. The beauty of travelling is in the fact that you can see the things by yourself and shape your own view- your own story that helps to change the perception of others!

Thanks to the people that I met in Dubai, I felt more welcomed than anywhere else in the world and I look forward to visiting this amazing and thriving city once again in the nearest future!

Thank you for having me Dubai! I will never forget your hospitality! 🙂

Why I decided to join the Toastmasters club


Two weeks ago, I attended my first ever Toastmasters class.

I came across the name of this organisation several times before.

The first time, four years ago, when I was completing a public speaking course. The last time, 3 weeks ago, when I read that the majority of Fortune 500 companies including some chunky names such as Coca-Cola, IBM, Google, and Microsoft now sponsor their own Toastmasters clubs for all their employees.

This information got me so intrigued that I had to finally give my local club a try!

I went to the Toastmasters website to find a local club and the first thing I saw was this:


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‘Wow!’ – I thought.

‘I can’t remember the last time I read something more powerful!’

What a truly remarkable way to set a vision for the new learners!

These few sentences made me realise that committing myself to mastering public speaking, something that I made a firm decision about 4 years ago was so much more than just about making a decision to learn how to manage my fear.

It was a decision to become a leader!

A leader of my own life, my thoughts, my emotions, my actions, my decisions –  despite all my fears!

It turned out to be a huge lesson on how to communicate with others, connect with another human being, listen and understand others through firstly understanding yourself, your fears, your motives and your habits.

After my first experience with the club, I can honestly say that this was one of the greatest gifts I could give myself, despite the fact that I have practically made a living of my public speaking skills ever since I made a decision to make a change.

Watching all these experienced and confident speakers made me also realise how much more and how much faster I could have learned from others than trying to figure it out all by myself over the last few years.

However, I have also discovered how much more there is still to learn which made me really look forward to all the new and endless possibilities!

If you too are considering joining the club, let me tell you this – don’t waste your time thinking about it!

There is a reason why you are interested in this.

Start being a leader today and do it!

You will thank yourself for this decision a million times over 🙂


A Trainer Goes on a Train the Trainer course


I am a passionate believer in a life-long learning!

Once I realised that education did not end with leaving the school (which, for some strange reason, was not that obvious to me first 😉 ) and that human capacity to acquire new skills and knowledge is ever-expanding, I went on a fascinating journey.

I learned (and are still learning!) two new languages, acquired specialist knowledge on several subjects completely unrelated to my university degree, gained new skills – physical and mental, social and emotional, professional and personal.

To put it simply – I realised that I am not a finished but rather a work-in-progress product. The discoveries and possibilities suddenly became endless!

Last week was a great reminder of this.

My employer decided to send me to the Train the Trainer course. Initially, the reason behind it was for our organisation to be able to meet the requirements for delivering CPD accredited courses (that is courses which would allow our attendees to gain points towards their Continuous Development Programme) rather than to actually gain new skills.

Regardless of the reasons, I was very pleased to have been given the opportunity to attend the course, especially since it was a 2-day training promising that we would ‘dig deep into the subject’

Despite having trained hundreds of people around the world over the last four years, I went there with an open mind. I have also decided that (in spite of my clear passion for the subject and natural extraversion) I would listen carefully to everything.

Right at the start, our trainer Ralph asked us:

‘Would you like to be pushed over the next 2 days’?

All of us, more or less confidently said  “Yes!” despite feeling a bit of natural apprehension towards the unknown.

Little did I know when shouting my ‘Yes’ how much I would regret saying it later on! 🙂

I think it’s fair to say that this was, so far, one of the most challenging educational experiences I have ever participated in!

It took me 3 days to fully recover from the intense 14 hours that we spent together during the course. My brain was on fire even during the night after the first day of training dreaming about some subjects that we discussed! 🙂

I have to admit, though, that I did feel a bit disappointed after the first day. This was simply because of the fact that I failed to successfully complete one of the exercises. The new knowledge didn’t sink in properly and I felt a bit ashamed about it that evening.

But the next day I woke up with a strong realisation that through my failure I have learned what I didn’t know I didn’t know! This was an ideal point to get to just before the second day and I was ready for any challenges.

The whole course provided many useful and practical insights and I could probably write a whole book about it.

Below are my biggest eye-openers that I would like to share with you:

  1. Knowing yours and your learners’ MBTI type can be crucial to understanding how we learn

3 months ago, one of my business colleagues, a senior manager in a highly successful travel search engine has once introduced me to this simple test. MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) allows you to discover your personality type through a series of questions about your preferences. It helps you understand what gives you more energy, how you perceive the world and what you take into consideration when making decisions. At the end of the test, you are given a 4 letter code indicating your personality. For instance, mine is ENFJ.

I decided to take this test last month while studying about leadership and the importance of self-management and was fascinated to realise during the course that this can also be used in training! I can completely understand that it might be difficult to persuade, especially strangers to do this type of testing at the beginning of the session but I think that this could be a very valuable tool for training employees within an organisation. I found reading about my type both fascinating and shocking at the same time simply because of the fact how accurate it was!

2. You’ve got to practice to master the subject

What surprised me the most during the course was that after literally 1 hour of training, we were told to deliver a 10-minute session on what we have learned so far. My inner chimp went in a mild panic mode – ‘Present?! Already?? But I am not prepared!’. Typical reaction for a high Judging MBTI type 🙂 Throughout the training, we had several occasions to practice all the newly gained skills and that helped me comprehend the new things in a quicker way.

3. You can guide people to learn without explaining everything yourself

Lecture and training are two different things.

Ralph explained that the most successful trainers are those that teach not tell. This was such an important point for me to understand! When planning a new training I have had a tendency of spending much more time preparing for what am I going to say rather than how I would interact with my audience. High engagement rate has always been extremely important for me but I found it much more natural to rely on the conversation driven by questions from the audience rather than driving the conversation myself.

That is why learning about questioning techniques has opened my eyes to a whole lot of opportunities. We were explained (and of course we practised!) how to use rhetorical, open and closed questions, as well as how to use probing and reasoning questions to help the audience discover the answers themselves.

I have to stress here that this was the part that I found most difficult to implement when practising because I had to actively think while delivering a training on how to throw, for instance, a reasoning question. I also realised that I had a tendency to ask a lot of closed questions such as ‘Do you like chocolate?’ (that’s is also a rhetorical question for me 🙂 ) rather than ‘Describe why you like or don’t like chocolate’. I also discovered that most of my questions were starting with ‘Does anyone’ or ‘Could anyone’ which, apparently, almost guarantees no response!

Those that know me or saw me delivering training know that I absolutely love teaching people but these newly gained skills made me feel extraordinarily enthusiastic about delivering my next training session. For me, this is an outstanding result!

And here is the most important point – if the idea of training is to either teach new things and/or change the way people do certain things, then creating enthusiasm for a change through gaining and practising the new knowledge should be the goal for each trainer to achieve!

For me, Ralph Moody from Target Training Associates has achieved this goal and that is why I am happy to recommend him!



Why Do You Want to Bin Your Fear?

Two very interesting things happened today.

One of the speakers that I follow on Linkedin published the following post:

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Kirsty, a well-known presenter in the digital marketing world, decided to share with her followers that speaking at conferences helped her gain more confidence, learn more and meet more people. She went as far as saying that it changed her life.

I loved that she did it and couldn’t agree more with this!

So much that I wish I could convince the whole world to give it a try! 🙂

This newly gained confidence that comes from speaking, from hearing your firm and relaxed voice, from making a connection with a group of people and knowing that you are teaching someone something new, it’s something very special. So special, that once you learn it, it has the ability to have a much bigger impact on your whole life!

Learning how to bin my public speaking fear (or rather how to manage it) did so much more for me than helping me deliver better presentations or feeling more comfortable in front of the public.

The confidence gained from obtaining this new skill has been shining on a lot of things that I have done in business or in my private time ever since!

There is something immensely empowering in believing that you can do something, decide to make a change in your life based on that belief and then actually make it happen! It is such a liberating feeling that you just want to do it again and again and again! 🙂

Today reminded me of all of this firmly because of another event that also took place.

Towards the end of the day, Anna, a colleague of mine shared with me that she has recently attended a content marketing conference where a motivational speaker, Jim Lawless delivered his talk.

Firstly, I was very happy to hear that these type of speakers are now invited to digital marketing events! Don’t we all sometimes need a bit more motivation regardless of how technical/creative/specialised/you-name-it our job is? 🙂

Secondly, I found the story that he presented very interesting. During the event, he (as Anna reported to me) told the audience how, during one of his speeches on fear, someone from the audience challenged him to put into practice what he preached and attempt one of the most frightening and dangerous things in the world – becoming a horse jockey. And to make it easy to measure, in order to complete the challenge he would have to ride in a televised race in one year’s time!

Jim was 36 at the time, has never ridden a horse, was overweight and smoked cigarettes. But yet he accepted the bet. He did that to prove that a fear can be tamed and you can decide and do whatever you want to do if you truly committed and determined to make it happen.

Do you wonder if he did it? 🙂 Check out this video!

I truly, madly, deeply believe that whatever I firmly put my mind to I can do!

This belief has helped me experience over the last 12 years some truly remarkable things in my life. Things that I have never even dreamt of doing!

For me, getting rid of a fear was a purely practical solution that I desired. I was really shy at expressing my opinions during the business meetings. I would mostly stay quiet even if I thought I had a good idea. One day, out of pure frustration that I could no longer tolerate this limiting feeling, I said that enough was enough and signed myself up for a public speaking course.

All I was thinking at that point is that I could not, should not, must not tolerate any longer this silly fear of mine!!

Little did I know at that time where that would lead me to!

What’s your reason to get rid of the fear? 

Find a strong one, get annoyed with your fear, work hard and anything will be possible!

Even becoming a horse jockey! 🙂



Old Habits Kill Progress


A three-minute walk from Las Ramblas in Barcelona a very old cafe can be found. It is believed that Picasso used to regularly visit this place for a drink. He also held his first solo exhibition there.

On a central wall of the cafe hangs an enormous size painting of two men on a bike. One of them is trying to sit straight and smiling at the viewer. The other one, in a reclined position, is pedalling hard and looking ahead.

When I first saw the painting, I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

I stared at it mesmerised for such a long time that one of the waiters decided to give me an A3-size photocopy of the picture. That was almost three years ago and ever since I came back home this copy has been hanging on a wall in my house.

I would often look at it and wonder what the message that the painter left in the right-hand corner meant.

Tonight I went back to the cafe and solved this mystery.

‘To ride a bike you can’t sit straight’.

That’s it ??

I wanted to know more so, just like every ‘professional’ researcher nowadays, I Googled it 🙂

I found out that the painting was created specifically for the reopening of the cafe by a Catalan Spanish artist called Ramon Casas.

Few more articles later I learned that what the painter meant:

To make progress you’ve got to change the old habits’.

Trying to ride a bike while sitting straight, just like in the olden days, will not take you far!

I couldn’t agree more with these words!

We often live our lives on autopilots doing the same things over and over again yet dreaming about different results.

Our habits often help us stay in our comfort zone, keep us away from the unknown and make us feel seemingly safe.

They also allow us to switch off thinking.

But they can limit us too.

Any change starts with a brave decision to try something new. What follows, is the first firm step into the new direction.

Even if it feels uncomfortable at first, even if we don’t know exactly what we will find on our journey.

Deciding to make a change from some of our usual bad habits is the starting point on the journey to experience new adventures, explore new fields and to learn more about ourselves and others.

Only then we can truly grow!





A very special anniversary

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11th March.

I looked at the calendar and thought: ‘something important happened on that day’.

I couldn’t figure out what it was until I checked my work calendar. Exactly a year ago, I organised my first ever public speaking session at my company!

I didn’t plan it.

It wasn’t my idea.

A senior employee, who attended my series of a digital marketing-related training that I delivered at my company’s offices,  approached me after the last session.

-Why don’t you teach us all how you do it?

-But.. I thought I just did! – I replied and smiled slightly worried.

-No, I mean teach us how to speak so comfortably in public!

I was surprised, flattered and a bit doubtful when I first heard it. But, at the same time, my brain immediately started imagining what I could do to in order to make it happen.

-I guess I could! – I replied.

The next day, in order not to chicken out from this idea, I created an event and invited the whole company to a 2-hour session that was due to take place in just over 2 weeks time.

I started preparing myself by writing all the possible things I could share.

But as I was doing it, the chimp in my head (that is the emotional part of my brain) realised the potential magnitude of this task and I got very anxious.

I was just about to attempt to persuade my work colleagues that speaking with confidence in front of an audience is possible and, if practised, can even become enjoyable!

And I, the person who was still nervous before each new speech, was to stand there and make it sound easy!

It wasn’t just about learning how to speak. To make an impact, this training had to be about learning how to express yourself freely, telling the world who you are, what’s your story and what you know!

Who was I to do such a thing?

Did I know enough about it myself?

Did I have the power to convince anyone to try?

“But what if they think that I am full of myself?”- my chimp was definitely not helping out with this task.

I knew I had to go back to working on myself. On my own confidence!

I went back to reading my books on this subject, I watched loads of videos on Youtube from Stanford and Harvard University professors, motivational speakers, through to doctors and spiritual leaders.

A week before the session I already had 25 people signed up for the training and then the adrenaline hit really hard…

I read more, researched more and wrote more of what I would like to say because that was taking me away from my anxious and unhelpful thoughts.

It got to the point that I even got myself a waterproof notepad and took notes of videos that I watched while taking a bath. Seriously, I still have it and highly recommend it! 🙂

I also knew that just reading a book, watching a video or attending a lecture wouldn’t get anyone to speak.

This training couldn’t be as simple as showing some slides and telling my story. It had to be done in a way that our scared brains would react in a courageous way!

We had to practice speaking!

11th March arrived.

I stood in front of all these people who gathered in a small room. My mouth was dry, my hands were shaking, my breath was shallow.

I told them I would share my story and my speaking tips but we were also going to practice speaking.

I could see the fear in their eyes. They didn’t expect it and they definitely didn’t look forward to it!

And then.. something beautiful happened.

I realised that all of these people decided to participate because they trusted that I could teach them something useful.

My mind decided to switch its attention from my thoughts to the thoughts of my audience.

My heart followed applying the same system to feelings.

Somehow all the right words came to my mouth and I said much more than I thought I would. Fo 2 hours we were all operating on the same wave length. We smiled, we laughed, we shared the same emotions, we practice speaking and… we all had a great time! 

I cried that night from the overwhelming feeling of gratefulness for this moment in my life. I realised that by overcoming my own fear I gave something important to others.

Ever since that day, we have been meeting on regular basis to practice our skills by presenting 5-minute speeches where anyone has a chance to share their thoughts on any subject as long as its at least slightly related to work. The audience plays an important role in this too because after each speech everyone has to give the presenter some positive feedback.

Why only positive?

Because our brains are experts in finding negatives themselves and most of the time we know very well what we did wrong. However, it’s what we do right that is sometimes hard for ourselves to pinpoint.

If you hear from others what you do right, what made them listen, what is your strength, you can use that to master your further speeches.

It needed, however, to be done in a safe atmosphere which is not often easy to achieve at workplaces. But boy did we do it.. So far, I heard almost 20 stories during which we cried, laughed, felt intrigued, inspired and educated. We realised how much talent and knowledge lies within us and we felt even more driven to do more!

A few months later I delivered another training session on this subject and I can truly say that both the training and the practice sessions are changing my life constantly!  I really believe that they help us built trust within the company, they make us all grow personally and professionally.

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March is a very special month for me also for another reason. Four of those people who attended the training are going abroad this month to present for the first time in their life at a business conference related to our industry.

They go there to look their fear in the eyes and to show the world who they are. Because they told themselves THEY CAN!

And the rest will be history 🙂