Ana Maria Dibu: “Knowing people will contest you”

You cannot help just anyone, and you cannot have them advance as fast as you know they can. I would always get so frustrated at the beginning of my coaching because I would see great potential in my clients and they would stop a lot earlier from growth or learning because they were absolutely convinced that […]

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You cannot help just anyone, and you cannot have them advance as fast as you know they can.

I would always get so frustrated at the beginning of my coaching because I would see great potential in my clients and they would stop a lot earlier from growth or learning because they were absolutely convinced that that was their maximum capacity. I had to learn to accept that we all have different paces, and that’s ok.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ana Maria Dibu, an Eastern European coach, writer and speaker with a background of five years working in the Government of her country in the Protocol Department, where she learned firsthand how manners and etiquette can either elevate or sink you in everyday social and professional settings.

Ana studied Political Science in French and Conflict Analysis and Resolution in International Relations, where she acquired her first speaking engagements, leading her to decide to dedicate herself to a career in speaking and later on coaching and writing.

Her experience with the Romanian Protocol Department inspired her to organize a series of speaking events, where she shared her understanding of this lifestyle — and how it can be applied to anyone, no matter the family background or financial and social status — which became the subject of her latest eBook — “The Lifestyle of a Gentleman” (

Ana Maria has been offered speaking engagements in more than five countries, including the United States, and has held over 30 talks on various themes, ranging from international relations to geopolitics, lifestyle, personal growth, etiquette and many more.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I was born in Romania in a family that was relevant on a political and administrative level; as the firstborn child, I was raised by my parents to fit into that world and perform accordingly.

When I turned four, my mother sent me to French lessons (I was already reading at that age), then chess lessons and manners instruction — meaning I was eating and walking around the house with books on my head for proper posture, among many other rules.

Later on I was enrolled in piano, dance and painting classes — what was considered by my parents to be a good growth path. I’ve been a very creative person on a writing level ever since I was a teenager, and during those years I wrote a volume of poems that expressed all the emotions I was feeling, using them to create beauty. It was an interesting time that created a solid base of who I am today — the writer, the speaker, the coach.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Being raised in the environment I described earlier, being of service to people was one of the things that had a strong impression on me. I worked as an intern in my country’s Parliament for a year, but being so young, I wasn’t allowed to move around or learn anything, so I decided to look another way.

After two jobs that taught me a lot about being a professional, I finally reached a place where I thought I could help as many people as possible — my country’s government, the Protocol Department. After five years there, I realized I wasn’t reaching people or helping them, so I decided to move on to coaching, speaking and writing. This is when the magic started to happen, because I was finally close to people, helping them live better, happier and more beautiful lives.

I love writing my books because I feel they are a timeless friend that can help people grow into a better version of themselves. That’s what my new eBook “The Lifestyle of a Gentleman” aims to do and be: the book you keep referring to or re-reading passages from when you forget how to live beautifully.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Coming to the United States from Romania to give my speeches and share my ideas. Reaching the U.S. is something people from that part of the world — especially Eastern European women — don’t ever get to do, because of how hard it can be to obtain a visa. For me to come here, have people interested in what I have to say, take notes from what I say and even meet me later on to thank me for this one thing I said that changed their perspective on life, was all very exciting and a little humbling at the same time.

After all, I am just another person, and being able to reach people and help them the way I’ve always dreamed showed me how much I can do, but at the same time, how much I have yet to grow.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Have you ever heard an eastern European talking in his/her own language? We speak very, very fast! So naturally, when we speak in another language, if untrained, we would speak at the same cadence which makes us almost incomprehensible.

During my first event, I made the mistake of speaking English with Romanian cadence, and people had such a hard time understanding what I was saying; I spent most of the time repeating myself so everyone could understand my message. Of course I realized I had a problem, so I trained myself to speak more slowly and clearly, and now I no longer have that problem.

This experience showed me I have to be more mindful of differences when I’m speaking any of the foreign languages I know, even in my private life, so people can understand and relate to me and not seem like I’m rushing to get somewhere.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would say my mother, definitely. She made sure that ever since I became conscious of the world, I grow up with high moral values, and always show respect and manners, which is what motivated me write my latest eBook, “The Lifestyle of a Gentleman”.

My mother inspired me to live mindfully, to respect others by respecting myself — my conduct, my language, my style, my time, etc. So therefore I cannot live otherwise than this, and it’s such a beautiful way to live.

The first thing that comes to mind is table setting for any meal: ever since I was a little girl, my mother had my sister and I set the table in the most perfect way — very elegantly — and now whenever I get that, it upsets me a little because I feel it takes away from the experience of that meal. So this way of living allows one to really indulge in the experiences they’re having and completely enjoy life in general.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging and intimidating. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

First of all, you only fail when you quit. So as long as you never stop and work on your dreams and goals (with passion, because where passion lacks, greatness cannot be achieved), there’s no failure, only lessons about yourself and your journey.

Another important aspect to have in mind is that on your way to your goals, you will be tested by people, by the goal itself and your own system of beliefs that may need some changes, and many other aspects in your life. What matters most is to stay true to yourself and the rest will fall (eventually) in the right place, while keeping in mind that you always need to grow and better yourself.

There’s no such thing as, “I now know everything about everything and I’m going to stop learning and growing”. That’s only the death of your soul.

What drives you to get up every day and give your talks? What is the main empowering message that you aim to share with the world?

Speaking is my passion, my way to fulfill my lifetime goal to help people and be there for them. Therefore, I wake up with enthusiasm everyday to see how I can better myself for my audiences, how I can make my message clearer, more reliable and how I can reach people’s hearts better.

I would say that no matter the age, if you’re unhappy with the place you’re in right now, do something to change it. Change can be intimidating so you can start slow: make a plan with things you want to change, then list the first steps you can do toward that change and act on those steps.

Waiting for the right time, the right person and the right context does not bring any movement forward — the only thing moving anyone forward is action and nothing else.

Can you share with our readers a few of your most important tips about how to be an effective and empowering speaker? Can you please share some examples or stories?

The number one rule is speak from the heart, your own truth and be 100% honest. I think people are tired of perfection and hearing the same words over again, and therefore honesty is very much appreciated — as ugly as it can get — because that’s when they can relate to you as a speaker and connect to you, which makes you relevant for them.

This one can be a hard one to apply, because it means being vulnerable in front of a group of complete strangers — but very few people understand that power comes from owning that vulnerability.

Next, adapt your speech to the audience — meaning don’t maintain the agenda you came with because that’s what you want them to hear, but feel the audience and their needs and let go of your pride and ego. Talk to them about things that are relevant to them and what speaks to them.

While speaking about this, one specific memory came to me: at the beginning of my career during this one talk about lifestyle and manners, I realized I was talking about what I found interesting to know and slowly losing my audience.

I took a second to remember who they were and what could potentially interest them, and soon after I applied that, I got their attention completely back to me. Interact with your audience. If there is something people love, it is to feel important — and how do you make someone feel important? You ask them about themselves or their opinion on something. Also, know that not all your speeches will be perfect and you have to accept that.

As you know, many people are terrified of speaking in public. Can you give some of your advice about how to overcome this fear?

The most important thing I’ve learned is that no matter what you do or say, there will always be people who will disagree with you and hate everything related to you because they don’t have any fulfillment in their lives; they will dump their frustration on anyone and anything that is close to their unfulfilled desires for themselves.

Once you understand this and accept it, there will be no reason to worry or stress over speaking in public. Everyone is different, so any advice that may work for one person will surely not work for another. I would say that in order to overcome this fear, you should know your worth.

Write down five personal accomplishments, five qualities and five strengths, and keep those in mind; the next time you’re facing a group of people or a person that you find intimidating but you don’t know anything about, remember your accomplishments, qualities and strengths, and acknowledge that you don’t need to impress anyone else but you.

Know your worth and who you are, and once that is solid enough of a feeling within you, the people will see and feel it too.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

The most important one I wish I knew better was working with different nationalities, and their understanding of learning on a deeper level, about their “way of being” and how their normal is different than my normal.

I have been working with over 12 nationalities and I had to acknowledge the cultural differences and impact on the interaction and how the messages can come across differently or wrong — therefore, this is something I’m always very strict about with myself.

The second — which is honestly as important as the first — is about helping everyone. You cannot help just anyone, and you cannot have them advance as fast as you know they can.

I would always get so frustrated at the beginning of my coaching because I would see great potential in my clients and they would stop a lot earlier from growth or learning because they were absolutely convinced that that was their maximum capacity. I had to learn to accept that we all have different paces, and that’s ok.

Next, overworking myself won’t make my coaching better — it would just make me very tired and sometimes sick. In other words, self-care first before anything else. Accepting and knowing your rhythm and taking care of yourself is more important than anything else because if you are not in top shape, you cannot provide what you’re supposed to.

I also wish I was more patient and understood that books, for example, are not made and good to be sold in a month hahaha. I got so frustrated with my first one for not being up for sale after the first month.

But I realized how much work there is, and how big of a team and effort are necessary, so I am grateful I went through that process because it taught me a lot about myself and how things actually function in the process of making a book.

Last but not least, knowing people will contest you — not because you are not good enough, but because they get frustrated with your evolution and the lack of it in their lives. I had to deal with a significant amount of self-doubt and questioning myself… whether I should keep going or leave it to someone better. Thankfully I outgrew that, and now I know that other people’s opinion of me (even friends) should not dictate my path, and the only one setting my direction should be myself.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

Right now I’m working on creating a women’s workshop series that deals with a wide range of things, starting with early trauma, emotional work and healing, energetic work and embodiment, and living a life free of outcome in order to live a fuller and happier life.

I’m seeing it as an internationally-held workshop, so everyone could benefit from this work since traveling to another country isn’t accessible to everyone, and I always prefer in person work because I noticed it’s more powerful.

Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

I’ve learned through the years that self-care is the most important thing you can do for yourself, otherwise you will lose access to all your resources and not be able to deliver anything good to the world because there will be none left inside you — you will instead seek fulfillment in others, which will bring you huge disappointments.

Think of it like this: you have a bucket of happiness inside of you. If you do not nourish that by doing things that bring happiness to your life, it will be impossible for you to share genuine happiness and spread it around because an empty bucket cannot fill another bucket.

A few years ago after an ugly break-up, I was desperate to go back to happiness, so I was waiting for my family and friends to deliver it, because that’s how I thought you get happiness — from others.

After a while of getting frustrated with everyone for not delivering my much-desired happiness, I realized I didn’t know myself what would make me happy — so I understood that if I don’t know what would make me happy, how would others?

I decided to find it myself (thank God!) but I didn’t know exactly how, so established that if I felt happiness before, it still exists in me and I can bring it up to experience it again. At the end of the day, I tasked myself with finding something that made me even 0.1% happy, and that’s when it all began.

In the beginning I was struggling with identifying my happiness, but slowly and surely over time it became an automated thing to just observe happiness and beauty as I was living it, which made me happier than I’ve ever been before, constantly and consistently! The lesson that I learned was happiness is a decision and a construct. You can decide to be happy or not, and it’s up to you to make it for yourself.

When it comes to self-care, I go as often as I can to massages and saunas; I work out regularly, take care of my health by eating, sleeping right and going to the doctors for regular routine checkups.

To fuel my mind and heart, I go to the opera and theater because I feel it fuels my soul with serenity and beauty, and I have a gratitude and meditation routine that elevates my spirit, helps me stay present and brings so much clarity, which is very important for me so I can deliver a great experience to people around me (clients, friends or family).

I am a creative person as well, so playing the piano, writing and painting would be other ways to take care of my heart, and I use each one of them, depending on what I am going through.

Piano was a big help, especially through teenage years, because it eased my angry moods and melancholy and it still does to this day. My little secret that helps with anything though is chocolate; I haven’t discovered anything yet that wasn’t bettered by a little chocolaty treat.

My mind is mostly fueled by reading and a constant learning of new things, as well as studying people that inspire me, so I can always grow and better myself. One of the saddest things that can happen to someone is to stop being preoccupied with growing.

We all have so much potential and so many resources, but some of us decide at some point in life that they learned enough and know enough, and being self-sufficient works to their disadvantage on so many levels.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It used to be “Work until you no longer have to introduce yourself”, and it worked for a while but I realized that it was limiting. What opened my eyes and truly set me free is a question actually, and it goes like this: “What would you do if you were not afraid?”. When I first read this question, my face lit up and my heart opened, because I realized that whatever the answer to that question is, that is who I truly am!!!

How freeing and liberating that felt because in that moment I knew that this is how I will get my answers to any decision in my life. I was never a person ruled by fear, but I was cautious, which in some situations limited me temporarily.

Even though up to this point I don’t regret anything I did or what has happened to me so far, I didn’t want to feel how it is to ask yourself “What if…?”. So ever since then, this is how I help myself make the important or sensitive decisions.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I am hoping to start a movement with my recent eBook, “The Lifestyle of a Gentleman” ( Even if the title has the word “gentleman” in it, the eBook addresses anyone who would like to live a better, more beautiful life and elevate their lifestyle, as well as become a better person overall.

The phrasing of the title suggests a classic manners manual, but I designed it to take basic manners and actualize them in order to bring harmony in my readers’ lives in order to help them savor life more completely in all its complexity. I truly think we all need some grace in our lives.

We are living in a world that is so focused on being practical and fast that we almost forget how to enjoy and live a beautiful and full life, indulging in life’s richness and complexity. I am hoping the readers will regard this not as a “How to” self-help book, but rather a guide to living their best life.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I always surround myself with people better than me so I can learn from them and better myself, so I would say Elon Musk because I see him as a visionary and revolutionary, and he’s so inspiring to me. I would be honored to have the chance to even just meet such an expansive mind…but lunch? That’s a dream come true!

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

On Facebook they can find me on at and on Instagram as @athena.travels and check out my eBook online store at .

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you so much for the opportunity and for considering me for this interview.

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