…This leads me to my next piece of advice for a healthy and uplifting work culture: creating a purpose-driven organization. Employees want tangible evidence of where and how they are making an impact. They want to see, feel, taste and smell the fruits of their labor… Establishing a sense of purpose needs to occur from both top-down and bottom-up. Starting from the top, it’s critical that a company has a compelling vision, mission, and values that leadership communicates often and demonstrates consistently through its decisions and directives. It is equally important that employees contribute to defining those values and that they are empowered with not only a voice but the responsibility to uphold the culture that drives their success.
Asa part of my series about leaders who integrate mindfulness and spiritual practices into their work culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nathalie Weister. Nathalie is a bilingual Human Resources professional and coach focused on building business capabilities to attract, develop and retain high-performing talent and teams. She is currently completing her coaching certification with the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI) and establishing her own professional and leadership coaching practice, Coherence Co. Her mission entails helping her clients connect to the source of their inner power through greater self-awareness and consciousness of their impact on their teams and organizations. Nathalie is committed to innovative talent development, training, and forward-thinking people strategies that disrupt the status quo and enhance organizational culture. During her six-year tenure with Fox Latin America, Nathalie led teams across the HR functions in Argentina and Mexico, two of the company’s largest growth markets. She stewarded regional projects to launch a new performance management process and identify the organization’s high-potential and high-performing talent. Accordingly, she played a key role in the integration of human resources during The Walt Disney Company acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Nathalie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. She is a certified Global Professional of Human Resources (GPHR) and earned a postgraduate Certificate in Strategic Human Resources Leadership from the Cornell ILR School. She also completed a diploma in Ontological Coaching from the Ibero-American University in Mexico City. Nathalie currently resides in Miami, Florida and enjoys traveling, exercising and exploring the city’s vibrant culinary scene.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you please share your “backstory” with us?
I grew up in a stable, supportive home environment in Denver, Colorado, yet for as long as I can remember, I had a desire to explore the world and challenge my parents’ and my own carefully curated comfort zone for my life. I was never satisfied with the certainty of my status quo and thus I became fixated on a romanticized future that involved living in a foreign country. After college, I was unsure of my professional calling other than that my heart yearned to reside in Latin America. Despite my grandmother’s Brazilian roots, I did not grow up speaking Spanish or Portuguese, but I diligently studied Spanish throughout high school and college until I could defend myself as “proficient”. After my life was shaken up as a result of losing my first job in early 2009, I threw myself into a search for any role that would lead to a legitimate visa and paycheck in a Spanish-speaking country.
Fast forward to January 2014 and I am packing up all my belongings with just a few short weeks’ notices. I am moving indefinitely to Buenos Aires, Argentina as the head of Human Resources for my company’s office there. I have always been spiritually inclined, but there is nothing like landing alone in a foreign country to bolster your level of self-awareness and seek out any mechanism for managing the fear of the unknown (including the “fake it until you make it” method). Within a couple of months of my arrival and still navigating the nuances of the language and culture, I receive the call that nobody wants or expects: my mother tells me that she has been diagnosed with cancer. My whole world is shaken to its core. She has always been my rock, my perpetual coach and cheerleader, and now I am being called to step into that role for her — from halfway around the world.
Fast forward another few months and my boss unexpectedly asks me to move to Mexico City. I accept the challenge and I find myself starting anew once more. While ostensibly my career was moving in the direction that I had always believed I wanted, I felt as though I could not catch a break in my personal life. During the two+ years I stay in Mexico, I lose two close family members tragically early and abruptly, my mother battles her second diagnosis of cancer, and a close friend is killed in a bicycle accident. I feel completely distraught and groundless. I decide to sign up for a coaching course at a local university to develop a greater understanding and mastery of my emotions, and I take solace in the principles I am learning there: self-observation, presence through active listening, and mindfulness. I subsequently find my own coach, begin to meditate regularly and continue to read and write as much as possible to quell my anxiety and broaden my sense of connectedness to a force greater than myself.
At the end of 2016, after three years abroad, I decided it was time to move back to the U.S. and start a new chapter — one that involved finally establishing some roots and stability. While I continued to work in Human Resources, it was not until a year ago that I realized my aspiration to become a professional coach. My prior training in Mexico City was purely for personal development, but now it is about fulfilling my purpose and making an impact on others. I am passionate about sharing the wisdom I gather in service of collective consciousness, whether it is from books, thought leaders, workshops or simply my own experiences. I believe that once a person is tuned in to a particular wavelength — call it Spirit, the Universe, God, or other — that vibration inevitably attracts people and events who contribute to and exponentially accelerate one’s growth and evolution. By no means has my life been easier since the difficult events I described, but what I have figured out is that it is not supposed to be easy. Our only guarantee is the present moment, and every moment in front of us is an opportunity to interact with it and to elevate ourselves in the process. There is always a message, always a lesson, and always a possibility to engage our authentic selves if we are present, mindful and open.
What role did mindfulness or spiritual practice play in your life growing up? Do you have a funny or touching story about that?
I did not have a regular mindful or spiritual practice growing up, but I was raised in an environment that gave me high exposure to different ways of thinking as well as the flexibility to choose what I wanted to believe. My mother is a very spiritual and wise person and through our countless conversations, she allowed me to see the limitations of ego-centric consciousness and opened my mind to a world and spirit-centric consciousness.
I remember a moment when that connection to spirit really manifested. My maternal grandmother, with whom I had an extremely close relationship, passed away on Christmas day in 2011. My mother left her home to go to the hospital and make arrangements, and I decided to go on a walk through her neighborhood. I was crying and processing the difficult news when suddenly, I looked up about two feet above my head and saw a monarch butterfly. It followed me for what seemed like my entire walk and I was filled with peace. It did not take away the pain, but something in me just knew that it was my grandmother signaling that she was free and happy. To this day, every time I see a butterfly I pause and admire its grandeur. They show up often in moments where I need a reminder of my interrelation with Spirit and that I am never alone. Just yesterday after telling this story I went to see an acquaintance whose home I had been to many times in the past. After spending over an hour there, I noticed a beautiful painting of a butterfly on her shelf. Perhaps it has been there all along or maybe it is a new addition to her home, but I do not believe in coincidences; I know it was a sign from my grandmother to continue following this path.
How do your mindfulness or spiritual practices affect your business and personal life today?
Personally, mindfulness keeps me grounded in self-awareness and the ability to trust my intuition about people. In our modern world, time is increasingly limited and relationships are often more superficial, so it’s critical for me to be able to “listen to the song beneath the words” and find those real connections. My regular meditation practice as well as my reflective time walking and writing keep me honest with myself about where I really want to dedicate my time and with whom. It activates and amplifies my personal radar of sorts.
This is also true in business. Aside from building my own coaching business, I have also been interviewing for a new corporate role. My mindful and spiritual practices have been crucial both in terms of staying in touch with my feelings about the types of companies I want to work for as well as reinforcing my patience and faith in the right timing and the best possible outcome. We all know what an emotional roller coaster ride it is to interview for jobs and start a business!
Do you find that you are more successful or less successful because of your integration of spiritual and mindful practices? Can you share an example or story about that with us?
I believe I am absolutely more successful because of my integration of spiritual and mindful practices, yet, in order to answer that question thoroughly, it is important to define success. Throughout most of my life I have measured success in terms of external standards; whether it be a job title, and income and ability to afford a particular lifestyle, being happily married with 2.5 kids by age 35…etc.
For all intents and purposes, I have been successful in my career, but I have also realized that a job and money do not keep me warm at night. I’ve also seen how futile the corporate world can be. The company where I have spent the majority of my career to date was acquired and it didn’t matter to the new owner how long I had been there or what I had accomplished throughout my tenure. In the blink of an eye, I was out of the job in which I had invested so much of myself.
I could also be critical of what I once perceived as a lack of success personally. I was married with every expectation of a happily ever after, but the relationship ended in divorce not even two years after throwing a large destination wedding. Throughout all my experiences, I have grown immensely and my connection to Spirit reminds me once again that it’s not supposed to be easy. Success is about fulfillment, and fulfillment is only possible when we can appreciate the gifts of the present moment. It’s about feeling gratitude for the blessings in our lives, for showing up despite the difficulties and exercising our unique contribution to the world.
What would you say is the foundational principle for one to “lead a good life”? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
In my opinion, the foundational principle for leading “a good life” is surrender. I have been doing a lot of work around this premise with the books and teachings of Michael Singer, among others (I even wrote about it in my most recent blog post: https://soulsustenanceblog.me/2019/11/18/burning-desires/). Ultimately, the quality of our lives is determined by the meanings we associate to events and circumstances, which are shaped by our own personal psychology. The singer talks about how we have stored patterns inside based upon past experiences that we did not let go of and as a result, they were not able to pass through us. Instead, we either resisted the moment because we did not like it, or we clung to the moment because we did like it. Either way, these stored patterns create internal “scars” and they are running our life. We distract ourselves with external things because we are not content inside: new houses, new jobs, new cities, and new relationships. Nonetheless, these are inner problems and therefore they can only be solved inside. Singer reinforces that we always have the choice to either make every single moment of our life about getting what we want or let go of the part that is keeping us from being okay. Letting go of the blockages and cleaning out the patterns will set us free to experience the moment unfolding in front of us. When we decide to no longer live for our personal self and instead let go of it, our life becomes about the inner free-flowing energy — a life of surrender.
I experienced this lesson in a profound way over the last six months, which has been a transformational transition period in my life. Since leaving my former job, I have focused on my coaching certification program and business, as well as my search for the right role for the next chapter of my corporate career. One example (of many) that tested my belief in surrender was my experience enlisting coaching clients. One of the requirements of my coaching program is to have a minimum of five paying clients throughout the six-month duration of certification. For at least the first half of the program, I was stressed and frustrated as I struggled to meet the quota. I felt like I was practically begging people to be my clients. I acted as if they would be sacrificing their valuable time to help me out of pity. Interestingly, I had a coaching session with my own coach around these feelings and it made me realize that I was saying one message, but energetically conveying another — one that implied “I am the worst coach you will ever meet and do not waste your time.” Clearly this was not the approach. It was not until I actually released my limiting belief around my sense of unworthiness that I started to find clients, almost effortlessly. Instead of worrying about my insufficient quantity of coaching hours, I started appreciating the extra free time I had available to develop business ideas, clarify my target clientele, and design my logo and website (which takes an enormous amount of time and energy!). I allowed gratitude to flow and shifted my energy to one of abundance. Today I am proud to report that I have exceeded my client goal and more importantly, released the stress I was carrying as a result of my own blockages.
Can you share a story about one of the most impactful moments in your spiritual/mindful life?
As I mentioned, this has been a transformational year for me in which I have connected more completely to myself through mindfulness and spirituality. If I had to define my 2019, I would sum it up as the year I learned to love myself. The world-famous coach and author Tony Robbins say that radical change happens in a moment of decision, and I could not agree more. One of the most impactful moments in my life was when I decided to release a person I truly love because of what the relationship required me to sacrifice. I say “release” with intention because I was in fact doing the opposite of surrendering. I now recognize that I was holding on so tight to this person because it matched my pattern of what I thought I needed to be happy and complete. In making the choice to let go, I showed myself that I was indeed worthy of love in its truest form. I was unwilling to compromise my integrity and values out of fear that I might never feel this intensity of emotion again. Letting go of this love and the self-judgment has been one of the most painful experiences of my life, but I am reassured by the relationship I have with myself as a result — and I can say with certainty, that is the most important relationship I could ever have.
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?
I attribute my success to so many people: first and foremost, my parents. I was blessed with the most loving, supportive parents I could ask for. When I said I was moving halfway around the world to Argentina (as their only child no less), they said: “when can we visit?”. My education and grounding in my core values and self-confidence was always their priority. To this day, my parents are the first people I call when I want to celebrate a success or cry over a loss. I also have small but mighty group friends who really know me and love me, despite my flaws. Finally, I have to give a nod to the authors and thought leaders who lovingly share their wisdom with the world. Most notably, I have been particularly influenced by late by Dr. Joe Dispenza and the principles that he espouses in his books “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself” and “Becoming Supernatural.” They have truly changed my life.
All of these people and leaders have been the foundation upon which I have built my life and discovered my purpose, but as esoteric as it sounds, I believe so much in the divine intervention of the Universe. The decisions that I didn’t make, or rather significant shifts in external circumstances that directly impacted me, have moved my life toward purpose and fulfillment beyond what I would have had the clarity or strength to do on my own. I always thought the concept of destiny sounded a bit irresponsible — like I am expecting a force outside of myself to resolve life’s greatest questions — but now I see it as supportive energy. Destiny only intervenes when you allow it; when, through a mindful and/or spiritual practice, you let it in. Looking back on all my perceived hardships, I see that they happened for me, not to me.
My mother just reminded of this while speaking to her this week. On the two occasions that I have lost my job, it propelled my life in a new direction that was ultimately to help me realize my dreams. The first time it galvanized me to find a role in a Latin American company and eventually move to the region. This more recent experience gave me the opportunity to slow down and reflect, to really concentrate on my coaching endeavor and shift my corporate focus toward my true passion for talent development.
Can you share 3 or 4 pieces of advice about how leaders can create a very “healthy and uplifting” work culture?
I have been particularly interested of late in what makes a great work culture as I interviewed for a new job. I felt like a critical component to my decision was an understanding of the markers of the kind of culture that would support me as an employee in this next chapter of my career. I recently read a book I highly recommend called “The Culture Code” by Daniel Coyle, in which the author documents his study and summary of the key elements of the most successful organizational cultures. Coyle reinforces the idea of a shared vulnerability as essential to healthy group dynamics. Essentially, leaders need to signal that we are all human, which puts us on a level playing field and creates a sense of psychological safety and belonging. This can be communicated verbally, such as taking an interest in an employee’s life outside of work, as well as through action, such as when a leader rolls up his sleeves and contributes to the team’s work in a way that would generally be considered below his pay grade.
In the same vein, vulnerability is supported through tolerance for (and even encouragement of) failure. In his book “Alive at Work”, author Daniel Cable talks about the neuroscience behind a positive working environment. He says that humans naturally have a “seeker” mechanism that drives us towards self-expression, experimentation and a sense of purpose. Organizations today require this kind of behavior to innovate and compete, yet our antiquated Industrial Revolution-era scientific management techniques that were developed to control production, quality standards, and consistency create a fear of punishment. This stifles the creativity that we know is indispensable and leads to employee disengagement or worse: depressive symptoms and physical illness in our work environments. Leaders have the privilege and responsibility to help employees direct their enthusiasm, find the freedom to try new things, express themselves, and even fail within the operational framework of the organization. This is only possible, however, when employees understand the big picture and shared purpose of the work.
This leads me to my next piece of advice for a healthy and uplifting work culture: creating a purpose-driven organization. Employees want tangible evidence of where and how they are making an impact. They want to see, feel, taste and smell the fruits of their labor. As I wrote about in my article “Creating Conscious Corporations” (https://www.coherenceco.com/post/creating-conscious-corporations), establishing a sense of purpose needs to occur from both top-down and bottom-up. Starting from the top, it’s critical that a company has a compelling vision, mission, and values that leadership communicates often and demonstrates consistently through its decisions and directives. It is equally important that employees contribute to defining those values and that they are empowered with not only a voice but the responsibility to uphold the culture that drives their success.
You are a person of great 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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I previously mentioned the author Michael Singer and his definition of surrender. His own life has been a beta test of the concept as he captures in his book “The Surrender Experiment.” Surrendering in the form previously described led him from hermit to spiritual leader, to CEO of a billion-dollar company. Although it’s a life-long practice and quest, I truly believe the greatest positive impact would occur if we follow his example of putting our ego aside and relegating control to the Universe. If we could all begin to let go of those stored patterns inside and stop trying to manipulate life to fit our conception of what we think we need in order to be happy inside, we might actually achieve real happiness. There would be no need to resist, defend, fight or cling, which ultimately manifests in symptoms such as depression, anxiety, or anger. This is the highest spiritual path and requires true consciousness — a recognition of self as the observer of the self. Our energy would flow freely and we would just give ourselves fully to the moments that are unfolding in front of us, living in harmony with the tides of life.
How can people follow you and find out more about you?
You can find out more about me through the following links:
Thank you for all of these great insights!