Not everybody is going to be for you. The minute you step out and become visible in your business you face criticism and that can be crushing if you’re not strong in your sense of self. I remember I was devastated when I got my first hater on Facebook. I had a total panic attack and thought OMG what are people going to think about me and I need to make this right with this person. I had to learn how to let these things roll of my back. In hindsight, if somebody had told me all of this upfront, I probably would have been discouraged and thought twice about starting a business. Maybe that’s why nobody tells you this stuff at the very beginning…
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Simona Ksoll.
Simona Ksoll is a business strategist & mindset mentor for entrepreneurs, creatives and corporate leaders helping them to make their big inner vision their reality. A former global marketing executive at Sony Pictures, Simona supports her clients with subconscious belief change, teaching Universal Success Principles, and developing an individual business, lifestyle, or teambuilding strategy that allows them to confidently step into their next level.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up in physically and psychologically abusive household. My mom married a mentally ill alcoholic when I was three years old. Fear ruled the house. I never knew when something would set him off and the beatings almost always came out of the blue. I remember being stunned at how I didn’t see it coming until his hand hit me. One time he threw me against a heater that was mounted on the wall. My head hit so hard that I started seeing flashes of light and something snapped on the inside. I started screaming uncontrollably and he got scared because the neighbors could hear me.
I was fourteen years old when I ran away for the first time. My parents turned me into the police and the officer told me that being a minor I had to go back home.
When I was seventeen things really blew up. After one final altercation, my stepfather told me it was his way or the highway. The rebel in me chose the highway.
I was allowed to take one suitcase and my school satchel with me, then my parent’s drove me to the train station. My mom gave me the equivalent of fifty cents, enough to make a phone call from the payphone. I called my boyfriend’s house. Nobody picked up, so I walked across the entire town to his parent’s house. They took me in.
I was just a few months away from graduating high school and I had to figure out how to make money quickly to be able to go to college. Long story short, I reached out to my birthfather who I had never met and in a court case was awarded the child support money he was paying to my mom. This got me through the first couple of years of college.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
There’ve been many instances in my life where this quote has been relevant.
For the first time as a child coping with the abuse and surviving it.
Then when I left without a dime and unconsciously tapped into my resourcefulness to go through the legal battle with my birthfather.
In my early twenties after a bout with depression, heavy drinking, and a highly toxic relationship with a heroin addict.
And going through my divorce which triggered my fear of abandonment and not being able to survive on my own.
How would your best friend describe you?
That’s a good one. She’d describe me as elegant, smart, kind, compassionate, a great listener and stubborn as hell.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much?
Tenacity, not giving up, not matter what outside circumstances might suggest. In that sense being stubborn has served me well.
A great work ethic, going the extra mile, always.
Listening to understand where others are coming from.
I’ve always been a good listener and it’s an essential skill in the work that I do today.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
I was a marketing executive at a big Hollywood movie studio. My job was to develop international marketing campaigns for the Home Entertainment release of blockbuster feature films like Spider-man®, Terminator Salvation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Django Unchained and hit television series like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul and Outlander. I did that for fifteen years. I got to meet amazing people and worked with incredibly talented and creative colleagues from all over the globe. It was a lot of fun until the carpet literally got ripped out from under me when my husband announced that he wanted to separate.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
In the wake of my divorce. I had lost my footing. My world went upside down. For weeks I popped a tranquilizer with my morning coffee to be able to keep it together at work. When the fog finally cleared, I took a short sabbatical to do yoga teacher training in Mexico and one morning coming out of a meditation I had a deeply transformational experience. With my eyes open, I heard a voice say to me Simona, you have to move here. I remember in that moment I said yes in my mind and I could feel the alignment of this decision in my body. Then the next thought that popped into my head was How is this every going to happen? Enter the Universe: It always brings us what we need when we need it. There were five of us in the training and one woman was a life coach. At the time I had no idea what a life coach did… and after we started talking, I began to work with her. She opened the first door where I got a glimpse of how I could make this vision my reality. This ultimately led me to doing what I’m doing today: Being a mindset mentor and business strategist for entrepreneurs, creatives and corporate leaders.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
In June of 2016 I was in a seminar with my mentor. I was the last person at the mic, and I had a burning question that I wanted him to answer for me. I had felt my desire to move to Mexico had been waning and I asked what I could do to get it back. He looked at me and said, well, at one point you were supposed to do this as part of your purpose, and you had the opportunity to move but you didn’t take it. Now you have to wait for it to come back around. And then he turned around, chuckled, and said I just hope for you that next time it’s not Siberia that is calling you. And with that the event concluded and I was left standing there. My jaw dropped open and then I got angry. I was pissed on the way to the airport thinking how he could say something like to me and not help me. By the time I was on the plane and had a glass of wine, a thought crossed my mind. What if he’s right? What if that opportunity was never going to come around again? In that moment I decided that I was going to take the plunge. In September I flew to Mexico and rented an apartment. In October I told my boss that I was leaving and in November I moved.
My mentor knew exactly what he was doing. He pushed my buttons knowing that would be a catalyst for me to make the decision.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
I’ve always been fascinated by people’s stories and ever since I can remember they would share with me personal things often accompanied by the words I don’t know why I am telling you this…
Then they often answered their own question and told me it was because I listened to them and this made them feel good.
Growing up I remember friends and family members telling me that I should become an investigative reporter or a detective because I was asking so many questions.
Listening intently and being curious about why a person thinks and why behaves in a certain way which is what gets them certain outcomes now are two of my core skills. I learned to hone them by undergoing a year-long program which taught me how to coach others as well as through my own personal development learning from my mentor and other coaches.
I wouldn’t say that I had to overcome any barriers to help manifest these powers, instead I became aware that what was so natural to me is a gift that was given to me early on, that I needed to develop further, so I can fulfill my purpose.
How are things going with this new initiative?
The learning always continues. I work on my personal and professional development every day to better support my clients. Before the pandemic, I used to travel to seminars and workshops in the US every two to three months to expand my knowledge, connect and network with people. For the time being it’s only virtual even though yesterday I was invited to a live event that is happening in October and I’m very much looking forward to it.
The idea is to always continue to grow because we are always moving forward. Technology is expanding, there’s always something new to learn, a better way of doing things. That pretty much never stops. It’s all about being aware that the only constant in life is change and that embracing this concept is what moves us forward.
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?
My mentor David Neagle. He helped me change my life literally. I would have never done what I’m doing now had it not been for his help. That day at the mic, he pushed a button inside of me that got me into action. But even before then when I first started working with him during a private VIP Day, he called me out on my BS. The first question he ever asked me was what do you really want? And hearing my answer he told me flat out that that was not what I really wanted. When he asked me again, I told him what I really wanted and then came a milelong BUT… that I insisted on. He knew I was lying to myself and that I had to come to the awareness myself. The truth was I wanted to play it safe, stay in my comfort zone. I had been working as a marketing executive for a major Hollywood Movie Studio and when I started my own business what I thought I wanted was to build a business helping people with their marketing. What I really wanted however and what I was passionate about was the mindset work but at the time I felt like I was such a new student that I couldn’t possibly teach this to others. He offered me a way to do it and I declined, because I needed to be right. Long story short: I fell flat on my face because I didn’t honor what I really wanted. He knew that within the first five minutes of us sitting a in a room together. Today I do combine the two: Mindset and Business Strategy and it’s made a huge difference in my business and in the life of my clients.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I remember going to a conference in Los Angeles in my second year of business, I was already living in Mexico and my flight was very early in the morning with a connection in Phoenix. The woman who was sitting next to me started up a conversation when I was about to go to sleep. Something inside of me told me that I needed to listen. She shared that she was on her way to undergo tests to become a kidney donor for a friend who would die if he couldn’t get a new kidney. Then she started telling me about what she did for a living. She’s a conservationist running a non-profit whose mission it is to preserve the sacred macaw bird species. I was fascinated by her passion for what she was doing and the amazing knowledge she had accumulated throughout the course of her life. We stayed connected and over a year later she became a client of mine. Now she is working on a couple of books on the subject, one of them will be released this Spring. When you are open to receive what the Universe puts in front of you, beautiful things happen.
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
Yes, we all do and as we go through this journey, more and more of them reveal themselves which is what gives us the opportunity to transform them. One of my biggest limiting beliefs was that being visible is not safe. That came from having grown up in an abusive household where not being seen literally kept me safe from beatings. So early on I developed hiding as a coping mechanism which served me well at the time. Fast forward to when I decided to start my own business. Hiding and not being seen became a huge limitation. You can’t hide as a business owner because then nobody knows that you exist, you don’t get your message in front of the right people, nobody buys from you and you’re going to find yourself out of business quickly. I had to go to work on overcoming the belief that being seen was not safe.
One of the aspects this manifested itself was when it came to public speaking. If you had seen me in high school every time, I had to do a book report and stand in front of the class, I was hiding. I had my hair in my face and for the life of me I couldn’t look at anybody in the audience. I used to keep my eyes fixed on a spot on the wall and I struggled getting the words out because my voice was cracking.
I believed that I was terrible at speaking in public. That was one of the first ones that I transformed into what I wanted it to be instead.
I wanted to believe that I am an excellent public speaker whose message inspires and impacts others. The minute I transformed this belief I knew I had to prove to myself that it did happen and the only way to do that is to take action. I gave a talk in my community, had a full house, and created the experience that it felt good to speak in front of an audience. At the end I did a Q&A and gained a consulting client from the experience. Am I still getting a little nervous before going on stage, you bet, and I know that I can do it and now I enjoy doing it.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
I hired my mentor and was working with a private coach on his team to support me through this transition. This helped get me through the fear, doubt and worry stage and also held me accountable to follow through with my commitments, the things I said I was going to do to reach my goals. It’s so easy to lose sight of that when you are plagued by doubt or paralyzed by fear. And I had a community of like-minded people that were on the same journey that I could lean on.
That was incredibly important because I couldn’t talk to anybody else in my circle of family and friends about these things because they all thought I was crazy.
I didn’t even tell my own mother that I was leaving my career at the movie studio to start my own business and move to Mexico. It’s so important to surround yourself with a great support system that has your back when you can’t see the forest for the trees.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
The minute you embark on that journey you are catapulted out of that comfort zone because you have to do things you have never done before and that is cringeworthy uncomfortable. I did it by making commitments to my coach and to my mentor. A great example is when I decided I was moving to Mexico. I had already leased an apartment and the next step was to resign from my corporate job. And I kept pushing it off until a month prior to my moving date. I was on the phone with my coach and she asked if I had quit yet. When I said no, she asked when the next meeting with my boss was. I told her it was in thirty minutes.
She said Ok, so here’s what you’re going to do: You are going to walk into his office. You are going to quit and then you text me that you did it.
I reluctantly agreed and there was no way out. I had to do it and it was also the only way I was going to do it. So, I walked to his office, sweaty palms, shaky knees and popped my head in. He looked up and asked if we could postpone the meeting because he was buried in work. When I said no, he looked at me put his hands in front of his face and gasped Oh my God, you are leaving! I’m sure the expression on my face was telling…
But the point is, I did it. I basically jumped off the proverbial cliff and for me that’s the only thing that works.
Doing the thing that I fear the most or that makes me the most uncomfortable with the awareness that it is essential for my growth and to get me to the next level. So now every time fear and discomfort show up, I know I’m on the right track and that whatever I am resisting the most is exactly the thing I need to do next to change my outcome.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s ok to be myself. I thought everything needed to be perfect before I put it out there and I needed to look like other successful people in terms of my brand. That led to a glamorous branding photo shot that I ended up absolutely hating because the images were not representative of who I am. The result was I blended in because a lot of people in my field were doing this at the time. Same thing with my marketing message. I didn’t connect at first because I might as well have been speaking in a foreign language. The minute I started showing up as me, things changed. I had to learn that being me is what people like about me and what attracts them to me. And yes, that goes for flaws, too. I’m human and I have my moments.
- Get used to being uncomfortable. The minute I started my business, I had to do many things that I had never done before that were uncomfortable. Asking for money was one of them. I remember being on calls with potential clients and everything was going great until the point where I had to talk about how they could work with me. I was cringing on the inside and energetically they sensed it, therefore often the result was that the sale didn’t close. I had to learn to sit with this discomfort and detach from it.
When I met my mentor, he said to me you better get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And that is very good advice because every day there are things that you have to do as a business owner that are uncomfortable.
- Success takes courage and hard work. There is no such thing as an overnight success. When I first started in this business coaches and consultants were marketing themselves quite aggressively promising “big fat paychecks” with catchy headlines like “From 0 to 10k in thirty days”, of course this sounds fascinating and who wouldn’t want that, however, it takes a lot of work to get to this place. You got to have the right product, hone in on your marketing, courageously put yourself out there, overcome all the mindset issues, master sales and then yes, you can close a 10k sale in less than an hour.
I will never forget when I worked on Christina Aguilera’s debut album, I was part of the marketing team and everybody thought she was an overnight success. That girl had worked on her career for years prior to Genie in a bottle hitting #1 on the Billboard charts but nobody saw it because it all happened behind the scenes.
- You will need give up things the minute you start on this path. Freedom comes at a price. Yes, you are no longer bound to the 9–5 at an office but you still got to do the work and now you are responsible for the paycheck to come in. There is no clocking out at 5 pm or a TGIF. When you are going after your big vision, your work doesn’t stop because it’s the weekend. If something needs to get done, it needs to get done. I remember I used to do VIP Days on the weekend for clients that work during the week. And here’s the thing, when you absolutely love what you do, it doesn’t matter, and you know that you have the flexibility to take off a day during the week.
- Not everybody is going to be for you. The minute you step out and become visible in your business you face criticism and that can be crushing if you’re not strong in your sense of self. I remember I was devastated when I got my first hater on Facebook. I had a total panic attack and thought OMG what are people going to think about me and I need to make this right with this person. I had to learn how to let these things roll of my back. In hindsight, if somebody had told me all of this upfront, I probably would have been discouraged and thought twice about starting a business. Maybe that’s why nobody tells you this stuff at the very beginning…
At the end of the day all of it helped me grow into a better version of myself and I’m still on that path of becoming better at what I do every day now that I’m facing different challenges as I’m at a different stage in my business.
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?
I live in Mexico and I would love to start a movement that gives kids from poor families an opportunity to a head start in life by opening centers for after-school programs where they learn about mindset and that they can achieve anything they put their mind to, no matter what their circumstances are. I believe it’s critical that these teachings become part of the curriculum early on to positively influence our next generation of leaders.
What do you want to be remembered for the most?
I want to be remembered for helping people step into their purpose and the impact that this had not only on their life but also the lives of everybody they touched because they said yes to making their big vision their reality.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
They can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Clubhouse at Simona Ksoll or connect with me via my website at www.simonaksoll.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!