Who we are does not depend on other people’s validation but on our own. How we identify is a core need of ourselves, our passions as well as our talents. They do not depend on outside validation nor permission. We write regardless of acknowledgment or payment, because it simply is a part of who we are, a genuine need to express a thought or a story, and not just a job description.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sharesz T. Wilkinson, book author, international speaker, multiple award-winning Forbes Councils member, entrepreneur, philanthropist and international Judge for CXFO “Maldives Business & Customer Experience Awards 2018”. She is nominated as a potential recipient of the 2019 Tällberg / Eliasson Global Leadership Prize. She further received the Global WEF 2018 Award ‘Exceptional Women of Excellence’ as well as the ‘Humanitarian Fellow’ Award from Rotary. Sharesz T. Wilkinson represents TSIC in SE Asia, headquartered in Boston (USA). The Speech Improvement Company (TSIC) has been THE go-to communication skills training company for leaders, organizations, Fortune 100 companies, and individuals in business, entertainment, sports and politics around the world for over 50 years. TSIC taught in Harvard and MIT, and worked with the White House. Her contributions were published online on Forbes.com, BBC, and more. She was featured in international Magazines such as Hollywood Weekly, Legend, Expat, and she was interviewed on multiple platforms such as VoiceAmerica Influencers, EPN, Positive Phil Show (USA). Sharesz T. Wilkinson is the author of the book ‘Obstacle Buster TM — How to Create Big & Bold Shifts for Lifelong Success’.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you share a story about what brought you to this particular career path?
I lived and breathed reading and writing as a passion since early childhood. I started reading at a very young age and loved books, they were my steady companions, having the habit of reading multiple books at the same time. I as well fell in love with the process of writing, and soon started to write short stories, thoughts and observations while I was still in primary school.
At the age of thirteen, I co-founded a magazine and three years later, contributed to publications and reputable newspapers up to the point where I was eventually accepted into a local journalism study course at the Swiss Media Training Centre MAZ, as by far the youngest participant, while I was still in college. After my A-Levels, I started my first internship at a regional newspaper in Switzerland, being selected as one of 12 interns out of thousands of applicants. Later in university, I edited doctoral papers of foreign students as a side job and wrote my writer’s biography as a university assignment.
Writing to me is very much like carving a marble block into shape, a piece of art.
The beauty of the written word is that it carries observations, thoughts and stories forward into the future. It records and shares stories, insights, thoughts and memories long after the event happened or the person is gone. The written words further allow the readers to peek through new windows of understanding, yet to keep their very own personal imagination, respecting their own life experiences.
Reading is the possibility of plugging into the thoughts and feelings of some of the brightest minds that have ever lived. Books were and still are a treasure chest of invaluable value, as knowledge was often a limited and guarded commodity.
The internet has allowed us for the first time in human history to have unlimited access to knowledge as well as the written word. Knowing how to connect the dots in this vast sea of information and knowing how to put this knowledge into action has become more important than ever.
Sharing these insights with a broader audience is what brought me to this career path.
Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?
Over the course of my life, I have interviewed many interesting and significant people from all walks of life internationally. By far the most interesting talk for me was so far with Reggie Selma, a former award-winning CNN senior photojournalist, based in the renowned network’s Washington, DC Bureau and who has now become an International Keynote Speaker.
For more than 30 years, Reggie was one of CNN’s most dedicated and knowledgeable photojournalists. He has travelled extensively across the globe, filming and often traveling with every U.S. president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama, recording them on the lawn in front of the White House during their statements as well as during their numerous overseas trips.
Reggie has documented countless historical events in person, covering some of the most iconic leaders of our time: Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and a host of many others.
This extraordinary man witnessed history being made behind the scenes and got to peek into the world of the White House, prominent global leaders, as well the inner workings of the media and celebrities, a rare glimpse that very few ever get to see. He has worked with and alongside some of journalism’s finest reporters.
It was fascinating to listen to his first-hand version of historic events and encounters during the several interviews I conducted with him for my research purposes. We remained friends ever since.
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?
The funniest mistake I made as a rookie: I was taking photographs at a big wedding ceremony when cameras were still analogue. The moment the groom and the bride were about to say ‘yes’, my films run out. In my desperation, I asked the priest to please halt the entire ceremony so I could change the camera films which at that time was a tricky, time-consuming endeavour. I wanted to disappear into the ground as I had stalled that big moment and felt utterly incompetent.
What I learned is that no matter what, life goes on. We all make mistakes, no matter how prepared we are, and all we can do is to sincerely apologize, take action and move on.
Time does not stop nor wait for anyone.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Right now, I am working on putting my book content into an application for higher scalability, ideally on international levels.
The content and pro-active approach will allow users and clients to efficiently move ahead towards much higher self-awareness, creating their own success with clarity and purpose. A shortcut towards reaching their own best possible outcome.
What is the one habit you believe contributed the most to you becoming a great writer? (i.e. perseverance, discipline, play, craft study) Can you share a story or example?
It is important to have a very clear vision, to set goals and keep focus. Taking daily actions towards reaching milestones is crucial, even if it is in very small steps. Setting boundaries and saying no to people and circumstances which lead us away from our goals is a very crucial life skill to learn. Clarity, practice and persistence are further key elements to success.
Writing to me is a passion, it does not free me from having to work with discipline, structures, a clear goal and outcome in mind. If you wait for inspiration as a writer, it might never come. Doing is succeeding.
Currently, I have accomplished every dream I have ever had. At the age of 35, I made my bucket list, some of the points seemed improbable, some downright impossible.
Yet all of the points came true over the years — but one, learning how to fly a helicopter. After I actually went on a helicopter ride sitting next to the pilot, I realized that this is not really for me. (laughter)
The one habit I believe that contributed the most to my success is having grit and my love for challenges, growth and learning.
I have never stopped reading, learning, attending training or courses and studying topics that interest me. I love to dig deep into a topic if it sparks my interest.
Can you share the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
My book is the essence of thirty years of studies, my own extensive life experiences as well as the result of decades of self-development, research, training, and interviews.
Once we dare to have the guts and a backbone and know how to, we can control our own life, kicking to the curve not only bad habits, but bad influences as well.
I had a 100 % invalidity in my mid-twenties just after graduating and lost everything that was dear and near to me. I became a single mum of a one year and two years old, had really bad health, and a hopeless future ahead of me at the time.
Yet I went on to create the life of my dreams despite tremendous pain, limitations, obstacles, and adversities. I left and raised my children by myself, in foreign countries, and travelled around the world with them, living life in the present moment, taking it step by step by step, working on improving my health over more than twenty years.
Was it easy — not one bit. Was it worth it — absolutely.
What is the main empowering lesson you want your readers to take away after finishing your book?
Learn to master your mind, body, and emotions. Nothing will be impossible once we master this challenge. Know yourself, know the world. Our mind is our strongest ally in life.
The reality we accept will be the reality we live in. The choice is ours.
Many people get very mad when they hear this concept for the first time, yet it is profoundly true.
We cannot always choose what happens to us but most certainly, how we react to and act on it. Self-pity and victim mentality are much easier to handle than becoming pro-active and continuously taking steps towards our own best possible outcome.
It requires a lot of energy and hard work on ourselves, our mind set, looking for solutions even when specialists tell us that there are none.
Often, we have to look in places we might never have heard of or been to before, taking the leap, believing in the possibility of a change and a good outcome.
It will teach us to think and act outside the box, to trust in the process and ultimately, ourselves and life itself.
We need to learn how to face, deal with and overcome our very own fears and limitations.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your journey to becoming a bestselling author? How did you overcome it? Can you share a story about that other aspiring writers can learn from?
My biggest challenge was to overcome the fear of going public, coming out of my shell, as well as the fear of not being good enough which lead to procrastination and sabotaging my own success.
I hired and worked online for six months with a coach in New York who helped me to put things into perspective and get rid of the shame and guilt of not being perfect which most of us carry as I noticed.
I needed to create a new identity story of myself, to focus on the positive than only on the massive hardships and challenges. This was very scary as it meant to let go of my comfort zone, although it was a self-sabotaging one.
Hence, I further worked intensively with a success coach to the stars who helped me to reprogram my mind and get rid of my own limiting beliefs over the course of a few months. I learned the concept of believing in and acting towards the best possible outcome on a daily basis.
After this, I skyrocketed.
The key is in doing it anyway every time we are scared of something, mastering our own fears step by step, focusing on and then achieving our goals.
The takeaway is to invest heavily in ourselves, spending time, money and the energy on our self-development and growth. It will be the best investment we will ever make.
True courage is taking the leap and trusting that it will be ok, even if we do not have certainty. I describe in detail and provide the tools in my book how to do just this.
Which literature do you draw inspiration from? Why?
I love books exploring human psychology, history, art, science, and strategy, written by the greatest minds and people.
They help me to structure and expand my own thinking, understanding, and view of the world.
How do you think your writing makes an impact in the world?
My writing often inspires people to see their challenges from different, less self-centred angles, gaining a better understanding of how things are connected and becoming more accountable to themselves.
It gives them the tools in how to approach and solve their challenges, keeping their overall well-being in mind. I am a great fan of kindness — not only towards others, but as well towards ourselves.
Balanced, healthy people restrain from hurting others and themselves. It makes the world a better place one person at the time.
What advice would you give to someone considering becoming an author like you?
Just do it. Be pro-active, network, explore, build your confidence and portfolio. Keep going.
Each person is different and has his or her own learning path and speed. Doing is key. While we stay focused, doors and opportunities will appear as we keep eyes and ears open. Perseverance is key.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1. The path is done by walking it.
We do not become writers overnight, it is a journey. The process takes time as well as a decision to pursue a certain path and outcome.
It took me many years to realize that the expression through writing has been a part of me nearly all my life, even when I was pursuing other careers.
2. Who we are does not depend on other people’s validation but on our own.
How we identify is a core need of ourselves, our passions as well as our talents. They do not depend on outside validation nor permission.
We write regardless of acknowledgment or payment, because it simply is a part of who we are, a genuine need to express a thought or a story, and not just a job description.
3. Writing does not depend solely on inspiration but on systems, processes and habits put into place.
If we wait for the perfect circumstances, time, place, people or tools to get started, it will never happen. We are the master of our own ship. Steer it into the direction that leads to tangible results, set goals and personal deadlines.
4. We do not have to reinvent the wheel. Perfectionism is unnecessary. Outsource what you are not good at!
Writing and publishing a book is teamwork, never the act of a single person. There are many, many steps and people in different fields involved, until a book becomes available in the markets.
5. Once our work is published, it gets a life of its own. We have to let it go into the world and let it do its own work.
Be open to the opportunities this creates — and build on it. Ignore the rest. People have sometimes a funny perception of authors, as they know their topics. They tend to forget that we are all human, make mistakes and are not perfect regardless of our knowledge. Take it with humour. Having researched a topic extensively does not make us right all the time. Stay humble.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe greatly in the power of education, creating awareness and triggering self-improvement. This has been a core interest of mine since I was a teenager, publishing my first paid article about this exact topic.
I am proud of having been the initiating force for the mentorship concept for the Rotary Education Fund in Malaysia which provides not only funding and support, but as well extended guided mentorships to all deserving students. The mentors are successful Rotarians and get university trained, which is a selfless contribution of this university towards the Education Fund.
This concept of combining support and mentoring have mushroomed all over the country over the last decade. I am proud it did as money alone does not create the changes we want to see in students and society at large.
I further mentored internationally individuals and for organizations such as The Cherie Blair Foundation (UK).
How can our readers follow you on social media?
My Forbes page will lead you to all my social media platforms.
Please look up ‘Forbes’ and ‘Sharesz T. Wilkinson’ and you will be able to access the links.
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspiring!
About the author:
Chaya Weiner is the Director of branding and photography at Authority Magazine’s Thought Leader Incubator. TLI is a thought leadership program that helps leaders establish a brand as a trusted authority in their field. Please click HERE to learn more about Thought Leader Incubator.