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Michelle’s Story

Thank you for taking the time to read my story. It’s only a short version of it… there’s much more to tell. But with these bits you’ll understand why I do what I do ☺.

“There’s only one way: Jesus’ way. He’s the way, the truth and the life.” Words spoken to me, a 16-year-old girl who just, scared as f*ck, defied her mother and the church’s pastor by speaking up for her desire to live a life on her own terms – not theirs.

Eight months later I listened to her mother’s voice, uttering: “I love you so much, you’re my daughter, but I love God more. And I need to know I’m living by his truth. If you decide to live in sin, you can’t stay here.”

Ever felt like this?

Have you even felt that your voice wasn’t worth listening to? That your truth had no right to be expressed? That’s how I felt when I packed my stuff, closed the door, leaving behind my mother and sister, while still in my final year of high school.

My gift was eloquence, love for words and I cherished a dream of becoming a writer. But this incident taught me that walking my own path autonomously, speaking my own truth freely would not always keep me safe with loved ones. Not even with my own family.

Finding safety or being free: a constant battle

For many years after, I lived a life in which I’d try to fit in. Lay low. I played small. It was my way of surviving a world in which I felt my truth had no place.

But I’d always long to break free.

It was as if I was in a constant battle with my need for safety and belonging, and my desire to be free…

I wanted the safety of a relationship, but I also wanted both my marriages and the 6-year relationship to be open. I traded corporate life to be an entrepreneur – a copywriter and branding expert – so I could tell stories audaciously, but safely hid behind my laptop. As a social butterfly, I had a massive network but I never really felt understood fully.

How could I be free and feel safe at the same time?

A gentle push

“I’m doing what I thought I always wanted to do. I’m a branding expert and a successful copywriter. I’m helping people share their message. But I feel exhausted. I don’t know what to do about this.”

It was January 2017 and I was having lunch with my friend Peter in Amsterdam in a trendy lunch café, next to the railway station.

“Michelle, go to London. Attend Andy Harrington’s speakers’ training. I just went, it blew my mind and I even signed up to become a member of his Professional Speakers Academy. You’ll know what’s missing when you get there.”
“A friggin’ speakers training, Peter? Really? I’m a writer, not a speaker. I don’t need to be on stage, I’m good behind my laptop.”

I grumbled. But I went. And so, a few months later in May 2017, you find me in the Thistle hotel around London Heathrow airport. I’m looking at a small man on stage, large in personality.

“Everybody has a story inside of them. Who are you not to share yours?”

Piercing truth

Have you ever felt like someone was seeing right through you? Andy’s voice pierced through my heart. His eyes seemed to look straight into my soul.

In all those years of navigating life on my own terms, or so I thought, I still hadn’t allowed myself to speak up freely, without the fear of losing love, belonging and safety. Instead, all those years I kept her mouth shut, adjusting myself to the expectations of others, hiding behind my laptop.

Putting my mouth where my money was

I joined the Professional Speakers Academy, realizing I committed to taking my own stage and expressing my truth. To become a speaker, a trainer – not only someone who sits behind a laptop.

Fuck.

This did not come easy. The underlying fear of judgement, the need to adjust and fit in so I wouldn’t be rejected… it was still there. But the years of navigating life and love on my own terms, helped me to be truly autonomous and not validate myself based on other people’s opinions.

The most powerful lesson I learned over time is that any love you experience with others, is a reflection of the love inside of yourself. And therefore, to love is to be love. Transcending this love will ignite joy in others – and allow you to make true impact. Which is what we want in every aspect of life, right?

I became visible, finally leading by example by putting myself out there. I posted countless videos, shared my message online and offline, created funnels to serve entrepreneurs to help them with their personal branding. I spoke on international stages, inspiring people to show up congruently. I filled up my own events, educating and coaching entrepreneurial professionals to build their brand, rather than a business alone. And yes, I worked with renowned corporates on their brand’s identity.

Love-based Personal Branding

In 2019 I decided to solely focus on Personal Branding, because the way you carry yourself impacts everything you do in business, work, life, but also in love. I believe Personal Branding is a leadership skill that covers more than your professional life. Loved-based Personal Branding means doing this from the heart.

This way, I can merge the three recurring themes in my life: autonomy, expression and love. I unapologetically speak up for my truth on these topics. I support entrepreneurial professionals to really unveil their true selves as well and express their truth from a place of love.

“Love is fluid, unconditional, abundant, free – a magical force in the universe. Love is never confined by constructs or religion, nor can it be defined by culture or contracts. It transcends any distance, time or space. Love is you, me, all. Love Is. Anything we do in a loving way, will make the world more joyful. Let’s love.”

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