Do you want to know how I ended up living in Amsterdam and building a passion-led business on the other side of the world to my homeland back in Australia?
It all started when I added my own little segment to a daily news email I was tasked to send out as a graduate tax accountant.
Yes, really! It was called ‘Wellness Wednesday’.
My first job after I graduated university with a Bachelor of Commerce degree was working for Ernst & Young (now “EY”) in the Adelaide corporate tax compliance team. It was a big scary step for a little country girl like me to be mixing with these business people and be part of a firm that employed upwards of 150,000 people globally. Next to my company tax filing duties (can you imagine some tax returns take weeks and multiple people to complete!?), I was tasked with the rather arbitrary job of reading the local news headlines every day and sending an email to the entire local corporate tax and transaction services teams to let them know of any news relevant for their clients.
After a few months, I decided to spice up my daily news with a new weekly segment - Wellness Wednesdays. Back then, I was already really interested in alternative health, spirituality, nutrition and movement. So each week at the end of my Wednesday email I’d share a fun or insightful quote, a health tip, an idea - something in the realm of wellness, even if sometimes abstractly.
Soon, people started responding to my emails telling me how much they’d enjoy the little anecdotes. I’d have people come up to me in the office kitchen and start a conversation with me about something I’d shared. People would come and ask me questions about who I was and how I came to be at EY. It was a strange thing as a graduate, as so many of us came in and out again, most often the onus was on the newcomer to forge their new connections.
This little idea I had became a bridge for me, helping this shy introvert to have interesting conversations with new colleagues and really start to find my place at the firm. I can’t say networking was really a strong suit before that.
Little did I know, after my first year in tax when I was reconsidering my career options (who’d guess that tax isn’t fun for everyone!?), my Wellness Wednesday segment is what opened up a chance for me to transfer to a different team internally; the transaction team who also received my mail-out. The decision-maker in that team also happened to be fond of my email and as a result helped facilitate a smooth transition into the new team within just a few months. There wasn’t a lot of precedent for this, and internal poaching wasn’t something that was generally appreciated.
Working in corporate transaction advisory opened doors for me to travel around Australia working on big projects for interesting clients. I got to spend quite some time in both Sydney and Melbourne where my eyes were opened to the possibilities of international secondment. A Dutchman on assignment in Sydney who was drawn to me by my very Dutch name became a good friend and ally on my interstate trips. Lunch conversations inspired some action, and it wasn’t long before I was in contact with his colleagues back in Amsterdam seeing what options might be available for an Aussie to come and stay for a couple of years.
And as they say, the rest is history! Here I am in Amsterdam, six years later…
Well, clearly there is a big chunk of the story missing because I’m no longer a full time financial consultant.
The point I want to highlight here is how important it is for you to sprinkle a bit of YOU into everything you do.
You never know what doors it might open up for you.
No matter how strange you think you might be, or consider that some of your hobbies or interests might seem unconventional, remember this. By embracing these aspects of you, it’s like turning on a beacon to welcome others who might share common interests. And those who are simply curious! If you, like me, sometimes experience yourself as being “different” or one of the “others”, then this is even more important for you. Embracing what it means to be me, remembering all of those unique qualities, along with forgetting some unhelpful things I have learned along the way too, has been a gateway to building a community in which I get to feel supported and seen, and offer the same to others. And I want the same for you too.
All of you is welcome.
With that story shared, this email is also to welcome back Wellness Wednesday. Going forward, should you like to stick around, you will hear from me every two weeks on a Wednesday sharing something I feel is valuable to you in the realm of my five pillars of wellness, which are:
I believe that when we work on these five pillars, we can truly live a life defined by good health, contribution, community, connection and purpose. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me! So may Wednesday be the day that you remember to check in with yourself and see if you're taking care of you (and what's important to you) in the way you'd like to.
Happy Wellness Wednesday. What will you do for your wellness today?