I’ve been following the work of Dr Nancy Mallerou for several years now. Her yearly calendar «Καλύτερα Γίνεται» – (“It Can Get better”) has been such an inspiration and with its daily prompts and wisdom, it made me look forward to starting my day. This is a great gift for yourself or your loved ones.
I’ve been also watching her inspiring YouTube videos where she shares tips on living your best life, either it’s on a personal or professional level.
On the occasion of her brand-new calendar for 2021, I had the pleasure to discuss with Dr Nancy Mallerou about coaching, life values, finding motivation through challenges but also about motherhood, travel and food. Her positive attitude towards life is truly contagious and following our interview, I couldn’t help but feel energized and even happy. I hope you will find inspiration as well in the words that follow.
Would you suggest a song to hear while reading your interview?
Yes, the song «Καλύτερα Γίνεται» – (“It Can Get better”), music by Evmorfos Kasinakis
Otherwise, I would suggest any hip hop or jazz song you like.
How would you introduce yourself in a paragraph?
Introducing myself is a bit difficult because one can come across as arrogant but I like to think of myself as a thought leader; someone who initiates new thoughts to people and broadens their horizon.
I would also call myself a contemporary philosopher because I have developed my own philosophy about life which is based in “esocentrism”. Philosophy is loving wisdom and I am trying to find a new interpretation of old wisdom but also wisdom in everything that we do, everything that comes across in our everyday life.
By profession I would say I am a coach and an entrepreneur; this is my main thing, my big love. If I could be anything I would always be an entrepreneur.
COACHING & CALENDAR
When did you start practising coaching and why?
I got acquainted with coaching in 2004 because I had a clinical burnout and I needed to find different ways that are more to my liking to get out of that situation. When I got out of the hospital I needed to mend myself mentally and emotionally and coaching helped me.
Then, because I have entrepreneurship in my heart, I realized that this can be a great business opportunity and I also realized that this is something I have always done with my employees, with my students while I was teaching at the university, with my friends. I didn’t know exactly how but then I went back to study it and it just resonated with who I am.
I am a natural-born teacher; I am this annoying person who always has to explain something to somebody so coaching helped me put this into perspective and also helped me keep my mouth shut more often. That’s how I decided to bring coaching to Greece. It turns out it was a good decision.
How would you define coaching? Who is it for?
Coaching is a science.
Essentially, coaching is to empower somebody to reach their full potential, to go where they want to go faster, in a better way, in a more ethical way, a way more aligned with who they are.
Any kind of coaching has this in mind; it can be about your life, your business or your sports results – I actually work with many athletes.
I don’t like to use the term “life coaching”. While working with an athlete you would never call it “life coaching” but rather “mental coaching” and I think this term is more accurate for everybody because you coach peoples’ mind to think in a different way, enhancing the good and mending some of the not-so-good things that we have and just go for what you can really do. We don’t know what our full potential is.
This is one of the things I enjoy about coaching: after 10-15 minutes into a conversation, I can see a person bigger, I can see their potential while all this time people see themselves in a small mirror. But I can see them differently; imagine a room full or mirrors and I can see them in all these mirrors, I can see what they are capable of and I love it when they can turn around and see it by themselves as well. That’s a glorious moment.
Is this moment what you love the most about your work?
No. The next step is what I love the most.
Me seeing their full potential is not good enough for me; them seeing their full potential is not good enough either; when they act and they move towards that, that’s when I get my kick! This is my thing, when I see people wanting to go to the next level and the next level and they actually believe it. There is always a pivotal moment in the conversation, it can happen after 15 minutes or after 5 months, but there is always this moment when people actually say “oh yes, I can do this, I can be this person” and then they will immediately act.
That exact moment is my joy, this is where I say “ok I’ve done a good job”. Then they go on and you see people just skyrocketing and I love that, I love seeing people going to the next level with themselves, their relationships, their businesses.
I am always talking about the business part because it’s very interesting. People are more willing to do things related to themselves but something is holding people back when it comes to money. They have this guilt around money as if, if they want money it’s a bad thing so they have to do it under the radar and I don’t like this. I like people to grow. Financial growth is a great aspect of what I love to do because caring for your family, for your community is freedom. That’s why I love it when they get liberated from that guilt and they go for it. Then you see a small little business, a start-up in somebody’s bedroom growing unapologetically.
What is your mission?
I think my mission actually is to see the Greek people get to the next level. Because we are in this recession I think this is what is going to save this country: people getting out there and believing in themselves, doing the work, building businesses, creating ethically things that contribute to their soul, to their family’s income, to our GDP. This is how it goes, it’s the ripple effect.
Which are the most important values that you live by?
Progress – love – contribution.
Without progress, please don’t love me. If you don’t let me grow, please stop loving me, move away and just let me be. Thank God my choices have led me to a marriage where I am free to grow and people are happy that I am growing. My family has been always like that.
Love for me is a lot of things: kindness, compassion, love for myself and love for the others. I don’t want to live in an environment that is loveless but if I had to choose, growth would always be my number 1.
Your calendar «Καλύτερα Γίνεται» – (“It Can Get better”) is truly inspiring; personally, I was looking forward to every new quote and wisdom to begin my day with. The theme of this year’s calendar is to boost our mental strength. How important is this?
I think that resilience and adaptability are the two things that are going to help us survive anything. To be adaptable you first have to be resilient, you have to survive a situation. Therefore, if you first build the necessary mental strength and then focus on being able to adapt to any circumstances, those that you never asked for and just happened, you can have a great year.
Not just survive; you can thrive, you can have a great year no matter what. You are going to have your ups and downs but the question is how long are you going to stay in the downs and how deep your downs are going to be.
This calendar is a tool that will help you stay in a dark place for shorter periods of time and if you fall in the well it will be shallow, instead of being very deep and dark. That’s the purpose. If you are in a dark place I like to think of this calendar as the rope that comes in to lead you upwards, towards the light.
Maybe it’s a bit presumptuous but the feedback we have been getting all these years is that, sometimes, people actually find comfort in one phrase or they sit down to do one exercise and that keeps them from despair or from a stupid choice. People collect these diaries because of what is written in them and they like to write in them, keep them and then look back.
The whole idea is that a year of your life cannot be just a to-do list that when you are done with it you just toss it away. That’s why I like this calendar to be a place where you journal your thoughts, progress, milestones of growth; it’s your “I want list” not your “to-do list”. You have all your wants, not wishes, in one place and then you can look at how you got there and that’s something that you even want to keep for your kids.
I remember once I looked back in one of my calendars with my son and told him “this year I really wanted to have a baby with daddy; I put this in here as a little goal and look what happened, we are here!”
It’s a nice way to keep track of your year and your efforts. We often forget our efforts and I like to remember them because they make me stronger.
2020 has been a challenging year for all. How did you keep your motivation and positivity?
Very recently I was giving a speech to a multinational company and they told me that this was a group of high achievers. I am a high achiever myself.
People need to understand that for high achievers, challenge is where we get our strength, our motivation. The fact that 2020 was challenging motivated me even more. I gain pleasure from overcoming a challenge, otherwise, it’s dull. I created more brain cells during this year so 2020 for me was a good year.
Again, I was lucky that my parents didn’t get sick for example. Circumstances were good with me. But other than that, this challenge made me stronger; it comes naturally to me to find motivation through struggle. It’s a completely different take on life, I have a different point of view. Give me a challenge, tell me it cannot be done and I‘ll do it and send you the pictures.
MOTHERHOOD – PARENTING
Could you share with us some tips about finding the balance between motherhood and professional life?
I don’t like to look for the balance because balance means having an equal amount of time and care. I believe it’s actually about integrating both in your life with harmony. I am fortunate enough that I am at a stage where I can curve my own programme and I give a lot of space and time for me to spend with my son. But I actually also love my work so I have days that I am very committed to my son’s schedule and other days when I am very committed to my work schedule.
It’s very stressful to always be looking for the balance. I actually think it’s ok to spend 15 minutes with my son in the middle of the day and then find a way to compensate for this time within my work.
It’s a work in progress. I have tried having specific routines but it’s not me, I cannot function like that. I am a very strategic person so I know where I want to get; I know what my relationship with my son needs to be for me to be happy and I know where my outcome with my job needs to be as well. As I am a results-oriented person and I can see where I am going in every aspect of my life (professional life, motherhood, relationship with my husband, my friends, my family) everything blends. I have a very clear vision of where I want to be as a person, as a daughter, wife, mom, friend, as a business person, as a boss and every day I just try to move towards that direction.
Every day is not a good one; some days are better, some are worse. Generally, I need to feel that I am moving in the right direction. That’s my recipe, to follow my bigger goal.
What makes you happy?
Moving to the right direction in all these areas, that’s what makes me happy. Fulfilling my full potential because it’s all about growth and finding the time to enjoy the love that I have in my life. I feel so lucky, I look at my life and can’t believe how lucky I’ve been.
I was lucky for the family I was born in, I was lucky to have a healthy son; I was lucky that my husband turned out to be the person I thought he was because it’s always a gamble.
This is what makes me happy. Moving to the right direction every day and taking the time to really find pleasure in all the things I have accomplished and to enjoy my luck.
On December 2020 you conducted the yearly free live webinar «Καλύτερα Γίνεται» – (“It Can Get better”). During the intro you mentioned that in 2004 doctors told you that you cannot have a child and then in 2012 you gave birth to your son.
Could you tell us a few words about your personal journey towards motherhood?
In 2004 I was 34 years old. At that stage, I didn’t want a child desperately. I was looking for a companion, a man that I would like to have a family with. Since I didn’t have that, I didn’t actually care that much but when I heard I couldn’t have a baby it really hurt. The part that hurt is that I didn’t have the choice. My life choices had led me to a place where I didn’t have the choice about a very important issue in my life which is motherhood, although at that time it was not on my list, not a priority. Taking away my choice, that was harsh. That’s how I decided to leave my corporate career and do something else that would allow me to care for me on a different level.
But still, after that, my main concern was to mend myself, to mend my physical and mental health. And I did.
From my training with coaching, I was convinced there was nothing wrong with me. I’ve done this several times in my life because I have had several accidents and I have decided that I can fix myself, I can take care of me, my body has the power to self-heal – like everybody’s body – and I have avoided several surgeries in this way.
Finding out I was pregnant was still a surprise as it was a relief.
For me, it was clear that there was nothing that could stop me from what I want. I was determined to have a kid and for me, motherhood does not equal pregnancy. I knew that I was going to be a mother when I met my husband and this kid could be from my own body or it could be from another woman’s body, I didn’t care. For me, motherhood is not giving birth but raising a child; it’s about all the things you do after you get the baby.
The pregnancy, this is another story. And also, I had a horrible pregnancy, I can’t relate with the women that are glowing when being pregnant; I felt like a whale, I didn’t have fun. It was great of course because I was pregnant after all this but I didn’t like being pregnant. This can be a taboo topic.
I have read in an interview of yours that coaching is not for kids. However, is it still possible to instil positive thinking and coaching principles to a child?
Some of the tools we use in coaching to help people appreciate themselves, appreciate the present moment, to think bigger, open their wings, yes. But a lot of the base work in coaching is to understand who you are and a 9-years-old kid, like my son, doesn’t really know who he is. That’s why there is a risk when you speak about values and this kind of notions that the kid might feel the need to live up to all those things.
My explanation of my values is mine. I don’t want to give my son such a short framework, I want him to explore who he can be by himself. I will use what I can from my profession to instil power and belief in him but he needs to explore. For example, if I believe growth is very important, maybe he believes something else. Or if my definition of growth is a,b,c maybe he sees it in another way and also, this is going to change. I don’t want to trap him in my definition of the world, my explanation of the world. He needs to have his own experience of the world and that will shape his character.
I want to give him some principles that we have as a family that I believe will serve him but he needs to see the world through his eyes. I think that my job is to be there and tell him that I am right there, I am right behind him for whatever he needs. This is our agreement, that I am there no matter what. If he does the worst thing, I am still there, me and his dad we are still there and we believe in him. We do try to teach him things like discipline, perseverance but I don’t want to talk about values with my son, I think it’s dangerous at this age; I feel that I will limit him and he will feel not enough in certain levels. That’s definitely wrong.
TRAVEL & FOOD
What does travel mean to you?
It’s one of my greatest pleasures and aspirations in life. I think travel makes you a better, kinder person. It gives you a bigger perspective, you see other things, other people, other ways of life, other smells, it makes you richer. Travel is freedom, knowledge. For me, a life without travel would be a very hard life to live.
The challenge for me during 2020 was that I couldn’t travel as much as I am used to.
That’s how my diary came out, I was supposed to travel to Africa but I couldn’t so I decided to put Africa in the diary.
One of the reasons I like financial independence is that it allows me to travel. It’s my luxury, I love travelling.
What was your favorite travel experience so far and why?
I am so bad at picking. I love the Maldives, a road trip with my parents along Côte d’Azur (the French Riviera), I loved going with my friends to Barcelona and for a reunion with my master’s class after 25 years in Formentera.
I loved showing New York for the first time to my son, getting on a helicopter and flying over New York when he was 4 years old; fleeing to Rome for a weekend with my husband; going to Meteora with my son and seeing his reaction.
The great thing about having a child is that you can travel to the same places and discover them with a completely different eye. Last Christmas we were in London where I have studied, worked and lived in the past and going there with my son felt like being a tourist again, nothing was for granted. I’ve seen Big Ben a million times but then I had to go and look for the history because I didn’t remember details about it. Because travelling is also learning about the history of our world.
I cannot pick only one place. But if you forbid me to travel I cannot grow as a person.
I think I already know which is the next trip you are currently planning …
Oh yeah, the whole world knows, I am going to Africa! I’ve been to the north but it will be my first time in the south part of Africa. It’s in my bucket list for many, many years.
Do you like to cook or bake with your kid and your husband? Which food/recipe takes you back to your own childhood?
My favorite food, hands down, that takes me everywhere is lahanontolmades (stuffed cabbage leaves). I know it’s very mundane, but I love this food. It brings me memories and images of my family, my grandma, my aunts.
I am a terrible baker but I do love baking with my son and because I grew up with traditions, I‘ve kept a few. One of them is baking Christmas cookies. Some years they are edible, some others not so much but we always make them! During Easter, we also bake tsoureki (traditional Greek Easter bread) even though nobody really eats it, not even the dog, but I‘ll get there eventually.
I like cooking – even though I don’t cook every day- and I am the queen of leftovers. I have this issue about leftovers as I don’t want to throw away food and I can cook a fantastic meal out of them.
I don’t want my son to be a city boy, I want him to know how tomatoes feel and smell. That’s why we have a small part of the garden where he can go and grow his own tomatoes, parsley etc; we have a little “bostani” and although it doesn’t always work I want him to know the basics.
Cooking and growing your own food teaches you patience; you can’t just throw something in the pan, you need to put some love in it, you need to read first and open your eyes; it’s not instant gratification like everything these days. I like my son to be in front of an oven waiting for 20 minutes before opening it and eating the cookie. This teaches him valuable lessons and it’s also a fantastic time, I love making a big mess in the kitchen; I think that cooking memories are nice memories because you get to be silly and you don’t have to know everything, you can mess up. My son’s favorite thing is creating his own dips. He started doing it when he was 6.5 years old: he melts dark chocolate and he dips fruits in it and puts toothpicks and prepares a little plate for me, his dad and his friends; I think this is adorable.
Which book and/or movie would you recommend reading/watching to get inspired?
It depends on the mood. People might think that I read all the time self-development books but I don’t; I actually read very few. I like biographies and that’s where I go when I look for inspiration.
The latest book that I find very interesting and it is kind of self-development, it’s called Greenlights by actor Matthew McConaughey; he has been journaling his career throughout its different steps, I am in the middle of reading that.
I also love reading classic literature and poetry as my first degree was in French literature. I think that you can create a whole world through a well thought out choice of words and that’s an inspiration for me. My mind feels at ease when I read a well-written literally book. My husband and I read to our son every night and recently we were reading the novel «Χωρίς Οικογένεια» (Sans Famille)which is a complicated book for a child and there was a moment when our son said “Oh my God mom, I think I can touch Rémi, I can see everything that you told me” and for me, that’s when I get my inspiration: when something is so soothing to your soul and beautiful that you can see a whole new world just by words.
For movies, I love comedies, and romantic comedies more specifically. Recently I watched “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix and I thought it was fantastic, I loved it.
Generally, the genre I love the most is either comedies or the typical underdog stories, this is what inspires me.
Short bio: Dr Nancy Mallerou, is a Business Coach, founder of Life Clinic Group and one of the pioneers of coaching in Greece. Through her seminars, speeches, articles and books she has positively influenced the lives of many individuals and companies. She is passionate about helping small and medium-sized entrepreneurs/freelancers grow on a personal, professional and financial level.
She has a degree in French Philology, an MBA and a PhD in collaborative strategies. She also has a degree in Coaching from CoachU and has attended Life Style Management seminars at Harvard Medical School-Dept. of Continuous Education.
Recently, she was presented with the award of “Iconic Women Creating a Better World for All” by the Women Economic Forum (March 2020, Cairo).
Apart from her coaching sessions, Dr Mallerou also runs two bootcamps. The first one is called “Self- confidence bootcamp” and is a 6-week long program where the participants acquire knowledge, tools and get to step out of their comfort zone in real life. By confronting one’s own fears, she or he can then move forward with his life and achieve whatever his/her goal is. The second one is called “Business bootcamp” and is an 8-week long program for anyone who wants to take their business to the next level.
Thank you so much, Dr Nancy Mallerou, for sharing a part of your life and wisdom with us!
Now tell me, have you ever tried coaching? If yes, how did it help you? If no, what’s stopping you?
Share your story in the comments below, I would love to know!
Connect with Dr Nancy Mallerou on social media:
Check her work on these websites
*Photo copyright: Andriana Kandilioti (Ανδριάνα Κανδυλιώτη)
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