"You Cannot Guide Anyone Until You Do This Level Work on Yourself" - Olenka Cullinan

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1. Tell us more about yourself and your life.


I'm Olenka Cullinan, a CEO and Founder of iStartFirst. I empower women to up-Level their business and mindset via on-line Bootcamp, iStartFirst Women's Summit, and delivering keynotes and workshops for companies nationwide & globally. I have developed a “Backbone of Success” method that helps female leaders to take action, get paid their worth and show up like a BOSS-Babe. 

My work globally, combined with humor and personal experiences led to my appearances at TEDx (twice) and made me into one of the premier consultants. I have worked with startups, corporate leaders and some of the top organizations. 

2. What led you into the field of Entrepreneurship and Business Coaching?

I grew up watching my mother build her company; she was a true entrepreneur and my first role model. She inspired me that as a woman you can turn your life into whatever you wanted to be. So later in life, while speaking globally, I recognized how few women I saw in high-level business circles. 

I decided to change that because if not me, then who? 

3. What is that one cause you care deeply about and why?


I'm all about inspiring other women to grow into bossbabes and boss divas! Your happiness is between you and you, so as women we need to do a better job focusing on building our own best lives. 

I want more women to elevate their business and mindset and stop avoiding failure. I’m most proud of the impact I get to create in people’s lives via my business. For me, it’s never about the spotlight and always about the impact.

I have always said that even if I change one life forever, I will be happy. Today, I’m the author of 2 best-selling books and have done 2 TEDx talks to date, but my biggest accomplishment, without a doubt, are women who left iStartFirst Bootcamp and said, “Now, I Start first!”

4. If one wants to contribute and make a difference in the Entrepreneurship & Business Coaching space, how can they do it?


If you want to make a difference in the Entrepreneurship and Business coaching space, you need to focus on service vs. income. Don't do it for the spotlight, do it for the impact. The more impact you create by empowering others to get what they want  - the more success you will have in your business. 

Most importantly - don't do it alone! So to anyone who’s struggling and/or building your startup – find your mentors early on. They will ultimately change the trajectory of your life, teach you a lot of shortcuts, and save you from a lot of mistakes. 


5. Who is your role model and why?


I’ve quite a few extraordinary mentors. My mother is the most prominent one. When I was 14, she bought me my first post card in English, which read, “Always play by your own rules.” I still have the card and never stopped following her advice. Just like me, she believed in me more than I did. 

6. What are some of the challenges and roadblocks you have faced along your journey?


I moved to the US on my own with $450 that I borrowed from my uncle. I had no support system and no family, so that was really hard. I had to learn very quickly and early on to surround myself with great people and to ask for advice. 


7. Your opinion about the current situation with respect to your industry ?

A lot of people are joining the coaching industry today, which seems to be a great expansion. Personally, I cannot imagine being without a coach (and I haven't been without one for 8 years!).

My suggestion to all coaches is to work the hardest on themselves. Having coached hundreds of people privately and in groups, I can absolutely tell you what separates great coaches from the rest. To be a top coach, you have to be willing to do deep, often unpleasant, inner work. 

You cannot guide anyone until you do this level work on yourself. Best coaches empower clients to face gut-wrenching issues and remove blocks and limiting beliefs that they have. They create systems so people they work with can generate consistent results. 

So as a coach, you have to be willing to step into the most empowered version of you, before you can help anyone to level up. 

Interviewed By - Dhairya

Edited By - Vayun Sahni

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