Well hello. . . I heard on the grapevine that you wanted to know how I got to where I am today. . . and who really is Ann-Marie Woudstra.
Like most people, I thought that what you did was go to uni get a good job and the rest is history. But life is never that simple, right? Or can it be?
So how far do you want me to go back?
I think we should start at Year 11 ish. Why? because I guess that was the age I started contemplating on who I wanted to be when I grew up.
Although if I could tell my 17-year-old self one thing, it would be that it doesn’t matter who you think you want to be when you grow up because life is a series of growing up and reinventing who you want to be, but that’s beside the point.
For me I was going to be a musician, I loved music and gee why wouldn’t you do what you loved right? But I didn’t want to be a struggling musician and I didn’t want to have a job that just got me by, so I quickly decided that maybe I should do the “smart” thing and go to uni and have a sensible career.
Like most uni students I lived on 4 hours sleep, coffee and doughnuts but not for the reasons you think. I was no party animal, actually, I didn’t even make any friends. Not because I wasn’t social, no seriously it wasn’t that at all. Just ask anyone who knows me, I’m an I on the e-disc scale.
It was just that I chose to work, not like a “normal student” who works part-time but full-time in a fast food chain. I quickly found that I was pretty good at management and climbed the fast food corporate ladder pretty quickly.
I was a glutton for punishment and at the same time started my first business, a production company putting on musical theatre productions. Look I was ambitious I was going to give Cameron Macintosh a run for his money someday. And of course, I was playing in the orchestra of every amateur theatre production I could find and managed a drag queen yes you heard me right. I thought life was great I was on the road to corporate success, the world was my oyster.
When you are that busy time REALLY does fly. Before I knew it I was graduating as a Bachelor of Economics majoring in Economics, Human Resources and Industrial Relations. Yeah, I forgot to tell you I was doing a triple major-yes I am an over achiever LOL.
I never went into my field of study, of course, I used it every day in leading people but as you can imagine there was no way I could sit behind a desk all day every day in an office it was just not me. I had been running multi-million dollar businesses in a very fast paced environment.
I was busy improving restaurant operations one restaurant at a time, actually, that’s a lie sometimes more than one at a time. Then the unthinkable happened, they decided to close down the restaurant I had put my blood, sweat and tears into.
The lease was coming to an end, there was a store within the same trading circle one had to go, it did not matter that sales had grown exponentially year on year it was just out of my control.
I remember the day the doors closed that one final time. All the equipment had been cleaned and wrapped, the banking, as well as the float, banked, the massive green safe locked open and as I stood in my office, I took a deep breath and removed the territory listing from the wall. I suddenly noticed something that I had never seen before. Almost all the management team on that list had been trained by me. I switched the lights off, turned the alarm on and closed the door one last time, I was surprised how emotional I really was. I had made a difference to these people.
It was time for me to move on and I found an awesome job in a more senior capacity with an international company. This was without a doubt one of the best roles I had.
I even went back to Uni, yeah I know right? Well, that’s what you do when you are climbing the corporate ladder so I thought.
Life was going great I was studying a Masters of Business majoring in Organisational Strategy and Analysis at Sydney University and smashing goal after goal. Now when I look back I can see that I was pissing off some of my colleagues. I was on special committees, doing special projects, opening new stores, running multiple territories, writing weekly reports for the Regional Manager, doing all the team engagement at state meetings but best of all my team were winning no let me rephrase that, we were kicking major arse, like taking out the majority of the State and National awards. Seriously it just couldn’t get any better.
Then boom my world was turned upside down a restructure and redundancy. Wow, how could that have happened to me right? Literally overnight.
There was no way that was possible every performance review, every bit of feedback I had ever received contradicted what had just happened.
I was blindsided and realised that the corporate world is just like that, the higher you climbed the higher the risk that your role would, in fact, become obsolete. Don’t get me wrong it took me some time to get to that point, to realise that it was okay, really it was just a bit of bad luck.
My partner said why don’t you go out and consult you are such a good leader and have an ability to turn mediocre teams into high performing teams. People would kill to be able to do that.
Let me let you in on a little secret the email to remind me to do my business plan sat in my inbox for 6 years. Why? because do you listen to your partner? They always see the best in you, well that’s what I said to myself plus job security for me was about going back to a corporate job, a steady income. Right? Well, that’s what I kept telling myself.
Look I had done everything the right way, I had gone to uni got good jobs, worked hard, made a steady income, had a stand out resume backed by referees who would hire me in a heartbeat. I had just had a bit of bad luck.
It was much safer to get a “real job” Look I wasn’t charismatic enough to run my own business no one will buy from me I kept telling myself. So what did I do, yep your right I went and got a “real job”
The industry was fantastic it brought me back to my music roots and combined my leadership skills. I remember looking at the Company Directors and thinking I can learn from these people they started in a corporate environment and now they are running their own business. Someday I could do that I said to myself. So off i went, I took the State Manager Role by the horns and started to really kick things up a notch. Then Boom we were in voluntary administration and again I was made redundant.
This time it was so much harder than before you see we had just bought a house I joked well at least I had time to paint the house but to be totally honest I was totally freaked out, I needed a job. Do you know how awkward it is explaining the company that you worked for went into voluntary administration?
I just wanted to say to the recruiters, hey you know it wasn’t my fault (when they gave me THAT look.) I didn’t make the business decisions I just made sure I hit my sales budget. It was not in my control.
Of course, I found a Job and I was flung back into corporate again. But I had a lot to reflect on and I spent a lot of my downtime in my own head, let’s call it soul searching I was working out what I wanted from life.
The biggest thing I discovered, actually let me put it this way my biggest fear was that when my time came my eulogy would read. Great leader, Great boss, Great results and that freaked me the hell out. I didn’t want to be remembered for that, I was destined for greater things, I was destined to help people. I didn’t want my legacy to be about my corporate career that’s, not a legacy that’s what you call a resume or my LinkedIn profile.
I knew that I needed to do some more self-development and I knew I wanted to study more about behavioural psychology because the thing I loved the most and the thing that I loved since I was a child was people watching and not in a creepy way. But getting curious as to why they behaved the way they do.
Over the course of my career, I would often get curious as to the different ways I could influence change in a behavior, how certain things would work and other things wouldn’t. But and a BIG BUT, I didn’t just want to go back to Uni that’s how I had always done it (because that what you do right?).
And then I found it. Neuro-Linguistic Programming! NLP that IS IT! I had found it – the way to change behaviour to get a desired outcome! Wow, where had I been for the past 15 years, obviously living under a rock.
At this point, I would love to tell you and the rest is history. But we are not quite there yet. So I started a business, I had a few clients on the side but I was still in corporate using my new found techniques and I was happy. Or was I?
Then boom, here we go again restructure and redundancy, WHAT THE??? Again I was thrown straight out of my comfy safety net of my corporate role. I was like ARE YOU serious? How can this be happening again?
Now, of course, this was not at all comfortable, but, it was one mighty big kick up the arse. If I didn’t start doing something productive in my business I would have been at 90 years of age before I knew it reflecting on a life with no legacy.
What I had been mistaking happiness for, was comfort. I was under the illusion that I had job security and was in control of my own destiny by having a “real job” but there were two flaws in my argument.
- being; job security was just an illusion and
- what is even meant by “real job” who determines that anyway?”
All I was doing was using these as an excuse to stay scared and be stuck in fear. People who leave a real legacy behind don’t stay stuck in fear, they take that fear and turn it into something positive.
Whether you believe in the universe, or a higher power or like me the power of our unconscious mind. Everything and I mean everything has led us to where we are today.
Should I have started my business and left corporate life when my partner suggested to me all those years ago, who knows, all I know is that the people and experiences of the past have got me to where I am today and without them, I would not be the person I am. Has it been easy, No. Would I change anything Hell No! But 3 redundancies later I thought it was time to listen.
I’ve committed to myself, to my partner and now to you. That I am kick-starting my business journey officially! I am an NLP practitioner – someone who can
perform NLP on others, I am an NLP trainer – someone who can educate/train and certify others as practitioners, I am a certified Hypnotherapist and Timeline therapist. I have countless Business degrees, including a Masters of Business specialising in organisational strategy and analysis.
I have years upon years of experience in multiple industries; Start-ups, Business Coaches, Online Businesses, Fuel, Pharmaceutical, Franchises, Retail, Wholesale, Food & Beverage and Convenience Retail. I have an undeniable desire to help people get more out of their business, to bring them back from just keeping their heads above water to expanding their business in ways they would never have imagined.
I’ve also had success in running NLP training workshops, for teachers, parents and other business owners teaching them how to use NLP techniques to get a desired result, Of late I have also been working with Cancer patients, primary and high school students who have learning difficulties and couples who seem to be finding it difficult to reach common ground in a loving and respectful manner.
All these people whether it be an entrepreneur, business owner, corporate leader, student or a couple have one thing in common. They want more out of life. They know they are deserving and capable they just need that guidance and support from someone who knows how to utilise the skills they have within.
Should you feel I can be of help to you, and would just like a genuine chat with me – it’s free. Click here to book in a time with me to see how I can help you.