Anne Hellgren is the founder of Anne Hellgren Coaching, Relationship Expert and Internationally Certified Coach, Board Member and podcast host. She has a passion for empowering people in their relationships so they attract and maintain the right partner for THEM- while being their AUTHENTIC SELF & increasing their CONFIDENCE. Through her own life experiences, which include a contentious divorce, she combined her background in a BSc Counselling Psychology, MSc Occupational and Organisational Psychology, Neuro Linguistic Programing (NLP) and Time- Line Therapy practices to create her Private and Group Programs that yield amazing results for her clients.
What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative.
I was born in Kenya and raised there until I was 5 years old. My father was then posted to work as the Kenyan Ambassador in Ethiopia, where we lived for 3 years. Given his role, and the lack of security in the country at the time, we lived a very guarded and sheltered life. Seeing security staff with machine guns and bomb scanning equipment everyday as we left and entered our compound. My family couldn’t leave the compounds without security or our own driver. I think this kind of experience gave me a very different view of Ethiopia- one that was much more limiting than reality. I wish to return soon and see a different version.
After 3 years in Ethiopia, my father was posted to Sweden in the same position of the Kenyan Ambassador. Our life was not as sheltered there and my brother and I were, only occasionally, allowed to travel alone or on public transport. My father has always been a huge fan of travelling and experiencing different cultures, food and sights. And so we traveled around Sweden and got to discover the country more than we did in Ethiopia.
My parents separated while we were in Sweden and my mother decided to stay in the country. A choice that was extremely difficult for her to make but she knew her future would be better there than going back to Kenya. After 2 years of living in Sweden my father, siblings and I moved back to Kenya.
Several years later, I joined a boarding school at 13 years old. It wasn’t a choice I wanted but my mother felt it was the best and safest option for me given the daily riots and protests against the Kenyan government that occurred near my school in the city center of Nairobi.
Boarding school turned out to be a blessing for my education and discipline. Despite the beatings we got from the teachers. I recall being asked to get a branch from a tree to be beaten with. Naturally, I picked a small one. What I hadn’t learnt was that it was a big mistake. I got beaten with it until it broke and then was told to now go get a “proper” one. Was beaten with that one too. There are countless stories like this that happened in Kenyan schools during my time, but thankfully this has been banned for some years now.
Off back to Sweden to live with my mother after completing primary school at the boarding school at 14 years.
Years passed and I completed high school while working from the age of 15 years. I worked on weekends and after school in an effort to make my own money. I was in fact contributing to the rent and food at 15 since I was making money through waitressing. My work ethic I’m happy to have gotten then.
At 19 years I moved to the UK, London to do a BSc in counselling psychology. I then did a MSc in Occupational and Organizational Psychology before starting in the corporate world. I did that for 14 years in various roles, industries and sectors. When I had my first born, I decided it was time to relook at what I wanted to do with my life. Traveling across Europe, with a small child at home was no longer what I desired. I then went back and got certified as a Life Coach, NLP Practitioner and Time Line Therapist and started my own Life Coaching practice.
Every industry that is now a large-scale, top-notch business once started as a small idea in the minds of entrepreneurs. What was that idea or motivation that made you start your business /initiative? What motivated you within to say YES, go for it!”
I was always drawn to working with people and getting to understand them and what makes them tick. This is why I went into a psychology degree in the first place. I went into coaching cause I wanted to be able to help others overcome their struggles and do so in a way that was forward focused.
When my son was 4 months old and my daughter was 4 years old, I separated from my ex-husband. The relationship had been an unhappy one for many years, but enough had become enough and there was nothing else to do but end the marriage. I was on maternity leave and would be for the next 8 months. I spend as much as I can reading, going for retreats, seminars, coaching, training, counseling and everything I possibly could to keep my mind busy, improve myself and honestly- to also avoid postnatal depression to the best of my ability.
When I decided to go to work, I knew that all that I went through in my 20’s of dysfunctional relationships and a long unhappy marriage that ended in divorce was not for nothing. I knew that if I went through all that, including physical, emotional and psychological abuse in some of my relationships, and come out stronger- than someone else needed to as well. So I identified what I needed to work on within myself, how I came out much stronger and what I wanted to change for others who’ve gone through similar situations.
Tell us something about your initiative or current role. What is it about, and what impact are you trying to make?
As a Relationship Coach I want to make sure that people learn to stop attracting the wrong kind of people into their life and stop going from one dysfunctional relationship to another. I also want those already in a relationship to stop living a mediocre or unhappy life in their relationships. I want them to understand they have the power to change their situation with the right help. It is all about empowering people in their relationships- and I believe that empowerment has to start with ourselves first.
Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?
I have heard Oprah Winfrey tell a story where Dr Maya Angelou say to her that her biggest legacy will be all the lives she has made a positive impact on. With this in mind, I would say that my biggest accomplishments are all the lives I’ve positively impacted and changed through my work with them, one of my talks they listened to, or something they heard on my podcast. It reassures me that I’m on the right path in my life and to continue doing what I do. I am also proud to be a board member of one of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious couples counseling and psychotherapy institutes- Tavistock Relationships. Making me the first Black person to take that seat.
Would you like to share with our young budding women entrepreneurs the change you would like to see in the world if given an opportunity?
I would love to see more women come out of their shell and overcome their limiting beliefs about what is possible for them. I believe that we have an incredible amount of women around the world who have hardly touched on their actual potential. Whether it’s out of fear or a lack of resources to do so, and that is why I am always happy to offer my services and support to organizations and people interested in seeing more empowerment and success in women. Especially in helping them become financially secure and free.
Women are a growing force in the workplaces worldwide, standing shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts. There are cracks in glass ceilings everywhere, with many women breaking through to carve out a space right at the top of the pyramid. What are your thoughts about women leadership today?
I believe it is unfortunate that there are still so few women at Board level seats across all industries globally. But I’m also glad to see that this is changing with time as more women take the seats they deserve, whether at board level or other leadership levels. I believe women are great leaders when they turn up in their authentic selves and without trying to play up to the narrative that we need to have more masculine traits to be great leaders. I refuse that story and believe that some of the traits that are seen as more feminine, like empathy, care and compassion is what makes for great leadership.
What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?
Some of my key life lessons have been:
- You are going to make more mistakes and fail more than you can imagine. It’s okay. Pick yourself up as soon as you can. But be true to your own process about it. And don’t forget to learn the lessons you need from the experience. Remember, you only fail if you learn nothing from the negative experience.
- Your struggles are to be honored. It is because of my own that I am where I am.. There will be loads of ups and downs, like most people. Your struggles will define your spirit- so don’t resist your struggles.
- Finally but not least- be UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOU! If you take nothing else, take this. Nothing has ever felt so peaceful, joyful and liberating as being ME on my own terms. Ps- you may have to fight some personal demons to get there but keep going. It’s worth the journey 10 times over.