Monika Matuszewska

Monika Matuszewska is the founder of the coaching practice LaMatu, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Her company offers a variety of individual coaching services including both online sessions as well as live consultations, in-company training, workshops, and keynotes. 

During the conversations with her clients, she tackles dilemmas from both personal and professional domains. As a professionally certified coach, master NLP practitioner and yoga teacher She combines different methodologies to best suit the individual needs of her clients. In addition to her business acumen and international perspective, she brings in a breath of personal experience in personal development, meditation and yoga. 

What were your initial years of growing up like? Tell us about your life before starting your corporate journey/venture/initiative. 

As far as I can remember I have had broad interests. I’ve had a curious mind and schoolwork came easily to me. I found many areas of study interesting, so I studied at 4 different universities across Europe and eventually graduated with 4 different Master’s degrees. It is that deep sense of curiosity that has been feeding my interest in understanding and bettering the human condition.

At the same time, I had an adventurous spirit and liked exploring the world around me. I was a member of a scouting association and spent many months camping in the wilderness. My explorations led me to visit 58 countries across 5 continents in my adult life. I was an active child and loved movement, in particular dancing and martial arts. Later on in life those two hobbies converged into the practice of yoga.

From an early age I’ve been an avid reader. This love of books and commitment to life-long learning have been a constant motivating force in my life. From fiction to fact, including management, personal development and psychology, I have a long list of recommended literature. I generously share the book tips with my coaches whenever they are in need of inspiration and words of wisdom. 

Was there any turning point in your life that changed your journey? If so, what was it? Please tell us the backstory behind it.

As a person committed to personal growth, over the years I participated at multiple life-changing seminars. When searching for training in a specific field I always try to get to the source and look for wise, experienced teachers. Events work in a deeply powerful way because of direct transmission, full immersion and experiential learning. Still, it was probably the 12-day long vipassana meditation retreat that marked a turning point in my personal development journey. It was one of those experiences that are hard to put into words. While being the least spectacular of all my travels, this quiet journey inwards led to many deep insights and acted as a catalyst of my own transformation.

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!”*

Coaching as an industry initially started at the top executive level but is now broadly accessible to employees across various levels of the company. I was very lucky to have had incredible coaches at some key turning points of my own career. I spent 16 years in multinational corporate environments, last 7 of which as a team manager. I owe a lot to my mentors, coaches, and managers. It was thanks to them that I could build a career in international corporate organisations including IBM, Philips, IKEA, Nikon and L’Oréal. I feel very privileged that I am now in a position to give back by providing my expertise.

Having studied at top-notch business universities and worked for Fortune 500 companies I know the business world well enough to know how valuable the support of a trusted person can be, especially for expat professionals who need to deliver in high-pressure environments, all the while navigating cultural differences. When working with those clients I can draw upon my own experiences.  Thanks to that holistic approach the conversation topics may go well beyond traditional career coaching and mentoring, to include broader dilemmas such as identifying a life purpose, stress management, life-balance, cultivating a positive mindset, eradicating limiting beliefs and making healthy lifestyle choices.

My coaching style could be described as compassionate and respectful. I believe in mind, body, and soul connection, which dictates a holistic approach. My intention is to hold a space where thoughts, emotions and sensations are equally welcome. It is my mission to help my clients recognise their inner beauty and be able to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in. My ultimate goal is to leave each coach inspired and empowered to design and create a life fully lived and aligned with their highest purpose. 

Everyone has their own set of challenges when starting an entrepreneurial journey. Still, the most essential part for others to learn is how you deal with those. Would you like to share with us your challenges and your coping mechanisms?

Back in my corporate days, working for brands such as Philips, IKEA, Nikon or L’Oréal I used to manage large marketing budgets. Starting out as a solopreneur was a humbling experience as I could no longer rely on the support of expensive marketing agencies and a team of highly specialised experts that large companies have at their disposal. Being an entrepreneur taught me how to be resourceful and to value good business relationships. 

While the global pandemic of COVID-19 is associated primarily with adversities, it has also brought about a true boom in startups, with successful entrepreneurship in many countries. The pandemic has impacted all of us in one way or another. Would you like to share your experience on a personal and professional level?

For what it’s worth, that period brought more awareness about the importance of maintaining good mental health. For many people the reset was a good opportunity to redesign their life in a conscious way and reclaim a healthier work-life balance. Another effect of that period was that the crisis exposed the myth of safety that many people associated with their seemingly stable position as an employee. What I’m noticing more and more when talking to my clients is that even if they have a good employer, they start taking more charge of their own career. There is more awareness that relying first on a job and later in life on the state pension system as a single source of income is a very risky approach. In that sense I am noticing a huge paradigm shift towards assuming greater personal responsibility and laying more focus on managing personal finances.

Your journey and your vision are very inspiring, but are there any achievements or accomplishments you would like to mention?

I have just won the title of Most Transformational Coach in Amsterdam, in the Corporate Coaching and Recruitment Awards 2023. While it gives me a sense of accomplishment to be recognised by an award like that, my biggest source of pride are the results of my clients. Seeing them getting outside of their comfort zone, going after their dreams, making bold choices, and reaching their goals fills me with a deep sense of joy and fulfillment. I am the happiest when I can witness them transforming, creating a life fully lived and aligned with their highest purpose.

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 women collaborate more instead of competing. Building communities, nourishing relationships, supporting each other is something that comes naturally to us women. It would be wonderful to see more of that collaborative spirit amongst the new generation of female entrepreneurs. 

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your personal life and professional journey? What is your personal motto in life?

I believe that deep down in their soul everyone carries the wisdom to discover the best path for themselves. My role as a coach is to gently guide my clients towards that path. Coaching is not about giving advice. The inner work that my clients undergo is all about stepping into one’s power and making empowered choices from a place of self-awareness and clarity.

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’s leadership today?

Instead of using the metaphors of battle and fight, which is the prevalent discourse in the corporate world, I would rather consciously choose words that build and connect. The language of competition only further antagonizes people and creates unnecessary divisions. Today’s world is fraught with many challenges, and I believe that we should better join forces and focus our energy on co-creation to resolve the complex problems together in the spirit of co-operation as opposed to competition. 

With your grit and determination, you are making a considerable impact, breaking through, and serving as role models for many budding entrepreneurs. What would you want to say to our young women leaders/audience reading this?

I would like to end with a message of encouragement by Marianne Williamson. May it inspire those reading this interview to reach out to new heights and shine their light unapologetically.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.