Fiona Forman

Fiona Forman is an author, speaker, facilitator and trainer in the area of well-being and Positive Psychology in education and parenting. 

She holds an M. Sc. in Applied Positive Psychology, the science of well-being, from the University of East London. She says that, “Having spent many years as a teacher, I’m passionate about placing well-being at the heart of school and family life. My programmes for schools include Welcome to Well-Being, Weaving Well-Being and Wired for Well-Being. I’m also the mother of 2 young adults, which has deepened my awareness of the importance of equipping our children with the support and skills they need to thrive and flourish.

Her latest book, BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE: A Parent’s Guide to Building Children’s Resilience using Positive Psychology Skills, was published in 2022.

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

I was a very shy and quiet child and I always had my head in a book. I lived in a small, beautiful coastal village and to this day I love being by the sea – it really has such a wonderful effect on my well-being. I I loved school, particularly primary school, and it was always my dream to become a primary teacher. So I was absolutely thrilled when that dream became a reality and I had the opportunity to teach for many years. I’ve also always had a huge interest in psychology.

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

Throughout my years in teaching, I began to notice that more and more children were struggling with their mental health and well-being, from a younger and younger age, with anxiety levels rising, year on year. I wanted to know what, if anything, I could do as a teacher to nurture children’s well-being. This led me to the field of Positive Pschology, which is the science of well-being – it is such a fascinating area. I completed a Masters degree in it and I began to incprporate what I was learning into my teaching – and parenting – and it was transformative. My books and programmes grew from this – I was delighted to secure a publishing contract from Outside the Box Learning Resources in Ireland, Hawker Brownlow Education in Australia and Pearson Publishing in the UK. I began to give talks and seminars to teachers and parents on how to support children’s well-being. and there was great demand from schools and Education Centres. It eventually reached a point where I decided to leave my full-time teaching job and set up my business, Fiona Forman Well-Being, in 2020.

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!”

There came a point when I realised that I had an incredible opportunity to share my ideas and insights, on a topic which I feel is absolutely vital – children’s mental health, on a larger scale if I went full-time, as demand was growing. I’m so excited and passionate about this area, so I decided to go for it!

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?

The Covid !9 pandemic took hold shortly after I started my business, so all my face-to -face talks were cancelled, which was very stressful. However, it wasn’t long before the educational community adapted, and I began to deliver my talks on zoom, and I ended up reaching more people than I could ever have anticipated as a result. I use many coping mechanisms, including a daily mindfulness practice, time in nature (by the sea), self-compassion, social connections and cognitive reframing. My work involves helping children to use strategies like these to help them to feel strong and resilient, so it’s vital for me to practise what I preach! I integrate well-being practices into my daily life, and this has always helped me to overcome challenges.

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?*

As I mentioned above, the challenges of the pandemic forced me to explore new options for my work which ultimately became very beneficial.

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

Starting and completing my Masters in my early 50’s, while still teaching full-time, while my children were teenagers, was very challenging, so it’s an achievement I’m very proud of! I’m also proud of how I have developed my business over the last 3 years, considering I haven’t got any background at all in business! I think it shows that with passion, belief and determination, you can achieve your goals.

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?

The change I would like to see in the world is that every child is given the opportunity to learn about their well-being and mental health from an early age, and that teachers and parents uderstand how to nurture children’s mental health. I love the words from Frederick Douglass – ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken adults.‘ Imagine a world where we nurtured our children and focused on helping them to feel strong, caring & self-aware – the ripple effect would be incredible!

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

It’s very hard to think of only one thing, but one of the most important things I’ve learned is the power of being connected to each other and supporting each other. The power of love! My motto would probably be ‘ appreciate the ordinary things & moments in life, they are what sustain us in the long run.’

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?

I see some incredible women leaders and I find it really inspiring – I think there is a need for networks to support and empower future women leaders, I’m a member of a fantastic one here in Ireland called the WILL Network (Women in Leadership & Learning)

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?

Find your voice, and once you have found it, don’t allow anyone to take it from you.