How I became the star in my field
By Mirela Sula
When she left Northern Ireland at twenty and moved to London, Fiona Harrold had a strong sense that she could be anyone she wanted. Today, Fiona is the queen of coaching and not only became what she wanted to be but she also helps many people to be the best in their field. In this honest interview, Fiona has shared her amazing story, which shows how authentic a star like her can be.
You help others to become stars in their field – who has helped you to become who you are today?
My first mentor was in London in the late eighties and that led to the business I have today that lets me live and work all over the world. At the time I was desperately seeking a new direction: I’d been a political activist through my early twenties, including campaigning at Greenham Common to stop nuclear weapons and got worn out with the battle! I knew I didn’t want a career just for the money: I wanted to do something that I truly cared about and to make a difference.
I found a woman who called herself a ‘Self-esteem Consultant’ and her approach was dynamic and very different from the therapy I had tried. I had lost my enthusiasm and needed to find a way back to being optimistic again and her practical approach was perfect. After a few months, she said, ‘I think you’d be great at this!’ and I went from being her client to her apprentice and that was the beginning of the journey that’s led to the business and life I have today. She believed in me totally and guided me on how to work with people and on starting my business. That was my first experience of having a mentor and it’s why I’m so passionate about the work that I do because I know first hand the power of having someone believe in you and pull you forward, showing you how to follow in their footsteps. Getting the right mentor is the best investment you could ever make in yourself and your life.
You come from a Catholic family – how has this impacted on your pathway?
I grew up in a family where helping others was part of life. My Dad was active in the St Vincent de Paul charity and spent his spare time helping those in need: a woman and her children to escape from a violent husband or finding furniture for a homeless family who had been burnt out of their home in Belfast during the years of the Troubles. My uncle was a priest with the missionaries in Africa and later the southern states of the US when segregation between black and white was still in place. I grew up with an ethos of helping others and taking an active part in the world and in my convent school, we were always raising money for the victims of famine and war in Africa. I think this meant that I would always want to do work that felt meaningful and not just for the money.
How would you describe your relationship with your father?
My Dad, Michael, was a self-improvement fanatic! He had left school at 14 and turned himself into an incredible salesman, winning the annual award every year for the highest sales in the company. He worked for Hoover and sold vacuum cleaners and washing machines door to door for many years. I saw that people bought from him because they liked and trusted him. He went to Dale Carnegie lectures in Belfast and was always reading Napoleon Hill and Norman Vincent Peale and all the US self-improvement authors.
From the small family farm in the south of Ireland he came first to England and then to Northern Ireland, where he met my mum, Ruby. Mum had decided she’d never marry a local man, so married my Dad, who was from across the border, so ‘a foreigner!’ Dad was active in the civil rights movement to end discrimination against Catholics in the North of Ireland and encouraged me to question authority and to never assume that those in power were better or smarter than me. You could say, I was taught to be a rebel!
How did you build your confidence and how do you help others to build their confidence now?
I show people how to become the experts in their field, so they’re not having to compete and chase for business. You have to have deep confidence to do that successfully. Without it, you’ll struggle to convince others of your expertise and never make the money you could. That’s why my clients often go out and make a lot more money quickly – because people can feel their confidence and people pay for confidence. People also pay for certainty and when you exude complete certainty in your ability and know that you’re the best at what you do, people will pay you and pay you a lot for your help.
Confidence is an inside job. You have to appreciate your talents and know the value and impact of what you do.
Confidence is an inside job. You have to appreciate your talents and know the value and impact of what you do. You have to be clear and convinced of your worth to be able to convey it to others. When you have that, you’re not selling, you’re inspiring. You’re showing people their potential and what’s really possible for them and that’s when they’ll pay to get your help and you’ll make money easily. Do the work on the inside first.
Wallace D Wattles was talking about this in 1903 in The Science of Getting Rich, when he referred to the ‘impression of increase’. He said that every person in the world wants to advance and when they see a person who can help them increase and advance their life, they are drawn to that person. To be successful in what you do, you must become a person to whom others are drawn. It starts on the inside and then you’ll carry ‘the impression of increase’ on the outside!
My upbringing encouraged a self-confident attitude. I questioned rules and I knew what my talents were. My sister was a beauty queen and I was not! She had the talents to be Miss Northern Ireland and I had other talents. That attitude was useful years later when I launched myself as a Coach without any formal qualification or certificate. I didn’t look for an outside authority to approve me or give me permission to practice. I knew I was ready and I trusted my mentor and I also trusted the results I was getting with people. And indeed there was no formal training available when I started. Initially, I called myself a ‘Self-esteem consultant’ because ‘Coaching’ hadn’t really started, though that was exactly what I was doing.
Can we know a few things about your personal life?
I have a business that allows me to travel and work from anywhere in the world. I am so grateful to be able to spend the winter in a warm climate such as Ibiza and travel to speak on stages across the world and spend time with my son, Jamie, who’s a DJ in Berlin. I have a small circle of close friends and while I may not see them often, I know I could call on them any time and that’s a good feeling. I work with a small number of private clients and I’ve just relaunched my StarMaker programme to help more people because if you have a business or want to start a business, you need to know how to stand out and what it takes to become the ‘go-to- expert in your field and I want to share that know-how with as many people as possible, because
“If I can do it, you can too!”
Have your dreams come true and what is still a dream that scares you?
I had a dream to live a life beyond a small place and travel all over the world and I’m living the dream! I’m grateful every day to have the freedom and opportunities that I have. I never take anything for granted. I’m still that ten year old girl from a small town who set her sights on living an exciting life and meeting all sorts of people. I’ve met and worked with prisoners and politicians, ‘celebrities’ and CEOs. It’s important not to be intimidated by someone’s status, otherwise you’ll give your power away and you can’t help them. You always need a new dream because as soon as you’re living the dream, it’s not a dream any more! My new dream, which is both scary and exciting, includes writing a new book that will be out next year and getting that message out to the world.
You have been in business for a long time and now you coach people how to build their business – where does your power derive?
The last job I had was over twenty-five years ago! Since then I’ve worked for myself and I know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and have to make money and it’s all down to you. I worked as a waitress in a cocktail bar (Peppermint Park) in London in the late eighties and went on to set up my Shiatsu and Self-esteem practice. That led to opening The London College of Massage, which I sold in 1996. My first book, Be Your Own Life Coach, came out in 2000, and was an instant best seller, so I focused purely on Coaching from that point. I know what it feels like to be driven and to have a family to provide for: I’ve been the sole provider for my son since he was born and I was determined to give him a great start in life with every opportunity that money could offer. I’ve made money, lost it and made it again!
I now have a multiple 6-figure business and that has come from knowing how to stand out from the competition.
I now have a multiple 6-figure business and that has come from knowing how to stand out from the competition. Unless you do that, you’ll always have to compete on cost. When you’re seen as the authority in your area, clients come to you and they expect to pay more because of your profile. I teach you how to be the Star in your field and how to profit from that profile. That includes getting the Press to promote you, as they’ve done with me, positioning me as ‘the country’s top Coach’. That profile has brought me book deals with major publishers, invitations to speak across the world and clients chasing me. The best part is reaching thousands of people all over the world and getting emails and letters from people thanking you for the difference you’ve made to their lives.
Who is your biggest mentor or role model?
I’m always looking for inspiration as a Coach and in my business. I invest a lot in the best experts to continue my growth and there’s always someone to learn from. I join a business mastermind group in the US every year and work closely with one Coach: this year it’s been Suzanne Evans. I’ve also been drawn to more esoteric teachings such as Native American Shamanism. I met a great Shaman in Sedona and thanks to technology, I continue to work with her by Skype. I’m inspired by people who inspire great movements for change. I love what Ingrid Newkirk has done with PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), now the world’s largest animal rights organisation. She’s brought the issue to a wider public by getting supermodels and celebrities like Pamela Anderson to get involved. It’s a very smart way to raise the profile of a cause and make it ‘cool’ and probably a big reason why everyone is turning vegan! Louise Hay is magnificent in creating the world’s most successful inspirational publishing company. (I’m writing this on her 90th birthday!) I love that they have taken their authors and their message out to the world, on stages, online and on radio and no other publisher has done that. I’m also inspired by people who make their lives work outside of the pressure to conform to conventional ways of living. My yoga teacher in Ibiza doesn’t make millions but is on the right path for her makes her life work. She is a great teacher to so many, lives exactly where she wants and spends three months of the year in India with her teachers and Master. She is content and full of joy, unlike the people who spend £50,000 on a table in the island’s clubs.
A lot of people seem to struggle while trying to find their path in life – from your experience working with clients, what are their main concerns?
Back in the eighties I knew I needed a new path in life. I felt toxic with the negativity and pessimism around me and I was tired all the time. I admitted the truth to myself that I was on the wrong path. That’s the beginning of all change: telling the truth to yourself. Then, look to two things: look to what you have a love for and what your talents are. Combine creativity and passion and you’re on your path. Here’s an example of what I mean. Last week I walked into a hairdressers and after just a few minutes, it was obvious that Jimmy Campbell was a master in his field, with incredible knowledge. I instantly booked in services that were a significant investment but I knew I was in safe hands. I posted about it on Facebook and when I went in the next day, Jimmy was clearly touched and I couldn’t resist saying, “Jimmy, you take your talent for granted. You should be better known and recognised.” That led to Jimmy asking for my help and becoming a client. You see, if I’d just won the lottery and never needed to make money again, I’d have done exactly the same because I have a passion for helping people and a flair for seeing how they can stand out and get the success they deserve. And once you’re on your path in life, it just doesn’t feel like work.
What is your vision for your future?
We’re living in a time of great fear and insecurity with our age being called ‘the age of anxiety.’ I want to uplift and inspire people and offer a different message and that’s what I see my job as being. That will involve writing and living quietly and then coming out into the world on stages and online and playing my part. There’s never been a more important time for all of us to play our part and be a powerful force for good in the world. Get onto your path, value yourself, make money and make your impact!
Fiona will be a keynote speaker at the Global Woman Entrepreneurship Forum in London on 1st November 2016.