Natalie's Story

Good Things Happen To Me

There I was, 5am on a Sunday morning sitting in the corner of a Berlin train station, unsure of what I was going to do. Nothing was open and I was told that the currency exchanges weren’t open on Sundays. I had no place to stay and the hostels were all full. And then I heard his bellow: “Natalie gives good birth!” It literally echoed in the mostly empty terminal. I rolled my eyes and then shook my head and laughed. 

There’s only one person in the world who told this (old, bad and very annoying) joke, and I hadn’t seen him since we graduated from college. And here he was, halfway across the world. When I most needed a familiar face.

A few weeks later I was in a different city. As my train was pulling out of the station, I realized my passports and money were missing. Frantically, I tossed my bags and jumped off the moving train. I checked my pockets, patted down my bra, and pillaged my bags. Nada. They were gone. Tears welled up in my eyes as I watched the last train of the day pull out of this city that I couldn’t wait to leave. Then a kind young woman walked up to me, asking me if everything was okay. Without thinking, I asked her to watch my stuff as ran off to search the station. Of course, I found nothing. When I returned, more than a little heartbroken and completely unsure about what I needed to do next, she looked at me and simply said, “You will come home with me.” With no other options, that’s exactly what I did. It turned out to be the most amazing decision I’d make on my European backpacking adventure. Her parents embraced me, took me on vacation, celebrated my birthday in style, and fed me different traditional foods every day. I was not only safe but had an amazing time.

Things like this happened to me all the time growing up (and often still do). I’m drawn to transformative moments in life that make me feel alive, even when those moments come with some difficulty.

I Learned a Painful Lesson, and Paid a Steep Price

This is not to say that everything always turns out dandy. I’ve learned the hard way that when I allow someone else to control my destiny or I let myself stay in a toxic situation, it rarely turns out well. Being a rule follower—no matter how well-intentioned—only goes so far. 

This was the most painful lesson I learned as a franchisee. Although technically “successful” (I wasn’t losing money while most of the franchise system was falling apart), I was miserable. After the first couple years trying to grow and fix the business, I grew to hate what I was doing. I only enjoyed working with other business owners.

To be honest, I made a lousy franchisee. I was too independent, too much of a “fixer” and problem solver to adhere to a system that I could clearly see didn’t work. Perspicacious thinkers and change agents like me need to have the freedom to be agile to respond to changes in the market and more. I worked with fellow franchisees to try to save our clubs, devoting obscene amounts of time to this lost cause, and I desperately tried to sell my clubs. None of it worked, plus the franchisor threatened me with legal action for, essentially, trying to save our businesses by thinking outside the box.

The health and financial repercussions were dramatic. The stress nearly killed me. I was never a great sleeper, but my insomnia went into overdrive, and I (barely) functioned on a couple hours of sleep a day. Depression, which hadn’t played a major role in my life for 15 years, came roaring back with a vengeance, as did the CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) from my 20s that took me years to beat into submission. All while I was raising three small children. I finally left the system at the end of my franchise agreement, which was 5 times longer than I should have stayed. 

Working & Living in My Genius

If I am working in my purpose and following my passion, no matter how bad the situation is that I encounter, I end up with a positive outcome. Even when crisis strikes, I don’t blink. I know I will figure it out before I even start. I can see the outcome clearly in my mind. I figure out the pieces of the puzzle and come up with the appropriate path to getting there, whether it’s for me or my clients.

When I was younger this came so naturally to me, that I didn’t think much of it. Only years later did I realize it wasn’t so common. I’m the person people came to when they needed to figure things out professionally and personally. And I’m the one who they counted on to fight for them. That’s when I discovered my passion for helping others get to their desired outcome.

Early in my professional life, I was turned down twice for promotions because I was “so good” at my current job. The second time this happened was the catalyst for me into entrepreneurship, because I realized that I could never work for a regular company. I’m sure it helped that I come from a family of entrepreneurs and business people.

I started my company, CEO Toolkits & Consulting, to help fellow entrepreneurs overcome their most common pain points. I use my experience and skill in strategic problem-solving and big-picture thinking with private clients who want to grow their businesses and stay true to their purpose and make a positive change in the world. Being able to work in my passion brings me great joy, and fantastic results for my clients.

Thank you for your interest in CEO Toolkits & Consulting and I look forward to helping you reach your goals!

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