Natalie MacNeil wants to change the world, and boy she s good at it. She is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of popular blog for career-minded women She Takes on the World. She is also the Co-founder of Emmy award-winning digital media firm, Imaginarius.
Enjoy this interview!
Ishita: What has been one of your greatest fears, either personally or professionally?
Natalie: My biggest fear when I decided to start my first business in college was failing. Once I examined my fear under a microscope though, it turned out that the fear part was more about what other people would think if I failed. There were so many people who encouraged me to get a “real” job since I did have offers and I didn’t want to see those “told-ya-so” looks on their faces if I did fail.
It turns out that my venture did fail and I had to come face-to-face with those “told-ya-so” looks. But when I failed and the world around me kept turning, I was able to let that fear go once and for all. It did suck for a couple months but I bounced back and went on to start a very successful business. You’re always going to have the naysayers so carefully choose who you surround yourself with. The people around you can make or break you.
Ishita: What are the most effective tools, resources, or thoughts that you use to embrace your fear or navigate through it?
Natalie: I usually start and end each day with a meditation which helps me clear negative energy and blockages like fear that hold me back from reaching my fullest potential. If the fear-based thought patterns are persistent, I usually write down about the fear I’m feeling and then I burn it. It feels oh so-good to watch it go up in smoke! I know the fire departments probably don’t appreciate this advice so please be careful.
I also have a few mantras that I keep on Post-its around my house and office. One of those mantras is “I am where I need to be in this moment.” That way, you see every situation as a learning opportunity.
Ishita: What are some things that have kept you in fear, anxiety, or helplessness instead of combating your fear?
Natalie: Whenever fear or anxiety has held me back, it’s almost always because I’m afraid of what other people will think. I love a quote by Steve Jobs and keep it on a page in my Master Action Plan (MAP) that I write annually. Here’s a snapshot of it:
Ishita: What are some ways fear shows up in your life? A lot of times it shows up as procrastination, indecision, or overwhelm in mine.
Natalie: Those would be my top three actually. Overwhelm comes first for me. I’ve been learning to say “no” a lot more and guarding my time but I tend to take on quite a bit.
If I’m overwhelmed I start wasting time because I have no idea where to start. I’ve learned to buckle down and focus on one thing at a time. Now I work in quarters throughout the year and assign one or two massive goals to each quarter and try to focus every day towards those big goals.
Ishita: Do you do anything in particular to work with your fears?
Natalie: Meditation is part of my daily routine. It brings me a lot of joy. I love Wayne Dyer’s AHHH Meditation when working through fears. I also call my fears out and release them as they come up. Recognizing the fear-based thought and calling it out takes away all its power.
Ishita: Was writing a book challenging or a fearful task for you? In what ways? How did you take action despite it being scary if it was for you?
Natalie: So, yes and yes. It was challenging and I was afraid at times, particularly in the beginning, and I actually talk about it in the book. Again, my fear was based more on what other people were going to think! It’s a pattern for me that I’ve been working on. I thought, “Well what if I spend the next two years of my life pouring my heart and soul into this book and no one likes it?” Once I let that go the path ahead was challenging but also an amazing experience that has brought incredible people and opportunities into my life.
Ishita: You’ve accomplished so much already at such a young age, and I know there’s more where that came from. What can you say about making mistakes or feeling the sting of failure, or of doing something for the first time?
Natalie: Thank you. I’m here to live on purpose! When you’re working towards a passionate goal, there will always be setbacks and you ll fail at certain things. I know that I am always where I need to be. Each setback has been put on my path to teach me something. I find that lesson and move forward.
Ishita: What life lesson can you share with people that might be helpful?
Natalie: I think it’s important to keep a journal. When you’re going through something you lack full perspective. It’s only upon reflection that you can see the bigger picture. When you keep a journal of your accomplishments, failures, people you’re meeting, and all those “coincidences” that feel like powerful forces working around you, you’ll be able to look back and see your life as this beautifully spun interconnected web. Having that perspective is so valuable.
Ishita: What are business lessons that you can share that you’ve learned?
Natalie: I have learned so much since starting my business right out of college. One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned is that as a small business owner you should collaborate more than you compete. Collaborations are powerful forces and get you far, especially as a small business owner. I’ve also learned that people come before everything else in your business plan. The team you surround yourself with and people you associate yourself with will bring you down or raise you up. Make sure it’s the latter.
Ishita: What is something you know to be true for a fact now that you only used to believe before?
Natalie: What we imagine we create. It’s a fact I mention in the book and I believe it to my core. I read a quote on Pinterest the other day. It said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.” That’s so true. Everything I have accomplished once seemed like such a distant dream, with so many steps and so much uncertainty ahead. But step by step, day by day, I’ve made big things happen in my life, and you can too.
Featured photo by Hani Eriani.
Photo (Natalie sitting on a chair) by Jonathan Bielaski.