Maria Doyle – adventure, adult education and a handsome viking

Meet Maria Doyle

I’ve been studying, working and living abroad on short and long postings since the travel bug hit me on my first exchange program in Italy, where I studied for 2 months between Year 11 and Year 12.

Since then, I’ve travelled through over 40 countries and had 16 overseas postings – learning about culture, language and society has always driven me to take on new opportunities – some have been disastrous, some have been beyond memorable, but I don’t regret a single one of them! My current adventure is pursuing a Master of International Relations in Norway, because I accidentally fell for a handsome Viking a few years ago!

What business are you currently running?

I run a small consultancy with a team of contractors, helping organisations, professionals and industry leaders systemise, optimise and digitalise their expertise into content appropriate for group learning like courses, presentations, and workshops.

Assuming you are now in “Your Next Chapter”, what led you here? Was there an internal discontent or an external issue you felt strongly about that prompted a change in direction?

I took a 2 year posting in a country called Kiribati – in the middle of the Pacific – and thanks to working a bit too hard, not getting enough nutrition and a pesky genetic disorder I didn’t know about, I ended up being medically evacuated with multiple organ failure and a strong knowing that life had to change.

I was done working myself to the bone for organisations that treated me like a number and knew it was time to go out on my own – I really wanted to put my energy into projects and people where there would be reciprocal appreciation and fulfilment – running your own business definitely gives you the choice of where you want to put that energy so that’s what I did!

Here I am, 8 years later and although I questioned the decision many times along the journey, I wouldn’t take it back now for the world.

What did you find most challenging about getting started/moving in a new direction?

Imposter syndrome, despite all the qualifications in the book. Why would someone choose to go with me, instead of a larger well-established organisation?

Also trying to niche down my offerings so they were targeting the people I really wanted to work with, and utilising my strengths – this took some time to get right but I’m glad I persevered – the ‘challenging’ clients definitely played a hand in getting this right!

What have you found most fulfilling?

Using my strengths, and realising they’re a unique set of skills and talents that are rare to find in the same person.

Ideal clients have shown me this time and time again so I’m absolutely chuffed every time someone points them out again – it’s very confirming and feels awesome to be recognised in that kind of way.

Have you experienced self-doubt? What causes it to flare and how do you work through it when it hits?

More often at the start of my business journey, but it still comes up from time to time! Lots of factors come together to have me questioning myself ‘what am I doing?’, or ‘is this the right thing to be doing?

it doesn’t look like what other people are doing’. Every time, I go through the head, heart, gut test.

1) What does my brain say is logically true?
2) What does my heart feel is right? What feels scary but expansive (then it’s the right thing to do), and what feels scary but constrictive (then it’s probably not the right thing to do)?
3) What does my gut know is right or wrong? Learning to trust my instincts has been quite the journey but it’s not often wrong!

How do you feel you have grown since you started?

I care less about what other people think – that’s their opinion and a reflection of where they’re at, rather than a reflection about me and where I’m at.

I trust myself and my instincts much more quickly and with much more conviction.

I have much healthier boundaries and delight in saying NO when I know it’s not a good fit.

Have you developed any particular habits/strategies that facilitate getting things done in your business?

Inbox under 30. I deal with it, delete it, or file it. Simple as that. An inbox with over 30 messages does my head in and makes me feel like I’m slipping behind.

Admin first, then all other priorities on a ‘must-do’ basis – clients first, business development second. I’ve also got a right-hand woman who does all things tech and marketing (the chores that used to suck the time and life force out of me), and that leaves me to focus on the core activities in my business that bring me joy.|

Why do you feel women in the 40’s and beyond make fabulous entrepreneurs?

In the words of Andy Rooney, ‘A woman over forty knows herself well enough to be assured in who she is, what she is, what she wants, and from whom.

Few women past the age of forty give a hoot what you might think about her or what she’s doing.’ We know what we want, we’ve played the hard yards, and we finally have the chutzpah to go out and get it.

What would you say to other women who are standing on the edge of their own Next Chapter, not sure if they can take the leap?

When I came back from the Pacific, broken and having no idea whether my new business idea was going to work, I decided to make myself a promise.

If I couldn’t make it work after 5 years of giving it everything I had, then I would give myself the option of going back and finding a job. 5 years in, I wasn’t making millions but I knew I could never go back.

What have you got to lose? Trust your gut, find a well-considered cliff top, and work out how to build your wings on the way down – if I can, anyone can!

What’s next for you? Share your vision with us!

Well, who knows what doors a Masters in International Relations will open?

The story of my life – take an opportunity, and run with it; if you don’t like the direction it’s going in, pull up, take a deep breath, and pivot! Life is what you make it right?

 

When I’m facing something new and challenging I…

take a deep breath, remember why I started it in the first place, and give it my best shot.

 

I know my greatest strengths are…
seeing simple solutions in chaotic piles of information.

 

The best piece of advice I’ve ever been given is…
focus on the outcome, not how you’re going to get there, then just keep showing up and giving it your best.
 

Some of my favourite books are…

Anything by Khaled Hosseini, and books are written in international settings where I get to learn something about a new culture.

 

My favourite podcasts are…
Chat 10 Looks 3, Unlocking Us (Brene Brown), Wilosophy (Wil Anderson)

 

My favourite business tool or resource is…
Dubsado

 

My favourite quote is…
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin

 

Not many people know that I…
Sung a solo, in Korean, when I was in choir last year.

 

You can connect with Maria here.

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Angela Raspass

Mentoring women in their 40's and beyond to build sustainable businesses blending contribution, fulfilment and financial reward.

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