Leadership presence is a quality that takes time and energy to build up. When it’s done correctly, it can propel you into positions you’ve been dreaming of for years. However, when it’s done incorrectly, or if it’s not managed well, it can keep you stuck in unrewarding roles. Here are five ways you can start to strengthen your leadership presence in 2020. 

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You want the best for your kids, but what exactly is that? It’s tempting to give them the chances you wish YOU had growing up or encourage them to choose what you think would be best for them. It’s also tempting to raise them in the ways that experts say is best, but your children are unique and that advice might not be relevant to who they actually are. So, let’s take a look at how to raise children to be leaders.

First, we’ll ask, what is being the best parent you can be for them? To raise children to create the life that they truly would like to live. It takes vulnerability, honouring, trust, gratitude and allowance (for them and you). To raise your children to be leaders, you have to be a leader too. This can be done by:

Honouring kindness

My youngest son (now 22) was invited to join Mensa at age 12. He refused. He locked himself in the toilets at school because the teachers were pushing him too hard. As a young child, my eldest son was diagnosed with learning difficulties and put in special education classes that tried to make him fit into a system. However, that system did not fit him. 

Forcing anyone to be what you desire is dishonouring. Ask yourself, what is the kindness that will make the greatest difference to your kids?

Encouraging curiosity, which ensures creativity

Encourage them to explore whatever makes them curious. Making mistakes is a way of receiving more awareness from every choice. Allow them to take risks that may not work out! That’s curiosity and creativity in action. 

Children become disheartened when they are made to ‘choose’ something that doesn’t stimulate them.  When they make choices that may be making their life difficult, I ask, very kindly, ‘How is that working for you?’. This allows them to address the question from a space of curiosity and capacity for a change. 

If a child is resisting and reacting to being controlled, they are distracted from the awareness you are inviting them to. If you allow them to hold the reigns of their life, they can get clarity and make educated choices. 

The education system is linear, but your child’s world is not.  My eldest son (now 25) loves knowing how things work. He recently became obsessed with flying and building drones. This fascination created connections with a tech inventor, that is revolutionising the way power is created and used in the world. Together these leaders are changing the face of the energy industry globally. Creativity is generative energy that creates true leaders.

Building trust and letting them choose

Kids innately know what they enjoy and would like their future to be like energetically. Think back to your childhood. What were you fascinated by? What place does that have in your life now? Allow your children to follow their interests.

How many choices do you make for your children because ‘you know best’? What would it be like if you showed them how to trust their awareness and follow their intuition?

When a child trusts themselves, they’ll instinctively know who to trust as they become a leader. Being able to back yourself when no one else does, is what creates a true leader.

Offer total presence and awareness

As a child, I was OCD, ADHD, Autistic and couldn’t sit still in a chair. I failed at school because I couldn’t be linear. For a long time, I made that wrong, however, my sons are showing me how well this worked for them. I allowed them to be who they are, even if it made no sense to anyone else.

Of course, there are many paths to being a conscious, creative leader and these are some of the choices that have worked for my family. What are you aware of that would make the greatest difference for your kids? Ask them what they know too and get excited for the day that their awareness surpasses yours. Thats when their leadership capacity will begin to create an even greater future.

About the author of how to raise children to be leaders

Moira Bramley is a leadership and parenting expert, and certified facilitator for Access Consciousness, including the Wealth Creators Anonymous program. Moira is also an experienced investor and has many investments in property and shares, including a start-up led by her eldest son.


Megan Hess is one of the world’s most well-known fashion illustrators, having illustrated portraits for the New York Times, Italian Vogue, Vanity Fair, Prada, Cartier, Dior and FENDI. Not only is Megan a talented artist, but she has also written and illustrated seven best-selling books, is a mum, an artist in residence to multiple international venues and has built a global business. She is a leader who inspires!

Megan was kind enough to share her experiences in starting a business and her reflections on being a leader.

Megan Hess Drawing

How did you land your first client? Were they in fashion?

I studied Graphic Design because it felt like a ‘real’ job in the art world, but I really always wanted to be an illustrator. I just never knew that it was a possible career choice! After working as an Art Director in Ad agencies for several years, I packed everything up and moved to London. It was in London that I worked in a million different creative jobs and my final job there realised that I had a burning desire to be an artist.

At this time, I was the Art Director for Liberty Department Store. While I loved art-directing fashion, I loved illustrating it more. I started to do very small illustrations for Liberty and from this other art directors saw my work and little commissions began to follow. After about a year I found myself with non-stop work. I wasn’t earning a fortune, but I’d never been happier, and I knew I was going to do this forever.

As my clients got bigger and better, I was able to be a little more selective, and just work on briefs that I knew had a great creative opportunity. Then in 2006, I got a call in the middle of the night from Candace Bushnell’s publisher asking if I would illustrate her next novel ‘One Fifth Avenue’. This was when things took off at rapid speed for me. Her book became a New York Times bestseller, and I met with Candace, and she asked me to illustrate all her previous books including the cover of ‘Sex and The City’. Once ‘Sex and the City’ was released I was contacted by TIME magazine in New York to create portraits for them.

Following this, I began illustrating for Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue, Bergdorf Goodman and Ladure. Ironically, at the same time as my work finally took off, I had my first baby!! It’s funny, I always tell people that I haven’t really slept since 2006!!

 

What was it like to go from working on your own to hiring staff and having to be the leader in your team?

At first, I was terrified of hiring staff because I had worked on my own for so long. But as soon as I had my first employee, I realised I should have hired someone years ago! My business dramatically grew, and I was suddenly able to get back to focusing on creating. It was the best business decision I ever made.

 

What do you look for in an employee about to join the Megan Hess team?

I always start with personality. I believe if someone has a great personality and is intelligent, they have the capability to do anything. My team is small, so it’s important that everyone gets along and respects one another.

It’s very important to me that everyone feels safe and loved. Even though it’s work, we all spend a lot of time together so everyone feeling good is so important. I’m so proud to say I work within a group of women that feel like family. I’m very lucky.

 

What achievement are you most proud of?

Getting paid to do what I love for a living and being a Mother. I see that as a huge luxury to be able to do both, and it’s something that I’m very grateful for every day. I’ve also been able to donate many pieces of my work for charities and causes all over the world, and in some small way, I feel proud that one of my drawings may have helped someone where.

As Creative Patron of Ovarian Cancer, I’ve also had the privilege of working with the most inspiring team of people trying to raise awareness and funds for the development of an early detection test for Ovarian Cancer.

Megan Hess Book

As your career has grown, you’ve worked with some incredible brands. How did you first initiate these client relationships?

I am very grateful to all the amazing brands that I have worked with. For me, it’s been years of building those relationships. Each new project attracts a new client, and I have been fortunate to have been commissioned by such diverse and creative companies all over the world.

 

What areas of leadership are you most confident in and are there aspects of it that you struggle with?

I’m a big picture person. I don’t like to micromanage. I’ve always believed in the theory that it is best to work with people who are faster, smarter and much better at certain things than me. I know my strengths, and I love to let my team manage and take ownership of their roles. I’ve learnt that autonomy is very important for people to grow and for a company to grow.

Megan Hess Desk

How do you find owning your own business and being a mum? Does your home, office etc always look as good as on Instagram?

Ha! Well, sadly no although I wish it did. Actually, my studio always looks pretty good because we all make an effort to keep it ready for both chic clients who drop by and last-minute photoshoots. My home is sometimes completely tidy and lovely, and other weeks I have piles of washing, dishes and school projects everywhere!! It’s a normal household full of lovely chaos!

 

You have such a diverse business including prints, commissions, books, homewares/styling and more. Can you describe your creative process?

I hand draw all my line work with a custom Montblanc pen and ink, then I either leave it black and white or add colour with gouache, watercolour and digital means. Some of my illustrations are very fast. I usually post a quick sketch on my Instagram account each morning (@meganhess_official) and I only ever give myself 10 minutes for that – because I have so many deadlines to get through! Most of my work can take anywhere from an hour to several days. It just depends on the complexity of the illustration.

If it’s for a client, it starts with a brief, and I always give myself a good amount of initial time to dream and get inspired about what I’m going to draw. Sometimes I’ll do initial sketches or create a mood board of concepts and ideas. Then I’ll discuss with my clients where my direction is heading. Then it’s to the physical drawing phase, and I’m usually in absolute joy creating the final image.

See the magical work of Megan Hess.

 

Anastasia BenvenisteAbout the author
Anastasia Benveniste loves anything digital or creative and is passionate about human rights. She gets enormous amounts of personal satisfaction through her work in digital communications, as it allows her to share people’s stories. She has a Masters in Design Communication, and her favourite academic experience was spending a semester studying at Yale University. Outside of work, she loves art history, painting and anything monogrammed! www.benvoa.com 


You can always come up with a reason why you should not speak up. Everyone has a past story or memory of a time they spoke up and it backfired, blew up in their face or just plain didn’t work out. But that doesn’t have to be your story now.

I’ve overcome shyness several times in life – first, by creating my translation (and first ever) business in my 40s; just being willing to talk to people and let them know I had a business took courage, as not everyone was supportive of my endeavor, and I had many opportunities to give into self-doubt. Even more challenging was a time I lost my physical voice after a surgery. I was diagnosed with vocal paralysis, which meant speaking became difficult, unpredictable and unreliable, my sounds coming out strangely and erratically, even after I underwent years of vocal therapy.

I could have given up and stayed hidden, but I made a different choice, and it led me to radically change and empower my voice in all areas of my life. Here are 6 ways I helped myself overcome shyness and find my true voice:

Make a commitment to you

It was only when I began to make a very different type of commitment to my voice – that of finding my true inner voice (no matter what occurred with occurred with my outer one!) – that I began a journey to successfully overcome the debilitating shyness, developing confidence and ease with speaking both out in the world and in my own life. Are you willing to acknowledge that you have the power to change this, and to make the commitment to you that you will have your voice?

Is that shyness really yours?

How much of the shyness you currently have going on are learned reactions and behaviors, as well as awareness of others around you? All of us have had an experience of walking into a room and sensing the mood in the room. When and in what situations does “shyness” come up for you the most?

If you’re willing to acknowledge that some shyness you’ve learned from others, and some parts are what you picked up from others around you in the moment, you can ask yourself, “So how much of the shyness I thought was mine, isn’t?” And if it’s possible a lot of it isn’t yours, how much confidence and ease do you actually have available that you’ve never acknowledged?

Recalibrate the negative self-talk

Self-doubts and criticisms keep shyness in place. When I started truly listening to my inner-dialogue with myself, I realized it was mostly negative. I was afraid to speak up and make a fool of myself, using that fear to withdraw.

I decided to challenge those fears. Whenever a negative thought come up, I made a conscious choice to stop believing it. I made a commitment that I was changing my point of view completely, and then employed different ways to replace the negative thoughts with an empowering alternative – such as kindness, gratitude, and self-acknowledgement.

Have gratitude for you

When your attention is on gratitude, judgments cannot stay in place. Gratitude is inherently empowering, while judgement is inherently disempowering. Choose gratitude for you and praise yourself for what you accomplish, what you are great at, what is different and unique about you. Everything in your life that you enjoy is there because you created it and chose to have it. Have you acknowledged that lately?

Ask a question

Every judgement we make against ourselves is like closing and locking a door to a tiny room. A question can open a door for you to see beyond that tiny room. One of my favorite questions is, “What’s right about me I am not getting?”

Negative self-talk focuses on making ourselves wrong. But if you ask, “What’s right?” you turn everything 180 degrees and can see yourself in a totally new light.

Trust your “Inner GPS”

A major component of shyness is holding onto self-doubt: the places where we have stopped (or never started) trusting ourselves. Trusting you and listening to your inner guidance system is one of our most potent allies. It may take a while to rebuild your self-trust, but it just takes practice. Trust isn’t about making the right choice, or having everything work out perfect, it is knowing that you can trust you to handle whatever comes.

Even when you have made a ‘bad’ choice, or something didn’t work out, how often have you landed on your feet? And the times when didn’t work out, where they also the times that you overrode yourself to listen to other people – whether it was taking a job, going on a date or buying that recommended brand when somewhere you knew it wasn’t going to work for you? Start practicing looking to yourself for the answers – ask, “What do I know about this?” “What is my sense of this situation?” and “What would work for me here?”  Put your own instincts back into the picture and give your inner voice a chance to be heard.

 

Creating the confidence and willingness to speak out beyond shyness truly is an “inside job”.  If you are willing to recalibrate and revolutionize the way you perceive and speak to yourself, the way you communicate and interact with the world around you will change naturally and come much more freely (and with a lot more joy!) as a result.


Norma Forastiere is a business mentor, natural therapist and certified facilitator of several Access Consciousness® special programs. A self-proclaimed seeker, Norma began practicing mediation at an early age and then went on to study metaphysics and several energy healing and natural therapy modalities. A native Portuguese speaker with a proficiency in English and Spanish, Norma offers workshops and consultations for those willing to explore greater possibilities in life, communication and business.