Mary Jane Boholst is the founder of Conscious Cocoon wherein she spends time helping introverts to get out from behind their computers and grow their businesses through networking.
Give us the big “why” you do what you do?
I am passionate about helping introverts to grow their businesses through networking, because I know how soul destroying and physically draining it can be to work a job that isn’t what you want to do and then to be absolutely paralysed with fear when it comes to making the shift and getting out there to grow your business.
I started my business after I developed RSI from working my IT support job and realised I couldn’t stay in my job any more. What I really wanted was to do something different and more about helping people than sorting out their tech challenges!
Over time my business has evolved to supporting introverts in business because I believe that introverts have skills that are needed to create a more balanced world than the one we currently live in.
I want more introverts to know that they are valuable, despite not being the “norm” and can build a life that is enjoyable and fun, even if that looks different to the extrovert ideal.
Give us a daily routine on your normal day.
A normal day during the week, involves waking up early in the morning, doing a 10 minute meditation and going for a walk while the city is relatively quiet and peaceful. I love to walk by the river and recently have taken to walking through Battersea Park which is restful and peaceful.
In the evening if I am not speaking at an event or networking I tend to spend time with my boyfriend, my family (especially my 8 month old nephew), reading or my latest find colouring in!
What demands do you balance every day in conjunction with your work?
On top of the demands of the business, which can be almost totally consuming, there are the demands of family – my mum, my sister, brother in law and nephew, my boyfriend, and friends and my volunteer work with a local hospital.
Not to mention my own needs to recharge and have more space and alone time than most!
How do you feel about women’s “lot” these days?
I feel that as women we both have it better and worse these days. We have a lot freedom to choose, do and be whatever we like, especially here in the UK. Along with that freedom to choose, we also have to contend with the old way of doing things, the glass ceilings and the fact that there are so few examples of women who are still feminine and at the same time powerful.
When it comes to the demands placed on me I evaluate if the task is urgent or important, how much time it will take up and if it will take me closer to my goals and then look at where I can fit it in that has least negative impact.
That may sound cold and calculating, but I find that if I don’t it is too easy for my goals and needs to be sidelined and to be swept along by other people’s desires.
Sometimes it is hard to say no to people and disappoint them, especially if it is someone I love and it is a practice that I am developing more and more!
What is the most common emotion you feel as a woman on a day-to day basis?
What’s the most common emotion you think the man that is closest to you *(husband, son, boss) feels each day?
Do you think you people around you (on social media, and face to face) understand who your authentically are?
Honestly I am never 100% sure that people understand who I authentically am wherever I meet or encounter them! I know that is more about me than anyone else though!
I think that there is a way to go for me to allow people to truly easily see who I am authentically and part of that is that I am still in the process of discovering who that person is, underneath the conditioning!
However I do feel that I am more and more able to allow myself to be seen as authentically me when I meet others either through social media or in person, just by honestly and openly sharing and joining in on discussions that I feel passionate about.
How important do you think vulnerability is in life and career?
Vulnerability is a very key part of life and career. I think it is the key to having the kind of relationships that we all really need and crave. When we can be vulnerable we allow people to connect with us and create relationships that are truly fulfilling, loving and supportive.
On the career side while on the surface it might seem like being vulnerable will backfire and make you seem weak. The truth is that people respond and respect people who can honestly and vulnerably admit they made a mistake and show that they have learned something from it.
The most vulnerable and uncomfortable moments tend to be while I am speaking at one of my workshops….perhaps a reflection of the biggest breakthrough I had in my life and business!
What do you do for SoftPlay? How do you look after yourself?
I go for walks, take naps, soak in the bath, play Singstar, colour in, journal and sometimes mindlessly look at Facebook and all the videos that I can that seem inspiring! Oh and listen to music and dance too, when I can allow myself to!
Sometimes I forget to do this and then get reminded because I get cranky and crabby!
How do you juggle your relationship and business?
Not very effectively it feels like sometimes! I usually let my significant other know which evenings I am unavailable and he has access to my Google Calendar so he can see when I am busy too (although he can’t see the details!) If I have an event I usually arrange to meet him before or after to help calm any nerves and give me energy.
How do you think tapping into your femininity (playing to your strengths as a woman), would impact your relationships with men?
I think that being more able to tap into my femininity in my relationships with men would help me to make them more satisfying and supportive and help me to know I don’t have to do, be and have it all.
Do you exercise your #righttobesoft in your workplace? If so, how?
I feel like I do this all the time when I allow my energy to direct what tasks get done at particular times or listen to that internal knowing that tells me to nap or have some fun!
It also shows up in how I talk with and collaborate with clients and JV partners seeking the win-win solutions instead of the win-lose scenarios.
What’s one “breakthrough” you have had in your life, that shifted the way you saw things – how did it impact those around you?
I have had many smaller breakthroughs, the biggest was one that changed a really core perception for me and involved me standing on stage in front about 100 or so people I had known for roughly a day or so, and allowing myself to be seen and energetically sent love by the strangers in the room.
Who do you look up to as a woman?
Here in the UK Joanna, Annie and Susie (obviously!) as well as Helen Evans and Catherine Watkins. Oh and Dame Steve (Stephanie) Shirley too.
Stateside I would have to say Sharla Jacobs and Ali Brown, Sheryl Sandberg, Susan Cain, Louise Hay, Doreen Virtue are a few of the names that immediately come to mind.
What do you tell yourself when times are tough?
It would have to be: Everything happens for a reason and Everything works out in the end. if it hasn’t worked out yet, then it’s not the end.
What are you doing to help elevate the women of developing nations?
At the moment I am sorry to say I am not doing anything active to help elevate them directly, but my hope is that being a female descendant of parents who came from a developing nation (the Philippines) inspires others (especially other Filipinas) to go for their dreams and face their fears too!
You can get in touch with Mary Jane here:
Twitter handle: @ConsciousCocoon
Facebook page: Mary Jane Boholst