Heather White is an authenticity advocate, a motivational speaker and talented, inspiring individual. Her Appearance at TEDxBCIT Talks will be just one of countless leadership, life coaching presentations she has given all over the world. Link contributor Joey Wilson sat down with her to get the goods on her story, and the upcoming TEDxBCIT conference.
Heather, you are a life designer and business advocate, so what is a typical day for you?
I love this question. Is there such thing as a typical day? That’s the whole thing that I call – that being a life designer is around. What makes me feel the most myself, authentic, alive and really all that is designed to make sure that I can contribute in a way that I’m personally, uniquely, designed to do that. But I do some sort of typical practices, especially when I’m at home.
Usually it begins with nature. For me nature is like my church. When I’m home, I live in a little beach community, and I start my day at the beach. It’s where I go just for my check-in, my meditation, for my reflection time, to contemplate, to create ideas. That’s my sacred space and time and it has been an honour to be able to design my life the way that I have the opportunity to do that every day.
After that, I’m pretty boring. I go for my workout, my smoothie, I grab a quick coffee with one of my gym buddies and then I head home. Some days I’m writing. I write my own personal blog and my own personal news. I also write for my direct venture leadership company that I work with my colleague Robert Murray on. I also write articles for Fresh Vancouver Magazine. And I still write a lot of programming for different leadership training programs that we’re doing.
Then depending if I’m running a full coaching roster, usually afternoons at home are spent online or on the phone coaching clients, working through their stuff with them. Then I have a whole other life I live when I’m on the road. I spend lots of time on airplanes and on the road. Lots of time in Europe. When I’m doing that, a lot of the same fundamentals, I’m always looking for ways to get out in nature and make exercising and movement a part of my life.
I love people so any chance to connect, whether it’s formal or informal, just to chat and hear what other people are doing with their lives and what they’re going through. Then there’s the time I spend on stage, that’s when I’m speaking or teaching a workshop or leading a leadership retreat.
Sounds like you lead a very busy lifestyle.
You know, I don’t feel like it’s busy. Not in the same way I did when I worked in corporate fills. I feel like I have a lot of time on my hands. I feel really fortunate that I still get to read and hangout online if I’m just wanting to feel inspired because we’re doing writing or videos.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The whole thing is rewarding. Let me put it this way, I have this little quote on my desk and it reads: “To love what you do and believe that it matters- how could anything be more fun?” by Katherine Graham. The chance to be behind what I call “The Wizard of Oz Curtain” it is really an honour.
My relationship with my clients is honest, real, raw, and confidential. I have the opportunity to hear where people are at, where they want to
go with their life, their dreams, their desires, their intentions, the things they’re scared about, their insecurities, and help them build a plan for how they’re going to navigate their journey. Then there’s the opportunity to see them grow. When I see clients grow and expand into their personal power and watch them accomplish things that they once didn’t believe was possible is amazing.
The whole thing is a journey. There are ups and downs and it’s a rollercoaster, for me it’s an honour to be along for the ride. I call myself the Robin to the Batman. Even the tough stuff is rewarding because I run my own business so of course there’s challenges and things that make you who you are. They are all character builders; they’re all opportunities for your own growth and development. Even some of the stuff that my colleague did, or the underbelly of all the things I get to be a part of. I’m grateful for it all.
What are you bringing to the first ever TEDxBCIT Talks?
All I have is my own stories and my own version of what I call that universal story of the human seeker. I believe that we all have desires, whether known or unknown. That is that need and want to understand and connect with that true meaning and purpose of our lives. To believe that we are here for a reason, something that only we as individuals can create that is unique and genuine and authentic way this idea that, we might be a grain of sand but a fundamental grain of sand in this whole landscape of life.
So that’s what my TED Talk is about. I’ve got eighteen minutes to talk about one of life queries, if you will, but that’s what the whole thing is about for me. It’s about how do we connect with that authenticity, how do we trust it, how do we cultivate a relationship with ourselves that’s powerful enough for us to really allow our lives in the end to be of service and real meaningful contributions that we make with who we are and what we are for our life.
How did this come together for you to make a business out of it?
It’s kind of been like a Machu Picchu climb. It’s a step-by-step and I didn’t see the whole thing coming together all the time and sometimes I thought what am I doing and where am I going? I did an undergrad degree in Psychology, I was planning to go to Stanley Law and become a Lawyer. I grew up with divorced parents and my dream was to become a divorce lawyer and save all the other divorced families of the world to not go through it the way I went through it because it was a bit horrific.
But there was another plan for me when I graduated I got a job in business working in outside sales, working for a corporate company and ended up being there for four years doing business development. The company did well, it excelled. It had all the things that my world had sort of conditioned me to think I was supposed to want, you know great pay cheque, good opportunities, freedom on the job, home office, car, cellphone, expense account, great client list, opportunity to grow.
And yet, there was this sort of nagging feeling in me that I was in the wrong place. I was unhappy. Everybody that you talk to, especially in your mid-twenties, has all these real markers of outside success and you start talking about how you’re not really feeling at home with yourself or that you’re not really supposed to be doing this job, and that you’re unhappy.
Nobody really got it and everybody that I talked to thought I was pretty much insane. Especially when I started to talk about perhaps leaving my job and going on pursuing this dream, which is all it was at the time, just this idea that there’s something special that we’re all supposed to do with our lives.
I started studying more than anything, I’m a seeker of knowledge, truth, wisdom, guidance, and ended up working with some really powerful teachers like Bob Proctor, who is one of the main people that I learned about personal development, goal-setting, dreaming, desires, mindset, belief systems, paradigms.
I started to really open my eyes to these opportunities and I did leave my job in 2007 and left on a hope and a prayer and a dream to share what I was learning. I was seeing a change in my own life. I was starting to feel the feelings that I was craving. My outside life didn’t look sort of like the successful way that it had when I had all of this “bows-tied and boxes-checked” idea.On the inside I felt great but on the outside I didn’t have all of this security that I had once had.
In the last seven years the whole thing has evolved and morphed and I’m still doing a lot of the same things on the outside, in terms of speaking and writing and sharing my knowledge, but you grow and evolve and change and have an opportunity to share more and more.
It didn’t come together in any nice, linear way, it just unfolded and opportunities kept coming forward and I kept saying yes. As a result I cultivated some skills particularly around communicating, speaking, and training. That’s how I got here, to be able to spend my time doing that for a living. Along the way you build fundamentals that are true in all business for it to be successful, you build that trust with the community of people that engage in your services.
Over time you build those relationships and they see that you really do have something to offer, something of value and you build that awareness in the marketplace and it grows. Today I get to fly to Europe and speak on stages and come and give a TED talk and these are huge, incredible opportunities but they’re a long time in the making.
You are a former silver medalist in world championship jiu jitsu; do you still make time for jujutsu in your life?
Yes and no is the answer. The fundamentals of my traditional martial arts training is that I was actually trained in a traditional form of martial arts, it was of Korean origin, it’s called Hap Do Sool before I ever entered the sport.
That training is part of the fabric of my being. It’s based around honesty, respect, integrity, humility, service. This is the foundation of martial arts so in terms of that it’s who I am.
In terms of physical training, no I’m not practicing. Although, treating your body as somewhat of a temple is a vehicle for doing the work that you do in the world. I’m still active and consider myself an athlete and I’m mindful about my physical body, my mindset, focus, determination. Those things will never leave me.
If Hollywood made a movie about you who would you like to see play Heather White?
If we’re just talking physical appearance, maybe Uma Thurman would be a good pick or Charlize Theron. Actors are actors so I think anybody could embody the character of who I am. I would be honoured if those ladies represented me with their talent and my resemblance.
Anything else you want to add?
I’m just so excited. I’m excited that I live in a time when I have the opportunity to do these things. I’m a woman; a young woman there was a time in the evolution of humanity where this wouldn’t have been possible.
So the only other thing I would add is that I am so grateful to be here, at this time, where the doors are open and the opportunity to create, design, and live a life of my dreams has been made available to me and I don’t take any of it for granted. There have been so many people that have gone before us that have blazed the trails. Even talking to you, this is just awesome.
TEDxBCIT hits BCIT’s Aerospace campus Janurary 24th. If you don’t get a chance to attend, watch this space in the days after for full coverage.