10+ Questions with Dr. Natalia – an interview by Pantelis Fouli

Interview Pantelis Think NataliaA few days ago, Pantelis C. Fouli, one of my LinkedIn connections, asked me if he could interview me.

He recently purchased Tim Ferris’s book Tribe of mentors. Tim asked the below questions to more than 100 mentors and compiled their answers in a book.

In order to add value to the lives of others, Pan had the idea “to tap into some of the greatest minds here on LinkedIn”. There you go, enjoy the interview!


The interview questions: Books, failures & inspiration


Pan: What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life? 

Robin Sharma – The Monk who sold his Ferrari (The book that “woke me up” and challenged my conventional way of looking at life). The 4-hour workweek – Tim Ferriss. (The reality-check I needed during my sabbatical). Anything you want – Derek Sivers (Eliminated many of my fears around entrepreneurship.)


Pan: What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? 

Investing in a cleaner who regularly comes over and weekly grocery delivery services. Outsourcing these two duties allowed me to focus on growing my business; and increased the amount of quality time I have with those who are dear to me.


Pan: How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours? 

I grew up in a family of athletes. My mother used to be a competitive athlete (speed skating), my father worked as a skiing teacher in his early days. I started skiing as soon as I was able to walk. As a child I often competed in swimming competitions. As a teenager I danced on international stages. Whenever I did not win any medal or trophy, I was so upset that I trained harder for the next season until I won. These early “failures” shaped me and my way of looking at success.


Pan: If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?) 

YOU have the power to change the world you currently see around you and on TV. What is ONE small positive act you can execute today? Speak up for something! Make a difference today! Image everyone out there would just do ONE thing…


Investments, habits and new beliefs


Pan: What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.) 

Investing in my (further) education, self-development and self-awareness. In more detail: Working with coaches, mentors, healers, Buddhist nuns/monks, a psychologist and even a shaman to learn the art of living in the now and letting go of things or people that belong to my past or future.


Pan: What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love? 

Meditating and visualizing my “dream life” in the early mornings. When I stop doing that for more than three days, I feel out of balance. 


Pan: In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life? 

During my sabbatical, I went through many aha moments that changed the way I think, speak, act, live and work. One of the biggest new beliefs is the realization that I “should” embrace my true, authentic self and the unique skills I have; and design a life(-style) and business around it. It is ok to not want and to not do what everyone else does.


Advices, recommendations, focus and saying no


Pan: What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore? 

An advice: Figure out what problem you love solving. How, with whom, from where and when do you like working? Do not judge yourself if your genuine answer is “unconventional”. Then find (or create) a job that allows you to do exactly that. 

An advice (s)he should ignore: Only accept advice from people who are in a situation you want to be in. If you do not want to live the way Mrs. So-and-so does, do not want to be in the physical, spiritual and emotional state she is in, carefully filter through her words. 


Pan: What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

People who leave the corporate world to become solopreneurs are often told: “You need to give away your services for free in the beginning, in order to set up your portfolio and to gain experiences.” For me, that is complete nonsense.

I would barter instead and aim for a win-win situation. Ask yourself: How can I add value to that person/organization? And how can they help me? Non-monetary benefits you could negotiate are: an introduction to certain person, a recommendation, a shout-out on social media, an exchange of professional services. 


Pan: In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

1. “Classic” distractions (e.g. e-mails, sms, social media notifications). 2. Invitations to events, parties, meetings, collaborations and get-togethers that have nothing to do with my long-term targets. 3. People who are not on a similar journey as I am and who do not have a similar mindset as I have. 

New realization: Time is the new money. 


Pan: When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?) 

I save the document I am working on. Close my laptop. Take a deep breath. Stand up and get a cup of tea or drink a big glass of water. I then give my best to reflect on my challenge from a bigger perspective: “What’s going on? Am I creating unnecessary pain? Should I just bite the bullet and push trough? What can I reward myself with when I have finished working on this?”

Or: I decide to stop working on this issue and do something different instead. A power nap, cooking something or going for a walk sometimes changes everything.


You will find the link to the original interview here. Thank you, Pan! I really enjoyed this interview.

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