After leading a life full of adventure and no shortage of personal challenges, Fenella Hemus started her first business at the 'tender age of 51'. Fenella tells The Industry Leader about her incredible journey and why she does what she does.
How did you end up sitting where you are today?
For as long as I can remember, I've questioned the way things are done. In my teens back in the '80s, I was an Animal Rights activist, a vegetarian, then a vegan. That led to my socio-political sculpture at Art college and then a stint with kids before 2 years travelling and working in Australia, hitching 10,000km.
Back in England, I ran an adventure playground and became a trainer too. I loved my job! But life took a turn when both my brothers and Dad died within 18 months, and I almost burned out. So I left to travel South America, working with street children and abused girls too.
Coming back, I became a Personal Trainer, plus I continued to deliver other training too. Then 7 years ago, I trained in NLP, Time Line Therapy™ and Hypnosis, and all the jigsaw pieces of my life just slotted into place and brought me to start my business at the tender age of 51.
What kind of work does your role involve?
In a nutshell: training and coaching. My focus is teaching Neuro-Linguistic Programming, NLP Coaching, Hypnosis, and TimeLine Therapy™. I train coaches, leaders and changemakers who want to hugely expand their personal awareness, emotional intelligence and realise their potential.
I also run Personal Breakthrough days and coaching programmes for people who want to remove the baggage that holds them back and transform their thinking and mindset for a more joyful and successful life. I also love speaking.
Health, wellbeing, resilience, equalities and playwork continue to be passions of mine, so I continue to deliver training in those subject areas too.
What gets you excited about your industry?
The transformation that comes when NLP training participants realise the power they hold to change their thinking and behaviour and then know they can confidently help others do the same. In coaching, it's so totally wonderful to see clients let go of their unwanted baggage, patterns and habits to grow deep self-belief, find their purpose and recognise their potential and their true magnificence.
I'm also excited that the industry is ever-evolving as we learn more about ourselves, the planet and the universe - it's creative, experimental and dynamic.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you?
"It's as hard or easy as you make it". Someone said this to me when I was doing some healing a while after my Dad died. I then realised that I was in charge of my thoughts; I directed my mind and created my results.
Something else, "It takes a whole village to raise a child". It made me understand we ALL have responsibility for looking after the next generation even if we don't have children. It's a fundamental precept of my work as I want to leave the world in a better state with happier, healthier humans.
How do you support aspiring leaders in your field?
I offer regular free introductory workshops, bite-size training, and full NLP, NLP Coaching, Time Line Therapy, and modern hypnosis certifications. I support people on social media by commenting on posts and celebrating their achievements.
How do you keep up to speed with what's happening in your industry?
I regularly attend seminars and training, read my ever-growing library of books, watch Ted Talks and YouTube. I also explore other modalities and styles to understand the similarities and differences with my own. I like to connect and collaborate with other professionals on and offline too.
I make sure I also do a lot of learning in other areas, contributing to the work I do. I love exploring neuroscience, fitness, health, nutrition, spirituality, sustainability, social politics and ethics. I can get lost down rabbit holes of discovery, and I love making connections between things.
Added to that, every client teaches me something new too.
What was the most challenging project or situation you've overcome?
I experienced many challenging situations during my travels in South America. I was attacked at knifepoint on a deserted beach (I fought back and was saved by a beach vendor!), held up at gunpoint by bandits on an overnight bus in Colombia and had to escape from corrupt police in Cuenca too.
However, my most challenging situation was having both my brothers and Dad die within a year and a half of each other. I made the decision then to live to the full as if every day might be the last.
In regards to work, starting a business at 51 yet it's an awesome journey of growth too.
You finish work today and step outside the office to find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I'd probably try to find the owner as that's what I'd hope for if it was the other way around. If it came back to me, then I'd set up a foundation supporting adventure playgrounds because they do such valuable work. I'd set up a school with teachers all trained in NLP, with a wholistic, truly inclusive approach to learning and which valued creative and critical thinking. I'd also go travelling in India and Africa, and I'd go back to Colombia again.
How do you switch off after a day at work?
Sometimes I don't. It depends on how engrossed I am in what I'm doing. Other days I take time out in the day to meet friends and go for a walk or go climbing or to the gym and work later. I find my creative mind is often more open in the evening. I love dancing with people in real life, not in front of a screen, and I've hardly done that for a good while.
If you had one wish for the future of your industry, what would it be?
For there to be some regulation with minimum requirements concerning certification and qualification. I'd also like to see something changing in regard to the continued self-perpetuating cycle of price increases which makes coaching less accessible to the ordinary person. It seems like it's following the outdated model of capitalism that's really not inclusive.
Of course, I'd also love for everyone to experience how incredibly empowering and life-changing NLP training and coaching can be. There's nothing like having a deep understanding of how humans tick and are congruent, in charge and creating certainty inside.
What book or podcast should everyone know about?
I have two:
Both connect science and spirituality and are about the immense potential and power we have to direct our lives and heal ourselves.
How should people connect with you?
I love to talk to people, so here's my email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otherwise, come find me on my socials
*Ever wondered what kind of leader you are? Take our free quiz to find out.
**Looking to level-up your leadership skills? Check out our article on the best self-help books for business leaders and entrepreneurs.