Female Tech Heroes role models 24 - Anna Potorska: 'Each person has a special gift, and they should become more aware of that'

After many years working in the high-tech industry in several different roles, Anna Potorska says she has now finally found her purpose. Working as a Life and Business coach, she helps others get to know themselves and enhance their best qualities to pursue the job and life of their dreams.

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Female Tech Heroes role models 24 - Anna Potorska: 'Each person has a special gift, and they should become more aware of that'

After many years working in the high-tech industry in several different roles, Anna Potorska says she has now finally found her purpose. Working as a Life and Business coach, she helps others get to know themselves and enhance their best qualities to pursue the job and life of their dreams. Anna talks about her career change, her fascination for the Netherlands, Neuroscience and Mindfulness, and explains the importance of self-love as a pre-condition for living in a beautiful state.

You say that your life is very exciting. Tell us about that, starting from how you came to live in the Netherlands.

I adore my country of origin, Poland, but I deeply love the Netherlands too. So I moved here in 2007. I'm married to an amazing Dutchman, with whom I have three lovely children. I'm a very happy woman, and I'm proud of establishing my own company and becoming a coach and business trainer for other coaches. After such a long time working in the high-tech field, I have finally discovered my life mission: empowering people to explore their potential and dare to reach for the best version of themselves, so that they can bring their best self to others. I want to do the same. Therefore, this also reflects in all the roles I perform: as a coach, as a mother, as a wife, as a woman and many more. So that's why I believe, that my life is now very, very exciting.

Where does your fascination for the Netherlands come from?

My graduation course was international, so my first time in the Netherlands was in 2001. In the students' house, there lived people from all over the world. That was when my enchantment with the Dutch culture, so open and tolerant to other nationalities, was born. I come from Poland, where the way of working, ethics, culture, and leadership were approached were approach very traditionally, from my perspective. While still in Poland, I started working for Philips. One of my first positions was to lead projects internationally, so I traveled frequently and broaden my horizon on business and way we can manage people, differently. I was relocated to the Netherlands at a given moment, but I continued to travel globally for work, which I enjoyed enormously until. There came a moment when I felt the need to stay in one place, and I (am happy, I) chose the Netherlands permanently.

How was it to be a woman managing civil engineering teams?

I have a Polish and a Dutch engineering degree and a Masters' in civil engineering management. I wanted to be eligible and one of the first women on the construction site. I tried to change the paradigm of thinking, proving that it is not a male-only world. When I started working in Poland, it was unusual to have a woman on the construction site. They made jokes about me, and they didn't want me to inspect what they were doing and tell them what or how to do it. So it seems I always was, in a way, being a rebel, taking on myself the responsibility to changethe world. . They completely ignored me - until I became more flexible and started talking like them including sometimes being a bit harsher. I learned that You have to adjust to be effective and influential, yes, sometimes in the strangest of ways.

You have a very different career now. Where did this turning point happen?

In 2013, when my first child was born, I was a management team member, my highest corporate career position back than. I had just finished my MBA, I was very ambitious, and I was happy to take the role of financial controller for 16 global entities. However, there came the moment when, as I call it, ‘God pressed the reset button’: I had burnout and postpartum depression. I was miserable, devastated, and did not enjoy going to work every day having panic attacks or crying. I saw this breakdown as the opportunity for Anna 2.0 to be born. So I left that job and stayed home with my child for a year. My husband was very supportive, giving me the time and space to reconnect with myself, regain my physical energy, and allow me to figure out what I wanted to do next. After some time, I realized that I wanted to resume my career, taking steps to feel good about myself and my contribution again. At that time, I believed that my identity laid in what I did, not in who I was. So I decided to return to what I knew I will like doing again: leadership and program management.

When did you have the idea that working as a coach could bring you closer to your passion for human development?

It was in 2017 when I was working at Signify. As leadership we got an opportunity to participate in a fascinating training program to become what could be described as a peer coach within the company. With those skills, we could help those colleagues who were open to coaching or needed support before leaving the corporation by showing them possibilities and empowering them in their qualities to make their next step. I fell in love with coaching and the training opened up my perspective: "If I can do that for my peers, I can also do that for my clients outside the company," I thought.

At that moment, I became fascinated with one of the pioneers of coaching: Anthony Robbins and obessed with studying his programs. I realized that it would be my absolute dream to work for Tony and his company. My transformation started when I was at one of his events Unleash The Power Within in London, in 2018. He helped me break and reframe my very old limiting beliefs into unstoppable energy and it was when it struck me: that I will not stop before I become one of his coaches. Which I can proudly confirmed, happened officially in 2020!

Back then, I had phenomenal relationships with my managers and colleagues, but in my heart, I felt that I was not living my purpose. So, I decided to leave with the next opportunity and start my own company. Now, I am a high-performance coach to many extraordinary professionals who seeks more self-awareness and self-leadership tools to realize their fullest potential, secure the job they want or grow the business they lead, and most importantly live the life they truly deserve and desire.

You thought your identity lay in what you did. Has it changed for you now?

Now my identity is in who I am and how I decide to be for myself and others each day. I love my work, it is my passion and it impacts people's lives every day!, And for me, it's now more than ever before, about mastering the art of being; appreciating your gift of life and it’s magnificence in you do - all the time. Each person has a special gift, and how about now, be a good time they should become more aware of that?

So I believe, we all have responsibility to take care of ourself first: we cannot run without maintenance. It is all about bringing a more significant contribution to the world, and it has nothing to do with selfishness. It is the same as having a car: if you don't do the primary maintenance from time to time, it will not run optimally. You can save some money by not having a checkup for a year or two, but it will eventually crash. And this is what happened with me: I missed the warning signals and I did crash, and now I know the consequences of that, which I don't wish to anyone, as I don't want to see other women and their family suffering or going through it herself. If only they knew that there are so many different tools to help them overcome their difficulties and become stronger before they collapse! But they need to understand that they are important and responsible for themselves and must take ownership for that (also by reaching out for help and guidance when needed).

What can you tell us about your enchantment with mindfulness and neurosciences?

Breathing is our best friend. If we breathe mindfully, carrying the breeze deeply to our chest, we can reduce anxiety, stress, depression and therefore bring much more joy into our lives. The heart knows it; it is always right. And as such, it needs to be listened to. If we only focus on what happens in our brains, suppressing the feelings and emotions our bodies are trying to show us, we miss around 80% of what is happening within us. Consequently, our decisions are not the best because they might be against our values, emotions, spirit, mission in life, or purpose.

Besides, if we hide emotions, we are not only suppressing the negative ones but also flattening the positive emotions. So guess why we cannot feel really happy? Your body says: "Hey, you have more than a head but all the rest as well; everything has to work together as a high performance team!" And that is what neuroscience and latest neurotechnology’s are making available for us, also in coaching!

So that's part of neuroscience, that I'm super fascinated with it because it helps explain a lot of what we do, how we do it and how can we simply change it in order to live our lives how we choose to – and now how we used to! And that is ,what I wish for everyone, choosing to live and work every day, in the most beautiful emotional states possible.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring females in the tech field?

Take care of yourself, be your best friend, breathe, and look for what gives you joy. Remember the first instruction given on a plane: before putting the oxygen mask on your child, put it on yourself first. We all love our children. However, we might not have time or another chance to help them if we don't put on our mask first, whatever that means: sleep, eat healthy, sport, anything that makes us restore our energy and feel great about ourselves, love ourselves so that we can love others even more.

Lastly, I genuinely believe that everybody has a gift. Not everyone chooses to look for it and use it; some even overlook their greatness. However, we should remember that your life is always a gift; and if you received it including your skills and experiences, it is selfish to go to the graveyard with it in your pocket. Be kind, be grateful and don’t compromise by deeming your light! Show your talents, share it with others, shine your light bright! I have this saying: It's easy to be negative, but it takes courage to light up, lead up, and strive to live up your life in a beautiful state every single day.

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