Bella Zanesco


Executive Life & Career Strategist

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by Tim Carroll

What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture?

When the highlight of my day back in 2012 was being stuck in gridlock traffic on my way to work listening to ‘Gangnam Style’ on Spotify I knew things needed to change. Looking up for many years I didn’t want my bosses job so I knew that was a sign it was time to go. More seriously, I’d lost the passion for what I did. My ‘why’ or purpose was not apparent. Therefore I was part of the majority that didn’t want to turn up to work on Mondays and who just do it for the money. Problem was that it made me very mentally and physically ill but because I had no idea what I wanted to do and it was too scary of a prospect for me to look into something different I stayed hoping it would get better. But unfortunately it didn’t…

How did you get your idea for your book?

After suffering burnout, adrenal failure and depression in 2012 I had no other option then to press the reset button on my life, all of it including my health, career and relationships. The problem was I had no idea where to start. I was too broken to think about what to do next in my work and didn’t know what to do to fix my health and recreate my life on my own terms. I read 100 books, listened to every Ted Talk I could get my hands on and put in practice everything experts said. Basically for two years I became a human guinea pig and tried everything I was told was good for me but I was too lazy or busy to try. Things like healing my gut, reprogramming my brain and figuring out my personal and professional vision.

It worked! I ditched depression and all the nasties that put me there and became a world champion sailor, something I’d attempted nine times. Then I got curious if I was alone in my modern day crisis of everything and launched the first of it’s kind global wellbeing study, The Global Women's Wellbeing Report that surveyed 2,000 executives across 69 attributes of their wellbeing. I discovered I was not alone in how I was feeling in fact I was in the majority and that scared me so I knew I needed to say yes to writing the book.

The study revealed a number of things we we’re consistently screwing up so I picked off the top 15 and wrote Smart Girls Screw Up Too – The no-nonsense guide to creating the life you want, published by the worlds top business publisher Wiley.

How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?

It’s a package deal.

Different forms of marketing work for different people. Books are a brilliant form of packaging your intellectual property as a consultant/adviser. They become your business card and elevate your profile especially if you’re published by a reputable publisher.

My speaker brand has also been invaluable, particularly when I share my story with audiences who know they want to make change and don’t know where to start. Workshops and my free proprietary career and life assessment tool are great marketing levers as well.

But in the end as a consultant or an adviser you are your own brand so your personality, walking your talk and sharing that through all of your channels including social is what sets you apart!

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

When I get messages from people who read Smart Girls Screw Up Too and tell me it’s transformed their life, they’ve ditched a boss or workplace that’s unhealthy or cleaned up their health to make better decisions. Or when I support an executive negotiate to freelance or a sabbatical or a take the first steps to create their side hustle and make their first revenues.

When transitioning your career how do you conquer those moments of self doubt that keep us paralysed… what pushes you through?

For any transition to be smooth one must desire it more than he/she fears it. What I mean by this is you must hold a bigger vision for why you’re doing what you’re doing and desire that more than the fear of staying committed to it. If it’s just to escape a job that won’t be enough to keep you resilient. My advice is go and get another job that has working conditions and a vision that aligns to your own set of personal values. To be successful as an entrepreneur, a freelancer or consultant you need to have a ‘why’ that’s bigger than your own ego, something outside of yourself, a legacy you’re leaving behind that makes the world a better place. 

Because when the going gets tough and you want to quit you need to remember this thing as it will keep you going.

Excluding yours, what business or organisation do you admire the most?

Any business that at the core of it’s vision is to help people or make the world a better place. Vision and values led founders I personally admire are Camilla Franks from fashion label Camilla, Elon Musk from Tesla and SpaceX and Malala Yousafzai who campaigns tirelessly to ensure free compulsory education for every child. What sets these founders apart is they are what I call Fully Expressed Leaders. They create empires led by their values, passions and unique skills and solve real world problems. They are leaders that other people want to follow and want to become. In the future of work these will be essential qualities for any business to drive shareholder value, and attract and retain top talent

In a Global Career with many successes - what do you cherish the most?

Seeing a client exceed their potential. Watching someone that’s prepared to make the tough life and business choices to embrace who they are, what matters the most to them and seeing them excited and engaged about their future. In my own personal journey it would be the bravery to say yes to ditch my multiple six figure salary and redesign my own career and life in my late 30’s without having a clue whether I’d be successful and sticking at it when it’s been really challenging.

If you could offer someone considering a career transition one piece of advice what would it be?

Plan carefully for your transition. For my clients this typically takes a year or more to get their personal vision, strategy and finances aligned so they know what matters the most to them for their next career step.

In one word what characterises your life nowadays?