"I believe we should follow our dreams. But to make these dreams really come true... you might need some inspiration, empowerment...and you certainly want to be unleashed!"
Anna Kuusela is an energy ball and a global citizen hailing from Finland.
In her previous life she traveled the world, working side by side with some of the most influential CEOs and their leadership teams in the most strategic questions of the business. Anna has worked with world-leading consultancies such as Deloitte, KPMG and Boxwood, and consulted several leading edge brands in the fashion and luxury industry. Anna's true spirit is characterised by her ballet-dancer background and she continues to project great passion for movement and wellbeing. Her creative side is complemented by her Masters degree in Economics and indeed, Anna is an analytical and quick thinker, often combining the dots across the unimagined.
Today, Anna inspires, empowers and trains women through her online platform on confidence issues, is the author of the Wander Woman Playbook, a host for the Good Vibes Only podcast and loves to deliver inspirational talk on every opportunity she's given. She enjoys giving back and continues to work with the Tony Robbins family as a crew member. Anna is living and breathing her mission to inspire one million women to live the lives they were always meant to live. For anyone near her, Anna is known for her magnificently contagious energy and a mindset of continuous learning.
I fell in love with ballet at an early age and ended up completing a ten-year Vaganova professional ballet dancer degree.
I needed to work so hard. I didn't have a dancer physique (I'm 5.9" or 176 cm and with a strong build) so to remain in the game I needed to quickly develop my own competitive advantage: my personality.
I realised we all have something valuable to offer - we just need to figure out what it is.
After completing my dancing diploma, I decided it would be a great idea to get a Masters degree should I for example break my leg.
Helsinki School of Economics sounded like something interesting however, due to my bad preparation, I didn’t get in the first year and went to serve as an au pair in New Jersey, US. This was a lot of fun but that's another story!
The following year I had learned my lesson: I read the entrance examination books throughout 10 times and was admitted to the University with flying colours.
I practised until I couldn’t get it wrong – not until I got it right.
After graduating from the School of Economics, I noticed an interesting looking job ad for a Strategy Consultant for Deloitte and decided to apply. This started an interview process I've never been through and it felt like a washing machine!
On Christmas Eve 2009 they called me to say they wanted to offer me a job...and that I was one of the two selected amongst the 200 applicants. Like, wtf?!?
And, I said yes! Obviously! I knew I certainly wasn’t the ‘best’ from all the applicants but I knew I presented such potential and a mindset of ‘I can figure anything out’ that they were convinced.
The one who shows the most certainty in a situation, wins.
I went all in for this job. It was exciting, the opportunities were grand and the learning curve was steep.
But then, a few things happened. Like separating from my boyfriend of 9 years. Yes. And I started thinking. I realised everything in my life was super convenient. Too convenient. It was convenient deluxe.
I was bored. I thought there must be more to life. This cannot be it.
Then one night, this random idea of moving to London arrived into my head.
It felt good, exciting…and so me. Not everyone was excited (one of my bosses told me I’d be lucky to find a job in a competitive city like London) but I wasn't listening: I was determined. Ultimately, I needed to quit my job at Deloitte and there I was, moving to London, with one suitcase and about 500 euros on my bank account, with no place to live and no job.
But somewhere deep inside I knew this leap of faith would work out. That things would be ok.
Well, it took a while before things were ok. I was running around London Town, going to job interviews and desperately trying to find a job.
All I was hearing was 'no' and it was happening like 50 times in a row. I still remember that one day, sitting in Le Pain Quotidien in Notting Hill and crying into my croissant. I was about to give up and go back home...
And then an offer came in and I said yes.
London is busy, exciting, full of opportunities and things to learn – and I'm embracing it all.
Seriously, my job's the best! My niche is in delivering transformational work with large (£100m to £2bn in revenue) fashion and luxury businesses which meant working on both the design (strategy) and the more hands-on delivery work. Digital was booming so I became an expert in omnichannel operating models (if that means much to you?!) The gala dinners with clients were the best (see the photo?!). I love my job - the intellectual challenge, understanding complex organisational structures and winning peoples’ hearts and minds in order to deliver change, is everything to me. I'm living my dream.
Fast forward a few years
...and I’m in the middle of sometimes 80+ hour workweeks, a lot of travel and oftentimes very challenging work where clients are rarely happy. I was tired, lonely and overworked.
One afternoon I'm having an after work catch up with a colleague and she suddenly says: Oh Anna, I wish I was like you.
I laughed and said to her: well, I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be me, but you need to be the best version of yourself.
While this conversation was only in passing, something deep inside had changed.
Looking back now, these years of hard work had opened a new door - an interest to develop myself.
I took more responsibility over myself. I start looking after my mind, body and soul differently. I read, took courses, invested in coaches – into all things that would make me perform at my best and serve my purpose 110%.
I committed to a more conscious lifestyle that was more aligned with who I am deep inside – and this lifestyle is of joy, learning, contributing and love.
Here with my yoga teacher Sorcha Finch-Murray, throwing in some fun shapes!
I started showing up in my life in a completely new way.
While my persona growth story was taking place, so was my five-year anniversary in London...
I thought I need a break. I decided to take a two-month sabbatical leave and travel to Buenos Aires to learn tango (one of my long-time dreams).
This was all amazing fun...as you can see...but
When I came back to my desk in Canary Wharf, I hit a brick wall.
The passion for my work was gone. I didn’t want to do this anymore.
The change had been probably stirring for a while. It felt like a sweater one size too small – you can wear it but you’d rather not.
I had started feeling increasingly outsider in the consulting world – I felt I was always the one who was not fitting in.
I knew that, once again, the time for change had come.
In April 2018 I left the consulting world and started my business, SISU Collective. I joined Tony Robbins’ Mastery University program, learned to handstand in Bali, and wrote a book – the Wander Woman’s Playbook – all in about six months!
I knew I had come closer to my purpose but I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do.
But those who seek shall find...
Since early 2019 I have finally found this amazing alignment within myself - and boy it's been a very non-linear journey! To be honest I thought finding 'the answer' would be easy for someone like me but it was quite the opposite!
And while I've just told you my story, it doesn't actually matter at all. The only thing that matters is where I'm heading next!
I hope you join me on this new chapter.
With love, success and abundance,
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