Interview with Harriet Waley-Cohen
Who or what inspires you most?
I am inspired by people who are willing to keep going through thick and thin to make change happen – whether that’s for themselves, their families, for humanity or for the planet in general. I also find people who don’t give up easily inspiring, as well as people who aren’t afraid to stand out from the crowd and stand up for what they believe in, even if that might carry a personal cost to them. Malala Yousafzai is one example of someone who inspires me.
Do you have a favourite experience from your speaking career?
I was thrilled to be invited to speak at a fundraising event for The Orchid Trust in June 2015, and I will always remember that night for several reasons. It was a very enjoyable evening, the audience were high engaged with the speakers and entertainers, a significant amount of money was raised to fund new projects and my talk on female sexuality and intimacy in relationships was extremely well received. Without a doubt, it was the time I’ve had the most fun on stage too!
What makes your keynotes and workshops unique?
I bring heart, passion, authenticity and my personal experience to every talk and workshop. I’m not afraid to show audiences who I am, what I’ve been through and draw on every aspect of my life experience and training to deliver points and learnings with maximum impact. Connecting with the audience is the number one way to make a lasting impact and an element of vulnerability to achieve that is essential.
In your opinion, what are the most important factors for mental wellbeing?
The greatest influencers on mental wellbeing range from our home surroundings, how satisfied we are with our career and relationships, to our physical health, which covers exercise and diet, and to our ability to make space for creative expression and spirituality.
Every person is different in terms of the key things that make them happy and fulfilled – for one person music might be essential and for another, getting out into nature frequently makes all the difference.
That said, the ability to take a step back from the minutiae of life, assess what is out of balance and then invest time in those areas that make us feel happy, is vital. Having an effective inner support circle is also extremely important.
Can you give three tips for individuals struggling with low self-esteem?
I’d suggest putting into place a plan of action that lifts self-esteem by showing yourself that you are a person of worth. Esteem grows with estimable actions. This might be to do with what you wear, how you feed yourself or some other way.
Second, find a way to be of service to others, so that you feel like a productive and valued member of society. Volunteer work can be wonderful here.
Thirdly, make a list every night of three positive things that happened that day that you played a part in making happen, and then list one thing you’d like to work on improving for the next day. This gives balance and over time, helps people to see that not only do positive things happen for them, they play a vital role in making them happen.