Actress, endurance runner, Raw Beauty Queen, yoga teacher and life coach… yes unbelievably we are talking about one woman…!
As a lead up to the Resolute Forum in October, we interviewed the talented, courageous and charismatic Kemi Nekvapil. Kemi revealed to us the ups and downs of her career journey to date, and how her new book “The Gift of Asking”, could empower you to change your personal and professional life for the better.
Kemi will be joining us as guest speaker at the Resolute Property Protect forums coming up on October 11th and 18th. If you haven’t already, please register your attendance to ensure you don’t miss out!
A little about Kemi…
From humble beginnings as a baker in the UK at age 16, to her current role as speaker and life coach, Kemi’s career has been successful, dynamic and incredibly varied. In her time, Kemi has pursued many interesting and different roles – acting in prominent film and television roles – once with Colin Firth(!), head chef at a Thailand resort, becoming known as Australia’s raw food pioneer, and even training as a yoga instructor in India!
Diversity aside, Kemi’s professional life has been defined by an inner strength which saw her twice make bold career changes with little or no support from those around her. Turning away from enviable positions where she was considered highly successful, Kemi courageously chose to pursue new opportunities which held greater personal meaning and passion for her.
Journey to Australia
14 years ago, Kemi’s quest to find open space in which to raise a family, brought her and her husband out from the UK to Canberra, Australia. However, after spending 6 blissful years at home with her children, she became restless. It was then that Kemi’s passion for cooking and food ethics led to the creation of her first company – Food Traditions.
Working with charities such as the Brotherhood of Saint Laurence, and Stephanie Alexander – well-known Australian cook, restauranteur and food writer, Food Traditions was focused on encouraging migrants and refugees to honour the importance of maintaining their food and cultural traditions, while integrating into Australian society.
Raw food pioneer to Raw Beauty Queen
During this period in her life, Kemi had begun to personally experience the energy and health benefits associated with a diet heavily influenced by raw foods. As a result, she became passionate about creating greater community awareness on the benefits of raw food. This however presented her with a significant ‘fork in the road’ for her career – to continue her work around cultural food traditions, or follow her new passion of raw foods.
Kemi went with her gut instinct, establishing Kemi’s Raw Kitchen, where she fast became known as the ‘Raw Food Pioneer’ in Australia. Kemi’s Raw Kitchen ran workshops devoted to helping people feel the benefits of integrating more raw food in their daily diets. However, in the course of growing her Raw Kitchen clientele, Kemi became increasingly concerned over their relentless obsession of pursuing ‘society’s idea of beauty’. She was deeply troubled at how achieving the right dress size seemed to prevent many women from truly realising their potential and pursuing their goals in life.
In an effort to help recalibrate women’s definition of ‘what beauty means’, Kemi decided to hold a retreat in the Yarra Valley. This offshoot of Kemi’s Raw Kitchen eventually lead to the foundation of her current venture – Raw Beauty Queen.
Currently Kemi is an accredited Life Coach, and her company Raw Beauty Queen is focused on supporting and encouraging women to nourish themselves, help resolve conflicts and restore self-confidence, enabling them to live their passions and achieve lifelong goals.
“It is such a privilege to be invited into people’s lives, and to have their trust is an incredible feeling”. – Kemi
After understanding Kemi’s journey so far, we had the opportunity to ask about her current position as a life coach, the origins behind her new book, and the personal and professional challenges she has overcome to arrive where she is today…
- As a life coach, what is the best thing about what you do?
Developing deep relationships and creating a space where people feel empowered to thrive. I love seeing my clients work out what is the best for themselves, and then seeing them strive to reach their goals after truly realising their own self-worth. An example of this might be going to their boss and asking for a raise – not because I told them to, but because they have finally understood their own value and know deep within that they deserve the raise.
As a life coach, I love being the silent partner in the background who is really backing them.
- What is a typical ‘day in the life of Kemi’?
I have no typical days! For me, it’s more like a typical week. I break my days up so that each one has a clear purpose.
Monday – Admin day
Tuesday – Life coaching day
Wednesday – Writing day
Thursday – Life coaching day
Friday – Inspiration day
For me, Friday is about doing whatever I feel like when I wake up. On a personal front, I need this day. As a life coach, I need to be 100% present for my clients and their needs. Friday is my day to be 100% to my needs. I need this space to invest in myself so that when the kids come home on Friday afternoon, I can be a present wife and mother. I really need this time, and then I can give from a full cup.
- ‘The Gift of Asking’ is your second book. What was your inspiration behind the idea, and for those who haven’t yet read it, what is it about?
My second book, ‘The Gift of Asking’, was released on 23rd July this year (2017). In the book, I explore the cost that ‘not asking’ has on people – in particular women.
I realised in the course of speaking and coaching women in all fields that many individuals struggled when it came to asking. Often women I spoke to had issues around things not happening for them e.g. a pay rise, family members not helping around the home, or their partner not loving them the way they need. I would ask them – “have you asked for the pay raise?” and the answer was very often “no”. “Have you asked for help around the house?”… “No”.
Surprisingly, it made no difference whether an individual worked in the C-Suite or a school canteen, the challenges associated with asking seemed to be endemic.
In their struggle with asking, I found people made endless assumptions in their minds, creating their own narratives that lead to destructive thoughts and behaviours. For example, “I will appear greedy if I ask for the pay rise, even though I think I deserve it and have more responsibility than my colleagues”.
Many individuals I spoke with become resentful, withdrawn, overwhelmed, lonely or jealous, and took on a variety of damaging behaviours that didn’t end up serving them well e.g. withdrawing love, punishing others, gossiping. These behaviours tended to then manifest in a variety of undesirable outcomes in their lives, for example, lower wages, unfulfilling relationships, lack of self-care, lack of direction and lack of personal fulfilment.
My take on this is – if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t receive, and how can a situation ever be resolved and the desired outcome reached if you don’t ask?
In the book I go by the principle, that you may as well ask, and more often than not, you will probably receive! Crafting what are often false assumptions about various situations in our lives may mean we are missing out on a huge number of opportunities by simply not taking the chance to ask.
I wrote this book as a guide to how asking for what we need and want can transform and help individuals lead more fulfilling lives
The book explores some tools for effective asking, and a step-by-step process on how to ask for what you want or need, even if you are terrified! It also looks at what to do when the answer is “no”.
Even though the book is generally aimed at women, many men have read it, and have also gotten a lot out of it!
- What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your professional life, and what are the most valuable things you have learned in the course of overcoming this challenge?
The biggest challenge for me has been the ‘fork in the road’ situation I’ve now experienced twice throughout my career. Having the courage to leave a very established, ‘enviable’ job when nobody was supportive of the decision, was very difficult for me. You feel a little selfish and a bit crazy thinking “why do I not want what everybody else envies, or what society deems as successful?” It took a lot of courage to recognise that my job didn’t fulfil me anymore. It was incredibly tough, but I have no regrets about the changes I made in my career path!
Another great challenge for me was owning my worth, and valuing myself in the work that I do. I once had a very difficult conversation with a client who was not fulfilling their side of a contractual agreement. The individual didn’t want to pay me, and believed the speaking work I was doing would go towards building my profile, and that was payment enough. Unfortunately ‘profile building’ doesn’t put food on the table so I had to put my foot down. I was very nervous about this confrontation, but I did it, and it was absolutely for the best.
- What’s your best piece of advice for motivating people?
I don’t believe in motivating anyone, people need to motivate themselves. Motivation needs to come from within. It’s surprisingly very easy for people to motivate themselves when the stakes are high enough.
- Where do you turn for inspiration and motivation?
Nature, endurance running, and gardening – I am an avid gardener. I feel inspired by nature and the human condition – it is so complex, and continually amazes me. I am also a people watcher! I don’t sit on the tram on my phone, instead I sit there and watch people and how they interact. That really inspires me.
Further to this, I seek to surround myself with incredible people. I have a tight inner circle with very close relationships and I find these people really inspire and motivate me in my life.
- What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that has really stuck in your mind?
A mentor once told me, ‘when you’re a leader you will be torn down, but that must not stop you from leading anyway.’
- What do you consider your greatest achievement in life?
Not allowing my past to define me.
- If you weren’t doing this for a living, what would you be doing?
It’s very random, but I would love to be a Head Gardener at an English estate!
If you’re interested in reading Kemi’s book before (or after!) seeing her speak, please visit her website for more information on getting a copy – http://www.keminekvapil.com/