When you find someone who’s set up and run 4 businesses, what image springs to mind? A man in a suit perhaps, or maybe the likes of Sir Richard Branson or Lord Sugar? That’s the stereotype. So you could be forgiven for thinking this way. The person I’m referring to, however, in no way fits the stereotype. She’s my page 1 Woman, Genevieve Zawada, mother of 2, with 15 years track record in coaching and mentoring. She has energy and determination in abundance alongside a desire to help people build and improve romantic relationships. With a background in sales, training and recruitment management, she currently runs 3 relationship based businesses – Love Match Weekends, Reconnection Weekends, (both 2 years old) and Love Train Dating.
Love Match Weekends, for professional single people, provides coaching, workshops and events under one roof in a fabulous setting in the Cotswolds. Love Train Dating, on the other hand, the sister business to Love Match Weekends, is a dating website for professionals over 21.
Reconnections Weekends helps couples to rekindle the flame that often fizzles out with the arrival of children and life’s challenges. Being mindful of the UK’s high separation and divorce rates, Genevieve Zawada aims to reach couples before they separate and give them time and space to reconnect at her amazing weekends.
Alongside all of that, she recently co-launched the Angel Assistance programme which does corporate health checks in relation to the training, coaching and mentoring needs of employees, with a particular focus on reducing stress.
How does she manage it all? A self-confessed workaholic, Genevieve Zawada makes the most of the talents of her 15 year old daughter and 10 year old son and adds a bit of fun to her work by getting them involved.
This is what she said when interviewed.
What essential steps did you take to get to where you are today?
Genevieve Zawada: I moved out of London to the country because I felt I needed space to breathe. It kick started things for me, opened my eyes and made me think differently. I can now balance my life better.
The other essential step relates to when I was really badly treated by a business partner. It catapulted me into saying, “I’m going to work for myself, I’m going to do things the way I want to do them.” And I guess that’s where you’re right that I’m a leader because I’ve never been a good follower. Even as a child, I was always the one leading the group.
I don’t like to see myself as a typical female leader because other leading women I’ve worked with have had a hard edge to them which I guess they may have felt they needed to survive and get to where they’ve wanted to be. I’ve worked with women on removing that edge, because you don’t need it in business. You need to lead from your heart and with a sensible head on your shoulders, without trying to squash anybody. Then you’ll get better results long term.
What’s the most significant thing you did that actually got you into your current position?
Genevieve Zawada: Stepping away from committing myself to 100% corporate coaching alongside running my husband’s business for ten years. It was very empowering and very scary. That’s when things really started to take shape for me.
Then Jane, my good friend, coached me and used me as a case study for her coaching exam. We looked at my business plan for Reconnection Weekends and Love Match Weekends in particular, which I’d written over 15 years previously and had left aside. I then went and completed my International Coaching Federation accreditation. And from that, I just started to put some feelers out and I met some amazing people who joined my team for Love Match Weekends and Reconnection weekends. Meeting the right people catapulted the business quickly.
What were your most revelatory moments?
Genevieve Zawada: I’ve never been academic and I’ve always been fearful of exams. I’m more of a practical person. But passing my coaching diploma proved to me that I could do it. I’m looking to do other courses now which I’m really excited about.
Also, when I was presenting Love Match Weekends for the first time to a group of experts, I got such a positive response and they thought it was revolutionary. It revealed that I should trust that what I’m doing is right and I’ve something valuable to offer and I should believe in it.
The third one was going on the Alan Titchmarsh Show last year. I went to drama school but hadn’t performed for many years. I’d done a lot of radio but I hadn’t done anything in front of a camera. And having had two children, I’m quite weight conscious because I’m not the same shape or size as I used to be.
I didn’t want to see myself on the programme. I waited for a few days after it had been aired and a good friend said, “I’m going to show you something on the telly.” She put it on and I thought, “I don’t look too bad. I come across really well.” For the first time in my life, I wasn’t critical about myself or my own performance. I feel good about it now.
What vital resources have been crucial to your success?
Genevieve Zawada: Resilience, courage, determination and definitely perseverance – which has really helped to get me to where I am today. You also need to trust your instincts. They’ve never let me down as a mother and a businesswoman.
What’s been your experience of leadership?
Genevieve Zawada: I’ve always managed people and led from my heart and trusted my instincts and my intuition when it comes to people. I’m honest with them and I ask for the same honesty and respect back. Most of the people I’ve worked with have turned into good friends, which says something about my leadership style.
I’ve treated people as I’d wanted to be treated. And if people have treated me badly, I’ve spoken to them and understood why they’ve treated me that way and more often than not, it’s them projecting their issues onto me.
What are the main challenges you have faced in your career. How have you overcome them?
Genevieve Zawada: One of them was when we sold my husband’s business to a competitor and it went horribly wrong. I went over to do a 3 month handover and stayed for a number of years as a consultant. But I wasn’t allowed to be a leader. It was a male dominated environment with no women at the top. It was their way or no way. They treated me as a member of staff, not realising what value I could add. I wasn’t allowed to speak out and in the end I stepped away even though I was earning a good salary.
Another challenge was relocating both our business and home at the same time, when we moved from London. I was heavily pregnant with my son, who’s now 10. I went into labour 6 weeks early on the Sunday night after we moved. But thanks to a friend I was prepared.
What are your top tips for women who want to be leaders in their field?
Genevieve Zawada: Do it with a good heart and for the right reasons. Don’t do it for personal gain. If you do it with the view of “how can I help others?”, you’ll help yourself in that process. Be honest and trust your intuition. And if you always treat people the way you want to be treated yourself, you can’t go far wrong.
Trust your instincts and give it a go. I’m pleased to say that a lot of the women I’ve coached have got there and part of that coaching process is allowing them to tap into that courage and build upon their confidence.
You’re not going to succeed at every opportunity. But having the resilience and the determination to keep going and not be frightened of making mistakes means you learn a lot more from making mistakes sometimes than from winning.
And if you’d like to attend the Love Match Weekend at Farncombe Estate the weekend of Saturday 10th May contact Genevieve Zawada at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact Genevieve regarding business coaching and the Angel Assistance Programme, go to email@example.com
Who do you know who’s an amazing leader and achiever? Send me her name here and let’s get her featured.