85 Building Your Business Around Your Life: Entrepreneur Nomad Silvia Christmann on Alignment, Growth and Financial Freedom
Learn what it’s like to be a location-independent entrepreneur who follows her heart – and opportunity – all over the world. Silvia Christmann is a growth expert, helping companies scale and accelerate rapid growth. Find out how she can work her magic from anywhere in the world, and get her tips for creating multiple streams of passive income.
Melinda Wittstock: Great. Welcome to WINGS Silvia.
Silvia Christmann: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here today.
Melinda Wittstock: Well I’m so excited to talk to you. You’re in Tulum in Mexico, a beautiful place. And you travel with your business, or rather your business travels with you. Tell me what that’s like. Because you’re in Tulum for a little bit longer, and then you go someplace else. So what’s that like?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, so that’s a really good question. I do operate mostly location independent. The way that I do it, I set myself up in one country or place where I either have to be for business for a speaking engagement, for client work, for retreat that I’m giving. And within that vicinity I will rent an apartment and I will stay there for a month or two, sometimes three. I prefer to be around places where yoga and meditation is close by, where there’s a huge emphasis on wellness. I’ve also picked up kiting and kite surfing last year, so I did two months in Brazil learning how to kite. So that was a reason of being there, and I was working with a Brazilian investment fund and talking to the portfolio company. So it all worked out. And somehow there’s this really incredible synergy in my life that I got to pick these locations based on that.
And then from time to time I fly just like anybody else would, to see clients on location and do an in person day. And if I’m in … I’m technically based in New York, I haven’t been there since August. But if I were to go from New York to SF, it’s really not that different than from going to Tulum to New York or to any other place in the states where I’m working with a client in person. So for the most part it works really well.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, it sounds wonderful. And so what’s your life like? I mean, you just kind of pick up and go, and do you think it will always be this way?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, I mean, I don’t pick up and just go. There’s planning involved. I think people would be surprised to hear how much planning is involved in the process. But yeah, I’m very into it of about where I want to be next, which place is calling me, and then usually opportunities open up. Either I’m teaching a business accelerator, or something that brings people together, or I’m invited to give a talk or teach a workshop, or I’m doing a talk within a corporation that is looking for thought leaders and inspired leadership and motivation. And so I map out my locations according to that, and a little bit in advance. But not as much in advance as some other people would do it. I’ve been doing this for seven years now, so I’m very good at it.
It’s second nature to me. And what seems … you know, I sometimes have this argument with people where I say, “I’m flexible, what are the dates that work for you? Let me see what locations around the world I can connect.” And then I’ll commit to what makes sense. And I’ve heard people say, “Well, if you say you’re flexible you’re lacking commitment.” And I’m just like, “No, the definition of the word flexible is really, if you look it up in the dictionary it means willing to yield and highly adaptable to opportunity.” So I consider that me as part … I consider the flexibility as part of me being an opportunist; that I have a lifestyle in which I’m allowed to follow opportunity literally around the world.
Melinda Wittstock: Isn’t it amazing that we can do that these days though? Because, your business really with technology can operate anywhere. I don’t even know if it would have been possible to live the lifestyle that you’re living a little while back, you know, pre-internet.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, I gave a talk the other day with someone who introduced me as a digital nomad that’s been traveling for 17 years. And I was like, “Well, I mean when I started traveling I was very much an analog nomad you know?”
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Silvia Christmann: I can Fax this home. I don’t need this, true.
Melinda Wittstock: Right.
Silvia Christmann: I just worked in different industry sectors and I would take on short-term contracts, you know, work and leave. That was much more so my life until the digital era. And which I then started building companies, and start-ups and tech. And in the start-up world and entrepreneurship has always been a huge part of my journey for that reason, because I just love the creativity and ambition that one needs to have while being an entrepreneur.
Melinda Wittstock: What was it, what was the ah-ha moment that made you think, “Oh, like I want to travel all over the world; I’m just going to kind of be wherever I feel like being,” was it hard to make that leap, or was that just always a natural no-brainer for you?
Silvia Christmann: Well, that’s a very good question, thank you for bringing that up. I would say I was truly born that way. Whether you look at my Vedic charts or something like numerology, people have always told me that it’s literally my footprint. I’m a 5 in numerology, and guess what my core values are? They are freedom and adventure.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh wow.
Silvia Christmann: Talking. So that would suggest that in my genetic makeup, in my Vedic charts, and my astrological charts, this has suggested that I was born that way and this was always my path. And I just think that technology has made it possible for me to thrive within that construct. So when I was little, I grow up in a family in Germany that traveled a lot, so I was exposed to the world. It wasn’t something that was surprising to the people in my family when I finished Abitur in Germany, and I didn’t go to the university. I declared that I was going to take a one-way ticket to Brazil and then figure out what I was going to do next. And so there was always that freedom on that side of the family to … it was almost an expectation that Silvia was not going to go the conventional path, and just don’t bother trying to convince her to do something else.
Melinda Wittstock: So that’s a very … that’s so much in the entrepreneurial DNA, right? And so, were you entrepreneurial as a kid? Did you do the kind of proverbial lemonade stand and all of that?
Silvia Christmann: Well I grew up in Germany; it’s not quite the same. But I was very creative in making sure that I got from A to B, that I put into plays that I always created new programs for things that I saw were missing. And even when I went through Abitur, I created custom curriculum and created my own little board of advisors that needed to approve that. Because I thought that this new curriculum that I wanted was way more interesting than what they were traditionally offering. And so that’s more where you can find my entrepreneurial spirit, that when there wasn’t a pathway, I created a new one. And I created a board, and like … I just had no fear around that. If there was a way, I didn’t want to … I was technically supposed to go to the country school in a different district and I didn’t want to.
So I figured out how to get a special permit to go to city school where I wanted to go, and I went to Hippie school, and I didn’t want to be there, and I wanted to go to regular gymnasium and so, I just went and signed myself up for regular gymnasium, and they were just like, “Where are your parents? Who gave you the special permit? Where did you come from?” And you know, it was just something that if I decided I wanted to do it, I was going to go after it. And my mother usually was two steps behind going, “I mean, yes, I’m not going to stop you from going to the good city school and I’m glad you got in but wow, you could have asked you know, I would have helped.”
Melinda Wittstock: And so, you got excited about going to Brazil. You buy a one-way ticket and you land in Brazil. What were you going to do in Brazil, and what did you end up doing?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, that was actually a whole lot less thinking about, and thinking about it in there than you just mentioned. I spun the globe; I put my finger on it, looked like a good place to go. I bought a one-way ticket. And by the time I landed I hadn’t even thought about the fact that, what language they spoke in Brazil. I had no place to stay. I had no idea; I just landed.
Melinda Wittstock: My goodness, so what did you do? So you picked up like, I don’t know, you picked up Portuguese right?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, as one does you know, as a [inaudible 00:21:37] little traveler, you just pick up … I speak a lot of languages very badly; it’s my special skill. Yeah, I got to the airport; I figured out that it was really dangerous and kind of eerie. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Sao Paulo airport, it’s not the safest looking place I’ve seen, especially not when you’re like 19 and no idea what you’re doing. And I went from there, I actually figured out that there was a connection to a bus station. And I heard if you go further down south to Fortaleza and there were some beaches and villages and had surfing and cool things to do. And so I just took a bus down to, I think it was Florianopolis at the time.
And that’s where I went, to the surf spots, sort of found my footing, and then made my way from there to the Pantanal and then the adventure began. Because by then I knew exactly how to get from A to B and how to do that, and it took me about a week and a half to figure it out.
Melinda Wittstock: And so what was the moment where you said, “Okay, so really I want to work with these high performing entrepreneurs and help them with their strategy,” and like all the things that you do now? Talk about the origin or the evolution of that journey.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, so being I think, being a hustler was in my blood. And I went from finding my way around the world, and following my delusions of grandeur that got me anywhere I wanted to go, and experience anything I wanted to experience, and do all the things that I wanted to do, there was just nothing at this … sort of way … I just felt very invincible. People told me that you can’t travel on your own, and I did, there was no problem. I went everywhere I wanted to go, what’s the problem? When I ran out of money I found a way to make more money and then I kept going. And I created little businesses here and short deals there. It just always worked out. When I ended up in the US and I did go to a university there, I was picked up by a serial entrepreneur that was really fascinated by my audacity.
And while I was convinced I was going to be an artist or a creative art director and be in the creative agency world, he was convinced that I missed my calling in the entrepreneurial world. And then he wanted to teach me how to self realize and help entrepreneurs. And I helped him making dreams into reality and run businesses and strategize, and develop the businesses into industries where literally when we walked into the door, the general response was, “I don’t know who you are and what this is, we don’t need it,” to them changing their minds going, “Wow, this is the best thing I’ve ever seen, and thank you so much for buying.” So I realized very quickly that being an entrepreneur was second nature to me.
And like my mind, not so quickly, strategies, ideas, and I think I have this natural ability to look at every no as a maybe, and to reroute and pivot and level up, no matter what you’re confronted with. And so I work with two very successful entrepreneurs first, and the last one was I worked with Todd Krizelman on MediaRadar that was just sold for $83 million, and that was really, really a great journey in Ad Tech in New York. And my personal journey really intersected with then that I had always had very fragile health. And while my career was thriving, my health was not. And I ended up having this amazing life in New York City, and this incredible career, and my body was shutting down and I had … couldn’t sleep, I was depressed. I was not well. I had adrenal fatigue.
I couldn’t even tell you anymore that what happiness was. And somebody who just like so joyously bounced around the world, that was really detrimental to my wellbeing and my psyche. And as much as I enjoyed the journey of building companies, what had gone missing was myself. Because I had always worked with male entrepreneurs in a very masculine space where I worked with C-Level executives from the day I started working. And I had to learn how to hold my own. I had to be able to be very aggressive and also respond to a certain degree of aggression which business within that construct was often done. And it never really served me. It felt empty. And I needed to go and discover myself in a totally different way, reclaim my health, and find a way to … you know I was 29 at the time, to really be the authentic version of myself that can create into the marketplace products and services and things that are needed that move the world forward and are of service to what is creating change.
So I quit that job and I went on a journey inward, like a road that I hadn’t taken because I’ve been everywhere else. And I started taking on consulting contracts on the side that was sort of my side hustle to afford this break from the world and discover more about myself, which has continued to be something I do to this day. I just do it in a more structured way. Because it is just simply something I’m very good at. And I get one referral from the next, and so that has continued since then to be a huge part of what I do. As part of diving into the personal development space, the yoga space, the meditation space, really adopting various different forms of positive psychology, studying NLP and human design, and all these … there’s so many initials, I almost want to say of modalities that I ended up studying that got me closer to myself. I would say that today the closest ones I’m working with, I do yoga and meditation every day. I observe a very, very healthy diet, a very clean diet, a very mindful lifestyle.
I do not spend time in colder climates or limit my time in colder climates during winter months because my health does not sustain that very well. I was just in London and Germany for about two and a half weeks, and that’s about the most I can do during the winter months without my health being seriously affected. So I created a lifestyle in a business that honors who I am that brings out the best in me, that brings out the best in my clients. In that where my lifestyle is I alignment with who I am, and that attracts business that feel in alignment with the things I want to create, and that I value the most, and that create change. And I think for me, you know that’s I ended up advising them. And so for me, I work with men in leadership positions, so I work with a lot of male founders.
I work with them on so many different intersections, whether that’s advising them on a personal level how to maximize their own health, productivity or relationships that may have gone missing while accumulating wealth. Or I advise them on really making sure that the execution path is in line with the investment plan while also leveraging the human capital off the company in a way that productivity is increased, and also happiness is a factor of the company.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s a very, I mean your approach is very holistic, but also lovely in that it’s balanced in that archetypal masculine-feminine energy. It sounds to me like it’s about taking the best of both. What’s curious too, is that when you were in that masculine, that’s when your health started to break down. I’ve talked with so many women who’ve experienced that. I mean it’s either a feeling of emptiness, or it’s full tilt, like burnout, like, right? And having to come back around and rebalance I guess with that feminine energy. Is that how you see it, that you’re now having gone on all this travel and all this exploration in the outer world, and then the exploration turns more into the inner world, and finding your own inner balance?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, and I think that I absolutely … and I think that I just … I make no apologies for my values. Even though I can honestly tell you that most male founders are people that, a lot of men in leadership positions will approach me and put me down, and my choices down first, before asking any questions out of curiosity. So I was at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago, and it was so interesting to see how the male founders at the table all chose words that put me down, discredited me, and made me smaller.
Melinda Wittstock: What sort of words?
Silvia Christmann: Well it would be, “Oh your idea of flexibility just means you can’t make commitments and you’re flaky.” Where just like, “No, that’s not what I said, and maybe you want to look up the word in the dictionary.” You know, it’s the, “This will never possibly work, I can’t imagine this being great. I look forward to seeing you in three years when you’ve failed.” You know, [crosstalk 00:32:47].
Melinda Wittstock: Wow, really?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, oh totally, yeah. Like honestly. And I would say, “Well I’ve been doing this for seven years, so thank you, I’ll call you in two.” That while if you engage them in conversation longer, it’s really, what’s really happening is that my lifestyle defies their concept of doing business. So then they’re really curious about how it works, but too afraid to ask the actual question. So they have to negate the possibility before allowing curiosity. While women tend to, even at a dinner party, just come in with, “How’s the work, tell me? Are you happy? You’re glowing; this is amazing. How do you do that? Can I join you? Where are you?” And that’s probably the biggest disconnect that I see. And when I look back at that, the negative world of putting each other down used to be the male peer culture of success that I used to work in. And I’m not surprised that that back then really had a negative effect on me, because I felt constantly guarded, and like in a position of ready, aim, shoot.
Melinda Wittstock: Well yeah, no wonder you get adrenal fatigue form that.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: You’re in constant cortisol production.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, and when you’re … it’s just like, you have to always embrace yourself for the attack, and then you have to just sort of like load, aim, shoot back, and position yourself and level up you know? And that’s sort of … it is a bit of a disease of male peer culture where they relate to each other like that. And it’s even harder for women to be in this. I honestly that form of patriarchy and dated peer culture holds everyone hostage, and wholehearted men struggle with that as much as women do.
Melinda Wittstock: I believe that’s true. I mean it’s interesting that men prefer to, or some or most or whatever, but prefer to attack to mask their curiosity because it’s almost like that curiosity, or they’re afraid it will show that they’re somehow weak. But that’s a jail as well that they are also trapped in. One of the things that is wonderful about the entrepreneurial community though that I see, is that more and more men are stepping into that evolved or more conscious heart centered leadership than before. Or at least being willing to show more vulnerability or more openness. But you know, it’s a work in progress. I mean what’s curious to me is what women can do I suppose to hasten that, or to reward men who actually do show up in that way.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, the dialogue between men and women I think is mission critical here. That we want men to participate in this conversation, we want your opinions, we want you to question, we want your curiosity. We want to share. We want to share the space of wholehearted living. And you know, having men as allies in that and opening up the conversation of allowing the future of work to look different, to have flex schedules that, you know I’m not a start-up founder that lives in a garage and eats Ramen noodles. I spent many years living on a beach in a bungalow on a budget. But it was feeding my soul.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, well you can create a business around your lifestyle, or you can create your life around a business. And so what is going to give you the most happiness? I think the saddest thing is when you see entrepreneurs who go into it, because they want that independence or flexibility, or sense of freedom… but then become enslaved by the very thing. I call it living a life of should’s, living somebody else’s dream rather than their own. So what it takes to really get into alignment. So you see people with lots of money, and they’re ticking off all the things, but they’re not necessarily happy.
So women have a chance here to rewrite I think some of those rules. I think it’s a really exciting time for women in business, because we can come at it, much like you do. I mean your whole attitude of, “Wow, you know I’m just going to do this on my own terms.” Which I think is lovely. So the more of us that do that, the more that balance will be tipped, right?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, and is my personal ambition to create more female entrepreneurs and successful entrepreneurs in this marketplace and also talk to them about how to manage capital, how to manage their own capital in a way that it creates passive revenue streams that they can have the quality and the lifestyle that they want that they can have the families that they want so that there’s less of a dependency on their male counterparts. By creating passive revenue streams that are in line with who they are with market opportunities and investment opportunities; that are in line with more female qualities and also female necessities. We bear children, so there’s a certain amount of time when we need to take off.
There are human beings, that when you raise children you have to take into consideration. If you look at statistical realities, once a woman bears children, her market value and income capabilities decrease by 40%. So what kind of businesses and market opportunities and passive revenue streams and investment opportunities can we create that would consider that and give women more power and the ability to still have children. I mean we’re never going to be equal to men because our bodily functions are completely different.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that’s so true. And I think starting earlier, I had a wonderful, actually young girl, or teenage girl on the podcast quite a few episodes back, who is 16, and she already has a whole investment portfolio. And her whole thing is like, “If I can build this, a series or diversified number of passive income streams, then I can follow my heart. I can do whatever I want. I can be creative, I don’t have to be in fear of being depending on someone else or living compromising.” And sadly these concepts of financial freedom, or cash flow living, or any of these things are not taught in schools. I mean, barely credit card interest debt is taught in school. So a lot of young women and men graduate. They go and graduate college and they have no idea. And even the really enterprising ones, I’ve seen so many women become impoverished by entrepreneurship because they don’t pay themselves, or they pay themselves last.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah I know, which is interesting. Because men really typically don’t take on … they never put themselves last.
Melinda Wittstock: Right. And so it’s … you know I always say to people, it’s really difficult to create value on a long-term basis if you don’t value yourself. And so, what are some of the things that you recommend that female entrepreneurs do on this issue of financial freedom and passive income, you know really getting all that together in the context of their entrepreneurship?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, it’s about diversifying your portfolio. I don’t believe in building a business on credit card debt. I think that’s going to end up with you just disillusioned and in debt, and really, really stressed out over paying bills. And it’s really hard to make good decisions from that place. That is not a healthy runway to use. That’s a runway in an emergency at best.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, puts you into scarcity, because you’re constantly reminded that you’re beholding then nervous about, “Oh my God, can I make it?”
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, I mean, I’ve been in the entrepreneurial world for 17 years now, and I’ve only seen people make really bad decisions on that credit card runway, because of scarcity. Mentality that it brings about, I rarely see them be successful, and I don’t think it’s good advice. I think the opposite is good advice, that you know like, work slowly towards a goal, be smart about it, take a step-by-step approach, but start young, start early. Make sure that your income that you have, that you put stuff away, that you save it, you have a portion of that that you save, you have a portion of that that you put towards an investment strategy that you think about.
There is beautiful platforms that can help you with that. There’s beautiful ways to think about investing it in businesses if you were an entrepreneur. There’s various different ways of doing that, and then there’s your spendable income. And you don’t need the designer bag if you invest that into passive revenue that then gives you the opportunity to work less later on.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh this is so true. So women do tend to spend, especially in their 20s. I mean I was certainly guilty on that. There’s was too much on fashion, too much on the bags and the shoes, and the this and the that. And like wow, really when I look back, I think did I really need all of that? Probably not; I mean if I put that into the stock market, I think collectively what I spent on clothes in my 20s, right?
Silvia Christmann: Yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: And so we do kind of get a little bit too much in consumption. I’ve seen a lot of women also spend … you know, get into debt over stuff like that. And I think the only thing that you should ever, ever, ever get into debt for is something where it’s potentially an asset. But if you’re getting into debt for like a holiday or a bag, that’s disastrous.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah. And I mean the average consumer debt in the US is a huge problem. And at the same time I want to encourage people to just be kind to yourselves; that considering the media and the advertisements and the carefully studied psychologies and psychological enablers these advertisements are feeding into, they work, okay? They’re well researched; they work. And they are applied. So if you find yourself making that choice, be kind with yourself and maybe strive working towards building a different level of mindfulness in your relationship towards money. Like have a budget when you spend it. Why are you spending it? Is it out of a false sense of obligation? Is it because you want to compete with somebody? Is it because you want to live up to some sort of a status or a symbol that you’re moving towards?
Is this going to be an expansive life experience that you can level up from that’s going to really increase your quality of life and your joy? Then spend it. But really think about how are you spending it, why are you spending it, when are you spending it, what are you spending it on? And how does it make you feel when you spend it? And if you save it, where do you put it? What kind of businesses do you invest into, even in the stock market, if that’s your thing? Do you want to have an investment portfolio there, think about what do these companies do? What do they stand for? Are you giving this money to companies that don’t give maternity leave to women, that don’t support women’s rights in the marketplace, that perpetually underpay their female employees and have zero women represented in their leadership teams? Maybe not, you know.
Melinda Wittstock: We have … it’s interesting that you mention that, because we have so much collective power in terms of where we put our money. And this is a trend that really began with Millenials, but has really spread to all generations I think increasingly. Which is only purchasing things from companies that actually have a social good mission, or a clean supply chain, or some sort of corporate responsibility or diversity on their boards, or however you look at it. And I’ve seen in the data, and even the social intelligence data that my company Verifeed provides, that the businesses that do have that evolved enterprise or conscious capitalism mission, and that they actually walk their talk on it with some authenticity, so, so much better. They actually like, it’s better for the bottom line.
Silvia Christmann: But change is going to be economic, right?
Melinda Wittstock: That’s right.
Silvia Christmann: So if you want to contribute to change, money is power. Where are you spending it? Why are you spending it? What are you doing with your money?
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, getting very conscious about that. So I think women as a group, what’s so interesting is to see through last year’s on the ongoing, Me Too. It’s so interesting how that collective voice when heard, how much power is actually there. So that’s a tremendous amount of economic power. And there’s a lot of change that happened. I think in the context of a lot of the conversations we have on this podcast about women getting access to their fair share of venture capital money, I think to myself, “Well wait a minute, all these pension funds and insurance companies that fund the VC Fund,” all they have to do is say, “Wait, no, this fund is going to look at this differently,” and I think a lot of change can happen there and a lot of pressure can be put on those pension and insurance companies.
But if we just kind of think smart about where we put our money for sure, it’s very encouraging. I think it’s a wonderful time for women entrepreneurs to really just kind of step into it and let our voices as individuals but collectively be heard.
Silvia Christmann: And I almost think about it as a form of self are too. Like when I look at my budgets, I don’t have a budget for including items that don’t feed my agenda in the marketplace, but I have a wellness budget that feeds my soul, right? And so being smart about this and really thinking about how powerful the collective voice of us is, and remember that even if the money wasn’t earned by women, it is spent by women, so spend wisely because that’s where the power is.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, that’s something a lot of make VCs could actually spend a little bit more time thinking about. That when women come up with business models and solve problems for other women; that’s a very, valuable, lucrative marketplace. And just because they don’t understand it because that’s not their personal thing that they do, doesn’t mean it’s not a good opportunity as an investor.
Silvia Christmann: It’s so important to keep this conversation alive, because this is not an us versus them conversation. There’s just so much market opportunity out there because we are still living in a world designed by men for men. And rather than thinking that we’re complaining about something that isn’t there, it’s like think about the opportunities that are out there to restructure, redesign, open up businesses that cater to 50% of the population and that would happily spend their money on it, on products and services and designs, and things that are still desperately needed that could be invested in them. And the statistical reality not to underestimate this is that a female run business in the same category outperforms a male run business by i think 30%. So this isn’t … you know we’re not talking about random ideas here.
We’re talking about hard-hitting facts and numbers. And it is really an invitation to invest. And I think it’s an invitation for men to join the conversation and invest into it if you’re holding the capital. And it is definitely an invitation to women to take care of their own needs and interests by being very mindful of when and how they spend their money, and thinking about what kind of passive revenues, you know it’s like, can you pool money and like fund the business yourselves? Because I’m sure you can.
Melinda Wittstock: Also different ways of being productive as well. So when we talk about concepts like work-life balance, or I call it more like work-life integration, because with two kids, two businesses, you know all this sort of stuff going on right? You by definition, I know you have to be flexible. Because the structures, that 9:00 to 5:00 thing doesn’t really work for women.
Silvia Christmann: I have never heard a woman respond to me as flaky when I said you have to be flexible, because [crosstalk 00:50:03].
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, you do, it’s like just kind of the reality. So like we can be very productive though, like more productive-
Silvia Christmann: Of course we are.
Melinda Wittstock: … Right? And in an environment that a man might see as kind of chaotic, or unfocused or unstructured. And just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s any … it’s better for us, it may not be as good for them. But maybe it is, maybe it is better for them.
Silvia Christmann: Yeah, I mean it’s also there’s so many interesting studies done on productivity, and there’s like you can’t multitask, you can multitask, and I always find it very interesting as you go through and go back through the studies of like who actually conducted the studies. You know what was the questionnaire, what was their focus? And was it a very male perspective or was it a female perspective? You know, because women’s brains are just wired differently, because for generations, back to the Stone Ages, we have to cater to multiple little individuals at the same time, where men were out in the world following a single task.
Melinda Wittstock: Exactly. So I have been to … I’ve been a judge on countless pitch competitions, and also in terms of raising money for my start-ups and all of that. And so many times I’ve seen at the end of the competition, the man, the investor or whoever says something like, “Well could you just be more focused?” And the woman is like, “I am focused,” invariably the business models a little different. Like the companies, there are a lot of kind of like, A to B, so, A to B flip, A to B flip. Where as the women are like, “This A to C connects to C and then D over here, but then you get to Z and like that’s amazing and disrupt a whole industry.”
I mean, and it’s clear to every single woman in the room, but not to the guys. We sometimes need translation to translate these ideas in a way that’s more linear, systems thinking to linear thinking, is one way of putting it.
Silvia Christmann: Right, and here’s what I would like to see. I would like to there’s to see, a little less effort on women trying to translate it into a male way of thinking, and a little bit more effort into men adapting to a way of thinking that may defy the way that they’ve thought and done business before. And instead of dismissing it and negating it and putting it down, and using negative rhetoric around it, to just simply be a little bit of more curious about what that would really mean, and if the end result could be equally profitable if not more.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, that’s exactly what happens. But really that entrepreneurial spirit really is about finding new ways to do things, new ways to innovate. And innovation can take many forms.
So I think that there’s something going on here with a lot of female entrepreneurs who are trying it in different ways, and will surely get results. And I think once those numbers … we’re a little bit behind, you know sort of historically. But one those numbers really, you know just in terms of the numbers of women and where we are in the stages of our companies overall. But I think once those numbers really show, and they’re beginning to, I think that is where change happens as well.
Silvia Christmann: And I honestly … I do think it’s happening. I had this conversation with somebody the other day that, when I was in my early 30s, it was way harder to compete in the marketplace leading an unconventional life. I was met with far more and great disrespect and negativity than I am today. And I am personally very grateful for this huge movement of millennial women who are just, you know, they’re not taking it anymore. They’ve taken numbers, they’re doing it, and they’re changing the status quo in both directions for the women to follow and for those who came, like myself, before them, fighting this a little bit longer than they have, and it’s made my business more profitable. It’s made my life easier. And it’s been definitely beneficial towards getting the message out there in the way that I lead my life and lead my business is much easier for me to now work with clients than it was live five years ago, for sure.
Melinda Wittstock: Yes, it is amazing, I mean the fact that we spend a lot of time talking about things like meditation. Like that would have even been woo-woo or out there even a couple of years ago. And now it comes up in almost every conversation I have. Or stepping into the light, or authentic purpose, or concepts like alignment, or letting go of things, or mindset. Like all these things are so critical to entrepreneurial success. But they’re kind of more out in the open and more accepted, which is awesome.
Silvia Christmann: And what’s more important than that is they’re aligned with investment strategies. They’re aligned with execution pathways. They’re aligned with investment planning in actual businesses that thrive. And that’s where we’re having the proof now that we need to move forward from that place.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, this is so true. So Silvia, how can people find you, and work with you.
Silvia Christmann: Oh yeah, thank you for asking. Well you an find on Instagram which I insist on being on, even though some people think it might be unprofessional, but I think it’s amazing that I have a platform where I can share like real snippets of my life, and insights. And it’s Silvia Christmann. You can find me on my website if you want to learn more about my work or reach out to me, it’s silviachristmann.com, and we have this special offering for anybody listening, that if you want to have as strategy session with me, it is available and there’s an application form provided for you guys after this podcast. So I am excited to hear from all of you guys, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: Fantastic. That’s great, yeah, so we’ll make sure we put that in the show notes. And this is awesome. Well it’s so wonderful talking to you. So where next after Tulum?
Silvia Christmann: Very good question. I’m actually looking a little bit at passive revenue investment opportunities so that they may take me to some secret location. Or I may be coming to New York because there’s some work that I have there with some clients and then there will be a couple of weeks in Thailand, and then I will be back in New York.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, sounds fantastic, yeah, Thailand’s on my list of places, got a kind of crazy amount of travel this year. And of course with kids, you know? It’s a little bit harder to do this. And so if I could just kind of like take them out of school for extended periods.
Silvia Christmann: This is possible. It’s a different conversation. If you ever want to talk about it, if you ever want to ask me about it, I’m happy to share some [crosstalk 00:58:05].
Melinda Wittstock: I will absolutely want to ask you about it. Because I would be, honestly, I would be doing exactly what you are doing. There going to be-
Silvia Christmann: And it is possible. I know people that do it with children. Again, it’s all about planning and understanding when, and where and how. But it is possible.
I honestly think like especially if you have children, find a way to expose them to the world and different ways of living, because it’s going to make them such well rounded citizens of the world, that know how to communicate and really understand the value of money if they have seen like actual poverty. Or if they’ve been in different places in the world that are jut simply different from where they grew up. And whether that’s only about their … I mean it’s different in the US because you don’t have extended holidays, but at least you have the summers right? That’s like almost two months.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s true. I mean that’s what I really am teaching my kids about, the value, happiness really comes from experiences rather than things.
Silvia Christmann: And these experiences do not have to cost a lot of money. I just helped a friend set himself up for next year for this coming summer with his two kids in Southeast Asia, so that they could see a completely different life for two months. And make sure that they’re enrolled in school and educational programs with international kids from all over the world, that is going to greatly make, expand the experience that they wouldn’t get at summer camp.