Welcome to my Tall Poppies series where I share interviews with inspiring women, creating unique businesses with success. This week I speak with Marthe Hagen of The Freedom Experiment, about balancing your business while maintaining a sense of self. We discuss how to find your community of like-minded contacts, overcoming the most common fears in business and how to carve your own freelance path. In this interview you learn from real-life experiences and find tips on how to incorporate these life lessons to your own routine.
+ Tell us about yourself & business
My name is Marthe and my business is called The Freedom Experiment. I’m a coach and creative who work with women who are craving to live lives with meaning and passion – and I love what I do! I’ve walked this path myself as I’ve transitioned from a world of business law into a life and career filled with a lot more freedom and vibrancy. Because I love my 1-on-1 work as a a coach so much, I made the decision a couple a years ago to go back to school to become a psychologist, so now I’m studying and running my business side by side.
I love creative brainstorming, strategy and hard wisdom just as much as I love soft connection, compassion and comfort. Most of my work with others is sourced in the energy between these contrasts; I help my clients take a real and honest look at themselves, their lives and their careers – while very softly and compassionately holding space for the emotions, vulnerabilities and fears.
+ Many people lust for the entrepreneurial life but don’t know where to start. What would you recommend for people looking to take their first steps?
I’ve guided a lot of my clients through the first steps of entrepreneurship, and what I always recommend is to start super, super (super!) small and experiment. Make it so small that there is virtually no risk – and you’ll easily bypass the fear! I recommend starting by creating a very basic version of your product or service, pricing it reasonably and then putting all your focus into making that first sale – often to a friend or family member. The goal in the beginning isn’t to make money, but to learn from the process and experience what is possible.
+ As a life coach you are listening to peoples fears and helping them to overcome them. What is the most common fear you hear when they are daring to test their business ideas?
I’d say the most common fears I come across in my work is related to identity and being open with others about dreams and goals. Because I usually work with women transitioning into more creative careers, we often work on resolving fear and beliefs around what it means to be an artist – and what others will think once they share their true passions with the world. Often, these fears tie into fears about money as well. “Will I be able to provide for myself as an artist?” is a very common fear alongside “what will people think if I don’t?”
As creatives, we put our hearts and soul into the work that we do. This is what makes it so great, but also why it makes us vulnerable. I think because of this, ultimately, we fear that rejection of our work and our dreams to make a living from our passions also means a rejection of us. A core part of what I do is to help my clients untangle these fears and underlying beliefs, understand them and find a way to bypass them so that they can put their energy into creating the lifestyle and career that they are longing for.
+ I am always amazed by all the different offerings involved in your work. What guides you and helps you get into the right mindset to create?
First of all, thank you for mirroring that! I’m really excited about all the ways I get to use the different parts of myself in my work!
I think the main drive for me when it comes to creation is connection. Very often, my best work comes out of connecting with one person – be it a reader, a client or a friend – and create from that space of shared humanity. Connecting and caring for the people in my life connects me to the source that is clearly bigger than me alone.
A good example of this is how my most popular article of all time – 55 gentle ways to take care of yourself when you’re busy – started off as an imagined letter to my friends who were studying towards a particularly demanding law exam.
+ Freelance life can mean a lot of time spent alone, forging your own path without guidance, but it doesn’t have to be this way. How did you find your own tribe of likeminded people? What do you recommend to your audience to find their community?
I did a lot of searching before I found the right tribe for me. I went to a lot of meet-ups, workshops and events during that time, and I asked a lot of people to meet me for coffee! After I while, I came across more like-minded and incredible women who also invited me into their circles, which also created a snowball effect. Today I have a great network of friends – both in Norway and internationally – most of which are also creating their own careers and travelling the world.
I believe the most important quality of a friendship and a community is to share a set of values and beliefs. Look for communities and groups of people who share your way of being in the world. For me personally, tapping into the yoga and wellness community was how I found my tribe.
+ When creating in business what keeps you motivated? Do you use any tools or a manifesto that keeps you inspired?
I’m a very visual person, and that means two things for me. First of all, I find that I’m very easily motivated by the things I find beautiful and inspiring. A tool I use a lot to actively support my motivation is Pinterest. I draw a lot of my inspiration and energy from colours, textures and great lighting, and if I feel blocked or uninspired I often turn to my boards for guidance. I believe that visual stimuli helps my brain create new neural pathways, because I very often get new ideas just from observing and taking in all the beauty and interesting parts about the world around me.
The other thing I mean when I say that I’m a visual person is that I’m a visionary. I have clear idea of where I’m going with my business and how I’ll know that I have arrived. I believe that this last part is key in order to stay motivated and energised in your business; a lot of people want “success” or “freedom” without clearly defining what that means for them. Once you get clear on where you’re going, I believe it will get much easier to stay motivated, connected and engaged with your destination, and you’ll have a much more enjoyable journey to get there.
+ How do you incorporate self care into your life and do you have any suggestions for other business woman?
For me, self-care means giving myself what I need the most, in the right quantity, at the right time – and I struggled a lot to get this right at first. Now, I practice need-based self-care, which means that I take care of myself according to my unique needs on any given day. Because I have clarity around what I need, I’ve built my lifestyle in a way that supports my core practice, ensuring for example that I habitually get enough sleep, social interaction and time to create.
Getting clarity around your own unique needs is key in order to build a rewarding self-care practice, especially as a busy businesswoman. I don’t believe in the one size fits all approach to self-care which is being declared to us by the corporate health and wellness industry. To me, luxury items or expensive products that you don’t truly need isn’t self-care.
As you may understand – self-care is something I’m very passionate about! Because this practice has been so rewarding for me and my clients, I’m teaching a 10-day workshop called Listen to the Wild Within to teach you how to understand yourself and your needs, and how to build a nourishing self-care practice based on who you really are. Registration is open until March 1st!