In this interview with Yvonne Winkler, the CEO of Lotus Consulting, we hear an uncommon story of a young girl who fled from oppression to freedom. Then, as a young woman, how she left a highly regarded job to discover true fulfilment on her own terms and to become the woman she is today. We talked about how “starting over” requires courage, trust and the ability to let go of the securities we believe in. A common thread we found in our stories is that when you trust your heart and act from your inner feminine wisdom, the rest will work out the way it needs to.
She said, “Freedom is found within, not outside of yourself.” This is so true. You can travel the entire world, but you can still feel trapped from within.
I love doing podcast interviews because I see the value in sharing these conversations about hope, courage and inspiration. I also believe in collaborations with other women. As Yvonne mentioned, women really understand the value of collaboration, and this is how we can move forward as a society.
Yvonne Winkler is the CEO of Lotus Consulting, Founder of the Freedom Seeker Community and Former Managing Director Alberta Chapters with one of the largest and widely recognised premier business networking organisations, eWomen Network. With over 18 years of business development, consulting and marketing experience, Yvonne coaches women to find the clarity they want and harness the strength they already have to live a life they choose.
You can find out more about Yvonne Winkler, her work and coaching programs on http://www.yvonnewinkler.com/
- From oppression to freedom – Leaving communist East Germany to the West Germany in 1989
- Starting over in a new world twice- adjusting to capitalism, different mindset and a whole new circumstance in West Germany and then Canada 5 years later
- The experience of different oppressions and how to use that experience to build a business and support women on their journey
- Why it is so important to discover what our heart really wants, not what others want for us or expect of us
- How common it is to feel something is missing or unfulfilled despite having a great job and all
- No one else is going to find out what will fulfil us, we have to find out what they are ourselves
- The idea of the Lotus Wellness was born in Spain during a year-long trip, to create a sacred space where people can recover from their trauma, to unpack their stories and to heal. It may not be what it is today, but that was the start of the idea and vision.
- The reason why women tend to play safe, the fear of not being good enough or losing what they have
- Why it is easy to forget the connection we have with our inner feminine wisdom, and how we need to re-connect to that source of power
- No one is broken and we don’t need to be fixed, but it may be a call for change and courage
- When we change nothing, nothing changes
- There is no over night success, we all need to start somewhere, just start from where you are
- Freedom Seeker Community is a place for women to feel we belong, to feel safe, to open up from their vulnerability and to share experiences.
Sze Wing (00:03):
Hi everyone today, I have a new guest. Her name is Yvonne Winkler, and she is all the way from Canada, British Columbia. And so again, we have this across time zone love affair, and finally, we got connected and we are doing this podcast. So a little background about Yvonne and first of all, she’s the CEO of Lotus consulting, founder of the Freedom Secret Community and managing director of Alberta chapter of one of the largest, widely recognized premier business network organization, E Women Network. She used to be the managing director, but now she has moved on to her next chapter, which is lovely. We will find out more next. Anyways, so she had over 18 years of business development consulting and marketing experience. She also coaches women to find more clarity and strengths and ready to live a life that they choose. So obviously she is much in the line of empowering other women, so very much aligned to my podcast, the theme, and our audience. So welcome to my show, Yvonne!
Thank you so much for having me on your show. Sze, I really appreciate that.
Sze Wing (01:20):
Thank you. So first of all, I got to say, you have a very unusual background to some of us, and I’m going to ask her to tell us her origin story. That’s why I call it the origin story, because I feel obviously we cannot change the past, but we can definitely change the way we look at our past, but we always have origin story. And then we can tell in so many different ways depends where we are right now, but they often shaped us. So I love to hear your story again, because it’s different than reading it when you are telling it, hearing it firsthand. So, but I definitely see the theme and why you have this calling to empower other women to find the freedom and live a good life. So please share with us from oppression to freedom, what does it mean to you as a young girl and the whole story,
The whole story, it might be a bit too long, but I’ll do my best to summarize it. I was born and raised in former communist Germany. I grew up there until I was 11 years old when the borders were about to fall or the wall was about to fall. My parents,my dad specifically had attempted to flee east Germany with us,with my mom and myself, it’s through the Hungarian border, and e got caught,so our life took a traumatic turn. Because as soon as it’s official they known that we were against the regime and I’m air quoting this, he life became very difficult for us in former east Germany, because of course we’re now an enemy or considered to be an enemy of the Republic. And so we went through several months of tremendous fear for not just our lives, but also to be, nterrogated to, o lose each other because separation of the family was a common way of how they dealt with, with those enemies of the state.
And finally in November when everything was crumbling and I like prefer referring to it as such, because of the whole picture of the wall falling, there was a crumbling before it fell and that crumbling unleashed around November 8th and 9th of 1989. And we received permission to leave the east Germany and we hopped in ourcar and, and left our, my home, my birth place for what I thought would be forever that I would never see my family, my grandmothers, my friends ever again, and went to east Germany pardon me to west Germany. And that is hen I thought, you know, now we’re in freedom, that’s when I think our journey really began because, here was a new type of oppression that we were faced there because we were used to a communist socialist, onomy and mindset.
And now we were in capitalism and that was a whole new world to us. And we had a whole new adjustment period and learnings to do. Andfrom there, wemoved to Canada, which again was a different system.It may look and feel a little bit like capitalism, but it is a little bit more like socialism. So we again had to get used to, to this new world. And so my entire life basically has been consistent consisting of seeking freedom. And in my upcoming book, I tell the story of how I overcame all of these different types of oppressions that I faced throughout my life. And and how I navigated that and built a business and now support women,uon their journeys.
Sze Wing (05:39):
Wow. What a story? I want to unpack it a little bit because, you know, I used to travel a lot, like completely different scenario, but what I want to relate to is that I also moved overseas when I was 16, a little bit older than you were, but it’s very much like the formative years that you feel things, but you don’t really have an idea about a war and how it works. And you start to know about yourself, your personality, you likes and dislike, but it’s very much a formative year that is really important because it really shaped our worldview and changes. A lot of things. I have no doubt that leads you to want to empower women now. For me it was also the same way. Once my horizon expanded, I was no longer a young girl in Hong Kong which was all about getting to the best school, getting to the best job.
Sze Wing (06:34):
There’s more in life than just one goal, very narrow focused, very focused, but very narrow. And once your horizon has expended, you would no longer be the same that we were, in a way our horizon expanded when we’re so young, it really changes things because it’s a huge transformation. And it felt to me that I’ve got into in the next minute, but then you grow up, then you get a really good job and it’s that established a career and then decide that something isn’t quite right. And then you took a long, long time, like a year to backpack of Europe, which is, again, kind of cooking up the transformation. But it seems to me that there’s a theme here, which is about starting over whether it was your teenage year with East Germany, West Germany, Canada, or then early in a career where you decided to change. Tell us a little bit about the starting over. I thought it’s really interesting because so many of us are afraid of doing that. Whether it’s about relationship, you want to leave the old one and get to the new one or not having any, just to find yourself or about work career starting over is it can be a really important, but frightening things. So can you tell us a little bit about your take on starting over, especially when you were younger and when you were older, and things like that.
Absolutely. And your observation is very real for me because that is like when someone asked me not that long ago, what is one of my biggest accomplishments in life has been an, I would say,resilience, you know, starting over and over and over. And starting over requires courage. It requires trust, and it requires letting go of the securities in the comfort zone. We often refer to it as stepping out of our comfort zone, but really what it is, it’s letting go of security that we either real or imagined security, but it’s letting go of that and trusting that everything will work out the way it is intended to work out. And so starting over,you referenced,my trip to, through backpacking through Europe that was happened,almost 20 years later after, after we escaped,east Germany.
And I went back to my roots and it was very important to me at that time to leave my secure job and literally detach myself from any ties that I had to the security of that job. So in other words, I did not want to take a sabbatical. I wanted to be completely removed from anything that could tie me back down, because I really wanted to discover what it is that I, Yvonne wanted, because my former experiences of starting over or moving were really about my family, right? Like it wasn’t my choice to leave east Germany. It was my mom and dad’s decision to do that. So I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. And the same could be said about Canada. When we moved from Germany to Canada, it wasn’t really my choice. I mean, I was at that point 15.
Sure. My mom and dad left me the choice to move to Canada or to stay in Germany, but really as a 15 year old, I couldn’t imagine, you know, being in Germany, but myself and my parents in Canada. So again, I didn’t feel like it was really my choice, whereas the backpacking trip leaving my corporate job, which was a really good job. And it was, I was on a career ladder. I was on a career path that was going really well. I was being mentored by the CEO of the company. I was being groomed, to be the next managing director. It was really a great career path, but something wasn’t right for me, it just didn’t feel I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I felt that the satisfaction that fulfillment and that’s what I was craving and longing for.
And I didn’t know what I wanted or what I was looking for. I just knew I needed to do something different. And so that was the first time that backpacking trip was the first time I felt I really made a choice for me. That was my choice to let leave everything behind. And it was risky, Ieaving that security. A lot of people call me crazy for leaving, but I had built my reputation, the connections I have. And I I would say, and I did say it, well, if they are that strong, they will be here when I get back. You know? So it’s trusting that,you follow your heart and that it will work out the way it needs to, but it requires courage.
Sze Wing (11:38):
And we’re going to unpack that a little bit more later, but you know what? I just realized one thing.For me, my parents also, we moved from China to Hong Kong. So even though the border would just be two or three hours, just like you east and west Germany, but there is a huge difference between two places between China and Hong Kong back then in the early eighties, because they’re westernized very much. I can, definitely see the similarity.
Sze Wing (12:32):
And I felt if I turned my back to that sort of structure, like going forward this way, I was somehow betraying in some way or not like taking for granted, all this negative thoughts, like you’re taking this for granted, look at what they have done for you. That was the hardest thing. Because the young girl you felt, oh, you know, I can lose, I can afford to lose a couple of years or whatever, to make a mistake. It’s okay. I was young. But to think about my parents, that sort of, you want freedom. It’s a paradox because they want to fulfil them.
Sze Wing (13:20):
That’s why they came to Hong Kong. And I felt it’s a different type of freedom because now we have the freedom to do whatever we want, but is this what we want to do this job, this career. So for me that the parenting was a very silent, but it was so much in the background before I make a decision to change career myself. So I don’t know. Did you have the same thing about thinking of the parents and for listeners, if they’re in the same situation, how can we best do with that? Now, looking back, we both make the jump, right. So if someone is on the air, what would you say to them looking back?
I think their parents, you mean, or
Sze Wing (14:01):
Those conditions, whether, for me, with the parents, that you, maybe something else, but other people could be like the security, but that is a mental piece because, we could afford to find another job and a year later or something, right. Yeah. What would you say to them?
Totally because, you know, generationally speaking they not only experienced a different upbringing, but they also come from a different generation where job security was a different conversation than it is today. Right. So, absolutely everything I have done up until this point in my life, I would say, has been driven largely by my fathers and my mom’s, but I think my dad was always the driver of his longing for freedom. That’s what has been driving me and the sacrifices they made along the way. And let me tell you, they have made some huge sacrifices for me and for themselves have never gone unnoticed by me. They have always been, like you said, in the background. So I didn’t make any choices or decisions lightly. And they usually involve a thought about, would that, honor what they have done and what they have sacrificed in there in the past?
I would say is, and not everyone is in this position, I understand that with their families, but I have a very good relationship with my family in the sense that I can speak and talk with them about anything. And I was very strong and determined about my, I was resolved around wanting to do this backpacking trip. Again, I, I didn’t know why I needed to do it so badly, but I knew I had to do it. There was no question about it. And so when I approached my mom and dad about it, it wasn’t a question as to like whether or not they would approve of it. It was, this is what I’m going to do. And I’m really looking for your support on this. So there was definitely a boundary that was also drawn by me.
I was becoming my own, I was becoming a woman. I was really stepping into my own field. And I think that is really important. When we’re speaking about the parent child relationship, there comes a point when we, when we do need to touch and cut that umbilical cord, if you will, and really become the woman that they had meant for us to be, you know, and I am sure my dad was scrunching under me, with everything that I was saying, I’m hoping I wouldn’t go because he thought I was very successful in my own rights, but he also understood why I needed to, to look for for more, there was something more that I was looking for. And so he, supportived it, even though he probably would have preferred that I would stay. I think to get to the bottom of your question, it’s we need to, we need to really live our lives for ourselves.
No one else is going to find the things that we want that fulfillment for us, and it’s not found in anyone or anything else outside of us. And therefore, and that includes our parents. And therefore, when we know what we know, and we really listen to our hearts desire and what, what it is that we want and how we want to feel, we will find a way to communicate that to our loved ones so that they can be accepting of it. And if they aren’t accepting of it, despite all of our good intentions then I say, go ahead and still do it. You need to do your own life. It’s your life. It is your life, not anyone else’s.
Sze Wing (18:03):
And so tell us what happened after that year off, you know, backpacking, soul searching, finding you, whatever, what have you, what happened? What have you learned?
That is what I learned, that freedom is within, it’s not found outside of myself and I could travel the whole continents,although the whole world and all the continents in it. And I would not find that freedom outside of me, it’s it’s within me. What I learned about me coming home, as that I did not want to be that, I’m the entrepreneur that I was always intended to be. I started the entrepreneurial work, if you will, by the age of nine, I helped my dad in his little pub restaurant that he had, fr work for tips there. So I’ve always had that entrepreneurial mindset. And I knew that is what I wanted to do. That was my calling. And I also found out that I really wanted to serve, orcreate a place, a sacred space where people can recover from their trauma.
So whatever they have encountered in my life, like you said, see, we all have our stories. I wanted to create a space where they can find thepeace and the trust to unpack that, to really dive into it and heal themselves,uin their, in their trauma that they have experienced. And so the original of the Lotus wellness time was born in my mind,on that beach in Spain. And my work has been guided by that vision ever since. So from the moment, and this is now over 10 years ago, when I returned from my trip, I have been preparing for this space and creating it. And,I’s what it looked like originally is maybe not what it is today, but the work and the core desire of how I wanted it to feel for me and for the people around me is definitely come to fruition.
Sze Wing (20:12):
So tell us a bit more about, you know, the women that you work with since you started this journey, helping them, what have you realized? One of the common things that women like ourselves tend to trip over, or like, you know, there must be some commonalities that you find with a woman who came forward to what would you, or who need to work with you.
Yeah, well, I would say that what attracts people to me is my deep compassion for the fear that stops us is our, and the commonality. I see what the women I work with is often that they’re sitting in the sidelines of their own life and not step into what they really want to do with their lives, because they’re afraid, they’re afraid that they won’t be loved anymore liked anymore or not accepted anymore, that they don’t belong. They’re afraid that they’re not enough. They’re afraid that they would hurt their parents. You know, that is a common thing. They want to honor their family and where they come from. So these deep traditions and these deep seated belief systems that come from from our families is work. That comes up a lot in my work with women.
I feel a very common ground. And I’m certain, you will notice that you will have experienced that in your work as well as the is that we have over decades, lost the trust and the internal knowing of our feminine wisdom. We know, and we are already empowered, but somehow we have lost that connection to our power. And so we are, we’re on a continuous hamster wheel of trying to fit in and trying to do more, trying to be better and trying to be prettier and trying to make more money and trying to be more independent and trying all these things that we think the world wants us to be. When really all we have to do is tap back into our internal knowing and know that we are enough. So a lot of my work is focused around that is rebuilding that channel back to your heart and to your wound, knowing too, it’s not just the heart, it’s also your room where your creativity is born out and arises out of. So it’s, it’s a lot of that work that I do.
Sze Wing (22:46):
Yeah. And I love it. And I can see that’s why we’re connected, because there’s a lot of things that you talked about is exactly how I find it’s so important, but we are often defined by what the world’s say success is or what you should or shouldn’t do. And that sort of thing, and so much not tapping in because we’re too busy chasing externally. I love that part. And what do they want to ask? Is that, so the movie people who say, oh, that sounds great. When they’re listening to this, the work, that sounds wonderful. But you know, they always come with a “but” thought, I have young children, I’ve got no time. I don’t know what my passion is. There’s all sorts of reasons that, well, people have a glimpse of what the inner calling is, but it’s not very clear, even though they don’t know exactly, but there’s so many thoughts and they sound very valid and to pick, they are valid reasons. I mean, even my view of what my parents would feel was also a very valid reason. Right. So what do you say to people when they come?
When you’re ready, come and find me. I don’t necessarily believe that anyone is broken. No one is broken where we don’t need to be fixed. So when your calling is deep enough as it was for me that day in my office, when I just knew I couldn’t do this anymore I just knew I needed to do something different. And I’m finding myself in the same situation now with my husband we just knew something had to change. And so we made the change. We have no idea what this is going to look like. And we’re gallivanting through the world right now trying to, you know, find a new place. We can call home. We have no idea what that is going to be, but we do know something needs to needs to be different than what it was.
And for things to change, you have to change things. So actually my sister-in-law has this tattoo on her. I would say change nothing, nothing changes. And I think that is a hundred percent true. So for anyone who, who keeps bringing when you have no more excuses left, come and find me because we can it is a hand-holding process. Like I have one client she just had this knowing in her gut, she knew something. She wanted to do something different than the nine to five that she is doing. And we’ve been working together for a while now, and it’s not a fast process. This is not a quick fix or a one, and done kind of mythology. This is very customized work that I do with each individual, according to their timeline and in real time, and it’s practical.
So some days it might just look like the encouragement they need in order to go onto Facebook live or to launch their product. And other days it might be as monumental as stepping onto big stage and talking to a big audience, but we need to understand that you can’t just start from not ever having spoken to anyone, to standing on a stage in front of thousands of people. There’s, there are many steps in between, and I’m there to help along that. And that’s the handholding process. So,none of us, ho have seen success in whatever form and however big or large or whatever, ave done that overnight, it is a step by step process, right?
Sze Wing (26:32):
Yeah. There’s no overnight success. It’s like they have working behind the scene for 10 years. You only discovered them today, but we all start need to start somewhere.
Exactly. And so I feel like we all have an “enough” moment. When that enough moment happens, you just know that something’s got to change, something’s got to give and something needs to be done. And that is when the individual will hopefully take the steps that they need to in order to, to enrich their lives in meaningful ways. But until then I’m not here to convince anyone of anything, I share my story so that they can see that I have a deep compassion for how fear can get in the way. And I understand what that, what that can lead to. And I also very deeply understand how we oppress that fear, ourselves, as some of us, e call it addictions. Some of us have that in various scales and in various forms, but we all have a way of numbing ourselves out to what we really want to feel. And I also have a deep compassion for that because I’ve done that for years myself. So I just bring a lot of experience to the conversations.
Sze Wing (28:02):
And another thing I found it very effective. I mean, I’m being sarcastic, is distraction. So even though you may not be addicted to a certain substance or activity, but you can keep yourself so distracted by other drama or other people’s life, so that you don’t tend to this garden, which is when you hear it, had a glimpse of your inner calling, but you don’t want to deal with it because it’s too big and scary, or what if it actually came true. And we’re human, we have some good days and worse day. So that’s why I think community or like minded people or uplifting resources are so important. So tell us more about your freedom seeker community. I sense that that’s why it’s important that we do podcasts. We share on Facebook. We tried to find our tribe because we have good days and we have bad days.
Absolutely. No one makes it alone. It’s actually a model that is off the news and you women and it’strue. We were, we definitely thrive and we work together. And speaking specifically to women we have, again over the decades, learn to distrust each other and without diving into why that is,it’s really difficult for many of us to find a community where we can feel like we belong and we can really vulnerable enough to open up in and share our experiences. But it is by sharing our experiences in an honest and real way, just like you’ve asked,yu’ve shared with me that your podcast is very real. There’s not a lot of editing that’s happening because you want the real authentic Yvonne, right? You don’t want a masked, dited version of me who wants this because that is what people will relate to, is that vulnerability.
And so the freedom secret community is a community I created because I was feeling that I was feeling, I was missing that belonging to a group of individuals that were experiencing the same challenges and struggles in life. And in business specifically, I mean, I focus mostly on emerging entrepreneurs. But at the end of the day, you can’t separate life and business. It’s one and the same if one doesn’t work, the other generally doesn’t either. So it’s a community for us to practice being with each other again and, and learning how to communicate with each other and sharing our experiences and knowing that it is a real community. And one that honors each other rather than competes with one another, collaboration is, is a huge aspect from my work. I strongly believe that collaboration is how we move forward as a society. This isn’t just specifically for women, but women understand collaboration better than any, hhan anyone else. So, mhat is what the freedom seeker community is about as a community to learn, to navigate with one another again. And then of course there are smaller communities within that, tat are membership communities more specifically focused on specific areas that they want to work on.
Sze Wing (31:50):
Beautiful. So definitely agree whether, you know, the saying of it takes a village to raise a child in the old days, the whole village for your child is the same with business. It takes the whole tribe to help your business to thrive. And I definitely believe in what you just said. Like it’s so important for women to collaborate with one another and cherish each other’s strengths and help each other. When, you know, we have down days or things that we are not comfortable with. And, you know, I think that’s just beautiful. And so just to wrap this up with people, interested to find out more about your work or your freedom seeking community, where’s the best way. What’s the best way to connect with you?
I have my website, www.yvonnewaynecare.com. That’s with a “Y”, Wayne care.com. And you can find out about my upcoming book as well as some of the opt-ins that I have. I have some free gifts it’s on there as well. And in my story.
Sze Wing (32:58):
Thank you so much. And I will put all the links that you mentioned , on the details of the podcast page, so people can easily click into and find you. So thank you so much for spending time with us today and have this conversation. And I’m really looking forward to share this podcast, and hopefully there’s more women will take the leap and answer their inner calling and embrace a life that they deserve to have more fully.
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me Sze, and thank you for doing the work that you do in helping women share their stories. It is such a beautiful platform. And I cherish that. Thank you.
Sze Wing (33:45):
Thank you so much.