Bold Curiosity: Celeste Stewart of South Africa

celeste stewart bold curiosity south africaMy passion has been to design learning experiences that extend beyond the classroom. Through my business Bold Curiosity, I enable learning-on-the-job, mentor young people – especially women, connect people, and facilitate a number of workshops. My workshops cover topics like workplace readiness, mentoring, leadership development, personal mastery, communication skills, and team-building.

bold-curiousityMy love for working with young adults began in a corporation when I noticed that the interns joining the organisation did not have a clear focus or development plans. I spotted the gap and designed a development programme that offered skills development monthly for the duration of their internship. This step steered me towards a career training new talent, and I have found that it means everything to me to see another person transform.

“The action we take is what builds our confidence.”

The most important lesson for me from Rania and her book is that undeterred women take ACTION all the time. The action we take is what builds our confidence. I am reading UNDETERRED: The Six Success Habits of Women in Emerging Economies for the fourth time and I make notes as I go. I have found that many of Rania’s insights have helped me grow as a professional!

For example, I am developing comfort in making direct contact with people I don’t know as part of my marketing. Just recently, I took the initiative to contact an HR manager with a confident email. Ten minutes later I received a phone call and secured a meeting to discuss delivering my service to their business. I also push myself to take risks and ask to be invited as a speaker at events! I have been successful in doing so. Even though I fear rejection, I ask and then make it easy for people to say yes to me.

“Even though I am shaking in my boots, I take the action.”

I think sometimes, as women, we have a tendency to over-think things. I allow myself time to think but then there is a cut-off point and after that I must take action. Even though I am shaking in my boots, I take the action. The next time it feels a bit easier.

UNDETERRED taught me to define my own success. At this point in my life, I define success on a number of different levels. The fact that I can live an authentic life, driven by my life goal and vision is for me, success. Success is the fact that through my work, I am constantly in the privileged position of developing others.

“UNDETERRED taught me to define my own success.”

I further define success by the fact that my husband and I have defined our relationship our own way (not based on the traditional ‘man is the head of the household’ view). I define success by the fact that my sons are raised in a household where they witness partnership between their parents and where they witness a female entrepreneur…and it’s completely normal.

celeste-and-raniaI connected with The Way Women Work when I first heard Rania speak last year and again this past September in Cape Town, South Africa (how lucky am I?). She became a role model for me on how to channel my energy away from the negative energy I used to carry, and towards something constructive that I could like a passion for developing women. It was also so helpful that her research focuses on developing countries. Our context here in South Africa is very different, and while the generic principles from first world countries can help, we need to dig a bit deeper than traditional research to truly understand what we need to foster women’s empowerment and leadership in our contexts.

South African Celeste Stewart manages a learning and development consultancy called Bold Curiosity. She’s been an ardent and generous supporter of our work for over a year. She graciously shared some of her professional and personal journey with us. You can follow her on Twitter.