Don’t underestimate the importance of looking after yourself. Being a founder requires a hell of a lot of hard work, that’s just the way it is. I found very quickly early on that I needed to set firm boundaries around self-care, especially sleep. I have to have 7–8 hours of sleep on a regular basis in order to function. I have a set bedtime that I stick to and both an evening and morning routine that frame my day. No matter what I’m doing that day, I will start it with my morning routine. It’s one of the pillars of my life and creates an incredible resilience: I’ve started my day well and even if nothing else goes right, I’ve achieved something.
As a part of our series called “My Life as a TwentySomething Founder”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Daisy Simonis.
Daisy Simonis is the founder of Empowered Introverts, an organization that helps introverts supercharge their people skills, without changing who they are. With a vision to make the world a better place, Daisy received a Dai Trailerblazer award for her volunteering efforts, and organized a TEDx conference during the pandemic. She writes about people skills, confidence, and becoming the best version of yourself.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! What is your “backstory”?
Thanks for having me!
Empowered Introverts was started to help those of us who identify as introverts realise there is nothing wrong with who we are, and that we are not alone in the world.
I am an introvert. When I first started in my career, someone called me “nesh”, which is slang for weak. I was shy, not confident, had no idea who I was or who I wanted to be. This resulted in a lack of support network, loneliness, and sinking into a pit of despair.
I was passed over for promotions and had too much work pushed on me. I had no self-confidence and was unable to say no and be assertive. It felt like there was no way out and I was trapped.
One day I started journaling everything that was in my head. I wrote and wrote and wrote — I even spent a whole night writing. It helped me realize that I was putting myself in this position. That meant I had the power to change it. That I wasn’t trapped. It was like having an epiphany: that I had discovered the way I was living didn’t always have to be like this. This led to the journey of finding out who I was, finding out who I wanted to become, and a desire to change.
I never looked back. I am the founder of Empowered Introverts, an organization whose mission is to help introverts supercharge their people skills, without changing who they are. I was a receiver of a Dai Trailblazer Award in 2021 and organized a TEDx conference during the middle of the pandemic. I specialize in communication, confidence, and self-compassion. I’m thrilled to be here!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company? What lessons or takeaways did you take out of that story?
I launched a coaching programme that was about how to connect with anyone, and it massively failed. Although there was initial interest, it resulted in no uptakes and I made the decision to shut it down. It was a huge lesson in listening to your customer. I sought out loads of feedback from the community on why it wasn’t appealing, which we’ve included in future products and offerings we now provide. The most important lesson that everyone talks about is listening to your customer, however sometimes this lesson can only be internalized after not listening to them and finding out the hard way!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Empowered Introverts is different from other companies because we know that introverts can thrive in life, gaining career success and feeling confident in social situations, without having to change who they are. It’s all about our mindset and skillset.
We recognize that introvert strengths are not the same as those of us who are more extroverted. Introverts are typically excellent problem solvers, incredibly loyal friends and employees, and impactful leaders. However we often get overlooked and are unseen and unheard, because we show up to the world slightly differently than our extroverted counterparts. The emphasis here is on different. It’s not wrong or incorrect, it’s just different.
We receive emails from people who identify as introverts sharing that reading our material and working with us changed their life. They realize that there is nothing wrong with who they are and fully embrace their introverted self. They know that they can be assertive, set boundaries, speak up in meetings, and ask for promotions — all while staying true to themselves.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Jocelyn Courtney! She is a human performance consultant, executive coach, and Mindful Self-Compassion facilitator. She showed me the importance of having self-compassion and how powerful our self-talk is. We can literally talk ourselves into or out of anything. Jocelyn was the catalyst to starting this journey, and I appreciate her wisdom and advice every day.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
I’m working on an online playbook that is a roadmap for conversations and confidence, aimed at introverts. It’s a comprehensive guide that covers everything introverts find challenging about “peopling”: starting conversations, networking, managing our energy levels, and so much more. I’m really excited as it answers a lot of questions people ask us! It’s a step-by-step process to feeling powerful and confident in social situations.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Giving back and bringing goodness to the world is a core part of who I am and it runs through the veins of Empowered Introverts. I provide a lot of valuable resources and advice, both via my platform and in direct messages. This is something we will always do: give as much away for free as we can on our platform, as it can make a huge difference to someone’s life.
In addition, I mentor young people who are in the process of setting up their own business. Playing an active role in my community is important to me, and I volunteer for a Mutual Aid organization in the UK helping provide food parcels to anyone who needs them. I am also on the board of the charity F4 which is working to end food hunger by linking places where food is often wasted due to excess, such as after a conference or event, to organizations that provide food for people in need.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz. It was my first life-changing book.
It came into my life when I was in an incredibly low place and feeling very lost. Realizing that my life was being lived through a series of self-limiting beliefs, and that I could change those beliefs, was a pivotal moment. I discovered that I could live life in a meaningful and intentional way, and I had the power to take action to change.
This has become part of the philosophy of Empowered Introverts: you can become the person you want to be. It’s a book that I reread every year, and every time I gain something new.
Can you share 5 of the most difficult and most rewarding parts of being a “TwentySomething founder”. Please share an example or story for each
- Being a founder is hard. Fall in love with hard work. Make hard work feel normal. Saturday evenings spent creating, iterating, researching, failing — this is part of the process. That doesn’t mean you need to spend all your time working, it just means that when you work, make it your sole focus. There’s a lot you can get done in 90 minutes with no distractions.
- A feeling of loneliness. Surrounding myself with people who speak my language is possibly one of the best things I did. Having someone to celebrate with when you have your first paying customer, your first 100 newsletter subscribers, your first piece of PR — that is part of success. It can feel incredibly lonely starting something on your own, especially if it’s not what your peers are doing. Taking the steps to expand your network and find your tribe can turn a difficult part of being a founder into the most rewarding part.
- Failure is your new best friend. Check what your definition of failure is as this can make or break the process! There are parts of me that had a fixed mindset, such as my definition of failure (not achieving the initial goal I aimed for). Internalizing that taking action is success and that, like life, goals will shift and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, is a solution-focused mindset to have. Testing new strategies, techniques, and putting into practice what you teach to see what resonates and how, is the fastest way to feel more confident.
- You are living life on your own terms. I often find that founders are people who are incredibly independent, have a thirst for adventure, and question everything. Having your own company ticks all those boxes. You are designing a life that suits YOU, rather than having to ask for holiday days or to be promoted. That feeling of freedom and autonomy is intoxicating.
- Delayed gratification. There was an experiment where researchers put children in a room with a marshmallow and told them if they waited, they could have two marshmallows. Some children waited while others couldn’t resist eating the marshmallow in front of them. I would have fallen into the second group: working towards a long term goal can feel frustrating at points. You see friends and peers being promoted and “getting on with their lives” while you are working really hard at something you’re not sure will be a rocket ship or flop. Trusting the process is part of the journey.
What are the main takeaways that you would advise a twenty year old who is looking to found a business?
- Don’t underestimate the importance of looking after yourself. Being a founder requires a hell of a lot of hard work, that’s just the way it is. I found very quickly early on that I needed to set firm boundaries around self-care, especially sleep. I have to have 7–8 hours of sleep on a regular basis in order to function. I have a set bedtime that I stick to and both an evening and morning routine that frame my day. No matter what I’m doing that day, I will start it with my morning routine. It’s one of the pillars of my life and creates an incredible resilience: I’ve started my day well and even if nothing else goes right, I’ve achieved something.
- Patience, consistency and iterating. Have a long term vision and be open to the different paths of getting there. Everything comes down to taking action, seeing what happens, then adjusting based on the results. If taking action feels scary, welcome to the club. Remember that for most part, all you need is 15–30 seconds of courage to start the task. It gets easier from that point (before the next time!).
- Everyone is going to want to give you advice. This is lovely, until you realize that all the different pieces of advice cancel each other out and you go nowhere. Being very selective about who you take advice from and digging deep into how it resonates with you, before moving forward, is a skill that gets better the more you do it.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Marie Forleo! One of my biggest inspirations, I discovered her when I was just starting this journey and it feels like she’s been there every step of the way. Reading her book, Everything is Figureoutable, is one of those books I turn to again and again when I’m feeling flat. I watch her YouTube videos on a daily basis as it gives me the boost of motivation I need, especially if it’s been a tough week. She is incredible and gives so much back to the world. When I grow up, I want to be like her.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
You can find me by searching “Daisy Simonis,” or @daisysimonis on LinkedIn, Twitter, Clubhouse, and Facebook.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!