Learning is growing — If you are reading this, you are without a doubt someone who knows that knowledge is power … but only when you use it. Ideation without implementation is a path to failure. Make sure you are an avid learner and hungry integrator.
Being a founder, entrepreneur, or a business owner can have many exciting and thrilling moments. But it is also punctuated with periods of doubt, slump, and anxiety. So how does one successfully and healthily ride the highs and lows of Entrepreneurship? In this series, called “How To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur” we are talking to successful entrepreneurs who can share stories from their experience. I had the pleasure of interviewing Dijana Llugolli, CEO of Lifestyle by Dijana.
Dijana Llugolli is a multilingual success and business coach who teaches female entrepreneurs how to rapidly launch and scale their online businesses through aligned and inspired action. A graduate of Stockholm Business School and School of Economics and Business Ljubljana, Dijana is a certified NLP Master Practitioner and Goal Mapping Practitioner, who also works with Mindvalley and Evercoach by Mindvalley as a Senior Ambassador and Mastermind Facilitator. Since 2019, she has also been a moderator and advocate for the Next Level in Self-Education for Dean Graziosi and Tony Robbins as an award-winning student for their Signature program Knowledge Broker Blueprint. In 2021 she was a part of an 8-figure launch as an affiliate partner and Project Next team member.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
My journey as an entrepreneur began in 2003 when I grabbed an opportunity to launch a retail fashion business. I was very young, and I didn’t know a thing about entrepreneurship, let alone running a business.
When I took a leap, I relied on one thing: Resourcefulness. After working as a business coach and mentor, I can add that I trusted my gut, which led me to take some bold and crazy action. When I started, I didn’t have a business mentor or a coach, there were no business podcasts and no online courses that would teach you how to operate as a CEO and run a business. Being a serial entrepreneur for almost two decades, I changed multiple industries, from fashion, food, health and wellness to the current so-called knowledge industry; I can honestly say that I never imagined this would be such a rollercoaster when I started. Overcoming so many adversities to come such a long way, and knowing that there is so much to come, I wouldn’t change it for a single challenge, bump and bruise on my entrepreneurial journey.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
The most significant AHA moment for my existing business and any previous, for that matter, was that someone else initiated the idea and presented the opportunity that I hadn’t (yet) seen myself. The core of my coaching business now is providing online experts with the blueprint to consistent action to get clarity on what makes them stand out and confidently show up in the world. Before that, I was in the health and wellness industry as a network marketer, and I have recruited business leaders in multiple countries. Still, it never occurred to me that I could use years of my sales, marketing and leadership experiences to mentor someone to start their own business. I still remember my first coaching client who asked me to mentor her, and to my resistance, she replied: “You are already doing that.” That’s why I am so passionate about coaching because I know that we all need someone who sees our uncovered potential.
In your opinion, were you a natural born entrepreneur or did you develop that aptitude later on? Can you explain what you mean?
I most definitely have an entrepreneurial DNA. I also enrolled in Business school, as soon as I started my first company, where I would spend the next five years studying principles, theories and standard practices of entrepreneurship and business. What they didn’t teach me there was all things growth mindset, and that was something that always differentiated me from my classmates. I was always first to lead, first to trail and fail, always having tons of creative ideas and never taking no for an answer. Through the first five years of running my company and studying, I developed grit and resilience. Apart from being very hungry, determined and goal-oriented, I was also very mission-driven. I would explore these successful brands and always admired brands that made an impact beyond just money.
Was there somebody in your life who inspired or helped you to start your journey with your business? Can you share a story with us?
One of the advantages was having a father who was a business owner. He would always encourage me to learn and try new things. He was never a good entrepreneur, though, as he treated his business as a job. Instead of creating something that will give him more freedom, he eventually became a prisoner of his business that resulted in him surviving multiple heart attacks. It was at the beginning of my online coaching business launch, which was a massive awakening to how I didn’t want my business to ruin me. Instead, I wanted to run my business, which I will share later in this article.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I eat Fear for Breakfast 😊. When I started my brand on social media, the first thing I did was set up a FB page. Back in 2017, the LIVE video stood out more than today, and one of the topics that I wanted to talk about LIVE was Overcoming Fear To Reach Success. That became a theme of my brand Fearless and Successful, now represented by a TOP 5% globally ranked podcast.
Once a client asked me: ”How do you become Fearless?” My very spontaneous response was: ”I eat fear for breakfast!” Which simply means that I daily seek opportunities to be brave. For me, being Fearless does not mean that I lack fear, it merely means that I am setting myself free from fear by getting in a state full of love. I wholeheartedly believe that Love and Fear cannot coexist. And every time I find myself in a fearful situation, I try to break free by connecting with listening to my heart. ”Fears live in our minds and our dreams in our hearts! Use your heart to guide your minds.” -Dijana Llugolli
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
1. Grit. I think that was something that I developed very early on in my childhood as a migrant kid. I was bullied a lot and I was always told that I can’t speak the language. Because I grew up using my mother tongue at home and having another language in school, I never excelled in speaking. Today, I speak seven languages, coach and speak fluently in four, so I overcame the belief that I can’t speak simply by learning what felt difficult.
2. Being of Service. I always cared about others, and I think that’s why I am so passionate about the work that I am doing right now as a coach and a speaker. I am very focused on my clients and I always lead with value and service.
3. Resourcefulness: Being Focused on finding a solution vs. dwelling on the problem. I am rarely stuck in a situation for more than 5 minutes. I developed a D’s 5:5 rule, #1 rule to avoid stress and to live a more mindful life. “Don’t spend more than 5 minutes on things that won’t matter in 5 years.” Take these 3 steps when you are stressed, worried and have negative emotions: 1. Ask yourself — Will this situation you are stressed about still be important in 5 years? 2. YES — Stop worrying and ask for help or seek solutions. Write down 10 things that will get you out of the problem and people who can help you. 3. Take Action 4. NO — Scream in the paper bag, punch a pillow or a boxing bag for five minutes and LET IT GO. 5. Stop complaining about it. Stop thinking about it. Breathe for 5 minutes. You will immediately feel so much better. I Promise You.
Often leaders are asked to share the best advice they received. But let’s reverse the question. Can you share a story about advice you’ve received that you now wish you never followed?
Be present on ALL social media and DO everything when you are starting your business! That leads to severe burnout and overwhelm. When you confuse, you lose. And when you are starting your business, the #1 thing you must master is FOCUS, especially in today’s world where we are very distracted. When we spread ourselves too thin and don’t manage our energy, time, and resources right, we ride this hamster wheel that is hard to get off.
I still remember the hustle when I tried to do everything and be everywhere. It was more than three years but the scars will always remind me of the mistake. Now, don’t get me wrong, the lesson learned is always priceless because you will never repeat the same thing again, but If I can leave you with one piece of advice is to get focused and not be distracted.
There will always be cool new tools, platforms, and shiny objects … stay in your game and master ONE thing at a time. Do not compare yourself with industry peers. You work on crafting your art and becoming the industry leader.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them create a work culture in which employees thrive and do not “burn out” or get overwhelmed?
When we talk about burnout, we need to understand that there are 2 types of burnout. One appears as physical pain and manifests as tiredness, headaches and even as back pain, etc. The second is emotional pain or lack of purpose. Oftentimes, when the first is not addressed soon enough, the second will follow. But some entrepreneurs can experience purpose burnout first. And it can first manifest as lack of motivation, overwhelm, procrastination that can lead to physical pain when we try to push things and work through deadlines, etc.
My framework to go from HUSTLE to FLOW is called M.A.P.O.N.:
1. Get clear and intentional on your goals — Mission
2. Take inspired action aligned with your mission and vision — Action
3. Focus on your strengths and hire your weaknesses — Purpose
4. See obstacles as opportunities for growth — Opportunities
5. Create non-negotiables and set boundaries — Nurture
What would you advise other business leaders to do in order to build trust, credibility, and Authority in their industry?
I know it’s super cheesy but please, BE YOU in pursuit of your Dreams.
Can you help articulate why doing that is essential today?
World today is created by smart individuals who don’t buy into BS stories so being authentic and transparent is the only way to success. One of my mentors, Dean Graziosi always says: Success leaves clues. Digitalization makes things more exposed and transparent. The overnight success is most likely 10 years of work in the making, and people have to know, like and trust you enough to do business with you. A quote from Kurt Cobain is how I live and lead: I rather be hated by who I am, than loved for who I am not.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
As mentioned, a scattered mind leads to burnout. Also, focusing on the things that don’t move the needle like logo, website and professionally branded photos. All that is important, but not in the beginning stage. Doing it all alone is the biggest mistake.
- Focus on ONE THING: one avatar, one platform, one offer
- Nail your marketing and selling first — the needle movers
- Hire help and get yourself a mentor/coach as soon as possible
Ok fantastic. Thank you for those excellent insights, Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about How to Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy, and is filled with challenges, failures, setbacks, as well as joys, thrills and celebrations. This might be intuitive, but I think it will be very useful to specifically articulate it. Can you describe to our readers why no matter how successful you are as an entrepreneur, you will always have fairly dramatic highs and lows? Particularly, can you help explain why this is different from someone with a “regular job”?
I want to share my story about being raised by one entrepreneurial parent and one having a regular job, more so working for the same employer for 42 years.
My dad was always on the edge and full of energy when things would be great, but when things would go down in business, he would be stressed and worried. No matter how much or little he would work, at the end of the day he could never separate the two, being a father and having a personal life while also driving a business. It was always one. This is very common for any entrepreneur, especially if you are in the industry of service and you work with people. You have a huge moral responsibility.
On the other hand, my mom could balance it all. She would come from work, change her clothes, and turn into a mom/housewife. She would not bring her work worries home. She didn’t worry about the money at the end of the month, that was guaranteed.
And how I see it now, as a mom of three kids, serial entrepreneur, and wife to a traditionally employed husband — the stakes are high for us; we risk, we dare, we hustle every day. The mistakes can potentially cost us everything, but rewards are bigger than just a paycheck at the end of the month. This is not a boring journey, and it definitely is not for everyone. I have full respect for people who decide to be employed by someone else as long as it does not disturb their purpose and sense of fulfillment.
With awareness we have today, the tools and information available make things easier than a decade or even two ago but the principles to thrive as entrepreneurs are the same:
- Never lose sight of your why and your purpose.
- Surround yourself with game-changers and like minded people.
- Build emotional, physical, and mental muscles — your business can only grow to the extent you grow.
- Business is relationships — so nurture them.
- Schedule the downtime and self-care time — you can’t serve from the empty cup.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually high and excited as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
Sure, I had some amazing milestones during my entrepreneurial career. But very recently, in 2021, there were some epic events that I attribute to my IDENTITY UPGRADE.
We play this game every year and set intentions around goals for the year. This year, my focus was to change the business model and automate 80% of my business so I could speak, coach and co-create global magical experiences. My ideal lifestyle is to basically speak around the world and coach epic humans.
For that, I had to make an identity shift and go from my operating masculine energy into divine feminine, the energy that is letting go, surrendering and trusting the process. I knew that beyond money, my focus will be the impact and influence.
Some of the epic things happened in 2021 as a result of my work:
- Been Part of Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi’s team for the past 2,5 years and working behind the scenes of their recent 8-figure launch for Project Next in 2021.
- reached TOP affiliate for Selena Soo’s Impacting Millions Launch in 2021
- been Speaker for WomenTech Network — Global Conference 2021 with global reach of more than 279,000 people
- reached TOP %5 Global rank with my Fearless and Successful podcast and having listeners from 77 countries (and counting). Interviewing industry leaders such as John Lee Dumas, Selena Soo, Neeta Bushan, James Wedmore, Jason Goldberg and other extraordinary humans.
- became Senior Ambassador for Evercoach by Mindvalley and Regional Network Ambassador for Mindvalley Sweden.
Do you feel comfortable sharing a story from your own experience about how you felt unusually low, and vulnerable as a result of your business? We would love to hear it.
March 2018 — June 2018 was the most turbulent period in my business and life. When I launched my first online program, after working 16-hour days for 3 months, I collapsed. Not only did the launch flat fail with ONE single sale, but I was also completely burned out.
In the middle of the launch, before the cart opened, my husband packed his bag and said he would leave me. That pushed me to work even harder and prove to him that this works. This is so counterintuitive because I was operating from a belief that the more I work, the more money I’ll make. Well, that obviously didn’t happen as planned since I sold only one spot.
As I mentioned before, the burnout needs to be healed properly — not just physically but also mentally and emotionally. So, I rested for a week and went into a new launch. In my mind it was just an exhaustion, I didn’t know I was dealing with burnout. This time at least I had 5 students. And the first day of Live Coaching, the worst-case scenario happened. My dad had a heart–attack and I was devastated. While I was in shock for a few days, I also made a decision that I’m not going to let that stop me.
Here comes the irony. After my husband decided to stay anyway, I got pregnant with baby #4. After all the chaos, the unhealed burnout, the heart attack and trying to wipe everything under the mat, I hit the emotional rock-bottom. I was totally empty on the inside. I lost the vision, the purpose and I resented everyone and everything. We decided to abort the baby. In retrospect, the chaos brought clarity. The messy became beautiful.
While still riding the emotions of letting go of the baby, I am grateful for the lessons, the setbacks and appreciating life for showing me how far I’ve come.
Based on your experience can you tell us what you did to bounce back?
As simple as it sounds, I had to slow down in order to speed up. Sometimes, we must take one step back to move two steps forward. Understanding that life always offers you the lesson you need or the result you want, but it’s always a win. My dear mentor James Wedmore always says: Success is a poor teacher. I now know that and I am also aware that I am exactly where I am meant to be. Bouncing back is easy, when you are patient and you have a peace of mind.
In practice: I took a whole summer off to work on myself. Healing, rejuvenating and gaining clarity on how I want to show up in this world. If you are not able to go within, you will most likely be without. Inner work is more important than hard work.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Successfully Ride The Emotional Highs & Lows Of Being An Entrepreneur”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Accountability — I would not be able to achieve the things that I did this year only, if not for the support of my mentors and peers. I used to be lonely and alone in business because I didn’t trust anyone and I was always too smart/proud to ask for support. Asking for support is a brave and strong thing to do.
- Self-love — Throughout the years I developed a very unapologetic morning routine and I always make sure that I am in check with my priorities. I am at the point when I allow myself to matter the most. It is not selfish, it’s just something I want to show my girls too. It is ok to have ME time and to not be available 24/7 for your children, partner, clients and the rest of the world. Put an oxygen mask on yourself first.
- Celebrate every win — This has been a fun and very rewarding practice. The more I celebrate and focus on the good, the more greatness I create.
- Invest in a Team — When you have a team of A players that have your back, and you are not the only one that is holding the vision and executing everything, you truly create a business of freedom and not the business of To-DOs.
- Learning is growing — If you are reading this, you are without a doubt someone who knows that knowledge is power … but only when you use it. Ideation without implementation is a path to failure. Make sure you are an avid learner and hungry integrator.
We are living during challenging times and resilience is critical during times like these. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Resilience is not giving up. Rising up when it’s hard. Resilient people know that growth is painful and that on the other side of pain there’s beauty. Resilient people are able to pick themselves up very quickly. They don’t sit after the failure and wait for the storm to pass. They get back to the arena. Resilient people are not afraid to get messy and dirty.
Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Would you mind sharing a story?
Sometimes I would come home so sad from school, bullied by kids, and I would lock myself in the room and cry. After some time, I would take my Barbie dolls and line them on my bed and tell them that everything will be ok and that they are meant for more. I found the inner strength to motivate myself by motivating my dolls. I guess, I always knew I would get on the big stages and motivate women to BE, do and have whatever they desire, I just wasn’t clear for a long time that this is my purpose and that I don’t need to know HOW it will happen. It took a lot of self-reflection, forgiveness and healing to get that clarity. Today, I am comfortable talking about my flaws because they made me who I am.
In your opinion, do you tend to keep a positive attitude during difficult situations? What helps you to do so?
I 100% believe that the key elements of growth mindset are gratitude and appreciation. Expressing gratitude and moving my body have been best practices to keep a positive attitude.
Can you help articulate why a leader’s positive attitude can have a positive impact both on their clients and their team? Please share a story or example if you can.
We can always focus on things that are not working but we also have the power of choice to focus on things that are good, and things that we actually can control. We all have the ability to empower ourselves with a small shift in mindset with simple affirmation or appreciation. What we appreciate, appreciates us. What you focus on expands and having a positive attitude towards things and people creates more of the positive. Being positive is a choice and being negative is an excuse.
It’s important to appreciate our team, clients and celebrate the wins. Small acts of kindness and recognition are more valuable than material things and they create ripple effects. Mother Teresa: I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples.
Ok. Super. We are nearly done. What is your favorite inspirational quote that motivates you to pursue greatness? Can you share a story about how it was relevant to you in your own life?
What if I Fall? Oh, But My Darling What if You Fly! Erin Hanson. This always reminds me that I have a choice to fall or fly. Always. It’s all about the perspective and my choice to BE FEARLESS.
How can our readers further follow you online?
I am happy to connect Over at www.dijanallugolli.com.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!