Meet Géraldine Gobert, a successful Nova SBE alumna, in an exclusive interview where she talks about the changes in her professional career, her lifestyle, and what she believes in to grow as a person and at work.
What are you currently doing? And what is the most rewarding characteristic of your career?
“A Lotus Seed” has already impacted the lives of +3000 people with journeys that include a combination of design-thinking, meditation, mindfulness, (self-)compassion, coaching, and positive neuro-plasticity exercises. The intention is to discover the unique mechanisms of your thinking mind and feeling body, and their impact on focus, creativity, decision-making, visionary planning, communication, and relationships. Instead of merely “hearing” or “reading” about the theory, participants practice, experience, and co-create the journey. This is important if we want to train ourselves in forming new pathways in the brain. The journeys consist of online and offline group training, coaching, and retreats in Belgium and Portugal and are focused on companies, healthcare institutions, entrepreneurs, and individuals who want to unleash their full potential in life.
The most rewarding aspect of what I do is seeing the evolution and expansion of each person. I’m filled with gratitude when someone experiences an “aha” moment of insight, can catch thoughts or can transform feelings into strengths and dreams into action. I feel blessed to be able to contribute just a bit to someone’s life puzzle.
Have you always been fascinated with mind and body care? Why did you decide to change your [professional] route, considering what you learned and worked on before?
I was interested in the workings of the mind from a young age. I was already reading books doing relaxation exercises and self-hypnosis techniques since the age of 12. But since I also loved Mathematics and was interested in Development Economics, I eventually chose Economics as a field of study and then prepared for diplomacy exams in Belgium.
Then Professor Luisa Agante facilitated a meditation with us in class. It was part of a life vocation/personal branding session. It included an “ideal day” meditation in which we had to visualize our ideal life from the morning to the evening without any restrictions.
The images my subconscious formed were completely different than the life I “thought” I wanted. After the meditation, it hit me that what my thinking mind wanted (influenced by environment) was different than what my heart longed for.
That summer, I went on my first meditation training, and it never stopped... I started meditating and doing courses in personal development, meditation, coaching, etc.
The year after, I wrote a business plan in the entrepreneurship course of Professor Violetta Gerasymenko. A meditation center was doing online and offline training for companies and individuals, including retreats. At that time, meditation was still seen as somewhat “dreamy,” but Violetta motivated me to dream beyond the “should’s” and into possibilities.
It is funny to see that the business plan I wrote as a student so many years ago is the actual business I have now. And it’s so much more fun than I could have imagined in my wildest dreams.
Who or what experiences had an impact on your career path?
Professor Agante certainly impacted my career path but also the openness of Nova SBE as an economics school. The fact that I could look into a different path within economics and the fact that some professors were also motivating me to do this is what sets Nova SBE apart.
I am interested in Development Economics's empowerment mechanisms (rather than the macro-economic growth-vision of development), Happiness Economics, Buddhist Economics, Social Entrepreneurship, and Social Innovation.
I went on a mission with Move to continue developing a microfinance program for small entrepreneurs on Sao Tomé and Principe's island. During these months, I learned much more than any textbook could show me. I learned about the importance of a bottom-up approach and the importance of treating others as equal instead of wanting to force a belief system upon a culture that is not your own.
MakeSense.org then impacted my vision about entrepreneurship and social impact greatly. Through MakeSense, I facilitated brainstorming sessions and conferences for entrepreneurs, NGOs, and institutions in Portugal and Belgium. This made me learn a great deal about creativity, co-creation, and the dynamics of change and mobilization.
My time working for the Institute of Attention and Mindfulness then taught me about the importance of body, mind, and attention in everyday life. I also had the chance to follow a teacher trainer there and follow courses firsthand. All these experiences showed me the following:
● Beautiful theories don’t mean much unless they are grounded, experience, and equal
● As much as wanting to “help others” seems brave, check first with yourself if this is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself and the other (often it is not)
● Empowerment is more important than creating the energy of helping
● Treating others as equals is the most important “work” any organization can do
● Mental and emotional intelligence is essential for any type of growth and innovation, whether it is personal, at the organizational level, or nation-wide
Jim Morrison once said, "there can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first."
No matter how good the intention may be, individuals and institutions must do as much self-reflection as reflecting on changing the world.
If we want to innovate, we need to learn to deal more effectively with our minds and emotions too. If we want others to grow, we need to grow ourselves first.
What do you know now that you would have liked to know when you were graduating?
How much easier life becomes when you follow your heart and inner voice instead of the voices in your head (what you think you “should” do or what you think others want you to do).
Thoughts are our greatest partner or our worst enemy. Learn to connect to the wisdom of the body to open to possibilities instead of limiting beliefs.
Awareness of the body and feelings is essential in making life and career choices. Feelings give you information, also the more challenging ones. Don’t dismiss them. Learn from them.
You need experiences to learn. Get out of your head (and textbooks) and go into the world. Do things. Try out new experiences. Connect with others. But also take time to come home to yourself. Feel. Never stop learning. Repeat.
Which skills have you acquired with your academic experience, and what skills have been vital for your career?
During my academic experience, I learned the gift of fast learning, critical thinking, analyzing, and strategic thinking. Skills I still use daily. To teach me and design courses and experience journeys, make decisions, see alternative options and solutions for problems, and look in different perspectives.
The skills vital for my career were learning to observe, let go of thoughts, or use thoughts and ideas for creativity, and learning to connect with feelings and body.
After graduating, I followed years-long intensive courses in the field of meditation, coaching, mindfulness, (self-) compassion, and neuropsychology.
How did you land your first job after graduating? What steps did you take, and what advice would you give to those starting?
I asked myself the questions, “for who would I like to work? What world do I want to contribute to? What do I believe in? How would I like to feel?”.
One organization came up. I looked on their site, and there was one job offer. I applied and got the job :).
My advice is to allow yourself some reflection time and feel your inner longings instead of solely scrolling through job offers. Sometimes the universe works in mysterious ways ;).
What memories from your time as a Nova SBE student do you hold dear?
For sure, the personal branding sessions and meditation with Professor Agante, the out of the box thinking of the entrepreneurship course with Gerasymenko, the classes with Daniel Traça, and the spark it gave me to read about alternative visions on development. Also, my international friends showing me so many ways of looking at things, the nightly studying in the university buildings during exams (it had some magic in it), and the amazing friends I got to know in Lisbon that still feel like family today.
What advice can you give our current students?
Follow your heart and intuition. Don’t limit yourself. Learn tools to open to possibilities in the mind and body. Oh, and take some time to listen to this Steve Jobs’ speech:
He says, “Your heart already knows what you want to become,” and he was a big meditator himself :)