A multi-passionate entrepreneur, Sunny Gandara is a life design coach and a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Sunny, a native of Norway, is a professionally trained cook and holds a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell as well as a professional Culinary Certificate from the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC. She is a Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist through NASM, a Certified Wine Educator and Specialist of Spirits through the Society of Wine Educators, and a holder of the DWS Diploma through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET).
A huge part of her work is vegan lifestyle coaching and blogging. She talks with Coachify about her fascinating journey of going vegan and helping others to do so.
Sunny, how did you become a vegan lifestyle coach and blogger?
To me, becoming a vegan lifestyle coach and blogger was the result of having worked across three other industries first; I started out in the music industry where I worked as an international marketing and publicity director and traveled the world with celebrities, to becoming a professionally trained chef and later on a wine educator and specialist. I had my own catering company, Fork and Glass for five years, and while I loved both food and wine, I still felt that some aspects of my interests, skill set and experience were not utilized to the fullest.
Then in between, I decided to compete in amateur body building shows for fun as a way to get my body back after several years of eating too much and moving too little, I was inspired to get my personal trainer certificate. A lot of women would contact me wanting me to coach them, but also on nutrition. I didn’t feel qualified to handle the nutrition part, so I was inspired to seek out nutrition schools and landed upon the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I got certified as a health coach through them, and just before I joined I had decided to go vegan. I am first and foremost vegan for the animals, but I was thrilled to learn about all the health benefits of this lifestyle too. I found that a lot of people had healed themselves from serious health conditions through eating a whole food, plant based eating and was what inspired a lot of people seeking out this lifestyle. As a professionally trained chef, I started veganizing a lot of my traditionally animal based recipes, and gained a pretty big following, and from there on had the idea of helping others discover this wonderful way of living. A vegan lifestyle is not just limited to your diet and eating plant foods, it’s also living a cruelty free, compassionate and conscious life.
Adding Values Series: How to add volunteering to your busy life abroad?
Every day, I work in a very normal business environment. While it has its perks, there are many days where, although I am busy, it doesn’t quite feel like I am saving the world. Or even making a small contribution. Although I have nice co-workers and enjoy the actual work, I also want to feel like I am doing something meaningful. Making a difference in someone’s life who really needs it the most without just quitting my job and moving to Africa. While some are called to that, I know that that is not always the answer.
Therefore, I decided to do something. I am really passionate about anti-human trafficking and I have been involved in several organizations wherever I have lived in relation to this cause. Just recently, I have been asked to go on a trip to India with one of the organizations to empower women who were trapped in slavery (now who, fortunately, are rescued) via photography. To help bring them back to life in a creative outlet and feel normal again.
While I was honored to be asked, I thought, where am I going to get that money? And should I go with work? Is it the right timing? What if I am too tired to get on that long flight right after Christmas break? Will I be ready?
Financially speaking, they recommended for me to fundraise the money. They gave me some good advice and while it’s something new for me, I am excited to see where this goes.
- I created a gofundme page. You can see it here (www.gofundme.com/heatherschnacke) and shared why I want to go to India through this organization, and how I can help. I use videos, photos, and text to tell my story to hopefully inspire those to give – I really want people to see the importance of my role and cause.
- I thought of other ways to raise money – starting with things I am good at and passionate about. I asked a local gym if I could host a zumbathon for free at their place and all of the costs from the people who sign up would go towards this trip. They said yes! Most places are so happy to help a good cause. You can join us: https://www.facebook.com/events/666379836860502/
- I asked for sponsorship. I told my boss about the cause and she was so impressed that she suggested that I share with the company and that they would probably help! I did not expect that reaction. I have also asked another company that in exchange for articles that they would sponsor me – I presented it as a win-win case (which it is) and I meet with them this week as they are very keen to the idea.
There many other things you can do for causes like auctions, small parties, or online contests, but these are just to name a few. Fundraising and sponsoring can be quite scary and intimidating topics, but in my experience thus far, I have been pleasantly surprised. People want to help because they feel that same way you do in regards to contributing. And they can contribute through you. Once I started doing this process and asking for support, I became energized by the whole process and now feeling ready to go as ever!
I would be honored if you read more of my story here – please donate if you can and share this page. It would mean a lot to me and the women in India. (www.gofundme.com/heatherschnacke)
And let me know what you decide to raise money for – share it on this blog and we can support one another. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Written by Heather Schnacke
Adding Value, Coaching, Consulting, Human Resources, Leadership, Location independent, Modern Career, Relocation
What do coaching, opening a new café, and creating a time saving app have in common?
Too difficult to answer?
How about this one: what do all the above have in common PLUS establishing an internet shop, volunteering in Africa and running photography workshops – all at the same time?
As a career coach, I might be slightly more attuned to these ideas I hear literally every day – from my friends, acquaintances, and clients. What is this all about, you might ask. Is it about who has the best idea? Who is the most creative? Maybe who can execute something and bring it to life? Or perhaps about picking and focusing on just one idea? I can see something on a much deeper level: people desperately long to add value to the world and be truly useful to others. When others around me say ‘I want to open a vegan bed and breakfast’ or ‘I want to create a job search app’ or ’I want to be a life coach,’ I hear “I want to add value.” They want to change the world – or at least help improve parts of others’ lives. At the same time, we would like to use our unique talents, be creative, have fun, and earn for living (except, of course volunteering). Earning while doing something valuable and enjoyable seems to be the trickiest part. I think many of us still believe that they can not earn well while doing something they love. Others think they first have to sort out their own careers and financial security and only THEN they can start adding value and changing the world.
Is adding value and helping others a luxury you can only afford after you yourself become established and successful?
Last time you knew, I chose to come back to Prague and join a teaching startup company (I had to turn down an international company position due to them not being able to sponsor my visa once I was offered the job) in hopes of finding more of an international role in the future. Fast forward six months… The job turned out not to be what was discussed during the interview and also I realized it is not something I love doing. After some disagreement about working after hours, I finally had to put in my notice. With the help and support of Coachify, I gained a clearer sense as to what I was looking for in that moment and I wouldn’t settle for something else unless absolutely needed!
I looked at the regular local job websites here in Prague on a daily basis and nothing truly caught my eye – then I was directed to an organization called Internations which is a great site to meet other expats and network. I decided to look at its job forum and there were a few jobs I was quite interested in, including the one I have now. Within this job description, there was one thing I didn’t have at all, “french speaker,” but I thought why not apply anyway? I had nothing to lose. So I did – I heard nothing for a few weeks but then I was contacted by my current boss. She had asked the organization if french was truly needed for this role and in the end, they agreed that it was only nice to have. She immediately pulled my CV and called me – I got the job that day. Lesson: you just never know.
I say all of this to encourage you to:
- Keep going even if things seem fuzzy or you have lost sight of the vision – stay hopeful!
- Apply for a job even if you don’t have EVERYTHING on their wish list – it truly may not matter in the end and it could change your whole direction
Talk to people like Coachify who can help direct and encourage you – sometimes friends and family have your best intentions but they are afraid that you will get hurt so they might offer more discouragement than you need . Trust yourself and your intuition.
So here on I am…it is the first day on the new job today. I ended up working both jobs in June so that was a busy month but now I am in full gear with this new position. I am not writing this to tell you that the perfect job landed in my lap – but it is the perfect next step. I do struggle because I want to do so many things! My mind literally changes all of the time in terms of career direction (read Beata’s article about ‘the grass is always greener’ HERE – very me). But I am learning that having that type of mindset is okay and I can actually use that to my advantage – especially this day in age where job changes are actually accepted and expected.
On a personal note, I am still in a long distance relationship – and it’s thriving. We have been together for close to ten months and have seen one another on average twice per month. Not too bad – there are definitely hard moments but we have chosen this and we DAILY choose one another. That’s it. We make the moments count and when we are together, we just live life. And the best part? We get to build our friendship, which we both value the most for the long haul. One vision that is becoming clearer – building enough skill sets to work location independent so when the timing is right, the transition to London (or somewhere new together) will be a lot easier… Stay tuned.
Thanks for journeying with me as always! I always love that you are here with me.
Some people just love change. They live, breath and talk change. Let me call them “the grass is always greener on the other side” type of people. However it is important to mention that I have in mind people who don’t just simply talk or dream about “the other side” – they really go for it. One day they mention that they are ready to relocate and the next thing you see is an invite for a leaving party. Or maybe they reveal to you that they don’t get along with their boss and are considering to put their CV out there. The next time you meet them they have already joined a new company. Let’s say you have recently changed your job, but things are not going as you expected and you are really disappointed. You say: “It is not what I have imagined, but now, since I made this change, I need to stick around. I can’t just run away all the time” – “Why not?” will say your “the grass is always greener” friend, being genuinely surprised that you don’t see a solution. It’s so simple, just make a change. It didn’t work out? Make another change. That’s their motto. If you have these type of friends, it is never boring to be around them, as they are always up for something. And of course it seems all of the adventures in the world are happening to them. But what to do if you are this person?
I have put together some tips and lessons learnt from my own experiences and from observing people similar to me. Yes, I am a change loving person too. After countless job and place changes myself, I can say that I somehow learnt to manage it in the way that it doesn’t affect my career development and happiness. I have also learned that changing everything doesn’t have to be the best option.
A satisfying career and healthy relationships and if you’re married, a strong marriage, if you’re a parent, strong kids. Did this question ever cross your mind? It did to me and changed my whole life. I found my answer and that is: Yes, you can have it all in life and believe me when I say that, but it has to be the right kind of all the kind you are looking for. You can’t have every possible opportunity or attain some culturally enforced ideal. But you can have everything that you value and everything you long for as long as you invest your energy and time to learn the right technique. This was profound for me. I had never actually realized and defined what “all” I really wanted. I had made list upon list of goals I wanted to achieve in life (a highly reputable position with an International organization, 3 bedroom house, a Tesla and make even more money every year), but I’d never defined what I wanted my life to actually look like. You might be struggling with whether to stay home with your kids or go back to work. You might know what you want to do but not be sure how to make that change. You might not know what you’re really good at but know it’s not what you’re doing now. What risks should you take? What makes you happy? What gets in the way of your happiness? Don’t you think it’s about time to find out?
Find the purpose of your life.
Have you ever questioned your mind what is the purpose of your existence? Many of us work just for that rectangular shaped bill at the end of the month, which we call a paycheck. Employees who see that their work has a direct and significant impact on the world around them are more likely to tackle that work with passion; they aren’t just in it for the paycheck. Once I asked 55 years old janitor while using a rest room in a hospital, what her purpose was. She may have said that it is to empty wastebaskets and mop the floors. She may not feel very inspired or passionate about those tasks. But she answered it with so much dignity and pride that she feels her purpose is to create a safe and inviting environment that will help put patients and their families at ease, thus inculcating greater reliance in the organization. Being aware of that greater sense of purpose connects that employee’s personal value of caring for others with the job before her of mopping the floors. No longer is she just pushing a mop around, she’s helping to care for every patient that comes through the doors.
Clearly define our own personal values and stick to it.
Developing the level of engagement and commitment to a greater purpose is an individual choice and an individual journey. Nobody can force you to be engaged in your work; however, the right kind of guidance from a coach or mentor can help you discover your purpose by showing you how your work makes a difference in the greater scheme of things. Connecting to a greater purpose begins with having a clear definition of your own personal values. All you need is to be encouraged to reflect on what values you regard as your highest priorities and key drivers.
Sounds philosophical, isn’t it? But these values naturally impact every area of our life, including our work life. Once you have reflected on and articulated your own values, determine how they fit with the organization’s mission, vision, and values. Then examine how the organization’s mission, vision, and values are infused into your own job description. If your organization is committed to providing the best in healthcare to your patients, how does your job description support that goal? Helping yourself and your co-workers see the connections between personal values and organizational values will help foster a deeper engagement and sense of purpose.
It’s not an easy decision to pack your belongings and leave your native country. I know I wasn’t the first one and won’t be the last one. However, coming from a small Mediterranean island having to fly to start a new life to a destination that takes more than an hour to reach is a big change. You must keep in mind that the size of the whole Maltese archipelago is 316 km² (Prague alone is 496 km²).
People move from one country to another for various reasons, mine was based on two – love and job opportunities. My partner of 4 years comes from Prague and after her contract in Malta expired we evaluated our situation in Malta and looked at the possibilities in Prague and here we are.
In my articles I will be sharing my views on life in Prague. My experience as a newbie expat and an islander living in a landlocked country.
In my first weeks in the capital of Bohemia I noted the following:
No Sea No Beaches
When I meet Czechs and they ask me where I’m from, I tell them Malta. They ask me why I decided to move to Prague and give up on the beaches and the sea. Let me provide a clearer picture to the reality – most of the jobs in Malta at executive or managerial level are 9:00 to 17:00. A day in the office during a heat wave drains your energy and after work you wouldn’t have enough energy to enjoy going to the beach. There’s always the weekend! I feel you stating. If you enjoy spending your relaxing days on a beach of 2Km to 3Km stretch with another 1,999 others please be my guest, I tend to opt out.
Blessed public transport
Efficient, inexpensive and great service! The public transport in Prague is effective and many agree that it’s the most efficient way to travel across the City. Moreover, the Lítačka is very convenient and provide different public transport packages covering from 1 month to 12 months.
I am officially back in Prague. After a couple of months at home and figuring out what to do as you knew from the last post, the visa finally came through and then I actually had two job offers on the table. My previous job was still available to me, and then Amazon called me when was back in Oklahoma to see about starting in the HR department. What a whirlwind! I went through the process of both, but in the end, the door shut with Amazon due to my visa situation. In this moment, the answer was now very obvious and clear. So I officially accepted the other job and signed a 1.5 year contract that came with a signing bonus and more salary pay – WOW. Now, I am so thankful that I am back in the Czech Republic – refreshed and ready to go for round two 🙂 The first time was just practice, right?
The holidays were an amazing and restful (and much needed) time with family back near Tulsa. I am beyond grateful for the love that constantly surrounds me, and only hope I spread it to others wherever I go!
Are you thinking about taking on a new direction in life and work ? Looking for an inspiration?
This article is for you. Monika Budzyńska used her extensive headhunting experience to set-up an organic FMCG company. She shares her know-how, mistakes, lessons learnt and rules for success with Coachify.
Monika, please tell us about your career transition and your new business.
I have been working professionally for more than 10 years and it has been mostly in the headhunting industry. However something has changed in my life a lot. I have had some health issues lately and that made me discover the natural medicine and healthy lifestyle. This experience changed my point of view and my life extremely. I started to eat organic, do sports, be with the nature more often and got a dog – a cute Maltese called Lucy. Once I had done it all I felt like I was ready for more changes and I needed to do something professionally connected with health and ecology themselves. This was the time I decided to set up BioInspire, organic FMCG distribution and sales representative company. I haven’t left the headhunting business fully yet however I am strongly focused on developing my company at the moment. There is a great vision behind BioInspire. I would like to inspire people to lead a healthy lifestyle by sharing my knowledge and also delivering the products that I find healthy. And this is actually not that obvious once you go through what is being sold in organic shops. That’s why BioInspire is so unique, we only represent the chosen manufacturers. Following the vision of BioInspire, I am really happy to have such possibility of participating in Coachify’s interview.
We are happy to have you here. Can you tell us how difficult was your career transition?
Actually it was not that hard for me even though my professional experience might sound completely different from what I do now. However I can see many common characteristics. First of all, head-hunters sale their services and candidates to their customers. They have to approach new clients, candidates, set up the relations and maintain them. Head-hunters need to be active on social media just to be recognizable on the market they operates on. This is something I do on a daily basis at BioInspire. I gather information, approach new customers, analyze the market and create the new brand recognition on the Polish market.
What do people think of when they think of Prague? Beer is so good and inexpensive! The beautiful old architecture of the city and the castle is a sight to behold!
I moved to Prague from L.A. and I am here to tell you that there is more to this “Srdce Evropa” (Heart of Europe) than meets the eye. There is a magical quality of this city that you feel. Stop somewhere for a nice view even for a short time and look not only with your eyes, but recognize what you feel. We need this once in a while because busy schedules only allow us to check time as we do this and that. Appreciating these simpler things of life along the way makes the journey through any walk or task much more than it is. When I have time, I still go to the city center to walk like when I was the tourist gazing at the Charles Bridge, the castle or the Letna beer garden where you have a breath-taking view of the city below. My favorite time is at night when the lights make the scene ethereal.