I had the pleasure of being introduced to Angela Podolsky, and was immediately impressed with her intelligence, sincerity, and willingness to help other people. As I listened to Angela speak, I could see the passion and conviction in her eyes as she told me her story of how every changing circumstance in her life has led her to where she is today. We can learn so much from this strong woman who is gentle and kind at the same time. For anyone who has experienced the hardships of childhood insecurity, humble beginnings and changing and uncertain environments, Angela’s story will serve as an example of resilience and success for us all to learn from.
Angela is the CEO of Kinesics Consulting. Angela works with world-renowned businesses, helping them and their teams improve their sales, negotiation, and presentation skills through the art of body language and non-verbal communication. She has worked with both medium and large-sized businesses such as Rogers, Belairdirect, W-Hotels, McGill University, John Molson School of Business, SunLife Financials, Montreal Chamber of Commerce, and others. To give back to the community, Angela mentors and judges entrepreneurs at events such as Startup Weekends, YES Montreal, as well as at business incubators. In recognition of Angela’s business acumen and community influence, she was awarded the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year Award by the Jewish Chamber of Commerce.
Her professional achievements are impressive, but I wanted to learn more about the Angela behind her successes.
PPP: Tell me your story, Angela, and what were the defining moments in your life where you realized a change needed to be made, or which led you to where you are today?
The first defining moments in my life were around my changing environments. My family emigrated from Russia to Israel when I was six – as Jewish people we fled as fast as we could. That changed me, of course. The next change was when at only 17, I left my parents home outside of Jerusalem to move into the city, and then at 19, I moved again to Tel Aviv. Each of these environments added another layer – each with a different culture, societal standards, dress, everything! I learned to become very independent at a very early age. Then, at only 23, I moved on my own to Canada which was a completely new culture, style of communication, dress, even names!
I would say there have been several shifts in my life, and I think many of us have them, yet we are not conscious of them, or aware of them. For example, every interaction changes you. Like this interaction between you and me will change me. But I have to be conscious about it. If I am aware that my interaction with you will change me, then what is it that I want to take or not take from this interaction?
You have to understand that every time your body is exposed to new environments, you develop new neural pathways. Thoughts change, perceptions change, but when you go through changes, you have to ask yourself – is it ME who truly wants this, or is it just because this is what you are expected to do, or what your parents or family did? Neurologically we are wired even before we are born. We have genetic wiring that we may not even be aware of – those are not you, but things you have in a bag that are given to you. You have to open the bag and see what it is you want to take with you.
Emigrating to a New Way of Thinking
The next defining moments were due to being from an immigrant family. When we fled to Israel, we had nothing. The government gave us some money, but it wasn’t enough, so my parents had to take jobs which were not in the occupations they had, in order to bring in money. They worked from early morning to late night, and I was left to take care of my younger brother at only 6-7 years of age. Because of this, my parents always wanted me to go to school to be a lawyer, or a doctor (even though the site of blood makes me faint!) so that I wouldn’t have to struggle like them in life.
I, however, always had a hard time in school. Not the learning part, but the way the school system worked. So, I dropped out of school and never finished it. The mindset my mom wanted for me was to follow the traditional path, get married young, go to school, have security. I never followed that path and probably disappointed her.
Even though I didn’t finish the traditional way of schooling, I have never stopped educating myself and learning as I always believe “if you don’t learn you don’t grow”. I have made sure that I keep growing and self educating myself by traveling the world and learning from the top leaders in my industry from the USA to Spain, UK and others. I always stay hungry for knowledge and growth.
The one defining moment that I will always remember is, years later, despite dropping out of school – I didn’t have a “DR” before my name – I had the opportunity to teach at the prestigious McGill University. When I called my mom that day, I told her, “mom, I never went to a university, but I taught at a university!” I think she breathed a sigh of relief then, and she was finally at peace. One of my proudest moments.
PPP: Were there any specific limiting beliefs you had which stopped you from doing anything or made you hesitate on the next steps?
So many! All the time! Everyone has them, especially as women. We are neurologically wired that anytime we get out of our comfort zone or even THINK of getting out of our comfort zone, our bodies will tell us, and try to protect us.
Overcoming Limiting Beliefs
I always felt, because I didn’t go to university, that I was not as good as a successful doctor or lawyer. When I sat with people like that, I would always put myself lower than them because I didn’t know any better – and probably because of my upbringing. That has stayed with me all my life and probably has pushed me to be where I am today.
PPP: How do you overcome these limiting beliefs, Angela, and what would you recommend for others?
I feel like I have fought for everything I have achieved, and I try to overcome or fight my limiting beliefs in a deliberate way.
People should first be aware of their limiting beliefs as they are part of who we are. I am aware of them! I know them! And I know they are OK, because they are there to protect me – I need them! Perhaps they made me humbler, but awareness is the first step.
Work on reversing your limiting beliefs because we don’t want them to control us! I work on them! I work on mine by trying to do at least 2 developmental things a year – whether that is courses, training, seminars. It could be anything. Do the internal work and external work to be able to manage those negative self-talk or let them go if you believe they don’t serve you well anymore.
So be aware, work on them, and push past them. Push past them and take action that completely contradicts your limiting belief. Every time the thought that I wasn’t qualified enough crept up in my head, I would work harder than ever to push past that. The result is that I WAS able to teach at a university, and I AM able to work with the top 500 companies in Canada.
But remember, with every limiting belief, the process starts all over again. If we work this way, the beliefs will die out, but new ones will come to replace them. Women don’t recognize or celebrate their successes like we should! I wish we celebrated them more – we are so hard on ourselves.
PPP: What lessons you can suggest to women as they look to reinvent themselves in their next stage of life?
I would say, ask yourself the following questions:
What kind of life do you want? Be specific. Feel it, believe it. For example, if you want a certain kind of life with your partner, make a specific list – not a superficial one. What mindsets will you share moving forward? What type of household are you living in? What kind of sex life do you have? Who around you are supporting you in this relationship? You need to see the picture in your mind and have that North Star.
If I was on my deathbed and looking back on my life, did I live the life I wanted? Why do we ask these questions only on our deathbeds? Why not ask ourselves earlier? Why not look forward instead of backwards and envision what a fulfilled life looks like for us? We do not have to always look back to assess, we can look forward to create! It doesn’t matter what stage of life we are in – we do not ever want to regret the life we led.
One of the questions I like to ask myself is, what kind of grandma will I be?
PPP: What kind of grandma will you be, Angela?
I will be savvy, fun, and polished. I see myself in a sunny environment, where I have fashionable style. I still see myself in business, but helping kids, and helping others grow in their business or personal lives. I’m very sharp, very “on my feet.”
PPP: What are you most proud of, Angela?
I am proud of what I created. From my humble beginnings moving from Russia to so many new places and experiences, to where I am today. Not just in business, but I am fulfilled and happy. But I created my reality! The bottom line is that is what I am most grateful for. We can all create the realities we are looking for, with hard work and faith. When you both act, and surrender at the same time, uncanny things happen. I was able to create this reality because of the people that landed in my path that I didn’t even look for but were planted by God or whatever higher power you call it.
Evolving and growing doesn’t have to end in a certain stage of life. Every stage has its own environments, people, which we can all learn from. You just have to be aware of what you want, who is around you, and what each experience is telling you.
I used to be amazed that when I moved to a new place, I actually didn’t know what I really wanted, because I was so conditioned to thinking in a certain way. For example, how do I like my eggs? Do I eat blueberries because I grew up eating them, or because I really like them? Do I want to eat blueberries all my life – or shall I switch to cherries? Why? Because I can!
PPP: Of course you can! Perhaps you can even make a cherry pie!