Inspiring Figures is a monthly blog column where I share with you people who are catalysts in inspiring and motivating me. They’re people you should really know about. Last month featured Naomi Thomas – techie entrepreneur girl boss. You can read her feature here.
Last month was when I also changed the format by using Instagram Live to chat with the people I feature (followed up with YouTube and Soundcloud) – replicating the chat I have had with all the Inspiring Figures that I met (which is actually why I started this column!) I received fantastic feedback last month and felt much more confident doing it this time around. 🤗
I’m always eager to shout out about women who are making moves not only in their professional careers but also personal lives. I’m constantly inspired by boss ladies I meet in real life at networking events but also, those I come across online. I discovered Maria Kritikos on Instagram when I was looking for new people who were similar to me to follow. Ever since I’ve been inspired by the positivity that she puts out there and it was truly a pleasure to arrange a talk with her! I hope you get as much out of her interview with me, as I had.
Maria set out to help women around the world live out their dreams; whatever that looked like to them. Traditionally the term LWL, or Ladies Who Lunch, referred to women who would be dining using their husband’s credit cards; reflecting on their dependence on someone (usually their husband) Maria turned this old saying around and created the network which aims to give women the resources to allow them to be able to stand on their own two feet. True independence!
Soon after graduating from her Arts degree in French and Spanish, she took on qualification in Education specializing in Secondary Education after her parents deciding for teaching rather than a Law program which was longer. At the age of 23, Maria started teaching. Seeing as the age gap was small (she was teaching 17-18-year-old), she had to be very strict to ensure that people took her seriously. She recalls a memory where teachers had told her that the staff lounge were for teachers only and she had to constantly tell them that she was in fact a teacher!
After 5 years of working, her entrepreneurial side began to flare out. She left the school she was working at and started an international school that teaches English for Mexican, Korean and Japanese international students. Although she had no business degree or background, setting this first venture had allowed Maria to learn and since, advocate learning by doing.
During this time, she started LWL as a passion project which has now seen it’s 5th birthday! When asked about her favorite LWL event, Maria talks about Shop for Host.” Although it was quite ad-hoc (and just around the corner to Christmas), she managed to get the people in the network to donate old clothes and items to help out less fortunate people. The network’s first event involved a fashion show, inspirational speakers and plenty of networking opportunities. Maria first saw this as a one-time event, but after positive feedback from attendees, 40+ events later it is still going strong!!
Sharing her own personal story on the complete turn of her very privileged life which resulted in her going back to live at her mom’s small apartment with her 2-year-old son, she wrote her first book “A Girl with A Plan” in 9 months with the aim of helping women in the light of adversity.
“Having an idea isn’t enough.” During our interview, I was impressed by Maria’s entrepreneurial acumen, she honestly is a woman making moves in business and taking other woman along with her so that everyone can have the opportunity to unleash their potential. On the topic of turning everyday ideas into a reality, Maria reminds us of these core facts:
Maria recommends having a look at the Ideas to Reality presentation which discuss the law of attraction and mindset, which she states is the foundation for everything.
This was not settling for Maria when she heard this at university. But when she lived this out, she realized that it is nothing to worry about.
“Life pulls you in a different direction sometimes, enjoy where you are now, be thankful, learn as much as you can and if you feel called to do something else… that is OK! It’s okay to switch careers or have multiple different side hustles!”
Being in full-time entrepreneurship is fantastic, Maria is a living example of this! However, she advises being realistic before quitting your 9-5 job. A lot of advice out there in the entrepreneurship space, is that you should quit and turn your side hustle to something full-time but, Maria stresses the importance of funding, “You should be able to fund yourself, be realistic!” She recommends another book, “Abundance now” by Lisa Nickles related to this.
Maria also has a program called, “She’s in Biz Blueprint” which takes you through exactly how to take that side hustle to a full-time role, with practical steps!