MY STORY
Hi Gorgeous! My name is Anna Boroshok and I am happy to welcome you to the community of women who dare to dream.

Today we are more than 780 women from different countries. A lot of us are based in Belgium because that's where the community of Fearless Female Founders has started. We are all different but we have similar values and ambitions:

  • We believe into our potential and strive to realise it to maximum
  • Even though we have high ambitions, we remember and preserve our female nature
  • We avoid overloading ourselves and strive to create a balanced life which we enjoy
  • We create businesses that are ethical and that are in line with our preferred life-style
  • We constantly learn in order to grow

Before I tell you my story, you should know this: I am not one of those people who had a pick of career and then created their business smoothly. I went through loas of struggles until I started getting first results. Why am I sharing this with you? Because there are a lot of us out there who can't relate to quick success stories because we face a lot of challenges. Please, don't be discouraged by them and keep on persisting.

Now, let me share with you my story:

FROM A DESERT TO THE BEST UNIVERSITY IN COUNTRY

I was born in an ordinary Soviet family in the 7th largest desert in the world (Kyzylkum), in the country called Uzbekistan. My father was constantly drinking and cheating on my mum and my mum was silently accepting the situation. This lasted for 30 years until my father went overboard, that's when my mum has finally packed his clothes into big suitcases and put them outside of the door. I was 12 years old.
After that, there were years of financial struggle for me and my mum. I remember I had to wear shoes with holes for 3 seasons simply because we couldn't afford buying new ones. Now I have more than 40 pairs. Don't judge me!

Even though money were scarce, my mum invested every penny into my education hiring tutors to prepare me for university…..and…I failed my 1st attempt to enter a University.

Then, my mum told me, "If you fail to pass the next year, I will find you a job of a nanny in a kindergarten…ah, btw, I've been to the University of World Economy & Diplomacy in the capital of Uzbekistan. It's the best University in the country but only talented children and children of politicians get there. It is also beautiful." That's how my mum has put a seed of dream into me.

I was getting ready for another, more simple University but secretly dreaming about "the best Uni in the country". This motivated me to study harder. When the time came to apply to a University, I went to Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan – and at the very last moment changed my mind and submitted the documents to "the best Uni in the country". My legs were shaking, I was risking to become a nanny that year but I did take the step forward and I've never regretted it.

As you have guessed it, I have passed the exams and entered that University.
LESSONS LEARNED

- Dare to dream, it will motivate & inspire you to work harder.

- Believe in yourself, you are your most precious resource. If you don't believe into yourself, no one will.

- Trust your guts and the Universe, they know your path better than your rational self.

- Even if you are scared, keep on working towards your dream, step-by-step.
FROM UZBEKISTAN TO EUROPE WITHOUT A PENNY?

Most of the students were going home after studies, but I was heading to internships. I don't remember who gave me this advice but it served me so well. When I was applying to the universities abroad, the good CV helped me to get accepted to the Lancaster University MA program in Warsaw.

The only problem was…neither me nor my mum had money to cover the tuition fees and living expenses. The salary in Uzbekistan was around $60/month back then, so there was no way my mum could help me.

But I wanted to go to study abroad so badly that I applied to all the possible scholarships and I have got one which covered both the tuition and the living expenses - $3000 for a year. I was the happiest person in the world!
LESSONS LEARNED

If you really want something, money will come.
A YEAR OF LOW CONFIDENCE, INTROVERTISM & DYSFUNCTIONAL LOVE

Studying in Poland were hard. My English was on a very low level, I was struggling to write scientific papers. In the beginning I was getting very bad marks: F, D, C-. But I was gradually growing to higher marks, eventually graduating with B+.

My relationships with peers were difficult. Because of my poor English I was avoiding talking to anyone. Apart from that I was always afraid of being judged – my soviet past played a huge role in it. But it's that year I've started learning other ways of communicating. I was surprised to see how genuinely interested people were towards me and others because I have never experienced this before. Looking back at this one year in Poland, I see how arrogant I was: just accepting people's attention and not paying back with the same interest and curiosity. However, that's when and where my journey towards extrovertism & confidence has started.

My back-then Italian boyfriend gave me a book that has started my transformation: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It was the first time I have realised that we are the owners of our fate and we can create it by, first, knowing ourselves and, second, creating a better version of ourselves.

That same year I met my 1st husband – a handsome Italian guy who was my coursemate. This was a painful relationship since the very beginning. I was too needy and he was distant and unavailable. Little I knew back than that I was re-producing the dysfunctional relationships of my mum and dad. It took me years to break away from my own harmful patterns and childhood traumas to finally become a woman I wanted to be: woman who is responsible for her own happiness and can give this happiness to others.
LESSONS LEARNED

You can make any difficulty to be your life coach, learn and grow from each obstacle.

People DO change. If you are not happy with a certain part of yourself, you can change it.

If you don't know your harmful patterns, you will keep attracting unfortunate people and events into your life.
FROM AFRICA TO GOOGLE OR LIFE MISSION CAN CHANGE

After Poland I got another scholarship to obtain MA in Cooperation and Development in Italy. By the end of the studies we had to choose an internship and I have chosen Capacity Building project in Ethiopia.

I've always dreamt about helping people, so it was a great opportunity to pursue my mission. What a disappointment it was to discover that Africa doesn't need our help. We only develop their dependency on our money and destroy their self-reliability. I've seen a lot of money laundry, laziness and lies. I knew then that it contradicts to my values and ethics and there is no way I want to continue doing this job.

However, it was also my first touch with such a fierce women's dedication to drive positive change in communities. They were uniting to groups where they were supporting each other and their communities. They were fighting for their rights when men were taking advantage of their labour on farms but not sharing the revenue.

That was the time which deeply motivated me to step up for women, to make their voice heard.
I came back to Europe (joined my husband in Ireland) and started my life from scratch: I've decided to switch to a commercial sector. My 1st job was in Customer Service in Accenture – the worst job I've ever had. We were treated so badly: constantly criticised, penalised for every little mistake. Even to go to a toilet you had to login and logout of the system, so they would know how long you were away. It was humiliating.

The salary was not bad, I've even managed to save some money to buy an apartment for my mum in Russia. But I couldn't stand this working environment anymore. Somewhere inside I felt that I deserve something better. One year later, when they offered me a promotion, I said NO and left to another American company with a better salary and better treatment.

But the problem was that my job was to renew IT licenses. The salary was good, we were living in a modern apartment in a fancy area of Dublin, we've got a car. But in something like 7 months in the company I've started wondering what value do I get from this job? What do I learn? Where will it bring me?

I started checking out vacancies in other companies. I hardly imagined what I want to do, I just wanted to learn and grow, see what my potential is.

During one of such searches I've spotted a vacancy at Google…my heart started pumping. The first thought was "Who am I to work at the best employee in the world?" But then I thought "Will it hurt if I try? What do I lose?". I've started the process.

7 interviews down, I have got a congratulations letter with a salary I couldn't dream about. Was it easy? Yes and no. Yes, because there were 7 interviews and I was totally stressed about each of them spending loads of time on getting ready by rehearsing and preparing answers for all the possible questions. No, because the interviews were not that difficult in the end. There were no such questions as "how many golf balls can fit into a plane".
LESSONS LEARNED

Listen to your heart: when is it beating with excitement? When butterflies starts flying in your belly? That's where your path is.
COLLAPSED MARRIAGE & FIRST TRANSFORMATION

The start of my career in Google has coincided with the divorce with my husband. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life even but I have never regret it. I had to let go of a person I really loved. Buy I had to do it and let go of something which was not working for 7 years. Back then I didn't know that the problem was partially in me, I simply felt unlucky. I couldn't imagine back then that my reality was shaped by my traumas and harmful belief systems.

After the divorce, there was a chain of short unstable relationships with guys who for some reason didn't want to settle for serious relationships with me and, luckily, I have finally started noticing this recurring trend and started wondering why this is happening to me.

I have started searching for answers, reading books, going to psychologists and taking psychology-related courses. When you search for an answer, you usually find it. However, I wish someone could have told me what books I need to read so I could save my time on reading useless books and going to lousy psychologists.

Anyway, the book that has really changed my life was "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood. Thanks to this book I have discovered that I am a co-dependant. Being a co-dependant is no fun. It is a psychological condition of people who are usually children of alcoholics or abusive/emotionally unavailable parents. Now, my Mum was and is one of the most admirable creatures. She never drank or beat me, she was always there for me being loving, caring and sacrificing everything for me. And that's where the problem was: my mum was a child of an alcoholic – my grandmother. Children of alcoholics develop a sacrificing behaviour because this is how, they think, love is earned. And that's what I have picked up from my mum. She was my role model. I kept on sacrificing my needs to other guys and people trying to earn their love in exchange instead of being who I am, respecting my own needs and enjoying my own life.

This revelation was a blast. At first, I didn't know what to do, how to live, who to be, because I didn't know what it is to be a self-reliant happy adult. I remember crying two weeks in a row because I simply didn't know how to re-invent myself to be an emotionally healthy person. It was scary. I had to learn bit by bit how to be happy on my own, how to love instead of trading love. Attending Co-dependants Anonymous really helped me in breaking through my old patterns because I could clearly see it in other people and I've heard their stories of breaking away from their harmful past.

I have decided to stop desperately searching for a new partner for life and focus on my "recovery". Once I have learned to be a happy independent person, an emotionally-healthy guy has appeared on my horizon. But that's already a different happy story…
LESSONS LEARNED

- Awareness is one of the most amazing gifts you can give yourself to live a better and more fulfilled life. Never stop exploring yourself.
THE GOLDEN CAGE OF GOOGLE

Ok ok, it wasn't that bad at all. I did enjoy working in Google. There were loads of perks, interesting people, amazing salary, great clients. I was lucky to work with such brands like, Johnson & Johnson, Chanel, LVMH, Beiersdorf, etc. I have learned a lot…but I was constantly exhausted because of regular overtime, quarterly ratings, and critics of some male colleagues.

That's probably when my passion towards women empowering had started. I had a male colleague who was constantly letting me and another girl down. How many tears were spilled because of him! Interestingly, he got promoted and we weren't. I saw a lot of behaviours like this which were frustrating. I saw a lot of talented girls who were really struggling to stand out against guys like the one I have described you.

What I have also learned during this period is that not every manager is a great manager. Back then I just didn't know that. I thought it was me who was not good enough. But the reality was that I was pushed to do what I was not good add, numbers and analytics. My only fault was not being aware that it is up to me choose what I want to do, to stand my grounds, to do what I like doing instead of being lousy at what I can't and don't like doing.

Of course such an approach can cause you a lot of troubles (especially, in the environments where the focus is not employees but quick benefit) but in the end, it will always bring you to better places.

After 4 years in Google I started feeling trapped. I had anxiety, insomnia, burn-outs, low energy and no free time to understand who I really am. Basically, in all terms, I was a Googler: I ate in Google, lived in Google, lived by Google, went to a gym in Google, hanged out with Googlers, travelled with Googlers. It was too much. We were so brainwashed by Google that we even thought that there is no life outside of Google. Yes yes, don't laugh! When I was leaving, Googlers were widening their eyes and asking, "Where are you going?! There is no a better place than Google. There is no life out there." Hahaha, how wrong they were.

Anyway, my constant passion for learning and discovering was calling me, I couldn't betray it. I wanted to learn marketing as a whole instead of just selling and optimizing Adwords campaigns. And even though Google was brainwashing us that Google equals marketing, I knew there was much more out there.

Back then I was already dating my Belgian boyfriend for a year and have taken a decision to make a leap from rainy Ireland to sunny Belgium. Since Ireland was the 7th country I lived in, I had no problem changing one more country.
LESSON LEARNED

- Your dreams and who you are don't equal fancy companies and good salaries. If you don't feel happy in a golden cage, get out form there ASAP!
After 4 years in Google I started feeling trapped. I had anxiety, insomnia, burn-outs, low energy and no free time to understand who I really am. Basically, in all terms, I was a Googler: I ate in Google, lived in Google, lived by Google, went to a gym in Google, hanged out with Googlers, travelled with Googlers. It was too much. We were so brainwashed by Google that we even thought that there is no life outside of Google. Yes yes, don't laugh! When I was leaving, some of my colleagues were asking, "Where are you going?! There is no a better place than Google. There is no life out there." Hahaha, how wrong they were.

Anyway, my constant passion for learning and discovering was calling me, I couldn't betray it. I wanted to learn marketing as a whole instead of just selling and optimizing Adwords campaigns. And even though Google was brainwashing us that Google equals marketing, I knew there was much more out there.

Back then I was already dating my Belgian boyfriend for a year and have taken a decision to make a leap from rainy Ireland to sunny Belgium. Since Ireland was the 7th country I lived in, I had no problem changing one more country.
LESSON LEARNED

- Your dreams and who you are don't equal fancy companies and good salaries. If you don't feel happy in a golden cage, get out form there ASAP!
THE ERA IN BELGIUM

The story to be continued...
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