The story of FLOW Coaching Institute goes hand in hand with my own story as I am the creative person behind the idea of FLOW. When I set out to build this company, I could not even imagine what would evolve from my dreams.
My name is Talyaa Vardar and I am one of the founders of the FLOW Coaching Institute, which started in Vancouver in 2009. I am also an executive coach working with C suite managers and business owners of multibillion-dollar multinational companies. I am very grateful for where I am today with our business and also with my life in general.
However, where I am today has not happened overnight or even in a short time frame – it has been a lengthy process. One thing evolved into another, and with the determination of who I am, the clarity of what I wanted to do, and the resiliency of where I wanted to be is why I am where I am today, and as a result, so is FLOW.
My story goes back to 1993, the year when I graduated from university with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration. I loved my university years, especially the elective courses where I had the freedom to choose what I wanted to learn. When graduation arrived, I did not have the financial resources to pursue further education, so I had to find a job to survive as my father had done his best to support me during my studies. It was now time for me to take control of my life – was I ready? My first job was in a large public bank as a management trainee, and I struggled with being in a routine and doing the same things day in and day out. I felt like I wasn’t the best version of me in this position, so I decided to move into marketing, where I thrived. Year after year I got promoted as creativity and strategy were my top two strengths. I managed large teams, big budgets, and international firms. I enjoyed being in these leadership roles as I have always loved people.
During my corporate years I noticed that most people were trying to fit themselves into something that they were not. As a result, I witnessed so much insecurity, fear, conflict, and avoidance. Back then I didn’t know much about human psychology, but one did not need to be an expert to see that today’s work life is not designed around engaging people at their best. I decided to do something about it and I started to study Jungian psychology and then followed it with developmental psychology. This became my passion so I made the decision to become a Psychotherapist at the age of 32. I started my Master’s degree and before I graduated, I became a mother to my daughter! One thing followed another, and I received a job offer from an institute in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and as a family we made a significant move. There I worked as a therapist and my profile included children from separated families, the First Nations community, and women with cancer who were transitioning to recovery. During this time, I also gained clarity regarding who I wanted to work with and what I wanted to do.
I wanted to help people dare to be the person that they were meant to be.
I wanted to encourage people to pursue a career path that built on their strengths and not their fear of survival.
I wanted to work with corporate managers to build an authentic leadership style of balancing productivity with a strength-based leadership approach.
I wanted to help people design their own flow at work and life, and remember the sense of being whole again. Most people sacrifice their true self with a split personality of being one person at work and another in their personal life.
I wanted to work with young people and inspire them to build an authentic social identity centered around their core values and strengths by going beyond peer pressure and social anxiety.
As a therapist I was concerned that my title would be intimidating. What I wanted most was to help people, but as a therapist I felt my goals had a limit. With such clarity of direction in my mind, I became a certified coach and have never stopped coaching.
What I love about coaching people is that you witness their progress during your time together, starting after just the first session. In the beginning it almost felt like magic as I could not believe the shifts that could happen in someone in such a short timeframe. It took me 32 years to find my life purpose and if I had known about coaching, it could have been a much easier and shorter journey. As I grew as a coach, I regained the sense of flow in my own life. I started to feel like I was the same person in my job, with my friends, at home, and with my clients. I didn’t feel the need to divide myself into “the worker”, “the parent”, “the friend”, “the wife” – I was myself wherever I was, in whatever I was doing. Instead of my roles being split, they were connected and I was whole.
My love for coaching evolved into a program called “The Art of Empowerment” which I facilitated at the University of British Columbia in Canada. We then designed a coaching program for corporate managers (“The Coaching Leader”) and started to teach it internationally. In 2009 we felt ready to incorporate FLOW together with my partners in Vancouver. Since then, FLOW has trained thousands of people as certified Professional coaches and leaders as coaches and mentors. We started as four people, and now FLOW is one of the leading schools in coaching, mentoring, and leadership development. We have hundreds of corporate clients and thousands of student coaches across the world! Our motto is “focus on one person at a time”...we have been focusing on one person, one manager, one business owner, one parent, one student, one child, in order to contribute to the positive change that we want to see in the world.
I wanted to tell you my story in the hopes that it would inspire those of you who are thinking of a career transition into something that feels more meaningful than your current job, but perhaps you do not have the resources and courage to do it. I know that the future looks uncertain to you and you are afraid to take the first step, but I promise you that if you plan your transition as small steps and do one thing every day or every week, it won’t scare you as much as it does right now. Most of the time the idea of change feels more difficult and scarier than it actually is. Start small, don’t procrastinate, focus on doing one thing at a time, create slow momentum...and then suddenly the day will come and you feel ready to take the big step.
If I did it, so can you! What gives you a sense of flow? Where do you feel engaged? Where do you feel whole? What does FLOW look like to you?