Former investment banking professional Mayda Poc intentionally cultivates presence in each moment of her productive life.
Cultivating presence leads to meaningful productivity
After more than 15 years in the financial industry, working in Paris, London, and New York City, Mayda Poc left investment banking and Wall Street to become an international life and career coach, focusing on helping executives find more zen, fulfillment, and purpose in their daily lives and in their careers. Today, Mayda is a coach and a certified hypnosis practitioner based in New York City where she lives with her husband of 30 years and their Chartreux cat.
Mayda has experience working in both the corporate world and also as a self-employed person. She worked in investment banking, where work-life balance is pretty much non-existent. Towards the end of her career in this field, she was diagnosed with advanced cancer. Being a highly perfectionistic person, she decided she would do it all: go to chemotherapy while working from 4 am-9 pm. While this was a bit crazy for her, it allowed her to develop strategies, and find and express her boundaries. In a way, working while battling cancer was a saving grace for her because she had an excuse to pause for a second, realize there were things that weren’t working for her, and find the courage to express that.
Today, as a self-employed person, she has to daily find the motivation to be self-reliant, and she finds herself using the strategies she’d learned back in the corporate world. While being her own boss means the needs of her business often supersede her own needs, she is learning to be productive, to manage a schedule, and also to experiment different strategies that she can then communicate to her own clients, so they can craft the strategies that work for their individual needs and circumstances.
A typical day
Mayda wakes up between 4 and 4:30 each morning, which is a remnant of her international investment banking days. She kept this habit because the morning is usually a quiet time when she can journal, read emails, go on social media, catch up with family members who live in Paris, etc. She works out at home and then begins her workday. Many of her clients are international – from France, the UK, and South America – so her calls with them can begin as early as 7 am. Throughout her workday, she speaks with her clients, works on her social media, and prepares for consultations. Though her day is pretty flexible, she says it was very important for her to first create the structure that she could be flexible within.
Mayda emphasizes that it is important to go back to your “Why” when you run your own business. Thinking about your mission and purpose of being in business for yourself will lead you to think about “How” you can achieve what you set out to do, helping you to prevent treating your business like a hobby. Mayda was determined that she would professionalize her business and hired professionals to set up her website and contracts. But, more important, she worked on her attitude and behavior as a serious business owner; she plans her day like a business owner, she dresses as if she’s going into an office, and she finds ways to keep herself motivated every day.
The nature of her business requires her to be flexible in her availability for her clients, so she is often working on weekends and evenings. However, she is well aware of her personal needs such as needing to spend quality time with her friends and husband, so she makes sure to build time in for those activities. She also knows her brain doesn’t work well after 8:30 pm, so that’s when she comes to a hard stop for work. Another non-negotiable habit of hers is that when she eats, she focuses on eating. This is a habit that comes from her French background, as well as from her former banking days.
Being present is very important to Mayda, and we agreed that it is a lost art to modern-day people in the name of ultra-productivity. To her, presence equals intention, meaning, and showing up 100% to what is happening right now. The essence of everything we do is not about the outcome, but the process. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to do 6 things at once, but we do not reap meaningful lessons from any of the 6 activities. Most important, we do not get any fulfillment or satisfaction from any of these activities. In that sense, indulging in the luxury of simply focusing on eating for 15 minutes is a way to honor and be productive with our bodies.
Biggest productivity challenges
Mayda’s biggest challenge is procrastination. When procrastination strikes, she enters a state of complete paralysis, which leads her to question her entire enterprise, tempting her to abandon everything. Each time this happens, she learns from herself; she learns why and how she procrastinates, and she develops tips and tricks on how to break the cycle.
For example, Mayda really dislikes admin work. When she realizes she’s getting resentful and writes a whole drama in her head about having to do this type of work, she stops herself from entering into a state of doom and gloom and reminds herself to communicate in a very matter-of-fact manner. Coming from a place of neutrality is extremely helpful because it helps you to carry out a logical, non-emotional conversation regarding the work that needs to be done.
Another tactic Mayda uses is to negotiate with herself. When she is faced with tasks she doesn’t like to do and she forces herself to do them, it takes a very long time because she is constantly fighting her inner voice complaining about how boring the work is and questioning why she needs to be doing this. So the first thing she does is to have a Q & A session with herself. Then, she decides on a day in the future when she will tackle it and puts it on her calendar. When her brain keeps reminding her that she needs to handle that particular task, she reminds herself that she already has a date in mind when she will get to it, and this silences the chatter in her brain. On the actual scheduled date, her mind is ready to deal with that particular task.
Tools Mayda recommends
Mayda uses a paper planner and a to-do list. She makes sure to write everything down, and then she asks herself the questions before deciding what items go in her planner.
- Why am I doing this?
- What am I doing?
- Who is doing it?
- When am I doing this?
Mayda uses a plain notebook and also Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Planner.
What happens on a day when everything gets away from you?
Mayda experiences this when something entirely unexpected comes up and she has to shift everything around to accommodate these changes. The first thing she does is to tell her to stop and move away from what I’m doing. Sometimes, she will take a walk because the movement will help her to clear her head. After that, she will go back to her to-do list very intentionally and ask herself what she is trying to achieve. Then she tackles her list in as logical and emotionally detached a way as possible. Once she is done with a particularly challenging and crazy day, she visualizes herself closing her laptop or closing her office door and walking away. Then she tells herself, “This day stays at the office. Now, my day is done. I did everything I had to do. From now on is my personal time, and I will not think about work.” Obviously, this is easier said than done, so whenever work creeps up again for Mayda, she negotiates with herself again to decide how to handle it.
What’s on the horizon for Mayda?
As Mayda’s business evolves, she is adding new programs. One she is particularly excited about is called “Career-Life Excelerator” where she has put together strategies for people who want to work on 2-3 life areas at the same time. Another program she is passionate about is one on the topic of financial health and wellness. Mayda shares that financial wellness goes beyond having an emergency fund, saving for retirement, and paying your bills on time. It’s more about having an emotionally detached relationship with money and viewing money as a tool to fuel and fund your dreams.
Last thoughts on making a life that matters
Fixing your perspective starts with understanding or accepting that everything you do or happens to you is the start of a learning experience. Whenever you feel extremely stressed or feel like you don’t have it together, take a step back and ask yourself, “What am I here to learn about what is happening? Where am I being called to improve?” But most important, look back and see all your achievements and victories and everything you’ve accomplished in your life. We live in a society where everything is about future achievements that are yet to exist, and rarely do we look back and celebrate the things we have accomplished or survived or are proud of.
Every time you feel down or something isn’t going the way you want it to, remind yourself as often as possible that you have accomplished much more than you are aware. Don’t look for outside validation, but give yourself the gift of self-validation and self-respect. Then, see how this mindset change creates a chemical reaction and changes your mood and energizes you.
What do you think?
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Connect with Mayda
More about Mayda
After more than 15 years in the financial industry, working in Paris, London, and New York City, Mayda Poc left investment banking and Wall Street to become an international life and career coach, focusing on helping executives find more zen, fulfillment, and purpose in their daily lives and in their careers.
Today, Mayda is a coach and a certified hypnosis practitioner based in New York City. She specializes in life coaching and career coaching, and uses multiple modalities including hypnosis, in her practice.
Mayda holds a Master Coach certification from the International Coaching Institute (“ICI”), Geneva; she is also certified as a Health Coach, having studied wellness coaching at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (“IIN”). She is also a certified hypnotist, having attended the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, America’s first nationally accredited hypnotherapy training school (“HMI”), where, in addition to her accredited diploma in hypnotherapy, Mayda earned a certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (“NLP”) practitioner, as well as in advanced Emotional Freedom Technique.
Mayda lives in New York City with her husband of 30 years and their Chartreux cat. When she is not working with her clients or mentoring in or fresh out of college students, Mayda is an avid fan of TV series, of long walks and trying new (food) places in the City that Never Sleeps.
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