The Proven Entrepreneur

TPE S1 E32 Natalya | Leadership Training and Coaching


If you’re an entrepreneur, a business leader, or belonging to an organization, you find that achieving goals for your business is a tedious task. Nevertheless, you strive to achieved your target goals. In this episode, we are with world traveler, leadership, and wellbeing coach Natalya Berdikyan. Natalya shares her success story from her humble beginnings to founding and leading her own company, Life by Design Academy. She also talks about how she uses core energy coaching to help entrepreneurs, leaders, and organizations to improve their potential. Join Don Williams today as he talks with Natalia.

For information on how to work with Don visit Work With Don Williams
You can also reach out to Don Williams at
Please join Don and his businesses in support of St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital in its Mission to cure Childhood Cancers. You can donate to St. Jude at

Listen to the podcast here


Proven Entrepreneur – World Traveler Natalya Berdikyan

From A Russian Vegetable Stand To Barcelona-Based Global Energy Coaching

Thanks for being on the show. Let’s start with one good thing or something you’re grateful for that we don’t know about you. I’ll go first. That’s only fair. It’s spring. I have been fighting allergies and then an eye infection. I am glad for the miracle of modern medicine. For about ten days, I only look like I’m crying all day, which I’m not, but I’m on the mend. I am grateful for that. How about you, Natalya? What’s something you’re grateful for?

I’m grateful that you don’t experience such a challenge anymore with your eyes. That’s something I’m grateful for. For the rest, it’s the ability to travel still between Berlin, Brussels and Barcelona. I’m in Berlin. I’m going to Barcelona. I’m grateful for that.

People have stayed home so much. They are excited to go. Let’s hop right into it. Tell us what are you doing now and your business.

I’m helping entrepreneurs, leaders and their organizations live to their full potential. We use energy leadership coaching to get to the core of whatever that is they’re going through and whatever is at the core and the essence of their thoughts, emotions and actions or inactions, which is a beautiful moment with everybody going back to their working places or whatever those working places look like, dealing with all those challenges and reinventing their organizations and energy.

Tell us a little bit more about energy, how we use or avoid using energy and what it can mean to our performance.

Core energy coaching is a process that supports people in having the awareness of whatever is at the core of their thoughts, beliefs and attitudes about work, life and community. It plays a significant role in determining the experience they live. You can imagine if you believe it’s bad weather and a bad day and you’re feeling mentally down, it physically affects you as well. You have lower motivation, engagement, performance and sense of satisfaction in how you enjoyed the day or not. The same affects every single thing we do or don’t do because of the external and internal environment.

You do that. You own a business based in Barcelona but you have clients all around the globe. What’s the name of that business?

It’s Life by Design Academy.

Listen to your intuition and your gut. Don't let anything stand between you and your dream. Click To Tweet

I know you and part of your story but let’s go back to early Natalya. Tell us about your first job before you got paid.

It wasn’t an official job but a first entrepreneurial experience. I was around nine years old. I was selling vegetables and fruits from my country house at the Russian market, preparing the crops, delivering the crops, attracting the clients, negotiating the prices and making my grandma happy with the whole process being done and successful.

Mission accomplished. The money was there. I remember it well. I’m sure I got some of it. She was always supporting me. The next thing was babysitting in the US. I was an exchange student in the ’90s coming from Moscow to California. There was some money exchange there if that counts. The official one would be in a bank back in Moscow at the end of the ’90s.

We find a common thread among entrepreneurs. They learned a very strong work ethic as a child and/or were entrepreneurial. You were preparing the crops, taking the crops to the farmer’s market, negotiating a little haggle and trying to get the most money you can. That all sounds pretty entrepreneurial to me. You were born and raised in Russia and you live in Barcelona. I know some of the stops along the way but everybody would be thrilled to know how many stops. Tell us about your journey from Russia to Barcelona and where you’ve been in the interim.

From Moscow, I went to California as an exchange student. I had four stops there. I lived in four different US families and went to two schools from Northern to Southern California. That was that. I moved, studied, finished my Bachelor’s in Business in Amsterdam and moved around Holland as well. I was seven years in Holland. I moved from Spain to the Canary Islands out of all places. I was living on a small island. Do not get a capital girl to a small island. It might start being suffocating pretty fast. That was Barcelona. I ended up living in Belgium for twelve years. I’m now back in Barcelona simply because I love it there. In short, it’s 6 countries, including Berlin in between, and 24 moves if you count the post address.

Life by Design Academy is not your first business. Tell us about your first real business.

In my twenties, I started a company that was producing hair accessories and merchandising. We were producing in China. It was a small business. I was designing all the little things for kids and adults. It’s the girly stuff from hairbrushes to clips and all sorts of things. We were selling to Russia. I was still a foreign person. We’re talking about the Soviet Union and Russian passports. The Dutch student is me trying to make a living and do it legally speaking. I had to change the whole plan, instead of running a company, get a proper job, residence, working permit and all that stuff. That was an interesting journey. I had a business with my business partner running a chocolate factory in Belgium, hence Belgium. I stayed there for a while to keep the lives of many people sweet, and then Life by Design.

How long ago did you leave the chocolate business?

TPE S1 E32 Natalya | Leadership Training and Coaching
Leadership Training and Coaching: We can always improve and be the better versions of ourselves.


That was years ago when our common friend Warren Rustand got us on top of Machu Picchu with around 30 entrepreneurs from Entrepreneurs’ Organization. The light bulb went on and Life by Design came to reality. I wanted to make it more meaningful for myself and other people and make a difference in a different way than keeping it sweet.

Both are very beneficial to humanity. Our mutual friend, Warren Rustand, is a big proponent of intentional living or living by design. You applied the principle to your life first and now you help other people on their journey to intentional living. You started that business years ago. Tell us how you ended the chocolate adventure and began the energy adventure.

That was a good adventure. One overlapped with the other. I wonder if we let go completely of something because it stays such an important part of our life, memory and experience, whether the experience of running a company or being a leader, human being and CSO. Years ago, I wanted to build an organization whereby I can provide experts and coaches a beautiful opportunity to do what they do best. Everybody knows they’re great at what they do. The last thing they love is selling and marketing business development. That’s where I come in because I did it for years.

I love connecting people and opportunities and building something. On the other side, it’s the entrepreneurs, their organizations and the leaders of those organizations to develop what they want and change the way of work, the way of life and everything. I thought, “I might as well check out the whole coaching deeply.” One thing is to work with coaches and hire coaches. Another thing is even coming from an HR background and running companies, that was something I wanted to master.

I found the International Institute that works with not only coaching but also energy leadership coaching. That went deep. Apply it for yourself first. I had to go through the whole thing. It’s like peeling the onion and getting a completely different skin on. It’s an interesting experience. I have a team from the US to the Middle East, beautiful experts that speak the same language of business and energy, which is beautiful, and beautiful projects from the US to Asia, profit and nonprofit. It’s super fulfilling and different from creating chocolates and consuming them.

In my journey, I’ve found a dozen companies in various industries. Some of those went well, some not so well and a couple completely blew up and were no good at all. What I found was once I began helping other people improve, that was where my superpower was and where I’m most fulfilled and seeing other people hit their goals. Tell us about a warp speed moment. In one of your businesses, things are going along pretty well. There are no complaints but all of a sudden, 1 or 2 things happened that your businesses shot off. Do you have a moment like that you can share with us?

In the chocolate industry or business, we had a very specific product for the market, which became quite a niche. The market changes, whether it’s COVID or consumer trends. We realize that we were going to lose half our business if not more if we were not going to change something. You have this old big factory and the people. They used to produce the same thing for 130 years in this case. I didn’t start the business. It needs to innovate. It’s pivoting or looking for different products and markets.

That’s what we did although that came at a cost because we got into retail where it’s all about price rather than the quality and service. That was an interesting lesson to have to anticipate, think in different directions and also learn from other examples rather than waiting for your own to come. That was harsh. We had to close the factory and outsource the production. That was the end of the story. It’s a small boutique business. We did shrink and we finally focused on what we do best instead of trying to be everything for everybody. That was the lesson.

Be the best version of yourself. There are no limits to growth. Click To Tweet

Ultimately, that was an overall improvement for the business.

It simplified a lot of things in terms of the supply chain. You can imagine production is a tough operation, not only do you have the factory, equipment and people to deal with the qualities of the supply chain, stock and everything in between. A lot of brands are brands and distributors. That’s what we became at the end of it. It’s having a good for production that runs everything else until here smoothly so that we can do what we do best.

I was in Zurich a couple of years ago and we visited the Lindt chocolate factory. I was amazed. I had no idea how large it was and how many people were involved. Once you got within about a mile of the factory, it had this wonderful sweet chocolate aroma. If you were a chocolate fan, you couldn’t get within a mile because you would want to come in and walk out with some chocolate for sure. Let’s say we had a time machine and you could go back. You’ve been an entrepreneur for years. If you go back and share one piece of advice with twenty-year-old Natalya, what would you share with your twenty-year-old self that would have been beneficial along your journey?

Listen to your intuition and your gut. Don’t let anything stand between you and your dream.

I put you on the spot. I’ll share mine. Mine is a little different. I am very intuitive for a man. I don’t know if intuition is strictly a female thing. It took me many years to figure out that I should collaborate and listen to input and feedback from people that were different from me, whether they were female, different politically or different personality types.

For many years, I believed that if you disagreed with me, you were either mentally slow, you didn’t understand or you were confused because I was right. I’m not proud to say that. That’s not a good way to be but that is part of my story. It took me many years to figure out I need input from a lot of people. If it’s my role to make the final decision, then I can do that. If it’s not and it’s your role, I can let you do that. It’s to seek input from as many diverse people as I can.

Thank you for sharing that.

It’s my pleasure.

TPE S1 E32 Natalya | Leadership Training and Coaching
Leadership Training and Coaching: That state of fulfillment, satisfaction, and success and the higher energy level you’re at are all about understanding and feeling that we are all connected. We are a tribe.


It relates to that. You cannot change whatever but it’s taking away the ego part and not thinking that you got it right. It’s that openness. I’ve always been curious. That’s why it took me to so many places. It’s that piece of the ego, whether it was cultural, upbringing being defensive or being a single parent kid. A little less of the ego would be even better because that stands in the way. If we can leave the ego at the door, which is hard, and not have the judgment of self and others, that would make things so much smoother and less challenging.

It took me a long time to get there. I was one of those kids who never took a book home. I always had the best grades. Pretty much everything I did went very well. I allowed myself to be rewarded for that. I held a high opinion of myself. If you’re not going to think well of yourself, nobody else will. You should think well of yourself. I certainly missed collaborating with other people that work like me for a long time. That has been a big lesson in my life. Tell us about your business. If somebody reaches out to Life by Design Academy and they look to engage you, your firm or a coach in your firm, what does that look like? Are they working with someone? Give us the outline or the framework because we may have people that would reach out.

That’s very nice. Thank you. It can be anything from having a keynote speech and a workshop around energy leadership and how individuals and their teams manage their energy and move from the place of being a victim of the fact of life situations and people and feeling stuck, frustrated, angry and competitive. Move them to the place of creation, flow, creativity and collaboration as we were talking about, seek win-win opportunities and solutions and ultimately create that productivity and sustainable results.

It can be anything from three months of engagement working with the teams and the people, whether it is moving into rebuilding and rethinking how they work and their mindsets, to two years of ongoing coaching. You can always be more of a conscious leader and the leader that everyone can look up to, including yourself. Self-leadership is very important. That’s the principal part of it. We can always improve and be the better versions of ourselves. Warren always says, “Be the best version of yourself. There are no limits to growth.”

On the leadership subject, I’ve always felt that the eternal struggle is leading oneself. It’s much easier to lead other people. Like most leaders, I carry a pass in my pocket for me if I don’t perform. I’m like, “Here’s my pass.” Sometimes we don’t hold that same pass for others. The hardest leadership is always ourselves. Here’s maybe the toughest question. If the Proven Entrepreneur Tribe could support you, what would you ask from us for you?

Another thing coming up is how can I support you because at the end of the day, what you give is what you get. That state of fulfillment, satisfaction and success and the higher energy level you’re at are all about understanding and feeling that we are all connected. We are a tribe. It’s not about me. It is about the others. It’s all interrelated. It’s energetic resonance. Energy attracts like energy. I’m trying to leave the ego at the door. I’m here for you. I’m grateful for that entrepreneurial drive I had within EO for years, everybody that made a difference in my life and all the people I collaborated with. I want to give back.

If you don’t know, in EO, which Natalya and I have referred to as Entrepreneurs’ Organization, there are almost 15,000 of us around the world. In every country, entrepreneurs are supporting entrepreneurship and other entrepreneurs. You could reach out to Natalya or me and we could get you more information if you were interested in that. Natalya, if somebody wanted to reach out to you, how would we contact you?

It’s Natalya Berdikyan on all the social media like LinkedIn. Otherwise, it’s I’m here to support, raise the energy of the whole wide world, create opportunities and help people to live to their full potential and believe that everything is possible because it is. It’s a place of abundance rather than lack.

One of my favorite people on this planet is my Russian sister, Natalya. Please reach out to her. Thank you so much for joining us on this episode of the show. I’ll see you next time. Thanks.


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About Natalya Berdikyan

TPE S1 E32 Natalya | Leadership Training and CoachingNatalya is passionate about helping people and organizations grow to their full potential, improving the way of living and working, increasing their energy, leadership ability, performance, wellbeing and fulfillment.
Natalya comes from the corporate and entrepreneurial world, with over 20 years in international business development and management, from running a multimillion-dollar manufacturing company with multinational teams to launching a global coaching practice.
She applies her vast experience in living in 6 different countries, handling change, deep exposure to different industries, while finding creative solutions to complex situations. Natalya’s proven systematic approach helps individuals and organizations grow beyond borders and boundaries, to achieve lasting change, eliminating obstacles that stand in the way to reaching full potential, fulfillment and well-being.


For information on how to work with Don visit Work With Don Williams
You can also reach out to Don Williams at
Please join Don and his businesses in support of St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital in its Mission to cure Childhood Cancers. You can donate to St. Jude at

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TPE S1 E32 Natalya | Leadership Training and Coaching