MEET MARIE FRASER, FOUNDER OF MARIE FRASER CONSULTING
Mother, Certified Life Coach, and Clinical Hypnotherapist Marie Fraser is a woman of many talents and passions. From managing an international law firm responsible for commercial property matters both in the UK and Europe to navigating the terrain of motherhood, entrepreneurship and setting up her own consultancy. There's not much this incredible lady hasn't encountered on her journey. In fact, in addition to the above, Marie is currently fulfilling another life ambition. She is 12 months into 4-year psychotherapy masters!
Marie's journey to the woman you see on the page today certainly wasn't easy, but you wouldn't know to look at or talk to her. She's confident, thoughtful and stunningly vibrant; listening to her tell her story feels inspiring and intimate, with more than a hint of humour and just the right amount of sass. It's safe to say I knew she was our kind of girl immediately. Over to you Marie...
SO, MARIE, WHAT’S YOUR STORY?
I thought I knew it all aged 16. Which 16 year old doesn't? I did know that school was not for me. I felt incredibly unstimulated. I wanted to get out and into the real world. I was a bit of a rebel but was so lucky because my parents have always supported me. I was also fortunate because my English teacher, whose name I'm ashamed to say I've forgotten, but I can still see her in my mind, took a shine to me. She saw something in me that I felt in myself, but the other teachers certainly didn't! She arranged a job interview for me with her friend, the senior partner of a law firm. I started at the lowly position of office junior but absolutely loved it. This was my calling. I would do anything and everything as I was eager to learn, like a sponge soaking everything up.
I moved up through the ranks, and the firm paid for my legal education, which was tough working full time. Within five years, I was running my own clients and a satellite office. I moved to London for love, where I spent many years in a handful of law firms, mainly in property. One particular solopreneur lawyer I worked for had me set up two offices for him in Portugal, which was a great experience.
The last position I had was working as a partnership secretary for an international law firm managing the London and East European offices. This was a fantastic opportunity and unearthed in me all kinds of skills I never knew I had. I managed people, different cultures, expectations, staff and staff welfare, and setting, maintaining, and reaching deadlines; the list is endless. This job also gave me access to some beautiful parts of America, where I would spend a few weeks in each of the various 14 offices we had there.
My career had always been a priority for me, but I woke up one day out of nowhere, and the only thing on my mind was becoming a mother before 'time' ran out. I was in my late 30's and had a few emotionally devastating miscarriages. But then, joy of joys, I was pregnant again, and this time the most precious thing slid into my life. I was beyond thrilled but in equal measure terrified. I was now responsible for this little helpless thing, another human life! Even though my baby was precious to me, so was my job, and I went back to work within three months with both babies.
At 11.30 am on 1 June 1998, the day after my youngest son’s first birthday my world imploded. The paediatrician coldly and very matter of factly told me he had cerebral palsy. I could, and maybe one day I will write a book about that journey. I can't really articulate how I felt. I didn't know what it meant; I didn't know whether it was life-limiting. Please, God, let me wake up from this nightmare. Life is not a dress rehearsal, and there's no manual for it. You're thrown right in there, and you never know what it's going to throw right back at you.
What I do know is that that life deals you a deck of cards that you can deal with, and that's different for every single one of us. Nothing can prepare you for a sick child; it is the cruellest scenario because you would rather it be yourself.
I have spent years taking my son around the country to various specialists and therapists from iridology, cranial-sacral therapy, osteopathy to conductive education. We have tried pretty much everything. The specialists gave me little hope, which at the time I thought was incredibly cruel. But of course, now I can understand because as a neurological disability, one has to see how this neuro disability will affect the person as they get older. I experienced tremendous grief. Grief for the child I thought I had, for the fact that my child will never be able to lead a 'normal' independent life, never be able to do anything spontaneously and for the fact that he will never be able to have the same opportunities as his brother. What will happen to him when I'm not here? Every day that makes me sad.
In the past 11 years, I have managed 4 special educational needs tribunals for my son, standing up to and fighting the local authority for his rights to education, health and care. These particular experiences warrant another book because I swear the general public would be appalled if they knew just how despicable, inhumane, and vindictive some local authorities are towards special educational and disabled children and families like mine.
Like many people, I've experienced my fair share of trauma. I was mugged and assaulted on two separate occasions. An intruder sledge-hammered down my front door and invaded my personal space whilst I was sleeping. I was married to a narcissist for 27 years and endured all the emotional abuse that's part of the narcissist's arsenal. I tell you this not for sympathy, but to demonstrate how one can go from being an extremely confident woman to one whose confidence and self-esteem was broken and then back again.
When I eventually broke free from that abusive relationship, I rebuilt myself into the woman I am today. Smarter, stronger, full of confidence, fun, joie de vivre, and much kinder to myself. As my children grew older, I retrained in various modalities and now work as a clinical hypnotherapist and certified life coach. My passion lies in relationships, especially the relationship you have with yourself. You can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy. There will be stuff you don't like about yourself, and that's ok, change it or accept it. It gives me the greatest joy to help people love and accept themselves, no matter what they have endured. The relationship you have with yourself affects every aspect of your life, your happiness, your success, your relationships, EVERYTHING!
My personal values are Courage, Freedom, Fun, Justice and Authenticity. They are the core of who I am and what I bring to my practice.
YOU'RE A BIG ADVOCATE FOR SELF-CARE AND BOUNDARIES. WHAT DOES THAT LOOK LIKE FOR YOU AS A MOTHER AND BUSINESSWOMAN?
As a mother, children want and need boundaries - it makes them feel safe, know where they are with you, and be consistent. BUT OMG, do they like to push the limits. My eldest son and I still laugh about that today. When he was asserting his personality and seeing how far I would go, he would ask me several times the same question if my initial answer had been 'no'. It's draining as a parent, but so essential to stick with it. As he got older and wanted to stay over at a friend's house, he would mither me for a 'yes' I would tell him if he wants an answer now - it's a 'no'. Still, if he waits until I have the time to call his friend's parents and check with them, it may be a 'yes.'
In business, I have learned to do the things that are authentic to me. For example, there are various social media platforms that I really do not like - I may miss a trick, but they don't sit right with me, so I don't use them. I work between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm, 4 days a week. The rest of the week is for me to pursue my interests and things that light me up (self-care). I am always upfront with clients so that they know exactly what's involved when they work with me from the outset.
YOU HAVE A DEEP FASCINATION WITH THE HUMAN BRAIN AND BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS. DO YOU THINK THIS INFLUENCED YOUR BUSINESS DIRECTION? AND IF SO, HOW DO YOU THINK IT ENHANCED YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE?
For sure, yes. It all started when my youngest was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The brain is the most incredible piece of equipment. I am totally fascinated by and in awe of it. The last 25 years have brought new and wonderful insights and research like neuroplasticity, for example. I believe we have only touched the surface of our understanding of this amazing organ.
I am a massive advocate of the mind-body connection. I believe, most fervently, that the cause of a lot of unexplained illness originates from our thoughts, attitudes and behaviours. We do have the power to heal ourselves from a lot of dis-ease.
People come to me because they are looking for change. They either want to get rid of something, or they want something, or they perhaps don't know what they want. BUT, in all cases, they want their pain to go away.
My clients find a little neuro and psychoeducation helpful in understanding the work that I do and how it will help them. A little understanding makes them much more likely to buy into the process and invest in whatever homework I give them.
Understanding how life's experiences affect us, how and why they become imprinted, and how and why ignoring or suppressing emotions is detrimental to our long term health and happiness helps them to understand how they have arrived at the point they are at when they come to see me.
HOW DO YOU HANDLE CRITICISM?
If I've asked for someone's opinion on something, I welcome it because whoever I have asked, I trust they will be honest with me. I pay no attention to unsolicited criticism. I'm not in control of what other people think. In my experience, it's usually a reflection of themselves.
YOUR BUSINESS HAS SHIFTED DIRECTION SOMEWHAT AND GONE FROM STRENGTH TO STRENGTH IN THE LAST FEW YEARS. DO YOU THINK THAT IT'S A SKILL TO ADAPT AND MOVE WITH THE NEEDS OF YOUR CLIENTS RATHER THAN STAY RIGID TO YOUR ORIGINAL IDEA?
I believe flexibility is a vital life skill. We live in an ever-changing world, and it's essential to adapt to it. So long as my values are not compromised, I can really adapt to any situation.
YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR VALUES A LOT, PARTICULARLY JUSTICE AND AUTHENTICITY. HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS TO DEFINE AND LIVE BY THESE VALUES PERSONALLY AND IN BUSINESS?
Well, I'm a what you see is what you get kind of gal, and it has always stood me in fantastic stead. I can't pretend to be something I'm not. People like that kind of honesty/authenticity. It makes them feel safe to be around you. It portrays a sense of confidence, and people are attracted to confident people.
In the various cultures I have worked in, they found it jaw-dropping when I said I didn't know the answer to something, but I would find out rather than bluffing my way through. I am not a fan of fake it until you make it. I just don't believe in it. To be honest, there is no difference between my personal and business life. My values encompass both.
WHAT HAVE YOU FOUND DIFFICULT ON YOUR JOURNEY, AND WHAT WOULD YOU AVOID IF YOU COULD DO IT ALL AGAIN?
Talking about my relationship with the narcissist. I did not recognise myself. How could I have gone from this confident corporate woman to that? Leading a double life, I was full of shame and guilt, and it took me a long time to open up. I think I was concerned about my eldest son reading about it. I'm not sure if I would handle it any different again.
WHAT’S YOUR TOP TIP FOR OUR AWESOME FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS READING THIS ARTICLE?
The most important relationship you will ever have in your life is with the person you will spend the rest of your life with. YOU!
When you trust and accept yourself, warts and all, everything falls into place.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
Fun, curiosity, learning, to be the best me I can be, my children.
WHICH SONG WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO ADD TO THE FEMALE CEO'S #GIRLBOSS PLAYLIST ON SPOTIFY FOR YOU?
Love My Life Robbie Williams
WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR SURE?
I am the only person who can make me happy. You are the only person who can make you happy. No one else can do that because if you hand over that power, you also hand over the power to make you unhappy.
DO YOU HAVE A BOOK OR FAVOURITE PODCAST RECOMMENDATION FOR OUR FEMALE CEO MEMBERS?
Pride and Prejudice I adore Jane Austen; she was way ahead of her time.
WHAT'S NEXT FOR MARIE FRASER CONSULTING?
I'm 12 months into a psychotherapy masters, which I am enjoying and learning a lot from. It's full-on, but I know that these additional learnings/tools are really going to allow me to help my clients even more.
WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU'VE DONE IN THE NAME OF LOVE?
Left my job, family and home town.
WHAT MAKES YOU TRULY HAPPY, AND HOW DO YOU HANDLE DOWNTIME?
Being with my children. They are my greatest gifts and most outstanding achievements. Fun downtime would be theatre, opera, art, photography, travel, dining out, laughing with the people I love.