The Malta Independent 23 January 2021, Saturday

Marie Benoit;s Diary: The Show Must Go On!

Marie Benoît Wednesday, 25 November 2020, 10:15 Last update: about 3 months ago

This week our Diarist is the simpatica Mariella Scerri. Mariella studied at the Institute of Bankers and graduated top 10 worldwide.  After working eight years in the corporate world she left to start her entrepreneurial journey and opened her first home décor store Orienta - today a household name in interior décor and furniture. 

Her passion for the restoration of old homes became another business side-line and landed her with a boutique hotel. She is also one of the first businesswomen to introduce Airbnb in Malta.

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Mariella lived in Asia for eight years working there as a design consultant for high end properties.  As she stepped off the plane from Bali to collect her car in Luqa she was already anticipating a new career for her quarantine months. She is not one to make a Garbo-like retreat from life, even in a pandemic.

Here she tells us how her latest brainwave has evolved.

I scrambled back to the Rock from Bali on the 18th of March with airport gates closing behind my back and escaping my tail by a hair's breadth.  Although, I am always sad to leave Bali, this was a time where I preferred my mother land for nurture, comfort and safety.

My car was neatly parked outside the Arrivals gate and a message arrived in my inbox letting me know where I was to find the key. 

There I was in Malta being given the cold shoulder and ordered to go into Solitary Confinement cunningly sugar coated as Quarantine.  I was feeling perfectly well of body, but the first symptoms of mental fragility started showing up.

How was I supposed to lock myself up in an apartment alone with no physical contact?

I, who have ants in my pants? I, who live for a couple of odd kilometers' walk in the morning had to be confined in a couple of square meters of boxed space.

Notwithstanding the ability to speak to everyone and see my loved ones on a screen, the going was tough.  I took to cooking up elaborate recipes, reading extravagantly long books, I was tempted to dabble with painting again.  Since I was jet lagged, I made no attempt to control when I slept, and it was quite normal for me to wake up in the middle of the night and "start my day".  Other than the months I had spent in hospital fifteen years ago, this was the only time in my life where I was permanently living in my PJ's.

Some ten days down the line - I had a hard look at myself in the mirror - the silver roots vying for attention that I could not address, and I made a decision that would impact my life for months to come.  I was going to embark on my third career.  I literally sat myself down, and made myself write down my potential strengths and my known weaknesses.

Amongst the strengths were vision, commitment, communication, entrepreneurship and joie-de-vivre and on the weaknesses were impatience, intensity, easily bored.  I am a people's person so how was I going to marry them off?

I enrolled in a very intense coaching course and started grooming myself to become a business coach for young entrepreneurs who want to start or scale their business. After all this is the life I have lived for the past 35 years and I realized that it would be a shame to keep all my knowledge to myself and not share it with others.

Through lock-down I immersed myself in my own education on how to develop proper coaching skills.  What is hard for most people (speaking in front of an audience) came as second nature to me.  After all I have spent years in front of a camera as a vehicle to get into people's living room.  Granted that the subject is a lot more specialised but that was exactly how I was going to marry off my weaknesses and my strengths.

Initially acquiring coaching skills seemed to be easy, but the more I studied the more difficult the whole set-up appeared to be.  This is no flimsy subject to be mastered in weeks.

Through my own coaching sessions, I was asked to push outside my comfort zone and create my own group of followers - and hence the Private Facebook Group "Lady Boss on Fire" was born.

The scope of the group is to nurture and empower women in all sectors of business and the professions. The Group literally grew exponentially in just a few months and stands at more than 1400 followers.  In this group women are encouraged to express their thoughts, endorse each other and give each other opportunities. We have amazing shout-outs to women who have achieved a new level of success.  We showcase women who are embarking on new careers.

In this group "everything is figureoutable". We inspire each other. After all everyone has the right to create the life that she loves.

Meanwhile, Monday nights are coaching nights and I go live for 45 minutes discussing subjects which are related to mindset or to business strategies. Often the subjects are chosen by the members themselves.

My "new career" has become the focus of my life.  It has contributed to a better understanding of my own businesses, a clearer understanding of myself and given me a huge empathy towards the many beautiful and competent women I have met in this group.

It is just the beginning but it is the most wonderful adventure that Covid-19 has given me.

When life gives us lemons - why not make some lemonade?

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