She is a force to be reckoned with. Selina Martin guides leading women in business in their visible growth through high-end one-on-one consultancy in which personal growth, style & branding come together. Her main goal is to help entrepreneurs make the invisible, visible, by aligning three powerful assets: Presence, Message and Appearance. Amongst her clientele are contemporary female entrepreneurs and a number of well-known Dutch politicians. Besides being a gamechanger in her field of work, her warm and outspoken personality makes her a true joy to be around. Enough reason to invite her for an interview to discuss recent developments in society’s ever-changing landscape.
“Different times call for different leaders and therefore a different form of leadership.”
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You help people make the invisible visible. Can you explain this a little further?
Correct, I know this may sound a bit vague. What I’m trying to say here, is that who you are on the inside, should also be visibly represented on the outside. And that is the part in which I guide these purpose driven individuals. To really ground, deepen and increase their self-confidence and build a strong foundation they can always (re)turn to. A foundation to help entrepreneurial individuals to take those growth steps with true confidence. To sum it up: making the invisible visible by connecting the inside with the outside.
Presence, Message & Appearance are your three keywords. What is the force behind a good balance between these three?
I think the answer lies in the power of yin and yang, when things are balanced, it brings you to the best possible version of yourself that you can be. These units complement and amplify each other so that you can share your story from a place of inner confidence. I think the power lies in that you experience a firmness in yourself, in formulating a clear core message in yourself that is also tangible and audible for others. Your appearance is there to help you to emphasize your radiance, to be seen and instantly make a solid first impression.
You started as a personal stylist. What is the power of clothing?
People have a certain image in their head of what a stylist does, which is often the complete opposite of what I actually do. I think they have a common fear for stylists because they think of being put in something totally out of their comfort zone because that is what’s ‘on trend’ right now. What I believe is that it is not the intention to “dress” someone up, but that you may tune in to the person you have in front of you as well as her message & mission. It is basically aligning everything so that it becomes a logical, clear and overarching (brand) story.
The inside is the starting point for a successful outside. First in, then out. Can you explain why this is important?
So, “First in, then out” is a quote that stuck by me. I fully believe in it too. Every time you are taking that next level step in business or in your personal development, you may firstly go in to feel and acknowledge; what are my desires, what are my ambitions, what exactly are those goals I envision, and then you go out. Clearly and effortlessly translating that vision & mission into the outside world. It’s a foundation that may always feel strong, easy and powerful to you. When those two aspects align, a steady interior with a powerful exterior, it becomes so much easier to achieve your goals and to convey your vision to others. It’s a form of growth, and growth is my absolute favourite word. I did, and still do, this in a holistic way. Working holistically means that you look at something of someone as a whole, which is something that’s extremely important to me. Therefore, it made sense to me to build my business in a similar way.
Both men and women feel social pressure to fit a certain ‘picture’ in order to participate in today’s society. The well-known “box” where we not only put in other people, but often also want to be part of ourselves, in order to have the feeling that we belong. What is your view on this?
There are many corporate fields in which this still happens on a daily basis. People are trained to live up to certain expectations and if you play by the rules, you can climb the ladder and go up within this system. It has been like that for a long time, but I’m glad to notice that there is a second movement on a rise. A movement that encourages us to be our authentic selves, to also show our vulnerable side, to embrace all aspects of ourselves and that gives the feminine energy (in both men and women) more space. And that’s something I personally endorse as it matches my holistic view.
You mainly focus on the “New Age Leaders”. Why is socially conscious leadership so important, especially today?
Different times call for different leaders and therefore a different form of leadership. In the past decades, the masculine way of leading has been the number one form of leadership and men in particular stepped into that type of authority. I think it is wrong to say that this form of leadership didn’t do us any good at all. I also don’t think that we should completely turn it the other way around. Luckily, we realize more and more what effect this form of leadership has had on our society. Which is why it is now under so much pressure and why there is a strong opening for the feminine aspect in leadership as well. The reason why I focus on that innovative vision of new-age leaders, who are currently the game changers, is because it is in line with my personal vision of what the ‘new normal’ should be or could look like. So working with these individuals is my humble contribution to a more positive outcome for all.
During our previous conversation we already discussed the fact that you also coach a number of Dutch politicians. When did your interest in politics start?
I find the political playing field and especially the influence it has on our society very interesting. I really believe in the Bottom-up movement that is currently going on. It is so important that everyone’s voice is being heard but, or and, we need politicians to implement the requested change from above. We are more than ready for change and it should now be supported by a top-down movement as well. The influence of politics has sparked a huge fire in me which really lit up during the time that the Obama’s were in the White House, partly because I was truly inspired by how President Obama and his First Lady, Michelle formed such a equally leading team. They were truly in it together.
“What I see as a response to this crisis is that there is also an intrinsic motivation from within people to become more (self-) conscious.”
Speaking of which, let’s have a look at the current political landscape. You already indicated it yourself: This time is about embracing and cultivating yourself, including your vulnerable sides. How can we all contribute to this? What do you think could / should be done differently?
I think we are finally opening our eyes and taking a good look at the existing systems and are invited to re-think our current ways. Is this still serving us? I believe the first step is taking responsibility for yourself. To recognize and acknowledge our own patterns and see if we can break through them. To actually see, know and embrace every aspect of ourselves. To become whole. If we would all do this on an individual level, it would have such a huge impact on the overall picture. We should never underestimate the impact of our own influence; we tend to look to others to make change happen, but it truly starts within yourself. Which is what my “Return to Self Session” is based on.
The crisis has opened the eyes of many people to a more conscious lifestyle. However, this “awareness” is only the beginning … What tools do we need to maintain this flow?
All tools are already available to us. Also due to the current crisis, there has now become more space for mindfulness & meditation, even within large corporations, which is so important. So, my answer would be; daily practice. And don’t get me wrong, you really don’t have to do yoga for two hours every day to contribute to the bigger picture, but it is important to discover what works for you. Whether this is meditation or a daily walk in nature. However, this is also a kind of muscle that needs to be trained and does require a certain level of dedication.
What I see as a response to this crisis is that there is also an intrinsic motivation from within people to become more (self-)conscious. What we have all experienced during the lockdown, has led to more and more people becoming aware of the positive effects of stillness in our lives.
The Corona crisis is not all that is going on: The world is rebelling against inequality, systematic racism and discrimination. How do you experience this?
I really feel a “Hell yes” would be appropriate here. The transition that is now going on, which has been fuelled by the Corona outbreak, finally got us out of our own little bubbles and confronted the world with a sinister problem that has been ignored for far too many years. All of the sudden we see things clear as day. It’s almost as if someone has pressed a reset button. The “Black Lives Matter”- movement has spread all over the world and as a result we are coming together as a union as we start to realize how the racism system actually works. The inequality between black and white; is this still something we want? I think we can all agree that the answer is ‘no’. Because we, as humans, have by collectively demonstrating chosen to grow past this together.
What do you hope the world will look like post 2020?
The first word that comes to mind is: Unity. This sounds a bit “Miss Universe” -like, but in essence, why not? Why not strive for unity and togetherness. What the F are we doing here otherwise? A society in which we create a new world with respect for each other and with respect for animals and nature. Because from where we are right now at this moment, there’s only one way, and that’s up. Together we rise.
Find out more about Selina by visiting her website: www.thisisalter.nl
Credits: Photography by Esther Steenvoorden