Natalie Glebova is an “Empowerist.” She has found her calling as an agent for empowering others and helping them realize their true potential. As Miss Universe 2005, Ms. Glebova is perfectly suited for this role: her significant public speaking engagements, establishment as a public figure, and her advocacy work with UN Women have all equipped her to be in a position of empowerment.
To date, she has used her Miss Universe platform to empower others by writing a bestselling book about empowerment, start her own company to empower youth, advocate for UN Women, and she also started a travel startup with her husband, Dean Kelly, called Travelbook. It is my great pleasure to have interviewed Natalie and share with you her thoughtful answers here on Rosy BVM. Thank you, Natalie, you are incredibly inspiring!
Bianca: Your work as Miss Universe certainly set the stage for an incredible career that spans from being a motivational speaker, UN Women advocate, writer, travel blogger, and entrepreneur! I am so amazed by your work and believe in how you set an incredible example for living an empowered life. You are an “Empowerist,” as you say. What brought you to this realization that this was your calling?
Natalie: There was a point in my life where I didn’t know who I was in a professional sense and struggled with what to say when people asked me what I did for a living. I tried many different paths, always striving to pursue my passion and what I felt set my soul on fire. I did blogging, designing my product line (perfumes), I wanted to create a line of workout clothes, took acting classes, received a diploma in nutrition and wellness, and even learned how to DJ. All of that was interesting for me for a short while until I got bored. Then I came to realize that I was always pursuing my passions and not my purpose. Learning from great self-development gurus such as Robin Sharma, Tony Robbins, Eckhart Tolle, Simon Sinek, and Mel Robbins, I came to understand that the difference between passion and purpose is that the former is self serving and inward facing, while the latter is outward facing and serving others.
Passions come and go, just like romantic passion – it may last up to 2 years or so, and when it’s gone you tend to get bored and move on to something else. But when you find the purpose – something that serves and provides value for other people, it brings more meaning to your own life and fuels your work for a much longer period of time. After some deep introspection and inner work where I sat with my journal over a 3-day period by myself and wrote down all of my accomplishments, achievements, talents and passions, I’ve come to the conclusion that I have a great platform and voice as a public figure to bring a message of self-love to people who are suffering from a lack of it.
I wanted to provide a value to people and having realized my strengths like public speaking and connecting to others on a deeper level, I decided to pursue the work of an empowerment coach (empowerist). My purpose is to help others know themselves fully, assist them in finding their own purpose in life, and motivate them to set and achieve their biggest goals in life, all while building confidence, positive thinking, and awareness.
Bianca: You wrote a book recently, I Am Winning: A Guide to Personal Empowerment, which made it to the bestseller charts on Amazon. Congratulations! What inspired you to write this book?
Natalie: I’ve always had a lot of great insights that I kept in my mind, whether from my personal experiences or those that I learned to adapt from the teachings of my favorite coaches. I knew that there was a book just waiting to be written in there, somewhere in my mind. One day, as my husband, daughter and I were sitting in a beach club in Koh Samui Thailand (after having finished DJing there) watching the sunset, listening to the waves and beautiful music, drinking fresh coconuts, my husband Dean turned to me with a warm grateful smile and said “Babe, are we winning, or what?” I had to laugh and told him, “Yes!”, feeling super grateful and content in that moment.
This has since become our family inside joke. Whenever we feel great about our lives and where we are, be it at a fancy event all glammed up, or cuddled up on the sofa at home – we feel like we are winning. That line made me think about how the simplest things in life can make us feel alive and happy – if you are aware and mindful enough. Every person in the world has the capacity to feel like that daily. I wanted to share this realization with others to inspire them to feel grateful for their lives, the small things that they can find beautiful and lovely on a daily basis, and thereby make themselves feel like winners.
Bianca: You operate a youth empowerment organization called, “Empowered,” along with another woman, Dr. Patama Mokaves Dumas, which offers programs for youth to learn about how to live their “best life” and be in “winning mindset.” I love this idea and the program’s concept since so much about being in a “winning mindset,” in my opinion, is believing in yourself and cultivating confidence. Do the programs focus on ways for youth to self empower themselves?
Natalie: Yes, the program is focused on giving the students the tools to become empowered, self-disciplined, knowing what they want from life, learning how to set goals effectively and follow through the action plan, and knowing how to face life’s obstacles with the right attitude. While my part of the program focuses on personal development with the subjects that I just mentioned, my partner Dr. Paddy teaches them the skills necessary for thriving in the modern working world – writing with logic, public speaking, networking, dressing for success and making a good impression. With these tools the students are able to go into the world, even before they graduate, with the right mindset, knowing how to tackle their biggest challenges and taking on their biggest goals.
Bianca: On top of being a bestselling author and running a program about empowerment, you also started a travel startup with your husband, Travelbook! What is Travelbook? I love your YouTube videos, your recent Burning Man 2018 video was so well done! Watching it really felt like you’re there (everyone should go follow your YouTube channel!).
Natalie: Thank you! We love to travel, and that was one of the reasons from which Travelbook was conceived. It’s a one-stop platform for sharing and booking your travel experiences. When your friends ask you for recommendations on where to go, stay, eat and what to see, you don’t need to write them long messages or try to remember the names of places – you simply share your Travelbook for the place you went to with your friends with one click.
This also keeps all your memories safe in one place, so you never forget the hotels and restaurants you visited since you are able to check in and keep it all in one place. You can also book your flights and hotels directly from the platform if you trust your friend’s recommendations, so it takes all the hassle out of planning a trip and it makes it easy to share it with your friends.
Bianca: You seem quite fearless in leading an international life, which I greatly admire (Russia to Canada to New York to Thailand, you embody the ideals of Miss Universe). Since you live in Bangkok, Thailand, what do you love most about it? It is such a gorgeous place, I would love to visit Thailand one day.
Natalie: Thailand has become my home over the last 13 years and I truly love this country. It is very culturally diverse, and the people here are wonderful. They have taught me how to be more patient, self-aware, and compassionate, as well as less judgmental.
The Buddhist religion which is very much part of the culture here gives me a sense of peace and calmness and it is evident in the daily human interactions that make up this type of atmosphere. Of course, the food is incredible – I love spicy foods, seafood, exotic fruits! Ease of life – Thais call it “sabai sabai” which loosely translated means “easy going” is something that I appreciate as well. There are also great and inexpensive massages; the stunning beaches; gorgeous temples – what’s not to love?
I truly believe that immersing yourself into a culture that’s different from your own is the best school of life. You grow, evolve, become richer in a spiritual sense, and learn to be more humble. I would love the opportunity to live on yet another continent someday.
Bianca: How many languages do you speak?
Natalie: I speak English, Russian, and some Thai and Spanish.
Bianca: What has your advocacy work with UN Women included? It’s so critical for women to support other women and for men to also be part of the feminist dialogue.
Natalie: A few years ago I was appointed as one of the advocates for the campaign “He for She” run by UN Women. The main purpose of this campaign was for both men and women to support the rights of other women as well as the LGBT community. Our mission was to give minorities a voice, and show support of others through social media campaigns and daily engagement with our fans online.
Presently, I’m continuing this campaign by getting involved on the local community level to empower young women through talks in high schools, female prisons, and centers for disadvantaged women in Thailand to find the strength and courage within themselves to set goals and move towards them with a positive attitude. We also recently had a fundraiser for two women-focused organizations for International Women’s Day called “Women Uplift Women” where we talked about the importance of women supporting each other and not competing or bullying.