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Teddy Toneva is a marketing professional with international experience in various sectors. After working for corporate, she founded her own marketing services company and now coordinates a cluster, which creates and executes brand strategies for clients in a number of fields (technology, services, FMCG, NGO sector). She’s been using Swipes for 6 months now and admits that’s what got her hooked on Evernote as well. Her next challenge is taking on the role of General Manager & Partner to the Bulgarian branch of a well-known Dutch Marketing Strategy Consultancy and heading a team of talented Project Managers to new horizons. When she’s not running between meetings, you can find her on stage, performing Broadway musicals with her merry band of artists. 

The hard road to productivity

I’m all down for reading productivity posts, such as “3 ways to a better memory ” or “5 steps towards an easier workflow“, but they always seem so dry and formal to me, chewed up and delivered on a silver platter. I’d like to tell you how I reached my current mindset and invite you to take a walk with me.

The reality is that there’s a long and muddy road to travel when achieving a goal and having the right mentality is what gets you there.

Let’s start off by saying that I have no claim of being perfect and in all honesty, I think perfect is boring. Sacrifices aren’t pretty – the sweat you choose to break every day in the gym or the bags below your eyes after a 12-hour work day are never perfect, but are sometimes what you believe is necessary to keep growing, keep improving. Throughout my humble years of experience I’ve begun to realize that the simple key to keeping the internal fire burning is greed. The greed for greatness, for wanting to achieve something bigger than yourself.Although perhaps a naive approach to life, it is exactly that greed that gave me the courage to get the ball rolling.

I wasn’t always that “pushy”. I was a very shy kid with a million thoughts in my head and no clue how to express them. Somehow this little tomboy who was afraid to start up a conversation turned into an entrepreneur who gets to work with many different industries and meet great individuals on a daily basis. My Eureka moment was the simple realization that I’ve been living in a comfortable little box all my life. It hit me – many great entrepreneurs come from difficult backgrounds, which has given them the flexibility and the street-smartness to find creative solutions to everyday problems. I, on the other hand, had the luck to be brought up in a nice and secure home and was lacking exactly that set of skills.

Start kicking yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s truly amazing what fast learners we are, as humans, when it comes to survival. I started deliberately putting myself in different situations, just to see how I’d handle them. I was monitoring my levels of adaptability to different scenarios, the solutions I find to different problems and how they change my mindset along the way.

In a nutshell, here are some changes that helped me reach the mentality that works for me today:

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From an introvert, to an extrovert

I started (sometimes forcefully) making myself go out more, meet more people. I was at university at the time, so I signed up for many extracurricular activities and ended up meeting some of my best friends to this day. My logic was simple – fake it till you make it. It was intimidating at first, but I kept imagining myself as this other, chatty, smiling individual, almost like acting. After a while I started truly enjoying and craving new social interactions.

How does that translate in a business sense?Networking, networking, networking. Knowing the right people opens doors, especially when it comes to lead generation. Get out there and mingle, you never know what opportunity might come knocking.

From an employee to entrepreneur

Many people ask me how I knew I was ready to take the leap. I simply answer – I wasn’t! I just jumped and hoped for the best.

How does that translate in a business sense? – overcoming a fear will broaden your horizons and lead you to new opportunities you never knew existed, because you were too scared to imagine yourself reaching for them in the first place.

From night owl to early bird

I noticed I started changing my daily habits as an effect from the general change of mindset. I felt guilty sleeping in, because I wanted to achieve as much as possible during the day.

How does that translate in a business sense? – having an extra hour in the morning to catch-up on e-mails and collect your thoughts for the day will really organize things in your head. Work on creating a daily “purpose” based on your tasks and strive to achieve it.

From daydreamer to goal chaser

Before I truly started changing I still had aspirations, but they were dreams. I slowly learned how to transfer dreams into goals, by creating an action plan.

How does that translate in a business sense? – Being able to break down a complicated task into manageable steps makes that task easier to digest and less scary to tackle.

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A passion for working out

I now find it interesting to experiment with habits, productivity tricks and different types of physical activities and Swipes has been a very big part of that transformation. Challenging my body and mind on a daily basis is what gives me the energy to keep going and the clear mindset to reach for the goals I set for myself. Last year alone I took part in a weight loss TV programme and through tons of hard work I got in a much better shape and lost 15 kilos. A goal that seemed so unachievable at first, turned out to be an amazing experience once I broke it down to actionable steps with the help of the network and the weight-loss professionals on the show. (You can check out the full weight-loss story on my blog).

Thinking back at it, if someone told me 4 years ago that I will quit my corporate job, end up in a different country and will found my own business, I would have laughed! And yet, here I am, the tomboy who relentlessly kept refusing to fit in a box and the girl who jump-started herself into a healthier, more productive mentality. I can’t wait to see what the muddy road brings next!

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