Her Business Story: Harriet Waley-Cohen, Founder of Harriet Waley-Cohen Coaching


In today’s ‘Her Business Story’ we meet Harriet Waley-Cohen. Harriet is a professional coach and speaker.

Harriet, tell us a bit about your business

I am a speaker and a coach in the corporate, personal development and educational sectors. Through my speaking and coaching I empower women to be in total partnership with themselves in every area of their life; overwhelm, burnout, self-doubt and destructive habits become a thing of the past, replaced with confidence and self-esteem, emotional and physical wellbeing, balance, happiness and success – both in women’s personal and professional lives.

What has been your scariest moment as an entrepreneur?

Getting on stage, without a doubt. In my early 20s I’d been confident in public speaking, but that had faded away. Taking time out to be a full-time parent and having a marriage that hadn’t worked out had eroded my sense of belief in myself. It all came to the fore when I started speaker training.

In the first training session, I was so nervous at the prospect of going to the front of the room and saying my name and that I was there for training because I was scared, that I was almost sick on the carpet! 

What has been your proudest moment?

No hesitation here! It was how I felt after giving a talk to several hundred teenage girls at a school earlier this year.

My talk was about courage and resilience, and about the importance of honouring who you really are and standing up for yourself. The response and feedback on the day, and emails from some of the girls later, made me feel very emotional. One email arrived when I was on the way home and had stopped at a motorway service station, and I started blubbing in the M&S food shop…not my most glamorous moment! Knowing that I made a big impact, and potentially changed the course of some young, impressionable minds, made me feel hugely proud of myself and know that I am 100% on the right track.

What is the biggest lesson you have learned from founding your own company?

Do not try to do everything alone – get connected to others.

The more that I seek advice from and collaborate with others, the easier it is. The more than I seek to help others too in their businesses, by supporting each other, the more fulfilled I am. Getting the right people in place so that I’m not alone has been a big cornerstone in being successful, whether that’s mentors, coaches, mastermind buddies, my wonderful VA, the hugely talented team who deal with my website, they have all been invaluable.

What does success mean to you?

Three things. First of all, I’m inspiring a huge amount of women and empowering them to change their lives.

Second, I’m making more than enough money so that my children and I have more than all that we need, to the point where we’re able to give money away and I can give talks for free and coaching for free to women who dearly need it but can’t afford it.

Thirdly, success also means to leave a legacy that lasts well beyond my lifetime.

Which women inspire you?

Michelle Obama, Malala, my best friend Mia Forbes Pirie, my mother and my step-mother, and my boys’ step-mother, Lucy. I’m also frequently inspired by the women I count as part of my inner circle personally and professionally – Annik Rau, Rosie Stamp, Helen Leathers, Susie Heath and Tina Lee-Ure.

What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?

Stay connected with your ‘why’. This will help you to stay motivated and to propel you forwards in those dark times when the going gets really tough and you feel like giving up.

To help me stay connected with the details and emotion of my why, I have a 4-page typed personal mission statement that my first business mentor, Allan Kleynhans, coached me to create. It covers who I am now as well as who I aspire to be, and what I aspire to create, in every single area of life. It goes from business to my relationship with myself and personal development, to family and parenting, health, relationships, romance and the legacy I will leave. I read it every single day.

To figure out your why, think about that thing that if you find yourself on your death bed and it’s not been done, you won’t be able to go happily and peacefully. The idea of not having it or doing it leaves you with a lump in your throat and bring tears to your eyes. Think about why the why matters too – what will it mean for you and those that you care about in all areas of life. The more detail you have about your why, the easier it is to stay in touch with it.

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