Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Written by: Elle Ballard, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Where do we get our strength and perseverance from? Was it my music school experience that molded me into the person that I am? Did it come from a continuous strive to finish music school as soon as possible? Or did it come from my near-death experience when I was robbed and nearly killed? We are faced with so many different tests in our lives. I know God saved my life so I can create something big, something empowering, something that was never done before. Sometimes we have to start again and again anew to realize and find ourselves and who we truly are and our true purpose.
There were three different intersections in my life when I had to start anew, adopting a new focus, new WHY, new meaning. Some of the situations I chose myself, others I did not, but there is always a lesson to learn.
Starting from zero: Divorce
I met my first love at the party, and we had a great connection right away. We were dating for a couple of years before we decided that we want to marry. It was great at the beginning, but then things started falling out of place, and then I got pregnant with my first child. I could not be happier. We had a beautiful baby girl and were part-time happy and part-time not, if I can put it this way. We had a lot of conversations about our marriage that had difficulties. The culture and the beliefs of my husband’s family turned out to be different. When my daughter was 2.5 years old, I decided to leave this marriage. By that time, I was a stay-at-home mom for a couple of years. My degree was in the English language, which I realized I pretty much lost staying at home. I had to master my English skills to be able to support myself as an interpreter/translator. That was a tough but amazing experience for me. It definitely matured me, educated me, taught me people and communication skills, and this also was the time when I adopted an attitude to get things done no matter what.
Fast forward a few years, I am doing really well. I have purchased my own apartment, and I know a few government officials in the city because of my work. I am one of the key local representatives in the city that are part of the $3.2 billion crude oil system CPC (Caspian Pipeline Consortium) project that includes a 1,700km deep water marine pipeline project from Kazakhstan to Russia. Recharge, Refocus, and Thrive!
Starting from zero: Relocation
While working at the CPC project, I met my current husband, who, by the time we met, lived in Russia and Kazakhstan for 10 years and spoke fluent Russian. We fell in love. We dated for a couple of years. Then as our project was finishing, we decided to get married and make a move to the US. This was the second time in my life when I had to start from point zero. My first job was at Origins counter at Dillards in Memorial Mall in Houston, TX. I knew America offers many amazing opportunities, and I always wanted to be in business for myself, but I did not know what kind of business it will be or where to start from.
I decided to enter an MBA program at the University of St Thomas in Houston, TX. I launched a branch of the National Association of Women MBA at the University of St. Thomas while being part of the program. I organized the chapter to further support women in business and receive more opportunities for growth and career advancement. I made great connections and acquired an amazing experience. This was also the time when I fell in love with empowering ladies and creating a community of like-minded individuals.
I remember coming for an interview at COADE company; my future boss was British. Very educated, strict, but fair boss who believed in me, hired me with no experience, taught me a lot more about corporate marketing, and gave me great opportunities for my professional development. Even though he is no longer with us, he became one of the big mentors and influencers in my life. I later left that company for a better international opportunity, but this experience is one of the key corporate experiences that shaped me. This was the second time I proved myself that I achieved what I wanted and built a beautiful life for my kids and an amazing career for myself in a new country. Recharge, Refocus, and Thrive! After working at the same company for a few years, our company was acquired by another company, and the majority of us were let go. About six months before that, I started a business on the side and was honestly happy to start on a new journey. This is the third time in my life when I had to start from point zero.
Starting from zero: My true calling
After I said goodbye to the corporate world, I immersed myself in a personal development journey, joined the Toastmasters program, entered the John Maxwell Coaching program, and got really inspired through seeing my personal growth daily and the person I was becoming. I became passionate about discovering people's potential, developing leaders, and helping people succeed. I realized I want to build a community where we help ladies like myself who came to this country or who have been living in this country get back to their true dreams and goals, help them develop and succeed. I want every lady to know that she is unique enough, authentic enough, and has so much potential that she does not realize she does. I wanted to create a community of authenticity, empowerment, support, and diversity.
This is how the Women of the World Network idea was born. This will be my third time in my life when I will have started from point zero and succeeded. My vision is definitely crystal clear, and I know I am on the right path. Recharge, Refocus and Thrive!
I want you to know that no matter where you are in your life, you are unique, powerful, and needed just as you are and that you feel the support of other women on the journey. Know that we are cheering you on at Women of the World Network, we celebrate you, and honor your journey.
Elle Ballard, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Elle Ballard was born in Kazakhstan and has been living in US since 2002. When Elle came to the U.S. she had to start everything from scratch while supporting her family at the same time. Elle completed her MBA in Marketing and built a successful marketing career. She left the corporate world to pursue her true passion of impacting and helping people realize their true potential. Elle is a founder of Women of the World Network, John Maxwell Team Leadership Trainer and Speaker, Entrepreneur, and a mother. Despite of all the challenges she faced, she always wanted to maintain her authenticity and who she is. This is a core reason for creating the Women of the World Network.