Sistr had the absolute honour of being joined by Dani Wallace, an international speaker, motivational coach and professional singer. Dani is one incredible woman having overcome homelessness as a single parent, domestic abuse and self-sabotage she is now the fearless and inspirational leader of what Dani describes as The Queen Bee Movement…helping women across the world Show Up, Wise Up and Rise Up.
Motivational speaker, coach by day…singer by night…author…Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed – all about finding your voice and owning it and delivering the message in the right way, getting rid of imposter syndrome.
How did you get into this? Who are you?!
This is my Nikki Graham from Big Brother moment! “Who is She”…?!
I’ve been on stage since I was 14yrs old travelling the world. I knew with my background that I was never going to be able to afford to travel and my only way to travel was to get paid to do it. So I lied about my age and hit the stage to travel as an actor. After a few years, my family and friends said come home and put down roots. I was then in my early 20’s and I came back and worked in HR in the corporate world training people to speak. I then started singing and working for myself but I found myself with time in the week not doing anything, I felt like I wasn’t giving back. I had been through a journey and I wanted to share my skills in presenting and speaking to help others. I pieced together TheQueenBee – setup to help women speak, share their message and become more visible.
The QueenBee name….what’s the story behind the name?
I was watching the Bee Movie with my kids one day and it was at a time when I was thinking what was going to be my ‘in’, how was I going to brand myself? How was I going to translate the message that someone’s past doesn’t need to dictate their future. I have been a victim of domestic violence, I have been homeless, I’ve lost jobs and the bee resonated with me. The Bee shouldn’t be able to fly – it has tiny wings and a fat body and it just shouldn’t fly – but the movie shows that bees don’t care what humans think and they fly anyway regardless of their circumstances! This was my calling! This should be our mantra – we can fly regardless of circumstances! I hang my hat on that moment!
‘According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly. It’s wings are too small to get its fat little body off the ground. The bee, of course, flies anyway, because bees don’t care what humans think is impossible.’
Why do your clients come to you? What are their biggest struggles?
The best way to connect is by sharing something of yourself with your audience. The first thing people do when they come to a talk/tune into listen online is they’re looking to connect with something about you. When people are in the public eye they have a construct they have to adhere to. They’re actually sharing a persona but they’re presenting an image. Tash Hamilton – a client of mine is an example (and she won’t mind me mentioning her…). People know about Atomic Kitten, they want to talk about girl bands and boy bands and gossip but people need to find out about her – Tash Hamilton, not the girl in Atomic Kitten. My role is to help peel back the layers a bit. The crucial bit is how do we do that safely, in a way that makes sense to the audience and reaches more people without leaving that person vulnerable.
What are the Positives to Come out Coaching?
You’ll find it incredibly liberating once you have peeled back a layer and shared something. The important thing to remember is that people aren’t real, they are your audience, your family and inner circle are real. If you make an impression on your audience you take a huge positive away because you’ve made an impression and inspired them to change something about their lives when you connect with them successfully.
You have a Book! Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed
That phrase has been around for a long time. I heard it in a line in a Lizzo song and I thought wow that’s really powerful. My clients tend to be entrepreneurs, they want to become more visible and share their message. Enter Glossophabia – fear of public speaking and/or social anxiety. If you’re not talking then no one will know what you do, they won’t understand your message and then they won’t come to you to buy/learn/use your message. So basically the book in short is – if you don’t ask you don’t get!
Let’s Talk about your Background that is a big motivation behind the book? How did you End up Homeless?
I grew up on council estates in Preston. Within my family domestic abuse was inherent and rife, it was all I knew…I didn’t know how it was to be treated well by a partner. So I was always seeking to be loved and craving attention in a way that my dad didn’t show to me. As you grow older that upbringing informs a lot of decisions – ones that I made about relationships. I wanted stability, a husband, a mortgage – so I settled for a guy who didn’t want any of this – I railroaded him into buying a house, having a baby, getting married – then he left 2 weeks after we sent out the wedding invites.
In 2008 just before the market crashed, I found myself very vulnerable. I had a great job but fell into a relationship with someone not so kind. The relationship became abusive, I fell pregnant very quickly. This is often a symptom of someone in domestic violence – you become their anchor whilst they can sleep around. This then escalated from him cheating through to him being violent. I was 4 months pregnant when the real violence started – after that we parted company, but I’d keep inviting him back because I believed no one else was going to love me. He was texting other women in the hospital whilst I was giving birth.
When you’re in that kind of relationship though it’s hard to see logic outside of it. It culminated in him strangling me, I had to get an injunction in place and impose a more formal ending. I was forced to access domestic violence services in the area. Off the back of it I lost my house as with 2 children under 4 I couldn’t afford the mortgage and could only pay for nursery as that was their normality. We were sofa surfing whilst I was trying to work to and from London. I felt like I was living a double life.
And then I thought everyone was better off without me… I took kids into bed one evening and I wasn’t sure if I was kissing them goodnight or goodbye. At that moment I knew I needed to start ‘happening’ to life. I started asking for help. I opened up more and focused on my personal development. Everything shifted from then.
And now you have an incredible business! How are you Working during Lockdown?
I am so busy at the moment! Businesses are having to pivot hugely to the online world using methods they’ve never used before such as interviews, pre recorded videos, webinars etc. These methods have become a huge part of marketing strategies at the moment and my place is to help prepare the presenters to get the best out of the method they’re using. Everyone is scrolling on their phones so being able to speak online has become a real need for business and a skill that not everyone can deliver naturally!
What would your Advice be to People suffering from Anxiety during Lockdown?
There are 3 tips I’d share…
- Remember that if you have a business, more often than not you want to help people. Get out there and share the message – over share if you have to. If you’re not sharing what you do then the people your business is directed at are going unhelped.
- Get ‘big’ – broaden your shoulders and stand up tall. Place yourself as an alpha in the room. In the animal kingdom ‘life’ comes down to 3 outcomes…a) other animals accept what we do…b) animals turn on each other and you are cast out from the pack…c) animals turn each other and attack and kill. Don’t let the fear of b) and c) overcome you in human terms. Fear comes from the brain – people think we’ll die if we talk! Then your stress hormone fires off and you are consumed by self doubt. So flood your body with testosterone by holding yourself big. There is an incredible TED talk by Amy Cuddy referencing how body language affects the way others see us – I’d recommend watching it.
- Get still – breathe, take a breath. Remember you have a gift!
My overriding advice would be to when all else fails, adopt the Wonder Woman Pose! (stand up ladies and try it…)
What’s Your next Project in Lockdown?
The Big Festoon! The Festoon will draw in celebrities and high profile entrepreneurs to raise money for domestic violence charities whilst also supporting small business owners whose livelihoods are being threatened. As a domestic abuse survivor myself, on seeing the devastating DV statistics of lockdown, I felt led to ‘do my bit’ during Covid-19, through my fundraising initiative ‘The Big Festoon’ running on 5th June. This day will see celebs and entrepreneurs coming together for a 12 hours chat-a-thon packed full of real talk, motivational pow wows, business inspo, power ballads and awesome DJ sets as celeb guests and business leaders come together to lift the spirits of the nation’s entrepreneurs and raise much needed funds and awareness for domestic violence charities at the same time. The primary charity being supported is Women’s Aid.
What is a FESTOON? In bee terms… It is a lacework of bees hanging together, leg-to-leg, between the frames of comb is called a “festoon” and the behavior is called “festooning.” I am calling upon others to support, share and link arm-in-arm with me for the Queen Bee’s ‘BigFestoon’.
And who is one of the special guests?! Our Sistr Founder Emma Sayle! So pop the date in your diaries and tune in for some inspiring chats and entertainment.