We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellie Bambury and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ellie, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I’ve always been a hands-on, throw-myself-in-the-deep-end kind of person, who, when committed to something, gives it my all. I like being busy, but up until the age of about 25, this often meant that my life consisted of time-consuming jobs, a packed social life and extra commitments, plus my own side hustles – even to the detriment of my health sometimes. I have always been an active relaxer, too (until the past couple of years), and didn’t used to properly consider what ‘work life balance’ truly was.
Then, in 2020, something started to subtly shift. When I was working in my full-time, well-paid role in marketing and sales, before I took the plunge of throwing myself into starting my own coaching business, I remember my life being completely taken over by my work routine. I would be up early, having 2-hour trainings in the central city office, before driving to other locations further away to work for another seven to eight hours on my feet, then driving home. I would arrive home around 8.30/9 pm from the physically-demanding job and then be too tired to do much else.
My working hours also meant I could no longer attend my favourite dance fitness classes that I’d been attending for years, and on the odd weekend I’d find myself doing extra shifts because they were sometimes available and I wanted to save money – so I would sometimes miss out on social gatherings and days out.
I was earning well, and I enjoyed spending time with my team leader, but because my social and outside-work life was so obviously impacted right from the get go, this time around I was genuinely starting to question how I wanted my life to be, what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be around and what I was willing to give up. It was quite a powerful process.
So, after considering all the factors, in August 2020 during a snap Covid-19 lockdown in my home town, I decided to resign from my job. I’d been dreaming of becoming a life coach for young people throughout the year, but because of my financial security in the roles I had, my dream always took a back seat. Upon resigning, this finally all changed and I went from having a life packed to the brim, to a life where I got to consciously choose what to do, who to reach out to, where to go, and how much time I wanted to spend working. Yes, of course, as with any start-up there was a period of no income, but because I had some savings and was living with my family at the time, I was able to take that risk.
Now, I see myself as a free spirit. I love collaborating with people on projects, their business ideas and workshops, and equally love creating my own stuff. I keep my working hours very flexible so that I can spend time doing leisurely activities and also actually rest! It’s always evolving, but now I simply cannot imagine not having the level of balance and freedom that I’ve learned to create for myself!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I’m a life coach and mentor who works primarily with 11-24-year-olds but also with parents and teachers. My work life is busy, dynamic, and fun, providing lots of opportunities for growth for both my clients and myself.
I do a mixture of 1:1 weekly coaching (and mentoring through a charity that works with youth in NZ and the US), ongoing group workshops (usually focused around a particular theme, such as starting a new school), running weekend-long residential retreats, and I have a 4-month intensive coaching program that deep dives into self-love. I also frequently speak at national and international online summits as well as in-person events, am a contributor to a teachers’ magazine in New Zealand, and am an instructor on the US-based parenting platform, BabySparks.com. On occasion, I create video content for YouTube, which usually involves an interview with other coaches/leaders, and I recently created my own magazine, for which I did all the photography, and I am hoping to develop it further down the line. I like to remain open to the possibilities of working with anyone on a mission to help communities become the best they can be!
Alongside coaching, a lifelong passion of mine is in storytelling – whether through photography, videography, story writing, acting, or other. Over the years, particularly after having completed a degree in performing arts (majoring in writing and directing) then starting my own filming business (www.ejbcreative.weebly.com), I’ve found that my desire to tell stories and help others tell their stories has underpinned every decision I have made in business, and influences how I operate in my coaching practice.
Something I find to be quite unique about me is that I don’t have one specific method in coaching – much of my work is based on following my intuition and responding to what presents itself in the moment. I’m unafraid to throw any pre-made plans out the window if I see there is an opportunity to explore something different and more expansive!
Another thing I find to be quite cool about me is my process of developing my business – many of my most successful programs, ideas, and projects have come to me in unexpected moments, such as the time I was sitting at the beach with a coffee and a notebook at the end of a lockdown and suddenly had a huge brain wave to run a retreat for young women the following year … and the time I was in the shower after a hot, busy day and suddenly thought it would be a great idea to run a day workshop for young people who were about to start college at the end of the summer. I also thought about running a life coaching-focused film-writing course for teenagers after spending some time playing with some old photos and listening to music. I believe that the more I release control of what I think my work is supposed to look like and focus more on following the joy of being able to serve in unique ways, the more inspiring ideas come to me and reach those who resonate with the desired outcomes.
Becoming a life coach wasn’t something I ever actually planned to do, but looking back over my life, it makes complete sense that this is now my path – and I love it! I’ve always been a people person who loves collaborating, bringing visions to life, leading, creating, and exploring. Throughout my entire child & teenagehood, I was fortunate enough to experience many opportunities that allowed me to grow this love and develop strong skillsets. I’ve also had many jobs over the years in teaching, selling, and facilitating, which has been wonderful.
However, in terms of how I ended up where I am now, I’d say things started to come together in a new way in 2018, after publishing a memoir (The Big Sister Project) about my au pair experience from when I was 18 (I’d taken a gap year after college and decided to spend four months living in France!).
Though unknown to me at the time of writing the book, the whole process enabled me to realize just how many new insights I could gain about myself, my behaviors, worldview, habits, thought processes, interactions, connections, abilities, self-talk, visions for my future, ideas, and so much more, once I put myself in that critical thinking, reflective yet creative mode. This awareness led me into connecting with and helping other current and future au pairs online, sharing my story in schools, and networking with other authors and speakers.
During the first year of being a self-published author (2019), I went to various free networking events and professional development workshops. I also ran some free community writing workshops to help other wannabe authors, and played with the idea of working more with teenagers deciding what to do with their lives post-school/college.
At the end of 2019, after so much growth and exploration, I took a huge leap of faith and went to Sydney, Australia, for a long weekend of professional speaking training with some of the best speaking/presenting coaches in the world. It was during that weekend (I was 25, the youngest participant by at least 10 years), I realized that the work I wanted to do spanned beyond simply helping teens figure out their next steps. I wanted to dive deeper into helping them learn about who they were, feel more confident in themselves, and much more!
Once I’d had this realization, I started to get excited about what could happen next. The speaking training enabled me to land other speaking opportunities, which further broadened my networks and friendship circles, and throughout 2020 (despite two lockdowns), the next steps revealed themselves to me as I started to trust that my vision would unfold as it needed to.
One of my initial limiting beliefs and challenges was that because I was still in my 20’s, no parent would pay me to work with their child as a coach – particularly as one who isn’t traditionally qualified in therapy or counseling. It wasn’t until about halfway through that year that I remembered and actually realized that it didn’t matter because I wasn’t even claiming to be a therapist or a counselor! I got to create my own definition that was fluid and authentic to what I wanted to bring to the world, and thus allow clients to find me through resonance, word of mouth, and genuine connection. I spent 2020 (alongside my full-time work) speaking on summits, playing with coaching packages ideas, building my website, and growing my online following.
My credibility began to strengthen as each opportunity to speak and be more visible came up, which boosted my self-confidence enough for me to plunge myself into putting paid coaching offers out there – including my first weekend retreat! Clients started to appear from all over, boys and girls, and things have been building progressively since!
At the end of 2020, I featured on the radio, and at the beginning of 2021, I was on morning TV, too. These opportunities also massively boosted my confidence, and for the past year I have felt so at ease and confident in my work.
One of my most moving, deeply humbling, and proudest moments, was when one of the young women who attended my retreat, after having years of intense therapy, taking lots of medications for depression and other mental health challenges, and having extreme suicidal tendencies, changed her mind about taking her life and entrusted me to help her turn her life around. Before she came along, a part of me felt nervous about whether me simply providing a safe, loving space for her to just ‘be’ without judgment would be enough to help her feel even just a little bit better … and amazingly, it not only did that but gave her a whole new lease of life!
I want the world to know that I love people, and have so much love to give. One of my strongest gifts is holding space for others and allowing them to discover who they are at their deepest level. I hope and believe that anyone who works with me, in any capacity, will walk away feeling empowered, excited, and engaged with who they are and what they can bring to the world – no matter how big or small their contribution.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take them across all corners of Auckland – my home city. Auckland is known as ‘the city of sails’ because there are so many beaches across the suburbs, and the central city has a huge marina of boats. There are many beautiful spots to explore and the cafe life is so awesome! > Day one: We would go on an inner-city adventure, beginning with some shopping in the brand new mall in Newmarket. Once we were done, we’d head to the botanical gardens to breathe in some fresh scents of beautiful flowers, then go and check out the iconic Auckland museum. In the evening, we’d head to the waterfront to watch the boats, then head up the Sky Tower to have an elevated dinner, and finish off the night with a coastal stroll around Mission Bay.
> Day two: It’ll be all about experiencing NZ’s bush life! We would take a cruisy drive out to Hunua, where we’ll see the most incredible waterfall, and maybe swim there! Then, we’d take off on a bush walk on one of the many tracks, and have a late lunch by the dam.
> Day three: We’d take a boat across to Waiheke island and take a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. This would take us to markets, bars, cafes, beaches, wineries and farm walks. We’d take in some gorgeous views and play!
> Day four: Another boat trip, but to Rangitoto island – which is actually a volcano. We’d walk to the top, learn about the volcano, have some food, and then head back down.
> Day five: We’d go to the north shore and try some delicious, ginormous ice creams while having a walk along the sand. In the afternoon we’d listen to some tunes at the local park and play some volleyball with the locals.
> Day six: Life out east! We would have brunch in a cute cottage cafe in Howick (my village), and a wander around the market. We’d then take my kayak to Cockle Bay and kayak around the east coast (with food and drink in the back of the boat), stopping off at a small private beach for a picnic. In the evening, we would go to the local arts & events centre and watch some live music.
> Day seven: Titirangi market on the west coast for an organic market breakfast and coffee, and some light shopping. Then we would head down to Karekare waterfalls for a swim and a wander in the forest. In the afternoon we would go to Piha beach for some bodyboarding, cliff climbing and sunbathing, before getting takeaway Mexican food on the beach to watch the sun go down over the water.
Auckland has some wonderful treasures and I love to take people with me to explore!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
If there is only space for one shoutout, I would love to dedicate it to my family. They have backed me in everything I have chosen for myself ever since I was a child, have been super supportive in all of my activities, and have always encouraged me to pursue my dreams no matter what. They have given me a solid foundation from which to grow, which has enabled me to follow my heart without fear.
On a broader scale:
> Manu, Carole & Antonin: My au pair host family. I had the most beautiful experience living with them – so much so that I wrote a book about it, which then led me to my path of coaching!
> Inna Neal: A very dear friend and someone who has also coached me. She has guided me through an intricate process of deep transformation, self-acceptance, and growth, which has been invaluable in my personal and work life.
> Natalie Cutler-Welsh: Another great friend and coach. Her zest for creating impact, building connections, and amplifying our visibility, has been wonderful – she has connected me with all kinds of amazing people and worked with me to help me become more visible in my work!
> Books, podcasts, and meditations by Eckhart Tolle, Joe Dispenza, Rebecca Campbell, Abraham Hicks, Wayne Dyer (basically anything under Hay House!)
> The beautiful network of other leaders, coaches and mentors I have met over the years – both those who have taught/guided me, and and those with whom I’ve collaborated! (too many to mention!)
> Sami Smart: Supporting me endlessly with the logistics involved in my work – helping with organising events, photography, running retreats, and other bits and pieces! Also, an invaluable friend and guide!
> Malou, an absolute earth angel in my life. Not enough words to express my love for her!
> Kim, my soul sister and fellow freedom seeker! Life with you is always a beautiful adventure!
> Sarah – our journey as friends continues to remind me that there is always more to our relationships than meets the eye! Thank you for riding the magical wave of life with me!