Invisible Mentor: Miranda Vande Kuyt
Avil Beckford: In a couple of sentences, tell me a little bit about yourself.
Miranda Vande Kuyt: I am a mother of three kids, married to a youth pastor, and have been working in the career development field for the past 10 years. I am an eager overachiever person, and I consider myself a renaissance personality – I do a little bit of everything and whenever I need to learn something new, I go and learn it. Right now, since 2006, I coordinate a lot of blogs for different companies. Most of them are in the career development field so I write, but I also take people who don’t know how to write, and coach them on how to become better writers. I spend a lot of time doing that and I also facilitate an e-course on self-employment for a company, and I’m a student advisor for a career development company, Life Strategies. I just finished editing a suite of curriculum for another company, and they are all in career development. I’m working in the field but I’m not necessarily a career coach right now, I’m in the middle of branding and figuring out what I want my business to be.
Part Three: Life
Avil Beckford: Describe a major challenge that you have had in life and how you resolved it. What lessons did you learn in the process?
Miranda Vande Kuyt: When I decided to have kids, I had to figure out a way to make an income. My supervisor at the company I was working for gave me a big break because he suggested that I take part of my job, which was running a little youth employment website. I took that part of my job with me and did it by contract from home and I quickly realized that I couldn’t do everything myself so I got other staff members involved. That was my major challenge, how to raise a family and still stay connected to the field that I enjoy working in so much. I look at life as seasons then figure out how I am going to solve a problem. I love to solve problems and since then I have been self-employed meaning and work has always found me. I have never gone out and looked for contract work, work has always found me. This year I have decided that I want to be more intentional about my business so I’m trying to figure out what my business is going to be about, what I’m going to do and what I’m not going to do, who I’m going to do it for and who I’m not going to do it for.
Avil Beckford: Describe one of your biggest failures. What lessons did you learn, and how did it contribute to a greater success?
Miranda Vande Kuyt: My biggest failure is that back when we first got married – I finished college and then I got married – we moved and I had to start a career, all within a couple of months. I couldn’t do it and I struggled with depression for a number of years. That consumed me that I was really lost for a number of years and I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had the mindset that the world was against me. One day, that supervisor that I have mentioned a few times now, that believed so much in me, gave me an opportunity to go to a conference. Someone else was supposed to go but she got pregnant and couldn’t go, so he asked me if I wanted to go and it was presenting at Cannexus about the websites that I had been working on. It was a good idea but technically I wasn’t employed there anymore because I was home as a subcontractor for them.
When I went to the conference, I attended a session on positivity, and I learned some strategies on how to be a more positive person and probably a year or so before, I had woken up and decided that I was tired of feeling sorry for myself. I wanted a different life, so I made some choices on how I went about living my life. So I would say one of my biggest challenges, I wouldn’t say failure, was depression because I had to see that the world was more than just me. I had to see that true joy comes from investing in and helping other people succeed in life using the experiences I’ve had to help other people to find their life purpose and live it out daily.
I don’t necessarily look at things as failures because I’m always trying new things and there are lots of stuff that do not work, but this is the biggest challenge because at the time it didn’t feel like a choice. It didn’t feel like something I had caused, but overcoming it was mind over matter. It got to the point where I had to choose to live, and now I take all those lessons and help other people to also find success.
Avil Beckford: What’s one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make and how did it impact your life?
Miranda Vande Kuyt: It was following my husband across the country several times. I had to decide to make his career more important than mine. We moved from British Columbia to Ontario, to British Columbia to Ontario, to British Columbia and now we live in Alberta and that led to the depression.
Avil Beckford: What are three events that helped to shape your life?
Miranda Vande Kuyt:
- When I was 15, I went to a leadership summer camp and that’s where I started to make some choices about what I was going to do with life and what I valued.
- Having kids, once I had kids, I didn’t have time to be depressed anymore because they needed me and I didn’t have time to sit down and worry about myself. I had to put myself aside and realize that they needed me more.
- Taking the job as an admin assistant, even though it was a low paying position and it wasn’t what I wanted to do, but that’s where I met that supervisor, and his belief in me empowered me to believe in myself.
Avil Beckford: What’s an accomplishment that you are proudest of?
Miranda Vande Kuyt: This one is exciting. A couple years ago I won a national contest. I had to do a write-up of what my biggest “fit” challenge was in dressing myself. I had to send a full body picture of myself. I did that and forgot about it. A couple months later, I got an email that I had been chosen as a finalist for this contest. They gave each of the 12 finalists, four in each category – four petite, four regular, and four plus sizes, so I was one in four in the regular category – $200 to go to Reitman’s. The contest was between Reitman’s and Canadian Living. I had to go to Reitman’s and use the $200 to purchase three outfits, and then I had to do a write-up for three outfits and take a picture of me in those outfits and send them in.
Each week they posted the picture and the write-up then the public had to vote on who they liked the best out of those four contestants. At the end of the first week, one person was eliminated, and then they put up the second outfit and at the end of the second week another person was eliminated. In the third week there were only two people left. When I found out that I was a finalist I started researching voting campaigns to find out how I was going to win the contest. I’ve always been involved in social media, so I created a very detailed, elaborate strategy on how I was going to win this contest.
The original reason I entered, I had just started to get excited about writing and I was looking for a contest that I could write, and I came across this contest in either an email or Facebook. I wrote and I was very intentional about what I wrote in my write-ups. I wrote to the audience, and thought about how I was going to connect to the most amount of people in my write-ups. Of course my friends are going to vote for me, but I want to get other people to vote for me, so after three weeks, with a very strategic voting campaign, I won this contest.
Eighteen hundred people entered, they chose 12 finalists and I won in my category of regular size. I got a trip to Toronto, over $1,500 in clothes, accommodation at the Royal York in a suite bigger than my house, and a camera. They took us shopping and we did a photo shoot for Canadian Living magazine. I am in the November 2010 issue. I blogged about the experience on http://mirandavandekuyt.wordpress.com, so the article is also there. It was a life highlight and I did it by myself, yes I needed to get people to vote for me, but it was very cool.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
Miranda Vande Kuyt:
- Take care of yourself because it’s no one else’s job to take care of you. Make sure that you’re doing well.
- Know your life purpose and live it out daily.
- Say no to things that do not support you, taking care of yourself and living out your life purpose.
- Make a plan to do the important things otherwise they won’t get done.
- Love people because the “stuff” doesn’t really matter. Having people around you matters.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people (living or dead) that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
Miranda Vande Kuyt:
- Jesus Christ because that’s a huge part of my life.
- Sheryl Sandberg the COO of Facebook.
- Billy Graham
- Catherine Marshall who is one of my favourite authors and I read a lot of her books when I was in high school. She was married to the Chaplain to the President back in the early 1900s. She writes about her journey and I really connected with it when I was in high school because she had kids, her husband died, she struggled with depression and she got very sick and through it all she kept her faith and still knew what her life purpose was.
- Arlene Dickinson
The question I would ask is how do you balance it all? How do you have a life, a business and a family?
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Miranda Vande Kuyt: On a regular day I would say the Bible because I read that one the most out of everything, but when I was thinking about this, I was thinking about career development, and I wrote down Happenstance (Luck is No Accident: Making the Most of Happenstance in Your Life and Career), (Planned Happenstance: Making the Most of Chance Events in Your Life and Your Career) by John Krumboltz because that when I realized that I don’t have to have all the answers of how I’m getting there. He suggests that you don’t even need to know where you’re going, but you need to be moving, and you need to capitalize on opportunities. That’s what I have been doing for the past several years is to follow the opportunities, and this year I’ve decided to figure out what it is that I want from life so I’ll know what opportunities to accept.
Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on different deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the time? The prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million.
Miranda Vande Kuyt: The first thing I wrote is that since I have young kids I would never consider it.
If I could, I would bring a laptop because I would spend that two years writing my story. If I ran out of things to write, I would scrapbook or if there was internet I would take courses. I would spend that time putting into that area of my life.
- The Bible
- Something More by Catherine Marshall
- The Love Dare Day by Day: Wedding Edition (The Love Dare) by Stephen Kendrick
- Practical Grammar: A Canadian Writer’s Resource
by Maxine Ruvinsky
Music CD & Movie
My favourite movie of all time is Anne of Green Gables (Anne of Green Gables: The Collection) because she had a challenging life and overcame it and kept her spunk. I would want to take a music CD of my dad playing guitar and singing. My dad plays and sings, and he is great. I love him.
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Miranda Vande Kuyt: My kids. I love to see my kids grow, learn and become the people that they are meant to become. That’s the most exciting thing and the reason I’m doing it all is so I can spend more time with my kids.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it? How do you nurture your soul?
Miranda Vande Kuyt: I journal. I don’t get to do it as much as I used to, when I was younger. I hang out with my friends and I take my kids to the park.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Miranda Vande Kuyt: I’m helping somebody else succeed.
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