Influencer Gwendeline Lanoy-Leuteria
Interview March 2019
Gwen could you share some information of your family life?
My name is Gwendeline Lanoy-Leuteria. I was born and raised in Curaçao till I was 14 years old, then the family migrated, as one of my brothers because of complications during his birth, needed special care. My mother gave up everything to go and look for the best care possible for my brother, whom later died. I still have one sister and one brother. When I was 5 years old my mother and father divorced. Going to live in Holland at that young age, was a big cultural shock for me. A new world opened up for me, as I needed to transform to be able to integrate in the Dutch society.
What was so different in Holland compared to Curaçao?
The way the students addressed the teachers, students were more out spoken and interactive compared to being more submissive in Curaçao; the tools available for students compared to what I was used to in Curaçao, like having limitless internet access and my school even had its own swimming pool; this triggered my curiosity greatly and I became an eager student. I felt free to explore and discover. So this is how migrating to Holland impacted me. As I was attending, what is called the VMBO, from the 3th grade and 4th grade on, I had to do all sorts of internships and I loved this experiential type of education. After the VMBO I went to the MBO and one of my internships was at a social security organization, where I had to attend with clients and learned how to deal with employees and employers and this uncovered my innate social intelligence abilities.
When I went on to attend the HBO, I choose for a specialization in social work. I had myriad of experiences from these internships, like one at the Salvation Army in my first grade; I had to deal with immigrants for Arabic descent, that don’t shake hands with woman; I experienced discrimination, but I was mentored very well and dealt with it well. During especially those years, I learned self reflection techniques, this was mandatory and it little bit uncomfortable at the beginning, but this became one of my basic foundations as a person and professional and it is helping me, until today.
Why is this so important?
Because as it was mandatory, you are forced to dig into your life, so you learn to become better aware of your strengths and weaknesses. In every report related to my internships, this was an essential part, so I got used to doing this, as it was required over and over again. For example, you become better aware of your ego, you become better aware of knowing your real self by perceiving yourself as if you are a 3rd person observing yourself. This was awesome and you can also apply this in a group. Both my parents are still alive btw, my mother lives in Holland and I am happily married to Shurendly Lanoy. I have, after years, re-establish contact with my father when I came back to live in Curaçao. In the last 8 months we got much closer.
What are the services you offer and what else do you do for a living?
‘Gwen inspires’ is my company and it stands for Education and Training others. I am a Mindstyle Coach, trainer and facilitator. I offer workshops, training and coaching with the goal to empower the Man and families. I also work at ACU, one of the biggest credit unions in the Caribbean. I work at the Education department of ACU and working there I fell in love with the 7 principles of Cooperativism and as I firmly believe when people know, understand and live by these kinds of principles, the world would be a better place for us all.
Do you have business partners?
I started to work as an entrepreneur with Militza Riedel. She gave me opportunities to grow by using the principle of “train the trainers” in the first year we started working together. She design the courses Family budgeting and we have been working together for 5 years now in different projects mostly on “budgetting”. Like the presentation at CITCO during lunch time for example, where she gave me the opportunity to manage the lectures with al the basics from her design with my own style. She has an abundance mentality, which means that she firmly beliefs that there is enough for everybody. She is also an Influencer, you should interview her btw.
My company ‘Gwen Inspires’ exists 4 years this year, and one of its goals is, to offer educational skills and mindset changes. And all I have been doing these years has to do with my goal. Furthermore I have been working with Ellemieke van Beek we offer outdoors as a trainer/facilitator in outdoor and indoor teambuildings.
Me and My coach and also business partner Elia Augustijn are finally going to start this year with NLP on Curaçao. We will start in March 2019. This practitioner course is for individuals and in the near future also available for companies.
You inspire people and audiences, when did you notice that you have this ability first, recently or at a young age?
I come from a family where my mother and my grandmother are very strong women. My grandmother had to raise 5 children all by herself after her divorce, and at times had to work 2 jobs to raise them. She is 82 years old and I admire how strong-willed she is and she has a great sense of humor. My mother decided to go to Holland when I was 14 years old and is also a strong-willed person. She burned all her ships to start a new live in Holland to offer my brother in Holland a better life. So I was influenced at a young age by these wonderful examples.
People started telling me at a young age about the impact I had on them and so I became aware that I had something special. Then of course, as I grew up in Holland with the educational system they have over there and all these different types of internships, that really shaped me. I once had to work with victims of the human slave trade and because of the color of my skin, as a lot were from Africa, they related easily with me, also proving to me, my inspirational talents.
Were you always interested in inspiring people?
Unconsciously yes, but after so many people told me how I inspire them, I became aware of my power and the name of my company came up ‘Gwen Inspires.
Why is it that you spend so much time addressing our men’s and father’s role in our society? Where does this come from?
When I came back in Curaçao, I worked for 3 years at the Marine Kazerne of the Dutch Army stationed in Suffisant, Curaçao (that was the venue that was used) with drop outs of 16 to 24 years old, as part of the so-called “Sociale Vormingsplicht”. Working with these youth, really opened my eyes. During this one year course, I was their personal coach for 4 months working on their motivation, helping creating structure in their lives, stuff like that. What I noticed is, that they lacked a personal identity and they lacked role models in their lives. They distrusted everybody and it is there, that I worked for 3 years with Boys or Men exclusively. I used to discuss themes like menstruation, the importance of integrity, relationships with Women and how to deal with it and I became aware of the myths, dysfunctional perceptions, that they believed in. So I started doing my PG (Pedagogische Getuigschrift), which offers me the formal authority to teach and to develop curriculum. During an internship as subject matter and as a pilot at a school (MTS) during 8 weeks, I focused on the role of Men in our society and in our lives. It is there that I read and studied about the so-called “Boy-problem” and used UNESCO sources.
But I also consider living in Holland from age 14 till age 25 years very impactful, as I grew up fatherless, I got my formal education in Holland and I married when I was 18 years old and divorced 5 years later. Reflecting on my divorce taught me lots of lessons. So both these experiences triggered me to focus on the role of father’s and Men in our society.
What need we men and women in our society do differently to achieve more harmonious relationships that is for the good of all?
We need to understand where we come from historically. From the times of slavery up to today, broken families became the norm in Curaçao. Especially the relationships between father and son are challenging. We need to become aware of it (Recognize it) to be able to release it through communication and other means. After this has happened, the healing (Reframing) can start. Then repeat this cycle. This is what I address in my presentations to audiences, and this is also the course outline in my workshops aimed at both genders, Men and Women. If we want different outcomes in the future, we will have to address these issues now, all aimed at enabling mindset changes, so we can have more harmonious relationships.
I checked your Facebookpage and saw that you are also dedicating time on the need for people to have a personal budget. Where does this come from?
Well I short of roll into this at an early stage in my career and I am still doing this work as I mentioned before when Militza has more projects that she cannot do alone. And also because it all roles in to other problems, for example (relationship problems). Especially the psychological aspects of budgeting, really fascinates me.
How important are mindset changes to create sustainable changes in our behaviors? Are there other ways and means that you use to create support for your ideas?
An inadequate mindset, as I mentioned before where lots of our Men unfortunately have to live with, affects their relationships. We are not being taught Emotional Intelligence, that is being aware of our own emotions and feelings, and based on that knowing how to relate with others in a caring and understanding way. That’s why I am a Mindstyle Coach and my motto is ‘Bo mente >Bo Arma’. We need to understand that we are not enslaved anymore. We are free and that we can do anything we put our minds to.
What activities have you planned on doing this year?
I will keep increasing people’s awareness; I will be more consistent on my Facebook page and share practical weekly tips and tools especially for Men and I will continue to offer workshops, breaking down what needs to be done into small palatable pieces. Like I already mentioned NLP activities like master classes with a focus on improving communication and self-awareness/ and celebrating international man’s day.
What is your BIG WHY or driving motivation to be as passionate as you are?
Trying to be a better person every day and at the same time by being a better person, influence those around me. I sincerely want people to choose to live a more peaceful life in this hectic world and I am convinced that if you know better, you will choose better.
How are you trying also to keep up with your skills? Do you like reading books, watching you tubes, follow courses of island, invest in networks and people that might help you further your knowledge and skills level?
Yes I do. I read books and I am continuously following courses. Like right now, I am studying more advanced aspects of Cooperativism. And I have a few other courses planned for this year.
What are your other strengths?
My intuition, when it feels good, it is good. I believe in the God’s power and I am a very spiritual person. I am Roman Catholic by choice and feel in a meditative state during lapses of the day. And of course at the end of the day I self reflect, all of which feed my intuition. Also I am a people lover. People get several chances in my world.
Do you have hobbies or interests that you are passionate about?
Yes, I love dancing, I love dancing salsa. Yes, I like Christian’s Kuster (and his team) salsa parties they are special they have a very relax atmosphere.
If you as Gwen, would meet a stranger in the bus (let say in Holland or the US) and they would ask you to introduce yourself what would you answer?
I am joyful breeze entering a room.
How would you describe Gwen in one word or one sentence?
Joyfully full of peace and love.
Whom are the persons that have inspired you the most in your career? Where they always positive role models or where their also negative role models that you didn’t want to identify with?
Everybody that crossed my path has had an influence in my life ( good or bad). And I am grateful for that. If there would be one person, I would say: Iyanla Vanzant, she addresses the men issues in USA. I use some of her videos to illustrate men-issues here in Curaçao. She is my big role model.
What are some challenges, lessons learned, that you have encountered in your life when you ultimately discovered your talents and strengths?
How to do business and develop a business mindset, How to make a living out of your passion. When you are talented you tend to lose focus so I am still learning this and my coach is helping me with this.
In one episode in my life’s journey for example I was “baby sitting” 2 american youth for a living and this opened a totally new world for me and I learned a lot. This happened after the place where I used to work Sociale Vormingsplicht, lost a big part of their subsidy and this really let me land at the brink of an almost burn out, I had health issues and I stopped working for the youth at Sociale Vormingsplicht, although it hurt. At the other hand, I couldn’t afford it to “not complying” with promises, I needed make to those I coached because I was not able to deliver because of lack of funds from goverment. Because of my self reflective lifestyle, I recognized what was going on with me, so I quit.
What was a defining moment in your life, a setback that later turned out to be a great blessing?
My first marriage after 5 years we divorced. I was very young. It was a blessing a truly awakening moment. My biggest lesson learned: “Be less judgemental.” It made me a more mature person. As I already explained, I am good at self reflection so I did selfreflect a lot on this. I asked myself, what could I have done differently. So I also ended up concluding that I shoud apply forgiveness, love without fear and love anyway. I can stiil have a normal conversation with my ex and that says a lot about forgiveness.
Where do you want to be 5 to 10 years from now with your business(es)?
An even more powerful influencer, especially for my family, those close to me and especially Men.
That I have expanded my courses aimed at healing Men via my program / school.
As a coach, I am focused on families especially on Men, through empowerment coaching to trigger their mind to change continuously, enabling them to have a happier life, that is why I call my self a Mindstyle Coach.
What would you want your Loved Ones, family, friends and others to say about you let’s say 20 years years from now?
She has influenced me in such a way that I changed my life, she was the difference in my life.
What makes you stay optimistic about the future of Curaçao?
My faith and hope that we can do better. And we can’t simply continue doing the same we are doing now and expect another outcome. I firmly belief that people can be changed, if they are handed over the right tools.
Do you want to share anything else that might be relevant for those reading this blog?
Addressing Men in our society is not an easy job, that is why I am pleading to others with the same vision, to let us join forces and team up to address this issue.
“When your Mind is the weapon, you are never unarmed!”
For more information Gwen Inspires go to:
FB fathers of Curaçao: www.facebook.com/fathersofCuraçao/
FB Gwen inspires: www.facebook.com/gweninspire/
One of the 250 Influencers
As the core group of Share2Uplift we love and deeply respect Gwendeline Lanoy-Leuteria, whom as a strong woman is addressing one of the most challenging mindset issues in Curaçao, being: “enabling new empowered mindsets of men” in our society. We definitely consider her one of the 250 ethical leaders of our Island, that continuously works at influencing people’s mindsets for the better in our society.