The 'Inspire your Life' Podcast with Arthi Rabikrisson

S3 E10 Tasha Ten Spotlight: Susanne Mus - Developing Your Support Ecosystem

July 13, 2023 Arthi Rabikrisson and Susanne Mus Season 3 Episode 10
The 'Inspire your Life' Podcast with Arthi Rabikrisson
S3 E10 Tasha Ten Spotlight: Susanne Mus - Developing Your Support Ecosystem
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In Season 3 episode 10, Arthi is joined by Susanne Mus, co-founder and CEO of Awareyess talking about developing support ecosystems. Susanne provides  brief insight into her childhood and tells us how the divorce of her parents and subsequently moving to a new neighbourhood was the start of who she became as an adult and the approach she has to life of not shying away from anything new or challenging even when it is out of her comfort zone.

Susanne beautifully shares with us one of the more pivotal moments or moments of urgency as she likes to call it. Susanne details the start of her self-awareness journey was when she received particular feedback from her work team at the time, who informed Susanne that she needed to behave differently and learn more about herself and the way others saw her.  This change allowed Susanne to create her own support ecosystem. It was through this experience that Susanne realised that she could depend on others and she was not alone. 

Susanne shares advice  she received about remaining in your discomfort and she encourages us all to learn to be comfortable when we are feeling uncomfortable. 

Lastly Susanne enlightens us on her dream that everyone gets the opportunity to have their own self-awareness journey. 

Some wise words from Susanne:

  • “Taking action is necessary to achieve something.”
  • “I don't need to be by myself anymore, and to do it on my own. It's more fun with others around me”
  • “hang in your discomfort, and see what what happens”

 Listen to the full episode for so much more insights and ideas offered by my wonderful guest.

 About Susanne Mus:

Susanne Mus is the co-founder & CEO of awareyess, a groundbreaking startup focused on enhancing workplace happiness through self-awareness and the power of personal growth. Leveraging their innovative software platform, awareyess empowers knowledge workers on their individual journeys of self-discovery, providing the necessary tools & support to foster continuous personal growth for all.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Susanne holds a master's degree in econometrics & operations research & a bachelor's degree in business administration from the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. Her professional journey includes valuable experiences in various roles, such as customer interaction manager, project lead, and head of product within prominent IT companies. Now, she is excited to leverage her accumulated expertise to drive her own business forward.

Connect with Susanne  in the following ways:

●       LinkedIn

●      Website

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Share too, your own insights from your journey based on themes from the episode - what has worked or hasn't for you. We can all learn from each other.

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Arthi Rabikrisson:

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the inspire your life podcast with me your host, Arthi Rabikrisson. I believe we find inspiration all around us, especially from the stories that we all have in us. My aim with the inspire your life podcast is to bring some of those real stories to light. Stories of my guests that resonate with you and me. It's by listening to the stories that we can be inspired and motivate ourselves to overcome find a new path and rise even higher than we thought possible. Joining me on the show today is Susanne Mus based in the Netherlands, who joined the Tasha 10 family at the same time as I did so we are cohort buddies sharing the seed anniversary I love it. Susanne season is the co founder and CEO of awareyess, which is a ground breaking startup focused on enhancing workplace happiness, through self awareness and the power of personal growth everyone doesn't it's an amazing. Leveraging their innovative software platform awareyess, empowers knowledge workers on their individual journeys of self discovery, which we are all on providing the necessary tools and the support to foster this continuous personal growth. I mean, I'm always on this. And I know this is what this podcast is all about everybody. So Susannes professional journey includes valuable experiences in so many different roles, such as customer interaction, and project lead, even head of product within an IT environment. And now she's leveraging all of this accumulated experience and expertise to drive her business forward, which is amazing. I love that entrepreneurship. Susanne driving force lies in her unwavering commitment to dreaming big, and taking daily steps towards those dreams, she firmly believes in that transformative power of embracing both the positives, and also your challenging aspects about oneself. And this is leading her to find greater peace, happiness, and so much of success in terms of her journey towards that meaningful destination, with support along the way. And that's why we're talking to Susan today about developing a support ecosystem. So Susanne I am beyond excited that we are having our conversation today.

Susanne Mus:

Thank you so much. Thank you so much, Arthi. It's a wonderful introduction and I'm very happy to have this conversation with you.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

I am thrilled, as I said, and it's such a pleasure that you're here today. But you know what, Susanne, I've just given everyone such a high level view about you tell us and share more about us? Who is Susanne?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, so I will start with a little bit of my software magic and where it comes from. I fell in love with mathematics at a young age because of the logic, it made sense to me and I created that as a child. And I still love that logic and the ability to create something with it. Yes, software, In my case, I still feel like a young puppy when we describe requirements to improve a customer journey and how it comes to life with the software we've created. So I'm a person with a lot of good energy. I think my glass is half full most of the time and always busy with the flow to make my life more interesting to see. You know, what is the next step towards towards Joy towards my own personal growth. I don't mind stepping out of my comfort zone to do it. I don't always like it. But I don't shy, I don't shy away from it either. So in hindsight, I understand now more where I'm coming from, but looking at myself objectively, and how others see me is not something that I was normal, that was normal for me growing up. It's not something I've learned at a young age. There were moments of urgency like the pivotal moments that we're going to talk about as well that made me realize that improving my self awareness would bring me more peace, better relationships, I would become a more effective leader and in the end, it would bring me more happiness. And I wanted to make that point clear about the urgency because in preparation for this podcast, you asked me to think about some pivotal moments in my life, you know, And I automatically started to think about my life as a young child and all the lessons that , life taught me and how it affected me throughout my life. And of course, it still does. But my journey, of course, started at the beginning of my life, but my self awareness journey, at least, consciously, yet started, I think, in times of the second company I worked for, okay, so from a supply chain, consulted in my first job, and working for the International parcels team at the Dutch post in my second company, I became a customer interaction manager, and I had a team of around 14 people. And I was so used to push myself aiming for the best results that I was pushing my team members as well and I didn't really listen or talk to them in what they need it. And when they gave that back to me in a team session, I was heartbroken.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

I can imagine.

Susanne Mus:

It hurted me and yeah, you know, it hurt me because I tried so hard to be a good leader, to be a good human being. And I felt at that moment in time, I felt like I failed and I remember driving home from that meeting, and I was, I just I was in tears, because, you know, it was not what I wanted for myself and my team members yet, so that it was kind of a wake up call for me, because it was not what I wanted. I wanted to learn more about myself, how others see me to increase that self awareness. So I could love myself more, have better relationships with people, and be able to make choices for my well being and happiness. So I think I mean, it's important that we realize that we need some urgency, some, you know, some moments in life, to know that we want something different in life.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Absolutely. And oh, Susanne, thank you, thank you for giving us that view as well, you know, about, you know, your own sort of journey. And yes, we're going to talk about all of that, as well as where self awareness sort of started for you. And are we oh, that sounds really difficult because your intention was was there, but clearly, the execution from the perspective of the employees was, you know, it was quite in contrast, I can just imagine what that must have been for you. And I guess, you know, maybe that's such a beautiful segue, then, because the employees were probably looking for support in some shape or form, but they felt that they weren't getting it. And I and I guess for the benefit of our listeners today, maybe just share what are we, what do we mean when we say we're talking about a support ecosystem? And then also, you know, you've given us one example, but maybe she any other experiences around things that have helped you develop your own support ecosystem?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, yeah, I will. I will start with with, with my youth and little bit, so to share about my personal journey. I grew up here in the Netherlands, in Europe, and at the age of six, my parents got divorced. As young as I was, I still remember that divorce of my parents made me feel like nothing is certain in life. So that I think for me was the first trigger to unconsciously at that time, put kind of memo in my mind and in my heart, like, depend on yourself and nobody else. And of course, that's why I wanted. That's why I wanted to tell you about urgency, because when you tell your story, your story about growing up and your childhood, it kind of all feels so logical, but it's logical, because I'm 42 years old now, you know, and I have a baggage now and I can look back at that time and everything feels logic, but we need to be clear that in the moment, it was so unconsciously for me to think that I could do it. So by myself, so my mother and my little sister and I moved to a new home in a new neighborhood. And I remember seeing other children playing and feeling nervous but still going going towards them. And I think that's also another different kind of illustration of who I have become, I don't easily shy away from something that is exciting or outside of my comfort zone.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Okay.

Susanne Mus:

My father was, unfortunately mentally ill. He died in 1990. He made the choice to end his life himself.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Sorry to hear that.

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, yes, yes, it's yeah, it's so sad for him and for us and the whole family, of course. I was only nine years old. So very, very, very young and of course, because of his illness, a lot had happened already before that. I don't remember a lot of from that time, to be honest. I think, as a young child, you develop coping mechanisms to deal with life.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Indeed.

Susanne Mus:

But I heard from my mom, that's, I was angry a lot, and are hard on myself and the people around me. But it also caused a lot of determination in my life especially in thinking that I don't need anyone I can do I can do things alone, you know. I don't mean, I was an angry child all the time. Not at all. I had a lot of friends, teachers of me and so on. But I was determined to make the best out of it by myself.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Hmm.

Susanne Mus:

So after finishing high school, I thought I wanted to become an accountant. I love numbers and math, seemed like the ultimate job for me. So I took a summer job at the accountancy and I remember a conversation with a classmate of mine, telling me she was so jealous of finding me such a great summer job. And I was so surprised because she didn't take any action to get such a job. So I always remember taking action is necessary to achieve something. I learned quickly that I didn't enjoy the work of an accountant at all and so I was glad to have learned that lesson as well. So I could choose a different, different career path. I love. I still love numbers, but no, no the work the work of an accountant is not for me. So I studied Business Administration and econometrics. I fell in love with both logistics and software development. And my first job was as a supply chain consultants. Had a lot of fun, we worked hard. But we laughed even harder.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Okay.

Susanne Mus:

And yeah, last year, I went to dinner with my previous first boss, and one of my first customers and, you know, it's so good to see them after 15 years. And to still I still laugh about about projects we did. Yes. So I already told you something about my second job and the realization indeed that my behavior, it wasn't always working for me anymore.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Right? Right.

Susanne Mus:

I wanted to act differently. And to do that I needed to understand myself more and and how others see me. It was a bumpy ride. But I'm, I'm grateful for it, it gave me it gave me so much. So indeed, from that moment on, I could start building a support ecosystem. And what I mean with that is, it's, I think, a network of people, but also resources and environments that contributed to my personal growth and self awareness and to my overall well being. And, to me, personally, I mean, the most important lesson was that I don't, I am not alone and I don't need to do everything by myself, I can depend on people and that was the best lesson, the toughest lesson as as well, you know, so, but it started with the realization that you need such a support syste. I want to be clear on that as well as or at least you need to be receptive of it. I don't think you will have lasting results building a support ecosystem if you don't actually know what it will bring you. So some of the things I learned along the way and that helped me Yeah, learn to take a deep dive into myself to see what I need it. What did I feel I didn't really feel for a long time i i believe i survived and I need I really needed to learn feeling again and with that feeling, some some pain came along and of course, I know that, you know, I am kind of at ease with telling my story out loud. But I know, you know that people sometimes are kind of, yeah, well, maybe in shock, it's, it's a bit too much. But you know, they're surprised and then a bit scared when I tell my story. And I don't mean that. I mean, I think everyone has his own his or her own story and it can be big, it can be small. But I think, you know, if, for every story for everyone, it's important to Yeah, to learn more about yourself and where and where you're coming from to understand your own behavior. And I don't always liked it and I still don't always do like my own behavior. But I learned to understand where it's coming from.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

That's it.

Susanne Mus:

It's not the zero or one, you know, it's embracing your behavior, and where it's coming from, and then move forwards to new or adaptive behavior because it brings you something. And I learned that with a good personal leadership program, for instance, with the help of great trainers and coaches. And also I went to a therapist a few years ago to talk about my youth. So I could embrace that part as well.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Yeah, you know, I love how you're bringing all of your stories and sort of rounding it up so nicely for us to think about, you know, this is the journey that we all have our individual journeys or individual stories. But you know, that realisation moment is, I suppose, the most key trigger, Susanne, because without that, you know, and in your case, it was the start was potentially that experience in your second job that you that you just shared with us, that sort of triggered the fact that the behaviors that that you were displaying previously were actually not working very well, anymore. But this, there's so many reasons that we each could have about why we are the way we are, and also why we feel we can go it alone. And I mean, you spoke to some of the things that you experience. And I guess, I'm curious to know a little bit more about, and maybe something that our listeners would probably also resonate with this, some of the reasons why we feel we'd want to go it alone, you know, despite everything, and then is there even a line that that, you know, that stops us from asking for support versus we can just do it on our own? What would you say are some of those?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, well, I think there could be a lot of reasons, you know, some possible reasons are fear of vulnerability, past experiences, or of disappointments, or a desire for control, a lack of trust in others. And the line between asking for support and doing it on your own can also vary depending on the situation, can be of course, different for each individual. For me, I don't think if, when I look at myself now, nowadays, I don't think there's a lot that I do on my own. So So, so that's growth you know, it made me feel so like that to others, because I love to be on my own. I love to figure things out by myself. But I always turn back to my support system. So I I brainstorm with people about my next steps. Whether it's professional or personal, I always ask for feedback of them. I don't need to be by myself anymore, and to do it on my own. It's more fun with others around me, and I get better, I get better results of it as well. So yeah.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Yeah, I like the fun element that you brought in, because that's true, right? I mean, there is that little bit of a loneliness factor as well. I mean, as much as you feel like you're in control and you're independent. But you know that that mindset shift out of that I think is so important that actually bringing others in, creates quite a quite an interesting ride and, and perhaps an alternative path as well to what you would have originally been done. And speaking of mindset, and also because you brought in you know, you were speaking about pushing your own self out of your comfort zone, like for example doing our podcast today that I know you said to me is quite a nice push but yeah, you are you're doing it and you're brilliant, and I'm sure my listeners are gonna are gonna enjoy this too. So maybe let's take it to that. But so from that mindset perspective, then how do we actually move ourselves out of our comfort zone? You know, and then let's say the comfort zone is actually going to do it on my own right? How do you push ourselves out of that and push our own boundaries against what could potentially be quite an unproductive habits, because we're trying to be so independent?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, it's important to embrace a growth mindset and this involves recognizing that personal growth happens outside of one's comfort zone, right? So we need to be open to learn from others and willing to face challenges as well. A great coach told me a long time ago, hang in there, just hang in your discomfort. And I was like, yeah, it's kind of what do you mean by that? Yeah. You know, I was like, what, what, what is the advice you gave me? I think it's for me, it's one of the best advices that I've given in my life. Because when I'm feeling that this when you feel discomfort, I mean, I think normally as a normal human being the first thing is you want to react to to turn into comfort again, and I now always remember her words, like, yeah, just hang in there, hang in your discomfort, and see what what happens. And I think we need to learn more often how to do that how to feel uncomfortable, you know? So what's it feels uncomfortable? Yeah. So what just just hang in there and see and feel also feel what happens to you? And I think, if we try to do that more often, because yeah, I don't think that we try maybe enough or to learn how to be uncomfortable. That's the first good stuff. That ethic is the first good step.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Oh, no, I think you're right. I think you're right, we've we've forgotten how to become comfortable in discomfort and, and you know, maybe it even goes down to those baser instincts, right, because typically, when something shocks us, we our body reacts into, you know, we either go into fight mode, flight mode, or freeze mode, right. And, and that's so typical, and depending on our disposition, it's typically one of those. So nobody actually says to us, but actually, part of that freeze element is not that you're in inertia, but perhaps it's exploration of, you know, just just exploring what's going on for yourself. And then deciding on a reaction, there's a more conscious kind of level of thinking coming in. But okay, so let's say, let's say we get into it, we work with somebody, we get into a growth mindset. We're on this journey. Maybe it's early stages, maybe we're midway in our journey as well. We often take like two steps forward and one step back, right for anything that we do. But then how do we stop ourselves from actually getting into that one step back position, and getting stuck there again, and somehow retreating back into our old and productive ways of just wanting to be very independent, and we're not looking for help and all of that, how do we stop that from happening, that we keep moving forward in our journey?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, I believe to avoid retreating into old ways it we need to consciously practice our self awareness, you know, that we need to keep recognizing the patterns of, of triggers that lead to such behaviors. We seek support from others and develop strategies to to for overcoming that urge to retreat. And these, like we said before, and also other guests in your podcast, it's this process never stops. It's not that we're in a moment in our lives that we say yeah, I'm self aware and I cannot know each and every day, we can learn from ourselves and from others and regularly reminding oneself or the benefits of interdependence and growth that comes from collaboration. Yeah, it it can be beneficial. We need to look keep keep, you know, observing, I think ourselves and our behavior. I always liked the helicopter view, like, Okay, let's take the helicopter view, to you know, to object to objectively look at ourselves and to see what was happening, what was happening here. And also to look at yourself and your own behavior. And I think, yeah, we can learn everyday everyday from it and, you know, also, I learned a lot from my but I'm a mom, I have two children. They're eight and six and I'm so lucky that I have that environment also to, you know, to play with with the self awareness journey, because they're, they're honest.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Absolutely I understand. Yeah, I've got a five year old, he's brutally honest. Cant hide anything

Susanne Mus:

That helps me in my in my journey as well? Because they don't they don't

Arthi Rabikrisson:

There is no filters

Susanne Mus:

No, no, not at all. And if you are then able to have that honest conversation, I mean, it's golden. Right? It's their honesty and their love. Yeah, so I thrive from that as well.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Nice. I mean, look, it's, I love that I love what you're suggesting to everyone that actually this is continual work in progress. It's an evolution. And we must see that as it right, that even when we take those steps back, it's not that we are meant to dwell in that, but we actually keep moving forward, even even baby steps from there. We just keep working on ourselves, bring things to conscious, and look for ways to improve. And as you're saying, you know, it sounds like your family and your little ones they they're a big part of your support structure. Susanne, who else homes part of your support ecosystem? And then what other benefits do you see for yourself and for others coming as a result of that?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, I have a few people around me that I have real honest conversation with. And I kind of picked them up along my line on my life journey, so

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Thats a nice visual.

Susanne Mus:

I have some very good friends are from when I was a young child, I have one of my best friends is out of university. But also still recently, I got to know people through my company awareyess, that you really support me. And still, yeah, help me figuring out who I am, what my mission is, and what my next steps are. So. So that I mean, that is, I think, for me, the most important part of the ecosystem are the people around me and but I don't want to forget, I mean, I read a lot of interesting books. You know, I watch I listen to your podcasts and others also. And then you know, all that information is also part of this.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Yeah, nice. Nice. I like that. So it's such a beautiful blend of that social element of the people element, but also, that little bit of that introspective in terms of that knowledge as well. So that's beautiful. Nice to put it in that context. Susanne, so what's in store for you next? What are you busy with? And where are you at in your journey?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, so, like we talked about it today. It's, it's given me so much to get to know myself better. So I want. So my mission is to offer that to others as well. That's why I started awareyess, not because I want to be clear on that. I don't believe that software is the holy grail, that it's the solution. But certainly, it can be supportive in your self awareness journey. But I believe you also need a personal guidance, you know, if it's through people, you know, or a coach or a trainer or a guide. It's that combination that I think we need to do skill up. So my dream is that, you know, every one of us, and we look mostly at professional people, the knowledge workers, but everyone can have their self awareness journey. And I hope we can scale up and part of that is, I am so grateful, as you said, like, we started at the same time on the Tasha 10 family, and we have so many plans, right to, to fighting to have our own collaboration and to bring our mission into the world and it's so fun to to do that with people all around the globe. So yeah, I'm really looking forward into into the future.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

It certainly seems like it's a bright future and I'm wishing you every bit of success with your mission and developing it that out and of course for collaborations to come something really beautiful. You know, we're coming to the end of what's been a really beautiful conversation Susanne, thank you so much. And id love it, I'd love it if you would share with us something that just inspires you, that keeps you on your journey moving forward, growing, building your self awareness. So it could be anything, it could be a poem, a quote, a song lyric that you like, but when is it that really keeps you on this path? Personally?

Susanne Mus:

Yeah, so I, I brought a song lyric because I was lucky that you asked me beforehand, so I could hear the thing is I could think about this. And a song popped into my mind and I listened. I didn't listen to it for a long time. Okay, it came out in 1999. It's from a Dutch band, by the way, so I don't, I don't think you will know it. I was, I was 18 at the time and listened a lot to it in my 20s.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Alright,

Susanne Mus:

and I remember I was able to sometimes cry with this song. And it felt so good and relieved to let go of some kind of something. So thinking about this, I was like, Yeah, add music to your support ecosystem as well. That let's do that. So I will I will I have the I of course, I didn't know it by heart anymore. But I Okay. I search for the song lyrics and I will Yeah, I will go right. So the road ahead from city to city, the road ahead is empty. It's paved with miles of the unknown. Whatever seems to be your destination. Take life the way it comes. Take life the way it is. Horizon in a distance so close in yet so far away. You shouldn't be surprised when on arrival, your dream is flown away of fears not here to stay. The road ahead never gives away a promise. The road ahead is a highway or a dead end street. A dead end street raindrops on your windscreen, they fall from heaven or from hell. You drive into the lights or into darkness, uncertainty as your guides. The road ahead will never give away a promise. The road ahead is a highway. The road ahead never answers any questions, and nothing is shown along the way. Not even tomorrow, with miles of the unknown ahead of you. The road ahead is empty. It's paved with miles of the unknown. Whatever seems to be your destination. Take life the way it comes. Take life the way it is.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Ah, I love that. But those are powerful lyrics. Oh, my goodness, isn't beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing that with us and thank you for being on the inspired life podcast. It's been amazing. Thank you so much for having me, Arthi Thank you. You take care Susanne and we'll chat again soon.

Susanne Mus:

Okay, we'll do bye bye.

Arthi Rabikrisson:

Thank you so much for joining me on this episode today. If you like what you heard, rate, the episode and podcast. And feel free to write a review. Plus, of course, share with others too. I love talking around topics like these. So if you like my perspective or insight in a subject close to your heart, or something that you're grappling with, reach out to me in your comments or send me an email via my website or connected me via LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook, all my social media on the podcast information. If it's important to you, then it's important to so happy listening to the inspire your life podcast and catch you soon on the next episode. Bye

About Susanne Mus
Welcome Susanne!
The Magic Of Logic
The Urgency
The Start Of Self Awareness
Who is Susanne?
Building A Support Ecosystem
Having People Is More Fun
Getting Out Of The Comfort Zone
How To Avoid Retreating
Susanne Support Ecosystem
What Is Next For Susanne
What Inspires Susanne