Interview conducted by Chanèle McFarlane
Photography by Keidi Janz

If there’s one thing that Karlyn Percil-Mercieca has down pat, it’s her self-awareness.

She’s exceptionally in tune with her emotions, body language and subconscious mind, allowing her to be intentional with everything she does. After all, with an admirable goal of impacting 1 million women, she doesn’t exactly have the time to waste on anything that isn’t fully aligned with her mission.  

As a certified Neuro Success Coach and Elephant Storyteller, Karlyn uses the science of self-awareness and emotional intelligence to help women transform their lives and increase their impact in the world. With features in outlets like the Oprah Winfrey Network and Forbes (just to name a few!), she is an authentic thought leader who uses her past experiences to mentor women, especially women of colour.

Of course, her journey to where she is today didn’t happen overnight and most certainly, not without its challenges. Over the 23+ years that Karlyn worked in the corporate world, she, unfortunately, faced workplace bullying, leading to chronic insomnia from the emotional stress. Naturally, Karlyn became increasingly curious about life beyond the corporate office…and the rest is history.

Keep reading to dive deeper into Karlyn’s empowering story, the importance of mastering your mindset and why you should play bigger in life and love to become the ‘beautiful warrior’ you’re meant to be:

Tell us about a time that life handed you lemons. Did you make lemonade? 

Being bullied at work was something I didn’t expect. Being an adult in Corporate – no one talks about being bullied. I didn’t make lemonade at that time because I didn’t know what to do with the lemons. So I cried and asked WHY – why was this grown woman picking at me? What did I do wrong?

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Describe your ideal work environment to get sh*t done.

Depends on my mood and work deliverables. Sometimes I thrive on the noise and chaos of people around me so I would go to a Starbucks or a co-working space. Other days, it’s me and my couch – sometimes still in my jammies. Nothing playing, nothing on – just the stillness of my suite and the hum of the refrigerator. Other days, Beyonce is blasting and I’m getting shit done!

How much of your success has come from taking risks versus playing it safe?

No risk, no reward! I believe that the best way to get anything worth getting is to take risks. Playing safe will always get you more of the same. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Creating the Success Planner came from creating something I wasn’t sure people would buy.

I thought - why not put all the best success tips from my Virtual Mentors in a daily calendar and then practice, track and measure my growth? How much will my life change? Hey, let’s sell it! I was terrified no one would buy it – did a small run of 250 Planners the first year and we’ve steadily increased our print run to 1000 in our 3rd year. I’m excited to see where this goes and how we can use the science of self-awareness and emotional intelligence to help women transform their lives and increase their impact in the world.

How do you measure success in your career?

I define success everyday. Some days success is how quickly I was able to bounce the negative gremlins off my back. Other days it’s meeting my focus goal – doing that ONE thing and delivering with intent & impact. Or it’s hitting that money goal!  Or how many No’s I said or being totally present with my husband. I think it’s impossible to have a blanket definition of success – if I do I will always be setting myself up for failure.

Entrepreneurship is a mindset game –life is a mindset game. Your thoughts drive behaviour and vice versa. This is why the tagline for the Success Planner and my life is making time for what matters the most.

Sometimes what matters the most is that you did better than you did yesterday. Depending on the season you’re in – what matters the most is taking the next RIGHT step – and having the wisdom, courage and confidence to take that next step because this will change as you transition from one season to the next.

"I think it’s impossible to have a blanket definition of success – if I do, I will always be setting myself up for failure."

You're 30 minutes away from walking into an important meeting. What do you do to get yourself in the right headspace?

Setting my intention and visualizing what success will look like. I also do a body language check and a subconscious mind check to ensure that I don’t have any negative energy lurking and that I am free from any small thoughts. Research shows that body language has an impact on our hormones so I use my breath, and also Amy Cuddy’s power poses, to reset and increase my testosterone levels. Self-awareness is a powerful tool I utilize daily – I use various prompts to check-in with Karlyn to see where her energy is. Power posing is usually a way to get me in the right mind, soul, heart and gut set.

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Was there ever a moment that you questioned your decision to become an entrepreneur?

Every damn day!!!! (Can I say damn?) As mentioned earlier, some days I feel like I have my shit together – Queen Boss – killing it – other days I’m curled in a ball and I don’t want to get out of bed and do anything. I question everything and everyone but I’ve learned to trust myself on this new journey – you don’t jump from a 23 year plus career in Corporate Finance & Technology to knowing everything about entrepreneurship overnight.

I overcome the automatic negative thoughts by being aware of what drives the negative thoughts – being aware of the story I tell myself and most importantly getting curious about what I’m feeling as well.

As a NeuroSuccess Coach, I use the science of human behaviour to deconstruct why we do what we do – what drives our behavior. So, curiosity is my most powerful “makeup brush” in my LifeBox.

It gives me insight to WHY – our bodies are so brilliant – we are so brilliant – we’re like super computers with built in empathy, compassion and intuition. We have the power to predict & CHOOSE. But many of us give in to the information we receive from our bodies and our environment. We believe our emotions and run our current day program on old “software” aka data. Fear-like emotions is a signal, it’s not a directive.

Emotions or bodily sensations is just data. It’s a signal that you are aligned or NOT aligned with your values or belief system. That INNER information is our internal compass.  So I’ve learned and (I’m still learning) about my inner signals – when my body or mind sends a message – I become the thought detective and dive in and decipher the information and CHOOSE the best next step. When we’re curious, we uncover the WHY and sometimes the WHY might be we need more information or we need to step away or we care so much that we’re overly cautious and might be afraid of the success coming our way.

What would you say is the biggest mistake you've made and how did you rectify it?

Hmmmmm so many – being afraid that I wouldn’t deliver. A huge Fortune 500 Company was interested in my Leadership Program and requested a meeting to review with their leadership team and I froze and never wrote back. I was still working full time and I was rigged with Imposter Syndrome Complex – it was so bad I got physically sick and didn’t attend the meeting. Like I just let it slide. So so terrible. I don’t think I ever rectified it – it’s like the Elephant In the room – I never acknowledged it and they stopped emailing me . I know – it’s bad.

Who is a fellow Toronto-based female entrepreneur that inspires you and why?

I have so many!!!! Rachel here at Make Lemonade is one – we just met but love her drive, energy & passion for what she does. Tanya Walker of Walker Law, only Black owned Law Firm on Bay Street – she’s a huge inspiration. Her drive, passion and her willingness to always offer advice and an encouraging word. Joanna Kirke of Kirke Consulting, Nike Onile of 800 sq Ft, Amy Curillo of Love on Sunday, Rumeet Billan of Viewpoint Leadership, Catriona and Hala of Halo PR, my friend Nneka Elliott, Jen of She Does The City – these are women who tried, who took a chance on their dreams and most importantly on themselves –and I admire that.

They kept on going and are going in spite of all the challenges they encounter. They’re also honest and authentic about the journey – they inspire and remind me that even when the going gets tough – it’s natural and that it’s OK. So put your freakum dress on or your PJ’s and keep going! Thank you Beautiful Warriors – I admire you and thank you for being a possibility model for me.

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What is a personal or professional challenge you're faced with right now?

Essentialism. Doing the RIGHT thing. Focusing on that RIGHT thing.

There’s lots we all can do – that I am good at but that doesn’t mean I am the right person to do it. Saying NO is a huge focus for my to-do list this year.

Focusing on that ONE big thing that will have the leadership & legacy impact I would like to have – which is to activate 1 million women who will further impact the lives of another million women. I struggle sometimes with shiny object syndrome – there are indeed lots of GOOD opportunities – but I don’t want to settle for good.

My focus is aiming for the GREAT – it might take longer and I might have less to show on the journey but when I do show up – it will be impactful and touch the lives of millions.

What is one thing you wish you knew before becoming your own boss?

That there is a BOSS mindset & attitude that you need to have in place before you can become the boss. Everyone makes it look so Instagram pretty – being the #bossbabe – but this shit ain’t easy. LOL.

Boss babe is also making the hard decisions, saying no, negotiating for what you know you’re worth, pitching yourself for gigs, - it’s a mindset game that you need to understand – it’s not all cute pictures on Instagram – there are those days too but crying and struggling is part of the boss babe mindset.


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