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One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is facing bullies.

…the bullies from our past.

…the bullies in our present.

…and the bullies between our ears.

We live in a culture that normalizes—and even elevates—bullies in the name of entertainment. Our culture encourages us to enjoy the suffering of others instead of empathizing with the personal pain of the bullied. Our culture increasingly urges us to see bullying as a sign of strength.

When in truth, the culture of bullying is fueled by shame, fear, and violence. It perpetuates a right to retribution that dehumanizes. It ruins lives and lacks accountability, compassion, and empathy.

That’s why it’s more important than ever these days to take a stand. To face the bully, the oppressor, the abuser, the betrayer and say: enough. No more. Not now. Not ever again.

Gemma Went is my guest today. She’s here to share about when she decided to push back on both the internal and external voices that said she should not pay time or energy to a recent bullying and public shaming experience.

Gemma is an Online Business Mentor + Digital Growth Strategist based in the UK and works with entrepreneurs and business owners across the globe achieve great things and smash their goals through her proprietary frameworks and systems, all based on three core principles: Mindset + Strategy + Action, which make up her MSA Approach™.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Gemma made a careful and values-based decision to take a stand against a bullying experience in adulthood
  • The impact her childhood bullying experience had on her decision to take a stand
  • The important work she did to heal, grow, and lead the trauma of being bullied rather than it leading her
  • The vulnerability in asking for help

Learn more about Gemma Went:

Learn more about Rebecca:


Gemma Went: And for me to just let it go meant

that it was okay for anyone to do that to me and anyone else. And there was

this absolute fire, and I think the fire may have come from me being

horrifically bullied at school for about a year, and it was physical, it was

psychological. That stuck with me for ages. There was an element here of, “No,

I will not be bullied. I will not be bullied.” And so, I needed to step up and

stand up.

[Inspirational Intro Music]

Rebecca Ching:

One of the most challenging aspects of leadership is facing bullies. The

bullies from our past, the bullies in our present, and let’s not forget the

bullies between our ears. We live in a culture that normalizes and even

elevates bullies in the name of entertainment. Our culture encourages us to

enjoy the suffering of others instead of empathizing with the personal pain of

the bullied. Our culture increasingly encourages us to see bullying as a sign

of strength. When in truth, the culture of bullying is about power-over fueled

by shame and fear and violence. It perpetuates a right to retribution that

dehumanizes and can ruin lives and lacks accountability, compassion, and


This culture of bullying justifies

hurting others and is often internalized, breathed in, and integrated into our own

self-talk. The culture of bullying senses the tenderness of vulnerability in

others and is repelled by those who embody it because it mirrors their own

vulnerability, which parts of them fear and despise. Unburdened leaders

understand this is a trauma response to undealt with pain. It’s the echoes of

the wounds from being humiliated and dehumanized and devalued that can add fuel

to our fire for change and a desire to make impact for the greater good, and it

can also take us out.


Sometimes it is important to not

engage and give credence to the bullies in our lives. More often these days, it

is important to take a stand, face the bully, the oppressor, the abuser, the

betrayer, and say, “Enough,” “No more,” “Not now,” and “Not ever again!”

I’m Rebecca Ching, and you’re

listening to The Unburdened Leader, the show that goes deep with leaders whose

burdens have inspired their life’s work. Our goal is to learn how they’ve

addressed these burdens, how they rise from them and become better and more

impactful leaders of themselves and others.

Standing up against the culture of

bullying is not a sport or fodder for entertainment. It is easy to be a

spectator and offer shoulds and opinions from a distance. It is a lot harder to

get into the messiness of the arena with someone who is daring to take a stand

against those who do harm. Standing up and standing with those who’ve been

bullied is about healing our own personal experiences with bullying and our

relationship with our own inner critic protectors so we can shift the

normalizing of dehumanizing, entitlement and physical and psychological


My guest today decided to push back

on both the internal and external voices that said she should not pay time or

energy to a recent bullying and public shaming experience. For many like my

guest today, standing up to a work-related bully was fueled by her own

childhood experiences with bullying.


Gemma Went is an online business

mentor and digital growth strategist based in the UK and works with

entrepreneurs and business owners across the globe and helps them achieve great

things and smash their goals through her proprietary framework and systems all

based on three core principles: mindset, strategy, and action, which make up

her MSA approach.

In this episode, notice how Gemma

made the careful and values-based decision to take a stand against bullying

experienced in adulthood, reflect on the impact her childhood bullying

experiences had on her decision to take a stand, along with the important work

she did prior to this choice to heal, grow, and lead the trauma of her bullying

instead of it leading her. Now, I am so happy to welcome Gemma Went to The Unburdened Leader podcast!

Thank you so much for joining me


Gemma Went:

I am thrilled to be here.

Rebecca Ching:

Listeners are in for a treat. Your story, your business acumen combined with

your humor (and maybe we’ll get a belly laugh out of you today) will delight

and inspire no doubt.

So I’d like us to start by going back

in time to when you found out you were pregnant, and then shortly after this

news, you had lost your very successful corporate marketing job. Can you tell

me more about this season and how the burdens of this season shaped your life

and work today?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, it had, ah, such a big effect because I was a planned single mom, well,

to be at that point. Obviously, I was pregnant with my first child, and I

decided to do it all alone.


And so, I’d put everything in place

to allow me to do that emotionally, financially, and then just had the rug

pulled out from under me. And the thing that was interesting for me at the time

was I think how much it affected my self-worth and how much my self-worth was

completely reliant on that successful job that I had. And so, there was a lot

of emotion, there was a lot of fear, obviously, because I had no idea what we

were gonna do. I had no other financial reserves and no other way of getting

financial support at that point, and I had to strip everything back and go back

to basics. And so, there was kind of like, on one side of me, this feeling of

hurt and betrayal and loss and questions around my worth, and then on the other

side of me there was this lioness that was roaring up and was ready to protect

my son and be a mother. So there was a lot of stuff going on at that point.

Rebecca Ching:

So can you get more specific? You said the rug was pulled out from under you.

Can you detail us the life that you had planned for you and your son with life

as you knew it working at your corporate job to what you lost and what shifted

in a very short amount of time?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, for me, the loss was really stability. I had planned what I was doing,

where I was living, how it would all work. I mean much later I realized it

never would have worked, and it was a great thing to happen anyway, but in the

moment all of those plans, all of those dreams, that whole lifestyle just fell

away, and my first step was to — because I was seven months pregnant at that



Rebecca Ching:

Oh, wow.

Gemma Went:

And my first step was find somewhere to be so that I could actually birth my

baby in a safe space, and a dear, dear, dear, dear friend of mine came forward

and offered me her guest room for as long as I needed it. She was also a single

mum. She understood the pressures of that.

So I was very lucky that I moved

into there. But again, you know, staying in someone’s guest room and moving

away from the dream and the plans that I had was just this huge shift, like

absolute huge shift as well as someone like me who’s fiercely independent, has

been since I was incredibly, incredibly young, having to ask for help and then

having to take help. That was very new for me, and it was uncomfortable, but it

was something that I had to get used to and I had to accept.

Rebecca Ching:

The reality changed dramatically. You mentioned, then, your self-worth being

impacted by this. Can you be as specific as possible how that was attacked and

detailing (especially if it was connected to the asking for help and receiving

help) how that shifted for you?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, so I have lots of stories. This is one of many, which includes quite

serious childhood trauma and bullying and various family crises. They all kind

of created a feeling of I’m worthless and I am not enough.


And so, that I think was with me from

a very, very early age, and everything I did was to prove I was worthy. And for

me, that got very much wrapped up in success, and I was very successful at —

pretty much everything I did from my twenties onwards I was successful at

because I made sure that I did because it was so much of a crutch for me, and

it was the thing that made me feel worthy.

So to have that taken away and go

back to just me and what I have was a real — I mean, I think it was actually a

brilliant thing for me to go through at the time, but when it happened, it just

took everything away and made me return to those feelings and where they came

from, and you know, those little stories that cropped back up that haven’t come

up for years, the, “See? See? See, you’re not worthy. See, you’re not

successful. See, you’re not good enough.” Those started to come back up again,

and it was really navigating that that was the journey for me.

Rebecca Ching:

That’s powerful. That’s powerful. As I’m hearing you talk about really painful,

really difficult things that you experienced and that you went through, these

traumas, these burdens you carried that fueled your drive, that fueled your

survival, that fueled your thriving to not stay where you were, and that drive

and that, “I’m going to get away and be everything opposite of this,” those are

my words, but to move away from that inspired this amazing success that you

experienced, this worldly success, right, working in marketing in a

corporation. And then when that was pulled out, the echoes from those lies and

those beliefs, the volume turned up on them.


Gemma Went:

Yeah, absolutely.

Rebecca Ching:

That’s powerful. And so, how did you find your new normal? You’re in your

friend’s guest bedroom, unemployed, with a newborn.

Gemma Went:

Mm, I think — you know what? Once I was safe and in that room, which was

beautiful. I was very lucky my friend has a very, very beautiful country house

with lots of space, and she’s a dear friend, and I know her very well. Once I

was safe and in that room, I think everything just turned into survival. So I

knew that I had to earn money. There was no way I was gonna get a job again

because I was seven months pregnant. I wasn’t employable and wouldn’t be for a

little while, and I didn’t even know if I wanted to be anymore. I knew that it

wasn’t indefinite, staying at the guest place, so I needed to be earning some

money so that I could rent our first home together.

So I’d had a business before. I had

a digital marketing agency 15-odd years ago. So I knew how to set up a

business, and I just thought, “You know what? I’m gonna set myself back up as a

digital marketing consultant. It’s what I’ve always done. I can build websites

myself. I can do SEO myself. I can do the marketing myself.” So I just sat in that

room with my MacBook on my lap, my belly getting bigger and bigger, and created

the business. I set it up, created the website, optimized it for search in the

hope that by the time I was looking for work, sort of two/three months after my

son was born, I would be found, and people’d be looking for me.

So I just completely immersed myself

in getting this going, reaching out to everybody I knew, telling them I was

gonna be available, and that really took over, and it was absolute survival

mode, and that kept me focused.


That became the new normal, just

that fire and that drive and the lioness wanting to protect my cub. That drove

me forward, and to be honest, it stopped me from wallowing in it. It made me

move out of that and just go, “Right, that’s done. What do we need to do to

move forward?” That really helped spur me on.

Rebecca Ching:

So you had a combination of some previous experience, but you also had this

biological hardwire, the lioness. I love that, this lioness part of you that

says, “We have a child to take care of, so we’re digging in.” And I love how

you just continue to network. It was action upon action upon action. You let

everybody know. You said what you were doing. What were the responses you

received at the time when you were sharing with people that you were building

up your marketing consultancy firm?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, it was amazing. It was amazing. I had a lot of support. I knew a lot of

people in the industry. I had a lot of support. I had a lot of agencies that

wanted to hire me there, and then I just said, “No, you have to wait until I’ve

had my son.” But yet, it felt really good. There was a lot of support around me.

And I did, you know, after I’d had

Jack, I think he was about two months and I got approached by a really good

agency in London to work on a big brand account on their social media strategy

who had me on retainer. I picked up a couple of other retainers, so it was

pretty instant, and the people were very, very supportive. The nature of my

work was that I could still do it from that bed, most of it. So it was very,

very fortunate that I had that network and the experience that I had to kind of

get me out of that situation.


Rebecca Ching:

Hard work, connections, and a lioness. [Laughs]

Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

Powerful survival mode. What happened with those echoes during that time of the

self-worth, those voices that said, “Ah, you see? You see?” What was going on

with them during that time?

Gemma Went:

I think they were buried. They weren’t professed.

Rebecca Ching:


Gemma Went:

They were definitely buried. And they were to come out later when I would need

to start processing them, but I think my system couldn’t quite cope with

everything that was going on. You know, I’d just gone through that traumatic

event. I’d had a baby and was learning to be a mum in a house that wasn’t my

own, and then start a new business. So there was a lot for my system to cope

with, and I think I just buried a few things, which later on came back up again.

Rebecca Ching:

So let’s flash forward to that. So you started this consultancy that ended up

turning into a very thriving online business. Can you tell us a little bit

about the business that it ended up coming into, that it ended up evolving into?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, so it started obviously working as a digital marketing consultant for

brands and corporates. And as time went by — and you know, I had enough money

in the first year, so when Jack was nine months, we rented our own home, and

that felt amazing. And while we were living there I started to work with

smaller business owners. They’d found me on Google or on social media, and they

were asking for help, specifically with digital strategy. And I would speak to

them about it and realized that you need to take a step back. It’s not the

digital strategy you need. You need the whole business strategy. You need your

business model, the revenue streams, right?


And I realized how much actual

business knowledge that I had from sort of being on the board of directors at a

couple of agencies, working in corporates, running my own business, growing

teams. I started to then look more holistically at online business and small

business and stepped more into a mentoring role, and I think that’s where I

found my real passion because although I love digital marketing, my passion

wasn’t there. But when I started to help people more similar to me — I work

with men as well, but particularly women that were in the struggle that wanted

to create a successful life through a successful business. I resonated more,

and it became more of a passion and more of a why that drove me. So I stepped

more into business mentoring and then that’s when it blew up.

But also, that’s when those stories

came back. The, “You’re not enough,” and the other stories. It was the minute I

stepped out from, I guess, behind the — I was like The Wizard of Oz with the

brands. I was behind the curtain all the time. I didn’t really need to be out

there and visible. But then when I stepped into this new market, I needed to

have my personal brand, I needed to be out there, I needed to take a stand, I

needed to lead, and it’s when I stepped out from the curtain that the voices

came back. “Who do you think you are? You’re not good enough,” and that’s when

I had to start really processing and going inwards to do the work to help deal

with that.

Rebecca Ching:

So as you became more successful and more seen, the voices, the internal

critical shame-based voices got louder? The echoes of those burdens dialed up



Gemma Went:


[Inspirational Music]

Rebecca Ching:

Navigating the bullies in your life and in between your ears can get the best

of you. It is amazing how the bullies in your story can still hijack your

present and rob you of your confidence, make you question your instincts, and

usher in old struggles that you thought were resolved.

Now, your curiosity and work ethic

set you apart and you’re often ahead of the curve on new and innovative

practices and techniques that support your leadership and your business. So when

what has worked for you to navigate struggle and growth edges and other issues

has stopped working, it may be time to dig back into your curiosity and learn

more how the burdens you’re carrying may be what is holding you back.

Unburdened Leadership Coaching

supports leaders like you to navigate the reoccurring struggles and the

challenges of growth that will help you embody the skills and practices that

support your leadership for today and for your tomorrow. Set up a connection

call with me to learn more about Unburdened Leadership Coaching at www.rebeccaching.com

[Inspirational Music]

Rebecca Ching:

One of the things I’ve valued — I’ve known you for quite some time — is you

really practice what you teach, and I really respect that because that’s not

the norm. [Laughs] We’ll just leave it at that.

Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

And so, I want to take you to a specific moment that I had the privilege of

witnessing. It was around December of 2018, and you were wrapping up the

biggest launch you have ever had. You were putting together a twelve-month

program for people to be mentored by you with such exquisite support and detail

and access to you. It was really cool to see how your consistency, your

devotion to every potential client, how you saw clients not as a dollar sign,

but you continued to see every person as a human.


So it was really powerful for me

because it’s so easy to get jaded when you see sales and marketing and that

cynicism is so thick, and just how you communicated with such integrity with

every offer, and I got to see, again, the behind the scenes, how you worked the

very tools that you sell to help you execute this incredible offer to have

female business owners work for you in that.

So amidst your relentlessness to

service and excellence and your desire to give people all that they truly

needed, no more no less, the whole thing was inspiring, and I think medicine

for a lot of people. So it was not a surprise that it was your biggest launch,

and I was so proud to know you and to say, “I know her!” You broke the mold

with that launch in many ways. You were pushing the edges of people who were

tired of the same old same old, and you set these new standards for integrity

as you expanded your business and honored your mission and your vision to help

female business owners.

So we entered the new year, and you

told me this later. It was obviously something private but then became public,

that someone publicly started to attack you, viciously attack you and your

credibility. Just someone else in the field and in the online business and

marketing space. And I was struck by your response because there were many

people that were saying, “Oh, just let it go. Don’t feed the haters. Just let

it go.” And you had a different response. You decided to do something

different. Can you talk about that?

Gemma Went:

Mm, it was tough. Again, even though I had processed a lot of those stories,

and I’d done a lot of the inner work, this kind of brought all of that back up,

and I felt betrayed and sad and let down.


But there was this — and you know,

the thing is had I thought it was right, I probably would have reacted very

differently. Had I thought I had made a mistake, I would have reacted

differently. But I was absolutely certain I wasn’t to blame here, and I hadn’t

done anything wrong. For me to just let it go meant that it was okay for anyone

to do that, to me or anyone else. And there was this absolute fire, and I think

the fire may have come from me being horrifically bullied at school for about a

year. It was physical. It was psychological. That stuck with me for ages. There

was an element here of, “No, I will not be bullied. I will not be bullied.” And

so, I needed to step up and stand up because it just didn’t feel right.

And my approach was, you know, I

never get into online public spats. It’s not my game. I have no interest in it.

But I wanted to stand up for it. So I actually paid a lawyer to help advise me

through it and get legal support, and that was great because I wanted to

respond but I wanted to do it in a way that couldn’t make the situation worse,

that couldn’t get me in hot water. I wanted to be certain I was saying the

right things, I was being factual. I had my lawyer check all of my facts to see

if there were any gray areas in anything that I was claiming. The poor girl had

to read through loads of emails and messages and stuff to check that what I was

saying was absolutely right. And once we’d done that, I crafted a very

passionless and emotionless response that just detailed the facts.


It didn’t even respond to the person

because I didn’t want to respond to the person. But what I did do was lay out

the facts in response to what she had said for people that were reading that. I

just said, “These are the facts. They’ve been fact checked by my lawyer. The

whole response has been fact checked by my lawyer and signed off. This is

actually what happened. I will leave you to decide what you believe on this.”

And that’s what I did.

It was tough, but it felt like the

right thing to do. The easier thing to do would have been just to ignore it

because, you know, I had a lot of people at the time messaging me saying, “I

don’t believe a word of this. This doesn’t even make any sense.” So I could

have just left it, but it just felt wrong, and I needed to make a stand, and I

needed to stand up and say, “I won’t be allowing this. I won’t allow people to

attack me. I will get my lawyer in, and I will deal with this properly.” As

horrible as it was to go through, it was a really powerful thing for me to do

for myself.

Rebecca Ching:

Tell me more about that.

Gemma Went:

Yeah, I think, you know, I’d gone through lots of stuff that had made me feel

quite powerless, stuff that happened in my childhood (the bullying), stuff that

happened later on (losing my job). All of these things had kind of taken my

power away, and this felt like it was almost like the last straw. It was like

me not having my power, and it felt really good to be able to do that. I would

never want to go through that experience again. I wouldn’t recommend anyone

else does, but it felt really good to go through that and take that power back.

Rebecca Ching:

Hmm, so it was the right thing to do for you in the moment but also the healing

thing to do for those parts of you that had been robbed of your power and your

dignity and your own respect.

Gemma Went:



Rebecca Ching:

Ah, that is powerful. That is very powerful. I mean, you have had some space

from this now. Would you do anything differently now that you — when you look

back on it would you —

Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

No. You’re 100% clear on it.

Gemma Went:

No. Yeah, no, no, no. I absolutely wouldn’t. I think maybe I should have done

that earlier on.

Rebecca Ching:


Gemma Went:

But, you know, you never know how these things are gonna play out, right? You

never know what’s going on with people, and I wanted to treat it with

compassion before calling in a lawyer or anything like that. So, no, I don’t

think I’d change anything, and if someone did that again and I absolutely knew

I wasn’t in the wrong, I’d probably do it again.

Rebecca Ching:

I think that’s powerful to be able to look back and go, “No, I wouldn’t.” Even

though it was hard and a huge time and resource investment, you fight for your

integrity, and I really appreciate the example of that.

I also know the energy drain it was

on you. Once this was resolved, how did this experience take you out or what

was the personal impact and toll of this act of standing your ground? What did

it have on you for better and for worse?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, you know, it made me take my power. It made me realize where my line was

and what I wouldn’t allow to cross. It made me realize who I want to work with

and who I don’t. I got really clear on that. I think I was in savior mode, and

I was trying to help too many people, and then it was a big lesson that you

can’t help all of the people, sadly. So it was a big wake up call, but I think

on my system it really took a toll because it hooked back in again to all of

the kinds of trauma responses and the histories and the memories that I had.


And it was the start of a year where

even more of that sort of happened later on, not the same thing, but there were

some other things that happened not long after that that included things like

betrayals and let downs and quite a lot of hurt, both in my personal and my

professional life actually. And it felt like I was going through one thing

after another, and it got to the point where actually I felt that I think these

things might be coming up because I have some unresolved stuff for me to deal

with, and it was a real wake up call, the, “Okay, I have some deeper work to do


And so, you know because we’ve

spoken about it, last year I made the decision to just focus on healing, and

all of this had a knock-on effect on my health. I developed adrenal fatigue. My

stress levels were super, super high, and I knew that I needed to get healthy,

physically but also mentally, and I needed to work through some of that stuff

because it just felt like so much of that same feeling of betrayal was coming

up, that actually there’s a pattern there and actually there’s something here I

probably needed to deal with. So it was the start of a very big wake-up call

that I needed to do even more inner work. 

Rebecca Ching:

Our bodies are so wise. If we’re not listening, they shut us down. [Laughs]

Gemma Went:

Oh, my god. Mine was like, “Nope! Still not listening. Have that. Nope! Still

not listening. Have that!” [Laughs] 

Rebecca Ching:

[Laughs] And for someone who you do survival mode. You do crisis. You don’t

assume fetal position; you go into “go” but your body just after this kind of

series of betrayals, personal and professional betrayals, it was like, “We need

to take a pause.”


Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

There was some grief in that, yes?

Gemma Went:

Mm, yeah, there really was. It was really, really hard. Last year, I canceled a

lot of projects. It had an effect on my revenue because I canceled a couple of

launches, a couple of new things because I could just feel it in my body. It

wasn’t right, and I was so close to burnout. I could have tipped over very

easily and then not had the choice of whether I work or not. So I’ve had to

make some really tough decisions. I’ve doubled down a lot, felt good. I’ve

doubled down on the clients I was working with and showing up and giving them

as much value as I could, and I just stopped a load of things and then focused

(and I’m still focusing on because it’s a long process) on healing my body and

healing the trauma that I still have inside. It’s been a journey, but I already

feel very different.

Rebecca Ching:

Mm, tell me more about that.

Gemma Went:

You know what, I think I had a wall up, and I wasn’t allowing this stuff to

come through and come up and be dealt with. It was almost like I’d let so much

up, and I’d done so much work, but I’m still pushing an element down. There was

still a wall up, and I unconsciously — because this is only something I’ve

really started thinking about recently — unconsciously, a good few months ago,

I think I just took that wall down. My system removed it, and it was almost

like right now’s the time to really feel it, and now’s the time to be really

vulnerable and just be open to all this.

And so, I feel and have felt ever

since very, very vulnerable, but with that vulnerability has brought this

amazing strength and depth of understanding and empathy.


I was already pretty compassionate

and understanding and empathetic before, but it feels like it’s taken me to new

depths, and I think that shows in my relationships, it shows in the work that I

do, how I show up. It’s also made me kind of reprioritize my values and what I

want to focus on and what I don’t want to focus on. It’s just been a really

lovely wake-up call, but quite a slow one. It’s been a nice, slow process as

I’ve been through it.

Rebecca Ching:

Well, and slow hasn’t really ever been your jam until your body said, “I’m not

giving you a choice.” [Laughs] Yes?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, exactly that. Exactly that. I think that’s the disease of the

entrepreneur, though, right? We’re all type A’s. We’re all like, “No, no, no.

I’m just gonna keep on going, gonna keep on going.” So that’s why so many of us

get adrenal fatigue. That’s why so many of us burn out because we ignore the

signs. I actually think I’m incredibly lucky that I didn’t ignore it for too

long. I did still ignore it for too long. Like, I reckon that was probably

there for a good sort of 18 months with me just completely ignoring the signs

of something biologically going on with my body and my body just not being up

to it anymore. But I feel really lucky that I managed to just stop and press

pause before my body shut down and I just had to go to bed and recover for


Rebecca Ching:

And that was scary for you. You’re a doer, and that was a scary time for you.

Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

How did you navigate really resting?

Gemma Went:

It’s not easy. It’s still not easy for me. We’re talking to each other in the

time of lockdown with the Coronavirus. So I’m all of a sudden starting to find

it easier. It’s interesting that this has come at a very interesting time for

me because I was already trying to rest but fighting it a little bit. I was

doing less, and I canceled a lot of projects, and I was working with less



I wasn’t resting as much as I really

could have done. And this kind of enforced lockdown has also — I think it

affects a lot of our systems. With what’s going on right now, we’ve lost

control, we’re in crisis, there’s so much fear around health and business,

economy, everything, that I think all of our systems are currently overloaded

and trying to process this. So on top of healing from adrenal fatigue, which I

think I am now, my system now has this crisis on top of it that I feel like I

have to rest. The fatigue is in my body, so I’m resting way more than I ever

had. You know, yesterday was Sunday, and I slept for half a day. It was amazing.

Rebecca Ching:

Oh, wow.

Gemma Went:

If I need to in the morning, and I need to sleep for another hour or two, I

will do that. If I need a nap, I will go and do that. So this kind of enforced slowdown

has actually made me do it, and I’m okay with it because I have no choice.

Rebecca Ching:

A global rest. [Laughs]

Gemma Went:

Yeah, exactly.

Rebecca Ching:

For some. For some.

Gemma Went:

Yeah, it’s been a good lesson, not a great circumstance to learn it in, but

it’s been a really good lesson. And so, I am actually getting used to slowing

down, and I’m liking it. I’m enjoying the pace.

Rebecca Ching:

Has that surprised you how much you’re liking it and enjoying the pace?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, yeah, completely. I had an hour between one of my mentoring calls and

this recording, so normally, me, I would be off somewhere else online doing

something. catching up, creating something, writing. And I stepped away from my

desk and went and made a chicken pie. [Laughs] So not me.

Rebecca Ching:

I love it.


Oh, I wish I could come and join you

for some chicken pie. I love that! So you’re discovering some of these things

about you in this shift. That is a big shift.

Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

You’re an idea person. I think you and I are a lot alike in that way.

Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

You’re an idea person. How are you navigating truly resting and giving your

brain even permission to rest but still capturing the gold that comes from that

part of you that’s always dreaming and planning and testing new ways to really

serve and help your clients?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, do you know what, I always run a little idea bucket where an idea just

gets added and then I’ll go back in a month or two and review it and realize

either, “What the hell were you thinking,” or, “Oh, my god, it’s still gold

dust. Let’s do it.” So there’s a lot of that going on still. I’ve had so many


For me, the thing is things like

recessions and stuff don’t phase me. I’ve been through it before. I’ve thrived.

I’ve seen people thrive, and so, me as the real kind of problem solver and

innovator (you know I’ve worked in innovation for four years), I’m immediately

looking at the solutions and the ideas and the pivots for my clients that can’t

quite offer what they currently are. And so, I’m having to just slow that down

a little bit. What I’m doing is I’m kind of making micro-commitments.

So I’ve taken my team on doing

things like my content any longer because of the sensitivity of the situation,

I need to be aware of what’s going out from the business and just make sure

it’s sensitive to the context of what’s going on in the world right now.


And so, instead of kind of the usual

rush of stuff that we do, I’ve just relaxed, and I’ve kind of made a commitment

to myself to just do one post a day coming from the heart and soul. When the

intuition hits, write what you’re feeling, and then not pushing if it doesn’t

come. Interestingly, it’s come every single day at different times. But it’s

just me processing that day and the conversations I’ve had and then thinking

about, “Okay, how can I help right now? What do I need to put out into the

world?” Because I don’t want to put anything out into the world that’s not

needed for the sake of content.

So it’s those kinds of

micro-commitments that are stopping me from trying to do too much, and because

I’ve committed to those and I’m consistent with them, that’s fine. My system is

absolutely on board with that, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on

anything. Another thing that I’ve done, and I think this is what I have learned

from the whole process last year is I’ve doubled down on one offer. It already

existed. I haven’t had to pivot, thankfully. But I’ve doubled down on one offer

because I’m holding space for a lot of people right now. I have 4 one-to-one

clients who are amazing and I adore and that are doing brilliantly, and I have

130/140 people in a membership. I had planned in April a mastermind and a

program, and I realized as soon as this all hit that I cannot hold that space.

I have not got the energy for that right now.

So I put the new things on hold

completely. I’ve doubled down on my membership. I’ve given more value in there.

So actually what I feel like is my creativity has shown up for them. So what

I’m doing is being really creative with my offer, being really responsive to

their needs, and it feels like all of that creativity is now being funneled

into my clients and the content that I’m putting out.


Rebecca Ching:

And so, let me just reflect this back and see if it lands because I’m hearing

you say you’ve created more space, that instead of working every minute of the

day, you’re pulling back and cooking. I know you’re doing more journaling, and

you live on this beautiful property and getting outside, and in the past, it’d

have been just work, work, do, do, fix, fix. I’m hearing you going more into

honoring the systems you have in place but with really tight boundaries that

protect your health and that honor the clients that you delight and delight in

you, that you’ve really curated a community that is like-minded and you’re

serving them at your best, and then that feels of integrity, and that’s

fostering more creativity and flow for you?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, without a doubt. And it feels really good.

Rebecca Ching:

That’s beautiful.

Gemma Went:

Because, you know, I haven’t had to pivot my offers, but I’ve had to pivot my

message and my mission for the time being, you know? Again, I think my lioness

has come out, again, roaring. My mission is to get my clients out the other end

of this, this recession, this everything that we’re going through with a

successful business, with a smile on their faces, with a healthy business.

Whether they survive or whether they thrive it doesn’t matter. I want them

coming out the other end still with a business and still with everything

running, and that switch in mission has — and it’s only a small switch, but

it’s kind of a contextual switch — has shifted me into what I’m doing with

them and the depth that I’m going, and that has really helped me actually. It’s

really helped me.

Rebecca Ching:

As you’re in this immense season of serving, how are you protecting not only

your health but navigating those old ways that put your worthiness into the

results other people get or what other people think? How are you protecting that

right now?


Gemma Went:

Mm, I actually think I resolved that a long time ago through the various things

I went through in my business with clients and stuff that just happened, and I

resolved and realized that (it was a real wake up call for me) all I am is a

container. All I can do is provide the tools and the experience and the

technique. I’m not responsible for the results. I can just give them what I can

give them, and so, that used to be such a driver and I would take it personally

if someone didn’t hit their goals, and nine times out of ten, it had nothing to

do with me. They had something going on that stopped them from getting there.

But I took that very personally, and I think one of the things that I resolved

last year is I don’t do that anymore. I know I’m not responsible. I will go all

out and help them as much as I can, but, you know, you can’t always help


And so, as soon as I kind of let go

of that, I don’t have that attachment. And funnily enough, as soon as I let go

of that, they would get way better results [Laughs] because I’m not holding on

so tight.

Rebecca Ching:

You’re not overfunctioning, yeah.

Gemma Went:

Yeah, exactly.

Rebecca Ching:

Yeah, that’s powerful!

Gemma Went:

I’m just holding the space. I’m being really big on my boundaries at the moment

as we’re in crisis. I’m getting a lot of messages, emails, Facebook messages

from my clients in the evenings and weekends, and I’m being really strict. I’m

like, “I will only respond to these during the day on a workday. I am here for

you, but that’s when I will respond,” and I’m being very, very big on

boundaries. Again, something that I learned last year when I was trying to heal

from adrenal fatigue.

So I kind of have everything in

place to do this, and I’m stepping away and resting and napping and walking in

my lovely fields, which I feel so blessed to have during lockdown. All of that

supports me, so it doesn’t even feel like the same me.

Rebecca Ching:



Gemma Went:

It just feels a very different system and a very different outlook.

Rebecca Ching:

That’s powerful. So it’s still new, getting to the real you. It’s still new. It

sounds like it’s still — disorienting may be too strong of a word, but you’re

still acclimating to these new ways of showing up for yourself and for your

clients, yes?

Gemma Went:

Mm, yeah. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching:

That’s powerful. So you touched on this a little bit, but I wanted to be really

clear about the results of you doing this deep work to heal and rise from what

you clearly articulated were recurring burdens in your life. What are some of

the results that you’re seeing in your life right now?

Gemma Went:

Mm, deeper connections and, in particular, I think me opening up and showing my

vulnerability more. Not in a, “Oh, you must show your vulnerability in your

content,” but in an actual having conversations with people and going deeper

and kind of showing that I empathize and I can understand though my own

vulnerabilities. And I don’t think I was ever comfortable with that before.

Even though I would tell my story, I was never quite comfortable with that

vulnerability. It made me feel weak. But now that vulnerability makes me feel

incredibly, incredibly strong, and I think that strength and that power is

coming out and creating those connections with people, whether they’re my

clients, whether they’re my friends. So, yeah, it feels, I think the best word

to describe it is powerful.

Rebecca Ching:

Mm, that’s powerful to even hear.

Gemma Went:


Rebecca Ching:

Shifting, yeah. More shifting. And what’s interesting is you feel more powerful

and you’re not overfunctioning. You’re not trying to make everybody happy.

You’re not working every minute of the day, and you’re feeling more powerful

than ever.


Gemma Went:

Yeah. Yeah.

Rebecca Ching:

How does that — yeah, go ahead!

Gemma Went:

I think that I was already on a journey that would bring about massive shifts

and a new way of me being and working and showing up and leading. I feel like

that’s been heightened now with everything that’s going on in the global

economy and the pandemic and everything. I feel like that’s been brought

forward and it’s been heightened, and that I think is where this power is

coming from. Like I have this absolute drive to show up and lead and show

everything, like the vulnerabilities. I’ve been really clear in the stuff that

I’ve been sharing that, you know, I have the fears and I have the loss and

everything that comes with what’s been going on. But I’m still able to

function. I’m still able to move forward. And I have this absolute fire in my

belly that I’ll get through this and I’m gonna get every one of my clients

through this. And that’s what feels really powerful for me.

Rebecca Ching:

Mm, thank you for that. Thank you so much for sharing and giving us a glimmer

(I know it’s just a glimmer) into your incredible life story, personally and

professionally. Gemma, you are one of my favorite people on the online space

and in the globe, and I am so excited for more people to discover you and get

to know you. How can people find you?

Gemma Went:

Yeah, the best place is to go to the website which is www.gemmawent.co.uk,

and then if you’re on social media, I’m pretty much @gemmawent on every social

media channel.

Rebecca Ching:

Wonderful, and yes, if you don’t follow Gemma on social, please do to have very

wise, very witty, and very, very actionable business strategy tools and all the

things. So I highly recommend it, and I’m just so grateful you took the time

today to do this interview, Gemma.


I know many people are going to

benefit from hearing your rumbles and your rises and the powerful shifts that

you’ve made. So thank you for your time and your immense generosity.

Gemma Went:

Thank you for having me, and thank you for creating a space to have these

incredibly important conversations. I think in these raw and vulnerable

conversations is where the real learning is for other people. So  thank

you for creating that!

Rebecca Ching:

Ah, thank you. I couldn’t agree more.


Rebecca Ching:

Taking a stand against the culture of bullying requires courage and a deep

clarity of values. When we take a stand and stop bullying ourselves and stop

tolerating the culture of bullying in our lives, our workplaces, and our

communities, we can shift the systemic impact the culture of bullying has had

on our wellbeing, how we create, how we lead, and how we navigate conflict.

This requires doing the work to heal from the burdens of bullying.

Where are the burdens of bullying in

your story keeping you from taking a stand against the culture of bullying and

standing in your truth? How is staying silent perpetuating the culture of

bullying in your life and your work?

Gemma knew it was time to take a

stand because to stay silent would mean she was out of alignment with her

values and would do more harm to her own healing journey by “taking it” instead

of pushing back and standing in her truth even when she did not know how it

would turn out. It is times like these when healing can happen, burdens can be

lifted, and courage is deepened regardless of the end results.

[Inspirational Outro Music]

Taking a stand for our own dignity

and the dignity of others without perpetuating dehumanizing can happen with

compassion, clarity, and accountability.

Thank you so much for joining this

episode of The Unburdened Leader! I have listed ways to connect with Gemma in my

show notes. You can find this episode, show notes, and free Unburdened Leader

resources, along with ways to work with me, at www.rebeccaching.com.

[Inspirational Outro Music]

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meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

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Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.