Updated: Oct 25, 2020
Torchbearer: Renee Braithwaite — African-American (Guyanese Descent). Abu Dhabi, UAE.
After talking to Renee Braithwaite, you feel like you can scale a mountain. That’s how much of a motivator she is. She’s a woman on a mission and that mission is — FREEDOM. She spent her life in the U.S. working in the marketing field, firmly planted in the 9 to 5 work warp. Then she finally had enough. She packed her things, took her daughter and moved to Abu Dhabi. She hasn’t looked back since…
“Even when I was at the airport I was still turning back. I wanted to come home. I didn’t think I was ready for it. I was at the airport ready to turn back and I remember my cousin mentioned the book, “Who Moved My Cheese”. At that moment, I looked up and saw the book. It was a sign that I must keep going!
I told the most important people in my life and my family that I was moving to Abu Dhabi. I held it in. I got rid of all my furniture. Gave my cat away. No one knew! My parents knew and they had their opinions, but they believed that it was fine. One of my cousins lived in Germany and he was like, ‘go!’ My mom’s best friend is from the Philippines and she spent time living here. She said it was the place for me. That was reassurance enough.
People can have their opinions but it’s up to me to accept it.
This was a lesson that I had to learn along the way. If my supervisors want me to do a certain thing, fine, I’ll do that. But regarding my time away, it was up to me to begin to build my dreams, to take actions to get closer to achieving my goals. I decided that I’m more than the job descriptions or resumes. I am worthy of having all of my dreams achieved.”
“I’ve always been in education, but the early part of my career was in marketing. I worked in public relations in New York City for three years at an urban advertising company. I like to be around different people so I always seem to be in careers that have me working with people from all over the world. It’s not surprising that I ended up in Abu Dhabi.
I moved here eight years ago. I was living in Chicago and I was tired of the cold — I needed something different. A close friend got a teaching job and moved to Abu Dhabi. I was intrigued. It sounded crazy but she said give it a try; see if you’d like it. Then one day I had a really tough day — so I applied to the same teaching program, had an interview, then all of a sudden I was on a plane. My friend left within that year, but I stayed. There’s just something special about this place that has kept me here. There is peace here.”
The Art of Motivation
“When I came to Abu Dhabi I realized I needed to stretch myself and not solely be living on one income. That’s why I created my digital marketing company, Get Unstuck Girls. It was designed to help coaches and small business owners become comfortable in creating marketing content to connect to their audience using Facebook. We also helped them create their website and first digital course. My role on the team was to help coaches and small business owners gain confidence and build a marketing plan for Facebook. I would encourage people to get excited about their gifts — to market their business, to stand out on social media and be confident that no one was going to stop them.
This is definitely an art. I’m a motivator. Anybody I meet, I can motivate you. I can inspire you. I can be your biggest cheerleader.
I’m not a life coach, but when you’re working with people, especially building digital products together, you see how they get stuck in their own mind. It’s a delay because they have certain feelings about themselves that comes from anxiety, depression and a lot of different experiences in their past. One of the leaders that joined the Get Unstuck Girls program now hosts her own conference and events. We’re all capable of doing so much more when we allow ourselves to.”
Don’t Rely on One Job
You need to have a backup plan. If I give all my energy to my job and I leave out my business, there’s no telling what that job can do to me.
“I’ve been terminated before. I’ve heard news like ‘I can’t pay you today.’ If I can determine and make my own wealth, why wouldn’t I go that route? I’ve seen it so many times with friends losing jobs and not having a backup plan. It saddens me because you have to learn how to create your wealth. You have to be open to the options that are available to everyone.
Yes, have a job. It’s fine to have a job. I wouldn’t tell anyone to quit their job or anything like that. I would say be realistic. You cannot live off of one income — let’s be real. Start to build the dream that you’ve been thinking about. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dream of creating your own product or being a part of a company that already has a product and systems in place. You just have to decide what it is that you want. Take out all the noise and doubters. You should do what you want to do!”
I was in a desert for a year when I was terminated from my teaching job. I’ve been terminated before, but when you have kids — it’s a different story.
"When you have kids, you have dreams for them. If your job is terminated, how are you able to even give the basics? Money isn’t everything. Money is a resource to take care of your household and you can do more with it, if you have more. But at that time, I just wanted to take care of my kids. I had savings because I know what jobs can do. They can give and take away. I just didn’t expect that take away to happen so fast. I had to pause, and figure out my next steps. Then it was about what do I have to do next. I was able to get little contracts here and there but it wasn’t stable enough. I was really at zero.
During this time I started to understand I had issues with money. I had issues with self-belief. I had a lot of issues! And in this particular journey, I had a breakthrough.
I told my daughter, ‘I need a miracle.’ Three days later, I got a message from someone saying they had a school for me. I wasn’t even interested. I wanted to go home, but I went to the interview anyway. When they showed me the contract, it was more than what I was making in first job. It included tuition for my daughter — it was all the things I wanted in my previous job. Now I still teach English and represent a weight loss coffee company called Valentas. Yes, I still have a digital company but I needed some residual money that I could leave for my great, great, grandkids. I don’t want my kids or the generations after me to worry about money.”
You just don’t know where a breakthrough is going to come from, and I do realize it’s in the power of forgiveness. I forgave it all.
“Everything in my life, I forgave. You always ask, why did that happen to me? There’s no other way! It had to happen for me to get to this point and other points. I’m grateful. Before I was in anger. I was mad at people and situations. I couldn’t and didn’t want to forgive. While I was harboring anger, I wasn’t getting anywhere!
I’m now fully awake and when you’re awake you have no excuses. I recently saw these photographs of the cloud and the skies — how it all blends, the things God has created. I’m dealing with an artist (in God), so how can He be wrong? So in this journey, I got closer to God. I’ve learned that I need to ask Him how to forgive because I cannot forgive on my own. I need to ask Him to help me in my life because I cannot do it on my own. To help me with my business — and ever since then, it’s been like clockwork.”
What am I finding freedom from?
"The freedom of being stuck and being in my own my way. Being stuck in my mind. Being just an employee. Taking myself out of the rigorous routine. Getting dressed. Going to the job. Listening to orders. Clocking in and clocking out. This routine that became my life — I didn’t want to sit in traffic. I remember being on the train (in Chicago) crowded with people, and we’re all doing the same thing! It was just exhausting. Where is our happiness? Where is our joy?
It’s finding freedom from the noise you already have in your head before you even get started. The things we keep bringing back into today — about our childhood or what we didn’t accomplish and we get stuck there until you figure out you need some healing somewhere. If you’re going to be doing something, make sure it’s something you feel good about.
Keep going and tweak as you go.”
— Renee Braithwaite
Enjoyed Renee's journey? Then let us know! Here are other inspiring moments.
Catch: Renee's book recommendation
Read: "The Eclectic" - The move to the United States (from India) was born out of need for financial security. I was 31 years old when I arrived, but I can honestly say that I actually grew up in the U.S.