Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Talyaa Vardar, Co-Founder and CEO of FLOW Coaching Institute, located in Toronto, ON, Canada.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

FLOW Coaching Institute is a professional coach and leadership development education organization based in Toronto, Canada. We aim to expand the flow consciousness to support individuals and organizations in becoming more content and happier through our unique methodology and structure.

We have two profiles of customers:

  1. Individuals looking to transition into a meaningful career path and need to find their flow.
  2. Organizations, that are in need of cultural transformation and aware that coaching is a great tool that brings effective results.

Tell us about yourself

The story of FLOW Coaching Institute goes hand in hand with my own story, as I am the creative person behind the idea of FLOW. When I set out to build this company, I could not even imagine what would evolve from my dreams.

My name is Talyaa Vardar, and I am one of the founders of the FLOW Coaching Institute, which started in Vancouver in 2009. I am also an executive coach working with C-suite managers and business owners of multibillion-dollar multinational companies. I am very grateful for where I am today with our business and also with my life in general.

However, where I am today has not happened overnight or even in a short time frame – it has been a lengthy process. One thing evolved into another, and with the determination of who I am, the clarity of what I wanted to do, and the resiliency of where I wanted to be is why I am where I am today, and as a result, so is FLOW.

My story goes back to 1993, the year when I graduated from university with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Public Administration. I loved my university years, especially the elective courses where I had the freedom to choose what I wanted to learn. When graduation arrived, I did not have the financial resources to pursue further education, so I had to find a job to survive, as my father had done his best to support me during my studies. It was now time for me to take control of my life – was I ready? My first job was in a large public bank as a management trainee, and I struggled with being in a routine and doing the same things day in and day out. I felt like I wasn't the best version of myself in this position, so I decided to move into marketing, where I thrived. Year after year, I got promoted as creativity and strategy were my top two strengths. I managed large teams, big budgets, and international firms. I enjoyed being in these leadership roles as I have always loved people.

During my corporate years, I noticed that most people were trying to fit themselves into something they were not. As a result, I witnessed so much insecurity, fear, conflict, and avoidance. Back then, I didn't know much about human psychology, but one did not need to be an expert to see that today's work life is not designed around engaging people at their best. I decided to do something about it, and I studied the psychology of Flow consciousness. I wanted to help people dare to be the person they were meant to be. I wanted to encourage people to pursue a career path built on their strengths, not their fear of survival.

I wanted to work with corporate managers to build an authentic leadership style of balancing productivity with a strength-based leadership approach. I wanted to help people design their own flow at work and in life and remember the sense of being whole again. Most people sacrifice their true selves with a split personality of being one person at work and another in their personal life. I wanted to work with young people and inspire them to build an authentic social identity centered around their core values and strengths by going beyond peer pressure and social anxiety.

As a therapist, I was concerned that my title would be intimidating. What I wanted most was to help people, but as a therapist, I felt my goals were limited. With such clarity of direction in my mind, I became a certified coach and have never stopped coaching. What I love about coaching people is that you witness their progress during your time together, starting after just the first session. In the beginning, it almost felt like magic as I could not believe the shifts that could happen in someone in such a short timeframe. It took me 32 years to find my life purpose, and if I had known about coaching, it could have been a much easier and shorter journey. As I grew as a coach, I regained the sense of flow in my own life. I started to feel like I was the same person in my job, with my friends, at home, and with my clients. I didn't feel the need to divide myself into "the worker," "the parent," "the friend," and "the wife" – I was myself wherever I was, in whatever I was doing. Instead of my roles being split, they were connected, and I was whole.

My love for coaching gave birth to a coaching program for corporate managers ("The Coaching Leader"), and I started to teach it internationally. In 2009 we felt ready to incorporate FLOW together with my partners in Vancouver. Since then, FLOW Coaching Institute has educated thousands of individuals as Certified Professional FLOW Coaches and Leaders As Coaches. We started as two people, and now FLOW is one of the leading schools in coaching, mentoring, and leadership development. We have hundreds of corporate clients and thousands of student coaches across the world!

I wanted to tell you my story in the hopes that it would inspire those of you who are thinking of a career transition into something that feels more meaningful than your current job but perhaps you do not have the resources and courage to do it. I know that the future looks uncertain to you and you are afraid to take the first step, but I promise you that if you plan your transition as small steps and do one thing every day or every week, it won't scare you as much as it does right now. Most of the time, the idea of change feels more difficult and scarier than it actually is. Start small, don't procrastinate, focus on doing one thing at a time, and create slow momentum... and then suddenly, the day will come, and you will feel ready to take the big step.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

I believe that any accomplishment that gives you a sense of joy is great. When I think of Flow's global community of people and our diversity level, I feel joy and gratitude. So, creating such a diverse community where inclusion is a core value and its people are encouraged to be themselves is my greatest accomplishment. And I came to Canada as an ex-pat then became an immigrant, which was not planned.

Leadership is my core strength, so pulling together my leadership skills and bringing a group of talented people together, then creating a school through which people can thrive, is meaningful work for me.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

We live in crazy times where interruption and disruption seem to become norms. It has become more difficult to analyze data as we don't experience consistent patterns in business anymore. Therefore forecasting the future is really a challenge. Therefore we are always alert and flexible and try to stay agile to adjust to fast-changing circumstances and uncertainty. Personally, I also think that digitalization has become so enormous to a level where it is challenging a lot of small businesses as the universe is highly saturated with too much digital noise coming from everywhere.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Know your strengths and know what is important to you.
  2. Start small if you don't have resources or investors.
  3. Start with what you know best, then expand.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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