This week I welcomed a very special guest to my podcast, The FastForwardAmy Show. Charlotte van ’t Wout, also known as Celine Charlotte or Celine Woods, is a Dutch entrepreneur and founder of SPOT, meeting spaces in Amsterdam, and C. Academy, offering online courses on Instagram. After starting her career as a journalist at the renowned NRC newspaper, she switched to the entrepreneur life three years ago.
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She joined me on the podcast to share what she’s learned on her journey from successful journalist to founder of multiple successful businesses. We discussed the difference in European versus American mindset, how we all need to embrace authenticity, and how Charlotte has worked on her money mindset to hit 80k months and big launches. Do you want to find out Charlotte’s secrets? Read on for our top takeaways.
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#1: Action is the best teacher
We all know that mindset is super important in business. In practically all of my courses and coaching, mindset makes an appearance, because you can’t really have a successful business without a kickass positive mindset.
But behind that mindset work, you’ve got to have strategy. Charlotte makes a very important point: “you’ve got to have an emphasis on practical tips, because if you just want to teach about mindset, it feels fake.”
I’m with Charlotte on this – The FastForward Academy is all about actionable tips and super practical strategies that you can start implementing straight away.
Why is it so important to put what you’ve learned into practice?
“Action is the best teacher ever,” says Charlotte. “If my students take action, their mindset will change with the steps they’re taking. You see your results, and you think ‘I’ve just done that, so now I can go and do more’”.
#2: Pivoting can lead to even bigger success
Charlotte didn’t have a typical route into entrepreneurship (if there even is a typical route…). Before going full-time on her businesses a few years ago, Charlotte was a successful journalist for Dutch newspaper NRC. She worked there for around 7 years, and decided it was time for a change. Rather than being comfortable with the success she’d already had, Charlotte jumped out of her comfort zone and became a digital nomad, traveling round the world to places like Bangkok, San Francisco and Tokyo. Not bad, huh.
When she came back to Amsterdam 2 years later, she decided she wanted to live in a canal house. Charlotte is an introvert who thrives on spending time at home, so having a beautiful apartment is a must. She was fed up with tiny Dutch apartments, but rather than being held back by her circumstances, Charlotte took her own advice, and took ACTION.
She decided to rent a big beautiful canal house, and founded her first business SPOT, renting out her own living room and kitchen to companies as a meeting space and photoshoot location. Smart, right?
The idea came from when Charlotte was living in America with a boyfriend who owned a beautiful house. She started renting it out for influencers to use for photoshoots, and big companies like Twitter and Booking.com quickly followed. Back in Amsterdam, Charlotte decided to try out a similar model, and say goodbye to her job as a journalist.
“Everyone was like what the fuck are you doing,” remembers Charlotte. “Rent was 3,000 a month, so I had to max out my credit card to pay the deposit. I remember the first big payment towards the house and no one believed in me, but I thought this has to work out.”
It’s difficult to go against the grain, especially when you already have a great job like Charlotte did. “People were saying to me, ‘a lot of people would love to have your life and the opportunity to write for that newspaper,’” says Charlotte. “I was doing well, and I was earning a lot of money because I was freelancing, so no one understood why I would give that up.”
The decision shows how Charlotte’s brain is wired: to swim upstream when everyone else is going the other way.
“Upstream swimming is more fun,” she says. “When people say it’s weird, I say wait and see, and I’ll make it work.”
#3: Keep working on your mindset
So many of us love to read self-help books, but not all of us actually apply what we’ve learned in real life. When Charlotte was working as a journalist, she started applying theories of productivity and money mindset to her job. “I was really interested in Tim Ferris, and applying his ideas to my work as a journalist,” she explains. “I realised that instead of 6 hours for an article, I could bring it down to 2 hours.”
The same went for working on her money mindset and dismantling limiting beliefs. “I started thinking differently about money, allowing myself to make 5k, or 6k, or 7k a month, instead of what’s more normal for a journalist – something like 3k a month,” says Charlotte. “I was applying the things I read in the books, but that’s something that most people don’t do. So I realised that the smartest and best things to do are often the things that nobody really dares to do.”
#4: Europeans could learn something from the American mindset
Charlotte spent a lot of time living in the US, so I wanted to know if she noticed any major differences in mindset between her adopted country and her home country of the Netherlands.
The major difference is that in the Netherlands, people tend to focus on being like everyone else, and they don’t focus on success that much. In the US, however, success is seen as a great thing to be celebrated and admired.
You really notice a difference in the business and mindset books from each country. Celine prefers to read American books. “The money coming through in American books is very different,” says Charlotte. “I identify with Americans more than Dutch people. It feels like home. I feel really Dutch and happy to live in Holland, too.”
There are a bunch of things that the Dutch do really well: “They’re honest, they’re direct, they don’t tolerate bullshit,” says Charlotte. “And they’re organised, efficient and quick, which Americans can learn from – but I love the mindset of Americans.”
The best thing you can do? “Travel as much as you can,” says Charlotte, “and open you up to different ideas and mindsets.”
#5: Knowing your strengths gives you an advantage
Your strengths are what make you unique, and what make people want to hire you instead of your competitors.
“So knowing your strengths gives you a big advantage,” explains Charlotte.
For Charlotte, it’s her honesty and directness. “I built up a following on Instagram by being open, and not pretending to be something I’m not, or that everything is going alright when it isn’t,” she says.
Her journalistic skills also help her in her entrepreneurship career. “They help me sell my courses, because I have the skill of translating difficult concepts into something really actionable and easy to understand,” says Charlotte.
Working out your own strengths, whatever you industry, can help set you apart and make people hire you for YOU.
#6: Changing how you see money can change your life
“I’m glad that I worked so much on my money mindset,” says Charlotte, “because for me, making money is just a party.”
So many people feel like money is taboo, something they shouldn’t talk about, and something they should feel awkward and ashamed about.
Remember how Charlotte likes to swim upstream and do things a little differently? “I love making money, I love talking about money, and I’m sure that if I hadn’t worked on my money mindset so hard, I wouldn’t be so successful and make so much money,” she says. Practise what you preach!
But for Charlotte, it hasn’t always been so easy. “Money is a problem for everyone, because we’re all raised by different parents, and your parents always fuck you up in some small way,” she points out. “For me, my parents raised me with a lot of secrets about money.”
Whether your parents were super stingy and held onto every penny, or spent more than they had, or loved to save like crazy, their money habits and attitudes rub off on us. Charlotte always had the idea that buying a house, for example, was a really difficult, complex thing to do. But when you set aside what you’ve always learned about money, you see that actually, your beliefs aren’t necessarily true.
Charlotte’s money breakthroughs centred on allowing herself to make more. “I needed to allow myself to make more than 10k a month, and then 20k, and then 50k,” she explains. “There was a time when I was making 70k or 80k a month, because I was running a membership and a lot of people thought it was amazing, but I knew it was thanks to my money mindset.”
And it’s not like you work on it once, and then you’re done. It’s an ongoing process. “Before every big launch, I work on my money mindset,” Charlotte shares. “I have one coming up in a few weeks, and I was telling myself ‘maybe this time it doesn’t have to be such a big launch. I said maybe this time 10k is enough because we’re in a crisis and I feel bad that some people aren’t making money.’ And then I stopped myself and I’m like, wait Charlotte, what can you do with money? You can do so many awesome things. You can hire more people when you have more money. I create jobs. If I don’t allow myself to make money, it’s not good for the world.”
#7: You should celebrate when you make money!
I wanted to know Charlotte’s best advice for a starting entrepreneur, and it’s not surprising that her tip focused on money mindset.
“Celebrate the joy of earning!” advises Charlotte. “Celebrate when you make money. Don’t lie about it. Don’t say you’re short on money. Is it really too expensive? Are you really going to make it to the end of the month? Or at the other end of the scale, others say they have a 6 figure business, but they spend so much on costs. Don’t lie to yourself about how much you make. See money as a friend that you talk about. You wouldn’t lie about your friends!”
Charlotte’s not a big fan of affirmations, but she does always have concepts she works with. At the moment, it’s “the more I am myself, the more money I make. The more authentic I am, the more money I make”.
#8: Authenticity eliminates your competition
Authenticity is this buzzword that we hear around all the time, but it’s for a good reason. Being authentic can actually help you get more clients, and it’s a strategic thing to do.
“Every time people compliment me about stuff like that, I always say it’s the smartest thing to do,” says Charlotte. “Don’t write Instagram posts that don’t resonate – people can see through it!”
You might think that your followers don’t want to see you be vulnerable or anything less than ‘perfect’, but usually, the opposite is true. This is something Charlotte knows all too well. “For the past two weeks, I wasn’t feeling like myself, and I got so many messages from people saying ‘I get the feeling that I want to send you some love’, so they always know!”
Being real helps people get to know your business style, and whether you’re the right person for them. It’s something I call authentic authority: anyone can become an expert, but authenticity eliminates your competition. It’s not always easy, but actually, unfollows and unsubscribes are a good thing.
“I gain about 600 a week, and lose about 300 or 400,” says Charlotte. “Even some people who bought all my courses. I have 1:1 inspirational coaching sessions on offer and they cost 1000 dollars for 1.5 hours, so it’s a big investment, and you’d think that those people really want to follow me, but sometimes they unfollow!”
It’s normal if this makes you feel bad, especially at the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey. You might think you should change the way you show up online, or do something different to appeal to a wider audience, but staying true to yourself is always the best course of action.
“It’s totally okay if people are inspired by me for 2 or 3 months, and then have enough of me and unfollow me, and then come back 2 years later,” says Charlotte. “I’m a big advocate of posting whatever you feel like posting. I don’t ask my followers – I just give them what I feel like giving, and sometimes it’s me goofing around singing in my kitchen.”
#9: Always do what’s best for you
When you run your own business, people always want to jump in and tell you what you should be doing. It can get overwhelming at times, so it’s good to be headstrong and trust in your own decisions.
“When I decide something is best for me, no one can convince me otherwise,” says Charlotte. “There’s a huge difference in how I feel when I’m doing something I want, versus the opposite.
At the start of the pandemic, for example, a lot of entrepreneurs went into panic bringing out online stuff. For me, it would have been so simple to bring out a course on ‘How to make a course’, but then I realised I felt like I had to, rather than actually wanting to. If you always try to be like other people you’ll always keep comparing yourself.” And as we all know, comparison is poison for your soul.
And remember that at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you mess up or fail, because you’ll still have gained valuable lessons. “Outcome doesn’t matter,” says Charlotte. “It’s about allowing yourself to learn and grow. That’s where the joy is.”
#10: It’s all inside you already
When guests come on The FastForwardAmy Show, I like to finish by asking them what they’d tell their 16 year old self.
For Charlotte, it’s about not focusing on what others are doing. “I used to look up to people a lot, thinking that they’re so amazing, and being attracted to how they act in life and in their job – especially with guys!” says Charlotte. If she could time-travel and have a conversation with her 16 year old self, this is what she’d say: “when you look up to someone, it’s all inside you already”.
If you want to get inspired and find out more about Charlotte, head to fastforwardamy.com/charlottevantwout.
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