Entrepreneur Cille Veje On How To Not Give A Fuck About Perfection

“I felt like a failure because I had lost grasp of my company and my creativity – but when you hit rock bottom, there’s only one way to go. And that is to look ahead and look into yourself and ask “what do I have to learn from this?””

Meet Cille Veje, a woman with a mind that often bubbles over with ideas and who wants us all to shed the high expectations of ourselves, release the pressure to be somewhere in our lives, and to constantly achieve some higher goal. Cille a business coach, experience economist, mother and wife and we caught her for a chat on how to live and lead with vulnerability and wholeheartedness. We needed a reminder, so here’s one for all of us.

If you missed the live talk with her then you can still catch it here

Tell us a little about your background; what are your roots and how have they led you to where you are now?

I am from the north of Denmark, a small town called Aalborg where I lived until I was 18 y.o. It was a difficult city for me to live in at that time, ’cause it was a small town with a lot of gossiping and the awful danish thing called “Janteloven” which is a ”Don’t think you are better than anyone else around you” mentality ruling at that time. To be honest I ran away from that city, because I needed to find some creative likeminded people. So I went to Aarhus to study, where I became part of a creative environment and had an amazing time, while I was studying. I was taking a five years masters degree in experience economics and with that education, I finally found a home. My education is the root of everything I do and has formed the way I act in this world. It gave me the ability to learn to see and form the world in a new way.

I loved these years in Aarhus but when my education ended I was offered a job at the music venue, Vega, in Copenhagen and moved. Aarhus was the city in which I found myself, Copenhagen was the city in which I became a grown-up. In Copenhagen, I juggled jobs at Vega, the clothing brand Diesel and DJ’ed, before I started my own company Cille Veje Oplevelsesdesign. I started my own company because I needed freedom over my art, my time and the people I work with.

I´ve been my own boss for six years now and while I was on maternity leave, I decided to add a coaching degree to my CV because I wanted to build an add-on to my mindset as an experience-economist. I wanted to learn how to inspire the people behind the products I’m working with. Today I work as a business strategist and business coach and I have the pleasure of working with creative minds, every damn day. Gosh, It was a long answer, but to be honest, it’s taken me 15 years to be where I am now, it’s been one of a freakin’ rollercoaster filled with failures, learnings by doings, love and self-awareness. It takes time to learn who you are, what your needs are and what you wanna do with your life.

Photo by Marie Hald

Cille, we wanna crawl into your brain to see how you go from an idea to the actual project or product. Can you tell us a bit more about that?

I have always had a crazy mind, it constantly pops up with ideas and it’s my job to sort of navigate in which ideas I go along with and which I put into my mental idea book for later. For many years I felt restless because of all these ideas, but 3 years ago I had a burnout. At that time I could not come up with any creative ideas and I felt so lonely and so afraid, cause what if it never came back? What if the creativity had left me? I walked around for half a year without any inspiration and one day I got an idea of starting Mother, mind and heart. After that, I promised myself to always take care of myself so I never ended up in that state of mind again. It’s my responsibility to navigate myself, balance that perfectionism in me and just go out there and try working with the ideas I wanna try to set out into the world.

Learning to be okay with imperfections is something I work with. I’m also learning how not to work constantly because I really don’t have to put all ideas out there. I think to other people it’s more about how to get there, not how to stop yourself. My only answer to that dilemma is: Forget what other people think, forget about the big plan, forget about the perfect idea and just take one step at a time. And then the next day, a new step. And soon you’ll get there. 

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur and owning your own business? And your least favourite aspect? 

Freedom! Freedom in life, to do and be who I wanna be. Freedom to travel where I wanna go, to decide which projects and people I wanna work with. Freedom to take a day off with my daughter. The side effect is the money concern, do I have enough? But I’ve decided that I trust myself and I know there is always work for me. If anything goes wrong I can get a job at a cafe.

What are the challenges of being a mum and chasing a dream?

I would rather have had the question: What are the gifts of being a mom and chasing a dream? Because getting my daughter was the biggest gift in my life. I divide myself into the person I was before getting her and the one I am now. Because when I had Lily I had a burnout. I had a difficult pregnancy and I ended up putting my company on hold, while I had to lay at my couch to take care of myself and grow a baby. I got a cesarean and it was such a difficult time getting back to life after that, building my body up and then 6 months after that dealing with what was left of my company. At that time so much was going on mentally and I had to give up so many old beliefs of how I should be the perfect mom and entrepreneur.

I felt like a failure because I had lost grasp of my company and my creativity – but at the time, when you hit the rock bottom, there’s only one way to go. And that is to look ahead and look into yourself and ask yourself what do I have to learn from this? I had to learn to be nice to myself, to love myself and learn that failures are potential for growth and gosh I have grown. Perfectionism is the worst feeling because it is a sneaky fucker, always setting the standards higher. It makes you feel good when you live up to it, but the next day the standard is higher. So my biggest learning was to not give in to that feeling and learn to say: “Cille, you are enough, you have enough and you are worth love.” You don’t have to do or be something else. Maybe a lot of young ladies can recognize that feeling.

Do you feel like a role model, sharing who you are and your feelings through your coaching work? 

You know what, I´m so damn proud of myself. When I talk to my clients, I always tell my own story because I want them to see me as a human and not putting me up on a pedestal. I´m also telling it to inspire them and to make them see that through time you can heal – but you are still the same person as you are now. Just with some new life hacks.

When I coach I give up all ideas about me being the perfect coach. Instead, I open up about myself and my knowledge and the fact that I just have to give my clients the tools and perspectives. It’s my job to listen and support and cheer, but it’s up to them what they wanna do with the knowledge they get. 

What are you striving for in the work that you do? 

As simple as it is: To inspire other people!

Why are female entrepreneurs so important? 

Because there is a change in the way we do business. We are moving from a more masculine mindset, focusing on control and a feeling of rigidity to a new more soft belief system working from trust, acceptance and vulnerability. We have to lead our companies, ourselves and our employees with trust and vulnerability. When we show who we are and show that even though we are leaders we can also be vulnerable, we make room for perfectionism to fly away, we make room for failures and we make room for trust and growth. 

Photo by Marie Hald

So why do we need female entrepreneurs and leaders? Because they bring vulnerability and trust to the table, and it makes people and companies grow. But as an add on – we also need the male perspectives in the right dosis, it’s like yin & yang. We need it all to create a whole. 

How can we cope or become thankful for our vulnerability?  

It’s like a muscle we build on. The more we do it, the more it grows. So it’s all about getting out there, showing who we are. Showcasing ourselves because we are proud of who we are. To start with, you could honestly say to your boss if there is too much on your plate, you could say to your friend if they made you sad – and you know what, you will soon experience that your vulnerability is the key to making relations grow. When you show yourself to others, they often embrace, understand and empathize with it and after that, you’ll have a feeling of being closer. And most importantly, you did not feel you had to be someone else, to tell how you felt.

Any fun and exciting projects for 2020, that COVID hasn’t turned and touched yet? 

Right now I’m trying to create a great everyday life with my husband and daughter and we are moving to Berlin soon to invite more creativity into our life. When it comes to my work life, I have so many dreams of doing more public talks, doing strategy work with great companies, coaching creative people, developing BUBBLY (my startup community) and keep on working with interesting minds from all parts of the world.

Thanks a bunch, Cille, you take the definition of a boss to another level!

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