by Teresa Moynihan
On 26th October, Vassia Sarantopoulou, Counselor-Psychologist and Founder of The Anti-Loneliness Project, gave us an inspiring talk and presentation entitled `The Lonely Entrepreneur’: a particularly relevant feeling that we, as sole business owners, experience on a daily basis.

From Greek mythology

Vassia started by sharing the story of Odyseus’ difficult journey of 10 years and comparing it to entrepreneurship. She told us some surprising statistics about top executives and loneliness and its consequences. For example, did you know that:

  • 50% CEOs report experiencing feelings of loneliness in their role
  • 61% believe it hinders their performance
  • First-time CEOs are particularly susceptible to this isolation.

Nearly 70 percent of first-time CEOs who experience loneliness report that the feelings negatively affect their performance, lead to poor decision-making, negativity, fatigue and frustration.

To CEOs and Leaders

Vassia went on to explain that these feelings are not limited to CEOs. Women in leadership positions face additional challenges. Examples of such challenges she talked about resonated with many of the audience. For example, when we run our own businesses, very often from home; sometimes raising children at the same time alone; when we come back to work after maternity leave; when we face inequality in corporate environments, and most of all, women who do not fit into leadership stereo-types.
Vassia showed us how to overcome feelings of isolation as an entrepreneur by sharing wonderful tips and advice. Her warm and passionate encouragement to embrace loneliness instead of fearing it was her key message – Loneliness is not being alone. How is it that we can feel lonely in a room full of people and not feel lonely on our own? The key to overcoming loneliness may lie in retraining how we think about other people – loneliness does not necessarily mean there is a problem with social skills or personality. By building deep quality connections and networking with like-minded people were just two of many tips that she shared to help overcome loneliness. Coincidentally, the advantage of being a member of the WBII was highlighted as it can bring you just that – the opportunity to connect, collaborate and learn from each other.
Vassia finished with two inspiring quotes:
John Cacioppo – `Loneliness is like an ice-berg – it goes deeper than we can see’.
Brené Brown – `Don’t look for evidence from the outside world that you’re not enough, because you will find it. But you are enough, and you are not going to negotiate your value with anybody!
Thank you Vassia for a wonderful presentation on this fascinating subject!
The WBII’s next networking event is on Thursday 23 November 2017, the topic will be “Everything you always wanted to know (and ask) about hacks and cracks”. Our networking events are for members, non-members as well as past-members. See here for more details.