When I meet Mona over Skype, it is evening in her home in Berlin and morning for me on California’s north coast. I am sipping coffee, she is sipping white wine; we are both a little nervous, like girls instead of women in our forties. Her dark, shoulder length hair and high cheekbones stand out on the screen, and I am not surprised to discover that she did indeed once grace the screen as the lead in a daily series in Berlin. But that comes later. Mona has reinvented herself completely from the introverted little girl she once was. It is this tenacity for life and courage to conquer her fears that threads its way through her tale.
She began University with a focus on Business Economics because she was very good at math and it was what everyone, including herself, expected of her. However, she left after six months because “…it was so boring for me, the surrounding was boring, the subject was boring.” This youthful revelation that her pre-planned direction in life wasn’t going to make her happy is one that many of us share, and it is no less earth shattering when it happens to anyone. Mona set out to find a career that would excite her.
Landing a job at an advertising company, Mona was tasked to write creative copy and develop concepts for T.V. commercials. Her boss was very supportive and this is where Mona began to emerge from her shell. “Everything I know from business is from him. After seven years I became partner in the company.” At 27 years old she had responsibilities with large accounts and big brands. “I organized the TV commercials and wrote the copy. I enjoyed it.” It was during this time that she found her “Prince on the white horse” and began to take acting classes, but the fairy tale was only to last three years. And so it came, after ten years with the company and getting divorced from her Prince, she was ready to begin yet another chapter in her life.
It was the perfect time to reinvent herself, with more confidence, and without children or a husband to dote on she jumped into something that she would have never imagined doing when she was younger. “My business partner always supported me in my acting ambitions; he said that advertising is acting, you have to create the stories, so at 29 I decided to focus on acting. Which was a bit of a shock because I was really shy as a child. It was a horror for me to go on stage.”
Mona joined an Improv Theater Company, who traveled and performed all over the country. “It was so much fun.” It was during this adventure that she met Frank, who encouraged her to send out her acting demo, again and again, to production houses, one of whom picked her up and launched her career in front of the camera.
“It was amazing because I was not trained in front of a camera and I was learning all these new aspects of the acting world.” Unfortunately, after two years the glitter and glitz began to tarnish, and the mundane world of gossip and petty trivialities began to seep in.
With Frank at her side she moved to Berlin to begin again. It was a great and exciting city, with an abundance of artistic individuals, and she felt immediately at home. She gave birth to her daughter Annie and three years later founded her own artist agency. It fed her need for balance between her creative and her business sides. She was happy supporting artists since she had lived the life of one and understood the challenges they were facing, but the agency was really small and exclusive, “maybe too exclusive”, and it wasn’t quite paying the bills. Her and Frank had separated and she needed once again to find a new profession.
She began working with a venture capital company, managing startups and bringing people together to form teams. The challenge was desirable until one day an offer came from a production house. “They asked me to come for one year to star in a leading role, in a daily serial in another city in Germany. Which would mean that I would have to quit my job with the venture capitalist and leave my daughter for one year. Frank and I were separated at this time. My first thought was: I want to go. It was a great script and I was really excited so I asked Frank: Could you imagine being with your daughter for one year without me? And his very fast answer was Go for it! This was amazing to me, if he had answered any other way I wouldn’t have been able to do it.” To quit a job and leave your six-year-old daughter is no small thing, and it took courage and a strong belief in herself and in Frank. In the end, following this dream would be important for all of them and in some way shape each of their futures. Mona says “it was my last best role and the freedom to just work at the one job for an entire year was a rare gift.” For a year she got to be a television star but when the year was up she quit and returned home to Berlin, to her daughter and to Frank.
It was time to yet again start a new path and after the amazing year she had just experienced, she thought that offers would start coming in. But it seemed that all of her leads had dried up. Not one offer came through. “It was a nightmare.” She applied to many jobs but was told she was overqualified; there were younger, hungrier people that would do it for less. She thought, “How can this be?” Then the last straw hit. Mona applied to a call center, working under a manager that was just 21 years it old. It was depressing to go from being a television star to manning phones at a call center, and she felt frustrated and lost in her professional path. She hired a Systemic coach to help get her back on track and it was through this process that she found her current profession.
And so at 44 years of age Mona Klare reinvented herself once again; or perhaps it was more of a coming home to her true self. “It was enlightening. Finally combining my talents of being an artist and a businesswoman. My two selves, my creative side and my business side. A lot of my jobs were in these two areas but most were missing one half.” She finally feels free as a certified systemic coach, away from the corporations and big business, where her focus can be on the individual. It seems her own life has been shaping her for this purpose all along, as her insights and ability to imagine herself in another skin aid her in the coaching process.
What she has learned over the last four years is the importance of true communication. “To breathe and not to talk.” Or more importantly to “…stop talking and become in contact with your personality, to listen to your thoughts, to listen to the truth in the stillness.” She describes Tango dancing to me. It is one way she gets back into herself and listens. “Tango,” She says, “is true communication without words. Body language is a pure form of communication, conveying much more powerfully your intentions than words can.” She can’t stress enough “...how powerful not talking is”.
In addition to her coaching she is writing a book. It is a compilation of stories from women in their forties and their journey to finding the quiet spot inside, and how they came to listen to their own hearts. She is fascinated with these stories and while each is unique there is a thread of similarity in these women that live their lives boldly.
Still in contact with her first mentor, boss and business partner, she tells me he taught her “that a handshake is a contract.” If you operate this way everyone will know your integrity. He invited her to Christmas dinner when she had begun her coaching and, at 79 years old, he is still working. It can be a powerful thing to meet with your first mentor after so many years, though he was not surprised by her current path. To him, she was always this person: a woman who asks questions and listens to the answers, is adaptable, and gets things done.
Mona distills the essence of her journey thus far: “Self confidence starts with what forms your own unique talents and values, and your self-worth, which can neither be taken away nor diminished. If you only strive to peoples' perception of your strength, they will only see an empty shell.”
The interview is coming to an end; we are introducing our dogs on Skype and chatting about everyday things. Even in these relaxed moments she is giving me pieces of wisdom. What Mona teaches to those of us that command an audience, and that are responsible for lives beyond our own, is that “Listening is leading.”
Mona's Favorite Les Lunes
The That's a Wrap Cardigan.
This Ultra-Soft 100% Bamboo Knitted Jersey Cardigan personifies timeless elegance. It is the perfect companion to any woman's wardrobe. It drapes beautifully and the thumb keyholes add a touch of comfort and class. It is sure to be your go to essential whether you are traveling the world or simply going to the market.