The Right Move with Cris Barbi

February 29th, 2024 by

Italian- born Cris Barbi, an experienced estate agent talks to us about the property market in Madrid and her passion for photography

What do most expats look for in a house or an apartment here in the suburbs of Madrid?

Most clients are interested in light, space and proximity to their children’s school. Outside space is also an important attribute such as a terrace for an apartment and a swimming pool for a house.  These are also key reasons why many clients prefer the outskirts of the city, in addition to getting a bigger bang for their buck in the city centre.

Maxing out at Remax

Do you specialise more in sales or rentals?

I do both. My clients are both Spanish and Expats and as an expat myself I appreciate how hard the leasing process is here in Spain. I also help a lot of foreign buyers to understand the sales process here with all the legislative foibles there are this jungle market, ensuring they don´t fall into the wrong hands.

Family time

How did you first get into the real estate business?

I´ve been an Expat for more than 20 years and although I have dealt with some good real estate agents, I’ve never found one that I´ve been 100% happy with. I wanted to be that agent I never had. I started in Brazil in January 2016 and continued on my return to Madrid later on the same year.

Daredevil Cris at Iguassu Falls

Which nationalities are the most and least demanding clients?

Americans are used to professional service, transparency, modern and well-maintained houses, none of which is easy to find here.

Overseas clients coming from troubled areas are often happy to overlook some of a particular house´s issues and to sacrifice some of their requirements in order to settle here quickly.

Spacious living

What is the key to a successful estate agent?

Listen, listen and listen some more and apply oodles of patience. Good negotiation skills go a long way too!

You lived in Curitiba for 10 years, how do your Madrileño customers differ from the Brazilian ones?

Brazil is closer to the American Real Estate market in so far as you need a licence to work in this field, unlike in Madrid, where anybody can start up in this industry with no experience whatsoever and this is often reflected in the poor image that Spanish property owners have of my profession.

Iconic Ipanema

How did you get into photography and how has it shaped your life?

I have always loved photography as a way to capture a detail that trigger an emotion ten years from now. I like photos that tell a story. I´d love to incorporate a bio-engineered camera in my eyes!

Cris captures the essence of Camburiu

What trends do you see in the real estate business in Madrid in general?

Some say that AI will take over even in Real Estate and some Companies are already using impersonal online sites to list properties, charging a fixed minimum amount. However, I still feel that buying a house is such an emotional process which must be taken into account. For example, some people have to downsize for heartfelt reasons. I work with people, not bricks. AI wouldn´t know the difference….at least for the time being.

Blue sky living

Where would you buy a flat or a house if you could choose, budget aside?

As an investment maybe Tetuán, Embajadores or Pacífico…although prices are already going up.

 Otherwise, I love Chamberí, Justicia, Lista and some parts of Hortaleza and Charmartín as they are quieter than the more touristic areas such as Recoletos. In terms of the suburbs, both Pozuelo and Majadahonda tick my boxes.


Tel  – 34 636 47 58 29

Relaxing in Sicily

INC Has Got Talent – Moving and Shaking with Stacy Viva

October 5th, 2023 by

This month we talk to California born, real estate guru, yoga teacher, coach, corporate speaker, wellness expert with an MBA and a fearless zest for life: Stacy Viva.

What prompted you to put your belongings into storage and move to a Madrid Airbnb 10 years ago?

I’ve always been great advocate of initiating change in my life as opposed to enduring it. I saw my life, as I still do now, as an adventure and was looking for a challenge. Looking back, I feel that every 10 years I shed my skin; I silence those inner fears and re-invent myself.

Never one to sit on the fence

How did you start your yoga and wellness business?

I literally started giving free yoga classes with weights in the Retiro Park and then moved onto teaching it professionally (I was certified in the US).  Yoga subsequently spring-boarded me into other areas of wellness such as Happiness, Mindset and Movement and I started giving workshops seminars in blue chip companies like Amadeus and Amazon.

Happiness starts with a smile

Tell us about the coaching side of your business

I mainly do group coaching with presentations and it´s very much interactive with lots of questions whereby I help people express themselves. We also focus on being present instead of constantly switching between activities and deluding ourselves that we are multi-tasking.

Stacy embarks on a new career path

Tell us about your recent career move to Berkshire Hathaway Home Services (BHHS) Spain (a Warren Buffett Company)

 I´m drawing on my former real estate experience, this time for US and expats who want to buy or rent in Spain.  I am the first point of contact and very much the go-between facilitator, between these individuals and the BHHS offices and agents in Spain.  I am designing the strategy for Spain which is both exciting and challenging.  I feel so fortunate that they hired me and take on board my suggestions. 

An awe-inspiring octogenarian mother, everyone should have one

How can we live our best life at its midpoint?

Be open-minded!  I met my boyfriend on a train, my best friend in a restroom and my favourite jobs have been the ones that I have created myself. Some people think they’re too old to try new things in their midlife; our biggest enemy are our thoughts. I knocked on my current employer´s door because I saw an opportunity.   The things you go after, you really want, while the things that land in your lap are not really what you thought they were. 

Ever the plucky child (in red)

What have you come to appreciate through your personal and professional life?

The value of time. We don´t have time to fight, waste or worry.

We need to be very selective and make time for the people we really love. Furthermore, I don´t see the point of saving my best bottle of champagne or hottest heels for special occasions. Every day is a special occasion as we never know how long we have!

Putting her best foot forward round Madrid

What does the future hold for Stacy Viva?

I may well have shed my skin yet again in 10 years’ time. I´m certainly not expecting to retire! 

A leap of faith down the next career path

What´s Stacy´s magic mantra?

Wake up with gratitude, walk with an open mind and move your body every day. No days off.


November 18th, 2022 by

INC is full of diverse talent. This week Susannah speaks to an INC member who has cropped up in her life over and over again either in person or audibly on various podcasts since an Area 4/5 coffee morning at Laura Summer´s house in 2015.

Kelly Pietrangeli’s career arc spans wide as she has moved from former music video Production Assistant, record cover Designer, parenting and motherhood Coach to current Author, Podcaster, retreat Host, women’s circle Facilitator, Soul Plan Practitioner, and last but by no means least, she is a fellow hot chilli sauce lover.

Kelly has been running online programmes and workshops for women around the world long before Zoom became mainstream. Her free Project Me Life Wheel® tool for living a well-balanced life has had over 10,000 downloads and became the framework for her book and online membership club. Her High Vibe Journey programme helps women to raise their emotional levels. Women are calling it life changing and transformational. (Editor´s Note: I completed it recently and am definitely firing on Spitfire rather than Freddy Laker cylinders).

How did you end up working as Johnny Depp´s Press Assistant?

As a young girl in Minnesota I dreamed of working in Hollywood and so aged 20 I naively drove out to California with very little money and no contacts. Within a few days I found a job at a Comedy Club, selling tickets in the box office. Soon after, I was promoted to the owner’s PA, which led to meeting Johnny Depp´s limo driver. Back then in 1990 he was a TV heart-throb starring in 21 Jump Street. I went to work for the production company and was promoted to the role as Johnny’s press assistant, opening huge sacks of fan mail from teenagers, sending him teddy bears – and sometimes their underpants!

My naivety became one of my biggest advantages professionally as I didn´t create any mental blocks to my career progression and I really had nothing to lose.

You then worked in music video production and subsequently became a record cover designer, what was it like working for top name bands such as Tina Turner, Boyzone, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey in the 1990s?

Looking back on it now I can see how exhilarating it was to have such a fun and lively job. Back then, the music industry was all about free CDs, concert tickets and parties.  MC Hammer taught me how to do the ‘You Can’t Touch This’ dance behind his trailer. Beyoncé screeched with delight and hugged me when she saw my artwork for the first Destiny’s Child single.  I had no idea she’d go on to become a global icon. In fact, when she and the girls left my office I said to my colleagues, “They’ll never make it.” I could never be a talent scout! I said the same thing about Johnny Depp when he told me he was leaving TV to pursue a movie career…

What brought you to Madrid in 2010 and how did you find settling in here?

By 2010 I had a 10 and 7 year old and had given up my career in the Entertainment Industry. I was definitely restless and ready for new adventures, so when my husband was offered a job in Madrid I was all for it! I helped him conquer his fears and doubts and encouraged him to go for it. Weeks later we were in Madrid and INC helped make the move seamless for me as I had a whole group of other international women to answer my multitude of questions and was able to tap into an instant friendship group with lots of fun cultural activities to attend.

How did Project Me start?

As a new mother, my life felt chaotic and I was wildly out of balance, often taking my frustrations out on my poor kids. One day I noticed on my shelf the perfectly-ordered folder I had put together for our house renovation project in London. It had neat coloured tab sections for each area of the house. I decided to create my own file for 8 sectors of my life, such as health, personal growth, fun, money and love.  

I began to meet with two girlfriends to discuss how we could inject some order, balance and joyful purpose into those areas and be accountable for making change in them. Thus the Project Me Life Wheel was born. 

In 2013 I set up the Project Me website and started teaching other women this framework to enhance productivity and become the empowered experts of their lives and themselves.

What´s the difference between Project Me and Project We?

In 2019 I took Project Me to a whole new level by launching an online membership club called Project WE. Together we lift each other higher! Not only have I gained deeper understanding of how to get the most out of my life, but it has been so successful for others in Project WE that some members are running their own workshops for us in their chosen area of expertise.

Project WE is for women wishing to switch out of auto-pilot and create a life they love.

You are playing your part in making the “woo-woo” make sense. How have you made spiritual introspection more acceptable to explore and discuss?

Launching the Project Me Podcast and sharing my stories of my journey into the wonderful world of ‘woo-woo’ has opened up so many hearts and minds.

A lot of women I work with now say they didn’t have a ‘woo woo’ bone in their body until they started listening to my podcast and doing my programmes. I see myself as the bridge between practical lifestyle management and all else that lies out there beyond what we can see, hear, smell, taste and touch.

You are now a certified Soul Plan Practitioner, tell us more

I discovered a couple of years ago that my own Soul Plan Destiny is to bring circles of people together to facilitate change. It was incredibly affirming and gave me the permission slip I needed to step more fully into this work. I trained to become a Soul Plan Practitioner and now love being able to share with my clients what their own soul gifts are, as well as the challenges they were born to overcome. It’s the most fun and fulfilling work I have ever done. Even being Johnny Depp’s PA! 

Which books have inspired you?

I’m a personal/spiritual growth book junkie! I have lots on the go at once and so many recommendations. Years ago it was The Magic by Rhonda Byrne which is a 28 day writing prompts book that really wakes you up to the immense power of gratitude. I gifted it to everyone I knew and so much magic did indeed unfold for them! In more recent years I have recommended The Untethered Soul and The Surrender Experiment, both by Michael A Singer, to everyone who has done my programmes. I recently received his workbook from one of my retreat guests which I’m enjoying too.

What was the best advice you were given?

The words of wisdom I got from Johnny Depp´s limo driver who advocated never holding information too close to your chest. If you know something that could help someone else, share it freely. It might not be that same person who reciprocates, but it will flow back to you in some way when you need it. This has been very true for me.

What´s next for Project Me?

I am feeling called to pivot and move much more deeply in the direction of my soul work. Watch this space in early 2023!

The Spice Girls enjoy some chilli time together

Contact details –

Helen Chocolate spills the beans

December 1st, 2021 by

Some of us spend decades searching for the dream job, Helen López, AKA Helen Chocolate found hers (and mine…) after a few years in journalism. Today, new INC member, Helen is at the helm of a 360-degree fine chocolate business that spans tastings, events, communication, public speaking, advice to producers and sales & marketing around the globe of a product with 5,000 years of heritage. The director of the Escuela de Chocolate of Madrid spills the beans on what it´s like to be fully immersed in chocolate. 

How did you come to work with chocolate?

In 2009, when my father-in-law was hospitalised in Venezuela, I realised that there was a huge shortage of medicine there so I decided to hold “chocolatadas” or rather charity chocolate events in Madrid whereby I offered people a mug of Venezuelan hot chocolate in exchange for their medicines which we shipped back there. I discovered a talent for talking about chocolate and decided to make a career out of it.

What prompted your fascination with chocolate?

As a child I had always been intrigued by the aromas emanating from the local chocolate factory, of El Rey in Caracas. Perhaps like Charlie Bucket in Road Dahl´s world-famous book! My grandmother is from a cocoa-producing area of Venezuela and I have always been interested in gastronomy, culture, art and travel so the chocolate industry really ticked all the boxes of my wish-list as my work combines all of those different elements neatly together.

Helen out in the field

Can you name all the aspects of the chocolate industry that you´re involved in?

I run the Escuela de Chocolate near Opera in Madrid where I hold various types of tastings from interactive, fun consumer events to bean to bar production workshops for professionals.

I also have an events company that arranges diverse corporate chocolate-related experiences for companies.

I´m a public speaker on all things chocolatey such as innovation, sales and marketing.

I also represent several chocolate brands commercially in Spain and other countries such as Korea.

From bean to bar

What are the latest trends in chocolate?

The growing trend in veganism has had a huge impact as the demand for plant-based food increases globally.  There are lots of milk-substitute bars coming onto the market now.

I´ve also seen many original flavours emerge such as Ginger and Tamarind and Dark Milk is gaining ground in the popularity stakes.

Another huge change is that cocoa producing countries are increasingly involved in the finished bar as opposed to solely supplying the cocoa. This means they are better equipped to retain more of the value associated with the finished product.

Chocolate o’ clock

How has the chocolate industry evolved over the past decade?

Like all food items there is a significant move towards premium quality that focuses on provenance. It is now possible to buy top end select cocoas, from single producers and pay 30 euros for a high-end bar. 

I heard worrying rumours that there is a shortage of cocoa, is this true?

Far from it! There is a surplus of mass-produced cocoa, in part due to a spate of good harvests in Africa and prices have gone down dramatically over the years. In terms of top-quality cocoa, there is always fierce competition for premium beans but we´re not going to run out! [Editor – phew!]

Kankel´s premium truffles

What are some of the most original chocolates you have seen lately?

Japan produces some delicious chocolates flavoured with teas. Whilst Taiwan has come up with a surprising white chocolate and prawn combo. Closer to home, I´ve tasted anchovy-flavoured chocolate from Santander and another with Torreznos (porky scratchings) from León.

Tell us about your upcoming documentary on the history of chocolate in Spain

I am working on a film to recount the rich history of chocolate in Spain as Madrid is the capital city with the second highest number of chocolate establishments in Europe. Originally brought over from the Americas 500 years ago, cocoa was soon converted into a fashionable hot drink, enjoyed particularly by the aristocracy. [Editor´s Note: I can personally recommend a steaming mug of hot chocolate as the perfect end to a night out dancing].

Helen entertains her audience

Which lesson has been the hardest to learn?

Mastering all the different strands of my diverse chocolate business. In addition to leading chocolate tastings, I had to learn how to sell chocolate all over the world, teach business skills and take on an advisory role to producers round the globe. It is quite a solitary business and I´ve been a trailblazer in my sector which means there are many other people out there copying what I do which keeps me on my toes and can create a lot of pressure.

You have a notable theatrical flair when you lead your chocolate tastings, where does this come from?

I think it comes from my artistic aptitude for dance which I studied for many years and also my passion for storytelling. Chocolate, in all its various guises is also an artform in itself. My personal trajectory from one of the poorest areas of Caracas to setting up my own business in Madrid has resonated with a lot of people.  At the end of the day my main aim is to inform and entertain people from all walks of life using chocolate as a vehicle.

Kids’ tastings are hands on

You hold consumer tastings at your workshop near Opera in Madrid, I expect you have some funny stories to tell.

We´ve certainly had our fair share of unexpected incidents over the last 10 years. Once we burnt the caramel so we had to hold the chocolate tasting on the move around the Madrid, which later gave rise to chocolate walking tours. Another time a lady went into labour halfway through a tasting and on another occasion 2 separate groups realised they were remotely related to each other!

When it comes to chocoholics Switzerland leads the way with an average consumption of 8.8 kilos per capita or 1.6 bars of 100g of chocolate per week, how does that compare to you?

Well in actual fact I eat a lot of cocoa-based products in addition to the traditional bar. For example, caramelised or chocolate-coated nibs, barbecue sauce with chocolate and at home I like to whip up a chocolate mayonnaise with olive oil, garlic and onion to spread on toast.

In Spain we consume less than 2 kilos/chocolate per capita per year but my dream is for premium chocolate to regain popularity so as to benefit the entire supply chain.

Helen with Master Chocolatier: Juan Angel Rodrigálvarez

What do your kids think about your profession?

My 9-year old son, Diego, loves what I do for a living and has even given several classes at school on the whole production process. It´s fair to say that in general there is a growing interest in the provenance of our food and in the producers themselves. My son is a great taster of white chocolate which, by the way, happens to be my favourite too (as long as the cocoa butter used is premium quality). Surprising as that might sound for a professional chocolate taster!

What´s next for Helen Chocolate?

Trips to chocolate plantations! Nothing beats seeing chocolate being made in its natural habitat.

Bespoke tastings

For further details on tastings for adults, children, groups, corporate events:

Helen Chocolate

Telephone – 653592631

Calle Meson de Paños 2 

Editor´s Note

The Editor would like to personally thank Helen for inviting her to attend her weekly tasting at the Escuela de Chocolate and for providing riveting insight into the tempering and refining process and generally coating her hands in the most delicious glossy mahogany-hued chocolate she has ever tasted.

Tatiana da Silva talks to us about Foodshui – her business that focusses on healthy food and wellbeing courses for the heart, body and soul.

September 24th, 2021 by

They say you can’t live on thin air, yet Tatiana disagrees – “breath is the first food your body needs”

As a former executive in Private Banking, Tatiana has swapped providing shrewd financial advice for sound wellbeing tips based on a holistic approach and her decades of experience of yoga, Ayurveda and interest in people inside and out.

What is Foodshui?

Just as Fengshui is used to balance the energy in our homes, Foodshui is based on an Ayurvedic approach to enhance our own natural vitality. This is not a new fad or diet. This is about how to adjust your relationship with food, revive your digestion, to nurture your soul, to sleep better, boost your metabolism and zing with energy!

Step into Tatiana´s soup: Spinach & Mint, Tomato & Papaya, Carrot & Ginger and Green bean & Basil

You started your career in Private Banking, how did you move into Fashion?

I have always been interested in fashion and had started to source clothes for friends and colleagues while I was at Merryll Lynch. My mentor at the bank advised me to choose which career to pursue and I chose to set up my own fashion brand in Miami but when I moved to Madrid I realised that the profit margins were much tighter and as I had always been interested in food and managing emotions I founded a 360 degree well-being business.

Radiant Tatiana

Tell us about the Foodshui catering side of your business

The food I produce is an extension of your own kitchen. I provide seasonal dishes for busy professionals, families or people on the go. Right now I have substantial silky soups with a range of flavours such as carrot and ginger, pumpkin and curry or green beans and basil. For main course we have a variety of quiches such as leek and mustard, portobello mushroom with balsamic followed by tempting treat biscuits of coconut, cardamom or cinnamon. Chocolate is a recurrent theme!

Tatiana´s flagship Portobello Quiche

Why Ayurveda?

I did a one-year Ayurveda course after practising it for twenty years since I lived in Miami. What draw me most to it was the fact that it is a dynamic state that takes into account each individual´s body type or dosha and brings harmony between our mind, body and environment. The recipes I teach are based on these ancient principles.

Tatiana keeps her calm

What courses do you offer?

I run cookery lessons for both small groups and 1:1 on the basics of Ayurveda. We always start by understanding a client’s emotions and physical relationship to food before they join the group sessions. This course inspires you to look at food in a more dynamic, exciting light and boosts your individual well-being and metabolism.

I also offer a managing emotions course for small groups in which we meet once or twice a month over 8 months so that clients have time to apply the information to their own lives. I teach people how to think with their heart, feel with their mind and get to know themselves inside out.

Good times in the Foodshui kitchen

In addition, I give classes in meditation with mantras and breathing techniques so that they become an integral part our daily life. The trick is to set aside 5 – 10 minutes at intervals to revitalise throughout the day.

Finally, I teach a course in personal and emotional development to nourish your mind, body and soul by incorporating all the Foodshui wellbeing elements in your life such as: breathing, laughter therapy, ayurvedic principles, sleep patterns, exercise and healthy recipes tailored to bring the best out of you. 

What are your top tips for wellbeing?

Relax your jaw and the rest of your body will follow.  Inhale slowly to eliminate stress. This break with your habitual frenetic rhythm will allow your heart, mind and body to change gear and change beat. (Editor´s Note – I have put up post it reminders to relax my jaw and have already noticed the difference).

What can´t you live without?

If I was sailing off to a desert island I´d have to take a supply of ginger, curcuma (turmeric), cumin and a fridge in which to keep the dark chocolate!

Tatiana´s tempting chocolate and cinnamon cookies

What are the next food trends to hit the headlines?

I think that we´ll spend a higher percentage of our income on better-sourced food, self-care and self-knowledge. Covid has taught us the merits of meaningful relationship with ourselves as opposed to a frenetic social life flitting from one event to another. I think that businesses will be more in tune with consumers and cardamom will gain popularity (Editor´s Note – our INC President is already on trend having brought her homemade coconut, chickpea flour and cardamom biscuits to our latest Area 4/5 coffee recently!)

What foods are great for boosting our wellbeing during midlife?

Pumpkins provide a lot of fibre, water and vitamin A to promote healthy eyesight whilst turkey helps you to sleep and avocados provide an important source of Omega 3 and 6. Other midlife superfoods include almonds, dark greens and beetroot which I tend to shred a lot. Brightly coloured foods such as kiwis, bananas and blue berries also play a key role at this time of our lives.

What are your most interesting food combos?

I make a delicious stewed chicken with prunes, nutmeg, red wine, cinnamon and Tamari sauce served with a crunchy almond crumble sprinkled on top.

A touch of ginger adds zing to your spring

Some people are lucky to get one successful career off the ground, Tatiana is on her third….with her recipe for purposeful longevity I suspect the rest of Tatiana’s talents are yet to emerge.

Whatsapp  Tel 680 838 803

Avenida de Guadalix 35,
Centro Comercial local 51 A1
( Al lado del restaurante Xarello)
Urbanización Ciudad Santo Domingo, Madrid

Lena Perepelova – founder of the Fun Finance Academy and Women´s Investors Club

June 7th, 2020 by
Lena teaches 2 children at the table about money

This month we talk to Moscow-born entrepreneur Lena Perepelova who has combined her international business acumen, MBA credentials and passion for teaching into an established finance business for children and female investors: Fun Finance and Women Investors Club

How did you come up with the idea of creating a company that teaches women and children about money and finances?

I´d always been interested in education since having children and I noticed that the curriculum hadn´t moved on over the last 40 years with regards to business and finance. So ten years ago I decided to create my own programme and invited kids to try it out by skype. We both found it great fun and I really enjoyed the challenge of explaining complex concepts to a child. Requests to teach finance came from women later on.

Lena with distributors in Surinam

What was your previous profession?

I am a specialist in international business development. I first worked for a Dutch premium beer brand and later for a renewable energy company. These jobs allowed me to travel in the world and gave me valuable insight into different businesses and learn from their successes and failures.

How does your company differ from a regular financial advice company?

As opposed to giving financial advice I teach people to understand financial products and make their own well-informed investment decisions. My classes are particularly well-suited to professional women as I can relate more readily to their needs and approach when it comes to finance.

What is the strangest request you´ve received from a client?

Probably the strangest thing I have done was to accompany a potential client who turned out to be the consul of a well-known European nation to a furniture shop in Turkmenistan.

Happy days in Holland

Tell us a funny anecdote about yourself moving to Holland from Moscow or to Barcelona or Madrid?

Newly arrived in the Netherlands, I left my wallet behind in the office and had to convince the security guard to let me in over the weekend. I still didn´t know how to say “wallet” in Dutch at that point so I asked if I could come in and collect the “sack with the money”.  Puzzled, the guard looked at me with considerable scrutiny and curiosity before finally opening the door.

Do any of your child clients stand out in your mind?

I used to teach a 9-year old student who was extremely savvy and an avid reader of the business news.  After a long Christmas holiday I asked him how he was doing, fully expecting to hear about his vacation. To my surprise he replied that he was extremely upset by the bankruptcy of a huge British infrastructure company. He then went on to explain nonchalantly what “infrastructure” meant and exactly why that company had gone bankrupt.

Lena in Moscow as a child

What are the key messages children should understand when it comes to money?

In my view it is important to teach kids about the overall economy and business before we talk to them about personal finance. The more they understand that we are surrounded by businesses and what these businesses do, the better they can make their decisions as consumers as well as chose their future professions. We underestimate kids’ intelligence and their capacity to form their own opinions when presented with the right information

Lena gains her MBA from IESE

What are the most common misperceptions you see in women investors?

Women tend to underestimate their capacity to understand finance and / or investment products. I also notice that we tend to place too much trust and responsibility in banks and financial institutions forgetting that these are businesses which need to generate profits. Simply put, “bank employees are not doctors, they do not feel responsible for our financial health”.

What is the key to a successful grasp of investment opportunities?

– Don’t trust an opportunity which you can´t explain in a few simple phrases.

– Take a long-term perspective.

– Keep educating yourself.

– Learn Excel.

Lena´s business was an early-adopter of online learning

What is the key to a successful online teacher/advisor?

Be well-prepared before the class. Earmark alternative activities as back-up to roll out when you see that your students´ enthusiasm is flagging and always keep your students actively involved in the conversation.

What is your secret Madrid?

My current Madrid secret is the Monte Pilar forest very close to my house in Majadahonda. Only 15-20 minutes from Madrid, there is a hospital for wild birds and animals which offers excursions for families on Sundays.

What´s next for your Fun Finance Business School or Women Investor Club?

I would like to publish a few books and find partners in other countries.

Lena at Christmas and in action

What makes a shrewd investor in your opinion?

Find the right combination of assets and the strategy which will give you a peace of mind and occupy exactly the amount of time you can afford. Ideally investing should become a habit and a hobby.

Contact: – learn how to invest shrewdly – virtual business school for kids

Barbara Scalera – Success Hypno Coach

March 4th, 2020 by
Barbara Scalera Success Hypno Coach

Barbara Scalera, The Success Hypno Coach talks to us about what it takes to override our subconscious to achieve our own personal or business goals.

What is it exactly that you do?

I am a fully accredited hypnotherapist and practitioner who helps people overcome their limiting beliefs, doubts and fears and then I coach them through the pathway to success in their business and personal lives so that they can have or achieve what they want.

Why do people have hang-ups about money and earning it?

Our beliefs about money and our ability to earn it, grow it, save it and enjoy it are formed in our subconscious by the time we are 10 years old. We then tend to live according to those beliefs as adults. So if you were taught “money doesn’t bring happiness” or that “money is limited” your subconscious will rule your actions to prevent you from acquiring the wealth you consciously would like to have. If you do end up having access to significant wealth through your partner or your own salary you may still overspend it, horde it or sabotage it unless you use tools like hypnosis that work at the subconscious level to rewrite your belief system.

One of Barbara´s positive mantras

Do you see any nationality stereotypes emerging in your field?

In the US having a ‘shrink’ can actually be seen as a status symbol and is universally accepted. In Britain and Ireland the ‘stiff upper lip’ culture prevails so people talk less openly about feelings. As one of my good friends from Dublin said to me at the start of my coaching career, ‘but Barbara, that’s what the pub is for!’

In Spain other cultural factors come into play and I´ve noticed that Spanish men are sometimes reticent to express emotion and tears in front of a woman.

Tell us about some of the funniest reactions clients have had to hypnosis.

I always have to laugh when I tell someone what I do and they immediately stop making eye contact as if I’m going to turn them into a chicken on the spot! People often ask if I can make them levitate – as a Harry Potter fan I have been tempted to get a wand to pull out and confidently exclaim ‘Wingardium Leviosa!’ but I don’t think it would be good for business.

Barbara takes the stage

What sort of challenges does the overseas experience present for your expat clients?

The expat experience can really trigger underlying negative beliefs as newcomers navigate through the challenges of fitting in socially, linguistically and culturally to their new environment. Every day can feel like the first day of school all over again. In addition, overseas entrepreneurs can often struggle to promote their services boldly and charge their worth abroad.  Lack of inner confidence is a recurring theme in many expat scenarios and it´s wonderful to see clients shift from conflicted to comfortable, not just in their new home but in their own skin, regardless of where life takes them. 

What characteristics would you say are helpful in your field?

A balance of empathy and no-nonsense honesty. As opposed to sympathy, which is available on tap for free from your friends, I teach my clients that  whilst they are responsible for creating their reality, they are not ‘to blame’ for their situation – their subconscious mind is simply acting exactly how it’s designed to act, to protect them from what the subconscious thinks is unsafe based on their childhood experiences and beliefs.

Where do you see you and your business in 10 years?

 I will be creating additional online programmes, taking advantage of virtual reality to bring to life clients´ aspirations and implementing hypnosis techniques in the workplace to increase morale and performance.

Email to arrange a free call to discuss whether hypno-coaching is right for you and to find out about any offers for INC members.

Julia Diéguez – Life in the Move

January 18th, 2020 by
Julia Diéguez skiing in Andorra

Julia Diéguez, founder of the relocation company and e-guide: Life in the Move talks to us about trotting the globe, dealing with noisy bears and demanding clients

How did you come up with the idea of creating a relocation company?

I was inspired by our experience with relocation agents in 1995 when we moved to Buenos Aires with our two small sons. They provided invaluable support during our transfer and 5 years later when we returned to Madrid I wanted to put my expat experience to good use by helping those relocating to Madrid to settle in smoothly.

After working in Madrid for a relocation company for 15 years we moved to China where I seized the opportunity to take the next step and started Live in the Move.

What was your previous profession?

I was a lawyer in a software company in Madrid with responsibility for public contracts.


Where have you lived and why have you relocated 6 times?

Due to my husband´s job we have lived in Buenos Aires (Argentina), Porto (Portugal), L’Aldosa (Andorra), Macau (China) and Kuwait. In addition, in 1988 I moved by myself to Boston to study Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management at Harvard.

How is your relocation company different from others and who are your target clients?

We provide the full spectrum of relocation services online ie all the information required, arranging any appointments etc without physically accompanying our clients in person.

This online service is aimed at freelance professionals and business owners, digital nomads etc who struggle with the wealth of unreliable and disjointed information they find on the internet.

In addition, we also continue to provide the more “traditional” relocation services for companies and their expat employees.

What is your e-relocation guide?

The guide (The secret of relocating to Madrid) is an ebook that is updated twice a year and available from our website and on Amazon. It´s a one-stop shop that contains all the info that I would like to have found about any of the cities I moved to prior to actually arriving there. This means clients can start planning their move well before they actually relocate.

How has the relocation industry changed over the last few years?

During the last financial crisis the industry saw a lot of repatriations and the rate of new expatriations slowed down, plus expat conditions became less favourable.

Nowadays a lot of the expats are digital nomads and independent professionals who are used to doing everything by themselves

What is the strangest request you´ve ever received from a relocation client?

Truth be told, most people are pretty reasonable but I’ll always remember that one family who wanted to move with what I thought was a farm! They had lots of pets including a donkey.


Tell us a funny anecdote about yourself moving to Macau

We ended up renting a flat with a lovely view over a huge park in what seemed like the perfect quiet spot in the middle of noisy Macau. Little did I know that at 5 am I would be woken up on a daily basis by a family of Panda Bears doing their morning rituals!

Lesson learned: always expect the unexpected in relocation! What seems completely normal to the locals can seem must unusual to most foreigners!

Do you have any funny anecdotes about helping a particular client to relocate to Madrid?

A young Far Eastern professional lady who wanted a silver hair dryer included with the rest of the household appliances…

What is the key to a successful relocation agent?

Being able to empathise and remain open-minded. It´s not strictly essential to have had one´s own expat experience but it certainly helps one to gain a full understanding of the task in hand.


Which nationalities are the most and least demanding clients?

The Chinese are the most demanding whereas Europeans on the whole, in my experience anyway, are the least.

What´s next for Life in the Move?

I’d like to start a new business line adding a boutique real estate brokerage.

What trends do you see in relocation in general?

I see big companies tend to hire international companies that provide a worldwide relocation service and, on the other hand, many freelancers moving around by themselves.


Life in the Move: