Belinda O’Neill is a motivational speaker, writer and the founder of her own creative brand, Be Inspired To Be which she established in 2017. Belinda posts daily inspiration to a community of nearly 100,000 people!
1.You created your platform "Be Inspired To Be" and your community has grown to nearly 100,000 people. What inspired you to start the platform and did you ever expect it to get this big?
In 2016, my return to education and the completion of a 3rd level qualification reignited a love of creative writing.
In January 2017, a very close family member was diagnosed with Cancer, it was during this difficult time when I really turned to my writing, as a form of self-therapy. I then established my brand ‘Be Inspired To Be®’ and I began to share some of my words with the aim of helping others who might also be going through some challenges.
Over the past 4 years, I have set up pages on multiple social media platforms, with the biggest growth happening in 2020. Through the global pandemic, I believe that more people went online for some inspiration, for a little ray of hope.
In 2020 on the LinkedIn platform, my global community grew from just 70 to over 70,000. This was extremely overwhelming and I am incredibly grateful for the engagement and indeed the support.
2. Being a writer and motivational speaker isn't your day job though, tell us about your journey from banking to inspiring?
That’s a great question! By profession I am a Banker, working in the same bank for almost 24 years. My banking journey has been a positive one. I joined at the age of 19, straight after completing my A-Levels.
With a career in mind, I proceeded to develop myself, I got involved in many local business organisations and I raised my profile in the local community. This drive to succeed led me to become the youngest member of the then Management team, at the age of 25. At the age of 28, I then became the youngest member of the Senior Management team.
My management roles involved me helping customers and businesses to achieve their goals and ambitions. This has given me great joy, as a core personal value - since my school days – has been to help others and to make a little difference.
Throughout my career, public speaking was a key part of my role, speaking at events on behalf of the bank and the business organisations I was a member of.
So when I embarked on my university journey in 2015, which reignited a love of creative writing, I merged the writing and the public speaking together. I have delivered many talks over the past 2 years under my creative brand ‘Be Inspired To Be®’ sharing my words and my journey thus far.
I am a ‘women empowerment’ advocate and I have been a keynote speaker at a variety of women-led business events in Northern Ireland.
3. What have been the challenges and highlights of your journey and career so far?
I have been fortunate to have had many highlights and a fair few challenges too, but that is the journey of life, it is filled with constant highs and lows.
On a personal level, having my son Leo, aged 12, is a huge highlight. Having had major gynaecological related issues from the age of 16, he was indeed a miracle, which my husband Peter and I were thrilled to welcome, into our lives.
In terms of career, my continuous growth and development both personally and professionally have given me a great sense of achievement and joy.
Embarking on and successfully completing a 3rd level qualification, whilst working full time and balancing home life, has to be a wonderful highlight.
I am also a Past President of Lisburn Chamber of Commerce, a voluntary role that I thoroughly revelled in and one of only 3 females who have held the position, since its inception in 1961.
I have been associated with Chambers of Commerce in various locations, since 2002, it is a wonderful network and my involvement has taken me to the European Parliament in Brussels, on two occasions, to Vienna and to many towns and cities across the UK.
In terms of challenges, my gynaecological issues remain part of my life, which post-pregnancy, involved two major operations, with subsequent fertility challenges. However, in 2017 I almost lost my very close family member to cancer and this really was an awakening for me. Since then, I have vowed to take life, one moment at a time and to be grateful for every blessing, that I am fortunate to have.
4. If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
“To believe in all that you are, to savour every moment and to move fearlessly forwards” (O’Neill, B)
5. What would your advice be for someone who is thinking about taking the risk in starting a new project, business or changing their career?
“You will never know if you don’t take a chance and give it a go.” (O’Neill, B)
I firmly believe we all have a unique purpose, we all have an abundance of talent which needs to be expressed and shared. If you have a true desire to pursue a different path, set up a business or to make a change, then do it. Do it with passion, with love and with wholehearted self-belief and ambition.
6. You're in the process of putting together a book. Tell us about this.