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.
I am, indeed. The inspiration to publish my work really came from a previous school teacher, Mrs Pamela Manson, who is a wonderful artist. I reconnected with her a few years ago, a coincidental meeting and she commented on the quotes and poems I had been sharing on social media. She said that I must publish them into a book and she even offered to illustrate my front cover!
So after much consideration and consistent writing, 2021 is when this ambition will come to life!
On 1st September 2019, I made a personal commitment to write a quote or poem every day. A commitment which I am delighted to have fulfilled. All of my work is original and comes from my daily life, my thoughts and my personal feelings.
I have an extensive body of work to choose from and I really can’t wait to share my ‘Be Inspired To Be®’ book with the world, later this year.
7. Your community is all about inspiring others, but who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from many sources, but largely the people who surround me, my family, my friends, my colleagues a
nd my connections.
I love to read articles and books and to listen to inspirational talks, those which make you pause, reflect and that uplift you.
A few favourites are;
The Path Made Clear Book- Oprah Winfrey
The Little Book of Peace Book- Tiddy Rowan
The Call To Courage Talk- Brené Brown
The Year I Said Yes To Everything Talk- Shonda Rhimes
Inspiration is all around us, I love to cloud watch and to take photos of some of the amazing sunrises and sunsets, we get to witness. I live in a rural location, with beautiful scenery, which I love to capture when I can.
Finding joy in the simple things, really makes you appreciate the big moments, when they arrive.
8. What's next for you and how can we support your journey?
2021 is a year of personal change for me, I have made some big career decisions which will come to fruition later in the year.
I am excited to create my book, I have had a vivid vision of it within my mind, for quite some time, so to hold it in my hand will be amazing.
I will continue to write daily and to share my work across multiple social media platforms, I hope my daily thoughts continue to help many readers, worldwide.
I’m about to begin to create my website and I have a few speaking engagements, albeit virtual, already in the diary.
I’m humbled by the support of ‘The Female Lead’ to date and I do hope that this collaboration will continue, focusing on empowerment, connection building and the importance of ‘self’.
9. What is your favourite quote?
One of my favourites is by Brené Brown “You either walk inside your story and own it, or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness”.
One of my self-penned favourites, which I refer to repeatedly is “Never get so busy ‘doing’, that you forget to ‘be’” (O’Neill, B), this really sums up my brand's ethos.
More about the author:
Belinda O’Neill, lives in Co. Down, Northern Ireland, with her husband Peter and their son Leo, aged 12.
She is a bank manager, working in the same bank for almost 24 years. She is also a writer and the founder of her own creative brand, called ‘Be Inspired To Be®’ which she established in 2017.
She is graduate of the University of Ulster, graduating in 2016, at the age of 38, “It’s never too late to graduate!”.
She is also a business and community ambassador, having held many voluntary roles, throughout her career. A former Chamber of Commerce President, a current Non-Executive Director with Stepping Stones NI, a Mentor for Women in Business NI and a Change your Mind Champion for Inspire Wellbeing.
Belinda is also a motivational speaker and has been a keynote speaker at a variety of events, spanning over 15 years.
She is also an active fundraiser, mainly for cancer-related charities and has organised and hosted 2 sell-out charity events, with the support of her sister, raising £14,000 and undertaking 2 major hospitals, family room refurbishments, for their local Intensive Care Unit.
Belinda is set to become a debut author this year!
Follow Belinda's "Be Inspired To Be" Journey on socials