Long recognised as a sharp business leader and glamour queen, Rany Moran adds another feather to her cap with her quest to help people realise their best selves

Rany Moran has words for employees tempted to quit their jobs as part of the Great Resignation trend. “It’s not the year to resign,” she urges. “It’s the year to master sustainable resilience.”

One wonders how Moran, whose public image until last year—when she emerged as a life coach—had been that of a high society cover girl and fashion maven, qualifies to speak about perseverance. Surely, her striking beauty as well as society and business connections tip the scales of success in her favour. Moran herself is aware of the prevailing perception, but also the necessity of speaking the truth if she is to help others realise their self-worth.

“To be honest, I’ve never revealed so much of my vulnerability before,” admits Moran from Sydney, where she has been based for the past five years.

“Before speaking to an audience, I think to myself, ‘Am I going to share my success stories, credentials, the superficial things?’ If so, how can I tell people to believe in themselves, to be brave in confronting their own limitations, if I only preach and not walk the talk?’ That’s why I’m ready to tell my story. It’s important for people to hear that it’s okay to not be okay.”

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A Turbulent Childhood

Though it appears like she has it all—looks, family, career and wealth—Moran reveals that she has spent her life finding ways to deal with psychological barriers, anxiety and depression. The mother of two grew up in an Indonesian business family that, while well to do, is devoid of warmth and affection. Her teenage years in Jakarta were marked by rebelliousness and conflicts with her parents. Though explicitly forbidden to enter modelling, she did and kept her stint a secret until her father discovered her on the cover of a magazine.

During this time, she struggled with managing stress and sleeping, going to bed for two to three hours a night, or not at all when she was at her most troubled. There was no help for her in Jakarta, where people believed that psychological counselling was for the crazy, and her symptoms were attributed to hormonal changes.

“Just be close to your religion, you’ll get over it,” she was advised. She was later diagnosed by psychologists in Australia and Singapore to have had serotonin deficiency, which causes mood swings, depression and sleeplessness.

Her failure to live up to her and her parents’ expectations would psychologically scar her for years to come. At 16, she was given a garment manufacturing factory to manage to prove her business acumen. She had to shutter it four years later, in 2000, when the factory could not recover from the fallout of civil riots in Indonesia and the world financial crisis.

“It was my pride and joy, my identity,” she says. In failing, even when circumstances were beyond her control, she felt she had let down her employees and her father, and worse, reinforced the Asian belief that opportunities are for males; that women, no matter how smart or hard-working, should just get married and be a good wife.

Turning Her Life Around

Her determination to overcome the psychological humps formed in early life led to some agonising, soul-baring therapy sessions in her twenties, first to address her feelings of resentment regarding how she was raised, then, when she was pregnant, how to show affection and be a loving mother.

A career coach she saw during her final year at the University of Melbourne was instrumental in restoring her faith in herself. He helped her recognise her unique core strengths and leverage on them. She was trained to see the opportunities behind a problem. “It was heavy work,” Moran admits. “It doesn’t magically happens. I always say to people, ‘You can only fix yourself if you are willing to work hard.’”

Now she’s paying it forward and reinventing herself at the same time—as a life coach, a counsellor and a public speaker. Having obtained an undergraduate diploma in counselling and a professional coaching certificate from the Australian College of Applied Professions that would allow her to practise privately, she’s currently completing the required hours for counselling placement work that would earn her a national accreditation in Australia, which would allow her clients to claim government aid for her services.

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Since she hung up her coaching signboard last March, Moran has been busy penning articles or sharing her expertise in various media in Australia, Indonesia and Singapore, where she lived for more than a decade. She has also spoken at 15 events, some of which were for industry giants such as Gojek, Lazada, Amex and Lippo. Her personal and professional experiences—she founded the Amazonia and Wowzania family entertainment centres in Singapore and Jakarta respectively—in tandem with her counselling training enable her to elucidate on a wide variety of topics, including pandemic resilience, parenting strategies, and mental health, self-care and gender issues.

“I’ve been fortunate to have been able to experience life from different points of view. What teaches me the most is my failures and mistakes,” she says. “That’s how I relate to my audience and clients. I want people to understand that no matter what you go through, you are enough, you are worthy. Research shows that of what we play in our minds, 80 per cent are old memories. If you constantly play your past, it shapes who you are.”

Becoming Asia’s Oprah

Her inspiration today is Oprah Winfrey. In the cultural icon, Moran found a role model for resilience, forthrightness, authentic leadership and deep audience connection. “Oprah broke out of the limitations of an African American woman [at the time],” she notes. “She found success in the broadcasting industry, and saw the opportunity and strength in her own struggles.” Winfrey, in sharing her personal tribulations with her guests, established a distinctive talk show style that helped elevate her to the pantheon of global influence.

But as a child of Asia, Moran has her own story. “Oprah is a success story in America and in Europe, but can she relate to the cultural expectations and family norms that we have in Asia? No. It’s a different environment. That’s why we need an Asian Oprah; I’m hoping to be that,” Moran says with a grin.

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She lists the characteristics of Asian culture, beginning with the diversity of its subcultures. The perceptions, values and beliefs of Indonesians and Singaporeans differ from each other, for example. Another defining characteristic is the fear of losing face, or being humiliated, and this is worsened by family expectations and the pressure to achieve unrealistic results. Talking about one’s domestic problems is tantamount to airing dirty laundry and disparaging your kin, Moran notes.

“My Asian clients believe there are severe social consequences from doing that,” she shares. Certain concepts can also take on different meaning in Asia; for instance, “healthy” in this part of the world means eating well and looking good, more a status and social symbol than an inward holistic focus.

Moran adds that the mistake many counsellors and coaches make, not having a strong cultural understanding of Asia, is judging their clients and projecting their own values, beliefs and perceptions onto them. “We must understand clients from their points of view, not ours,” stresses Moran.

As the world emerges from Covid-19 restrictions, she is preparing to help people navigate their future. Launched in March, her trademarked programme, Forces of Femininity – 360° Resilience, sets out to empower women to fulfil their core potential, support professionals who want to advance their careers, and guide the next generation of bright young minds towards success. The programme, which will be presented in seminars, workshops, and eventually a book and an app, equips women with strategies to develop mental toughness among other self-affirming strengths, so that quitting one’s job, for example, would be a deliberate act to move up, not give up.

For Moran, she is exactly where she wants to be. In explaining her decision to become a life coach and speaker in the fourth decade of her life, she cites the words of 19th-century thinker Albert Pike: “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal.”

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