The Passion Project: Choose Your Friends Circle| Doina Oncel

Doina Oncel is the CEO/Founder of hEr VOLUTION, a non profit organization designed to provide access to women and young girls to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) based education and employment opportunities.

What new belief, behaviour, or habit has most improved your life?

My biggest barrier had been not having the right people around me.

I realized that 10 years ago when I went through domestic violence, I asked people for help and they all turned their back on me. I realized how it important it is to have the right people around you. Sometimes you don’t need money to make it, to stand up on your feet. The most important thing is to have the right people around you because they motivate you to become the best person you are. They open up doors to resources. If they do better, you are more likely to do better. This is why I decided to choose who I want to be with.

What I do every year is between christmas and new years, I decide to take 24 hours for me. In those 24 hours, I am the the most selfish, focused person in the world. One very important thing I do during this time is to organize a list of people around me into three piles: the YES, the NO, and the MAYBE.

People in the YES pile are making a positive impact on me, directly or indirectly. The most indirect stuff I think of is when people are doing great for their life. They are inspired. They are go getters. I feel that when they can do this, I can do this too.

The NO pile are people who are not a positive influence in my life. Maybe they complain instead of getting into action. Maybe they have given up on their dreams. Those are the people who I don’t want to be around me.

The MAYBEs are the people who I am giving a chance for the year to come. The next time I do this, the MAYBEs must go to either the YES or the NO pile. You can’t be on MAYBE twice. This is my rule. This exercise has helped me grow so much.

How do you deal with people who question our motives or discourage you from pursuing your purpose?

People who questions my motive, I’ve eliminated them all out of my circle. I do not associate myself with these people. If you are not contributing to my life in a positive way, then why be there? I am not going to allow anyone to suck the energy out of me because I need the energy to give back to those who need it. Therefore, I remove myself from those situations.

Do you ever fear of not having enough friends?

I don’t care if my circle got smaller because they are powerful now. I can focus on things. I don’t want to give someone my time if they are not going to do anything with their time. So what’s the point?

hEr VOLUTION provides assistance, counselling and support to young women seeking employment in STEM-related fields who, because of their backgrounds, might not otherwise have access to such employment opportunities. The non-profit organization provides workshops, seminars, and education camps for for low income and marginalized youth with a focus on girls and young women. Visit for more information on how you can get involved.

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