Welcome to my regular series entitled My Light Bulb Moment. This series highlights a "blinding flash of insight" business, cultural and sports leaders have had in their career, and how this changed their lives.

It's amazing how quickly a bad boss can really rob you of your self-belief. Left unchecked, a person who was confident and positive in their career six months ago, is now broken, negative and totally disengaged.

Marisa Fong

Growing up as the oldest child of Chinese immigrants who ran successful businesses in the restaurant trade, Marisa Fong was attracted to entrepreneurship by observing her parents' commercial acumen and work ethic.


Armed with strong business fundamentals, Marisa co-founded Madison Recruitment, and the firm quickly became NZ's largest privately owned recruitment company. Last year, it was bought by a publicly listed company in a multimillion-dollar acquisition deal that set a precedent for the industry.

As well as numerous other hats, Marisa chairs the Professionelle Foundation - a charitable trust set up to support professional women - and is learning chairwoman for Entrepreneurs Organisation Auckland, a global business leadership organisation.

To thine own self be true - Light Bulb Moment

"In my early working career as a manager, I was working in a particularly difficult and punitive environment," Marisa said.

This caused huge stress in her business and personal life, leading her to lose huge amounts of self-belief and confidence.

"But when Freyberg Square was completed, a quote was included in its foundation -- 'To thine own self be true'." That Shakespearean piece of wisdom stayed with Marisa and caused her to question why she continued to tolerate the situation.

"I left not long afterwards, but I've always remembered that quote and it reminds me that one must always act in line with one's own values and stay congruent to them!"

Courage to enter the market

Her self-belief slowly returned, and she gained confidence to enter the market as an entrepreneur.

"I don't worry so much about what people think of me since I'm always just being me. So take me as you find me. It's incredibly liberating and means I am deliberate in what I choose to do. This approach has led me to now be involved in things I enjoy and get energy from."

Take the initiative

A healthy self-belief is critical to success. As Marisa says, "You need to behave in the way that feels and sits right with you. To do otherwise diminishes you. By going against my personal values, I lost that confidence and was constantly fearful, but by changing my situation, I completely turned that around."

• If you have had a blinding moment of insight (a light bulb moment), please email me as I would love to hear about it.

Contact Tom O'Neil to speak at your next event - Tom is an award-winning business speaker, international author of The 1 per cent Principle and Selling Yourself to Employers, and CEO of CV.CO.NZ and AchievementExpert.com. Email Tom for a chat at tom@AchievementExpert.com