CONFIDENCE is key but it doesn’t happen in a snap. This is something Carole Monique de Leon, known to most as Blinky, knows so well having been in the spotlight since her teens. Through her passion project Self Esteem Learning Formation Institute (SELFi), she hopes to provide a platform for people’s journey to self-discovery.

“Everybody is shy and that’s what I want to correct. Being shy is part of human nature. All you need is to have that management skill; that you know how to manage your shyness when the need to be confident arises,” she shared.

The idea to start SELFi from the get-go stemmed from a deeper sense of purpose for her, having shared her personal journey. Since she was a kid, she was never shy performing onstage but some aspects of her life prohibited her from fully coming out of her shell, such as her relationship with her father Amin El Bahraoui, for instance.

Growing up with her mother, Angeles de Leon-Cornejo, she recalled hiding whenever her father visited. Her father’s side of the family found it alarming that she wouldn’t speak with them, that her paternal grandmother, known jewelry designer Ursula Schloer, took her to Manila to see a psychiatrist.

“You know what’s funny? It didn’t work,” she recalled, laughing. “That’s why I know what works and what doesn’t. So, my grandma adopted me. I lived with her for a year so we could create a bond. I thanked them for doing that. Otherwise, we wouldn’t be close.”

Presently, her bond with her dad and his family is stronger than ever since her college days, sharing her appreciation for her father’s effort over the years. Her desire to develop a relationship by being confident in talking to him, inspired her to improve on her communication skills. It was a challenge she took on which ultimately kick started her career as a self-made woman everyone knows her to be, having juggled so many things: model, host, endorser—the list goes on. Now, she’s adding one more to the list: a mentor.

Through her platform SELFi, she encourages students who enroll to dig deeper, grow confident and not limit themselves to a certain skill; which is why those who join her seasonal workshops enjoy different lessons as it these are tailored in packages. Established in 2014, the idea came out on January with the help of her friend, Eugene Erik Lim, and was set in motion in February with mentors from her ABS-CBN family she invited to join, having 70 enrollees on its first year.

Some of SELFi’s lessons include hosting, acting, modeling and dancing. This way, enrollees get to develop their personalities in a fun environment, and learn something new along the way from a team of experts.

“When a weakness becomes a strength, you need to find another weakness to focus on. It’s a cycle that goes on and on,” she said, adding that regret is more painful than failure.

“I’ve had so many amazing transformative stories from my students. I want SELFi to be a place not just where they can develop their strengths but also discover new skills in them through our workshops. You’ll never know unless you try.” She keeps in touch with her students as often as she can, keeping track of their achievements which she proudly shares on social media.

Much like the roles she took on that opened many opportunities for her, being a mentor did the same as she has been invited to be a speaker on countless occasions since she developed SELFi, tackling on personality development topics for different companies and schools. Apart from her workshop, she’s teaching Marketing at Sacred Heart School–Ateneo de Cebu, taking on a new challenge, as she shared, that she calls herself a student of life.

“Every day is a learning experience. That’s one thing I see in me. I always ask myself ‘What’s next for me? Am I going to be just that forever?’ I’m doing it because I just want to live purposeful life,” she said. As living proof, more than sharing her wisdom at SELFi and her other ventures, she hopes to inspire people—through her own personal journey—that it is possible to grow confident and by doing so, attain a new skill along the way.

“I don’t want them to think that confidence happens overnight. It’s really a transition and I want them to reflect through my story.”