Sasha Jackson: 5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness

Create an authentic inner narrative. If you experienced negative, toxic, and demeaning relationships in the past you may be carrying around the words of your perpetrator. Identify if you are using the hurtful words of your past as a map to your future self.

As a part of my series about the “5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sasha Jackson, MSW, LCSW

Sasha Jackson, LCSW, is a licensed therapist and author who specializes in helping individuals build empowerment. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California with a Master of Social Work degree. In her practice, she has helped individuals work through trauma, depression, anxiety, and relationship issues.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

It was 2014, and I was sitting in my living room. I had just bought my house, and I was seeking the next step in my life. I didn’t know exactly what that would be, but I did know that I needed to go back to my purpose. That purpose was to help people. During this time, I felt that I had learned so much. I needed to get into a field that I could share my knowledge with others. Also, I wanted to be in a profession that supported me as I continuously evolved in my own journey. I decided that I wanted to become a licensed therapist. How was the next question? My search led me to numerous Google results and Indeed job descriptions that took me to the career of Social Work. When I found my calling, I initially knew it was a good fit, while at the same time I was baffled it had not come to me sooner. However, I am a firm believer that things present themselves when it is time. I enrolled at USC in 2015 spring semester and started my journey to become a therapist. That day in 2014 has led me into a beautiful profession and purpose that has changed my life forever. I believe that we all know what we need to be happy. I encourage everyone to follow the voice that urges them to do something different. Most importantly, to trust your intuition when you are being guided to new phases.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Working in mental health and working with people in general you experience a lot of interesting things. I can say that this is one of the benefits of what I do, and there is never a dull moment. An interesting phenomenon that I have seen is how the mental health industry adapted to the needs during COVID-19. In the current environment of isolation, social restrictions, and new norms the need for mental wellness has grown more prevalent in the public eye. When I thought about my first practice, I was set on getting an office and trying to map out the perfect location. Now, my office is virtual, and I can reach out too many more people. In the career of mental health, you must be flexible. It is interesting to see how we continue to evolve and express that flexibility during this time.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

Humor is part of life that allows us to grow from mistakes. When you can find humor in your journey, then you can find spaces of growth and understanding. A mistake I made when I first started my career was during one of my interview processes. I was so excited and nervous that I forgot the foundational components of a mental status exam. The mental status exam is a set of characteristics mental health professionals look for to evaluate a client. It is basically like knowing what a wrench is to a mechanic. Embarrassment was an understatement. I was mortified that I could not remember a simple component of my profession. The next day I got a call back for my second interview. I was stunned because I thought I completely bombed my chance. I learned that mistakes are not as detrimental as we assume. More importantly, the experience taught me to not be so hard on myself. Everyone has experienced that one interview they wish they could rewind. Remember that every experience allows you a chance to learn, evolve, and grow. As I look back at my own experience, I laugh. I laugh because I don’t ever want to doubt myself that much again, even if I make a mistake.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Many people have helped me on my journey to become a professional therapist. However, three individuals stick out. My previous internship supervisor and clinical director, Dani Marchman LCSW. My previous deputy director of San Joaquin county, Genevieve Valentine LMFT. Lastly, my current deputy director of San Joaquin County, Tiffany Dewitte LCSW. These three powerful women supported, guided, encouraged, and believed in me throughout my entire journey. I appreciate that I could grow and trust myself through each stage of my profession. They have truly taught me how to be a therapist also, what it means to be a leader in this industry. Overall, I can say that their help has been a tremendous influence on my development and drive.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Burnout can happen within any profession and, it is vital to find ways to protect yourself from the impact. You can tell if you are suffering from burnout if you have chronic stress at your job, increased exhaustion, find yourself less motivated, and experience feelings of helplessness in your ability to have a positive impact. To help prevent this from happening you must first, check-in with yourself. Be honest about how you are feeling about your job. If you think about your job and it emotionally triggers you ( frustration, sadness, resentment, anger, nervousness, or irritability) this is a sign that you may be experiencing burnout. If these feelings do surface take time to journal about it, find a creative outlet to express your feelings, talk to a support person, create better time management around your job, and implement self-care routines in your life. The second tip to buffering the effects of your job is to practice radical acceptance. Radical acceptance is the practice of understanding what you have control over and what you do not. It does not mean you are helpless instead; it provides a pathway to what you can fix versus what may be in someone else’s control. An example: is knowing that you can turn in your assignments and work on your project. However, it may be the manager’s duty to get everyone else to do their projects. Sometimes not taking responsibility for everything can make you feel less stressed and hopeful about what you can do personally.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

A powerful way a leader can transform their work culture is to cultivate intrinsic motivation within employees. Intrinsic motivation is defined as the act of doing something without an external motivator ( such as money, status, or rewards). An individual can genuinely enjoy performing an activity/job duty because it makes them feel good, gives them a sense of purpose, boosts their self-esteem, and adds to what they consider a valuable characteristic. The benefit of helping individuals create intrinsic motivation is that they can take pride and ownership in the outcome of their work. Which in turn, benefits the entire company, clients, and community. A way a leader can help promote intrinsic motivation is to 1) see how the company mission resonates with the employee on a personal level; 2) explore and identify the employee’s strengths; 3) find out what motivates the employee; 4) lastly, create a way that the employee can highlight the following identified areas within their work duties.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Mental health is often looked at in binary terms; those who are healthy and those who have mental illness. The truth, however, is that mental wellness is a huge spectrum. Even those who are “mentally healthy” can still improve their mental wellness. From your experience or research, what are five steps that each of us can take to improve or optimize our mental wellness. Can you please share a story or example for each.

Here are five steps that anyone can use on their journey to create mental wellness. 1) Is to recognize when you are self-rejecting. Self-rejection comes from doubt about your ability to be successful or your right to happiness. When you self-reject you limit your ability to engage in activities or thoughts that make you feel good about yourself. 2) Start to reframe the process of change as an opportunity versus a threat. When you view change as a threat you tend to stagnate yourself and limit yourself from accessing different opportunities. Learn to see the unknown as a chance to grow and expand. 3) Begin to make choices in your life. You can begin to feel powerless when you allow others to make choices for you or you opt-out of making choices. It’s important to take accountability in your life and be an active participant in your life journey. 4) Start challenging the notion of learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is created from a history of invalidation, rejection, and limitations. It limits you from taking risks and makes you question if you are going to be successful. Learn how to trust yourself and have faith that you will reach your goals. Lastly, 5) Create an authentic inner narrative. If you experienced negative, toxic, and demeaning relationships in the past you may be carrying around the words of your perpetrator. Identify if you are using the hurtful words of your past as a map to your future self. These five steps will allow you to take control of your life and live confidently.

Much of my expertise focuses on helping people to plan for after retirement. Retirement is a dramatic ‘life course transition’ that can impact one’s health. In addition to the ideas you mentioned earlier, are there things that one should do to optimize mental wellness after retirement? Please share a story or an example for each.

Retirement is a life transition. The key to managing a new life transition is to be ready for the change of identity roles. An identity role can be a parent, a spouse, or a job position/title. They all have significant meaning to a person’s life. When a person transitions into a new identity role there is a grieving process that occurs while they learn to accept their new identity. Since most retirements are planned an individual can make this process easier by doing the following: 1) exploring the change the new identity role will have on the person’s current lifestyle, 2) finding ways to incorporate old identity roles into the retired life role, and 3) being flexible with the natural grieving process that comes along with changing roles. By doing the following a person can visualize their new life, feel more comfortable about the changes, and feel more in control of the outcome.

How about teens and pre teens. Are there any specific new ideas you would suggest for teens and pre teens to optimize their mental wellness?

The era of teenagers and pre-teens is all about peer validation and identity formation. A key to creating mental wellness is to have a healthy balance between these two important influences. To help you create balance during this time, you should first identify your values and beliefs. Write down what is important to you and what makes you unique. Find ways to celebrate these aspects of yourself and share them with people. The next step is to see how these values and beliefs resonate with your peer group. We tend to hang out with people who have similar interests to us. It is necessary to identify these aspects to help you search if your current peer group is helpful or harmful. If you find that your personal values collide with your current peer group. You can always find more ways that you can be authentic with them or how you can create another supportive peer group. Remember that communication and boundaries are important skills to use during this time as you find yourself and cultivate friendships.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story?

A particular book that has helped me is Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D. I have learned about the dynamics of human nature, why we continue to repeat the same mistakes, and how to break the cycle. There are many important elements in this book. One that stands out to me is the impact of consistency. We are creatures of habit. This can be a good thing but a barrier in breaking out of toxic thinking and situations. Consistency ties us to behavior and people that we should leave. However, the notion of the time we put into a situation, and the hope that our consistency will change the outcome tethers us to our commitment. You can become aware of this silent bond, and then you can make a conscious choice to do something different. One of the biggest things we can do that makes us feel powerful is to make a choice.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to see a TV network/channel dedicated to mental health. Really! I see that there are talk shows that discuss mental health, youtube channels, tik-toks, and podcasts. But I would like all these great platforms to be in one dedicated place. It will make information accessible to all as well as continue to help normalize the need for mental health. I also believe that this will transform the need for mental health on a global level.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

One of my favorite life lesson quotes is by Steve Jobs. He states, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Being authentic and true to your self is sometimes a difficult journey. This quote reminds of the importance of showing up as yourself and for yourself. As a therapist I see how many of my clients sacrifice their life, happiness, and chances at success because they are afraid to live for themselves. That is why my goal is to help people become empowered by taking ownership and responsibility of their life. Once you are able to do this then you can truly live free and at peace.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Please follow me on IG: @I_Am_SashaJackson, on FB: @SashaJacksonTherapy, and on Linkedin: Sasha-Jackson-MSW-LCSW. I appreciate everyone’s support and I look forward to continuing to build my community.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


Sasha Jackson: 5 Things Anyone Can Do To Optimize Their Mental Wellness was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Sherrie Dunlevy of ‘#Inspirationista’: Five Things We Can Do To Develop Serenity And Support Each…

Sherrie Dunlevy of ‘#Inspirationista’: Five Things We Can Do To Develop Serenity And Support Each Other During These Anxious Times

Share uplifting stories you find on social media that immediately make your laugh or feel good. One group on Facebook called “ALL THINGS AWESOME” is filled with posts that will make you laugh or feel good and all are shareable.

As a part of my series about the things we can do to develop serenity and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sherrie Dunlevy.

Sherrie Dunlevy is the author of the #1 best selling book “How Can I Help?”, and the host and creator of the Graduating Grief Podcast and Graduating Grief Facebook Community.

She is also a bereaved mother.

Sherrie works with women to help them “Graduate” from the pain of their grief so they can step back into living their lives on purpose and with passion and JOY.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

I had a long career as a radio talk show host and a TV news anchor. It was during my stint in television that my husband and I lost our second son Brandon.

During that time of intense grief we were loved and supported by so many people, yet some of our closest friends disappeared from our lives.

I eventually left that career to focus on raising my eldest son Trey and as he was getting ready to graduate from high school and enter college, I started writing my book “How Can I Help?”.

Through the years I had talked with so many people who experienced the same kind of abandonment. I believe the reasons we all suffered these additional losses were based in the fear of either not knowing what to say or do, or being afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.

I wanted to create a resource that eliminated these fears and provide helpful tips on how to support and help a grieving person you love so that friendships or other relationships could become stronger instead of being strained or ruined.

Once the book was published, I left broadcasting altogether, to focus on its message and my mission to help people.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I remember speaking to a group made up of mostly men one morning about my book, and noticed a few of them crying. One was brave enough to admit how much that kind of support got him through his bout with a cancer, while another man was brave enough to admit, that he had abandoned numerous friends who were suffering because he was afraid.

I think people realize how much we need our friends and families to step up to support us and I think they realized that we truly do notice when they don’t show up.

What advice would you suggest to your colleagues in your industry to thrive and avoid burnout?

Right now, I would have to say radical self-care and self-compassion.

In my industry, we want to help hurting people. And right now during this pandemic, just about all of us are hurting in some manner. It can seem overwhelming and you realize you can exhaust yourself and lose pieces of yourself by giving and giving and giving from a cup that is bone dry. We have to take measures to fill ourselves and to make no apologies for doing so.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Realize that people work for you not robots. And people have real-life problems. They lose loved ones, pets, and friends. They are diagnosed with cancer or someone they love has some life-threatening illness. Their marriages may be falling apart or their children may be addicted. All these things weigh heavy on souls and minds. There has to be a way to show compassion and humanity in the workplace and allow people to feel valued and supported in times when it is needed most. We need to create a culture where it’s ok to not be “fine” yet, find a way to make work more manageable instead of looking for signs of weakness that make people feel replaceable. We also need to educate everyone from the CEO down on how to best support those who are dealing with such issues. We can start doing this by not ignoring the issue and to start the conversation. It’s a difficult, uncomfortable conversation to start, but the more we do it, the more comfortable it becomes.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I read every single day, so to pick just one book is so difficult for me. But if I had to choose just one, I think it would be Destiny, by T.D Jakes. He talks about the pull to become what God is calling you to become. I felt that pull to write a book and I felt that pull to start my podcast and new Graduating Grief program. But another message I got from it is to always be paying attention to that pull. Especially when it comes to helping someone who is hurting. If you feel called to reach out, send them a text or make a phone call, or show up for a visit. Just do it. Tomorrow is promised to no one and that pull is calling you for a reason. Don’t ignore those “pulls”, they can change a person’s heart or even their life. It may even change yours

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious just from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop serenity during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

1.) Limit your intake of news.

I like to refer to myself as a “recovering” TV news anchor. I did not realize the long-lasting damage exposure to the world’s news can do to you. Prior to my son’s death I was able to “compartmentalize” the days news, so I didn’t bring it home with me. After he died, I lost that capacity and it seeped into my soul.

24 hour News has increased our fears as has 24-hour access to the days news.

It used to be you caught one newscast a day, and now it’s like we are swimming in it and we can become addicted to it. There is no reason you need to take in more than 30 minutes a day or dare I say just a few times a week. If it is important, believe me you will find out about it. Use that time instead to see what is good and decent in this world, in your community and in your living quarters.

2.) Spend time every day in a state of gratitude.

This can be done by keeping a list of those things, and people for which you are most grateful, or it could be time spent quieting thinking about the blessings in your life. You can express gratitude in prayer, or meditation too. If you cannot think of anything, start with the fact that your body breathes on its own and your heart beats on its own. Try to spend at least 5 minutes or more daily, focused on the things that are “right” and good in your life instead of all the things that are wrong.

3.) Move your body

If you can work out, that’s great. But if you can’t just try moving your body.

There are plenty of videos on YouTube you can watch that will help you keep your body moving, strengthen your core, and help boost your immune system. And by building a stronger body, you actually help build a more positive mindset. If you can’t do physical exercise at least start by stretching your tight neck and shoulders, take a walk around the block or even up and down your stairs. Move your body in some way every day.

4.) Stay connected to others

We might not be able to physically visit our family and friends as we once did, but that is no excuse to stay isolated. Technology is a blessing during this pandemic. Things like Zoom and FaceTime are making it possible to have virtual family visits, happy hour with friends, class reunions, trivia nights, and all kinds of creative events. It can be something to look forward to and actually strengthen relationships. If you don’t have the desire to connect virtually, pick up the phone and have a conversation with someone each and every day. We need to feel loved and cared about and others need to know we love and care about them.

5.) Spend time engrossed in something

Whether it’s a great book, a fantastic series on TV, a hobby or learning something new like playing the guitar, home repair, or making jewelry, spending time engrossed in something other than work, politics, or family life is a way of practicing self-care, and granting yourself the permission to do something fun and interesting. And we all need some fun in our lives.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Check in on them, send texts a few times a week to see how they are doing, or pick up the phone and call or schedule a time each week to talk. This gives them something to look forward to and allows you to make sure they really are doing ok.
  2. Share uplifting stories you find on social media that immediately make your laugh or feel good. One group on Facebook called “ALL THINGS AWESOME” is filled with posts that will make you laugh or feel good and all are shareable.
  3. Share TV shows or movies that might make them laugh. Laughter is GREAT medicine and reduces stress and anxiety. Our go-to comedy series binges during the pandemic have included, Schitt’s Creek, Veep, Episodes, and The Office.
  4. Invite them to a FaceTime or Zoom Meeting, where you can virtually see each other. This makes it easier to see if they look like they just need encouragement or if they might need intervention.
  5. Invite them to experience nature with you. A great hike in the woods, a walk along the river bank, wading in the ocean creek or pond is a great way to connect in a safe way, take in fresh air, and enjoy the healing powers of nature and companionship.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

Right now the best resources are virtual and so many of them are free.

You can find videos on social media that can help you breathe, meditate, practice yoga or you can type in the “anxiety” in a search engine and find a ton of resources to help you.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“You can let your loss define you or refine you”- Sherrie Dunlevy

This was a quote that came through me as I was giving a talk and as I spoke those words, it stunned me, and was a profound lesson for me.

We all have defeats or losses in life. And we all have a choice as to how we will live through it.

My biggest loss was my son. I could have chosen to let it define my life as the grieving mother, or I could let it teach me and show me how to carry on, so that I could one day help others. I realized in that moment that I had actually made a choice in this. In this way of living, not only do I survive, but I can thrive, and by doing this my son’s life continues to make an impact on the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My Movement would be the “How Can I Help?” movement.

We ALL have the capacity to help someone who is hurting. By doing this we help ease the suffering in the world one person at a time.

Whether it is a kind word, a prayer, a caring text, sending a card or gift or simply being present as they cry, we ALL have the power to help someone who is suffering loss.

One week ago, my family lost our beloved dog Ollie and the outpouring of love we received was amazing. Our friends and family prayed for us, sent caring texts, made phone calls, sent door dash credits and memorial gifts. Some also check in on us every few days just to see how we are holding up. All these things enabled us to begin the healing process. We were devastated and our hearts were broken and although not one person could take away our pain, collectively we felt their love, support and prayers cover and envelop up like a warm soothing blanket. And that blanket of love is helping to heal our broken hearts.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

They can follow me at www.sherriedunlevy.com

Listen to my Grief Grief Podcast

Join the Graduating Grief Community

Take the Graduating Grief Quiz

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


Sherrie Dunlevy of ‘#Inspirationista’: Five Things We Can Do To Develop Serenity And Support Each… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Laurasia Mattingly: “How To Develop Mindfulness During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”

Honor how you feel — During these times, and especially with social media, we’re constantly being bombarded with how we should feel, how we should take actions, and what opinions we should have. Take a beat to center yourself and honor how you feel and understand that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel.

As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Laurasia Mattingly.

Laurasia Mattingly is a meditation and mindfulness teacher based in Los Angeles who helps her students cultivate a deeper connection with their body and mind for an enriched overall sense of well-being. She is the author of “Meditations on Self-Love: Daily Wisdom for Healing, Acceptance, and Joy,” which features daily meditations and affirmations. She is also the founder of Sit Society, an all-access membership featuring weekly live meditations, instructional videos, and at-home exercises that cover a variety of topics, such as overcoming anxiety, finding your purpose, and living a mindful life.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

As a teen, I suffered from debilitating anxiety and then depression after my mother passed in 2011. I had no healthy ways of coping, so someone recommended yoga, which eventually led me to meditation. I completed several trainings in different lineages, but Buddhism mindfulness is what resonated with me the most. I was drawn to Buddhism mainly because they acknowledge the great suffering the being human entails, and mindfulness because it is evidence-based and backed by science.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

The most interesting story since I started my career is probably the year that I pledged to be sober and celibate. As I dove deeper into my meditation practice after having a few years under my belt as a meditation teacher, I became very aware of what was causing me suffering. I realized dating and drinking were being used as coping mechanisms for underlying fears, insecurities, and feelings of unworthiness. My choice to be sober and celibate gave me the chance to dig deeper into myself and care for the wounds that needed healing.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

Be you! In the beginning years of teaching, I cared too much about what other teachers thought of me. I’m a millennial, and meditation teachers are older and wise, so one of my biggest insecurities, when I began teaching, was “who is going to listen to this 20-something-year-old talk about life?” As I grew more confident in who I was and teaching, my age became one of my greatest strengths. I just share from my own life experiences and after every class I resonate with someone different, whether that be a fellow millennial or someone in their 70s. Individuals of all ages will come up to me after my class telling me it was just what they needed to hear.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

“No Mud No Lotus” by Thich Nhat Hahn is a book I have read probably 20 times and I teach from it often. I was drawn to it because it was written by one of my favorite teachers and it beautifully describes how suffering is necessary to experience joy. After losing my mother I could have easily started feeling like a victim to life, but that book showed me that through my deep suffering I was strong. The style in which it was written (short passages of wisdom) is what inspired my book “Meditations on Self-Love: Daily Wisdom for Healing, Acceptance and Joy.”

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment without judgment.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Increased self-awareness, deeper mind/body connection, increased compassion, and more ease. Mindfulness is scientifically proven to shrink our amygdala (the reptilian part of our brains responsible for our fight-flight and freeze response) and increase the compassion centers of our brains.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

1) Honor how you feel — During these times, and especially with social media, we’re constantly being bombarded with how we should feel, how we should take actions, and what opinions we should have. Take a beat to center yourself and honor how you feel and understand that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel.

2) Turn off the news — The news can be fuel added to the fire of anxiety. After getting my bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism and initially starting a career in network news, four years ago, I decided to emulate the Dali Lama and his take on news. He says, “If I need to know something, I’ll find out.” Of course, we can’t fully escape the news when it’s all over social media, but I personally avoid turning on the TV news. This enables me to be more present in all that I do. So far, the Dali Lama is right; I haven’t turned on the news in years and have still found out everything I’ve needed to know.

3) Start a Meditation Practice — This is the first step towards deepening your mindfulness practice. Of course we can incorporate mindfulness into our daily lives, but to really strengthen that mindfulness muscle is in seated meditation. Even if it is just for five minutes, those five minutes of stillness and turning inwards will allow you to get to know yourself better than anything else.

4) Slow down — So many of us mindlessly go about our days from one task to the next without stopping to take a breath or savor the moment. For example, think of those times you’ve got into your car and arrived at the destination without even being aware of your drive, the scenery, or the traffic. Our minds are usually elsewhere, planning, worrying, trying to problems solve. In slowing down we can allow ourselves to be more present in whatever we are doing. We can notice the blue sky as we drive, the sound of the birds as we walk outside, or the smile on our friends face as they tell us a story.

5) Get outside — For me, hiking has become a form of moving meditation. It used to be boxing but now since gyms are closed, I’ve picked up hiking as my new favorite form of exercise. There is something so magical about being in nature and now there’s science to prove the positive effects nature has on our well-being. If weather permits in your area, get outside, smell the fresh air, feel the wind against your skin and listen to the sounds of the world.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

1) Practice compassion — Compassion is recognizing the suffering in another being. During this time, it’s important to realize that others are suffering deeply as well. We can offer our presence and understandings without judgment.

2) Establish boundaries/honor others’ boundaries — Boundaries are truly an act of self-love. During this time, it’s important to honor your own boundaries and the boundaries of others. Sometimes you might need to take the evening to rest and not answer your phone. Honor that. Sometimes your friends or loved ones will also need rest and may need to cancel zoom calls/FaceTime dates. Honor that.

3) Rest — Even though most of us are cooped up at home not doing much of anything, it’s important to honor when your body and mind need rest. If you feel like you need a nap, take one. If you need to take the day away from your computer, do it. We cannot fill others from an empty glass, we must fill our own first.

4) Listen without judgment — There are many different views on how we should think, feel and act right now. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion so if we have friends or family members who don’t see eye to eye with us, we can try to practice listening without judgment.

5) Find power in your aloneness — Here is a quote from my book “Meditations on Self-Love” — “Find the power in your aloneness and you’ll never be lonely…The risk to be in solitude, to become intimate with your own thoughts and feelings, to really get to know yourself is true power.” A lot of us think that a cure to loneliness is the company of others, which sometimes it is, but personally, the most valuable treatment to loneliness is finding power in your aloneness.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

Start with a simple practice called “ STOP”

S — Stop what you’re doing

T — Take a Breath

O — Observe how you’re feeling (without judgment)

P — Proceed

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

This is an excerpt from my book “Meditations on Self-Love,” — “Every step you’ve taken has led you to this moment, right here and right now, look how far you’ve come.”

In the moment of my mother’s passing, I would have never thought it affected my life in a positive way. In hindsight, it was that moment in my life that led me to where I am today. Her passing led me to meditation and today her spirit leads me everywhere I go. Because of her I’ve traveled to Peru, started skiing again, and so much more.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Enforcing a mandatory self-compassion practice. It all starts with us and ripples outward. If we learned to tend to our own suffering and difficulties and cared for ourselves, we would all be more kind. As the saying goes, “hurt people hurt people.” If we became so kind to ourselves, especially when we suffer deeply, imagine how kind and compassionate we would be to each other.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Website: https://laurasiamattingly.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/laurasiamattingly/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


Laurasia Mattingly: “How To Develop Mindfulness During Stressful Or Uncertain Times” was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women Of The C-Suite: Gilda D’Incerti of PQE Group On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A…

Women Of The C-Suite: Gilda D’Incerti of PQE Group On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

Being the CEO of a company does not only mean having greater responsibilities in terms of business. Holding the highest office also means having to set an example of loyalty and fairness, but above all I believe that those in CEO roles tell their vision, convincing, through daily actions, employees to share it and pursue it together.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Gilda D’Incerti.

Gilda D’Incerti CEO & founder of PQE Group recognized as an international expert in the IT field of system validation and transformed her company from a small family business to a multinational corporate company. Gilda stands strong behind her mission to create as many jobs for people as possible which is evident as the company now has 900 employees worldwide. This has led to Gilda receiving an honorable recognition of Territory Ambassador for the Tuscany region by the Senate of the Italian Republic.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I graduated in statistics in 1978: certainly not the usual title for a woman in those years. It all started with my desire to go beyond customs, trying to make room for myself as a woman in an often male-dominated and patriarchal society. Therefore, when a London consultancy company fired me I decided to come back to Italy to found PQE: a small start-up with great potential, where anyone could demonstrate their professional skills.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

A nice early anecdote could be when I went to the station to pick up the man who would later become my partner in the company. At first, we were not able to find each other at the station simply because we had imagined one another completely different than how we really were

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I can’t say it was just one person who helped me. I am grateful to all those who along this path have allowed me to grow professionally and humanly and have built the success of the company with me: from the colleagues who started this adventure with me in 1998 to my new collaborators and employees who through their actions and enthusiasm gave new life to my business idea.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I wake up very early in the morning and this allows me to be able to take some time for myself, doing free body exercises, reading a good book, not forgetting to read journalistic articles to stay informed. On weekends when I can, I dedicate myself to long walks. I find it the best way to release the stress accumulated during the week.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

I strongly believe that diversity is a great added value for a business. My goal as an entrepreneur, which I repeat on every occasion, is to give work to as many people as possible without distinction of sex, race, religion, or age. This is because diversity means differentiation and therefore growth: both for the employee who feels proud of belonging to an inclusive group, and for the image of the company that acquires greater value.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

I believe to have a more equitable society, it is simply necessary to respect, in every way. If each individual lives their daily life respecting others and their freedoms, surely ours would be a better society, in which integration prevails over discrimination, and in which kindness prevails over arrogance.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

Being the CEO of a company does not only mean having greater responsibilities in terms of business. Holding the highest office also means having to set an example of loyalty and fairness, but above all I believe that those in CEO roles tell their vision, convincing, through daily actions, employees to share it and pursue it together.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I never understood why, but the CEO always creates terror: we are normal people with a normal life. So much so that another myth could relate to the fact that a CEO of a company thinks only and exclusively of the business: that is not true, and being the mother of three sons is proof of this!

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Certainly motherhood and all that goes with it. And unfortunately, although there has been progress in our society in this regard, there is still a long way to go to achieve parity.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I consider myself very lucky because I have always had the opportunity to do a job that I liked in the ways and times I have chosen. Therefore, I have never found too many differences between what my job is and what I would like it to be.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

In reality, I believe that everyone can become an executive if they really want to, there is no recipe for the perfect leader. Surely it is necessary first of all to be objective and aware of your abilities. Once this first step has been passed, I believe that the tenacity to achieve the goal and the courage in dealing with every situation are the two most important characteristics, without ever forgetting ethics and fairness.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

To always believe in yourself and never allow anyone to tell you otherwise. You have what it takes to achieve everything you set your mind to.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

As I often say, you don’t need to be Bill Gates to change the world. Everyone in their own small way can do their part. For this reason, in the company, we have introduced numerous social responsibility campaigns through which we allow our employees the opportunity to do voluntary work and be themselves to make their contribution. For example, last year, 10 employees paid by the company, went to Kathmandu, Nepal to volunteer at an elementary school. Experiences like these are certainly informative and help people to see difficult situations closely that inevitably allows them to look at reality from a different perspective, thus becoming more aware citizens and consequently more responsible.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Believe in yourself, do what you like, follow your dreams, you don’t need a man by your side to move forward, be positive. When I started PQE in 1988, the company was a start-up in Florence to now having offices in over 14 countries with almost 900 employees worldwide. Never give up on what you believe in.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

A movement linked to environmental protection, because this is a global issue that involves all of us. At the same time, as you will have understood, I am for equal opportunities and in the past, I have always been part of associations that fought for human rights.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My life lesson quote is by Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

This sentence is the perfect summary of my philosophy of life both as a mother and a woman and as an entrepreneur: to be an example, but at the same time to change, to think about others, but with a view to sharing, to look forward with enthusiasm and the desire to always get involved.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Nancy Pelosi, an inspiring, powerful woman who is a trailblazer and made history by becoming the first female speaker of the House. An individual who stands for diversity and empowering other women.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.


Women Of The C-Suite: Gilda D’Incerti of PQE Group On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Andrea Moxham of Horseshoe + co.

Be consistent. Getting business from LinkedIn won’t happen overnight. Create a schedule of how often you’ll post and how many minutes per day you’ll spend engaging with those in your network and stick to it.

As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Moxham.

Founder of Horseshoe + co, a Platinum HubSpot Solutions Partner, inbound marketing extraordinaire, entrepreneur, speaker, compassionate country-gal, and mother, Andrea Moxham’s life embodies that quote. Determined to live life by her own design, she launched Horseshoe + co on a mission to guide businesses to greatness with the power of HubSpot.

From her keen eye for analytics to her fuss-free marketing solutions, clients praise Andrea’s multi-faceted capabilities and confident execution. Offering functional strategies and customized deliverability, she makes inbound marketing a breeze. Guided by a fearless and future-focused approach, she’s willing to break the mold to get results.

Devoted to her client’s success, Andrea is ready to tackle HubSpot projects of all kinds: including marketing automation, workflows, templates, emails, live chat configurations, HubSpot COS design, and more. As a Canadian HubSpot partner, Horseshoe + co harnesses Andrea’s exceptional marketing expertise and business-building know-how.

Andrea will launch, strategize, and scale your HubSpot journey to generate leads, increase client closes, and drive revenue.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I knew early on I not only wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I needed to. Even during my first job in high school, I was already making my own rules. I never knew what kind of business I wanted to own until I started working for a marketing agency. Almost immediately, it became clear that this was a business I could start with very little overhead and finally be my own boss. I quit without any backup plan or promise of any of my own clients and hope to do $500,000 in sales this year!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I offer inbound marketing services, yet don’t apply a single method I learned in my University undergrad marketing program. I’ve learned everything I know from experience, mentorship, and self-taught research!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I really had no idea what I was doing when I started my business so I looked on job boards for employers that were hiring freelance positions. I applied for all of them and considered myself “successful” because I was busy. But I wasn’t building a business for myself. I can laugh about it now but it was tricky to transition away from that mindset.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

LinkedIn. It’s where my ideal customers spend time and I’ve found ways to create new relationships and bring awareness to my services. On a few occasions, I’ve done my research to find good-fit prospects, reached out in a genuine and helpful way, only to hear responses similar to “it’s like you read my mind and knew what I needed”. This is how I know the platform and my processes are working.

Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

Rule number one: always, always personalize your connection request with a statement that shows you did your research. Copy and pasting a generic sales-y message will never foster the right relationship. Look up the person on Google and Instagram, find something interesting about them or something you have in common.

Rule number two: Tell stories in your posts. LinkedIn is still a powerful professional networking platform but it doesn’t ignore the fact that it’s still people using it. People crave real human interaction and relate to stories much more than they do to facts or hard data.

Rule number three: Leave meaningful comments that are more than a few words. Start conversations by asking and responding to questions. This applies to your own posts and those in your news feed.

Rule number four: Optimize your profile to communicate the value you provide to your customers. Skip documenting what you do and focus on the outcome your customers achieve by working with you. Use verbs in your job title and about section.

Rule number five: Be consistent. Getting business from LinkedIn won’t happen overnight. Create a schedule of how often you’ll post and how many minutes per day you’ll spend engaging with those in your network and stick to it.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The death of interruption-based outbound marketing. It’s a waste of marketer’s time and irks people on the receiving end.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂

Someone I idolize is Jenna Kutcher. Anything she touches seems to turn to gold (photography, branding, podcasting, social media marketing, and even parenting) because of the power of her words. She’s extremely well-spoken, intelligent, charismatic, and humble.

Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!


How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business, With Andrea Moxham of Horseshoe + co. was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Mindy Eisenberg of Yoga Moves on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help…

Women In Wellness: Mindy Eisenberg of Yoga Moves on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Surround yourself with kind, joyful people. Their positive energy will impact you. It is contagious. My favorite yoga teachers are integral to my positive outlook and mood. They have a certain glow and speak with authenticity about yogic philosophy. When I feel down, taking their class can be very healing. When I am upbeat, being around them feeds my optimistic energy bank.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mindy Eisenberg.

Mindy Eisenberg, MHSA, C-IAYT, ERYT-500 is the Founder and Director of Yoga Moves MS, a nonprofit 501(c (3) with the mission of improving the quality of life for individuals with MS, Parkinson’s Disease, and neuromuscular conditions. She is the author of Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body, created for individuals with MS and neuromuscular conditions and Adaptive Yoga Cards, daily yoga moves for all ages and abilities. Mindy has provided yoga therapy to individuals with mobility challenges for over fifteen years and thrives on building a strong, mighty community for her students and families. She is a Qualified Mindfulness-Based Stress reduction teacher. Her experience as a health care administrator at the University of Michigan Medical Center contributes to her ability to bring the Yoga Moves philosophy of healing and the importance of the mind-body relationship to the health care arena. Mindy has a Bachelor of Science from Northwestern University and a Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Though one might expect that I had a grand plan to create a yoga for MS program, I truly didn’t…one existed, but no one told me about it. The path to where Yoga Moves MS is now was more organic than a stepwise process. I firmly believe that we all have a purpose on this earth. If we are open to possibilities and pay attention, we will find synchronicity.

My mother had progressive MS. Since I was a little girl, I did not know how to help her feel better. She lived much of her adult life in bed or in a wheelchair. As time passed, her muscles and bones contracted into a fetal position. While she was becoming more stagnant, I loved to move. She encouraged me to take ballet beginning in pre-school. My father provided me the opportunity to continue my dance studies in high school and in my early college career. Fast forward eighteen years, after I completed yoga teacher training, my son’s teacher asked me to conduct a yoga class for her support group at a leading institute for MS in Michigan. This hour provided the seed that grew into seven weekly adaptive yoga for MS classes. Serendipitously, I met a special individual at an MS Society presentation who was planning a yoga for MS fundraiser called Yoga Moves MS (YMMS). We swiftly merged and planned the YMMS annual YMMS ‘Party with a Purpose’ for several years. These fundraisers have been instrumental in bringing people together to support our adaptive yoga classes. They created further impetus to build community and empower individuals to make a difference. Adaptive Yoga Moves Any Body serves as an umbrella for Yoga Moves MS because ‘Any Body’ with a neuromuscular condition is a welcome member of our community.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

One of my favorite stories took place during one of my evening adaptive yoga classes. This particular student with MS, who ironically also happens to be a neurologist, gave me an incredulous look when I asked my students to spread their toes. She had been telling herself that she could not move her toes, and that her teacher was ridiculously enthusiastic. A few months later, I saw her smiling in a spinal balance pose, and asked her why she was so gleeful. She said, “I moved my toes.” That student taught me to believe in my students, before they believe in themselves, and that possibilities can become reality. It meant a lot that this student, a physician and scientist, was also an important data point. Yoga increases neural pathways. Neuroplasticity was experienced and celebrated.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I am not sure I would call it a mistake, but I did use a lot of energy doing things the hard way by myself. When I first began teaching adaptive yoga, I took on the role of teacher and assistant. It was rewarding, exciting and exhausting all at the same time. I lugged yoga supplies to my car, brought them into the building, set them up, taught class, massaged feet, and cleaned up. Good thing I was highly energetic, and eager to help my students! It was a relief when other teachers joined the YMMS team and we found a place to house our supplies in the different building locations. This same pattern occurred with the fundraising role until I got smart and asked for help from my team of instructors and students. The mantra is, “do things the easy way!” Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Numerous family members, friends, YMMS instructors, students, and donors have supported the growth of YMMS. It takes a village to build a community.

There are those who helped from my inner circle, including many family and friends. My kids have been supportive of my dedication to the cause, and very generous with their mother’s time. Without the emotional and financial support of my husband of 36 years, I could not afford to build a non-profit. We give each other the space to pursue personal interests and dreams. I think that is one of the secrets to marital success.

Dr. James M. Voci is the Chair of Yoga Moves MS. A leading neurologist, Dr. Harold Rossman of Blessed Memory referred me to him. This was really the beginning of the growth of YMMS in southeastern Michigan. Dr. Voci thinks BIG, and connected me with other successful leaders. His ideas and ability to think strategically, together with idealism, is a perfect mix. His patients are very fortunate to have them as their physician and YMMS is lucky to have him as a leader in our community. He experienced firsthand how yoga improved migraines and he has a really big heart. He is a healer in more ways than he knows.

The students are the main reason that our community is so vibrant. They have a strong desire to help each other. They are cheerleaders and develop meaningful bonds. When a student is absent from class, they often check in with that person to make sure that they are okay. We have students who enjoy making connections with potential referral sources which expands our community reach. A student, who is an occupational therapist, learned how yoga therapy complements occupational and physical therapy from her experience with us. Through word of mouth, she is a strong advocate who shares information about YMMS with colleagues, physicians, and other patients. Another student loves to connect with leadership from other non-profits who complement our mission. Other students plan gatherings outside of class for lunch or dinner, or more serious events to memorialize and grieve the loss of a student. We are all connected in this web of life.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Our focus is Adaptive Yoga For Any Body, more specifically individuals with neuromuscular conditions. Yoga therapy principles can be adapted for those with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke, spinal cord injury, and more.

YMMS classes may be the student’s only connection with human beings, outside of the medical community in a week or longer. We understand and accept students just as they are. This is a safe and creative place of connection, empowerment, peace of mind and kindness.

When I first became a yoga therapist, there were very few of us who specialized in adaptive yoga for MS. Looking back, we were pioneers. The profession of yoga therapy was in its infancy or even pre-birth phase, with no certification. Thankfully, more yoga instructors and therapists are interested in specializing in specific conditions and causes. Accessible yoga is a movement to make yoga available to everybody. The International Association of Yoga Therapy created an accreditation process only a few years ago which increases professional standards, research and overall credibility.

Interest in adaptive yoga is growing from clinicians such as physicians, physical and occupational therapists, and nurses. They have a greater appreciation for how yoga therapy fits into the integrative and holistic health care continuum. I developed an Adaptive Yoga Teacher Training that is attended by clinicians, exercise physiologists, and yoga teachers. With more people educated about adaptive yoga and therapy, more are seeking training. I receive several inquiries a week.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

*Note — I added 7 as there are just too many to offer!

  1. Meditate daily, in the morning if possible. It sets the tone for the day. Mindfulness has changed the way I experience the world. Make space for it in your routine, and be patient. Allow the practice to sink into your body, mind and soul. It took about six months for meditation to become an integral part of my self-care. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction is purposely designed as an eight-week program to give students a solid foundation.
  2. Karma Yoga refers to being of service to others without attachment to the result. Tikkun Olam is a term in Judaism that refers to repairing the world. These two concepts from two different cultures sum it up. When we dedicate time towards a personal cause with passion, it is a natural way to build optimism and hope. It reminds me that we are not alone and connects us to something bigger. Volunteering with and for others is an important part of living. As our kids were growing up, as a family we participated in activities with intention so that they could “feel the good” in helping others. This is one of the reasons I am so dedicated to Yoga Moves MS. Our students gain great joy in helping each other in class and in contributing to the success of our annual fundraiser.
  3. Our bodies were meant to move…find a routine that you like and exercise at the very least, three to five days per week. For me, exercise is necessary to spur creativity and amplify productivity. My yoga practice keeps me in alignment, internally as well as with the external world. I build my schedule around yoga. While I realize that everyone can’t build their schedule around exercise, I do believe everyone can make time in their schedules to move their bodies three to five times a week. My mind and body inform me when I miss a day that they are cranky and achy. My husband and kids even tell me when I need to practice based on my mood. This is the mind-body connection. Emotions are intricately interconnected to the physical body.
  4. If you are an animal lover, pets are the best. They need us and we need them. My mother loved dogs and I had several pets growing up. When she could no longer take care of a dog, she found a cat that required less care. My daughter pressed my husband and I to adopt a dog at the age of 11. Even though I knew it would be my responsibility, I acquiesced. Garfield, our Daisy dog, added so much fun and love to our lives. My friend who is a veterinarian used to say, “a pet makes a family complete.” As another option, I love fish and the sound of water. It can be very relaxing and peaceful to gaze at them. They require relatively less care and do not ask for much in return.
  5. Read an inspiring book, article, quote or poem regularly. Staying up on the news is important but finding inspiration and learning from others is key for spiritual development. I keep some favorite books and a journal by my nightstand.
  6. Surround yourself with kind, joyful people. Their positive energy will impact you. It is contagious. My favorite yoga teachers are integral to my positive outlook and mood. They have a certain glow and speak with authenticity about yogic philosophy. When I feel down, taking their class can be very healing. When I am upbeat, being around them feeds my optimistic energy bank.
  7. Hug a tree. Get outside, enjoy, and align with nature. There is something mystical about trees. They have so much to teach us. They are firmly rooted in the earth and yet reach skyward. We have an old “Mama” Oak tree in our yard. When I look at her, I know she has so much to say if I mindfully listen in shared silence.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I do not need to reinvent the wheel. The self-care movement is already in motion with holistic health care, mindfulness, meditation, and of course, yoga. They may not cure disease, but they make coping with symptoms and life’s challenges easier. Holistic care complements traditional medical care, it is not a replacement.

We need to ensure that health care is available to all, and this includes holistic alternatives. Our country has a lot to learn if we look at international morbidity and mortality statistics. For all of our intelligence and technology, our statistics must change. Our system manages health problems with pills and procedures in lieu of investment in preventative care. The United States has the lowest life expectancy at birth among comparable countries according to the Health System Tracker.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

1.) Meet with successful leaders and choose a mentor. Learn from their depth of experience, ask questions, and feed your creative juices.

2) If you are fundraising, there is an art to silent auctions. Learn it. Guests at our ‘Party for a Purpose’ love them, but they can be overwhelming. We figured out how to tackle the beast, but auctions require a lot of time and organization skills.

3) If you do not like the focus on you, you had better get ready for that kind of attention if you are the leader. Organizations and movements need a leader and members will refer to you. You are the face of the organization. I love being part of something bigger than myself and have had to ease into the fact that the attention is on me.

4) Make a plan. Once you create a valuable organization, cultivate leadership in others so that the organization can survive and thrive with or without you. At some point, you and the organization will be ready for the next chapter.

5) The fruits of division of labor are real. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek out others with skills that complement your toolbox. With a strong cause, they will be there for you. Human beings have an innate desire to help others. Your family and friends will thank you.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health and suicide prevention is at the top of my list. Depression is an epidemic. No one family is untouched by it. I lost my sweet father to suicide back in 1991 at the age of 52. My family was shocked to the core. He was a jovial, charming, energetic man, and an old-fashioned physician that would visit patients at their homes. He was a mensch, and was generous with his family, friends and community. He was also very good at hiding the signs of deep depression. At that time, I was uneducated about suicide and did not have a clue about the mental anguish that he was going through. It is my hope in sharing this personal story, that I can be a part of breaking the stigma associated with mental illness and help raise awareness about the importance of having expanded health insurance to cover mental health therapy. Education and awareness can change lives if we know what we are looking at and how to act.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

IG: @yogamovesms; FB: https://www.facebook.com/YogaMovesMS/

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


Women In Wellness: Mindy Eisenberg of Yoga Moves on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women Of The C-Suite: Busy Burr of Carrot On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior…

Women Of The C-Suite: Busy Burr of Carrot On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

There will be times when your career really sucks. Maybe you get laid off, maybe you can’t find a job, maybe your business idea doesn’t get off the ground, maybe your boss is bad — like really bad. Jobs, work life can really suck. There are setbacks. Everyone has them. Don’t believe all the happy, perfect stories. Know that change will come and be persistent, say yes to new opportunities as much as you can.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Busy Burr, President and CCO at Carrot.

Busy Burr is a cross-industry executive who has made a career creating innovation strategy and operationalizing commercial initiatives in some of the largest, most complex organizations in the world with functional roles spanning finance, marketing and operations. At Carrot she leads the team focused on bringing the company’s digital health solutions to market.

Prior to Carrot, Busy served as Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer at Humana, a $40 billion US healthcare company. In this role, she led a 60+ person team driving the design, build, and adoption of new product platforms in digital health, provider experience, care in the home, and telemedicine.

Before joining Humana in 2015, Busy held leadership positions at Citi Ventures, Gap and eBay, and spent seven years in investment banking at Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse First Boston, executing IPOs and M&As for companies in the technology space.

Busy is a sought-after speaker and collaborator, and a long-time performing member of the Bay Area improv troupe ‘Subject to Change’. She holds an MBA from Stanford and a BA in Economics from Smith College and sits on the Board of Directors of Rite Aid and Mr. Cooper. She was named one of Silicon Valley’s Women of Influence and has been honored as Frost & Sullivan’s Innovator of the Year.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I was born and raised in Massachusetts and came to California for what I thought was going to be 2 years at Stanford for my MBA, but I graduated into Silicon Valley in the ’80s which was just getting going, so I stayed.

I shun the expression ‘career path’ because it implies something linear. I think of my life more as a collection of amazing experiences: I’ve been a Wall Street financier, restaurant cashier, filmmaker, caregiver, CEO, receptionist, global brand manager, researcher, venture capitalist, camp counselor, board member and now President and Chief Commercial Officer at Carrot and a Board Member of two public companies. All of the experiences I’ve had over the many years of my career contribute to everything I do today. I have a lot of arrows in my quiver.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Most interesting? That’s hard. Here’s a good story: I was struggling to make a decision between two amazing opportunities that I had — going back and forth — writing pros and cons. After sleeping on it and meditating on it, I still couldn’t decide and I was so stressed out. I was having coffee with a good friend (who also happens to be an executive coach) and I told her I couldn’t land on what to do — I expected some brilliant insight that would open it right up. And you know what she said? She said, “It doesn’t matter.” Excuse me?!? This is my career we’re talking about! She said it again, “It doesn’t matter- it really doesn’t.” She said everything will be fine no matter which one you do. So it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter. At first, I thought that was so lame. But ever since that day — I realize how brilliant that was — that I have agency in how I experience what I do. It really doesn’t matter. Just pick one and move on.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have always been a bit of a prankster at work and occasionally like to send around fake memos and emails to people for fun. Long ago I worked at a huge, global investment bank that hires a lot of smart, fresh out of college, financial analysts — most of them Ivy League and all expecting to be the next big Wall Street barons. One year, I sent around a fake email that over the holidays they would each need to take shifts covering the reception desk so our awesome receptionist could take a break. They were indignant, so indignant, that one of them sent the email to the Wall Street Journal to put in the “Heard on the Street” column. The WSJ called the Global Head of Communications and the firestorm went from there. Not pretty. Thankfully, it didn’t end up running in the WSJ. Has it kept me from messing with people at work? Not really, I’m just more careful about email.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I am grateful to so many people — especially my women friends and colleagues — we’ve seen it all. But if I had to pick one person I’d have to say, my wife. She and I have been through so many twists and turns with our careers and in raising our two amazing sons. She knows me better than anyone and is my #1 cheerleader when things seem dark and impossible, and I like to believe I’m her #1 cheerleader as well. We were both on Wall Street in the ’80s (don’t even get me started) and it was not easy for women but there’s been so much change, it’s really remarkable.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Oh my, so funny. When I worked at Citigroup on the Ventures team, the senior leadership team of Citi Ventures was all women and we used to get together and do the Amy Cuddy / Wonder Woman power pose before big meetings — for fun, for focus, and just well, maybe it’ll work? But more seriously, I read a little Brene Brown. I highly recommend it.

As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

This should be such a “duh” by now. We are in the innovation age, change is rapid and ideas are currency. Creativity is king. Innovation and creativity are a result of thinking broadly, of seeing what isn’t seen, of exploiting what others are missing. Diversity is the vital force, it delivers the creative energy that drives innovation. And while Silicon Valley companies are just now getting the memo about race and gender equality — there is something about this area, this community of people. Almost everyone who lives here is a transplant from somewhere else — people grew up in Ohio, Texas, Maine, Montana, Canada, Korea, India, Germany, you name it. I’m convinced that the diversity in Silicon Valley is a major factor in its innovation engine.

As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.

We all need to start with being conscious. Recognizing that if we aren’t solving the problem, we are part of it. And that there is in fact a problem. A big one. People of color in this country face a far more difficult journey to achieve their dreams than I do, and the barriers they have to deal with are systemic and often unconscious. We’ve just had 4 years of a President who unleashed a tide of racism and white supremacy. The bizarre upside of that is that there are many more important conversations taking place, but we have a long way to go. We have to stop expecting people of color to solve it by themselves. This is an American problem, not a Black problem, Native American problem or Latino problem. If we fix it, we fix it for all of us — life, community, work, the economy — everything about American life will be better. I firmly believe this. This isn’t zero-sum. All boats will rise. I sit on a couple of public company boards and that’s one place to start, for Boards of Directors to hold management teams accountable for digging and understanding the way merit and promotion are handled in a company. It’s not enough to just report the numbers, instead, we need to demand a deep look at company culture — what are the informal networks and behaviors that support the status quo. Discuss this at the board level and hold management teams accountable for real change.

Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

I’m actually a member of an improv troupe and have been for over 10 years. I’ve learned a lot from doing improv and it’s influenced how I think about leadership. Improv is a creative art form — you create a story in real-time, in front of an audience — there’s no script so you’re figuring things out on your feet. The most important elements of improv are about listening intently, paying attention and focusing on making your scene partners look good (and they’re doing the same for you). Improv is incredibly selfless. You have to trust yourself and your team and face your fear of failure every time you’re on stage. So, what does this have to do with leadership? The more senior you get in an organization, the more your job is about listening, connecting people, connecting ideas and making your team successful. The more senior you are the more you have to observe and see how the whole system works. It’s messy, there are massive unknowns, conflicts, failures and successes and you have to navigate through it all — making complex decisions on your feet along the way.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

I think there’s a myth that senior executives have this magical intel that will answer all of the unknowns that people need to do their jobs but they just don’t share it. In a smaller startup, this isn’t such a big deal because there aren’t as many layers, information is shared pretty freely and everyone lives in unknowns. When I’ve been in leadership roles at large, global corporations, there’s this feeling that things are complex and uncertain because those of us in leadership are somehow holding back on our strategic brilliance. The reality is the senior executives do not have all of the answers and we rely on the answers coming up from our teams.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

There has been so much change since I was starting out in my career, but I still think women have to navigate a complex way of communicating — we can’t be too pushy, we can’t be too soft. Men just don’t have to think about this stuff but women do all the time. We have to talk tough but with a smile on our face. Women of color have an especially significant challenge. I also think we have to spend way more time on how we look than men do. Our gray hair, our weight — they all factor into how we are judged in the workplace. For men? Not so much.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

I think the most remarkable life change happens to people when they quit smoking. At Carrot, I have been moved by hearing so many inspiring stories of our users who’ve quit smoking. I think I always thought about smoking as a health thing — and it is. But for people who quit, it’s disentangling. They have spent years — I mean YEARS everyday preoccupied with when they’re going to have their next cigarette and where they will need to be. When that goes away it is remarkable the space that opens up — they spend focused time playing Legos with their children. Their child falls asleep on their chest for the first time ever — because they don’t have to go anywhere. It is live changing when someone quits smoking.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?

I’m not sure I agree with you actually. I think the mythology that someone is “cut out” or sort of “born” to be an executive has been part of what has kept us back. I remember when I worked on Wall Street out of college, there were a handful of women in my department and the head of the department — a pretty famous Wall Street guy — said to my face, “Women don’t belong in mergers and acquisitions because a CEO would never trust his company’s strategy to a woman.” True story. I think people start small companies because they see a problem they want to solve and before they know it, they are a CEO. I would advise people not to aspire to be an executive but rather aspire to achieve mastery, find things that you can learn — learn constantly — and you will be called on to lead others.

What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?

I learned from Lisa Salamone who I worked with at Gap, to trust my team members to do the right thing and to be there to catch them when they made inevitable mistakes. Micromanaging to prevent mistakes results in a team that doesn’t feel trusted and worse, a team that isn’t learning from painful mistakes.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Hopefully in two ways. First, I see myself as a heart-centered leader — I lead with empathy and trust. We spend a zillion hours in our lives working and I have the privilege of leading and influencing people at different stages in their career. I like to believe that people who have worked for me over the years have learned a lot and have felt challenged and supported and I like to believe that they have become heart-centered leaders as well.

The second way is by being out about my life, my wife and my kids. I think that has made a difference over the years.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. “It doesn’t matter” — see the story from question #2
  2. Life is short but your career is long — there are so many different things you can do. Don’t ever feel like you are stuck. You aren’t.
  3. Pick your boss not your job.
  4. A career doesn’t have to be a linear ascension.
  5. There will be times when your career really sucks. Maybe you get laid off, maybe you can’t find a job, maybe your business idea doesn’t get off the ground, maybe your boss is bad — like really bad. Jobs, work-life can really suck. There are setbacks. Everyone has them. Don’t believe all the happy, perfect stories. Know that change will come and be persistent, say yes to new opportunities as much as you can.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

As my parents aged, their friends moved away to warmer climates or to live closer to their children. Their social circle got smaller and smaller and many friends were heard from just once a year with a Christmas card. After my Dad died, I noticed how isolated my Mom was becoming. On her 80th birthday, I spent weeks tracking down old friends, buddies from college, neighbors, you name it and had them call her on her birthday. The phone rang off the hook and every call was so amazing. It was such a great day for her. I think we should all do this as a gift for people, especially if they have become isolated. Think how amazing it would be if we took the time to help reconnect people who long to be reconnected.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I love the Lucille Ball quote, “I’m not funny, what I am is brave.” Her fearlessness is what made her so successful. A couple of years ago I was asked to give a lecture on taking risks at my alma mater. I’m not sure I had ever really reflected on how being brave was part of my life journey but I think it has been. There have been chapters where I was focused on security, on staying in place and those are the times when the rug was pulled out from under me. When I embraced the reality that my life will be full of the unexpected, then I started to have more confidence and bravery. Boldness drives change, resilience and living without regret.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Deb Haaland. What a moment to finally have a Native American poised to be Secretary of the Interior. My great-grandfather was an attorney and served as deputy secretary of the Interior at the turn of the last century. He and his family moved from Massachusetts to live in Oklahoma, working with many of the tribal leaders there — as I understand — to represent Native tribes in their efforts to retain their land (though I imagine there is likely more to the family folklore). Our land is filled with such natural beauty and we are so lucky to have so much of it protected. To have a Native American take on this official stewardship role is groundbreaking. I want to meet her and hear her story.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


Women Of The C-Suite: Busy Burr of Carrot On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Anne-Marie Emanuelli of Mindful Frontiers: How To Develop Mindfulness During Stressful Or…

Anne-Marie Emanuelli of Mindful Frontiers: How To Develop Mindfulness During Stressful Or Uncertain Times

Reach out to young people. Youth are struggling during this uncertain time a lot more than adults realize. Children, teenagers and young adults have minds that are developing; being isolated from their peers and community is taking a significant toll on their mental health. Youth need adults around them who are healthy role models to help them understand how to embrace self-care, understand healthy media consumption, and make healthy choices. Share what you are learning and exploring with youth in your life with non-judgement and vulnerable courage.

As a part of my series about “How To Develop Mindfulness And Serenity During Stressful Or Uncertain Times”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anne-Marie Emanuelli, creative director at Mindful Frontiers.

Anne-Marie Emanuelli brings over two decades of meditation experience as Creative Director at Mindful Frontiers. Mindful Frontiers welcomes a mindful future; one child, one family, one adult, one educator; one present-moment at a time. Mindful Frontiers offers meditation guidance through online courses, virtual meditation classes, videos and one-on-one coaching.

Semi-retired after 25 years as a classroom educator, Anne-Marie’s mindfulness teaching credentials include certificates from Mindful Schools and the 200-hour meditation leader certification program with Sage Institute for Creativity and Consciousness. Anne-Marie participates regularly in ongoing silent & online meditation retreats and is affiliated with the Mountain Cloud Zen Center and Rio Grande Mindfulness Institute in Santa Fe, NM.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

My path to becoming a mindfulness meditation teacher began 20 years ago when I sought out alternative health modalities to heal from a physical ailment that limited my quality of life. Meditation provided the spiritual and emotional support that helped me decide to seek medical intervention. Later, while teaching, I again turned to meditation to help deal with the grief of three student suicides. Mindful meditation became the self-care that I needed and students and teachers at my school benefitted from the guidance and expertise I willingly shared. Now that I am retired from teaching (my second career) my dedicated turns to the success of Mindful Frontier and its mission of welcoming a mindful future by teaching, guiding and coaching families, adults and teachers through meditation and mindfulness.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Last summer I retired from the career I’d had for over 25 years: classroom teaching. Since 2017, my dream has been to teach the life-changing practice of mindful meditation. I had decided to retire a long time before the pandemic hit and of course had no idea that the decision would be much more than a career change. As it has turned out, the pandemic fueled my passion even more and brought purpose and focus to my dream. So many people are experiencing mental health challenges during this uncertain time. I am grateful to have been able to create Mindful Frontiers, a virtual and infinite teaching space, to share mindful meditation with children, families, and adults. Years ago, I had no way of knowing that my dream would become essential to healing my community and the world. Mindful meditation is a tool to generate higher consciousness and may fuel the transformation of our society.

What advice would you give to other leaders about how to create a fantastic work culture?

I would recommend that leaders read Brené Brown’s book “Dare to Lead” and also listen to her podcast by the same name. She advocates that effective leaders nurture a culture that accepts vulnerability and growth. Also, “leading with” rather than “leading over”.

The transformation of our society through higher consciousness requires that we let go of the controlling ego and create a work culture based on human compassion. A healthy work culture starts with all people committing to working together towards a common vision for the enlightenment of society.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

One book that comes to mind is “Buddha in the Classroom” by Donna Quesada. It was given to me by a colleague when I first began exploring mindfulness in the context of teaching students. I had a personal meditation practice that dated back 20 years and had not thought about teaching others until 2016, when our school experienced the trauma of student suicides.

The book speaks to educators looking for ways to bring peace of mind to their teaching. Quesada uses Buddhist philosophy to explain challenges she encountered as a teacher. The stories fascinated and intrigued me. I knew very little about Buddhism or the historic traditions of meditation when I first read this book. I believe this book fueled my interest in bringing mindfulness into the classroom and ultimately to dream and then create Mindful Frontiers.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. From your experience or research, how would you define and describe the state of being mindful?

Mindful meditation is a life-long practice. It is a journey, not a destination.

Mindfulness is “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally” (Jon Kabat Zinn). The enlightened purpose of being mindful is to find peace in the here and now. Learning how to find this peace is a fabulous and worthwhile journey.

Once a person learns to meditate and makes the decision to incorporate mindfulness into their life, they generally realize the benefits extend far beyond a healing practice. It becomes a state of being and a lifestyle choice.

Whether it is to get through a difficult illness, grief of losing a loved one, or simply to carve out a daily moment of relaxation, everyone can benefit from meditation.

The benefits are plentiful and scientifically proven. A few of these include the ability to stay calm during emotional experiences, to be less reactive to behaviors, to listen more carefully to conversations, and to have compassion and empathy for self and others.

This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to spell this out. Can you share with our readers a few of the physical, mental, and emotional benefits of becoming mindful?

Mindful meditation is present moment awareness that trains the mind and body to relax.

  • Meditation quiets the mind and settles the nervous system. The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is a bodily system that determines how we respond to emotional experiences. It is made up of the sympathetic (SNS) and parasympathetic (PNS) nervous systems. These two systems are activated in times of arousal or recovery. By quieting the mind’s reactivity and calming down our attachment to emotional thoughts, we settle the fight or flight reactions of the SNS, thereby stimulating the PNS which helps our body and mind come back to homeostasis.
  • Another benefit of mindfulness is self-reflection and acceptance. When we practice mindful meditation, we pay attention to our breath, sounds, body sensations and other present-moment “anchors”. In this awareness, we are able to let go of emotions that control us; watching them from the perch of a witness or observer. In this way, we are able to learn that in this present moment all is well.
  • Finally, and maybe the most important benefit of mindful meditation is our relationship to equanimity. Through the act of observing what is in the present moment, using kindness and non-judgment, we realize that reality only happens in the here and now. We can accept, acknowledge and allow ourselves and our world through the lens of equanimity.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. The past 5 years have been filled with upheaval and political uncertainty. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the pandemic have only heightened a sense of uncertainty, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to develop mindfulness during such uncertain times? Can you please share a story or example for each.

  1. Establish a personal mindful meditation practice. Seek out meditation guidance and start practicing daily with short meditation sessions, increasing a minute or two each week until you can sit in mindful meditation for 15 minutes a day. From there, you can keep building on this practice until you are ready to attend an extended silent meditation retreat. These are invaluable for personal healing. There are many excellent meditation apps that can help kick-start a personal mindfulness practice. Mindful Frontiers offers virtual meditation circles, online courses, video guidance as well as one-on-one coaching and resources for the new ad seasoned meditator.
  2. Being of service to family or community: Find something you can do to help your family or community raise their consciousness towards positivity and love. Serving others is a healthy way to find peace and purpose in life. Volunteering in a non-profit or donating used clothing to charity are just a start.
  3. Physical movement or exercise: Move your body daily! Walking, hiking, jogging, biking, swimming, yoga, etc. This time can also be a form of mindful meditation, self-care and self-reflection. While exercising, we can practice awareness of our body, muscles, breathing, sounds, environment.
  4. Strengthening sleep to feel your best: Incorporating gratitude practice and body scans before bed can improve sleep quality and overall health. Write about what you are grateful for in a journal and do a body scan (apps can also help with this) to release and relax before going to sleep will enhance physical and spiritual wellness.
  5. Embrace creativity: create things that stimulate the mind and heart. Some ideas are: writing, learning a craft; documenting your life through drawing or scrapbooking; cooking and baking for your family and friends. These are some creative ways to bring mindfulness into daily activities. The pleasure of creating cannot be overstated.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. “Put your oxygen mask on first” before helping others. What this means is that in order to be in a healthy space to offer support to others, we need to feel good ourselves. Self-care is crucial. Learning how to handle our own anxiety will help us understand how to help others.
  2. Establish a mindful meditation practice for your well-being and share your experiences with friends and family. We are all feeling anxious during this uncertain time. Together we can improve our mental health and shift our consciousness. Mindful meditation is accessible to everyone.
  3. Learn about different kinds of meditation. From loving-kindness and compassion, Insight (vipassana) meditation, Zen Buddhism, to contemplative spiritual practices. From a place of knowledge and wisdom, we can more effectively share with others.
  4. Expand your mind. During this transformative time in our collective consciousness, the more we expand our knowledge and wisdom, the better off we will all be. Read inspiring books and listen to podcasts and teachings and enjoy the confidence and empowerment that comes from an expanding awareness.
  5. Reach out to young people. Youth are struggling during this uncertain time a lot more than adults realize. Children, teenagers and young adults have minds that are developing; being isolated from their peers and community is taking a significant toll on their mental health. Youth need adults around them who are healthy role models to help them understand how to embrace self-care, understand healthy media consumption, and make healthy choices. Share what you are learning and exploring with youth in your life with non-judgment and vulnerable courage.

What are the best resources you would suggest for someone to learn how to be more mindful and serene in their everyday life?

Incorporating mindful meditation into your life is a worthy endeavor. Simply wishing to be more mindful and serene is a blind resolution unless we take action. It takes guidance and commitment to establish a mindful meditation practice and is well worth the effort. Mindfulness is a lifestyle choice that has life-long benefits.

There are a plethora of resources available:

  • meditation apps are a good place to start
  • many meditation centers offer online retreats and teachings
  • Mindful Frontiers offers online meditation courses, virtual meditation guidance, video instruction, and one-on-one coaching (see links)
  • Commit to self-care: healthy eating, meditation, exercise, good sleep are the foundation of a healthy life.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Resilience and Perseverance” is my life’s motto.

Recently, I heard Simon Sinek (The Infinite Game) speak about “the infinite mindset versus the finite mindset.” The concept of infinity of mind explained why resilience and perseverance are so important in my life.

Everything I have accomplished in my half-century of life on Earth has come from an infinite mindset wherein resilience and perseverance led to the realization of many dreams. From a young age all the way to the present moment, all that I have accomplished has been because of determination and believing in the existence of infinite possibilities.

How did I do this? I believe it was by continuously asking, “Why?” “Why not?” “Why not try?” From physical healing to mental healing to professional accomplishments, resilience and perseverance have been the cornerstone of infinite possibilities.

And the vision of Mindful Frontiers also illustrates an infinite mindset: “Welcoming a mindful future; one child, one family, one adult, one educator; one present moment at a time.”

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Mindful meditation for youth is a movement I believe would have a positive impact on our world. By teaching families with young children the benefits of meditation and present moment awareness I believe the tools/skills learned and incorporated into their daily life would have a long-lasting impact. The reasons I wish to teach young people and their families meditation are:

  • to teach students about present-moment mindfulness-awareness.
  • to teach them that they aren’t judged by their thoughts, sensations, and feelings.
  • to show by example that mindfulness is a way to feel good about yourself, just as we are, in this present moment.
  • to model being happy, grateful, loved, peaceful.
  • to explain what it feels like to be confident yet relaxed.

The Dalai Lama once said, “If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” This quote reminded me that teaching mindful meditation and compassionate awareness to youth are ways to encourage a kinder future. I’ve had this idea for a while when contemplating future endeavors in mindfulness.

I’m curious whether teaching mindfulness-based calming practices would be a way to avoid school shootings in the future. What if one would-be gunner had learned mindfulness meditation, and if that child used meditation instead of guns to deal with stress, how many young lives would be saved?

How old is “old enough” to teach children mindfulness, meditation, contemplation of self in the moment? Surely, the very young can sit and color a mandala, walk a labyrinth and follow a finger labyrinth. Eventually, each child could learn to focus on breath, bodily sensations, internal feelings and as a result, benefit from a practice that would last a lifetime.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

web: Mindfulfrontiers.net

FB: @mindfulfrontiers

Instagram: @mindfulfrontiers

LinkedIn: Anne-Marie Emanuelli

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2_ITJgY4mI7U1feUDiDlpA

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!


Anne-Marie Emanuelli of Mindful Frontiers: How To Develop Mindfulness During Stressful Or… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Sheila Donohue of Vero On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

I have a lawyer I’m in touch with regularly. I’m a certified project manager from my banking tech days. I have a roadmap for my business and prefer things planned out. He gave me some advice referring to his own business which is that sometimes you have to expect things to be imperfect. You should just assume that it’s an imperfect world and work from there. This is my first time as an entrepreneur and that advice has been very important to me.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheila Donohue— Founder, CEO, and Sommelier of Vero.

Sheila is a New Yorker living in Italy for 20 years. After becoming a sommelier and getting to know hundreds of smaller producers with great tasting authentic products, but mainly unknown around the US, she decided to start ‘spreading the love’ by bringing these hidden gems from anywhere in the world direct to people who want to explore and experience more out of wine, food and life.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Before coming to Italy in 2001, I was into learning about wine (and food too). Having a full-time job in Fintech, was a side passion — and once I moved to Italy, it was easy to cultivate. But after marrying my Bolognese husband who is tied to Bologna, Italy for his job with his three-generation bakery, I was actually getting homesick and wanting to go back to the US. Though we talked about going back to the states, I eventually realized I wasn’t really going anywhere! So I threw myself into fueling my passion for wine and studying to become a sommelier. Upon getting certified, it set me off on exploring wine and food as a career.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Only one percent of the wineries in the US make it to your local store, so you can imagine that a small producer outside of the US has a very slim chance of their product being sold in the US. I know that there are a lot of small producers everywhere, not only in Italy, but also in other countries, and in the US. I’ve been convinced of small producers’ products and stories, their passion, and the good that they’re doing. There’s a demand for these hidden gems in the US. So I started a company that has a different business model that I didn’t find anyone doing two years ago, which is focusing on the end customer and selling direct-to-consumer and direct-to-trade, e.g., wine stores and restaurants. We’re opening up a category that was not available to people in the US in the past.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When you work in the wine industry, you have to spit out the wine you taste — and I learned why the hard way. When I was in sommelier school in Italy in 2006, that’s the one thing they didn’t teach us. As I started to dabble in the industry, I couldn’t help but get tipsy at tastings. This wasn’t great, as you need to still have your brain function to work! So I would have some embarrassing moments. I once gave my business card to a woman only to have her say, “you already gave me your card!” I had completely forgotten that we already talked. So I quickly taught myself how to taste and spit. Lesson learned!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

The person that comes immediately to mind is Helen Gallo, a friend of my friend’s sister-in-law and a wine expert in the US. Just as I have 30 years in banking tech, she has that experience in wine. She, like me, had some changes in her professional career around the same time that I did, in 2016–17. She’s been my mentor since then, and is a great sounding board. Back in my sabbatical year in 2017, she recommended trade events to attend where I met many producers and other wine industry professionals that helped form my vision for the business. Once I decided to move forward with the company, I ran things by her (and still do!) — like producers and products I’m thinking of importing, how much to import, and what to price them at. There are alot of moving parts in this industry and especially when you go it alone it can get overwhelming. Having a mentor like Helen is a huge help.

Another person that comes to mind is a client with a wine store in LA. Right when Covid-19 hit, I was pretty desperate because restaurant clients were suddenly canceling orders, or not paying at all. Wine stores stopped buying because no one knew what was happening. Many customers were as distraught as I was and were hard to get a hold of. This client, Jeff Bonafede, was there. He was responsive and transparent, and ready to jump in and help as soon as he could. When I had an idea to do a virtual event together in April 2020, he immediately said yes. In my previous job, I was in charge of marketing and did many virtual events on the B2B side. This enabled me to get up and running quickly to do virtual tastings, and having this loyal client participate in the first one was just what we needed to get going. Throughout the past year, Jeff has continued to be really supportive of Vero and our producers.

Whether it’s someone like Helen who’s a mentor that I interact with often, or it’s Jeff who is supportive during challenges in running a wine business, these two have been a great inspiration to me.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

I think disruption is usually a good thing when it has a positive intent. One of the current disruptions in the wine industry, which is an emphasis on organic, biodynamic, and natural wines, has the best of both worlds — it is changing the landscape for wine, but it still uses methods that have “withstood the test of time,” as you said.

Natural wine is a disruptor because it’s made in a very genuine way. To give some context, I was teaching at the CIA recently and a professor mentioned that in the US you can add up to 200 ingredients to wine without having to disclose that on the label. That’s a huge eye-opener and shows that you don’t know what you’re getting when you buy wine. There is wine made and sold all over the US that has aspects that aren’t good for you, and some people do complain about not feeling good the next day and can’t figure out why. It happens to me too. Most wine in the store is a mystery; you don’t know what’s in it. The approach is to make wine like Coca Cola. I’ve seen it firsthand, there is a tinkering process that happens at commercial wineries. Two producers, I work with, Antonella Manuli and Lorenzo Corino, came up with a method for making natural wine which is going back to basics. Using grapes that have historically been in that area, working the soil a lot, not adding chemicals, and keeping it vegan. Lorenzo said the land should be like the forest floor, there should be leaves and waste covering the ground. That is how things used to be, yet it is now considered disruptive.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

1. I have a lawyer I’m in touch with regularly. I’m a certified project manager from my banking tech days. I have a roadmap for my business and prefer things planned out. He gave me some advice referring to his own business which is that sometimes you have to expect things to be imperfect. You should just assume that it’s an imperfect world and work from there. This is my first time as an entrepreneur and that advice has been very important to me.

2. My husband has been an entrepreneur his whole life, along with his family. They are small business owners. I spoke to him recently about a problem with a supplier. As a bakery owner, he has many suppliers and has been dealing with them for years. Thinking he would lend a sympathetic ear, instead, he told me to just suck it up! He started to rant about his difficulties with suppliers and many other issues he faces, like with cash flow, tax burdens, bureaucracy. While I do believe it’s important to listen to yourself when you are stressed because that stress is your mind telling your body that there is something to detangle, at the same time I have to learn to not overdramatize when problems occur since this is ‘business as usual’.

3. This isn’t advice per se but more of a challenge that emerged recently when speaking with Adam Teeter of Vinepair, a prominent wine media company. I spoke about how right after Covid-19 hit there was a webinar among the big players in the Italian wine industry. It was an intimidating audience. One of the speakers said we need to shorten the go-to-market journey for wine producers and I thought, duh, that’s what my company does. That’s how we came about, to streamline the whole process, from import to marketing and sales. Adam asked if I said anything in that moment and I hadn’t, so that challenged me to speak up for myself in the future. I tend to be shy about my business as a newcomer but to his point, I need to be more vocal.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I created a marketplace with Vero. We have the suppliers, small producers and buyers. It’s like one platform with supply meeting demand. The next area of disruption is to disrupt the back office behind my business and to help other players in the market to benefit from that as well. Tapping into my 30 years of experience working in technology, I’m working on a software platform.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

It is harder for women in the wine industry specifically, because it is predominantly male. This is true about many industries, so I think the challenges I’ve faced may be familiar to others as well.

I’m thinking of that webinar. There was one woman producer involved, but she didn’t have an important role. There are more women in wine than in banking tech, which is saying a lot. But still — the wine industry tends to be an old boys network. I remember someone telling me in my sabbatical year that you have to have thick skin to survive in the wine industry. It is tough but a different type of tough than banking and technology, which is more political and can involve backstabbing. I remember going to the American distributor association conference three years ago, and they have the biggest lobby controlling how wine and alcohol get sold in the US. I heard a lot of talks about how we’ve been in this business since prohibition. There were posters at the entrance with women models to attract people to the conference, which assumes the attendees are male. Things have changed since then and the head of the organization is now a woman.

That’s exciting because having more women alongside you in an industry can definitely help build confidence. One of my demons is having the confidence that I need to be able to say something; the fear of failure. If there’s a certain setting where I feel more comfortable I’ll speak up. When I did an Instagram live interview recently, I trusted the woman who was interviewing me and was in a setting where I felt I could share and not be judged so I got vulnerable and delved into my personal journey to creating Vero. Hopefully, my openness can then also help encourage other women as well.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

I read a lot of articles and there was a WSJ article from January 6 titled How to Stop the Negative Chatter in Your Head. It spoke about how most of the day we’re talking to ourselves and don’t even know it. It was timely reading this article because I realized that for quite a while now, at least five years, I don’t listen to music much because I need to hear my own thoughts, and music tends to be a distraction for me. Given that I’m steering this company and constantly busy and stressed, I feel like I really need to listen to what my mind is saying. That made an impact because it also talked about how we were all really challenged by negative chatter and that for so many being impacted by Covid-19 or being forced to be alone a lot, that has increased the self chatter. The article gave advice on how to deal with it. I realized that I was already doing some of the things suggested, i.e. to create order around you. A couple of weeks ago I started organizing my office — even though I was busy I felt I needed to. It also spoke of rituals to help cope with stress; I’m a practicing Catholic, I’m spiritual, and rely a lot on spirituality. There are scriptures of the bible that I will remember in stressful situations.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In a country as large as America, many businesses are successful because they’re able to reach high volume, economies of scale. That goes against small businesses and artisanal and unique things. I so often hear statistics in the wine industry about a reduction in the number of small producers. The reason for starting my business is to be a bridge between these artisans and the final consumer. It’s not easy because it’s hard to have economies of scale with small production wine but I think that small businesses are built on authenticity and a personal touch. Having ecosystems like Vero to help small businesses is what we need more of in the world. With Covid-19, I read how it hurt a lot of small businesses, such as restaurants. My movement is to shorten the go-to-market distance for small producers and help people to find, learn about, and buy their products. I fear that if the movement isn’t a success, these precious producers will just disappear.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“God didn’t give us the spirit of timidity, but the spirit of power, love, and self-discipline,” 2 Timothy 1:7. My college roommate was an engineering major who liked to party and study hard. I shared this verse and it helped her get through the challenges of college life. It relates to the WSJ article I mentioned earlier about how we need rituals to focus and deal with stress and things that work against us. It is something that comes to mind automatically as a survival mechanism when I’m under stress.

How can our readers follow you online?

Website: verovinogusto.com

IG: @verovinogusto

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!


Female Disruptors: Sheila Donohue of Vero On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women Leading The Cannabis Industry: Why you should not ‘go it alone’ With Dana E.

Women Leading The Cannabis Industry: Why you should not ‘go it alone’ With Dana E. Shoched of O2VAPE

Build a good team with people whose skill sets are complementary. Too many CEOs think they can go it alone, but growing a company requires more than one person alone can provide — and it’s only getting more competitive. From your sales team to a good controller to SEO and social media experts etc, you need every piece of the puzzle to be successful.

As a part of my series about strong women leaders in the cannabis industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dana E. Shoched.

Dana is the founder, president, and CEO of O2VAPE, a vaping product manufacturer for consumers and wholesalers. Her company makes the patented Flip Ultra pen. A proud veteran, Dana served in the United States Navy, where she learned the value of service and strong leadership. She has held numerous roles in the pharmaceutical industry, healthcare, and sales in the private sector, where she was often one of the only women in the room. Dana left the corporate world to blaze her trail when she founded O2VAPE out of her garage in 2013.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis industry?

One of my previous careers was in pharmaceuticals, and that opened my eyes to the power of more natural medicines. When I learned that Michigan had a caregiver program for cannabis, I became a registered grower to help patients. While I was doing that, I took on a side gig selling vape pens and realized the vaping industry’s potential to reach more people. Eventually, I realized I could do it on my own, so I bought the name O2VAPE. It was my first solo entrepreneurial endeavor. I didn’t know I could be a CEO, but I knew I could hustle and that I could bring together some great people to do business the right way. I’m so proud to say it’s paying off and we’re a multi-million-dollar company now.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first started O2VAPE, I’d bend over backwards trying to please anyone I thought was a potential customer, just hoping I’d get some business. Even if the person was being a complete pain in the you-know-what. And I used to beat myself up trying to keep those clients and make them happy. Eventually I realized I was banging my head against the wall for someone who didn’t respect me, my business or my staff, and instead I needed to be able to let them go. So now we gently put the concept out there when we go over proposals to new clients whether big or small, letting them know that if they’re not ready or don’t feel good about our proposal, just let us know and we can part ways, no hard feelings. It’s so much better to work with people who respect the business relationship.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

My first foray into cannabis (besides smoking it) was growing as a registered caregiver in Michigan. One day our indoor cooling system for the hydroponic grow facility bit the dust in the middle of a polar vortex and the tech couldn’t fix it for a few days. So, even though it was frigid outside, inside we had a heat problem. But hey, I’m an entrepreneur, it’s Michigan, and we have snow and lots of it. There I was, all bundled up, shoveling one bucket at a time and hefting those things inside. Every bucket that was cooling our plants ensured our business and plants didn’t die, ironically all because it was too hot in a Michigan winter!

Do you have a funny story about how someone you knew reacted when they first heard you were getting into the cannabis industry?

I am not and never have been in the “cannabis closet” — I will tell anyone who will listen to me about how powerful this plant can be and how it can help people. One time I struck up a conversation with a perfect stranger in Costco discussing Ohio’s ballot initiative about decriminalizing marijuana. Next thing I know, it’s 45 minutes later and my ice cream is melting!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I started O2VAPE from my garage, and I didn’t have much more than my own grit. There were times I think we had just $100 in sales, but I always had a few close friends and family who I trusted and who believed in me. More than once I found myself sitting in my financial consultant’s office when it seemed like nothing was working, wondering if it was all worth it. He told me, “You’re the hardest working person I know. If anyone can do this, you can.” Hearing that from someone I admire and respect, and from a few other family members and close friends, really meant something, and it helped me keep going.

Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I’m always a fan of partnerships that are a win-win-win, so I’m excited about a vape battery we’re co-branding with Redemption and Driven Grow, two more great brands out of Michigan where a percentage of proceeds go directly to the Last Prisoner Project. I’m very proud of how O2VAPE is working to lead the way in ensuring that community impact and social issues stay front of mind.

Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Despite great progress that has been made we still have a lot more work to do to achieve gender parity in this industry. According to this report in Entrepreneur, less than 25 percent of cannabis businesses are run by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender parity moving forward?

This is an area where we can all broaden our minds about the biases and perceptions we all have that we might not know about. Three things I think we could all challenge ourselves on are:

  • Are we supporting the bias that “sex sells”, or can we work outside that outdated box?
  • Are we subconsciously keeping women in gendered roles? Today, women are growers, women are lab directors, security directors, and obviously, CEOs, but we need more parity in all areas. Let’s check our unconscious biases.
  • And even for women’s advocacy groups, are we welcoming people who aren’t like us, or are we leaving allies out?

You are a “Cannabis Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the cannabis industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.

  • Be part of your broader community. Because this industry is growing and evolving so quickly, business leaders should get involved. Policy makers who are creating regulations and standards need to hear from us. I work with the American Society for Testing and Materials because I want to have a say about the standards set for the products I sell, and it’s important to me that my customers know how much I care about what they’re buying.
  • Think outside the box for how you can help other people. I believe in the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility, so we support The Last Prisoner Project as much as we can. And when the pandemic hit, I turned to my overseas partners and together we have brought in tons of PPE. It’s making a huge difference for the healthcare workers and first responder communities in Michigan, Ohio, and many other parts of the country.
  • Be mentally ready to pivot. From regulatory changes to supply chain interruptions, this industry keeps throwing hurdles at you and you might have no idea how to plan six months out, let alone for the next year. Just accept that and save yourself some time to get to the solution faster.
  • Build a good team with people whose skill sets are complementary. Too many CEOs think they can go it alone, but growing a company requires more than one person alone can provide — and it’s only getting more competitive. From your sales team to a good controller to SEO and social media experts etc, you need every piece of the puzzle to be successful.
  • And if you’re developing a product or idea, get your intellectual property protected with a good lawyer from the very beginning, well before you go to market. That also includes doing your research when it comes to naming your company, so you don’t accidentally commit to a name that’s already being used.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the cannabis industry?

As a Navy veteran, it really matters to me that cannabis is something which can help veterans heal from PTSD and cope with everyday life. It’s also pretty motivating to be able to shape how an emerging industry is evolving and have a say in the regulations and standards that get developed. And as a business owner, the growth opportunity to reach new customers is really exciting.

Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?

I really admire the advocacy work that’s been done to get us to this point where cannabis is on the verge of being federally legal, especially the work by groups like the Last Prisoner Project to see restorative justice carried out. Now I would call for financial reform and business protection. It’s been tough for many folks to make money just because banks can close accounts on a whim even if you’re an ancillary operation. There’s so little recourse or even insurance options, and that really impacts people’s livelihoods. I’d also like to see more cooperation among businesses and less “tit for tat” stuff that’s just totally counterproductive to building a legitimate industry. Collectively we have a lot to offer the economy, so let’s get out of our own way and play nice.

What are your thoughts about federal legalization of cannabis? If you could speak to your Senator, what would be your most persuasive argument regarding why they should or should not pursue federal legalization?

At the end of the day, cannabis is a plant, it’s natural. It needs to be regulated, but it wasn’t put here to harm us, and we have a responsibility to do the research and tap into the many, many ways it can help people who are suffering — and let those who want to have fun to be safe about it. We need to get our act together to create safety standards for consumer products, ensure reliable access to business banking and insurance, enforcement of contracts, etc. These things support job creation. And we need to protect opportunities for small and mid-size businesses — don’t let Big Pharma completely take over this industry.

Today, cigarettes are legal, but they are heavily regulated, highly taxed, and they are somewhat socially marginalized. Would you like cannabis to have a similar status to cigarettes or different? Can you explain?

Cannabis is very different from cigarettes and should be treated as such, simply because cigarettes do no good and cannabis does no harm. On the medical side, we need to be thinking therapeutically and ensure people have access to something that can help them. In terms of the vaping industry, the consumer base is much more (but not solely) recreational, and I look more to the alcohol industry for a model but really cannabis needs its own parameters. Just look at how liquor stores and marijuana dispensaries were deemed “essential services” that should remain open during the covid-19 lockdowns.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Zig Ziglar said, “Doing your best is more important than being the best.” At the end of the day, even if I didn’t win that contract or I’ve got customers who insist on being upset, if I know I did my best, I can go to sleep at night, then get up and do it all again tomorrow.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

There is this notion in the business world that the only way to achieve success is by “beating” everyone. I don’t believe that. I’m as competitive as the next person, but if there is one thing we need more of in our industry, and frankly our world, it’s the idea that there’s enough room for everyone at the table. Helping others to build a better place will benefit each of us. Even small actions working in collaboration from many individuals make a difference. Inspiring other cannabis professionals not to be in the “cannabis closet” but instead find ways to show the positive impact we can make each day in our own communities, and that there can be enough for all of us — that would be something great to inspire.

Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you only continued success!


Women Leading The Cannabis Industry: Why you should not ‘go it alone’ With Dana E. was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.