Women In Wellness: Annemiek van Helsdingen on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support…

Women In Wellness: Annemiek van Helsdingen on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Ask ‘And what would you like to have happen?’ You probably know that ‘assume makes an ass out of u and me’. But most people have no idea how quickly we assume things. So when someone talks about their experience of a situation, ask ‘and what would you like to have happen?’ before you start answering, helping or giving advice. Ask it even if you think you know or should know the answer. This is a very empowering practice for both of you.

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Annemiek van Helsdingen, the Founder and CEO of the Academy for Soul-based Coaching. Annemiek brings 20+ years of corporate change facilitation and executive coaching, 15 yrs of teaching coaches, and her priestess background to offer coach training that is 100% aligned with the Sacred Feminine ~ deeply powerful and magical. This magic is rooted in rigorous methodologies that result in practical real-life results. Soul-based Coach training has been happening live online for over 5 years. Annemiek is also happily married, mom of an amazing 9-yr old and lover of strawberries, and much more.

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?

I started as an eager MBA graduate and it took me just four years to work myself into a proper burn-out. With all that I learned from that, I decided to go out on my own and ran a successful corporate change agency with two partners. We were breaking the mold of how to help organisations achieve sustainable change. Change that actually lasts and isn’t dependent on outside consultants to come in and make it happen. It was work I loved doing and I felt like the proverbial fish in the water.

But after I’d birthed my daughter, my immune system went into a tail-spin and I was forced to leave all that I had built behind. I struggled to make it up the stairs and had severe brain fog (and learned that that was an actual technical term). But I was far too driven to just sit at home and watch the world go by, even with very little energy.

This is when I learned that the only way I could do something and not end up back in bed, was to listen very closely to my soul’s nudges. This wasn’t easy, because my mind works fast and sees so many opportunities. I had to learn to pace myself in a completely different way. Reorient my compass.

But through that, I found what I am here to do. I was called to bring together my 20+ years experience of corporate change work and executive coaching with 20+ years of my own spiritual development. And eventually that led to the birth of Soul-based Coaching, and being a pioneer in online live teaching (going strong after 5 years of experience!). And now my work rippled out to 1000+ students and coaching clients, in over 20 countries worldwide.

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?

It’s probably how I waited for three years, after starting the Academy for Soul-based Coaching, before telling my network on LinkedIn what I was up to. I just ignored that option — because I was scared to come out of the ‘woo’ closet. These fears went far beyond my personal situation, it was a reflection of the patterns that we are born into. ‘Woo’ is not professional. ‘They won’t take me seriously’.

The funny part was that me ‘coming out’ was irrelevant for a large part of my former corporate network — as it would be. And that I received so many emails from others to congratulate me, share their stories and tell me they were not surprised at all!

The biggest takeaway for me was that spirituality is becoming mainstream fast now, and that the people you are meant to serve are the ones that get to determine the worth of your offerings. There is no need to hide!

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?

Waiting for outside confirmation. Even though I was birthing a new paradigm coaching methodology, I kept pausing to check in with former mentors, teachers and other executive coaches who firmly stood in the old paradigm. It took me a while to realize I was waiting for something that was inherently not going to happen.

Breaking the mold here, by myself, meant that I had to learn to trust my inner knowing and inner compass to a whole new degree. It was a lesson that was worth learning and continues to inspire me to this day.

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?

There are so many! Mentors, teachers and friends… But if I have to choose one, it’s my husband. The way he always stood by me and believed in me has made all the difference. He was there when things looked dire health-wise, he has sacrificed so many hours giving tech support, and always is completely there for our daughter when I need to fully focus on something for work. He truly is my rock and partner in crime.

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?

We live in societies where there is very little invitation left to connect with and live from your Soul knowing.

There is a prevalence of the logical mind as the one who is in control and responsible to make things happen. For example, our educational systems are set up in this way. And there are very strong dogmas, where outside authority tells us what is right and wrong, and how to live.

And this goes contrary to human nature. Each and every one of us has been given their own connection with deep wisdom. With the pulse of life. This is where there is literally a treasure trove of wisdom, insight and potential waiting for you.

And all you need to do is reconnect to your soul knowing, and know how to navigate that space. And this is what we teach our coaches, and help our clients do.

So that we can live happier, more fulfilled lives. So that we can reclaim our full power. And so that we can stop trying to use the old paradigms to answer our current questions. And instead dive into our greatest potential and allow new answers to come through.

And that’s both for the personal (How can I offer my gifts in the world, Where do I find my next job, How can I attract the partner I long for) and for the big questions of our time (like division, extraction culture, ecological destruction, climate change, the system of white supremacy).

Because our souls have a road map for us. And that is so incredibly exciting and promising!!

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.

A walk in the forest as often as possible is fantastic soul medicine. The Japanese call is ‘forest bathing’ and this is where I get my absolute best soul-inspired ideas.

Make sure you get enough sleep. The world looks completely different when you do. I really wish I’d known this as a teenager with depression.

Hold space for yourself. Practice bringing attention to what you are experiencing — but without getting lost in your thoughts about that experience. Just 3 minutes of feeling your breath and noticing the sensations in your body are a great place to start. Holding Space for yourself is the foundation for a soulful, nourishing and impactful life. If you like, you can download a meditation that guides you to do that.

Learn to listen. Really listen. Most people listen only to the degree that they need input to be able to think of their response. Give other people time to express their thoughts. Notice how their words affect you. Then pause and respond.

Ask ‘And what would you like to have happen?’ You probably know that ‘assume makes an ass out of u and me’. But most people have no idea how quickly we assume things. So when someone talks about their experience of a situation, ask ‘and what would you like to have happen?’ before you start answering, helping or giving advice. Ask it even if you think you know or should know the answer. This is a very empowering practice for both of you.

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

First of all — I am teaching as many people as possible to facilitate soul-based change. It’s powerful and practical to use in coaching, but also in all your relationships and where you work and communicate with people.

And I would teach all school kids to hold space for each other and themselves. That would change the world radically.

They would learn to be with their human experience in the moment, fully seeing and feeling it and knowing that that moment is not ‘it’, that experience changes over time. Even as seconds, minutes go past. Learning to have compassion and empathy for themselves and others. Seeing how we are the same and unique. Learning to stop ‘othering’ by seeing everyone as human.

The simple practice of holding space is at the foundation of our work in Soul-based coaching, and just 6 minutes makes a world of difference. It leaves you seen, acknowledged, loved, more in connection with yourself, more accepting, and often actually changed because you unhooked from your familiar thinking loops so that something more beneficial could start to happen within you.

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

Take plenty of rest: I’m an achiever, I love working hard for the things I believe in, and seeing them come to fruition. So I can forget to factor in enough play time and rest. I’ve come to learn that it is essential to keep showing up for my vision and calling, but it took more than just a burn-out to get there!

Time is your friend: I can easily see what is possible in business, and that’s why I also tend to expect things to happen quickly. Now that I’m almost 50, I’m starting to see that divine timing isn’t just an excuse. There’s an art to co-creating with life, setting intentions and taking inspired action. Good things are already on their way.

You can literally infuse everything you do with love and appreciation: as an achiever, I was always focussed on getting things done, and spending a lot of time on figuring out the how-to’s. In the beginning, that meant that even though it was a soul-infused business, I could forget about that when I worked my to-do list. Things really started to shift when I learned to do every action with love and appreciation. Even the crappy things.

Money is a force of good: For more spiritually inclined people, there can be a lot of hang-ups around money and how money is used to serve self-interest and to support the destruction of our natural world and democracies. But money itself is just energy. Powerful energy. By refusing to learn to yield its power, you lose the opportunity to be a force of good in the world.

You are needed: Each and every one of us brings a unique package of skill and talents. And we need you exactly as you are. There are no mistakes. And all it takes to play your part is to show up as you are.

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

Sustainability for sure, because it covers all of them. If we are to build a healthier society and world, we need to become aware of the way our actions impact others, impact the environment and impact our own health.

Something I’m passionate about is minimising the amount of ‘stuff’ we buy. When I buy something, I’ll ask myself: how long will I enjoy it? When it’s a gift: ‘am I sure this won’t end up in a landfill?’.

And I love the conscious practice of appreciating where things come from, how they were made, who made them, as part of the buying process. If you do buy an item, it becomes so much more meaningful when you know that it was made in a sustainable way, that the person making it was rewarded beautifully and that it has only travelled as far as is needed.

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

Join us in our free Community for Soul-based Coaching group on Facebook, and follow me on Instagram. I love hearing from you.


Women In Wellness: Annemiek van Helsdingen on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support… 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: Author Amy Herrig On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior…

Women Of The C-Suite: Author Amy Herrig On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

I wish someone had told me how hard it would be to be the “bad guy” at times — as an employer and leader of a company I have to often make the decisions that involve an employee losing their job or some other negative situation. It weighs heavy on my heart, and then people get angry with me, which I understand, but it’s the very unfortunate part of my job

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Amy Herrig.

Amy Herrig is an entrepreneur, businesswomen and author that currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her family. Amy always new that eventually she would follow in her fathers entrepreneurial footsteps and has done just that for many years. Along with her father, she ran a multi-million dollar business, lived in a $2 million dollar Spanish Colonial home, raveled and owned vacation homes.

In addition, she just recently decided to add author to her resume and released new her book called “No More Dodging Bullets: A Memoir about Faith, Love, Lessons, and Growth.” Which dives deep into Amy’s personal life and tells the traumatic story about how with one bad business decision Amy found her life turned upside down. But was also able to turn things around and become a better person and businesswomen because of it.

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?

My father has always been an entrepreneur, and after I graduated from college, I had various jobs, but I think I always knew in the back of my head I would eventually join my father in in his entrepreneurial endeavors. I became an author as a result of my family’s interesting story and history in business and decided it was a story I wanted to share with the world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began down this path?

The last 7 years of my life have been the most interesting and even traumatic. Due to a business decision we made that in hindsight was a very poor decision, we found our businesses in a huge legal mess and we had to fight very hard to save them from being completely lost forever. It’s been a huge learning experience and has made me a better person, employer and businesswoman, and it’s been “interesting” to say the least.

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

I’ve made so many mistakes over the years that it’s hard to think of just one story or a specific example. I think in general though I’ve learned to pause and think before I speak and not make rash decisions or emotional decisions. I think learning to separate my emotions from business has been an ongoing lesson and challenge, however, sometimes it’s good to bring emotions into business (to a certain extent) because it brings the human aspect into decisions and even in business we need to remember we are still dealing with human beings and there is a right and wrong way to treat people.

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?

As a result of our legal troubles, we needed a lot of help and support in many ways, and we were very fortunate to have several people who showed us grace and did things that made it possible for us to continue in business, such as extending terms on debts, making introductions and helping us network with banks and other entities that could greatly help us. I’ve really learned a great deal about how important it is to connect with the right people for the right reasons and how we are all in this world together and we really need to help one another.

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 try to begin every day with at least 15 to 20 minutes of yoga and meditation and exercise (running, walking, etc.). It really makes a huge difference in my mindset for the day. Also, I am adamant about making my bed every day. This starts my day off organized and I feel like I’ve already accomplished something for the day, no matter what else happens that day. It may sound trivial, but it really helps. The way we start our day sets the tone for the entire day, so I think it’s very important. Immediately before I have to do something stressful at work (like have a meeting that could be negative or volatile), I take a couple of minutes to breathe and focus on something positive and what I hope to accomplish from the interaction.

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?

We have always been very diversified in our companies, and I think that is so crucial to overall success. Having diversification helps to bring a thorough yet also unique perspective to situations and decisions, and it’s important that all cultures and lifestyles are considered when companies are making high-level decisions that affect many different people. The only way to be able to properly consider people from different backgrounds and cultures is to have them all represented in the decision-making process.

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.

Years ago I would have said that we should not see color when we look at someone. I was raised to believe we are all the same, regardless of race or culture. I truly believed that, and I still want to believe that we are all the same, but really what we should all believe and hope for is that we are equal, which is different than being the same. We aren’t all the same. We have different life experiences and backgrounds, and those are often tied to our race. Many years ago (in my early twenties) I was visiting with a coworker over lunch, and she was black. I was very proud to tell her that I wasn’t racist at all, I was raised to believe we are all the same, regardless of the color of our skin. She promptly corrected me and told her that while she appreciated my acceptance of all it was naïve of me to think we are all the same. Her life experiences were very different than mine and they had greatly impacted her life. That was my first realization that to truly have equality and inclusiveness we can’t just say “hey we are all the same and I don’t look at someone’s race as a factor.” It is very much a factor and recognizing that and respecting and trying to understand how someone’s race has affected and impacted their life is crucial to finding equality. You can’t truly accept someone until you understand where they’ve come from.

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

The most important thing I think I do is employ people. That is a huge responsibility because it means many people depend on me and the decisions I make. It’s not just our employees who depend on their jobs — it’s their family members too, so it becomes a very large circle. I have always appreciated our employees and the environment we foster that has been in place for years — we are like a big family and we are fortunate to have many employees who have been with us for 10+ years. But when we had our legal problems it became very apparent (and scary) how many people had their entire lives and livelihood put at risk because of our poor decisions. I realized the true enormity of the responsibility I had to countless people and what a privilege it is to have that responsibility but it also requires being very mindful and diligent when making decisions because the net is cast very wide for how many people my decisions can affect, good or bad.

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

I think some people think that I don’t have to answer to anyone because it’s my company. I can take time off whenever I want and I don’t have to be accountable to anyone. It is true that I can set my own schedule to a degree, but I never stop working. I’ve taken one vacation in 16 years where I didn’t have phone access (for 2 days). I’m always on call and always available, even if I’m thousands of miles away. Yes, I’ve almost always been able to attend my kids’ school events, we take trips when we want and I don’t have to get my vacation or time off “approved” by anyone, and those are nice perks, but I’m also never “unplugged.” Running your own company is like being a parent — you’re never fully relieved of your duties.

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

Women are naturally more emotional than most men. I think we still live in a world where a woman who gets emotional is seen as weak or a “B” (I’ll leave off the rest of that word). If men get “emotional” they are often seen as strong or powerful. Women are seen as “emotional.” I also think that no matter how far we’ve come with the idea of “stay at home dads” or households where both parents work, the ultimate responsibility of the household and children still seems to fall on the woman, and that does mean juggling a lot more between family and career than men do.

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

When I first went to work with my father, I was only going to work part-time and still be at home with my kids part-time (they were 18 months). I went to work with him because I wanted to be familiar with the family businesses and participate but didn’t think I would become as involved as I did. My father predicted I would end up diving in and doing more than I planned. He was right. As stressful as it is at times, my work and our companies also bring me so much joy and is such a part of my identity and who I am, and I don’t think I ever expected that.

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?

You have to be multi-faceted and accepting that every day is different and there isn’t always structure or routine. We are considered a small business (just over 100 employees for all our companies combined), so I think I’m more hands on in some ways than an executive of a large company may be. That means that almost every day I’m presented with some task, problem, or challenge that has to be dealt with that nobody else can do or I’m at least asked to give advice on how to handle it. My job isn’t 9 to 5, and I don’t have a set list of tasks every day that I accomplish and then get to go home and not think about work until the next day. So, if someone wants to be an executive or have their own company, they must be willing to take on any task themselves but also lead and delegate when appropriate but also know that the work never really ends and rarely do you get to say “I’m not thinking about work again until tomorrow.”

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

Even though women can be viewed as too emotional (as I discussed in the question above), I think that is also an asset. There is nothing wrong with caring, and I think it helps employees feel valued when they know their employer genuinely cares. The biggest issue for me though with this is setting boundaries because there’s a fine line between caring as an employer and then caring too much from a personal standpoint, which can muddy the waters at times professionally. Also, women need to know that we can do anything we can set our minds to. I’m an only child so I was the only one that my father could leave the business to, and not once has he ever made me feel that I was limited in life because I’m a woman.

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

I now run a nonprofit called Hopeful Tuesdays that is a daytime outreach program providing food and services to the homeless in our neighborhood. We run it in the back of our corporate office/warehouse. We have been able to even hire some of our program attendees at our company and helped them transition off the streets. I didn’t always make business decisions that were good for my community, but I learned some very valuable lessons and realized that I have the blessings and opportunity to give back and live a life with kindness and that’s my biggest focus in life these days.

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

I wish someone had told me how hard it would be to be the “bad guy” at times — as an employer and leader of a company I have to often make the decisions that involve an employee losing their job or some other negative situation. It weighs heavy on my heart, and then people get angry with me, which I understand, but it’s the very unfortunate part of my job

I wish someone had told me how all consuming running a company could be. I don’t think it would have changed my decision to begin working with my father, but I was definitely naïve about how much time is truly needed to properly manage businesses.

I wish someone had told me that it’s okay to not always know the answer. There was a time when I was new in my role (and probably kind of insecure) and I wanted to portray an image of knowing it all, and sometimes the wisest thing a person can say is “I don’t know but I’m going to find out.”

I wish someone had told me that if a business decision looks too good to be true (you’re going to make lots of money really quickly with minimal effort) then it probably is too good to be true, and not only is it too good to be true but it’s probably a bad decision that could get you in trouble. There’s a reason that “get rich quick schemes” are called “schemes.” I think deep down I already knew that lesson/philosophy but I let greed cloud my judgment.

I wish someone had told me that all I had to do to prove myself as a valuable leader was work hard, be a team player and make decisions that were good for everyone, not just decisions that resulted in making a bunch of money. Once again, I think I knew that deep down, but I got lost for a bit and thought that being a good leader meant making as much money as possible, and that actually has nothing to do with being a good leader. A good leader leads by example and makes decisions that are good for the overall welfare and longevity of the company and its employees, as well as the community.

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.

I wish we could all just focus more on love and kindness and remember that we are all different, but we need to embrace those differences and remember we all really want the same things — to be happy and to be loved and appreciated. We spend so much time labeling and judging that we forget we are all human beings and we are all in this thing called life together and it’s a symbiotic relationship rather we recognize that or not. Every action has a reaction and every choice and decision we make affects someone else. So, I guess I wish there was a “movement” or at least more discussion about this type of mindset. I wish we could focus on what we can do by working together instead of constantly finding reasons to not work together. I wish we could focus on more positivity — negativity breeds negativity and positivity breeds positivity and we need to breed positivity.

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

“To know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived here, this is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. I didn’t always think of life this way and I didn’t always think about how my actions could affect everyone around me and even the world at large, but I know now that the greatest success we can have comes from being kind and helping one another and that should be our ultimate goal in life. Kindness spreads, it’s like a spark that begins a fire and kindness is contagious and can be the spark that starts change in a group, the community, the country and the world.

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, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them!

I’m sure any person who’s written a book or is hoping to spread their message always thinks of meeting Oprah, and she’s always been at the top of my list. She has been an inspiration to so many and her words and message have always been uplifting and thought provoking for me.


Women Of The C-Suite: Author Amy Herrig 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.

Female Disruptors: Sarah Palmer of BRANWYN Performance Innerwear On The Three Things You Need To…

Female Disruptors: Sarah Palmer of BRANWYN Performance Innerwear On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

“Do whatever floats your boat and when it stops floating your boat, stop doing it.” This is something my mom has always told me. It’s in the same vein as “life is short, so do what makes you happy.” I think a lot of us grew up with the notion that everything has to be a struggle, that success does not come without painful sacrifice, and that work isn’t meant to be fun. If I ever find myself feeling like I’m stuck and miserable, I remind myself of this and ask myself, “What am I getting out of being stuck and miserable?” Oftentimes the answer to that questions tells me exactly what I need to know.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Palmer.

Sarah Palmer is the Co-Founder and Creative Director of BRANWYN, whose groundbreaking Performance Innerwear is shaking up the active underwear industry. Sarah leveraged her extensive background in fashion and wellness to introduce something that had yet to be seen in the performance space: underwear made by active women for active women, using biodegradable merino wool. Today, Sarah uses her business and her platform to empower all woman to unleash their inner power and go after what they want in 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?

Oh, where do I begin! I have a bit of a “hummingbird” backstory. In college I majored in architecture, but during my senior year I realized I wanted to work in fashion. When I graduated in 2010, I moved to NYC and worked as a Design Assistant for a dress line. Around the same time, my interests in plant-based foods and alternative medicine were also starting to blossom as I addressed my own health and wellness issues. Being a young 20-something, with a “if I hate it, I can do something else” mentality, I decided to leave my job in fashion and try something new. I went to culinary school and eventually moved to the West Coast to pursue a degree in Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr — all while working in luxury retail to pay the bills…and to stay close to fashion.

To make a very long story short, when I got into grad school after completing my pre-med work, I realized that I wasn’t 110% sold on a career as a Naturopathic Doctor. I deferred and got a job as an assistant buyer at Zulilly to better understand the merchandising side of fashion, another area of the business that I had been drawn to along with design. Over the next 8 months, it became clear to me that medicine wasn’t for me and that there had to be some way to explore all my interests in one career. So I closed the door on grad school and focused on a career in merchandising.

Eventually I made my way to adidas, which, as a brand, had the perfect balance of fashion, fitness, health, and wellness, and spoke to me on a more personal level. I played sports my entire life, including field hockey in college, so working for one of the top sports brands in the US felt like the perfect fit. During my four years at the company, I worked as an Assistant Buyer and Buyer, before eventually building the Merchandising Team for adidas’ Digital Partner Programs and launching DTC adidas marketplaces on eBay and Amazon. It was a really formative time in my career during which I learned a ton and grew both personally and professionally.

Digressing a bit…I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I have always dreamed of working for myself one day and having my own business. Around 2018/19, the itch to go out on my own was stronger than ever. After meeting my partner in late 2018 and incubating what is now BRANWYN for the better part of nine months, I decided to leave adidas and give it a go. BRANWYN is the culmination of my hummingbird career path; while we provide game-changing, sustainable Performance Innerwear to active women, we also seek to empower those women to unleash their inner power and go after what they want in life.

What ultimately led me down this particular career path was following my instincts and what I believed I wanted to do and was meant to do, instead of what I thought I should be doing.

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

BRANWYN is revolutionizing the active underwear industry for women. Our underwear, which we call Innerwear, is designed specifically for the female body and its needs during physical activity, without sacrificing comfort or performance. Unlike our competitors, our products are made using merino wool, a regenerative and biodegradable fiber that naturally moves moisture away from the body, eliminates odor, and regulates temperature. We are the triple threat of women’s performance underwear.

With our products, and our brand, we are changing the way that women think about the underwear that they wear when they work out. When I was in college playing field hockey, I played in whatever I could find that wouldn’t bunch under my spandex when I was sprinting from end-line to end-line, which was often a polyester thong. I had no idea that underwear existed that was meant for getting sweaty, let alone believe that it could be made using something organic and renewable. Now, with our merino Innerwear, there’s a no-compromises solution that performs much better and is more sustainable than polyester underwear.

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?

Not prioritizing emails from customers! We were so focused on marketing that we had completely forgotten that we set up a separate inbox for customer emails and neglected it for several weeks. Needless to say, we fixed that one pretty quickly. Today, our customer service is something we really pride ourselves in.

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?

My Mom has been my biggest cheerleader since I was little. She fully supported me in going after what I wanted and always encouraged me to realize my potential and own my gifts. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen just how powerful that can be for women. To know and feel like I can do and achieve anything I set my mind to is like having a million dollars in my pocket at all times.

I’ve also found tremendous mentorship in communities like Create & Cultivate and indirectly via podcasts like Girlboss Radio, How I Built This, and Lady Startup. Sometimes the best mentorship is hearing someone else’s story.

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 whether or not disruption is a positive comes down to the intention behind the disruption and its impact on the greater community, inclusive of our planet.

I think disrupting an industry is positive when it’s challenging the status quo to improve a product, service, or quality of life for a community. In my mind, doing something simply because it’s “how it’s always been done” is not a good enough reason not to change. When disruption has a massive halo effect such that it improves the circumstance of individuals and systems outside of the immediate customer, that to me feels positive.

I think disrupting an industry is negative when it has the opposite effect. If it negatively impacts individuals, certain communities, our planet, etc. either directly or indirectly then is it really that great? Is it disruptive or just opportunistic?

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

“Do whatever floats your boat and when it stops floating your boat, stop doing it.” This is something my mom has always told me. It’s in the same vein as “life is short, so do what makes you happy.” I think a lot of us grew up with the notion that everything has to be a struggle, that success does not come without painful sacrifice, and that work isn’t meant to be fun. If I ever find myself feeling like I’m stuck and miserable, I remind myself of this and ask myself, “What am I getting out of being stuck and miserable?” Oftentimes the answer to that questions tells me exactly what I need to know.

“You can’t go 0–100 running on empty.” I adopted this in 2019 after I spent the better part of 2018 running a million miles a minute. Eventually I burned out and it took almost a year to get back to feeling like myself. The human body is like a car: if you don’t put gas in it, do the regular oil change, and rotate the tires, it’s not going to run properly.

“The customer is always right.” Even if they are wrong, they are always right. I picked this up while working in luxury retail, though it was later reinforced when I was at adidas working with Amazon. Excellent customer service is a top priority for us at BRANWYN and an area of business that I feel like is so undervalued. With BRANWYN, I use every customer interaction as an opportunity to connect with the customer and to make them feel seen and heard. If I could give a few pieces of advice for new businesses, it would be pump up your CS game; your customers are literally the key to your success as a business.

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

World domination. Kidding. In all seriousness though, I’m the kind of person that is constantly evaluating and pivoting. There’s no doubt that I have something else up my sleeve; we’ll just have to see what it is.

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

Societal expectations, opportunity, and access to capital. I feel like now more than ever women are expected to not only be able to do everything, but also be everything to everyone: work 40+ hours a week, excel in our careers, birth and raise children, cook, clean, etc., all with a smile on our face. We’re expected to be Superwoman, which there’s no doubt in my mind that we can all do, but long-term, it’s just not sustainable. After a while it begins to take a toll on our health and well-being, negatively impact our adrenal system and hormones, and increase our risk of heart disease.

The flip side of this coin is that if we don’t do it all, something has to give, and oftentimes, especially for working moms it’s the career or the dream of disrupting an industry. With the majority of job loss over the past year impacting women, it’s imperative that we as a community look at the systems, beliefs, and unconscious biases that we have about women today, remove the barriers that exist, and proactively close the gender gap that exists in so many industries. Some might argue that prioritizing female voices, employees, and investment is not equitable but rather gives women an unfair advantage. I would argue that it is leveling the playing field.

Additionally, we have to create more opportunities for women to access capital. Female-founded companies received 2.8% of all venture capital funding between 2018 and 2019 — two-point-eight percent — let that sink in. What’s even more dismal is that women of color received only 0.67% of total VC funding — less than 1%. I see this as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, challenges that ‘women disruptors’ face. On average, women already make less than men. In 2020, women made anywhere from 10–20% less than their male counterparts. Money isn’t everything, but when you are building and scaling a business, capital is Queen.

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

Two of my favorite podcasts are Second Life Podcast with Hilary Kerr and More Than One Thing with Athena Calderone. Both highlight women and individuals who have pivoted, started second careers, and zigged and zagged through life, something I can definitely relate to. I’m also fascinated by other people’s journeys — I love listening to how they got to where they are and what they were thinking along the way!

I know it is very hot right now, but I cannot recommend Untamed by Glennon Doyle enough. So much of what she touches on I have either personally experienced or observed in the world and felt that no one was talking about, so in a way, I felt very seen and heard after reading it. She nailed it.

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. 🙂

One of my favorite phrases is, “When you empower women, you empower the world.” I genuinely believe that if we continue to empower women with access to education, capital, and opportunity — with no strings attached — then we will experience tremendous benefits across the board, with a massive trickle-down effect.

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

“Never let fear have a seat at the table unless it deserves to be there.” ~ Yours Truly

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been terrified to do something in my life — leave a job, start my own business, admit a business failed, move across the country, defer from grad schools, leave another job. Most of the times I experienced fear for one reason or another, it was because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Yes, fear has a way of protecting us, but it also has a way of keeping us small. I wrote a blog post about this last year actually, but what I’ve come to realize is that not all fear is created equal. The key is using fear as a point to pause and better understand the root of the fear being felt.

How can our readers follow you online?

On the ‘gram @sarahrosesrp and @branwynofficial and online at westonrose.com and branwyn.com

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


Female Disruptors: Sarah Palmer of BRANWYN Performance Innerwear On The Three Things You Need To… 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: LogMeIn CMO Jamie Domenici On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior

Women Of The C-Suite: LogMeIn CMO Jamie Domenici On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

Enjoy what you do. You spend so much time at work. You have to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it you need to reevaluate what you are doing.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jamie Domenici.

Jamie Domenici is a passionate, out-of-the-box thinker and an established strategic leader with a proven track record of leading sophisticated, customer-centric, multi-channel go-to-market teams. For more than a decade, Jamie led cloud adoption initiatives for small and midsize businesses at Salesforce — she recently joined LogMeIn, a leader in empowering the work-from-anywhere era, as Chief Marketing Officer. At LogMeIn, Jamie oversees a nearly 200-person marketing team focused on delivering an outstanding customer experience.

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 had spent most of my career working on the backend and ops and, about 10 years into my career at Salesforce, I was able to both be creative and combine my love for data. I was hooked on marketing and never looked back.

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

I’ve been at LogMeIn for less than a month, so I’m still ramping up here, but I see a tremendous amount of opportunity for the organization. Mostly due to this shift we are all seeing with an increase in remote work. I was very much a “butts in seats” kind of person up until about a year ago. I never would have imagined leading a team that was fully remote, but I’ve found that I’ve personally been brought into the remote work trend and I’m loving it. It’s still very possible to make connections and build relationships while remote.

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 was presenting at a large event in front of thousands of people. Part of the presentation involved a big reveal with the stage opening. Well, we got to that part of the presentation and nothing happened. After a few seconds of panic, I thought to myself: Just. Keep. Going. I pushed on and the audience was none the wiser. When anything goes wrong, I now keep moving forward and most of the time everything works out just fine.

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?

Yes. Very early in my career I worked for OSIsoft’s CFO, Betty Hung. She was a great role model and strong female leader. Not only did I look up to her as a women C-level exec, but I remember being impressed by her bold decision making. She advised me to try lots of different roles and keep learning. It was great advice that greatly impacted my career path and it is part of why I am where I am today.

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?

Whether it’s a small meeting or huge presentation, it’s important to practice. That may sound like common sense, but everyone needs to do it. And I mean talk out loud, walk the stage, run through the deck over and over again, type of practice. Without it you will spend the meeting wondering if you are presenting it in the right way, rather than focusing on the reactions and reading the room.

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 remember when I used to go into the office I would get onto an elevator in my building and more often than not I would be the only woman in there. One day I verbalized my observation and It definitely made people uncomfortable. But I was okay with that because it also made people acknowledge and think about this fact. If even one of those men left that elevator and thought about the lack of diversity next time they went to make a hire it was worth it. It’s important to have different voices at the table to think about different perspectives. And we need to make people aware of the problem, even if it causes discomfort, in order to start to change it.

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.

  • Step one is to acknowledge discrepancy exists. I found that listening to other people’s stories or sharing my own was a great place to start.
  • Step two is to be open to learning and understand where inequality and bias exists. This can be difficult and evoke a sense of vulnerability. You don’t want to do or say the wrong thing, but I find it is my responsibility as an executive to be an ally.
  • In addition, I always set metrics and goals around equality. These are goals I discuss regularly with my team and track to ensure we are hitting our targets, whether that’s hiring internally or making sure that at external events we have diverse customers speaking on our behalf.

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?

Execs needs to set the strategy and lead the team to execute on it. I subscribe to the Naval saying “ship, shipmate, self.” As an executive I feel like you have to always put the company first, then your team and lastly yourself.

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

  • You don’t have all the answers. Listening to your team is key. Hire smart capable people, empower them and leverage their expertise to help you get to the answer.
  • Execs have done it all and can’t improve. Feedback is a gift. I encourage my team to provide ongoing feedback and I will do the same for them.
  • Just because I’m an exec doesn’t mean I don’t have more to learn. I believe you need to continuously invest in yourself and your own growth. Be self-aware of your strengths and weaknesses and work to improve each and every day. You can never stop learning.

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

I am a direct person and I speak up. I have been faced with moments in my career where I have been told I have “sharp elbows” or come off as aggressive. In those moments I often wondered if a man said the same thing in the same way would you have said that to them? Working to get where I am now, I felt I had to speak a little louder to be heard. I would not change that, but as a woman I think there is a balance and an art to honing being strong vs. aggressive.

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

If you ever thought being an executive was easier or less work let me tell you that is not the case. I am working harder than I ever have and I love it. As an executive, you do have to learn to spend less time in the details and more time on the strategy. I would also say a big part of my role is about relationship building and leading and growing my team.

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?

There are a few things. I think a good exec has to be able to understand and articulate the vision. They need to see the big picture and how all the pieces they manage are going to come together to achieve that vision. But they have to understand they can’t do that alone or by micromanaging. A good leader needs to put the right people in the right seats and empower them to do their best.

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

Build a strong network. While I was at Salesforce, one of the co-founders of the company, started a High Potential Woman Group of the then 10 female VPs in the T&P group. We had mentors and access to a lot, but the best part for me was the bond with the other woman in the group. We were and still are facing similar challenges and even now, ten years later I still call on my fellow “lady clubers” when I need support or advice.

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

I am very passionate about helping women in the workplace. I feel that as a leader it’s very important to reach behind and pull the next generation up in whatever ways you can. To this end, I’m proud to be involved in organizations like Girls Inc. that are helping girls and young women develop their strengths to set them up for success later in life.

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

  1. Enjoy what you do. You spend so much time at work. You have to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it you need to reevaluate what you are doing.
  2. Make sure you believe in leadership and work hard to make them look good. You want to work for someone you believe in and trust. If you are working for someone you want to follow, it’s natural to do your best work, which is turn makes them look good and raises the whole team
  3. Do the job that needs to be done, not just the job you have. This will expand your skill set and help the company. Whenever I see a problem, I raise my hand to solve it no matter if it is my role or not.
  4. Embrace change. With change comes opportunity.
  5. Storytelling and words matter. The better you can tell the story the more likely you will leave an impression.

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.

I would democratize education so that regardless of economic standing or gender people had equal access to learning. I would work to level the playing field with education so that more diverse voices could be heard.

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

I have a sign that hangs in my office that says “whatevs”. That may sound funny, but it reminds me not to get frustrated or caught up with the small stuff. When I’m at a breaking point I just say “whatevs” and move on.

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

100% Michelle Obama. I so respect how she navigates politics with so much grace and authenticity…not to mention a great fashion sense!

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


Women Of The C-Suite: LogMeIn CMO Jamie Domenici 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.

Women Of The C-Suite: Kathryn Cameron Atkinson of ‘Miller & Chevalier’ On The Five Things You Need…

Women Of The C-Suite: Kathryn Cameron Atkinson of ‘Miller & Chevalier’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

Have a plan, but be prepared to pivot. Miller & Chevalier is a Washington-based firm focused on practicing where business and the federal government meet, and we sit on Black Lives Matter Plaza. In 12 months, we have faced the impeachment of the president, the public health and economic crises of the pandemic, social upheaval and surging demand for and discourse on race equity, a tumultuous transition of power, and now a second impeachment. I am thankful we articulated our strategy and pillars for action just prior to this series of challenges. It helped us stay the course and know where and how we could pivot along the way.

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kathryn Cameron Atkinson.

Kathryn Cameron Atkinson is the Chair of Miller & Chevalier. Her practice focuses on international corporate compliance, including, in particular, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), as well as economic sanctions and export controls, and anti-money laundering laws. She advises clients on corruption issues around the world. This advice has included compliance with the FCPA and related laws and international treaties in a wide variety of contexts, including transactional counseling, formal opinions, internal investigations, enforcement actions by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and resulting monitorships, as well as commercial litigation raising improper payment issues. Ms. Atkinson has twice been appointed as an Independent Compliance Monitor by the DOJ and SEC. She was a member of the original Transparency International task force that developed a compliance toolkit for small and medium-sized entities.

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?

My father’s international business career and a public-school German language program taught by emigrés who had lived through the disruption of World War II sparked my interest in international studies. I spent time living with German families in the 1980s and then worked for a German law firm the summer after the Berlin wall was toppled. I had a front-row seat to the early days of German reintegration and found the challenge of navigating the practical, cultural, and legal issues involved fascinating. While in law school, I discovered Miller & Chevalier, a Washington-based law firm with a global practice that focused on the intersections between business and federal law and policy. The firm’s commitment to professional excellence, thought leadership, and advancing the rule of law attracted me then and sustains me 30 years later.

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

In late February 2020, we issued a Business Continuity Plan to govern how we would handle a catastrophic event that might keep us from accessing the office. We planned a test run of the plan for Friday, March 13, to identify any gaps. On March 11, D.C. announced the COVID-19 public health emergency and signaled the shutdown that was coming the following week. We haven’t been back in the office since. So much for a test run.

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 lawyers make mistakes they usually are not funny! One early mistake sticks with me. As a first-year lawyer, I went on a business trip with a senior partner. When we climbed into the taxi at the destination airport, she looked at me, assuming I had the address to give to the driver. (This is unspoken Associate 101 training.) I didn’t. She was not pleased. We didn’t have cell phones or GPS back then. Lessons learned: Plan ahead, write it down, don’t assume others know where you are headed.

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?

In my leadership role, it has to be my Dad, who was first an accountant, then an executive, and finally a business owner. He taught me that an organization’s success depends on empowering its people to do their best, holding them accountable for doing so, and valuing them not just as employees but as people with interests, responsibilities, and stresses outside of work.

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 focus on articulating the themes of my message as cleanly and crisply as I can, including sounding them out with teammates. The first thing I did as Chair was organize the action plan for the Executive Committee’s first year under five strategic pillars derived from our strategic statement. That structure helps me stay focused and provides a shared foundation. Nothing works like a long walk to clear the noise. When stress winds me up, my go-to release is a long walk outside, but yoga does the trick too.

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?

Diversity enriches the deliberative process and improves decision-making. Race and gender, as well as less visible aspects of personal backgrounds, affect our life experience and, in turn, the lens through which we view issues and decisions. There’s no substitute for having that diversity at the table. Internally and externally, it is important for people to see diversity in management.

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.

Achieving inclusion, representation, and equity requires awareness, intention, and perseverance. Law firms suffer from structural hierarchy and segmentation, which can make people feel excluded and undervalued. Once we focused our attention on that issue, we noted our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee was comprised almost entirely of lawyers, so we added professional staff to the committee to involve them in planning and execution. We added lines of communication — more frequent and detailed communications from management, town halls, and suggestion boxes. The effort moved to another level last summer. Our office is on what is now Black Lives Matter Plaza — so the urgency of the need for more action to achieve racial justice and equity literally was on display in our front yard. We publicly articulated our commitment to racial justice, convened internal community discussions on race, and enhanced our involvement in racial justice and equity efforts through the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance and support of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity. These efforts need to continue — perseverance is essential for us to make progress.

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?

Loses the most sleep, I think. A leader takes responsibility for the organization’s performance. That means ensuring that the strategy is clear and clearly communicated, that action plans align with the strategy, that everyone has the tools they need to execute on their respective roles, that they feel accountable for their performance, and that they feel valued for their contributions. The Chair needs to understand the moving parts and make sure they are working properly while also thinking about how to improve them.

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

One is that we know absolutely everything that happens in an organization. We don’t. Even in a relatively small organization, people have to be empowered to make decisions day to day. The executive needs to try to anticipate how strategies or action plans might be misinterpreted, but it will still happen, and the executive will also make mistakes. A second myth is that you can’t go directly to the executive with a question or a concern (because, see myth #1). Although you should have multiple channels available to you, if you are not comfortable using them, the executive needs to know that.

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

The leadership archetype in our society was defined by males, so really just about anything that a woman may be inclined to do differently is likely to be questioned simply because it is different. Although it occurs less frequently than early in my career, I still come across assumptions that women executives are prone to inappropriate emotion in decision-making and communications, are afraid of making unpopular decisions, or can be bullied. If the woman executive is also a mother, add the assumption that we are less committed. I am aware of the assumptions, but I don’t let them steal my time. As with all diversity issues, the more women we have in leadership roles, the more we can shift the paradigm.

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

I think every executive is surprised by how granular the job is. There’s a myth that executives just make big decisions. In fact, we make or facilitate an endless number of small decisions. Once the organizational strategy is defined, the work of ensuring the organization executes on it is what takes time and attention, and that is made up of all manner of activities and communications.

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?

A successful executive should care about the long-term success of the organization and its people. If you’re in it for the resume building or the money, better for all if you skip it. It requires a capacity to think strategically, to communicate strategy and expectations clearly to the stakeholders, and to understand how the culture of the organization affects the performance of its employees. A leader should be direct, decisive, honest, and empathetic. Do what you say you are going to do.

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

Be clear and consistent in communicating what you need and expect from each team member. Invest time in understanding what motivates your team and make sure incentives align with the organization’s strategy and needs — remembering that intrinsic motivation typically produces better performance over time than extrinsic motivation.

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

My practice focus is on disrupting and defeating corruption as it arises in international business. Corruption is relentless and facilitates so much of the conduct that endangers all of us. My work can at least provide some pressure of progress against it.

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

  1. Trust yourself. You get advice from all directions. In the end, you have to believe you were asked to lead for a reason and trust yourself.
  2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. I knew we needed more internal communication, but I continue to be surprised by how much feedback it generates.
  3. Question assumptions. We’re a storied 100-year-old firm, and there are traditions and a legacy that come with that. And lawyers tend to be risk averse. It took some time to get comfortable questioning why we did things a certain way, but that combined with the communication effort revealed opportunities for us to improve.
  4. Don’t always lead from the front. Organizations work best when everyone embraces the strategy and then executes on it. The Chair sets the tone but has to keep the strategy as the focus so that success is seen as a result of everyone’s effective execution, not just the executive’s. Otherwise, what happens when the leadership changes?
  5. Have a plan, but be prepared to pivot. Miller & Chevalier is a Washington-based firm focused on practicing where business and the federal government meet, and we sit on Black Lives Matter Plaza. In 12 months, we have faced the impeachment of the president, the public health and economic crises of the pandemic, social upheaval and surging demand for and discourse on race equity, a tumultuous transition of power, and now a second impeachment. I am thankful we articulated our strategy and pillars for action just prior to this series of challenges. It helped us stay the course and know where and how we could pivot along the way.

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.

I would enlist every person in the effort to fight public corruption, which directly affects the quality of life of every one of the world’s citizens. Every citizen has the right to competent, transparent, accountable government, so I would ask that people demand it, support organizations that fight it, and not accept corruption as the norm.

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

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “It is always the right time to do the right thing.” That principle underlies not only my law practice but also my approach to leadership and to my own life. The statement silently acknowledges that we make mistakes and sometimes choose the wrong thing. Doing the right thing requires self-reflection and humility, can be uncomfortable, and can even lead to harsh consequences, but it is worth doing.

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.

I recently read “The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life” by David Brooks. It captures the essence of the wholeness we seek but often lack and delves into the ways our society has developed to make it harder — but not impossible — to find. A private lunch with him to discuss it would be fantastic.


Women Of The C-Suite: Kathryn Cameron Atkinson of ‘Miller & Chevalier’ On The Five Things You Need… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Bri Seeley of The Unapologetic Entrepreneur On The Three Things You Need To…

Female Disruptors: Bri Seeley of The Unapologetic Entrepreneur On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Enjoy the journey. I tend to focus more on the destination than the journey. Even when I’m on roadtrips, my energy is already at the end of the journey rather than being present in the moment. I began to shift this approach in 2017 and it’s really helped me on a day-to-day basis. I’ve found a greater sense of calm, connection and presence. Plus, it helps me to dwell in the energy of success more because I’m celebrating every step I take, rather than simply the outcome.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bri Seeley.

After struggling through her first eight years of entrepreneurship, Bri pivoted from her award winning fashion brand into entrepreneur coaching. During her years in fashion, Bri was able to achieve some remarkable milestones but she was never able to create the money and time freedom she desired as an Entrepreneur. Within her first year of her coaching business, she went from being unable to pay her rent to creating over 6-figures in revenue.

Over the last six years as an Entrepreneur Coach, Bri has taught thousands of entrepreneurs how to create long-term, sustainable success… on their terms!

She knows that one-size never fits all, so her approach is customized and tailor made to each client. Bri works with established and emerging businesses using her extensive knowledge to increase their impact, monetize their vision, laser-focus their actions, streamline their systems and boost their profits.

Bri was awarded a Silver Stevie Award in 2020 for Coach of the Year — Business and a Bronze Stevie Award in 2020 for Woman of the Year — Business Services. She is a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, the author of the best-selling Permission to Leap, the top Entrepreneur Coach on Google and has been seen on The TODAY Show, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Yahoo! and more.

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?

I was led to becoming an Entrepreneur Coach through serendipity and intuition. It was 2015 and I was celebrating my eighth anniversary of my fashion label. While my business was doing well, my frustration with the pace of growth and the industry was increasing more and more.

A series of events including attending a wealth seminar, totaling my car and a meditation led me to close my fashion label and venture into my next chapter without a plan.

Once I had the space to begin exploring what my next move would be, I quickly realized that my colleagues, friends and connections had been asking me for years to help them start and grow their businesses. At the time, I had declined because I was a fashion designer, not a business expert. However, in evaluating my options moving forward the signs were clearly pointing me in the direction of Entrepreneur Coaching.

I hired a coach for myself to teach me everything I needed to know for a service based business and got to work. Within a year, I had a 6-figure coaching business and have been going strong for six years.

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

One thing that’s drilled into the coaching industry is for coaches to develop their “signature proven process.” For years, I thought there was something wrong with me because this approach never sat right with me. It wasn’t until last year that I realized why.

When I ran my fashion business, I struggled with standard sizing because one size never fits all. Every body is different and even two bodies that wear the same size don’t have the same dimensions.

To me, coaching is no different. There is no standard process or advice that works for every person, all the time. Copy/paste “proven” processes never work for everyone.

My business and messaging are aimed at breaking down this approach and showing the reality of business — it takes a custom approach to get real results. I am disrupting the cookie cutter approach to business and helping entrepreneurs access their one-of-a-kind path to creating their success on their terms.

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 wasn’t always the disruptor I am today. When I first began my coaching and consulting business, I tried to do it like everyone told me to. I tried all the proven methods for success. And it didn’t work. I wasted tens of thousands of dollars on trying to fit myself in the boxes everyone touted as silver bullets in the coaching industry.

What’s funny is, the biggest months in my business have all come from intuitive guidance. Every big move that’s happened in my business has first been spurred from an insight in meditation. Which has been the guiding light for me to embody the title of Disruptor even more.

I don’t want to see others waste time, energy and money trying to build businesses which are out of alignment. I feel it is my duty to speak up and speak out against there being one foolproof path to success.

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?

I seek out mentors who are outside my industry and who don’t know the exact ins and outs of my business. The reason I do this is because they give me disruptive perspectives and aren’t limited by what’s been done before.

One of my mentors is Naveen Jain. Naveen’s entrepreneurial experience is in the technology field, which is very different from both fashion and coaching. I love talking to Naveen about business because he approaches things from a radically different perspective than most people in my industry would.

Naveen is one of the first people who helped me see past the title of “coach” in terms of my vision for what I’m here to create. We had a conversation where he reflected to me the impact I make in people’s lives. It’s because of Naveen that I’ve been able to expand my business past the typical coaching model.

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?

Disrupting for me is less about dismantling the old way and more about creating the new way. I see a lot of people disrupting simply for the sake of being disruptive. That’s the ‘not so positive’ approach to disruption. This approach is more aligned with destruction, rather than creation.

I have been seeing this perspective pushed heavily in the Artificial Intelligence space. People are obsessed with replacing everything human in our world with artificial intelligence, simply because they can. However, they’re failing to address the short and long term implications of this on our current economic infrastructure, our job market and our mental health.

Disruption that looks to improve, evolve and re-structure systems is a much more holistic and beneficial approach to making our world a better place, rather than “break first and ask questions later.”

I genuinely look to disrupt the coaching industry because I can see exactly how the current “proven process” model is creating more harm than good, and how embracing a bespoke approach will create better results for entrepreneurs in the long-run.

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. Enjoy the journey. I tend to focus more on the destination than the journey. Even when I’m on roadtrips, my energy is already at the end of the journey rather than being present in the moment. I began to shift this approach in 2017 and it’s really helped me on a day-to-day basis. I’ve found a greater sense of calm, connection and presence. Plus, it helps me to dwell in the energy of success more because I’m celebrating every step I take, rather than simply the outcome.
  2. Fear is not an indicator to stop. I mentioned the car accident in my story above, but what I failed to mention is that car accident almost stopped me from starting my business. 12-hours prior to the car accident, I had signed a contract to hire a business coach who was going to help me launch my new business. When the car accident happened, I was faced with a significant amount of fear because I didn’t have the proper insurance and wasn’t sure how I’d afford it all. Instead of letting the fear bring me to a place of contraction, I used it as a spark to ignite my inner greatness. I chose to repurpose the fear to help me expand. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.
  3. Follow the whispers or be prepared for the megaphone. I haven’t always been open to hearing my intuition and it’s led me to several catastrophic experiences which could have been avoided. One such instance was the car accident I’ve mentioned. Another was in relation to my 7-year corporate job. I knew for years I didn’t want to work that job. I had many opportunities to figure out a new path forward, but I refused to listen to them. Instead of being proactive and finding a solution for myself, I was gifted a solution in the form of an email letting me know my pay was being cut in half. Had I followed the whispers, I could have created a path out of my job on my terms and allowed myself to have an easier transition. Instead, I was forced out of the position and had to figure it out as I went. Now, I pay attention to the whispers so I don’t have to navigate those megaphone moments.

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

My mission is to eradicate the 50% failure rate for entrepreneurs and to help 100,000 female entrepreneurs surpass 6-figures in recurring yearly income in the next 10 years. Right now, 90% of female entrepreneurs never hit the 6-figure mark in their businesses. That statistic is unacceptable. I am going to shake things up by arming female entrepreneurs with everything they need to succeed past their wildest dreams, create financial freedom for themselves and provide the world with equitable solutions.

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

Women have had to play in spaces which weren’t designed for us to succeed for so long, we are ingrained with the mindset to go with what has been done in the past rather than creating our own paths, systems and models to move the world forward. When we do try to create our own paths forward, we’re questioned and it causes us to question ourselves.

One of the biggest examples I’ve seen of this is when SheEO came onto the investing scene. The founder, Vicky Saunders, was told over and over again that her idea would never work. Male investors went out of their way to let Vicky know her idea was not only not feasible, but crazy. Which was not the reality. In fact, SheEO has been immensely successful. They’ve funded over 75 ventures with over $5,000,000 and a 95% repayment rate and triple digit revenue growth in under five years.

As women, we need to remember that just because it hasn’t been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be done. And just because someone tells us we’re crazy, it isn’t a reason to back away from our vision.

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 ‘The Alchemist’ on a yearly basis. Everytime I read it, there is a new perspective which deeply impacts how I move through the world. My most recent read of the book illuminated this concept: “When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he has never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

The biggest lesson 2020 gifted me was to follow my intuitive senses and surrender into what the outcome is without controlling it. I gave myself permission to make decisions, let go of the outcome and trust that life will carry me towards my greatest possible destiny.

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 movement I’m spearheading is to get more women out of corporate and into entrepreneurship. We will not achieve parity by staying in the corporate world. If women truly want to break the glass ceiling, it will come from us disrupting the system and creating our own rules.

I’m here to help women make more money on our terms because when women make money, we funnel 90% of it back into our families and our communities. Whereas men only redistribute 30–40% back into those same places. Women already have the power to create a new model for the world’s wealth, to close the gender gap and to create a more equitable economy. I plan to do everything in my power to expedite this possibility into reality.

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

“Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.” -Kelly Clarkson

When I left my corporate job and became a full-time entrepreneur for the first time, I was inundated with messages to get a job. But everyone who shared that perspective with me were people who were unhappy in their careers. I knew that if I followed their advice, I would eventually end up living that life. I began to filter out advice from people who weren’t living the vision I had for my life and surrounded myself with people who embodied the same values as me.

How can our readers follow you online?

The best three places to find me are:

  1. My website — briseeley.com
  2. Instagram — instagram.com/briseeley
  3. Clubhouse — @BriSeeley

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


Female Disruptors: Bri Seeley of The Unapologetic Entrepreneur On The Three Things You Need To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Joseph “Joey” Smith of Cassel Salpeter & Co: The Future of Air Travel in The Post Covid World

There will be lots of new and exciting technologies to enhance the passenger experience from robots in the terminals, to quieter and faster planes, to drones assisting with baggage and security, but the truly disruptive advancements are currently being funded and will reveal their unique, value-add services during this coming decade. A few examples would be:

Eviation has leapfrogged the competition as the first zero-emission, all-electric airplane. Designed to take nine passengers up to 650 miles at a cruise speed of 240 knots on a single battery charge.

Boom Supersonic — founded in 2014 and having raised hundreds of millions is developing a delta-wing supersonic passenger aircraft. Its upcoming Overture jet will travel at Mach 2.2, making it the world’s fastest airliner. It will carry up to 45 passengers, aiming to start transporting passengers by 2023.

All-electric jets with VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) short range taxi start-ups: Lilium & Volocopter — Germany; Joby Aviation and Opener — USA, among others.

As part of my series about “developments in the travel industry over the next five years”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joseph “Joey” Smith.

Joseph Smith, director of aviation services at investment banking firm Cassel Salpeter & Co., has more than 25 years of experience in the capital markets and securities industry. At Cassel Salpeter, Smith leads the aviation team, providing the firm’s clients with his expertise in mergers and acquisitions, capital raising, and advisory services to middle market private and public companies. He has structured, negotiated, and executed on numerous aviation industry transactions with institutional private equity and strategic investors, and has worked extensively with business owners, management teams, and boards of directors and their professional advisors, locally and nationwide. Since 2018, Mr. Smith has led the publication of the firm’s quarterly Aviation Industry Deal Report offering insights on industry trends while charting deal flow. Before joining Cassel Salpeter in Miami, he served as a senior vice president of Catalyst Financial and as principal and head of investment banking for Capital City Partners. He began his middle market investment banking career at First Equity Corporation of Florida, where he was a principal and managing director after initially being trained by Merrill Lynch and Shearson Lehman Brothers. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My investment banking path was unexpected as I was a history major from a small liberal arts college and never aspired for a career in finance or Wall Street, but I loved the stock market, and the historical aspect of corporations. Their operations, growth, and finance were fascinating to me. When Merrill Lynch surprisingly hired me, I became very adept at bringing in clients and assets, achieved success, and became enamored with the industry and was all in thereafter.

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

I don’t have a specific story that stands out as particularly interesting during my career, but rather have a period of time. That was when I was a broker/banker during the internet/technology dot-com boom, bubble, and ultimate bust times of the late 1990s and early 2000s. That was probably the most interesting chapter in my career. It was literally the Wild West of investing, with valuations being at astronomical levels for private placements, IPOs, buyouts, leading to huge failures and losses. That, combined with the excitement of technology truly advancing with the internet and new business models, while we were all trying to understand this new landscape and ecosystem and trying to pick the winners from the losers, made for fascinating times to be in the business.

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?

Early in my career, I was tasked to make sure a prospectus was printed for an IPO (before EDGAR online, etc.) so I was camped out late night/early morning in the office of the printing company (standard operating practice). Unfortunately, I fell asleep and my printing cohorts decided to prank me, by locking me in the small conference room I was working from. When I awoke, I could not get out of the office, so I freaked out thinking the prospectus would be late to the SEC and my boss and client would fire me (no cell phones back then). I almost broke down the door before they let me out, and they took pictures of me, a disheveled mess running out with the huge prospectus box in tow. Very embarrassing, too, when they sent the blown-up picture to my boss to memorialize the prank, and thereafter hung it in the trading room for many years.

The lesson learned was that in business, do not ever let your guard down, and “coffee-up” for all-nighters. And generally, to always have a plan B for all unforeseen events, and backup, just in case “what if” happens. Be proactive and find a colleague to buddy up with to have your back and vice-versa!

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”? Can you share a story about that?

As difficult as it is in the moment, be thinking long-term, protect your brand (image: how you are seen, perceived in the marketplace — internally and externally). Think of your career as a marathon with different milestones, constantly planting seeds and nurturing your story. Be willing to pivot and to forsake short-term gratification for the long haul. Be willing to be happy and to take risks, too. Try not to let yourself slide into a place where you are looking back with regrets because of inaction for the comforts of now.

For me, the entrepreneurial path was what I needed to explore when I was burning out, so I started my own advisory business, not necessarily to slow down, as I worked harder and longer hours than ever, but to control my own destiny and to have more flexibility for time with family.

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?

My father, who taught me many lessons, always stressed that there is no substitute for hard work, to be a great listener, to always seek to do good (charity), and as for your adversaries, “to kill them with kindness.” He taught me that success is not defined by money, but by doing the right thing and being a well-respected and solid person to all who cross your path! His wisdom certainly defined my ultimate views on happiness, health, and success. I am trying to always pass it forward to my three adult children.

Can you share with our readers how have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have always believed in giving back, paying it forward (preferably anonymously) because it truly makes me feel good to give. Whatever success I have is because of so many others (known and unknown), and I am thankful for whatever I have, and feel obligated to do my best to give back. I believe that writing checks to charities/organizations that interest you are not enough (though necessary) as I like to try to get involved in the organizations and leverage whatever I can bring to the table. Most importantly to me, is to find the time in our daily lives to do the little acts of kindness and to speak with or try to help/uplift a friend/acquaintance and strangers (too many of us run around with a phone on our ear, in our own little world ignoring others).

Thank you for that. Let’s jump to the core of our discussion. Can you share with our readers about the innovations that you are bringing to the Aviation and Air Travel industries?

As an investment banker, I cannot say that I am personally bringing innovation to the industry, but I would hope that some of our early-stage capital raising efforts may bring some interesting, cutting-edge, technology, and originality to the aerospace ecosystem.

Which “pain point” are industry leaders trying to address by introducing these innovations?

For travel industry leaders, efficiency and environmental responsibility are the pain points being addressed. Efficiency, as to travel time and experience, supply chain productivity, reducing expenses for all participants, while trying to reduce the carbon footprint and utilizing new technologies for the benefit of the entire ecosystem.

How do you envision that this might disrupt the status quo?

The major players in aerospace and aviation (Boeing, Airbus, GE, defense contractors) are certainly participating in innovation with disruptive next gen technology/systems, but the entrepreneurial start-up world is where things get interesting when thinking about the longer-term future of travel, here on earth and beyond.

Are there exciting new technologies that are coming out in the next few years that will improve the air travel experience? We’d love to learn about what you have heard.

There will be lots of new and exciting technologies to enhance the passenger experience from robots in the terminals, to quieter and faster planes, to drones assisting with baggage and security, but the truly disruptive advancements are currently being funded and will reveal their unique, value-add services during this coming decade. A few examples would be:

Eviation has leapfrogged the competition as the first zero-emission, all-electric airplane. Designed to take nine passengers up to 650 miles at a cruise speed of 240 knots on a single battery charge.

Boom Supersonic — founded in 2014 and having raised hundreds of millions is developing a delta-wing supersonic passenger aircraft. Its upcoming Overture jet will travel at Mach 2.2, making it the world’s fastest airliner. It will carry up to 45 passengers, aiming to start transporting passengers by 2023.

All-electric jets with VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) short range taxi start-ups: Lilium & Volocopter — Germany; Joby Aviation and Opener — USA, among others.

As you know, the pandemic changed the world as we know it. For the benefit of our readers, can you help spell out a few examples of how the pandemic has specifically impacted air travel?

The pandemic has crushed the commercial aviation industry unlike any other event. To encourage commercial travel, the industry has put in place some of the most aggressive cleaning/filtration systems in the world onto their aircraft, and have embraced as much touchless/remote activities as is feasible. The issue will always remain the “in air” safety, but also getting to and from the airport and the waiting in terminals for flights, from a social distancing perspective. The airlines have been quick to accommodate but until the vaccine is widespread, many will continue to err on the side of caution and not fly unless necessary.

Can you share five examples of how the air travel experience might change over the next few years to address the new realities brought by the pandemic? If you can, please give an example for each.

Airline/Airport Remote/Touchless enhancements — AI and biometrics to enhance airline checklists, check-in, baggage, security, and boarding (collaborating with FAA, TSA, airports and airlines)

Airline Leniency with Passengers — change fees, rewards programs, and pricing flexibility

Aircraft Manufacturer/OEM safety enhancements — Plane ventilation systems and various safety equipment installed permanently or during pandemic to best deal with virus microns.

Passengers destinations/preferences — will likely be more domestic oriented and shorter distances (to avoid layovers/cancellations)

Passenger Preparation — more thought regarding meals before flight, staying in seat more during flight, transportation to and from airport/hotels, being more selective vs. Uber/Lyft

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?

I would love to find a way for the for-profit and nonprofit world to engage in a global transportation/humanitarian project to promote food and health care equity to the over a billion people globally living below the poverty line. If I am dreaming big without budgets or borders, this initiative would utilize all transportation modes: air, land, and sea with the best-in-class technology to promote the mandate. It would be a supply chain project to include the last mile of goods (to reduce corruption) for food and medical supplies, while also transporting those in need to the hospitals, schools, training facilities in the developed world. The human interaction and cultural exchange component would lift us all, with ongoing engagement programs to keep the connectivity through many educational/out-reach venues. The current system of providing the needy with food and health care services is not enough, it must be more thoughtful, organized, bilateral, and sustainable to train the next generation of providers from within these communities of need. Hey, I am thinking big and outside the proverbial box!

How can our readers further follow your work?

Joseph “Joey” Smith may be reached via email at jsmith@cs-ib.com or via LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/joeyibanker/. His firm’s website is: www.casselsalpeter.com


Joseph “Joey” Smith of Cassel Salpeter & Co: The Future of Air Travel in The Post Covid World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Elisabeth Clare of Cell Regeneration: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your…

Elisabeth Clare of Cell Regeneration: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your Wellbeing

Stress is a huge factor. — Its impact on the mind and body clouds judgment and it can manifest itself physically, giving us aches and pain. Stress impacts us at cellular level, so if we can learn to manage it, everything else should become a little easier to cope with.

As a part of my series about “5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Elisabeth Clare.

Elisabeth runs Cell Regeneration, a business servicing physiotherapy clinics around the UK. It is the sole, dedicated UK importer of MBST machines; a non-invasive therapy that restores and rejuvenates cells. She set up the business which was a big career change for her, formerly working in media) after her dear friend and ex-boyfriend were murdered in Miami — it was her wake-up call if you like.

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 story about how you first got involved in fitness and wellness?

I have always personally enjoyed fitness and wellness, and have always looked to food, nature and exercise for well-being purposes. When the opportunity arose to work with MBST — a technology that is stress and pain-free for the patient — it was a no brainer, really. The fact that it really gets results without the need of long-term medication and surgery just made it so appealing. Living with pain is an awful burden and MBST really does offer a reliable solution. I just found that very intriguing and exciting.

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

The reason I started working with the technology in the first place is probably the most interesting story, albeit sad. Prior to championing MBST, I suffered a huge loss that really changed my life: in April 2011, two of my friends (one was a past boyfriend) were brutally murdered by a 16-year-old boy in the US.

Nothing makes you sit back and re-evaluate your life as much as grief. At that point I was working in digital marketing for a very big media company and I realised the role just wasn’t fulfilling, so the tragedy forced me to realise that I was ready for a change.

My mother had been working with medical technology within her private physio practice since 2007. I knew how great it was, and I also knew how much I wanted to create a life for myself where I could help people, so I went for it. Now here we are, 10 years on. I am incredibly proud of what we/ I have achieved and I think of both boys daily. I just desperately wish that inspiration hadn’t been born from such tragedy.

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?

I often get to work with elite sportspeople, such as professional boxers, rugby players, show jumpers, footballers and golfers. In spite of that, my sports knowledge is not actually very good. There was one occasion when arguably one of the most famous football managers in the world was walking over to me and I had no idea who he was. I suddenly noticed the players’ behaviour towards him and figured he must be the ‘gaffer’. I had to do a hasty and slightly panicked google to be certain, and to make sure I wasn’t about to make an absolute fool of myself. Luckily, I was quick on the draw and just as he got to me I got the confirmation from my phone, and acted like I knew who he was all along. That definitely taught me that in order to save myself potential major embarrassment I had to do my research ahead of time so I was fully prepared for every situation. It seems so obvious now that I should know the name of the patient or key people in any professional situation that I am walking into. It also helped me to realise just how important it is to show clients and colleagues that I care and want to make people feel valued, no matter who they are.

Can you share with our readers a bit about why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field? In your opinion, what is your unique contribution to the world of wellness?

I suppose I am an authority as I am the licence holder for the MBST technology in the UK. Having worked with the tech for a decade it’s fair to say I’m pretty knowledgeable on the subject, and in my opinion, MBST will play a major role in the future of healthcare and sport.

Part of my job is connecting patients and healthcare professionals to the appropriate devices. We are very particular in who we work with and it is vital to us that any healthcare professional who takes on the technology, puts the patient’s wellbeing at the forefront of their concerns. They stand to make a lot of money from MBST, but I have never considered working with anyone who just sees it as a business opportunity. It’s all about having the right core values.

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?

My mother — she’s a private physiotherapist who is utterly dedicated to her patients. She came across the technology at a physio conference, years ago. She gave me and my brother the gift of and passion for MBST. Our mum is a talented physio, but a bit naive when it comes to the business side of things, and what is really going on in the world. But she was, however, the first physio in the UK to discover MBST, and she immediately saw its potential. She held out hope that it delivered on its claims, as she had always dreamed of offering her patients an effective alternative to surgery-as-a-last-resort, or something that would do more than just mask their pain. If it was not for her, we wouldn’t be here and even at 65, she is still our Physio in the Rutland clinic and her patients adore her.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. We all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, exercise more, and get better sleep etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s often difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the 3 main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?

1- Stress is a huge factor.

Its impact on the mind and body clouds judgment and it can manifest itself physically, giving us aches and pain. Stress impacts us at cellular level, so if we can learn to manage it, everything else should become a little easier to cope with.

2- We genuinely enjoy the less healthy stuff!

I love a Chinese takeaway and an old fashioned (perhaps not at the same time). But it’s about saving the fun stuff for a treat, maybe once a week. And if we overdo the fun stuff, it’s always best to just be mindful of having a healthier day the next day. The fun stuff does tend to lead to more fun stuff, which is fine if it makes us feel good. But the feel-good high we get from sugar, alcohol and sitting around watching TV does not last forever. To actively avoid procrastination and stop making excuses is part of the journey when it comes to facing reality and being honest with ourselves. What I have learned is that there can be toxic positivity. You need to be kind to yourself, but still face the truth. Excuses and procrastination get you nowhere. It is very important to find the time to exercise and to pre-plan meals. It’s important to face up to the fact when you are being unhealthy, but also don’t be too hard on yourself. If you do have an ache or pain then seek a specialist in that field. Don’t procrastinate or make excuses that it’ll just go away, deal with it straight away. Your body is trying to tell you something, so listen!

3- Having a purpose

If you can’t see why you want to be healthy, then you don’t have a purpose to do it. It’s easier for an athlete because being healthy and fit is their job. But for a typical person who has a job, children, pets, etc, it is hard to fit it into our day. I ran the London Marathon in 2015, but by the end of that year I was hospitalised with an infection in my abdomen, causing sepsis. I was very poorly and the doctors said the only reason I survived was because I was so fit. I also notice the difference in how I value myself when I don’t eat as healthy and don’t exercise.

But someone’s purpose for exercising can be because they want to look good, or stay healthy for their kids or grandkids, that kind of thing. Some may set themselves targets, such as running a marathon, or increasing their steps every day. To recognise our purpose helps with motivation, and getting into a routine helps us to stay motivated. Routine does not have to be stagnant. As long as your routine every day consists of vital things such as exercise once a day, having at least one meat free meal a week, etc, the rest can be moved about. If you have more of a routine you don’t tend to make excuses, it just becomes a habit.

Can you please share your “5 Non-Intuitive Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Dramatically Improve One’s Wellbeing”? (Please share a story or an example for each, and feel free to share ideas for mental, emotional and physical health.)

1- Quality of water that you drink — I have never been fond of tap water. People like to call me a snob, but it has been treated and, in some places, it just tastes gross. I invested in a top filter and it has made the world of difference.

2- Get up extra early and enjoy that time in the shower — I love having time in the shower. Some people opt for a freezing cold shower but I just love a nice hot shower far too much to give that up. It’s also a bonus for me because the shower is one of the few places in my house my dogs don’t follow me.

3- Buy organic food — pesticides are awful for your body and the environment!

4- See the right people — If you start to get a niggling ache or pain, source a professional musculoskeletal specialist. Don’t run off to your GP at first call.

5- Microbiome tests vs generic nutrition tests. Use science to find out precisely what your body does and doesn’t need. I took an ‘Omnos Microbiome’ test and found out I have too much iron and should avoid fermented foods. For a lot of people, they are told in ‘healthy eating plans’ to have leafier veg and drink kombucha and kefir. But not me! My health has seen an incredible change since I took that test!

As an expert, this might be obvious to you, but I think it would be instructive to articulate this for the public. Aside from weight loss, what are 3 benefits of daily exercise? Can you explain?

1- For physical and mental benefits — we look better, we feel better, and it helps get the endorphins going. You feel that you have done something good with your day and you naturally feel better about yourself. Also, weight-training can make you feel empowered. Getting the heart rate up makes you feel good. There’s also the social element to it, and we shouldn’t neglect our social instincts, it’s who we are as beings. Whether on Zoom or in the gym, seeing people, having a conversation or some kind of interaction is so important. We thrive on interaction and inspiration. Also, if our activity gets us out in nature, that is good for the soul.

2- Musculoskeletal health — The body loves movement, it’s good for joints and bones. The old saying is true: if you don’t use it, you lose it!

3- It helps prevent problems later on in life — it drastically reduces the risk of OA, diabetes and heart disease.

For someone who is looking to add exercise to their daily routine, which 3 exercises would you recommend that are absolutely critical?

Walking — Being out in the fresh air is good for mind, body and soul, and most people can do it wherever they are.

Yoga or Pilates — stretching and natural body movement helps our joints with natural strength and flexibility.

Strength training — anything to help your strength is great. Do weight training for strength and bone density. It can also be mentally empowering.

I am going to cheat and add an extra:

Doing something that you enjoy is critical — team sports or interactive exercises in the fresh air, such as walking, horse riding, running — you don’t want your activity to be a chore!

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

The 12-week Year, by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington. It helped me to put my goals in a time frame of 12 weeks rather than one year. I read it last year and my life has become much more productive without feeling like I have to put in much more effort!

You are a person of enormous 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 have spent 10 years spearheading my chosen movement: bringing the MBST technology to the forefront in musculoskeletal care. A technology which is non-invasive, pain free, drug free and turns out can be used even during a pandemic. The ethics around it are what’s important. I took the tech and built it up around the UK without compromising my vision and integrity. Yes, it was a much slower process initially, but has led to fast sustainable growth further down the line.

People want instant results and that’s not healthcare, to get results in healthcare, it takes time and dedication. A lot of money can buy you quick fixes but the reason why the MBST movement is important to me is because we are so clear with who we want to work with and the health professionals MBST attracts are genuinely interested in the best possible care for the patient. If someone approaches me with a sole focus on making money, it won’t work out for them the way they wish, or for their patients. In healthcare, it’s all about the separate parts coming together to create a successful outcome.

The MBST technology can help maintain the body, which is particularly wonderful for an athlete. Sometimes athletes will be push to their limits without much long-term consideration. MBST can help an athlete but maintain their musculoskeletal health for the future.

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

People are in your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” It helps you keep the right people in your life and let go of those that can’t, won’t or don’t really need to be in your life any more. I think the fact that people are so important to me is a natural trait; that’s why I am so passionate about healthcare. A stranger is important to me. You never know what impact any person can have on your life, whether it is bad or good, there is always a lesson worth learning. I always hope that my impact on the world will leave people feeling better whether it’s a friend, family, health professional or stranger.

We are very blessed that 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 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 🙂

Elle MacPherson — I admire her! She is a natural beauty but she works hard to be the best version of herself that she is. She does not look her age at all because she practices what she preaches! She has a health company and seems to stand by her own values in everything that she does and family is so important to her. She’s a business woman in the health industry, she is invested in others’ health as much as her own. She seems to have found balance in her life, which I feel I am yet to find! I would love to be her friend as I find her so inspirational.

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

Website — www.mbst-therapy.co.uk

Instagram — @elisabethclare11

Instagram — @MBSTUK

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


Elisabeth Clare of Cell Regeneration: 5 Lifestyle Tweaks That Can Dramatically Improve Your… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Women In Wellness: Samanta Moise of La Parea Wellness on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help…

Women In Wellness: Samanta Moise of La Parea Wellness on the Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Entrepreneurs tend to treat business failures or errors as personal failings. I still fight the tendency to think that I didn’t reach my business goals or things didn’t go my way because I didn’t work hard enough. Starting a business is not easy and you should cut yourself some slack.

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

Samanta Moise is the CEO and founder of La Parea Wellness which started in 2015 with a focus on providing balance in today’s hectic world. Blending traditional plant-derived remedies from the Andes and the Amazon in a variety of modern formulations La Parea Wellness utilizes sustainably sourced ingredients. Juggling a household of four children as well as the company offers unique challenges, but each year La Parea has expanded its product portfolio.

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

I was born in Ecuador and moved to America in my teens to live with my father. Through hard work and focus, I was able to fulfill my dream of becoming a Registered Nurse. Over the next ten years, I worked in a variety of clinical settings (intensive care, cardiology, dermatology) and gradually found myself increasingly taking on administrative roles. The combination of patient care and leadership skills training nurtured a growing interest in forging a new path outside the confines of medicine and its pharmaceutical focus. La Parea Wellness was born from a desire to merge medicine with more natural methods of promoting health and well-being.

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?

I got pregnant during the second year of my business. It was definitely a challenge. I found myself fulfilling orders right up to my due date while also taking care of three children (in the good old days when kids were physically in school all day). Dealing with a baby and LPW in its infancy taught me that life will throw you curveballs and you have to adapt gracefully.

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 started La Parea with a number of products that I had designed, based on my interests. I did not do any market research, and I placed large production orders with full confidence that my non-existent customers would love my ideas as much as I did. This turned out to be wildly inaccurate, leaving me with loads of unsold inventory. After talking to other women entrepreneurs, I learned that this is a common mistake for start-up, product-based companies. While most of the original inventory has been repurposed and/or given away, I still keep one or two pieces of my original inventory items as a reminder to start with my customers.

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?

My husband has supported my dream from the very beginning. When I first had the idea of starting my own business, I remember coming home after ten hours in my nurse manager role and sitting at the dining room table to work on final details and get ready to launch. My husband sat next to me, told me to quit my job, and has helped every step of the way. Having the luxury to focus all my business efforts on my brand full time has been a huge part of my success.

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?

I am fortunate to have experienced a range of perspectives on health, medicine, and self-care throughout my life. My birthplace of Ecuador and the extended family that still live there provide direct access to a wealth of plants and natural compounds that have been used in South America for thousands of years — yet remain largely unknown in the Northern Hemisphere. My adopted home of the United States welcomed me as a citizen (one of my proudest days), supported my study of nursing, exposed me to multiple branches of modern medicine, and blessed me with an entrepreneurial spirit. La Parea Wellness, and its focus on natural wellness, is my way of giving back.

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.

Self-care is a lifestyle and here are my top five.

  1. Make self-care routines a part of your daily routine. Taking care of yourself goes beyond eating and sleeping. Make sure you do something for you that creates a mindful moment and be present. Ask yourself: did I do something today that made me happy, mindful, or calm?
  2. Add your self-care practice into your calendar. Women have been taught to put themselves and their needs last. I used to think that taking time for myself should only happen at the end of a long day or when I was done with my “to do list.” Putting yourself last quickly leads to sacrificing your needs. Even if it’s meditating or taking a bath. Add it to your calendar.
  3. Set Boundaries. Don’t pour from an empty cup. If you are overwhelmed and exhausted, your productivity, effectiveness, and happiness drop. Learn to say no to protect your energy.
  4. If you can’t sleep because you have too many thoughts in your head, write them down. I personally get random thoughts while I am trying to sleep. If there is anything important, I write them down for the next day.
  5. Go with the flow when it comes to self-care. If you schedule a morning hike and then feel like journaling in your pajamas instead, go for it. There are no set rules for your care.

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 would love to add a self-care station in every workplace and school. A place where you can meditate, close your eyes, and use some essential oils or just relax.

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

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Entrepreneurs tend to treat business failures or errors as personal failings. I still fight the tendency to think that I didn’t reach my business goals or things didn’t go my way because I didn’t work hard enough. Starting a business is not easy and you should cut yourself some slack.
  2. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion. People will tell you to do things a certain way. While suggestions based on someone else’s prior experience can be applicable across multiple businesses, don’t be afraid to say something or push back if it doesn’t feel like your vision. At the end of the day, you are the essence of your brand.
  3. Freelancers are your best friends. Early on, I thought I had to do everything myself to learn my business inside out. With time, I realized there are a wealth of independent professionals out there that have complementary experience and education that can complete your business and are willing to teach you a few tricks.
  4. Join entrepreneur groups or find communities that resonate with your mission. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely sometimes and having a supportive community that can relate to your challenges is a great benefit. I met some of my best friends and resources through a female community called, We Are Women Owned.
  5. Enjoy the ride. Entrepreneurs will always be setting new goals for themselves and their companies. But how often do you stop and enjoy the daily successes — no matter how small? There are plenty of little wins and milestones that I have overlooked or taken for granted. Work hard but also enjoy it!

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

Given the state of current events, I would say mental health. With the current societal uncertainty, our minds and emotions are unmoored in the middle of a storm. How we think, carry ourselves, and participate in society are undergoing radical challenges. When the structure of society and our foundational relationships are straining due to global forces like Covid-19, taking care of our mental health becomes critical.

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

You can follow us @lapareawellness. We are big wellness advocates dedicated to help you in your self-care journey.

Thank you for these fantastic insights!


Women In Wellness: Samanta Moise of La Parea Wellness 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.

Female Disruptors: Olive von Topp On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Women disruptors are seen as a threat in ways that male disruptors aren’t. We expect men to disrupt, in fact, in some ways, we encourage it. But we don’t expect women to. And as a society we don’t like it. It goes against our internalized belief that women should be nice, accommodating, stay small and not upset anyone. When women disrupt, they challenge our world view. And when we feel threatened, we often attack. I think women disruptors are subject to way more scrutiny and negative backlash than their male counterparts.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Olive von Topp.

Olive von Topp is a burlesque performer & empowerment coach hailing from Guelph, ON. She helps women unleash their inner badass and build loving relationships with themselves so they can live joyful, vibrant, wildly fulfilling lives. Her life goals include helping people, living fully, and taking down the patriarchy one self-loving woman at a time.

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?

Yes! I would love to. It hasn’t exactly been a straight-line to get here.

I’ve always known I wanted to help people, but wasn’t entirely sure how. I had wanted to be a therapist at one point or a teacher, but I found a love for sociology and pursued that instead. I ended up in the social side of health care and worked primarily with marginalized folks experiencing stigma and other barriers to health, with a particular focus on mental health.

Not long into my first “big girl job”, I started doing burlesque. It was everything I had wanted and combined my love of dance, theatre, humour, storytelling, dress-up, and sensuality. Performing, teaching, and producing burlesque has been intensely cathartic and rewarding.

When I started teaching burlesque, I began to realize that my students weren’t attracted to it simply because they wanted to learn the dance moves. They wanted something more. They wanted to gain confidence. To feel sexy. To have permission to explore a side of themselves they don’t usually explore. Unlearn shame. Challenge themselves. Burlesque was a great vehicle for these learnings, but I realized I could go deeper. This is when I began taking on personal clients as an Empowerment Coach.

Coaching was a natural transition from the support work I was doing at the time, and allowed me to work in depth with people on these topics and on establishing a more loving relationship with themselves. I also started running ‘Sexy Ed’, a local sex & pleasure workshop series, to give a platform to other local sex experts and resources. Every step in my journey has helped expand and deepen my work in self-love, pleasure, and personal empowerment.

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

I think all of it. I help women learn to take up space in a society and system that has told them they are “too much” and to stay small. I help women become aware of and ask for their needs, in a world that conditions them to put everyone else’s needs before their own. I help women tune into their desires and access more pleasure when they are actively taught they shouldn’t have them or that pursing pleasure makes them selfish, frivolous, and a Jezebel. I help women learn to accept their bodies, to feel confident in them, sexy even, and to define sexuality on their own terms in a world that has a very narrow view on what that can look like; a world that is hell bent on controlling women’s bodies and sexuality. I help women to love themselves

fiercely in a society that profits off them hating themselves. I think all of that is disruptive to the status quo, really.

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?

In burlesque there are many: not rehearsing my acts properly in my costumes that led to costume malfunctions on stage that could have been avoided. Performing awkwardly in front of small audiences or audiences who weren’t expecting burlesque. Driving ridiculous distances, changing in dimly-lit hallways, all for little pay, just because I wanted to perform.

Lessons I have learned from these experiences: Always be prepared, but be adaptable, because nothing will ever go as planned. Know your audience and demand that they know you (I don’t perform in shows where people don’t know they will be seeing burlesque any more). Know your worth and enforce your boundaries. And of course, don’t take yourself too seriously.

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?

I’ve had so many incredible women in my life who have influenced me immensely. My mother, my dear friends, my belly dance teacher and women in our troupe, my burlesque troupe mates & women in the burlesque community. They’ve taught me strength, resilience, and the power of vulnerability (as well as the ins and outs of the biz).

Oddly enough, my brothers have both been instrumental in shaping me. My eldest brother taught me so much about systemic oppression, supporting people where they are at and not judging people, mental health, art and gratitude. He committed suicide when I was 20. Even in his death, he taught me about the impermanence of everything and the importance of living in the moment. How I understand the world, how I treat people, and my desire to live life fully have been hugely shaped by him.

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?

This is a difficult question to answer because as a sociologist and disruptor, I’m prone to thinking about how systems don’t function and how they can be improved. Most of the work I do with my clients is about understanding these systems and how they play out in our self-perceptions and relationships with ourselves.

However, I would say most community led initiatives, who have people who have been marginalized at the helm, are ‘industries’ that should not be disrupted. Any real, effective, positive change has been led by these types of initiatives.

So by these standards, I think asking yourself who benefits from the “industry” and who suffers is a good determiner if the industry should be disrupted. If only a few people benefit and a lot of people (or animals/environment) suffer, then disrupting is positive. If many people benefit and the goal is to continue to diminish suffering, then disrupting is “not so positive”.

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

My mother told me since I was young to never rely on anyone else for your own happiness and that is something that has really stuck with me and guided my life. No one else can make you happy. Not a partner. Not a child. Just you.

I now know that happiness is not only a moment in time, but also a thought. It is available to us at any point. And we create it. That’s why people who think they will be happy when they get the job, the partner, the house, etc. never are when they get there, because they still have the same thinking. Except now they are even more sad because the thing(s) that they thought would bring them happiness, the golden carrot dangled in front of them, don’t. You create your happiness. Inside your head. Which is actually really empowering.

Someone once told me that someone else out there with half my talent is living my dream simply because they believed in themselves and had the confidence to take the risks necessary. I think about that all the time when I am making decisions in my business or doubting myself. It really goes to show, it’s all in your mind.

When I started in support work a colleague told me, “If you want to save people, become a priest”. I think about that all the time too (not becoming a priest thing). You can’t save people. I spent 8.5 years in an unhealthy relationship because I thought I could save them, but the only person I could save was myself. You can help people. You can support people. You can inspire. You can even help empower or heal people. But you can’t save them. And it isn’t my job to save people. It is my job to save myself.

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

Oh so much. Besides my general plan of taking down the patriarchy one self-loving woman/femmes/feminine-leaning person at a time, I have lots planned. I just launched a self-love course on perfectionism where we deconstruct our perfectionist scripts and utilize elements of burlesque to access our inner badass. I plan to develop more courses out of this, plus a membership site, get on more stages (when we can do that again) and one day in the not- so-distant future, write a book.

In the further future, create more; perhaps a school or social enterprise.

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

Women disruptors are seen as a threat in ways that male disruptors aren’t. We expect men to disrupt, in fact, in some ways, we encourage it. But we don’t expect women to. And as a society we don’t like it. It goes against our internalized belief that women should be nice, accommodating, stay small and not upset anyone. When women disrupt, they challenge our world view. And when we feel threatened, we often attack. I think women disruptors are subject to way more scrutiny and negative backlash than their male counterparts.

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

There have been many (like I think Lord of the Flies, Jonathan Livingston Seagull & The Handmaid’s Tale really impacted my thinking when I was young). But a book that has really impacted my thinking and life as of late is “When the Body Says No” by Gabor Maté. I suffer from chronic pain and this book just made me think about the connection between things like trauma, family relations, poor boundaries and physical health in whole new ways. It actually helped me realize the impact working in (what I believe is) a broken mental health care system was having on my health and inspired me to get out of it. It really helped me on my healing journey and in tuning into my own body more/listening to its cues, a practice which I use a lot now in coaching with my clients.

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. 🙂

Self-Love. Hands down. If people loved themselves wholly, they wouldn’t feel the need to hurt others. Or be jealous. Or to try and control them. Hurt people, hurt people and it becomes so much easier to love others when we have love for ourselves. The world would be a better place.

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

Phew, that is tough. There are so many. I love Mae West’s quote, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” (close contenders are “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and “what other people think of you is none of your business”). You have one life, how do you want to spend it? What do you want to experience? What difference do you want to make? These are the questions that guide me. The voice that drives my decisions. The reason I left that unhealthy relationship. The reason I left a job that was killing me. The reason I got on stage. The reason I do the work I do. The reason I keep pushing myself to face my fears. Because a life unlived, is the biggest waste of all.

As mentioned, I think losing my brother (and other people I love) has really solidified for me the importance of living your life fully. My brother was not here long, but he was so alive while he was.

This knowledge that nothing is promised, that at any time things could change, something or someone could be taken away from you, reminds me to live mindfully and fully.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can sign up for my newsletter, get in touch with me, work with me at www.olivevontopp.com

I’m also active on Instagram @olivevontopp

And less active on

Facebook, Tik Tok, Twitter, Youtube @olivevontopp

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


Female Disruptors: Olive von Topp 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.