Women Of The C-Suite: Jacqueline Fae of ‘I Deserve Love’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As…

Women Of The C-Suite: Jacqueline Fae of ‘I Deserve Love’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive

The truth is we all have our own superpowers (what we’re really good at). Part of what makes humanity so great is that we all have different backgrounds and life experiences that inform our views. So, I think it’s important to have a team that can see things from many angles. I’ve found that diverse perspectives can lead to creative problem solving. Even in my marriage, my husband is Latino, and we are constantly learning from each other in subtle ways. Besides, in any evolving industry, why wouldn’t you want a team with a diverse range of backgrounds and superpowers?

As a part of our series about strong women leaders, we had the pleasure of interviewing Jacqueline Fae, The Faery Matchmaker, Founder of I Deserve Love, Author, Celebrity Matchmaker, Dating Coach, and Love Manifestation Expert.

Jacqueline Fae is former actress turned Celebrity Matchmaker, Dating Coach, and Love Manifestation expert. She had a successful career in acting but fell out of love with the industry. She pivoted and capitalized on her background in Psychology and intuitive ability to read and understand people, has given her a unique ability to successfully match people for long-term, successful, and fulfilling partnerships.

More than just a matchmaker, Jacqueline helps her clients to resolve toxic relational patterns, decode their own underlying values, and open up to the love they deserve.

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?

After being a working actress for a decade, I just wasn’t feeling fulfilled and realized my heart was no longer in the craft of acting. At that point, I decided I truly wanted to do something to help people, so I studied and got certified in Hypnotherapy, NLP, and Life Coaching.

Eventually, a coaching client asked for my help with his online dating profile and our sessions quickly evolved into dating coaching. Within six months he was married and that’s when I realized I absolutely loved being able to give dating advice and more so, I enjoy helping people find a real love connection. I truly believe every one of us deserves love, but we often block ourselves from receiving it, which is why I started I Deserve Love Matchmaking.

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

Where do I even begin? I guess the search for love is so universal that it’s brought out some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met. As complex thinking creatures, we are shaped by our traumas and our breakthroughs. Our baggage can hold us back in so many ways that finding love can feel hopeless for people that are otherwise winning in career or financially. So, it’s been incredible to work with some of the most successful and truly fascinating people on the planet from Billionaires to Influencers, Athletes, and Boss Babe CEOs. It’s a real privilege to both teach and learn from these incredible people. You should see our VIP Match Club parties! When all those energies are together in a space, it’s something magical.

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?

One of my favorite parts of being a Matchmaker is throwing members’ singles events we call Match Club Parties. My very first event was a Valentine’s Day party at a gorgeous home overlooking the Hollywood Hills. I figured most people wouldn’t show up, so I padded the guest list… way too much. To my surprise, most of the list showed up and even brought friends! I ended up having one hundred people at what I thought would be a thirty-person singles event. Naturally, we ran out of alcohol and I had to pay the owner of the house so we could drink his. As I tried to MC throughout the night, no one could hear me, because there were so many people. I learned to always have more alcohol and appetizers than you think they’ll need.

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

I definitely am grateful to my husband, Ramón who has been my biggest supporter since day one. Not only has he helped me build and strengthen my brand through content and marketing, but he believed in me and encouraged me to start my own business in the first place. I know it’s not easy for most men to feel good about their wife meeting dozens of successful, single male clients, but he has always trusted me 100%, which has not only made our business successful, but our relationship is as well. Secure is sexy!

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’m a huge advocate of meditation, so before I go into a meeting, I like to close my eyes, relax and do some deep breathing. Sometimes, I’ll even ask the Universe or take some time for self- care. It’s so important to listen to your body and answer it when it asks for something.

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?

The truth is we all have our own superpowers (what we’re really good at). Part of what makes humanity so great is that we all have different backgrounds and life experiences that inform our views. So, I think it’s important to have a team that can see things from many angles. I’ve found that diverse perspectives can lead to creative problem solving. Even in my marriage, my husband is Latino, and we are constantly learning from each other in subtle ways. Besides, in any evolving industry, why wouldn’t you want a team with a diverse range of backgrounds and superpowers?

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.

My husband likes to say that real voting power comes from how you spend your dollars. So, when we discuss all the levels of division and inequality in our current system, I think it all starts with simplicity.

Listening has become a great tool when attempting to help people find love.

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?

There are many days when I feel like the pressure of navigating our company direction is less important than helping a client with a healing heart, but the truth is success comes when I can find a balance of both. As the decision maker on so many aspects, I’ve found that being able to trust your team is crucial to any real success. That means building confidence and identifying the right team members.

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

I don’t know if it’s still considered glamorous and comfy, but I can attest it isn’t. At least not at first. It can take months or years to be profitable and the first few years of the business. I think the myth I would dispel is that matchmaking is easy. It’s not! And the second myth I would dispel is that anyone can do it and they absolutely cannot. It takes a very unique spirit and a certain skill set to truly be great in this career. I think people don’t truly understand that being a matchmaker means that you need to understand the deepest parts of your client and help them to heal and work on themselves while you intuitively seek out another person that you can match to the person you are helping them to build themselves into. You have to be able to project and then time this perfectly.

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

I can’t speak for everyone, but I’ve definitely come across men that won’t even negotiate with a woman. There are certainly some outdated patriarchal attitudes that are ripe for throwing out.

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

I think we all have different expectations going into a new role, but I really was tossed into this because of my innate abilities to read people. I think I was more surprised that I was destined for this role than anything else and I have to say that it’s been the most rewarding journey. I began my career as an actress and fell out of love with the industry. It just didn’t bring me happiness anymore. The Universe has a way of making sure we always end up where we are meant to when we trust in it. So, I ended up right where I was meant to, matchmaking. I have helped so many people find their soulmates and it’s been such an incredible experience. I think the biggest difference that I truly experienced was what I thought my career path would be and where I ended up. I am happy with where I am!

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

It’s honestly the same advice I’d give anyone, but the key is to ignore the doubts of others as you build your empire. There will always be people who want to knock down your sandcastles but keep on building and eventually that sand will crystalize.

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

I’m in a fortunate position to have the freedom to do what I love. A central part of that is helping people unlock self-love and receive it from others, so I’d like to think in my own way, I’m improving it one person at a time.

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

1. I wish someone would have told me how hard I would have to work. I will put in 12–14 hour days to really be successful in my industry.

2. I wish someone would have told me how much time you will spend on calls connecting, networking, meeting, negotiating.

3. I wish someone would have told me how picky and challenging it can be to work with people.

4. I wish someone would have told me how important persuasiveness is in business.

5. I wish someone would have told me how hard it is to stand out in an industry. Paving your own way takes risk, hard work, and persistence.

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 inspire people to empower other people. It’s the most powerful thing and if you can genuinely tell someone something positive you can empower them.

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

We are always learning and evolving, here on this earth school.

It’s relevant because it reminds me to control my emotions and treat everything like a lesson and this is true for all people. We all learn and evolve at different rates. Send love and light.

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’d like to do a double date with Grant Cardone & his wife Elena Lyons with my husband Ramon. They are an inspiration as a power couple. I’d love to pick their brains and get to know them. I’m sure we’d have a great time and I’d benefit so much from their expertise.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFaeryMatchmaker

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thefaerymatchmaker/


Women Of The C-Suite: Jacqueline Fae of ‘I Deserve Love’ On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Tracy Lawrence of The Lawrence Advisory: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO

Who You Hire is Who You Become: In startup mode, it’s easy to recruit from a reactive place, where the focus is on putting out fires rather than building the culture that will help you reach your business goals. Often, early stage hiring starts with the founder’s immediate circle, such as college classmates or even relatives. But as a business scales, early hires may not level up. Conflicts can arise and resentments burrow into the firm’s culture. Think of hiring as ground zero for building a company culture. If you get it wrong culture, you will stunt your business’ growth.

As part of my series about the leadership lessons of accomplished business leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy Lawrence.

Tracy L. Lawrence is the Founder and CEO of The Lawrence Advisory. The Lawrence Advisory is known for hiring, coaching and building high-performing teams with an emphasis on innovation and performance. Lawrence was recently named the first Executive-in-Residence at USC’s Marshall School of Business.

Prior to launching The Lawrence Advisory, Tracy Lawrence led the Los Angeles based Consumer and Entertainment practice at Russell Reynolds Associates, one of the world’s largest recruiting and assessment firms. Previously, Lawrence served as General Manager of Fox Family Channel, leading the cable network until its sale to The Walt Disney Company for more than five billion dollars, the largest price ever paid for a cable network.

Lawrence uses her real-world expertise to advise Fortune 500 companies, private equity firms, asset management companies, media and technology companies, and non-profits in creating teams that drive growth and performance. She has held leadership roles at Viacom, Kraft, Nestle, and PWC.

Lawrence frequently speaks about her “hire//build//lead” model of organizational development, which focuses on incorporating strategic goals into the hiring process for long term sustainability. Stanford University, Harvard Business School, the Aspen Institute and University of Southern California are among the places where Lawrence has lectured and shared her experience and knowledge.

Lawrence earned her BA in Economics from Stanford University and her MBA from Harvard Business School.

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

I spent the first half of my career as a marketing executive in the television industry. I loved the work, but I am the kind of person who needs to keep moving forward. After over 15 years in this business, I was ready to move on, and was looking for something more entrepreneurial. When a major executive search and assessment firm approached me to lead their entertainment practice, I decided to give it a try. I soon realized two things. First, my passion for understanding how people think and what motivates them is what drew me to marketing in the first place. Second, leadership and recruiting work aligns with that passion. After only two years with the recruiting firm, I started my own leadership consulting firm. Building up and running my firm has been both meaningful and creative work; it has also given me the freedom and the chance to make deeper connections with my clients.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

The hardest part about starting my firm was overcoming my own fears. I was raised to value the security and prestige that comes with a big corporate job. But, despite the advantages and the many lessons I learned from working for some of the world’s most recognized brands in entertainment, I knew the day would come when I would swap corporate life with the life of an entrepreneur. As soon as I moved past my fear, I was off to a fast start.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When I know I am on the right path, I stay focused, listen to my intuition, and work hard. A relentless optimist, I invest my time and energies on the opportunities rather than the dead ends.

So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?

I am incredibly proud of where The Lawrence Advisory is right now. We’ve tripled in size over the past few years and have continued to grow despite the pandemic. Much of this growth stems from our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion practice’s rapid expansion. This is work we have always done, but it’s been exciting to see that companies are prioritizing it at higher levels in light of the social justice movement.

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 I began talking to prospective clients, I was so focused on convincing people to hire me that I hadn’t thought through what to do when someone actually did. For the first few months, I didn’t have a business name, I didn’t know how to write an invoice, and I didn’t have a company bank account. I was flying a plane while putting it together! With so many balls in the air, I worried I would drop one. Fortunately, none of the few I dropped were deal breakers.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We work more closely with clients than other firms in the business do. This gives us several advantages. We’re able to keep track of their evolving issues and anticipate solutions they’ll need. Because we’re able to stay relevant, not to mention provide a higher level of service, we can build longer-term relationships with our clients. Just as important, we are leadership experts first. Combining our approach and expertise has given us a unique perspective and depth of understanding of our clients’ firm culture and who will not only fit in but succeed. Take our Diversity Equity, and Inclusion practice as an example. As leadership experts, we don’t simply deliver bias training — we help clients operationalize their DEI goals to deliver real results.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Boundaries are crucial to business owners. They’ll help you focus on what’s important and let go of what’s not. Adopting practices for wellness and renewal is also important. I meditate daily and try to spend as much time as possible in nature. My best ideas emerge from these practices.

Also, as a mother of two, I carve out time and space to be fully present with my children.

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 was my inspiration. He pursued a career in electrical engineering at a time when few Black men did. He was a smart, fierce individualist, who encouraged me to stake my own path rather than live according to the values and priorities of others. Even when I tried and failed, I could count on him to be in my corner and cheer me on.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I love mentoring young students and professionals of color. For the past two years, The Lawrence Advisory has partnered with the Emma Bowen Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports college students of color interested in the entertainment and media industry. We manage the Launch career activation program, focused primarily on college seniors, offering workshops, matching them with mentors from the industry, and providing on-going support to prepare them to begin their careers. It’s incredibly rewarding to be able to provide advice and support to these incredible young people.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Never lose sight of your vision: Founding a new business is creating something where nothing existed before. The ideation is the fun part, but tactical execution makes it come to fruition. It’s hard work, and it becomes easy to lose sight of your long-term vision. What’s more, I find that as we reach each milestone, our long-term goals may shift as new information emerges. It’s vitally important to keep an eye on the big picture while executing on details.

Who You Hire is Who You Become: In startup mode, it’s easy to recruit from a reactive place, where the focus is on putting out fires rather than building the culture that will help you reach your business goals. Often, early stage hiring starts with the founder’s immediate circle, such as college classmates or even relatives. But as a business scales, early hires may not level up. Conflicts can arise and resentments burrow into the firm’s culture. Think of hiring as ground zero for building a company culture. If you get it wrong culture, you will stunt your business’ growth.

Stay in Your Zone of Genius: The best use of my time is focusing on those tasks that only I can do. In my case, it’s working directly with senior leadership for certain clients, developing business, and setting strategy. My philosophy is, “If someone else can do it 80% as well as you can, delegate it!”

Build a Container for Growth: I spend time each week thinking about where I want to be, and whether I have systems in place that will allow me to get there. From accounting to legal policies to hiring practices, my business will not scale if I have not created the appropriate infrastructure to do so.

Under Promise, Over Deliver: My firm has had great success maintaining long-term relationships with clients because we understand their needs and frequently deliver above and beyond expectations.

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

My movement would be about developing empathy across cultures, on a global scale. I believe that when people truly see each other in all of their humanity, they are able to act from a place of love and compassion. From there, good things follow!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracyllawrence/


Tracy Lawrence of The Lawrence Advisory: 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A CEO was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Female Disruptors: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your…

Female Disruptors: Cat Lantigua of Goddess Council On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

“Build it and they will come” this was advice shared to me by my boyfriend Frank during the early days of Goddess Council. There were a few events that I planned in which nobody showed up and I worried whether my idea was sustainable or not and he comforted me by reminding me of this.

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

As a first-generation Dominican-Amercian, Cat learned to navigate the nuance of community, identity, advocacy, self-care and storytelling in everyday life. In 2016, while living in her hometown Miami, Cat launched a blog dedicated to vulnerable sharing her personal journey of trying to ‘Figure it Out.’ In addition to sharing her personal experiences, her blog amplified the voices of millennial women shifting the culture. After moving to New York City, Cat found herself depressed and lonely seeking true friendship in a new city. Doing what she knows best, Cat took her personal experiences online and realized there was a community of womxn with similar experiences. In these tender spaces, many shared candidly about them wrestling with belonging, self-understanding and navigating the windy sometimes unexpected curves of life. In 2018, Cat officially became a community architect and created Goddess Council, a vulnerable, authentic community that usher in honest, meaningful conversations and nourishing exchanges.

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?

Sure! I graduated from FIU in 2015 and at the time was determined to commit my life to non-profit/NGO development for organizations dedicated to empowering women and children and alleviating poverty. I was ready to move across the world to embark on this path, but after dipping my toes into the nonprofit sector I realized that the bureaucracy of it all prevented me from being as hands on as I would’ve liked to be. Upon realizing this I reevaluated everything and distilled my sincerest interests to be storytelling and fostering safe spaces. Throughout that journey I launched my podcast Chats with Cat to document my journey (and the stories of my inspiring peers) of overcoming fear and paving the way for my soul’s purpose to shine through. I also launched Goddess Council, a wellness community and sisterhood for women seeking deep connection, new friendships, healing, and joy!

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

The work I’m doing within Goddess Council is disruptive because our mission to raise awareness around social wellness by bringing together women in a meaningful and authentic way is requiring the context of wellness and the conversations relegated to that category to expand.

In the absence of physical touch and in-person connection, our society is realizing the critical role our relationships play in our overall wellbeing and health. I’m committed to furthering this awareness by amplifying the conversation around social health in accessible spaces and platforms as a means of bridging the knowledge gap that has existed between academic social science and everyday people.

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?

Something I used to do often was downplay my qualifications and commitment to this work while in the presence of highly established women until one day someone just flat out told me “you don’t need to do that”. I learned that minimizing myself was in no way flattering to me or anyone else, I just came across insecure.

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?

To be honest, I’ve never formally had a mentor. I used to feel like I had to go out and recruit one or else I wouldn’t be “doing this right” but then I realized that all of the authors and podcast hosts that made up my media diet were all my mentors! Sure, I’ve never met most of them but they’ve all impacted my life and attitude in some way or another which is ultimately what I think a mentor is supposed to offer.

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 great point. I think the positive element to disrupting an industry, system, or institution is usually in the context of demanding an overdue update or change that will impact the lives of those involved in a more equitable and sustainable manner. In other words, if it makes the system more inclusive, intelligent, and fair I think it should be interpreted positively.

Conversely, negatively disrupting a facet of industry or an institution can look like creating an unequal distribution of power, making decisions that will endanger the quality of life and safety of the beings involved, creating an impact that will thwart the culture toward an outdated approach

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. “Build it and they will come” this was advice shared to me by my boyfriend Frank during the early days of Goddess Council. There were a few events that I planned in which nobody showed up and I worried whether my idea was sustainable or not and he comforted me by reminding me of this.
  2. “People come into your life for a season, reason, or a lifetime”. My mom would always say this to me as a child, but after experiencing a tough friend breakup while living in NYC she shared this with me and it really landed.
  3. “Ni un paso atras” is something my Guela (grandma) always tells me, which translates to “not one step back”. When I find myself in uncomfortable situations and want to give up Guela adds this into her pep talk and it seems to always help.

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

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

One thing that comes to mind is that men aren’t typically filtered through the lens of being overly emotional or hysterical beings, they just are. Unfortunately, women often have to work to convince men that they’re level headed and worth paying attention to instead of just being heard to begin with.

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

All about love by bell hooks is a book that deeply impacted the way I define the different ways I can imagine love to be embodied. I read it during a time in my life when I needed that awareness the most and was absolutely transformed by 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. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement it would be one about eco-conscious and sustainability through intentional community architecture!

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

I have to share it in Spanish because it is the language I learned in! It’s “lo que es para ti nadie te lo quita”, which translates to “what is for you nobody can take”. Throughout my life the elders in my family have said this as a way of reminding me of my destiny and that I should always remain focused on my own path.

How can our readers follow you online?

They can follow me on Instagram at @cat.lantigua ,by visiting www.catlantigua.com or by checking out my podcast Chats with Cat on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or wherever you stream your favorite shows!

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


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

Female Disruptors: Jada Shapiro of ‘boober’ On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” I struggle with perfectionism, as do many entrepreneurs. Sometimes that intense drive to do everything perfectly or at least as well as possible, pushes me to work hard and continue to accomplish. However, I have finally, after many years of being in business and in therapy, come to the understanding that sometimes being “good enough” means that whatever I’m working on will actually get done. I’m laughing as I write these answers and struggle to accept that what I’ve written is good enough to share with your readers! At some point, you just have to let it go, take that step and push whatever it is out into the world. Ok, I’m done!

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jada Shapiro, maternal health expert, doula and founder of boober, where expectant parents and new families find classes and on-demand expert care providers, pregnancy to postpartum. She founded boober to empower parents to positively transform their pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences and outcomes through expert education and easy access to qualified maternal healthcare providers. She also founded Birth Day Presence, NYC’s most trusted source for birth worker trainings and expectant parent education, which has supported over 20k parents since 2002. She is a birth and postpartum doula, childbirth educator, lactation counselor, birth photographer, mother, and step-mother.

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?

In college, I found myself interested in reproductive health and took a class called “biology, politics and reproduction” which was fascinating, but focused only on aspects of reproduction with little focus on the actual birth. How can we discuss the politics and language of the reproduction process and then disconnect it from the actual birth experience?

Later that year, while skimming the stacks at a town library I stumbled upon a book about midwifery. The title piqued my interest, though I didn’t know what midwifery was. I opened the book and entered a world where childbirth was described as a peak and positive experience, where midwives helped people safely birth their babies outside of hospitals without pain medication and with extreme levels of support and where the birthing people moved throughout their labors, ate as they wished, had lots of people surrounding them and gave birth in a wide variety of positions. Having mostly seen images of childbirth in our culture as medicalized experiences where people in labor ran to the hospital and then laid on their backs while doctors pulled their babies from them, my whole perspective on birth shifted. My senior thesis was about the medicalization of childbirth in the US.

After college, a dear friend invited me to photograph her birth and as I watched her move about, get in and out of the shower, the bath, lean on a birth ball, squat, stand, lie down, move, eat, drink, moan and wiggle all while surrounded by 20 of her closest friends and family, my path was set. Soon after I took a birth doula training, met my first business partner and launched my first company, Birth Day Presence, in 2002, which I grew into NYC’s top childbirth education and doula training and matching center. Boober grew out of market demand from my students who couldn’t get the lactation support they needed fast enough. I would get endless calls and texts reaching out for help and eventually gave out my cell phone on a postcard encouraging new parents to text if they needed lactation help. When the texts started rolling in faster than I could keep up with, boober was born and has now grown into a marketplace where expectant and new parents can find all their classes and on-demand in-person and virtual care providers they need to thrive from pregnancy to postpartum.

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

My work is only disruptive in that the American approach to community, healthcare, family, pregnancy, birth and postpartum and let’s just say it, life, is so far-off from the “normal” order of things, that my focus on educating and empowering birthing parents and making it easy for parents to find the care that they need becomes disruptive. It is incredibly sad to know that the disruption we are providing in the US is the norm in other countries. My goal is to revamp our reproductive care system entirely including midwifery led birth care, healthcare for all where profit is not the main motivator of the procedures we use in childbirth, ending systemic racism in birth care, and returning birth to the family and community so we don’t need to hire outside people to care for us during these transformative times of our lives. Until then, I am doing what I can to ensure that all people are able to easily access the care providers they need like birth doulas, postpartum doulas, lactation professionals, and mental health therapists who can help parents not only thrive, but survive the transition to parenthood.

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?

At the first birth I attended before I trained as a doula, I walked in, and saw my friend perched on her birth ball leaning over a double bed. I remember waving to her and saying “hi” enthusiastically, as though we were going to hang out, and she barely glanced at me and gave me no response. Suddenly, I realized that birth and labor was monumental and entirely different than what I had imagined. My friend had been working for over 24 hours already to birth her baby into this world. I was humbled and in awe at her power.

Childbirth is a major transition for human beings, undervalued by many, and the experience impacts individuals, families, communities and society at large in a profound way. The lesson learned for me was birthing people are powerful and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, be allowed to choose the positions during labor that feel right for them, be allowed to bring whomever they want to their birth to support them through one of the most physically challenging experiences of their lives, and to be placed at the center of the birth experience with all aspects of care geared toward not only keeping birth safe, but keeping the parent in the driver’s seat as much as possible. No one told my friend what to do, besides making gentle suggestions and she was able to have a vaginal birth despite the slow pace of progress (which easily could have resulted in major surgery in a standard hospital), surrounded by the people who loved her, which impacted her so deeply she went on to become a midwife herself.

This lesson has stayed with me throughout my career and empowering parents with the education and information they need to make the best choices for their own experiences is what motivates me; we show up for families in their time of need and solve their real life problems even in the beginning. Even when our tech was minor (simply texting parents on my cell!), we had considerable success because we cared and because we meet parents where they are with no judgment. We were (and are) here for when families need us responding to their requests day in and out, making the space for them to transition to parenthood and removing the shame associated with asking for help.

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 am lucky to have learned from some amazing people along the way both from the birth side and the business side. Debra Pascali-Bonaro, longtime expert doula, childbirth educator and trainer, who offered the first doula training I took, opened my eyes to the amazing possibilities in childbirth. She showed me how the birth experience affects health outcomes, like the likelihood of nursing one’s baby, and to the ways people birthed historically and currently around the world.

I met my first doula/business partner, Terry Richmond, in my doula training and she was instrumental in helping me develop confidence and power in my voice in order to become the teacher I am today. Right after my training, she and I jumped into starting our birth business with a deep passion for making childbirth more positive in this country with no real business knowledge. Eventually I hired business coaches, but I realize now that my natural marketing impulses came from watching my father, Gary Shapiro, a Hollywood studio marketing expert. Along the way, I was lucky to be mentored by a couple in my childbirth class who became my doula clients. They were both successful business people, who formally helped me grow my first company after I helped them with the birth of their baby! Soon after boober was born, I reconnected with an acquaintance, Arshad Chowdhury, an entrepreneur and early-stage growth expert who encouraged and supported me along the way as I took my new idea and turned my brick-and-mortar lifestyle business experience into a company with much larger scale and potential. My co-founder, Noah Shapiro (not related), deserves some serious praise for bringing his operational & financial know-how to this care-focused business.

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 a failing US healthcare system is not what I would call a positive thing, as much as a necessary thing. I would much rather see families getting the care and support they need from our healthcare system (like Canada or many European countries do), than be the one doing it. Pregnancy and postpartum care is a basic human right. Having doula care can literally save your life, but when the costs are inaccessible to many parents or when the care is not covered by most insurance, then families lose. That’s why, beyond boober, I work with an activist organization in which we regularly meet with local city and state council, assembly and senate members to fight to help families get access to the insurance and care they need and are entitled to and to advance midwifery in this state. In this country, entrepreneurs are often the ones setting new standards for the community around them.

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

“Birthwork is political,” is a quote you’ll hear often in my field. I’ve been lucky to be working among a vibrant, vocal and politically active birthworker community in NYC. I am endlessly reminded of the privileges so many of us, including myself, hold, which affords us opportunities that many do not have. Who we refer our clients to for care matters to keep our clients safe and in some cases, alive, how we educate the people we work with matters, who we vote for matters and where we direct our money matters. Birthwork will be political as long as Black and Brown people experience preventable death in labor due to racism. And this leads into more great advice, “Whatever the question, the answer is in the community.” Kimberly Seals Allers reminds us that our racist system devalues the community perspective especially in communities of color and that it’s time to listen to community members and learn from the community members, not so we can “fix” or “change” or even “help,” but so we can look to the community as a place that actually has answers and if we listen to the people we can learn from them and do better. Finally, “Get the best, it’ll cost you less” is something my mom often says. It’s simple but a good one to remember. Always focus on the value and remember that many costs remain hidden or delayed. It’s not only in purchasing items, but in how we live and act ourselves and with whom we engage. I want to elevate the work that I do by surrounding myself with people who do their best.

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

Far from done! I plan to shake up the way this country gives birth. First, I’m creating the marketplace where pregnant, planning, and postpartum parents come to find all their expert classes and on-demand care providers who help people thrive during the childbearing years. My grand vision: A country that is patient centered and equitable with midwives running the reproductive healthcare system (as they do in every other country… who all spend less than we do and have significantly better outcomes), an end to the systemic and medical bias and racism in our birth care system, and creating a new type of place where people can give birth safely, but do not have to set foot in hospitals which are meant for sick people..

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

Let’s start with this question! Men are rarely asked what challenges they face that women do not. More often than not, “women disruptors” or let’s say “people disruptors” who gave birth and are feeding their babies from their bodies, face bias and discrimination, more demands from their family, prejudice, less opportunities, lower pay, and most of the time are the primary caretakers. Women face the fact that they are rarely seen as fund-worthy with only 2.7% of venture funding going to female CEOs. The lion’s share of a family’s responsibilities still typically sits on women’s shoulders. Finding the right balance? I think we all recognize that it’s not really possible to find balance in a country that doesn’t offer significant paid maternity leave. I receive the benefits of white privilege, have older children who do not require every minute of my attention, and am lucky to have a partner who makes almost every meal and does significantly more housework than I do, but I see many women entrepreneurs abandoning their ideas for lack of support in their personal lives or because of systemic barriers to entry which include race and gender. The expectations to do it all — parenting, leadership, look a certain way etc. without missing a beat is exhausting. In the healthtech space, talking about the birthing body to predominantly male investors who are not always parents can be a challenge. Elevating an issue and solving a problem that may not be felt by them can be very challenging.

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

This question assumes that somehow in my time of parenting my daughter and three stepdaughters and building a startup that there would be anytime for reading or listening! I live in a walking city, so I do not spend time driving and listening and I prefer to hear my environment while walking. That being said, I do attend talks about birth, postpartum and parenting frequently at the birthworker trainings we host and most recently attended a talk on anti-racism and birth justice by maternal health advocate and founder of the game-changing Irth App, Kimberly Seals Allers. Kimberly presented the idea that doulas think about a “co-liberation model in doula work,” in which our lives and freedoms and rights to a safe birth experience and life are inextricably linked and that none of us will be free until all birthing people and mothers are free. A plea for the white doulas among us to care as deeply about Black and Brown birthing people and their experiences as their own.

I also enjoy the How I Built This Podcast by Guy Raz and have been inspired by listening to these founders on their pathway to building their amazing companies from the ground up. I remember listening to the story of Angie’s List and the founder was talking about how she’d sit on her floor with two phones and a notepad answering endless calls and hustling. I thought, that’s me! When boober was in its early days and people were texting my cell thinking it was a bot, I was in bed in my PJs fielding late night desperate texts, calling and calming parents and getting them immediately connected to lactation professionals. I was on the phone endlessly, running out myself when the parent was nearby. It is amazing to see where we have come from and how we are growing. Listening to all these founders, hearing their setbacks and nuggets of wisdom from their trials, watching how they cobbled together things to make their business take the next step, inspires me through the long days and nights of startup life!

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. 🙂

I would hope to inspire as many white people, hospitals, institutions and our government to support and get involved in the birth justice movement which already exists, led by Black midwives, doulas and thought leaders. The birth justice movement is working hard to reverse maternal mortality trends in the US — the worst of all developed countries! — In my own city, NYC, Black birthing people are 8–12x more likely to die in childbirth (or soon after) than their white counterparts, due to systemic racism and bias. I would also flip our maternity system on its head and we’d go back to our roots and to the way all countries and groups of people have always given birth; with midwives and in birth centers which encourage freedom of movement, position choice, unlimited support people and keep birthing parents with their babies at all time and can also offer live-saving medicine and procedures when medically called for. Midwifery is much more cost effective and saves lives. We just need to follow the evidence and implement the care.

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

“Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” I struggle with perfectionism, as do many entrepreneurs. Sometimes that intense drive to do everything perfectly or at least as well as possible, pushes me to work hard and continue to accomplish. However, I have finally, after many years of being in business and in therapy, come to the understanding that sometimes being “good enough” means that whatever I’m working on will actually get done. I’m laughing as I write these answers and struggle to accept that what I’ve written is good enough to share with your readers! At some point, you just have to let it go, take that step and push whatever it is out into the world. Ok, I’m done!

How can our readers follow you online?

@getboober on IG, www.getboober.com

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


Female Disruptors: Jada Shapiro of ‘boober’ 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.

Joyce Ong On How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business

Connect with your audience if they are active on LinkedIn. Have they updated their profiles (do they even have a profile picture?) and if so, when was the last time they posted anything? You’d want to avoid spending time on inactive profiles and make sure you connect only with your audience if they are there

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

Joyce is the founder of Marketing Tech, a Marketing Consultancy that supports small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Together with technology partners in the UK, they deliver solutions such as App, Web, Search Engine Optimization and LinkedIn Marketing services.

Marketing Tech is more than an app developer, web developer, or SEO provider — they work with the businesses providing 360 degree Marketing Advice to ensure businesses will generate results from their investment.

Joyce has more than twenty-five years of Corporate and SME marketing experience in Singapore, Zurich and London, a passion for marketing technology and uses her experience and skills to champion SMEs and facilitate digital transformation within organizations.

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

I’d been dabbling with LinkedIn for many years, first as a marketing professional working for a global financial institution, subsequently with the two businesses that I’d started since leaving the bank.

It was only in the last two years that I’d learnt to harness the power of LinkedIn properly.

There aren’t always quick fixes to getting LinkedIn to work for your business, but there are a few things I wished I had taken the time to learn and implement, when I first started out on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a marketing channel I use to generate a pipeline of qualified leads for my B2B Marketing Consultancy. I also teach many UK business owners to use it effectively, as I’ve noticed most businesses spend a lot of time on LinkedIn but don’t get the results they want.

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

Small Businesses quite often work in their own silos and get left behind by advances in technology. This is especially the case with small, traditionally-run businesses who are not online, or do not sell online.

Since the pandemic, this is even more evident as many businesses struggle to survive partly because they’ve not promoted themselves online, and struggle to make sales in a lockdown.

I’ve been talking with some of these businesses helping them to innovate and grow in these challenging times and by doing so, we’ve had to offer new marketing services in order to meet rapidly changing demand

In the wise words of Seth Godin: “Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.” How true!

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 I started my Marketing Consultancy, I was invited to an event to talk about Marketing to a bunch of startups. 25 registered to attend the talk

I arrived at the event and there were just three people in the room.

About two thirds through my 90-minute workshop, one person made her excuse and left. I never really found out why. Then another person left shortly after!

At this point I found myself talking to just one person. I was starting to get this sinking, really cringe feeling and wished the floor would just open up and swallow me up.

However, I stayed the course, I soldiered on trying to look unfazed by it all, pretending I was talking to 25 people in the room instead of just one.

Just then, the organizer ushered someone into the room. As it turned out, he was really keen to learn and asked lots of questions which really kept us going. Together with the other guy who was in the room, we managed to finish my talk unscathed. Whew!

Later it transpired that last guy who walked into the room towards the end of the talk was a staff member the organizer dragged into!

Moral of the story? Never agree to hold a free workshop right in the middle of a World Cup match…you’re not going to win.

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

LinkedIn of course! Although I like Instagram simply for fun and creativity, it’s also a nice practical way of connecting with local businesses, businesses that we can help. We’ll be doing something soon on Clubhouse to grow our Instagram following.

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

Knowing the demographic of the audience you’re building is a good start. It’s a good idea to run a simple search to see if your audience is indeed on LinkedIn. Which leads me to the first point…

  • Connect with your audience if they are active on LinkedIn

Have they updated their profiles (do they even have a profile picture?) and if so, when was the last time they posted anything? You’d want to avoid spending time on inactive profiles and make sure you connect only with your audience if they are there

  • Proactively build your audience

It’s natural to think that, by connecting with people you’ve met or accepting invitations that come your way on LinkedIn would be enough. But are you really building the audience that you want?

Quite often, you will receive LinkedIn requests from people who just want to pitch at you.

Once you’re clear on who your audience is, doing a simple search on LinkedIn would bring up 2nd and 3rd degree connections, valuable contacts you may not normally come across.

One of the best things about LinkedIn is you can narrow down your search for people you’d like to connect with from specific locations, business sectors, job titles, even alumni or people affiliated with the same organizations as you are. And it’s all free.

I use an automation software to help me build my audience — this isn’t free to use but frees up time for me to do the stuff that will really generate leads

  • Quality versus Quantity

What constitutes quality is a matter of testing, creativity and content planning. I used to think posting anything everyday will work but, save for some vanity likes, all I did was adding to the noise on social media.

If you’re under time pressure, 2–3 times a week of relevant, insightful, helpful posts interspersed with your promotional content works better than just sticking links to articles you’ve read elsewhere, without sharing your insights on that article.

  • How to Engage

Telling your story behind the business, inviting your audience to share their thoughts, discussing a customer pain, posting customer reviews, promoting your own events and collaborations are all good places to start. Comment, like and share in return and make this a habit

  • Start a 1–2–1 Conversation

Here’s where you demonstrate the value you provide to your audience, by offering something free, relevant to your business and of some value to that audience. This can be a download, quiz, video clip or an invitation to your event etc.

Why? At this point, you’d want to take the conversation with a member of your audience who’s responded to the value you provide, and has now become a Lead, out of LinkedIn and onto a call, zoom demo, meeting, app download or email marketing. And continue with a sales conversation.

When you’ve made the above activities a regular part of your LinkedIn marketing, you’ll start to generate leads. This is the first step towards qualifying and converting leads into customers.

If you would like to join our LinkedIn Marketing webinars and join a support group where you’ll get to implement some of the lead generation tactics we’ll learn, sign up here

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

In Sept-October 2020, we zoom-interviewed a hundred Corporate Escapees turned Business Owners (SMEs) in the UK, to hear their stories of success, struggle, failure and lessons learnt. Crucially, we learnt first hand, warts and all about the mindsets and skillsets required to run a business.

I’ve shared our findings in a Podcast and LinkedIn blog, hopefully a TEDx talk in May 2021 so that those making the switch from the 9–5 to running their business in this pandemic will benefit from it. Since the pandemic, there’s been a huge increase in the number of new company formations, many of these are started by people who’ve been furloughed, lost their jobs and now taking a shot at fulfilling their dreams. These are the people I’d love to reach out to.

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

I’d love to have breakfast with Gary V or Jay Z — they are entrepreneurs in the true sense of the word and would love to get their advice, one-on-one

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


Joyce Ong On How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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.