Mental Outlook

Do What Gives You Joy

Holly Dowling

Global Keynote Speaker and Women’s Leadership Expert Holly Dowling chooses every day to do what gives her joy and uses her driving passion to inspire other women to do the same. A crooked path led her from pre-law at K-State, through a career as a cruise director, life as a single mom and a VP of an international financial firm. What saw her through were her three words to live by: tenacious, fortuitous and perseverance. Now she tells women around the world to shed anything that dims their light and say yes to everything and every person who supports their passion and purpose. When Holly is brought into corporations for leadership programs, she finds that instead of professional development, women most need to focus on who they are and rekindle the power and the light within to truly make a difference in the world.

You Are Not Alone!

No matter what culture they live in around the world, women want to know, most of all, that they are not alone. Holly’s mission is to share that message and why and how they can be true to themselves and live their passion. Universally, women look outside of themselves for permission to be who they are and go after their dreams. Holly sees many women break down in tears when they realize that they have been allowing the lack of permission to hold them back. They are liberated by the understanding and the epiphany that comes with knowing they have the power to choose. Holly urges women to see every day as the gift it is. When Holly considers her day, she asks, will this client give me joy?
On the flip-side, she tells women to stay away from emotional vampires. When you feel emotionally drained, look at who you spent your time with and what you were doing. Look for like-minded people who will support you, energize you and help you live your passion. “Quit shoulding yourself” and stay true to your character. There are more inspirational quotes in her book, Hollyisms: Let Your Life Shine, which is part meditations, part journal.

Celebrate You!

Listen to more inspirations from this engaging and fun conversation and check out Holly’s website, Her free special gift for people connecting with this interview is a button on her home page to listen to one of her all-time favorite podcasts that she broadcasts, Celebrate You!

Women Gain Power Through Our Stories

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly

When I tell my story, I find a connection with other women that is so close I feel like something magical occurs. We connect through our shared truth, and the hardships and traumatic events of life that made us grow and push past the barriers that held us back. Once we dissolve these barriers we stop being victims of our circumstances and become empowered through knowing and engaging our own truths. I’ve always felt that it’s very important for women to reach out and support one another in this process of sharing stories without worrying about how they will be perceived. The more we do this, the bigger our community will become to help us make the greatest positive impact on the world.

2017 is a year of new beginnings. The interviews I’ve conducted for my podcast so far this year seem to be focused on women who have had such beginnings. One of these, Michele Weldon, wrote three books about her journey from shedding an abusive marriage and raising her children as a single mom. Michele admits that while she experienced some very challenging times,  it was important to share the story. Especially  now she has moved on to something greater. Releasing the hidden truth of being a battered woman liberated her to live the life she deserved.

My Leading Women co-author Bridget Cook-Burch shares her story in her essay, “Transforming the Stories We Tell Ourselves as Women.” Strong women like Bridget are often surprised to find themselves in situations they thought impossible. In a decisive moment, Bridget looked her truth in the eye, took a stand, and shut down the circumstance that made her a victim. Having transformed her own story, she embarked on a successful career in business and as a best-selling author telling other people’s transformational and inspiring stories.

Another amazing woman I interviewed, Nancy Michaels, told of how her life was perfect on the outside while it crumbled on the inside. She suddenly became critically ill in the midst of a failing marriage. She survived it all to become a spokesperson for patient advocacy and tell her story about the mistakes women make trying to make our lives on the outside seem perfect while dismissing the very foundation needed to live a fulfilling life.

Nancy’s story is more common than you might think among women. When I went through my own divorce, people shied away from me for not staying in the marriage. I was shocked at the number of people who didn’t support me through that very difficult time. If they did support me, they would have to admit their own truth and the imperfections in their own lives. When I shared that fact with Michele, she laughed and said, “Yes, it’s like they think they can catch it if they get too close.” But once I found my own truth, and how I needed to transform my own story, I began to soar. When I was ready to share my truth, my very best friends were there to support and help me find my way to truly pursue my passion and purpose.

Women end up being victims because they don’t reach out for help. The purpose of WomenConnect4Good is to provide a venue for women to reach out, tell their stories, read and hear the stories of others, and support other women on all levels. And we are not alone. Stiletto networks are forming all over the country. Through these networks, women leaders hear the good and the bad and that helps us to problem solve and learn how others overcame difficulties we are facing. The issues we deal with in our lives are not unique. These communities of women where we can share our truths are so empowering that the possibilities are endless.

If that sounds too optimistic, look around you at what women are doing. When others try to put them down and make them feel less than they are, women are standing up and following their passion. They are starting their own companies , creating their own futures, and reaching out to other women to help them do the same. Although our numbers lag behind in the executive suites of corporations or seats of government, women are stepping up to change that. Feminine leadership is a natural fit for today’s successful social profit initiatives. When women find their truth and build a solid foundation, they can and do become leaders. If you’re already a leader, reach out to another woman, create a network for sharing stories and support. And if you’re still hiding your truth and unsure of how to find your path, reach out to other women, listen and share your story. It will liberate you in unimaginable ways.

Connect with Success

author, speaker, coach

Tasha M. Scott

Tasha M. Scott became “The Success Connector” when she discovered she had to connect with her true self and her faith to build  a foundation for success on the inside as well as the outside. Building her court reporting business, Real Time Reporting, LLC, to six figures within one year was impressive on the outside, but her personal life began to fall apart. Hiding her fear of abandonment and other issues beneath the workaholic exterior ran her and her husband into personal bankruptcy and a failing marriage. But she struggled back  with the help of aa personal coach who provided a safe place for Tasha to peel back the layers of doubt and fear and to discover the powerful, faith-based person she was.
Still maintaining her successful first business, today Tasha is a speaker, coach and writer. In just three years, she has written two books, Don’t Limit Me and Maximize Your Existence to help others journey through their own personal barriers to find their passion and purpose and to move toward their own life success.

What Holds Women Back

Tasha says that women don’t take leadership positions because they lack inner confidence to believe they can lead. She agrees that there are feelings of fear about failing, but more than that, she feels women are actually afraid of feeling fearful. That fear stops them from even considering following their dreams as a possibility. Tasha says that she had to embrace the possibilities and she encourages other women to do the same.
One of her methods is a system she calls SWOT Business Assessment, which she uses both in her keynote addresses and in her one-on-one coaching sessions:

  • S stands for Strengths, whether it’s a character trait or a skill, which asks the questions: What are you good at? What do people compliment you on? What do you do without even thinking about it?
  • W stands for Weaknesses and unfortunately people have no problem pinpointing those.
  • O stands for Opportunities and she asks women to look at  their dreams.
  • T stands for Threats and she asks participants what is holding them back.

Tasha emphasizes that you have to start with your strengths, no matter where you are in the process. When you admit your weaknesses, you have to partner with someone who is strong in those areas or outsource them to make sure they are done well. She likens it to a puzzle, putting together the pieces that will work  to build your confidence and ensure your success.

Tips for Finding Your Calling

Both her books and her website contain lots of information for finding your calling. Tasha says that often women are so used to giving they don’t stop and listen to receive information from others. It’s important to stop hiding and embrace your power and your dreams. When you embrace who you are and your God-given gifts, you build your success on the most durable foundation for a fulfilling life. Check out Tasha’s website, her video blog and her audio book version of her newest book, Maximize Your Existence.  Then listen to this interview for more words of wisdom from Dr. Nancy and Tasha.

Share Your Story and Move On

Michele Weldon

Award-winning storyteller, Michele Weldon seemingly had it all, the perfect marriage with a handsome, charismatic man, three sons, and a successful career in journalism, but the truth was very different. She told the stories of other people while working as a journalist for major newspapers and magazines, but when she decided to tell her own truth after her divorce, her peers warned her that she was committing professional suicide. Michele ignored their warnings and courageously wrote I Closed My Eyes: Revelations of a Battered Woman.
Heralded for its authenticity and riveting story-telling, her book was more than a good read. Michele’s messages helped other women to see how hiding keeps you trapped in the unhealthy, destructive victim role. Her personal story showed women how they could move on and liberate themselves to create a new truth..
Michele’s own life broke open after the book was published. She began to teach journalism at Northwestern, and wrote more stories and books, five non-fiction books to date.
Her most recent memoir, Escape Points, follows her life after I Closed My Eyes, about being a single mom, diagnosed with cancer and trying to raise three boys in the wake of an absent father. It won several awards including Editor’s Choice from Booklist.

The Good News and Bad News Is That Truth Is Contagious.

Dr. Nancy and Michele relate accounts of how people reacted after their divorces. Women shunned them. Michele said that it’s difficult to be around someone who is telling the truth if you’re being inauthentic yourself. Nancy agreed that she felt like people thought she was a leper and she wanted to tell them that they didn’t have to follow her lead. They could stay in less than rewarding marriages. But she chose to move on. And both women agreed also that when they did, it was empowering.
Michele said that since her first memoir, she has felt invigorated by her work. She is a prolific writer herself, but she also works hard to help other writers. Her work with the OpEd Project helps develop new voices across gender, economic, racial and political lines to narrate the world’s stories. Through workshops and scholarships, the project seeks to provide guidance and opportunities for writers to get their voices heard at a high level and make a difference in the world.

Reach Beyond Your Own Circle

The biggest problem women have is reaching out to ask for help. Staying in a truth that you can’t own keeps you stuck in an unproductive place. Developing communities where you can share your truth empowers you to get unstuck and live a more rewarding, happier life. Nancy repeated her mantra, “When we form communities of like-minded women and share our truths, anything is possible.” Michele encourages women to reach out beyond the circle of people they know. In Take the Lead Women, where Michele serves as editorial director, a large group of women work to create gender parity by 2025. It’s thrilling to work with women who are so energized by a cause and doing such amazing, life-changing work.
Listen to more of the advice and stories in this interview and check out Michele’s website for more about her and her intriguing stories. As editor of Take the Lead’s website, Michele is always looking for possible contributors. And she also says that the best thing about having written her memoirs is the women who contact her to share their stories and tell how her book helped them move on from their own stuck situation.

Empowering Story–Surviving to Thriving

Ragan ThomsonOvercoming a 20-year eating disorder was just one step Ragan O’Reilly Thomson took on her path to become the loving, compassionate and intuitive healer and Transformational Life Coach she is today. Ragan has recently partnered with her mother Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, to present Mother-Daughter workshops in Santa Barbara, CA. She also conducts couples counseling with her husband Alex, provides counseling on the phone and in person, and hosts goddess gatherings, and inspiring seminars. Her life has blossomed from surviving to thriving as she discovered her life’s work, which is to help others discover the healing she has experienced herself.

People Don’t Have to Suffer and Be Miserable

Having found joy in her own life, Ragan explains that most of us do not participate actively in our lives today but are instead asleep, thoughtlessly absorbing the collective unconsciousness in our culture. We listen to the media, see the movies and believe our friends and family when they make us feel less than we really are. When we begin to open our eyes to our authentic selves and see our paths more clearly, we rid ourselves of the roller coaster of highs and lows and wake up to abundant joy.

Dr. Nancy and Ragan agree that when you find your true passion and purpose, your daily life and the work you do are transformed into something beyond being merely happy. For Ragan, she says that it was like removing a lifetime’s build up of dust from a light bulb. Although she was born light and bright – like every person – she accumulated energy blockages that caused multiple problems. As she went through each stage of searching, first playing tennis, then acting and producing, she was really lost and weighed down by her life experiences. Then she found a spiritual community and a mentor and learned what was inhibiting her growth and knowledge of her true self. As she cleared away the blockages, she learned that she is a teacher and healer. She also discovered she could trust her own intuitive gifts.

You Can Wake Up and Live Your Dream

The Dali Lama says to “wake up.” Ragan says that while 95% of the world is still sleeping through their lives, more and more people are waking up. It is so easy today to find teachers that you only have to reach out and ask for help. You can search online for transformational teachers or spiritual healers and find someone in your community. She maintains that if everyone would recognize the god or goddess within them, we wouldn’t have wars, suffering and violence. We would find peace and live our dreams.

More Empowering News

Listen to this interview to learn more about Ragan’s story and the changes she sees happening across the planet. Check out her website for upcoming events and contact information. And visit for more information about Mother-Daughter workshops in the Santa Barbara area.

Take a Break and Enjoy the Holiday Season

It seems our lives become busier than ever during the holiday season. We stress over the Christmas parties we’re hosting or invited to frantically shop for last-minute gifts in over-crowded stores, and rush to attend numerous events. According to an American Psychological Association poll, nearly a quarter of Americans say they feel extreme stress when the holidays come around. 69% of people say it’s due to a lack of time, another 69% say it’s a lack of money, and 51% say it’s the pressure to give or get gifts.
Even the media sets us up for disappointment during the holidays. If we don’t find ourselves in the midst of today’s version of Norman Rockwell images of a happy family and friends enjoying the festivities, we have somehow failed in our pursuit of successful living. Yet often there just isn’t enough family to go around. When our children have children of their own and in-laws and extended families, our expectations for a full house on Christmas day fall short.
So what can we do to reduce the stress and actually enjoy this time of year?
We can start by taking a break. Ongoing pressure makes us feel overwhelmed and that makes it impossible to be our best. Simply taking a few minutes for a walk, or a cup of coffee and quiet contemplation can help us reset and jump back into the season. Mayo Clinic also recommends that we:

  • Know our spending limit.Set a budget, and stick to it. Never, ever buy gifts that you’ll spend the rest of the year trying to pay off.
  • Give something personal.You can show love and caring with any gift that is meaningful and personal. It doesn’t have to cost a lot.
  • Get organized.Make lists or use an appointment book to keep track of tasks to do and events to attend.
  • Share the tasks.You don’t have to do everything yourself. Spend time with friends and family while you share tasks like decorating, wrapping gifts, and preparing the holiday meal.
  • Learn to say no.It’s okay to say “no” to events that aren’t important to you. This will give you more time to say “yes” to events that you do want to attend.
  • Be realistic.Try not to put pressure on yourself to create the perfect holiday for your family. Focus instead on the traditions that make holidays special for you.

This time of year, we need to be our best and reach out to those in our lives, and in our communities to create a better world. We can’t do that if we’re overwhelmed or frazzled. The season is about sharing love with one another, and no matter who you have to share yours with, share it with yourself. Be kind to you; give yourself the gift of time and balance and do things that you really love doing throughout the holidays and the new year. It will be the best present you will receive–guaranteed.

Women Speak Up and Stand Out

CEO of Transform Your Performance

Regina Huber

Today, Transformational Leadership Coach Regina Huber speaks five languages and has 18 years of corporate business experience in six countries. But she had to build her self-confidence to get where she is today, CEO of her own company, Transform Your Performance, and helping other women to speak up and stand out. As a shy little girl from a small village in Germany, she only knew she wanted to go somewhere else. Each leg of her journey produced new challenges and worlds different from any she had known. Along the way she learned how to manage people and what prohibited so many women from speaking up and standing out.
speak-up-stand-out-and-shine-bookRegina thinks there is a prevailing belief among many women that they are somehow not enough. They don’t feel they have enough power or skill or what they have to say isn’t important enough to speak up. That’s why she developed her company and wrote the book, Speak Up, Stand Out and Shine – Speak Powerfully in Any Situation, to help women build self-confidence and step into their best professional selves and their role as leaders.

Leaders Don’t Blend In; They Stand Out

Women are raised by their parents to blend in. They will never become leaders with that mindset. As long as we blend in, others will get the promotions. Leaders don’t blend in; they stand out. They distinguish themselves to become recognized as leaders. When we see ourselves as unique individuals, we recognize our value and don’t feel the need to compete any more. We each have our unique ideas and strengths to bring to the table. Speaking out and expressing those ideas can bring about support and collaboration from our peers, be they women or men.

The Role of Power In Making Your Voice Heard

Regina recently became a Take the Lead Women Leadership Ambassador, certified to teach Gloria Feldt’s signature “9 Power Tools Program” along with her own curriculum. She said the two programs are perfectly aligned. In her Transform Your Performance program, she refers to it as “inner power,” while Gloria calls it “the power to.” Both refer to the power necessary to accomplish what you set out to do and both encompass making your voice heard.
To illustrate how difficult that is for women, Regina told a story about a woman who had met a male fellow worker in a meeting where she was the only woman. A few weeks later, she met him in the hall and mentioned that it was nice to see him again and he replied that it was nice to meet her. He didn’t even remember her being in the meeting. Women must strategize ways to become visible, to make their ideas memorable and to use their feminine strengths to make themselves heard as women. Business needs the yin and yang balance to be successful in the same manner as our families and communities do.

Free Gifts for Audience

Regina offers four videos to guests of Dr. Nancy O’Reilly and Women Connect4Good, which include tips from “Powerful Leadership Transformation” (PLT), her signature system that focuses on an empowering mindset, your distinctive uniqueness, a body-conscious presence that results in effective action. These gifts are available at or you can e-mail Regina.
Listen to this interview for more information about how Regina’s love of dance led her journey and how she and Dr. Nancy feel about the benefits of diversity in business and life. Check out more of Regina’s website for insightful ideas for overcoming a lack of self-confidence and ways to transform your performance.

In The Spirit of Love and Goodness

Author, Consultant, Speaker

Kristin Andress

Gifted storyteller and Leading Women co-author Kristin Andress invites you to enter an allegorical world to discover yourself in the characters that she portrays in her new book, Be Good for Goodness Sake. She and Dr. Nancy reminisce about childhood and small town neighborhoods that still exist today – where people’s kindness and support for one another ripples through the community in the spirit of love and goodness.
The core of Kristin’s message in her book and in this conversation is that how we show up in our world is a choice. We can choose to be judgmental and critical or we can lift each other up. Part of being good is really looking at other people and seeing beyond the physical appearances and superficial behavior to the story inside that makes us who we are.

We Can All Love One Another

be-good-bookcoverKristin says that humanity does have the ability to love one another. Even our differences show how similar we are.  She told a story about when she went to Bangladesh and how happy and welcoming they were to her and her friend. Dr. Nancy talked about her experience in Africa, when one person experienced success, everyone in the village reveled in their triumph. The cultural differences and kind, loving behavior amidst the relative abject poverty impressed both women, showing them how people can honor their humanity. Even though our messages in the United States seem to be the opposite of these, Kristin said that when she returns home, she kisses the earth. She loves America and the freedoms it allows, but wants to do her part to help us understand how different it would be if we would remember the old adage, “be good for goodness sake.”

Good Begets Good

Whatever you’re feeling, you create it in others. An important part of Kristin’s message is that a large portion of who you become and what you create in this world results from how you pursue your passion. If you pursue it from a place of love, you create more of the same. This does not have to be something big, your mission in life, it can be how you respond to the people you meet. A small smile or just really looking at and complimenting someone can transform their day, and yours.
Kristin mentions the irony of her writing a book about goodness when she was actually a naughty child. But she also explains that goodness starts with you. You have to behave with goodness toward yourself and believe you are a good and loving person. Then when you encounter someone who is misbehaving, you are unlikely to spread that negativity along.
Listen to this interview for more inspirational ideas and to learn more about this little book of self-discovery, and what Kristin hopes you will experience by the end of reading Be Good for Goodness Sake. Check out her website to find out more about how Kristin helps people leave a legacy through her business, Andress Consulting.

Lia Suzuki | Win-Win Conflict Resolution

Lia Suzuki, Sensei

Lia Suzuki, Sensei

Lia Suzuki Sensei, 6th dan, describes her why she became so involved in Akido with the statement, “When there’s a winner and a loser, there’s no winner.”  Having learned and loved the peaceful conflict resolution principles of Aikido from her sensei (teacher), Takeda Shihan, she brought his style from Japan to the United States by founding Aikido Kenkyukai International, USA. Now with dojos in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, Lia travels the world teaching Aikido principles for peaceful conflict resolution for a variety of circumstances.
In this interview, Lia tells how she was looking for a workout experience that had been left vacant when her horseback riding trainer became unavailable. Her horseback training included principles of not forcing the horse, but accepting where it was at the time and working from there. She found similar principles of unity in Aikido: when confronting an opponent, one remains engaged and protects oneself, but does not attempt to force or dominate.

Aiki Principles Transfer to Therapy

In the late nineties, one of Lia’s students was a psychologist and addiction counselor. He tried to convince Lia to give the lessons to his clients at the rehab center, but she refused. Being a purist, she insisted that they must get on the mat and practice to understand the principles. Then the recession hit in 2008, people lost their jobs and left her dojo in Santa Barbara and her landlord raised the rent, which forced her to close. When that door closed, the rehab center offered their gymnasium for Aikido lessons, but she had to agree to take on the clients. Besides a couple who actually did get on the mat, she had to do a seminar teaching the principles to a group of 30 students. She was amazed at the results. It worked.
In fact it worked so well, that she branched out to include other groups in the community. Peaceful conflict resolution is needed everywhere, and now Lia gives the program to prison inmates, veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), drug and alcohol rehab, mental health and youth groups. Whether someone is searching for peace of mind or dealing with violent situations, Aiki principles can provide tools to help the healing process.

Using Aikido to Reach Out to Help

Lia said that while she started Aikido to help herself, it became her way to help others. Now as a 501c3, Aikido Kenkyukai International, USA helps many people with scholarships, classes, teen leadership programs and more. Check out Lia’s website, for more information and go to to support the efforts to help underserved youth with scholarships and other initiatives. Listen to this interview for even more stories about how circumstances fell into place to help AKI-USA reach out to help others find peaceful ways to resolve conflicts in everyday life.

Using Feedback to Create Opportunity

pexels-photo-70292-largeCriticism isn’t always constructive, and it can often be a form of bullying. However, it can also be also be meant as a gift from someone who has our best interests at heart. A new study shows that men and women deal with the emotional fallout associated with receiving feedback or criticism differently. A group of researchers led by Margarita Mayo, a professor of leadership at IE Business School in Madrid, found that women are far more sensitive to peer feedback than men are. The study, published in the Harvard Business Review, examined Mayo’s assumption that receiving feedback involves some emotional fallout that may block the very same learning processes they are intended to boost. Researchers looked at  how MBA students react to feedback they received about their leadership competence from their peers.
The results show that students’ views of their own leadership skills went down after receiving feedback, and continued to drop in response to more feedback. This effect was stronger for women. Researchers found that women more quickly aligned their self-awareness with peer feedback, whereas men continued to rationalize and inflate their self-image over time, concluding that women were more sensitive to peer feedback than men. In fact, after six months, women perfectly aligned their views of leadership with their peers’ assessment, whereas men continued to inflate their leadership qualities.
Lisa Blackwell, author of Are You a Mule or a Queen writes in Huffington Post that in the past, women have battled to gain respect in society, and had to fight for a place at the table. Based on this history of working against obstacles, many women feel that any type of questioning or corrective advice is an attack.
In the workplace and often in the community at large, constructive (or sometimes not so constructive) criticism is also going to come your way. Tara Mohr, author of Playing Big: Find Your Voice, Your Mission, Your Message, writes that, “If a woman wants to do substantive work of any kind, she’s going to be criticized—with comments, not just about her work, but also about herself. She must develop a way of experiencing criticism that allows her to persevere in the face of it.”
It’s a given that feedback and criticism are going to happen, so how do we change the way we respond to it?
My Leading Women co-author Kristin Andress writes that the way that we see things is what makes the difference. We can choose to turn the trials and tribulations we experience into triumphs simply by changing our viewpoint and giving our thoughts over to a new perspective.  Following Kristin’s lead, perhaps looking closely at the intention of the person providing the feedback can help us better do this. Rather than taking each word as a personal attack, Kristin asserts that we look at each encounter as a way to create an opportunity for peaceful, satisfying, and fulfilling relationships instead.
“Sometimes a change of perspective and realizing the power of your perceptions starts simply with a conscious thought can change everything,” Kristin says. “This shift can help us realize that we need not all be exactly the same. In fact, our differences can escalate our innovations, our accomplishments, and our contribution to solving bigger issues than we can by ourselves.”
The next time someone gives you feedback or constructive criticism, remind yourself of the potential benefits:  perhaps it will help improve your skills, work product, or relationships. Then express your appreciation. Doing so doesn’t have to mean you’re agreeing with the assessment, but it does show that you’re acknowledging the effort your colleague took to evaluate you and share his or her thoughts. Then evaluate it and if necessary, shift the way you look at it and see if it will help you grow or move closer to your goals in any way. As women, when we can learn how to build one another up and become comfortable with the process of giving and taking feedback, we will stop disrespecting ourselves and others and build the positive sisterhood that will help us all achieve the success we all deserve.

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