Socializing: Social skills are where good emotional intelligence is perhaps most commonly attained. Only those who understand and regulate themselves and their emotions can work well with others. Understanding this is fundamental to developing your emotional intelligence.
As a part of our series about “Emotional Intelligence, I had the pleasure of interviewing Deisy Suarez-Giles.
Deisy Suarez-Giles is a Dominican-born entrepreneur, esthetician, expert in self-care and spa management, known as the spa connoisseur. She is the owner and founder of DESUAR Spa, voted best spa in downtown Los Angeles multiple times, and author of “Marriage Material: How I Found My Husband”. Having originally entered the beauty and wellness industry more than 16 years ago as a makeup artist in NYC, her passion for providing skin care advice and treatments began years earlier, as a child who made face scrubs and mud masks in the kitchen sink which she used on herself and her friends, family and neighbors in the Dominican Republic, and Brooklyn, NY where she grew up. A wife and mother of two sons under 3, Deisy is also a public speaker, philanthropist, author, content creator, and influencer. Deisy also holds a B.A. in Marketing Communications from UTESA, and also a graduate degree from the University of California Irvine, Continuing Education Division, with a major in Spa and Hospitality Management. She is also a licensed esthetician and massage therapist.
Success is important to Deisy, but philanthropy also has an important place in her life. As a mother, she cares about giving back. She has volunteered at the Living Water Children’s Centre in Tanzania, Africa where she helped teach English to the children, and applied her touch therapy to healing the orphan children. She continues to support this charity today.
Deisy has lived in several different countries, and has visited more than 150 spas globally, she has traveled to in excess of 40 countries. All of these experiences have and continue to inform and inspire ideas for her spa. She currently resides in Los Angeles with her husband and 2 children. Spurred on by positive client reviews, Deisy is developing her new Spa DESUAR skin care line and hopes to open her third spa location soon.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I have some early memories living in the Dominican Republic with my mom, brothers and sisters while my dad lived in the USA. I remember spending a lot of time doing crafty things and beauty rituals with my older siblings, using kitchen ingredients. I also had a cat name Felipito. I loved playing with him, grooming him and giving him beauty rituals. I got him as a kitten until he went missing. I was so sad, I cried so much. I still remember him. He was a tabby cat. I played with my neighbors, my barrio (neighborhood) was very safe, often, we listened to music and played outside. We didn’t have smart phones, fancy tech games or computers, so life was different and more innocent without fancy technology. My dad would often call us to my uncle’s house phone, we had to walk to my uncle’s house, it was 3 houses away. We didn’t have a phone and for this reason my dad would call us there. At age 8, my family and I moved to NYC, to relocate with my dad. I was sad and siblings were sad as well. We missed the Dominican Republic so much. I was depressed and my siblings were too, and we cried every day because we didn’t want to live there. We really missed the weather, food, music, the beach, and of course our friends and family. I was too young to understand that we had to move there so that our parents could give us a better future. So, to kill boredom I would work on my creative side. I would spend hours doing my hair & makeup or playing with products. I would also perform services and skincare rituals on my doll, new neighbors and family. By the age of 12, people actually started to pay me, and I decided to get more serious about my business. Who would have ever thought this was the beginning of my career?
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My mom has been the main inspiration for my career. At the age of six, I saw my mom attending school to finish her 4th grade. At the tender age of 7 years old, my mom was taken out of school by my grandmother. This was because my grandmother needed help cooking and selling food to hungry customers on the street in her native town in the Dominican Republic. My mom grew up very poor, and for this reason, she and her siblings had to skip school as work was a means of making ends meet. My mom grew up barely knowing how to write or read.
My mom’s main desire in life was to one day to be able to at least finish her high school diploma. It was a dream that up until the time of writing, she has not reached. Instead, she would opt to move to the USA. She worked for many years at a factory in Brooklyn for way below the minimum wage. This was to help my dad provide for all of us. I saw my mom working 10–14-hour shifts. Sometimes even working 24-hour shifts to help my dad with the bills. Those low-end jobs didn’t pay overtime and sadly, my mom was naïve and didn’t understand the law. In the mid-’80s many new immigrants were taken advantage of, and unfortunately, my mom was put into some form of modern-day work slavery.
Thanks to my mom’s early life struggles, she was obsessed with us studying and attending college. All she ever wanted was to be able to finish her education, however, since she couldn’t do it herself, she wanted to live that experience vicariously through her kids.
I was too young to understand this then but now I do. I didn’t want to let my mom down then and with this knowledge, I certainly don’t want to let her down now. She made so many sacrifices for her family and children and I want her to be alive to see me become successful. I want her to see that her hard work didn’t go unnoticed.
My mom has been my fuel & complete inspiration to pursue my career. “Never stop learning, please study and educate yourself” my mom would often tell me.” I don’t want you to end up working in a factory” she would continue to say. Not a day went by that my mom didn’t share her sentiment of how much passion she had for learning and attending school and that opportunity was never given to her due to her unprivileged upbringing. My mom is symbolic of strength, inspiration, and the sole reason I have so much drive in my vocational pursuits.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I am so grateful for many real-life angels who continue to grace and improve my life. Not only did they guide me along the way, they offered their knowledge, their strength, and inspiration to keep me on my path during the hardest of times. Starting with Brian who was my life partner of five years who passed away suddenly in 2014. He supported me throughout my business ventures. I can truly say he continues to support me after his early death. He played a huge and sincere role in my life. Brian was a kid at heart, was never upset, cheered me at my lowest, and provided a lot of mental, emotional and financial support at my lowest time. Brian promised to never let me down, told me he would always be there for me and I can truly say, he has kept his word and continues to do so every single day.
When I had to attend school to work toward making my dreams come true, Brian would help me cover my expenses so that I didn’t have to worry about money. Allowing me to focus fully on my studies. Brian was a giver, and my happiness was his happiness. Not allowing him to give was like stripping him of his own happiness. He was a natural educator and taught at High School and College level. He knew how to motivate and encourage others with his wise words.
When Brian passed away, he didn’t forget me and made sure I would be set to continue doing what he had helped me get started. I want him to look down from heaven and see that I didn’t stop and how know much he inspired, encouraged, helped and motivated me. I want to make him proud from wherever he is. I know he is still cheering for me and this is the only motivation I need to strive forward toward success.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
In 2016, I was already married to my husband Keith. This year was proving to be a crucial business period in our lives. We were undertaking the construction of what would become our flagship DESUAR Spa location. It was a big location and we had made the choice to remodel the entire 6,000 Sq. Ft basement. It was expensive and it was a cause of much stress for both of us. We didn’t sleep well at night. Money was a major issue, the construction budget kept getting bigger. A project which was supposed to be a half million-dollar project doubled in cost, plus a little more. We had to give up shopping, traveling, eating out. We were living on a shoestring budget and it was the toughest time of both of our lives. This would only be amplified by the events that would come next.
During a trip to Florida to visit my dad who was ill, we were robbed. We stopped by a CVS to buy some flea shampoo for my senior dog. I was to stay in the vehicle waiting for my husband, but my husband was in a mood as we all are from time to time. He insisted I come inside with him and find the meds since he assumed whatever he picked wouldn’t please me. I didn’t want to go in, I was exhausted from a long day. I was carrying a big heavy bag, but he still insisted I go in. He also suggested we leave the dog in the car, something that I was rather reluctant to do. It was the evening, around 9 pm. We parked in front of the pharmacy and I left my belongings inside the car. I then grabbed my dog followed my husband and we went directly to the pet aisle and grabbed the shampoo.
The pharmacy was empty, it took us 4 minutes; Yes, I clocked it. I know because I was texting as I was exiting the car. In 4 minutes, we had a passenger window broken and my bag was taken. I was so upset and even more so because I didn’t want to go inside the pharmacy. I didn’t want to leave my things in the car, I didn’t want to carry that bag and I was exhausted. That decision was so pricey as in my bag, I had my checkbook.
We had so many outstanding checks so we knew it would be a huge hassle to work out which were fraud cases and which were genuine checks we needed to keep on the books. Checks and auto-debits were coming daily so our bank suggested we wait until those checks clear to close our account, but more payments kept coming in so it was a mess. Our banker suggested we keep an eye on our account for daily activities and they would also notify me of any transactions made in the state of Florida.
A month passed by and nothing unusual happened. So, I made a horrible mistake and stopped checking the account. I left that task to my husband and bookkeeper. So, thanks to this ignorance, the person that stole my purse was living completely off our money. The fraud stretched back for 7–8 months before the robbery and the damage surpassed 14,000 dollars. Yes, I am ashamed to say I was a victim of banking theft. We lost it all. The bank didn’t take any responsibility or refund anything. We were at a loss during the most crucial time in our life. Chase Bank deemed the incident as business negligence by the account holder and our bookkeeper blamed it all to my husband, stating that this was a plan of ours to pay my mother’s outstanding bills. This cost me my private chase account and predictably, my bookkeeper, which was a pain to replace.
There are so many lessons that I took with me as a result of this. One of which being to follow your instinct and never do anything that goes against your gut feeling. If you don’t want to go somewhere then don’t go. Lastly, I learned to monitor my money very closely and I don’t trust anyone with my accounting and financing. This was a big lesson but even though this was a hard pill to swallow, I have persevered and this setback has not stopped me from chasing success.
The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?
Be ready to give up a lot of things to make your dreams materialize. Remember, many times you have to let go of the things that you love most to allow new and better things to enter your life. I have had to stop shopping, eating out, and I travel less to utilize my finances more efficiently and allow new and bigger things to enter.
Don’t give up, and don’t let naysayers discourage you from pursuing your dreams. People will always tell you that you’re crazy and warn you that running a business is a massive undertaking. However, entrepreneurship is about putting in the long hours with little sleep while working hard and smart. There is always going to be a cost. Things will take time and you need to be patient. One must give things time to mature and grow, have faith and never lose hope.
Most importantly, always keep studying your field. This industry is always evolving and the only way to operate successfully is by being one step ahead. Attend beauty shows and subscribe to different organizations. Be ready to quickly adjust and adapts to changes, whether it’s market & social changes, consumer behavior, new trends or yes, even a pandemic. Lastly, always secure your brand name on all new social channel even if you are not planning to utilize that platform at that time.
Is there a particular book, film, or podcast that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, it resonates with me so much. This book teaches us to never lose hope and find your own personal legend. When you really desire something, the universe will conspire and bring things to you. It teaches us to always listen to our gut (our heart) it will never fail us. Look for those Omens (the language of God) that the universe is giving us. It’s also true that there is something to learn from each negative or positive situation. It teaches us to use our heart to overcome fears and obstacles, and if you fail, don’t give up in the process. We all have a dream and a personal legend to be discovered and fulfilled.
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“There are no failures, only lessons.” This view is something that I carry with me in all my endeavors. I can honestly say I’ve gained so many valuable lessons from my mistakes. Now everything I do, I do from experience. Failure is part of the process leading to success. Mistakes are there to help you grow and make better decisions in the future.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
My upcoming book “Holy-Skin” is a very exciting project of mine. My book is about empowering, self-love, and self-care. The skin is our largest organ and our first line of defense, a protective barrier that will help to protect us against invading pathogens. Many of us have never been taught how to properly care for this holy organ. I want to share with my audience all I’ve learned inside the treatment room and as a skin expert. Pus, I want to teach my readers how to treat the skin with clinically proven ingredients and products for beautiful, healthier and glowing skin. Teaching self-care is very important, now more than ever, especially now with COVID19 regulations. Most beauty spas and salons are shut down but self-care is still a must. It can be detrimental for many of us when not done regularly. I want to be able to teach, empower and share all my knowledge with my audience.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers a bit about why you are an authority about Emotional Intelligence?
I can connect with people in a way that makes them feel at ease and relaxed, free of judgement or prejudice. My energy and positivity help me to create a safe environment for my staff and clients. Being able to understand that my backbone is my staff has helped me appreciate my surroundings and engage my workforce in their activities.
Through having a strong team, I can maximize productivity and increase morale, which in turn will result in customer satisfaction and retention. Understanding that my emotions are secondary in some situations and how to control them around my team and clients has also been critical for me. Creating positive interaction with my staff and daily customers has helped me reach the level of success I had in my time as a single owner-operator.
Additionally, I consider myself a good leader that can lead in a positive way to create positive reactions, that will structure good relationships and a healthy culture within my company. When dealing with negative customer service experience, I understand the customer and will always connect in a way that will most often result in a happy customer. This is due to my ability to ease any tension, calm down any upset client and amend the situation in a swift and efficient fashion. This often results in turning a client into a long-term customer.
For the benefit of our readers, can you help to define what Emotional Intelligence is?
Making all-encompassing decisions that require an understanding of how your feelings are affecting and influencing others. Understanding everyone around me to be able to properly speak to staff or colleagues. Being able to listen and understand your weaknesses, strengths and limitations. Making a conscious decision to delegate and inspire trust in others. Being able to go into a room and make everyone feel at ease, mitigating tension in a stressful situation. To be in tune with your awareness and eliminating emotions in the process of decision making. Allowing my rationality to work in a non-judgmental way. Controlling my emotions to not lose respect from others and instead inspire trust.
How is Emotional Intelligence different from what we normally refer to as intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is not related to what we normally refer to as intelligence. You don’t need to be “smart” to have Emotional Intelligence, you just need to be able to understand another’s emotional state and control how you project your own emotional state back to them in a way that makes them feel understood and valued.
Can you help explain a few reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such an important characteristic? Can you share a story or give some examples?
Possessing a high standard of emotional intelligence will enable any leaders to better comprehend and motivate people who follow them. Entrepreneurs with high emotional intelligence are more likely to empathize with customers and therefore, recognize their needs more successfully. It relates to a broad set of measurements a person should master to recognize how their mood, actions and tone affect others. Plus, how their personal preferences or beliefs alter how they think or act. In a work place,managers and bosses monitor a seemingly intangible set of factors like work ethic, compatibility with your team and the ability to steer people towards a common goal.
I have so many examples to share. Working in the wellness and spa industry, I use my Emotional Intelligence on a daily basis. My business has become successful mainly due to my ability of effectively use my EI. For example, I will answer phone calls from spa customers that just want to be understood and listened to before they make an appointment. Many of them just know that they’re under a lot of stress and don’t know what they want or need. For anyone answering the phone this can create frustration trying to figure out what this person wants, since the customer doesn’t even know what they need. Someone’s first instinct may be to ask the customer to ‘please check our online menu and call us back when you know what you want.’ However, understanding and controlling your emotions will enable you to better assist this caller, converting and winning over a new client by showing empathy and working with this client to help find a treatment and then book the appointment that they desperately need.
Would you feel comfortable sharing a story or anecdote about how Emotional Intelligence has helped you in your life? We would love to hear about it.
Emotional Intelligence has helped me create a great company culture where everyone feels valued and appreciated. Building the ethos centered around comfort. One which ensures that my staff are completely comfortable speaking to me and connecting with me. It has helped me build many long-term relationships with many spa vendors and business associates. I now can negotiate better deals and contracts by not allowing my emotions to control my mind. I am more disciplined, better at recognizing my temper and able to be more at ease when making serious businesses decisions that will impact the course of my business.
One anecdote I can share that happened rather recently. I made a huge purchase with a new vendor, it was very risky to do so with the threat of COVID-19. The pandemic was making a lot of noise within the media and there were rumors of a shutdown. I opted to follow my business mind and not let fear control my business. However, this would turn out to be a mistake and two days before receiving the order, we had a mandatory shut down. At the time of the order the vendor warned me about placing said order, but I insisted on taking my chances. I ignored her advice and told her things would be fine. Little did I know, the business would be shut down for over 5 months.
At that moment I was thinking, “Now what?” I was upset at myself and the pandemic. However, being upset was not going to solve my problem, I had thousands of dollars on skin care products I couldn’t use or sell. I needed to convince this company to take this order back and refund us. Luckily for me, I was already prepared for her response and I had the strength and resolve to deal with the situation, no matter the outcome.
I handled everything like a true leader, was very mindful of the words I used and I made sure the conversation stayed on a positive note, after all, I needed to keep this relationship in good standing. After 10 minutes on the phone I was able to graciously convince the rep to take my order back, refund me and wave the cost of shipping. This company has now won a long-term client. I had to bite my tongue many times during the conversation but being able to control my anger or emotions helped me accomplish my goal.
Can you share some specific examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help a person become more successful in the business world.
High emotional intelligence is linked to better job performance, working better in teams, increased creativity, staff retention at work, and accepting rapid changes.
Emotional intelligence is particularly important for spa & wellness, hospitality and tourism because it plays a dual role. First of all, a high level of emotional intelligence is essential for successful service delivery. Spa hotel customers — especially those of high-end establishments- have become jaded and are ever more difficult to satisfy. What is needed to cement customer loyalty is service that “surprises and delights” guests through highly personalized touches, or at least doesn’t annoy them in some way. To achieve this goal, employees must be able to anticipate a customer’s specific needs or wants before he or she verbalizes them.
Secondly, a high level of emotional intelligence on the part of managers themselves is essential for building a strong team that is motivated to give its best, whether in the treatment room, relaxation area or at reception. In a team where feelings are valued and there is a culture of empathy and understanding, employees are more likely to feel good and perform at their best. Not only does this make for a better guest experience, but it should have a significant positive impact on employee retention levels and absenteeism.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have better relationships?
Through strong emotional intelligence, people are able to read others emotions & it can help you read emotions of those that don’t normally show them. This will help you monitor your conversation and heighten your level of perception during future encounters. It will make it easy to socialize and connect better with others as well. Emotionally intelligent people often enjoy better interpersonal relationships and can easily diffuse arguments for better healthy relationships. Plus, emotionally intelligent people understand the connection between their actions and other people’s emotional reactions.
Can you share a few examples of how Emotional Intelligence can help people have more optimal mental health?
Learning how tocontrol your emotions and not rushing into impulsive decisions that you will later regret, will lead to a more positive life. By learning self-management and self-awareness, it will lead to greater mental health and better-quality of life. Here are a few examples of how emotional intelligence can lead to mental health benefits:
- By having better control of their finances
- Having healthier relationships with peers, co-workers, teachers, etc
- Healthier family relationships
- Able to sleep better and delegate things with a clearer mind.
- More self-motivation
- Having better interpersonal skills with effective communication skills, will eventually lead to a better life that will impact enormously on one’s mental health
- A high level of EI will assist you in socializing. Socializing not only staves off feelings of loneliness, but also it helps sharpen memory and cognitive skills, increases your sense of happiness and well-being, and may even help you live longer
Doing the opposite like making impulsive decisions driven by emotions can lead to bad decisions that have dire consequences and a life changing impact. This can take a toll on anyone’s health and mind and can result in depression, drug and alcohol addiction and dependency on prescribed medication to control these issues in some cases.
Ok. Wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. Can you recommend five things that anyone can do to develop a greater degree of Emotional Intelligence? Please share a story or example for each.
- Meditation: can help you gain a new perspective on stressful situations and assist in building skills to manage your stress. Lastly increasing self-awareness.
- Long quiet walks: walking not only has innumerable health benefits that have been well-researched and documented such as a reduction of many diseases to increased mental cognition. It can also give you a sense of peace and tranquility.
- Reading: emotions are extremely hard to control especially when you don’t realize what emotions you are feeling and what they mean for you. Certain books can increase your emotional intelligence by helping you understand your emotions and the psychology behind them.
- Learn to listen: Good listening allows us to demonstrate that we are paying attention to the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of the other person (seeing the world through their eyes). This is crucial to maintaining productive relationships, and sometimes the only way to establish communication.
- Socializing: Social skills are where good emotional intelligence is perhaps most commonly attained. Only those who understand and regulate themselves and their emotions can work well with others. Understanding this is fundamental to developing your emotional intelligence.
Do you think our educational system can do a better job at cultivating Emotional Intelligence? What specific recommendations would you make for schools to help students cultivate Emotional Intelligence?
Absolutely, I believe the educational system can do a better job at cultivating the growing of EI. Early care and education programs that set high expectations and provide plenty of social interactions with children and adults offer opportunities for making choices and taking responsibility. They recruit teachers who recognize and appreciate each child’s unique responsiveness and learning styles and support the development of emotional intelligence. Programs that seem to focus on training children or filling them with information with little intent to educate or nurture the child’s aptitude for learning, do little to cultivate emotional intelligence. I believe one big step would be in hiring more teachers and stop the overcrowding of classrooms, to allow educators to have a more personalized approach and dedication with each student.
Ok, we are nearly done. 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.
If I could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of positive change possible for the greatest number of people, I believe it would be centered around the theme of empowerment. Empowerment is the process of becoming fiercer, stronger, and more self-confident, especially in governing one’s life and claiming one’s right. We are all beautiful and deserving to have it all.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Oprah Winfrey is such an inspiration to me and many others, because she embodies the determined, self-driven, ambitious woman that I aspire to one day become. Her long-lasting success with her television show is a credit to her natural capability to engage with people through television. Leading to her being labelled as one of the most influential women onscreen of all time. Oprah isapositive impact maker, whoinspires others through her experience and her being, whoempowers and supports others through her giving, whopassionately shares who she is and what she does with the world, andwho believes in the power of authenticityof the human-being and in theunity of the people for a greater good.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.