Encourage the passions and dreams of each other. We’ve learned to support each other’s passions and dreams. For example, Aleya supports Doug’s study of jazz and blues violin. Doug supports and encourages Aleya’s obsession with rocks and heavy landscaping. We both love to ski and sail. We both love to serve others and help them to become as happy as we are.
As a part of our series about lessons from Thriving Power Couples, I had the pleasure of interviewing Aleya Dao and Doug Noll.
Aleya Dao and Doug Noll. Aleya is an internationally known sound healer, author, and spiritual teacher. Doug is a lawyer turned peacemaker, author, teacher, and co-founder of the Prison of Peace Project. They live on their 10-acre property in the central Sierra Nevada of California.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you two to your respective career paths?
Aleya Dao: As a child, I was energetically sensitive and began meditating at age 10. At the age of 12, my family sailed from Chicago across the Atlantic to the Med. That 18 months exposed me to a variety of cultures and ideas that expanded my consciousness. After the trip, my heightened awareness led me into Oriental medicine, and eventually, I opened a practice in Telluride, Colorado. From there, I moved to Santa Barbara and began my online meditations. Today, I have a private practice, an online audience of subscribers, and hundreds of online students. I have created 9 albums of sound healing meditations, and I am working on my second book.
Doug Noll: I grew up in Southern California, attended Dartmouth College, and went on to law school. I was a commercial and business trial lawyer for 22 years before it dawned on me that there were better ways to resolve conflict than through litigation. I went back to school, earned my Master’s degree in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies, and left law practice in 2000. Since that time, I have been a student of human conflict, a mediator, the author of four books, and a teacher.
With my colleague Laurel Kaufer, I co-founded the Prison of Peace project in 2010. What started out as an experiment to see if we could train women serving life sentences to be peacemakers and mediators in the largest, most violent women’s prison in the world has turned into an international project. We have established Prison of Peace in 12 California prisons, a prison in Connecticut, 14 prisons in Greece, and have startups in Italy and Kenya. Through all of this work, I have developed a unique set of listening skills that can almost immediately de-escalate any potentially violent situation. I am producing online courses to teach these and other transformative life skills.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you two got married?
After we were married for five years, we began to realize the power of our relationship and connection. We started to explore the idea of how to take our work to the next level. That led us to realize that living in a more remote location might be more conducive to our work. We ended up purchasing land in the central Sierra Nevada foothills. Not having the distractions of living in a city and living in a clean, quiet rural environment has allowed us to focus on our service to others. We are blessed with a super-high-speed Internet connection, which has allowed us to expand our reach internationally.
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?
We had just started our relationship and were learning how we each manage finances, taxes, and our businesses. One afternoon, I, Doug, watched Aleya count on her fingers and asked her what she was doing. She said, “I’m muscle testing to see how much money I made this year so I can pay taxes.” As a lawyer, I was stunned into laughter. I gently explained to her that muscle testing probably wouldn’t stand up to an IRS audit. That’s when we realized that having a sound financial system would be critical to our businesses’ growth.
From experiences like this, we learned how to listen, learn, and create from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We have learned to celebrate our sometimes very different ways of seeing the world.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
We are both focused on service to humanity. I, Aleya, see the world through the lens of compassionate consciousness. Doug sees the world through the eyes of a peacemaker and practical scholar.
From a business perspective, we both embrace the power of leverage that the Internet provides. We see we see ourselves in a global workspace with no limitations. We create and teach tools foundational to peace, happiness, and healthy connection that we share around the world.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are launching a series of online courses and virtual group sessions, teaching people how to be emotionally competent, conscious, connected leaders.
What advice would you give to other couples?
Every day, do one thing for yourself, one thing for your relationship, and one thing for your business or career. These should be small, incremental steps that move you forward. Don’t focus on the big stuff. The little steps will move you faster and in a more profound way.
How do you define “Leadership”?
Leaders provide focus, safety, direction, and motivation to the groups they lead. There are four dimensions to leadership: leading up, leading sidewise, leading down, and leading oneself. All of these dimensions must be mastered to be an effective leader. Leaders must also be emotionally competent, self-aware, and dedicated to teaching and serving those they lead.
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?
Aleya: I am particularly grateful to Doug because my business would not be where it is today without him. Many years ago, he asked me some very pointed questions about my practice, goals, and clients. He taught me about the concept of leverage and how it can move me from serving a handful to helping thousands of people every month.
Doug: First, I am grateful to my mentors at Fresno Pacific University, who trained me as a peacemaker. They opened my eyes to the multiple dimensions and complexity of human conflict that has allowed me to expand my work internationally. Second, I’m grateful to Aleya, who taught me to move into my heart out of my head with everything I do. This allowed me to move my work to a whole different level, starting with the Prison of Peace project.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Our relationship has allowed us to create new tools of communication, connection, empathy, and compassion. We are sharing these tools worldwide through our books, meditations, online courses, and group sessions. We inspire each other to solve human problems in unique and powerful ways.
What are the “5 Things You Need To Thrive As A Couple”? Please share a story or example for each.
Encourage the passions and dreams of each other.
We’ve learned to support each other’s passions and dreams. For example, Aleya supports Doug’s study of jazz and blues violin. Doug supports and encourages Aleya’s obsession with rocks and heavy landscaping. We both love to ski and sail. We both love to serve others and help them to become as happy as we are.
Celebrate the intensity of your partner.
We are both extremely intense, focused, and disciplined with everything we do. Our favorite one-liner is, “Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe dedicated.”
Always see your partner’s highest capacity, greatest potential, and encourage them to move into it without attachment or control.
Because we see each other through the lens of love, we can motivate each other to our highest and greatest potential. This eliminates all competition, jealousy, envy, or insecurity. We celebrate each other’s successes, no matter how small or trivial.
Develop emotional competency and self-awareness
As Doug teaches, we are 98% emotional and only 2% rational. Relationships are emotionally-based. Therefore, developing emotional competency and emotional self-awareness is the secret to relationship success. These skills must be learned and practiced. They are not intuitive, and they are not innate. Without emotional competency, defensiveness, emotional shutdown, insecurity, lack of self-worth, unhealthy behaviors, addictions, old traumas, and unhealed childhood wounds plague a relationship.
Learning these skills takes time, courage, effort, and constant practice. It is a lifelong journey that leads to an enriching and fulfilling relationship and life.
Commit to Carving Out Time No Matter How Busy or Chaotic Life Is
Tend to your relationship like you would tend to a garden whose food you depend on for survival. Commit to spending time each day to be in each other’s presence, reflect, talk, explore, and create together. No career, no amount of money, no success is worth more than your relationship. Be willing to give all that up for love.
You are people 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. 🙂
Teaching children to be emotionally competent. Of course, this means teaching parents to be emotionally competent. We are convinced that the root cause of war, poverty, illness, disease, abuse, neglect, and violence stems from our lack of emotional competency. Once we understand and master that which makes us human, our emotions, our lives change forever in the best possible way.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Learn how to listen other people into existence.”
Doug coined this phrase to summarize the most critical aspect of our work. When we genuinely listen to each other’s emotions, we deeply validate each other.
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 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 🙂
Actually, we would be more interested in meeting the unknown people who serve the powerful. For example, who are the people that clean Jeff Bezo’s office? What are their lives like? Who are the committed people who work as staff in the White House Residence, and what are their lives like? We find these stories to be far more intriguing and educational than lunching with the rich and famous.
How can our readers follow your work online?
Doug’s website is https://dougnoll.com, with tons of articles and information about emotional competence and de-escalation.
Aleya’s website is https://aleyadao.com, where you can find her meditations, sessions, albums, and book.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.