The pause on “busy” we have experienced since the pandemic has given many families more quality time with each other. It is a gift that parents of teenagers and college-aged kids have had extra time with their kids. Spouses and partners have been given the opportunity to focus on their relationships too.
I am hopeful that after this pandemic is over we will have a deeper understanding of what is truly important in life. We will put people over things. We will not take our freedoms for granted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Many of us now have new challenges that come with working from home, homeschooling, and sheltering in place.
As a part of our series about how busy women leaders are addressing these new needs, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brooke Thomas, Founder and CEO, Live Out Loud.
Brooke Thomas is a success coach, women empowerment expert and the host of The Live Out Loud Show podcast.
Her series of elite masterminds and group coaching programs focus on the habits, mindset, and skills required to level-up your business, life, and faith.
Brooke has been featured in Forbes, The HuffPost, and InStyle Magazine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?
I was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma 16 years ago while I was pregnant with my first daughter. It was the moment that set me on a course to discover real health which I have learned rests on the foundation of mental wellness.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?
This pandemic created one of the most interesting moments for me personally in my business.
For months I had been planning the launch of my Live Out Loud LeadHERship Academy.
It is something I had worked on for over a year, tweaking and testing it, and I really believed in what it could do for women stepping into leadership. I wanted the timing to be just right.
Then the world shut down. Businesses closed, events and meetings were canceled, people hit pause. And I had a decision to make.
I decided to go ahead with the launch as planned because it was EXACTLY what women needed at this moment to ease their fears and step into their purpose.
That moment in time really forced me to put into practice the philosophy I teach others, which is you don’t need anyone else’s permission to live out your dreams.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
After working with thousands of women since the start of this pandemic, I became even more certain that connection and purpose have never been so important.
Based on the success of two group coaching programs I launched during the pandemic, I have created a new elite membership designed to keep women in momentum in even the most challenging times.
This membership will serve women in two critical areas. It will provide an encouraging community of support to help maintain a strong mental edge. It will also provide the tools for women to level up their skills so that they can create the life they desire.
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?
For years, I was a big fan of Lisa Bevere’s books. I felt a connection to her message that is hard to explain. I prayed that one day I would meet her. I visualized it. I believe that what you focus on will happen and I finally did meet her. We have built an authentic friendship and professional partnership. She has since played an active role in speaking to, training, and mentoring many of the women who work with me. The impact she has had on myself and the groups of women I coach has been life-changing.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of our lives today. Can you articulate to our readers what are the biggest family related challenges you are facing as a woman business leader during this pandemic?
The pandemic has increased many women’s feelings of anxiety and isolation. Families have been forced into the same spaces for extended hours of time as mothers work alongside fathers and children often adding to tension and frustration in a household. The balance game for working mothers was kicked up a notch, along with the feelings of guilt and unworthiness as moms added teacher to their list of responsibilities.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
I renewed my intention to help women find connection and purpose in their lives, committing to showing up consistently on social media to provide positivity and inspiration. In this uncertain new world, I wanted the women I serve to have some certainty they could count on.
Instead of focusing on my own experience, I focused my energy on finding gratitude in the day to day challenges. Serving others and practicing gratitude strengthened my mental state and helped ground me in a more hopeful future which allowed me to continue to move forward in my own business.
Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?
As an entrepreneur, I am used to working from home but NOT when my whole family is there too!
At first, I found my productivity level slipping in that environment. The changes in routine created different workflows and I noticed a shift in my creativity whenever anxiety would rise. My ability to pivot my business plans successfully during the pandemic is a direct result of the habits I implemented to counter these challenges.
I also found many people adopting a scarcity mindset as the pandemic sent many people running to the safety of their couches, fearful of the future. I decided to double down on philanthropic giving as a way to help protect my mental wellness.
Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?
There are a few things I have done to improve productivity
The Power Hour: Getting in the right frame of mind is key to my productivity. I choose to get up one hour earlier than the rest of my family to read something inspiring, set my intentions and priorities for the day, pray, and workout. This extra hour of time, 5 days a week adds up to 6 and a half extra weeks in the year!
Party on Top/PJ’s on the bottom: This has been my go-to trick during the pandemic as my regular routines have been disrupted by the uncertainty of the future. Keeping promises to myself makes me feel better and feeling better drives my productivity. I’ve worked through the distractions and unmotivated moments by showing up consistently even when I don’t feel like it. My success depends on how well I serve my Live Out Loud community so I commit to showing up in excellence every day… even if that means hair done and dressed on the top and wearing PJ’s on the bottom!
Get Nutty: I’ve learned that reaching for junk food will only give me a moment of satisfaction and leave me feeling tired and more unproductive. When I’m really stuck on something I grab a handful of cashews, turn up some music, and dance around my kitchen. This little trick does three things. Cashews are high in magnesium which helps me feel focused and alert. The dance break relieves the stress that typically builds when I know I need to be productive and haven’t been. And the music clears the voice in my head, giving me a reset so I can think clearly.
To combat the scarcity mindset I have been intentional about continuing to give back during this time.
Giving back is always a part of my business model but I feel like it is even more necessary now. Not only does donating to a specific cause help those on the receiving end improve their own situation, but it also helped me to feel a little less helpless about the shutdown by being able to DO something. There are actually numerous studies on the positive mental and physical benefits of giving back. The pandemic created a surge in scarcity thinking, people desperately holding on to what they had, fearing there wouldn’t be enough. I did not want to fall victim to that. I believe an abundant mindset is a key to growth and success. It was important to maintain that to keep my mental edge strong in this unprecedented time. When you set bigger giving goals you are moved to make more money to support them. Giving to a cause kept me moving forward toward a better future.
My philanthropic efforts have focused on hungry kids, hospital, and restaurant workers. As a mental health advocate, I worried deeply about the impact on these groups in particular. When I launched a new program I included a donation to No Kid Hungry with every signup. We helped provide more than 25K meals for kids. It worked so well I did it with another program for Slice Out Hunger and the National Restaurant Association.
My husband Brett and I donated individually to the causes but felt that adding the group component would be beneficial to all. I always tell the women in my group coaching programs that we rise by lifting others. As a faith-based coach, I believe you reap what you sow. Planting seeds of generosity is a concrete way to plant good seeds. It feels good to be a part of a group working together to make a bigger impact.
Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?
Dedicate a space for every task. Even if your kitchen is doubling as a school or your bedroom is doubling as an office, create separate spaces for work and living.
Set boundaries for work and family time. More people are working nights and weekends now that they are working from home. Your daily schedule is likely different than it was 6 months ago. Your family may need your attention at different points in the day. But it is important to stick to specific work hours even if its not the usual 9–5. That also means setting aside dedicated time to interact with your family without checking emails or taking one more call.
Ask for help if you need it. If you are financially able, consider private tutoring or teaching support to help your kids. It is OK that you can’t do it all. Learning when to ask for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
Maintain routines. Our routines don’t look like they used to but kids need structure and structure helps moms do what they need to do too.
Can you share your strategies about how to stay sane and serene while sheltering in place, or simply staying inside, for long periods with your family?
Journal. Writing out your thoughts is a great way to see the lies we tell ourselves. I believe in the power of our words. What we think, we become. So SPEAK OUT LOUD the life you want. Doing that will help you TAKE ACTION toward making it a reality. I challenge you to say it OUT LOUD every day for 30 days and see how much progress you’ve made.
Control what you consume. Social media can be a slippery slope right now. While it can help you feel connected, if you aren’t intentional you can find yourself in the comparison trap. Make sure you are feeding your mind daily with hopeful messages.
Have a little fun. It sounds simple but laughter is a great way to release stress. Everyone feels a little uncomfortable and awkward these days so laugh at yourself. Your kids are watching how you handle the challenges of this pandemic. Showing them you can still be silly and laugh with them will also ease their own fears around the changes happening right now. My husband and I have started regular bike rides as one way to have a little fun.
Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
- The pause on “busy” we have experienced since the pandemic has given many families more quality time with each other. It is a gift that parents of teenagers and college-aged kids have had extra time with their kids. Spouses and partners have been given the opportunity to focus on their relationships too.
- The creativity we’ve seen during this pandemic has been inspiring. From businesses adjusting their models to address new needs to entrepreneurs finding new revenue streams and launching new services in the chaotic economy, to educators reaching kids in new ways, we are a society of creativity and passion.
- I am hopeful that after this pandemic is over we will have a deeper understanding of what is truly important in life. We will put people over things. We will not take our freedoms for granted.
- We have a renewed respect for the workforce. Essential workers once overlooked and taken for granted are being applauded. Lost jobs have sparked new conversations around living wages. Employers are beginning to better address the challenges for working parents.
- In these toughest of times, we have seen neighbors helping neighbors, moms helping moms, and nations helping nations. Our ability to work with, care for, and support our fellow humans is a reminder of the good we can do when we join forces.
From your experience, what are a few ideas that one can use to effectively offer support to their family and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
Be present. Sometimes simply letting someone know you are there for them is helpful. People feel so alone right now. It is critical they understand we are in this together. I teach my clients that we rise by lifting others. This is a practical way to apply that philosophy. Phone calls, texts, even sending flowers can let someone know you care.
Offer to help. Anxiety can add to feelings of overwhelm. Do what you can to relieve a little pressure on them. Maybe that means making them dinner, taking their kids for a few hours, or surprising them with a porch delivery of coffee.
Speak hope. The world is full of so much noise and much of it is divisive and confusing. Be a voice of hope and light in their world. Remind them of their worth and ability. Remind them they won’t always feel this way and life won’t always be like this.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Why not you? Why not now?
I first spoke these words in what has become one of the most meaningful aha moments of my life. I was telling someone about a new idea I had. Their reaction made me question my own ability and dreams.
Fortunately, these words in my head pushed me to continue with my plans.
I have learned not to ask for permission to live out my calling or dreams and no one else should either. These words have helped thousands of women have their own aha moment.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!