Don’t take things so personally — there was a time when I would get so upset over losing a follower on Instagram, or getting an email unsubscribe. What I’ve realized is this is simply making more room for my ideal audience to discover and support me. When it comes to business decisions, anything that happens that is less than ideal is simply that — a poor business decision. It has no bearing on me, who I am as a person, or my worth. I can take these things as learning experiences and move on.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Rowena Winkler.
Dr. Winkler is a Cosmic Catalyst Coach and Realignment Strategist who helps women tap into their sacred intuition to unleash their passion and purpose. Using modalities such as astrology, human design, career coaching, and artistic empowerment, she motivates her clients to live a more unapologetically aligned and authentic life. With a Ph.D. in Communication, Dr. Winkler has mentored hundreds of individuals and helped them find their authentic voice in order to unlock their abundant potential.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I am a child of immigrants, which has its pros and cons. On the one hand, I feel like I received an interesting point of view based on the experiences of my parents. I try to not take anything for granted because my parents left their home country of the Philippines to provide better lives for me and my sister. I learned the solid moral principles of working hard and being resourceful with what you have. I accepted at a young age that I am the one responsible for my ultimate destiny and that I should never rely on others (or the government) for pity or handouts. I cleaned up after myself and was pretty self-motivated at such a young age. I took advantage of opportunities knowing fully well that my mom and dad were not so lucky.
On the other hand, being a Filipino American has its own set of unique challenges. From my point of view, the research on the model minority stereotype was very valid and true. I pushed myself incessantly to get good grades and be seen as smart (and therefore valuable). I would study every night for hours until I felt confident enough to take an exam the next day — a practice not aided by my extreme test-taking anxiety. I remember one time I came home with a 94 on an exam and my dad asked me why it wasn’t a 100. So, in my mind, failure was simply not an option.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote is a bit of a spin on something Broadway actor Ben Platt shared when he accepted his Tony Award for the brilliant musical Dear Evan Hansen:
“What makes you different makes you powerful.”
Growing up I was always a very imaginative and precocious kid. But as many of you know, something happens when we grow older. We become closed off and anxious about what other people think. We dim our own light in fear of how it would be received by others. But what I’ve realized — and how this has come to play in my own life — is the moments I am my TRUE authentic self, the times that I have shown up as me and only me, have been the most impactful.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
My charisma has helped me connect with people and experience success in leadership positions. Whether that is managing a classroom, running team meetings, or speaking on stages in the Club House app, I bring a magnetism and energy that draws people in. It could also be the result of my extensive theater experience and love of an audience.
When I set my mind on something, I become laser focused on doing what I need to do and I work diligently to get it done. This ability to focus led me to obtaining my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in less than 10 years. It has allowed me to stay on top of grant-funded projects as a professor and as a project manager for a digital marketing agency. And now in my coaching business, it has afforded me opportunities for growth in a short period of time.
As the daughter of immigrants, I’ve also been role modeled on how to be resourceful. I feel like I am especially honoring my father (who passed away from cancer in 2013) when I demonstrate my resourcefulness. What this means for me and my work is being able to think outside the box and problem solve using what I have. For example, if a process is not quite working in carrying out a project, I talk to those who are involved and brainstorm ways to be more efficient using the personnel and skillsets on the table. I am also resourceful by how I leverage my connections — if I am unable to help you with something, I will connect you to someone who can.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
Before my Second Chapter, I was a tenure-track public relations professor. I was teaching college courses, conducting research projects, and serving the university at multiple levels. I enjoyed the connections that I made and especially loved mentoring students, but the career trajectory ended up not being what I had anticipated.
In my experience the tenure-track path was a constantly moving target that oftentimes didn’t make much sense. I did not agree with the mostly dystopian structure of higher ed and was frustrated by how slow the academia took to innovate. In addition, I experienced a lot of the invisible labor that came with being a POC faculty member — and the little mechanisms in place at universities to recognize that reality. Lastly, there was this very unrealistic expectation that constantly being on the clock working and stressed is the norm, and that led to a lot of anxiety and depression for me personally.
My career pivot from academia to the marketing industry gave me the space to pursue other passions and interests. It was during this time that I discovered a love for astrology, tarot, meditation, crystal healing, and wellness, and realized my empathic abilities could be used as a means for helping others.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
In my Second Chapter I walked away from the ivory tower that is academia and moved into work that better served me in terms of work/life integration. I was able to clock out when needed and take time off when needed without feeling shame or guilty. I discovered that I could use my teaching and mentoring experience to manage teams in the workplace, as well as build a coaching business to serve clients. I built my confidence and found my voice — that I didn’t need to be perfect to be valuable to people or organizations. I started showing up as my authentic self, rough edges and all, and was delightfully surprised to find that not only people accepted it, but also embraced it and welcomed it with open arms.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
My father passed away from cancer my first year as a professor. As you can imagine, losing someone so close to you radically changes your perspective, and causes you to think deeply about your legacy and what you are doing with your life. I decided that my mental health and wellbeing was not worth staying in academia, and that I needed to prioritize the things that were more important — namely, my health and family.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
My journey with infertility was an experience that truly humbled me. It showed me that I couldn’t just check boxes per usual to get something I wanted, and that I needed to surrender a bit to the universe. After going through IVF, my husband and I had a beautiful baby girl — in the middle of a global pandemic. The experience of being a new mom in this collective time of uncertainty showed me that despite the challenges, I am able to persevere. That, in spite of not knowing all of the answers, I am able to use my tenacity, my drive, and my tribe to maximize my talents.
In addition, I’ve come to realize that I am a true multi-hyphenate, with many gifts and talents to offer the world. I do not need to compartmentalize myself, nor dim my light in any of my many areas of expertise — communication, marketing, writing, astrology, tarot, theater, etc. — I can show up as me, and only me, in my wholeness in order to serve. It took connecting with similar people, who serve as role models and mentors, for me to realize that my uniqueness makes me worth listening to. That my stories are what make me powerful, and that my obstacles are indeed inspirational.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
Right now I am continuing to build my client base, book more speaking engagements (both virtual events and podcasts), and build content that resonates with my audience. I am working on a book proposal that I plan on pitching to agents in the next month that describe the techniques and model I use with my clients. I am increasing my visibility by speaking more frequently on Club house and participating in interviews like this one. And I am continuing to get feedback from my current clients on how I can best serve them, while continuing to stay true to my own passion and soul purpose.
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?
My coach, AmyLee Westervelt, has pushed me beyond what I even knew was possible. She saw my abundant potential and gave me the confidence I needed to design my dreams and take inspired action to make them come to fruition. She has helped me break down my limiting beliefs while giving advice on how to build my business. And she has been a strong cheerleader and support every step of the way.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
As an extrovert, being home for almost a year during COVID has been really, really difficult. At the start of 2021 I joined the Club House app, and it has honestly been a gamechanger — not just for my business, but for the mindset and courage I needed to go for it. Through this app, I have made connections with people all over the world. We have shared our triumphs, and our failings. One Club House room in particular has been the Daily Morning Motivations Room hosted by Emmy Petit’s House of Influence Club. Every weekday from 8–9 AM EST, we gather on Club House to share our goals and affirmations, and it has become this beautiful community. I’ve laughed, celebrated, cried, uplifted, inspired, and yes, even sang in this room for the past several months. It’s truly a beautiful thing to witness, and it helps get me in the right mindset every day to build my business and serve my clients.
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
For years, I tried to distract myself from feelings of unworthiness by chasing after perfectionism and going after all of these external achievements. I felt that if I continued to obtain degrees, or win awards, or be the best at all these different things, I could be accepted and loved. But you know what? My striving for perfectionism actually caused the opposite — it was more difficult to connect with others and I felt more isolated then ever.
I’ve overcome my need to be perfect by pushing myself out of my comfort zone. By speaking up when I am terrified, by setting boundaries when I know I should, by sharing my story when I rather wouldn’t. I’ve found that the moments I’ve been fully transparent (and perhaps not as polished) have been the most impactful. People want to hear from me and my journey — they don’t need to witness the fairy tale version, because that version simply doesn’t exist — and that’s totally okay.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
I am fortunate to have created an amazing support system over the years prior to moving onto my new chapter. My husband, Derek, has been my rock — he keeps me grounded and balanced, is my listening ear when I need guidance or need to vent, and offers practical advice when I ask for it. He’s an amazing and intelligent man with a lot of life savvy and thoughtful questions. He was my best friend before he was my husband and I love that I can lean on him when needed. I also have an amazing community of chosen family and close friends who have witnessed every win and sin I’ve faced and continue to have my back regardless of what happens.
I’ve once joked that I like to collect mentors, but it’s true. In every phase of my journey, I have someone to thank for giving me the perspective I needed to make it through. And over the years, I’ve built an extensive network in a variety of different areas that have been a source of encouragement and support. Finally, I have a damn good therapist who helps me overcome the overwhelm and provides space for me to unpack what I am going through to move proudly forward.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
Recently, I launched a Facebook Live series called “Revelations with Rowena.” It’s been a bit of a scary process because as a theater performer I’m used to following a script vs. going live on the Internet with an idea, perhaps some notes, and not much else. However, in my second episode I talked about my recovering perfectionism and it got to the point where I felt very much in flow and speaking from my heart. I was telling my story and speaking my truth, and it felt really, really good. My blood was pumping and my mind my racing at times, but I got through it with confirmation that I inspired people. I realized then and there that I do have a story to tell and that others are ready to hear it.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Don’t take things so personally — there was a time when I would get so upset over losing a follower on Instagram, or getting an email unsubscribe. What I’ve realized is this is simply making more room for my ideal audience to discover and support me. When it comes to business decisions, anything that happens that is less than ideal is simply that — a poor business decision. It has no bearing on me, who I am as a person, or my worth. I can take these things as learning experiences and move on.
- Rituals are your friend — Once I started incorporating time for meditation, yoga, etc. my days were SO much better! In other words, I was in a much better headspace to tackle the day. I’ve also incorporated rituals into my coaching practice, such as starting sessions with an oracle card pull to set the tone, and it’s made the interaction all the more meaningful. As humans we are creatures of habit, so incorporating these practices to get us motivated and moving have proven to be helpful.
- Schedule meeting “dates” with yourself — I’ve noticed that when I move from back-to-back-to-back meetings it is so much harder for me to be fully present and contribute. By scheduling intentional time for me to recharge and absorb what I’ve gathered in my interactions, I can become more focused and ready for the next meeting. I can come prepared with a clear mind vs. a stressed out one. The days of feeling guilty for setting boundaries on your schedule are now over!
- Don’t confuse “confident” with “cocky” — For a long time I was playing it small because I didn’t want to come off as arrogant. But I’ve realized that confidence doesn’t suddenly transform me into a different person — if anything, being more confident allows me to be more attractive to others because I am showing up as an even more vibrant version of myself. If I want to continue attracting abundance and help more people, I need to be confident in my abilities and put myself out there.
- What comes naturally to you doesn’t to everyone else — When I left academia I felt like a failure and was letting people down. As a result, I kept downplaying my Ph.D. and my expertise that took years to cultivate. Here’s the thing though — that time spent in grad school and as a professor has developed skillsets that come easily to me and not so easily to others. I shouldn’t take that for granted, and I should take advantage of the fact that I can use these skills to help others with their pain points.
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?
I would inspire women to become more authentically aligned by tapping into their sacred intuition. Oftentimes in the hustle and bustle of EVERYTHING we do, our voices can get lost in the shuffle. My call to women is to find moments of stillness, to lean into the pause, the inspired in-between, in order to dig deep and unleash their true soul purpose. So many of us are sleep walking, taking care of everyone else and losing ourselves in the process. It’s time to ignite that passion and wake up so we can feel good in what we do and make a difference in the ways we know how.
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 would LOVE to have a Super Soul Session/breakfast with media mogul, author, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey. Her story of resilience, tenacity, and influence is truly admirable, and her ability to tap into the hearts and minds of people in this intimate, connected way constantly motivates me to do the same.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/rwinklerphd
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCU202rmhHCf4It6jplXqHOw
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!