Jeanette Schneider: “No is a complete sentence and you don’t need to qualify your no”

Protecting Your No — I’ve had to learn that no is a complete sentence and I don’t need to qualify my no. Originally it was hard just to move to no, but I was becoming distracted by other’s agendas and curiosity. Once I gained clarity on my why and my vision, it was easy to decline invitations […]

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Protecting Your No — I’ve had to learn that no is a complete sentence and I don’t need to qualify my no. Originally it was hard just to move to no, but I was becoming distracted by other’s agendas and curiosity. Once I gained clarity on my why and my vision, it was easy to decline invitations and requests that did not align with my focus. At first, I’d send flowery emails or texts with my reasoning, but many times that gives others an opening to refute your no or try to talk you into their yes. Protect that no!

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeanette Schneider. She is an accomplished speaker, podcast host and author of LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future. After 23 years in finance, Jeanette retired from a highly successful career to advocating for women and girls in life, love, the boardroom, and the marketplace. She is now the President and CEO of LIV Media, a network of professional women whose goal is to inspire women to change the world through a gender lens of equality, self-actualization and the fearless shattering of glass ceilings. She has brought her empowering lectures and workshops to The Influencer Academy, The Women’s Leadership Conference at MGM, The Alturas Institute, KaiaFIT, Bank of America, Mount Saint Mary’s University, Girls for Progress and more.

Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s Get Intimate! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I spent 23 years in finance, most recently as a Senior Vice President for a large financial services firm specializing in ultra high net worth families and institutions. I had a highly successful career and became very well versed in the Gender Lens movement, which is the study of women’s influence on the market and broader economy. It is powerful data and after becoming a mom to a little girl I decided I needed to do more than just advise wealthy families and companies. I want to influence the next generation of leaders by helping their moms and dads. I’ve since launched a media company focusing on mind/body/soul wellness. Healthier people create healthier children and paradigms. We have an app in development now that I can’t wait to launch. There will be immersive events and life-changing (and building) content and tools to level up so that you can be the biggest worst version of yourself; be it individual, mom, dad, parent, partner.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?

I was lying on the floor of my guest room crying roughly six years ago. After five rounds of IVF, I had given birth to a miracle child with colic of the demonic variety. My husband was in the process of moving out and I was named in a lawsuit by a man who had sexually harassed me. One of my closest girlfriends was dying of a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer. I remember thinking that it would be so much easier if I didn’t wake up the next morning. I had so much life to unwind, so many battles and bullies to face, so much loss.

I had to die to who I was on that floor and pick myself up, day by day, and remake myself. I had to figure out who I was as a single woman co-parenting, as an executive going through litigation, as a friend, as a woman, as myself. My entire identity was in question, but the woman born from that crisis is powerful, brave. She’s a warrior. I was given an opportunity to completely break open and rebuild. I spent the next five years in deep self-reflection. I challenged every belief I held about who I was, what I believed about the world, how we got here, where we are going, and what I wanted to create for myself and my daughter. It is funny how you will allow bad behaviors and toxic relationships to continue until you become a parent. Suddenly you become this heroine, this mama lioness, and you could tear someone’s heart out with your bare hands if they treated your child the same way you allowed them to treat you. I realized that I had an unconscious belief that I was unlovable. It had completely colored my entire life, the relationships and even work settings I would enter. I am grateful for that night on the floor of my guest room. It was as if what came next was a rebirth. It gave me an opportunity to parent consciously, enter relationships and partnerships purposely and to shift from the passive orientation of victim to one of a conscious creator.

All of the tools, writing exercises, and practices I utilized during those five years are what became my book LORE: Harnessing Your Past to Create Your Future and what is fueling my new venture.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

We have been conditioned since the Industrial Revolution to become more obsessed with our appearance and were more deeply moved into constructed gender roles based on the need to get men returning from war back in the workforce and women back in the home. Before the Industrial Revolution, the diaries of girls spoke of their desire to be kind of heart, a good friend, genuine. They were less aware of comparisons and there were no mirrors in homes. We became the targets of campaigns aimed to put women back in the home and in the role of the consumer. Advertisers started hawking beauty creams and perfectly pressed dresses that came in sizes (for the first time). Over time we saw more campaigns showing men as brawny, strong and sexualized women. Our self-esteem has been packaged by ad men who have studied our psychology.

These influences have become almost subliminal, subconscious. I speak to young women about the effect media and influencers have on them by asking them to review their social media feeds, review the films and digital content they read and create an active self-awareness. If you look at an Instagram feed, timelines or see a targeted ad and feel yourself making a comparison — unfollow, unfriend, unload. Without a second thought. It is far healthier to curate the mentors and influencers by filling your feed, and your mind, with those who uplift. I recognized that this was recently working for me when instead of saying, “I wish I looked like that,” as I have in the past, I saw a woman’s feed pop up and the first thing I thought was, “She’s beautiful.” I made no comparison. The practice of cleaning up the influences and becoming more aware of how you receive information, and respond to it, is monumental in your self-talk.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Your lens of the world and what you will accept begins with your relationship with self. All other is simply a reflection of your own mental and emotional health. You are in no position to advocate for yourself, especially in toxic relationships or those that create unhealthy attachment or enmeshment, if you don’t know where you end and they begin.

First, I think it is so important to be aware of how you value outside validation. Do you believe in your own self worth? Do you allow others to take advantage of you? Do you advocate for yourself?

When we don’t fully understand our needs, and fully know ourselves, it is almost as if we are giving up pieces of ourselves, shaving ourselves off, in pursuit of approval, what we think is happiness, etc.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

Somewhere along the way, we believed we weren’t worth more than what is meted out. We haven’t truly unhinged ourselves from old messages about worth and value that we may have subconsciously accepted. This becomes compounded when we consider society’s expectations of success being relationships, children, career attainment, etc, and we have an unhealthy relationship with the “timing” of our life. We spend so much time in a state of comparison or fear (what if I’m too old, what if I can’t have kids, what if no one wants me, what if die alone) that we rob ourselves of the best parts of ourselves and others. It is also sometimes easier to remain complacent than deal with the upheaval and heartbreak of leveling up, breaking up or breaking out. We have to get quiet and recognize when we are buying into expectations that don’t match who and where we are in life and get honest with ourselves.

When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but for our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

Blindly loving yourself is dangerous. It allows for complacency and gives you a metric ton of excuses. It allows you to sit within poor behaviors and choices. I love the adage you are enough, you are perfect just the way you are, and such, but you can always be better than you were yesterday. If you are not willing to uncover the parts of you that remain hidden they will appear overtime to be worked out in another crisis, another relationship or another experience.

After I got up off the floor I challenged every belief I had about life, love, religion, gender roles, status, power, success. Nothing was off-limits. The questions I went through to uncover hidden messaging, beliefs about the body, gender roles and religion are all spelled out in my Do The Work exercise at the end of each section in my book.

So many don’t really know how to be alone or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

I would ask yourself the question — Why am I afraid to be alone? Is it because I have time to be introspective and I don’t want to pick at a scab? Does a relationship offer me a distraction from what is under the surface? Is it because I may have a tendency to enjoy co-dependent relationships as opposed to learning inter-dependence? Is it because my identity, whether because of my own feelings or those of my family, is tied to being in a relationship?

You have to get clear with your fear of quiet. Originally I believed success was being in a relationship, but I entered some questionable relationships. I was the common denominator to an unhealthy pattern so I spent five years truly alone. Once I healed that layer, another layer emerged. I realized I had fears surrounding personal safety. I was raised in a violent neighborhood and living alone offered me the opportunity to uncover and heal a hyper-vigilance that arose when there wasn’t a man in the house. I needed that time and now, have emerged from that self-imposed sabbatical with a confidence that is otherworldly. I know exactly what I will and won’t accept and have become my biggest advocate in love. I am in the most purposeful and mindful relationship I’ve ever been in because I had the opportunity to rely on myself and work through old beliefs.

In short, I think any fear you have is an invitation to look a little deeper. It is an opportunity for you to understand why so that when you do bring relationships into your life you are much healthier and self-aware.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

I think self-love and understanding creates a beautiful toolbox as you enter other relationships. You walk in with a guidance system, boundaries and are confident about what you bring to the table. You easily attract those who resonate and you are able to release or remove those who do not see the world through a similar lens. Your conversations are deeper and more meaningful and a deeper relationship with trust grows. There is a quiet confidence that self-mastery offers. You don’t have to be as concerned with ill-intentioned people because they fall away rather quickly.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

I have to say I am very hopeful about where we are heading. There are more awareness and destigmatization around mental health, overall wellness, and what it means to be a better human and global corporate citizen.

I think we individually have a responsibility to ourselves and those we influence to uncover our emotional and mental blocks and make sure we are taking care of the body that houses our mind and our soul. It starts with each individual taking responsibility for their own “house,” and allowing their influence to be felt.

Coming from a corporate environment, I’d like to see more companies step up and offer intelligent wellness options as part of their insurance offerings. They are getting smart to the importance of overall mind/body fitness, but most are simply plugging gaps by offering small monetary incentives for completion of an annual wellness screening. I’d like to see companies step up and offer more in the way of ongoing wellness options.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

Love for self and personal connection requires tools and practices that keep you moving forward. Self-development isn’t just a journal entry, a vision board or a self-care trip to get a pedicure. It is a lifestyle.

Morning Ritual — I have created a morning ritual that has become my spiritual practice. It sets the tone for my day and has helped me reframe frustrations and avoid anxiety. I wake up, make tea, and while it steeps I say a prayer and then spend twenty minutes in meditation. After, I drink my tea while I free write and get intentional. It has completely moved my mornings from a place of anxiety to a place of calm and purpose.

Time Blocking — I have worked with an executive coach for almost two years and he has helped me get very clear as to how I expend my energy. I understand what things I do to put me in an optimum creativity zone and when I need to completely let go and replenish myself. Based on how I work best we created a weekly schedule that includes focus days when I am creating content and moving my venture forward. Those are my revenue-generating days. My maintenance days are when I am looking through analytics, checking the books, following up on requests and with teammates and also getting errands in that I do not want to worry about during my free days. Free days are truly that and they are sacred. I use them to feed my soul and my relationships so that when I’m ready to get back to my focus days my cup is truly full. He is adamant that I treat them as days to get my battery bar back to full and not to allow distractions or errands to find their way into my calendar.

Fitness and Health Routines — I have learned that my mind works best when my body has moved and I’ve fed it well. I also don’t claim to know that yoga or weight training is better or worse for any one person or that Vegan or KETO is better than any other food program. It is so important that we find the fitness routines and healthful foods that work not only for our body or functionality but also for our spirit. I know that getting a sweat in through a high-intensity class amps me up and lifts my mood. I create amazing content in that headspace so I schedule my creative time for after a HIIT class. I’ve learned that getting quiet on a yoga mat, whatever the temperature, is almost an integrative spiritual practice, and I walk away from my mat with answers and a calm spirit. I know that I have better back health when I am lifting weights. I incorporate all of these things in my week based on what they do for me both mentally, emotionally, and physically. I also eat something green every single day. It is imperative that we tune into our body and allow it to lead.

Protecting Your No — I’ve had to learn that no is a complete sentence and I don’t need to qualify my no. Originally it was hard just to move to no, but I was becoming distracted by other’s agendas and curiosity. Once I gained clarity on my why and my vision, it was easy to decline invitations and requests that did not align with my focus. At first, I’d send flowery emails or texts with my reasoning, but many times that gives others an opening to refute your no or try to talk you into their yes. Protect that no!

Feed my mind — I am selective about what I feed my mind with and curate the content that I consume. The only time I watch TV is because I need brain candy and will binge-watch a cooking or HGTV show. I know when I need entertainment or a great fiction book, or when I need soulful, introspective or enlightening material. I can also tell when I need the comfort of friends or a stimulating conversation with a historian or activist.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

I’ve taken pieces from so many writers and thought leaders.

The biggest influence on my life and my work has been Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Freewriting has been a game-changer and a life-long practice since my early twenties. I fully expect to be immersed in it when I’m in my nineties.

I am an avid believer in choice theory and so appreciate the work done by the late psychiatrist William Glasser, MD. His book Choice Theory: A New Psychology of Personal Freedom should be required reading at some point in our lives.

From Anger to Intimacy by Dr. Gary Smaller and Ted Cunningham is a beautiful explanation of how conflict truly creates intimacy and allows us to know ourselves and our partners better.

Dr. Wayne Dyer was a sage and his books Change Your Thoughts — Change Your Life and Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering the Art of Manifesting are dog-eared staples in my library. I refer to them often.

Claim Your Power by Mastin Kipp is a practical guide to the healing of emotional trauma. He is doing important work.

My favorite podcasts of late are Earn Your Happy by Lori Harder, Lewis Howes The School of Greatness and Dan Mason’s Life Amplified. Each of them is empowering others to live their very best lives and offering them access to thought leaders and visionaries. I play them while I’m doing cardio. The time flies and I leave the gym high on endorphins and positive messaging.

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? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

I think of my new venture as a lifestyle movement. I am challenging people to level up — mind, body, and soul. Yes, we want to live healthier lives and reconstruct our versions of success, attainment, wellness and wealth. I want people to be happier, healthier, yes, but at the end of the day, I am pushing this because I know healthier adults create healthier children. They create healthier relationships, friendships, job settings, and communities. The demographic I attract are influencing the next generation. I want to help them end cycles, reconfigure their self talk before they pass it along to their children and create purposeful, intentional messaging and lifestyles. I want to leave behind a better world for my daughter and her friends because of the influence I offer their parents. It is a pay it forward ripples that I hope moves generations.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by?

“Insecurity is a waste of time.” I actually heard Diane Von Furstenberg share those words in person when she was the keynote for Barron Top Women Advisor’s in West Palm Beach several years ago.

Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

I was traveling on business. I’d landed in Las Vegas to switch out bags from a trip to San Francisco and became instantly aware that my marriage was over. It was gut-wrenching. I cried, packed and flew straight to Florida to join hundreds of other top-ranked female financial advisors for a conference to celebrate our accomplishments. I was devastated, broken, a hot mess. I put on the sky-high heels, the tailored clothes, grabbed my Gucci bag and the “I’ve got this,” look that we exude in high finance. There were no men at the conference so the very masculine persona I put on quickly dissipated as women shared their frustrations with balancing career and motherhood, self-care and fertility troubles. We talked about how we changed ourselves in boardrooms and hid our more nurturing qualities. I was surrounded by women who were just like me. It was gorgeous. We were all doing our very best and our best was hard work. It was where I truly realized how alike women are and how often we hide from each other. DVF ended the conference with those prescient words and it spoke to me. All of the things we put on to be accepted, all of the traits we adopt to be heard — they’re unnecessary. We spend too much time and energy curating our appearance, ego, and storyline that we forget that just showing up and being audaciously ourselves is how we win.

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