Katia Stern: “Clarity is the new Self-Charity”

…my own transformation started with my body. I believe that for women it is the most important step. Once we are accepting and loving how we look and feel, we will spread that love and energy into all other areas of life. So, my new skillset was being in control of my body. I mastered that […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

…my own transformation started with my body. I believe that for women it is the most important step. Once we are accepting and loving how we look and feel, we will spread that love and energy into all other areas of life.

So, my new skillset was being in control of my body. I mastered that skill and became fearless and unstoppable. I have a history of an eating disorder, so this control plus acquired knowledge about fitness and nutrition helped me overcome that terrible disease.

Power of focus helped me do that. I knew I could accomplish a lot, but I oftentimes was distracted by shiny objects. This time, I made this goal a priority and stuck to the plan.

I can share my secret with you: every time I need to make a decision, I ask myself, “Is it going to take me closer to my goal or away from my goal?” And then there is no more indecision about eating that cheesecake…))


Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.

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 Katia Stern.

Katia Stern, known as “The Wow Woman” is the author of an international bestselling book, “You were born Wow” and the co-author of the bestselling book “Success” with Jack Canfield, America’s #1 Success Coach, Founder of the billion-dollar Chicken Soup for the Soul™ publishing empire.

Katia is also an empowerment coach, who helped hundreds of women in 25 countries.

Among other accolades, Katia is a Psychology major and has a Master’s Degree in International Law, LLM, she is a certified Jack Canfield Success Principles Coach and a certified health coach, IIN. She is also Canada’s National level fitness bikini competitor and Mrs. Canada Classique, 2020.

Katia has been featured on Fox, CBS, NBC, ABC


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 was born and raised in Moscow, Russia and moved to Toronto, Canada at the age of 17. Coming from a wealthy, and by communist standards, successful family, I was a rebellious child and proudly stated that, in the Soviet Union, all professions are valued, and all people are appreciated and treated equally, so it would be okay if I do not go to university but become that university’s janitor. My parents rolled their eyes. I guess I wanted to go against the system, but ironically achieved my version of success through different educational accolades, including a BA in Psychology and a master’s degree in Law.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It is incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it is leaning against the wrong wall. It is possible to be busy — terribly busy — without being highly effective.

This quote by Stephen Covey is about me. I was too busy climbing that ladder of what I thought was leading to my success. Money, comfort, recognition. Do not get me wrong, I still love all the above, but I realized that real success is a feeling. It is an emotion. It is a state of satisfaction and joy.

It took me almost 40 years to understand that. And a near-death experience also helped. About 10 years ago I almost died in a fire. I was just one breath away from the end. In a few seconds I got so much clarity on who I was and what I wanted to be. I do not wish anybody to go through that, but I would love for everyone to start appreciating life now. It may come to an end so fast. And what if you haven’t even lived yet? Scary, but very eye-opening!

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.

Discipline. My new chapter began with body transformation. I made this crazy decision to participate in a fitness bikini competition at the age of 41. It was like flying to the moon for me. Unreachable as I perceived it to be, it was doable with discipline. I had to plan my day to the minute: 3 hours of training, weighing my chicken breasts by grams, eating 5 times per day. At the same time, I’ve just discovered my passion in coaching, so I was studying to become a health coach and working with clients. Of course, I also wanted to have time for my daughter, who was entering her teenage years.

So, I created massive clarity on my day’s plan. All I had to do was just stick to the plan. I put aside all my emotions and did not think twice about cardio, I just performed that cardio. I became that disciplined athlete and everything happened the way I planned.

100% responsibility. Most women do not realize that they are not taking responsibility for their lives. We oftentimes try to control everybody else — children, husbands, bosses. We lose power, getting out of our zone of control, without first making sure we do everything in our own worlds. I understood that I oversee my life early, at 17. Once I got that once-in-a-lifetime chance to come to Canada, I immediately took it and came here by myself.

Later, I took it a step further and realized that I am also responsible for my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I stopped complaining and blaming circumstances, weather, men… I empowered myself and now help others gain control of their lives through this principle of success and, ultimately, happiness.

Being uncomfortable. I do not know where people got the idea that life is about comfort. For some reason we think that we should always feel content, calm, happy. We have been conditioned to deny reality. And, in reality, we are not robots. We have a huge range of emotions and there are various circumstances that happen for us. Yes, life happens for us and I have learned to be uncomfortable, because I am sure that everything is happening for my own good. And discomfort means progress and growth.

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?

My life seemed perfect to everyone else. To me, my success was “on paper”. I was splitting my time between Toronto, Miami, and Monaco. Had a handsome man with a boat and a Ferrari as a bonus. Amazing talented daughter, law degree, business.

But I felt empty inside. I felt like time was ticking away and I had not even started living.

I began to fear my age. I mean, I used to be that hot chick. And now? Who am I now? And what is next? Relationships did not feel the same anymore. My daughter’s father quit his sports career and started drinking. It took me a while to make what seemed to be a selfish decision to leave him. But I did it. Left him and “my glamorous life” with nothing but my daughter.

And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?

At 41, I quit law, which from the beginning was an ego-driven choice. It was cool to become a lawyer, so I did it twice — in Russia and in the US. I have always been passionate about personal development, so I became a certified health, life and success coach.

At 42, I got into the best shape of my life and became a fitness bikini competitor. In one year, I made it to the top 10 at the Canadian Nationals.

At 45, I became the international best-selling author of the book “You Were Born WOW”. It is my story, and it will inspire and motivate your readers to become wow at any age. You can find it on Amazon.

At 46, I won the Mrs. Canada Classique 2020 at the Mrs. Globe pageant.

At 47, I became a best-selling author for the second time. I co-authored a book with the modest but catchy name, “Success”, with my mentor and a beautiful soul, America’s number one success trainer, Jack Canfield.

Somewhere in between, I became a DJ, fitness trainer, and attracted passionate and fun relationships.

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?

Truth. It did indeed set me free. In my case, it was my body. When I looked at myself in the mirror from behind and took a photo, I cried for a couple of weeks. Honestly, I did not realize it was that bad! And, of course, decided to take massive actions. Then I used the same principle of admitting the truth in relationships and career. So, taking the plunge started with “the honest look” where I was.

A lot of women I work with do not want to accept their reality. For years, they live in denial, pretending everything is okay, especially when it looks okay to the outside eye. They have lost their sense of reality. I help them get back in touch with their real wants, needs and daring desires.

What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you had not been maximizing? How did you find that, and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?

As I have mentioned, my own transformation started with my body. I believe that for women it is the most important step. Once we are accepting and loving how we look and feel, we will spread that love and energy into all other areas of life.

So, my new skillset was being in control of my body. I mastered that skill and became fearless and unstoppable. I have a history of an eating disorder, so this control plus acquired knowledge about fitness and nutrition helped me overcome that terrible disease.

Power of focus helped me do that. I knew I could accomplish a lot, but I oftentimes was distracted by shiny objects. This time, I made this goal a priority and stuck to the plan.

I can share my secret with you: every time I need to make a decision, I ask myself, “Is it going to take me closer to my goal or away from my goal?” And then there is no more indecision about eating that cheesecake…))

How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.

Since I found my new meaning in empowering women over 40 to unleash their inner wow, so that they could reconnect with their real desires, I have helped hundreds of women in 25 countries.

Those desires are different, so are the results of our work together. I have women who lost over 50 pounds and are now wearing shorts for the first time in their lives. I have women who quit their robotic work in corporations for their own meaningful businesses. Others have decided to leave their cities and move to the places of their dreams. One woman left her husband because he cheated on her, she started self-care, quit being a teacher, became a coach herself and now he is begging her to allow him to come back. But now she is in charge and is deciding whether she wants him back at all.

I am proud of all of them and myself, because their every win is my win.

And I love winning while doing something extremely rewarding!

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?

Myself. Yes, this time it was me. I allowed myself to become who I am. I gave myself permission to remove the self-imposed shackles of fears, guilt, limiting beliefs, unneeded emotions. I attracted all the resources that I needed to reach my goals. And managed to find the best people to help me with those goals.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?

The most interesting for me is how I made my biggest fear — fear of public speaking — my win, my trophy, my reward. Being on TV, interviews and starting my speaking career, which I never thought would be possible for me. But after going on that stage, wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini, everything is possible! And recently I was called the Wow Woman in the press, so my vision came true!

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?

Yes, big time. Who am I to… be this or that? In the beginning, I thought I was too young, then not educated enough, not experienced enough, not skinny enough, not smart enough. Time flew by so fast that one day I was too old and overqualified. Never good enough and not confident at all!

And then I reframed my mind. I came up with a new belief — who am I not to? Who am I not to become a best-selling author, successful coach, Mrs. Canada? I just decided to be who I wanted. And have become everything I wanted. My new definition of success is not what business I built or how much money I made, but who I have become, and being confident is one of those successes.

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?

My coaches. I do not understand why people are trying to do things themselves. Why not leverage other people’s time and money invested in their expertise? I hired the best fitness bikini coach, best book writing coach, best success mentor. That is why I got to where I am now much faster, with less effort.

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?

I am not too keen on the concept of the comfort zone. I feel like it is more of a known, familiar zone. It is hard to step into the unknown because we don’t have any control of the future. I had to exchange the known for the chance of new and better. All it took was a decision. I decided to transform my body and become a fitness competitor. I wrote that down as a goal and then immediately scratched it out, feeling ashamed for my own bold desire. But then I wrote it again and just left it there. What do I have to lose? It is between me and me. Nobody else will see this daring plan. Slowly, I started getting used to this idea. It did not scare me that much anymore. I found the best trainer, hired him, and simply followed directions. It was uncomfortable getting to my goal, but, oh boy, did I feel comfortable shining bright on that stage!

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.

I am going to answer these questions with the names of the chapters in my book, “You Were Born WOW”, because these are my life lessons and I want to share them.

1. Make your decision: Get what you want with Precision.

We all want a better life, a better version of ourselves, better relationships, etc. And life gives us this “better”. But we get disappointed because it is not enough.

So, until we have a clear picture of what we really want, the chances of receiving it are zero. Ordering from the universe exactly what I want with precision is, by far, the most important task. Order your vision of self, partner, house. When we do not tell our partner that we want a diamond ring as a birthday gift, we may end up with another vacuum cleaner. Not that we do not need another vacuum cleaner, but…))

2. Clarity is the new Self-Charity.

It stems from the previous question but is more on the action plan. When I found my coach for the fitness bikini competition, I did not have to waste my time searching for diets and exercise. Clarity took me out of overwhelming anxiety that prevents a lot of women from achieving their dream life.

3. Do you want to be perfect, or do you want to be Wow?

I realized that I do not have to be perfect if I want to be successful. I did not have to have years of experience in coaching before I could coach others. I just had to be a couple of steps ahead of my clients and that is wow for them. Perfectionism for years was in control of my life. Once I allowed myself to have it “better done, than perfect” much more fun and interesting things started happening.

4. Why your way to Wow.

Always ask yourself, why am I doing this? Is it really your thought, idea, desire? Or is it what your parents told you? Is it what society is expecting of you? Is it what you really want? I have graduated from two law schools. Why? Do not know. Law was never my passion. And I never asked myself why I was doing it. It is so prestigious, and my parents would be proud of me — this would probably be the answer. But real success is not outside of us. Being passionate about what we do is inside and that’s success.

5. Fake your enthusiasm and not your orgasm.

Yes, it’s okay to fake our emotional state. For years I was waiting for the right moment to start enjoying life. One day I will smile, laugh, dance. One day, one day… For some reason, that day never came. Came my near-death experience and I started feeling enthusiastic. Yes, you may say I played that role of a happy woman and magic happened — I became that woman. People even call me “The Wow Woman”. Because I talk the talk and walk the walk of a wow woman. My clients are also totally wow!

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 call it a “You were born WOW” movement. Because we were all born that way — free, enough, wow. I want to remind people of this truth and help them be themselves. Suffering is totally unnecessary. Life is a party. Let us celebrate life!

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. 🙂

Yeees! Jennifer Lopez! Please tag her!))

Why? Quite simple. Because of her energy. Vibrancy, fire, aliveness — it is all in her.

She is the star of her own life and shines bright, making this world a better place.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find me and download a free chapter from my book at katiastern.com

Let’s keep in touch, I would love to get to know you!

Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!

I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my message and to inspire other women start living their Claim it! Own it! Be Wow!

With love and gratitude

Katia Stern

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash
    Community//

    What I learned from controlling food and full permission

    by Lina Salazar
    Community//

    “Speak about yourself in a kind manner” with Julie Allen

    by Ben Ari
    Community//

    “The Only Person We Have Control Over Is Ourselves, Our Soul And Our Outer Bodies, We Can’t Control Other’s Thoughts”

    by Yitzi Weiner
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.