Lisa Howard: “Especially as women business owners”

Especially as women business owners, now is a great time to allow ourselves to feel fully supported. Whether it’s more acceptance in the world as a working woman due to a lot of women’s movements or more organizations supporting women, I think now is a great time to be a woman leader because I think […]

Thrive invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Especially as women business owners, now is a great time to allow ourselves to feel fully supported.

Whether it’s more acceptance in the world as a working woman due to a lot of women’s movements or more organizations supporting women, I think now is a great time to be a woman leader because I think society is starting to value us more as far as our contributions to the workforce at a c-suite level and as leaders. Working from home is starting to be more accepted, as well. So, basically, any work-at-home mom that was running a side hustle with an MLM opportunity or who had developed their own product or service and trying to sell locally with small vendors or even those doing freelance contractor work or running companies full-time or part time from home… you name it, it’s now more supported by those that once thought you were just a stay-at-home mom without a real job.

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 Lisa Howard, a high-performance analyst, coach, trainer and speaker who first started working online in the ecommerce, performance coaching and private consulting industries in 2003 and has analyzed hundreds of online businesses. Lisa is President/CEO of a performance improvement and digital media production company, is an Amazon Influencer and has been featured in digital publications such as Under Armour’s MyFitnessPal and hosts a podcast, “The Entrepreneur’s Success Mindset” available on iHeartRadio and Spotify. She pairs her methods of business performance data analysis & NLP-based mental strength coaching with the Stevie Award-Winning Brand Your Passions®️ system as she collaborates as a consultant with Carolin Soldo a company which was ranked #107 in 2019 for the Inc5000 Fastest Growing Companies in America.

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?

First, I think it’s important to mention that I grew up in what might be considered non-traditional ways that gave me challenging opportunities to “think outside the box” so-to-speak. I come from a very entrepreneurial family and watched several family members pursue their own business ventures, including my parents who were musicians performing in Las Vegas playing music on stage at places like The Stardust when I was a kid. Then, when I was in third grade, we moved to land that our family owned in the Pacific Northwest and in order to earn enough money to build a home in a small mountain resort town, my parents took us on the road traveling in the U.S. several times and I was homeschooled off and on until around the age of 12.

Both my parents were really driven, do-it-yourself resourceful-type of people that instilled in myself and my brother that ‘American Dream’-type thought process that meant staying driven and focused on our goals while also never giving up our creative powers to build our dreams — whatever those were. Even when it came to our education, they really challenged us to be self-learners, passionate about always improving and developing mastery over any skills we acquired. They really lead by example with their own perfecting of playing music which often meant they practiced music for hours and hours every day. I remember learning about marketing and contracts at a fairly young age because my parents didn’t always have an agent and this was in the 1980s-1990s and my mom was super engaged with doing a lot of self-promotion.

I have always been an empathic healer, problem-solving and builder-type of person, but didn’t think of myself as a leader necessarily until I was around 15 years of age and I found myself doing things very differently than my peers. I coached for the first time at that age, helping a small group of girls learn to execute football plays for a high-school girls flag football exhibition game. I was a bit of a rebel and a tomboy and was one of the only girls lifting weights at that time, sometimes skipping my scheduled P.E. class to do that activity instead.

I was really obsessed with the creative process of seeing something powerful come from nothing and I found myself obsessed with the mechanics of things from biomechanics to combustion engines and systems. I had a young romance that went awry and afterwards, I spent a lot of time at the library reading by myself and felt like a social outcast in a lot of ways, started working at the local ski resort and didn’t graduate high school with my class. I tried going to college at 16, but wasn’t really interested in it and I joined the U.S. Army when I was 17 to be a mechanic and got out just before 9/11 happened.

When I got out of the military, I still felt a bit lost and disconnected so I did what a lot of young people do and I returned home. I held a variety of jobs from working as a cocktail waitress and running the office of a pool construction company to healthcare as a nurse’s aide and training as a certified personal trainer and later coaching and consulting on digital marketing, entrepreneurship and business development. Married and divorced along the way and it’s been a messy process as growth processes tend to be, but I learned a lot about myself and how important the presence of challenging times are for developing strength.

I know there was this moment when I was facing financial difficulty as a single-parent in Las Vegas, at 21, I lived in my car with my toddler briefly because it felt safer than the shelters or mission at the time. I parked my car in the sand outside the library and would use the internet there during the day and read books under the streetlamp at night and I became really passionate about how important it is as a woman to believe in yourself. It’s been a long road since then, but almost 17 years later I’m helping empower women in business to create more confidence and freedom for themselves. I believe it’s my life mission to help as many women entrepreneurs to improve their digital visibility, boost their confidence through the roof and increase process efficiency while starting & scaling their online businesses.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started at your company?

I have had so many interesting things happen that it’s difficult to choose just one. I would have to say that one of the most interesting things that has happened has been an extreme shift in the type of people, especially women, that I spend my time and energy on. From being featured in a magazine called, “Badassery” to having my comments accepted into the Under Armour MyFitnessPal blog to having the opportunity to coach at private events in Las Vegas, I have been so humbled by the things that I have been able to do to help more and more people.

Still though, even with all of that, just the quality of people that I’m around now has to have been, hands down, the most interesting happening. Every single day I talk to amazing coaches and entrepreneurs all around the world that are doing high-impact work from software development to trauma focused course creators helping to heal the world. Getting to be a part of what these people are doing to serve the world and to share and serve with the tools and skills that we as a growing team have to offer has been one of the highest honors in my life.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

This is a difficult question for me because I get pretty excited about anything that I’m working on, but a big focus right now is a new six-month program I created. It’s specifically for high-performing, driven women entrepreneurs and I am collaborating with the Brand Your Passions® scaling system that Carolin Soldo created to compliment the deep analysis and NLP coaching work and SAAS consults that I usually do to help digital entrepreneurs and businesses grow. I think it’s really going to help change a lot of lives because the BYP system on it’s own has already helped thousands of people around the world to hit 5 and 6 figure incomes per month and it’s won multiple awards for bringing in actual results.

The system teaches everything from Facebook Ads to industry positioning for service-based entrepreneurs. I know this is a well-rounded program both for those getting started online as new coaches or consultants and existing businesses that need process improvement as they’re scaling and I’m honored to be able to serve people at a higher level by bringing in access to the BYP system for my clients. Now, more than ever, we’re going to need highly skilled online professionals that are deeply committed to serving the online, global community.

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?

Definitely my late maternal grandmother, Virginia Luna. She was a super driven and classy Mexican-American lady born in a tiny little farm town in New Mexico called Anton Chico in the 1930s. She had this way about her that was, really, what you would expect a powerful matriarch woman to be like. She was a real go-getter and sort of a pioneer in the healthcare field and was a part of one of the first cohorts of women to receive training to become a Respiratory Therapist at a hospital in California in the 1960s. Later, she worked at Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, Washington for a large amount of her life. Over the years, she also owned and operated several small businesses including a restaurant and a residential care facility, which I helped manage and operate, as well.

She had 7 children and was married to my grandfather, an amazing classical Latin Jazz pianist and musician for something like 60 years. She was a bit of a workaholic, and had high standards and expectations for all of us while also constantly managing her stress with what seemed like so much grace. She didn’t smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol and always wanted me to do my best and have the best in life.

She gave me the opportunity to help learn to run the business where I also worked alongside my mother for several years while I was going to college in my twenties and thirties. She truly taught me the value of staying dedicated during times of stress and being service-oriented. She refused to retire and did her best to stay active all the way up until my grandfather passed away just a few years back and she, herself, passed not long after, leaving behind a huge legacy of love and a very large and amazing family.

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?

Co-parenting across state lines and parenting three children in general was very anxiety producing and challenging towards the beginning stages of COVID-19 lockdowns. I had two children that were on the east side of Washington state which was sort of a ‘hot zone’ of sorts and my home is in north Idaho which was, initially, rather unaffected and felt fairly removed from a lot of the restrictions that Washington was going through. I had one child that turned 18 in July who was living in Washington and was going through some relationship difficulties as young folks sometimes do and I wasn’t able to visit her that often, she then moved home temporarily.

My oldest son who is almost 13 and entering middle-school has been extremely affected as he’s a ‘gifted’ student and was being exited from an IEP, distance learning and quarantined in full lock-down while at his dad’s in a more urban area. Then, he would experience a huge transition when coming to see me in a smaller, more rural community in north Idaho and could enjoy nature and go to the lake and outside to remote locations when here with me. My youngest son is classified as non-verbal and is diagnosed with Autism and we’re often feeling socially isolated so the social isolation piece for us in some ways wasn’t that odd, but having a full house of kids has meant that I’ve really had to get super disciplined (even more than usual) with when I am able to get work done. A lot of online learning apps are starting to fill up my devices, that’s for sure.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

Now, more than ever I’m thankful for automation and that I spent a lot of time in the last five years testing and implementing software as a service (SAAS) tools because that has meant that a lot of business processes can still be running while I’m sitting on the porch blowing bubbles with my son. Even still though, with the kids being home so much, I’ve increased my time management effectiveness by implementing more alarms and reminders on my phone, waking up earlier for self-care routines and getting work done before they wake up. I also take advantage of small moments throughout the day to check emails or respond to messages as well as stay up later.

I will admit that I am actually not that great at sleeping most of the time so I try to really allow myself a lot of compassion along with using a wearable tech device that helps me track, and train my sleep habits and other behaviors. Even though I have been online for so many years for both work and continuing education, being plugged in so often really is taxing and overstimulating for my children and myself. I have to take dedicated time daily and weekly for all of us to get unplugged and I actually drive for about 20–30 minutes just to go to a spot at the local lake where there is no service and we’re “off grid” so-to-speak to help calm down and recharge our nervous systems. I know a lot of people don’t have that luxury, especially if they live in urban areas, so I try to encourage people to turn the devices off and maybe soak in an epsom salt bath quietly for a bit if you’re spending a lot of time online or sitting and sedentary.

Can you share the biggest work related challenges you are facing as a woman in business during this pandemic?

Well, actually, it’s been the sudden and insanely huge shift of businesses needing to move into the digital space that has kind of blown my mind more than once in the last six months or so. Seeing this huge wave of people coming online and firstly, feeling really thankful that I can help in some ways, but secondly, it’s stirred up feelings of anger at the fact that a lot of these businesses have been doing things the ‘old school’ way in what seems to be a stubborn manner for far too long. Coaching and consulting on SAAS tools has been a bit crazy because even just the surge of how many people suddenly became interested in how to implement online training through video conferencing and remote team management has been overwhelming.

I’ve been working online off and on since 2003 and I always felt like a lot of people didn’t really ‘get’ that and why or how it worked. I often felt like an outcast when I worked online as an independent contractor, and over the years had several people in my life say things to me like, I needed to “get a real job because working online would never be looked at as successful”.

Can you share what you’ve done to address those challenges?

I have been having to do some self-work to not be too egotistical while seeing everyone suddenly interested in working remotely which used to be really looked down upon. The way that I communicate has definitely shifted. I wrote my own chatbot sequences to help myself handle traffic FAQs and beginner-level or onboarding questions in social media a little better without losing my personal touch or tone when communicating with people initially.

I set up better boundaries for who I want to work with by making my more premium services have a more stringent application process right from the start and changed up some of the copywriting on my social media profiles and spent time doing a lot of videos in groups in Facebook and YouTube to keep myself from repeating the same conversations over and over. I finally made the switch from Calendly to Acuity scheduling for my calendars and I also implemented Stealth Seminar to automate and put some of my webinars into evergreen mode and take more advantage of SMS reminders. I’m also more focused on doing group programs and group training to make the most of my time.

Can you share your advice about how to best work from home, while balancing the needs of homeschooling or the needs of a family?

Well, I’m certainly not claiming to be perfect at doing this, even after years of working from home, but there are definitely some key tactics that I think help make it all work. Oddly, sometimes throwing the idea that things need to be “balanced” at all times is actually something that helps make it feel like everything is working a little better in a symbiotic manner. I often think of the juggling of life and business and family like that movie Something’s Gotta Give, but also, I recently have begun adopting the concept that there is actually no separation of life or family, education or business. For me, all of those things are aspects of one larger picture of being a servant leader. Thinking like that, I think, helps make things about prioritizing our task execution for goal achievement and less about shaming ourselves for being out of “balance”.

For example, even today to get this interview done it’s taken several different sessions of chunking out work while also snuggling my son while he’s eating his snacks. So, having some flexibility has almost always been key to getting work done while parenting. There are a lot of experts that talk about how productivity is reduced when trying to multitask, but sometimes when you’re a parent and attempting to execute several things in one day, there are only a few ways you can go about getting things done.

First, you can pair several things together in one activity. For example, in the past, especially when my kids were young, I would do that a lot by using my voice to text program to get a ton of writing done while I was exercising or even sometimes when I was in the shower I would be speaking and letting my voice to text program write for me. As far as homeschooling, History, Math and Social Studies are great topics to get done while cooking, cleaning or playing together.

Especially for younger kids, their brains are really spongy and they actually retain information really well if they can move while they’re learning. Don’t underestimate the power of children, either. If you’re not sure how the heck to teach the kids, let them tell you what they want to learn about and how they want to do it. Give them some dry erase markers and come up with a little schedule for themselves and you’d be surprised how excited they get about that.

The second way to wrangle your time as a work-at-home parent is to, if you can, set aside chunks of time dedicated to smashing out focused work, while also being open to working smart and taking advantage of time that is often spent wasted by just standing there, such as when you’re waiting in line FOREVER at the socially distanced line to the cashier if you have to go to the store or (gasp) when you find yourself having caved for a trip to Starbucks (again) and you’re waiting in the drive-thru.

I’m almost 40 now and though I love technology, I’ll admit that I’m also a bit old school in a lot of ways. During COVID-19 quarantine, I took the chance to hang a few more whiteboards around my house for brainstorming both work and household project coordination and to help me cut down on forgetting things.

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?

This is where I think my experience in my youth traveling with my family and living in small spaces as well as my time in the military is helpful. Keeping the mind, body and spirit strong and healthy is very important for maintaining a positive outlook and managing moods so I try to do something daily for each of those areas to keep myself at my best. For my mind and mental strength training, I read a lot, meditate, journal, use music to influence my motivation levels and thoughts and use writing to communicate to others that are far away or when there is conflict with those I live with and engaging in verbal conversation might be too overwhelming.

I also use exercise to keep both my mind and body strong. This is something that I’m at an advanced level with and able to do in small spaces. Right now, I’m at my desk, behind me is a green screen and behind that is a heavy bag and heavy bag stand with a pull-up bar attachment. I have resistance bands of varying levels from light to heavy. I have a 100lb barbell in my kitchen and I’ve done every at-home workout and training program under the sun it seems like since 2006. Take advantage of COVID-related free training right now from mobile apps like the Nike Training Center which has made it’s premium programs free of cost.

For my spirit, I sometimes take candlelit baths with binaural beats or Tibetan bowls. I pray a lot and also use my creativity as much as possible through creative writing that is not work-related or on a deadline. Over the years, I have drawn, sculpted, done puzzles, painted and I also think that watching inspirational movies and comedy genre movies is helpful for the spirit. Card-playing and board games is fun, and I do like some video gaming which helps the family stay active through things like VR or motion-sensing capabilities. I also recently became fond of oracle cards, but mostly for fun and sparking ideas and I try not to take it too seriously for any set-in-stone decision making processes. Finally, never underestimate the power of a furry friend such as a dog, cat, rodent or even a bird or fish to help reduce feelings of loneliness, lower blood pressure and combat symptoms of anxiety or depression.

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.

  1. The history of mankind is full of downfalls and uprisings.

If you’re feeling like this is the worst time ever and that we’ve entered into such darkness that we couldn’t possibly escape, remember that life often exists on a type of swinging pendulum and though there is a downswing, it’s purpose is often to gain momentum for an impending up cycle. There may be a knockdown, but there will be recovery, it is humankind’s way of learning. Like a child learning to walk, falling down is inevitable, but mastery of avoiding a fall is imperative for learning to run.

2. There are going to be all kinds of interesting new opportunities coming out of this.

‘They’ say that out of necessity, innovation is born. We’re in the middle of an exciting time to see a lot of new ideas, solutions, creative ventures and constructive endeavors. Almost every story of great champions that I can think of starts with someone being at their rock bottom and feeling fueled to rise up due to whatever hardship they were facing. We are being given fuel for our next level.

3. This is a great time to find out who and what matters most to you.

Stress has a way of giving us some data to interpret and sometimes that data is who cares about you and who doesn’t. We are learning who is on the same level of thinking as we are and who isn’t and who has integrity and who does not. People we thought mattered might have disappeared and those who have been our silent supporters or, perhaps, people we took for granted are suddenly our bright shining stars that we’re now extremely grateful for. It’s another opportunity, but this time it’s an opportunity to set better boundaries and to connect with what is truly important for our overall well being personally and professionally. It’s a chance to see what is worth spending time on or taking a risk for and what or who is, finally, worth letting go for the greater good.

4. In darkness, we view things from a different perspective and we can learn a lot about ourselves.

If you don’t know what Plato’s Allegory of the Cave is, after you’re done reading this interview, look it up and watch a YouTube video if you must. I believe a lot in learning to see things from different perspectives and in darkness, often seen as stifling and negative and equated to imprisonment, that we can actually learn more than we realize (especially if we have gotten used to the lighter side of life and things have been going well and easy and relatively painlessly and we’re feeling successful). Sometimes, going back into the dark after we’ve been in the light feels really scary, but it’s a chance to get back to basics and evaluate and review and take a good look at all that we’ve learned from the last time we felt lost or trapped or without direction or, perhaps, had less self-awareness, knowledge or hope.

I think doing what’s called Shadow Work in psychology is really helpful for performance improvement and healing transformations in life and business and it almost requires a total acknowledgement of the difficult, ugly, primal and often thought of as ‘bad’ parts of ourselves or others instead of steering away from it. Right now is the best time to learn how we deal with and which ways we need to improve our reactions to hopelessness, fear, anger, disappointment, deep sadness or depression, grief, loneliness and, perhaps, financial risks or challenges to better function and self-regulate as assertive and healthy, strong women leaders.

5. Especially as women business owners, now is a great time to allow ourselves to feel fully supported.

Whether it’s more acceptance in the world as a working woman due to a lot of women’s movements or more organizations supporting women, I think now is a great time to be a woman leader because I think society is starting to value us more as far as our contributions to the workforce at a c-suite level and as leaders. Working from home is starting to be more accepted, as well. So, basically, any work-at-home mom that was running a side hustle with an MLM opportunity or who had developed their own product or service and trying to sell locally with small vendors or even those doing freelance contractor work or running companies full-time or part time from home… you name it, it’s now more supported by those that once thought you were just a stay-at-home mom without a real job.

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?

This is a powerful question for me because I have a lot of anxiety and symptoms of PTSD. First, I think it’s important to not invalidate others when they’re experiencing anxiety and feeling anxious. It’s such a complex experience that is both invisible in the mind, but also shows itself with physical symptoms which can be different for everyone. For parents, it might be increased blood pressure, tension headaches and irritability and eating changes or craving remedy or alcohol and not wanting to go to the store where there are people. For young children symptoms like stomach pain and not having as much fun as usual with their daily activities are common. Sleep disturbances and even bad dreams are also expected and fairly normal for both adults and children.

I think it’s important to say, especially to young people, “It’s totally healthy and normal to be experiencing anxiety…” and also to empower them by saying something about managing the mental aspect of the emotion by choosing what action or words and ideas that they will make or choose to have about that anxiety. I have found it helpful to openly talk more about my own anxieties, but to lead by example and still do life even while feeling fear. This concept is really talked about in a book I’ve read multiple times which I love called, Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers.

I’m old enough that I grew up around a lot of adults that believed that showing fear meant you were weak and it was common to hear things like “you don’t need to be scared” or “don’t be afraid of that” and even “stop being a baby” when someone felt anxiety. In my family, in sports, and (of course) in the military, I learned for most of my life to focus on being ‘fearless’ or else I was somehow less than strong. I think this created a lot of problems with not trusting my gut instincts, intuition and created unnecessary self-doubt.

I put myself through a lot of trauma focused intensive therapy over the years and I learned about false positivity and things like spiritual bypassing. I experienced a great transformation in myself with the realization that I was super enthusiastic and sometimes overly positive during really sad, angry or depressing or scary moments. By ignoring my emotional experiences, I was also blocking out the data those experiences were providing me with by covering up negativity due to shame of thinking (even subconsciously) that it was weak to acknowledge negative emotions.

There is a lot of talk in the coaching and therapy communities related to holding space for others and sometimes I think it’s over-complicated. Really, holding space just means either emotionally or even physically validating someone’s need to feel safe. Ask your anxious loved ones, if you’re able and you live together, do they need to be held or hugged?

A quick hug can do a lot for both people if you’re both open to doing that together. Also, changing up the way that we speak can be helpful and encouraging someone to say that they “feel scared” or “feel anxious” rather than saying “I am scared” or “I am anxious” is a good path to reprogramming and starting a reframing mindset. For example, I now say, “I feel anxious, but I am going to listen to some calming music and breathe slowly for a few minutes and I know I will feel better.”

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

I’m a Green Bay Packers fan and as a coach, of course, I love Vince Lombardi. He said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” and this has been relevant in my life for many years because I have faced many challenges where I felt very defeated on more than one ocassion.

There have been so many times I felt broken and beaten mentally or physically, but I was able to complete an activity or hit a goal and even surpass my expectations for a goal because I kept going and didn’t give up. I am strong-willed and do not give up easily and will keep going simply because I know that the getting back up part or not quitting is often the way that I am more likely to succeed rather than those who, when down, decide to stay down and don’t try to get back up again. I have an almost daily practice that I call ‘taking a knee’ and it’s not really anything that I invented. In fact, a lot of sports coaches do this with their teams when speaking to the group.

For me, it’s actually me physically getting down on one knee to take a moment to take a quick breath, almost always includes a quick prayer or call out to the universe in some way and it’s simply me checking in with myself and reconnecting to my highest sense of self. Sometimes this is referred to as becoming ‘centered’. I have dealt with extreme heartbreak, grief and loss of a loved one, hitting mental walls during physical training as I’ve trained for half-marathons or bouts of endurance training, horrible exhaustion while working and pregnant and even financial anxieties using this technique and always remembering to stand back up again after I take a knee.

How can our readers follow you online?

Facebook: @lisahowardcoaching

LinkedIn: @lisahowardcoaching

Instagram: @lisahowardcoaching

Twitter: @lisahowardcoach

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

You might also like...


Mamie Kanfer Stewart On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

by Karen Mangia

Elizabeth Sandler On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

by Karen Mangia

Scott Nelson On How We Need To Adjust To The Future Of Work

by Karen Mangia
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.