Always lead from a place of love and understanding. You never truly know what someone is dealing with and how that is affecting how they are showing up in other areas of their life.
How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.
As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Staci Luna.
Staci is a successful tarot card reader and spiritual advisor that shares life advice online and helps people from all walks of life work through past traumas, present problems, and anxiety about the future. She is a former workaholic who was forced to step back and focus on her health after experiencing an stress-induced stroke. Since then, she has learned to step into her light , own her truth, and accept the intuitive gifts she was given, while teaching others to do the same.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
I grew up as a single child raised by loving parents who were both workaholics. My mother was extremely successful as a northern California HR director, and my father was a very type A business owner. Stress was never handled well in my home and as an empath I took on their anxiety and worry as my own. I was also always a very intuitive child, but I did not understand my intuition because the stress just seemed to override everything.
Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?
Prior to starting my own business as a tarot card reader and a spiritual advisor, I was going through a divorce and trying to navigate a career as a commercial insurance agent. Having two children, demanding clients, and a long commute to work inevitably lead to severe health issues. In just six short months, I lost my father, navigated a messy divorce, failed to manage my stress levels, and had a stroke with countless hemiplegic migraines. The stroke left me with brain damage and I could no longer do mathematics, but my childhood intuitive sense began to heighten. Less stress and movement created a peace within my body. My Intuitive nature took over and I finally learned to listen to my soul rather than my ego.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of my close friends was doing an internship and ended up introducing me to my favorite author, Don Miguel Ruiz. For decades I had internalized the teachings of The Four Agreements, but after working with Ruiz one on one, I was able to fully live within a path of unconditional love. For the first time in my life, I took care of myself the way I took care of others. That transformation allowed me to become a beacon of light for others.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
I would say that my top three character traits that have helped me out in my career are the ability to not take things personally, being nonjudgmental towards others, and having the desire to try my best in everything I do. I’ve learned that if I tried my best and the outcome was not to another individual’s liking, that it’s not worth beating myself up over. Other people’s responses have more to do with their inner dialogue than my shortcomings. Using my strength of being non-judgemental allows for a safe space and enables my clients to quiet their own inner critic. It also helps them find their power and self compassion. I’ve found that reducing my critical inner voice has changed my interaction with everyone, and I strive to teach others to do the same.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?
I think that most people are not comfortable with a determined woman. A self assertive and demanding woman has historically been seen as negative, while demanding men are viewed as assertive. I have always had the highest of standards for all of my professional aspirations. In the male dominated commercial insurance arena I had to work twice as hard as men to earn the trust of client’s because of social and sexist preconceived patriarchal expectations. It was always expected to go above and beyond while never using my child care obligations as a reasonable excuse. Women are often expected to wear multiple hats at any given time (while not complaining and somehow always looking flawless). As a holistic life coach, I work with strong women to help them understand that the ideology of a perfectionist work/life balance is impossible. So many of us are hustling to stay afloat and keep everyone happy around us. While this is a generalization, most men don’t internalize perfectionist self expectations (and they certainly do not have mom guilt).
Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?
In a board meeting, my previous boss actually mom shamed me in front of a room full of men. He asked me “How do you handle having a nanny see your kids more than you do?”. Every man in that room nodded their heads in agreement and went on to praise their wives domestic duties. These men completely neglected to understand that I was still doing all of those “wife duties” and “mom duties” while working full time.
What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?
A powerful woman should never dull herself to make other people more comfortable. It’s not your job to make people like you, and truthfully, you can’t make anyone do anything (so why bother). Just focus on showing up being your best authentic self. Be kind and compassionate and start every interaction with a smile but completely let go of a desire to please everyone.
What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?
I think the current social dialogue is charging for change. People are really starting to listen to the voices of strong indigenous, black, and trans activists. While there has been some shifts, there is so much that needs to change in the United States. Shifting the patriarchal paradigm in the workplace is going to require great leaps in publicly funding every element of childcare. The shift also needs to prioritize protecting this planet’s future and our children’s future. On top of this, everything we encounter professionally and in our personal relationships needs to focus on mental health. The new dominant female autonomy must be focused on mental health, while reducing the superficial perfectionist expectations placed upon the female body.
In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?
I work with clients every day that feel that they need to do everything perfectly and completely on their own. Delegation is important for a successful work/life balance and calling in a nanny or assistant to lessen the load doesn’t make you seem weak. Decisions that make your life easier and less stressful should never be shamed.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I think that the biggest challenge that women leaders are forced to juggle with is trying to handle the home life responsibility on top of the working issues. We also aren’t expected to just “juggle” the two, but we are expected to be perfect at both.
Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?
I always felt like I was choosing my business first, and my family second. The mom guilt and shame eventually led to a stroke. Looking back, it’s so clear that I couldn’t possibly be who everyone expected or needed me to be and try to find myself and do what makes me happy. Instead of accepting and realizing that I was simply doing my best, I continually put added pressure on myself until the stress won.
What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?
Unfortunately, my body made the choice for me and I was forced to take time to heal. After a period of time off to focus on my health and well being, I was able to start the life coaching business on my own and do it my way. And now I have the privilege of helping other women navigate through the expectations that both themselves and society unfairly place on them.
I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?
I wish I could say that appearance doesn’t matter, but that would not be honest (at least from my background). I tell my clients instead of worrying about if they fit the beauty standard or not, to instead think of how much better you feel about yourself when you choose to look your best. After years of recovering from my stroke, I found that getting up and showering and throwing on a little makeup actually helped with my self-esteem. Now I do things daily to boost my self esteem for the sole reason that it brightens my mood, not because anyone expects me to.
How is this similar or different for men?
Men seem to assert the power from their personality while women are always judged on their appearance.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need to Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)
My Five things that I think women need to focus on to succeed in being a powerful women are as follows:
- Always remember not to take others’ opinions of you personally. Why choose to be miserable when you can choose to focus on things you can control?
- Delegation is everything. Building a team builds support and it’s important to learn that others have strengths that you don’t. Leaning on them for their strengths leaves room for you to focus on your own.
- Always lead from a place of love and understanding. You never truly know what someone is dealing with and how that is affecting how they are showing up in other areas of their life.
- Never stop learning! The more that I learn, the less of an expert I feel. This often keeps my ego in check as well.
- Ten minutes of meditation when things feel overwhelming can change your entire mindset. Give yourself that gift of those ten minutes when you need them.
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 spend some time with Nicole LePera. Her work in holistic psychology is amazing and I have read her book countless times and suggest it to all my clients.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.