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Stephynie Malik of SMALIK Enterprises: “Embrace the Suck”

“Embrace the Suck” is a military term. It means to consciously accept or appreciate something extremely unpleasant but unavoidable. When challenged with adversity, your mindset or attitude will determine your outcome. Doing nothing changes nothing. Changing your behaviors to deal with the new reality is challenging but rewarding. I learned how to be resilient and self-reliant […]

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“Embrace the Suck” is a military term. It means to consciously accept or appreciate something extremely unpleasant but unavoidable.

When challenged with adversity, your mindset or attitude will determine your outcome. Doing nothing changes nothing.

Changing your behaviors to deal with the new reality is challenging but rewarding. I learned how to be resilient and self-reliant very early in life. Those skills have enabled me to thrive and survive during difficult days and situations.


As part of my series about prominent entrepreneurs and executives that overcame adversity to achieve great success”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephynie Malik.

Hailed as an expert negotiator and skilled crisis management consultant in the industry, Stephynie is helping top-notch athletes, executives and businesses take their careers and organizations to the next level while also resolving high conflict and crisis cases for individuals and companies globally.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?

Like many, my childhood was less than optimal. Unlike many, my father drowned when I was just 3 years old and I became an emancipated minor at the age of 15. As I began the process of figuring out my future, I recognized a pattern.

Questions enable connections. Connections enable engagement. Engagement enables learning. Learning enables transformation. Transformation, it seems, begins by asking smart and “strategic” questions.

Each step of my professional life has been a natural evolution or progression. Each job gave me the experience, skills, and confidence I needed to be prepared for the next opportunity.

When I determined that it was indeed possible for humans to overcome insurmountable adversity and tragedy, I made it my personal mission to give back to others. This came in the form of SMALIK Enterprises, which is my newest venture and assists others with executive transformation and crisis management efforts.

Can you share your story of when you were on the brink of failure? First, take us back to what it was like during the darkest days.

My emancipation resulted from my father drowning when I was three years old, and my Mother’s many challenges. She suffered from mental illness, was never medicated, and was hyper abusive. Legal emancipation was an extreme yet necessary solution.

I was frequently homeless, had no family support, always worked multiple jobs to pay my bills and save for the future, and struggled to finish high school. I had an attitude towards everyone and trusted nobody. Each day was a struggle for a variety of reasons. I didn’t understand how or why I deserved to be in this position. But I did know things would be changing and my life would get better.

What was your mindset during such a challenging time? Where did you get the drive to keep going when things were so hard?

Survival was the driver since my options and opportunities were so limited. But, I also learned how to be resilient and self-reliant. I had proven to myself that I could take care of me and not have to rely on anyone for anything.

Tell us how you were able to overcome such adversity and achieve massive success? What did the next chapter look like?

I learned the value of the pattern I mentioned earlier.

Questions enable connections. Connections enable engagement. Engagement enables learning. Learning enables transformation.

I reached out to many people with specific questions on things I needed to know or do to achieve the goals I had to transform for my future.

I had many questions, made many great connections, and learned a great deal that enabled me to excel and succeed. Behaviors truly drive outcomes. Once I took ownership of my actions, my outcomes improved…dramatically!

The “real world” work experience I had also was key to my future success. I worked multiple jobs in several industries: retail, hospitality, and foodservice. I learned that I had a gift for connecting with customers, co-workers, and managers. I learned how to “solution” customer problems and complaints quickly, empathetically, and completely.

I am grateful to have lived and navigated through those challenging times. They prepared me well for future Success.

Based on your experience, can you share a 3 actionable pieces of advice about how to develop the mindset needed to persevere through adversity? (Please share a story or example for each.)

One- Embrace the Suck

“Embrace the Suck” is a military term. It means to consciously accept or appreciate something extremely unpleasant but unavoidable.

When challenged with adversity, your mindset or attitude will determine your outcome. Doing nothing changes nothing.

Changing your behaviors to deal with the new reality is challenging but rewarding. I learned how to be resilient and self-reliant very early in life. Those skills have enabled me to thrive and survive during difficult days and situations.

Two- Ask for Help

There is zero shame in my game when seeking help.

Arrogance, ego, lack of self-awareness, and humility, and fear of judgment are reasons that prevent people from leveraging this simple solution for dealing with adverse situations.

I’ll hire a coach, find a mentor, DM on social media, or seek feedback from anyone who can make me a better consultant, coach, crisis manager, parent, spouse, or person.

Again, doing nothing changes nothing. Overcoming adversity requires action.

Three- Be Grateful

I am grateful that I experienced massive quantities of adversity so early in my life. It taught me that I had the knowledge, strength, and a will to excel when adversity strikes.

If you have survived through challenging times, you should trust and have confidence in overcoming adversity. Be grateful for that experience.

As Winston Churchill said, “success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have had many people in my life who helped motivate, educate, and inspire me to succeed and excel. At the top of that list is my daughter. She was born when I was 22, and we were on our own after my divorce at 23. I had no idea what this person held for me in my future. She tells me these days that I shaped her and gave her so many gifts. She has no idea that she was my teacher. She taught me unconditional love, preparation, kindness, giving without expectations of receiving. She taught me to prioritize how and when pivot, not sweat the small stuff, slow down and smell the roses, and taught me how to laugh

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

Yes, many of the executives we work with are looking for help on how to return to work “differently”. Which essentially means, better, stronger and more connected given these times. In light of this, we’re rolling out a resiliency program for leaders to connect with their teams globally and to form best practices around psychologically safe work environments.

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? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would organize the largest, the loudest, the most energetic, and omnipresent grassroots group of mental health advocates on the planet.

Mental health disorders impact 1 in 5 adults in our country. 51.5 million adults reported they experienced an event in 2019. The number of people affected who did not seek treatment is incalculable.

Mental health professionals need our help to increase awareness, change laws, raise funds, outreach, and many other initiatives to support those impacted by mental health challenges and disorders.

Any parting words of wisdom that you would like to share?

C.S. Lewis said, “Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”

I know these words to be true. I lived them.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephyniemalik/

Twitter: @StephynieMalik

Instagram: @StephynieMalik

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stephyniemalikcoaching

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.

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