Susan Nefzger: “A Practical Guide to Awareness”

When you become aware of your purpose you become fearlessly motivated to share that with the world, in order to help others. So, it becomes second nature to invest resources and energy because we understand this is why we are here on the planet. The benefits of investing in what you love doing are that you […]

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When you become aware of your purpose you become fearlessly motivated to share that with the world, in order to help others.

So, it becomes second nature to invest resources and energy because we understand this is why we are here on the planet. The benefits of investing in what you love doing are that you live life joyously and in anticipation of what wonderful things can occur each day.

The enjoyment and appreciation keep us in the flow of life and attracting what is meant for us on our life path. That includes helping people.

As part of our series about how to become known as a thought leader in your industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Susan Nefzger. Susan is the author of “A Practical Guide to Awareness” and “Putting Awareness Into Practice”, and most recently collaborating on a book with 30 other women ages 50–90 -called, “Believe You Can Live a Life You Love At 50+”. Susan began exploring self-awareness in the early ’80s as a result of reading “Many Lives Many Masters,” by Brian Weiss, M.D. After reading the book and attending one of his workshops the light bulb went on. After moving to Atlanta as a member of the Georgia Lottery start-up team, she began a self-actualization quest which included studying many spiritual practices, a favorite being the Self Realization Fellowship Founder, Paramahansa Yogananda. A veteran public relations professional over a highly substantive 30-year career, Susan traveled around the world seeking answers on her quest. During a writing retreat in Glastonbury, UK the words of her books flowed forth in a torrent of inspiration. Becoming aligned with a creative consciousness provided the impetus to write and complete the books. Susan resides in Atlanta, Georgia, where she works in marketing and continues to share her book through online courses, workshops, and social media. She composes poetry which is shared with her nature photos to uplift and find beauty in each day.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Susan! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Yes! I’m excited to be able to share how I have succeeded in business as well as in charting my own path as a thought leader in the self-awareness arena.

After working in public relations and marketing at the highest levels for 20 years, I created a consultancy in order to work for myself in 2004. Honestly, I did it to enjoy a flexible schedule so I could spend more time involved in my son’s education and upbringing.

Opportunities presented themselves and I took advantage of them every step of my career. This lead to being able to follow my dreams of traveling and seeking my purpose in life. Recognizing and taking advantage of various opportunities is the key to success.

Can you briefly share with our readers why you are an authority about the topic of thought leadership?

Leadership implies someone with the courage to lead the way in paving a new approach to life or business, but also to have the courage of one’s convictions fueling their path. Being fearless is absolutely necessary to being a thought leader. Once a person understands what their purpose is it provides the passion and drive to be fearless.

My book, “A Practical Guide to Awareness” outlines the steps to finding fulfillment through self-discovery. Its companion workbook allows for the work to be done on a daily basis. Once you become self-aware you discover your purpose or gift because you pay attention to what lights your fire.

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

One of the most transformative stories is involved in my journey to Glastonbury to attend a Conscious Writing Retreat in May of 2015. I had no expectations, only the magnetic pull of the feeling that I was meant to be there. I was the only American along with 13 women and one man, all British. I began writing the very first day and finished the inspired writing of my books within 6 weeks.

The most important conclusion of the life-changing experience though, was that I had found my spiritual family, and it felt like a homecoming. But that also related to the locale of being situated at one of the most historically significant sites of the world, Glastonbury Abbey. Today, 5 years later, this circle of writers and friends are very close to my heart. Actually, several of us recently published a book together. It’s titled, “Believe You Can Live a Life you Love At 50+.”

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There are so many funny stories! I was always unafraid to speak to anyone or approach people no matter who they were. I always introduced myself to higher-ups, celebrities, politicians, etc.. without intimidation. I think they appreciated it. I remember my first job out of college, I was working with a bi-partisan joint legislative committee which studied the infrastructure needs of the State of Florida. The members of the Committee were all CEOs, elected officials and thought leaders of their time. (early 80’s)It was my first meeting and I introduced myself to the Chairman who was also the CEO of Southeast Banks of Florida, at the time, a powerhouse in banking prior to banking mergers.

He also was involved with the Rand Corporation and think tank. I proffered my hand and said, hi, I’m Susan Nefzger, shall I call you, Charlie, Charles or Mr. Zwick? He just started laughing and said, “call me Charlie.” I was 25 at the time, and my boss almost had a heart attack.

Mr. Zwick and I built a great working relationship and I learned so much from him. But what I also learned was that I could be bold and still succeed.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main focus of our interview. In a nutshell, how would you define what a ‘Thought Leader’ is. How is a thought leader different than a typical leader? How is a thought leader different than an influencer?

As I alluded to earlier, I believe a thought leader possesses fearlessness as the fuel of their motivation. It relates to living your life on your terms, as a self-aware individual who shares their gift in order to help others achieve their dreams. Every person has a unique gift to share with the world, and in doing so we lift up others.

Changing thought patterns is the key to changing outworn patterns. I believe thought leaders work on a different level — they possess a burning passion for knowing they are alive for a purpose.

Can you talk to our readers a bit about the benefits of becoming a thought leader. Why do you think it is worthwhile to invest resources and energy into this? Sure!

When you become aware of your purpose you become fearlessly motivated to share that with the world, in order to help others.

So, it becomes second nature to invest resources and energy because we understand this is why we are here on the planet. The benefits of investing in what you love doing are that you live life joyously and in anticipation of what wonderful things can occur each day.

The enjoyment and appreciation keep us in the flow of life and attracting what is meant for us on our life path. That includes helping people.

Let’s talk about business opportunities specifically. Can you share a few examples of how thought leadership can help a business grow or create lucrative opportunities?

Thought leadership allows for a different way of viewing and thinking about everything. The result is that you begin to see many opportunities where they may not have existed previously. It opens up new avenues of business and other contacts which allows new paths to open for investment, vertical business opportunities and networking. For example, there are new ways to grow a business now through online and digital avenues like podcasting, online courses, webinars, etc… the entire digital world provides contacts that we did not have before. The bottom line is the motivation to do so, once you feel the passion of what you are promoting you can’t lose! It takes commitment and focuses to succeed at anything, so being open during the process leads to synchronicity occurring.

Ok. Now that we have that behind us, we’d love to hear your thoughts about how to eventually become a thought leader. Can you share 5 strategies that a person should implement to become known as a thought leader in their industry. Please tell us a story or example (ideally from your own experience) for each.

I’d love to share my insight. First, know your purpose or passion. It’s great to be self -aware and understand your purpose in life, but many don’t. I recommend going within to understand who you are first, discovering your gift and then moving on to influencing other’s lives.

2- Once you understand your purpose and have the motivation to do so, use your gift

with purpose. Knowing your strengths helps determine the HOW.

3- Begin networking within the new circles you are passionate about and get involved in like-minded pursuits and communities It all leads to connectivity.

4- Be consistent! Consistency is key to success in any field. But showing up for yourself first in a consistent way to promote your purpose is important. By doing it regularly it will flow and you’ll find yourself regularly doing the work of thought leadership.

5- Make time daily for your passion. We all have to pay the bills, meaning we may have a profession that is different than our thought leadership activity at first. BUT if you are doing something daily that brings you joy such as sharing your gift or passion to help others, then you are on track. It will lead to eventually doing it full time.

It is the reason we are all here on the planet.

In your opinion, who is an example of someone who has that has done a fantastic job as a thought leader? Which specific things have impressed you about that person? What lessons can we learn from this person’s approach.

I admire Arianna Huffington and always have since she began her blog as a single mother.

As a woman leader, she has provided a window for us to witness her evolution and growth, in an unabashedly unapologetic way.

What we can learn from her is that we can be bold and fearless and still succeed. We don’t have to follow the crowd. But we do have to help others along the way. That is thought leadership.

I have seen some discussion that the term “thought leader” is trite, overused, and should be avoided. What is your feeling about this?

My feeling about the term “thought leader” is that it doesn’t go far enough in the actual definition of the quality of individuals who are labeled as such. I tend to agree that it is overused. I think we can certainly come up with something more original.

What advice would you give to other leaders to thrive and avoid burnout?

My advice is to be yourself, believe in yourself and become self -aware to discover your true purpose.

At age 53, I jumped feet first into my transformation, after seeking for some 20 years. The self-awareness process began a whole new life that led me here. Today, I am a writer and motivational speaker and enjoy helping others arrive at the ah ha moment.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

My passion is to help others become self-aware. If we all share our gifts, we uplift the world and then everything changes with joy. That is a movement that needs to be a priority.

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

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

The relevance of Emerson was his encouragement that it is ok to be different. Be yourself, live life on your terms. Never having been a follower, I always carved a new way of doing things or at least I tried to.

We are blessed that very prominent leaders in business and entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a lunch or breakfast with? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

That list is long…. But yes, I’d love to have lunch with Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, and Deepak Chopra.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On Instagram @a_practical_guide_to_awareness or @snefzgerpr. On LinkedIn -

Thank you so much for your insights. This was very insightful and meaningful.

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