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Teri Healy: “You’re not always the authority”

You’re not always the authority. I see this pothole show up for many of my coaching clients. When we’re stepping out to build a business, we know that we have something significant to contribute. It takes a delicate balance of your ego, humility, confidence and also being up for contribution from others. We all know […]

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You’re not always the authority. I see this pothole show up for many of my coaching clients. When we’re stepping out to build a business, we know that we have something significant to contribute. It takes a delicate balance of your ego, humility, confidence and also being up for contribution from others. We all know someone who I call “un-coachable” and those folks miss out on game-changing opportunities.


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 Teri Healy.

Teri is a speaker, coach and author. Her life is a story of transformation. Everything that happened to her has prepared her to serve others. She is committed to touching 10 million lives.


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?

Sure. Like so many others, I survived against some incredible odds. The statistics say that I should have ended up on the streets, addicted or incarcerated, if I made it to adulthood at all. The pinnacle was being abandoned at age 12 without access to basic resources like food and the electricity, heat and hot water were off and on. There were no adults to be found. I was there for three years and once it was over, the healing started.

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

My favorite quote comes from a little paperback book called Zen And The Art Of Happiness by Chris Prentiss and it says “everything that happens to you is the best thing that can possibly happen to you.” When I’ve had challenging times, this is the ray of light that I hold onto. It reminds me that this situation will change or pass and there is a gift waiting for me on the other side. When I focus on even the smallest good thing that could come out a situation, my entire perspective shifts.

How would your best friend describe you?

I asked her and here’s what she said: After a moment in Teri’s presence, you will feel seen, validated and important. She is transparent, honest and vulnerable and she gives you the space to be the same. She’s spontaneous. Funny. Caring, Joy-full. Insightful and intuitive. Intelligent, generous and fearless.

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?

The first would be my drive to always heal, grow and evolve. No matter what I’ve had to face, having that hardwiring has helped me overcome it.

The second quality is my compassion for others. I’ve known for many years that I went through everything that I did to be able to help others along their journey. I’m grateful for the help I’ve gotten along the way and the more I learn, the more I can contribute to someone else.

My third is believing that even if I don’t know how to do something, I’ll figure it out. That’s a gift from my childhood. I’ve learned to take a deep breath, start looking for the solution and trust that I will find it.

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?

Yes, I owned a mortgage company. I worked every day of the week and I was always on call. This was my second mortgage company. I opened my first one when I was 27. I’m designed to be self-employed and thrive when working in my own business.

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

I believe our biggest growth comes from our most painful times. The deeper the cut, the greater the lesson. I hit rock bottom and chose to do the work to turn things around. I knew that I needed to dismantle and rebuild who I was from the ground up.

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?

I’d been a single mom raising two kids for about 13 years when I decided it was time to find love. I made a list of everything that I was wishing for and tucked it away. Within a few weeks, a fellow showed up and he fit absolutely everything I’d hope for. To give you the backdrop, I owned a couple of homes, had a lakefront lot for my next build, a healthy retirement account and my kids’ college saving accounts were funded.

We were together for almost five years when he confessed that he’d never loved me and was leaving. That day, I had 10 dollars left to my name. All of my assets were gone and the sheriff was coming within days to move me out. I filed bankruptcy and my home was being foreclosed on. I had systematically drained everything I’d worked my entire life for. No doubt, he saw me coming but it takes two to do the dance.

I was emotionally and financially devastated. I took a hard look at my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to land here. I’d overcome generational poverty and helped hundreds of people purchase their homes. It just didn’t make sense.

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

Here I was at age 47 and my life was in shambles. I thought about who I was five years ago to have attracted this man and willingly made those choices, going against everything that I logically knew. That was the girl I needed to talk to.

For the first time, I saw that she didn’t love herself, she couldn’t have.

So I set about the work of learning how to do that. I had no history of ever getting it from anyone in my life and no clue of where to start.

It’s funny, when we make a strong commitment to something, we can see the tools and resources that had always been there, just waiting for us to be ready to use them.

How are things going with this new initiative?

I am unrecognizable now. I can’t remember now how I used to feel about myself or the world. Every so often I’ll see a picture of myself from back then and I can almost feel a faint sensation, but it’s foreign to me now.

This was also the catalyst for me to start speaking and eventually coaching and writing.

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?

This is ironic but I’m actually grateful to him. Even in the middle of being blindsided, I knew that he would be one of my greatest teachers. Had he not shown up in my life the way that he did, I might have never woken up and did the work. I remember feeling lucky that I was still young and healthy and could have a second chance at life and love.

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

When I first started speaking, I was working in the not-for-profit world. I spoke in battered women’s and homeless shelters. I wanted to bring my message to folks during their roughest times. I also had an ongoing engagement for parents who were court ordered to go through parenting classes for low-level things, like curfew violation and school truancy. The parents would have to go to ten weekly classes to get a certificate to satisfy the court. After a few cycles, I was asked to be the regular speaker for the final session, like a graduation gift.

After I spoke there the last time, a woman stayed around when everyone else had left to talk to me personally. She asked if I remembered her. I couldn’t recall meeting her and asked her to remind me. She told me that she was in my room and heard me speak about three months ago. I figured that she’d had another violation and was court ordered to come back again. That wasn’t the case though. When she showed up to court with her certificate, she asked the judge if she could go through the course again so that she could hear Miss Teri speak. The judge granted her request.

I found out afterwards that she didn’t have transportation, which was common and was walking almost two miles each way to get to all of the classes. You couldn’t attend the last graduation class if you’d missed any of the others.

She told me that she couldn’t remember what I’d talked about, but a few days after she heard me speak, something changed for her. It was difficult for her to say, but she’d realized that all that she ever did was scream at her children. That day she stopped yelling and for the first time saw her children in way she never had before.

She brought out her phone and showed me a picture of her son and told me that he was really good at math and might be the first one in the family to graduate high school. Then she let me see her daughter. She had been so busy yelling at her about her crayon and marker messes that she never saw the pictures that she drew. Now she saw her daughter as an artist.

I left this conversation and saw the big picture. That woman heard something that I said and her life was changed forever. So were the lives of her children and whoever they couple up with and any children that might come along.

This is the moment when I knew that I needed to start speaking professionally and I decided to devote my life to it.

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?

Absolutely, I still struggle with this from time to time. I think almost everyone does. One of the best tools that I use is looking at the belief as if I were an outsider and then breaking it apart piece by piece.

Here’s an example from last night actually. I’m hoping to find love again and sometimes I find myself wondering if I haven’t yet because I’m older now or perhaps it’s the extra weight I’ve put on recently. I ran into a man and we share a mutual attraction. He’s interesting having something casual but not a potential relationship. As I was driving home, I found myself going down the rabbit hole. I mentally pulled my tool out of the toolbox and imagined writing down my thoughts and then reading them.

The judgements about my age and size aren’t logical as there are millions of other folks older and rounder who’ve found love. Becoming the observer to my thoughts let me to consider other possibilities that aren’t verdicts about my value or attractiveness.

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?

I learned how to ask for help for the first time in my life. My daughter was there as a wonderful source of support and I found my way to an incredible mentor.

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 started daydreaming about speaking professionally in my early twenties. I kept talking myself out of it though. They say that public speaking is the number one fear for people.

I take stages and coach others now and both require raw vulnerability. I share intimate details and it takes courage to do this. To be honest, even doing this interview brings up those feelings. I know that by doing it there’s a chance it will help someone else on their journey and that helps get me over the nervousness.

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.

  1. When you decide how long it’s going to take you to “get there”, multiply that number by 3. I move quickly and I was sure that I’d be a well known speaker within the first year of putting myself out there. I thought it would be like opening a new restaurant where everyone’s buzzing before the doors open up and can’t wait to get in. It didn’t happen that way for me and I actually considered letting go and moving on. I’m glad I didn’t.
  2. Decide on a couple of marketing routes to take and then stay light on your feet. Now more than ever we have multiple people and strategies to chose from. For me, it was hard to decide which direction to go. I’ve learned that is OK to change things up and even try something that might be off the beaten path.
  3. Be mindful of who you share your dreams with. This one is big when your vision is coming together. Not everyone is your cheerleader, even if they seem to be a real supporter. Sometimes people do things that can shift your headspace and they might be totally unaware of it. I share my upcoming projects with a very tight circle.
  4. You’re not always the authority. I see this pothole show up for many of my coaching clients. When we’re stepping out to build a business, we know that we have something significant to contribute. It takes a delicate balance of your ego, humility, confidence and also being up for contribution from others. We all know someone who I call “un-coachable” and those folks miss out on game-changing opportunities.
  5. Don’t be afraid to invest in your business and outsource some of the work. This is also common when someone is starting a business. I get it. Finances could be tight and you want to be careful with your resources. But consider this: what if you spent a few days (or weeks) learning how to build your own website versus paying someone to do it? The time you’ve saved could be used creating relationships or promoting your business. I think of a friend of mine: he is a successful attorney with an hourly rate of 500 dollars but every time he has a plumbing issue in his house, he spends hours under the sink getting frustrated and soaked. Hmmmm. Pay a plumber a couple hundred dollars or lose that income in billable hours? That visual of seeing him under the sink is my gut-check.

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’ve had visions of filling stadiums and sharing my story. The story I told earlier about the mother who saw her kids for the first time is a perfect example. Imagine that I’m out in the world bringing hope and transformation to people. Once they hear a message that resonates, they can’t go back to being who they were before they walked into the room. Now the pyramid effect comes into play. One person can impact many others and so on and so on until I reach my goal of touching 10 million lives.

What do you want to be remembered for the most?

My life is a story of transformation. When people think about my life, I hope that they are reminded that it is absolutely possible. It takes work, focus and time but it’s doable.

My ultimate wish is that people are moved and inspired to take it on, both for themselves and for every other life they touch.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website is www.terihealy.com and you can find me on IG at diggingforyourgold

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

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