It’s okay to ask for help — Initially, it was a one woman show — marketing, writing, editing, accounting, social media and business development. You name it, I took care of it. Today, I realize that some tasks should be outsourced over time to give you more space to do what you do best.
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 Yvette Bodden.
In 2021, Yvette Bodden was named a “Bella Boss We Admire” by Bella Magazine. She is the Author of a “A Journey to Becoming the Best Self,” as well as, Writer and Founder of Awakened-Woman. AW is a platform designed to inspire, empower and encourage women to become their best selves. However, this level of greatness came at a price and during a time when least expected, as she embarked on one of life’s most painful journeys.
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?
I was born and raised in New York City, the oldest of four children in a Latino household has its challenges. It was a super busy household, my mother ran a tight ship and did not leave much free time for anything else. The expectation was to stay productive, partaking in activities that would enrich our lives in some way. Reading, playing an instrument, ballet or studying coursework was favored over idle time. My other favorite pastime — journaling, I never imagined that writing could play such a pivotal role in the second chapter of life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Beautiful and tough question, there are countless favorite quotes! I am a collector of quotes, in fact, I have a wall of inspiration but one that stands out, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
We all have a story, at least one book inside of us. While most people choose to keep their pages private, the volumes of untold chapters can oftentimes overwhelm the spirit. I’ve learned that I have the power to use my voice to speak up against whatever causes me pain. It doesn’t matter whether, whether I verbalize or write it, strength comes from standing in my truth.
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? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
Three qualities helping me create many of these accomplishments would be gratitude, purposeful and patient. This journey requires so much of my mental and physical energy but I’m thankful for each individual success it has led me to, none is too small. Checking-in with those that read my content is important to me, I reach out every so often to make sure they feel that they are being heard.
I am intentionally driven to create a platform that inspires others to step out of their comfort zone, think bigger and want more for themselves. The articles I write are designed to empower women to get out of their own way and go build the life envisioned. Taking on the difficult topics are challenging but it’s a great way to open a dialogue about the different things affecting today’s women. One of the best ways to remove the stigma of continuous taboos is to openly discuss.
Writing careers are not easy, having a thick skin is critical. I’ve had to develop a wealth of patience to get me through rejections of my book, articles or request for interviews. My commitment to make a difference and help women on the journey to become their best self has been the driver to help me keep pushing forward with AW.
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?
I’ve worked as an administrative assistant in the financial industry for well over a decade. Prior to the start of writing my book “A Journey to Becoming the Best Self” and creating the Awakened-Woman platform, I did not feel a connection to the career. The jobs serve one purpose, provide for my family. Deep down, I always felt a need for more out of life and myself. It wasn’t until a life-changing event took place that transformed everything, and pointed me to a second career, as author.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
An excruciatingly painful divorce triggered an episode of depression that challenged me physically and emotionally. The onset of this part of life’s journey opened the door to an exploration into who I was on my own. The more I got to know myself, I realized that I had so much more to offer. Years of working in an environment that set limits on individuals based on their working titles created self-limiting beliefs which were difficult to shake off. Watching others rid themselves of their limitations and go out and make their dreams come true inspired me to go for it! The worst that could happen would be an improvement from the way I’d been living. The reinvention that followed was a renewal of faith in myself, pushing me to share my very personal story. Opening my heart on paper not only helped me heal, it also gave others hope. In order to reinvent myself, I had to let go of any limits that could hinder me from achieving my goals. For many of us, fear is the biggest roadblock on the path to greatness. If we think about a worst-case scenario then embrace the possibilities of what can happen if limitations are lifted, a new world will reveal itself. Real transformation begins when you give up who you think you’re supposed to be, instead be unapologetic.
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?
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” — Jennifer Lee
Around May 25, 2018 I received news that my first article had been accepted for publication to Arianna Huffington’s digital platform “Thrive Global.” The joy was overwhelming, it filled me with pride to know that my writing was good enough. I’ve wanted to hold on to that feeling ever since, the goal for every article is to inspire. At that moment, I decided that I wanted to write for others and nothing would stop me.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skill set 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?
You will never know what you are capable of, until you try. I have always written personal journals and loved putting my feelings on paper but honestly, I didn’t know it was a skill until I put it out there for the world to read. Being published for the first time, planted a seed and lit the fire in my heart to continue the path. I have not stopped working on my craft since and believe that I’ve only touched the surface of what I’m capable of accomplishing.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
We are approaching the third year of AW. The site has about 400 articles written by me. In July, 2020 I started the AW Empowerment Series, an interview series with well-known successful women like Kara Goldin, Jeimy Osorio, Novi Brown, Lisa Vidal, Lilliana Vazquez, Nikki Boyer and many others sharing their personal journeys with our readers. It has been a tremendous hit with readers, the amazing lineup of women continues and I’m incredibly proud of this initiative. This is part of my effort to connect women by sharing stories, it’s one of the best ways we can find healing.
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?
It’s hard to pinpoint one person that helped me get to where I am today. I’d say there has been a tribe of people to help. Each one of them encouraged me in a different way during unique challenges along the way. My daughter is my biggest cheerleader, she tells it like it is and we encourage each other to do the impossible. Having a supportive partner and boyfriend allowing me the freedom to be myself and go after my dreams is invaluable. Lastly, the strong group of women I’ve met on this journey continues to inspire and empower me to believe that anything is possible.
The entrepreneurial journey presents lots of challenges. A dream is a wish until we do the work to make it a reality, a lot of the days on way to realization are draining. Writing a memoir takes a lot of your energy. You can shop around for months to find the right publisher or agent and may never get a response. Rejection is an exercise that requires mental toughness to overcome. During the initial part of my journey, it was difficult to hear the no’s. My daughter walked into my room one day, looked at me and said “Mom, greatness takes time.”
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
This journey has taught me so much about myself. I am more willing to set boundaries, take risks, use my voice to inspire and allow myself the space to be a confident me. The extent of personal growth that has come from the positive and negative experiences has been the most interesting, maybe the transformation was unexpected.
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?
Everyone has insecurities to battle with during their lifetime. Personally, working in Corporate America sometimes fed the self-doubt. The general perception in offices across different industries falls flat. Supposedly, if you are an administrative assistant, all you know how to do is clerical work. The role often comes with opinions and assumptions that the job title is who you are but this is far from true. For years, I almost believed some of the limitations set by others in higher positions but my deeper self called out for a need to break past any invisible barriers. My desire to thrive became stronger than any attitude someone else could have about me. Today, I understand that things happen when we are ready to receive them — my time is now.
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?
Creating my support network happened organically. There was no strategy, it was more about feeling my way through the process and keeping those close to me that kept my best interest at heart. Living in my authentic self was critical as I moved to the new chapter in my life. I only wanted people that would embrace all of me not bits and pieces. Sometimes, we refuse help out of pride or shame but actions will speak louder than words. Like Maya Angelou said, “When people show you who they are, believe them,” your supporters will show up every time.
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?
Writing my memoir “A Journey to Becoming the Best Self” was a crash course in getting out of my comfort zone. Most of my life, I made sure to hide my ugly, this book is a raw account of my experience with pain, as well as, coming out of the dark into the light. It is a factual account telling the world that I am flawed but I’m human. It has been one of my biggest wins because I embraced my truths in front of the world. This is me — take it or leave it!
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. It’s okay to ask for help — Initially, it was a one woman show — marketing, writing, editing, accounting, social media and business development. You name it, I took care of it. Today, I realize that some tasks should be outsourced over time to give you more space to do what you do best. It may be that you create the content, find the clients or develop ideas. Either way, understand that you can only do it all alone for a brief time.
2. Don’t be afraid to put ideas out there to see what sticks — Be open to trying different ways of pivoting the business, when necessary. The strategy you start with can change over time and that’. Staying receptive, evolving may be helpful, as you and the world changes. Don’t fear creativity, use it as a way to level up the success of your business. There is no weakness in asking for help.
3. Be willing to put some skin in the game with a caveat.- Lastly, be willing to put your money where your mouth is to a degree. Stay away from the savings or putting a second mortgage on a home. Taking care of yourself and family first is priority, the foundation for building your dream but you may
be able to find small ways to cut corners. Depending on your business, there are many applications and resources you can use for free. Choose carefully, what part of the business you want to invest your money in. Ask yourself “Is there anything I can learn to do instead of paying someone to do?: for example, I’ve learned to manage the upkeep of the AW site, takes time but I can save dollars that can be allocated to marketing, for example.
4. Self-care must be part of the overall strategy — Entrepreneurship is exhausting, you are creating a dream from scratch. Endless hours in a studio, office, at a desk or workshop take its toll. Caring for yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually is essential to securing one’s well-being. Having the self-awareness to understand the importance of it can save you from burnout. It happened to me during the pandemic, taking a step back briefly for self-care is the main reason I’ve been able to continue the work.
5. Enjoy the journey. It may be some time before you find your measure of success. Don’t forget to enjoy the small wins and open your eyes to the amazing dream you are building. Pat yourself on the back on the great days and be kind to yourself on the days when things did not go so well. Things can happen fast, and you forget to enjoy, then it is on to the next thing! Every moment is part of this empowering journey — live it, breathe it and stay present.
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?
Creating a movement that inspires others to be compassionate and kind to one another. The world needs to heal and there is an insurmountable amount of work to do which has to be done as individuals and by the country.
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. 🙂
AW shares stories to inspire, empower and encourage women to become their best selves. Many women are doing the work to help us progress in the various industries where we have been invisible. We are in our own right to seek opportunities that allow for a better life but it would be more difficult, were it not for women like Shonda Rhimes, Jennifer Lopez and so many others leading the way. I could sit at a table with either of these amazing women and ask them a million questions about how they built their own table but if I can only have one, I will start with Jennifer Lopez.
Having a sit down with Jennifer would offer the opportunity to ask about her decision-making process when choosing projects, which has been more helpful in business, using strategy or intuition? Thinking back to the beginning of her journey, what was the one thing that helped her figure out how to pivot and transform into her next phase of success? She has successfully reinvented herself several times over, and at every age leaves us in a state of amazement. It would be a highlight in my life to discuss her evolution as a woman and business person.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
There are many ways to find me online,
Website: www.awakened-woman.com; Instagram: @womanawakened; Twitter: @womanawakened;
Facebook: AWinspires or Clubhouse @womanawakened
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!