The True Cost of Giving Yourself Away and Leaving Your Tale Behind

Victoria Repka-Geller is a CMO and career and transformational coach with over 20 years of experience in Advertising and Marketing. She brings an educated perspective that is rare and invaluable among today’s personal development coaches in that she couples her expertise, passion, and talent with real work-life experience. She shares important advice about boundaries, fulfillment, and giving yourself away in this episode. She has been featured in the NYTimes People on the Move Series, WSJ’s The High Cost of Avoiding Conflict at Work, and Barbara Stanny-Huson’s Sacred Success (one of my favorite books!). Listen now or scroll down for show notes. We talk about:

  • surviving in the male-dominated, at times dehumanizing, advertising industry where it was the norm to work 80-90 hours a week, despite being a single mom
  • how women, especially, must overcome second-guessing themselves, giving yourself away, and automatically going to “how do I change me?” when there is a problem at work
  • how we fool ourselves with “fake control,” thinking we can (and should) fix everything, and the myth that being “too sensitive” is a bad thing
  • helping her clients to recognize and deal with severe burnout, and how men and women differ with inner dialogue and when it comes to dealing with pressure
  • the ways fear protects us while also holding us back, and how to leave those stories behind

“People hold onto their stories so strongly like that tale, like that fear story that you have like you’re not in fear anymore, you’ve just been feeling that for so long. You need to leave that behind.”

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JM: Hi, Victoria. How are you?

VG: I’m very, very well. Thank you. How are you doing?

JM: I’m great. I’m so excited to talk with you. You have such an interesting background that I think will be so relatable to so many people. Tell us a little bit about what you do.

VG: I’m very excited to be on this podcast with you and to tell you a little bit about what I do, I have been in marketing and advertising in generally twenty years, I can’t believe it. I’ve been very successful, career moving up from assistant account executive all the way up to a chief marketing officer.

In that area, I really started seeing, when it comes to marketing and advertising, for people, we’re constantly marketing and advertising ourselves. I started along, on my side hustle, it’s been coaching. Really focusing on career coaching, I found that people were just naturally gravitate towards the need for questions about that, how to get to the next level. It’s something I have to do with the manager in my current company along my entire career. I think of myself and condition myself as a marketing and advertising expert that bring those different insights to a career coaching and strategy. That’s the business that I’ve been growing for over the last like three or four years.

JM: I love that. That is such a key sort of fundamental philosophy for me. It’s really understanding how you’re branding yourself which I would love to talk to you about in a few minutes.

Because you have a really interesting story, I want to get first about how you got into career coaching for executives. I relate to this so, so much because we had a conversation earlier, my first business is a social media company – which I still have – but you have really personified all that is difficult sometimes about the agency life and some of the things that you have to deal with in advertising.

My goodness, the fact that you made it for twenty plus years is like insane to me because advertising is just its own animal like it can be so difficult as an industry. Talk a little bit about that transition time when you were with the agency and really decided like it was time for you to do something else.

VG: I have been on trajectory and you’re right, it is a roller coaster ride. You’re up, you’re down, very male dominated. Being in the service industry, sometimes we’re not even much different than the postal service like you are in service, people treat you as a service. It can be very rewarding at the same time can be very dehumanizing.

Anyway, I had been on this real up, I got over the number one agency in Manhattan, I’m very excited, it’s going to be 360, which 360 integrated marketing just means we can touch all the different marketing touchpoints to talk to consumers. What I didn’t do, which is something that I bring into my practice now is I didn’t realize that in doing that due diligence to find out that – the company has been there a year and a half – they’d had three of me in my position before I took this role which that in of itself when you learn something like that, you realize it’s been high turnover. But I didn’t know that. I just thought, “This is the number one agency, this is what I’ve been working for, let’s go for it.”

What was really happening was the accounts, our amazing accounts, big financial services, very TV focused. The agency that I was at was the number digital shop. They had brought over this client saying they could do 360 work, which they were doing, but the client really wanted to focus more on awareness building TV versus on the digital and they were bringing people in saying, “You need to sell in more of this.”

I, thought being a marketing professional, could see that the client actually was in the right area and that we could support through digital. So we were doing Facebook and all these different things and doing fully 360 but still predominantly TV. The point being, to really narrow it down, is that what the client wanted wasn’t what the agency wanted. I was in the middle of it and I actually, in my first year there, they are literally in my review said, “You are amazing. You are the reason why our client’s here but you’re not feeling what we want, what we want from a digital perspective, and we’re putting you on probation.”

JM: That happens a lot unfortunately. It becomes more about what the agency wants to sell than what the client wants or needs.

VG: Completely. I was just stunned because I’ve been on upper trajectory. The clients were happy, they could have pulled out. This was like a multi, multi-million dollar account, this isn’t something just to sneeze at. It didn’t really register for me. But being an account person, marketing and advertising, you know this like we tend to be a little bit more sensitive especially from the account management side but you have to be this diplomat and be sensitive to everything that’s going around and trying to service everyone. I just didn’t know what to do with it and no one can really explain to me how to do anything different because what you need sell what we want. I started really playing online but the first preserved way was myself.

JM: Which I think women do a lot. I mean, I think that’s kind of the first place we go is like, “Oh, let me check myself, did I lose my mind? Am I mistreating the situation? Is there some context that I’m missing?”

VG: Yes, and what can I do to change me. That was the best part. I was back and then I’m like, “Oh, I need to change. No this is all insane but I need to change and I need to fix it because I am a key fixer,” like that is the key attributed in any of the specialty as a service, and she got like, “Fix it and make the client happy and you’re going to make your agency happy.” I really started examining what can I do. I know it’s taking a closet because I’ve been told over the course of my career that I was quite sensitive.

JM: Like it’s not a good thing.

VG: Exactly, exactly.

JM: You’re being overly sensitive.

VG: Yeah.

JM: It’s a great way to cut somebody off at the legs, yup.

VG: No, totally. And they’re like, “You’re not taking this feedback very well.” I’m like, “You call me sensitive which doesn’t make any sense.” I kind of wish I could go back and have those conversations again because they’d be so different. But anyway, it’s what makes you who you are, it makes me who I am.

JM: You live and learn.

VG: Exactly, exactly. And I can look back with a lot of humour now. But in that moment, as I took the same old time and quest woman who was teaching it, wonderful woman, was a coach. I think I need to more personal one-on-one really examine this because I’ve never been put on probation, this doesn’t make any sense to me. I actually hired her and one of the smartest things I did, and this is something I preach to all my clients as well like transparency of like, “You know what? So many of us hide from making an information or like I’m wrong and kind of caving on it.” But I had her come to my agency and speak to everyone. I’m like, “Can I still look in this? I needed to change something.” I’m like, “I want you to talk to everyone and tell me what I needed to do differently.” But it’s still like that.

JM: Taking the ownership.

VG: Yes, exactly. She went in, met with everyone and she came back and she’s like, “I want you to do something that you’ll never think of doing.” I’m like, “Okay, what’s that?” She said, “I don’t want you to do anything?”

JM: Did you lose your mind? Where you’re like, “What?”

VG: Totally. Actually, it just gave me chills where I said, “What do you mean don’t do anything? She says, “I don’t want you to do anything that has nothing to do with you.” I had a new boss then, he was trying to prove himself. There’s all these different things going on, the agency has its own agenda, she’s like, “This truly doesn’t have anything to do with anything you hear. But I promise you, if you put your head down, it’s all going to kind of iron itself out.” It was hard, really, really hard not to do anything.

JM: So was she suggesting you just kind of go with the flow like kind of push the agenda because you really had no other choice?

VG: Yeah. She just, “You can’t fight against this, but just accept it. Move into it and don’t talk about it. Don’t go away like trying to see what the milestones are, it was antithesis to anything any ever get caught.”

JM: How did you feel about that? It’s so tough, you and I had talked earlier about being a “fix that” person and how I relate to that so much. I guess I feel like the idealistic side of me feels like, “This is an injustice and it’s not right.” But I think realistically as an adult, you come to find that you are sometimes in a situation where the best thing is you just have to go with the flow until you can get out of it because you’re not going to restructure the machine, you’ll not go and change things. But, God, is that hard? How did you feel? Did you hear that advice from her and just think like, “Oh, my God, yes, that’s it. I just have to just go with it until I get out of it?” How did you deal with that?

VG: No, no. I rejected that at first. I was like, “That is crazy. That is nonsense. I still need to fix this.” It was scary. It was scary because at least from the moment when you’re trying to fix something, you have some sort of control. But it was all fake control. I thought they spent a lot of money on a coach, I really should listen to her and just see how it goes.”

I started also at that time realizing that might be something I want to explore and start taking an additional classes and coaching so I started educating myself a little bit more. But it was really very difficult. But it kept progressing and I kept listening to her working with her.

There was another pivotal moment that I shared with you that also kind of cemented that I was going in the right direction because I started noticing that like I wasn’t getting let go. My biggest fear was like I was going to get let go and I would fail. But it kept going on and on. The clients were happy. We had one big meeting by my clients and they weren’t happy with the agency as a whole but not me. I had all these senior people, and mostly men, and they got frustrated with these women who happen to be women that they weren’t really listening and doing what they wanted and they all left.

In a couple more hours we’re going to figure out, fix it, I’m going to get what we need to get done. I just, with a disaster meeting on both ends that I got feedback from both of it of like, “This meeting was awful from the client’s internal team,” with like this is an awful meeting, I took it really personally again. I took that to my coach and shared it with her and she said to me one of the most provocative questions – and I think that’s what coaching gets you to do, a coach will have you really hear and see things differently – she actually said, “Do you think anyone could have saved that meeting putting you aside?” That was another moment, I sat there and she’s like – and I won’t name any names – “Do you think he could have done this? Do you think they could have done this?” And I was like, “No.” She’s like, “Why are you putting all that pressure on yourself? No one is saying that you were the fault for the meeting.” And I was taking it so personally.

That was just a big change to, “You know what? I’m doing the best I can and I’m actually the one that’s holding all these together to fix it. It’s something that I’ve done my entire life.” I started writing out more. I was there two and a half years, the client stayed, I was on probation the entire time and I just ignored it. I even got a raise in the middle of it, like, “Whatever.”

JM: Talk about mixed signals like, “How unfair is that?” But it’s interesting what you say. It’s like it makes my blood pressure raise because I’m so damn “fix it” person. I’m like, “Oh, my God.” How many times do you just kind of latch onto something? It’s like you’re in this meeting and you’re not going to let it go because you’re going to fix it and it’s the one time you get negative feedback. It’s like they put you on probation for this really ridiculous reasons where they want you to sell something that you know isn’t going to best serve your client. But for the most part, you’re getting great feedback. Otherwise, you’re getting a raise for God’s sake.

But the one time you get this negative feedback is that you keep hanging on trying to fix this situation and it really does make you realize there’s nothing that you could have done and how destructive feeling responsible for fixing things can be. Do you take that into your coaching with your own clients? Do you see that as a common issue with people wanting to take responsibility for things when they need to just kind of let something resolve or fail on its own?

VG: Absolutely. There’s three entities, if you’re especially working in a corporate environment, whether it be the corporate entity, there’s your boss and there’s you. It’s just as simple as this, the only person that you can change in that situation is you.

As I started to really examine myself, I’m actually perpetuating through feeling nervous, burned out. It’s a lot of stress. I’m actually making the situation worse by looking like I’m not doing the right thing and finally just got to a point of – I was actually in the article for The Wall Street Journal called the Price of Not Speaking Up. I wasn’t speaking up and finally started saying, “This is crazy,” with understanding and finally getting in that like, “I wasn’t the one that was the problem. This is what the client wants, they’re paying us to do this. You may not agree.” Just getting more vocal, really painting a picture, seeing the clarity around it, and not taking action. I will brag one thing that at the end of it, when I finally quit, the CMO of the company called and said, “Would you reconsider?” I’m like, “Hell no.”

JM: “Hell no. I just extracted myself.” What a lesson, not that I would give any huge company credit for then transforming their culture but what a painful lesson for them to realize that they have just driven out this great person. I think that happens so frequently. I mean, you have those people who are so capable and so accommodating that you just kind of keep piling on the bullshit and the negative company culture until finally you drive those people away. I think until a company is really in big trouble, they don’t really look at that, they just keep going along business as usual.

VG: I agree. I actually still got a conference and one of the points I made to them is that it costs hundreds and thousands of dollars to re-recruit someone. I was worth millions to them, that client eventually left. They don’t think the bigger picture, and that’s something that’s definitely shifting where you’re seeing a lot more conversations around how do we keep top talent, how do we view EQ, how do we set up proper training so there’s a lot of movement in the asset regardless, yeah, I totally agree.

JM: That’s painful. Talk to me about how you dealt with that burnout because one of the things that you experienced was some really negative impacts on your health and really, you talk about working ninety-hour weeks, reporting to three different bosses, and being in a situation where you had to choose people to let go at their requests and thinking, “Oh, my God, how do I let my team members go? How do I survive in this when I’m already working insane hours and now I’m going to lose team members who are helping with this workload?

What were you going through at that time in terms of your own burnout? How did you save yourself? What advice would you give? Because I think so many women entrepreneurs, we do this, we so do this, I see it in my clients all the time. We will just run ourselves down, we burn the candle of both ends. Some of us are not only taking care of our kids but we’re taking care of our parents, we’re growing a business, and somewhere in there, sometimes there’s a spouse that you’re trying to spend time with and we are the last. We come last and self sacrifice. What is your advice from your experience about dealing with super, super burn out?

VG: Yeah, I have experienced that several times throughout my career. The previous past, which I do not recommend, but we find different things like I started smoking just to get out and they did a whole study on the fact that people that smoke tend to just want to breathe so I was like, “Okay, instead of smoking, I’m going to try to find a different way to breathe.” But that ended years ago.

But it’s really trying to find those best ways to kind of take care of yourself. It comes in pockets because as you know, working in the industry can be really intense. And I did, I had all these different bosses, it was the third round of layoffs. I was working to a point where it was ninety-hour weeks and my focus was, “If this is going to be a limited time, I’ll put in what it needs, we’re going to set things up.” But I started seeing the definition of vanity I’m like, “This is going to keep happening.” Not only I had my own department but they gave me somebody else’s department a couple months earlier. Then like we’re going to have another round layoffs and we’re going to let go of three of your directors.

JM: Piling on the bullshit for the capable person.

VG: Completely. I had discussed that and I’m like, “What have I done to signal that this is okay?” What I’ve done is like just keep going at it like being superwoman trying to solve everything.

JM: And they teach people how to treat you. It’s like the more you allow it, the more it happens.

VG: Totally. The day of the last one so clearly and they hit me, we all met to decide how it’s going to happen. I’d been through enough and it’s just a lot. They said, “We’re going to let go the three of your directors again,” and I’m looking at this and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, that literally means…” it just hit me in the meeting, “that I’m going to have to do that work,” and I’m not seeing my son, I’m a single mom, divorced, want to have a life. I was really feeling burned out. I’m not sleeping. I knew at that point that I was so willing to walk away from my job that this wasn’t life for me.

JM: Not healthy.

VG: Yeah. I called a couple of friends to just talk it through. I then talked to HR and said, “Look, I really appreciate you supporting me and all these but I’m going to quit in two days.” They looked and saved someone else’s job because I won’t do this to myself. They call like adulting but it was an adult moment. I’m like, “This is not worth it,” because I started feeling it in my chest. The blood pressure started going up. I wasn’t sleeping and I realized this is why, you talk about men dropping then in their fifties and sixties.

JM: Because they go and go and go.

VG: Yeah. I’m going to do this.

JM: It’s so tough. I feel like it’s an interesting point that you bring up that’s often what men end up doing to themselves for having these negative health impacts. Because I think that sometimes women feel like they have to compete with men in corporate America so you feel like you have to kind of match that energy level.

I think that’s really interesting especially in advertising because we talked about how advertising is such a busy atmosphere, I mean, everything is always changing, moving, and fluid, whatever you talk about and agree to today changes tomorrow. It really is for the adrenal junky and so you look at this industry that still thinks that it’s mad men and it’s not terribly good to women. You feel like as a woman you have to compete by behaving like a man. It’s just a difficult industry.

What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are maybe feeling like they’re giving into that? As a mom myself, trying to balance, it’s so tough. We talk about balance and the longer I live, the more I swear there is just no such thing, it just doesn’t happen. Our balance happens kind of more on a weekly or a monthly basis. It’s like, “I know I’m going to spend this week on a work trip but next week I’m going to be picking my kids up from school every day,” or “It’s going to be a busy couple of days but I’m going to take a few days off with the kids so that the balance happens kind of more over the long term for us.”

But what advice do you have for somebody who is really feeling those signs of burnout and how to pull themselves back? Because I think sometimes it becomes a habit and it becomes so natural and normal that you don’t even recognize you’re doing it so how can you even stop? What advice do you have for somebody who is balancing parenting and building a business? If you want to do that well, they’re two super time consuming things.

VG: A lot of it is just go start with just giving yourself a break. I mean that to sound like a way that you speak to yourself because I find it very interesting. When I work with my male clients, they don’t ever feel the like, “I’m a dad, I’m this…” They never put that pressure on themselves. We, women, pile a lot of pressure on ourselves.

One thing that I found – and there’s always a time where you can recalibrate no matter where you are in your career, which I did – I’ve been trying different things. Like I said, I started doing acupuncture, chiropractor, getting massages, small little things that didn’t take up a lot of time but just really your self care. That’s one of the big things, taking care of yourself is important.

One of the big ways that we women have – and men too but like women have to do is like is one, give themselves a break and two, take a step back and go, “Where am I over compensating?” There’s certain part, especially for entrepreneurs, when I work with them, what are you doing that you can hire out for $10, $15? An hour, give me cheap labor. What are the things that you don’t like? Everyone has their zone of genius. When you’re really thinking about what are you really good at, what makes you feel good? Focus on that. What could you delegate? That’s one area to look at.

The other is making sure that you’re definitely, as I said, doing self care. I mentioned that study previously, I mean I haven’t smoked in like ten years but I was literally going out to take a breath, go for walk around the block, no one is going to fall apart if you’re like out making sure that you can consult. One of the best piece of advice that I think is really helpful was like never come in the morning at the same time so no one’s like looking for you but always leave in the evening at the same time. A lot of my clients, especially women, I’ll say that and they’re like, “Oh, I can’t do that.” I’m like, “Yes, you can.” Because if you look around and realize that you’re working five times as hard as anybody else there, it’s you that you need to look at and how you’re not taking steps back.

Now they get used to a certain level so you have to slowly change things, you don’t want to completely rip the cord  or anything because then they get all like, “Where are you? But you can fully change things like go for a lunch like most women don’t realize that they, “I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing by taking a lunch or whatever because my boss is going to look for me.” If you’re doing your job and doing the right thing, it’s you that needs to create boundaries.

JM: Isn’t that crazy? Afraid to walk away for lunch? I remember when I started my career, when I’m starting a business, I was, “Oh, my gosh.” You’re turning over every stone trying to find business, you’re meeting with anybody that wants to pick your brain in the hopes that it’s going to turn into something. I just remember scheduling myself for this back-to-back days and it was so hard to stop even after we became profitable, I still was working like that. It took major illness for me to just say like, “Woah, oh, my God, I have to stop doing this.” But to the point that I would have to pee for like three hours and I’m like dying and giving myself a UTI before I walk away from my damn desk. I just think like, “My God, why do we do this to ourselves? Isn’t that crazy?”

Now, it’s like you got these clients that they’re afraid to walk away for a lunch. But I love your advice. I think it’s good not only for somebody who’s in the career place, you don’t want to freak out your team or your bosses or kind of allure anybody to major changes and they think you’re like off your rock or something is going on.

I think also as an entrepreneur, you don’t want to freak out your team, your vendors, or your customers. I think also just for ourselves, I think of any major change I’ve ever wanted to make in my life and very rarely is it like a cold turkey ripped the bandaid off, that’s like make some crazy change. I think for me too, when I realize that I was having to accept the fact – I had this belief that I had to be crazy all the time to be successful. I equated those two things.

VG: Mindset.

JM: Yes, it is a mindset. There was fear there. For me there was fear that if I wasn’t busy, the money is not coming in, we’re getting phone calls, we’re not reaching success, we’re not heightening our profile. It was a good thing for me to do it step-by-step, a little at a time where I just mantled my craziness around work because I had to realize that I could ranch at things down step-by-step and that the success didn’t stop. In fact, it got better. Like you say, you have to give yourself a break. I think that’s figurative and literal like you really have to give yourself a break to recharge and see things anew.

Doing that step-by-step really helped me to realize that everything was going to be okay if we just kind of like let off a little bit. I think that’s really good advice to just take it step-by-step to pull yourself back from the brink and not allure everybody that something is going on because whether you’re an entrepreneur or a career person, any major change is going to make people feel concern.

VG: Make them nervous.

JM: Yeah, absolutely. For sure. Tell me a little bit more, I was looking at your bio, I’m kind of trolling you online a little bit. You talk about “leave your tale behind,” can you tell me a little bit more about what that is and how you work with your clients with that concept?

VG: Sure. I’m going to tell you that but I do want to touch one more thing on what we’re just talking about. One of the key questions I think anyone should ask themselves is, “Is this sustainable? What is driving it? There’s actually two key questions but is this sustainable? And usually the answer is no. If you’re creating a policy within your own business and/or in corporate America that this is sustainable and you know it isn’t, eventually you’re going to let yourself and them down. It’s a hard conversation but at some point you need to ask for help. That can be redone at anytime. It’s just about how you do it.

But to go back or now to answer your question on “leave your tale behind,” my company is called LOAM life, and LOAM, which you’re going to like because I haven’t told or shared this to you, LOAM actually stands for an acronym which is called Let’s Take On A Man. What I realized is we’re here five years ago and all that happened. I was like, “You know what? Man up. It was like I was supposed to look pretty, I was supposed to be this feminine woman but like don’t be too feminine, don’t be too sensitive, be a man. That’s not really what my strengths where being able to go in the room and like accept what’s going on and that’s why I’m a good coach because I can hear what’s going on, repeat back to it, and help that person work through no matter what the rational reason you’re coming in for coaching, there’s always an emotional side to it.

Anyway, the leave your tale behind, when I started getting into coaching, I realized people hold onto their stories so strongly like that tale, like that fear story that you have like you’re not in fear anymore, you’ve just been feeling that for so long. You need to leave that behind.

I was in Hawaii and I saw this lizard. I’m like, “You know, they leave their tail and they eventually grow another one.” My whole focus was on that if you got to take a look at what you’re holding on to, for me, I was holding on to like I need to prove myself and stick to it, that was getting me through my all business fixer. You have this this fear, “I’ve got to be busy.” A lot of woman do that. That’s a huge thing like, “I got to look busy, I got to look busy.” You’re not looking frantic which doesn’t help and you can’t sustain that. But I’m really thinking about, “What is that tale and how do we overcome it?”

This one man that I worked with, he had the story like he was the most approachable guy ever and I had him go talk to his boss because I’m like, “Something’s not jiving with what’s happening in your career right now.” Anecdotes are coming out that he was coming across this demeaning to people which blew him away. We had a conversation to break that apart. He said to me, “You know what? I don’t know what these underlings they’re talking about.” I go, “Hold on a second, did you just call these people underling?”

JM: You had to be a mirror for him.

VG: “Oh, my God, yes, you really need to think about that because that’s the attitude you’re taking in everyday and you don’t even know you’re doing it.” That is the mirroring. It’s repeating back, it’s questioning because it wouldn’t be a huge industry coaching in any aspects of it. Whether you work in therapist or not, you reflect back like your thinking is now what used to serve you, that tale, that tale that used to serve you no longer serves you. It’s now time to leave it behind. That’s where all that come from.

JM: That’s fabulous. Before I let you go, I’ll have to have you back for a second interview because I feel like I have so many more questions for you that we have time for. What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs? The women who are listening are building their businesses. They do suffer from so much of what we talked about which is why I wanted to talk with you, I mean, they’re dealing with this severe burn out, the pressure feeling like they’re trying to do so many things, and maybe not sometimes doing it well and staying in that kind of fearful place. Replaying that fearful script, even if the danger has passed as human beings. That is how we have evolved.

Fear keeps us safe and so we stay in that fear thinking we’re going to either insulate ourselves, cocoon, or be ready for it. That was my thing. So many crazy things that happen in a short time and then I was just like, “I’m just going to stay ready for the next trauma or tragic thing.” It’s really impossible to grow from that place when you’re staying in your fear. What tips would you give to women entrepreneurs who have plateaued, they feel like they’re stalling, they’re stuck, they’re frustrated, and they’re staying in that fear. What advice would you give for helping them to move forward out of that?

VG: A couple of things, one is just getting really clear on who you are and what you want to do. Sometimes when we get to a place where we’re overwhelmed, we’ve just lost track on where we wanted to go. Because we’re trying to please someone else, we’re in fear mode or whatever. You’re like really getting back to like, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” I don’t know if you’ve heard Gay Hendricks’ book but it’s called The Big Leap.

JM: One of my favorites.

VG: Yeah, great book and it talks about the zone of genius, “Where is my zone of genius?” Getting really clear on, “What am I good at? What do I not want to be doing?” And realizing, “Maybe I need you for a little bit,” but the clarity on strengths and weaknesses and all that will get you more focused. Also getting very clear on what your situation is like, “Where have I come from?” and then celebrate it. That’s another area that women don’t tend to do a lot. People intend to generalize you’ve now gone to certain place. I have this one client, she’s very amazing actually but they’re twins, they’re the AstroTwins.

JM: Oh, I love them.

VG: Yes, they’re fantastic. One of the women I was talking to, she was in the fear mode. They were going to be like doing things for Vogue. They’re all over the place now. You do realize that you’re a badass, you’re talking about conversations with maybe being on Oprah, you’re talking with Vogue, all these things that are happening but they were so still in a place of like, “We’re just building, we’re not really there yet,” close to making their huge figures that they set for them financially, getting that clarity from that conversation back to you and then celebrate like, “I have now hit this milestone, I’m not going back,” really helps a lot.

JM: God, that’s such a good point. I want to take a minute and unpack that because what you just said is so huge. I feel like I suffer from that too and I see so many of my clients who suffer from that where we don’t stop and celebrate. I don’t know why that is but it feels like oftentimes, I think there are two things that happen there. One is I think that we tend to minimize our own achievements for some reasons or we kind of belittle them a little bit.

For me, I know that the thing that I suffer from is because I want to help and reach so many people, there are so many things that I want to achieve that I feel like everything is just a step toward the next thing. It’s like instead of saying like, “Oh, gosh, we set up to try to do this thing and we did this thing, it’s just like, “Okay, that’s great, that’s done, next.” The next thing, the next thing, the next thing, and it never stops.

I think that having that celebration marks, that milestone of achievement where you have completed something – and I think especially when you live a crazy busy life and it’s very frenetic and you’re going and you’re going and you’re going – that can be such a key stepping stone in having some stillness because it’s like you worked really hard, you created something, you achieved it, and you stop to celebrate. It creates that moment of just kind of still that we are all craving all the time. But so many of us, it’s like we’re on the elliptical machine. It’s just like next step, next step, and it never ends. Such good advice.

VG: One of things in that I just to really want to emphasize that we don’t realize how big our achievements are. We live our lives so we create these milestones. For example, and I love doing this with my clients, I sit back and I either go to the resume or to bio and I see how I heard it. I’ll just use mine for example like I’ve been on marketing advertising for twenty years in the industry. But most people don’t make through.

I own my own apartment, I’m a single mom, I started my own business, my own business is doing really well. When I start talking about these things and having to talk with someone about them like, “Oh, my gosh,that’s like, I’m a badass,” and most women don’t realize.

JM: Isn’t that crazy?

VG: Yeah.

JM: Right. I know like really just giving yourself the credit. It’s so hard because I think fulfillment really is achieved when you can continue to desire something, want to build something, or get somewhere but be really pleased with what you’ve already created. I don’t know why it’s so damn hard. But I feel like that is gosh, it’s such good and timely advice.