How Women Can Prosper Together: A Conversation with FemCity Founder Violette De Ayala

FemCity Founder Violette De Ayala

I am so excited about the conversation I had recently with Violette De Ayala, founder of Fem City. I had the privilege of meeting her a few months ago when she visited our FemCity Jacksonville chapter. She is an amazing woman and I know you will feel encouraged and inspired (just as I was) when you listen to our talk.

You may listen to our podcast here:

If you prefer reading, you may check out our transcribed talk below. Thank you Violette!

Debbie DiPietro: Hello, this is Debbie DiPietro. I am a longtime blogger. I created my award-winning blog, The Warm Milk Journal, back in 2010. That blog was all about living the life of our dreams by day, and sleeping restfully at night because I for many years struggled. I struggled with insomnia and anxiety and issues of social anxiety. And so, this brand new show, Courageously Go, is an extension of my work on The Warm Milk Journal. My goal is to have a conversation about courage. A conversation, a global conversation, for women and the world because I truly believe that this is the time for women to step up and step into our greatness, and find our voices, and be courageous, and live the most confident, and joy filled life that we can. The world will be a better place because of it.
And now, I don’t wish to wait any longer. I am so excited about introducing today’s guest, Violette De Ayala. Violette realized her destiny was to enrich both the professional and personal lives of talented women looking to grow their businesses, revenue, and connections. Violette launched her first business at the age of 22 and has not looked back. As a serial entrepreneur with an obsession for business growth she is seasoned in the rocky road of self employment and understands the challenges and obstacles women face when creating their own vision of success. She’s best known for creating one of the fastest growing international business organizations for women, FemCity, and sharing her secrets on achieving her grandest vision in business and life.
As a motivational speaker, small business expert, coach, and writer Violette shares her knowledge and offers others the inspiration to create and pursue their own destiny in business. Violette is a one of a kind, authentic, and inspiring keynote speaker. She is a pragmatic storyteller that weaves her own successes, past fears, and challenges into life lessons through personal anecdotes. Her approach to leading a successful business an enriched lifestyle utilizing humor and mindfulness that inspires women globally. A no excuse demeanor is the foundation for her every word. Violette was selected as one of Isaac Mizrahi’s muses for his Malibu Collection and has been featured in People, In Style, and Real Simple magazines. She’s been quoted in Success, CNBC, Entrepreneur, Mashable, Huff Post, Business News Daily, and Business Insider as business expert. Lastly, she served as part of the White House Women Environmental Leaders Program. She was the keynote speaker for Accenture’s International Women’s Month Event, the SBA Regional Women’s Conference, and Speak Up Women at the U.N. in New York City.
Violette, welcome to Courageously Go.

Violette De Ayala: Thank you so much. Thank you, and you pronounced my name perfectly. So, thank you so much.

Debbie DiPietro: Yay. Oh, you’re welcome. I am just absolutely thrilled to have you today on Courageously Go. I joined our Jacksonville chapter a few months back, and I knew even back then the more I learned about FemCity, and I started looking, watching your webinars and learning a little more about you… I knew that when this podcast started up I was going to reach out to you. I made that decision, and then I met you in person. Right? You came here pretty recently to Jacksonville for a brunch to visit with our local chapter, and when I met you in person I just knew I definitely wanted to connect with you and have you as a guest on our show. So, once again, welcome, and thank you for being here.

Violette De Ayala: Thank you so much. It was great to be there with the Fems of Jacksonville and to meet you face to face. I try to connect with all the members as much as I can through social media, but it’s always a gift to see you guys in person, so thank you.

Debbie DiPietro: Yeah, it was great. Why don’t we just start with FemCity because it’s just such a tremendous organization that you’ve created, Violette.

Violette De Ayala: Sure, I started Fem City in 2009. I was actually craving something that felt more like a family and more like community. And I would go to all the networking events here in South Florida and increasingly grew a little frustrated. You know? It seemed to be really big events, fabulous events with every single detail accounted for, but I felt always like I was missing something. I would leave and I just felt that I was missing that connectivity, I was missing a feeling of sisterhood. And for many years I just continued to float around to all the different events whether it was $500 an event, or $100 a plate, or it was a free event. And after doing that for quite some time, I just decided, “You know what? I’m gonna start something on my own.” And at the time, my vision was only for 20, or 25 women. It was only going to be in Miami, and we would just meet once a month, and really just support each other, and share tips of advice and inspiration and education, and just be there as a support for one another, and so, my first event was that.
We just had 25 women, and it was okay. It wasn’t like the most exciting event, and then it continued to grow and grow. And now, we are in 70 communities around the world. We’re projected to be in about 200, or 300 at the end of 2018. And really, what we do is we host local business workshops for women, we have an online platform for them to take classes. We generally, have a lot of free classes because we understand that some women are just getting started in business and perhaps don’t have the 20, or $30 to invest in themselves just yet. And everything that we do is centered around how do we get more women in business and how do we get them to create the revenue that they need to live the life that they’ve always envisioned?

Debbie DiPietro: And it’s quite a community, and I like how you put it, “It’s a place where women prosper together.”
Violette De Ayala: Yes.

Debbie DiPietro: Right? And so, what are you looking at in 2018. It’s continuing to grow, you say?

Violette De Ayala: Yes. So, we just launched recently our collective community, which means that now we will launch in more cities. It will be confined to only 25 women because we want it to that feeling of family and community. We felt like that was just a really great number. That’s the number that I envisioned back in 2009, and we can actually now launch these in smaller pockets. So we’ll have the bigger cities like Jacksonville, which is our hub, but we recognize that smaller cities, for instance, like Little Rock, Arkansas, or Marietta, Georgia. You know? That they don’t have the accessibility at times to always drive an hour to a Fem City hub that we want to be there and support them at a more hyper local way, and so we’re launching these communities. The response has been amazing.
And so with this new, I guess, series of events, what are really just workshops, so they don’t include lunch, they’re not any kind of dinner, or social. They’re purely just workshops. I’ll create the curriculum for them. We’re all on the same topic. Every single month we’ll have a new topic, and we’re really excited about launching. We launch in January, and with this new format we really feel that we can be there for women around the world that have been asking for us to be there for them. And now, we have a possibility of really being there on the ground to help women, like you said, “come together and prosper.”

Debbie DiPietro: That’s really exciting! Why don’t we, right now, just share with our listeners the website. If they want to learn more about FemCity where should they go?

Violette De Ayala: Sure, it is, it’s F-E-M-C-I-T-Y dot com, and membership is free. So again, if you’re just starting out in business, you’re not really sure if you want to be in business you just kinda want to be a part and take our classes you can join as a community member. And for those that are in business for themselves already, and they are looking for platforms, and they’re looking to post articles and events and utilize all the features that we have online, then of course, the business membership is $150 for the year. And for those that are looking at our collective edition that starts in January the $150 will also include the monthly events. And so, it’s kind of an inclusive package, again, because they’re hyper local and the worksheets are already created by me and very easy to launch and lead one if you’re interested.

Debbie DiPietro: That sounds great!T here’s so many helpful resources (in the website), and I’ve been a member now for a few months, and I haven’t even … I need to go in there and even explore more. There’s so many great webinars and interesting articles just to help not just in business but also in life. Right? You have lifestyle posts and just all kinds of things to help women of all ages out there. And what do you find, Violette, what are some challenges that women who say want to go into business right now? What are some of the challenges that you’re finding people are needing help with?

Violette De Ayala: The number one challenge that I see consistently is the belief in themselves. And so, when I do lecture and I speak or I teach a class, it always goes back to the fear that they don’t have what it takes. So they accept these limitations, or when they encounter challenges as we all do it throws off their vision and their focus. And so they then kind of then stay in this state of mediocrity meaning that their not living their life to their fullest potential. You know?
So, all of us have a sense of greatness within us, the power to change the world with our own little piece, our own little take. And when we don’t step into that, and we become fearful, and we become from a mindset of lack, or of poverty it prevents us from moving forward. And then of course, it prevents the world from shifting forward also. Right? Since each of us has a part to play in community. And so, I really think that’s the fundamental issue. I always tell them, “I can teach you all the secrets to creating wealth. I can teach you exactly how to do things. But at the end of the day if you feel that you don’t deserve it, if you feel that you don’t have what it takes, or if you feel like you’re a fraud.” or all these kind of stories that I hear them playing out in their mind then really … I cannot impact you to the fullest potential. Right? And so, that’s the one thing that I see over, and over, and over again is the mindset that I can’t do this.

Once they surpass that, then it’s like the whole world is open to them. They realize, “You know what? If Debbie can be successful and she has a very similar background than I do then I can too.” And so, when we share the stories of our background, the challenges we’ve had, and the times that we’ve failed, the times that we’ve tripped, the times that we’ve lost everything, have really deep hurt, when we share those stories with other women we propel each other to move forward because then we all see the commonalities. So, you know what? “Violette’s life isn’t perfect. You know? She did have some struggles, and I see her now in this life, but it wasn’t always the case. And so, I too, have hopes for myself.” And so, that’s the kind of the second thing that I would say is that if you’re a woman listening and you are dealing with either of those to step forward and not only to surpass that mindset that might be limiting you, but once you pass that to share story with other fems because it inspires them to get through to that next level also. And that’s how we shift community as one rises we all rise together, but it’s important for us to acknowledge that it’s the responsibility of each of us that once we get through that breakthrough that we share it with others.

Debbie DiPietro: Yeah, that’s a really great way of putting it, and it is very powerful. Being vulnerable, being who we are and saying, “This is me world.” And that’s a big driver of why I’m even doing this podcast, Violette, is for many years, I know you don’t know me very well, but for many years, I was challenged with social anxiety and anxiety and really being afraid of putting myself truly out there. And the result was really not going for my dreams. And I’ve always had a lot of … I was always a great student, I have always had a lot of … I have all these degrees. Right? And talents, and abilities, but I never really did a whole lot because I kept myself back, and it was all … it’s me. I did it to myself. Right? And so, I agree with what you’re saying, and I think it is great work you’re doing in supporting women who are holding themselves back.
And also I might add, I mean, you lead by example. I remember when you visited us and you were up there and definitely showing us your vulnerabilities. You’re essentially an open book, you’re a light to our small audience. You’re like, “Okay, ladies, ask me anything, fire away.” And you were just great, and you shared with us your background, and so I thank you for … that’s a great model for us because it’s not always easy. Is it? To be vulnerable, and to perhaps share things that we’re not necessarily proud of, or feel very good about, but that’s a good starting point.

Violette De Ayala: Right. Oh, thank you so much for sharing that, and I really do try. I was a keynote speaker last night at an event here in South Florida, and I shared kind of the three areas of my life with [inaudible 00:14:34] And so, you can see through Instagram, or through Facebook lives that look perfect. Right?

Debbie DiPietro: Right.

Violette De Ayala: Everything’s perfect, the counter tops are perfect, the kids are perfect. And then it creates anxiety for those that are watching because they feel like they don’t stand a chance, that that person is gifted in some way to achieve this life that they’ve envisioned, and so there’s no hope. And so, when you do share the icky moments, when you do share the times that you’ve lost everything. You know? That perhaps you had to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwich for years, or even just peanut butter because you couldn’t afford the jelly. You know? When you share those stories, I think some of us feel like we shouldn’t share those because then it goes against the person that we’ve created, but I always tell women, “Share those stories because we all need to hear.”
And as I shared those stories last night, there were women in the audience that were crying. There were about 80 women in the audience and they were crying because a piece of my story was a piece of their story. And it may not be the exact timeline, or I might be a little bit more brown than they are, or whatever the differences are, but the reality is that we all have these stories embedded in our lives that are very similar and when we start sharing them and remove the embarrassment, remove the allure of having to kind of confess. Right? Like, “Oh, my gosh, things weren’t perfect, and I had to struggle, but there’s beauty in that.”
And it really does inspire others to pick themselves and get back in the game. It really serves them, and I think that’s a huge part of society. We read about these celebrities, and we read about kind of like they just woke up and they were beautiful, and they woke up and they were perfect, and they got the lead part, and everything’s fantastic. And then when you start hearing about how they grew up homeless, and they had to eat out of the garbage can, and how … then all of a sudden we really love them. Why? Because there’s a piece of that within us all, the struggle to rise. And that’s what makes humans at the end of the day. We just want to feel connectivity to other humans.

Debbie DiPietro: We do, we are human. That’s true. We’re social creatures aren’t we?

Violette De Ayala: Yeah.

Debbie DiPietro: And we learn from each other. I think we mirror, Violette. I think we see one another in each other and that is so powerful- storytelling. And maybe while we have … we do have a little bit of time, and with this audience here on Courageously Go if you wouldn’t mind sharing maybe just a little bit back at a time in your life when perhaps you were experiencing fear, or perhaps you, yourself, you were holding yourself back? Maybe you wouldn’t mind sharing something with us.

Violette De Ayala: Sure, I think that one story comes to mind and it’s probably the most encapsulated kind of story, so it helps a variable kind of scenarios is that I grew up with a mother who is a drug addict. She is addicted to opiates, she’s been addicted to something or other my entire life, and she’s also very narcissistic. So I grew up with a mother who enjoyed looking in the mirror, who enjoyed pictures of herself by herself throughout the house. And so, I grew up the opposite. Right? I feel uncomfortable looking in the mirror, I feel uncomfortable being in the limelight, which is ironic. And I had that until a couple of years ago, I would say. And so, in the past, I owned a PR company. I’m really good at pitching other people and getting other people in newspapers and magazine. And when it came to FemCity we would try to hire publicists to help, and it just never seemed to work. And then I thought, “Well, I’ve done it for other clients. I’ll just do it for Fem City, I’ll just do it myself.” And I kept putting it off. Right?
I kept putting it on my to do list. The next week it would kinda go to the week list and then the next week. And then, like a year goes by, and this pitched PR has been on my task list for over a year. And so, I had to have that kind of heart-to-heart internal conversation to see like what really is happening. Why do I keep procrastinating? Because I believe when we procrastinate there’s fear, it’s a fear based … it’s with that we no longer want to do it. It’s no longer a priority anymore, it needs to be thrown out the window, or there is something that, yes, we do need to do, we recognize that, or we’re procrastinating because there is something there that is connecting us to some fear. And so, when I thought about that, my fear, it came out to that I was scared that pitching FemCity would mean that I was pitching myself, and that equated to an egocentric, narcissistic persona.
And I was so scared of being that because, again, you don’t want to be … People that have really put you in through a lot of hurt, you don’t want to kind of repeat that. So, I was avoiding doing PR for FemCity because I felt like it was really promoting myself, which felt uncomfortable, it felt narcissistic. So, once everything kind of like exorcized it was really interesting, and then I was chatting with a friend of mine, one of my closest friends, Nikki Novo, she’s got a great website too, And she said to me, “Violette, you need to look at yourself separately. When you are not pitching FemCity and the work that you guys are doing, you are not helping millions of women. And so, you have to look at it that more PR you do, the more it helps women around, and it’s not narcissistic. You just happen to be the person behind the brand, so you’re pitching the brand you’re not pitching yourself.” She kind of made it so it shifted in my mind, and I was able to realize, “She’s absolutely right. Just because I’m pitching FemCity to newspapers and publications it’s not a narcissistic thing to do, it’s actually helping the world.”
And so, I started doing it, and Debbie within, I would say, a month we got into almost every business magazine, and it was incredible. And so, and then because of that we were able to launch more communities, more women were joining us for our free classes, and our webinars. And so, that’s a great story of kind of … I think that’s another thing that I see with women is that we’re so scared of promoting ourselves, or giving ourselves shout outs, or honoring who are, and we’re kind of scared. We don’t want to be that person that’s taking a million selfies. But at the end of the day, when we do that to ourselves we have to put it into perspective of how are we also then how does that domino effect impact the service that we’re providing for the world? And so connecting with that. So, anyway, that’s one story that I share often because I think a lot of women struggle with that too. When is too much promotion too much? When is it narcissistic, and when is it beneficial to the world?

Debbie DiPietro: I think you’re right, and that’s a really good insight that you had. It seems to be … and I haven’t been doing this podcast for a whole … let’s see, this maybe the 10th episode, but that seems to be a common theme, Violette, is that it is hard for many of us women to promote ourselves. Isn’t it? It is. I know just speaking for myself, I have a successful blog, I have a beautiful book out, I have all these great things. I’m doing really good work in the world, and my, back then she was 19, my 19 year old daughter would come to me and she’d say, “Mom, you know, you don’t promote yourself enough.” And I’m like, “Hmm.” I really had to take a look at that.
My young daughter is saying that, and you know, she was right, and I don’t. And so, part of the goal of this podcast is I’m a bit introverted and I’m definitely out of my comfort zone doing this although it is a blast, it’s a lot of fun. Still, I have to think through, “Okay.” You know? “Debbie, what do you keeping from the world by not promoting yourself? A, you’re doing good work, and no one is going to find out about it. And by promoting myself, and promoting the good work I’m doing I can help others.” And I know … I kept my notes from that brunch we had with you, and on the very top I know one of your fundamental values is always to be of service to others. Right?

Violette De Ayala: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Debbie DiPietro: And if we’re doing good work, and we’re not sharing it with the world then who are we? We’re not helping anyone, are we?

Violette De Ayala: Right.

Debbie DiPietro: So, I have to … I remember that. It’s something that’s-
Violette De Ayala: Yeah, and your podcast. Yeah, so your podcast, every content that you have serves.
Debbie DiPietro: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Violette De Ayala: Right? Because the content is always going to be helping women to step into their greatness. And so, if you can help 10 women that’s fantastic, but what happens when you can help 100,000 women with the same amount of energy? And so, to look at it from that perspective is a beautiful thing, so that it steps away from the narcissistic fears that we have because “Oh, my gosh,” It’s like, “Can I post my podcast and people are gonna think I’m narcissistic and then if I post a picture, and it’s all about Violette, or it’s all about Debbie?” And so, getting to these kind of like conversations, but the reality is the work is good. Does the work help others live life better? If the answer is, yes, which I think it should always be. Every product that we use helps are lives. So, if you’re a yoga instructor, your service is to help people find balance, is to help them find internal and external balance for that matter if you are a hairstylist then your work helps others feel really confident about themselves. So, everything that we do in a service for others …
There’s a disconnect sometimes, I think, that this is not flourishing because they’re in it for the wrong reasons. Right? So, they just do something because it makes a lot of money, or they just want to be in newspapers, and magazines. And that’s generally when we see things not flowing correctly, that’s nonalignment because the service for others is missing. So, if you always bring it back to that the ego goes away, the narcissistic tendencies, or thoughts, or fears go away, and that we recognize, “Yes, for the same amount of energy, this podcast can help 100,000 women have those aha moments, wake up, and say that, that’s it.” You know? “That 30th time I’ve heard that same sentence I’m going to finally do it.” And then that’s the biggest impact you can have. That’s in your own purpose.

Debbie DiPietro: I agree with that. Yeah, so we have about two minutes left. And we’ve established that, yes, we have a tendency to hold ourselves back and we need to take ownership of that, but we’re, all of us, women around the globe, we’re in a position to help one another by sharing. We can share our stories, share vulnerabilities, but with our remaining time we have together maybe you could share with us. How can we go more globally? How can we help our global community?

Violette De Ayala: You mean as women just serving? Like, how do women- ?

Debbie DiPietro: As women, yes.

Violette De Ayala: Yeah, I think that, you know, start … So, I think a lot of times we think globally we have to do things that are really big, really enormous, biggest impact. And really, our work is in the individual, the people that we connect with every day, and do the work that we do. And so, the goal is, yes, you impact the world in a great immense way helping a million people shift into their greatness, or to find their alignment to their purpose, but that might be a little overwhelming. So really to spend your time … I did a podcast recently, like “How do you really help small businesses? What is it?” And at the end of the day, you don’t even have to purchase if you just give them shout outs, if you just show gratitude, if you just honor other people. Clap your hands for them. You will feel great. The energy that you’re sending out to them, they’ll feel it, they’ll feel, like, loved. And so, we have the ability to make these small moments, these small tiny activities mean a lot.
And I find sometimes, I say one little sentence when I’m speaking, or I’m teaching a class, and some students will just totally clue in on that one sentence and it shifts their entire life. I got an email a couple weeks ago from a woman here in Miami who said, “Oh, my gosh, Violette, I remember I took one of your classes and you told me one day to stick it out, to keep my mind on the focus.” And she just sent me an email saying she made $830,000 this year. She’s closing out the year. And so, sometimes it’s the small things. Right? Like, I probably was with her for maybe 30 minutes, but that impact was huge on her life. And so, don’t get caught into having to impact in these grand ways because it’s really the small things in life. It’s the little things that are said, when you applaud someone, when you tag them on something great, when you honor them, when you send them business. Those are the things that really add up into creating big movements.

Debbie DiPietro: Now, that’s a great perspective and something to keep in mind as we often do think big. You know? I want to make big contributions in the world…

Violette De Ayala: Yep.

Debbie DiPietro: Right. That’s great. Yeah. Well, let me ask you one last thing. What is something you’re excited about for 2018?

Violette De Ayala: I am really excited about the collected communities, and I’ll tell you why, Debbie. For the last year or two years, we have had women around the world ask to have a Fem City location in their backyard and we have not been able to do that. And I’m really excited that we’ve taken the feedback from all these women that we’ve chatted with throughout the last one year, two years, and we’ve created this collective program, so that we can launch in all these little pockets around the world. And so, I’m really excited because … the hardest thing is when someone asks of you to serve and you cannot. That is the … really it’s a very difficult thing because they want you so badly to be in their community, and you’re just not able to do it. And so, I’m really excited that we’ve created a program. We have it so that they’re easy for women to launch a Fem City community in their backyard. It is a volunteer position. It’s for 25 women only. We send the curriculum to them, so they all have everything in place. It’s a beautiful format where they have the opportunity to share gratitude to one another, gratitude for other women, for themselves. They have networking and education all for very, very inexpensive price for the entire year, so everyone can afford it.
I’m so excited because finally I feel that we will be able to serve women at those little, little pockets, kind of communities that have been asking for us for so long. So, I’m really to … That’s my biggest passion, is getting it going. And having women … We mentioned it on Monday we’ve already, I don’t know, 20 women reach out to us to say that they want to launch a Fem City collective and that’s fantastic. You know? Like, that’s boom, 25 in 48 hours. Who knows what the end of 2018 will bring?

Debbie DiPietro: Right. Well, that’s awesome.

Violette De Ayala: Thank you.

Debbie DiPietro: And you’re amazing. This conversation has gone by way too fast. I want to stay on and talk with you some more.

Violette De Ayala: I know.

Debbie DiPietro: You’re just so great, and I thank you.

Violette De Ayala: Well, we can do it again.

Debbie DiPietro: Oh, we’ll have to. Thank you so much for being a guest on Courageously Go, Violette. I appreciate you very much, and all the good work that you’re doing.

Violette De Ayala: Thank you, Debbie.

Debbie DiPietro: Thank you!

So ladies, until next time remember this, it’s our time to shine. Let’s make it so, and courageously go!


What Happens When You Choose Courage?

What happens when you choose courage?

Many wonderful benefits begin to manifest in your life such as:

1. Feeling stronger
2. Getting more clarity on what you wish to do in your life
3. Having a magnetic smile
4. Carrying yourself with confidence
5. Enjoying a sense of inner calm and peace
6. Being more excited about your career
7. Having more loving relationships
8. Going on adventures that at one point in your life, you never thought were possible but now they are!
9. People respecting you more
10. You respecting yourself more

To be continued….

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” ~ Anais Nin


It Takes Courage to have Faith

It takes courage to have faith…

When circumstances look less than stellar

and our minds tend to ruminate in the cellar

For we are afraid and that is the conditioned response…

I believe there is a much better option and that is to

Choose Courage

Choosing courage is to choose faith. It is being in the dark and not knowing where you are walking but trusting that you will come out at the other end in the light. It might mean creating massive change in your life and jumping off that cliff and knowing in your heart that you will land in a better place.

Choosing courage means to trust the unknown, take action without knowing the definite outcome…

Choosing courage is having faith. Faith keeps us truly alive and growing. Our hearts and souls know that is where the sweet spot is.

Follow your heart and your light…

If your mind tries to keep you from your courage and having faith (by ruminating, worrying, being fearful, telling you “it can’t be done” or some other message of doom) know that your are not your mind. You are your heart and soul and you can tell your mind this:

I choose courage and I have faith!

Feel it with conviction and it will be so.

It is our turn to shine.

Let’s make it so,

And Courageously Go!



Saying Yes to Me!

I say yes to me by:

1. Allowing myself to make mistakes
2. Giving myself time to pause
3. Think BIG and instead of saying “Why”?, I ask “Why not”?
4. Forgiving myself and others
5. Creating and then keeping a morning routine that is healthy for me (time for meditation, a morning walk, prayer, journal writing) etc.
6. Not being afraid to say “no”!
7. Reading something just for fun.
8. Challenging myself and trying new things.
9. Splurging on something indulgent: chocolate, a massage, a great bottle of wine,
a trip to _______!
10. Keeping dinner plans simple

I think I will say “yes”! more often.

Here I am in one of my favorite places (and most peaceful) in the world: Montreat, NC


Tackling Stress and Overwhelm: A Conversation with Snowden McFall

*Note from Debbie: I was so honored to have Snowden McFall on as my very first guest. For someone so accomplished, I found her to be very down to earth and I believe we had a great conversation. You can listen to the podcast replay here: Conversation with Snowden McFall

Or you may read the transcription below. I thank you so much, Snowden. I think it took a lot of courage to be a brand new show’s very first guest. Cheers to you and thank you for all of the great work you are doing in the world!

Debbie DiPietro:    Welcome to Courageously Go!™ where we will venture into places we’ve been afraid to go. Women of the world, we are going to start a movement. A movement towards courage. Why? Because when we choose courage and move in the direction towards courage, wonderful things begin to happen for us. We become confident, experience more joy and the freedom that comes from living a heart-led authentic life.

Our mission is this: to encourage and support every girl and woman on her path to courage. Why is this important? To support our greater bold vision, which is to have a world that is healthy, peaceful and prospering because women around the globe are strong, confident and living joy-filled lives.

How will we accomplish this mission and bold vision? Each week we will invite a special guest on the show to discuss a topic that is relevant to helping us live a more courageous and joy-filled life. Are we ready? Let’s go!

I am so excited to introduce my very first guest Snowden McFall. Snowden McFall is a professional speaker, trainer and author, is a 30 year entrepreneur and owner of Fired Up! She is a business expert who speaks on motivation, stress management, productivity and employee engagement. Snowden has authored and co-authored six books including Fired Up!, which has now sold over 65,000 copies. Her newest book is Stress Express!: 15 Instant Stress Relievers.

She’s currently writing a book on women and overwhelm. The Small Business Administration named her National Woman in Business Advocate of the Year, which led to a White House ceremony and Congressional Luncheon in her honor. Snowden, I would like to welcome you.

Snowden McFall:             Well, thank you so much. I’m delighted to be here, Deb.

Debbie DiPietro:               Well, I’m just delighted to have you. I tell you what, I think you’re the perfect first guest for Courageously Go. I have noticed certainly in my life and women in my life that we tend to put so much on our plates these days and we’re all pretty stressed and all pretty overwhelmed. Even I picked up this month’s copy of Psychology Today and on the cover it says “How to stand up for yourself even when it hurts.” They really talk about the ability to say no and how hard it is for us women. I learned that you are working on a book about overwhelm and stress. I would love to hear more about your work please.

Snowden McFall:             Well, thanks. I’ve been speaking for over 25 years for a variety of audiences, but women is one of my most favorite groups. You had mentioned my national award, which was very humbling.  I was very humbled to get media attention for it, but I love empowering women because I really believe women are the future. I am excited about what you’re doing. I was listening to what you were talking about with courage and I love this quote from Mark Twain that says, “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” I think with women today there is so much going on in their life that what they really need is courage is to take care of themselves.

They give themselves out to their job fully. They give themselves out to their children, their families, their partners, their husbands. They’re the ones who suffer. They’re not taking care of themselves, which is why I’m writing this new book on women and overwhelm. I’ve been interviewing women all over the country. In fact, some all over the world. It’s a major issue.

Debbie DiPietro:            It is. What would you recommend to our listeners here today? What do we do when we find ourselves overwhelmed and we have so much on our plate? Where do we even begin?

Snowden McFall:             Well, you know, I think the first thing is to find out the thing that is stressing you out the most. I mean self-care is absolutely critical and most of us don’t do it. Setting limits and setting boundaries is where courage really comes in, Deb. We all have a tendency to say yes when we really need to say no. Setting boundaries and taking care of ourselves, getting enough sleep. You need at least seven hours of sleep, the World Health Organization says. Anything less than that is a carcinogen and you deplete your brain. Your brain needs that much sleep to get rid of toxins. You’ve got to eat right. You’ve got to take care of yourself. You’ve got to have downtime and you’ve got to say no more often.

Debbie DiPietro:               I think that’s great advice. I need that advice. I’ve been pretty guilty. Last September I turned 50 and for some reason, Snowden, I just put all this pressure on myself. I figured this is my time. I’m now 50. It’s time for me to achieve, achieve, achieve, say yes and put all these granted very exciting projects on my plate but now I’m like, “What am I doing to myself? I’m just so busy.” I need to really look at that.

Snowden McFall:             Part of the problem is we get caught up in our enthusiasm and because women in general are givers and would have a tendency with our great emotional intelligence, our heart strings get pulled and so we say yes in a lot of ways. We get excited, but the balance is we have less energy than we did when we were 20. I don’t know about you, but I have a little less energy than I did when I was 20. You really have to be more mindful about what you’re doing and who you’re saying yes to and what you’re saying yes to because the time commitments are a really incredible thing. I fight for myself. I get asked quite a bit to be on all these different boards of directors.

What I have learned is I can only do a handful that are really meaningful to me. What I say when people ask me is I say, “Thank you so much for thinking of me. I only want to give you my best effort and I can’t do that right now. Let me refer you to somebody else that I think would be great. If you want to check back with me next year, that would be fine.” Saying no is really important.

Debbie DiPietro:               That’s a great response. I need to rehearse that the next time someone presents another opportunity to sit on a board. Thank you for that. That’s great.

Snowden McFall:             You’re welcome. Well, it’s the truth. You only want to give your best effort.

Debbie DiPietro:               That’s so true. I know you’re a speaker, Snowden. What all do you speak about when you go out and speak to groups?

Snowden McFall:             Well, I speak to all different organizations, companies. I do keynote presentations and custom corporate trainings. Yesterday I was speaking to a group of executives on productivity, employee engagement and stress management. I also do corporate training work with a variety of different companies, small and large, from PepsiCo, Fidelity National Financial, First Citizens Bank, on down to small to medium sized companies. I love what I do. I speak a lot on stress and burnout prevention.

Debbie DiPietro:               Are you finding companies are really embracing the health and wellness initiatives and doing more of that kind of programming for their employees?

Snowden McFall:             Some are and some are not. What they’re realizing is it’s costing them money. Absenteeism is a huge problem. Productivity has dropped because of stress. American Psychological Association has said that 80% of Americans are burned out, not just stress. That has a big impact on absenteeism, illness. 80% of all doctor’s visits are related to stress. Now they’re starting to pay more attention to them because it’s costing money. It’s not as widely adopted as one would hope. Although the payoff is incredible, I think it’s like $5 you get back for every dollar you invest in wellness trainings. The payoff is incredible.

Debbie DiPietro:               Well, hopefully we have some HR professionals listening in on this call today.

Snowden McFall:             Well, more the CEO level and the executive team who decide that they want to allocate funds to it. I think HR professionals would love to have it.

Debbie DiPietro:               Indeed, yes. The decision makers, the pockets. Let’s get them onboard. I love it. When you work with your clients, what kind of results can they expect working with you?

Snowden McFall:             Well, everything that I do is custom. I spend quite a bit of time upfront working with my clients and interviewing their people confidentially and really understanding the culture and what’s going on. For example, I worked with an insurance agency in Fort Lauderdale where we were dealing with a number of issues including personality conflicts, customer service, they’re not going out and networking, and attitude. After our training, within four months they had a 28.8% increase in sales and I was not doing sales training. That was wonderful for them. I was so happy for them. They met their December goals in August and were thrilled.

Another organization, financial institution, they were the lowest performing region in the country. After five trainings, they become the highest performing region in the country. I’m grateful that these clients have been able to have some great results. When I worked with Pepsi, we were working with two different divisions and trying to improve their communication and they’re working together and had some incredible experiences with them. They really improved their teamwork, and they smoothed out a lot of the rough edges, and really achieved some great results. I was very humbled to be part of all that.

Debbie DiPietro:               That sounds like exciting work and it’s obvious you enjoy what you do.

Snowden McFall:             I love what I do. Otherwise, why do it, right?

Debbie DiPietro:               Right. Well, we know you speak. We know you consult with businesses and corporations, but you also write. Besides your newer book about overwhelm that you’re working on, what else have you written, Snowden?

Snowden McFall:             Well, I’ve written six books and my favorite books are Fired Up!: How to Succeed by Making Your Dreams Come True. That was my first book that came out in the late 1990s. That really came from my heart and soul in terms of how to have people make any dream come true whether it’s start a business, find the love of their life, make a difference in the world, make a foundation, whatever it is that they want. It’s a step-by-step action plan with real life stories of people who have put that into practice and made it happen. That’s a very gratifying one.

We talked a little about overwhelm and this book on women and overwhelm is more specific to women and what roles they play that have gotten them overwhelmed. I also wrote a book called Stress Express! and that is my other favorite book because it’s a very short book. It’s 15 instant stress relievers that are all research backed and the tips are very easy to apply and the texts are short because stressed out people don’t have a lot of time.

Debbie DiPietro:               I just love it. Your work can help us on both sides of it. When we need a little motivation, you can help us get fired up, right? Then we get so fired up, we have all this energy and we have all this projects and we’re getting a little stressed. Then you have some answers to help us and some solutions to help us with those issues. May I ask you how do we get fired up when we want to accomplish something? How does one get fired up?

Snowden McFall:             Yes, of course, you can ask that. First of all, you have to get to the why. The why is the core of everything. Why are you doing what you’re doing? If you’re starting a new project, why are you doing it? Is it going to help people? Are you going to improve the quality of life of others? Is it going to advance a company? Is it going to make a new initiative? Is it going to assist patients in a hospital? What is the why? The why is the core of everything in terms of getting fired up because when you know your why, when you are aligned with your mission and purpose inside of yourself, when you have a strong sense of I have to do this, I could not write the books that I’ve written because they came from my heart and soul.

I had to do them. You have to know your why. That why will enable you to overcome many of the obstacles that you have along the way. It also helps a great deal to get inspired. Even as a motivational speaker, there’ve been plenty of times particularly over the last month and a half, my goodness, there’ve been so many tragedies and catastrophes and disasters just in this country and in Mexico and around the world that it would be easy to get discouraged. I find for myself to reignite that fire, I need to go back to the things that inspire me.

When you’re looking at a tragedy or catastrophe, I find those stories of everyday people who became heroes and save lives of animals and save lives of human beings. People like Mark Cuban from Shark Tank who got on his airplane loaded with water and supplies and food down to Puerto Rico and was able to get through when we couldn’t get any ships in. People who take initiatives. I get inspired by everyday people who go out of their way to make a difference. Stories of a young boy who saw a little girl get kidnapped and on his bike rode all the way chasing this car and bangs on the window of the car and telling the guy, “I see you.”

The guy pulls over and lets the little girl out. I mean those kinds of things inspire the heck out of me. That’s one of the ways I get fired up.

Debbie DiPietro:               Very inspiring and good to know that there are people … We do have everyday heroes in our world. Back to knowing our why, what you said really resonates. Especially in the business world or even when we’re just out and sharing about ourselves, it’s easy to share with people what we do, but I have heard that if people really understand why you do the things you do, it’s easier for them to connect with you.

Snowden McFall:             Yeah. I was talking to these executives and explaining to them that it’s critical that they tell their employees the why of the business. Not just the mission and the values, but why are they doing what they’re doing, why are the initiatives happening, why about this new project and share customer testimonials, share letters from people who talk about how the business has improved their quality of life or what it’s done for them. Let them see in action how the ultimate benefit of whatever they’re manufacturing or producing how it impacts others.

It’s very important that companies share the why all the way down to the manufacturing floor because everybody at work needs to be fired up too. They need to know well, why should I be sitting here punching this computer all day long or why should I be working on this project? Who does it help? Show them who it helps. Connect that why because the why is what life is all about.

Debbie DiPietro:               Absolutely. Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Snowden McFall:             The meaning and why we connect with each other is so important.

Debbie DiPietro:               I agree. Once you know your why and you’re clear on your why, how would you advise us? What would be a first course of action? We have our vision. We know our why. What do we do next?

Snowden McFall:             Well, you need to have a vision. The vision is where are you going ultimately. Where does this dream, where is it going ultimately? For me right now, I’ll give you an example, I’m working on this new book. I’m doing it in a different way than I’ve ever done before, which is as it stands now, I’m working with an agent who will get me a major publisher. I worked with a small publisher in my first book and then I self-published the other book. This is a new adventure for me. When I look at the ultimate goal on the vision, the ultimate goal on the vision is to have the book be an international bestseller and empower and help women all over the world. That’s the vision.

Then I have to back it up and go, “Okay, so what needs to happen in order to achieve that vision? What are the various steps that I need to take in order to make that happen?” If you have the big picture of where you’re going and a clear visual image of that whether it’s through a dream collage, which I’m a huge fan of, I write it up at Fired Up!, or whether it’s some visual representation. If you have the vision, then you back it up in terms of okay, what are the concrete steps and strategies that I need to take. You have to have an action plan. There are going to be plenty of people you have to tap into.

You’re going to need resources. You’re going to need to connect with others to make sure that this happens. You’re going to have to do a lot of the work yourself. What needs to happen in order to make that vision come true? You really can’t go anywhere without a clear, really powerful vision. I’m a big believer in affirmations coupled with action options. I have an affirmation that I say to myself every morning about my book.

Debbie DiPietro:               I believe both of those things are very powerful, aren’t they? The visual and writing things down and repeating and just getting that positive mindset, that clear mindset in your mind. I think those are very powerful strategies. I have a couple of friends who are starting vision boarding workshops and I think that’s just such a great idea. We’re collecting magazines right now. I think that that’s a great thing, a great activity to do in anytime in our lives really.

Snowden McFall:             It is. I’ve been doing it for about 25 years. I mean everything on my very first dream collage came true within two years, including getting married to the most wonderful man, and traveling around the world, and doing yoga, and the sailboat that I wanted that we own. I mean it’s astonishing. I had on it trip to Australia. My husband just achieved that. We were offered it 28 years ago, but at the time it was going to be winter so we postponed it. He just achieved that part of it. I’m a huge believer in dream collages. I’ve done with underprivileged women and it’s very empowering for them because nobody gives them an opportunity to look at something.

They’re just worrying about the day to day. How are they going to feed their kids? How are they going to get to work? How are they going to make sure that they’re safe? It’s very empowering for all levels of people.

Debbie DiPietro:               Wow. That’s great. I want to be sure people know how to find you. We’re talking about Fired Up. Your website is?

Snowden McFall:    There’s a lot of resources there. There’s a burn out quiz. It’s a 600 page website, so there’s tons of blog posts and newsletters and chips and tools for people.

Debbie DiPietro:               It sounds like, Snowden, even though you do a lot of work in the corporate world, you have a lot of offerings for women who are not in the workforce. Is that correct?

Snowden McFall:             Yes. You could still get motivated by the blog posts and different chips and tools there too, although I must say the vast majority of my work is with professionals.


Debbie DiPietro:               What is the most important lesson that you’ve learned in this career of yours?

Snowden McFall:             Well, and it goes back to where we started, Deb. Take care of yourself first so that then you can take care of others. In particular, from a financial standpoint, always pay yourself first. It was a mistake I made. I took very good care of my employees and tried to treat them well and pay them well, but I did not pay myself when I started out initially and I should have. Because when you look at retirement over the next 20 years, you go, “Oh, I should have started a lot earlier.” Set aside money for yourself. Every time you get a check in from a client, put money aside for yourself and take care of yourself first.

Because if you don’t take care of yourself, you will not have the energy to take care of anybody else.

Debbie DiPietro:               That’s great advice. While we still have time, what would you say your three top stress busters are? What would be good tips for us?

Snowden McFall:             Well, one is I’m looking at right now and that is I’m drinking my water. 80% of North Americans are dehydrated. Women are particularly bad about this. You need to drink half your body weight in ounces everyday. A 5% drop in bodily fluids will mean a 25% to 30% drop in energy. Around 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon if you’re exhausted and you want to go for that candy bar, what you really need is to drink a couple glasses of water. I talk about sleep, which I think is very important. Exercise is the universal panacea. I know people hate hearing that, but it is. The research is very strong. Exercise three to five days a week. Half hour.

Do interval training. Get your blood going. Get your body moving. Stretching. Yoga is very important. I’m a meditator, so I try and meditate everyday. I’m a big believer in that and in deep breathing. I also believe in going on vacation. There’s a large percentage of people who don’t go on vacation. For women in particular, it’s been shown that women aged 45 to 60 can decrease their incidence of heart attack by half if they go on vacation two times a year.

Debbie DiPietro:               Use your vacation time, ladies. Okay, Snowden, we are just about out of time. It’s been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for being Courageously Go’s very first guest. It’s been so nice. I just want to make sure our listeners know how to reach you. Your website again is Is that correct?

Snowden McFall:             That’s correct.

Debbie DiPietro:               I would also like to invite our listeners if they want to give me some feedback, what they enjoyed, more ideas for this new show, they can reach me. My email is I promise I will respond to all of your emails. I look forward to hearing from you. You can also visit my website . Thank you, Snowden. I look forward to having a chat with you again someday.

Snowden McFall:             Okay. I’d love it. Good luck, Deb. Take care. Bye. Bye.

Debbie DiPietro:               Thank you.


I invite you to check out Snowden’s books here on Amazon:



We look forward to seeing her new book when it comes out about overwhelm.


Until next time ladies…

Let’s remember that it is our turn to shine!

Let’s make it so…

And Courageously Go!™

~Debbie DiPietro