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:             FiredUpNow.com. 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 FiredUpNow.com. 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 Debbie@CourageouslyGo.com. I promise I will respond to all of your emails. I look forward to hearing from you. You can also visit my website CourageouslyGo.com . 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

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