Many of us miss out on living the life of our dreams because we’re so caught up with work that does not fulfill us anymore. Teaching you how to create the life of our dreams without sacrificing what we love, Melanie Parish interviews TEDx speaker and Life Mastery Coach, Laura DiBenedetto. Here, Laura talks about leadership and the fine line between when a leader needs to be patient and when a leader needs to be a little bit impatient. She also discusses the imposter syndrome and how people can get out of it when it shows up. Not forgetting herself in the equation, Laura then shares the things she does to take care of herself and rejuvenate. Tune into this conversation as she shares more about her life and how she came back from retirement better than ever.
Listen to the Podcast here:
I'm here with Laura DiBenedetto. She's a TEDx speaker, the number one bestselling author of The Six Habits and Life Mastery Coach. She teaches us how to create the life of our dreams without sacrificing what we love. As Founder and CEO of Vision Advertising, a company she built at age nineteen, she's helped hundreds of entrepreneurs build and grow profitable enterprises entirely on their own terms.
Laura, I am excited to have you on my show.
Thank you. It's awesome to spend time with you.
I am curious about what you're up to in your life as a leader.
I feel like I'm up to a million things. You probably read from my bio that I retired at 37 and all of that. Life has been interesting. It turns out retirement means sitting still and that's wicked boring. I started another enterprise and it's all about helping others to find incredible joy and not burn themselves down in the process and chase the wrong stuff. Then 2020 happened and then COVID shows up, punches everybody in the face. My successor at the company I retired from, a girlfriend got cancer. I had to step back in and be active CEO again while I'm the CEO of my new company. I'm busy as hell.
You're running hard in two directions at least.
When we get to the whole self-care chunk of this conversation, we're going to talk. Running two companies requires laser focus on what you want, highest priorities and serving the greatest good. I've never been challenged much, but I'm up for it. I'm good. I can hang.
What's it like to go back into a company that you had stepped back from?
There's the emotional kicking and screaming because I left for a reason. I love my company and I'm super proud of what I've done, built and all of that. When you leave something, you want to be done with it, whatever it is, even if you love it. Nineteen years of anything can be like, “That's a lot.” It's been a different experience because I remember when I retired, I was not a stellar human. I was burnt out. I was grumpy. I was not my best self. The fact that I've done so much incredible powerful work on myself has created this to be quite enjoyable and showing up differently. At first it's like, “The person I love and care about, my successor got cancer.” I'm stressed about that. The world is on fire and COVID. Also, I'm busy doing other stuff but there's always going to be natural doubts and concerns but it's been honestly good. Is that weird?
I think everyone who runs a company is a little bit weird and a little bit crazy. When you said that you're showing up differently, can you say more about that?
It turns out when you need to retire when you're into something at the seventeen-year mark, but don't get to leave until the nineteen-year mark, those last two years you're not your best self. At least if your name is Laura DiBenedetto. I was not the leader I wanted to be. I was grumpy. I was probably making decisions in a way that doesn't align with the integrity I'm most proud of. Probably, I wasn't demonstrating the levelheaded tranquility in my decision-making that I'm proud of. I didn't show up that great towards the end and I was burned out. I did the work to replenish myself and the way that I'm showing up now by contrast is I'm patient. I'm level headed.
I allow myself the time to make decisions the way I should. I detach emotion from logic where appropriate. When you are in a leadership role and you're the captain of the ship, you have to do these things anyway. I always did them before I was burnt out and I did a good job. Now, I'm doing a great job. It's weird. I had to retire to be the better leader, which is interesting. This makes my heart fill up with gratitude and appreciation. I had one of my team members the other day, she's like, “I've never enjoyed working for a company more. I've never felt so appreciated. Thank you for making this such a great place to work.” I'm like, “You see me.” I was ugly crying on the inside because it felt awesome. I was like, “This is what I want.”
Can I dig in a little deeper? You said something and it was about being patient. I think it's a fine line between when a leader needs to be patient and when a leader needs to be a little bit impatient. When do you think about using one of those as a skill rather than a reaction?
I think it depends on your personality. My personality tends to be quick reactive, but I logically know that is not a good leadership trait. I intentionally choose to fully wrap my arms around the way my nature is and make sure that any personality quirks, peccadilloes, flaws don't get in the way of my ability to perform. I'll give you a concrete example. Most clients have been extraordinary in the middle of the Coronavirus thing, even as their businesses have been suffering the effects from lost revenues, etc. One notable client decided to be the biggest dirtiest dirtbag on the face of the planet and accused us of things on the middle of a pandemic and be the most unhospitable, insert expletive here.
I don't suffer fools well and I have no patience for people like that. My inclination as a human is be like, “You can go die somewhere. I don't care about you. Don't treat me like that.” In practice though, what needs to happen by contrast is I'm still required to respond with grace even though she doesn't deserve it. I'm still required to respond as a professional and leave the experience on a high note even if she can't do the same. In being triggered as a human, I can't let that interfere with my ability to be the proper CEO that the company deserves. This is a moment where I allow myself patience to have my emotional temper tantrum and choose a day or two, most problems will keep a couple of days.
You can still be pissed off in a day or two. Clearly, you're making shit up and you'll be fine. Allowing myself the grace to arrive at the correct answer and respond as my best and highest self as a professional that I can be proud of. That is where the leadership emerges is knowing yourself well enough to know, “I feel like throwing some cyanide on this.” That's bad. Don't do that. Allowing yourself to be human and get there because I'm fully capable of making awesome decisions at every turn and I do, but I need to give myself the time to do it.
I like that the time and the space allow you to be at choice rather than how you feel in the moment or to find what's best for the company, not just to be willing to stomp off or walk away.
It's not about me. It's not about my emotional temper tantrum. In that moment, that woman, the client from hell, she's not attacking me personally even though she's showing up like absolute garbage and being abusive to me and my team. It's not about us. It's not about me. We are humans trying to do robotic things. When we give ourselves the latitude to be a human, have our reaction and then take the high road, it comes out better every single time.
Do you mind if I ask you about imposter syndrome and where it shows up either for you or where you see it show up in the world? What do you think works for people to get out of it?
I'd be happy to talk about imposter syndrome. I think it's normal. We want good things for ourselves and we look at other people that we admire and we want to be like them. It's a natural process to look at other people and regard their process, their journey as our benchmarks. Should we do it? Probably not, but we do. It's okay, but what's not okay is making it mean something about ourselves or taking it seriously. Imposter syndrome goes away when we fully, unconditionally love ourselves and we may still have this natural inclination to compare ourselves to others, but it's more of a point of curiosity versus condemnation.
I can give you some more concrete context around this. I live on the Island of Maui and I don't know if you know much about being here, but the real estate prices are ridiculously high. I used to live in Worcester, Massachusetts. Worcester, Massachusetts has a lot going for it. I used to love where I lived and it was not known to have ridiculously high real estate prices, but the price per square foot is dramatically lower there. To give you a little context, I had a 3,500 square foot home. I sold it for $450,000, which here on Maui barely buys you a porta potty. It's ridiculous. Looking for an equivalent home, I would have to spend, in terms of quality size piece of land, $3 million to make a lateral move.
I like to keep my money and I have no desire to fritter it away on real estate. I made a nice tidy, somewhat I sold my house and I'm having fun retaining it, growing it, investing in myself. Now we rent. I chose to downsize but also increase the quality of my life. I live in a beautiful condo that I rent. I can see the ocean from my pillow, but here's where the imposter syndrome came in. I have a lot of successful friends, people with massive networks and incredible success that they've built over years and they're well known. They're accomplished people. I've never felt like an imposter up against these people ever since I started to work on myself, but some of the old echoes of the past started to creep back in when they're like, “I want to come and visit you in Maui.”
I live in a home that's 1,600 square feet including my lanai. I was like, “They're going to judge me. They're not friends with me because of where I live or the size and grandeur of my home. I followed my dream. My friends are my friends for who I am, not with the home I have. If they think less of me for living in a home that I like and following my dream, they don't deserve to be friends with me.” The imposter syndrome can threaten to show up at any given time with anything. For me, even though I've mastered the habit of acceptance, which I write about extensively in my book, it still showed up, but the habit mastery shows up when I'm like, “No.”
I reject the imposter syndrome and I've got the tools to do it and it is my default. I automatically catch it, redirect it and do not allow myself to tear myself down and feel ashamed of a home that I love that makes me happy. “You don't want to stay in my condo and watch the sun go down? Sucks for you.” It's a massive attitude shift. I'm glad that I made it and mastered the habit because there are opportunities every day for us to feel like imposters with our career, our looks and, “My stomach isn't as flat. My career isn't as big. My condo isn't as big and fancy as I used to have.”
Thank you for opening up to share that with me. I'm fascinated by how people think their way out of that box when they get there.
You have to be your own coach.
I have clients who easily go there and I have clients who rarely go there. I sometimes go there and everyone has to find their own journey out of it. It's interesting to try to figure out how people navigate it.
If you think about what a coach would say to you, it could be a football coach or a life coach, but your coach, no matter who they are, is going to say to you, “Not good enough. You deserve better. Get moving.” You have to do that for yourself.
If we switch gears a little bit and talk about self-care, I know you gave us a teaser. Tell me what you do to take care of yourself. How do you rejuvenate?
I love this question because my answer is not what a lot of influencers and thought leaders would say. There are lots of people that talk about meditation, big fan, but don't tend to do it a lot. You get a lot of go-getters like, “Wake up at 4:00 AM.” That's the worst advice on the planet. I routinely honor my need for sleep. That's probably the number one thing that I do for myself. I will get eight hours. I will cancel meetings. I don't care. I'm going to have my eight hours because I know my body deserves it and my body will break down if I don't get eight hours of sleep. That's a vital one. The other vital one is being ultra-clear with myself and with others around what I need at a particular time.
I might have plans with a friend and as much as I want to see her, maybe an hour before, I'll be feeling like hot garbage and tired, I might text her and say, “I'm tired now. I would love to still hang out with you, but I'm probably not going to want to talk a lot. Can we maybe go for a quiet walk together? Can we maybe hang out another day?” In being clear about what I need, I'm able to communicate more effectively to other people and invite them to respond and meet the need or reschedule with me or show up as the friend I need in that moment.
There's stuff like getting manicures, massages. I love all of that but that's not self-care for me. Self-care is more about self-advocacy. Honoring and listening to my body, which I’ve got to be honest with you, I had grown quite adept at ignoring for years and had a lot of detrimental cumulative effects on my health, which I have worked hard to undo. I'm never going back there. Now, I am my number one best advocate. It makes things easier for other people to hang out with me because I'm super clear and I don't feel burnt out.
I've enjoyed talking with you. Where can people find you?
I've enjoyed chatting with you as well. I like your insightful questions. Thank you. People can find out more about me. They can read about The Six Habits book, find out about my TED Talk, find out about the 90-day program, or even connect with me on social media at TheSixHabits.com. That's the center of all things Laura DiBenedetto. If you go there, you can find out about everything. You can also shoot me a note and tell me how you're doing in life. I love chatting with people one-on-one and hearing what's going on.
Thank you for that. It's been amazing to be with you. I hope our paths will cross again. This has been super fun.
It’s the same here. Thank you for the invitation.
I’ve been talking with Laura DiBenedetto. I love how flexible she is. She was retired, but it was the best thing for her to come back from retirement. I love how she’s trying new things and I love how she continues to experiment in all of the parts of leadership. I like how she approaches self-care in a deep way and how she puts herself in the equation as a leader. It’s been great talking with Laura. Go experiment.
A public speaker, consultant, workshop leader, author, and Master Certified Coach through the International Coach Federation, from whom she received the Prism Award, Melanie is an expert in problem-solving, constraints management, operations, strategic hiring, and brand development.