Nov. 3, 2021

Inspiring Tomorrow’s Best ✨Ever Leaders | Deb Boelkes

Inspiring Tomorrow’s Best ✨Ever Leaders | Deb Boelkes

Deb Boelkes of Business World Rising is all about heartfelt leadership and 💥WOW 💥 workplaces.
Gift for Listeners: send Deb a message from the Contact page at enter code, “Women on Top 50” in the message, you will be able to purchase an autographed copy of Deb’s book, Women on Top at 50% off.
🤔 What Intrigued Me … The journey is all about loving what you Do!
Ask: What would you love to be doing?
🤔 What Inspired Me … Deb wishes to:
Accelerate advancement of women in the workplace
Make the corporate world a better place people love to go to work
🤔 What Challenged Me … Where did all the women go?
Deb Boelkes is the Author of the following award-winning books:
The WOW Factor Workplace: How to Create a Best Place to Work Culture
Heartfelt Leadership: How to Capture the Top Spot and Keep on Soaring
Women on Top: What's Keeping You From Executive Leadership?

Deb Boelkes of Business World Rising is all about heartfelt leadership and 💥WOW 💥 workplaces.

What Intrigued Me?

  • The journey is all about loving what you do!  
  • Ask: What would you love to be doing?

What Inspired Me?

  • Deb wishes to: Accelerate the advancement of women in the workplace.
  • Make the corporate world a better place people love to go to work.

What Challenge Me?

  • Where did all the women go?


About the Guest

Deb Boelkes, Business World Rising, LLC 

Deb Boelkes is the author of the following award-winning books: 

Gift for Listeners: send Deb a message from the contact page at Enter code, “Women on Top 50” in the message, you will be able to purchase an autographed copy of Deb’s book, Women on Top at 50% off.    

About the Show

Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey with Dr. Michelle St Jane

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Intro: [00:00:00] You're listening to Life and Leadership: A Conscious Journey. The podcast that shares wisdom and strength. Join your host, Dr. Michelle St Jane's conversation on how to have a positive impact for people, planet, and the wider world. If you want to live a life of intention, to be proactive with your time, and bring your vision for the future to life one today at a time, you’re in the right place at the right time. Let's get started.

Michelle St. Jane: [00:00:39] Deb Boelkes, leadership expert, author of a four books series, and an entrepreneur whose mission is to help leaders and be our organizations to be the best places to work. 

I think Deb Boelkes superpowers and she's confessed to the first one: 

🦸🏻‍♀️ her poker face; and

🦸🏾‍♀️ her deep vein of confidence and 🦸🏼‍♀️ willingness to share her wisdom. 

A good reminder to you: explore your 🦸🏼‍♀️ superpowers 🦸🏾‍♀️ too.

The third book is just for you Women on Top. Deb asks:

🤔what's keeping you from executive leaders. 

On this topic, we have a heart-to-heart conversation. 🤔Why? 

Well, Deb shares an interesting statistic. While 38 of the fortune 500 CEOs are women. A record high

That's only 7.6% of the total. 

🤔What's keeping women from executive leaders.

Do you want to know? I want to know! Life and leadership as a conscious journey, hop on board with Deb and align with her vision: 

💡 Creating the best places to work for women progressing their potential. 💡

Deb's going to share many valuable leadership lessons here. 

Deb, I think you and I have done a lot of what I like to call surfing 🌥️ with the angels, those long-haul flights on business trips 🌥️.  You know more about the inside of hotel rooms than the country.

When I was reading a part of your book, what came to my mind was like thinking about Soul Prints. Soul Purpose, when I heard your story [00:02:02] about your mid 🌥️ flight awakening in 2003, can you share with the audience, please? 

Deb Boelkes: [00:02:07] Thank you for having me, Michelle, I'm delighted to be here today. 

As you said, I've spent a lot of my life on airplanes 🛫 flying across the country. I've spent almost 30 years in Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 leadership in the technology industry. A rather male-dominated environment. 

I have to say: 

💞I loved every day of my career. 

💞I loved being in that environment. 

💞I loved all the people I worked with.

Throughout my career, I spent a lot of time in ✈️ planes. Towards the end of my career, I was traveling across North America, talking to CEOs, VPs, C-level officers, and VPs of major organizations. Helping them navigate through regulatory issues that were impacting them.

After this one meeting, in particular, I sat down on the plane, you decompress, and you think back on the events of the day. I'm usually thinking about:

🤔What could I have done better? 

🤔What could I do differently next time? 

Usually, I'm fairly satisfied with the day's events.

But the one thing that struck me that day was: 

🤔once again, I'm like the only woman in the room. 

🤔Why is that? 

I reflected over the course of my life. 

From the time I went to graduate school, got my MBA in management information systems. My MBA, while it's in business, it's technical aspects of that.

I was one of the few women in that particular program. Then as I went through, I was really blessed to not only have some great male mentors all throughout my career, and I'm very grateful for that, I also had some amazing women who I was so blessed to report too. 

Honestly, if it hadn't been for the first woman who talked me into changing my career path from the technical area, I was a systems engineer in a customer-facing role in engineering and helping design technology solutions for our clients, and one day she brought me in and said, “Oh, by the way, your sales rep, who you support has quit.” But the total surprise to me. I had no idea that was going to happen. Then she said, “I'd like you to take his job.”

I thought “You must be kidding!” She went on to say, “You don't seem to understand the reason that sales rep is our number one sales rep in the entire area, making more money than anybody else more successful than anyone else, getting all the awards for the sales team is really because of you and it's what you do with the customers.”

It blew me away because I never saw myself in a sales role. I thought I am the person who's kind of behind the scenes. The sales rep knocks on the doors. I could not see myself as a door opener.

Fast forward. I decided, “Oh, well, what the heck? I'll give it a try, you know, worst case. I'll just go back to doing what I'm doing.”

The rest was history. As you can imagine, I moved into sales. I was highly successful. 

Then again, on that✈️ flight, I started thinking through: 

🤔 How did I get to where I was? 

Never, once in my entire career felt that I was ever held back in any way. I felt anything I wanted to do I was able to make happen.

I went up the line through technology sales, moved into professional services, ran organizations nationwide, and global organizations towards the end. 

Fortunately, I had incredible women who I was lucky enough to report to along the way who became good friends of mine. Who were also really great sponsors for me. Who pushed me.

The last one I had some people said “Don't work for them. Oh, my gosh, don't work for that person. She's really difficult to work for.” Honestly, I found her one of the most amazing women ever. I was so blessed to have her in my career. She and I were really going up line together.

I had a wonderful career in the technology industry. 

After being in, once again, a boardroom meeting with the CEO and other C-level executives and being the only woman in the room, aside from the executive assistant who poured the coffee and made sure that the light bulb was in the projector and all those things, I thought something is really wrong. I need to do something about it.

Looking back over and thinking of all the amazing women I've worked with throughout my life and how many women I started my career with, even though I didn't go to school with a lot of them, there were a lot of women who were in the entry-level first-line managers in major corporations back in the day. We had lots of great leadership development training. But they somehow disappeared as you started moving up the line. 

I knew a lot of the men would say, “Well, women want to have children. They want to stay home and raise their families.” Yes, we do. We have the ability to raise our children and go to work.

You can raise your children, be a great mom or a great dad, still go to work and have a great career. 

Something came over me. I know Michelle, you and I have talked about it, and you read about it in my story, in the book. 

It was a God kind of experience. All of a sudden something comes over you and says, “This has got to be your mission in life. This is why you were put on this earth for this. You are going to address this issue and you are going to help accelerate advancement for women to senior leadership. You're going to help women maximize their potential.” 

Not that everybody wants to be the top dog and I understand. That's okay.

The thing is, we all need to maximize our potential and that's what I'm about. 

Michelle St. Jane: [00:07:50]. I appreciate the way you share your soul purpose.  How it was this awakening. This inspiration, this sense of direction. 

This quiet voice saying:

🤔 Are you noticing the composition of the boardroom? 

🤔 Are you noticing how comfortable you are in this setting?

🤔 There's more that you could do.

Interestingly, your 2003 awakening was very similar to one I had around the same time. Then I pivoted out of being in the C-suite to starting a social enterprise law firm. 

I wanted there to be more women lawyers. More successful women in the C-suite. I realized that I could contribute to education.

I taught law, business, and risk management. I also wanted to be providing accessibility to education and to the corporate world. 

I really resonate with your story. The same thing happened to me. I was good at my job. I loved what I'm doing. But found I was not quite dissatisfied. There's more I could be doing that would have a wider impact or ripple out.  

I don't know who I thought I was. I decided to start the social enterprise law firm before it even had a name for the type of vehicle it was. That came three years later when I attended a symposium at Oxford University in the UK.

I just knew I had to do it. And I went off and I started doing it. People thought I was crazy. I quite understand. Sometimes the call comes and has such a push behind it. It needs to be done. 

By 2006, you're now leaping into entrepreneurship and efficacy. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

How did you make the transition? 

What was your, why?

Deb Boelkes: [00:09:23] My why? After that plane ride, I was thinking through these things, I continued working in the corporate world for a while. 

You'll have to read the book to see what that one thing was that actually got me to finally decide, “Okay, I'm departing the corporate world now, and I'm going to focus on this.”

Honestly, when I left the corporate world, I knew the objective. I knew the why. 

Do something to help accelerate advancement for women. 

I didn't know how. 

I didn't know what that thing would look like. What would I do? 

I certainly didn't have any misgivings about jumping in with both feet.

In fact, I had a male mentor at the time who was the CEO of a large cosmetics company everybody knows. I was having this conversation with him, and said “I know this sounds really strange, but it's like, I have to do this.” He said, “when you feel like that, you do have to do that. You will never be satisfied if you don't do that.”

I went out and fortunately, it was at a time shortly after the big 2008 financial crisis. There were a lot of amazing people who are out of work. Both men and women who at the senior levels were suddenly not working anymore because of that financial crisis. A lot of well-known companies went out of business during that period.

I was able to sync up and meet actually some women who were incredible vice-presidents of information technology, chief financial officers. Women were in the big four accounting firms, leading professional services organizations, and so on. I went to them and told them, here's what I want to do.

First of all, I want to figure out: 

What is holding women back? 

What is keeping women from moving into senior leadership roles?

This book had been going on in my mind for a long time, over 10 years now. I said to these women:

Help me understand if we could reel it back and go back to earlier in our lives.

What is something that we wished we had had before we started this climb? 

What could we have had given to us that would have made that journey faster, easier, allowed us to have more confidence to move forward? 

Together with them, we came up with the idea to have an organization that would be a peer mentoring program.

At the time I had spent my whole life in Fortune 100 and Fortune 500, the world of the big companies. I wasn't very familiar with, infrastructure and support systems that were available for smaller companies. 

There are organizations where CEOs of small to mid-sized companies get together and they become their own support infrastructure. They become board members for each other. 

They can talk about the challenges that they're having. What the others would advise doing, “Hey, don't try that because I did that, and here's the downfall of it.” 

We came up with a concept like that, an organization like that. Where we had different programs for women at different steps on the career ladder. We realized you have different needs and different questions when you're just being looked at early in your career as a potential manager, a manager candidate. You're in one place then. Once you get into management, you find out what it’s not what I thought it was. 

A lot of people find out they're not cut out to be managers. Other people just really gravitate to it. But it's a whole different animal moving from being an individual contributor to a first-line manager and then moving into mid-level management. That's a totally different animal too because now you're not the direct manager saying, “Okkay, go do this. Here's what you should do consider doing that.” 

Now your job is really interrelating with other organizations and figuring out how to best work together with other organizations. You don't have these silos going on. That's a different set of challenges when you move up to the more senior ranks and you're reporting directly to the CEO. There are issues dealing with that.

A lot of women have a real hard time. To walk into that boardroom and you are now expected, you think, “I have to know everything now.” We hold ourselves back from that in particular. 

Then there's when you are a CEO. Now you're alone. Now, who do you go? How do you mentor yourself or who do you get to mentor you?

We realized that there are all these different things that needed to be done for women at different steps in the ladder. 

We created an organization called Business Women Rising. We had peer mentoring programs for women at different steps on the career ladder. Best thing I ever did in my life, it was the most fulfilling thing I have ever done.

I would still be doing this today if it weren't for the fact that my husband was diagnosed with late-stage three cancer. That was an inflection point in our lives.  I took a different direction, but my purpose in life didn't die. 

My purpose in life never changed. I just had to find a different way to go about it and through it all. The company that I founded was originally Business Women Rising. We quickly found out after a year or two, that companies were very concerned about putting just their women in a program.

We’ve got to have equality. We need to have the same things for men and women. We changed the name of the company to Business World Rising. Still the same acronym, same website, but Business World Rising

We kept our original mission, accelerating advancement for women, by helping women become their biggest version of their best. To maximize their potential, maximizing the potential of business and organizations, even if it's the military or wherever it happens to be, that is the world rising. Hence the name, Business World Rising, which has had a much longer life and continues on 

Michelle St. Jane: [00:15:29] So much wisdom there. Deb. I really appreciate that you can see how your career went. 

I know you did fashion design. There's this beautiful creativity into business, to serve, and to contribute. I love the fact that you were willing to allow the Business Women Rising, to become a more diverse group that included all gender. We still need to know how to get along with others.

Over the centuries men have learned at the men's knees. Basically, by being in the office, running the errands, carrying the golf bag. That's how men tend to mentor men. Through the buddy system. They're not that comfortable with doing that with women.

Not all men are anyway. It's wonderful that Business World Rising now teaches how to be in leadership with women as opposed to competing. 

I'm really delighted that you're writing the books. That's another whole new skill set translating all your wisdom into words.

Did this come about by chance or by choice? 

Deb Boelkes: [00:16:39] Well, it started by choice. As we developed Business Women Rising, initially, one of the things that we needed to help women mentor each other. 

We deliberately brought together all our members from all the different groups twice a year. Into what we called an exchange, that that would be an all-day event where we had amazing speakers who would talk about leadership issues that women, no matter what level you're at, these are issues we all struggle with.

Twice a year, we would bring everyone together and we would deliberately mix CEOs with the first-line managers and the mid-level level. Everybody would sit together at their tables. We would have 150 people at these events. It was incredible. I learned quickly, both from doing the individual sections as well as these exchange events that I needed a way to impart my leadership philosophy on the women who were coming into our program. 

Eventually, the guys would come into the program because my leadership philosophy was a little bit different than some companies evolved into overtime. I really believe that everybody needs to be doing what they love to do.

Love what you do and do what you love. What I always found throughout my entire career anytime we were having a challenge with an individual or between departments or whatever, it was because somebody wasn't happy with what was going on. They weren't happy doing what they were doing. They were doing the best they could, but when you're not doing what you really love and you're struggling to get it done, you have this internal battle going on and that comes out and you start battling other people as well. 

I wanted to write the book on how to accelerate advancement for women. I realized I needed to back up and impart my philosophy on: 

🤔How to lead a great organization, no matter who you are, 

🤔How do you create a workplace where people love to be there, they line up to get in and they would never want to work anyplace else, and where people thrive because they always are focusing.

🤔What more can I do? 

🤔What can I do next that I would really love to do? 

🤔How can we help that individual move forward? 

That whole concept killed two birds with one stone:

💡 I needed to write a book on: how do you love where you work? 

That was always one of the first things we would ask women who came into our program. 

Without really asking the questions: 

🤔 Are you happy where you are? 

🤔Do you love what you do? 

We would have dialogue: 

🤔 If you're not loving what you're doing, what would you rather be doing? 

🤔 If you can do anything in the universe, what would that look like?

I spent a career helping people think through those issues and then moving them along to wherever they could do that. If it wasn't in my own organization, often it was, but sometimes. We ended up writing, not just one book, but two on:

💡 How to have the best place to work culture? 

💡How can you change the culture of a company?

If it's not something that's really the best that it could be right now. 

💡How can you do that? 

💡Where you are right now?

You don't have to be the CEO. You can just change your little world.

💡How do you do that? 

That became my first book, called The WOW FactorWorkplace: HowtoCreatea BestPlacetoWork Culture.

Surprisingly, a lot of people had no idea what the best place to work even looked like. Many people said, I nearly never loved where I worked. I just had to have a job. And [00:20:20] so you mean there really are great places to work. And when you find I, yes, there really are great places to work out there, but they are few and far between. You must know where to look. You must know the questions to ask, to make sure that that's what you get into when you move into one.

If your workplace isn't one. How do you make it right? 

That first book helped people understand what a great place to work can and does look like. There are different kinds. It's not just one industry. 

Then the second book, we dug a little deeper into the real challenges that leaders must transform a company into a great place to work. That's where my second book came in, which is called HeartfeltLeadership: Howto CapturetheTopSpotandKeeponSoaring

This helps you wherever you're at the beginning of the ladder, moving up the ladder and then even when you're at the top. How do you keep going and making it better and better and better?

There's where the concept came from. There's where I've gone in. And now I'm stepping back in and writing those books just for women to help them literally get out of their own way so they can maximize their potential and use their superpowers as you said and create that WOW Factor Workplace. 

Michelle St. Jane: [00:21:24] I think it's a good read for men I plan on recommending your book to some of the CEOs that I know who are very inspired by diversity and inclusion and equality in their leadership. Something that they put their values behind and encourage. 

I want to move on to education. I really love your books because they have this really amazing group of an incredibly rich vein of personal and real-life stories by down to earth highly successful C-suite women. I love the diversity and how they speak to education there as well. Lots of people think if I haven’t got an education, I can't do these things. 

Your journey started as a fashion designer. Then your MBA.

How did you make these choices? What drove you to do it? 

Deb Boelkes: [00:22:12] That's interesting. I've probably had no more thought than the least person among us about what will I do when I go to college. I just knew my parents told me you will go to college. 

My mother and father both went to college. They were first-generation in their family to go to college. In fact, their parents had a sixth-grade education. That was it. They became very successful business people. 

I didn't really know what I was going to do when I went to college. I was really good at math. My father helped me as a young girl. Actually, he taught me trigonometry, calculus. All these things I was doing at a very young age. 

When it came time to go to college, I thought, well, I'll be a math major. I know, I know. There are not very many people that do that, and I can be different.  

My father also said, but you need to get into a computer. This was back in the early 1970s. He said that's kind of the way of the future. He didn't have a computer that ran his company. In fact, in summers I would work for him as a bookkeeper, helping do it. My dad was an accountant by trade. He taught me to do that. 

I thought, “Okay, well, I'll be a math major. I'll study computers.”

I went to UCLA. I was accepted to the University of California, Los Angeles. I became a double major math computer science major. I was like the only woman in that program, which, you know, from some perspectives you could think, “Wow, what a great opportunity.” And it was fine. It was interesting.

After a year I realized I don't love this. By then my mother had passed away. My father had kind of left the coop. He kind of left on my own. I just knew I don't love this. I could not see. I didn't have a mentor. I didn't have anyone to talk to at the time to help me see what I could do with it.

If somebody had said, “Hey, you could work for Cal Tech, you can be a rocket scientist. You can!” I couldn't see it.  I didn't know what I was going to do.  

I was in a sorority house, I talked to some of the girls in my sorority because none of them were math majors, but one of them was a design major.  She said, “do you like the design? Everybody in that sorority house knew I made my own clothes. I loved doing that. I would make party clothes. I would do custom things for them. 

The idea came to me. Well, I could be a fashion designer because I would do custom things. Anyway, I would buy these patterns. I would make clothes, then I'd interchange the colors and make them my own. 

What really drove me to make this change was my father had told me he would pay for two years of college. That was it. After two years I was on my own. I had already wasted a whole year. I only had one more year it's worth the money.

To pay for my room and board tuition and all of that. I had to do something. I found out that I could get an AA in fashion design at the end of two years. Oh, by the way, they would give me credit for that year at UCLA, even though it wasn't in fashion design, it was in math. You've always got to know extra things you've got to take.

I could get a two-year AA and then get out and get a job. The good news was I lived in Los Angeles. At the time there were a lot of clothing manufacturers, design houses in downtown Los Angeles. 

It was a kind of survival. I only had two years that I could go to college and have it paid for. I needed to get out and get to work because I had no money.

Michelle St. Jane: [00:25:16] I can see that. You're very strategic. 

I can relate to this. My first degree was in law. So linear, so lacking in creativity. Drove me crazy. I was quite the rule breaker because my creative thinking was like, you could've challenged the decision this way or that way. 

I love the fact that you went on and did your MBA, and kind of went back into the management information systems.

I also appreciate the fact:

🧠 A bachelor's tells the world that you know how to think, 

🧠 A master's sees, you're an expert in a certain area, and 

🧠 A doctorate means you contribute knowledge.

You take a great position in your book. A Ph.D. is really required in the C-suite and in fact, it can be a detriment.

I totally agree with you on that because I decided to do my Ph.D. at 50. I chose to do that because, at 50, I thought, what if I've got another 80 years ahead of me. I'm not looking to retire anytime soon. I'm not going to fit anywhere. I need to create my own niche. My thought leadership. I also wanted to contribute to the world's knowledge base because I didn't see the research there in the areas that I felt needed attention.

Very similar to your 2003 aha moment. My next aha moment when I decided to do my doctorate in 2012. I'm really glad I did. 

One of the things I had to wrestle with there was if I wanted to go back into the corporate world, It was going to be a detriment because I wasn't in sciences.

I wasn't in the areas where research was monetized because it was all my thinking and positioning. So, I just made the commitment to do it because I wanted to contribute to the knowledge base. 

A good point that you make in your book is that a lot of people are racing around adding degrees. But they may not be contributing to what really is needed.

I want to come back to the personal. You mentioned this life event that happened that again, pivoted you out of the work world. I think it's important for listeners to hear that people matter. 

If you choose to pivot out to care for family or for things that need to be caring for. Rather than counting them as a detriment. 

Perhaps we can see that there was a lot of value in taking these steps. A lot of integrity, a lot of things there Big and are justice much as important to serving the world as the bottom line? 

Would you like to speak to that? 

Deb Boelkes: [00:27:35] Absolutely. You know, one of the things that I have told people who've reported to me over the years, as well as the people who were in our program and business women and Business World Rising is that: 

Every moment of your life You are a role model. 

Whether you think about it or not.

Whether you notice it or not, other people are watching you all the time. Think about the people who are younger than you, who look to you. And if they respect you, they see every action. That's what a role model would do now. Sometimes a role models are not a good role model.

I had plenty who taught me I don't want to be that way.  They were still a role model and something. That's how we all learned to navigate, to do what we think is right.

I think you're referring to something I mentioned earlier. After I had established this company and things were going really well with accelerating advancement for women into leadership.

One day my husband came home, and he said, I have some not such good news. I said, “what's that. What happened?”

 I thought maybe he got fired or something. Which would have been a shock, but I was ready for that. Then he said, I just heard from the doctor, I have late stage three breast cancer.

What! You're a man, how could you have breast cancer?” It's like one in a thousand breast cancer cases are men, but he did. 

He had had a cyst that he had found four years earlier that they said, “No, don't worry about it. It's just this, this, you know, it'll go away.” But it just kept getting bigger.

I said, “Well, okay, so what does that mean?” Late stage three. I didn't even know anything about stages or anything. The last stage is four. Hey, this is not good, and it is really difficult to come back from stage four, at least with breast cancer. That was the situation.

As soon as he said that to me, and I thought of all the people that I've known in my life, and who's gone through cancer who survived and who didn't, how it was. You know, different cancers have different outcomes, and everybody has their own journey and story. I said, 

“Okay, You're the most important thing in my life.” 

I wasn't thinking about anybody else at the time and being a role model to anyone. It was just, 

“You are the most important thing in my life. And even though I've started this company and I'm passionate about it, I will not allow you to spend one day of this alone. I will be with you by your side every moment.” 

The next day, literally I contacted my team and I said, “I'm going to have to step out. I don't know if and when I'll come back, but you guys know what you're doing. You guys are awesome. That's why you're here. And I know you can do this and I'm depending on you. I'll be available by phone from time to time that I've got to be with my husband.”

I did. I mean, literally, I walked away. I spent virtually every day for a year with him, as he went through surgery. He had a double mastectomy. He had radiation. He had chemotherapy. He went through all of the things that women would do. We really didn't know going in. I thought, “Well, I'll be really grateful if we get the year together, thank my lucky stars.”

I thank God for every day that we do have. And it brought us really close. We've always had a wonderful marriage. He's my soulmate, my partner. We are going to enjoy every day to the fullest. 

That just becomes 100% your focus. That was an interesting experience. I learned a tremendous amount from this.

I hope as a result that I've served as a great role model to others to see that something that I learned. I'd never thought about it quite like it until then. 

I talk about it a lot now. That is learning every day to think about what is most important for me to do today. 

💡 Do not live with regrets. 

💡 Do not live a life that at the end of the day, you're going to regret that you did or didn't do something that was important that would have made a difference.

In your life and in somebody else's life. That whole experience just taught me, just: 

💡 Do the right thing. 

💡 Do what will allow you to feel good about what you're doing and not live with regrets. 

I could live if I never saw that company again. The world wouldn't go away. Women would still get to work, and my team was doing great.

I learned a lot about that. I'm so happy to be able to say that my husband two years ago passed the five-year mark. Which is kind of the big thing.  You want to get past five years. Although you kind of know, you never really get past it. You're always looking around the corner for that next experience.

That's what I learned out of that. And I don't regret a day of it. He's still the most important thing in my life and always will be. 

Michelle St. Jane: [00:32:08] So much wisdom and your statements. Such an important area to share because often as women we're caught between the people we've got to care for and who's caring for us and our inability to care has a huge impact on us.

I resonate with your story because I was widowed when I was 27 and my husband of 10 years died suddenly. I walked the last mile with him. That was my saving grace because he left me with the gift of knowing therein lies the gift it's called the present. Living every day like that. 

You're a shining example of how you get through these crises. You had a very beneficial outcome. You are able to enjoy the blessings of continuing such a beautiful relationship. You also get to share the story.

That, you know, you can come back and be just as successful in all the things that you need to be doing after these events. Taking care of yourself is of critical importance.    

Deb Boelkes: [00:33:03] Sometimes you just find how you're going to achieve what you believe is your purpose in life. You may change how you do that. They're always different ways to go about things. 

Now I'm writing these books and speaking. I'm very strategic about what kind of engagements I accept beyond just writing and being at home. Considering: 

💡 When am I going to go? 

💡 Where's it going to be? 

💡 Can I take my husband? 

💡 Will he enjoy this? 

I want him to be there with me if we're going to do it. If it's not something he wants to do, then you know what, we'll find another way to help that company out. Get another speaker. I'll do it in a different way. 

It's helped me to be much more strategic about what I do. I've always been pretty strategic anyway, but this has really helped me up to my game and be strategic about how I live my life. And I hope that other people can learn from. 

Michelle St. Jane: [00:33:48] Absolutely. These events could have happened at any stage of life. Mine happened in my twenties and then I had another, in a similar vein to my thirties, and another huge crisis that happened in my late forties. Life is spiraling up and down. We can still head towards our soul's purposes in the ways that we need to.

Deb, I'm really excited to be sharing your book and I'm just so grateful for your time today. Thank you. 

Deb Boelkes: [00:34:14] Thank you so much for having me. It's been a blessing to be here.

Outro: [00:34:23] Dr. Michelle St Jane is a conscious steward as meaningful leadership in the world and the wider cosmos. Tune in for real talk around life, leadership, and your conscious journey. Be ready to create and cultivate your dreams and wholehearted desires. Your support is valued. Please follow, subscribe, leave a review and a rating. More importantly, share with your connections.

Reach out.  I am interested to hear from you. Do you have a topic you'd like to explore? It would be great to have your feedback.

Dr. Michelle St Jane

Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey 

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Deb Boelkes


Leadership Expert | Award-winning Author | Keynote Speaker Fortune 100 to Entrepreneur | Creating Best Places to Work