Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 3/13/20-
Where did you learn your leadership skills?
Honestly, it’s a combination of everything. The first person I learned leadership from is my dad. He is a retired full bird colonel in the US Army and led thousands of soldiers in Iraq. He is also a Chief Human Resources Officer for a Fortune 500 company and leads an HR Team of thousands. What I learned from him in terms of leadership is the importance of training your team with the right tools and skills to be effective in their job and to take care of your people. He always says that you must make sure your people feel valued, appreciated, respected for the work that they are doing and to say thank you. My mom was a great example of leadership as well. She was a 2nd-grade teacher for decades and ran our household. My mom always leads with empathy, compassion, thoughtfulness, generosity, and love. You can always count on my mom to lend an encouraging ear of support and love. Always thinking of ways to make our lives better by her thoughtfulness. It’s these amazing examples that have helped to shape my own leadership in addition to the leadership training I have received over nearly two decades. In the past 18 years of being in the workforce, I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly of leadership. It is my passion to help support the bad and the ugly to be better.
Share your background. What led you to become a certified mindfulness and emotional intelligence trainer?
Oh man, this is quite the long story, but I will try to give you the shortest version possible. I have quite a diverse background. Here it goes…
Right out of undergrad, I became a French Teacher. I studied abroad, lived in France, taught French and realized I was disciplining kids more than I was actually teaching French. Thus, I switched gears and became a “legal drug dealer” 🙂 (The next logical step) — I worked in pharmaceutical sales selling cardiovascular medications for Pfizer for 6 years. With the downturn of the economy, I ended up getting laid off with Pfizer and went back to school to get a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership. I decided I wanted to work in more mission based work , so I switched gears again. I worked in the nonprofit sector for several years in Philadelphia. Then I got an opportunity that moved me from Philadelphia to Boston to work in international education. I would be in a leadership role, managing a team and a study abroad operation across regions of Florida and Chicago. I was thrilled and LOVED my job. However, during my first year at this company, my boss whom I loved moved to a different department and the new boss decided to switch gears and I got laid off for the 2nd time.I was devastated. I fell into a dark place because I had just moved my entire life to Boston only for it to not work out after a year.
It hurt. I worked really hard that year, built a team that worked so well together and till this day we are still in touch. I had to move back home with my parents at 35 years old. I was not married, I had no kids and unemployed. It was embarrassing, devastating, and I felt like a total loser. It was awful. I needed to get out of this depressive funk, so I happened to search online for mindfulness classes. It just so happened that that day was the last day to sign up for an 8-week course. So I did it. After a little frustration with mindfulness, I began to see how it helped me to be more focused, centered, grounded, and present. It helped me to be present enough to notice my thoughts and how negative they were and how those negative thoughts were holding me back.
I began to get more interested and went on (2) 10 Day silent meditation retreats in which I meditated for 10 hours a day for 10 days. I applied to get certified in a program founded out of Google called Search Inside Yourself that blend mindfulness + emotional intelligence + neuroscience. I was accepted, went through the year-long program and received my certification.
Now at 39, I run my own business, own my own home and have worked with Fortune 500 companies such as DuPont, SAP, Procter & Gamble, and many others. I work with individuals, small businesses, nonprofits and school districts. I have a team of coaches that I work with and an incredible intern. I could not have done all of this without meditation and the tools to support the emotional roller coaster ride of being an entrepreneur. As a trainer, I teach people how to use these same tools that have helped me. We all suffer from anxiety, stress, disappointments, emotional trauma and more. These tools help us get through our day in a much more productive way. Everyone can benefit from a meditation practice.
What does mindfulness and emotional intelligence mean to you?
The most simple definition of mindfulness means to be present in any given moment. If you notice one inhale and one exhale you have already meditated. If you notice the sounds, sights around you that can be meditation.
Emotional Intelligence means knowing what your thoughts, feelings, and emotions are at any given moment. It is also being aware of other people’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Then, it is being able to decipher between your feelings, their feelings and be able to figure out your next most productive move.
It takes work, it takes continuous practice and to be honest, it’s a lifelong journey.
What challenges have you overcome?
A lot. But, the most meaningful challenges as it relates to my career were mentioned in my story above. Being laid off for the 2nd time was a brutal blow to my ego, self-esteem, self-worth, self-confidence, self-image etc… Not being where society expects you to be was crushing. At the age of 35 living with my parents, having no job, no kids, no marriage, not even a boyfriend was rough, depressing, shameful, and embarrassing.
It was through meditation that helped me to see that it was the thoughts in my head that were holding me back. It was repeating this story in my head that I am “not good enough”, I am “not smart enough”, I have done too many different things in my life, no one will hire me– kind of thoughts. Being aware of this, and seeing how these thoughts were not helping me get any further helped me to become more aware and overcome these self-sabotaging thoughts.
What led you to launch Mindset Strategies, LLC ?
What led me to launch Mindset Strategies, is the realization that no one teaches you how to deal with the emotional rollercoaster in the workplace. It does not matter, how many degrees you have, MD, JD, Masters, Ph.D or no degree, no one teaches you how to deal with a difficult boss, no one teaches you, how to deal with challenging colleagues or the emotions of when you do not get that promotion or the email from your boss or colleague that makes you angry before you even read it. No one teaches you tools to deal with workplace emotions and I want to live by Gandhi’s quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. So, I am being the change and created Mindset Strategies to help people with their “mindset” when encountering challenges in the workplace.
“I realized, no one ever teaches you how to deal with the emotions as it relates to being laid off. No one will ever teach you how to deal with stress in the workplace or at least give you the tools to manage very specific situations.”
Mindset Strategies is an elite leadership development consulting firm. What makes you stand out?
Honestly, what makes us stand out is our leadership training process. In that you will see how we deeply care about all employees from entry-level to executive, (provide one-on-one coaching), fully listen and advise.
Let me break it down for you.
Our process: We work with clients for 12 months or longer in a very specific structure. This structure incorporates a monthly training session, one-on-one coaching with employees of all levels. This is what makes us unique and unlike many other firms as executive coaching is only reserved for executives. We believe that all levels could use a coach, not just executives. Lastly, we are business advisors and support senior leadership by providing clear and sound advice on the best course of action and support in areas of resource development etc…
This structure is repeated each month with new tools learned and building on the last concepts to increase the leadership skills (self-awareness, self-management, motivation, resilience, empathy, difficult conversations, compassion) of our clients. At the end of each month we measure our results on the core competencies, collect data on how employees are progressing with their goals, the tools, and the company’s bottom line. There are no leadership training firms that I know of that have the structure and process that we have created to help guide our clients with the tools that will help them to be successful.
Share a mindful strategy that has helped many leaders.
One mindful strategy or tool that we like to teach is a minute to arrive. This is probably our most loved tool and most practiced. Oftentimes we are bouncing from one meeting to the next, one phone call to the next, perhaps one city to the next and certainly the commute of going to work and going home. We are constantly moving and rarely ever take a moment to settle ourselves before we get into the next thing.
A minute to arrive is just that. Literally taking 60 seconds to just sit in silence, notice the weight of your body, notice your breath as it is keeping you alive, set an intention for how you want to show up in the next thing and off you go. By doing this exercise you might notice that you are calmer, more present, perhaps sleepier than you were before (that is ok, by the way, it is your body telling you that you need more sleep). But it just helps to prepare you to be more focused going into the next thing. Perhaps the next time you are coming home from work, take a minute to arrive in your car before you go into the house, or take a minute on the train or subway, or right in front of your door before you put the key in, whatever it takes– just try it.
Then let me know how it goes 🙂
What do you believe that you bring that no other trainer brings?
It’s hard to say, as I do not know what other trainers bring and don’t bring. What I do know is that I practice what I preach, I embody the practice of mindfulness and meditation as much as I can. I am human, I make mistakes, I am not always mindful and I have feelings of anxiety, stress, frustration, just like the next person. But I also have the tools to help me through tough times and do not get bothered by things (as much). I take a lot of things in stride, including the coronavirus. This too shall pass… Embodying the practice of mindfulness is so important and what anyone should look for in any trainer. I try to be a role model of what mindfulness can look like in an individual. It’s a tall order, but I try my best and practice every day. It truly is a lifelong journey.
What has been the greatest lesson that you have learned?
The greatest lesson that I have learned is the lesson of patience. I learn this lesson EVERY SINGLE DAY. We live in a fast-paced world where we want everything right now, instantly, and if it takes longer than we expect we are easily angered, frustrated, and could potentially flip our lid. Not having patience only adds to the stress in our lives, adds to the angst, and takes away our joy and happiness instantly if there was any happiness to begin with.
If we can master the art of being patient we are on our way of living a much happier and peaceful life.
You are the host of the online TV show called Mindset on RVNTV.TV. Share your mission.
The mission and purpose of the show Mindset is to inspire and empower others to push past their self-defeating thoughts and keep pushing through. The people that I interview on the show weekly tell their stories of how they have done this, in hopes of inspiring others through their story.
Who have been your favorite guests?
One of my favorite guests was, Aurora Archer an Afro -Latina woman and Kelly Croce Sorg a white woman. They are the founders of a podcast called Opt-In a safe space to talk about race in the 21st century. They talked about how their friendship deepened when they read a book called “White Fragility” that was written by a white woman– Robin Diangelo on race in America. It was an incredibly fascinating conversation on the white perspective on race leveraging the concepts presented in “White Fragility” and how racism whether we see it or not is pervasive and omnipresent. I would highly recommend reading that book, checking out their podcast and our show here. https://rvntv.tv/its-all-about-mindset-2/?channel=its-all-about-mindset
As far as what I look for in guests, I look for anyone that wants to tell their story and “Mindset” of how they have pushed through tough times in their life. It can be anyone from an entrepreneur or a high powered executive. If you want to share and tell your story, please reach out to me.
Facebook: Chantelle Fitzgerald