If you have been following my recent posts on the impact of the pandemic, you'll know my pet focus of late is the impact of stress and trauma on our mental health and well-being.
The bad news is it's not good. Stress and trauma can negatively impact our health.
But the good news is not only are there things that we can do about this stress (more on that later) and that there can be a light at the end of the tunnel, even in the darkest of times! Charlene's story is living proof of that light!
I am delighted to share the following Guest Blog Featured Interview with the very wonderful Charlene Walters. She is truly nothing short of a shining light for anyone who feels lost in the dark! I don't say this lightly! If you are anything like me, you naturally gravitate to people who inspire you to live your best life, strive to be your best self, and keep the faith even when things seem incredibly difficult.
Not only did Charlene lose the love of her life in a tragic accident, but she went on to finish her Ph.D. while raising two little ones as a single mother. She has since published an extraordinary book on female entrepreneurship, is the host of her own TV show, and has another book on the way. Charlene is not just an outstanding, talented, and beautiful woman; she is an inspiration for us all! Charlene is the real deal Everyday Hero! Everyday people. Extraordinary lives!
Life After Loss
You have mentioned in our previous blog post about being in the middle of doing your Ph.D. at the time your husband passed away. Can you describe a little more about what it was like at the time to find yourself bereaved and yet still somehow manage to go on with your studies? How did you manage to do this and cope? What gave you strength?
You know, I think we just deal with what we are handed in life sometimes, and that’s what I did. It was hard, sad, challenging, and didn’t seem fair. It often still doesn’t, but the silver lining in all of it was that I didn’t have time to feel sorry for myself with two young toddlers and a heavy load. I had to worry about them and how I would support them moving forward. My main focus since that day has been on my girls and my career which explains my lagging love life.
As far as the Ph.D., I initially took a few months off before going back to it. I had to carve time out of my schedule to get it done. I hired nannies so that I could work on my dissertation and finish it. I think the fact that I was so busy helped me cope with the grief in many ways, perhaps even delaying it. When I was writing my memoir, I was sort of amazed by all that was swirling around me at that time.
The day I defended my dissertation was so cathartic. It was symbolic of the fact that everything was going to be okay. I fought back tears as I presented my last couple of slides and still tear up when I think about it.
Congratulations on the recent publication of your phenomenal new book, Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur: 10 Mindset Shifts for Women to Take Action, Unleash Creativity, and Achieve Financial Success. When did the inspiration find you for this project and how did you tackle it? Can you share with our readers the elevator pitch for your new book? What was the most difficult part of the process of bringing your book into the world? What was/is the most rewarding? Do you have a favourite chapter? If so, why? You were also writing another – Own Your Other – prior to publication of Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur - is this project still on the go?
I have written and published a new book called Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur: 10 Mindset Shifts for Women to Take Action, Unleash Creativity and Achieve Financial Success (McGraw Hill). People had been telling me that I should write a business book for years, but I was focused on other things. I have a background in higher education and previously developed and led a digital entrepreneurship MBA program. During that time, I really became inspired working with and mentoring other entrepreneurs, formulating the curriculum, and being immersed in that environment. I began doing more writing and speaking on topics related to entrepreneurship and eventually settled on the idea of writing a book on entrepreneurial mindset because there’s such a strong correlation between mindset and success.
When I looked at the other books already on the market, I noticed that there weren’t many books aimed at mindset for female entrepreneurs (fempreneurs) specifically so that is where I decided to focus. So many women are the primary breadwinners for their families- more than 40% of all women! I’m one of them and want to help others like me as I feel that entrepreneurship could be a great option for them.
The elevator pitch for my book is this:
Entrepreneurship has always skewed male- from availability of funding to how-to books that assume a primarily male audience. And yet, 42 percent of all small business or franchise owners are women and there are 13 million businesses contributing to more than $1.9 trillion in revenue. Now, with a fast-changing economy making traditional employment unsteady, there’s never been a better time for becoming a fempreneur.
In Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur, I provide you with the tools you need to successfully launch and grow your side hustle, start-up, or small business. You’ll find practical real-world advice necessary to create the opportunities you want by embracing ten mindset shifts including:
•Embracing an entrepreneurial attitude
•Cultivating financial confidence
•Branding and building presence
•Leveraging social media options
•Leading your start-up
•Going into growth mode
•Rebooting, repeating, and avoiding burnout along the way
The most difficult part of the process for me has been my lack of experience- not understanding the publishing business and how it works. I’ve had to learn so much while doing it. It would have been so much easier if I had known more before I jumped off into the deep end.
The most rewarding part for me has been getting messages from people I don’t know who have really enjoyed my book and found it useful. That has really touched my heart, and it’s also so cool to see pictures of them reading it.
My favorite chapter is probably the one on embracing an entrepreneurial attitude or the one on organizing your time. Both are so vital to a successful outcome and have served me well as both an entrepreneur and a single mom.
My other book, the memoir, Own Your Other, is still so very near and dear to my heart. It is on hold for the moment but completely written. I plan to publish it in the not-so-distant future so stay tuned for that one.
Dealing with the Nasties
It’s such an important book and much needed because you address a massive gap in the market around fempreneurs. Something I found particularly interesting is the chapter on dealing with haters - I’m so glad someone is finally addressing this problem! This kind of conflict or negativity is often something that is not talked about. What was your inspiration for writing about this?
Dealing with haters is extremely difficult and women have a more challenging time with it than men. This is partially because we have been raised differently and are often held to higher standards than our male counterparts. We struggle with the need to be perfect before we put ourselves out there, and we are so often judged more harshly when we do.
Dealing with haters can be even harder if we are kind-hearted or sensitive. But the more successful we become, the more likely we are to have haters, so we have to learn to deal with them. Having those haters is actually a sign that we are starting to shine, and that others might be envious of our accomplishments.
I think my inspiration for adding this section is that I’ve often dealt with naysayers, critics, or people who were trying to compete with me. I’ve never enjoyed that type of intense environment. I don’t get particularly jealous of other people- generally speaking, I’m happy for them- so I’ve had to do some work on myself for when I run into the occasional hater who is coming for me. I’ve had to take a step back and analyze what was actually happening, realize that it has more to do with them than me, and try to figure out if I can take anything away from the interactions that can help me improve.
There are many obstacles and hurdles confronting entrepreneurs - both those who are starting out and those who are more established. Of the many qualities necessary to cultivate an appropriate mindset/s that can manage these challenges, what do you think is the single most important key to maintaining motivation in the new covid normal world that we now live in?
I would say that the single most important key to maintaining motivation in the new covid and post-covid world we live in is working on our resilience. We have to be flexible as people and entrepreneurs. When there is a change or a challenge, we must come up with Plan B, C, D, E, and F. We have to dig deep, get creative, and find a way to get over disappointments and obstacles. My resilience has always enabled me to keep moving forward during tough times- now and in the past.
Cutting through the noise
There is a fine line between being overly optimistic, maintaining a healthy positive attitude, and succumbing to the stresses of new ventures in the context of the global pandemic. For the new entrepreneur, how does one cultivate discernment when it comes to striking a balance between the hype and noise of inflated and unrealistic goals pushed by some motivational ‘gurus’ on the one hand, and on the other hand, the challenges and uncertainties of things like COVID-19 or any of the other difficulties they may face?
Yes, there should always be a healthy amount of skepticism and balance with anything. Nothing is all sunshine and rainbows in entrepreneurship or life. There will be ups and downs and things will often not work out like we wanted or expected them to. We have to remind ourselves that nothing worth having will happen overnight. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a long wait.
The best thing we can do to foster that balance is to find ways out of the ruts- coping strategies if you will. I’m not saying that you will never feel disappointed, let down, or insecure. You surely will (and that’s okay)- just don’t set up camp and live there. Figure out how you can reset yourself when you need to - whether it’s talking to a mentor or friend, taking the afternoon off, or hitting the gym. Whatever your own personal reset button is- have it handy for those tough times.
As someone who has both experienced enormous personal challenges as well as the current global crisis that we are all currently dealing with to varying degrees, how do you cope or deal with uncertainty? Are there any tips/suggestions for our readers who may find themselves in challenging situations from time to time?
Uncertainty has always been a challenge for me. I hate surprises and tend to get anxious about things that I have no control over. What often helps me is to try to put myself in the driver’s seat as much as possible. I find a way to do what I can to help ensure a positive outcome- the opposite of a victim’s mentality- whether that’s doing something to up my odds of success or implementing activities that lessen my stress like getting some exercise or spending some time outdoors or with friends. That’s what works for me. Hopefully, it will help others too.
Where do you find inspiration? Do you have a favourite inspirational quote, person, or role model that keeps you inspired when the going gets tough? Do you have a favourite movie?
I find inspiration from other people. I love meeting new acquaintances and friends, networking on social media, and getting involved with projects that are creative and that I’m passionate about. I also enjoy learning about others and finding out what they are up to.
In general, I’ve always been on the ambitious side, so I continue to raise the bar for what I consider to be success. My favorite quote, which I use all the time, is “God helps those who help themselves.” It’s so true. My mom always said it to me growing up and now I whisper it to myself when I’m sitting around waiting or am unhappy with a particular outcome. It’s my cue to get moving!
My favorite movie? I have so many! I love Always with Richard Dreyfuss and Holly Hunter, Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Crazy Stupid Love and so many more. Too many to name.
Coming Up Next
With Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur out in the world doing amazing things, what’s next for Charlene?
I just started hosting a new TV Show called Launch with Charlene Walters. It streams on Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV – M-F 9 AM EST on DB & A Television (and on-demand). You can also catch it on my website and on my Instagram and YouTube channels.
I’m also doing a bit of teaching, book promotions (of course), consulting and workshops. I also hope to get a couple more books out into the world- more to come on that! I’m sure there is other cool stuff in my future too and I’m looking forward to what’s next.