We're excited to let you know that Paradigm Shift NYC recently featured an interview with TWM Founder Kristina Leonardi on their blog where she talked to writer Kristen Verge about women’s empowerment, creating a nonprofit and the experience of being a career/life coach. Below is Part Two of that interview, click here for the entire piece on Paradigm Shift and Part One on CHICKS ROCK!
It happened very organically. Because of my own journey and mentoring many interns and volunteers, I realized I have a natural ability to get through people’s massive blocks and issues, heal any work/life imbalance and help them figure out their true calling. I’m really compassionate, understanding and loving in the way that I do my coaching, but I tell it like it is, which can sometimes be shocking to people! I have my own style and structure for how I work with folks— initial sessions are two hours in person with a forty-five minute follow-up phone call. I get to the essence of who you are very quickly and understand exactly where you’re at right now. Then I connect the dots of where you’ve been and determine what you truly want to do, where you really want to go – and ultimately who you want to be – and provide the tools and resources for how best to get there. After that initial session you have to do the work, but I am here to help guide and support you as much or as little as you want along the way. I also offer group coaching twice a month.
What are some of the issues that women, in particular, come to you with?
An epidemic I see for a lot of people, but especially women, is lack of self-worth and self-esteem. It might present itself as bad relationships, not earning enough money, a variety of health issues, but it’s always the root of the problem and has to do with not honoring and taking care of yourself. On some level we’re taught, as women, to take care of everyone and be selfless to a certain extent, but when you do that to the detriment of your own mental, physical and emotional health, you’re no good to anybody, and you can’t fulfill your own potential.
The biggest thing I try to do as a speaker and coach is to get people to know, accept and love who they are, and then make the effort and have the patience and persistence to become the best versions of themselves they can be. Another issue I find is that I often have to give my clients “permission” to rest. Especially living in New York City, it’s always about work work work, go go go: but you have to be able to relax, be still, have fun, and know that pleasure in and of itself is productive. You need to let your body be able to heal, and give yourself the time and space to think and feel.
What would you say is the most pressing issue facing women today?
Motherhood. The women’s movement gave us the opportunity to certainly be and do a lot more than we were able to before, but the workplace hasn’t really changed until recently, and only incrementally. So yes, you can have a career, but with kids you have at least two jobs—you’re trying to please everyone, you’re overcompensating and/or feeling guilty about both, and what’s left over for you? I think about and observe this a lot with friends and clients, but there’s no easy answer right now. Until the workplace radically changes, and the societal norm is such that women feel completely fine about and encouraged to take care of and put themselves first—you’re trying to be a good wife, mother, lover, friend, and employee? There are not enough hours in the day unless you are super-disciplined to carve out that time for yourself to recharge and do things that energize you.
And if you’re a stay at home mom, there are often identity issues, conflicted feelings about income generation and spending, whether you want a new career or to go back to your old job….I think motherhood is at least the American women’s issue of our time. And then there are fertility problems, when is the best time to have children in relation to your career, and how do you raise kids in this crazy world or make the conscious decision not to have them?!
Men are helping out more, but the natural default is always with the mother. It’s very complex; but at the end of the day each woman has to make choices that are best for her particular situation and create a structure that supports her own well-being.
As a career coach, are there any mistakes that you made early in your career that you regret now, or advice you would give?
It’s important to understand that you need to pace yourself and find a balance between pursuing your dream at any cost, which requires a certain amount of risk, sacrifice and belief in oneself and the process, and being too cautious. Early on I experienced some burn out because of how much of myself I invested with my time, energy and finances in TWM, but I might not have even tried if I knew what it would really require to bring my idea to life – so you always have to take that first step and see where it takes you. Being able to literally create something out of nothing is incredibly rewarding, and the fact that we what we did based on sheer will and chutzpah is pretty amazing, and I couldn’t be more proud.
All of the challenges – which are expected when you decide to really stretch yourself and step into the unknown – have taught me so much about myself, contributed to my own personal growth and profoundly informed me in my coaching and speaking work, so I wouldn’t be here now had I not gone that route and am very grateful for what I have and continue to learn. It’s been quite the journey and it gets more interesting every day, that’s for sure! So I guess you could say my advice is to always do the thing that you most want to do because you will surprise yourself with every success, and any problems or ‘mistakes’ will just be opportunities to grow.
Any words of wisdom to leave us with?
Personal transformation is the key to social transformation. I’m always connecting the individual to the whole. If you don’t have a peaceful, happy, fulfilled world in and of yourself, how can we expect world peace?
Click here for the entire interview on Paradigm Shift's blog.