When it comes to helping women build successful, purpose-driven careers no one knows more than Deb Owen. With her no nonsense approach to strategy implementation and results, Deb has helped women across many sectors turn their talents into marketable businesses. In the process she’s gained priceless insights into how women discover their purpose, align their careers with their values, and create lives that are authentic and fulfilling.
I recently had the honor of interviewing Deb, and know you’ll enjoy her depth, clarity and brutal honesty in our Q & A below as much as I did! 🙂
Q – It’s clear that you deeply believe women should “drop the mask” and live from a place of authenticity in order to do their best work and live with a sense of powerful integrity. What advice do you have for women who resonate with your message, but don’t actually know who they really are or what makes them unique?
A – Here’s a great truth that doesn’t get told often: you get to choose. We have much more freedom to write the story of our life than we think we do. The work begins by becoming aware of the story you’re living out now, versus the story handed down by our families, by society, in our workplaces. It begins by doing the work to become aware of thoughts, behaviors, feelings, values, and the places we’re out of alignment. We become aware of alternatives available to us in all those areas. We then begin to carefully cultivate what authenticity means for us — and live it.
However, a growing trend is the use of the pursuit of living authentically as an excuse or as a form of narcissism. We still live in community. Living authentically doesn’t mean you can start a business ‘being you’ when there isn’t something of value being offered and exchanged in the marketplace. It isn’t about over-sharing or attention-seeking, and using online community as a substitute for therapy. It’s much deeper than that.
I’m a firm believer that we find ourselves through community. It’s only in communion with other people that we gather the clues that tell us how we’re really living, those we resonate with, and the support to walk alongside others in our journey. If you want to find yourself, it won’t happen alone. It happens in community.
Living authentically is also not the end goal. It isn’t as though we arrive at a place of living authentically and stop. Living authentically becomes a consciously created path that is ever-evolving and ever-changing as we learn more and grow more.
As for what makes a woman unique, those gifts usually fall in areas that come naturally. People around you will give you feedback surrounding it. There’s a sense of ease, and people will tell you what they see in you. For example, I tend to be an encourager. It comes naturally and easily to me.
One way I became aware of this was through the many times people would thank me for encouraging them. This doesn’t mean that I can start a business encouraging. There’s not a market for that. It does mean, however, that I can then look for opportunities to provide encouragement or inspiration in my daily life — and play to one of my greatest strengths.
As for integrity, I believe that’s simple. Let your yes be yes — and your no be no.
Do what you say you’re going to do.
Q – Considering your diverse business experiences, why do you believe so many women are disenchanted with the classic corporate model and willing to leave high ranking positions to venture into the uncertainties of entrepreneurship?
A – It primarily has to do with culture above all else. Women entrepreneurs who leave corporate environments often report they wouldn’t go back, even if their income hasn’t risen to the same level. It’s toxic environments, and the realization that their values don’t match up with corporate values. In most corporate environments, the one who plays the best politics wins. When this happens, women begin to disengage, and seek other options.
They also often cite freedom and flexibility. While the transition from a corporate environment to being an entrepreneur is a difficult one requiring completely different skill sets, these women are confident they can create a way to do fulfilling work, often surpass their prior income, and still make a yoga class or pick up their children after school.
And yes. The way corporate environments are often structured in ways that work against the grain and values of many mothers out there is costing those corporations talent.
Higher pay, more vacation time, are all superficial solutions corporations use to address the talent drain, that don’t get to the core issues and root problems that are leading women to leave. Culture is a deeper and more difficult challenge to face, and harder to change. But it’s the biggest reason women are leaving a variety of sectors in the traditional workplace.
Q – Do you believe each of us has one purpose, one big “why” behind everything we do, or do we have many purposes that can change over time and circumstances?
A – I think your purpose is what you say it is. Many of us are making it much more complicated than it actually is, and are using a search for purpose as a cover for self-doubt.
I believe this comes back to community. Purpose doesn’t happen sitting around trying to figure out what your purpose is. Purpose is discovered by getting out in community, and finding people you can serve. It unfolds. It reveals itself. When you hit on the sweet spot, the place where your gifts naturally fit into the place where you can be of service, you’ve struck gold.
That may change over time. Or it may not. Taking action in the midst of community, finding those who need what you offer, a moment will strike when you’ll know. Identifying that moment can lead to the cultivation of more opportunities to do more of the same.
But ultimately, I believe it comes down to two things for everyone: Love and service.
To learn more about Deb and her work please visit: http://debjowen.com
Founder of Percorso, LLC and debjowen.com. Deb has developed marketing strategies, provided creative direction and built brands in the consumer, business, and not-for-profit sectors.
Practiced at the art of innovation and pragmatics of turning strategy into action, Deb founded Percorso to help clients build healthy, sustainable businesses, matching strategies with creative elements that deliver profitable, effective, and replicable results.
Deb delivers results through close collaboration with clients, facilitating & managing the contributions of a diverse group of strategic thinkers & creative practitioners.
Deb’s background includes serving at an eight-county regional economic development organization. Overseeing all marketing communications efforts, including brand development, online marketing, press relations, and alignment of communications with regional partners, she developed a vision & voice that created a cohesive region, while implementing strategies that resulted in the establishment of a national presence.
Deb has also worked for international multi-million dollar consumer electronics & telecommunications corporations, and served as a former director of a publishing firm. She’s run the gamut as creative director, communications director, and marketing strategist for multi-million dollar international corporations, and worked one-on-one with a large number of entrepreneurs & small business owners.
Spending a portion of her corporate life in learning & development, Deb designed & delivered a year long program based on the Toyota Production System after being trained at Toyota herself.
Deb was tapped by Carolyn Kepcher, formerly of the Trump Organization and the board room of the Apprentice, to write for a project called ‘Work Her Way’ alongside the likes of Bobbi Brown, of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, and Cathie Black, CEO of Hearst Publications that publishes ‘O’ Magazine.