Star Jones, ESQ, seemed to have it all in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The former Senior District Attorney for the City of New York was a co-host on the popular ABC chat fest The View, newly married and down more than 150 lbs after weight loss surgery, but it all changed in the blink of an eye.
She stepped away from the View's co-host table on her own terms in 2006, divorced her husband in 2008, just three years after they wed in an over-the-top ceremony and was diagnosed with heart disease soon thereafter.
Jones spent years trying to rebuild her self-esteem and her career, and learned quite a bit along the way. Today she is in a really good place. Jones, now 55, recently wed Ricardo Lugo and is devoting much of her time to empowering women to be the best that they can be. She caught up with SWAAY and shared sage counsel on how to start over no matter where you are in your life.
"My passion today is helping women succeed professionally around the world."
"Speak up! Women are likely to "put their heads down" and "make no noise," believing that hard work alone will pay off. This is not accurate. If you want to be noticed in the workplace, you have to speak up and lead."
What are you up to now?
My passion today is helping women succeed professionally around the world. As the President of The International Association of Women, I am working with corporations, human resources professionals, and business leaders to fight for diversity in the workplace and establish a strong talent pipeline to provide access for all talented women to have the opportunity to earn positions in the C-suite.
It's 2018 and we know women have made their way into the workplace, but we are not seeking mediocrity we are seeking top leadership and executive positions.
You have said, “You can have financial strength, professional strength, emotional strength, but for me, without spiritual strength, none of the rest of it matters." Can you tell us how spirituality has helped guide you and comfort you in the past?
I believe in the total woman! For me, my health, spiritual life, and the security and comfort I have in my personal life all equate to my success. I have been a successful professional for over 20 years, but without faith and health, none of it matters. In the past, my faith has carried me through heart disease, career changes, and reaching my desired milestones and goals.But faith without work is dead so although I am a woman of faith, I match it with a solid work ethic and I am not afraid to work [hard] and encourage other women to do the same!
"It's important to remember that a bad day is not a bad life. More importantly, be solution focused." Photo Courtesy of EURweb.com
How do you stay healthy?
As a volunteer for the American Heart Association and a heart disease survivor, this topic is dear to me. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in America, and in many cases, it can be prevented with exercise and a healthy diet. My motto is to eat less and move more. And you don't have to be a fitness queen to take care of yourself! You may not run a marathon, but making even small daily choices to eat better and be active will decrease your chances of becoming obese or getting heart disease. Taking care of ourselves and eating and sleeping well is imperative for all women. We are often the center of our families and if mama ain't happy no one is happy!
How do you cope with a bad day?
It's important to remember that a bad day is not a bad life. More importantly, be solution focused. You have five minutes to cry and complain and then you have to think like a boss and move on! I always ask myself, “What caused my expectations to fail and made today harder for me?" Next, I come up with a solution to prevent the same mistakes from happening again. Bad days truly are learning experiences that pave the way for great days!
Can you share some power moves for female execs and those who want to become female execs?
“Speak up! Women are likely to “put their heads down" and “make no noise," believing that hard work alone will pay off. This is not accurate. If you want to be noticed in the workplace, you have to speak up and lead."
I also suggest the following:
-Work solo when possible versus participating in group projects where there could be disorganization and unclear roles.
-Go beyond your job description. Those who get noticed at work are those who approach each day with wide-angle vision. They see through a lens that extends well beyond their job description.
-If you want to be a leader, lead! Helping your colleagues succeed is a sign of self-confidence, self-trust, teamwork and collaborative leadership.
-Stay far away from the underground conversations because you never know when you may get associated with the negative dynamics (even if you are not involved).
If you could do it all over again, what would you change?
I don't hold life regrets just learning experiences. However I will say, I am thoroughly enjoying empowering women to advance their careers and live their best lives. I would have loved to be in the position I am in now sooner in my career. I am a tremendous believer in women supporting other women. Helping women to rise, dream, and lead has been the highlight of my career.
We are living in a time when women are rising to new heights which means they are regularly being confronted with the fear of being "too much". For women in business this is pervasive and costly.
A few ways women can be perceived as "too much" are:
Speaking up about their successes and achievements.
Sharing one too many photos of their cute kids.
Telling one too many people about that date night.
Looking a little too good in that swimsuit.
These can lead to being publicly attacked on social media or privately slandered which in turn leads to women dimming their light and walking on egg shells in hopes of avoiding conflict and judgement.
The minute a woman feels it's unsafe to shine she will begin to overthink, worry, and fear how she shows up in the world.
Forgetting to announce the book is done and the interview is live.
Choosing to focus on what's still on the to-do list rather than what's been checked off.
Many female entrepreneurs are subconsciously altering their behavior in an attempt to not attract too much attention to themselves, rather than focusing on allowing authenticity and magnetism to attract their ideal clients and community.
Women are afraid of being criticized, ostracized, and abandoned by other women for simply being who they are. This leads to quite the quantum when being who you are is simplest way to accelerate the growth of your business.
New research shows men are far more comfortable with self promotion than women are. Researchers found that men rate their own performance 33 percent higher than equally performing women. What we know is that self promotion pays off and this is where women are missing the boat.
The world needs more women to step into leadership roles and no longer be intimidated about creating six and seven figure careers.
Here are five ways to release the fear of being "too much":
1. Approve of yourself.
While it feels good to receive outside validation it will never be enough if you don't first appreciate yourself. The key to having a healthy support system is to make sure you are part of it. Being your biggest critic is what your mother's generation did. It's now time to be your biggest cheerleader. Becoming aware of self talk will reveal what belief is ready to be re-wired. Create a simply mantra that affirms how incredible capable you are.
2. Connect deeply to those you serve.
One powerful way to shift out of people pleasing behavior is to get clear on who actually matters to the wellbeing and success of your life and business. Leadership is not about being the most popular, instead it's a decision to be brave for those who can't be. Take a few minutes each day to visualize and meditate on those your business serves and supports. See your future clients moving toward you every time you choose to stand in your power and use your authentic voice.
3. Remember the legacy you wish to leave.
Having your life purpose and legacy in writing is one of the most transformational exercises you can do. Reading this often will keep you focused on what matters. Knowing what you wish to leave in the hearts of those you love most is incredibly grounding. You didn't come here to keep your mouth shut, dilute your truth, or dim your light-you came here to make a difference.
4. Forgive those who have been unsupportive in the past.
The past has a way of informing the future in a negative way when there is unresolved pain. Take a few minutes to get quiet and ask yourself who you have unforgiveness towards or maybe their name came to mind as you read this article. Listening to a forgiveness meditation or writing a letter to the person you are ready to forgive are both simple and effective ways to process and heal.
5. Be part a community of bright, successful women.
Meaningful relationships with others who have similar aspirations is what will keep you out of isolation and playing small. These connections can happen in a networking group, online community or a local Meetup. Thriving in every area of life is depend on you knowing where you belong and being celebrated there. Don't wait to be invited, go actively seek out people and places that support your dreams and desires.
6. Accept you can have it all.
Women have been fed a lie for generations that says, you can have love or money. Decide you can have it all and allow it to flow to you. You can have a successful career and an amazing mother. You can balance motherhood and loving marriage. Don't let anyone write the rules for you. This is the time to create the life you desire on your terms.
7. Celebrate everything!
The fastest way to leave the haters in the dust is to celebrate everything! At the end of each day lay in bed and recall the best moments. At the end of each week, publicly acknowledge and celebrate what's good in your life. Once a month, have a celebration dinner and share it with those who have helped you in the journey. If there's something good happening, talk about it with everyone who will listen!
May you be a woman who chooses to shine so that others may be reminded of all they can be and do.