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.
Being stared at by strangers is something I have become very accustomed to. Not because I am a beautiful, ethereal being that catches everyone's attention (but I will take it if that's what you're thinking), but in the way that I am a Black woman, a Black person, and people tend to notice my presence. I don't think there is a Black person out there that can deny knowing what it's like to be stared at by a random person.