Stacey Ruth is unstoppable. She founded two multimillion-dollar agencies, has been among the Top 50 Entrepreneurs Under 50 in Atlanta, and has twice been awarded Top 100 “It” Agencies by Experiential Marketer.
As a novice entrepreneur, however, she faced nearly every business challenge possible–including her own battle with imposter syndrome, which threatened her health and infected her organization.
Recently, as Stacey pivoted into executive coaching, she discovered the need to redesign her personal brand. Her journey, leveraging her business branding background and intensive research, has helped her to make personal branding simple, fun, and easy to apply.
Today, she is a passionate advocate for women leaders claiming their own seats at the table they design for themselves.
For more details, visit their website here.
Here we sit down with Stacey to learn a bit more about her journey as a leadership coach.
Q. Tell us a little more about your journey as an entrepreneur – how did you get started? What inspired you?
Ruth: I started my entrepreneurial journey about 30 years ago, pre-Internet. I worked for a global organization in the live event marketing space and I was intimidated by the idea of going out on my own. Eventually the rapid growth in the company, turnover and excessive stress reached the point where it was time to do that and I had no choice. It was either leave, or be entirely overwhelmed and burn out.
Starting my first seven-figure business was quite a journey of learning how to lead while dealing with my impostor syndrome in an industry that, at the time, was male-dominated. It was an incredible learning experience. Then, I sold that business and started a new agency. But when my health limited my ability to travel, I sold my shares of the agency and I moved into leadership and executive coaching. I was just going to write and speak, but people kept approaching me to help them make the transformations I had done for myself. You could say I was called to coach – literally.
Over the last 5 years, I’ve been helping other entrepreneurs succeed and I’ve supported them in the way I wish I would’ve been supported when I started my journey. I’ve been helping others pivot or uplevel in their careers. I also have a branding consultancy for personal branding and small business branding. The two work brilliantly together, in fact.
Q. What are your long-term goals in business? Paint a vision for the future
Ruth: My long-term goal is to help as many individuals, especially underrepresented groups and minorities in higher levels of business, to create a more diverse leadership infrastructure. I feel that there is an enormous leadership gap around the world and it needs to be filled in a diverse and balanced way.
The more companies, organizations, and leaders I can influence and help to step into their leadership with power, confidence, clarity, and authenticity, the more successful I will be. I can accomplish that goal through my books, Own Your Own Shift and Inside Out Smart, speaking, and coaching, all of which lights my fire. So far, I’ve been quite successful, working with Executive Directors, CEOs, VPs and even ministers.
Q. What motivates you?
Ruth: Filling the leadership gap that we have is what motivates me the most because it is debilitating to the individuals who are trying to overcome it. We don’t teach leadership in most organizations. We teach management. While both are important, they are not the same set of activities. The gap limits the growth and productivity of the organizations that are trying to affect change right now. It is also limiting our political, societal, and educational structure, so it is keeping society from growing and thriving fully.
Q. What business-related book has inspired you the most, or, what is your favourite book?
Ruth: Two business books changed the way that I think about leading in business. One of them is Start with Why by Simon Sinek, which is very well known and focuses on the purpose of the individual and the business.
The other one is The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women by Valerie Young, which focuses on the discovery of imposter syndrome and how debilitating it can be, especially to female leaders, though it affects everyone who is “first, only and different”.
I spent decades working with leaders of traditional corporate structures, which are hierarchical and, some would say patriarchal, organizational structures. So, reading these books was a breath of fresh air. They showed me how much was possible, and how much could be different and it gave me a kind of roadmap on how to start helping affect that kind of change.
These books inspired a tremendous amount of the work that I do today because they allowed me to see that what I wanted to do was possible to achieve and that I wasn’t the only voice out there.
Q. What strategies do you use to optimize your performance or mindset?
Ruth: Well, the most important thing to me is to maintain a healthy and resilient mindset. We all deal with challenges and obstacles, and, as one of my mentors said, we are constantly having to deal with people, no matter where we go.
I find that my morning routine is the most important part of my day, which includes spiritual practices such as meditation, journaling, reading, and getting my head in the game at a very high level. Before I start to tackle my daily tasks, I set intentions for how I want to show up in the day, not just what I want to do, and I find that it helps optimize my performance.
Q. If you were to write a book about yourself, what would you name it?
Ruth: The book that I already wrote is autobiographical, and it’s called Own Your Own Shift. In the book, I explore my personal and professional transformations. There are 12 stages we all go through, no matter what change we’re trying to make, whether we’re moving, starting a job, getting married, starting a family, etc.
We’re typically not aware of those 12 stages as we navigate them. I believe it’s very important to be conscious of the stages, however, because it’s what allows us to keep moving forward successfully during that change. Otherwise, we risk falling back into old habits and the things we find familiar, making change itself very challenging.
Q. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
Ruth: I think that investing my time is the most valuable investment I’ve ever made. We always say that time is money. I believe that time is more valuable than money. We can always make more money, but time is not something we can get back. So, I enjoy dedicating my time to helping others grow and also to my evolution.
Many of the people that I work with are time-starved, overwhelmed, and stressed to the max. They can’t get everything done and don’t know how to get ahead. Discovering how to make time for everything in our personal life and work life is so powerful.
I’ve invested my time studying neuroscience, metaphysics, and positive psychology, and now I help others educate themselves about their inner work, spiritual experience, thoughts and feelings, and inner drivers. Investing in that has changed everything for me and it now allows me to assist anyone else who is ready to change as well.
Q. Where do you see the future in your niche/industry 3-5 years from now?
Ruth: I think that the future in my niche of leadership and coaching is already happening. I see that artificial intelligence algorithms are allowing us to do more of the hands-on work and reach more people. At the same time, with more time to be creative and innovative, thanks to AI, I also see a lot of growth in fields that help us understand ourselves more and create new ways of growing, being better, and showing up.
Artificial intelligence, coaching, and technology are all growing, so that’s the headspace we’re in right now. It’s a new age and it’s already happening, we’re here for it. It’s a really powerful thing and it’s the time to ride the wave. People like myself are sharing the knowledge capital we have earned from our own experiences and that’s the future not just of business, but also of the human race.
Q. What is your ‘one-sentence’ piece of advice you’d like to give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur, coach, or business owner?
Ruth: My business’ mission is to make the impossible, possible, so that’s my advice. Wake up every morning ready to do the impossible. We are all truly unstoppable and we can accomplish incredible things if we’re willing to lean into the possibility instead of shutting ourselves down with fear or confusion.
People often think that they’re not being realistic when they dream big, or they can’t accomplish what they want, but they can. It’s important to be aware of the challenges we will face because there will always be obstacles. Nevertheless, we all have what it takes to transform ourselves into our highest and best version, not just for our sake, but also for the greater good.