Life’s Journey Can Be Bumpy: How To Turn Chaos Into Opportunities With Steph Silver
Listen on your favorite podcast app.
Live authentically, find strength in being vulnerable, and embrace chaos. Within chaos, you can turn challenges into opportunities and every choice shapes your existence. In this episode, Steph Silver confronts the reality of how life’s journey can be bumpy. As a branding and marketing expert with over 20 years of experience, she shares her personal growth journey, from balancing motherhood to changing her leadership and life approach. Steph discusses the importance of self-evaluation and the impact of leadership on personal and professional development. She highlights the necessity of creating a culture that nurtures growth, values authenticity, and encourages open conversations. Tune in now and learn how to embrace your journey.
Welcome to the show. I have a great guest for you. A common topic on this show is we talk about leadership and self-leadership. We talk about our stories and how it is that we get to where we are. My guest is Steph Silver. She comes to us all the way from Austin, Texas. I have been to Austin. They have a great university there in the capital state of Texas. My favorite part of it is the bats that come out from underneath the bridge at sunset. That is a very unique aspect of the city that most cities don’t have. If you’re in Austin, you might want to check that out.
Let me read Steph’s bio, and then we’ll bring her in and get to know her a little bit better. Steph Silver is on a mission to enhance as many lives as possible by cultivating meaningful and memorable experiences in work and life. Having lived in over 30 places before the age of 17 including campgrounds and homeless shelters and building a life of abundance and love, Steph knows the power of seeing light in dark times, finding opportunity and failure, and seeking connection as a key to success. With over twenty years of experience building and growing brands, Steph is a brand, business, and life advisor, a bestselling author, and an authentic and powerful speaker. Steph, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. I’m honored.
I’m sure most people that are listening to your bio are going to clue it in or their ears are perked up in the same place that they perked up for me when I first met you and we had a discussion about you coming on the show. That’s the section that talks about 30 places before the age of 17. That’s not very common. If you could, let’s spend 5 or 10 minutes to let you have an opportunity to pick a spot on your timeline and talk about your life journey to date. I’m a big believer in the power of storytelling, so here is an opportunity to tell your story.
If you want to hear the full story or know the whole story, you can read my memoir or listen to it. It’s Anywhere, USA by Steph Silver and read by Steph Silver on Audible. I wrote and shared it in the memoir because from the moment of seventeen when I moved out and looked back, I went, “That was an interesting experience that has to be written down someday.” It was from that time that I started thinking about it.
Everybody’s life and journey are unique and incredible, but I didn’t know the full value of it until 2023. God, the universe, and all the spirits combined said, “You must do this. You must write and share this story because there are so many lessons that you need to learn again and you need to share with everyone who has experienced any of these unique things in life.”
At the age of two, I was kidnapped by my birth father. I was taken from Oklahoma to Oregon. That was my first big move. From there, the story doesn’t get less interesting. From that point, my mom did find me. With my stepfather, my mom, and my brother and sister, we lived all over the Western United States. We went back and forth between California, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Alabama. We were all over the place.
For the most part, my brother, my sister, and I found joy in the experience and adventure of it. We loved living in campgrounds during the summer times. What we didn’t love was the tumultuous, verbally abusive, and alcoholic environment that we were in. People will say, “When I grew up, we got kicked out of this place or that so we went from this apartment to that house within one town.” The thing is my dad chose. He didn’t get kicked out. He didn’t get fired. He said, “We should go to Salt Lake City tomorrow.” We may or may not make it to Salt Lake City. We might find something more exciting along the way.
We went through that whole first portion or first phase and story of my life, and then I decided that I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I wanted to not be my parents. In high school, I stopped drinking and smoking pot my senior year. I decided, “I’m going to go to college even though no one expected that of me.”
I didn’t know anyone who went to college, so I honestly thought it was for astronauts and brain surgeons. I thought, “There’s no way I am going to do this, but I’m going to try anyway.” I sobbed and was crying. I was so afraid that someone would immediately see me walk on campus and go, “Who do you think you are? You don’t belong here,” but I thought that I didn’t have any other choice. If I didn’t want to be like my parents and struggle from one thing to the next, I needed to go to college.
I put myself through college and declared marketing as my major for no other reason than I thought business was the path, but I got a scholarship in theater and loved that so much. That became my major. I never took one class in marketing or business. I had the amazing and beautiful opportunity to study with the Royal Shakespeare Academy the summer between senior year and graduating. I had some fabulous experiences in theater, but I said, “I don’t want to be a starving artist.” In my mind, if you’re an actress or you’re in that world, you have to starve for a little while before you make your way if you ever make your way.
I was a waitress and did events at a high-end restaurant in Austin. I went to my boss. I have been working there for four years. I said, “I’m so sorry, but I have to quit and find a real job.” He said, “I know you’ve had the opportunity to talk to this consultant that we hired. He recommends that we hire you as director of sales and marketing. Does that sound like a real job?” I was like, “It does, as a matter of fact.”
I went to the Half Price bookstore and bought every marketing book I could find. I joined the Chamber of Commerce. I went to every conference and seminar. I dove into marketing and branding. I learned this was the beginning of my absolute love and passion for brand experience. I was working at this restaurant. I have a background in theater.
One of the things that I loved about theater was experiential theater and the directors who understand that it’s not just the set and the script. It’s every little bit of the experience. If you walk in and the play is set in Alaska, then that auditorium should be cold to get you into it, like the smell and all the different things. I started bringing that into my marketing role and have been doing that ever since.
From there, I went into sales for a payroll company. I eventually worked my way into a marketing and branding agency. I worked my way up at that agency from sales to vice president. I worked there for twelve years. I grew it with my amazing boss. We worked as partners. He was incredible. He opened the business up to me and shared that growth with me. He taught me everything he knew, and then I started VINE Collective in 2018.
As I decided I was going to start my own business, I found out my mom was sick with cancer. She died one month later. My dad died eight months after that. There was a pandemic, and then I got divorced. Here we are. That is why the universe, the spirits, and God said, “You need to relearn all of these lessons of strength that you have. You need to know that you have more power than what you’re feeling right now. Get out from under that rock and proceed.”
You need to know that you have more power than what you’re feeling right now, so get out from under that rock and proceed.
That’s a good segue to my next question. I didn’t move seventeen times in my life. I did move 6 or 7 in elementary school because my dad kept getting promoted. He was in sales, and every time he got promoted, it was a new territory somewhere in the US. He turned down even further promotions when I was in junior and senior high because he knew he had moved his kids so much already. He was like, “I need some stability for my kids. I’m going to bypass promotions for now until they get into college, and then we’ll look at doing it again.” I know what it feels like to move around a lot and have to make friends all the time. It’s like being in the Military without being in the Military.
My journey has been a journey of self-esteem. I had bad self-esteem in high school and college in my early twenties, which was not fun. It was not fun to have bad self-esteem and always be a people-pleaser because you’re not looking out for yourself when you’re doing it. I’m 60 years old. I’m in my adult life. I look back at the time in my lens, and the way I look at it is very different than the way I was looking at it when I was in the midst of it. How has that been for you since you’re out in the adult world and have experienced adult life for a while? What’s different for you looking back on your childhood experience compared to what you were feeling or looking at it at the time that you were in the middle of it?
Some of the things were I was more able to go with the flow and see life as an adventure as a kid. I had self-esteem issues beginning at the same age everybody else started to become self-aware. Since I had the necessity, ability, or requirement to become someone new every 6 to 9 months, I felt like I had to shift to be the person who would fit in quickly or I wouldn’t have any friends at all. At the same time, I had a very verbally abusive alcoholic father who could turn on a dime from loving to angry. The pleasing mentality was hammered in even further there.
It’s interesting. I was doing this stoic challenge at the beginning of 2024. It’s still January 2024. The challenge was to write down ten things you’ve overcome. I’m like, “This should be easy,” because of all the stuff that I’ve overcome. At the same time, because it’s been my life, it’s hard to see all the things. I didn’t even write down the pandemic or 9/11. I didn’t write down the flood that I went through when I was in kindergarten and lost everything because there were so many things.
The first thing I wrote down was overcoming a verbally abusive father. I had to think about that and say, “Have I overcome that? What’s the definition of overcoming?” I thought, “I’ve forgiven him. I’ve moved on in my life. From an outside perspective and sometimes from an inside perspective, I am successful. What is it? What are the scars that are left over that are still affecting me?”
It wasn’t just the verbal abuse. It was all the moving, pleasing, and all those things. I still don’t think I’m pretty enough. I still don’t think I’m smart enough. I still think I’m a selfish bitch because he told me that every day. I still think all these things to some extent. I’m still afraid to talk to some men or say how I feel because I don’t know how they’re going to respond. I still read a room when I walk in to see who’s safe and who’s not. It was all of those things. That’s how it affected me and I’m still dealing with it.
It wasn’t until I was 32 years old and bought a beautiful house in the hill country that I felt like I could walk into anybody else’s home and feel like I belonged there because I was semi-equal even though I put myself through college, helped grow this Austin marketing and branding agency, and everything said on the outside that I was everything I needed to be. Who says you need to be anything to be able to walk into somebody’s house invited and feel confident and comfortable? I felt always like, “They’re going to see me. They’re going to see that I’m not what they think I am or what they want me to be.”
It was when I bought that house that I felt like I did all the things. I checked off all the boxes for them to see me as what I wanted to be seen as. I finally did all those things. I then got divorced and lost all the physical things that I thought I needed in order to show that. I had to internalize and say, “The physical things are gone. I can get them back if I want to. Do I want to? I have that choice.”
In the emotional turmoil, what’s important is that when I show up for myself and I’m by myself at 2:00 in the morning with my own thoughts, am I not smart? Am I not pretty? Do those things matter? When I hear people describe me, it’s fun, engaging, loving, and giving. Do I need that big house? Do I need all those things? Do I need to be prettier?
The things that I think give me confidence aren’t the reasons that people love me. Those aren’t the reasons that my friends stick around. They’re not the reasons that I still talk to, love, adore, and vice versa the people that I lived with in California when I was in elementary school. To your last question, “What do you see as generating value?” and the way you phrase it, it is showing up as yourself and knowing what that is. Especially if you have been through a natural disaster, you can lose anything. We own nothing. You can lose all your people.
Do you own those things in an effort to feel like you fit into the world? You’re doing it for others as opposed to yourself. We all need some kind of housing from a safety and protective standpoint from the weather, the elements, and so forth. I don’t think anybody would question somebody buying a house from a safety-dwelling perspective.
From an economic standpoint long-term.
The question is, “Do I want a $100,000 house or do I want a $2 million house?” What are the reasons behind that? If you want the $2 million house because you feel like you’re going to be somebody in this world, that’s different than saying, “I want a $100,000 house. It gives me what I need from a safety perspective and feeling an emotion of a place I can call my own.”
The why is the question there. I live outside of Austin in Wimberley, Texas. It’s very expensive here, so it doesn’t take much to get up to $1 million. If you love art and modern architecture and it makes you happy every single day to get up and get your cup of espresso made perfectly from your espresso machine, look out on the view of the hill country, and then jump in your heated and cooled pool and do laps, then it 100% makes sense to have that $2 million house because you are enjoying it. You are filling yourself with the love, joy, and experience that you want to experience as opposed to wanting to bring everyone in and have them see and validate that you made a good choice.
Was there one event in your childhood or in your life journey where you felt like a switch was flipped? For myself and the self-esteem journey, it was divorce from marriage number one. Having had parents who were married for 61 years and having that as a model and so forth, it was walking away from that experience with thoughts of failure and, “How could this happen to me when I have parents that showed me the model and the way?” That was on top of the already self-esteem problems that I had.
It was being respective and saying, “This is not what I thought was going to happen. This is not what I want for myself. What do I need to do from a self-leadership perspective to change things?” It led me down the journey of therapy, self-help books, and anything I could get my hands on to figure out what was going on between the two years and what I needed to do to create the life that I wanted for myself. You’ve had a lot of events in your life, but is there one distinct moment that you can say, “It was at this point of me sitting here emotionally and saying, “I got to do something different.”
Many times. First of all, I didn’t even realize a lot of my readers expressed that the biggest theme of my book is unconditional love. I didn’t even see that. I’m glad that as a theme, I know it and feel it. I wrote it as it was. I didn’t create the themes and then write around them. One of the themes is that there is no such thing as a bottom. There is no such thing as a top. They are our own personal limits. We can and do hit them many times throughout our lives.
There is no such thing as a bottom. There is no such thing as a top. They are our own personal limits.
My dad chose to be homeless many times. Even when he owned his own business and we had a 4-bedroom 2-story house, 1 boat, and 2 cars, and we’re great, he was like, “I’m going to leave that all behind including all the furniture. Let’s take what we can get and go live in a campground for a couple of weeks, and then we’ll get a two-bedroom apartment in Carson City.” I was not a fan of that move. We lost our dog, our cat, and our bird too. We lost everything. Was that a bottom or was that a change? We get to choose the perspective of that.
The top is a perspective too. I thought before my divorce that we were at the top. I thought life was perfect, and then somehow, a switch was flipped for me. I didn’t do the flipping. It wasn’t my ex-husband’s fault either. It was about something that happened in life that both of us and even our friends and at the stage of life where kids are a certain age that, all of a sudden, you’re put to the test. Sometimes, we fail, but there is no such thing as a real failure either.
I’ve been on a journey of self-help and self-exploration since I can remember. Honestly, I ran around the house, danced, or whatever because I loved physical exercise and I love to dance. Also, I’m like, “Mom, this is so healthy for me. Can we eat more vegetables, please?” It was the beginning of my self-health and exploration. I’ve been doing that for years.
My dad was an atheist. We were not a religious household growing up. My mom went from being a Christian to mostly an atheist. She never talked about God. She lived her life for fun and adventure. I didn’t know anything about religion except going to church every once in a while with my grandma when we were in Oklahoma.
I had always been interested in religions, spirituality, and believing ghosts. I believed in energy and science, not God or spirit from an angel standpoint. I wanted to believe in spirits like, “I want to talk to them,” and all the woo-woo fun stuff but not from a God standpoint. When my mom died, I had all these signs and communication. It was about my mom’s death. It was about my mom. It was about me. There were all these things that were happening from a spiritual and religious standpoint, and then my life seemed to start completely crumbling around me.
I went to an energy healer. In one of the first sessions, I said, “I feel like I need to do something very different with my life. It feels like I need to get divorced, but I have this picture-perfect life. It’s this life that I never imagined that I could accomplish. I thought if I did, I would be 80. Right before death, I finally would accomplish this thing, but here I am at 38 and I’ve done it.
I don’t know what’s beyond this, but if anybody were to be like Norman Rockwell and draw this picture-perfect life of two boys in the Texas Hill Country that’s this beautiful picture, this was my life. How could I want something different?” She said, “Paint another picture.” That was the beginning of a light bulb for me. Other people were like, “How much did you pay this lady to tell you that?” It was exactly what I needed because there is no such thing as a perfect picture. That’s different for everybody.
Going back to the early part of our conversation and the why behind it, whose picture is it? Is it what you think other people would paint a picture for your life versus the picture that you paint for yourself?
Also, did I paint that picture when I was 12 and moved 5 times in my 8th grade year? What I always said was, “All I want in life is a house with flowers in the yard, pictures on the wall, and matching dishes.”
Life is in seasons. Maybe it was a season in your life that brought you some healing. Your life needed to have that kind of picture for healing to occur. Once the healing happens, then the picture needs to be something different.
I believe that my healing hadn’t happened. I had lived a life of success through brute force. If I run fast enough and I work hard enough, then everything will fall into place.
It’s lots of doing.
It’s lots of doing and no being. I did not take care of myself. I did not know who I was. I have two ideas for the next book. One of them is overcoming curses. The other is what I learned from going through a midlife crisis. I got divorced. The divorce was part of the midlife crisis. He was experiencing his own at the same time. Neither one of us could support each other emotionally.
I did all the wrong things. I knew. I read books about going through this change consciously. They’re usually triggered by a big change, like the death of a parent or something like that. I had all of it, so I’m like, “I did not go through this consciously even though I wanted to.” I wanted to be spiritual. I wanted to be attached. I wanted to be present. Instead, I drank a lot and smoked cigarettes. That’s not what I would recommend to anybody, but sometimes life happens.
I got myself in a terrible place. Luckily, I have enough people around me who love me. I also had the foundation of already being in the habit of personal growth. I don’t allow myself to stay down. I have two children that I have to be present for, teach, and be a guide for and an example for. My switch flipped when I realized that I didn’t want to go any further down, that I had hit bottom, and that if I wanted to be a good mother and live any semblance of life that I was happy with and proud of, I had to make every change that I could no matter how small and slow.
That’s what my biggest lesson has been in the last couple of years. It is that my run-fast, work-hard, run-hard, scale-the-mountain, and all of that is not possible all the time. I said for a long time that it felt like I was in molasses or drowning. I have these terrible analogies of where I was, and then somebody describing their own situation said, “I feel like I’m stuck in honey.” I’m like, “That sounds so nice. That sounds so much better than being consumed by quicksand.”
It could also be being in the middle of a garbage pile and you can’t move.
Exactly. I was thinking about this analogy that I feel like the last few years, I have been in a tornado, a hurricane, an earthquake, all of it at once. Maybe it has been about four years. This friend that I was talking to said, “How do you know that you are on the other side of your midlife crisis or whatever?” I said, “It is because I can see. It is because I can feel the earth beneath my feet. It is because everything around me is settled and permanent. I believe in the same reality as everyone else.”
When I say the same reality as everyone else, it’s not that I was losing my mind. Maybe I was a little bit, but when you’re in a place of crisis or what a lot of people call a rock bottom, the sense of reality is not solid. It’s hard to find anything to grab onto. What I learned and what I taught myself is that you only have to grab onto one little thing at a time. You don’t have to find that big log to get you out and we’re safe and we’re back on top again.
When you’re in a place of crisis, the sense of reality is not solid and it’s hard to find anything to grab onto. You only have to grab onto one little thing at a time. You don’t have to find that big log to get you out.
I often use an oak tree as the visual, if you will, for finding a mission, purpose, or your why in life. With an oak tree or any kind of tree, you have tens, hundreds, or thousands of roots that are underneath it. All those roots don’t grow at the same rate or at the exact same time. It’s about starting a system of roots. As you go on with your life, you’re growing more to have that stability, that grounding, and that presence that you need to have and that you can hold onto when the storms are coming. That’s a big thing that that oak tree is there for. It is to have that sense of grounding. It’s a little chaotic around me at the moment, but the chaos is not inside. I have a mission and purpose. I have a peace within myself. I have those deep roots. I need to hang on because it’s temporary and let it pass by spy.
Right before my mom died, someone said the quote, “Happiness is a balance between roots and wings.” I thought, “That’s true. You can go back and forth, fly, and come back. What I realized was that in my childhood, I had zero roots. I knew my grandma and had some semblance of my mom’s family, but I didn’t have roots.
When I moved out, I worked so hard to get roots that I didn’t have wings, so then I started to work on my wings. With the divorce, I realized that I thought I lost my roots because those were my roots. It is that feeling of rootedness and knowing who you can rely on in your business life, friendship life, and family life. What are your roots? Who are your roots? Knowing who they are before something happens is key to weathering those storms. You have to have them in all of those areas to some extent. They grow at different times
It starts with you first. It’s about growing the roots for yourself and then having the support mechanism around you between family, friends, acquaintances, and whatnot that helps support it and feed it.
You lose your sense of self and your awareness of your personal roots isn’t there, and you go back to questioning everything. I say this from a person who experienced trauma and all sorts of things for so many years. There are hundreds of thousands of people across the country and millions of people across the world who have palm tree roots. Palm tree roots are very feathery. They go wide but they’re not very deep.
They have to because of the sandiness and so forth. They have to do that to get water. The water is up at the very top of the surface and that’s it versus other trees that grow in different parts of the world. The water is fairly deep and those roots can go deep to find the water.
It’s very important to work on those roots, that inner purpose, and that inner why all the time, especially when you think everything is going right. Why is it going right? Why does it feel right? For family, work, friendship, and spiritual connection, what is it about all those things? It makes this feel right. When it’s not right, I know what to strive for and what to go back to. Is there something else beyond that? What was right at one time doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be right in the future either.
As you grow and evolve, the definition of that or the need for it may change.
I realized after I went down my path of destruction that I had the goal of not being like my parents. I was dedicated to that, but when I lost them both at about the same time, I realized later that I wanted to hold on to them somehow. They were wild and unpredictable. They drank all the time. They smoked cigarettes. They got high. I’m going to own the person that I was before I strived to not be them, but that wasn’t me. That was them. That’s a root I thought I had to hold onto, but it’s a root that almost killed me. It is being aware and knowing how to come back or knowing when to ask for help.
There are so many different things because I’m so dedicated to self-discovery and growth. There’s this concept called radical honesty. I’m a generally open book. I wrote the book on myself. I tell my life story over and over again. I don’t have many secrets, so it’s not about not keeping secrets. It’s about speaking up and being honest with yourself.
If you have a thought or a self-doubt like, “There’s no way I can get on that stage. Everybody’s going to say X.” Is that true or do they generally want you to succeed? They want you to be entertaining. They want to learn something from you. They want to cheer you on. Why would they not want that for you? It’s not about you. It’s about them. They want to get something out of your speech if that’s it.
The radical honesty is like, “Is that true? If it is true, what can I do about it honestly? If it’s not true, shut it down.” That’s internal speaking. The external is if something’s bothering you. You have to say it because you’re committed to this radical honesty thing. I realized in my marriage that I hadn’t done that. We have these assumptions of, “He probably thinks this,” or, “I think that the reason he reacted was because of that,” or whatever it might be. We go through that and add 20 or 30 years to that. You’re on different pages and you assume that you know this person inside and out when you’ve been making assumptions for 20 or 30 years.
You’re overthinking things. I’m right there with you because I was a big worrywart back when I was struggling with my self-esteem issues. That worrying was from overthinking and trying to guess what people were thinking and what was going on outside of myself. It wasn’t until I started questioning that and asking, “Does that serve you? Does that serve your higher good to be overthinking this stuff and assuming what people are thinking about you?” I was able to get myself to a point of saying, “I’m not going to worry about it until it shows up not in my imagination but it becomes reality and there’s evidence of it. Then, I’ll start worrying about it. Until that happens, there’s no need to worry about it.”
What can you control? Act on that. My word for 2024 is I’m living with radical honesty, acting with ease, and thinking, behaving, and being with ease. This happened to me. My son wanted to do these five different things before we went to school. He is very adamant about getting there at 7:00 even though school doesn’t start until 8:00.
He was playing basketball in the house. I’m a boy mom. I am pretty free-flowing so I’m like, “That’s fine, but use this smaller basketball. Pay close attention to how you’re using it so that not everything in the house is completely broken.” He started by throwing the big basketball and I was like, “We’re not going to do that. Please, let’s do the smaller basketball for these reasons. Do you remember the reasons?” He was like, “Yeah.”
I go back to getting ready and I hear a noise. I’m like, “What are you doing with the basketball?” He said, “I’m seeing how fast I can get it back.” I’m like, “Let’s not do that either. Remember. The reason for the small ball is so that we can keep control of it and we don’t break things. If you throw it as hard as possible, you’re more likely to still break things.” He said, “Okay.” We are having multiple conversations. I’m like, “I don’t want to tell you not to use the ball. Most parents are going to say don’t use the ball in the house for these reasons, but I’m trusting you to make good decisions with the ball.” He said, “Okay.”
I walk by him. I have this archway. He throws the ball over the archway but it doesn’t go over the archway. It hits exactly where my mug of matcha tea was that I had filled up. The mug explodes and there’s tea and glass everywhere. I’m like, “This is why you’re supposed to be paying attention.” He was like, “Mommy, I’m so sorry.” I’m like, “I know. Let’s chill out for a minute. Let me clean this up.” He was like, “Are you ready to go?” I was like, “No. We have this huge mess. We’re not going to be late. We have a whole hour before you’re late to school. Let me clean this up.”
He throws the ball again and I’m like, “Is that a good choice? You can tell that I’m frustrated. I’m cleaning up this big mess. I’m covered in what was hot and is now cold. Can we chill out for a minute, please?” Multiple other things happened and I was so frustrated for a minute. He was again like, “Mom, are you ready? We’re going to be late.” I’m like, “I have to change my clothes too.” I go to him and I’m like, “I’m sorry that the day started off this way. Let’s talk about what we can do to change that.”
The reason I tell this story is ten years ago, I would’ve been pissed off. I would’ve yelled and would’ve taken away the ball. I would’ve started the whole morning with anger and frustration and beating myself up for allowing the basketball in the house, beating him up for making bad decisions, letting him go to school that way, and then being upset with myself for being angry with him when I dropped him off.
People may disagree with my choice to let him have the ball in the house. The bigger thing for me was my choice to control my emotions and show my frustration but to say, “I’m not going to get angry about this. I’m going to laugh at how silly this is because it’s my wanting to allow fun in the house that’s causing this. Aren’t I blessed to be able to have these types of frustrations because I have two wild and crazy boys who are young enough and playful enough to want to play ball?” It’s my choice in how to see and perceive that. When I go to work, I can tell this story laughing instead of saying, “I had the most frustrating day. My kid is a jerk.” It’s completely my choice. I get to choose to look back, laugh, handle the situation with ease, and move forward.
One thing with that was for the longest time, it was like, “I have to be on time. I have to be early.” My kids were super young and I lived about an hour and a half away from work. They were so young that every time I got them dressed, they would undress themselves. They were like little lizards. Somehow, they always took their clothes off immediately as soon as I got them on and I would get so mad.
One time, after I put their shoes on, they took their shoes back off. I took the shoe, threw the shoe, and yelled, “Dang it.” I got in the car and was like, “What did I do? Why did I get so angry? Is it so that I could get to work, sit there by myself, and wait for everyone else to show up? What the heck? Is that worth yelling at my children for and then them going to school and me being frustrated all day?”
This is another light switch. I made a choice to be like, “We’re late. I’ve been at this job for twelve years. If they get mad and I am late because my kids keep stripping down to their underwear, that’s fine.” I realized quickly that I was still on time most of the time. If I was late, it was 5 to 10 minutes. I was never late for a meeting. It was getting to work on time. I realized I changed my entire life and my children’s lives in their daily way of being by making that conscious shift and it didn’t change my life for the worse at all. It didn’t change anybody else’s life for the worse at all.
In essence, what you’re doing is you’re creating an emotionally safe place for your children to play and be happy, but you’re also starting to teach them some tenets of self-leadership in making decisions with good choices. By being present and having some patience at the moment, you start saying some things to the child that let them be a little bit introspective. You say, “Was this a good choice for you? What kind of outcome were you hoping to have here? Do you feel like you got that outcome or not? If you didn’t, why do you think you didn’t get that outcome? How could you have done things differently to get the outcome that you want?”
You can’t do that with the child if you don’t create that emotionally safe place. Instead of being controlling and angry and stifling everything, you approach it from the standpoint of, “Let’s do a review here. I’m going to give you, the child, the power by giving you the choice in reviewing what the outcome was, how can we look back on this, and how could you have done things differently to maybe get a better outcome.”
I tell these stories about my life and my kids because it all bleeds into leadership and work. We lead by being, by doing, and by showing that we recognize this automatic behavior and we’re able to shift it. There’s the self-leadership of being willing to be introspective and change and being able to do that. One of the things that I didn’t like about my parents growing up or other bosses that I had along the way was the unwillingness or inability to have a conversation to get from one place to another. It was an unspoken expectation or a rule. You were either punished or locked out emotionally. A lot of leaders do those things automatically or they micromanage.
We lead by being, by doing, and by showing.
It’s all fear-based. From that fear, they want to control things to make sure certain outcomes happen.
Leaders need to always take the time to self-evaluate in the same way that they are evaluating their team. You don’t wait for the quarterly evaluation or the annual evaluation that you get from your team and that you give to your team. You are constantly evaluating internally to see, “How can I be a better leader? How can I lead my life better so that I can show up in all aspects in the way that I want to show up?” Know that you’re not going to do that at all times. There are going to be seasons of your life when it’s all going to fall apart. Hopefully, it’s a quick season or you can look at it and go, “I’m in the middle of the storm right now. I can tell.”
The ability to see beauty is a blessing. The ability to look for beauty is an incredible gift. The more you train yourself to look for beauty and to experience joy, the more you will see it and experience it. If you are in the middle of the deepest crap storm you’ve ever experienced and you can look around and laugh or say, “This is crappy, but look at that beautiful flower over there. Isn’t that nice?” You can turn it around. That’s when you’re like, “I have this idea. Now I know how to get out of the crap storm.” You allow yourself to see outside of it and feel outside of it. That is the beginning of getting out of and past the trauma. It has to be an internal energetic shift.
Out of the trauma, what are you going to own? What are you not going to own? In that piece that you do own, how are you going to use self-leadership to heal from it and move forward to go after the life that you offer yourself?
Be honest about what life you want for yourself.
You have to be brutally honest.
Brutally honest and completely open. One of the things that I have my coaching clients do is to think about what their all-time ideal perfect life would be. One day, in an ideal and perfect life, what do you wake up doing? What do you drink? What does it smell like? What does it feel like? Allow for all the possibilities or every single possibility in the entire universe. It could be like, “I wake up in Spain,” or whatever it is. It could be like, “I wake up every day on the beach, but I don’t like to be sandy so I have a pool.” What is it that is your all-time?
Cultivate the experience in your body of, “What would it feel like? What does it feel like to be in that life every day? What’s one little thing that I can do to move toward that or to feel that feeling?” Maybe you are limited by what you currently know. You’re like, “I’ve never been to Spain so I don’t know what it’s really like to live there. I can’t imagine what my daily life would be like, but I know what I want to feel like when I wake up and when I go to bed.”
In my coaching, I use business language and business constructs a lot. If we’re going to set a strategy for where we want to go and what we want this company to look like, going back to what you said about life, then we have to be brutally honest in our strategic conversations about who we are as a company or maybe even as a leadership team, where our strengths and weaknesses are, and what we need to do to go after what kind of company we want to be. It’s the exact same thing in life. We have to be brutally honest with ourselves even if it looks ugly. We need to do what we need to do to change things little by little to get to the point where we have the life that we picture or want for ourselves.
Being able to accept brutal honesty is a big part of that.
You can’t be afraid of it. You have to be able to sit with it and say, “It is what it is.”
You’re like, “I thought I owned that thing. Do you think I messed it up?” Let’s talk about why instead of being like, “No I didn’t.”
Let’s get rid of the ego. The ego is the enemy.
Ego is necessary but it can be a bully.
I can sit here and talk forever about this with you but unfortunately, our time is coming to a close. This was a great conversation. I wanted to get into some of your business side, but it was so juicy on the elements of self-leadership and so forth that I said, “We’re going to cover this today.”
I love to talk about spirituality, my personal experience and everyone else’s, and life growth. That’s why I realized that my why or my purpose in business is to help humans thrive in whatever way I can do that. My experience is in branding and marketing. That’s what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years. I have expanded my skillset through education and experience, coaching and masterminds, and cultivating off-site experiences and retreats for my clients in addition to brand-building and brand advising. I realized fully that a brand starts with the leadership and the feeling that the leadership cultivates throughout the business.
I’ll close with that. Anybody who made it through this conversation was interested in the conversation. That’s why I talk about all those other things. Your brand is your people. Your leadership makes a big difference. Your hiring makes a big difference. Don’t hire for skill. That is important, but culture, personality fit, energetic fit, mindset, and growth mindset. All of that will be your brand. It will determine where you go, how far you go, and how long you’ll be able to do it.
I agree. If somebody wanted to reach out to you and have further discussions about possibly partnering with you, what we discussed in this episode, or anything of that nature, what’s the best way they can connect with you?
I want to mention again my memoir, Anywhere, USA, is available on Amazon, Audible, and Barnes & Noble. My email, if you want to reach out to me directly, is SSilver@Vine-Collective.com. On Instagram, it is @VineBrands. Those are the best ways to get in touch with me. I love these types of conversations. I find that my gift and passion are in helping people and companies overcome their challenges and rise to the next level. That’s what my trauma and experience of life have gifted me to be able to gift it to others.
We’ll end with the same question we end all of our interviews with our guests. You stated it at the beginning of our conversation. I forewarned you in the green room before we started recording. What do the words “generate your value” mean to you?
Generate your value, to me, means living your best self and sharing that with the world in the way you know how in the moment.
By doing so, creativity gets to exist and you get to find ways to generate value in the world.
We are all here with our own gifts. If you’re not trying to be somebody else all the time and you live it authentically, you are generating the value you are meant to generate.
We are all here with our own gift and if you live it authentically and you’re not trying to be somebody else all the time, you are generating the value you are meant to generate.
I couldn’t have said it any better. Those are the reasons why I picked that as my business name. It’s for that reason. We were created to generate value in this world. We have to find our mission, our purpose, and our why and understand our skillsets and our talents, whether they’re innate in ourselves or we grow them. We bring that to bear to the world.
I agree completely. I love that you use the word value because it’s a holistic word that means your personal worth and everything that you can bring emotionally, spiritually, and energetically. That translates to your financial value and wisdom that you share.
As I’ve said in many interviews that I’ve given, I can sit here for an hour to talk about the different shapes, sizes, and colors that value comes in. There’s no one set formula, so to speak. It is a holistic term. You have to figure out where your tribe is that’s going to value the things that you can create through your creativity and do it.
Don’t undervalue the little bitty tiny things. One of my favorite quotes was from a client. I was thinking of this big, grand question, “How are you going to impact the world as a business?” She said, “We all make an impact simply by living in the world.” Your value may be that you were kind to someone who needed it.
On that specific day at that specific moment, you created a ripple effect in the universe and you don’t even know it. It could be something as simple as holding the door open for them, giving them a compliment, or whatever it may be. I can’t thank you enough for coming onto the show and sharing your experiences, your life story, your lessons learned, and so forth. On the show, we call them golden nuggets.
For the audience, I hope you got some golden nuggets from our conversation that you might be able to take away from our time together to integrate into your own life and start going after the life that you’re worthy of and that you were born for and can make an impact in the world with. That’s why we’re here. It is to share these kinds of stories, experiences, and so forth to inspire you to go after that for yourself. In doing so, it affects your leadership of others in hopes that your leadership will then inspire others under your care if you’re head of a team, CEO of a business, or whatever to go do that for themselves. That’s why we’re here. That’s why humanity exists.
We are here every week with another great episode and another great guest like Steph. I hope you’ll subscribe, come back, see us, and share it. If you liked the episode and liked the golden nuggets that you got out of it and you know others that might get something out of it, please share it. That’s the way that the value gets delivered.
We’re creating content. If the content sits there, doesn’t get shared, and people don’t become aware of it, which is why we have branding and marketing to make sure people understand that we exist as a business or as a person or the content exists, then the value doesn’t truly get delivered. Have a great day. Have a great week. Keep generating your value in this world. We’ll see you here next time on the show. Take care.
About Steph Silver
Steph Silver is on a mission to enhance as many lives as possible through cultivating meaningful and memorable experiences in work and in life. Having lived in over 30 places before the age of 17, including campgrounds and homeless shelters, then building a life of abundance and love, Steph knows the power of seeing light in dark times, finding opportunity in failure, and seeking connection as a key to success. With over 20 years of experience building and growing brands, Steph is brand, business and life advisor, a best selling author, and an authentic and powerful speaker.