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Interview with Ellen Castro, Author of ‘Spirited Leadership’

 

EllenCastro_color_2509My guest is best-selling author, inspirational speaker, coach and global consultant Ellen Castro. Ellen’s clients range from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies to non-profits to schools and individuals. She has touched millions via keynotes and media appearances. She earned her MEd from Harvard and MBA from Southern Methodist University where she served on the faculty of the Edwin L. Cox Business Leadership Center for more than 15 years. Her first corporate experience was leading a $90 million profit center of 500 employees for Exxon in the 1970s, where she was the highest-ranking female in Marketing, with five promotions in just 11 years. Today she’s spreading the word about her latest nonfiction work, Spirited Leadership…52 Ways to Build Trust.

Welcome, Ellen! Tell us what got you into coaching.

Thank you! ! Delighted for the opportunity. I started coaching officially in the 1980s when I worked for this amazing start-up after earning my MEd from Harvard. As director of organizational and management development, I traveled throughout the US coaching the leaders of 30+ HMOs to create cultures of trust, teamwork and excellence in an industry that was facing many challenges.

Unofficially, I’ve been a coach since college. I was a sophomore advisor and resident assistant as well as actively involved in many leadership/mentoring organizations. Then at Exxon, as a leader of a $90 million profit center with 500 employees, I coached my team to greatness and success. In fact, we won several awards!

I love helping and encouraging others and giving feedback in a way that it can be heard – without crushing the human spirit.

What compelled you to write Spirited Leadership… 52 Ways to Build Trust?

I was compelled based on my experience at Exxon. I battered my head on the glass ceiling at Exxon in the mid-1980s while scrambling up the corporate ladder. One fateful, dreary day in Houston, my boss, Ray, called me into his corner office. As Ray doodled, he informed me he was blocking my sixth promotion in 11 years. Stunned and dumbfounded, I asked why. He simply stated he did not like me or my jewelry. The world I knew imploded. I quit during a massive reorganization a few months later. Within a year — call it luck, synchronicity or grace — I was attending Harvard University to earn my second Master’s. The devastating, demoralizing, humiliating experience of losing my spirit and soul at work became my launching pad to living a life of excellence, my rewarding career and enjoying a fulfilling life.

What I considered punishment was simply preparation.

3749999_orig I want others to be equipped to embrace inevitable obstacles and use them as breakthroughs, not breakdowns. The 52 Ways provide a personal power leadership workout and concise resource for success regardless of external forces.

We are our choices. We can live an amazing life of excellence, self-expression and success in all its many forms by harnessing our personal power.

What does it mean to live courageously and fearlessly and how can we achieve it?

Living courageously to me is living our lives, not the lives that others or the life society says we should live. Living our lives from the inside out based on values, respect, trust and love. Each of us was made on purpose for a purpose, of that I am sure. Each of us is given unique talents, skills, attitudes and aptitudes that are meant to change the world for the better.

Unfortunately, most of us are living in a state of fear and stress, I know I was —  I still have my moments. In the past, I was driven by external validation, approval, acceptance and society’s definition of success. Externals can change in a heartbeat.

By grace, faith and better choices, I am now living from the truth within. I am loved, accepted and far more powerful than I imagine. I am made in the image of God. WOW! The 52 Ways provide the blueprint and toolkit to live courageously and fearlessly, to do what is right and fulfill our unique divine purpose.

Trust is the key. Trust for oneself, trust that life is for you and trust that you can be all that you were created to be with better choices. Every choice counts.

The book facilitates the readers’ feeling comfortable in their own skin thus gaining increased confidence to live boldly.

How does your book help people release their energy and creativity?

It is amazing how much energy and creativity I have freed up by living from the inside out. By trusting myself and trusting that life is for me, I can trust others and bring out the best in them.

When you live from your passion and purpose, there is no competition. You liberate your greatness and allow others to live from their potential instead of living from fear, doubt and survival. We all have greatness. We were meant for greatness!

The 52 ways allow the readers to harness their personal power, gain leadership muscle and emotional stamina – they did for me – to live from their greatness, not their self-imposed limitations

My life went from tragic to magic, from surviving to thriving. I learned the hard way and have enough gray hairs for all of us. These are my learnings I am delighted to share to make others’ lives easier, brighter and lighter!

Executives and leaders worldwide have used your book to create cultures of trust, sensational teamwork, innovation and excellence. Can you tell us how your book has helped them achieve this?

This book increases the executives’ and leaders’ awareness and provides them the tools to build and develop their leadership skills, abilities, emotional intelligence and people smarts. Did you know that emotional intelligence is up to 90% of the differential between leaders and managers according to Dr. Daniel Goleman – the leading expert in the field?

Spirited Leadership takes emotional intelligence and makes it practical by providing a concise description of the behavior, characteristic, attitude and/or action followed by insightful questions, practical exercises and success applications.

Many leaders use it as their go-to reference guide to solving immediate problems and challenges. Some managers and leaders have chosen to use it as a weekly team activity to create stronger bonds of trust and collaboration while building the capacity of the team members. Others use it as a coaching and mentoring guide.

Leaders have told me that it has made them very conscious of the impact they have on setting the culture. Culture beats strategy every time. They become conscious that everything communicates. There are no neutral actions. Everything they do either builds trust and increases their credibility or destroys it. Everything they do either unleashes potential and builds healthy self-esteem and confidence in themselves, others and the future or destroys it.

I could go on and on! I’ve seen the success my clients have had – it is inspiring and motivating!

Who is your target audience?

Anyone who wants the competitive edge in today’s stressful, non-traditional and intense times, where competence alone has ceased to be enough to succeed in business or in life.

The initial target audience in 1998 with the first edition was executives, leaders and managers in the workplace. Over the last 15 years the audience has expanded. It now includes people who are aspiring to those levels as well as influencers and professionals wanting better, quicker and enhanced results. Individuals entering the workplace are using it as an invaluable resource for assimilating into the workplace. Students are using it as their leadership primer and self-confidence igniter. Entrepreneurs are using the 52 Ways as a blueprint for building their brand value. Community volunteers and parents give it rave reviews for building better relationships in the community and at home. Associations such as Project Management Institute (PMI) and non-profits such as the Komen Foundation are buying it to uplift and educate their members.

Regardless of position, title, sector or industry, this concise book is relevant.

You remain active in the Hispanic community and co-authored Tortilla Soup for the Spirit. Tell us about this.

You are right, I do remain active in the Hispanic community — it is very important to me.

Tortilla Soup was a delight and honor to co-author. The heart-warming book is a delicious collection of works by Latinas and Latinos from across the country.  The compilation reflects the many aspects of our heritage and culture, including our deep faith and love for life.

What important message you hope readers will get from your book?

We are our choices.

Every choice counts.

You are always on stage.

You are far more powerful than you imagine.

Live greater with trust!

Any last words you’d like to share with my readers?

Redefine failure.

Life is for you — promise.

You are meant for greatness!

Live empowered and energized.

Be a spirited leader!

Blessings and thanks!

Thank you, Ellen!

My interview was originally published in Blogcritics.

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