Embracing Transitions – Ep.45

Moving the Needle – Ep.44
March 23, 2022
Building a Successful Team – Ep.46
April 5, 2022

Denise Gomez discusses confronting implicit biases, embarking on the path of self-reinvention, and the effects of toxic culture.

Melyssa Barrett:  Denise D. Gomez is founder and CEO at Aspire Leadership Coaching, a firm driven to inspire, equip, and grow a new generation of female leaders. With a high focus on self development and career advancement she’s helping women of all ages reinvent themselves and go for their next level promotions, become entrepreneurs and gain effective communication skills that create strong lasting relationships.

With over 20 years of corporate experience, her passion is developing and applying people first solutions that focus on possibilities rather than difficulties. Her passion is to empower each person with impactful and sustainable transformation and realize their full potential. Denise completed her training at Coaches Training Institute. She’s the co-founder of Project 58, make the community livable again, an initiative to bring much needed supplies and resources to the homeless unemployed, as well as underemployed. She has a bachelor’s degree in Christian leadership from United Graduate College and Seminary International, and as co-pastor alongside her husband of Star of David Hayward, California.

So this week I am excited, yet again, to sit and talk to Denise Gomez. And I am so happy that we have connected, reconnected. It’s so weird because I feel like I know you, even though we know a lot of the same people. So I am excited to chat with you and talk about your journey and some of the things that you’re doing these days. So why don’t we kick it off and just talk a little bit about how you go to where you are today and what your journey was like.

Denise Gomez:  Well as of recent I’ll start in the pandemic, because that’s really when my world got rocked. The day that the world locked down and that was announced, I was laid off from my corporate job where I had been 20 years.

Melyssa Barrett:  Wow.

Denise Gomez:  And I sat for about three months a deer in the headlights. I’m 56 years old. And these kinds of things happen to you in the beginning of your career.

Melyssa Barrett:  Or so you think, yes.

Denise Gomez:  Yeah, exactly. And so I’m sitting there going, what am I going to do? We’re in a pandemic. And what I realize is being in that season and in the midst of something I’ve never experienced, nor did everybody of our generation, it triggered a lot of what I didn’t know I was still dealing with. The lack of confidence, I had confidence in corporate, but it was tied into who I was working for. I’m in the C-suite, I’m connected with these executives, and it looks like a pretty seat. It’s a hard job, but it looks like a pretty seat. And so you have this confidence that comes with it. I have worked myself to this level.

What I didn’t realize and in the silence of this pandemic and lockdown shelter in place was I was still reeling from the things of childhood that I thought I had dealt with. And I had shared this with you before of like, when I look back now, I could go all the way back. And you know how they say between zero to 8 years old, you’ve already identified who you are, what you can have and what you can’t have.

And being of an interracial family.

Melyssa Barrett:  Background.

Denise Gomez:  Background. Sorry. I lost the word, but being of a Japanese mother who migrated from Japan after World War II with my father, American born German. So interracial in a time growing up in the 70s where that wasn’t common, you’re always a little different. Culture wasn’t really understood. I’m I know if I would’ve been in a different location where that was more… Maybe Hawaii or somewhere where the Japanese culture was understood, but out here it wasn’t.

 And there was always that awkwardness and feeling like I didn’t fit. Because I wasn’t Japanese enough. I wasn’t Caucasian enough. And then the friends, all I remember is nobody was interracial. And I grew up here in the Bay Area where we are diverse. There wasn’t hate. There just was that difference. And I did experience hate, and I know this rooted something in me, the first memory of hate towards the Japanese culture was when I barely even school age. I was probably four or five, back in the day when we played outside with our neighbors. We don’t really have that now, but I remember knocking on a neighbor’s door and the whole neighborhood’s in the back playing and you could see them through the window. And the lady angrily told me, “No, no.” And I remember being the little girl going put they’re back there, right back there. You’re thinking, “No, I want to go back there. I don’t want you.”

And not really understanding what was happening until later my older sister who was five years older, had more understanding. And she was like, “Oh yeah, they don’t like us because we’re Japanese. They’re bitter about the war.” This is the 70s and there’s still bitterness. And I just always remember things like this. My childhood, when I look back were always those moments. Mother, daughter day. Remember when they would do that, I love that they don’t do things like that today so you feel left out. But my mother never had the confidence to come because her English was not good enough. And so I would sit alone in these things and everybody else’s mothers who were more Americanized. Back in those days, they’d come with their big hair and they would be beautiful.

And I would look at them and be beautiful, but my mother, she was beautiful, but she had a different elegance. She had a different style. She had the Asian style that didn’t fit in. So there’s all these ways where I look back and we didn’t have awareness back then. And people didn’t talk about it.

And so you just walked around feeling like you didn’t fit and you were constantly fitting, or at least that’s how it felt for me. And this all surfaced when I’m sitting alone in the pandemic going, “What am I going to do? Who am I? Who am I, if I’m not tied into the executives.” I’ve always been tied into an executive. And I was like, who am I? Where am I going to go? What am I going to do at 56 years old?

And in the moments when I started becoming lucid, because I think I lost my mind for a bit, because I didn’t know who I was for a moment. My world had been rocked. My income had been gone. My benefits were gone. Do you know what I mean? It was like for the first time, in my adult life, I didn’t have. I’ve never been a person who didn’t have benefits and now… I’ve always been an employee. And so I’m sitting there reeling, and that little girl is coming up. “See, you don’t belong. See, you didn’t belong.” We all have that inner critic, that voice that wants to come in and make us feel less than, in the moment we are feeling lesser. It’s self torture.

And I’m thinking, what am I going to do? And I had gone to school for coaching. A corporation had sent me. An executive had seen it in me and sent me, and it didn’t dawn on me for three months while I was wallowing in. And that little girl who didn’t feel like she fit in anywhere was kind of wallowing in where I had been stuck in with the roots that were in me that I didn’t even know still existed. And it was about three months in that I kind of woke up. I had a friend that would pray with me every day. And for three months, she wouldn’t allow me to sit in the wallow, although I couldn’t get out. And she’d be praying with me and she’d be encouraging me and sometimes yelling at me. She would say [crosstalk 00:09:05]-

Melyssa Barrett:  Sometimes you need that, Denise.

Denise Gomez:  She would be like, “Girlfriend you are believing a lie. What is the truth?” And she was the one who was waking me up. And it was a third month end that I felt like I had this revelation? And I felt like, God, I have this ability to go be a coach. I know I’m a good coach. I did it in corporate. And something turned on, but I still wasn’t 100%. And so I start up this business. And again, that little girl is coming up, surfacing and I’m still not feeling… In the first year, I’ve been coaching now for two years. And my first year, it was really hard for me to tell you who I was as a coach. Wasn’t sure. And like every week it would change.

Oh, I’m a leadership coach. Oh, I’m a confidence coach. Oh, I’m a transformation coach. Oh, I’m an empowerment coach. It was like all this, “Oh, I work with [inaudible 00:10:07]. Oh no. I work with everybody. Oh no…” Do you know what I mean?

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Denise Gomez:  And that’s that little girl. No little girl. Who are you? Who are you, Denise? Who are you? And it was a journey. It was a definite journey where I had to do a self deep dive.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. Work on yourself. That’s excellent. Yes.

Denise Gomez:  That self-development. And then that’s who I know I am as a coach.

Melyssa Barrett:  But I think a lot of people struggle with that because that’s really the hard work. When you think about what you give to others, versus being able to just turn in on yourself and say, who am I? And what am I doing? Why am I here? That’s like really hard internal work sometimes to figure out who you are. Because it changes right over time. You’re not the same person you were when you were 20.

Denise Gomez:  Nope, exactly. There’s an evolution of self and our purpose is ever shifting. Because I can’t have the same purpose I had as a child. And in my twenties, it was a different purpose. The key is to be ever evolving, ever discovering, always self-discovery. And developing. And what I’ve realized as a coach and what I’ve realized as being the seasoned woman, living life. In our fifties, there’s a certain revelation we start to get where we start to understand, wait a minute, this all leads to something whether we like it or not. There’s consequences to every decision we’ve made.

And sometimes they don’t surface right away. And the key is developing yourself and following the cookie crumbs of who you are, who you want to be and not trying to fit the mold of what the world made you think you should be. And what I see, and what I know, and it sounds like you do too. The more I work with you on your self development, the greater everything else becomes. You advance in your career, you get that confidence that lasting confidence, where that limiting self belief can be silenced. It doesn’t go away.

I don’t know that we ever hit a point in life where it doesn’t try and surface. But the key is that we’ve become seasoned enough to say, oh no, you simmer down. You simmer down. Because I know what happens when you show up, it means I’m on the right path. Because that doesn’t surface when we retreat back into the comfort zones of habit and we all live in habit because that’s comfort.

We spend so much time living in the ways of being in that habit, that when we go to step out of it and we go to touch that dream or touch that next level, that stretching of that muscle it hurts. It’s just like working out. And so many of us, what happens is it manifests in fear or, oh, it’s too hard. So doubt. Or whatever it is, the story you tell yourself. And then in that moment, we retreat back to the habit because it’s more comfortable there. And that’s why-

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, and learning how to not only get out of your comfort zone, but stay out of your comfort zone is really challenging sometimes.

Denise Gomez:  Exactly. It’s a discipline. It’s a discipline. And that’s why I say you fall back into the habit. The habit of just sitting there in whatever it is because you’re not stretching anything it’s comfortable because it’s a fine tuned machine.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Denise Gomez:  And then when we go to step out of it, that’s scary. And then for me, that’s scary. Then the little girl comes up. “See, you’re not good enough. You don’t fit in. What are you? Who are you?” And so it’s a discipline and it’s a fine tuned so that as I build it… All you got to do is once. You know that. All you got to do is once. Then the next time you’re like, “I already did this. I already did this. Not going to let you do that to me. You made me trip this time, but you’re not going to get me next time.” It’s kind of like that… I don’t want to make it like a game, but it’s an exercise.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes. That’s one of the reasons I like Disney so much and Pixar because they do such a great job of taking subtle things and really putting them into the faces of our young people. I have two small grandkids in the house. One is 18 months one is four years old. So we watch a lot of Disney, Pixar movies. And we were watching one called Luca. And in the movie, Alberto is telling Luca about how to get these negative thoughts out of your mind.

So he calls them a Bruno and he goes, “Oh you have a Bruno in your head.” And he’s talking about how Luca needs to silence Bruno. And because it’s all of course based in Italy, he’s telling him, “Tell it silencio Bruno.” And he’s talking about how to get those negative thoughts out of your mind. And I just thought it was such a one thing when you’re talking about young people and engaging in the youth. And even at that young age to hear things like get that out of your mind, silence those negative thoughts, you can do it. So wonderful. Wonderful.

Denise Gomez:  So somehow we think it has the power. It’s only piping up because it knows it has no power. And it’s only piping up when it sees it’s losing its power. That’s why it surfaces when we’re shifting to go toward change or do something that scares us. And it comes up in those moments. It’s like a bully and most of us would not let somebody bully us. But we’ll let the voice in our head bully the crap out of us. I’m so tired of that bully. When you were talking about Luca, I had a memory of, somebody once shared with me… So this was not my revelation, but it stuck with me. Somebody shared with me that one of the Superman movies, one of the newer ones, I think it had Amy Adams in it. But Superman is being shown as a little boy in the classroom.

And it’s in a moment when his hearing elevates and he hears everybody talking in the world. And he gets so overwhelmed that he flips out and he goes locks himself in a closet. And his mother comes and she’s the only one that could calm him. And all she does is she says, “Just focus on me, just listen to my voice.” And the revelation was like, for me, a believer, it’s focusing on hearing just God. It’s just hearing the true.

If you’re not a believer hearing, what’s the truth. Telling yourself what is the truth? Because whatever that critic is telling you, whatever that self-doubt that limiting belief, that’s not your truth. And you know it. But we hold onto it, somehow. I don’t know why. Why does doubt and fear have such a strong hold on us when our power really is in the truth and growing. Yet somehow in this world, we’ve come to a place where doubt and negativity seems to overpower us.

And that’s where I think we’re missing it. And as a coach, that’s where I really put my focus in because that’s where I believe the self development becoming emotionally aware. My emotional awareness is where I found, okay, the trigger is this little girl stuff. That’s still rooted in me that I still need to purge. And that’s the emotional awareness. And emotional awareness is what I tune into when things start to surface and I’m like, “Oh my God there’s that voice, shut up.” Calm down.

And I really have to stress that I do know and have known for years that when that happens to me, it is a symptom of, “I’m headed in the right direction because I’m growing.” It’s scary, it hurts. Growing.

Melyssa Barrett:  No doubt. Now I know we’ve had conversations as well about intersectionality. Because of course I’m Afro-Latina. My mother came from Panama and my father was born here, African American. She immigrated, similar to your mother immigrated here. And we I’ll say acculturated. Literally did not… She made sure we didn’t speak Spanish at home at that time. Because in-

Denise Gomez:  At that time it was-

Melyssa Barrett:  … in the early 70s you have to speak English. But what was it like for you in terms of… Because you talk a little bit about white privilege versus what it was like when you were with your mother, versus your father kind of thing. So can you talk a little bit about that?

Denise Gomez:  Oh yeah. I, early on recognized, didn’t know it. As a kid, you’re not like, “Oh, this is white privilege.” I recognized from the time I could remember the difference between going into specifically, my memories are of this grocery store that we would go to. And if I went in with my dad, all things would stop. All things would stop. “Hey, Mr. Grayling.” And they’d be asking, “What can I do for you today? What can I get you today?” And at school, I just had a memory. That’s how school office was.

So I was a little bit of a troubled kid. Just going to say a little bit. But I remember being in the principal’s office sometimes having to wait for my dad in high school and he would come and the whole environment would shift. I’d be in trouble. But the second my dad came, “Mr. Grayling.” And they would do that.

And my dad, he was very charismatic, very, very loving and generous man. And so it was genuine. But let me tell you, my mom was a very nice, generous woman, but she was Japanese with a thick accent. We didn’t get that treatment from the time I was little… I remember going to that same grocery store when I was little and again taught. I remember being with my mother and we’d walk up to the grocery store, go in. We’d be ignored. And I remember being a little girl wondering why. I remember wondering why they’re not saying hi.

And like, and then I recognize that when I’m with my mother, I’m invisible, when I’m with my father were like celebrity. And I didn’t know, oh, this is white privilege or this is racism or this is… I just knew that difference. It wasn’t until later in life. I’m like, my first realization is I’m at a lunch with friends and my African American friend is being treated differently. He has no idea. He has no idea.

Denise Gomez:

It hit me like, because I’m going, he can’t see. I could see. Because I see the difference in the counts of the person as they’re serving everybody else. And I didn’t say anything because I’m trying to figure out what did I witness? And he was not thinking anything. And then I-

Melyssa Barrett:  Used to being treated that way likely.

Denise Gomez:  Yes, exactly. It’s familiar and it’s normal. So there’s nothing to compare it, to like me being Caucasian when I’m with my dad and being an immigrant with my mother. And I saw it with my husband right off. And I didn’t say… I never really with anybody because I didn’t want to be insulting. I didn’t want to be insulting and bring something to light that they didn’t know.

And it was when I started dating my husband that I really started getting bothered because this is the man I’m going to marry. After we got married, I started bringing it to his attention. “You just got stereotyped, you just got stereotyped.” And it happens to this day that my husband he’s Mexican Italian, American born doesn’t speak any other language, but I see him get stereotyped often. And one of them was so blatant I wanted to go beat the person. And it’s years ago when my daughter was seven, she needed to have oral surgery and she needed like 12 teeth surgically removed. And they said that she needed to under anesthesia, we needed a surgeon.

So we’re interviewing surgeons. And my big concern was going under in a dental office and not the hospital. At her age it’s five years old, cut off. And then you’re in the dental office, not the hospital. And so I told my husband, I couldn’t make it to one of the meetings with one of the surgeons, dental surgeons or oral surgeons. And I told him, “Okay, just make sure you ask them…” And I gave him the questions. I forget what they were. But there were like four questions that I wanted to know about anesthesia. And I was asking it of everyone. And this one he had to do for me because I couldn’t get off work.

He goes, and then afterwards he comes home and he’s like “Yeah, it got kind of weird.” And I was like, “What?” And he was like, “When I started asking about anesthesia and the risk of not doing it in a hospital.” And I was like, “What got weird?” And he said, “She asked me what I did for a living.”

I about lost it. And I was like, “You didn’t answer that.” He was like “Yeah, I did.” And my husband’s a limo driver at that time. And so I said, “You just got stereotyped. It had nothing to do with your questions and our daughter getting surgery.” And I told him, “The appropriate way to respond to that is I’m sorry. I’m not understanding what the importance of that is. How’s that pertinent to this.” And getting it back on track to, can you just answer my questions. Or you just get up and go, “I don’t want you putting your hands on my child. I’m not going to trust you to do surgery on my child, but that’s…” Because that is the difference of being with my dad. That is not a question they would’ve asked. That is a question they would’ve asked my mother.

Melyssa Barrett:  That bias coming through.

Denise Gomez:  That stereotype that, I don’t know, what do you call it? Like, to me, it was like, “Look, peasant?” What was that? What was that? And it upset me, though, that in this day in age, this kind of stuff is going on and it’s acceptable. My husband didn’t know. And he walked away from it just feeling like how he’s probably felt many times in life. What was that? Rather than no, I get to hold my position. What does it matter? You don’t get to behave like this. Calling out somebody who’s behaving in that manner of… I don’t know if it’s arrogance, I wasn’t in the room. So I can’t read the room. But I just know that question, even when I tell you and I saw your reaction to it, you get that. Where was that even appropriate? And why was that acceptable to ask? And why did you feel comfortable to ask?

If that was a Caucasian executive suited up that came and sat and asked you those questions you’d answer with no problem. Maybe complain later. “Ugh, he’s so anal.” But never be, “What do you do for a living?” Or that thing where I felt like it was a check. “What do you do for a living?’ Why would you ask me? I know better than you.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, and it’s interesting, even when you go into doctor’s offices today they will… I hadn’t experience in my family where I was in the doctor’s office and the person didn’t have insurance. And the doctor came in and said… They had been in a car accident and the doctor came in and said, “Oh, it’s just soft tissue damage. We don’t need to do any x-rays or anything like that. You don’t have insurance. So you’re fine.”

And it’s interesting how people will just… Because for him, it was like, you have no insurance, so therefore I’m giving you… You don’t need to go the extra step and make sure that everything it’s fine. I can tell in your body that you seem to be okay. And so she ended up going somewhere else and yes, she had whiplash and a bunch of other things. It’s interesting people don’t think that that’s what they’re doing. And I’m not saying it’s all Caucasians either. Because I think we, as people, inherently have this implicit bias where we make decisions to do things that we need to question ourselves.

Denise Gomez:  And I need to point out that doctor who was doing that with my husband was not Caucasian.

Melyssa Barrett:  Right.

Denise Gomez:  But my experience wasn’t… I should be clear about that. My experience as a child was not always from a Caucasian person. It was across the board. It was across the board.

Melyssa Barrett:  It’s a human thing.

Denise Gomez:  Yes. Yeah. It really is. I assume it matters how you were taught to see were you taught to see color? Were you taught to see the differences? Was the language used in your house, “Go talk to that Asian kid, go talk to that black kid, go talk to the…” Those are the things I remember in the neighborhood. There was identity based on ethnicity or of color. Like the reference. I do remember that from our age. And I have a beautiful story that I have to share about my stepdaughter when she came to live with us when she was seven.

And I picked her up from school one day and she was telling me about a little boy picking on her. And I was like he probably has a crush on you, but who is it? And just so you know how I am too. I don’t mean to be about color and race. But I’m asking her, “Well, who was it?” And she was like “A boy.” And I was like, “Okay, which boy?” And she was like, “I don’t know, just a boy.” And I was like, “Okay. So what did he look like?” “Well, he’s got brown hair.” I was like, “Okay, that’s half the school.” And I’m like trying to get into, “Okay. Give me more.” And then she was like, “What do you mean?” I was like, “I don’t know. Was he Chinese? Was he white? Was he Mexican?”

And then she was like, “I don’t know.” And then in that moment I caught myself and I told her, “Honey, you’re so beautiful. You stay the way you are.” I realized you know what, she doesn’t see it. So I’m not going to point it out. This next generation they don’t have that. And that’s beautiful. I’m not saying they all don’t, but do you know what I’m saying? Like in that moment. And I was like, so in love with her mom.

I remember thinking her mom like… This shows that her mom didn’t have that in her. Do you know what I mean? There was such a beauty in that moment I was driving my car. I’ll never forget it. And I’m looking over at her and I’m in awe of like, if all the world had that lens. And it was a lesson for me that here I am about like look at these people. And I was like, “Wow, look, it was in me.” Because I’m trying to find out who is it? Because I want to know so that I could be watching when I see you, but I’m narrowing it down, rather than just the next day show me who it is.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yeah. No, for sure. Let’s pause for a moment. We’ll be right back. So let me ask you this question, because you talked about the pandemic and kind of moving from your career. I mean, I think people have different career journeys, you found yourself in the pandemic kind of trying to figure it out. And in the process have really reinvented yourself.

Denise Gomez:  Yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  So can you talk a little bit about… I mean, not only are you helping others reinvent themselves, but you actually reinvented yourself. Can you talk a little bit about that process for you?

Denise Gomez:  Yes. And it was a process. It’s a process. Reinventing yourself is scary. And it’s that part of you that I’m talking about has to come out of that habit and then you’ll get that voice coming up saying, “No, Denise, you don’t fit. No, Denise, you’re not educated enough. You’re not smart enough. Maybe you need to go study some more.”

And the beauty came when I actually hired a coach. And the coach coaches on you’ll never be ready. So get started anyways. Because the voice will always be telling you, will always be over nitpicky, will always… And that is the best advice that I got that set me on the journey of like, oh. Because you know what clicked, that’s what the executives I saw do. And in the past I did have to read reinvent myself sometimes. I was in lending years ago, back when there was S&Ls and then it tanked. Had to go reinvent myself, find something else.

So there was that to pull on as well. I was an underwriter for years and then the industry tanked. And that’s when I reinvented myself and talked myself into a job I wasn’t experienced for. The thing that I’m going to tell you that we have to get before you truly reinvent yourself is the confidence in you.

I was so confident in who I am, that I could do it. I could do it. And that came across that somebody, an executive, took a risk on me with no experience, ended up being the best job I ever had and the career that led me up until now. And so the thing that I would say in reinventing myself, the first place I had to go was inside myself and get that confidence, again, again. Of, wait a minute, I can do this. I can do this. I’m a good coach. I’m not only a coach, but I looked back at who I was and realized since the time I can remember friends came to me for help, came to me for direction and strategy. And so I started pumping myself and telling myself that story, because part of reinventing yourself is identify the story you’ve been telling yourself.

Where have you been telling yourself, “Oh, I need that class before I do that. I need this certification before…” Do you know nobody ever asked me about my education or where I’ve been certified, or even if I went to coaching school. People are more concerned with who are you? And can I connect with you? And that’s for any job. That’s the beauty of an interview. They’re looking for connection. Will you fit into this company culture? What is your vision? Who do I hear coming out of your voice. The words you’re speaking. Who do I see and where do I see you in my company or if I’m going to hire you or consulting or whatever it is. And for me, the reinventing came when I started to get my legging and confidence, and then it was trial and error.

Like I said, I just did it. She coached me. You will never be ready, so just do it anyways. And the 100% is possible 100% of the time. What’s your intention. That’s going to tell me what the result will be. We either get caught up in the mechanics and lose what our intention is and the mechanics would be, “Oh, I got to get certified over here. I got to do this. I’ve got to grab that class.” And no, I’m going to talk about 10 more people and have them validate me before I’m going to get started. And then you’re done with those 10 and you’ll give yourself another excuse. So my point is, what is the story you keep telling yourself? Is there a cycle that’s holding you back from reinventing yourself? First place you got to start is with confidence. And so once I got the confidence, once I took her coaching and said, okay, I’m going to just going to start it I started to see the evidence. I started to see the evidence. Okay, I’m good at coaching.

Then insecurity rose. Well, what are you? I don’t know. I was so new in the beginning. I had couples coming to me. So I was like, okay, I’m a relationship coach. And then I was like, well, what am I going to do for relationships? My corporate background was emerging leaders training. And I was using emotional awareness and conflict resolution in couples. And I was like, okay, I could flip this for personal. So I was through doing this I was discovering. And so my greatest urging to everybody sitting on that idea or wondering if they should try it. You’re not going to hit it perfect out the gate. You’re going to bob and weave, and it’s going to get created.

And so just through doing that and getting feedback, I always ask for feedback. Ask people for feedback, ask your friends and family for feedback. And don’t get all twisted when it’s constructive. Go to the people you trust to give you constructive.

Melyssa Barrett:  That’s the only way you get better.

Denise Gomez:  Exactly. In corporate life. If I did a big meeting or I attended something, I would come back and I would ask my executive, “Okay, did you see me do something I shouldn’t be doing? Or did I not do something that you feel would’ve been beneficial to do?” I always asked that so that I could understand so that the next one would be even better. I was always good at what I did, but my stride was to always get better. That’s who I am as a coach.

So when I rolled out the business, I started on my confidence. I got the coaches that helped me build confidence. Then I got the coaches that helped me build a business strategy. And all the while, every time self doubt was creeping up, I was silencing it. And identifying, why does it keep doing this at this moment? It would always do it at the moment where it was me who needed to shine. Me who needed to speak. And that’s when I was like, that’s that little girl. That I don’t fit. And then working on that I had to do some work on that. And don’t be ashamed of the things you have to work on. I will be working on myself until the day I exit this earth and we all should.

Melyssa Barrett:  Absolutely.

Denise Gomez:  Revelation and constantly evolving. Every year and this is what I adore about my husband, every year that we have been together if you look at us, we’ve progressed. We are not the same and we don’t remain the same. We’re always seeking to grow and get better. And that alone is reinventing of self.

And so it was a process to reinvent myself, but I couldn’t do it by myself. And that’s the key. You can’t reinvent yourself by yourself. You need somebody, that’s like a football team not having a coach of any kind. Look at how many coaches a team has. They have the head coach. And I don’t know sports that well how they have offenses coach, a special teams coach. I hear my husband watching it. I’m like “My God, how many coaches?”

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Denise Gomez:  But same thing in life. This is what I will tell you. And I’m sure you’ll agree. Every successful executive, I know has two things in common. They have a mentor and they have a coach. The mentor is where they want to be and already doing it and sharing how they did it, like a consulting. This is how you do it. This is how I did it.

And a coach is drawing out the better parts of them, and building it up. And that truly… I haven’t been around… And I’ve been around heavy hitters here in Silicon valley. And I haven’t had one that I could tell you that doesn’t do that.

Melyssa Barrett:  I always called it my personal board of directors.

Denise Gomez:  I love it.

Melyssa Barrett:  And they have evolved and changed over time, depending on what I was doing and where I wanted to go. And how you are experiencing life in general. But I think sometimes you get so busy with doing the work that you forget you’re actually living your life. And so the coach is kind of one of those people that can pull you back and ask you those questions. It’s not just about the job, but it’s about how are you living your life? And I think a lot of CEOs, a lot of C-suite executives they’re very busy, but I think they’re starting to realize the impact of their own influence.

And so it becomes really much more important for them to understand themselves and to question themselves and to be okay with not knowing everything.

Denise Gomez:  And that’s the true sign of a leader. Because leadership is not a position. And leadership is not somebody who just gives direction. Leadership is somebody who inspires. Leadership shows up in how influential are you? Can you influence the results? Not manipulate, but a true leader if you talk to some of these CEOs, some of my favorite stories are how they got started. I worked with one who started a gaming company and he had this story of like how he saw what he was doing for a living was going to be phased out. What is he going to do for this next? Had this gaming idea.

And he pitched it to friends who were doing really well in their corporate jobs, but he was so on fire for his vision that he got them so engaged they quit their jobs. They were working out of his studio apartment. And he was saying they went broke, so broke in the beginning that they were looking for change in drawers for lunch.

And that became a multimillion dollar company. But to get started, that’s one thing he said, if you are looking to be a CEO, if you’re going to start something, you to be that person that could get people so on fire they’ll work for free. And when you hear these stories of like how they start in garages and all that. That’s leadership, that’s the part of leadership that builds. Don’t get leadership confused with being a manager and saying, “Okay, this is your job. This is how you do it.” The leader is the one who gets up in front of everybody and gets them so drawn into a vision that they will work and be happy to do that with you. And I have seen leaders who lead like that. And I’ve also witnessed leaders who do not lead like that. And it’s unfortunate because that creates the culture of…

Melyssa Barrett:  Toxicity.

Denise Gomez:  Thank you. Thank you. Toxicity, I was looking for a gentler word, but that’s-

Melyssa Barrett:  No, I mean, I’ve experienced that myself for sure. And I think sometimes we don’t realize how impactful into the culture of the company that having one person that is toxic and influencing that toxicity really has on the organization as a whole. So it’s challenging. It’s challenging.

Denise Gomez:  Yeah. And so that’s what I’m like… My passion and my fire as a coach is developing leaders that inspire and influence and truly focusing on female leaders because coming from the C-suite and having 20 years in corporate, that wasn’t… There’s not an overwhelming amount of women in those positions. And my passion is to develop women to go into those positions. And if they don’t have the opportunity, create the opportunity.

I know there are so many women out there sitting on ideas like I was. This business that I started in the pandemic. It took a pandemic to finally kick my butt, to do what I had been seeing and visualizing for five years, at least, if not longer. And it’s time, it’s time for the next generation of leaders. And my focus is female, but just in a whole, the next generation of leaders and what they’re going to be doing in their leadership. Because we went through this time and I believe the pandemic has shaked some of this up. Where we were overworked, tired, exhausted, we had the dangling carrot of stock. And like all these things that were making us work so hard. Like, “Oh, I’m going to put my four years in here. I’m going to vest.” How many conversations I’ve heard like that.

“I’m just going to do my four years.” And so they’ll do anything to not lose their job or to get a refresh on their stock. All these things that in the pandemic, I think a lot of us just woke up and we’re like done. Done.

Melyssa Barrett:  Yes.

Denise Gomez:  No longer acceptable that I’m not going to kill myself. It’s funny. One of the things I do have to share about when I started my own business. Here I was all corporate and I’m a master when it comes to time management. And I remember I was picking up momentum in the beginning and I told my coach, “I don’t know, I’m not…” She started asking me questions, I don’t even remember what they were. And she was like, “Denise, that sounds like a time management issue.” And I was like, “Oh my God.” I was so insulted. Denise Gomez having time management. I’m a master of time. Do you know who I’ve mastered time for?

It was so funny. But she was right. And the second that clicked, I was like, why am I not doing what I do in my corporate life, in my business life? The second I took command of my time and actually used my calendar as my map. That’s when momentum happened. That’s when I started getting clients. That’s when I started developing. And yeah, I just had to share that, because that just came to my mind. Like, oh, that’s right. Even knowing what I knew, I needed somebody to tell me.

Melyssa Barrett:  And it’s a strength. It was a strength. That’s what’s so interesting.

Denise Gomez:  Yes. It is a strength. It’s something I taught. I still teach. But I used to do time management workshops and teach people and I would teach other admins how to manage calendars and conflict and how to prioritize and how to adjust. And it was so funny. And I was like, “Why am I not doing any of that for me?” It was so funny. It was so funny.

Melyssa Barrett:  Well, and it’s all about you really believing in yourself now that you matter. So I mean, a lot of that is like “You know what, I am valuable, I want to give these gifts and I need to use my gifts in the right way. In order to achieve my goals.” So I mean, kudos to you in focusing, reinventing yourself and really kind of tapping in to bring women along.

Denise Gomez:  Yes.

Melyssa Barrett:  I mean, there are so many opportunities right now, and I’m so glad that we’re seeing such a focus on marginalized communities and gender and all of those things over the last several years, especially with the emphasis there. So congratulations to you.

Denise Gomez:  Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett:  And I am looking forward to more conversations. I know you have a vision for… Do you want to talk a little bit about some of the things that you see coming up?

Denise Gomez:  Yeah. So I think you’re referencing like for the youth, I have a few things. I know I talked to you about the youth and putting it together events for spoken word and doing… The vision I have for that is taking the kids and doing an event out in an open space like a park, because what I’m seeing is this generation, number one, they’re not really online. Meaning they don’t enjoy Zoom. They’re not into virtual. They want to be in contact. And they like to be in the open, the ones that I’m around. And so I visualize this… I have this vision of doing a spoken word event in an open area space like a park and starting it here where I live, the Hayward area, the Bay area.

And having that become something. I already have some youth engaged, you mentioned you do too. And so I do see that’s building momentum. I have for… The other vision I have, I have an online community called born for more. It’s a Facebook, private community. There I’m hosting summits. And every year I, well, I started it two years ago. But this year I shifted the vision for it to born for more. And it’s focus for 2022 is reinventing yourself and really conquering the limited self belief, gaining the confidence, being heard, start finding your voice. And most of all, get clear on what you want. One of the things where we get stuck is we’re not clear on what we want, and if we can’t really see it or communicate it, how can you have it? How can you get there if you can’t tell me where you’re even headed?

And that is a Facebook community, and it’s not just women in there, there’s men and women. And yeah, I’ll be hosting summits in there like quarterly. And in the between, I spoke with you, hosting folks like you doing one off interviews in there. And it’s a community of just growth and empowering with strategy and skills and sharing, information share. And then what else do I have?

Oh, and our church, we just launched our David Hayward ministries here in Hayward. Right now it’s small, but it’s growing. And the vision of this is just showing the world God’s love. Unconditional love and doing lots of outreach. We’re a people who love to be outside the four walls and doing community outreach. So you’ll see us doing a lot of reach out to the homeless.

And we also are doing events and working this out now, but we’ll be doing events where helping the underemployed. The one thing that I learned in working with homeless out here in the Bay area, we have a lot of homeless folks who have jobs. And they’ve had them a long time. They’re just not making money that can make the ends meet. And so they’re living functionally, this is surprising. They’re not the ones you see by the freeway. They’re under the bridges and they’re hidden. But some of these that I’ve been to were cleaner than some people’s houses I’ve been in. And they have a system where the folks who work at night are watching the people during the day’s stuff and vice versa. And what spoke to me, number one is, “Okay, hold on. You guys are functional.” When I first saw that I was like blown away.

And then the second thing that came out of me is we need to puts programs together to help them understand how to go for a raise, how to go for a promotion, and so that is something in 2022, that in outreach and community and ministry, that you’re going to see us starting to develop. I’ve got recruiters from high tech companies, ready to volunteer time to teach them the value of LinkedIn. They all have cell phones. So they could have a LinkedIn page. How to interview. Whatever it is, you don’t have a computer. I’ll set up a day where we have computers, you get things done that you need to do. And so it’s evolving, but that’s where I am at today as of March, 2022.

Melyssa Barrett:  Awesome. So how do people get a hold of you?

Denise Gomez:  So my Instagram is @Denise.D.Gomez. My website is DeniseDGomez.com. So either one of those. My website, you could even do a free call with me. There’s a book… It’s called a discovery call, but it’s basically a free call to… And I think on my website, there’s also a way to send me an email, but my email is DDG@DeniseDGomez.com. So I hope that’s easy. Everything’s pretty much Denise D. Gomez. I’ve tried to make it…

Melyssa Barrett:  Consistent, consistent. Well awesome. Thank you so much, Denise, for joining me this week.

Denise Gomez:  Thank you.

Melyssa Barrett:  And I am just so happy to have reconnected and look forward to hearing about all these wonderful things you’re doing.

Denise Gomez:  Thank you so much. What an honor this was. Thank you so much for having me on.

Melyssa Barrett:  Thank you. Thanks for joining me on the JaliPodcast. Please subscribe so you won’t miss an episode. See you next week.