Becky Powell-Schwartz is the founder and CEO of The Powell Group, Becky Powell-Schwartz has been a thought partner to the C-suite for more than 25 years. Her depth of experience solving business and communications issues has made her a trusted advisor for executives of Fortune 500 and industry-leading companies across diverse business sectors. She is also Vistage International CEO group leader. Becky is a graduate of the Harvard University Mediation Training program, Leadership America, Leadership Texas and Leadership Dallas. She is also the recipient of the Most Powerful Women in PR Award from the Council of Public Relations. Additionally, she currently serves on the advisory boards of the Texas A&M Mays Business School Center for Retailing Studies; Leadership Women, the oldest women’s leadership program in North America; and Senior Source of Greater Dallas.

When I’m afraid to do it, I do it anyway because that’s how you build confidence.” Becky Powell-Schwartz

“As a CEO you have to learn a lot of things and make decisions quickly. How you manage that process will make or break you.” –Becky Powell-Schwartz

“Confidence in myself was really hard for me. But I had to learn it because as a leader you’ve you’ve got to trust your vision…even if no one else trusts it.” Becky Powell-Schwartz

“My brother had a lot of emotional challenges, drugs, alcohol, from a very early age. So, I had to learn to be pretty independent and take care of myself emotionally. And so that is kind of one of my bedrocks and one of the foundations for me that’s helped me I think to be successful in a business.. Becky Powell-Schwartz

“Perfectionism is a big problem for leaders. There are certain things you just have to let go. In order to create something great, you have to let go of control.Becky Powell-Schwartz

The Cheat Sheet:

  • Learn how to overcome a disruptive past and use it to your advantage
  • How to become more confident and develop your unique leadership style
  • The leadership issues women and men are struggling with and what to do
  • How to build your own tribe of supporters and raving fans
  • Why fear is something good for you
  • How to pivot in your career
  • Learn how to plan and when to sell your business
  • And so much more…

Scroll down more for a summary, show transcription, resources and more.

Adversity can either make or break you. Becky Powell-Schwartz faced considerable challenges growing up and turned those into her advantages. She learned to build a tribe of supporters and close loved ones to help her through the tough times. She also looked for every opportunity to face her fears and be uncomfortable. It helped her pivot throughout her career to find new and better opportunities. She’s passionate, counselor, mentor, leader and on a path of personal growth.

And even more importantly…she is a fire starter.

A campfire doesn’t light itself. The wood will not suddenly burst into flames. It has to be lit. The same applies to any leader. You have to light the fire with all of the people you interact with, and keep it lit.

Well, that’s Becky (in a nutshell). She ignites others, and is an agent of positive and passionate change. Join me today and let Becky ignite you with her insights, breakdowns and breakthroughs, and strategies for you to take your leadership, business and relationships to the highest levels.  Listen, learn, laugh, and enjoy!

Show Full Transcript

[Star of Transcript]

Interviewer: Hello and welcome to another episode of Executive Breakthroughs  and I have a very exciting guest here Becky Powell Schwartz and she is going to lay a lot of insight on her career, her transitions and a lot of other things on leadership and building teams and so much wonderful information, you’re going to love it. So, thanks for coming on the show today.

Becky: I’m excited; it’s great to see you.

Interviewer: It’s great to see you too.

Becky: I’m excited to see your journey and all the success that you have.

Interviewer: Thank you, I appreciate it. So, I love to start to talk about you know where you grew up, and a little bit about your family and just define about your entrepreneurial journey. I always talked about people’s story so can people understand where they came from then a lot of it makes a lot more sense when we talk about what you’re doing in your career.

Becky: So, I grew up in …. and I am the oldest and both of my Parents were older in terms of, my Dad was in his middle 30s, my Brother and I were adopted when I was growing up, my Parents were a lot older than my friend’s but now they would be contemporaries.

Interviewer: when did you get adopted?

Becky: I was adopted at birth. Back then, it was a little different. And so, growing up, I had a lot of great things around me physically but emotionally was very difficult. My brother had a lot of emotional challenges, drugs, alcohol, from a very early age. So, I had to learn to be pretty independent and take care of myself emotionally. And so that is kind of one of my bedrocks and one of the foundations for me that’s helped me I think to be successful in a business. My father and ……enough was a Corporate Executive and at age 50, decided that he was going to leave the corporate world and he was going to start commercial and residential Real Estate; and so he did that for 25years until he died. That was his second career.

Interviewer: Why did he decide to quit corporate America?

Becky: I don’t know I was little; I was like 6 or 7.

Interviewer: It’s really fascinating because people just don’t get up and quit a job [right] and start something else like that at that age.

Becky: I don’t know but I was young. I do know that while he was doing his corporate job, he had a farmyard and He was also building houses with my uncle. So, he was always doing two things.

Interviewer: So, he was always Entrepreneurial, he probably got it from the salesman from his Dad’s right always doing sort of multiple things?

Becky: Exactly!

Interviewer: He was pretty busy; then it must have been when you were growing up? Was it hard for him to be present?

Becky: That was part of the challenge and so you know, I was just asking the C.E.Os that I work with, when you were growing up, who was the most like influential to you, as a leader? And it was really an interesting exercise; that I had to think about it myself and what I realized was that, there were different people, but it wasn’t anybody really in my family because my Dad, I was inspired that he was so busy but…

Interviewer:  He wasn’t around but he wasn’t really around, what about your Mum?

Becky:  My Mom was around kind of, but she was not a happy person. So, there was a lot of conflict in our family with my Brother. My Mother was a club champion as a golfer, she was she was an oil painter. She’s kind of not really a happy person. So, my opportunity was kind of; either dig in or dig out, but I just dig out.

Interviewer: Why do you think at that point reflecting back, you decided to dig out? Or step away, a lot of people don’t dig out. They implore or something else happens in their lives.

Becky: You know I learned early on that my faith was really my pedal and so I prayed a lot and I said you know I’ve got to figure out a way to have not get stuck in all those. It was very negative, very challenging not a happy place. I don’t care, I wanted to be happy.

Interviewer: Where did you find your refuge?

Becky: My Friends, my Church, not my school. I was an OK student. Looking back now, there was a lot of noise going on. So, I wasn’t really focused you know I wasn’t like in Clubs, you know I didn’t do that. I was working. So, my way to get out was to work. Either to Babysit or to take swim lessons, you know I was introduced to the Y.M.C.A. when I was in [not clear] by my French Teacher and so volunteer in which got me into all this work at the YMCA College you know I was doing [not clear] I did swim lessons and I always had a second job.

Interviewer: You’re kind of like your Dad; you followed the multiple job pattern.

Becky: I love to do something, I wanted to get out of the house, I wanted something, I want do something else.

Interviewer: So how did being adopted, I guess affect you is it interesting as you talk to people who had that experience. Some people just roll through life; some people accepted them in many different ways, they had to come to a different realization, some people went back and try to find their birth parents. How did all that sort of…?

Becky: So early on, my Parents said you know before you go to school, you know they tell your adopter that you were chosen. I took the high road. My Brother for his entire life could not deal with it. So, we have two people exactly in the same family. One who really was challenged by, one who said let’s just it. So, I that was me. And so I just kind of took the high road and I said OK I’m chosen, I use it you know talk about it. Probably when I was about in my pre-teens, I wonder who my parents were and I said by time I’m 16, I’m going to get the hospital get my birth certificate to figure that out. Well then, I became like 19 and years have gone by I never really thought about again. And so for me, it only became important for my health reasons because I wanted to know kind of what you know did I have any health risk and [sure] I’ll probably not till I was in my 40s did I actually tracked down my birth mother and Indiana was the closest of Texas was open, I was in Texas by then by then and so through, actually when my father but I found an organization that helped me find a door so I was able to connect not physically with my mother but through a bag of corn and so I found that all the information that I want to know and so for me, if you can imagine, you grew up in a home where you’re a little bit disconnected from your Parents you have a little bit of hope, right? And some of that also leads to a lack of confidence and as a Leader, you’ve got to be confident. Sometimes I think I get to my life. And see it that you have to get the evidence for yourself; and so for me that was like a big hole it closed. The mystery was over. I have the facts that I needed. I chose not to move forward and really me because her family didn’t know about it, her husband didn’t know about it, her children know about it, only her mother knew. [Wow] And so it was like you know you’re on and she was a janitor and I’m in a small town in Indiana, she was a jeopardy whatever they called, by the way did you have this Child? You can imagine the challenge that what the on the rest of the problems. So, I feel like I had a lot of grace that was a that the Parents that I had, even though there were challenges that you know that’s an opportunity for me which is kind of how I look at life but what I try to say everything is an opportunity to learn.

Interviewer: So, when growing up not having a loop,  were there confidence issues?

Becky: Yes.

Interviewer: How did you overcome? How did you overcome that because it is one of the things that the confidence conundrum for P.S.A. can’t get it and is because we don’t have confidence we don’t have the evidence in the competency of knowing  because the only way to take leaps of faith in order to get there to be more confident so

Becky: Two things; No1, I always had a lot of people who believed in me probably more than I believed in myself.

Interviewer: But it’s an important thing, to be around  people to have that believe strongly and saw an optimism in you.

Becky: They saw a lot, I did have one aunt but mostly my friends that I grew up with that I’m still friends with. I mean she was a safe haven for me and she still to this day I mean, we’ve been friends we’ve been like 9. She lives in Florida and my one of my college surety. She would say OK we’ll be going to get involved in something you know that I’m going with you to try this I’ve never done before but I’m going with you you’re still doing that. And so, those people, I’ve had several people in my life who believed in me. You know when I started the business, my Boss he was a seam out that point. She said you know we cut your position open and use are you coming or not it’s something. What do you do I don’t know but I’m done with the corporate life. Choose to start as a summary of your place, that was 1n 1998. And she always believed in me far more than I ever believed in myself and then of course then it you know then it takes over so that you have the evidence and you believe but I also put myself in a lot of new situations. So, I put myself in an uncomfortable situation. I’m kind of courageous in that way, and when I’m afraid to do it, I do it anyway because that’s how you build confidence you know starting the third career and you know working you know building C.E.O. groups you know all of that work with C.E.O. since 1981. But going out is a whole different thing, now a different approach.

Interviewer: A whole different capacity. So you went to college?

Becky: So, I went to Ball State University was OK Letterman’s Top hundred a site which

Interviewer: I went to Indiana University for undergrad so I know.

Becky: You did? Are you from Indiana?

Interviewer: Chicago

Becky: So I started, I was going to be a Physiotherapist, that’s what I always wanted to do, but I could not have science all that. So, I could follow the test and they figured that social work so I was in one of the very first classes that had a Bachelors Social work. So, I was going to save the world and so I stayed in Muncie which is where a Ball State is based and I was a school social worker and I worked with a learning disability and Emotionally disturbed and I was an intern, you know and I worked with a teenage mothers. And so, my first Husband was an Architect and so we decided to leave you know come to Texas because Dallas was at that point so when I came to Dallas I waited tables which was one of my other jobs that I did all through college and I had a chance to go to work for the YWCA and I was a Program Director which I was basically a Marketing Director I was in charge the operations of the building. Put off the lights, talk to be groundskeeper who was Hispanic, I did not speak Spanish. And I started a program for teenage mothers there so I’ve always been kind of a fire starter if you can say so created that program is generally funded and that program and up until a few years ago was still in the eyes stage. But in that role what I found was that as a healthy profession not that great I was more of a you know I didn’t know what the goal was, the object is you know I want to have a [not clear……] I want to have accountability can always do that when you’re working with you know and that social work. So, that’s kind of how I started.

Interviewer: How did you kind of….

Becky:  So what happened was, is that interesting I was kind of the challenge with the no accountability, no bottom line performance, and so I’ve just started talking to people, I connected with the like through my sorority alumni and her husband was the owner of what was then the Dallas Fort Worth Business Journal [OK]. so, I went there as a Marketing Director, I had no clue really what was marketing and I don’t really know what that was for, I was the only non-family member. [Oh Wow ] Yes, it was a great experience, I stayed there all of 3months. I came to live on. And in this course we had school once all that stuff I’m quitting my job! I’m quitting my job, I’m going to the wait tables and then figure it out and then also I’m going to start a business. So I quit, I went to wait tables and I started a consulting business where I went to non-profits and saw all the marketing plans.

Interviewer: How did you just go in and he said you just quit and I relate Yeah but again you just did this for me to talk to people about this and figure this out?

Becky: I just did. I just said I’m doing this.

Interviewer: So how do you how to take that leap. Like that’s because that’s something that people really big problem with. You know when I read something about the 5second rule were you know trying to decide in five seconds or not that a difference so how do you make a conscious decision to keep making leap, that’s a pretty aggressive leap of faith to go see a list or a business and figure it out and just do it.

Becky: So now, most people who know me would say that I probably did a lot of research. Because you know me think I done a lot of you know I’ve done a lot of research. So, I might not have done like traditional but in my head, I’m kind of figured I’m already feeling them and figuring out something a lot going right. So, I’m going to lead for whatever I get and I have these supporters who say hey you should go do this; so it wasn’t just me, it was people saying up to do this my letters out what that look like.

Interviewer: So, it’s a combination of yes you were having the capacity to do this probably having done in the past all right building the support because

Becky: I think that’s one thing I want to really pull out of really they don’t have the rights for people around the I love cheerleaders I might have outside of church a lot of other charities and I hope that I do the same for other people. But I also have people say by inspired me and say that’s what people really love to see

Interviewer: That’s a critical thing about deliberate. About having people that are telling you the truth right and able to see or don’t want to fight and point them, they can communicate to you because it means you’ve developed a relationship with them, they can communicate that with you.

Becky: That’s why I love what I do, really

Interviewer: That’s pretty We’re all people have the final sayings with inside of other groups of people that they have to join it’s not necessarily their friends or people around them are giving them that level of insight

Becky: Yeah I have people who’ve been they’ve all work so they all have great they all different kinds of experiences some of them have been entrepreneurs, some of the corporate people are just that have really different you know it’s very… So I guess my family I mean that kind of like, I jump even when I’m scared. I do it anyway you know I don’t let that fear. You know I guess and I personally don’t like to hide so I feel like they’re trying to figure…

Interviewer: You think there’s something in how you build your relationships that creates that in a way where people reciprocate that back you mean that support and also they’re telling you the truth because that again it must be something you’re doing in order to facilitate that because that’s just not a normal thing, I think most people will get that as much as you’re getting from other people around.

Becky: It’s a give and take, it can’t just be you know I don’t, I’m not a taker, I’m a giver. Yes for me that’s one of the things I love, I always want to say, how can I help you? Know and so and I’ve had relationships where people did say, I’m done. [Yes] I’m done, it’s not I’m done so that’s part of friendship I want, I’m going to be direct with you; you’re in the direct with me. I don’t want when the dressing and I want to come you know I want you to be direct that’s the best friend that you can be that tell me something I don’t want to hear and sometimes you know there’s a lot. We don’t want to hear

Interviewer: Yes, we don’t want to be direct with people, [right] tell them the things they don’t want hear in a way that’s tactful and respectful [right]

Becky: Sometimes I say well sometimes not though I guess I didn’t a person through some really bad I mean I have to say yes I work as I could be but something like that knock over the head sometimes I would say the way that I learned is that as I like put my hand on the stove life in my hands you know that’s our attention.

Interviewer: Interesting, and so, then you started this business?

Becky: And so, I started this business so the goal was I was going to wait tables and I was going to try to figure out what I was going to do when I grew up. And I was also going to have this little side business. And so, I made goal of every week that I had a certain number of touch points and I had to have at least 10interviews a week that we did all this other stuff right and I made a list of about 20 different careers that I thought I want. Do I want to go to Law school? Do I want to be in the hospitality industry? You know do I want to be in advertising P.R? And so I just plan was I would go and I would just start asking people do you know somebody here? Do you know somebody here? Every person I met with I would get two more people and I built this huge big list and through that, I figured out that probably the best place for me was Advertising and Public Relations. Because I was kind of doing it, so I sent out these direct mails. So I got you the yellow pages which I know it sounds like I’m 100years old and I just advertise and I just send out a whole bunch I love to go on holiday and vacation and I come back and I get a call from a lady who literally her office is maybe a mile from where we live, like literally down the road. She was the P.R. maven of Dallas, I went to talk to her I was with her 3days/week and I had my own business 2-days/week. It was for yellow star she still is but I learned so much from her.

Interviewer: Did you send her direct mail?

Becky: I sit I can all I saw these people advertising I just sent it to set these people and I would just start follow up if she called me and she thought me so I’m not really sure what to do but it was a real clear on that wasn’t real sure but I had this you know I need somebody that help me you know write releases whatever and I said OK I’ll come down we had this little office

Interviewer: And she just said do a few days a week and you made an agreement?

Becky:  Yes I did 2-days my own clients and 3-days and I did that for hours with her for 3-years and I’ve been transitioned out of my own find someone with her and so I’ll learnt a lot and worked on a lot of you know we open up we were a lot in the hospitality and Real Estate, so we did a lot of that and then I had a chance to go to work at division of Federated which now is known as Macy’s but used to be center of the Folies. And so, I went to become their Events Director. So, I was in charge of very card give away, store opening, cosmetics, fashion show whatever. And I had like 6-7 people reporting to me, so that was really my first and only kind of corporate job. So, I was there for 8years and I did that for 3years and then all the Eastern stores are moving into the marketplace and so that’s when we had multiple media outlets and the traditional media was important and we were kind of getting beat up and we had all of our competitors and I talked about you know all the great things I said to the president. Then, I say I’ll create a position, Director public relations and I’m the spokesperson. And so I did that for about 8years.

Interviewer: So they created this position because you told them there was a need obviously I must do briefs a lawyer who said I agree with the president so I did

Becky: So I dealt directly with the President and the C.E.O.

Interviewer: How did you sway down because that’s bloody influence they create a position that doesn’t exist, I mean that’s a that’s a hard thing to do in a company to get to do.

Becky: I didn’t try actually I thought I took all my friends and I said these are the people who could you know these are the people you should hire, I don’t think it was going to be me. I just said we should do this. Probably, there’s another conversation I’m not sure it’s all about me but I think probably my Boss at that point was also very visionary realized the need for this and I pranced all my friends then you know and then the President said, why did you take this job? But I’m not really good writer, I wasn’t trying we don’t care a great writer you really great X. we’re going to this. So that’s what I did and then I was on the… tame of my Mars so that was my first larger you know so that was quite interesting and exciting and that’s where I got my experience really in doing press communication based on my first day on the job. Got a call from the President, I would have a really famous Doctor for a shot of a parking lot over there now and I have no car so I’ll write it out live you know people coming here and what I do I don’t know so you can see I’ve learned a lot on the job I mean really a lot of miles I’m left with really great instinct you know and trying to do a lot of research trying to you know just not out there

Interviewer: So what do you say to the people who try to get it perfect because a lot of people, the reason they don’t take action [right] is because they feel like they have to have it all [right] figured out [right] and I love to see your perspective also on the perspective people that you work for on having imperfect action they are getting better over time right because we are worried about their well-being judged that OK I don’t have a perfect [right] my Boss or other people will go down on me because I failed [Rice] on whether or not.

Becky: That was always you know some people are… I’m always motivated by fear so I was motivated that well, I don’t know what to do, ideas I don’t really know I’ve had a lot of people I call this how do you get to do this? You know I’d ask and then I would go about doing that? And then I would see I would get success right? its success kind of breeds you know looked down me,

Interviewer: So it was a little bit network of people you could call and good advice from get ideas from [right] so that’s also really important for people to be a part of groups have mentors, coaches. I’ve already done that but facilitate and also your career significantly faster because you know one thing say that you’re for a bunch of people. You got to figure out what to do and it’s hard to do

Becky: I remember that, I’m aware of that first one because I was like the good thing was, we didn’t have a right to be talking so I had like 45minutes of quiet that I could actually figure out what I was going to do when I got over there. And so I thought well my job is to curse at the brand in the reputation of my organization right while being authentic so highlighted that nobody told me that I mean I just in my D.N.A.

Interviewer: Words have been since a little kid like and so what I thought what we did the police department thought first let them because they have that now we can have some common over here.

Becky: And so that is a strategy right when you have some situation where you have law enforcement you want to be able on a crisis situation to have them talk first and then you’re just in real life or sorry I mean you know. So that’s how Harley as I live is just you know just like raw talent I guess out there and I watch a lot you know I had in Dallas we had an amazing group of women called Women in communication these women have gone up to be great leaders in communication and marketing that was a group where I can we help each other you know like somebody was in the sector some of the sector so we go and say Hey I’d only do this? That was a really important group for me you know I had different people that I had there was or there was the number one radio bring it out for 25years and then a man Ron Chapmen. He became tired I worked with him early on and I could go to him and you know ask him you know what to do. So I just had some great people that I aligned with, I had you know the publisher of the downswing is still Jim Washington you know he was a great he’s African-American leader and he was really instrumental in an initiative that I led with the downstairs in the natural history called The Great large ship that ever all the United States that was a pretty much a $10million business that we created from nothing and that part of that million dollars of that for the seed money for the pro.

Interviewer: How do you talk to people then?

Becky: So the perfect thing I’m sorry your answer to the thing is that I always felt like I was trying to be perfect. But I realized that that you have to make you can you will miss opportunities which I had missed opportunities that I did not respond, and you got to go with that 80/20 [Yes] that’s what you got to realize but you don’t know that some of us are you know wired differently you know some people really perfection but you cannot lead or be perfectionist. You can pick where are you know you have to be focused and you got to pick certain things that are the most important and then there are certain things you just have to left go and that’s a really hard thing for I think a lot of leaders I mean our lot in control. You know he’s Projected Index and that are not you know that tool but it’s an amazing tool and around selective days, it’s an assessment tool and so I profile, use it in my company and so you see kind of what their natural behavior is our right so a lot of these leaders I mean they have gotten because of that troll right yes left and so then we get to companies like you know trust that the core culture that’s what I call get a separate lation Yes you know is trust us remember or yeah exactly down the line that is caring is the key yes let’s kind of that kind of hype and then hand some of this now you know

Interviewer: One of the interesting things you build all these relationships and one of the things that I find is entrepreneurs are much better at it than people and in corporate America right and I run across a lot of senior leaders saying well you know build relationships later whether they say or whether it’s their actions? But what would you say to those people who are not doing that right now to encourage them also me fear as a motivator it seems to me, having those relationships allow you to take a leap of faith in have a lot more confidence and evidence that you could do them because of the people that you have around that, without that there probably would hinder your ability to either do that or be successful but

Becky:  What I think incorporation the lease is now my sister was up for a fact that for many years and really isolated they’re so busy right they’re so busy they’re not there are joining as many organizations if you look at organizations like American markets as you are say all those at least have a lot of people but a lot of people don’t even do it anymore. Right so it’s not as hard as they come to it honestly because they don’t have a lot of extra time. So, where they can’t reach up to those extra relationships right if it’s not in a work environment they can get it in Church, they get their neighborhood, they get another college alumni groups, you know they can get it on the golf course, there’s lots of different places that you get it. But you have to put every. In there takes a lot yet it takes a while for I was really blessed because I was working for 22years and so, I had this enormous band that I could go out and I was only limited by my energy which I have one and so, Still and so the thing is that that was a gift that I had that was a gift that I was able to make those relationships I’ve now been married for 11years and so what I know is that I have kids and family and all that stuff that I’ve been really happy for is that it takes that takes time away so as a leader in a company, where I and I see the leaders that I know where you have limited time still how are you going to spend that time? And if you’re today working a lot less than hopefully with your family right that’s the first place right you want to spend it with your family and where does it go so I think you do have to make a conscious decision as you know like well, how can I be better? What can I learn better? If I have these kind of relationships and maybe these relationships don’t what exactly like me yes right maybe there’s different right maybe they’re different and so how does that stretch me and so who lives in a push on that is organization push to get out there you do it yourself you have to want to do what

Interviewer: I think is interesting because one of the things you did early on was you had to leave the house people

Becky: Yeah I did, right

Interviewer: And so, it’s probably interesting that you know that you were forced to do it and then it became habitual and now it’s we’re talking about as a long story arc and have that right I think it’s always funny and sometimes inside a tragedy yes out of all this hardship that was going on, great happen great things happen actually some of the strengths that you have and greatness that you have now in mastery and I actually came out of that really tough family environment that forced you to do these things really high on and of course then you didn’t really understand it but you did it as a habits and oh you’re doing all right

Becky: So one of the other interesting things that kind that when I listen to hear you say that so when I saw my mother died when I was 21 side suspended for a bit just then married. My dad died a few years later and I literally 2months after I got divorced. So, I found myself kind of by myself because my Brother was still having those kind of challenges so I decided hey I’m family so I have my heart. So, to your point I went out and created my own family.

Interviewer: So, what’s a heart family?

Becky: Heart family are people that are connected with your heart. So, I have two Mamas, one just turn 100, the other is 85 and I have heart 5sisters.

Interviewer: How do you do this and how do you think about what you just made it up?

Becky: I decided, I want my own family and so I was single I was like I don’t know

Interviewer: That is such a great thing, I mean it’s funny, I don’t even I’ve never heard anyone say it was going to create my own family because if we talk people talk about that you’re born with your family your friends that’s righteous I can put it right with the differences that he said OK I have the that’s true, but now, All right we need to change the meaning of family right yeah people told me what it meant society has been you know I’m going to change it around to prove what I want and build it out. That’s interesting

Interviewer: And those women have been there and their husbands have felt that that my family doesn’t. And my biggest cheerleaders and then my husband is my huge Cheerleader for me, support you know when I decided to change my business I was going to go do this didn’t you know start the C.E.O. groups and executive coach and all that stuff, it was hard. It was hard harder than starting my business. And my husband, and those women are my Mama still my momma you know all right you know she’s up she just turned a hundred 3weeks ago and she’ll say can you hear groups you know what are you contacting? She’s 100years old, she’s my biggest cheerleader. So, the other I guess the other message of that is, when you think about mentoring and you think about your responsibility to write it and life is that I feel like I haven’t yet that maybe my mother didn’t mention me many I didn’t have a but then I’ve got two women that have loved me, gave me confidence who are my biggest cheerleader so it’s my responsibility and also the past that on which I have done my life you know so amazing it’s you know what I see…

Interviewer: That’s fantastic so we get out of your days and me see the White House after that was a next?

Becky: So that I started the power grid so after the power of the 1989 my goal was to go in and really make a difference and that was make a difference in helping them in terms of building awareness about their products or services you know what does that look like primarily using public traditional public relations tools and so I started and I. Learned completely early on is that I needed a team that was up to the by myself so I got a great lady who came in and she wrote for me part time and kind of helped me organize and so I mostly worked on local candidates and then in my fourth year I had my first national count which was seven eleven and it’s kind of took off. So, the goal was that we were and we worked. Industry leaders and retail and manufacturing some people like Starbucks, blockbuster, 7-eleven you know overhead or Hansen those kind of people that that’s the path that we were guys like really agency I have this network of fifty farms across the country so we have people at Seven like there is always work with industry leaders and really helping them from either brand awareness and traditional kind of promotions be our or it Brand after, after, protection from the crisis side that’s really my passion.

Interviewer: What was your biggest mistake or learning lesson and your sad time during that time of growing the power?

Becky: Two things- was a confidence thing was really have confidence in myself because as a leader you’ve got to be visionary, you’ve got to have a vision and you’ve got to trust your vision even if no one else trust it. Great leaders have a vision and there’s a lot of noise and sometimes there’s a lot of that’s not going to happen so I miss the social media market that was my big mistake. So, I could see it coming and I was like that to do it and I had my be you I had a lot of confidence in you know younger than me so I love that’s not a big deal so I thought OK fine OK I would see that but that I missed it.

Interviewer: And you think that because you didn’t obviously the conference began what about that person did that all sort of about coaching, or hiring you feel like maybe that person in retrospect wasn’t the right person for the…

Becky: No, she’s the right person those things she was with me for 13years, she now has her own agency she was I thought she was going to be the successor you know it didn’t work out, she went to work with a client that we kept that she left that clients are she has a very successful marketing business I’m really proud of what she’s accomplished. No, I just think it was the timing, you know and I could’ve we could’ve hurried up and kind of got on but it was; There always you know I had a business to say there are some things have to happen and I don’t sell such things do not. So, it’s the right thing.

Interviewer: Right now, we get to the end of ….tell people where you are now. Tell people of the different things that you’re working on.

Becky: So what happened in this 20+years that I happened business I had several times offer to take to buy and to sell and I was having a lot of fun and I didn’t want to sell OK. And so, the purpose of building a business is obviously to have a great asset at the end, right? And so, sometimes, we lose sight of that because we’re having a good time right and so the timing is everything and so when it came time the last time which is in 2012, I had a chance to sell and I spent a lot of the diligence on it and I decided that number one I never got hit by the recession where rock’n’roll I back it like everybody else did so why finances were not right so my numbers, I wasn’t going to really be able to sell for what I felt was worth you know yes I would get a lot of money, but not as much based on the efforts I was going to put up it was a great pivotal point for me. Because what I realized was I’m tired of this business, I’m tired of town I’m tired of that really what is my what’s my love? My love is really helping companies and really working with senior leaders C.E.O.s on this what I call asset protection how to end part of that is how to be a better leader, how to be a better communicator, as a leader right how do you anticipate high stakes events right and so that So what happened was that a beginning at the end of 2012, I kind of I had about 5people then I just ended up that I was left with about 3people and I said I’ve been rebuilt or I can I pivot over here to that’s all and that’s what I did so in that I worked with a temp company that had 11crisis in 12months. That’s a lot as it was during Obamacare so, I was in the health care space and so I realized wow we just this is crazy right? And that was a time when I got recruited by this stage took 6months for me to say yes and I said to David boy yet he was up best practice your first visit I did interviews to 2009 and this did you get it out of this it is the best practice so proud of your advisory board around science databases. About 21,000 C.E.O.s, Presidents and owners that are across the globe and so one side of their mental Marcus other midcap So they’re anywhere from a billion down to about five for a C.E.O. groups and so our sweet spot is somewhere between about 15million-250million about the pants are really that person the leader sure. Anyway so, I was so I was asked he said I think this is what you need to do and I might not have the office social right you know 6months I kept trying to say well I want in January 2014 and I oh my gosh, You know I’m already doing that and this is a chance for me to kind of be preventive right to be able to get people around a table, to be able to see the runway, oh this could happen right, if I don’t do this, or if I ignore my problem or my blindspot problem I held accountable so I started and sell out in 2014, so I now have three groups I have two C.E.O.’s groups that I have one trusted advisor group, my role is s for the right people around the room, I facilitate a full day session with the C.E.O. So I program that with speakers, content, and actual sizes and then we process issues and we have a proprietary way around getting clarity, around issues and the like executive coach in between, and I see  some private client and then I still do a little bit of crisis that protection as well so easy to do is the.

Interviewer: So, what you see today is the biggest leadership issues the people have

Becky: Focus actually the size of focus and clarity. Is that as a leader today, as a C.E.O. you have to know a lot of things and that’s very quickly right and so, being able to have the information that you need quickly, to make a decision is one thing that’s the benefit of having a group, I think that thing is really is. It’s really clarity is that, when everybody gets so distracted into the day to day right; and so as a leader you got to get out to be able to work on the business not in the business and that’s really what I love about

Interviewer: How does one get out of the business? What is it that you have to put in place? Or change your thinking?

Becky: To put it. Yes So one of the things is that you probably have an annual strategic planning with your team right and so sometimes, that strategic plan there are people that are assigned to different parts of that right so you can. If you’re real organizing  and discipline then we have to do this every month right. So, that’s what typically happens but a lot of what happens to you is that people do plan tonight they get off they just get so it’s so easy to go down this path, to solve all these problems so that’s what any product your advisor, No matter whether you’re white or whatever all the brands are that we have the goal is. The benefit is that you get out, so you’re looking at issues like it was the most important issue that you have to be solving? Are these like parties like big are they going to trample on you kind of issues are they you know they’re going to slowly, kind of just eat. And so you have to identify what those issues are. We have kind of a process that we use and so I like that it’s kind of a process that I kind of use not knowing that it was a process of you know I mean, that fits into right so, I think it’s and that’s the deliberate in every single month. So, it’s once a month, take a full day you look at you know your plans, you look at what is kind of coming up based on the issues that are being processed and executive coaching, what are those things that you bring to the group to talk about. it at the end of the year look we’re at were all were and were almost. We have second quarter right? And so I ran on body what did you know how do you know the first quarter goals, right? even if you have a board, here’s the it’s still a lot of people have a group to be able to come in and say you know he said you’re going to do that legacy employees right now right it’s a big challenge. So, we just kind of keep our plan for life form because people are going so fast and these people that started with you right? Who they took a reduced salary sometimes these are your mentors. And how do you deal with them nobody’s holding you accountable then then they’re over here right?

Interviewer: we will spend a lot of time of the industry to transition of the company actually the people that the skill set jack of all trades verses right actions

Becky:  So it’s deliberate

Interviewer: So how do you do it is a discipline a delibrate hire legal rights to get out of the business in take a look at it right and have people hold you slime from another perspective inside the businesses

Becky: That have different with the Financial Review right and some people might look at your finances and they might have a different perspective I have different experience.

Interviewer: And they can help you see that.

Becky: See that So I think that’s where that was the top of that I had always said that it out there can’t work that work on it.

Interviewer: So what advice would you have for women? There are women who are watching the show and listening, what career advice would you have for them in today’s world? In order for them to be successful, in order for them to find the things that the love? The balance that they need. What piece of advice would you have or pieces because you must be doing mentoring for other women right now for a lot of different groups.

Becky: so I think 1 is balance. I don’t really I think the different about it is different and I’ve always said that I think so I think that you have to plan. Balance is we kind of segment things right and I think it’s a wonderful challenge but I think it also just pulls at people because they’re always I mean, most of the women and children they’re feeling yeah I see this with my daughter, I see this with my sister’s children, you know that you always are how do you plan? It’s really we have whether we like it or not technology has forced us to blend, right? That doesn’t mean you’re on yourself on all the time I have I have actually. One of my CEO is a guy, goes home and he’s like he don’t have anything and I can make go on like that night he just separates. First thing is how do you highly blend? That’s one thing for women I think that thing is passion. You have to look for something that really that you really truly love because we’re giving a lot of ourselves right we have two jobs. We give a lot of ourselves during the day or that we know we have another job, so we got it we have to do something that we really love because that gives you positive strength. I think the third thing from a career standpoint is that find opportunities to put yourself in situations that are different in terms of you know within a corporation, different types of assignments, you know of financial assignments, if you’re in the marketing side, trying to find things or get that other thing. One of the big topics in a in a not profit or a board one of the big hot topics right now for women in leadership is hate board seats and I just let a panel discussion on this for our visit women in leadership network we have a conference and I did this in February and I invited three very successful women and one to corporate and one entrepreneur on how they found these paid work seeds and so one of the things that they talked about and one of the things that you’ll see is that you just have to get different kinds of experience.

Interviewer: How would one get experience?

Becky: Well it is that it’s a campaign just like you find a job; it’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work you have to figure out like, I mean I’ve been around I’ve loved it there’s a link she has kind of the roadmap and kind of a class Kellogg is getting ready to do their first course in November. To help women get on pay board but this is a this a hot topic especially among corporate women and that women who are entrepreneurs, who own companies and want women on their boards. So, that’s one of the things you know there’s just came out with a study that showed only one in four managers are women. And so, the challenge is that we are making progress, but it is just. I think if you. I think you know what is great but it’s but you just have to feel that way and you got it probably work harder, that’s just the way it is.  There’s a lot of women are entrepreneurs just came out with I think the saxes and orange theory and I would just be that she started out like she was in her 50s she started that business Technology down space I forget her last site but you know she started that company you know that’s a huge big technology company and so I think that for women, that you’re confident and that support system is really important, really, really important.

Interviewer: What do you think that men Leaders can learn from this? Because one of the things that I find is on the whole topic. And so, I love to get your thoughts on how men can take what women are doing and implement it to up their game. Because a lot of time, men don’t really think like that. That they could leverage those skills inside.

Becky: I think the whole emotional intelligence of vulnerability, is something that as men and these are generally……We’re not taught that, I it’s interesting because I see dynamics I see this with my members you know I see it so I have women in my groups right when those women are there, it’s different. Because sometimes the women bring out the emotional side right, the men are of that side there on the facts side their own facts and also when they have conflict, that conflict always happens like in that meetings and afterwards they’re OK Women hold on to that because of their feelings and I find I’ve seen this happen in my busy work where there was maybe one woman and now there’s a little women and a group of men and the dynamic totally changed their kinder gentler they’re not as you know they’re there their directness, they’re direct but they’re a little bit more kind because the women are kind of neutralizing some of that I think some of that but I think the whole emotional intelligence and being vulnerable is something that you’re not taught.

Interviewer:  What would you tell men who are leaders? How can you  be more vulnerable? In your position as being a leader

Becky: So it’s interesting so I like to know what men have women in their lives. Do they have daughters? Do they nieces? You know do they have what is it their relationship the girlfriend or their wife right and so, I think that one thing is that you just have to it’s like this is you know you have cars and  ride, and you just have to take one step, one step, one step, one step, sometimes you have to go back. That’s where I’ve done a lot of things right that this cars that it seems scary right and you’re probably going to feel like yourself are vulnerable but the reality is that it’s going to feel really uncomfortable but you’re not used to doing it. So part of it is. Just asking people like, how are you?  But I really heard one of the ones I was on and my career when I worked at Federated my C.E.O. at my C.M.O. did one to one. OK So that’s one hour full attention with me working on the business not in the business and caring about me as a person that was a great tool. Right to all I did it my entire career and I asked my C.E.O.

Interviewer: What questions were those one on one single pivotal ones that a lot of people miss or don’t ask about?

Becky: It’s not about checking the box what are all the things you have to do number one is, how are you? And being sincerely interested. And people that work with, just want to get the job done. I think that’s a lot to do first you got to be sincerely interested and then you got to listen. You know how are you? Sincerely, that’s a big thing.

Interviewer: Why these guys I just heard from your aspected So battle right now which it is it the fact that caring and you care about other people that they’re going to care more about their job and investment and that’s not on that plane be the isolated are they going to have people to talk to

Becky: it’s true I think that when you hear I’m not such a simple

Interviewer: It seems simple, like simplest things people miss right?

Becky: But I think if you care about other people it’s also likely two way street Yes right and so if you’re sincerely interested, that is one of the I’m always impressed with you know the leaders at Jackson’s vaulting here in Dallas and also the land, they truly care about all their people. They care and that makes a difference that caring that means there that I care about you know about the business you care about them so one thing is really how are you? I remember that was one of the first things we’d be in the middle of did all these things I. Would say to me what how are you I really. Got one of my very first E.-L. that worked for Jack and I thought you said he was the C.E.O. of I heard which was better at this hour and he had walked around the area and what I thought of wars he used to come in my office and said that I am. Something a lot of global So you can’t you know you can’t do that right but that’s the happy that’s huge, that huge Hearing about by your people so in that one to one person at how are you as a person right how is it for and then what are the what is the most important thing we should be talking about today, like what are the three most important Right OK So that’s the other thing. What’s the most important thing we should be talking about today? So that those are some of the critical things that you know about. Those are some of the things we should be talking about today.  Today, up to the next level you know what are the challenges that you know what do you see trying to get at what are the biggest challenges and what I do to help remove some of those challenges because that is part of your role as a leader as some of those challenges are getting the tools.

Interviewer: Talking about that, what is your stance on personal issues and as a manager working with employee and helping them because. I find in working with all executives that you have significant personal problems, it impacts in a very high degree, in the performance. You can’t really get to the business if you don’t help the person but that’s as an outside person but is an internal company in most companies a matter. That doesn’t really count as much I don’t really see that person in helping us in shambles or problematic How would you. Help people with that or do you think they should or should be.


Interviewer: So. I work a lot of people the that were. So I am an professional I just kind of both it all comes together so we can sometimes more time on the person because socially the leader of that get away from the corporate side we had a corporate life psychologist we could just go in there I thought that was my life that I was doing that’s right and so when you say that I was like well. Help people so I did so to me it’s like yes because what happens is that you have to figure out if like you said that person is impacting their performance. Which are not quite that way but. You know what no it’s no no no it’s I can compartmentalize some people do it and some people do

Interviewer: I think yeah I believe in some people but there’s a point when their pain crosses over in the right. Way sort of down right brain up so you know

Becky: we have a lot of that labor laws H.R. issues I can’t speak to that I just think as a person that they are it’s a bright find that you care and that you want to help that person but that person also has to help themselves. So, in a corporation what are you prepared to do to help that person how valuable is that person to you right and so figure out that you need outside counseling you know and when I do the coaching on top by working with people that are you know my C.E.O. that might have people they might have issues that that’s something we have to do and I have to want to get those resolved as well. So, it’s a two way street

Interviewer: It’s a two way street.

Interviewer: Thank you for always wonderful introduction.


Insights we’ve been new in the show so how can find you reach out to work in the best ways we just me only Dan

Interviewer: So that’s a Best Buy is a fine man not all of that information. So right as I would like them to find me and I’d be happy you know help them in any way I can so well things again thanks all of you for joining in for another show of executive breakthroughs and we will back in next week with another fantastic show and another great guy so make it a great day.

[End of Transcript]

In This Episode:

  • Learn how Becky dealt with a disruptive childhood and finding out she was adopted
  • How to manage work-life integration and key questions to ask yourself
  • How to build your own family
  • The importance of taking accountability for your path in life
  • How to build your own tribe of supporters and align yourself with the right people
  • How to pivot in your business/career
  • What are the key leadership challenges men and women are having
  • How to use fear as a motivator
  • How distractions are holding you back as a leader
  • The role of strategic planning and her strategy on to maximize it
  • Learn how to take that leap of faith and why that is critical for your growth
  • The role of vulnerability and emotional intelligence in business
  • Shares her missed opportunity to sell her business (and what you can learn from it)
  • And more!


“I think the whole emotional intelligence of vulnerability, is something that men aren’t taught and it can really help them in business”

“Hot topic right now is getting women board seats.”

“I’m always motivated by fear.”

“You have to align yourself with great people.”

“I went out and created my own family, a heart family. Heart family are people that are connected with your heart. So, I have two mamas, one just turn 100, the other is 85 and I have five sisters.’”

“I’ve always had a lot of people who believed in me probably more than I believed in myself.”

“I’ve always been kind of a fire starter.”

“I jump even when I’m scared.”

“What are the biggest leadership issues today? Focus and clarity.”

References Mentioned:



As founder and CEO of The Powell Group, Becky Powell-Schwartz has been a thought partner to the C-suite for more than 25 years. Her depth of experience solving business and communications issues has made her a trusted advisor for executives of Fortune 500 and industry-leading companies across diverse business sectors. Her clients turn to her to consult in change and crisis, to develop their leadership skills and to articulate strategy to motivate employees and drive action.As an executive coach and Vistage International CEO group leader, Becky serves as a sounding board and trusted advisor to executives from growing mid-cap companies.  She offers the kind of practical wisdom that comes from decades working alongside leaders through challenge, change and crisis.

Becky is a graduate of the Harvard University Mediation Training program, Leadership America, Leadership Texas and Leadership Dallas. She is also the recipient of the Most Powerful Women in PR Award from the Council of Public Relations. Additionally, she currently serves on the advisory boards of the Texas A&M Mays Business School Center for Retailing Studies; Leadership Women, the oldest women’s leadership program in North America; and Senior Source of Greater Dallas.

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Jason Treu is an executive coach. He has "in the trenches experience" helping build a billion dollar company and working with many Fortune 100 companies. He's worked alongside well-known CEOs such as Steve Jobs, Mark Hurd (at HP), Mark Cuban, and many others. Through his coaching, his clients have met industry titans such as Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Peter Diamandis, Chris Anderson, and many others. He's also helped his clients create more than $1 billion dollars in wealth over the past three years and secure seats on influential boards such as TED and xPrize. His bestselling book, Social Wealth, the how-to-guide on building extraordinary business relationships that influence others, has sold more than 45,000 copies. He's been a featured guest on 500+ podcasts, radio and TV shows. Jason has his law degree and masters in communications from Syracuse University

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