SOAL 15
SOAL 26: Leading With Perseverance

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Tania is proud of the woman-owned and minority-owned business that she has been able to create. It hasn’t always been easy though. As a first-generation American, her mother was a significant role-model in her life. She also has 15 years of employee experience that has helped her develop leadership skills, empower teams, and be a more impactful CEO. Tania teaches us to stay in tune with the positive energy that connects us all and to persevere no matter what comes our way. Her final words of wisdom are to make self-care a priority. “If we don’t take care of ourselves first, how are we going to help others?”

The energy of the soul has no color and that we are all connected by the soul.

As long as I’m nurturing my own faith, it does come through in the quality of my decisions and how I treat people.

Just bringing all that realness to the table is so critical, I think, in leadership.

The universe is about connecting with people to do good, and that’s what Soul of a Leader is all about.

You’ll Learn

  • In order to overcome challenges that come with owning a business, you have to move quickly to adapt and stay relevant.
  • Turn everything into opportunity and embrace your authenticity 100%.
  • Challenges create an opportunity to be our best and can be incredibly rewarding.
  • Self-care is not selfish. It’s important to value your time and not forget about yourself.

Resources

Transcript

Alicia:

Hello, and welcome to Soul of a Leader podcast, where we ignite soulful conversations with leaders. In today’s episode, Dr. Alicia and Dr. Eileen sit with Tania Haigh to discuss leading with perseverance. We are happy to announce that this episode is sponsored by Magnolia Insights, an emerging integrated marketing communication agency.

 

Eileen:

Hello, and welcome to Soul of a Leader. Today, we have Tania Haigh, CEO, and founder of the Magnolia Institute, which is an integrated marketing communication agency. Tania is a bonafide brand-builder. She’s a 20-year marketing industry veteran, and she’s made her mark leading marketing to women initiatives while working at McDonald’s USA in Chicago.

 

Eileen:

Welcome, Tania. We’re so glad to have you here today. Thank you so much for being on the Soul of a Leader.

 

Tania:

Thank you. I am just thrilled to be here. So happy to participate in this very important conversation with you.

 

Alicia:

Welcome, Tania, we are so excited to have you on Soul of a Leader. Eileen did a wonderful job reading your bio, but is there anything you would like to add? I’m looking at it saying, “Wow, she didn’t even put a dent in it.” Pretty impressive resume and bio.

 

Tania:

Oh, thank you so much. Yeah, my joke about bios is how they’re always needing to evolve for all these presentations. I can’t believe at this stage in my career, I’m still poring over every word, or if it’s in a different… If it’s on the website, it needs to be so tight all the time. So, no, I would say it captures it all at this very stage of my career. Thank you.

 

Alicia:

One of the questions I have for you, because as I was looking at your bio, and you have a really good strong background in marketing, and so what would be some challenges that you think or are facing as a leader in the marketing industry that’s current in today’s society? What we’re dealing with, the COVID, this pandemic, there’s a lot of changes. Are there any challenges you have to deal with as a leader?

 

Tania:

I would say that, yes, it’s definitely a challenging time, but just the way that I’m wired, and I approach these types of these big moves as a real opportunity, so I might be a rare gem out there with enthusiasm pumping through my veins, but anyone who knows me knows this is how I’m wired. I hit the ground running with learning, educating myself, absorbing every free webinar, leaning into resources, investing in my business.

 

Tania:

Opportunities started coming to me that really took the direction of the company. My marketing company was focused on the restaurant industry because of my McDonald’s background, so, let me tell you, when I was trying to build this business with a vision of creating a niche opportunity to sell at some point, this has completely evolved everything. I knew that we had to move quickly to adapt, to see where opportunities were taking us. This restaurant industry is hurting.

 

Alicia:

Yes.

 

Tania:

With [inaudible 00:03:36] This is always going to be, no pun intended, our bread and butter, but how are we relevant? Not only that, Alicia, the conversation around culture? It’s just there’s so much opportunity, and I’m so proud to own a business that’s minority-owned and woman-owned, and this is all pretty recent for my company. I’ve been on this journey for a while and it’s taken twists and turns, but now more than ever, I’m feeling the responsibility to step up as a woman of color and owning my business. So, I am a voice for diversity suppliers.

 

Alicia:

I’m with you on that one, Tania.

 

Tania:

With MMSBC, we’re in the middle of a BizConnect mat, people are not responding and following through on those portals. I am calling to ask for the CEO because I’m like, “It is COVID. I’m an MBE and this matters to us.”

 

Alicia:

I’m with you on that one, Tania.

 

Tania:

I’m really using it, and it was all kind of already percolating because I’ve had a lot of interesting challenges in my life that have led to doors being open or different chapters opening up for me, but this very moment, you’re catching me on that wave of representing as a Latina and partnering with our friends who are other business owners, business owners that are also minority groups. So, yeah, it’s a challenging time, but there are a lot of great positive challenges ahead, and I really believe I’m benefiting from them, but it’s been a lot of dedication and work.

 

Eileen:

So, thank you so much, Tania. So, tell me a little bit about the influence in your life, and who really aligned your values of where you’re going and your energy and your passion. If you could share that, that would be wonderful.

 

Tania:

Yes, thank you. I want to say it really starts with my mom. I am her mini-me. Her story is so inspiring and we were so close that I benefited from just listening to my mom, or thinking she was so pretty putting her makeup on, and she was telling me all her stories about when she came to this country from her home country of Honduras. And she was living in Harlem in New York City, some really tough neighborhoods in the garment district, and just her strength and her courage to leave a very tough situation, her home country with five brothers, and in that culture, it’s really tough to break out as an independent woman. So she and her spirit and streak of independence were rare for her time and where she came from.

 

Tania:

Then follow that up with just her achievements and her knowledge and those street-smarts of how to turn everything into opportunity and moving fast and never being embarrassed or being ashamed and really embracing 100% authenticity is really what fuels me today.

 

Tania:

She would always tell me, “If I had what you have, honey.” Obviously, in Spanish, but [inaudible 00:07:01]. She’s pretty ill now, but that’s in the back of my head every day, and hearing my mom just remind me, “I had what you had, you have no idea where I would be right now.” So I have a lot to live up to in her memory and to honor her.

 

Tania:

Then I would say, coupled with a lot of influences from that point on as a first-generation American. I also grew up in a very affluent neighborhood, mainly Caucasian, and I was always this kind of young person who absorbed and paid attention.

 

Tania:

I remember going through a bad divorce. I was like, “Oh, look at how the wife ended up. That’s not going to be me.” So that me on, making sure that the partner I end up with knows we’re in an equal partnership. So there were a lot of these influences.

 

Tania:

Then in my career, I would say mentors, people I admired, folks who really helped me along my journey, and that’s really what’s shaped a lot of how I am and how I got to be who I am today.

 

Alicia:

And which is all good. For us, as Dr. Eileen and I do a lot of consulting, and we have our value cards, and you mentioned a few of them, like being authentic. But one of the things we believe is the energy of the soul has no color and that we are all connected by the soul. What are your thoughts on that? Do you believe in that? Or what’s your feeling about that, the energy of the soul has no color?

 

Tania:

I think it’s a really beautiful statement. I think it’s true. When you feel that connection with someone, you don’t even have to speak it, the way that you connect. I’ve sat next to people at a restaurant where I’m on a business trip, I sparked this beautiful conversation with someone that is a different gender, different race. It was like the universe. We [inaudible 00:09:13] on Instagram. This totally happened. This shoe designer at Nike… This happened in Portland. And next thing you know, he tells me that I touched his life by sparking conversation with him because his mom had passed a year prior, and my name was his mom’s name.

 

Eileen:

Oh my gosh.

 

Tania:

Those things are just like… He said the words we exchanged, like beautiful energy, and I was like, “Yeah, wow.” You just never know when those connections come from. I would say no color, but also this magical openness about being.

 

Alicia:

Yes.

 

Tania:

I’d have to say that openness has really sparked the… I would say, in combination with your statement, are really powerful and has been powerful for me.

 

Eileen:

Wow. Thank you for sharing that. It is. What you shared was like energy. No matter who you are, no matter what education, no matter where you grew up, no matter where you live, it’s like a veil there that you breakthrough and there’s a connection. And that is like you said, the universe is about connecting with people to do good, and that’s what Soul of a Leader is all about. It’s about sharing positive energy and positive leadership like you are. That’s why you’re on this show, Tania.

 

Alicia:

Yes.

 

Eileen:

Because you’re so…

 

Tania:

I have positive energy coming out of my pores right now.

 

Eileen:

You’re a soulful leader, and that’s why we have you here, and we wanted to share stories about positively being successful. And with that, do you have a story you can share that brought you some challenges, some joy, maybe some, expectations you never even thought of, and what the end results were? It’s that type of energy that drives people to success, but being authentic like you said.

 

Alicia:

Right.

 

Tania:

Yes. I do have a story on what I believe was really pivotal for me to get me where I am today, and that was my chapter being the founder of TEDxOakParkWomen. So, for many of you who are out there, you are aware of the Ted brand. You have your favorite talks. How TEDx is just an extension of TED. They filmed all over the world.

 

Tania:

Back in 2015, I’d just left McDonald’s. I knew that Magnolia Insights was going to take a long time to get brand equity and awareness. It takes a long time to build a business, and I was still navigating my own way of what it is that I was offering and what we were doing. So it was more in that mode.

 

Tania:

I also left my corporate career feeling more creative and more energetic than ever, so my creativity was in abundance because oftentimes being in a corporate setting, and rightfully so, you’re fulfilling that job description. You know that you’re not being compensated for everything, all of your gifts, but I knew in my heart that entrepreneurship was going to allow me to make more of an impact.

 

Tania:

So long story short, the opportunity… There was, of course, a flow to how I eventually ended up sparking to this idea. I wanted to go to the TEDWomen Conference, and it was like $3,000 at the time. And I’m like, “Oh, I qualified.” I was feeling really good about that because they curate their audiences. And I was like, “Oh, geez. I don’t know if I have that in me to invest that kind of money.” And they were promoting licensee holders, or partners, to bring TED Women to your own community.

 

Eileen:

Oh my gosh.

 

Tania:

I was like, “Oh, this is interesting. So let me explore this.” And I was trying to come up with the right match and the right name. I really am, I’m a big brand person, so I’m like, “I need TEDx Chicago Women. I need this big platform,” but it was already taken. There was some issue and all roads led me to my very own amazing powerhouse community, Oak Park, Illinois.

 

Eileen:

Hooray.

 

Alicia:

Amazing.

 

Tania:

Oh my gosh. I’ve been living in this community for 10 years. My daughter is not in the school system yet. I don’t know as many women. I want to lift other women’s voices. I was tired of seeing the same top five women being surveyed on panels, and I thought, “This is going to be my chance to close that gap.” So there came TEDxOakParkWomen.

 

Tania:

I sent a little email to our Community Recruiting, our grassroots team. And wow, I was in for a real experience. They say like giving birth and having a child, you don’t really want to know what it feels like. They were like, “Oh, here you go. Here’s this electronic PDF booklet of how to go do this. You have to go raise money for it. You have to recruit a team to go do it. Oh, and you have to curate the content and produce.” It’s a production.

 

Eileen:

It was like your own business.

 

Alicia:

Right.

 

Tania:

Yeah. Pretty much. So, I was like, Oh, okay.” That was interesting. But long story short, I-

 

Alicia:

The audience had to see your face on that. That’s why I laugh.

 

Tania:

I know. I swear to you, I look back on some of these accomplishments and I’m tired. I’m like, “How did I do that?”

 

Tania:

I’ll tell you how I did it. I was turbo, and my daughter was a lot younger, so it would be bath time, and I’d be on our stairwell squeezing every email out. That’s when my creating and productivity life was much different in those days, where I work a lot smarter versus harder now, but I’m a grinder through and through.

 

Alicia:

Yes.

 

Tania:

But that was then. I was like, “Nothing’s going to slow me down. I’m going to get this done.” And I had a team, and I know how to empower teams. I know how to build teams, so it was really bringing all my leadership skills forward that I had inherited and built from my corporate life, which, by the way, corporate life, thank you. What an education. 15 years of being an employee, and I’m so grateful because of the readiness and the impact that I have now is unbelievable because of it. So that’s what I did for TEDxOakParkWomen.

 

Tania:

And I would say the big challenge there, not only was just the opportunity challenges, it’s incredibly rewarding, obviously, is challenging others to be their best. I come from a world-class experience. I have a lot of expectations for myself. I expect and I deliver world-class execution, so when I’m working with our committee, or when I’m working with speakers, there’s a lot of rigor to produce terrific work.

 

Tania:

As I did this for three years, I had a succession plan in place. I’m very big on transitions, and it’s turning out to be that now people are starting to see how I do things and what I’m about. But I knew after going through some global training that this particular TEDx, was not going to be a one-hit-wonder, but this wasn’t going to be part of my identity.

 

Tania:

So part of my leadership style, and I would say how I’ve gotten to where I am, is being very self-aware about what does this mean for me right now?

 

Tania:

So when I’d be with my committee, I would say, “What’s your objective for being on this committee? Everyone here needs to have an objective. This needs to work for you somehow. We all have full plates. What’s your purpose for being? What are you trying to achieve?”

 

Tania:

I knew what I wanted to get out of the experience. And it was like five things, right? So when you’re working with A-Lister women and men who are at the top of their game, incredibly accomplished, coming to the TEDx stage, believe me, I lived a lot. I learned a lot. I saw some women who are my friends today that I would say, “I admire how she handled herself.”

 

Tania:

When I get this opportunity someday, that’s how I want to be versus some others where I’m like, “Wow, congratulations. You got to this point. You’re on the stage, but your journey here was not a positive one. And now that’s part of your brand.”

 

Tania:

So, challenging others to be their best at a very high level also, and really having no fear and owning what I’m bringing to the table, I would say is the takeaway.

 

Alicia:

Ultimately, I can see a lot of great characteristics in you, especially when you are challenging people to be their best, and that’s one of my pet peeves. You push everyone to strive to be their best, whatever it is.

 

Alicia:

But one of the important things I like what you said earlier is how corporate America taught you everything you needed to be an entrepreneur. And I always say to myself because I worked 20 years for [Stetman 00:18:52], “Thank you for the 20 years of what I learned in a nonprofit industry,” which is still transferable skills, but it’s key. It’s what I learned 20 years ago that’s allowed me to be a minority owner, entrepreneur, and the push is different. Like you said, all the energy… You have more energy because, again, you’re working for yourself, you feel like you have more opportunity and skills.

 

Alicia:

But the other question I want to add to that because all of that is wonderful. How do you use your faith at a point when you’re an entrepreneur and you’re leading and you’re empowering others? Where do your faith and a shared vision come into play when you’re working in a team effort?

 

Tania:

I would say that my faith is definitely a big part of what I do and who I am. I would say that it’s very personal to me, so how I pray or how I channel God or how I’m just trying to listen to what God’s saying, what the messages that are coming in, that’s very personal to me, and I’ll find a few people, Eileen Timmins being one of them. All-day long.

 

Alicia:

We all call Dr. Timmins.

 

Tania:

[inaudible 00:20:13] connecting, what we’re hearing in the messages. So there are very few people in my life with whom I can say, “Here are the messages I’m receiving.” Like, “Oh my gosh, what is this cue? What does this mean? I’m really, really leaning into it.”

 

Tania:

I wasn’t always like this. I believed in the universe. I believed in God, but I didn’t have a relationship with God until I had a very challenging situation impact my family and that changed everything for me. Then I was catching up because I’m like, “Oh wait. All of this stuff, God was in the mix. Now I have a relationship with God. And now I’m really tuning in.”

 

Tania:

So, instead of [inaudible 00:20:49] leadership, I don’t necessarily talk about it. I would say it gets communicated, but it’s definitely just so central to my values. As long as I’m nurturing my own faith, it does come through in the quality of my decisions and how I treat people.

 

Eileen:

And Tania, it’s so great that you shared about how you tune in, okay? Because many of us, including myself and Alicia and you, we’re busy bees, working full-time building a business, working full-time going back and getting our Ph.D., doing this and this and this. And we never gave them time for peace until maybe God woke us up, right? And tell me, when you’re in that receiving mode or the quiet mode where you really hear and go, “Okay, that was a whisper. That was a little louder. That’s a shout.” Okay? “I need to move on this.”

 

Eileen:

When you think about your purpose in life, what do you think? As we take this peace, and we listen. What would you say your purpose in life is?

 

Tania:

Yeah. Oh my gosh, this is such a good one. I would say my purpose in life is twofold. First, I would say, when I’ve had to ask myself this question and check-in, have those check-ins, it continues to be to bring others joy and happiness.

 

Tania:

And the second one is to protect children. So, I receive a lot of positive reinforcement on the joy part, and I don’t know where that’s going to take me, to be honest with you, with my company and my skills and all these things that I do. I’m just trying to just be in the moment with what’s in front of me to make an impact and achieve what I believe are my goals.

 

Tania:

I think every once in a while I’ll wonder if the activities that I’m doing match up with my purpose. I’m just like, “Okay, am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing?” And I’ll say, “Yes.” I’ll evaluate.

 

Tania:

And the protecting children piece, oh my gosh. Ever since we launched our charity, PAXA, Parents Against Child Sex Abuse, there is no question that I’m supposed to be on this earth to protect children.

 

Tania:

That is growing in different areas. So not only leading the nonprofit but exploring other opportunities. Is it to be a foster parent? Maybe down the road, there’s going to be a bigger stage where we can do more of that. So, yeah.

 

Eileen:

I had goosebumps when you said that. I absolutely had goosebumps. To protect our children. You’re a beacon of light, okay? To do that. And every human being on this earth should have to protect children, but we know from many things on this earth that it’s not always that way, and so the people who are connected, like you, and people who are leading with their soul, you’re changing the world, Tania. You’re absolutely changing the world what you’re doing, and I personally thank you for that and keeping that beacon with your purpose of joy and protecting children. It’s just amazing. So thank you for sharing that with us.

 

Alicia:

Yeah. And it’s like you have that… The passion is there and you have a voice for our kids who may not have people to have a voice for, which is all over this world, basically, so it’s a well-needed organization.

 

Alicia:

But I will ask one of the questions. How do you have the courage to say what needs to be said when you’re dealing with a nonprofit in such a case as that? Where does that courage come from? Because I’m sure you have to say something very tough at times, or you have to deal with some tough situations. Where do you pull in for that courage?

 

Tania:

Great question. I would say, from having experienced a tremendous amount of pain. The tremendous amount of pain. And then everything changes and there’s no time to waste, and there’s no time to mince words, worry too much about what other people think. It’s just, all that goes to the side. And you realize in life, how much of the energy you’re spending worrying about other people or stepping on people’s toes. Oh, it’s exhausting just to think about that. Think about all of that, how much people hold back?

 

Tania:

I’m going through this right now as another chapter just in friendship with old friends. I’m finding out people weren’t calling me out about something that I didn’t realize they were not happy with me about on something. And I’m like, “Okay, why isn’t anyone telling me?” I’m finding out this real [inaudible 00:26:07] way in my forties that… And the coaching that I’m getting is like, “Oh, well, we only see them a few times a year. Can you just go with the beat or just kind of… You know?” And I’m like, “But that feels so inauthentic to me. Isn’t that the opposite way that if you know somebody, and it’s this long, and this is clearly what they mean to you and your life, you can’t even be real with one another? That’s what it’s gotten to?” It’s just easier just to say, “Oh, we’re not…” So we’ll say, Alicia, that going through pain and the courage, and also… I wouldn’t say any filter, but I had to…

 

Tania:

And I was already working on this through some other leadership programs. I’m a big Conscious Leadership group person, 15 commitments of Conscious Leadership, so it was part of a leadership group. I’m getting coaching on that.

 

Tania:

When I left corporate America, I had to really… That group really helped me level set on feeling my feelings all the way through and not be numb or just above board every time. Tania was always the rise above. We’re going to [inaudible 00:27:19].

 

Tania:

Incorporate settings, especially the one I came from, the leaders were always cool, calm, and collected. You don’t really express your feelings because you’re always just rising above. Then what happened was, life happened, and it reset me actually expressing my feelings.

 

Tania:

Or if I’m mad, my husband’s like, “Whoa.” Even he’s seeing things about me where I have an outburst of being angry or frustrated. Or I’m on a client project right now that I got really frustrated, and I didn’t hold back on expressing how I felt. That was not old Tania. And you know what? I’m so liking the person I am because people need to know how you feel. Obviously, at a certain level of professionalism, but it’s still like, “It’s okay. And being real is okay. You are allowed to feel a certain way at any level that you are in your organization or as a leader.”

 

Tania:

So I would say I’m just so grateful. At the pain part, I could have skipped, but the personal growth part of this really leading into all these things that, whether it’s biased as women or where we come from, just bringing all that realness to the table is so critical, I think, in leadership.

 

Eileen:

Thank you so much for sharing that, Tania, because what you just shared, there’s research behind it. And if you hold those feelings in, and if you do not release or deal with and be your authentic self, it can cause disease and that’s a disease of all different types.

 

Eileen:

And John Hancock Hospitals have a study. There are so many can cause cancer, high blood pressure, strokes, diabetes, you name it. You need to know that your body and your emotions are connected.

 

Alicia:

Yes.

 

Eileen:

And in going through pain, sometimes there’s another quote, Rumi, “Sometimes the wound, where the wound is, the light will come,” right? And that’s what happens.

 

Eileen:

And look at you. Look at you where you’re at and how you are sprinkling seeds everywhere of light to help the world. And with that, as we wrap up our conversation, we ask a question about leaving words of wisdom for us, Alicia and I, and our listeners. So do you have some words of wisdom you can share with us?

 

Tania:

I do. I’m ready to impart some wisdom.

 

Alicia:

Let’s get that wisdom.

 

Eileen:

Thank you. We want to hear it.

 

Tania:

I know one of the themes that often comes up in your podcast is about service leadership and being of service, which I’m a big believer in. And we didn’t touch on that today, but I think it came through somehow.

 

Tania:

I bring this up because as someone like me who has had a tendency or has a tendency to put others first, my words of wisdom are, don’t forget about you. Okay? So what matters to you? What is your opinion? How you’re getting compensated, whether it’s in a corporate setting or your line item for a project as an entrepreneur, valuing your time.

 

Tania:

That’s really, really what I’m leaving the audience with because I have leaned into so much of being a very compassionate person. I’m very nice, but I don’t like it when being nice gets mistaken for.

 

Eileen:

Absolutely.

 

Tania:

I’ve had mentors along the way who’ve been like, “Tania, where are you getting paid?” I would be worried about everybody else. Like, “Oh, this person’s got this budget plug,” or, “Oh…” And I’m still doing it. I’m kicking myself on something right now that just happened to accommodate. And now I’m like, “Great. I lessened my value in this opportunity. Here we go again.” Do you know?

 

Tania:

So it’s [inaudible 00:31:43] growing into and really owning more and more every single day because of… I was reversed and now it’s like, “Okay, well, now it’s time to really drive the results that I’m looking to achieve. And putting yourself first can sound selfish, but you’re doing a disservice if you’re not thinking about yourself in the mix as well.

 

Eileen:

Thank you. And there’s another quote I’m going to share that goes right along with that, Tania. And that is, “If you don’t put the oxygen mask on you first, you are not good to anybody else.” Right? So know that you have only a certain amount of energy every day, and you need some of that to stay healthy mentally and physically. So that is a huge, huge impact on words of wisdom. So thank you, Tania.

 

Alicia:

Yes.

 

Tania:

Thank you so much.

 

Alicia:

Yes. And it’s refreshing To hear that from another leader because we both put a lot… We volunteer, we do that, and you sit back and you’re like, “Wait a minute.” Do you know? And it’s almost sometimes people expect us to not be selfish, but I don’t think it’s selfish when we have to, at some point, think about yourself. Just like Dr. Eileen just said, it’s just we have to put the oxygen mask on first.

 

Eileen:

That’s right.

 

Alicia:

And if we don’t take care of ourselves first, how are we going to help others? Or how are we going to run a business, and how are we going to give back? So I love your words of wisdom.

 

Eileen:

Thank you for joining us on the Soul of a Leader podcast. We are igniting a new way of leading with your soul and interviewing ordinary people with extraordinary impact. Thank you for listening to the stories of our leaders who will help and guide you on your leadership journey. For more information on our podcast, please visit our website at www.soulofaleader.com. Thank you for listening.

 

With Dr. Eileen & Dr. Alicia

Conversations with ordinary people, with extraordinary impact on strategies, success stories, spirituality and leadership.

With Dr. Eileen & Dr. Alicia

Conversations with ordinary people, with extraordinary impact on strategies, success stories, spirituality and leadership.