An Interview with Phil La Duke

Phil La Duke
Sep 1 · 18 min read

It takes an incredible amount of emotional fitness and maturity to be an amazing CEO and you’ll need this because your team is responding to your energy. I remember times in the beginning of my career where I would be stressed out from a team member sending out an email incorrectly or a launch not working or a tech error happening and visibly show my upset to the team. But what I realized over time is that whatever you are feeling, your team members feel that 10x more because they feed off of and respond to your energy. A great team requires an emotionally centered CEO to lead it well. It’s not about being a robot and hiding your emotions, but a great CEO must be keenly aware of not displaying their stress to their employees or letting their own emotions spill over into interactions with the team. Develop the emotional fitness to deal with your own feelings first so when you show up in front of your team, they see and feel a calm, centered, confident leader not a stress case on the verge of barking at you if you don’t get it right.


As a part of our series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Moore. Nicole is the CEO and founder of Love Works and is a Love Coach and who helps powerful, influential women find their ideal partner. Using her signature Love Works Method, she’s helped hundreds of women find lasting love fast (for example, she helped a client who had been single for 10 years find her dream man in under three months). Nicole started her Love Coaching company while she was in a relationship that she thought would lead to marriage. Instead, it resulted in emotional abuse and her boyfriend cheating on her. Suddenly single as a life coach, Nicole had to start following her own advice and take every step she’d ever taught a client — and it worked. She found her dream man exactly one year after following her own program. Nicole has three life coaching certifications, including a certification from New York University. She’s been featured in Forbes, Money magazine, Inc.com and Thrive Global, and she lives in Encinitas, California with her husband and son.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I worked in public relations for 5 years after graduating college and during that time I was never really happy with my career. Work felt like something I had to do, not something I was excited to do and I found myself craving more.
I would sit at my desk and write out the names of companies without knowing at all what I was doing it for. I would sit at my desk, doing public relations for others thinking to myself “one day, I’m going to create a company and hire my own PR firm to do that for me.” So, the desire to be a CEO definitely started way before I transitioned into being the CEO of Love Works Media…there was definitely an innate calling to it all. I wanted creative freedom. I wanted to be the chief decision-maker. I wanted to create something on my own and see it grow. I didn’t fully know why, but I knew that the path of entrepreneurship was for me. Then, while I was still at my very last office job, I discovered this thing called Life Coaching. I immediately started researching ways to get certified and found out that NYU had a continuing education program where you can get certified. I had a bit of saving so I quit my job without a real plan, traveled to Bali, Morocco, and Spain for a month, and then got certified as a coach. From the very first class, I knew this was for me. My brain was inspired like it had never been during the endless meetings at my previous office job where I would wonder is there just something wrong with me that I’m not excited about this? I realized then that it wasn’t that I was a non-motivated person, I’m extremely driven, I was just in the wrong field previously.
I got certified and got to work building a business.

I decided to focus on Love Coaching because love has always been the biggest area of interest for me. I was also in a relationship at the time that I thought was my soulmate and I wanted to spread love to every woman I could. He turned out to be an emotionally abusive narcissist, but honestly going through that just fuled me more to get our love coaching products into the hands of as many women as possible so they did not have to suffer like I did.
I’m the woman who is eavesdropping at the couple at the table next to me at dinner trying to figure out by their body language and conversation if they’re on a first date, or have been together for a while. With love coaching as my niche, I then had to learn how to grow a coaching business. I had no clue what I was doing but I was willing to put in the work. I signed up for BNI (business networkers international) and started attending weekly 6am meetings to pitch myself in front of a room full of people and started putting out free meetup events. For a long time it was just me hustling in my business and doing every single task but eventually I had to hire team to grow me to the next level.

What is it about the position of CEO or executive that most attracted you to it?

I was most attracted to being a CEO because I wanted to be the one making the decisions. I wanted to be the one responsible for the larger vision of the company because I am a big thinker, rather than being the detail oriented person. It’s exciting to me to

Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?

In my position as CEO of Love Works Media, I am responsible for the overall strategy and vision of where the company is headed. My job is to have my head both in the everyday operations of the company which includes managing employees including the COO and in the future of where I believe the company needs to go in order to continue to be successful.
My job is to think about how the company can differentiate itself from competitors, what marketing and growth strategies the company needs to employ and also how to manage those directly under me to leverage their efforts to reach company goals.
I create the vision of the culture at our company, make sure all employees are showing up in a way that reflects our company’s core values and standards and help them perform better in their roles.

What is the one thing that you enjoy most about being an executive?

I enjoy being a visionary. I enjoy thinking into the future and then communicating the vision to the team and seeing them come together to implement the vision.

What are the downsides of being an executive?

For me, one of the hardest things about being an executive is needing to put decisions about what’s best for the business ahead of pleasing others or catering to the feelings of others. As a naturally heart-centered person, I honestly had to learn the hard way that it’s not my job to make sure every employee likes me.
It’s almost guaranteed that at some point your actions or decisions as a CEO will be criticized and I’ve had to develop a thick skin and the ability to know that if I am certain that a decision is right for the company then I must move forward with it even if there will be some temporary discomfort or criticism.
I don’t know if every CEO is this way, but I honestly had to get over the part of me that cared when I thought about the fact that my employees might at times complain about me or about their job to their coworkers, family or friends.

Another downside of being an executive is, for me anyway, a feeling of constant pressure. There’s a lot riding on whether or not the CEO does a good job and I am honestly always thinking about the business.
It’s really hard to turn off the part of my mind that is constantly analyzing, thinking about how we could do it better and projecting out into the future.

And, for me, firing people is never easy.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?

The biggest myth I would like to dispel about being a CEO is that we have all the answers.
While of course it’s important to trust yourself as a CEO, I think it’s a mistake to think that the person at the “top” is the only one who can come up with ideas that really grow the company forward. Yes, it’s important to own the strategy and vision as a CEO but a great executive is always open to hearing feedback or intelligent input from the team and really creates an environment where people feel that their ideas are also valued too.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
There are so many more expectations, spoken or unspoken that are placed on women.
For instance, there is typically a deep seeded expectation that women look a certain way or a lot of judgments placed on the way they look.
When a man is interviewed for an article, it’s rare that there’s mention of his outfit but even interviews with the most successful women typically can’t help but comment on some aspect of that woman’s appearance.
There’s often an expectation that a woman have a certain level of warmth or friendliness or else she’s labeled a bitch or cold.
Women still run the risk of being labeled cold or difficult if they show up direct, to the point, and god forbid without an exclamation point in their emails when they say “hello”.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
For me the most interesting thing that happens since leading the company is seeing the effect that being in our organization has on our employees.
Since we’re a personal development company, at the end of the day, so much of that is within the company culture and employees seem to absorb positive thinking, growth mindset and the message of love when working at our company.
It’s so fun and interesting to see our employees make huge shifts in their personal life from finding their life partner because they happened to be seeped in our trainings as a result of working in marketing or customer service, to improving relationships with their family members, all as a result of working in a company where the big mission and message is love and self-improvement.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Definitely my biggest mistakes have come from hiring the wrong people and not clearly communicating to them what the company values are and expectations for how they show up to represent the company well.
For example, during a client retreat, my then assistant showed up to the event in an outfit which can only be described as so reminiscent of lingerie that I could tell it was distracting everyone.
That made me realize that I can’t just expect everyone to understand how to show up. I have to communicate very clearly the expectations so no one is confused.

What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?

The most striking difference is the amount of responsibility I feel on a daily basis. I originally became an entrepreneur, ironically, because I wanted freedom. I wanted the freedom to set my own hours, do the work i wanted to do and not have to take orders from anyone. But, as a CEO, while you may not be taking orders from anyone, there are several people at any given time needing something from you. Approval on something, input, strategy, your help with management, etc…..it’s the opposite of being untethered and operating as a free agent or solopreneur.

Certainly, not everyone is cut out to be an executive. In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive?
Being decisive while still able to hear and consider the advice and opinions of others is definitely a skill a successful executive should have. There’s a level of self trust, and knowing that no matter what you’ll get the job done and make it happen that I believe all successful executives need to have.
One of the biggest stills necessary is the ability to self-reflect and take personal responsibility for things. At the end of the day, if you can look at mistakes or even failures in the company and not blame your employees but look at what did I do (or not do) to contribute to this happening, that’s going to massively help you be successful as an executive.

If someone is indecisive, caves under pressure or doesn’t like the feeling of a lot of responsibility then they won’t make a good executive.

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
The best advice I have to help your team thrive is to communicate clearly with them what’s expected and what success looks like on each project and initiative. Too often, we assume that a team member understands exactly what we want them to do and they don’t. Clear outcomes, a clear and specific picture of what winning looks like, and checking in along the way to make sure your team members know what’s expected of them is key.
I’ve found that most team members really want to do a great job for you and the company but all too often, lack of clear communication gets in the way of that happening.
To me, it’s the leader and CEO that’s ultimately responsible for whether the team succeeds or fails so you always want to check in with are you communicating clearly enough so there is zero confusion on the part of your team members, they know what the expectations are, and they see a clear path to get to success.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am really grateful to a previous business mentor, Alex Charfen.
He taught me so much about running a team and how we need to show up as a CEO in order to have our team thrive.
I will never forget my first meeting with him. I was coughing the whole time and I had a sore throat because I was truthfully exhausted from taking on way too much in the business.
At the time, I had a fear of letting go of control and I didn’t realize that the way I was relating with employees was not fostering their innate capabilities or letting them shine.
Alex taught me how to communicate expectations and outcomes clearly with my team and then guide them to create that outcome rather than micro-managing the details.
Basically, I learned that people really do want to do their absolute best for you and if you create communication, outcomes and structures where they can win, you end up feeling so much less “pressure and noise” as the CEO and the team goes so much further faster.
Because of Alex I stopped being a stressed out CEO who is not taking care of her health and who’s holding the whole world on her shoulders.
Now when I look back at that version of me that had made herself literally sick because she did not fully know yet how to hand over tasks and actually trust that they would get done well, I feel like she’s an entirely different person than who I am now.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Because my company is a personal development company, literally the more we succeed, the more people in the world succeed.
I personally have been able to tithe to organizations that really matter to me and I love knowing that my business is making a contribution in this way.
And truly, the more successful my business is, the more I just keep giving away for free. The amount of highly valuable free content that we put out as a company is astounding and so many people who could not otherwise afford our services get the benefit of having all of this information for free. I love when people in my community email in to say I’ve been following you for so long and your free information helped me heal / find the relationship of my dreams.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) You will want to quit. Keep going anyway. There will be moments where it feels like you’re best efforts aren’t working, or the cards are stacked against you. These are actually the moments that are strengthening you as a CEO and preparing you for the next level. Whenever I’ve had moments of exhaustion or extreme frustration as a CEO, I think about mega-successful CEOs like Richard Branson or Sarah Blakely and remind myself that they just kept going and so can I. So often, we forget that failure or defeat is temporary and not an indication that we shouldn’t keep going on our path but just an opportunity to redirect, get smarter and do it better next time.

2) Attacks can happen. Prepare yourself ahead of time. Last year we had a cyberattack on our company. Someone hacked into our server and destroyed our website, took down our podcast and generally tried to ruin our online presence. We knew it was a person (we have reason to believe it was a “competitor” working with a former executive assistant of ours) and not just malware and honestly, this was a shock at first.
But here’s the thing….we had somehow let the backup software lapse on a renewal so when the website was destroyed, we could not get it back.
Luckily my team mobilized very quickly to recreate the website but the lesson I learned was to not naively assume that because we’re a company that operates in high integrity that other people will operate with integrity too.
Looking back I see that there are so many things we could have done ahead of being attacked to make sure that we were fully protected and it’s a mistake that I’ll never make again.

3) Problems are a good thing and it’s not possible to get to a problem-free state in business. I really wish someone had told me ahead of time to not fear problems in business but to know and understand that every problem is just an opportunity to grow.
I remember when I first started the business, I had this silly dream of getting to a place of total calm and ease in the business where I didn’t feel stressed and where there were no problems. Ha! Now I realize how naive and short-sighted that was.
The truth is, as you grow your business, it grows in complexity and that can bring more problems.
But a great CEO skills up with each problem they face and just uses each problem to find a solution and a way to do it better.
Now that I don’t view problems as a problem but as an opportunity, I actually feel that sense of relaxation I was chasing at the beginning of my business, but in a different way.
I learned that relaxation doesn’t come from having a problem-free business but from trusting yourself as a CEO that you have what it takes to handle what comes up and that you’ll grow better from each problem that arises.

4) There is no true end goal so celebrate along the way as much as possible and don’t keep pushing success farther into the future. I used to play this game in my mind of when I reach a certain milestone or when the business is generating x amount of revenue or when we have X number of followers and email subscribers THEN I’ll feel successful.
But what I started to notice after hitting many company goals, again and again, was that whenever we hit a goal, I would feel satisfied for a second and then be on to the next goal.
It took me a while to realize that part of this is just that CEOs and entrepreneur personality types are inherently goal motivated and love a challenge, so we’ll always be chasing goals and we’ll never feel permanently satisfied with reaching a certain milestone because we’ll always want to go higher.
And once I accepted my nature to always strive for more, I realized that celebrating success along the way instead of waiting for some destination in the future actually made me, and more importantly the team feel better as a whole.

5) It takes an incredible amount of emotional fitness and maturity to be an amazing CEO and you’ll need this because your team is responding to your energy. I remember times in the beginning of my career where I would be stressed out from a team member sending out an email incorrectly or a launch not working or a tech error happening and visibly show my upset to the team.
But what I realized over time is that whatever you are feeling, your team members feel that 10x more because they feed off of and respond to your energy.
A great team requires an emotionally centered CEO to lead it well.
It’s not about being a robot and hiding your emotions, but a great CEO must be keenly aware of not displaying their stress to their employees or letting their own emotions spill over into interactions with the team.
Develop the emotional fitness to deal with your own feelings first so when you show up in front of your team, they see and feel a calm, centered, confident leader not a stress case on the verge of barking at you if you don’t get it right.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

The movement I’d like to inspire and my biggest vision is getting a love curriculum into the hands of children. Just as children are taught about how to do math, how to read, (or) even how to engage in physical exercise with gym class, I’d like to create a statewide love class curriculum that’s taught in elementary or middle school.
Love relationships are arguably one of the biggest sources of pain for people on this planet right now and it’s because we’re simply never taught how to love well.
We learn about love via modeling the relationship dynamic between our parents and also how they loved (or in most cases failed to love) us and unfortunately, most people have learned poor dynamics that they perpetuate to this current day.
I’d like to create a curriculum that teaches children how to communicate with love, how to forgive, how to show love to another person you care about, how to handle big or triggering emotions etc. so children have a foundation of knowing how to love that they can carry into their adulthood.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“There is nothing good or bad, only thinking makes it so.” — Shakespeare
I have thought about this quote so much over the years and it’s my go-to in any situation where I’m tempted to make a snap judgment or perceive things in a negative light.
This quote has been a constant reminder to question my thinking and to always seek to find the positive in any situation knowing that my perspective is what ultimately determines what I get out of life, not the situations themselves.

We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

Gwyneth Paltrow because if there’s one person in the entertainment world who has shown a clear understanding of the need to develop oneself in a love relationship, it’s her. She’s brought to the public awareness of the idea of “conscious uncoupling” during her divorce to Chris Martin and she’s been a pioneer in featuring in-depth relationship content on Goop.


About the author:

Phil La Duke is a popular speaker & writer with more than 400 works in print. He has contributed to Entrepreneur, Monster, Thrust Global and is published on all inhabited continents. His most recent book is Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook On Workplace Violence Prevention listed as #16 on Pretty Progressive magazine’s list of 49 books that powerful women study in detail. Follow Phil on Twitter @philladuke or read his weekly blog www.philladuke.wordpress.com

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Phil La Duke

Written by

Author of “I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business” and “Lone Gunman. Rewriting the Handbook on Workplace Violence Prevention

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade