Female Disruptors: Leticia DeSuze of Elite Wealth Enterprises On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
Things don’t go wrong they start wrong. I actually heard this in church and I’ve lived by it ever since. The pastor was referencing divorces and the end of relationships and how the problems that ultimately led to the demise of the relationship were always present. We were challenged to be mindful of what presents itself in the beginning of a relationship — of any sort — and ask ourselves if this is something we can actually accept. People often romanticize or idealize relationships in the beginning and ignore or overlook crucial information and patterns that could save time and prevent heartache and minimize loss.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leticia DeSuze.
Leticia is a mindset coach and business strategist who works primarily with C-level execs, established entrepreneurs and minority women in law who desire to break the 7-figure barrier. Leticia has an innate ability to uncover her clients’ blind spots and identify opportunities for accelerated growth. With her straightforward guidance and tough love approach she helps her client create the lives and businesses they’ve always wanted.www.leticiadesuze.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
As far back as I can remember I had big dreams and wanted to make great contributions to the world even when I didn’t know how I would do it. I had my own way of seeing and doing things. I never went along with things ‘just because.’ It needed to feel true to me. I was curious and asked lots of questions and could never accept that something couldn’t be done without investigating it for myself.
I’ve also always been an avid reader and someone who was fascinated by human behavior. I wondered why people including myself acted or responded in certain ways or made certain choices. I could easily identify patterns in behavior that resulted in vicious cycles and I wanted to dig deeper. Little did I know that this innate curiosity, strategic thought process and endless quest for betterment would take me down many life and career paths and ultimately lead me into the world of coaching.
The common theme I can see in all of my roles was an ability to build rapport easily and make people feel felt; a comfort level with both listening and asking deep probing questions; and an ability to help people see things from a different perspective. When people started to pour out their hearts and tell me their life’s story on planes and in random places like department stores while shopping I realized I had a gift that drew people to me.
It came into fruition in 2008 after I had gotten my real estate broker’s license and started my own brokerage. One day I was talking to a friend and said, “I don’t love this. I want to be a coach.” I had no idea what coaching really entailed. Shortly thereafter the market crashed and so did my business. I found myself searching for short-term opportunities until the market bounced back. I ended up working temporarily with an organization where I traveled the nation coaching senior executives in Fortune 500 corporations. What was supposed to be 2 to 6 months turned into a 9 year coaching career. I was certified as a business coach and left that organization to become an outsourced CEO to small law firms. I started my own coaching practice shortly thereafter and never looked back.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
People come to me with business problems. What they don’t realize is that I intuitively know that their real problem is something within themselves that is showing up as a business problem. It can be a hard pill to swallow but for my clients who are willing to embrace truth without running away — I take them on a journey into their childhood which is where our mindsets originate. Just from learning their familial patterns I can pinpoint what we’re dealing with even when they can’t see it.
This process can be disruptive because it often brings up painful experiences and emotions that have been repressed. So it’s equally important that I provide a safe space and container to hold the many things they’re dealing with. In this space their facades can be let down and they can allow their authentic selves to be shown without fear of judgement.
I have a client, for example, with staff challenges. In her childhood home, she wasn’t allowed to speak openly without fear of punishment so she learned to suppress her true emotions and become a people pleaser to avoid conflict. When staffing challenges arise, she often avoids the problems and lets them linger because of her childhood conditioning. In this case, the wounded child is informing the decisions. I help my clients see these kinds of patterns and develop strategies to create change.
Through this work, I’ve not only helped business owners grow and succeed — I’ve helped their marriages and relationships with their parents and children by helping them reconnect to themselves in a greater way and show up in life completely different. So it’s both disruptive and transformative.
The way I built the business is also disruptive. I didn’t study coaching trends or even follow most of the advice I received. Instead I built it by what felt true to me. I made self-care a priority and a core value. Since I don’t believe in a traditional 40 hour work week I determined that I wanted to work on my business 3–4 days and at the most 20 hours per week. I also decided that I would not serve more than twelve 1:1 clients at any given time so I could keep the quality of my coaching high. Following what felt true, I built the business to six figures during a pandemic through organic referrals — when the average Black female small business owner earns just $24,000 per year.
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?
When I first started I had no idea how to price my services. I jokingly say my business started without me. I started getting referrals before I ever established my pricing, packages or even knew what I would be offering. When people would ask if I could help them I would say absolutely. Because I had no framework — ‘sales’ conversations felt all over the place and like I was winging it. Then they’d say send me your invoice. I had no idea if it was actually the right price and at one point I had clients at four different price points.
Through this I learned that ‘done beats perfect’ and a messy start is ok. Once you put something out into the world the feedback you receive will help you know what people want from you and what they’re willing to pay for. I also learned that connection is key. I have an ability to connect with people that transcends the formalities of the way you’re ‘supposed’ to do sales.
So many people think they have to have everything altogether and it’s just not true. Entrepreneurship is all about solving problems and you will figure it out eventually. I felt like a huge imposter because even though I knew I was great at my work but the business aspect of things was a bit unsettling. So I hired a coach and got clarity and a framework but it was after I was already making some money and had proof of concept.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I have had many mentors at different places in my life. I’ve had spiritual mentors. I have had pastors and coaches. I’ve had peer mentors from mastermind groups. Collectively I would say they helped me grow into the person I needed to become to do and continue to do this work. I’m always growing but the core values by which I work and live and the way I show up is largely a result of others’ investment into me.
Specifically one of my coaches helped me to see my own mindset challenges and where I was playing small as a result. One area was an aversion to visibility. I’m someone who likes being behind the scenes not necessarily in front. He helped me dig into the origin of this and it stemmed from childhood experiences of being told I thought I was too much.
So rather than ‘playing to win’ so to speak I learned to ‘play not to lose’ just to fit in. Over the years it resulted in me not living anything close to my potential because I didn’t want to be seen. Being seen equated being judged. However, my unique path requires visibility. My coach helped me to use a different data point besides my fears and feelings and I committed to do the work. I now actively pursue opportunities for visibility because it expands the reach of my impact.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
When I think of positive disruption, the social media app Clubhouse comes to mind. Clubhouse has changed the way people do social media. They launched during a pandemic and brought people together when physical closeness was frowned upon. People can be in a room with celebrities and business moguls who they may never cross paths with and learn and participate in discussions that run the gamut from advice on pitching your startup, to panels on the music industry and real estate. This disruption has allowed for a $1B valuation which is 10x higher than it was just eight months ago.
When I think of ‘not so positive’ disruption JC Penney comes to mind. They were already in economic trouble years ago when they made the decision to hire Apple’s retail chief Ron Johnson as their chief executive in attempt to disrupt the way retail was done. They changed advertisements, the JCP logo, the store designs and the pricing model. They also ended clearances and coupons which backfired massively. They reinstated them but it was way too late. I think the lack of consideration of the model that had ‘withstood the test of time’ with its customers was an egregious error that was unrecoverable.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- Things don’t go wrong they start wrong. I actually heard this in church and I’ve lived by it ever since. The pastor was referencing divorces and the end of relationships and how the problems that ultimately led to the demise of the relationship were always present. We were challenged to be mindful of what presents itself in the beginning of a relationship — of any sort — and ask ourselves if this is something we can actually accept. People often romanticize or idealize relationships in the beginning and ignore or overlook crucial information and patterns that could save time and prevent heartache and minimize loss.
- Done beats perfect. A perfect example of this is how I started my business. I felt completely unprepared. There were so many things I felt like I needed to know and have figured out. However, because I started getting referrals I just started to get things done and tweaked them over time vs. waiting until I got everything perfect. I didn’t initially have a website or logo or many other business essentials.
- Success leaves clues. I saw this quote attributed to Tony Robbins and he was saying if you want to be successful find someone successful and replicate their actions. While I believe it’s great to have a model I personally believe the best clues are in your own heart. I built my business following what felt true to me at every juncture. Even when I would deviate and follow the advice of an expert or guru it was usually short-lived because I felt out of integrity with myself. Not that all advice is bad but I believe you can look within to find your road map and your own voice should be the strongest one you listen to.
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I will develop a seven and ultimately eight-figure coaching business. I will speak on international stages. I will be a best-selling author. I will lead coaching retreats and high level masterminds on my multi-acre property near water. I will also be heavily involved with my nonprofit Beyond Potential, Inc. where I will establish ‘mentoring mansions’ where single moms can live for up to 2 years and receive holistic life coaching and entrepreneurship training. Some of these things are in the works in their infancy stages. I have a lot to do.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I think women disruptors have more barriers. We’re still underpaid in comparison to our male counterparts. I was reading about a survey where 20 percent of adult women (22 million people) say they never negotiate at all, even though they often recognize negotiation as appropriate and even necessary. We have to do so much more to prove ourselves and be taken seriously. I think internally we still deal with a lack of confidence in male dominated industries and imposter syndrome and often our emotions are used against us.
Many women disruptors that are wives and mothers also struggle with the guilt of competing priorities. Trying to balance it all and please everyone we often leave ourselves out of the equation. When women make the commitment to their businesses they’re often asked who’s with their kids or how they might take a week off to attend a conference? Men aren’t typically asked those questions.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
I find it funny that I have a podcast but don’t really enjoy listening to them because I’m so much more of a reader and visual learner. I immerse myself in books that will challenge my thinking. A book that has deeply impacted my thinking is The Power of the Supermind by Vernon Howard. One of the quotes or lessons from the book that stood out to me is “Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from.”
To follow my path I have walked away from many jobs and relationships and it was difficult because they weren’t all bad. They were great for a time but at some point I had to decide if they were congruent with the person I had grown to be and my goals. This quote forced me to deal with attachment in a way I hadn’t previously considered. I was holding so tightly to things and people out of fear and was unknowingly in my own way.
When I learned the principle of detachment which is something I still find personally challenging, I learned to walk away and choose my path in a more deliberate and conscious way. I also learned that you can leave without abandoning. When I approach it from that perspective, I’m getting freer everyday.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would start entrepreneurship training in elementary school and continue it through high school and beyond. Much like years ago there were sewing and cooking classes to ensure that people had necessary life skills — entrepreneurship education could do the same. Even if people didn’t start businesses, understanding and developing an entrepreneurial mindset which is a ‘do for self’ way of thinking would be immensely helpful.
People wouldn’t be nearly as dependent on governmental resources and would tap into their creative abilities. Systemic generational poverty could be broken because people would be empowered with the tools to create their lives from a mindset of self-sufficiency with an understanding that a job determines your salary but doesn’t have to determine your income. That’s important because there’s no worse feeling than powerlessness.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“People are where they are because that is exactly where they really want to be — whether they will admit that or not.”- Earl Nightingale
This is an anchoring quote for me because it helped me take 100% responsibility for every area of my life. Every time I get to a place where I feel powerless or stuck I ask myself how am I knowingly or even unknowingly choosing this? For example, there were two very large goals I hadn’t accomplished. When I looked at those goals in light of this quote I realized I hadn’t accomplished them because I hadn’t wanted to. It was so difficult to admit to myself that I hadn’t wanted to make the whole-hearted commitment necessary. It was only when the pain of remaining the same began to outweigh the fear of commitment that I made significant changes.
How can our readers follow you online?
I am Leticia DeSuze on Linked In, Instagram, Twitter and Clubhouse.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!