Female Founders: Desiree’ Stapleton On The Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder
An Interview With Candice Georgiadis
Have a reliable source of income while you’re building so that you aren’t stressed about your livelihood and can afford to pay for marketing so your business can actually grow. There’s nothing worse than being super salesy all the time because you’re not making enough money to live off of.. People can tell when you’re just trying to make a buck and when you really care about what you offer. They want to see your passion– and when you’re struggling to survive, you are passionate about someone buying your product, not about being able to help them.
As a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Master Coach Desiree’ Stapleton.
Master Coach Desiree’ Stapleton is the creator of The Self-Help App and is a 2x ’30 Under 30’ honoree and Forbes ‘Next 1000’ nominated master level life coach, author, and CEO who helps women produce and hit more of their goals. She can be found in the 40th annual Forbes 400 magazine, Thrive Global, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, and more!
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?
From suicidal ideation, shrinking myself, and suffering in silence in 2020, to materializing my dreams, I’ve come a long way. Managing to stand out among a sea of mentors from the get-go because of my intimate awareness of suffering and struggles, I became a highly recognized mentor and author that stands at the helm of Desiree’ Stapleton & Company, LLC — a consulting firm designed to provide individuals with the tools and resources needed to enhance their personal growth and development.
The pandemic has been challenging for most, but during this time specifically, I have found a way to help others still be able to move the needle in their lives. Since the start of the pandemic, I have been doing my part in coaching women from all over the globe, including Zambia, Norway, Netherlands, Finland, Philippines, Singapore, Canada, Spain, and Australia on how to mitigate the challenges in their lives so that they can produce and hit more of their goals.
Using the power of my story to highlight the fact that traumas, setbacks, and challenges can be used as stepping stones to success, I’ve been featured in numerous publications such as Thrive Global and the 40th annual Forbes 400 edition of Forbes magazine, I have also had the honor of being 2x ’30 Under 30' honoree and a Forbes ‘Next 1000’ nominee.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Something I find is interesting, is what it takes sometimes for people to start paying attention to something. Personal development, self- growth, and mental health seem to just now be things that people are starting to take seriously and it’s alarming. Me, being in this sector, it’s alarming how many suicides or rehab visits we have to hear about before we register that there is a problem. I’m glad the world is paying more attention to mental health, but on the other hand: there are more Cheslie Kryst’s of the world.
I bring this up because one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make was to not let the bad stuff get the best of me. I’ve faced a lot of things that I feel were meant to break me and it takes grit and resolve to keep your essence- to still be optimistic, joyous, humorous, ambitious, or present. And oddly enough, the most important decision I made that contributed to my success was to keep going.
Like I’ve mentioned, I’ve faced a lot of things that I feel were meant to break me and it takes a lot to have resolve and tenacity. It takes a lot to power through situations until what you see in your mind comes to fruition in reality- especially when your current reality is so different from the one that you envision. Imagine only knowing abuse, poverty, or something terrible and working to build a life that doesn’t have those things- it takes a lot to make happen. You’ve got to build yourself to become the person required to get the job done while creating a completely foreign paradigm for yourself.
It’s the reason I created The Self-Help App- because life happens, to ALL of us, and sometimes we need a little extra help. Whether it be to grow or to not be jaded, whatever the personal growth goal is that is tied to a trying experience, sometimes you need a place to go to remind you that things will be okay.
It took some time for me to find that within myself and I want to help expedite and enhance that process for other people.. I know the thoughts that someone could have when their reality isn’t matching up with their desired reality. I know the thoughts someone may have when life throws one too many curveballs or knocks the wind out of them one too many times.
It’s my hope that The Self-Help App helps other people get through the difficult decisions that THEY have to make. Why? Because there are too many people teetering at the edge where it only takes one more situation to happen in order for them to decide to act on their suicidal ideation.
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?
I think the funniest thing I’ve done is hop on Facebook to do a live video, knowing that I wasn’t good at them at the time, and uploaded it to my page without checking the quality. How is that a funny mistake? Have you ever tried to hype yourself up before you do something, or experience difficulty trying to set something up for the first time? Imagine having it all on camera because you were too nervous to realize that the camera started recording way before you thought it did, and, because you just wanted it to be over, you uploaded the video without watching it yourself to make sure everything was good.
I got some laughs, but as you can imagine, I didn’t sell out of the product/offer I was selling.
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?
My mum. We had a really rocky start but I got my self-sufficiency and resilience from her. Desiree’ Stapleton & Company LLC and The Self-Help App are, in part, a reflection of the steadfastness she instilled in me– despite our past relationship.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?
I can’t speak for everyone, but from my experience, there is this glaring path that every woman is supposed to take. It involves marriage and children, rather quickly. Society builds women to be the ones that are home, bearing children, and living to support their spouse’s dream. Well, somewhere down the line I guess women decided that their dreams outside the household are worth living as well. No one ever asks a man to choose between home and work, but for women that isn’t the case. If we aren’t home, somehow we are deemed less than a woman.
So, the issue therein lies two things. The first issue being completely societal– women wondering if they will be able to find a partner that is supportive of them thriving and being in their entrepreneurial element, sans domestication if it’s not desired. The second is that it is hard to figure out how to get a “seat at the table” if there 1: aren’t many like you at the table, and 2: there aren’t many at the table that are actually accessible enough to show you the way.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?
I think, once society as a whole realizes that women aren’t just lumps of emotions and desirable body parts, we might get somewhere. We’re starting to see a shift in what “traditional” households look like and gender roles are being redefined as each generation discovers more and more what works for them. That is exciting to me. The possibility of seeing more “power couples” or relationships where ambitious women didn’t have to choose between career and family is exciting. Some of us want to stay home, have kids, and just be somebody’s wife. Some want that, plus to have a fulfilling career. And others just want to live the best life that can possibly be presented to them, whether a spouse and family falls into that or not.
I think once we normalize that women have more options than ‘wife’ and ‘mother’, we will progress much, much faster.
This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?
We first recognize what’s accessible to us by seeing someone that looks like us doing it. The more women we see crushing it in their professional and personal lives let’s other women know what’s possible. If you have enough examples, what was once an anomaly will then become the new norm.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder? Can you explain what you mean?
That you will have to choose between your life’s passion/purpose and potentially having a successful relationship and family. For some reason society has told us that we can’t have both. Men do it just fine, that’s how we know it can be done.
The second myth is that “she didn’t make it on her own” which implies that there was significant help from a man that contributed to her success.. There always seems to be shock when a woman tells the story of her success and it’s sans any major contributions from a man.
Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?
I think in order to be a successful founder, you have to have an unshakeable sense of purpose. You’re going to need that sense of purpose when things get hard and aren’t going the way you want them to. Becoming a successful founder takes resilience, resourcefulness, innovation, and an entrepreneurial spirit. Nothing is done for you when you’re starting your own company and when you first start out, most times, you’re doing everything yourself– and you don’t even know what “everything” is yet until you start trying to sell something.
People that want a clear path, certainty, to safely expect a check every two weeks, and really don’t want to stress about whether or not they are going to make it, may probably do best at a job. People that intend to start a business and become a millionaire right away may probably do best at a job. People that intend to quit their jobs and start a business that they think, without any planning, will quickly provide them with income that they can live off of right away, may do best a job.
Entrepreneurship is a lot like sowing seeds. You don’t reap crops in the same season they are sown when you’re just starting out and a lot of people don’t realize that our success is years in the making. Most people are “coming in” after some success has already been made and at that point, it looks easy. Entrepreneurship looking easy is what makes a lot of people quit when they aren’t seeing results in a short period of time.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- That it can take a long time to reach the level of success you see “overnight” successes with.
Things tend to look really easy when you walk into the middle of someone’s journey and see everyone jumping all over their offers with excitement. That can lead you to believe that “all I have to do is ________” which more often than not, isn’t all you have to do. These people have been doing this unnoticed for years until they caught their break– but we didn’t know them then because we didn’t yet know that they were noteworthy. See the Catch-22?
2. Hire professionals- sometimes you being able to “pull it off” isn’t going to be enough to get you the results you’re looking for.
Invest in courses and learn from actual experts with actual results. Contract freelance marketing experts and copywriters on places like Fiverr and Upwork to help you with your marketing and your content strategy.
3. Have a reliable source of income while you’re building so that you aren’t stressed about your livelihood and can afford to pay for marketing so your business can actually grow.
There’s nothing worse than being super salesy all the time because you’re not making enough money to live off of.. People can tell when you’re just trying to make a buck and when you really care about what you offer. They want to see your passion– and when you’re struggling to survive, you are passionate about someone buying your product, not about being able to help them.
4. It takes money to run a business.
Now that may seem like common sense but many people think you just hop in and start selling. If you want to grow faster, it’s going to cost. Product creation can cost, hiring people that know the right things to do (marketing, hiring, customer service, copywriting, raising capital) can cost, and gaining the knowledge you need to go to the level, all can- and probably will- cost you. It’s better to know that ahead of time so you can save yourself a lot of time, frustration, and unnecessary feelings of inadequacy and imposter syndrome.
5. People don’t necessarily start taking you seriously until they see you succeeding.
Something that frustrates new business owners is the lack of an interested audience and paying customers. Unfortunately, it’s easier to have success when you’ve already had some. Why? Because there are already eyes on you. When you’re just starting out, no one knows that you’re worth paying attention to yet.. You may come off as just one more person that does xyz. You don’t become “different” or “special” to many onlookers until they start to see things like article features, lots of testimonials, or validation of your credibility by many different people. It helps to know this information upfront because then you know what to focus on. With this information, now you know to do what you need to do to get a bunch of raving reviews– written and video– and to get yourself into some local publications in your town to help set yourself apart, show that you’re the real deal, and help people trust you more.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
Desiree’ Stapleton & Company LLC is a consulting firm that provides every-day people with tools and resources to help them achieve their goals and enhance their personal growth and development.
I started Desiree’ Stapleton & Company LLC and created my biggest passion project right now: The Self-Help App, because it’s what I feel I needed when I was struggling alone, trying to manifest my future, and when I felt no one around me could help me get to where I was trying to go.
I’ve been determined for a while to live the life I want to live, and I know I’m not the only one that has taken some hits and experienced things that made them wonder if the life that they envision is ever going to manifest. It will, but we’ve got to work and get through what we need to get through to get here- in our personal lives AND business lives. We’ve got to be a beast in both areas.
So, I created The Self-Help App to help people facilitate their personal growth and development. My goal here is to help people mitigate the challenges they face so that they can produce and hit more of their goals- you know, get their external world to match more of their internal world- and vice versa. So my goal is that for those of us blazing paths trying to get to where we’re going, and those of us just trying to figure it all out- The Self-Help app has a little something for ALL of us.
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.
I’ve started a WORTHY+FAVORED community designed to not only remind women that they are worthy of living the lives that they envision, but they are favored enough to make it happen.
A lot of people will say “that kind of stuff doesn’t happen for people like me” and we need to change that. The more people we have “winning” the more examples we have that it is possible. So in my WORTHY+FAVORED community I’m coaching these women how to be able to produce the results they are looking to see in their lives and am holding them accountable to achieving those results.
I also have The Self-Help App that’s designed to help give the everyday person a fighting chance at starting their journey of being something great.
I have the slogan “you matter” and I want people to know that they have everything it takes to live the life that they envision. And not only that, but that they are worthy and capable of living it.
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.
As of late, it’s been Daymond John.. I’ve been honing in on the Black community and have intentionally been looking to serve more Black women that resemble past versions of myself. I say Daymond John because he created FUBU– For Us, By Us.
I want Black women to see themselves reflected in my work and in my business.. I think sometimes we’re afraid to niche down and focus on one demographic, but Daymond John took a concept and made it for the Black community. Even though it’s accessible to anyone who enjoys the brand, the Black community knows that it was made with them in mind.
I want to be able to do that and have it be as monumental as FUBU. And maybe even do a collaboration with them.
I have a FUBU collab on my list of goals/gifts to give the world before I die.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this!