Power Women: Steph Palermo of Just Steph On How To Successfully Navigate Work, Love and Life As A Powerful Woman

An Interview With Ming Zhao

Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine
Published in
10 min readFeb 24, 2022


Extreme self-care: Loving and nurturing yourself evokes several things. You will become sensitive to mistreatment from others, you will set healthy boundaries and people will treat you only as well as you treat yourself.

How does a successful, strong, and powerful woman navigate work, employee relationships, love, and life in a world that still feels uncomfortable with strong women? In this interview series, called “Power Women” we are talking to accomplished women leaders who share their stories and experiences navigating work, love and life as a powerful woman.

As a part of this series I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Steph Palermo.

Steph is an intuitive coach and healer, influencer, talk show host, international speaker and published author. Steph helps influential “Second Lifers” reclaim the life they chose before they came into their physical bodies by way of her spiritual and natural gifts of healing, soul readings and encouragement. Steph offers an exclusive membership community, 1:1 Soul Journey Coaching, workshops and Soul Journey Retreats. https://juststeph.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 childhood “backstory”?

I was born into an American-Sicilian family just outside Boston, Massachusetts. There were no ultrasounds in 1966. Along with the dysfunctions of my family, I entered this world with a rare disorder, Poland Syndrome. Fingers were missing from my right hand, which was part of a much shorter arm. Another PS trait is the absence of the affected side’s pectoral muscle.

All around, life was going to be a bit more difficult for me. My home was equally filled with laughter and tears. I witnessed abuse, a gambling addiction and violence.

Deep down, I had the desire to impact the lives of others and help them have the same revelations that I did about choosing happiness. I started living, having fun, dating, handling my own finances and working. By creating my own business, I was able to discover my “why” in life. Helping others create the life they want and align with their true purpose is my passion, and brings me the joy I want to share with others.

From a very young age, I knew I had a special job to do. I knew that all I endured and experienced pointed toward a life of service. Spirit had a bigger plan for me, and I always knew it. I am here at this time in history to tell the world there is love; there is peace; there is a way to truly enjoy everything life has to offer. Suffering is a result of choices and misalignment. We are meant for more — much more!

And I’ve never met a mic I did not like!

Can you tell us the story about what led you to this particular career path?

I was getting divorced and my lawyer told me I needed to get a job. My alimony afforded me the opportunity to start my own business, so I started writing and got my own radio show.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I was invited to be the keynote at The Global Nursing Conference in Dubai in 2018. I spoke to nurses in administration and teaching positions from all over the world about living with a rare disease/disorder. The title of my talk was #Perfect.

You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

The first of the three would have to be the desire to help. I am here to guide souls on their path, but many times I wanted to throw in the towel. This is a tough sell, especially to skeptics. I have known this my entire life. There is nothing better than working in my zone.

I also believe the pursuit to accomplish my goals played a large role in my success. I simply went for it, and my message has always been the same. However, when it came to creating my own business, I branded, refined and kept moving forward.

The last of the three is my perseverance. Through these years, I have been through major life changes including divorce, raising my kids, relationship issues, moving back to Boston from Atlanta, living through a pandemic and more. I have had to remain consistent, dig out of discouragement and keep walking and moving forward. There is nothing more important than getting people to understand how amazing life is and the joy they can experience with mindset shifts and new choices.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. The premise of this series assumes that our society still feels uncomfortable with strong women. Why do you think this is so?

I have experienced it first hand, and not just from men. Other women are intimidated by strong women who are steering their own ship.

Without saying any names, can you share a story from your own experience that illustrates this idea?

I have had my ideas and intellectual property duplicated. I have seen a very influential person actually take some of my social media posts and email blasts and use the ideas in that person’s business.

I have also been ignored in my affiliations where others were not. And I have had men walk away from me when I was speaking because they cannot handle my power.

What should a powerful woman do in a context where she feels that people are uneasy around her?

There are four things you need to remember. One, being powerful does not equate to harsh, unkind, rude or bitchy. In fact, a powerful woman is someone who understands who she is, her connection to the Divine, engages in self-care and is her own BFF.

Two, when a woman loves herself, she embodies love and compassion. This IS her power. This is not being weak or a doormat. Self-love and respect is an energy felt by others.

Three, if a woman notices people are uneasy around her, it is because the other people are uneasy about themselves. They are frightened by her self-respect, confidence and her ability to be the captain of her own ship.

And four, as long as she is kind, just and fair, the powerful woman cannot worry about the uneasiness in the people around her. That is their problem.

What do we need to do as a society to change the unease around powerful women?

I am doing this every day! I help people understand their role in The Universe. I teach them to stay in their lane. Their lane is as important to all of us as anyone else. If people can understand their own gifts, use them to better their own lives and give back to their community, they will not hold disdain for the rest of us who are already doing this.

They can also start by reading my book, “It’s Not Personal, Sonny. It’s Business: How to run your family, life, and business like a Sicilian.” My book is about how I — someone who was raised by a Sicilian family — tap into my experiences both at home and in Sicily to bring you simple wisdom to transform your life and business. Sicilians are passionate about family, food, love and respect. I tackle Sicilian traditions like the family dinner table, forgiveness, loyalty and generosity, and I offer tips on incorporating these values and others into your life to strengthen familial bonds, inspire lives and ultimately positively affect the bottom line in your business.

As a short storyteller, I draw you into my world and demonstrate how when you adopt a Sicilian way of thinking and being, you will begin to value all you have. You will enjoy healthy relationships, inner peace and an increase in productivity at home and work, not to mention an increase in appreciation of mealtime.

If you are of Italian or Sicilian descent, you will identify with my stories as you stroll down memory lane. I’ll remind you of what you may have forgotten, or you will nod in agreement as a practicing Sicilian.

This book is for anyone who wants to truly embrace life and enjoy every moment. Whether you are interested in positively influencing your family, a single person who desires to offer and receive value in relationships or a business owner who cares about employees and increasing productivity, you will learn what it takes to reach your desired outcomes. I meld old-school values with our current, modern-day world.

In my own experience, I have observed that often women have to endure ridiculous or uncomfortable situations to achieve success that men don’t have to endure. Do you have a story like this from your own experience? Can you share it with us?

I am lucky. I left a marriage that was oppressive. When I started my business, I just did what I wanted to do. I cannot recall having terrible or uncomfortable situations that related to me achieving success. There are always negative comments on social media and looney tunes sending me private messages asking me out. I just ignore those.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women leaders that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

The fact that we are even talking about this topic means there is a problem. Historically, women have always been referred to as weak and second-class citizens. Here’s why…abusers abuse for one reason: they can!

Yes, we need men in our lives who accept and support us unconditionally.

However, as women, we need to keep moving forward. We need the courage to stand up for ourselves and those without a voice. You might have to lose that job to walk away from an indecent boss. You may have to forgo the part in that movie and walk away from the casting couch. If we do not respect ourselves, who will respect us? Stand in your truth. Do not compromise and do not settle. And if you need the money bad enough to endure mistreatment — and you might — look for another job in the meantime. Get help. Find support.

Let’s now shift our discussion to a slightly different direction. This is a question that nearly everyone with a job has to contend with. Was it difficult to fit your personal and family life into your business and career? For the benefit of our readers, can you articulate precisely what the struggle was?

I am a Sicilian first. Family mealtime is first, always. However, there is no such thing as work-life balance. Sometimes your family needs more attention. Other times work has to be the priority.

For me, I stayed home raising my kids for 20 years. When I started my business, my family did not respect it. Because I worked from home, my kids thought nothing of calling and asking me to drop off their lunch or homework at school. They never called their father for any of that.

They also did not respect it because I was not rolling in the dough. It was a joke until my career started to move.

What was a tipping point that helped you achieve a greater balance or greater equilibrium between your work life and personal life? What did you do to reach this equilibrium?

I moved from Atlanta back to Boston to grow my business. I also spent extended time in Sicily. I watched how they worked, spent time with friends and rested.

I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?

Part of my self-care is a weekly blowout, nails every three weeks and, more recently, lashes. I box and practice hot yoga. I am heavier than I was a few years ago because I love food, but I like to look pretty. I am not a girly girl, so I engage in the beauty regimen more because I like the end result, not because I enjoy the pampering.

It’s not superficial if you care about yourself and enjoy how you feel. It’s part of self-care and respect. If you show up dirty, unkempt or wrinkled, sorry. Man or woman, you are a slob. People will not respect you if you do not respect yourself.

How is this similar or different for men?

Women tend to worry more about looking good, or at least the process to look good. Men do not spend as much energy on this. However, they are held to the same standard. It is just easier for them since it’s less work.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Powerful Woman?” (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. Extreme self-care: Loving and nurturing yourself evokes several things. You will become sensitive to mistreatment from others, you will set healthy boundaries and people will treat you only as well as you treat yourself.
  2. Compassion for others: Genuine care and love of neighbor is using your power and gifts to better the world.
  3. Steer Your own ship; you are the captain: Women need to remember that they are in control of only themselves. In turn, do not give the wheel over to another person, negative self-talk, lies that were told to you about who you “should” be or what your life “should” look like, or beliefs that do not serve you.
  4. Adopt an attitude of service: Leadership is equal to service. By serving your higher self and your communities, you have the opportunity to be an example of true power to men and children, especially daughters. What a beautiful way to use power. You will feel good too!
  5. Gratitude and generosity: Both of these attitudes are experiential. You must own your truth and gifts. Stay in your lane knowing the life you are living is amazing. Being grateful will evoke generosity. Be generous with your heart, your time, your talents and your wallet, if possible. A grateful heart is open to receiving abundance. A generous soul is the mirror of The Divine. There is your power!

Video link: https://youtu.be/MIkFlV-LKVo

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.

Matthew McConaughey. I love what he is doing and saying. I think he is a strong person with great convictions and a solid moral compass.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine

Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. Ming is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host.