Woman Wednesday: Dr. Carmela

Q and A with Dr. Carmela from
Aruba, Netherlands Antilles, living in Jacksonville, Florida

“I was mostly ‘the only one’ across my career. The only Black woman. I’ve led in places women were not supposed to lead. I worked in places where I was in charge, and people walked past me to someone who was white; they were unable to wrap their heads around having to come to me. I’ve led in places where other leaders refused to sit next to me.”

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I’m Dr. Carmela Nanton and I am currently passionate about two things: leadership (women’s leadership specifically), and diversity and inclusion. These passions crystallized in me over the years spent in the workplace and around the world. Founder and CEO of Carmel Connections Inc., an award-winning author, educator, and program designer, I have worked locally and traveled globally developing 2,500+ leaders and managers in leadership and cross-cultural competency, in 100 cities and across 14 countries. I have also curated and led leadership development intensives using the world as a classroom.

The award-winning books in the Hard-Wired to Lead women’s leadership series focus on power secrets, the code of silence, and reconstructing leadership culture. The series is framed in the domestic violence behaviors and empathy deficiencies that are prevalent in our society and mirrored in the workplace leadership culture, showing up as abusive undiscussable behaviors like underrepresentation, persistent wage gaps, being passed over, sexual harassment, sexism, and gender bias against women. Especially those who are ambitious and hard-wired to lead.

I also host the Talk4Leaders Podcast focusing on women’s leadership undiscussables and personal or professional challenges. My current focus is working on facilitating the Hard-wired To Lead – Smart Executive Women’s conference series, to help companies create inclusive cultures, and with women as executives and entrepreneurs as they make their personal powershifts to 1) accelerate their careers to go after that promotion,  2) reposition their knowledge and skills to expand to another career or company, or 3) reinvent or reimagine themselves or their purpose into company ownership and making a better life for themselves and family.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: I was born in Aruba, and am the third of seven children, the second of two girls, so I learned I had to ‘fight’ my way through and speak up for myself if I was going to be heard. I had my first gender-based argument at around 11 years old, with an exchange student and have been advocating for women’s equality ever since. Our parents raised the girls to be independent and self-sufficient, and I’m grateful for that to this day. We did not know we were poor, but we had hand-me-downs and a lot of fun. My early education was in Dutch, I was passionate about music, played violin in HS and College orchestras, was a soloist, sang in choirs, including acapella, and was a choir and drama director. I loved the idea of traveling the world and did so vicariously by voraciously reading any books I could find, (I even was caught reading in class on occasion).

My spiritual side was developed early. I had my first opportunity to teach a class of peers as a teen and my eclectic religious upbringing resulted in my being twice ordained and licensed in two denominations. Teaching showed up in organizations as training and development of staff and professionals and educating leaders worldwide. Education was always critical and important in our family, and I took education and learning to heart adding valedictorian and other credentials to my experience. One of those was in biological science that evolved into transfusion medicine specialist, coordinated an FMA continuing medical education program for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and state re-licensure programs for allied health personnel. I received a community service award for developing the largest donor program county-wide. Masters in human resource/organization development and counseling psychology; board certification as executive leadership and business coach; and an earned doctorate in organizational leadership and adult education round out my educational preparation. I taught leadership, multicultural leadership, and management at the university level for more than a decade, ultimately receiving the legacy top black educator award, and two nominations for the Who’s Who of Teachers awards.

I played sports, still love sports, and am highly competitive, yet teamwork, skill diversity, and collaboration are vital if we want to win. Being the underdog and winning against the odds is also a pattern in my life. I led my first winning teams when I was a teenager -against the odds. I’ve led in companies and was fast-tracked with promotions to leadership positions -against the odds. I combine knowledge, business intelligence, and expertise to coach, train, and bring value to others.

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I was mostly ‘the only one’ across my career. The only Black woman. I’ve led in places women were not supposed to lead. I worked in places where I was in charge, and people walked past me to someone who was white; they were unable to wrap their heads around having to come to me. I’ve led in places where other leaders refused to sit next to me. Then there were the places where people sought me out to find out if I was ‘real,’ because they didn’t think they would ever see a woman of color hold the positions I held. I traveled to places where they had never seen a Black woman in person and where some tried to rub the brown off my skin. The leadership positions were held in healthcare, for-profit, not-for-profit, government, education, the church, and on Boards. Here’s some of what I learned over time that I want you to also learn from reading my story:

  • My voice was given to me at birth, it authenticated my life’s existence. In communication, it is my expression of personal power and leadership impact as I use it for strategic advocacy, sparingly, with wisdom.
  • Diversity is inherent in everything and should be celebrated through our bodies, our interests, our perspectives, our gift mix, in people and in the environment. Diversity must be leveraged as a business imperative if companies truly want the competitive edge, the profits, the best decisions, and global leadership advantage.
  • Women can and do lead anywhere they are given opportunity, and companies do better when their C-Suite includes women.
  • Introverts make great leaders; they don’t just talk -they think and do.
  • After working in life-and-death situations with zero tolerance for errors (because they literally could kill) I learned that quality wins out over quantity and speed every time. Speed is important -don’t get me wrong’ but not to the point where corners are cut, and steps are skipped.
  • I had to be a lifelong learner, so I try to learn something new every day.
  • Know your circle and be strategic about your network connections. There are those whose eyes light up when you enter a room, who want to help you. There will also be others who will refuse and even overtly thwart your advancement. Connect with those who are doing what you want to do or who can help you grow to your highest potential. Everyone needs a coach and a mentor; I am one of them and I have them.
  • Always stay true to your values, know when to say “No,” take care of yourself so you can add value from your overflow, and remain in alignment and in integrity in your purpose and practice.
  • We are all gifted in something. Don’t let others put down your accomplishments or cause you to hide your achievements just because they don’t have them or to make them feel better. Follow your dreams -they don’t go away.

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: I stood at the same debate desk as Benazir Bhutto at Oxford Roundtable, UK, heart racing, as I argued for women’s leadership and the burden of proof. They said I was a feminist. To me, feminism means being able to be authentically me in a world that does not intentionally misrecognize me based on their systems and categories of where they think I belong and what they think I can do. Rather, it means being accepted and granted equal opportunity without having to break through the discriminatory glass-, concrete-, money- and gender-biased ceilings women who are ambitious and hardwired to lead have had to deal with for decades. Simply put it means removing the invisible but impenetrable limiting barriers that block self-determination and full unimpeded actualization of my healthcare rights, personal power, leadership potential, and possibilities. As. I. Am.  

It took me a while to figure out that it’s not about hiding who we are as women so that we can fit into the prescriptive spaces society (and men) create for us, but playing full out using the gifts that are unique to me as a woman. It means shining my light without the ever-present, ever-oppressive ‘burden of proof’ that hangs over the heads of accomplished women even though the evidence of her competence is clear. Feminism to me means creating an inclusive world that does not require us to be twice as good, twice as educated in the ‘masculine’ skills while the competence bar of opportunity is continually raised, and the goalposts constantly moved to keep them unattainable for us. The power of ‘feminine’ or soft skills is increasingly vital to business success in a global society. We still don’t get it that when women thrive, everyone thrives. Feminism to me means being equal, and self-determining, recognized as competent leaders, broadly experienced, deeply knowledgeable, yet fully feminine and phenomenal all at the same time with our society and world celebrating and fully accepting of who and all that I am.

MORE ABOUT DR. CARMELA: I have been married for 34 years, have three children (a son and twin daughters), and grandchildren. I enjoy nature, iced macchiatos-straight, vanilla ice cream, traveling, and music.

Thank you for reading!



Join my Facebook group: Facebook.com/groups/executiveacceleratorgroup for executives, leaders, entrepreneurs, and anyone who is thinking about transitioning their careers into businesses.

Follow the Podcast Talk4Leaders.com

Website: www.drcarmelananton.com

Woman Wednesday: Annemarie

Q and A with Annemarie from Germany

“Everyone (and girls/women in particular) should go on a solo travel trip at least once in their lives.”

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I am passionate about travel and video. Both kinda blended so well together throughout my career that I never really imagined I could actually turn them into my job. The first time I went abroad (without my parents) was on a trip to England and I caught the travel bug so bad, it made me study English, study abroad, volunteer in international organizations, take an internship abroad, go on a working holiday, and then I kinda stumbled into freelancing through video creation, photography, and my passion for sharing travel tips. Still to this day, I could talk for hours about all the ridiculous and exciting experiences I’ve had over the seven years I’ve lived out of my suitcase (before a certain pandemic-you-know-what hit), all the cool video shoots I have set up (many of them spontaneously, aided by the trusty wigs I carried). And I cannot wait to return to a semi-nomadic work lifestyle again.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: In my childhood, I was the classic type A: overachieving, people-pleasing “good girl.” I tried to fit in so badly, but I truly lost myself and am still unlearning a lot. What impacted and shocked me awake the most, however, was travel. And I realize that it’s a skill in itself, that it truly teases out excitement in my soul and challenges me in all kinds of different ways. I remember having to do a quiz while on my school trip in England and despite being the shyest person, I absolutely loved chatting up random strangers on the street and making up stories to fill into the quiz. I won. And I honestly didn’t recognize this person even at the time. Who was she? I was impressed. Travel can be eye-opening like that.

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: Everyone (and girls/women in particular) SHOULD go on a solo travel trip at least once in their lives. Yes, it’s utterly uncomfortable the first time. It will feel lonely, awkward, confusing, etc. But bear with it for the first few days, follow your gut, stroll aimlessly, talk to fellow solo travelers (hostels are great for that; you can get a single room if you don’t like dorms), take yourself out to dinner/museums/shows, etc., and really treat yourself like you would want to be treated. It will change your life. And if you realize it’s not for you, that’s totally ok. But it helps gain clarity if you ask me.

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism means dismantling a lot of the toxic structures, institutions, beliefs, and systems that societies have taught us over the past centuries. To see people as equal and treat them in a way that uplifts everyone. To include everyone. To be intersectional, to question everything and do better, to take responsibility, and actively (un)learn. This includes all genders because no society can fully thrive if it keeps discriminating and placing shame.

My passion for video developed parallel to my growth as a freelancer and traveling the world. A friend challenged me once to package “all that” (I talk very animatedly) into videos because text and photos just didn’t cut it. Videos help portray multidimensionality, they can tell stories so succinctly, with so much emotion, and to me, they are just a huge playground. I can be whoever I want. Editing, framing a shot, and arranging clips all have such a huge effect on the end result, which is why I pivoted more towards helping fellow female entrepreneurs with their video endeavors rather than talking solely about empowerment through travel. Videos do the same and you have so much control here. It’s perfect for introverts like me. It’s like sending out a clone into the world as a stand-in for all the digital introductions. Have a video explaining yourself and your business and those people that like your vibe, will stick with it. Those that don’t, will leave. Perfect! So, I now direct, edit, and film videos for entrepreneurs. Because video is its own language and little world.

Thank you for reading!

You can contact me and find video examples on my portfolio website:


Woman Wednesday: Valeria

Q and A with Valeria, born in Budapest, Hungary, living in Costa de Sol, Spain

“I will spend the rest of my life with myself, so self-care and wellness for “my time” both physically and mentally have become a focal point.”

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: Awe my passions! My passions embody different paths: First, about my and your health, functional fitness, and how we can all age gracefully…I know it is a huge challenge for all of us to stay fit, flexible, and healthy. I am an avid hiker with my puppers, and I love my CrossFit classes (both of which tighten and shorten my muscles and ligaments). My yoga really helps to balance it out and reverse the harmful effects of aging, but with that said, I am more interested in taking ownership of the health and aging of my body and mind (than nailing the perfect headstand or arm balance). I have been doing yoga for the past 25 years and teaching for the last 15 years and have been fortunate to have studied under Baron Baptiste, Ana Forest, John Friend, and my beloved teacher, Shiva Rea.

Teaching yoga led me to study to become an Ayurvedic practitioner. I owned a yoga studio in Vancouver, Canada (I lived there for 30 years), and after classes, I had students come up and talk about their health concerns. As a yoga teacher, I could only help so much, so I decided to embark on the journey to become an Ayurvedic practitioner. Ayurveda can be traced back some 3,000 years and is the sister science of Yoga.

My second passion would be about animals, by way of example my pets serve as a comforting escape like they do for so many of us…almost meditative at times. Lots of work, but also immense fun! And a third passion would be as simply articulated as “my time.” I will spend the rest of my life with myself, so self-care and wellness for “my time” both physically and mentally have become a focal point as does continuing forward with a work-life integration (more realistic than a work-life balance in my mind).

As far as what I’m working on, my focus has been to create affordable, accessible, and easy-to-follow yoga classes and Ayurveda recommendations that we can all do in the coziness of our own spaces. As the on-demand membership continues to grow on my website, I now continue “spreading the word” about my on-demand yoga classes (yin–restorative–flow) and Ayurveda articles to help you and me with a work-life integration; after all, “We are all in this together, stay strong, healthy and flexible.” Also, as I get quite a few questions about how to begin yoga as a counter-balance for training from runners, swimmers, cyclists, bodybuilders, CrossFit participants, physique contestants, I have started to bring together a six-part, three-video yoga series aimed at beginners, those coming off an injury, in rehab, or those who just want to revisit some of the fundamentals.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: Growing up in communist Hungary meant we could not travel at all, but my dad was a diplomat and so, we were stationed in different countries (Russia and Iraq). We were privileged to see different parts of the world. I really think that was such an advantage compared to many of my friends living in Hungary. For this, I feel I had a very lucky childhood. I was privileged to meet and have fun with other children of different races and nationalities–a formative time of innocence to shape a young mind that has embodied my life to this date. That really opened my eyes and framed, I am sure, some of my passions and formed the yogic idea of acceptance in varied forms at a young age. My dad, now 91 and still plays tennis every day, is very open-minded and loving like my mother.

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I got quite sick at the age of 45; that’s when I discovered Ayurveda. Ayurveda is preventative medicine. The great thing about Ayurveda is that its treatments always yield “side benefits, not side effects.” What I would like others to learn from my story is to stay fit, flexible, and healthy, and find for yourself your own work-life integration toward your own self-care and wellness in whatever form it takes shape–and remember to enjoy the journey despite the ebbs and flows.

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: To me, feminism is that we all need to find our own individuality. We can accomplish and enjoy a lot on our own, but of course, it is beautiful to be in a relationship to share your life with somebody.

Thank you for reading!

Create your own path towards self-care and wellness today with your own member account at: https://yoga-ayurvedawithvaleria.com/pricing-plans/

and make use of Valeria’s FREE 7 DAY TRIAL to start your healthy body-mind approach!

Reach out to me in you have any questions @ https://yoga-ayurvedawithvaleria.com/contact-us/

My On-Demand Yoga & Ayurveda website: www.Yoga-AyurvedaWithValeria.com



Woman Wednesday: Stephanie

Q and A with Stephanie, Los Angeles, CA

“If I had caved and listened to the naysayers, I wouldn’t be here.”

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I had gotten laid off from my advertising job, and a recruiter suggested I take an interview with New York Life, which is a mutually owned financial firm. It’s been very enlightening because being a mutually owned financial firm, we are owned solely by our clients, and not beholden to outside forces like shareholders. We do put our clients first in so many ways. Being in the financial industry, I’ve really noticed how many people do what other people do and don’t understand how things affect them. 401(k)s are not your only retirement vehicles to utilize, and it’s been a mission of mine to educate people on all their options that are most viable to them for their own personal goals. I want to empower people to take hold of their portfolios to live their best lives now.

I’m very big on living sustainably. Minimizing my carbon footprint and finding other like-minded people and small ways to change my life to have a big impact on the environment, like getting rid of napkins and paper towels and using cloth towels instead. I’m also using more glass and less plastic. Basically, I’m making sustainable changes in my life and lifestyle. Right now, I’m working on assisting small businesses with their company 401(k) needs. Here in California, we have a CalSavers plan which is forcing almost all business owners to offer retirement plans. I’ve had a lot of great conversations, educating business owners on their options and if CalSavers (the state retirement plan) is best for them, or if opening their own 401(k) plan works best for them. I’m really big about keeping the small businesses afloat and supporting as many as I can. While I can’t deny the convenience of Target or Amazon, small businesses are what give our cities personality, and I want to see as many of them thrive as possible.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: Education is very important in my household. I was one of the first people in my family to get a college education. I got a degree in business and an emphasis in marketing, a very practical major. It’s a reflection of me. I was a practical child, and I’m a practical adult. When I was a kid, my mom told me I requested vegetables [she laughs]. What kid asks for veggies? Lima beans were my favorite.

I’m an only child between my parents. My father remarried, and I have two much younger brothers. It worked out so well; I love our big age difference (20+ years). When I was younger, I played piano, danced (ballet, jazz, tap), and did martial arts. Being an only child played such a big part in who I am now. I like my alone time and value it as much as I value spending time with my friends, family, and my boyfriend. I think because I was an only child and my mother’s sole focus, I was able to find myself pretty quickly. I never did anything I didn’t want to do, and never cared about trends. I think that’s why being an entrepreneur works so well for me; I like independence.

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: I suppose what I want others to learn from my story is to be true to who you are. Never settle for less. Stand steadfast, regardless of what people say or their resistance to you. You’ll find your people eventually, those who support you and understand you. When I left my steady paycheck and started doing what I’m doing now, I had so many people tell me why I was wrong. I didn’t listen, and now I’m doing something that I enjoy so much; it doesn’t feel like work. And my time is my own. My grandmothers aren’t doing well, and I have the flexibility to be with them and spend time with them. I have also found my people, so many people who support me and are so excited for me and my happiness. If I had caved and listened to the naysayers, I wouldn’t be here.

I love a good themed event/party! This photo was from a 70s-themed party. Me and my boyfriend went all out! -Stephanie

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism, to me, means being true to yourself, being the best at what you do to break those glass ceilings. Doing it with grace and respect, while not remaining silent. Lifting others up, not bringing down them down. Every generation has its own battle to engage in, and we need to remember the battles from before. History shouldn’t be forgotten. History is a formidable weapon if used appropriately. We need to keep striving forward, not forget where we were, and be proud of how far we’ve come.

MORE ABOUT STEPHANIE: Hmm, fun fact: I have a bearded dragon for a pet that I’m totally obsessed with [she laughs]. He’s not your typical pet. Many people are afraid of reptiles (I totally get it). I love to travel and have been on 6 of the 7 continents (Antarctica, I will get to you!!!) I’ve also done much of my traveling by myself. I’ve been to many places like Africa and South America as examples. I usually go somewhere for 2 weeks, and I’ll do half the trip by myself, and the second half I’ll jump on a tour to meet other traveling like-minded people. I stay in touch with a lot of them; it’s been a great network to have in terms of travel tips and being kept up to date on international news from locals.

That’s the bearded dragon! My boyfriend built him a castle, so he gets to sit there during outside time. -Stephanie

Thank you for reading!

Link to my financial advising quiz: https://p1p2zgomnrd.typeform.com/BuildYourLegacy

Link to my Facebook group you can join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/3207192119404857

Woman Wednesday: Denise

Q and A with Denise from Portland, OR

“The programming that I had from early childhood is that you are supposed to get a good job, get married, and have kids, but following that path didn’t make me happy.”

Q: What are you passionate about? 

A: I’m passionate about helping people develop a better understanding of themselves and their animals through intuitive guidance. My purpose in life is to make lives easier and more enjoyable for people and animals. I started studying metaphysical topics to learn to trust my intuition and found that I knew things that other people don’t know. I have always wanted to work with animals, so I focused on animal communication and have been able to learn so much from talking to them.

Q: What were your younger years like?

A: The programming that I had from early childhood is that you are supposed to get a good job, get married, and have kids, but following that path didn’t make me happy. I had to release and heal from that old programming and forge my own path. I learned to care less about what other people think and design my own life.

Q: What is something valuable you’d like others to know?

A: Anything is possible. I had no idea my life could be what it is now. I found my purpose by exploring and trying new things. When I was interested in something, I took a class or read about it. What I have learned is that you don’t have to know where you are going to take the first step. Try something, join a group, ask a question, it can take you places you never imagined.

Q: What does feminism mean to you? 

A: Feminism to me means owning your truth and being who you really are. We are taught to conform, but if we can love ourselves and live our truth, we can help spread love to the world.

Thank you for reading!

I offer animal communication, intuitive sessions for people, and teach intuition classes. Learn more on my website: www.intuitivedenise.com