Gayle Nowak believes that her soul’s mission is to help “people who help people” and Gayle has successfully helped business leaders and entrepreneurs open up their hearts and, in doing so, open themselves up to unlimited possibilities. She does this through teaching others how to create space in their hearts by getting vulnerable and digging down to see who they truly are on a deep, soul level. When individuals discover and follow the intuitive and intellectual wisdom of their heart, the decisions they make are for the greater good of their business and for themselves. Gayle’s connection with her own heart has helped her web-based business flourish and you can see that by the many roles she plays within it, including transformational retreat leader, speaker, online radio show host, magazine contributor, and founder of The Story Stylist. Gayle whole-heartedly embodies what a Wild Web Woman is all about! Enjoy learning more about her.
Meet Gayle Nowak!
What inspired you to launch a web-based business? From the time I was in college, I knew I wanted to have my own business. I had a job in college at the dining commons as a student supervisor. Even though it was the smelliest job on campus, I loved it because I got to choose my shifts, my team members and what roles everyone would be assigned to each shift. It was my first experience of leading a team and it didn’t feel like work. We were simply a group of college kids getting together to make some money, having fun while doing it. That experience made me realize I wanted to have my own business but it took me about 16 years of working for corporations and then an advertising and public relations agency before making the leap. While I was in public relations, I started following Joan Stewart, aka The Publicity Hound, in the early 2000s. I was fascinated with the webinars, email marketing and blogging she was doing at that time. As an agency, we weren’t doing any of that and the contrast seemed so stark to me. I saw the Internet as a great equalizer and realized that I could start my own business without having a commercial space or a team. Joan Stewart and the other micro-businesses I was following at the time were breaking the mold of traditional business, doing well and providing a ton of value. It also felt lighter and more exciting than pulling together proposals and pitches. These online experts got to be themselves, share their expertise and do business their own way rather than jumping through hoops to prove why they are better than the competition. That really resonated with me and showed me that if they could successfully start and run an online business, anyone committed enough could do it too. Seeing this new possibility kicked up my desire to start my own business, which I launched in 2013.
What do you love most about having your own business? One of the things that I love most about having my own business is that it has been a powerful channel for creation, connection and healing. I never expected that my business journey would become a healing journey and that it would be healing for others. My focus was more on the creativity and connection; starting out with providing website copy for coaches, consultants and speakers, then evolving into supporting my clients with turning their expertise and life experience into a cohesive, authentic brand story and strategy. I quickly realized that my clients were experiencing profound moments of healing during that story work. They share things with me that they had only shared with a few people, if anyone at all. They connect the dots of how and why those events, and the feelings around those events, are so relevant to what they are doing today in their businesses. Many people, myself included, struggle at first with feelings of shame around their stories, yet in the work that we do together, my clients are heard, seen and held in a different way. When that happens, the shame gets transmuted into something powerful. All of this began to unfold organically and I started to see that my clients’ businesses, not just their stories, are often catalysts for deeper healing.
As my business shifted into positioning clients as leaders in their field, the same themes were present. Visibility, marketing, sales, leading a team, that all brings your fears and insecurities to the surface. I realized that my clients’ stories, strategy and positioning would always be limited by their wounding, so now I’ve integrated transformational retreats and experiences to help my clients acknowledge, accept and clear the old thoughts, patterns and wounds bogging down their business. Whether they’re working on their core story, booking speaking engagements or doing media interviews, we also work on shifting their wounded heart into healing so that they feel whole, confident and high vibe, and so that their work becomes even more potent for their clients. Creating those experiences, holding that container and watching my clients make those deep, rich shifts is the most rewarding work I could imagine.
What is the most challenging about running a business? Trust is a challenge I consistently work on. I believe everyone at some point has had the experience of their trust being violated or betrayed, or at the very least, not respected or handled in the way that we want it to be handled. Mistrust can negatively impact a lot of areas of your business and when we have unresolved wounds, often from childhood, around trust, it becomes difficult to trust yourself, trust others and trust Source. A business will shine a spotlight on trust issues because you need to make decisions every day. Not fully trusting yourself can wreak havoc on your business and I’ve learned that the hard way from hiring the wrong consultants to over-functioning as a lone wolf. Building my trust muscle has been challenging, and yet learning to trust my heart and being more intentional about checking in with my inner wisdom has led me to people, opportunities and growth that I believe I would have missed out on without doing this inner work.
What are some of your proudest accomplishments? I’m really proud of who I’ve become over the last several years. Being a business owner has been transformational because there have been so many things that have scared me along the way. Sometimes I would try to avoid those things, sometimes I would plow through them and what I’ve come to learn is that if I am willing to sit with the fears and discomfort, there’s actually some really great information available that usually benefits me and my business. Of course, I now apply that to all aspects of my life. It’s something that I wish someone had clued me in on years ago but instead, we’re conditioned and wired to run from, or fight, our fear, which is just two ends of the same stick. Following your fear, or any negative emotion, can get you out of that rut and into a completely different way of being. One of the biggest changes for me that I am most proud of is that my business has been the playground for me to show up in different ways than how I was used to showing up. I’ve been able to break through old thoughts and patterns that I didn’t even recognize was holding me back. I’ve been driven and an achiever for so long yet I was not intentionally going after what I really wanted. Doing deep inner work is what showed me that my striving was rooted in proving myself and proving my worth. I’m proud to have been able to see that and shift it so that I am clearer and energetically cleaner in my soul’s work to help “people who help people” help more people.
From a practical perspective, I’m also proud of my own visibility accomplishments. I’ve spoken to numerous entrepreneurial groups and my business has won a dotCOMM and MARCOM award. I’ve been featured in media across the country. I’m a contributor on TED-Ed, Small Business Trendsetters and Business Innovators Magazine. I created and host an online radio show called Positive News Now, featuring visionaries and innovators leading us in conscious evolution.
What are some professional risks you’ve taken that led to positive outcomes? Leaving my comfortable, secure PR position was one of the biggest professional risks I’ve taken. My business may not exist had I not been willing to let a good thing go. It wasn’t easy to leave what was a dream job in a beautiful mansion overlooking the ocean. My bosses were fun, flexible and generous. I loved my coworkers. My commute was a scenic drive along what’s called the Gold Coast in Massachusetts, and only 20 minutes from home. I do not have the “hate my corporate life” story but eventually, I wanted something different. The desire to have my own business had been calling to me for a long time. Leaving something that makes you miserable makes sense right? Leaving something stable and comfortable, that can feel risky. At least you know what you have, and it’s pretty good, yet deep down you know it’s stopping you from having that deeper desire. The risk is trusting that on the other side of good is great, even if it doesn’t happen the way you envision it. Even when the journey is sometimes a wild, windy ride.
Name three web tools you can’t live without.
- Acuity Scheduling for my online calendar
- Zoom for virtual retreats
- AWeber for my email marketing
- Yesware for sales productivity
Are you part of any mastermind or networking groups? If so, which ones? I am currently in Sourced Experience Mastery with Darla LeDoux. Previously, I’ve been a member of Boston Women Connect, SMarketing Connect, e-Women Network and Believe, Inspire, Grow.
How do you unplug from work? I work from my home office, and my business line rings on my personal cell phone, so I have to intentionally unplug from work. I don’t answer the business line once I’ve stopped working for the day. I try not to check email before or after work hours. I try to keep my laptop off over the weekend unless I have a planned work session. I also love to get away to the beach, the lake or the mountains. The best place is somewhere surrounded by nature without Internet or TV. I also love to sit with my kitty Veronica, petting her and listening to her purr. She’s my personal furry lightworker.
What’s something you do every day to take care of yourself? I walk just about every day and I love being out in nature in general. I also meditate and check in with my heart and my inner child. It’s amazing how movement and spending some quality time with myself has enhanced the good and challenging moments in my life. Simply tuning in – How am I feeling? How is my inner child feeling? Letting my inner child know that she’s not alone, she’s loved, she’s seen and heard, she’s safe. It’s powerful medicine. I believe it’s the most loving thing a person can do for themselves.
What investments have most helped your business grow? Coaching, number one. I’ve been working with coaches since before I started my business. I worked with a coach to help me make the transition from being primarily an offline professional to learning how to do business online. That experience helped me hit the ground running in the beginning. I’ve also worked with a branding coach, a sales coach and numerous energy healers. Creating your personal team of support is so important to your personal and business growth. Even when those relationships didn’t go how I expected, I also walked away with important lessons that served my growth. I don’t regret spending a single penny and, while all have proven to provide an ROI, I’ve personally reaped far more than making more money.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Listen to your heart and trust that what you’re experiencing is valid and real. Don’t worry so much about what other people think about you. Don’t worry so much about how what you think and how you behave is going to make other people feel. If somebody had told me when I was nine, 14 or even 24 years old that I was not responsible for other people’s feelings, in a way that I could hear them, that would have been liberating for my younger self. I finally heard the message and learned the lesson, and if I could back in time and learn it younger, I’d do it in a hot second.